Posted on: July 29, 2011 11:03 pm
Edited on: July 30, 2011 12:50 am
With Hunter Pence now off the board following his acquisition by the Phillies, and with uncertainty as to whether the White Sox will deal Carlos Quentin, everybody looking for a bat is now rushing to ... San Diego, to get Ryan Ludwick?
Not exactly. The Braves continued to show interest on Friday, according to CBSSports.com sources, along with the Indians and the Reds.
The Braves continue to appear to be the main players, but talks did not appear to be hot. Perhaps with Pence no longer available in Houston, Atlanta's efforts will increase toward Ludwick. But as the Padres shop their outfielder in advance of his impending free agency, no deal was imminent as of Friday night.
Part of that, according to sources, is because the Braves are still traveling parallel paths in their quest to obtain an outfielder. They had interest in Pence, continue to have interest in Quentin and Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton, and could turn to Oakland and Josh Willingham.
The Indians, who acquired outfielder Kosuke Fukudome from the Cubs on Thursday, had several lines out on Friday both for another bat and for pitching.
The Reds, who have had a very disappointing season and were five games under .500 heading into this weekend's series with San Francisco, were thought by many to be veering into "seller" territory after getting pummeled by the Mets earlier in the week. But Cincinnati general manager Walt Jocketty said flatly Friday that the club is not in sell mode and added that with so many games remaining against NL Central rivals, there is time for the Reds to climb back into the race.
Ludwick, who batted fourth for the Padres on Friday night, is hitting .238 with 11 homers and 62 RBIs. He is a free agent this winter, and the Padres are not expected to make a bid to retain him.
Posted on: July 28, 2011 5:49 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2011 6:20 pm
Looking for an outfield bat, the Braves are engaging the Padres in trade discussions regarding Ryan Ludwick, multiple sources have told CBSSports.com.
Ludwick is not the only outfielder with whom the Braves are exploring a trade, but they are described as having significant interest in the 33-year-old. The Braves also have talked about Oakland's Josh Willingham, the White Sox's Carlos Quentin, Houston's Hunter Pence and Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton.
The difference is that Ludwick and Willingham will cost less than Pence, Quentin and Upton.
Ludwick was held out of San Diego's lineup Thursday afternoon against Arizona, though manager Bud Black brushed off any suggestion that it was because a trade was imminent. The Padres acquired Ludwick from St. Louis at last year's trade deadline during a surprising season in which they won 90 games.
However, Ludwick was a bitter disappointment down the stretch in 2010 (.211, six homers, 26 RBIs in 239 plate appearances). While he's been better in 2011 (.238, 11, 62 in 412 plate appearances), he clearly is not in San Diego's future plans. A free agent this winter, it is believed that Ludwick will seek something in the neighborhood of a three-year deal. With his game not translating well in Petco Park, the Padres are not interested.
Willingham is hitting .240 with 13 homers and 50 RBIs for an Oakland team that long ago fell out of the race this summer.
There are two problems with the White Sox's Quentin, whom the Braves really like and have serious interest in:
One, he's more expensive than Ludwick or Willingham, according to sources. And, two, the Tigers apparently refuse to allow the White Sox to become full-blown sellers. Detroit lost again on Thursday, this time to the Angels, allowing idle Chicago to pull to within three games of the AL Central lead despite a 51-52 record. The White Sox are only two games behind Detroit in the loss column.
As for Pence, his market has exploded since San Francisco traded for Carlos Beltran. My colleague Danny Knobler writes that the Braves, Phillies and several other clubs checked in with the Astros on Thursday.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 12, 2011 7:33 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 8:16 pm
PHOENIX -- Talked to both All-Star pitching coaches during batting practice, Mike Maddux of the Rangers and Dave Righetti of the Giants, and here's the tentative pitching plans for tonight's All-Star Game:
AL starter Jered Weaver is only expected to go one inning. Angels manager Mike Scioscia talked to Rangers and AL skipper Ron Washington and requested Weaver go no more than one inning or 25 pitches because he's due to start Saturday during the Angels' doubleheader in Oakland.
Boston's Josh Beckett is expected to follow Weaver to the mound, according to Maddux. After that, look for either Michael Pineda of the Mariners or Texas' C.J. Wilson. The way things were set up going into the game, Washington and Maddux were planning to use Pineda as the third pitcher in.
After that it's less planned, though Angels rookie closer Jordan Walden has been told there is a good chance he'll pitch in the fifth inning. While that's not guaranteed, Maddux said he did speak with some of the closers because, obviously, not everybody can pitch the ninth.
"Guys used to pitching the ninth inning, we gave everybody a heads up because if we need them early, normally, they wouldn't have even gone to the training table yet," Maddux quipped.
As for overall pitching plans, Maddux had another good line: "The only sure thing is, if Weaver carries a no-hitter into the second inning, he's not gonna get it."
As for the NL, starter Roy Halladay likely will pitch two innings unless he goes through a long first inning. Phillies teammate Cliff Lee will follow him to the mound. Then, Righetti said, it will be either the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw or Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens -- probably Kershaw.
Posted on: July 11, 2011 10:02 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 10:11 pm
PHOENIX -- While the Braves were thrilled to have reliever Craig Kimbrel added to the NL All-Star team late Sunday, joining bullpen mate Jonny Venters and starter Jair Jurrjens, they remain a greedy little team.
A case can be made easily, too: Hanson steps into the break ranked third in the NL in ERA (2.44), first in opponents' batting average against (.190), eighth in strikeouts (109) and tied for third in wins (10).
"We've got to find a way to get them both here," McCann said Monday, speaking of Kimbrel and Hanson. "The fact that Tommy Hanson was not put in is kind of rough. He's [toward] the top of every pitching category.
"He deserves to be out here."
Posted on: July 11, 2011 8:13 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 8:30 pm
PHOENIX -- He leads the National League in both wins (12) and ERA (1.87), but Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens will be cooling his heels on the bench when the All-Star Game begins Tuesday night.
Even given Jurrjens' stellar season, it's hard to argue with Bochy. Halladay has been one of the game's elite pitchers for years -- arguably the best over the past several -- and he's tied for second in wins (11), fourth in ERA (2.45), first in innings pitched (143 1/3) and second in strikeouts (138).
The Braves' affable Jurrjens, 25 and participating in his first All-Star Game, was disappointed -- and refreshingly honest -- about being passed over.
"In a way yes [I'm disappointed] and in a way no," he said Monday, smiling. "I'm happy to be here. I got my hopes up a little bit because Doc pitched on Friday, but he deserves it.
"He's been doing it a long time. He's one of the best. You can't go wrong with him. He's one of the best pitchers -- that's why they call him 'Doc'."
The kid may be disappointed, but you've gotta admit, he's logical. Hard to argue with his thinking.
Posted on: June 21, 2011 11:39 pm
LOS ANGELES -- Detroit's rotation could keep Justin Verlander from pitching in next month's All-Star Game, but an early look at the top pitchers in each league shows few other conflicts right now.
Unless weather fouls things up, both Boston's Josh Beckett (last projected first-half start: Friday, July 8) and the Angels' Jered Weaver (Thursday, July 7) should be available options for American League manager Ron Washington to start the July 12 game in Phoenix.
And in the NL, Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens and Philadelphia's Roy Halladay (both would start Wednesday, July 6) would be available to manager Bruce Bochy, as would the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw (Thursday, July 7) and, possibly, Philadelphia's Cole Hamels.
Hamels currently is projected to start on Tuesday, July 5, and the Phillies have an off day on July 6. If manager Charlie Manuel stays on rotation, Hamels would not pitch again until, possibly, the All-Star Game. If Manuel decides to skip a starter on an off day Thursday (unlikely), then Hamels could wind up starting on Sunday the 10th.
The problem for Verlander, who has one no-hitter and a couple of near-misses this year, is that, barring rainouts, he'll start the Tigers' final game of the first half on Sunday, July 10.
Looking both to keep pitchers healthy and to give All-Star managers real options, baseball last year instituted a rule prohibiting anybody pitching Sunday from working in the All-Star Game. Those pitchers named to the team are still All-Stars and can be in uniform in the dugout, they're just not eligible to play.
Really, it's a no-brainer that for a manager not to juggle his rotation to accommodate the All-Star Game, and that's essentially what Tigers skipper Jim Leyland said this week. His first responsibility is to win games for the Tigers, period.
"Our schedule is what it is," he said. "Our rotation falls the way it does."
Though his Dodgers are buried in fourth place in the NL West -- unlike the Tigers, who are battling for the AL Central title -- Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly says he will handle Kershaw the same way Leyland is handling Verlander.
"I think if his spot comes up Sunday, he pitches Sunday," Mattingly said. "I don't think we can start shifting things around because of the All-Star Game.
"It's an honor to be chosen. If a guy is chosen and he's not able to pitch, you have enough slots [to replace him] and it's still an honor."
Posted on: June 2, 2011 4:54 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 5:24 pm
Short hops, backhanded stops and quick pops:
-- The Brewers have climbed into second place in the NL Central thanks to ... their own beds? All that bratwurst? Milwaukee is 21-7 at Miller Park, the club's best home record EVER after 28 games. But at 9-19 on the road, the Brewers are the worst in the NL. Manager Ron Roenicke is not yet a believer in the trend, figuring "if we go three months into" the season and things don't change, then it's a problem. One reason the Brewers' road mark could be skewed: They opened with 21 of 34 games on the road, including an 11-game trip and a 10-game trip during a cold and wet spring. Assuming they stay in contention, look out for the Brewers in September: They finish with 14 of 25 games at home.
-- Milwaukee right-hander Shaun Marcum, though stuck with a no-decision in Cincinnati on Wednesday night (and though teammate Zack Greinke has received more pub for fewer starts), has pitched like an All-Star. He's allowed one run or fewer in six of his 12 starts. "He wasn't under my radar," Roenicke says. "He's the same guy I've seen pitch in Toronto. He was in the toughest division in baseball, for me. That league can flat-out hit. If you can pitch in that division, you can pitch anywhere."
-- Maybe if a team can get through the early part of a game without genuflecting to the big, bad, Yankees, it'll have a chance: New York has pummeled opponents 83-44 over the first two innings of games this year, according to STATS LLC. The Yankees are outscoring their opposition 43-16 in the first innings.
-- Clint Hurdle for manager of the year? Pittsburgh winning its 17th road game on Wednesday night ... matching the Pirates' total for all of 2010 (17-64). They're 17-14 away from PNC Park so far in 2011.
-- Kirk Gibson for manager of the year? When Arizona moved into first place in the NL West after being 6 1/2 games back through April 30, the Diamondbacks became the first team in major league history to take sole possession of first place in their league (before 1969) or in their division (since 1969) during May after starting the month at least 6 1/2 back.
-- What's up with St. Louis' Chris Carpenter, an annual Cy Young candidate who is 1-5 with a 4.52 ERA over 12 starts? "I've been up and down all year," he says, pointing to one basic element for a pitcher that he's still battling: Fastball command.
-- Lance Berkman on his experience with Cardinals manager Tony La Russa this year: "Love him. He's great. He's such a players' guy. When you think of Tony La Russa, being a players' manager is not the first thing that jumps through your head. At least, not from watching him from the other side. But he's got a bunch of guys here who will run through a wall for him."
-- One significant difference between this year's Cardinals and last year's: The clubhouse atmosphere is far better in 2011. The stuff with Colby Rasmus has blown over. The presence of Berkman, in addition to that of Matt Holliday, has really helped. "He's unbelievable," Cards GM John Mozeliak says of Berkman. "He's a gentleman and a class act. I've really enjoyed getting to know him."
-- That the Yankees' Russell Martin currently is the AL All-Star leader at catcher is attention-grabbing. But the fact that Martin actually is deserving of consideration speaks more toward the dearth of quality catching than it
-- Most productive designated hitters: Red Sox (.315 combined average, 34 runs scored, .565 slugging percentage), Royals (.302, 31, .394 on-base percentage) and Indians (.299, 27 runs, .510 slugging). Least productive? Yankees (.185, 21 runs, .350 slugging), White Sox (.234, 21, .383 slugging) and Mariners (.242, 15, .328 slugging).
-- At 17-37, the Twins are 20 games below .500 for the first time since the end of the 2000 season (69-93).
-- So what is retired Braves manager Bobby Cox doing? He spent a nice summer's evening last week at the Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band's Atlanta show on the Welcome to Finland tour.
Likes: Former big leaguer Darin Erstad taking the job as head baseball coach at his beloved alma mater, Nebraska. ... Ian O'Connor's new book, The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter. ... Also, for you Giants fans, Worth The Wait, written by Brian Murphy and largely photographed by Brad Mangin, is beautifully done. ... The story on how Roger Ailes built the Fox news fear factory in the current issue of Rolling Stone. ... Professor Longhair's Rock and Roll Gumbo.
Dislikes: If it's anything like this, Michigan's "throwback" jersey for the night game against Notre Dame this Sept. 10 might make the game unwatchable.
"Good luck had just stung me
-- The Band, Up On Cripple Creek
Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Bobby Cox, Brian Murphy, Chris Carpenter, Clint Hurdle, Derek Jeter, Ian O'Connor, Kirk Gibson, Lance Berkman, Milwaukee Brewers, Nate McLouth, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates, Professor Longhair, Ron Roenicke, Russell Martin, Shaun Marcum, St. Louis Cardinals, The Band, Tony La Russa, Zack Greinke
Posted on: April 29, 2011 12:23 pm
You watch Tommy Hanson -- big (6-6), strong (220 pounds), young (24) and full-bearded -- and you see him throwing four pitches for strikes and you wonder: How, before throwing seven shutout innings in San Diego on Wednesday, did he have a losing record?
"Was he 2-3?" Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez responded when I popped that question.
The manager reached for the trash can and retrieved a crumpled up piece of paper. He eyed the sheet of statistics. He sighed.
"I would have never guessed that," Gonzalez said. "That's how well he's pitched."
Maybe, now that Hanson is 3-3, the trend will change. Last season, as the Braves returned to the playoffs for the first time in six years, he led the staff in strikeouts and tied Tim Hudson for the staff lead with 34 starts -- but finished 10-11.
In fact, he became the only Braves pitcher since the club moved to Atlanta in 1966 to make at least 30 starts, compile an ERA of 3.50 or better ... and still have a losing record.
In limiting the Padres to four hits while striking out 10, Hanson used each one of his pitches to great effect: Fastball, slider, changeup and curve. The big difference this year, he hopes, is that he's even more confident in his curve, and he's refined his slider enough that he's got more confidence in that.
Plus, what he's really locked in on this year is throwing each pitch with conviction.
"Don't take any pitches off," Hanson says. "It sounds so easy, but it's hard. If I take one pitch at a time and execute that pitch at that moment, I'm going to have some success."
He'll also have some success if the Braves score for him: One big reason he went 10-11 last season was because the Braves average just 2.3 runs while he was in the game in 2010, and just 4.1 runs total during games in which he started.
That run support was the 13th-worst in the NL among ERA qualifiers.