Posted on: August 24, 2010 2:34 am
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Posted on: May 4, 2010 1:56 am
SAN DIEGO -- Pitchers were packing heat all over the majors on an extraordinary Monday night, from Toronto's Brett Cecil to the White Sox's Jake Peavy to Texas' Rich Harden to Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez.
In Cleveland, Cecil took a perfect game into the seventh inning before walking Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo and then surrendering an RBI single to Jhonny Peralta as Toronto clipped the Indians 5-1.
In Chicago, struggling starter Jake Peavy worked 4 2/3 no-hit innings until Kansas City's Mitch Maier's single. Peavy, who entered the game with a 7.85 ERA, wound up pitching seven scoreless innings in the White Sox's 5-1 win.
In Oakland, Texas starter -- and former Athletic -- Rich Harden carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before A's center fielder Rajai Davis cracked a one-out double.
And in San Diego, Colorado ace Ubaldo Jimenez fanned a career-high 13 in the Rockies' 5-2 win.
Amid that constellation of pitching stars, Jimenez is the guy who continues to stand out. If voting were to be conducted for the NL Cy Young right now -- granted, there are five months remaining, everybody knows that, so no wise cracks -- Jimenez easily would be the guy.
"What can I say?" Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "Seven more terrific innings from the ace of our staff."
In allowing one Padre run over seven innings, Jimenez's ERA actually rose to 0.87. Still, that's a major-league low.
"His fastball tonight ranks up there with any of his other starts he's had to this point," Tracy said. "His fastball was explosive."
Jimenez also is the only pitcher in the majors who stands 6-0, and he has not allowed a home run in 41 1/3 innings pitched.
"He's become such a big-game pitcher," Tracy said. "He's grown so much, right before our eyes. He's becoming quite a force. This guy's a dynamic guy. I couldn't be prouder of the young man.
Meantime, as for pitchers bringing the heat, that 17-8 Boston rout of the Los Angeles Angels?
Not so much.
Likes: One thing that gets lost amid the offensive production, Gold Glove and trade rumors: Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is a very good guy. ... So is his first-base counterpart in Colorado, Todd Helton. ... Among other broadcasters, I always enjoy listening to Cleveland's Tom Hamilton on the XM broadcasts. He's very good (and I enjoyed him last winter broadcasting hoops on the Big Ten Network, too). ... About halfway through Nick Hornby's latest book, Juliet, Naked. As expected, very entertaining so far. ... The Leonard Cohen Live in London concert DVD is fabulous. Been meaning to catch up to it for months, finally did over the weekend and I highly recommend it. Classy guy and great sound. ... Very entertaining Kentucky Derby on Saturday, no? I'm not big into horse racing, but I usually make a strong effort to watch the Derby. It's just one more reminder that spring is really here and summer is on its way. ...
Dislikes: So a piece of one of my back teeth just up and chipped off a couple of weeks ago while I was having dinner. Felt something crunchy and, uh-oh. Clean break and no pain, but I suppose I'd better set up a dental appointment just in case. And I just got my very first cavity, a small one, a couple of years ago, too.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
-- Leonard Cohen, Everybody Knows
Posted on: December 10, 2009 6:06 pm
INDIANAPOLIS -- As baseball executives made like Indy 500 cars and sped toward the airport around midday Thursday -- braving freezing temperatures, a biting wind and ice-covered trees along the way -- the one clear thing that emerged from a mostly slow-paced winter meetings was predictable:
The best hedge against an economy that is squeezing many is if you making your living pitching a baseball.
When Brad Penny, 31 and released by the Red Sox last summer before he hooked on with San Francisco, signed a one-year deal for a $7.5 million base salary plus another $1.5 million in incentives with St. Louis, it raised more than a few eyebrows.
When Randy Wolf, 33 and having missed time with both shoulder and elbow injuries during the past four years, signed a whopping three-year, $29.75 million deal with Milwaukee, it practically raised the roof of the Indianapolis Marriott.
And when Rich Harden, who seems to be stricken with some type of injury every 100 pitches, signed a one-year deal for $6.5 million with Texas ... well, let's just say that ought to scotch any collusion accusations from owners.
"In all honesty, we came into this thing without expecting to be a player for starting pitching," Astros general manager Ed Wade said. "We were prepared to pay significant money for Randy Wolf a year ago, but because of the economy we had to back out.
"Guys at the top of the market are going to get their money."
Indeed. In the case of Wolf, three years is what it took to get him. The Mets were one of the teams offering two years.
"With Penny, [new Houston manager and former Boston bench coach] Brad Mills said that just before he was released by Boston, he started to get his arm strength back," Wade said. "He showed he was healthy in San Francisco.
"On a one-year deal, it makes sense. If there's a bounce back, it can be a big bounce back."
-- Still, more teams than not left Indianapolis with long to-do lists, without having accomplished much of what they need to before spring training draws too much closer. A large part of the reason is because the deadline for a club to tender contracts to its arbitration-eligible players -- Saturday -- comes after the winter meetings. Probably somewhere close to 100 or more free agents will flood the market after that. "From the GM's point of view, we all wish more trades were made," Cubs GM Jim Hendry said. "It was slower than we all anticipated. There are so many free agents, and there will be more after Saturday. If you can come to a deal with a player without giving up prospects, then that's the way to go."
-- You've heard of "location, location, location" in the real estate business, but it was a key to getting the three-way trade between Detroit, the Yankees and Arizona done this week, too. Diamondbacks' GM Josh Byrnes was able to drive over and see Ian Kennedy pitch in the Arizona Fall League this fall, and his first-hand scouting of Kennedy helped move along the discussions.
-- One other thought on the three-way deal: Several baseball people wondered in the aftermath of the deal whether Arizona knows something about the two young pitchers it sent to Detroit, Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlerer, like whether they're injured. One scout who saw each toward the end of the year said he doesn't think that's an issue, but did say he thinks each is a long-term health risk given the way they pitch with maximum effort and given each's body type. OK, fine. But remember, people have been saying that for the past few years about a guy in San Francisco, fella named Tim Lincecum.
-- Atlanta left with an excess of starting pitching and still hoping it can acquire a middle of the lineup bat. The Braves will continue to field inquiries about starters Javier Vazquez and Derek Lowe, and they probably will have to absorb some of either's contract to get a deal done. Vazquez, the more likely of the two to be traded, is owed $11.5 million in 2010, Lowe is due $45 million over the next three years.
-- Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik on the Mariners' talks with free agent slugger Jason Bay. "We've left our options open to acquire more talent. There are several ways we could go about that."
-- Zduriencik on Seattle's winter so far: "We're very satisfied, certainly, with signing Chone Figgins. We restructured Jack Wilson's contract, locked him up for the next two years. We brought Ken Griffey Jr. back. As we sit here today, we have three pieces that are very important to next year's club. We still have flexibility with Figgins [who can play third base, second or left field}. We needed a guy like Chone. We targeted him from the get-go."
-- Most likely trade partner with Toronto for Roy Halladay remains the Los Angeles Angels. Philadelphia was said to be talking with Toronto, but Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro said Thursday "there's nothing likely" regarding a trade with the Blue Jays. If the Angels would include shortstop Erick Aybar -- doubtful -- that would be key to getting a deal done.
-- If the Angels can't reach an agreement for an extension with Halladay -- who has one year and $16 million remaining on his contract -- then they would accordingly reduce the level of the package of players they ship to Toronto.
-- The Phillies were in trade talks with Atlanta for Rafael Soriano "pretty deep", according to Amaro, before Tampa Bay acquired the reliever.
-- The Mets made offers to two free agents, outfielder Jason Bay and catcher Bengie Molina, just before departing the meetings Thursday, sources close to the team said.
-- One NL executive's prediction as he wheeled his suitcase through the Marriott lobby Thursday: Jason Bay winds up signing with Seattle and Matt Holliday with Boston.
-- The Cubs, in the market for a center fielder, very well could wind up signing one of two free agents, either Mike Cameron or Marlon Byrd. Cameron played for manager Lou Piniella in Seattle. "As a player and a person, I have the utmost respect for him, there's no question," Piniella said. "I had him in Seattle and got along with him very well. He's a guy that, he can play. He likes to play."
Posted on: December 9, 2009 5:38 pm
INDIANAPOLIS -- In the midst of finalizing a Kevin Millwood deal to Baltimore, Texas is turning its attention to free agent right hander Rich Harden, a source with knowledge of the talks confirms to CBSSports.com.
Harden, a former Oakland phenom who has been sidetracked by numerous injuries, went 9-9 with a 4.09 ERA last year for the Cubs in 26 starts. Chicago cut ties with him following the season.
Posted on: August 28, 2009 3:54 pm
Rauch, 2-2 with a 4.14 ERA and two saves this season, gives manager Ron Gardenhire another option as he maneuvers a threadbare -- and young -- pitching staff. The Twins already this season have used 22 different pitchers, closing in on the club-record 23 they needed in 1989. The Twins have not used 22 pitchers in any season since 1995.
The Twins already this month added starter Carl Pavano in a waiver deal with Cleveland. Their preference would be to add another starter given that starters Kevin Slowey, Glenn Perkins and Francisco Liriano all are on the disabled list. Failing that -- and the Twins reportedly have considered Boston's Brad Penny and the Cubs' Rich Harden from the waiver wires -- Minnesota felt its best option was to beef up its bullpen as much as possible.
Posted on: December 8, 2008 4:18 pm
LAS VEGAS -- San Diego general manager Kevin Towers described the Jake Peavy trade talks with the Chicago Cubs as "ongoing" during a discussion with several reporters Monday morning, then added a twist: If the Padres don't complete a Peavy deal by Christmas, they'll keep him.
"If we haven't made progress on a deal ... I don't want to go through the holidays with tons of holes and a guy who we don’t' know if we're going to move," Towers said.
As of now, the GM reiterated, he's speaking with exactly one club: The Chicago Cubs.
And in a development that should continue to keep these talks alive, GM Jim Hendry confirmed Monday that the Cubs are not a part of the bankruptcy filed by their current owner, the Tribune Co.
"All I know is I was told over the weekend that the Cubs are completely separate," Hendry said. "We're not worried. With new ownership in the next couple of (months), there have been no restrictions placed on me."
The Cubs are hoping to add a left-handed hitter, probably an outfielder, and also continue talking with the Padres regarding Peavy. They've already re-signed Ryan Dempster this winter, giving them a rotation of Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Rich Harden and, for now, Jason Marquis.
A third team likely will have to be included if Peavy is to head to the Cubs. Baltimore has been involved in those discussions.
Towers said he and Hendry have talked casually since arriving at the winter meetings and have "no major sitdown (planned) as of yet."
"I know where to find him," Towers said. "And he knows where to find me. He has a couple of things he's working on. Our focus is Peavy."
For this week and next, at least. And if no deal is completed by then, Towers said, the Padres likely will announce that they will keep Peavy.
"I don't think it's fair to our fans or to our ballclub to drag this thing out for the next couple of months," Towers said.
Posted on: November 18, 2008 4:44 pm
The Cubs didn't necessarily guarantee themselves a World Series win by re-signing Ryan Dempster on Tuesday. Depressing truth on Chicago's North Side, of course, is that the move probably didn't even guarantee them one playoff win.
But it's important to remember that, before the fall, this is a team that won 97 games last year and, as general manager Jim Hendry swings to get better this winter, bringing Dempster back so swiftly was a key move.
It frees up Hendry to set out for new business, and not worry about the old.
"A week before Thanksgiving, pitching-wise, we're in good shape compared to a lot of teams in the industry," Hendry said Tuesday afternoon.
Don't underestimate the Cubs getting pole position in the winter race to set 2009 rosters thanks to the ultra-aggressive Hendry.
Think Atlanta, which needs two starting pitchers, failed to trade for Jake Peavy and was spurned in negotiations with Dempster, isn't envious right about now?
The Cubs' rotation is at least four-fifths set now with Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden and Ted Lilly. Chicago's rotation led the National League in ERA (3.75) and winning percentage (.633) in 2008, and the winning part wasn't even close.
In going 69-40, the Cubs' starters far outdistanced St. Louis' rotation (second in the NL with a .587 winning percentage, 64-45).
Now, things change, and none of this guarantees cake and ice cream in 2009. But as far as starting points, the Cubs are far ahead of most of the rest of the industry.
There is still plenty Hendry would like to do. The Cubs' never-ending quest to add a significant left-handed batter remains a high priority. Adding even more depth to the rotation would be helpful, too. The Cubs have had several conversations with San Diego about Peavy this winter, and free agent left-hander Randy Johnson sure would be a nice fit in the rotation's No. 5 slot.
Dempster, 31, was 17-6 with a 2.96 ERA for the Cubs in '08.
"It's huge for us," Hendry said. "It was such a priority. Ryan did a terrific job. He had a phenomenal season. He's as good a clubhouse guy and teammate as we've ever had here."
Hendry, who acquired Kevin Gregg from Florida last week to help strengthen the bullpen, plans to meet with assistant Randy Bush and the rest of his brain trust again on Wednesday to plot where the Cubs' next moves.
"I don't think we're ever done looking," Hendry said. "There's always ways to get better. ... I wouldn't necessarily rule out anything."
Dempster's deal is four years at a reported $52 million, and he freely acknowledged he probably took a hometown discount to stay.
"For me, it's about being somewhere you like being," Dempster said in a conference call with reporters. "It's about being somewhere you think you can win.
"For me, it's more money than we deserve to be getting, but it's the marketplace."
Here's one more glimpse at the marketplace: Dempster said he did not receive any other firm offers, but since the free agent period opened up on Friday, he named Atlanta, the Mets, the Yankees, Toronto and the Los Angeles Dodgers as some of the teams that expressed interest.
Posted on: September 26, 2008 8:41 pm
MILWAUKEE -- Chicago manager Lou Piniella said the other day that Ryan Dempster will start Game 1 of the playoffs for the Cubs. Friday, he mapped out the rest of the Chicago rotation: Carlos Zambrano, who threw a no-hitter earlier this month, will start Game 2, followed by Rich Harden in Game 3 and Ted Lilly in Game 4.
Starting Dempster in Game 1 makes sense for two reasons: One, it's a reward for the man who successfully re-converted from closer back to starter and, so far, leads the Cubs in victories with 17.
Zambrano (14-6, 3.91 ERA) badly wants to start Game 1, but he historically has had difficulty controlling his emotions. No doubt, some of Piniella's decision hold Zambrano for the second game is partly related to the manager's ongoing effort to help Zambrano harness those emotions.
There is no guarantee that Zambrano won't be overly exuberant as he opens Game 2. But perhaps he'll work some of that out on the sidelines as Game 1 is played.
Harden (5-1, 1.77) and the left-handed Lilly (16-9, 4.17 ERA) will start the Cubs' two games on the road, Games 3 and 4.
Piniella has said all along that he has confidence in all four of his starters, and the fact that he's naming them now instead of working matchups when the Cubs find out who they'll be playing next week backs that up.
Now, all the Cubs need is an opponent.
If Milwaukee wins the NL wild-card, the Cubs will open their National League Divisional Series next week against the Los Angeles Dodgers.