Tag:Jack McKeon
Posted on: July 5, 2011 6:37 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 6:42 pm
 

Marlins acquire Mike Cameron from Boston

Faced with a fading career and no playing time, veteran outfielder Mike Cameron got his Get Out of Jail Free card Tuesday: A deal to the Florida Marlins.

The Red Sox, who designated Cameron for assignment on June 30, will receive either cash or a player to be named later.

Cameron, 38, signed a two-year, $15.5 million deal with Boston before the 2010 season as the Red Sox were looking to boost their "run prevention" after the club's defense wasn't nearly as tight in 2009 as general manager Theo Epstein and his staff expected.

Problem was, Cameron suffered an abdominal strain shortly after opening day last summer and never fully integrated himself back into Boston's plans. He missed significant time in '09 with two different stints on the disabled list, which limited him to 48 games.

When Boston signed free agent Carl Crawford last winter, with Jacoby Ellsbury and J.D. Drew already on hand, it essentially relegated Cameron to a full-time bench player in Boston. At the time Boston whacked him last week, Cameron was hitting .149 with just two doubles, three homers and nine RBIs in 33 games.

He joins a Marlins team reeling from a staggering 5-23 June that knocked them into the NL East cellar. Within that, the Marlins have serious holes in part because center fielder Chris Coghlan has seriously regressed from 2010. Currently, Florida has Dewayne Wise playing center.

Cameron is expected to replace him and be given significant playing time by manager Jack McKeon. This will be Cameron's eighth team, following his time with the White Sox, Cincinnati, Seattle, the Mets, San Diego, Milwaukee and Boston.

Posted on: July 1, 2011 2:31 pm
 

Short Hops: All-Star Soria back on track (& more)

This isn't about Mariano Rivera. It's about the Royals' Joakim Soria. But as with so many other things regarding closers, it makes Old Man Rivera look even more sensational than he already is.

OK, here goes: If I were to ask you coming into this season whose save conversion rate since July 31, 2007, is second in the game to Rivera's, whom would you say?

Yes, the answer is Soria, a two-time All-Star whose 92.4 rate since that date is second among all major-league closers to Rivera's 92.9.

Now, here's just one more piece of evidence that Rivera is superhuman: In late May, Soria suddenly fell into a hole and blew five of his first 12 save opportunities. It got so bad that after he blew consecutive save opportunities in late May, he admirably went to manager Ned Yost and essentially removed himself from the role. Something that in all of these years Rivera has never had to do.

Yost handled the situation superbly: He gave Soria a few days off to clear out his mind, eased him back into non-save situations in which he could pitch two innings at a time (to work on his fastball command) and then plugged Soria back into the ninth in early June.

The results, again, have been spectacular: Soria has worked 12 shutout innings in his past 10 games and is six-for-six in save opportunities, while holding opponents to an .098 batting average (4 for 41).

"It was not a big change at all," Soria says. "It was just a mind-set, getting my confidence back. Mechanics-wise, there was nothing to change. I looked at video, and I'm not doing anything different."

Soria isn't a closer with overpowering stuff, nor does he have one lethal weapon like Rivera's cutter. Instead, he throws all of his pitches -- fastball, curve, slider and change. Because he depends on location, problems can arise if he goes four or five days between outings.

"He's a command-guy closer," Yost says. "Command guys rebound so much better from that than stuff guys do.

"I've never had stuff guys who have gone through this rebound -- Derrick Turnbow, Danny Kolb, even Eric Gagne."

Soria, 27, right now is reinforcing Yost's history.

"Bad things make you stronger," Soria says. "If you've always been good, maybe you don't realize what it takes to be good until you go bad."

As for Rivera, who mostly has been immune to slumps throughout his Hall of Fame career, Soria, like everyone else, just marvels.

"He's the best," Soria says. "He's done everything in his career, and I don't think he's ever struggled."

-- Soria and Rivera have met once, at the All-Star Game in Yankee Stadium in 2008. But they did not exchange trade secrets. "We didn't talk about the game," Soria says. "We just talked about life."

-- Though they clearly could use reinforcements for a beat-up bullpen, and manager Charlie Manuel wants a right-handed bat (the Padres' Ryan Ludwick? The Twins' Michael Cuddyer?), the Phillies are telling teams that they they're tapped out financially. They're close to the luxury tax threshold and do not want to cross it. Of course, they were also telling rivals the same thing last winter before they shocked everyone by signing free agent pitcher Cliff Lee.

-- Emphasizing Philadelphia's need for a right-handed bat: The Phillies are hitting .196 in their past 13 games against lefty starters.

-- The Red Sox, too, say they do not want to push their luxury tax any higher than it already is, which suggests no pricey mid-season reinforcements. But recent history under general manager Theo Epstein also suggests the Red Sox get what they need and, right now, their internal discussions are centering on a hitter. They're not getting much out of right field, which led to the release of Mike Cameron this week.

-- Mariners officials are scheduled to talk via conference call next week to discuss final strategy leading into the July trade deadline. Though Seattle has done a nice job of staying competitive, the recent 3-7 tailspin could spur the M's to deal Erik Bedard. Though Bedard landed on the disabled list this week with a knee sprain, he could be a very good trade chip.

-- Thanks to Milwaukee's road woes, the Cardinals are back in a tie for first place in the NL Central entering the weekend. But one scout who has watched St. Louis recently remains unimpressed. "Colby Rasmus is so inconsistent," the scout says. "Sometimes it looks like he's not even there at the plate." Then there are the times when Rasmus looks like he is there, like when he homered Tuesday and Wednesday in Baltimore.

-- In St. Louis' defense, the Cards have been so beat up this year, but while Albert Pujols is out, at least third baseman David Freese has returned from the disabled list. "Daniel Descalso was playing third base when I saw St. Louis," the scout says. "And I'm thinking, 'These are the St. Louis Cardinals?'"

-- This is the Phillies' rotation we expected: Philadelphia starters compiled a 1.96 ERA in June. Which, according to STATS LLC makes the Phils the first team since July of 1992 to go a full month under 2.00. Both Atlanta and the Chicago Cubs did it back in July, '92.

-- Quietly, Padres outfielder Ryan Ludwick is resurfacing and showing why he will be in demand on the July trade market. He's at 51 RBIs in 78 games after finishing April with a .198 batting average and a .294 on-base percentage. That followed his miserable debut in San Diego last summer when he hit .211 with six homers in 59 games after his acquisition from St. Louis. There have been differences between this year and last: A calf injury nagged at him last year, while this April he was hitting the ball hard, just right at people. "I played terrible last year," Ludwick says. "I wouldn't say I've been playing great this year, but I've been doing what I've been known to do and what they brought me over to do. Drive in runs. Last year, every time I came to the ballpark I was stressed out, wondering if I was going to be able to make contact."

-- Know what's funny? The cover of Florida's media guide is a collage of small photos of historical highlights in Marlins history. And right there front and center, albeit at the bottom, is a photo of Jack McKeon in uniform. No need for updating there. Well, except he's wearing No. 15, and this time around, he's No. 25.

-- Angels manger Mike Scioscia, by the way, is still marveling about McKeon's enthusiasm for managing at 80. Scioscia and the Angels saw McKeon in his 2011 debut a couple of weeks back.

Likes: All-Star voting results coming soon, with the game soon to follow. ... Derek Jeter nearly set to resume his chase for 3,000 hits. ... Kerry Wood off of the DL and back in the Cubs' bullpen. ... From rocky NFL labor talks to rocky NBA labor talks to ... baseball labor talks still quiet and positive. ... The smell of neighborhood grills over the Fourth of July weekend. ... Modern Family boxed set, season 1. I'm just catching up to a show I haven't watched. Very funny. ... My sister's frozen key lime pie. Delicious.

Dislikes: Missed Jason Isbell coming through my town last week because of work commitments. His latest disc with his band, the 400 Unit, Here We Rest, is outstanding.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Driving in to Darlington County
"Me and Wayne on the Fourth of July
"Driving in to Darlington County
"Looking for some work on the county line
"We drove down from New York City
"Where the girls are pretty but they just want to know your name
"Driving in to Darlington City
"Got a union connection with an uncle of Wayne's
"We drove eight hundred miles without seeing a cop
"We got rock and roll music blasting off the T-top singing. ..."

-- Bruce Springsteen, Darlington County

Posted on: June 20, 2011 8:23 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 8:43 pm
 

San Diego's home plate freeze-out

The Padres have been shut out a major-league leading 12 times so far, and it ain't no accident.

Chris Denorfia punched a leadoff triple Saturday against Scott Baker in Minnesota. Being the first inning, the Twins played their infield back, conceding the run.

But Jason Bartlett struck out swinging. Then Chase Headley struck out swinging. And then Ryan Ludwick flied out.

Nine innings later, the final was Twins 1, Padres 0.

Enough about their troubles in Petco Park.

This is a bad, bad offensive club at any park, your choice.

The Padres can't even come up with eight hitters to bat in front of their pitcher when they're safely ensconced in the National League.

In the AL? Forget it. They've got no chance at fielding a presentable designated hitter.

The Padres' 242 runs entering Monday's series opener in Boston ranked last in the majors. Slugging percentage? Last. Total bases, triples and OPS? Last, last and last.

Losers of five in a row into Monday's Fenway Park tour, the Padres, who also have lost nine of 11, are hitting .225 this season with runners in scoring position.

In other words, about the same as their overall .232 batting average (29th in the majors).

With the halfway mark of their season not arriving until next Tuesday's game against Kansas City, the Padres are on pace to break their club record for shutouts (23, set as an expansion team in 1969 and then equaled in 1976).

The major-league record for being shut out is held by the 1908 St. Louis Cardinals, who were blanked 33 times.

Meantime, in the fourth inning Monday night in Fenway, the Padres failed to score after a leadoff triple for the second time in three games: Jesus Guzman roped one against Andrew Miller to start the fourth, before Orlando Hudson popped to right field, Cameron Maybin fanned swinging and Anthony Rizzo flied to left.

The beat goes on.

Likes:
Jack McKeon managing at 80 is going to be fascinating.

Dislikes: Absolutely crushed over the death of Clarence Clemons of the E Street Band, who left us Saturday far too early at the age of 69. It's hard to believe we'll never see him up on stage again, blowing those beautiful and powerful notes from his saxophone, goofing with Bruce Springsteen, lending such great soul to the mix. Didn't know if I could make it through, but I dug out the 2000 Madison Square Garden and the 2009 London Calling DVDs last night and punched in several tracks, and realized again that these tours, that band and that Big Man have been such a gift over all these years. It is so sad that we'll never again see that band in that configuration on tour, but we'll be able to remember what the mind begins to forget -- the fun, the energy, the inspirational moments and the poetic lyrics -- through the magic of modern technology and, for that, I'm eternally grateful.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"We played king of the mountain out on the end
"The world come chargin' up the hill, and we were women and men
"Now there's so much that time, time and memory fade away
"We got our own roads to ride, and chances we gotta take
"We stood side by side, each one fightin' for the other
"We said until we died we'd always be blood brothers
"Now the hardness of this world slowly grinds your dreams away
"Makin' a fool's joke out of the promises we make
"And what once seemed black and white turns to so many shades of gray
"We lose ourselves in work to do, work to do and bills to pay
"And it's a ride, ride, ride, and there ain't much cover
"With no one runnin' by your side my blood brother
"On through the houses of the dead past those fallen in their tracks
"Always movin' ahead and never lookin' back
"Now I don't know how I feel, I don't know how I feel tonight
"If I've fallen 'neath the wheel, if I've lost or I've gained sight
"I don't even know why, I don't why I made this call
"Or if any of this matters anymore after all
"But the stars are burnin' bright like some mystery uncovered
"I'll keep movin' through the dark with you in my heart
"My blood brother"

-- Bruce Springsteen, Blood Brothers



Posted on: June 29, 2010 7:21 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2010 7:30 pm
 

Bo knows Jeffrey Loria

One more glimpse into the dysfunctionality of the Marlins:

They've interviewed two men so far to replace fired manager Fredi Gonzalez, interim skipper Edwin Rodriguez and Arizona third-base coach Bo Porter.

Porter was Florida's third-base coach last year. He fled the organization last winter because Gonzalez and his coaching staff were operating under the assumption that owner Jeffrey Loria probably would fire them by this year's All-Star break, according to major-league sources.

Porter spent the past five seasons in the Marlins' organization, and he was their third-base coach from 2007-2009.

Yet he took a lateral job in Arizona, telling people when he left Florida that he would never work for Loria again.

It looks like he still won't: Loria told the Marlins before Tuesday night's game with the Mets that Rodriguez will finish out the season as manager.

Porter's interview? Either the latest proof positive of the lengths to which some men will go to have a chance to manage in the majors, or he simply participated in what some in the industry think was a courtesy interview that allows the Marlins to comply with Commissioner Bud Selig's edict that clubs interview minority candidates for every opening.

The Marlins were reprimanded for not complying with that when they fired Jeff Torborg in 2003 and hired Jack McKeon.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com