Tag:Seattle Mariners
Posted on: July 1, 2011 2:31 pm
 

Short Hops: All-Star Soria back on track (& more)

This isn't about Mariano Rivera. It's about the Royals' Joakim Soria. But as with so many other things regarding closers, it makes Old Man Rivera look even more sensational than he already is.

OK, here goes: If I were to ask you coming into this season whose save conversion rate since July 31, 2007, is second in the game to Rivera's, whom would you say?

Yes, the answer is Soria, a two-time All-Star whose 92.4 rate since that date is second among all major-league closers to Rivera's 92.9.

Now, here's just one more piece of evidence that Rivera is superhuman: In late May, Soria suddenly fell into a hole and blew five of his first 12 save opportunities. It got so bad that after he blew consecutive save opportunities in late May, he admirably went to manager Ned Yost and essentially removed himself from the role. Something that in all of these years Rivera has never had to do.

Yost handled the situation superbly: He gave Soria a few days off to clear out his mind, eased him back into non-save situations in which he could pitch two innings at a time (to work on his fastball command) and then plugged Soria back into the ninth in early June.

The results, again, have been spectacular: Soria has worked 12 shutout innings in his past 10 games and is six-for-six in save opportunities, while holding opponents to an .098 batting average (4 for 41).

"It was not a big change at all," Soria says. "It was just a mind-set, getting my confidence back. Mechanics-wise, there was nothing to change. I looked at video, and I'm not doing anything different."

Soria isn't a closer with overpowering stuff, nor does he have one lethal weapon like Rivera's cutter. Instead, he throws all of his pitches -- fastball, curve, slider and change. Because he depends on location, problems can arise if he goes four or five days between outings.

"He's a command-guy closer," Yost says. "Command guys rebound so much better from that than stuff guys do.

"I've never had stuff guys who have gone through this rebound -- Derrick Turnbow, Danny Kolb, even Eric Gagne."

Soria, 27, right now is reinforcing Yost's history.

"Bad things make you stronger," Soria says. "If you've always been good, maybe you don't realize what it takes to be good until you go bad."

As for Rivera, who mostly has been immune to slumps throughout his Hall of Fame career, Soria, like everyone else, just marvels.

"He's the best," Soria says. "He's done everything in his career, and I don't think he's ever struggled."

-- Soria and Rivera have met once, at the All-Star Game in Yankee Stadium in 2008. But they did not exchange trade secrets. "We didn't talk about the game," Soria says. "We just talked about life."

-- Though they clearly could use reinforcements for a beat-up bullpen, and manager Charlie Manuel wants a right-handed bat (the Padres' Ryan Ludwick? The Twins' Michael Cuddyer?), the Phillies are telling teams that they they're tapped out financially. They're close to the luxury tax threshold and do not want to cross it. Of course, they were also telling rivals the same thing last winter before they shocked everyone by signing free agent pitcher Cliff Lee.

-- Emphasizing Philadelphia's need for a right-handed bat: The Phillies are hitting .196 in their past 13 games against lefty starters.

-- The Red Sox, too, say they do not want to push their luxury tax any higher than it already is, which suggests no pricey mid-season reinforcements. But recent history under general manager Theo Epstein also suggests the Red Sox get what they need and, right now, their internal discussions are centering on a hitter. They're not getting much out of right field, which led to the release of Mike Cameron this week.

-- Mariners officials are scheduled to talk via conference call next week to discuss final strategy leading into the July trade deadline. Though Seattle has done a nice job of staying competitive, the recent 3-7 tailspin could spur the M's to deal Erik Bedard. Though Bedard landed on the disabled list this week with a knee sprain, he could be a very good trade chip.

-- Thanks to Milwaukee's road woes, the Cardinals are back in a tie for first place in the NL Central entering the weekend. But one scout who has watched St. Louis recently remains unimpressed. "Colby Rasmus is so inconsistent," the scout says. "Sometimes it looks like he's not even there at the plate." Then there are the times when Rasmus looks like he is there, like when he homered Tuesday and Wednesday in Baltimore.

-- In St. Louis' defense, the Cards have been so beat up this year, but while Albert Pujols is out, at least third baseman David Freese has returned from the disabled list. "Daniel Descalso was playing third base when I saw St. Louis," the scout says. "And I'm thinking, 'These are the St. Louis Cardinals?'"

-- This is the Phillies' rotation we expected: Philadelphia starters compiled a 1.96 ERA in June. Which, according to STATS LLC makes the Phils the first team since July of 1992 to go a full month under 2.00. Both Atlanta and the Chicago Cubs did it back in July, '92.

-- Quietly, Padres outfielder Ryan Ludwick is resurfacing and showing why he will be in demand on the July trade market. He's at 51 RBIs in 78 games after finishing April with a .198 batting average and a .294 on-base percentage. That followed his miserable debut in San Diego last summer when he hit .211 with six homers in 59 games after his acquisition from St. Louis. There have been differences between this year and last: A calf injury nagged at him last year, while this April he was hitting the ball hard, just right at people. "I played terrible last year," Ludwick says. "I wouldn't say I've been playing great this year, but I've been doing what I've been known to do and what they brought me over to do. Drive in runs. Last year, every time I came to the ballpark I was stressed out, wondering if I was going to be able to make contact."

-- Know what's funny? The cover of Florida's media guide is a collage of small photos of historical highlights in Marlins history. And right there front and center, albeit at the bottom, is a photo of Jack McKeon in uniform. No need for updating there. Well, except he's wearing No. 15, and this time around, he's No. 25.

-- Angels manger Mike Scioscia, by the way, is still marveling about McKeon's enthusiasm for managing at 80. Scioscia and the Angels saw McKeon in his 2011 debut a couple of weeks back.

Likes: All-Star voting results coming soon, with the game soon to follow. ... Derek Jeter nearly set to resume his chase for 3,000 hits. ... Kerry Wood off of the DL and back in the Cubs' bullpen. ... From rocky NFL labor talks to rocky NBA labor talks to ... baseball labor talks still quiet and positive. ... The smell of neighborhood grills over the Fourth of July weekend. ... Modern Family boxed set, season 1. I'm just catching up to a show I haven't watched. Very funny. ... My sister's frozen key lime pie. Delicious.

Dislikes: Missed Jason Isbell coming through my town last week because of work commitments. His latest disc with his band, the 400 Unit, Here We Rest, is outstanding.

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 want to know your name
"Driving in to Darlington City
"Got a union connection with an uncle of Wayne's
"We drove eight hundred miles without seeing a cop
"We got rock and roll music blasting off the T-top singing. ..."

-- Bruce Springsteen, Darlington County

Posted on: April 29, 2011 1:43 pm
 

Short Hops: Yanks, Zo-rilla, Padres zeroes & more

-- The Yankees are doing exactly what they need to do in the first few weeks of the season, and that's take advantage of home cooking. They opened with 11 of 14 games at home, and through May 1, they play 18 of their first 25 games at home. So far, they're 10-5 at home, and they've got a chance to continue to pad their home record while they play 46 of their first 79 games at Yankee Stadium. The flip side, and the reason it is important for Joe Girardi's club to build up as much collateral at home as possible: From Aug 1 through season's end, the Yankees are home just 20 times (nine home games in August and 11 in September).

-- Zo-Rilla is back: Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist has crushed four homers in his past five games, including one each in Thursday's day-night doubleheader in Minnesota. He had a monster doubleheader, collecting 10 RBI, giving him 18 over his last five games and 25 for the season. Impressive, yes, but his best moment might have come right after the game when he quipped to reporters, "This must be what it's like to feel like Sam Fuld."

-- Tampa Bay is 13-3 since April 10 which, yes, is the best record in the majors since that date.

-- Kansas City was the last team in the majors to lose a series this season, and now look at the Royals: six losses in a row. The Yankees were the last team in the majors to lose consecutive games, to the White Sox on Monday and Tuesday.

-- Seattle's historically bad offense last summer looks positively Ruthian compared to what the Padres are doing (or, rather, NOT doing) so far this season. San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez-less lineup has been shut out seven times in the month of April. That, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, is a major-league record. When the Padres score just ONE run, they're 9-9.

-- Yes, it's a different deal this year for the Padres from their 90-win team of a year ago. Ryan Ludwick (.202, four homers, 11 RBI), Brad Hawpe (.143, 23 strikeouts in 63 at-bats), Orlando Hudson (.238, .300 on-base percentage) and Jason Bartlett (.231) have gotten off to miserably slow starts, and there are growing questions regarding whether cavernous Petco Park is defeating hitters mentally. That was one key to last year's group -- which included David Eckstein, the Hairston brothers, Jerry Jr. and Scott, and Tony Gwynn Jr. -- the bottom line was winning, and there was no griping about Petco. "You've got to be mentally tough to get through some things," Padres manager Bud Black says. "That's part of being a total player, part of being a total, major league professional player. It works the same way if you're a pitcher in a small park. It works the same way for pitchers in Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Houston."

-- The Dodgers' Andre Ethier takes a 24-game hitting streak into this weekend's series with San Diego, but it could be in jeopardy Friday night. Ethier lifetime is hitting .077 (1 for 13) against Padres starter Clayton Richard.

Likes: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen saying the other day he has his closer -- outfielder Brent Lillibridge -- following Lillibridge's great, diving catches in Yankee Stadium. ...  Andre Ethier's hitting streak at 24 games. ... The way Brandon Phillips always refers to the "Redlegs", not the "Reds", in his tweets (@DatDudeBP). ... Great casting on Hawii Five-O. Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan (son of James) are really good together. ... First listen reaction to Steve Earle's new disc I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive: Outstanding. The disc might even be better than the title.

Dislikes: If you see me at Fast Five, please come up and say hello. Maybe that would then distract me from my next move: Jumping off of a bridge. Man, summer movie season stinks.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Now listen youngster, be on your way
"Don't bother me til a later day
"I like my men like I like my whiskey
"Mmm, aged and mellow"

-- Little Esther, Aged and Mellow Blues

 

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: March 24, 2011 9:41 am
 

Smoak 'em if you've got him

PEORIA, Ariz. -- He's just 24 and, were the Mariners not fielding a lineup that includes retreads Jack Cust, Jack Wilson and Milton Bradley, Justin Smoak would be the face of Seattle's rebuilding effort.

Instead, the Mariners aren't rebuilding so much as retooling. So the biggest name acquired from Texas in last summer's Cliff Lee trade remains a face of the future, not the face of the future.

Which probably is just fine. Lessens the expectations, you know.

"I don't feel much pressure," Smoak says. "They brought me in here for a reason. I just have to go out and play my game."

The hope is that the first baseman eventually develops some pop, and the Mariners caught a glimpse of that last summer when he batted .239 with five homers and 14 RBIs in 30 games for Seattle. Before that, Smoak struggled in Texas, hitting just .209 with eight homers and 34 RBI in 70 games.

One thing that could be a plus as the switch-hitter grows into his major-league size is, Smoak is not griping in the least about leaving Texas' hitter-friendly ballpark for Seattle's, uh, less-than-hitter-friendly Safeco Field. In fact, Smoak's mindset on hitting in Seattle is impressive.

"I think it will be better for me," he says. "Batting left-handed in Texas, I wanted to pull everything. And it got me messed up.

"In Safeco, you've got to go gap-to-gap, use the whole field. Hopefully, that will help me. Because when I'm going good, I'm going the other way."

Safeco definitely prevents hitters from getting too pull happy. And that should allow a guys like Smoak to avoid falling into bad habits that sometimes can take several days to work out of. He talks of what a "great opportunity it is here in Seattle. Everybody's excited in the direction we're headed."

"It's a good group of guys here," he adds. "I think this year is going to be a lot better than it was last year. It's got to be better. The clubhouse has been good. Everybody's loose."

Of course, it's a lot easier to be loose at 0-0 than it is en route to 101 losses, as Seattle suffered last season. Part of Smoak's job in his first full season with the Mariners will be to help keep it that way -- and hit to all fields.

Sunblock Day? Killer. Back up in the high 70s with a warm sun.

Likes: Opening day, a week away. ... NCAA basketball tournament, four more wild days starting today. ... Spring training always is a great time of the year, but at this point, it's always nice when it's time to go home.

Dislikes: So long to my Chrysler Sebring convertible rental car here in the desert.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"It's time to move on, time to get goin'
"What lies ahead, I have no way of knowin'
"But under my feet, baby, grass is growin'
"It's time to move on, it's time to get goin'"

-- Tom Petty, Time to Move On

 

Posted on: March 22, 2011 1:01 pm
 

Mariners to go with Ryan at SS, Wilson at 2B

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Mariners will line up with newcomer Brendan Ryan at shortstop and veteran Jack Wilson at second base, manager Eric Wedge said Tuesday morning.

Which is interesting news, because Wilson has never played a game at second base in the majors.

Part of the decision, Wedge said, was made because he likes having a veteran on each side of the infield. This way, Wilson, a 10-year veteran, will play alongside young first baseman Justin Smoak while third baseman Chone Figgins, a nine-year veteran, will play alongside Ryan.

"We felt this was a more comfortable fit," Wedge said.

He also said that one of Seattle's goals this summer is to keep Wilson healthy. Wilson played in only 61 games last season thanks to two trips to the disabled list -- one for a hamstring strain and one because of a fractured hand.

If Wilson is to get hurt again, Wedge said, he'd rather it be while the 33-year-old is playing second base. Translation: The Mariners think playing second will lessen Wilson's chances of injury as opposed to the more demanding shortstop position.

"I really feel confident this is the right move," Wedge said. "My job is to put the best team out there. And when you're talking about a middle of the field with [catcher Miguel] Olivo, Wilson, Ryan and Franklin [Gutierrez in center field], I think we'll be very athletic up the middle."

While Ryan is good with the glove, he's not likely to do much to improve the Mariners' dreadful offense. In 139 games in St. Louis last summer, Ryan batted .223 with a .279 on-base percentage.

Posted on: December 7, 2010 1:02 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2010 12:41 am
 

Slow-footed Angels risk getting left behind

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Paging the Los Angeles Angels, attention Angels.

Anybody there?

Anybody?

Free agent Carl Crawford is still out there. So are free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre and free agent closer Rafael Soriano ... and, yes, free agent ace Cliff Lee.

Are you?

After getting aced out of Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia two years ago and failing to produce a leadoff hitter to replace Chone Figgins last year, the heat is on the Angels to swing and connect this winter. On something.

Crawford has been a high priority, according to sources, though late Tuesday night it was confirmed that the Angels were in contact with Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, and that that dialog is expected to remain ongoing.

As for Crawford, his price certainly will be sky-high after the Nationals signed Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126 million deal Sunday.

"I don't have a reaction," Reagins told a small group of reporters Monday night when quizzed on how the stunning Werth contract will affect Crawford's value. "We still have to conduct business with any free agent. Teams are conducting business and this is just part of the process that happens at this time of year. ...

"We're conducting business. What other clubs do doesn't affect how we operate."

Maybe that helps explain why the Angels, who took hard runs at both Teixeira and Sabathia two winters ago, have swung and missed lately. What other clubs do does affect the rest in this game, because market values are set.

Here in Florida, Crawford's market is still taking shape, and you bet the Werth contract will be a barometer.

The Angels are one of the few teams with pockets deep enough to pull up a chair at Crawford's table. One break they may have gotten in the past few days is that in acquiring Adrian Gonzalez, the Red Sox may be out on Crawford -- at least, at seven or eight years.

The Red Sox are said to have agreed with Gonzalez on the parameters of a seven-year deal worth between $161 and $168 million that likely will be finalized sometime around Opening Day. It's hard to see Boston signing two players to contracts that long in one winter.

Other than the Angels' interest, things have been awfully quiet here regarding Crawford.

The Angels always operate with the secrecy of a CIA spy, but until Tuesday night and the Lee revelation, there was little indication that much of anything was happening.

Beltre? The Angels currently are not taking an aggressive path there, according to a source with knowledge of the club's thinking.

Soriano? No indicators there, either.

Lee? Hmmm.

Reagins, scrambling because of a flight delay Monday, was among the last GM's -- and, far as anybody can tell, the last -- to arrive at the Winter Meetings.

Owner Arte Moreno is known for being aggressive. But over the past couple of years, he hasn't been aggressive enough.

The Angels got worse last year. They looked old. They were slow.

The decision to let Figgins walk backfired when Erick Aybar did not develop into a leadoff hitter. The decision to let Guerrero walk blew up when he had a great year and Hideki Matsui was disappointing.

Suddenly, the shift of power in the AL West is becoming evident.

Texas not only won the division, but the Rangers are loaded with good, young talent. They're not going anywhere.

The A's have the kind of good, young pitching that has them poised to recapture some of the glory of old.

Seattle? Well, let's not get carried away here. Not everybody in the division is on the move.

Right now, though, in terms of forward momentum, the Angels are more Seattle than Texas.

Mike Scioscia said Tuesday that the return to health of first baseman Kendry Morales, who slammed 34 home runs and collected 108 RBIs two summers ago before suffering a season-ending broken leg early in 2010, will be a boon in 2011.

As for the rest. ...

"It's kind of like the offseason becomes fantasy baseball for the players, too," Scioscia said. "You look at who's out there and who might be in the lineup and think, 'Man, if we had this guy or that guy, we'd be a better team.'"

So far this winter? The Angels' big move was to fire head trainer Ned Bergert, who had been with the organization for 36 years.

Oh, and they fired a scout, Dale Sutherland, who had been with them for 19 years (and was primarily responsible for the club claiming David Eckstein off of waivers from Boston, and acquiring Figgins from Colorado in a trade). Oh, and scouting director Eddie Bane.

Looks like a whole lot of scapegoats. And so far, not much else.

Posted on: December 3, 2010 2:10 pm
 

Love Letters: Readers on broadcasters

Few people get into the hearts of baseball fans the way broadcasters do. I wrote a Thanksgiving column about this, and primarily about the passing of legends Dave Niehaus (Seattle), Harry Kalas (Philadelphia) and Ernie Harwell (Detroit), and about the heart scare with Bob Uecker (Milwaukee), and the reaction follows.

Before we get to that, though, Cubs play-by-play man Pat Hughes, as a labor of love, has spent his past five offseasons producing CD audio tributes to several legendary broadcasters. The latest CD features Niehaus. Others available feature Uecker, Kalas, Marty Brennaman, Jack Buck, Harry Caray, Bob Prince and Red Barber. They're great items, and if you're interested, you can get more information here.

And now, on the sad day that we learned of Ron Santo's passing, here are a few readers telling their own tales following Giving thanks for the great voices in baseball. ...

FROM: Jeremy D.

Scott,

Great article, especially this time not only for the giving of thanks, but [for writing this while next season] is still a ways away. I am 33 and have been a Phillies fan for most of those years. Harry, as we call him around here in south-central PA, still holds the most memorable call in my many years as an avid sports fan: Mike Schmidt's 500th home run. When he passed away last spring, I, as many others were, was devastated. It was like losing a close, long-time friend. I have spent more time listening to Harry than I've spent listening to many of the friends and relatives I know personally. I still love to hear Vin Scully call a game, as well as Jon Miller on the radio, and Marty Brenneman. Some of the newer guys have promise, but Scully's voice flat-out IS summer. Thanks again for the pleasant cold-November-day read.

One more great thing about these broadcasters that come into our lives: Unlike certain relatives, they don't show up uninvited for the holidays!

FROM:
Jim W.

Thank you for that great story on the voices of summer. I moved to Seattle in 1993 and I will always remember Edgar's double and Griffey scoring from first to beat the Yankees in the 1995 Divisional Series. It was the year after the strike, and Dave's call is the reason I love baseball again.

The great ones can do that for us, can't they?

FROM: Rob

Great article! XM radio is the best thing to happen to baseball and the MLB app is great with the ability to hear both radio feeds.

Love XM. What a perk it is to be able to sit on my back patio on a Saturday in the summer, Cheez-Its within reach, clicking around the satellite radio dial listening to broadcasts from each city.

FROM:
Keith B.

I think you are right on with your column about the great baseball announcers. I became a big fan in the summer of 1962 listening to Harry Caray, Vin Scully and Ernie Harwell. I lived in Rapid City, SD. After dark I could pick up the various stations that carried MLB games. Sometimes it was not very clear but I could hear enough to know what was going on. My great grandfather & I would listen to Vin Scully on KFI out of Los Angeles. Happy Thanksgiving.

South Dakota, Michigan (where I'm from) ... one great thing about the Midwest is the flatlands allow strong radio signals to carry unimpeded for hundreds of miles. I could listen to the Tigers, Reds, Indians, White Sox, Cubs. ...

FROM:
Dan L.

Dear Scott,

As a fellow broadcaster and Michigander, I was blessed as well to grow up listening to the National Treasure that was Ernie Harwell. I was lucky enough to do a 20-minute interview with him on my radio show a couple years ago and felt like I had lived some of the moments that Ernie described to me from an era that I was not even alive during. He just helped make you feel part of something special, and through the sharing of his experiences throughout his amazing career, I kept thinking to myself just how lucky we are to have had Ernie be a part of our lives and us a part of his. I think CBS is very lucky to have you writing for them and I would love to stay in touch and have you on my show in the future. Keep up the great work!

Very kind. Thanks.

Posted on: November 19, 2010 3:12 pm
 

Love Letters: Readers take bite of Cy Felix

Some excellent and very well-reasoned responses to my defense of Felix Hernandez's AL Cy Young award this week. In fact, this is the best batch of letters in a long time. Nice to hear from everyone. ...

From: Henry H.
Re. Felix gets his Cy due, thanks to slowly changing outlooks

This vote reflects sportswriters who think they are smarter than the game. You showed Felix's stats against AL east in 5 games! Did he not pitch against the Rays? If not, the vote is more of a travesty. If he actually pitched in the AL East all year long, he would have had something like 15-17 starts against better lineups than he faced routinely -- more chance to explode that ERA. Tougher fans, more pressurized games -- no risk for him where he was. Too small a sample against the best teams in the league. Imagine how great he would have been if he could have pitched in AAA all year long! This isn't old' evaluation technique versus new evaluation technique. This is dopey sportswriters trying to show how smart they are. Pitchers are paid to win. The best pitchers win against the toughest competition. This is vote is crap.

To answer your question, Hernandez did not start against Tampa Bay this year. And in my heart, I agree with you: Pitchers SHOULD BE paid to win. Some are. But anymore, most are paid to keep their teams in games and eat innings. I don't think it was sportswriters thinking they're smart. I think this vote was sportswriters trying their best to get it right. I think they did because, as I pointed out in the column, this was a very unique year for Hernandez. But I'm with you in hoping this is an aberration rather than the coming norm.

From: Jay T.

Though your opinion on the matter has merit, I cannot support it. The pitchers that finished second and third respectively both were better candidates. Felix pitched in the AL West, which was the Rangers then nobody else, where as Price and CC both had to deal with three definite powerhouses of the division. Did Felix have a great year? Yes. But I am sorry to say that 13 wins, when most of your games are against weaker opponents, should not get you a Cy Young.

Tough call. And I'd say your opinion has merit as well.

FROM: Andy

I have no problem with Felix Hernandez winning. My problem is with CC ending up third. The Yankee Love has got to stop. He had a worse season than a handful of other pitchers -- Trevor Cahill, Clay Buchholz and Jered Weaver all had better ERAs, and better WHIPs. All CC had was wins, which are easy to come by when you are a Yankee. Further, somehow he basically got the same point total as Price, which is a joke. Price's ERA is almost a 1/2 a run better than CC's, and CC did not have to pitch against the best team money can buy. Plain and simple, there were several pitchers better than CC in the AL, so people have got to stop handing the Yankees everything.

I take it you don't own a copy of Sinatra's New York, New York.

FROM: Jack H

Given the same sabermetrics Felix Hernandez had, would he win the Cy Young if he were 0-25? Now that I think about it, I would vote for Price. Very good W-L and a good ERA, etc. I could just as well argue that Hernandez lost seven in a row early in the year before his team was eliminated, and demoralized his team and although he pitched great, the team basically packed it in. We have now said that for Cy Young, wins mean nothing.

I hope that's not what we've said. I really do. And if it is, then we need to veer back in the other direction.

Likes: Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central playing in the Michigan state high school football semi-finals on Saturday against Constantine at a neutral site in Jackson. Good luck to the green-and-gold Falcons. Another great season, and it's still rolling.

Dislikes: Been so busy with things this week that I haven't even had a chance to dig into the new Bruce Springsteen box set celebrating Darkness on the Edge of Town that was released Tuesday. All I did was open it, and the packaging is incredible. Cannot wait to dig into the CDs and DVDs.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Some folks are born into a good life
"Other folks get it anyway anyhow
"I lost my money and I lost my wife
"Them things don't seem to matter much to me now
"Tonight I'll be on that hill 'cause I can't stop
"I'll be on that hill with everything I got
"Lives on the line where dreams are found and lost
"I'll be there on time and I'll pay the cost
"For wanting things that can only be found
"In the darkness on the edge of town"

-- Bruce Springsteen, Darkness on the Edge of Town

 

 
 
 
 
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