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Tag:San Francisco Giants
Posted on: July 26, 2011 11:49 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2011 12:03 am
 

Upton draws interest, gets advice from brother

You bet the rumors swirling around his Tampa Bay batting helmet have gotten B.J. Upton's attention.

"Thanks for all the support on twitter - I appreciate it," he tweeted from his @BJUPTON2 account Tuesday -- presumably as Atlanta, or Cincinnati, or San Francisco phoned Rays general manager Andrew Friedman yet again.

"Now I know how my brother felt this offseason," came another tweet from Upton. "Anyone hear any good trade rumors this week? Still here!"

Matter of fact, the buzz grew louder Tuesday surrounding Upton. Several industry sources believe that the Rays, at 9 1/2 games out in the AL East, will dump Upton by Sunday's non-waiver trading deadline the same way they dumped Matt Garza and bade farewell to free agents Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and Grant Balfour last winter.

Money -- the lack of it, thanks in no small part to horrible attendance in Tropicana Field -- remains a significant problem for the Rays. And it's not getting any better.

Several clubs are looking for the kind of spark that Upton (.229, 15 homers, 53 RBIs, 23 steals, terrific defense) can provide. He would fit perfectly in San Francisco, especially if the Giants fall short in their quest to obtain the Mets' Carlos Beltran. The Giants, according to sources, have interest. So, too, do the Nationals, Reds, Pirates, Braves, Cardinals and, possibly, the Phillies writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

And B.J. is right -- brother Justin, Arizona's right-fielder -- went through a similar stretch last winter.

"I've talked to him, and we laugh about it," Justin told me Tuesday afternoon. "When it comes down to it, like last winter with me, it's out of your control. You just have to do your thing, see what happens and let it be."

Difference is, Arizona is committed to Justin Upton, 23. Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers made that clear last winter when he traded third baseman Mark Reynolds to Baltimore.

The Rays? Not so much with B.J., 26 -- much to Upton's chagrin.

"Obviously, he's played his whole career there and he lives there," says Justin, who said the brothers probably talk four or five times a week. "He wants to stay. It's always tough in a situation like that."

Ubaldo Jimenez to Yankees?

The Yankees appear to be in the best shape to acquire Ubaldo Jimenez if the Rockies decide to deal him, as colleague Danny Knobler writes. Here are takes from two scouts who have watched Jimenez pitch in recent days:

Scout one: "Quite frankly, he's not the same guy as he was last year. Before, when he needed to go get it, he'd hit 100 m.p.h. When I saw him in Denver, he'd reach back to muscle up and it was 95. [Atlanta's] Scott Proctor threw harder. If Ubaldo at sea level is 91, 92, 93, he's not the same guy."

Scout two: "I can't imagine Jimenez going anywhere. If he's on a real frickin' contender, he's a No. 3 right now. Something's missing."

Short hops, quick pops and backhand stops:

--Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers says he thinks Friday and Saturday will be the key days when the trade market loosens up and the action begins. "There are a lot of clubs out there with scouts looking at minor league clubs right now," Towers says.

-- While you might think they're looking to replace injured shortstop Stephen Drew, Towers says he is looking for pitching, pitching and pitching. Starting and/or relief.

-- The Giants, Rangers and Phillies have scouts in Cincinnati this week watching Mets' outfielder Carlos Beltran as New York GM Sandy Alderson enters the crucial final days before making one of the more significant decisions in recent Mets history. "Beltran looks real good right now," another scout who has been watching in Cincinnati this week says. "He's looking healthy."

-- One club that has spoken with Washington say closer Drew Storen can be obtained in the right deal.

-- Rival clubs say the Angels are diving into the trade market after owner Arte Moreno, hesitant at first, now has approved additional payroll for midseason help. While the Angels are looking for a third baseman, they would send shortstop Erick Aybar to the Mets for Jose Reyes straight up and take the rest of Reyes' $9 million 2011 salary if New York would bite (the Mets won't, they're keeping Reyes). "I'd do that if I'm the Mets," one NL executive says. "They're not going to be able to re-sign him. How can you give Reyes 10 years at $20 million [each] when he's hurt all the time?

-- Minnesota doggedly has insisted it can win a weak AL Central for the past month, and Tuesday night's comeback win in Texas was a big one. If the Twins do decide to become sellers, don't be surprised if they make outfielder Delmon Young available.

-- Well, in a weak market for starting pitchers, look who's coming off of the disabled list to start Friday for Seattle: Erik Bedard. He'll start against Tampa Bay unless something happens between now and Friday, and you can bet the scouts will swarm Safeco Field. Bedard has not thrown more than 100 innings in a season since 2007. He's at 90 now, so look out.

-- Twins right-hander Kevin Slowey continues to draw interest and Minnesota is expected to deal him.

-- The Marlins are looking to add, not subtract, and do not intend to deal closer Leo Nunez unless blown away with an offer. Florida is moving into a new stadium next season and has not gained near the momentum they had hoped this summer.

-- About that odd timing of Milwaukee acquiring closer Francisco Rodriguez and announcing it just after the All-Star Game ended? Rodriguez's former agent Paul Kinzer had failed to submit proper paperwork for K-Rod's 10-team no-trade list -- Milwaukee was on it -- and with K-Rod having hired Scott Boras recently, Mets GM Sandy Alderson was afraid Boras would correct the oversight. That's why, once the Mets and Brewers agreed to the deal, Alderson wanted it finalized as soon as possible, afraid that if they waited even one more day, Boras would get the list in and K-Rod would have power to scotch the deal.

-- Wonder what's taking so long for the trades to happen this week? Wonder why you read some rumors that turn out to be badly off the trail? Some insight from legendary executive Pat Gillick's Hall of Fame speech on Sunday: "As a young scout I, remember hiding up in trees with binoculars so no other scout would know I was interested in a prospect. I remember the assumed names or clever tactics we all used to get an edge and throw others off the scent."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 17, 2011 8:55 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 12:06 pm
 

Everybody's a critic -- and fan -- in Pittsburgh

Until Sunday, Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan had been perfect this year, converting each of his 26 save opportunities.

But as is the case with any great artist, sometimes perfection isn't quite enough.

"My dad texted me [recently] and said, 'You're going to have to start doing a commercial for Just For Men, get an endorsement from them, with all the gray hair I'm getting'," Hanrahan says.

In the old days, not many more folks than the Pirates' dads were watching in Pittsburgh. But with Clint Hurdle's club playing well and gaining momentum, it's amazing who's paying attention. The crowds are starting to swell. The Bucs are averaging 23,578, and weekend crowds of 30,000-plus are becoming a regular thing. A community, you might say, is being galvanized by an unexpected source.

"Fans in Pittsburgh are excellent baseball fans," Hanrahan says. "Everyone knows about Penguins fans and Steelers fans, but now we're starting to see Pirates fans. Weekends are selling out.

"Our fans are really knowledgeable, and they don't feel embarrassed to come out any more. Before, the real baseball fans were sitting home cussing out the TV and cussing out the Pirates. And before, the fans who would come to see us were rocking Steelers' shirts.

"But now, you're seeing Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker jerseys everywhere. It's a lot more fun."

Hanrahan, by the way, blew a save opportunity Sunday in Houston -- his first after converting each of 28 save opportunities in a row dating back to last season. But after he's picked up the Bucs so often this year, they picked him up and wound up beating the Astros in 11 innings.

That's the way it's been going in Pittsburgh this summer.

Likes: Looking forward to watching the Pirates' next test, 12 games against teams with a combined record of 212-167 -- Cincinnati, St. Louis, Philadelphia and Atlanta. ... Eli Whiteside actually stealing a base on Sunday (second of his career). ... Giants manager Bruce Bochy calling a (successful) suicide squeeze. When you're that offensively challenged, you've got to figure out ways, man. ... The weekend's Tigers-White Sox series. Midsummer, and it's easy to sense that each series is taking on a little more importance. ... National Ice Cream Day on Sunday. How can you not participate in that?

Dislikes: Disneyland ... Mickey Mouse. ... Goofy ... Snow White ... long lines ... overpriced tickets ... waiting in line 45 minutes for a roller coaster and then it breaks down when you're on the platform, up next ... overrated places.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I know the rent is in arrears
"The dog has not been fed in years
"It's even worse than it appears, but
"It's alright
"Cows giving kerosene
"Kid can't read at seventeen
"The words he knows are all obscene, but
"It's alright
"I will get by, I will get by, I will get by
"I will survive"

-- Grateful Dead, Touch of Grey

Posted on: July 11, 2011 9:07 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 10:12 pm
 

Sunday pitcher rule needs revisiting

PHOENIX -- You know what would really throw some gusto into this All-Star Game?

If Detroit's Justin Verlander were opposing Philadelphia's Roy Halladay on the mound, that's what.

Except, as you may have heard, because of a new rule instituted last year, starting pitchers who work on Sunday are ineligible to play in the All-Star Game.

So Verlander is here, watching the game just like you. Only difference is, Verlander gets to dress in uniform and hang out in the clubhouse.

It is a well-intentioned rule, and the spirit in which it was instituted is right (and no disrespect to the Angels' Jered Weaver, who will start for the AL and is pretty darned good himself). But it needs to be revisited.

In most cases, a pitcher throws in the bullpen two days after a start.

So there is no reason why, say, Verlander, can't contribute one inning in Tuesday's game (in what effect would be akin to a post-start bullpen session).

NL (and Giants) manager Bruce Bochy disagrees.

"I think it's a good rule," Bochy says. "I was caught in this back in '99 where a couple of pitchers pitched on Sunday, and I was actually told that they would be available for an inning. Then once they got there, [I was told] they would prefer them not to pitch, so it puts the manager in a tough spot.

"I think that takes care of that. If he throws on Sunday, he can't pitch. And that way you don't come out short-handed. We need to have all 13 pitchers available."

There you have it, same as designating a closer and refusing to change: It allows a manager to cover his rear end and shut down all critics with an easy answer along the lines of, "That's the way it is, I didn't have a choice."

No question, managers are put in tough positions at the All-Star Game, especially in regard to pitching.

A manager's first responsibility is to return pitchers healthy to their respective teams. You can't blame clubs for getting jumpy about it. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly planned to ask Bochy to only use Clayton Kershaw for one inning Tuesday night because the Dodgers have slotted Kershaw to start their second-half opener Friday in Arizona.

Still. They can't contribute one inning on Tuesday?

AL (and Rangers) manager Ron Washington said "I'm all good with it."

The Sunday rule -- and other All-Star issues -- is being discussed by players and owners as they work toward reaching a new Basic Agreement (the current one expires after this season), according to sources.

It's too early to say whether there will be a change for 2012. But certainly, the trend has been to protect players more, not less.

Verlander, who beat Kansas City on Sunday, is enjoying the scene here and said Monday he understands why the rule was put into place -- and supports it.

"I think it's probably a smart rule," he said.

Yeah, but if his Tigers advance to the World Series this year ... but have to open on the road because the NL won the All-Star Game when Verlander couldn't pitch?

Wouldn't he be angry then?

"I probably would be, in that case," he said, grinning.

 

Posted on: July 11, 2011 8:13 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 8:30 pm
 

Jurrjens disappointed not to start, understands

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.

That's because manager Bruce Bochy chose old standby Roy Halladay of Philadelphia to start, opposing the Angels' Jered Weaver.

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 1, 2011 6:57 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2011 7:37 pm
 

Love Letters: Posey, Pujols and more

Only good thing about these collisions between the readers and me is, MY home plate involves pepperoni pizza and Cheetos instead of catcher's gear. ...

FROM: Tom O.
Re.: Posey's injury is sad, but baseball rules are just fine

I disagree with your assessment of the Posey/Cousins play. Cousins lowered his shoulder, barreled into Posey and had no visible intention to even touch home plate. I can't even see how anyone would come to the conclusion that Cousins was not trying to mow down the catcher. The NFL has taken numerous steps to protect its defenseless players -- just ask James Harrison. Why can't MLB do the same? Now, we have rising popular star Buster Posey out for the season and maybe never the same player, while Scott Cousins continues to be a mediocre pinch-itter. Great for the game. As a baseball writer you, in my opinion are wrong.

No disagreement with your premise that Cousins wasn't looking for impact. He was. My point is, Posey clearly was moving toward the plate as well. The runner has a right to the plate. And Cousins landed on the plate.

FROM: Jason

I agree the rule doesn't need to be changed because Posey was not blocking the plate. It was a dirty play no matter how much some of you a-holes try to defend it.

You're wrong. And watch who you're calling an a-hole, or I'll have Scott Cousins come mow YOU over.

FROM: Tony

Here's a thought. If you think that a collision at home plate could be dangerous and you could get hurt -- STAY IN THE DUGOUT!

Or go play for the Athletics, where GM Billy Beane has advised Kurt Suzuki to stay out of the way and make sweep tags.

FROM: A. C. K.

Sorry Scott, but I don't agree that Buster Posey should be on the disabled list because of your macho attitude! All you have to do is place another plate three feet off to the side with a line drawn perpendicular to the original home plate and add a commitment line 30 feet towards third base. That way, once the runner crosses the commitment line, it becomes a force out at home with no possibility of collision between the runner and the catcher.

A "commitment line"? Come on, you know how guys are with commitments. What are you, somebody's longtime girlfriend waiting for a ring?

FROM: Bill C.

Let me get this straight -- it is illegal for a baserunner to run into a second baseman or shortstop who is trying to make a play on a grounder, but it is perfectly legal for a baserunner to run into the catcher who is trying to catch a throw. Somehow the logic eludes me. It was illegal for A-Rod to swat at Bronson Arroyo's glove running down first base and knocking the ball free in Game 6 in 2004, but it is perfectly legal for the baserunner to bowl over the catcher and knock the ball free? What am I missing?

On the other hand, it IS legal for a runner to slide hard and take out the second baseman on a potential double play.

FROM: Stephen F.

Scott, you are a dumba. This situation would have been an ejection in all levels of baseball through high school, including travel, etc. Our kids watch these players and mimic them. I have seen six get ejected this season alone in higher levels of youth and young adult baseball. It is not a necessary part of the game and safety is first. Follow the high school or travel rules as a model and move on before we watch someone get killed at the plate.

Bad comparison, because it's not the same game. They use aluminum bats in high school, too. Do that in the majors, we'd be watching a pitcher get killed. But I commend you on your use of urban slang.

FROM:
Willie
Re.: What's the deal with Pujols' lumber slumber?

What a bogus headline. If that is what this scout gets paid for, I'm ready to tell teams where they can start sending my check. I can tell you that's NOT the problem, just from being a Cardinals fan all these years and watching the games. Albert Pujols gets into a slump every year, usually early in the season, because he's pulling everything. NOTHING NEW HERE!

Move along, move along.

FROM: Steve T.

The article on Albert Pujols' slow start is fair because it is what it is ... a slow start. Any of the [message-board] posters who think he won't still get his big contract are in La La Land!

I can tell you this: Judging from my e-mail in-box, the population of La La Land is rapidly increasing.

FROM: Paul D.
Re.: Weekend Buzz: Interleague play -- painful to watch, worse to play

I think there should be 15 teams in both the American & the National League. Each league has only one division. Each team plays 150 games, 10 against each team, 5 home, 5 away. The first 4 teams in the division make the playoffs. With this format, there would be a TRUE American and National League Champion. They would play all the teams the same amount of times.

That means interleague play every day of the season. Because if not, with an odd number of teams in each league, somebody has to have a day off every day of the week. So let's pass on your idea.

FROM: Jay

Throwback uniforms: this to prove you cannot please everyone - I LOVED 'em !!!!!!!!

Oh come on. You must dig leisure suits and mullets, too?

FROM: Scott

Respectfully, interleague play is just fine and a lot of fun to watch. I think perhaps the Cubs have more problems than a couple of games against the Red Sox -- those uniforms were so bad they were almost good.

Blech.

FROM: Patrick B.

Help me understand why baseball people complain about interleague schedule unfairness when by and large, the most popular sport, the NFL, is fine with it. The Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers both finished 10-6, and were competing for Wild Cards in the NFC. They shared four common opponents Atlanta, San Fran, Detroit and Washington. This didn't cause NFL writers/teams/fans to go crazy. Were the Buccaneers disadvantaged? I didn't hear a peep about it. Why is it NFL teams can play almost completely different schedules and it's no cause for a massive restructuring, yet MLB's unbalanced schedule is this awful, awful thing?

For starters, because all NFL teams play under the same rules. When an AL club with a strong DH hosts an NL club with a utility infielder masquerading as a DH, the playing field is woefully tilted. Any other questions?

FROM: Matt

Got to agree with you about interleague play, but what I'd rather see instead of dropping it completely is seeing each team play every team once a year. For instance, if the Braves are making a West Coast swing, add in the A's or Angels for a three-game series. Of course, I'm still for a balanced schedule in both leagues as well. It does get old at the end of the season when we're seeing the same players opposing for the 16th, 17th, and 18th times.

Put me down for the balanced schedule.

FROM: Shawn

I couldn't agree more. Interleague needs to go, pitchers need to be baseball players in the American league and the unbalanced schedule needs to go away.

Bing, bam, boom. You are one enlightened dude.

FROM: Joe W.

I am 52 years old and a lifelong Giants fan. I hate interleague play. I have hated it from the beginning back in 1997. The winner of the All-Star game determining which league gets the extra home game in the World Series is ridiculous, but that's another subject. ... If I were commissioner I would do away with interleague play, the designated hitter, the winner of the All-Star game determining home field advantage in the World Series, fans voting for the All-Star game players and Velcro batting gloves. By the way, I hate interleague play. I just wanted to vent a little and sound off. Thanks. Out.

I understand, and I feel your anger on almost every point. But ... Velcro batting gloves? Now you're just looking to kick the dog when you get home from work.

Likes: Marlins rookie Logan Morrison on Twitter, @LoMoMarlins. ... The drama of Justin Smoak's three-run homer Tuesday night with the Mariners four outs from losing to Baltimore. Cool things are going on in Seattle right now. ... Derek Jeter's run at 3,000 hits. Amazing that no Yankee has ever done it. ... Cartoon Gold, from Go Go Boots, the latest disc from the Drive-By Truckers. ... Old REO Speedwagon, back in the You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can't Tuna Fish era.

Dislikes: Sorry, but The Hangover: Part II is absolutely brutal. ... Another report that cell phones might cause brain cancer. Great, one more thing to worry about. ... Chatty people at the gym, particularly on cell phones while "working out."

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Someday I'll be living in a big ol' city
"And all you're ever going to be is mean
"Someday I'll be big enough so you can't hit me
"And all you're ever going to be is mean
"Why you gotta be so mean?"

-- Taylor Swift, Mean

 


Posted on: May 13, 2011 1:03 pm
 

Without Kendrys, Angels lean on Kendrick

Well, that sure went pffft in a hurry at the Big A.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia last Dec. 7: "We fully anticipate Kendrys Morales back doing what he wants to, or what he can do."

Angels orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum on May 11: "Kendrys worked as hard as any athlete I've ever worked with in coming back from a devastating injury, and he hasn't been able to do it."

So, to review how this week has gone for the Angels: Morales to the surgeon's table (again), and Vernon Wells to the disabled list (groin). Groan, and grin. What are you going to do? Especially with a big weekend series coming up in Texas.

For now, in a move reminiscent of Chone Figgins' versatility, Howard Kendrick is grabbing his outfield glove.

After Wells left in the fourth inning Monday, Kendrick started each of the next two games in left field.

Total major-league time in the outfield for Kendrick since 2006 until now: Two-thirds of an inning, in center field, last year. Mostly, Kendrick has played second base for the Angels, with some first base mixed in.

"There's no question he can move around," Scioscia says. "Howie's a terrific athlete. He has the speed to play center field. Outfield is a great option for a guy with his athleticism."

The overriding factor is that the Angels want to make sure Kendrick's bat stays in the lineup. He's hitting .320 through the first 38 games, with a .381 on-base percentage. Torii Hunter has been predicting for years that Kendrick one day will win a batting title. Until now, nobody ever figured it could be as an outfielder.

But while Morales is out for the season, the Angels do not expect Wells to be out much more than a couple of weeks. So don't get any ideas about Kendrick permanently moving to the outfield.

"We're doing this purely on a need basis," Scioscia says. "He shags balls, he's fine tracking the ball, he runs good routes ... I don't think it's too far removed to ask a player to do what he's doing."

-- Kendrick's move is a little like that of the Twins' Michael Cuddyer in reverse. When Orlando Hudson went down last year, manager Ron Gardenhire for a time moved Cuddyer, a former high school shortstop, from right field to second base.

-- Three key young players playing unexpected pivotal roles for the Angels each was drafted under Eddie Bane, who was fired as the Angels' director of scouting last fall: Pitcher Tyler Chatwood (second round, 2008), first baseman/outfielder Mark Trumbo (18th round, 2004) and catcher Hank Conger (first round, 2006). Also chosen under Bane: Mike Trout, currently at Double-A Arkansas and listed by Baseball America as the game's second-best prospect. Just sayin'.

-- Talk to me about that Giants' pitching: Look who's back in first place in the NL West following a picture-perfect homestand in which they swept division rivals Colorado (three games) and Arizona (three more). And as is always the case with San Francisco, the prime reasons for the surge are cats named Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez, etc. In making their move this week, the Giants, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, became the first team in major league history to sweep a homestand of six-or-more games without scoring more than four runs in any game.

-- Most stunning statistic of the year: Tampa Bay through midweek had the best bullpen in the American League based on its league-leading 2.71 ERA (fourth-best in the majors). For a team that was forced to replace seven of its top eighth relievers from 2010 over the winter (based on innings pitched), you sure couldn't tell.

-- The flip side of that preceding Rays' bullpen statistic, though, is this: As it so often is with good bullpens, no small part of the Rays' success can be attributed to a knockout rotation that works deep into games and does not overtax the relievers. While the Rays' bullpen ERA is the AL's best, their 93 innings pitched are the fewest of any big league bullpen.

-- A few more things on this crazy White Sox six-man rotation: Pitching coach Don Cooper and manager Ozzie Guillen have instructed the four starters not named Mark Buehrle or Jake Peavy -- that would be John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Edwin Jackson and Phil Humber -- to be prepared to work out of the bullpen, if needed, on the second and third days after their starts. "We don't want to use them, and we'll try not to use them," Cooper says.

-- Another benefit, from the Sox's view, of the six-man rotation: "If one of them is at seven innings and 95 pitches, he can go back out there because he'll have an extra day [before his next start]," Cooper says. The pitching coach also has delivered a pre-emptive strike against any moaning by someone claiming to be thrown off rhythm after a loss: He's told each of his starters that "the only people who have a right to be thrown out of whack by this are the opposing hitters, not us."

-- One side benefit of Jake Peavy's last minor-league rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte, at Toledo, last week: He was able to share a beer and catch up with ex-teammate Phil Nevin following the game. Nevin is managing the Mud Hens.

-- Cool promotion of the year: Farmer John, which makes Dodger Dogs, is donating 30,000 pounds of food to local food banks on the heels of Andre Ethier's 30-game hitting streak. Farmer John already is donating 1,000 pounds of food for every Ethier homer this year.

-- News that Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew has entered hospice care and is in the final days of his treatment for cancer is a blow. Killebrew is one of the game's true gentlemen, just a prince of a man who means so much to the Twins family. Prayers for him and family on this incredibly sad weekend.

Likes: The Orioles continue to show grit under manager Buck Showalter. Thursday night's win over Seattle was a terrific game, scoreless into the 12th, and it was one the old Orioles would have lost when the Mariners scored in the top of the 12th. ... Who is this Carlos Beltran man who slugged three homers the other day? ... SiriusXM radio and the MLB package. So cool to be able to listen to every game and each team's broadcasting crew. ... Steve Earle on Treme last week. ... The Cars on tour beginning Thursday night in Los Angeles. What the heck, as long as Ric Ocasek is along for the ride. ...

Dislikes: Ernie Harwell, Sparky Anderson, and now Harmon Killebrew says he is in his final days. We've lost some really special people over the past year, some all-time nice guys.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"As time wore on you proved
"A debt-ridden drunken mess
"Leaving my mother
"A poor consumptive wretch
"And then you disappeared
"Your gambling arrears
"The only thing you left behind
"And then the magistrate
"Reclaimed our small estate
"And my poor mother lost her mind"

-- The Decemberists, The Mariner's Revenge Song

Posted on: April 25, 2011 6:43 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 9:04 pm
 

Runs down, drought on out West

Major league clubs are scoring the fewest runs per game since 1992, and the drought out west is particularly to blame.

The Angels were shut out Saturday and Sunday by Boston and take a 19-inning scoreless streak into Monday night's series opener against Oakland. No wonder Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter were among those taking early batting practice in Anaheim at 3 Monday afternoon.

The Athletics were shut out in back-to-back games last Thursday and Friday by the Mariners and rank 10th in the American League in runs scored.

The Mariners rank 12th after, in 2010, scoring the fewest runs during a season (513) of any team in the designated-hitter era (since 1972).

Over in the NL, the Padres were shut out in back-to-back games last Thursday and Friday by the Phillies and have scored the fewest runs in the league. If you want to know how feeble to Padres' sticks are, just check in with tonight's starter, Dustin Moseley: The Padres have not scored one single run during the 25 2/3 innings Moseley has been on the mound this season. He's 0-3 with a 1.40 ERA.

The Padres hitters' 186 strikeouts is the most in the majors. Already in games in 2011, the Phillies' Roy Halladay has fanned 14 Padres and the Giants' Tim Lincecum 13. Brad Hawpe has whiffed 22 times in 51 at-bats.

As for the Angels and Athletics, who are set to open a three-game series in Anaheim tonight, the Angels, having been shut out in each of their past two games, have only been blanked three times in a row once in club history. That happened in June, 1978. They've never been shut out three in a row at home.

"Right now, particularly guys we've been counting on to hit in the middle of the lineup, guys are struggling," Angels manager Mike Scioscia says. "We have a  few 3 for 30s -- Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells, Howie Kendrick ... we've got a pretty strong grouping in the middle that has been struggling for probably the last 10 games collectively.

"If it's just one or two guys, you can rotate them around and get better groupings. But that's not really an option for us right now. We just have to let guys who have hit their whole career hit."

As for the A's, they were blanked for 20 consecutive innings before breaking through against Seattle on Saturday and Sunday with 9-1 and 5-2 victories.

Manager Bob Geren pretty much describes the same scenario Scioscia describes with his Angels.

"Collectively, we had nine guys struggling at once," Geren says. "We have three or four guys really coming out of it now, and some others are feeling better.

"There's definitely a lot better feeling each inning now."

The Athletics were 15th in the AL in runs scored on Saturday morning and still have scored the fifth-fewest total in the AL (80). Their 10 homers are the second-fewest in the majors.

Likes: Phillies manager Charlie Manuel's current deal taking him through the age of 69. After that? "We'll see," Manuel says. ... The Mets' new custom of periodically having players make phone calls to fans, as explained here by our Evan Brunell in Morning Pepper. ... The return of Treme to HBO on Easter evening. ... Great job, Toyota, bringing back the J.Geils Band -- or, at least their music, in the ad featuring the song Just Can't Wait. ... The new disc due from Emmylou Harris, whose voice is one of this country's great natural resources.

Dislikes: Jose Contreras to the DL. Just when he was in the process of reinventing himself yet again. What a job he's done as a closer. Though for you pitch count aficionados, there's this: Contreras was DL'd after throwing 81 pitches over a five-day span. And the Phils allowed Cole Hamels to throw 126 pitches on Friday and Roy Halladay to throw 130 on Sunday. It was, though, only against the Padres. So it wasn't like every pitch was taxing.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"To workers I'm just another drone
"To Ma Bell I'm just another phone
"I'm just another statistic on a sheet
"To teachers I'm just another child
"To IRS I'm just another file
"I'm just another consensus on the street
"Gonna cruise out of this city
"Head down to the sea
"Gonna shout out at the ocean
"Hey it's me"

-- Bob Seger, Feel Like a Number

 

Posted on: April 20, 2011 4:48 pm
 

Short Hops

Some quick mid-week notes:

-- Brandon Belt, who will be back and will be productive one day, made Wednesday's decision easy on the Giants by hitting just .192 with a .300 on-base percentage and .269 slugging percentage. It was a given since opening day that somebody would be the odd Giant out when Cody Ross (calf) was healthy. Belt's ongoing struggles combined with a weak defense with Aubrey Huff in right and Pat Burrell in left made it a no-brainer. The lesson in Belt's demotion to Triple-A Fresno (on his 22nd birthday, no less!): It's just not that easy. Not a new lesson, just one that needs reiterating from time to time. When Belt hit .282 with three homers and 13 RBI in 71 spring at-bats, Giants fans had visions of Buster Posey II. But Posey, who punched the accelerator as soon as he arrived last May, was the rare exception. Belt leaves with just one homer in 17 games (60 plate appearances).

-- What are the odds of the 8-8 Cubs splitting today's doubleheader with the Padres? So far this season, the Cubs have been 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7 and 8-8. Even I can do that math.

-- And they don't even get paid overtime: Kansas City has gone extra innings in five of its first 16 games. At that pace, the Royals would play 48 extra-inning games this season. The major-league record is 31, held by the 1943 Boston Red Sox.

-- Into Wednesday's series finale in Oakland, the powerful Red Sox remained historically impotent: 0-7 on the road, their worst-ever road beginning, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, surpassing 0-6 in 1927. It's not historically bad by major-league standards, however: The Nationals started 0-8 away from home just two seasons ago.

-- The Padres were confident that they had a better-balanced lineup even without Adrian Gonzalez's bat, but they were shut out in four of their first 16 games. At that pace, San Diego will be blanked 41 times this season. Yes, that would be a record. The current NL mark for being shut out in a season is 33, held by the 1908 St. Louis Cardinals. The AL mark is 30, owned by the 1906 Washington Senators.

-- Yes, the Dodgers' Matt Kemp is off to a sensational start, leading the NL with a .438 batting average and ranking second with a .514 on-base percentage. But before declaring that he's turned it around from a disappointing 2010, let's let things play out another couple of months. Kemp ALWAYS plays well in April: Coming into this season, his career April numbers were a .312 batting average, .362 on-base percentage and a .538 slugging percentage -- his highest numbers of any single month all season.

-- That said, my favorite Kemp moment so far this season occurred in the second game against the Giants. At first base and running on the pitch, Kemp read a ground ball to third baseman Pablo Sandoval perfectly. Not hesitating, he blew around second base as Sandoval was throwing to first and easily made it to third. It was a great play that involved athleticism, talent, instincts and smarts. When Kemp is on like that, he's as electric as anuybody.

-- Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips not only is a big fan of shortstop Paul Janish, but also of Janish's family. Phillips says Janish's mother is a mean cook.

Likes: The Farrelly brothers are moving along with plans to bring The Three Stooges to the silver screen, bringing in Sean Hayes of Will & Grace to play Larry. Better news would have been coaxing Sean Penn to change his mind on Moe, but, alas, no such luck. Curly is Will Sasso of MADtv. But with filming supposedly set to begin in Atlanta soon, still no Moe. Speculation: Hank Azaria, who voices in The Simpsons.

Dislikes: Rented Wild Hogs the other night. A couple of pretty funny moments but, overall, not so good. Strong cast, though: William H. Macy, Ray Liotta, Marisa Tomei, John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence.

 Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"As I walk on
"Through troubled times
"My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes
"So where are the strong
"And who are the trusted?
"And where is the harmony?
"Sweet harmony.
"'Cause each time I feel it slippin' away
"It just makes me wanna cry
"What's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding?"

-- Nick Lowe, (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding

 

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