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Posted on: September 8, 2008 2:59 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2008 3:00 pm

Was Byrd trade to Boston a Yankee mistake?

When the Red Sox acquired Paul Byrd from Cleveland on Aug. 12, filling a major hole in their starting rotation, a lot of us wondered why the Yankees hadn't put in a claim on him, either to trade for him themselves or at least to block him from going to the Red Sox.

Now that Byrd is 4-1 with a 3.82 ERA in five Boston starts, and now that the Yankees have fallen into fourth place, the question seems even more relevant.

But here's a piece of information that we didn't know on Aug. 12: The Red Sox didn't claim Byrd, either.

According to major-league sources, Byrd actually cleared waivers in the first few days of August. No team put in a claim, so the Indians were free to trade him to anyone.

At the time Byrd hit the waiver wire, the Red Sox rotation wasn't nearly the mess it would become a week later. At that time, there was no real thought that the Sox would be trying to deal for a starting pitcher, and thus there was much less reason for the Yankees to put in a blocking claim.

Also, the Yankees hadn't yet lost Joba Chamberlain to injury. Their need for a starting pitcher wasn't nearly as great.

Perhaps the Yankees could have topped Boston's Aug. 12 offer and traded for Byrd then. But by then, they couldn't have blocked the deal with a waiver claim.


Posted on: September 7, 2008 2:12 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2008 7:12 pm

Mets: More bad news on Wagner

It's turning into an awful weekend for the Mets.

Besides losing the first two games in their first-place showdown with the Phillies, it now seems likely that they've lost closer Billy Wagner for the season. Wagner had to cut short a simulated game between games of today's day-night doubleheader, after feeling more discomfort in his troublesome left elbow.

The Mets had hoped that Wagner would be able to return to the active roster this week. They even considered activating him in time to pitch him in today's doubleheader, then changed plans and scheduled the simulated game as a final test.

"I feel like I'm as good as I'm going to get," Wagner said this morning. "The more I throw, the more rust comes off."

Wagner has been on the DL since Aug. 5 with a strained left forearm.

Category: MLB
Posted on: September 6, 2008 1:34 pm

Santana could make the difference

Mets manager Jerry Manuel is 0-for-2 this weekend. His team lost 3-0 to the Phillies on Friday night, and his prediction that Saturday's game would be played as scheduled turned out to be way off the mark. With Tropical Storm Hanna on the way, the Mets called the game 4 1/2 hours before gametime, and they'll now play a Sunday day-night doubleheader.

So are Manuel and the Mets in trouble? Not if Johan Santana is the dominating September pitcher he can be.

As Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins said after Friday's game, the Phillies can only put the 2007 collapse into the Mets minds with a three-game sweep this weekend. Otherwise, the Mets exit the weekend with a minimum two-game lead, and with no head-to-head meetings remaining.

That's where Santana comes in, because he faces Cole Hamels in the final game of the series on Sunday night.

Santana wasn't great in September 2007, but the Twins weren't really in the division race then. But check out what he did in the three Septembers before that:

2006: 3-1, 1.78

2005: 3-1, 1.67

2004: 5-0, 0.45

The Mets have won Santana's last six starts, but the next one is the biggest.

Posted on: September 5, 2008 5:51 pm

Schmidt to Phils: You're better than Mets

Big series this weekend at Shea Stadium. Real big.

So big, Mike Schmidt decided to get involved.

The Phillies Hall of Famer e-mailed a message to the Philadelphia team, and had it posted in the clubhouse before Friday's game. among other things, Schmidt told the Phillies that they're better than the Mets, and that the Mets know it. He also brought up 2007, when the Mets blew a seven-game lead in the final 17 games of the season.

Schmidt's message:

"One pitch. One at-bat. One play. One situation. Think "small" and "big" things result. Tough at-bats. Lots of walks. Stay up the middle with men on base. Whatever it takes to "keep the line moving" on offense. 27 outs on defense. The Mets know you're better than they are. They remember last year. You guys are never out of a game. Welcome the challenge that confronts you this weekend. Good luck. #20."

Category: MLB
Posted on: September 4, 2008 11:21 am
Edited on: September 4, 2008 11:24 am

Yanks are down, and it obviously stings

I was at Yankee Stadium a couple of times last week, and it seemed to me that Yankee fans were taking losing surprisingly well. Sure, they booed Alex Rodriguez a few times, but it almost seemed that they were booing because it was the thing to do, and not because they actually cared.

So imagine my surprise when I open my mailbox and find a whole bunch of hatred from Yankee fans, just because I had the gall to point out that -- well, that the Yankees just aren't very good.

From Kurt: "Feel compelled to write about Cleveland or Detroit or St. Louis or Colorado with no hope? No, you try to bury the Yankees. Typical response from a fiction writer who gave no credit when the Yanks did dominate."

Hmm. I guess all those World Series columns I wrote from 1996-2000 didn't make it into your hands. And I guess you missed the column I wrote last month on the Tigers, or the one I did in June on the Rockies.

From Jon: "Danny Boy, what great insight. I for one believe that if it wasn't for the Yankees you wouldn't have anything relevant or interesting to write about. You inane drone!"

I guess Jon didn't like those columns on the Tigers and Rockies, either.

From Hyam: "The Yankees have won 26 titles since 1920 and the Red Sox 2. What rivalry? You appear to be just another jerk Red Sox fan."

Did you notice that the Astros are closer to a playoff spot right now than the Yankees are? Uh oh. Now you'll accuse me of being a Houston fan.

Posted on: September 4, 2008 11:10 am

Should Cubs be worried? You bet

The Cubs are nine games up on a playoff spot with 22 games to play. Even with their tough schedule (6 vs. Milwaukee, 4 vs. Mets, 3 at Houston), they should get to October even if their rotation is headed by Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly, rather than Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden.

But that's not really the point, is it?

If this 100-year drought is going to end, the Cubs don't just have to get to October. They've been to the playoffs before, as recently as last year.

No, the scary part for the Cubs is that they don't seem to know for sure whether Zambrano will pitch again this year. And while they've penciled in Harden for a start next week against the Cardinals, any hint that he's hurt (he'll go at least 11 days between starts because of "discomfort") brings up all of his awful history with injuries.

Dempster, Lilly, Jason Marquis and Sean Marshall still get the Cubs to October. They also could get them an early exit once the playoffs begin.

Should the Cubs be worried? You bet.

Posted on: September 2, 2008 11:40 am

What's with all the cycles?

Nothing against Stephen Drew or Adrian Beltre. It still means something to hit for the cycle. It's still one of the rarest feats in the game.

It's just not nearly as rare as it once was.

A decade ago, a cycle was nearly as rare as a no-hitter. Through 1999, modern baseball had seen 204 cycles, 202 no-hitters.

Since then: 38 cycles, 12 no-hitters.

I'm not sure it means anything. Sure, we're in an era that favors hitters, but wasn't that also true in the 1990's? And yet, there were more no-hitters than cycles in the '90s (31-24).

A little cycle trivia: The Padres have been playing for 30 years, and yet they've never had anyone hit for the cycle. Neither Tampa Bay nor Florida has had a cycle hitter, either. And the Tigers once went 43 years (1950-93, or George Kell to Travis Fryman) without anyone hitting for the cycle.

Posted on: August 31, 2008 4:55 pm

Ricciardi: Eckstein's the best

The David Eckstein signing didn't work out for the Blue Jays. Not even close. They paid him $4.5 million, and by the middle of the season he was no longer the everyday shortstop.

And yet, when the Jays traded Eckstein to Arizona today, general manager J.P. Ricciardi had this to say about Eckstein: "He's the best. I've been in the game 28 years, and he's the best guy I've ever been around. He wasn't playing every day, and he still came to the park every day prepared to play. He's been absolutely great. We wanted to do something for him. We tried to put him in a spot where he was going to have a chance to go to the playoffs, and a chance to play, too. This is a great guy, an absolutely great, great guy."

By sending Eckstein to the Diamondbacks, Ricciardi seems to have done just what he said. Arizona began today with a 3 1/2-game lead in the National League West, and the Diamondbacks have a need for an everyday infielder to replace the injured Orlando Hudson. The Angels, the other team that had shown interest in Eckstein, would have used him mostly as a backup.

As for the minor-league pitcher that Toronto got back in the deal, 23-year-old right-hander Chad Beck, Ricciardi points out that the Jays drafted him out of high school in Jasper, Texas in 2004, but couldn't sign him.

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