Tag:John Smoltz
Posted on: August 19, 2009 2:47 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2009 3:09 pm

Cardinals sign John Smoltz

Determined to prove he's not finished, veteran pitcher John Smoltz has signed with the St. Louis Cardinals after being released by Boston. The deal was finalized Wednesday afternoon.

Smoltz is expected to join the Cardinals' rotation, though he also is capable of working out of the bullpen. St. Louis, in Los Angeles for a night game against the Dodgers on Wednesday, is hoping that Smoltz will help provide the depth it will need for a strong stretch run.

The Cardinals lead the Chicago Cubs by six games in the NL Central and, having already added outfielder Matt Holliday, swingman Mark DeRosa and shortstop Julio Lugo, Smoltz would represent the fourth significant move by a club swinging for the fences and threatening to run away with the division.

How significant a move it will be, if it happens, is yet to be determined. Smoltz, 42, flamed out in Boston, going 2-5 with an 8.32 ERA after coming back from shoulder surgery.

The Cards are expected to plug Smoltz into the back end of their rotation, after Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Kyle Lohse and Joel Pineiro. A return to the National League, where lineups are softer and there is no designated hitter, should be beneficial to Smoltz. And, the Cardinals are hoping, the more he pitches, the sharper he will get.

Even if Smoltz continues to struggle like he did in Boston -- he surrendered 59 hits, including eight home runs, in only 40 innings -- the move really carries very little risk for the Cardinals. They would be responsible for only a pro-rated portion of the major-league minimum -- about $100,000 -- and the Red Sox would be on the hook for the rest of his $5.5 million salary.

It is a relatively inexpensive gamble that the Cardinals hope pays off big: Smoltz is one of the best postseason pitchers in history (15-4 career record in October) and could be a lethal weapon either in the rotation or in relief for Tony La Russa's club at some point in the fall.

Posted on: June 3, 2009 6:45 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2009 9:02 pm

Farewell to the classy Mr. Glavine

And so it ends not with a bang, but with a whimper for Atlanta icon Tom Glavine.

Six scoreless innings in a minor-league injury-rehabilitation start Tuesday night, his velocity back up into the low-to-mid-80s and, poof. Released.

John Smoltz and now Glavine in the same year.

Thanks for the memories, fellas.

Business is cold, and the game moves on, and that's life.  What rudely interrupted Glavine's homecoming in Atlanta is the fact the Braves' offense remains sluggish and the rotation has come together very well. Probably better than they hoped, given the progress of rookie Kris Medlen and given the fact that phenom Tommy Hanson is waiting in the wings.

The Braves' staff ERA of 4.08 ranks tied for fifth in the National League. Jair Jurrjens, having an All-Star season, currently ranks sixth in the NL with a 2.59 ERA. Javier Vazquez ranks third in the NL with 86 strikeouts. Derek Lowe has six wins. Kenshin Kawakami looks like he can help. Medlen held Arizona to one run over six innings in Atlanta's 9-3 win Sunday.

This isn't to say that Atlanta's pitching is flawless. But it's been pretty darned good. And when Hanson arrives, it'll be better.

There simply is no longer room in Atlanta for a 43-year-old, rehabbing lefty who, by his own admission, is well past his peak. Especially given what the Braves really need, and now we'll see whether Nate McLouth, the speedy outfielder acquired from Pittsburgh can give it to them.

Sad, given that there is nobody more classy than Glavine in the game. But true.

If he wants to hang around, there are plenty of clubs looking for pitching. Philadelphia, the New York Mets (look out for the cab rides, Tommy!), the Chicago White Sox. ...

And if he doesn't, well, think about this: Now he and Greg Maddux will be in the same Hall of Fame class, eligible for induction together.

That would be pretty cool.

Posted on: March 1, 2009 9:18 am

Boston's Beckett strong early

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- This time of the spring always comes with a qualifier: It's early. Looks and impressions can be deceiving.

But lots of what you see and observe at this time of year can be telling, too. And what Boston pitching coach John Farrell is seeing from ace Josh Beckett could present big trouble for the American League East and other Red Sox opponents this summer.

After battling back and oblique problems for much of 2008, Farrell's gauge so far this spring has Beckett looking more like he did in two seasons ago, when he dominated at 20-7 with a 3.27 ERA, than last summer, when he was 12-10 with a 4.03 ERA.

"He's throwing the baseball more like he did in '07 than '08," Farrell says. "The ailments he had to contend with, his back, his oblique ... that's all cleaned up."

Not only is Beckett far better physically than he was for most of '08, the fiery look in his eyes that meant trouble for others as he was leading the Red Sox to the '07 World Series title is back, too.

"There's an apparent demeanor about him right now," Farrell says. "Every time he's stepped on the mound in the bullpen, this is what it was like in '07."

Beckett, who is slated to pitch Sunday afternoon's Grapefruit League game against Minnesota, tried to pitch last October with a torn or pulled oblique -- depending on whom you believe -- and it did not go well.

In one start against the Los Angeles Angels in the AL Divisional Series, Beckett was hammered for four earned runs and nine hits in only five innings.

In two starts against Tampa Bay in the AL Championship Series, the Rays torched him for 10 earned runs and 13 hits in just 9 1/3 innings.

"The standard he sets for himself ... walking away last year, I know he wasn't pleased. We have a lot of quality pitchers here, and this is not to degrade them in any way. But Josh is our leader. He sets the tone.

"Granted, it's only February, but the tone he's set in this camp is important."

Likes: Hate to see John Smoltz in a uniform other than Atlanta's, but love to see him still pitching. He says he's ahead of schedule following his shoulder surgery, though he's still not expected to pitch before June. But if he and Brad Penny (shoulder issues last year) return to form and join Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, Jon Lester and even Clay Buchholz, one Red Sox strength by mid- and late-summer should be the depth of their pitching. "This group has a chance to be exceptional," pitching coach John Farrell says. ... Sign in the Red Sox clubhouse: "Work hard, play hard, listen hard." I may hang that one in my daughter's room. ... You can tell it's fund-raising time at PBS when they run Roy Orbison and Friends: Black and White Night. Have to say, though, that never gets old. It's an exceptional concert, with guests Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, T-Bone Burnett, Bonnie Raitt, Elvis Costello and others.

Dislikes: No concerts are lining up with my spring travels so far. There isn't a lot of down time at this time of year, anyway. As a writer, you're usually in a team's camp by 8 or so in the morning, and it's often dinnertime or later until you're finished interviewing and writing (and, this year, shooting videos). Still, it's fun when you happen to be somewhere where there's a show -- in the past in Florida I've seen Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Buffett and Bonnie Raitt, among others. So far, though, no go this spring.

Sunblock day? Yessir. On a roll here with a bright sun and temperatures near 80. But alas, on the eastern side of the state, at least, it is supposed to rain Sunday and cool down into the 60s through midweek.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day

"Don’t gimme that look, that’s right, let’s get sweaty
"Let’s get real sweaty
"I’m talkin’ rainforest sweaty
"I’m talkin’ swamp sweaty
"Let’s fill the bathtub full of sweat"

-- Jackie Moon, Love Me Sexy
(Or, as you better know him, Will Ferrell, in Semi Pro).


Posted on: June 13, 2008 11:14 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2008 11:54 pm

Somebody take these targets off Atlanta's back

Not that Atlanta's recent run of injuries has bordered on the absurd, but a baseball came zooming out of the sky to knock slugger Chipper Jones out of the lineup Friday night in Anaheim.

Just like a meteor or something.

Actually, what happened was this: Jones, leading the majors with a .414 batting average, took a cut during batting practice, drilled the ball skyward ... but it slammed into one of the batting cage poles and ricocheted straight down, slamming into his left eye. Fortunately, the Braves announced late Saturday that X-rays were negative and are listing Jones as day-to-day.

For any other team, it might have been a freak thing.

For the Braves, who took a six-game losing streak into the weekend and were an embarrassing 7-24 on the road, it was business as usual.

The Braves currently have 10 players on the disabled list -- key players, like John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Mike Hampton, Mark Kotsay, Mike Gonzalez, Peter Moylan and a whole host of others.

Then there's reliever Rafael Soriano, who was just activated on June 2 but still can't (or won't) pitch on consecutive days.

And then there's Jair Jurrjens, who was scratched from Wednesday's start in Chicago when he turned an ankle falling down the stairs outside of the Wrigley Field visting clubhouse.

"We've had tough luck," said Tim Hudson, the rare member of the opening day rotation still standing, was saying not long before Jones took the ball off of his coconut and was lost Friday night. "Smoltz, Soriano ... nagging injuries throughout the year.

"Glavine's down. It's tough. We're not going to throw a pity party. It seems like every team is going through it. But we've been hit with some tough ones."

Even before Jones was taken for precautionary X-rays Friday night, the Braves put Smoltz on a conference call at midday to discuss his shoulder surgery. The legendary right-hander, though finished for the season, was optimistic on the call that he will come back.

Meantime, the Braves announced that tests revealed a small tear in Glavine's elbow but that he won't need surgery and should be back around the All-Star break.

It's not good at the back end of the bullpen, either, where Moylan last year developed into one of manager Bobby Cox's most trusted set-up men. Moylan had Tommy John ligament transfer surgery earlier this season.

"His stuff was as dirty as anyone's in the game," Hudson said.

Entering this weekend, 17 disabled list moves had cost the Braves 507 games.

Likes: The Iowa Boy Scouts. Now those are scouts. ... The halo on the Big A outside Angels Stadium being lit on nights following a victory but remaining dark on nights following a loss. ... David Letterman's Top Ten Signs an NBA Game is Fixed the other night, which included: 10. Game begins 20 minutes before visiting team arrives. 7. Missed three-pointers count for two points if they're "pretty close." 3. The team loses even though it led in points, delegates and the popular vote. ... The cab that Dave O'Brien, beat man for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Mark Bowman, of MLB.com, was involved in an accident on the Dan Ryan Freeway in Chicago on Friday morning as the pair were attempting to travel to Southern California. Good news is, it was a minor fender-bender and everyone was OK. But O'Brien, vice-president of the Baseball Writers' Assn. of America, and Bowman were forced to unload their bags from the cab and frantically hail another mode of transportation right there on the freeway. A Super Shuttle picked them up.

Dislikes: Sad, sad day when Tim Russert suddenly passes away at the far-too-young age of 58. Prayers for his family.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Mama, take this badge off of me
"I can't use it anymore.
"It's gettin' dark, too dark for me to see
"I feel like I'm knockin' on heaven's door."

-- Bob Dylan, Knockin' on Heaven's Door

Posted on: June 2, 2008 9:26 pm

Will Joba Rule?

Maybe Joba Chamberlain steps into the New York Yankees rotation, solidifies it and it's the start of something great.

But as the Yanks pitch the Joba Rules overboard and Chamberlain makes his first start Tuesday night against Toronto, maybe it's not quite the no-brainer you think.

Here's the opinion of one opposing American League hitter, who asked to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, on the big move:

"I welcome it. I look forward to him starting. He throws 100 innings, he's going to lose two or three miles an hour from his fastball over the course of a season. And he throws 87 percent sliders -- his arm is going to fall off if he keeps doing that as a starter. I've never even seen his change-up.

"He won't be able to command his fastball as well as he does throwing more innings as a starter. I'm glad they're doing this. I really am. And it opens up the eighth inning (for opposing hitters), too."

Likes: Whatever happens, Joba Chamberlain-to-the-rotation will be must-watch pitching. ... John Smoltz coming back, and landing in Atlanta's bullpen. ... Milwaukee catcher Jason Kendall throwing out 16 of 37 baserunners so far this summer after nailing only 13 of 124 during his American League time in Oakland and Chicago. Testament to both the ability of Brewers pitchers to keep the running game in check and to bench coach Ted Simmons, who worked with Kendall this spring. ... Lou's Records in Encinitas, Calif. One of the last of the great independent record stores. ... The new Mudcrutch disc, Tom Petty's latest side project. It's a reunion of one of Petty's early Florida bands from years ago -- it also includes Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench -- and the disc is very good.

Dislikes: Rest well, Ellas Bates. The man better known as Bo Diddley passed away Monday.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Night was dark the sky was blue
"Down the alley we was swingin' through

"Lord, you shoulda heard just what I seen"

-- Bob Seger, Bo Diddley


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