Posted on: February 24, 2012 5:50 pm
PHOENIX -- Meanwhile, over in the non-Ryan Braun corner of the clubhouse Friday, former closer Francisco Rodriguez took time out from contemplating a lawsuit against his former agents to report for duty as the 2012 Brewers' set-up man.
In what could be termed as a mild surprise, Rodriguez was smiling and appeared happy. Once intending to declare free agency over the winter and find a job as a closer, K-Rod wound up discovering a tepid market and wound up accepting a one-year, $8 million deal from the Brewers.
Unhappy a year ago because he did not pitch in one save opportunity after being traded to Milwaukee on July 12, Rodriguez again is slated to pitch the eighth innings while Milwaukee closer John Axford works the ninth innings.
Though Rodriguez is contemplating a malpractice and fraud suit against former agents Paul Kinzer and Arn Tellem of the Wasserman Media Group because they failed to file a no-trade provision on his behalf when he pitched for the Mets, he emphasized that he is not unhappy to be returning to Milwaukee.
"I want to make that clear," said Rodriguez, who had the Brewers listed among 10 teams he could not be traded to in the paperwork that was never filed. "Some newspapers said I did not want to come here, and that's not the point.
"Three years ago when they asked me about the list, it was not that I did not want to come to this city or this team, but the closer was Trevor Hoffman. It had nothing to do with the fact that I did not want to come to Milwaukee.
Because of Hoffman's presence, Rodriguez explained, he placed Milwaukee on his no-trade list because he never intended to pitch for a team on which he would not close.
"I'm honored and happy to be here," Rodriguez insisted. "If I didn't like the city, trust me, I'd go my separate way."
Sunblock day? Great day. It's heating up in the desert, close to 80 degrees. You want to see Cactus League clubs, you'd better slather on the sunscreen.
Likes: Looking forward to serving as a panelist at Arizona State University's Cronkite School of Journalism on Monday night. I'll be joining Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Janie McCauley of the Associated Press and Bob Nightengale of USA Today in a panel discussion talking about covering spring training. ... Cool scene with the Rangers with Yu Darvish in camp. His parents are really nice folks. ... Meatballz Italian Deli in Peoria. Had the eggplant parmesan the other night and it was great. And I don't say that lightly: I've never before had eggplant parmesan. But it was Ash Wednesday, and I was going meatless, so I skipped the chicken parmesan. ... The shrimp creole at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen in Phoenix. ... Sirius/XM Satellite radio's E Street Channel. Been digging the unveiling of a new track each day from Bruce Springsteen's forthcoming Wrecking Ball record.
Dislikes: Grady Sizemore, hurt again in Cleveland. Poor guy, and poor Indians. What was shaping up as a brilliant career now looks certain to fall way short of that.
Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Kiss a little baby
"Give the world a smile
"And if you take an inch
"Give them back a mile
"'Cause if you lie like a rug
"And you don't give a damn
"You're never going to be
"As happy as a clam"
-- John Prine, Big Old Goofy World
Posted on: March 12, 2011 12:00 pm
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Lefty specialist Arthur Rhodes is apparently just getting revved up.
Fresh from making his first All-Star team last summer, Rhodes, at 41, now has another milestone in sight as he limbers up to help the Texas Rangers defend their American League pennant in 2010.
"I haven't decided how long," I'm going to pitch," Rhodes said here Tuesday. "I keep telling everyone I want to catch Jesse Orosco in appearances.
"That's my goal."
Except Orosco is atop the all-time leaderboard with 1,252 career appearances.
Rhodes currently ranks 34th at 849.
"I haven't run into him lately," Rhodes said of Orosco, with whom he played in Baltimore from 1996-1999. "I told him four or five years back that I was going to catch his record.
"He started laughing and said, 'Keep going.'"
So far, Rhodes has. And he's gaining momentum.
The 69 appearances for Cincinnati last summer represented the third-highest total of his career, and the most for a season since 2001, when he pitched in 71 games for Seattle.
Last summer, he became the oldest All-Star "rookie" ever in the National League when he was named to the Midsummer Classic for the first time.
That came after he equaled a major-league record by working 33 consecutive scoreless appearances during the first half of last season.
So, what about it? Can the man who currently stands 403 appearances behind Orosco's record last a few more years and parlay that into an all-time record?
Um, highly doubtful.
Orosco pitched until he was 46. If Rhodes can do the same -- a big if -- he would need to average roughly 67 appearances every season to tie Orosco.
Then again, you know how lefty relief specialists can hang around longer than childhood memories. If he matches last year's workload, Rhodes will leap from 34th to 21st all-time in appearances.
"I think I shocked a lot of people last year," said Rhodes, who signed a one-year, $3.9 million deal with the Rangers this winter. The contract also includes a $4 million option for 2012 that becomes guaranteed if Rhodes makes 62 appearances and is not on the disabled list at the end of the 2011 season. The Rangers are his eighth organization.
"I feel good," Rhodes continued. "Everything feels good. My body feels good.
"I came over here to help them win, to help get them to where they were last year. The only thing you can do is have fun and play hard."
Sunblock Day: Scorching in the desert. Upper 80s. Bring lots of sunblock. And lots of water.
Likes: Texas lefty C.J. Wilson's work ethic. ... Hope closer Neftali Feliz never loses his smile. He's a classy, enigmatic kid. ... Rangers GM Jon Daniels getting a four-year contract extension. One of the game's sharpest executives. ... Retired Trevor Hoffman back with the Padres, but declining to sign one of those one-day contracts so he could retire as a Padre. He's no phony. ... The way fans have enthusiastically embraced the Giants after their World Series win. ... The Drive-By Truckers on Conan O'Brien the other night. ... Oregano's in the Phoenix area. Fabulous thin crust pizza, and the pizza cookie for dessert is a must, too.
Dislikes: Many prayers for Japan and all affected by the earthquakes and tsunami. It's just awful.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Do you know where I was at your age?
-- Arcade Fire, Building Downtown (Antichrist Television Blues)
Posted on: September 9, 2010 2:07 am
SAN DIEGO -- Following a victory over German troops in Egypt during World War II in 1942, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said, "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
And as they were saying in the San Diego clubhouse after sweeping the Dodgers with a 4-0 whitewashing on Wednesday night to regain traction following that vicious 10-game losing streak. ...
"The baseball season is long and there are ebbs and flows," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Our season, up until that point, was pretty steady. I think it's a tribute to our guys. We hit a bump in the road, and I thought our guys showed resolve. We pitched well, played sound defense and executed."
Their breath back, the first-place Padres now head into a colossal four-game, showdown series with San Francisco beginning on Thursday evening, a season hanging in the balance.
With the Giants losing in Arizona on Wednesday, the Padres pushed their NL West lead -- six games as recently as 12 days ago -- back up to two games.
The Padres have beaten San Francisco in nine of 11 games this season, but the Giants have undergone significant changes from what the Padres saw in April and May (Buster Posey, Pat Burrell, Jose Guillen, Cody Ross, Madison Bumgarner).
Latos, signed by Padres scout Joe Bochy, brother of Giants manager Bruce Bochy, on Tuesday set a major-league record by working his 15th consecutive start in which he worked at least five innings with two or fewer runs allowed.
With the Giants on deck and a two-game lead in their grasp, it turns out that 10-game losing streak was not the end for the Padres. Given their sweep of the Dodgers, it probably was not even the beginning of the end.
But it clearly was the end of a beginning that saw them join the Yankees as the only teams in the game not to lose more than three in a row, the end of a beginning that was almost too smooth to believe.
Now, in whipping the Dodgers, the Padres looked like themselves again.
They won Wednesday's game behind six shutout innings from rookie Cory Luebke, 25, who was making just the second big-league start of his career. Just fill in the blanks by day, the pitching has been excellent. Black said Luebke will get the ball again for another start five days hence in Colorado.
The three-run sixth against Chad Billingsley was as good an indicator as anything that the whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-th
"We're getting back to the way we play," Eckstein said.
"These are the things we've worked on because we knew we needed to do them," Black said. "When they go our way, it doesn't surprise us. We've worked on these things as far back as February."
Gonzalez, in a conversation before the game, said that the first several games of the losing streak was simply business as usual for the Padres -- they were playing sound ball but were simply losing. Toward the end of the streak, though, Gonzalez said he could see some of the players pressing. That eased immensely, he said, with the first two wins over the Dodgers.
So ... a new beginning for the Padres?
"We hope so," Eckstein said. "We're not going to answer that question until we clinch or don't clinch, because we'll hear about it the rest of our lives if we don't. We just have to focus on playing our game."
Likes: Trevor Hoffman earning career save No. 600. Congratulations to a man who has had a very difficult season but remains pure class. ... Former Cincinnati ace Gary Nolan visiting with the Reds in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. ... Intense scoreboard watching every night now. ... The portable iPod players. It's given yet another new life to my iTouch. Reds manager Dusty Baker has one that travels with him -- it's usually queued up in the manager's office -- and he jokes that it's his "roommate." ... The Arcade Fire's new disc, The Suburbs. ... Digging this season of Mad Men. ... Ah, back to school. A young lady was wearing this T-shirt in the St. Louis airport the other day: "We didn't come to college to find our husbands. We came to find our bridesmaids."
Dislikes: The Dodgers are playing like they've quit. Totally disinterested. ... Arizona manager Kirk Gibson being stung by a scorpion at his Arizona home this week. Among the only things more disgusting than scorpions are tarantulas. ... Human beings continue to get larger and larger with each generation. Airplane aisles continue to get smaller and smaller. The future of air travel? I don't even want to know. Let's just say that the larger people and smaller aisles are going to clash pretty badly here in a few years.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Everyone I know
-- Jackson Browne, Running on Empty
Posted on: July 13, 2010 8:39 pm
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A few things as we get set for the 81st All-Star Game:
-- National League pitching plans: Florida's Josh Johnson and Philadelphia's Roy Halladay will follow starter Ubaldo Jimenez to the mound. After that, manager Charlie Manuel plans to review the game situation, see where the AL lineup is and go from there. With lefties Joe Mauer, Robinson Cano and Carl Crawford hitting 7-8-9, you could see one of a couple of lefty relievers, Hong-Chih Kuo or Arthur Rhodes if the situation dictates.
-- AL pitching plans were unclear as for who would follow Tampa Bay's David Price to the hill. But in Price, Texas' Cliff Lee, Boston's Jon Lester and the Yankees' Andy Pettitte, the AL is loaded with lefties. Which could mean right-handers Justin Verlander and Phil Hughes will be interspersed with them.
-- Boston's David Ortiz on the legacy of the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner: "Unbelievable. When you give a team that many dreams, that many possibilities to win, that's something you've got to respect no matter what."
-- This is how stacked the AL is: Mauer, last year's MVP, is hitting seventh. Last time he did that? "The minor leagues," Mauer said. His reaction to hitting seventh? "Where do you want to put everybody?" Mauer said. "Somebody's gotta bat down there."
-- The pressure is on Padres closer Heath Bell if he pitches late in a close game. San Diego has provided three of the past four losing pitchers: Bell last year, Chris Young in 2007 and Trevor Hoffman in 2006.
-- Atlanta's Omar Infante, the most unlikely of All-Stars, is having a ball. His favorite moments? Tuesday afternoon in NL clubhouse, and Monday watching the Home Run Derby on the field, holding his one-year-old son, taking as many photos as he could. As for the game? "It's very important," said Infante, whose Braves are in position to benefit if the NL can win home-field World Series advantage. "Everybody's psyched."
-- The turf is in good shape here in Angel Stadium. But it almost was in even better shape. The rock band U2 was scheduled to play Angel Stadium in early June, after which the contract called for new sod to be laid at Angel Stadium. Instead of a new playing surface, however ... well, Bono underwent emergency back surgery, U2 canceled its tour and the turf remains the same.
Posted on: April 29, 2010 12:17 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2010 1:37 pm
Don't know whether or not Bono favors the designated hitter rule, but based on U2's summer concert tour, they're definitely American Leaguers.
The band is playing Angels Stadium (June 6-7), the Oakland Coliseum (June 16) and Toronto's Rogers Center (July 3) before, finally, landing in NL Florida's Landshark Stadium (or whatever they're calling it now, on July 9).
And it wreaked havoc with the 2010 schedule.
"They've become my least-favorite band -- which has nothing to do with their songs, talent or anything else," jokes Katy Feeney, the longtime National League media specialist who now helps handles major league baseball's club relations and scheduling issues.
Putting together the major-league schedule is always a chore because it has an incredible number of moving parts, and this year's was even more difficult based on the band from Ireland.
Because of the magnitude of the tour and sheer size of the stage, Feeney says, "they require 10 days to set up the concert and then break it down. That's an unusually long period of time [compared to other concerts].
"And that means a team has to be on the road for three series' over a week-and-a-half."
The problems, for example, didn't necessarily occur with sending the Angels on the road for a 14-game trip from May 31-June 14 to make room for U2, or with sending the A's on a nine-game trip from June 11-21 to accommodate Bono and the boys.
"Unfortunately, everything has a ripple effect," Feeney says. "And the number of actual teams hosting the concert, other than those 10 days, may not feel as many consequences as some other clubs."
It could have gotten more dicey. St. Louis initially asked to hold dates for U2, but for whatever reason, the band didn't fit Busch Stadium into its itinerary. And while the band is playing major-league cities Denver (June 12), Seattle (June 20), Minneapolis (June 27) and Chicago (July 6), those concerts are all in football stadiums.
"It wasn't as bad as the year the Republican National Convention was in Houston," Feeney says of the 1992 gathering. "The Astros had to be on the road for a month that year.
"Every year has something. Hopefully, everybody enjoys the U2 concerts in baseball stadiums. And hopefully, the stadiums will be full."
Maybe Bono will write about it in one of his New York Times Op-Ed columns.
Likes: Colleague Mike Freeman's column lobbying baseball to consider moving 2011 All-Star Game out of Arizona if the state does not change its new immigration law. ... Cleveland's Shin-Soo Choo, the game's next superstar. ... Baltimore wins two in a row this week! ... Former Indians pitching coach Carl Willis as the roving pitching coordinator for the Mariners' minor-league system. He'll be back in the bigs soon. ... First three episodes of HBO's Treme have been solid. Very promising New Orleans-based show right there. From David Simon, who did Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire. ... New release from The Hold Steady next week. ... New DVD coming in June from Bruce Springsteen and the E St. Band, London Calling. ... Finally started reading Nick Hornby's Juliet, Naked. Not too far in yet, but anytime I'm reading a Hornby book, it's good with me.
Dislikes: The Giants' ninth inning Wednesday following Tim Lincecum. ... The Brewers' ninth inning Wednesday with Trevor Hoffman. ... The Royals' eighth and ninth innings Tuesday following Zack Greinke. ... Regarding the above on David Simon, I still haven't caught up with The Wire, which I hear is superb. It's on my list.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"The more you see the less you know
-- U2, City of Blinding Lights
Posted on: July 15, 2009 2:51 am
ST. LOUIS -- The Hawaiian Punch, as Shane Victorino became known during last fall's postseason, had a treat waiting for President Barack Obama on Tuesday.
When he singled in the second inning of the American League's eventual 4-3 win, Obama was in the broadcast booth with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.
"By the way," Obama told them. "Since I grew up in Hawaii, this kid, while we were down in the clubhouse, he actually gave me some macadamia nuts from back home."
Victorino smiled following the game after a night which he called a "wonderful experience."
"It went well," he said of Obama's clubhouse visit. "He was very appreciative. It was nice to see a fellow Hawaiian and give him his gift of Aloha."
Victorino said Obama held the nuts aloft, showing his gift to the rest of the NL players.
Though Obama did not wear his White Sox jacket into the NL clubhouse, nobody in there seemed offended when he wore it onto the field.
"You have to honor the fact that he's true to his convictions and loyalty," Milwaukee closer Trevor Hoffman said.
A member of the Secret Service briefed the NL team about 20 minutes before Obama's arrival, explaining which door he would enter through and what the procedure would be. He visited the AL clubhouse, too.
"When you see the president in the room you're in, it's pretty cool," Hoffman said. "I enjoyed it."
Likes: Very cool seeing Stan Musial driven in from right field during pre-game ceremonies. Stan the Man looked pretty good. ... The pre-game ceremony, which also included Cardinal Hall of Famers Lou Brock, Red Schoendienst, Bob Gibson, Bruce Sutter and Ozzie Smith, was nicely done. ... Carl Crawford as the game's MVP. He's a good guy and he's sure put in his time for some bad Tampa Bay teams before reaching the pinnacle. Plus, he was hurt down the stretch last year and couldn't even contribute much when Tampa Bay finally turned in a winner. ... Sheryl Crow singing the national anthem. Great voice, seems like a real sweet gal. She smiled and said hello to me as we passed in a hallway under the stadium before Tuesday's game. .... Good weather, no rain. ... St. Louis was one big party this week. Very festive downtown, and the people wearing red, my goodness! Colleague Danny Knobler observed that at most All-Star Games, you see fans wearing all sorts of different team T-shirts and caps. Not here. It was one big red sea. ... The Arch and the Mississippi River never get old. ... Whatever your political persuasion, it is very cool to be in the same place where the president is throwing out a first ball. ... A few post-All-Star break days off.
Dislikes: No baseball on Wednesday.
Posted on: April 29, 2009 6:16 pm
The Yankees reduced the prices on their most expensive tickets this week, to $1,250 from $2,500. Whoo-hoo! Now I'm waiting for word that the team will refund a portion of that after games in which its bullpen pitches.
On the other hand, for the price of just one of these primo, $1,250, behind-the-plate tickets, you can:
• Fly from New York to Miami ($429) on Monday, May 4 for the opening of the Marlins' two-game series with Cincinnati, returning to New York on May 6, and buy seven infield box-seat tickets ($52) for each night. If you don't want to sleep on the street, you may want only, say, four tickets to each game so you have enough money left for a hotel room.
• Invite your friends to Mickey Mantle's Restaurant and Sports Bar on Central Park South in Manhattan, where you could wolf down 83 grilled steak burgers.
• Buy 46 copies of The Yankee Years, by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci.
• Pick up three lifetime subscriptions from TiVo.
• Score five tandem skydiving jumps on Long Island.
• Reward six friends with a full year's subscription to Netflix (three discs at a time!).
• Scoop up 96 copies of Bernie Williams' compact disc Moving Forward.
• Order 12 vintage Farrah Fawcett red bathing suit posters.
• Pick up a Panasonic Viera 50-inch plasma television ($989.99), and still have enough money left over for an 8-gigabyte iPod touch.
• Order the complete Seinfeld DVD series, seasons 1-9 ($213.34), the complete Friends DVD series ($269.99), the complete Sopranos ($339.99) and The Wire (199.99) from BarnesandNoble.com, and still have more than $200 left for microwave popcorn.
• Put a downpayment on your spot at the Yankees Fantasy Camp ($5,500) this winter in Tampa, Fla.
Dislikes: Sure hope Koji Uehara's bruised sternum heals quickly. Scary moment Thursday when the Angels' Gary Matthews Jr. drilled him with a line drive. ... The woman -- or guy -- next to me on the elliptical machine at the gym who gabs on her -- or his -- cell phone non-stop.
"Well there's reasons for that
-- Bob Dylan, My Wife's Home Town
Posted on: November 25, 2008 6:52 pm
Edited on: November 25, 2008 6:55 pm
If you're wondering why there continues to be a whole lot of talk and little action on baseball's Hot Stove front this week, circle Dec. 1 on your calendar.
That's the deadline for clubs offering salary arbitration to any of their own free agents.
Most importantly, of course is this: If arbitration is offered, the signing team must compensate the player's old team with a draft pick. Now that might not be of concern to clubs chasing the biggest free-agent prizes this winter -- Mark Teixeira, Manny Ramirez, CC Sabathia, et. al. -- it definitely comes into play with the next-tier guys.
Consequently, many clubs are in wait mode until after Monday. Maybe San Francisco is interested in shortstop Edgar Renteria if Rafael Furcal signs elsewhere, but the Giants surely would wait until after Monday to see whether Detroit offers him arbitration (which the Tigers aren't expected to do).
And maybe Cleveland will make an offer to a free-agent closer -- Trevor Hoffman? Kerry Wood? -- but from where the Indians sit right now, in a market saturated with closers, it makes a whole lot more sense for them to wait and see who might be available that wouldn't cost them a draft pick.
While Dec. 1 is the date by which clubs must offer their free agents salary arbitration or cut bait with them for good, the players have until Dec. 7 to decide whether or not to accept.
Which is why a couple of executives with whom I've spoken this week said they think the winter meetings -- which begin Dec. 8 in Las Vegas -- will be where the action is this year.
The economy continues to be on the minds of front-office executives and may wind up affecting this winter's player market more than we thought.
"It's pretty treacherous for us," says Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro, whose needs include a closer and an infielder (second or third base or shortstop). "The economic situation is a real factor here. We're seeing it in season-ticket renewals. Some of our city issues pre-date the international and national economic issues, and those are amplifying our city issues.
"It's a challenge. We're trying to get our arms around it and see how it affects our revenues."
In Toronto, meanwhile, the Blue Jays already are resigned to not filling every item on their winter wish list (starting pitching, big bat in the middle of the lineup).
"The Canadian dollar isn't as strong, and we're taking a hit with the United States' dollar with the exchange rate," Blue Jays GM J.P. RIcciardi says. "The world in general is being affected by this, and to stick our head in the sand and say it's not affecting us is crazy.
"We're talking about people's discretionary spending, and they might not spend it."
Things have changed in Toronto, even from season's end to now.
"What we thought at the end of the season and what we think now is different," Ricciardi said.
Random other items:
-- The Los Angeles Angels' sudden turn toward CC Sabathia, explained here by colleague Danny Knobler, should really rattle the Yankees' cage. Even with Milwaukee offering five years and $100 million, until the Angels decided to get so aggressive, most executives with whom I've spoken figured the ace would sign with the Yankees.
"I've heard talk of this guy wanting to do this and do that, but you know what? They all follow the money," one National League executive said. "It's just the facts of life."
"I don't think the Yankees will allow him to go anywhere else," one AL GM said, referring to the enormous contract the Yankees reportedly have offered. "Wherever he goes, it's going to have to be to someone who has a giant payroll and can absorb it if he gets hurt."
The Yankees qualify in that department. So, too, do the Angels.
-- Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi says the Blue Jays don't have an offer out to pitcher A.J. Burnett right now and have not spoken with agent Derek Braunauer about the length of a potential deal.
-- One National League executive on pitcher Jeremy Affeldt's two-year, $8-million deal with San Francisco: "I think Affeldt might be the smartest free agent out there. He had a deal on the table and said, 'Screw it, I'm taking it.'"
-- Clubs looking for infield help are not seeing any quick fixes in a free-agent market that includes Rafael Furcal (the most sought-after, by far), Orlando Hudson, Ray Durham, Edgar Renteria, Orlando Cabrera, Casey Blake and Joe Crede. Hudson and Crede are coming off of injuries, Blake and Durham are into their upper-30s and Renteria is coming off of a miserable season in Detroit during which scouts were alarmed at both his lack of defensive range and his lack of arm. "Extremely thin market," one GM says. "A lot of it is flawed."
-- Minnesota, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland continue to be the most aggressive suitors for Casey Blake, though his agent, Jim McDowell, did say Tuesday that there is a small group of four or five other clubs that have "stayed close." "I don't expect anything to happen this week," McDowell said. "We've had good discussions with several teams." Blake's versatility -- he can play the outfield and first base in addition to third, and the Dodgers even used him at second base in a playoff game this fall -- may wind up being his strongest selling point.