Posted on: December 6, 2011 1:18 pm
DALLAS -- The Diamondbacks are discussing a contract extension with Joe Saunders in talks that could either tie the left-hander to the Arizona rotation for a couple of more seasons ... or land him squarely on the trade block.
With young starters such as Tyler Skaggs and Jarrod Parker close to ready, and young lefties David Holmberg and Patrick Corbin on the way, the Diamondbacks are internally discussing the merits of a two- or three-year extension to Saunders.
He's worked 200 or more innings in each of the past three seasons and, as such, provides shelter for a young staff growing into its future. But he's also arbitration-eligible and due a big raise from the $5.5 million he earned in 2011. Saunders went 12-13 with a 3.69 ERA for the NL West champion Diamondbacks last summer.
If the Diamondbacks decide to go with their young pitching, the Diamondbacks could seize on a weak free agent market and perhaps deal Saunders as early as this week. The slow dance continues on the free agent market with Mark Buehrle (who is being pursued by more than a dozen clubs) and C.J. Wilson.
Beyond them and maybe Edwin Jackson, the best alternatives for clubs looking to acquire starting pitching this winter appears to be on the trade market, where Oakland is receiving hits on Gio Gonzalez, the White Sox are fielding inquiries on John Danks and Houston is shopping Wandy Rodriguez.
Posted on: October 24, 2011 1:33 am
ARLINGTON, Texas -- You won't find this in the reams of scouting reports St. Louis' advance guys produced on Texas. But trust me, it's in there -- in spirit, if not in black and white.
Anytime your walk rate soars anywhere close to that of a Cardinals pitcher named Wild Bill Hallahan in a World Series game, it's not a good thing.
Though he kept his team in the ballgame until his sixth-inning departure, Edwin Jackson walked the high wire all evening. His seven walks equaled the franchise record for walks in a World Series game set by, yes, Hallahan, in Game 2 of the 1931 World Series against the Philadelphia A's.
Though the Cardinals trailed only 1-0 when Jackson left, they instantly were down 4-0 just one pitch later. Rangers catcher Mike Napoli crushed Mitchell Boggs' first pitch, and the two batters Jackson had walked in front of Napoli -- Nelson Cruz and David Murphy -- scored on the homer.
Jackson said he mostly "made pitches when I had to" but acknowledged battling his location much of the evening.
"It's just one of those things," Jackson said. "You tell yourself, 'Just focus on the next batter.'"
Four of Jackson's walks came to the 6-7-8 hitters in the Texas lineup: One to Cruz, two to Murphy and one to Napoli.
"I actually thought, in his almost six innings, he deserves a lot of credit," manager Tony La Russa said. "I thought he pitched really well."
La Russa acknowledged the Rangers scoring just three batters into the game on Josh Hamilton's RBI double, but noted, "that's all they get, really. He missed a few times, walked a couple of guys, but he kept making pitches.
"Overall, I give him a huge plus for keeping us in the game."
Posted on: October 23, 2011 11:14 pm
ARLINGTON, Tex. -- The Cardinals are on a World Series record-grabbing binge.
One night after the Albert Pujols Show, starting pitcher Edwin Jackson threw a few balls for the ages. And a few more. And a few more. ...
Jackson walked seven Texas Rangers, tying Wild Bill Hallahan (Game 2, 1931) for the most walks ever by a Cardinals starter in a World Series game. The main problem: Two of those walks came directly in front of Mike Napoli in the sixth inning, Jackson's parting gifts to reliever Mitchell Boggs.
How did that go? Napoli drilled the very first pitch from Boggs deep over the left-field fence for a three-run jack, the final touch on Texas' 4-0 two-step evening this series at 2-2 heading into a pivotal Game 5 featuring the two clubs' aces, Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals vs. Texas' C.J. Wilson.
Derek Holland gave Texas what it needed nearly as much as rain over the summer: A starter who went deep into a game and gave the bullpen a chance to kick up its cleats and relax.
Holland just missed firing World Series' first complete-game shutout since Josh Beckett clinched the title for the Marlins over the New York Yankees in Game 6 in 2003. Manager Ron Washington hooked him with one out in the ninth after he walked Rafael Furcal, in favor of closer Neftali Feliz.
As it was, Holland became the first World Series pitcher to last at least 8 1/3 innings and surrender no more than two hits since Greg Maddux in Game 1 in 1995.
It could not have come at a better time. There are growing questions regarding whether Alexi Ogando, Darren Oliver and Co. are threadbare given how much Washington had to rely on them during an ALCS in which Rangers starters didn't earn a win. Holland's eight innings were a godsend.
Also a godsend: Holland holding Pujols to two ground balls and a harmless foul to first base.
That's where things get especially interesting as this series steams into it's final two or three games: For all we heard about Pujols and his record 14 total bases in Game 3, his other three games have been exceptionally ... silent.
Fact is, despite his outburst Saturday, Pujols is hitless in three of four games during this World Series. He was hit by a pitch and intentionally walked in Game 1, but that's it.
Just as Texas needed a starting pitcher -- and now needs a couple beyond Holland -- to move into position to win the state's first-ever World Series, the Cardinals cannot go it with Pujols alone. Matt Holliday, in particular, has been quiet behind Pujols: He's hitting .143 (2 for 14) with three walks and three strikeouts.
Posted on: October 15, 2011 6:43 pm
MILWAUKEE -- This NL Championship Series simply cannot end on Sunday, in Game 6, without the Cardinals and Brewers extending it to Game 7, can it?
Until St. Louis blasted the Brewers in Game 5, the two teams for the year (including this series) were 11-11 against each other. Total runs were almost as close: Milwaukee was edging St. Louis 90-88.
Now, the Cardinals lead the series 12-11 and have outscored the Brewers 95-91.
The teams went 9-9 against each other during the regular season.
"We've both got good teams," Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina says. "The numbers don't lie.
"They have good hitters, and we have good hitters. They have good pitchers, and we have good pitchers."
The Cardinals, who will send Edwin Jackson to the mound for Game 7, have history with them: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, in a best-of-seven series that was tied at 2-2, the winner of Game 5 has gone on to win 36 of 52 series -- including 10 of 13 in the LCS.
The Brewers, who will start Shaun Marcum, have home-field advantage with them: Including the playoffs, they're 61-25 in Miller Park this year. Close the roof, as MLB says it will do for Game 6 because a chilly afternoon/night is expected, and the Brewers are 26-12.
St. Louis infielder Ryan Theriot says he "loves" the atmosphere in Milwaukee, and while acknowledging that these two teams probably deserve to go seven games ... you can guess which way he's leaning overall.
"I don't want to go to Game 7," Theriot says. "You want to get that win as soon as you can. Momentum is a big deal."
Likes: We've got a chance to have a Game 7 in an LCS for the first time since 2008 (Boston-Tampa Bay). ... Last time we had two Game 7s? Try 2003: Yankees-Red Sox and Cubs-Marlins. ... Chuck Berry in St. Louis participating in the national anthem the other day. ... Autumn colors now in Technicolor in Milwaukee and St. Louis both. ... Culver's frozen custard in Milwaukee. Did I mention this? I'm sure I have. But man, their concretes with ground up Twix bars are terrific.
Dislikes: A short flight of only about an hour ... delayed for two hours. Talk about feeling like you're going backwards. ... The very nice waitress at breakfast in the St. Louis airport Saturday morning who crossed over the line when joking that when she turned 51, she got a mustache for her birthday. ... Those hideous uniforms in Saturday's Michigan-Michigan State game. Man, between all this conference shifting and gawdawful uniforms, college football is starting to go to the hounds. ... Aw, they canceled Charlie's Angels so soon? I've been on the road so long I never even saw it.
Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Deadlines and commitments
"What to leave in, what to leave out"
-- Bob Seger, Against the Wind
Posted on: May 9, 2011 9:14 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 9:23 pm
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Ready to welcome right-hander Jake Peavy back into the bigs on Wednesday, the White Sox are kicking around going with a six-man rotation until they can write Peavy's comeback in ink rather than pencil.
"Hopefully, he stays there for good," Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said before Monday night's game against the Angels here.
Just 10 months past extensive shoulder surgery and into uncharted waters, Peavy's comeback this spring has been highly impressive, albeit a bit uneven. The Sox had to put the brakes on when he developed shoulder tenidinitis in late March, and one of his minor-league rehabilitation starts for Double-A Birmingham was cut short because of muscle tenderness three weeks ago.
Consequently, even while re-inserting him into their rotation, the Sox are being cautious. But part of the issue is, they need him to pitch, because they need to win games. His return can't be an experiment just to see if he's ready. They can't baby him.
"You always worry," Guillen said. "I always worry about anybody who goes on the field [to play].
"He's worked so hard. He's put in a lot of hours of rehab. I love to see him pitch. Last year, it was rehab, bullpen [sessions], the minor leagues ... he can't wait to pitch here and stay in the big leagues every five days.
"Nobody wants to be out there more than him."
While Guillen said a six-man rotation is a possibility, he emphasized that it's just something the Sox are considering.
"I don't know," Guillen said.
As of now, Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Edwin Jackson and Gavin Floyd are locked into the rotation. Phil Humber is the man who was viewed by some as keeping a spot warm for Peavy's return, but Humber has been excellent so far in 2011. Though just 2-3, the right-hander has a 2.97 ERA.
Guillen said Humber definitely will start on schedule Friday in Oakland.
"It's not fair for him [to say], 'OK, you pitched good, thank you for coming, goodbye,'" Guillen said. "I'm not that type of person. I'm not that type of manager.
"You throw well, you earn it. And after that. ..."
After that, we'll see. By spotting in a sixth starter, Guillen said, it could take some of the stress off of others in the rotation. Floyd, for example, did not pitch after September 20 last summer because of tightness in the back of his right shoulder.
Peavy is slotted for Wednesday night against Angels rookie Tyler Chatwood. He said Monday he's feeling great after his final rehab outing, pitching for Triple-A Charlotte against the Mud Hens in Toledo last week.
Posted on: July 30, 2010 4:24 pm
Edited on: July 30, 2010 6:17 pm
Washington slugger Adam Dunn, subject of raging trade speculation as the Chicago White Sox, San Francisco Giants and others attempt to acquire him, is in the Washington lineup tonight and says he's amenable to going to an American League team to DH.
Dunn just finished speaking with reporters before heading out for batting practice, and colleague Danny Knobler is in D.C. for tonight's Roy Oswalt debut.
Here's what Danny passes along from Dunn:
"My options are awesome," said Dunn, who notoriously in the past has said he is not interested in being a designated hitter and prefers to stay in the NL.
Even if he's dealt to the AL and is asked to DH for the rest of the season?
"This will be a DH situation for two months," said Dunn, a free agent at season's end. "It's not career-ending."
Dunn, in good humor, also had a great line when asked his feelings about going to the White Sox if Chicago GM Kenny Williams is able to build the right package around pitcher Edwin Jackson.
"I like their uniforms," Dunn said. "I like black."
When the session ended, several reporters covering the Nationals shook Dunn's hand and wished him well.
"I'm not going anywhere," Dunn responded. "I'll see you guys after the game."
Posted on: July 30, 2010 1:05 pm
Edited on: July 30, 2010 2:53 pm
Right-hander Edwin Jackson is headed back to a pennant race and back to the American League Central -- for now.
The White Sox acquired Jackson, the author of a no-hitter earlier this year, sending right-handed pitcher Dan Hudson and a minor-league lefty, David Holmberg, to the desert as the stripping of the Arizona Diamondbacks continues.
But Jackson's stay in the Windy City could be short-lived. Sox general manager Kenny Williams was working on multiple fronts Friday as the July 31 non-waivers trade deadline moved to within 24 hours away, and there remains a very real chance that Chicago could flip Jackson to the Washington Nationals in a deal for slugger Adam Dunn.
The White Sox very much want to add a hitter to their lineup and have been talking to the Nats about Dunn for some time.
However, with Jake Peavy out for the season and having traded prospect Hudson to the Diamondbacks, the White Sox also are running short of starting pitchers. If they do deal Jackson to Washington for Dunn, it will create a hole in their rotation that would need to be filled. Bob Nightengale of USA Today is reporting that the White Sox are talking with Houston about Brett Myers in a potential deal if they do ship Jackson to the Nationals.
Pitching for Detroit last summer, Jackson earned his first All-Star appearance.
"He's either really good, or he's bad," says one scout from a club looking for starting pitching -- but which had little interest in Jackson. "He doesn't have command of his stuff all the time. He can't pitch at lower-level velocity. When he's pitching at 92, 93 m.p.h., he doesn't always know where it's going. He's better off pitching at 96."
Hudson, 23, was rated as the third-best prospect in the White Sox organization last winter by Baseball American and won raves from the White Sox at mid-season when he was summoned to the big leagues following Jake Peavy's season-ending injury.
"Great stuff," Sox slugger Paul Konerko told CBSSports.com at the All-Star Game of Hudson. "Great arm. Great change-up. ... I really think he's the guy. He doesn't get hit hard. When he throws strikes, they're good strikes. You look at his numbers. ... I know they're minor-league numbers, but he's a winner."
Holmberg, 19, was rated by Baseball America as the White Sox's eighth-best prospect.
Posted on: March 14, 2010 12:22 am
From his perch in the desert, right-hander Ian Kennedy is perfectly content to have left the No. 4 train to the Bronx behind.
He's making his pitch toward the Arizona Diamondbacks' rotation and, though they're not handing him the job, they are giving him what might be the most important guarantee he could get: They view him as a starter, period. The bullpen is not an option.
"We'd like him to win the job," manager A.J. Hinch says. "We feel like he's going to win the job."
As Hinch says, they're not handing out jobs. Kennedy must earn his keep. But you get the idea. ...
"It's nice, because when I was with the Yankees, I didn't know this spring if I was going to relieve or start, what my role was," Kennedy says. "If they wanted me to start in Triple-A. ...
"Coming here, they said, 'Here's what you could have. You've got to just do what you do.' That's the advantage of being here. If you look around, there's a lot of good, young players here. That's what I'm excited about."
Having missed most of '09 with an aneurysm near his right shoulder, Kennedy is doing his normal spring work and feeling good. The Diamondbacks' rotation is somewhat in flux because of ace Brandon Webb's slow return from shoulder surgery.
Kennedy figured to line up as the No. 4 starter behind Webb, Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson -- though with Webb expected to start on the disabled list, Kennedy could find himself pitching the third game of the season against San Diego.
He's spent a lot of time with Webb this spring which, among other things, has resulted in Kennedy adding a sinker to his repertoire. That first came up during the Arizona Fall League.
"I talk to Webby a lot," Kennedy says. "He's usually in the training room, and I've asked him a lot of questions so far about pitching, trying to pick his brain on how he can throw that great of a two-seamer [sinking fastball]."
Sunblock Day? Finally, some sun and some 70-degree weather. And don't look now, but they're predicting highs of 83 and 84 Tuesday and Wednesday in Phoenix.
Likes: Diamondbacks bench coach Kirk Gibson and former major leaguer Brett Butler, now managing at Triple-A Reno, giving hands-on lessons on baserunning the other day on one of the back fields. I hope the younger Diamondbacks in particular were listening, there's a lot of wisdom to be learned from those two men. ... The Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch off of I-10 on the way south to Tucson. Never fails to amuse. And no, I didn't stop and pet the deer (one of the options listed in the extravagant signage). ... Picacho Peak, between Casa Grande and Tucson off of I-10. My friend Steve Gilbert of MLB.com informed me that the westernmost battle of the Civil War was waged there. It's now a state park, and there's a re-enactment of the battle each year. ... Watching the Big East title game Saturday night on television, great scene at the end after West Virginia won and they blasted John Denver's Take Me Home, Country Roads over the speaker system in Madison Square Garden with the Mountaineer fans singing loudly, especially to the lines in which Denver sings, "To the place, I belong, West Virginia. ..." Sounded great on television.
Dislikes: So I hear there's going to be a "big announcement" on a Detroit radio station Friday night from Alto Reed, saxophone player for Bob Seger. A summer tour, perhaps? How cool would that be? Uh, no. The announcement, according to the crack Web site Segerfile.com, is that the sax guy will be joining the radio station's on-air staff. Yawn.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"It's funny how it's the little things in life that mean the most
-- Zac Brown Band, Chicken Fried