Tag:Colorado Rockies
Posted on: March 16, 2011 11:22 pm
 

Stuff my editors whacked from the column

PEORIA -- Outtakes from time spent hanging out with San Diego (the Padres, not the Chicken). ...

-- New center fielder Cameron Maybin breezed through an early gaffe: He tweeted at the beginning of camp that he had become ill after eating at Panda Express.

Innocent mistake. No, not eating at Panda Express, but tweeting about getting sick afterward. What he didn't know was that one of the Padres' minority owners also owns that fast-food chain.

Whoops.

He subsequently cleared that up on Twitter, and now it's a funny story. Not long afterward, the owner sent him a $100 gift certificate to Panda Express.

-- Ace Mat Latos is helping Maybin break in a second outfielder's glove this spring. Maybin has his gamer, but he -- and others -- always have a second glove he's breaking in. Latos' job: He's using Maybin's "future" gamer to shag balls during batting practice.

"Me and him chat in center field a lot, and whenever there's batting practice I'll get out there and use his glove," Latos says. "You've gotta help your outfielders. You think back to what Will Venable and Tony Gwynn Jr. did for me last year, making all those plays.

"He's a great guy. I've gotta put a pocket in there for him."

-- More glove talk: Veteran Brad Hawpe has a thankless job in "replacing" Adrian Gonzalez, but the former Colorado outfielder has a running start on a Gold Glove in moving to first base this year.

The glove he's using was given to him by former Rockies teammate Todd Helton, a three-time Gold Glove winner. One clue is the way "Todd Helton" is clearly stitched onto the thumb area of the black glove.

"I'm working on breaking in some other gloves, but until I get something ready, I'm using this one," says Hawpe, who was a first baseman in high school and at Louisiana State but moved to the outfield once he landed in the Colorado organization because Helton sure wasn't going anywhere.

Hawpe said the advice Helton gave him over the winter about playing first simply was to "keep everything slow."

There was not much teasing about Hawpe's impending position change.

"No," Hawpe says. "He's excited. Like he said, 'We're boys.' He was nothing but excited."

Sunblock Day: Whew boy, high of 90 on Wednesday. Hot, hot desert sun. Love it.

Likes: The Tee Pee Mexican joint in Phoenix. Funky little building and outstanding food. Recommended: The chicken burro covered with enchilada sauce. ... Tom Waits, Darlene Love and Leon Russell inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Perfect, and long overdue. Love is incredibly underrated and Waits is one of the all-time great songwriters and lyricists. And glad to see Elton John get Russell back in the limelight. Their disc, The Union, is very good. Some of Elton's best work in years. ... The Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central High basketball team beating Hillsdale 49-35 Wednesday night to win its first-ever Regional tournament. Next up for my Falcons: A state quarterfinal game next Tuesday against 24-0 Schoolcraft.

Dislikes: Too many teams and people left to see, and too few days left of spring training to get to everybody. It's going to take some creative scheduling.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"The piano has been drinking
"My necktie is asleep
"And the combo went back to New York
"The jukebox has to take a leak
"And the carpet needs a haircut
"And the spotlight looks like a prison break
"'Cause the telephone's out of cigarettes
"And the balcony's on the make
"And the piano has been drinking
"The piano has been drinking...
"And the menus are all freezing
"And the light man's blind in one eye
"And he can't see out of the other
"And the piano-tuner's got a hearing aid
"And he showed up with his mother
"And the piano has been drinking
"The piano has been drinking"

-- Tom Waits, The Piano Has Been Drinking (But Not Me)

Posted on: September 19, 2010 7:56 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2010 6:31 pm
 

Twins still unsure of Morneau's return

Justin Morneau finally is having many more good days than bad while battling post-concussion syndrome and for that, the Twins are thrilled.

But as for when we'll next see Morneau, the 2006 AL MVP who hasn't played since July 7, Morneau isn't far enough along to where the Twins feel they can address that definitively.

"He continues to make progress," Twins general manager Bill Smith says. "I don't know if he'll be back this year or not. As I've said, we're not going to do anything to jeopardize his long-term health or his long-term career.

"Those two things are much more important than whether he plays next week, or next month."

Morneau was hitting .345 with a 1.055 slugging percentage when he left the game on July 7. He had 18 homers and 56 RBIs in 81 games. He was set up for another monster year.

Then, bam.

Troublesome thing is, this isn't Morneau's first bout with a concussion in the majors, it isn't his first bout with a concussion, period. An old hockey player from Canada, Morneau had concussions on the ice before his baseball career started. He was disabled in April, 2005, with a concussion suffered when he was hit in the head with a Ron Villone pitch.

Those all feed into why the Twins and Morneau are forced to take thing so slowly this time. Good news for the club is, in Morneau's absence, Jim Thome has been incredibly productive in more at-bats than originally was planned. The Twins' depth has been a saving grace.

As for Morneau, Smith says, "Every one of us, including Justin, would love to have him back in the four hole."

Question is, when?

Likes: How much fun is this NL West race going to be these last two weeks? ... The Braves and Phillies this week. ... Watching Colorado's Todd Helton play first base. ... Watching Troy Tulowitzki swinging the way he's swinging. It's just incredible to watch. ... Looking forward to seeing Texas play this week. ... Ted Simmons, the Padres' bench coach, with his interest in managing. With all the jobs that will be open this winter, an imaginative team could make a real good hire. ... What a great thing that Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio should be OK after suffering a heart attack following the win over Notre Dame. ... Did you see that MSU-ND finish? If there are any more finishes close to that the rest of the way in college football, it's going to be a fun season. What a finish! ... Lots of good buzz about the new Hawaii Five-0 premiering this week on -- yes -- CBS, but what I love is that they kept the old theme song. That tells me right there that they're handling the show with care. ... Gotta get to the movie theater to see The Town. Don't know when I'll have time, but it looks like a winner.

Dislikes: Get the maple bats out of the game before someone gets killed. Come on, what's it going to take?

Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Now me and my mate were back at the shack
"We had Spike Jones on the box
"She said, "I can't take the way he sings
"But I love to hear him talk"
"Now that just gave my heart a throb
"To the bottom of my feet
"And I swore as I took another pull
"My Bessie can't be beat"

-- The Band, Up on Cripple Creek

Posted on: September 14, 2010 1:28 am
 

Tejada wins battle, Padres win the war

DENVER – Losers of 13 of their past 17 games and having watched a large first-place lead melt to nothing, the Padres to a man were on the top step of their dugout, hanging on the railing, when Miguel Tejada stepped up in the first inning with one out and one on.

The white-hot Rockies had won 10 in a row in what has evolved into a riveting NL West race.

With Tejada at the plate, the Padres' case of suspended animation was about to continue.

He battled Colorado starter Jeff Francis for nine pitches before ripping a two-run homer well over the left-field wall to kick-start San Diego's 6-4 win and break Colorado's 10-game winning streak.

For a badly slumping team that had scored only 38 runs over its past 17 games, Tejada produced exactly what was needed.

"He fought," manager Bud Black said. "Francis threw him everything. Miggy had some reactionary swings to some pitches, and he fought some balls off."

Tejada was behind in the count 0-1 and 1-2 before fouling off one pitch, taking a ball, fouling off another pitch, taking ball three and then fouling off two more. Then, bam. He crushed a full-count, 89 m.p.h. fastball.

"That was a great at-bat," Black said. "Those at-bats in a game, over the course of the game and after, you look back and say, 'That was a hell of an at-bat.'"

It was a veritable offensive boon for the Padres. Tejada wound up with four RBIs, and San Diego's Nos. 2-5 hitters -- Aaron Cunningham, Tejada, Adrian Gonzalez and Ryan Ludwick -- went 9-for-15.

The Padres led 5-0 but, as is typical in Coors Field, the Rockies charged back to within 5-4 -- Troy Tulowitzski's three-run homer in the fifth aided that -- before San Diego's six-man relief effort over 4 1/3 innings halted them.

"You talk about this park, a four- or five-run lead is really a one- or two-run lead," Black said. "You never really know how a game is going to play out here. You really don't."

Likes: Great drama in the ninth when, with the Padres ahead 6-4, closer Heath Bell walked leadoff man Seth Smith to ensure he would have to face smoking hot Carlos Gonzalez. Sure enough, CarGo, leading the NL in batting average, stepped to the plate with two out and one on. Bell induced a bouncer to shortstop. "Tonight, I broke his bat and I won," Bell said. "Hopefully, I don't have to face him tomorrow." ... Great game in Tampa, er, St. Petersburg on Monday. Tampa Bay moves into first place in the AL East with the 1-0 win. David Price and CC Sabathia lived up to the billing, one day after Tim Lincecum-Mat Latos didn't (well, Latos didn't) in the Giants-Padres battle in San Diego. ... Fontano's Chicago Subs in Denver. Had never been there before until lunch Monday, but will be back. ... Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central drilling Riverview on the high school football field Friday night. Excellent win in moving to 2-1. Next victim for the Falcons: Flat Rock.

Dislikes: Hate to see Florida shut down ace Josh Johnson with back issues, but it's the smart thing to do. So many people don't realize how good that guy is. ... The Video Music Awards the other night. Watched the first 30 minutes, and I never realized what a classless pig Chelsea Handler is. I've seen her books, but wow, her act was tiresome quick.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Born into Nixon I was raised in hell
"A welfare child where the teamsters dwelled
"The last one born, and the first one to run
"My town was blind from refinery sun
"My generation is zero
"I never made it as a working class hero
"21st century breakdown
"I once was lost but never was found
"I think I am losing what's left of my mind
"To the 20th century deadline"

-- Green Day, 21st Century Breakdown

Posted on: July 29, 2010 5:08 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2010 7:01 pm
 

Toronto's Downs hot property & other trade notes

Toronto was the focal point of last year's trade deadline, then-Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi was the point man and ace Roy Halladay was the bait.

A year later, Cliff Lee, Dan Haren and Roy Oswalt having been traded and Saturday's 4 p.m. EDT non-waivers trade deadline bearing down?

Toronto again is a focal point, first-year GM Alex Anthopoulos is the point man and reliever Scott Downs is getting as much action as anybody on the market.

Now Downs might not pack as much marquee punch as Halladay, but this year's trade market isn't exactly heavyweight, either.

And given the overwhelming bullpen needs of the majority of contenders this summer. ...

"He might be the best guy out there," the general manager of one club with interest in Downs says. "He's owed just a little more than $1 million, he's left-handed, he can close, he can set up. ..."

Among other clubs, the Blue Jays have fielded inquiries about Downs from the Yankees, Red Sox, Twins, Mets, Dodgers, Rockies, Giants, Reds and Phillies over the past several days.

Clubs also are watching Jays relievers Kevin Gregg and Jason Frasor.

-- The Nationals are holding out hope of signing slugger Adam Dunn to a contract extension between now and Saturday's trade deadline, which is why talks remain slow between them and other clubs like the White Sox, Yankees and Giants. If contract talks don't progress, trade talks are expected to.

-- The Dodgers, who obtained outfielder Scott Podsednik from Kansas City on Wednesday, still want to acquire a starting pitcher and worked hard to try and pry Roy Oswalt from Houston until the Phillies finally finished the deal. The Dodgers were given indications that Oswalt would have waived his no-trade clause to go there.

-- The Dodgers have scouted the Cubs' Ted Lilly but are lukewarm on him, particularly given that they'd get only about 10 starts for the roughly $4 million he's still owed. They also have had a scout sitting on Pittsburgh's Paul Maholm, who was blasted by the Rockies in Coors Field on Thursday (five earned runs, seven hits, 4 2/3 innings). The Pirates have not indicated yet whether they intend to move Maholm.

-- GM Ned Colletti thinks the chances of the Dodgers acquiring pitching help might be better in August given the slim pickings right now. Plus, Dodgers under Colletti have made several of their key moves in August. Last year, they added pitchers Vicente Padilla and Jon Garland, infielder Ronnie Belliard and pinch-hitter Jim Thome in August. Two years ago, they added Greg Maddux in August.

-- The Twins and Mets also continue to engage the Cubs regarding Lilly.

-- The sinking Rockies want to move starter Aaron Cook, according to one source, but there has not been much interest.

-- Philadelphia scouted Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa as a fallback in case Roy Oswalt did not work out.

-- The Angels, who are just about DOA right now, had been working toward a deal for the Cubs' Derrek Lee for several weeks before Lee nixed it. Angels outfielder Torii Hunter had dinner with Lee in Chicago on June 18 after that afternoon's game that doubled as a recruiting session. Lee must be one of the few people in baseball who can't be charmed by Hunter.

-- Multiple clubs have asked Milwaukee about veteran outfielder Jim Edmonds, but Edmonds has told the Brewers he does not want to go anywhere. He particularly would make sense for San Francisco, which is looking for an outfielder who can improve the offense.

-- This shoulder stiffness that sent Washington's Stephen Strasburg to the disabled list on Thursday is something completely new. His college coach, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, said at Petco Park on Wednesday night that Strasburg never had a shoulder or arm problem in three seasons at San Diego State. Not even something minor. "None. Zero. Nothing," Gwynn said.

Posted on: July 13, 2010 8:39 pm
 

Setting the stage at the All-Star Game

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: July 12, 2010 8:28 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2010 8:32 pm
 

Will young power arms finally shift tide to NL?

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- How long has it been since the National League has won a freakin' All-Star Game?

Let's just say this: Last time the NL won, 1996 in Philadelphia, Bob Dole was running for president.

It's weird, it's bizarre, it's ugly and it's a subject the National Leaguers get tired of answering. Current count: The AL's unbeaten streak has reached 13 years, including winning the past seven in a row (since the humiliating 2002 tie in Milwaukee).

Yet silly as this sounds, there is a very real sense that the tide might be beginning to shift away from Junior Circuit dominance in the Mid-Summer Classic.

Reasons?

Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez. Florida's Josh Johnson. San Francisco's Tim Lincecum. Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo. All All-Stars this year. And, Washington's Stephen Strasburg, and San Diego's Mat Latos, who very well could debut as All-Stars next summer when the game hits Phoenix.

You know about Strasburg. And Latos was the next pitcher NL manager Charlie Manuel would have chosen in the event of one more injury scratch.

"It needs to turn for us, the way it's been going," says San Diego manager Bud Black, a coach on Manuel's NL staff this week. "There are some fine young power arms in the National League.

"Hey, the American League's no slouch either, with David Price and CC Sabathia. And Felix Hernandez can probably throw it as hard as he wants to."

No question. But there is more sizzle in the NL's pitching this summer -- especially given all the incredibly talented young arms -- than there has been in quite some time.

"Just looking at our staff, I know I wouldn't want to be a hitter on the other side," says Mets third baseman David Wright, who has been in the NL clubhouse for the past four losses. "We have some power arms, really, top to bottom. Just seeing their age and the ability and the upside and what they've accomplished already is amazing.

"I know how I feel with a bat in my hands in the box against these guys. Then when you string together the depth that the NL has with their young power arms, it's pretty impressive."

Jimenez comes into the game with 15 wins, a no-hitter against Atlanta this year and a 33-inning scoreless streak compiled during one especially torrid stretch in May and June.

Johnson leads the majors with a 1.70 ERA and has allowed no more than one earned run in 10 of his past 11 starts.

Lincecum has won back-to-back Cy Young awards, Strasburg is showing signs of having Cy Young stuff ... the list goes on.

"I know you've got Strasburg, Jimenez, Josh Johnson ... those guys throw hard," Angels outfielder Torii Hunter says. "They're filthy. I've been watching them on television."

In the NL, Wright has been watching most of them from the batter's box.

"You know that it's going to be a rough day when you're battling to draw a walk," Wright says. "Or you're battling to plate one guy and you know you have to be perfect as far as situational hitting just to plate a run, that you're not going to have that big inning where you can put up some crooked numbers.

"Where you have to battle and grind and fight and almost hope that the other team makes a mistake. You know what an uncomfortable at-bat it is. You know what they're capable of doing."

Add Philadelphia's veteran ace Roy Halladay, who will pitch for the NL for the first time following six All-Star appearances for the AL, and Atlanta's cagey Tim Hudson, who is making his NL debut Tuesday following Tommy John ligament transfer surgery (and two All-Star selections when he was pitching in the AL), and it's not an easy staff to face.

As for Jimenez and Johnson, the NL's two most dominant pitchers in the first half and the ones many AL hitters will see for the first time on Tuesday night, well, Wright says his least favorite to face is. ...

"Neither. We've been fortunate in that we've missed Josh Johnson the last few times we've played the Marlins, but it's no fun having him in the division.

"When you go in for a series in Miami, you always know which day Josh is pitching. You know you'd better win the game before that or the game after that or the other games because you're likely not going to win that one."

Whether the same will hold true for the All-Star Game, well ... it's got to turn one of these years, doesn't it?

Posted on: July 4, 2010 4:49 pm
 

All-Star questions, snubs and thoughts

-- Stephen Strasburg, discuss.

-- OK, here's my part of the discussion: I think the right thing was done not only in leaving him off of the All-Star ballot, but also in not listing him among the final five men for whom fans can vote. You know he would have won that in a landslide. As I blogged the other day, the guy's career has barely achieved liftoff -- there are others in line in front of him for the All-Star Game. Besides, the Nationals are so worried about his innings-pitched count that they're probably going to shut him down by early September. So why shouldn't he wait a year or two before making his All-Star debut? That said, it's one hell of an argument, and colleague Gregg Doyel makes the contrary argument (big surprise there, huh?) here and, as usual, does it very well. He's wrong, but he's good.

-- Biggest snub? Colorado catcher Miguel Olivo not being on the NL team. Forget a simple roster spot. He should be starting.

-- How can the San Diego Padres have by far the best pitching staff in the game one-through-12 this season and not have one pitcher on the NL team? Closer Heath Bell is one of the five players up for the fan vote for the last spot on the team. But starter Mat Latos (9-4, 2.62 ERA) should be on the team, and starter Clayton Richard (6-4, 2.74) merits consideration. But the real snub is that set-up man Luke Gregerson didn't make it despite a strikeout-walk ratio that is sick: 51 K's against six walks over 40 1/3 innings. What, the NL team has a death wish by not inviting San Diego pitchers?

-- Best All-Star story: Cincinnati reliever Arthur Rhodes, who, as a 40-year-old first-time All-Star, is the third-oldest All-Star "rookie" in history. Rhodes from April 13-June 26 made 33 appearances for the Reds without allowing a run, equaling a single-season record he now shares with Mark Guthrie (2002, Mets) and Mike Myers (2000, Rockies).

-- Nicest All-Star story: Arizona outfielder Chris Young, who got himself so twisted up at the plate last season that the Diamondbacks shipped him back to Triple-A to fix his mechanics (and for his own sanity) last summer, bounces back to earn his way onto the NL team. Young has 16 homers, 57 RBI and 14 steals and is one of the few bright spots in Arizona this summer.

-- With the 5 p.m. start time to the Tuesday, July 13 game in Anaheim, you'll be hearing so much about "twilight" you'll think vampires (or Kristen Stewart) will be playing. No question, in the Year of the Pitcher, pitching should dominate for at least the first half of the game. Hitters will not be too crazy facing Ubaldo Jimenez, Roy Halladay, Josh Johnson, David Price, Jon Lester, Cliff Lee and the rest in the twilight.

-- Quick reference guide: The American League has won seven consecutive All-Star Games since the tie in Milwaukee in 2002, and 12 of the past 13 (including the tie). The NL has not won since 1996 in Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium.

-- The new rule this year by which each manager can designate a position player to re-enter that game in the late (or extra innings) if the last available position player at any position is injured) is cheesy. I know Commissioner Bud Selig's special on-field committee is a crack staff, but it won't be long until we'll have Little League everybody on the roster gets to bat rules in place. Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio used to play seven, eight, nine innings. Today's "everybody gets a chance to play" mentality is weak.

-- As the sole representative from the host Angels, one of Torii Hunter's duties, no doubt, will be to introduce all of his AL teammates to the Rally Monkey.

-- You'll also be seeing endless replays of the big Bo Jackson 448-foot homer to dead center field against Rick Reuschel in the 1989 game.

-- Vladimir Guerrero returning to Angel Stadium as an All-Star with Texas will be intriguing to everyone but Angels fans.

-- Rookie Jason Heyward's announced plan to participate in batting practice with the NL All-Stars, because he was voted in by fans, but to sit out the game, because he's on the disabled list, is classy.

-- Final man votes: I'd go Paul Konerko of the White Sox in the AL, and Cincinnati's Joey Votto in the NL.

-- The painted Mickey Mouses (most featuring All-Star designs on Mickey) they're placing around Anaheim look very cool. And this from a cranky guy who doesn't give two hoots for Mickey, and a guy who generally avoids Disneyland (and Disneyworld) at all costs (I just despise crowded places where you stand in line forever).

Likes: The long piece on Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in Sunday's New York Times magazine. ... Seeing clips of Lou Gehrig's "Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth" each July 4 -- it was delivered 71 years ago Sunday -- never fails to produce chills. ... I'm not much for reality shows -- sports or otherwise -- but The Club, centered on the crazy Chicago White Sox, on MLB Network later this month looks too dramatic to pass up. ... George Steinbrenner's birthday being on July 4. How perfect is that? ... Man, does the Padres' Tony Gwynn Jr. have wheels.

Dislikes: We can all argue All-Star snubs, but there are too many players on each roster already. The 34-man rosters are ridiculous.

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 wanna know your name
"Driving in to Darlington city
"Got a union connection with an uncle of Wayne's
"We drove 800 miles without seeing a cop
"We got rock and roll music blasting out the T-top"

-- Bruce Springsteen, Darlington County

Posted on: July 2, 2010 9:11 pm
 

Jimenez, Price aligned for All-Star Game

If American League manager Joe Girardi chooses to start Tampa Bay's David Price in the July 13 All-Star Game -- a very real possibility given that Price led the AL in ERA (2.44) and wins (11) on Friday -- the coast is clear.

And if National League manager Charlie Manuel gives the nod to Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez -- which seems a slam dunk -- that should work, too.

In the first season in which baseball will deem ineligible any starting pitcher working on the Sunday before the All-Star break, the view from several days out looks pretty good.

Of the top AL starters, only the Angels' Jered Weaver (who leads the majors with 124 strikeouts), Tampa Bay's Jeff Niemann and the Yankees' CC Sabathia currently are projected to start for their clubs on that Sunday.

Among the NL's top starters, only the Mets' Mike Pelfrey is slated to start on Sunday, July 11. But depending on what manager Jerry Manuel does with his pitching on the club's off-day on Thursday, July 8, that could change.

Price, a serious candidate to start for the AL, is scheduled to make his final pre-All Star start for Tampa Bay on Wednesday, which would leave him plenty rested for the Anaheim game. And if Girardi looks in a different direction, Seattle's Cliff Lee (last first-half start next Friday), Boston's Jon Lester (Friday) and Clay Buchholz (Tuesday), the Yankees' own Phil Hughes (Friday) and Texas' Colby Lewis (Wednesday) all should be eligible.

Jimenez makes his final pre-All Star start on Thursday and, assuming good health, should be a foregone conclusion to start for the NL in Anaheim.

As for the rest of the NL's top starters, things are setting up very nicely for Manuel: Florida's Josh Johnson (final first-half start slotted for Wednesday), St. Louis' Chris Carpenter (Friday), Adam Wainwright (Saturday) and Jaime Garcia (Thursday), Philadelphia's Roy Halladay (Saturday), Atlanta's Tim Hudson (Friday or Saturday), Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo (Friday), the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw (Thursday), San Diego's Mat Latos (Wednesday) and San Francisco's Tim Lincecum (Wednesday) and Barry Zito (Thursday)  all should be fresh for the game.

Likes: Great move by Texas acquiring catcher Bengie Molina. Look out, this is the strongest team the Rangers have had in several years. ... The wheels came off the wagon horribly in Arizona, but make no mistake: Fired general manager Josh Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch are good people. ... New Arizona manager Kirk Gibson's first game in the dugout, of course, is against the Dodgers. Who else? ... The All-Star break just around the corner and Texas, Atlanta, Cincinnati and San Diego in first place. ... The new concert DVD from Bruce Springsteen and the E St. Band, Live in Hyde Park. Very, very good. Great song selections, tremendous playing and some breathtaking camera work of both the band's work and the crowd in Hyde Park. ... Quaker Oatmeal Squares for breakfast. ... Ben & Jerry's Milk and Cookies ice cream.

Dislikes: It's July, so here comes the July 31 trade deadline, a time that you would think would get a baseball writer's juices flowing. And it does mine, too -- it's fun to see the moves as they're made -- but it's also become one of my least favorite times of the year because there is so, so much wrong information that will be produced this month. And ferreting out the truth from the fiction is next to impossible. The sad, simple fact is the journalism bar at times is lowered today, and this is one of them.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Summer
"It turns me upside down"

-- The Cars, Magic

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