Category:MLB
Posted on: September 24, 2008 7:38 pm
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Santana on 3 days' rest? Not likely

The Brewers pitched CC Sabathia on three days' rest in his last start. They're doing it again tonight, and plan to do it again, if need be, on Sunday.

The Mets have not done the same thing with Johan Santana.

In fact, even though the Mets don't yet have a starter for Saturday, manager Jerry Manuel said it's very unlikely that he would bring Santana back on three days' rest (and then pitch Oliver Perez on three days' rest on Sunday).

"I wouldn't go short with him unless he just took the ball and started the game," Manuel joked. "He'd have to do quite a job on me. That being said, I could be had. But I probably wouldn't do that."

Manuel said he thinks some pitchers are more suited than others to pitching on short rest.

"There's a lot of fight in (Santana)," Manuel said. "I don't know if he'd be the same on three days."

It may be irrelevant, anyway. The Weather Channel says there's a 100 percent chance of rain in New York Thursday night, and heavy rain is in the forecast for Friday and Saturday, too.

Posted on: September 22, 2008 12:57 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2008 3:34 pm
 

Will Fenway and Wrigley survive?

Now Yankee Stadium is gone, off to join Tiger Stadium and old Comiskey Park and Forbes Field and all the others on the list of ballparks that exist only in our memories.

Now only Fenway Park and Wrigley Field remain.

For now.

Don't say they'll never be gone. It was just a few years ago that the Red Sox were proudly showing off models of the new Fenway, the replacement park they would gladly have built, if only the financing and the political issues could have been worked out. Yes, it's true that they've since branded Fenway as "America's most beloved ballpark," but no one should forget how eager they once were to move out.

According to people in Chicago, the Cubs never made similar plans. It doesn't seem they've ever come close to even thinking about leaving Wrigley.

For now, the Red Sox have found ways to improve Fenway, and also to wring more money out of the old place. The Cubs have done the same at Wrigley. Where once they were two of the smallest parks in baseball, now they hold enough people that the Red Sox are fourth in the American League in average attendance (37,639 a game, behind only the Yankees, Angels and Tigers), and the Cubs are third in the National League (40,723, behind the Mets and Dodgers).

It's hard to see either team moving out anytime soon.

"You don't ever imagine those parks going away," Yankee manager Joe Girardi said.

He was talking about Wrigley Field, the ballpark he grew up in. But he was also talking about Yankee Stadium, the ballpark he made into his home.

Could they ever go away. Of course they could. Not this year, not next year, not anytime soon. But sometime, it could happen.

Just as it happened to Yankee Stadium.

Posted on: September 17, 2008 5:42 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2008 6:57 pm
 

White Sox could get Quentin back

American League home run leader Carlos Quentin could be back a lot sooner than the White Sox anticipated.

Quentin, who hasn't played since hurting his right wrist on Sept. 1, could join the club and begin taking batting practice as soon as this weekend in Kansas City, manager Ozzie Guillen said. Quentin had surgery on the wrist on Sept. 8, and the White Sox found out today that the healing process has gone well.

The White Sox said that while the fracture in Quentin's wrist hasn't healed, it has "lined up." His soft cast was removed, and he was cleared to work on range of motion drills.

"He's supposed to be in Kansas City," Guillen said. "But I don't want to rush this kid, and all of a sudden we lose him for another month. I'm going to wait to see what he says."

Quentin was one of the leading contenders for AL most valuable player before he got hurt. He still leads the league with 36 home runs, two more than runner-up Alex Rodriguez. Quentin is still tied for seventh in the league with 100 RBIs, despite missing the White Sox's last 13 games.

Posted on: September 17, 2008 2:10 pm
 

Would Marlins have won with Manny?

It looks now like Manny Ramirez is going to get the Dodgers to the postseason. So here's what I'm wondering:

Would he have done the same for the Marlins?

As of today, Florida is 5 1/2 games back in the National League East, and five out in the wild-card race. It's too much ground to make up in 12 games, but it's close enough to think that two months of Ramirez could have put them over the top.

Especially if Manny had been the same Manny in South Florida that he's been in Southern California.

According to sources, the deal that fell through would have cost the Marlins just Jeremy Hermida and Taylor Tankersley. The Pirates were apparently willing to accept that deal (and also get the two other players from the Red Sox). The Red Sox were willing to pay Ramirez's salary, just as they eventually did in the trade that sent him to the Dodgers. But the Marlins wanted even more money than that, supposedly to pay the draft picks they would have gotten when Ramirez left as a free agent.

When the commissioner's office hesitated on approval, the Marlins believe that the Pirates got understandably antsy, looked elsewhere, and found the Dodgers.

The Marlins were left with nothing. They were left looking greedy.

And today, you wonder if they missed a good chance at a playoff spot.

Here are Manny's numbers in 43 games as a Dodger: .401, 14 home runs, 44 RBIs, 1.226 OPS.

Here are Hermida's numbers in that same span: .184, 1, 9, .497

Could Manny have made a difference of five or six wins?

We'll never know, and neither will the Marlins.

Posted on: September 15, 2008 3:46 pm
 

It's too late for the Brewers

So now they fire him?

Now, with 12 games to go in a season that's already well on the way to being lost. Now, after the series that could have saved the Brewers' season?

Now the Brewers fire Ned Yost?

Midseason managerial changes can work. There's no doubt that the Mets are a better team under Jerry Manuel than they were under Willie Randolph (although they still could be undermined by the bullpen). The Blue Jays are far better with Cito Gaston than they were with John Gibbons.

And just as with Randolph, just as with Gibbons, there are plenty of reasons to justify firing Yost. From the outside, his teams have always seemed tighter than they should be. They certainly looked that way last Thursday, when I saw them in Philadelphia at the start of the series that would cost Yost his job.

There has been talk that Yost had lost the confidence of some of the Brewers' key players.

No one would have been surprised if the Brewers fired Yost after this season. Really, nobody would have been surprised if the Brewers had fired Yost earlier, when a managerial change could possibly have saved their season.

But now, with the division basically lost, and with the wild-card race already tied, and with both the Phillies and the Astros both having much easier remaining schedules than the Brewers? Now, with 12 games left?

Now they do it?

Category: MLB
Posted on: September 14, 2008 6:59 pm
Edited on: September 14, 2008 7:02 pm
 

One day, two milestones, and now one big decision

Derek Jeter tied Lou Gehrig, and I'm still not sure that's what I'll remember most out of an interesting afternoon in the Bronx.

That's no offense to Jeter, and no slight on the record he tied with his 1,269th career Yankee Stadium hit. If it wasn't enough to tie Gehrig, Jeter did it with a home run, and he did it with his third consecutive three-hit game.

It was just a few weeks ago that scouts were watching Jeter and speculating that he's been playing hurt, Now he's hitting .370 over the last month.

Very impressive. Just like David Price.

This was Jeter's 1,976th big-league game. It was Price's first. And even though the Rays big left-hander gave up that milestone home run to Jeter, Price pitched so well that you had the idea you were seeing the start of something big.

You also had the idea that the Rays have a huge decision to make in the next two weeks.

Price allowed two runs on three hits in 5 1/3 innings, showing a fastball that hit 97 mph and a very good slider, too. He looks like the kind of guy who could help the Rays in the playoffs as a reliever. He also looks like the kind of guy who could help them as a starter down the stretch.

Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon let Price throw 87 pitches today, and he said afterwards that Price is a candidate to make a spot start when the Rays play a doubleheader in Baltimore next week. Others wonder if Price should be a candidate to replace Edwin Jackson (who allowed six runs in two innings today) in the Rays rotation.

The only thing is, the Rays wouldn't need Price as a playoff starter. They might need him as a playoff reliever. And while he's always been a starter, you've got to think he could pitch out of the bullpen.

"He's very talented, and he's obviously one of our starters in the future," Maddon said. "But we're keeping our options open."

Even though Price spent most of the year in the minors, the Rays have roster flexibility that would allow them to put him on the playoff roster, should they wish. Maddon was the Angels bench coach in 2002, when September callup Francisco Rodriguez was so good that he became a playoff difference-maker.

Rays DH Cliff Floyd remembered a different mid-season call-up, Antonio Alfonseca, who joined the 1997 Marlins and eventually pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings in the World Series.

"I think (Price) could be what he was," Floyd said.

We'll see. And if he is, or if he becomes a big-time starter down the line, we'll remember that we saw him first on a Sunday afternoon in one of the last-ever games at Yankee Stadium.

 

Posted on: September 11, 2008 6:28 pm
 

CC: No home in California -- yet

As Scott Miller wrote last month, CC Sabathia has spent some time house-hunting in Southern California, but he hasn't yet bought a house there.

I know this is still true because I asked Sabathia about it today.

"No house," he said with a smile.

Does that mean that Sabathia is more open to considering teams from outside California when he becomes a free agent later this year? I don't know, and he won't say. I'd still bet that his first choice would be to sign with a team out West, but if the money is a lot bigger elsewhere (i.e. New York), his first choice could change. He doesn't have to make the decision now.

And now, a few e-mails:

I don't think I got anything from angry Yankee fans this week, but I could be wrong, because there was this from David: "You should probably think about what u are writing before u write it cuz obviously u meant that the Mets had a psychological advantage over philly and maybe take an english class. i am a college student."

Huh? Not sure whether this guy is an angry Yankee fan, or an angry USC student.

From F.: "The Mets win 10 of 16 from the Phils, and lose one game and now it's a collapse? The only thing that collapsed is your hairline."

Now I get it. This week, it's angry Mets fans. A little sensitive, are we? I think the reference was to the 2007 Mets collapse. Or maybe you didn't consider that a collapse.

From Bart: "I'm sick of hearing about this collapse garbage when the Phils went in and strong-armed the division off the Mets (last year)."

A little sensitive in Philly, too? Well, maybe the Phils will strong-arm the Brewers this weekend and you'll be happy.

From Matthew: "Boston is not the better team. You need to admit that the Rays are for real. Stop being a Boston apologist."

Who knew that there were angry Rays fans? Who knew that they were Rays fans? Actually, I like the Rays. What a great story.

 

Category: MLB
Posted on: September 8, 2008 7:35 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2008 7:35 pm
 

Stunning news on Wagner, but Mets can survive

I'll admit, I thought the Mets were done if Billy Wagner didn't return. I thought it, I wrote it, and I heard several scouts that I trust say the same thing.

Now we find out that Wagner isn't returning, not this year and not next year, either. And I'm here to tell you the Mets can still win. No, I'm here to tell you the Mets should still win.

(By win, I mean win the division, not win in October. I'm not that nuts).

Here's why:

1. They're winning without him already. Wagner hasn't pitched in a game since Aug. 2. The Mets were 58-52 then, and they were in third place (and they lost the last time he appeared). Since then, the Mets have gone 22-11 and have moved into first place. Not only that, but the Mets bullpen had a 4.21 ERA when Wagner went down. They have a 3.31 ERA since.

2. Carlos Delgado. You can argue about whether Delgado deserves to win the National League's most valuable player award for what amounts to a half-season of excellence. What's certain is that Delgado is playing like an MVP right now. As teammate Damion Easley said, the Mets can jump on Delgado's back and ride him to the playoffs.

3. Johan Santana. Manager Jerry Manuel exaggerated when he said that the Mets are "able to send a good starting pitcher to the mound every day." But the Mets are able to send a great starting pitcher to the mound every fifth day. And some of those days, Santana will pitch so well and for so long that he won't even need a closer.

4. If not quality, then quantity. The Mets are carrying 18 pitchers on their September roster, and on some nights Manuel seems determined to use every one of them. The point is, Manuel can match up as much as he wants. He could even do it in the ninth inning, although for now Luis Ayala is doing a respectable job as Wagner's fill-in.

5. The Nationals, and the Braves. The Mets host Washington and Atlanta this week. They go to Washington and Atlanta next week. Yes, the Nationals are better than they were, but they're also 32 games under .500. As for the fading Braves, they just finished losing five of seven to the Nationals. Enough said.

6. First place. True, it didn't help the Mets to have the lead last September. But you'd still rather be in first, and it's amazing how big a two-game lead can seem as the games count down. Cool Standings had the Mets as a 73 percent chance to win the division as of Monday, and Baseball Prospectus had it even higher, at 77 percent.

So there you have it. Wagner's a big loss, and the Mets now have a big new item on their offseason shopping list.

But they still can win the NL East this year. They still should win it.

 
 
 
 
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