Posted on: August 28, 2008 5:32 pm
Edited on: August 28, 2008 5:41 pm

Beckett or no Beckett, Sox still see October

Josh Beckett is going to see Dr. James Andrews about his sore right elbow, and that's almost always bad news.

Bad news for Beckett and bad news for the Red Sox, but not bad enough to keep the Sox from reaching the playoffs.

Remember, the Sox just took two of three from the Yankees with Beckett unable to pitch. Boston went 6-3 on a trip to Baltimore, Toronto and New York, without Beckett pitching once. Not only that, but the Sox are just 12-11 in Beckett's 23 starts this season.

Beckett is 11-9 with a 4.34 ERA. He gave up eight runs in 2 1/3 innings in his last start, Aug. 17 against Toronto, and afterward complained about a tingling sensation in his pitching hand. The Sox at first hoped he'd be able to face the Yankees this week, then rescheduled his next start for Friday night against the White Sox.

Now that's off.

Beckett is a great pitcher when he's healthy, and we saw last October how he could carry his team to a championship. With this latest news, the Red Sox have to wonder whether he'll be there for them this October.

But losing Beckett wouldn't mean the Red Sox miss October completely.

Here's one last reason why they won't: Of Boston's 29 remaining games, 20 will be at Fenway Park, where the Sox are 43-18.

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 27, 2008 6:33 pm

Hi from New York. I feel right at home.

So on my first day as a New Yorker, the Mets blew a seven-run lead, lost to the Phillies and fell out of first place. And the Yankees lost to the Red Sox in the first game of a series they absolutely had to sweep, with Alex Rodriguez proving to be completely unclutch.

Which means that one day in, baseball-wise, New York looks an awful lot like Detroit. (I'd say it means that I was the problem in Detroit, but in the two days since I left there, the Tigers have lost two more games and fallen into fourth place).

Anyway, I am in New York, which doesn't mean that you'll only be reading about the Mets and Yankees, but does mean that's baseball coverage should be even better balanced than before, with me here and Scott Miller still basking in the Southern California sun.

But from the looks of things, there might not be any more October baseball in New York than there will be in San Diego -- or in Detroit, for that matter.
Posted on: August 20, 2008 3:51 pm

Mistakes, mistakes

We rip others for their mistakes, so we'd better be willing to take the blame for ours. And as two readers noticed, I had at least a couple in the last couple of weeks.

Here goes:

From Steve, who noticed that I typed "no-nothings" when I meant to type "know-nothings": "It really bothers me as a former journalist and a current teacher that they're seems two be know copy editing being done anymore. Unless of course you're no-nothing comment was tongue-in-cheek, as was this e-mail?"

You know, I'd love to blame the copy editors. And I'd love to say that I was being clever. On this one, I have to admit I was just being careless. We'll try to do better next time.

From Dave: "You said that (Orioles 2007 first-round pick) Matt Wieters is at Double-A Erie. The Orioles' Double-A affiliate is in Bowie, not Erie. Same last two letters, same league, but not the same team."

And no chance this was tongue-in-cheek, either. Just another careless mistake. Can't blame the copy desk here, either, but I will blame my fingers. I covered the Tigers so long that when I type "Double-A," my fingers then type "Erie" without even asking me. You laugh, but it took me years before I stopped typing "Sparky Anderson" after "manager."

From Jay: "You leave the D and get a national blog and all you have been doing is ripping the Tigers apart. Coward!"

How did this one get in here? Not my mistake at all. Not only that, but if you ask the Tigers, I ripped them pretty good in 2002. And in 2003. And in 2004. And in a whole bunch of other years. Not that they didn't deserve it.

From Amy: "Why was Gary Sheffield not allowed to say in spring training that his shoulder was still weak and he needed more rehab time?"

Not my mistake, either. I'll blame this one on Sheffield, because he's allowed to say anything he wants. And what he said in spring training was that his shoulder felt fine, which may or may not have been true. But anyway, this wasn't a mistake. At least not by me.

From Mark: "Any scout who says the following is either plain ignorant or fooling himself, given the quality of the Cubs: 'This league is awful. Toronto would win the National League. The Yankees would win the National League.' "

Not a mistake at all. The Cubs have a fine team, but the National League is awful. Besides, the Cubs were 6-9 in their 15 interleague games. Six and nine! That's a .400 winning percentage. That's worse than any AL team besides Kansas City. So it was a mistake. What the scout should have said was that the Royals would win the National League.


Posted on: August 19, 2008 11:48 am

Sabathia is 8-0, but pitch counts are worrisome

You couldn't help but notice that CC Sabathia threw another complete game for the Brewers on Monday night. You couldn't help but notice that Sabathia is 8-0 with a 1.60 ERA in nine starts since the Brewers acquired him from the Indians.

You also couldn't help but notice that Sabathia threw 130 pitches -- in a 9-3 win over the Astros.

According to the great play index at, the 130 pitches is a career high for Sabathia. Not only that, but Sabathia has now topped 120 pitches three times for Milwaukee. In his last 3 1/2 seasons with the Indians, Sabathia topped 120 pitches just three times -- twice in 2006 and once earlier this season.

Sabathia told reporters that the high pitch count Monday wasn't a big deal, because he has an extra day of rest before his next start, and two extra days after that.

It's not a big deal. Not unless it contributes to Sabathia getting hurt.
Category: MLB
Posted on: August 18, 2008 12:46 pm

It's the bullpens -- in the AL Central, anyway

The Indians and the Tigers are two of the biggest disappointments in baseball this year. No question there.

Here's the interesting part: You can blame both teams' demise almost completely on their bullpens.

Don't believe me? Here's the evidence:

AL Central Standings, based on only the first six innings of games

                            W             L          T        GB
1. Twins          60            50       13        --
2. Indians       60            50       14        --
3. White Sox   58            49       16       1 1/2
4. Tigers          58           53        13       2 1/2
5. Royals         51           62        11      10 1/2

In other words, if you take out the innings usually pitched by the bullpens, the AL Central would be an amazing four-team race, and the Indians would be tied for first place. Not only that, but in this six-inning world, the Tribe never trades away CC Sabathia at the beginning of July.

What does it all mean? Two things, as far as I can tell. One, White Sox GM Kenny Williams was smart to spend his money last winter on Octavio Dotel and Scott Linebrink. Two, the Twins were smart to sign Joe Nathan long-term, rather than trade him away.

Oh, and by the way, the six-inning rule doesn't help the Yankees. They'd be 55-56-13 if games ended after 6.

It does, however, help the Mets -- big time. They're 68-40-16 after six, compared to 51-52-18 for the Phillies and 52-58-15 for the Marlins. In the six-inning world, they'd have a huge lead in the NL East, as opposed to the two-game lead they hold in the real world.
Posted on: August 8, 2008 6:47 pm

Venezuelans threaten to skip WBC

Luis Sojo said the other day that Venezuela is working out the problems that have led most of its top players to threaten to skip the next World Baseball Classic.

Good luck.

Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez, two of the Venezuelan team's top players, repeated today that they don't plan to play unless there are major changes in the leadership of the Venezuelan team. Guillen and Ordonez have spoken to Johan Santana, Carlos Zambrano, Miguel Cabrera and other top Venezuelan players, and they believe those players feel the same way they do.

"It's not that we want to boycott the tournament," Ordonez said. "But we want things done right. The Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, they have big leaguers (running their teams). They know how to treat big leaguers. We just want the same thing."

While Sojo said the problems are being worked on, Sojo himself seems to be part of the problem. He managed Venezuela in the first WBC, and he is to manage the Venezuelan team again next spring.

Posted on: August 6, 2008 3:52 pm
Edited on: August 6, 2008 8:42 pm

Freddy Garcia impressive, but ...

Could Freddy Garcia be the pitching addition that puts one of the contending teams over the top?

Two scouts who watched Garcia's showcase workout on Tuesday in Florida said Wednesday they're not sure he can be.

"He controls the ball well," one of the scouts said. "He just needs to increase his arm strength."

"He wasn't bad for a guy who hasn't pitched in a year," said the other scout. "There's nothing wrong with his arm. He looks the same as he did (before shoulder surgery), with the same arm action. He just doesn't have the arm strength right now."

Garcia once threw in the mid-90s, but he was topping out at 84-85 mph before surgery. Tuesday, he was at 81-82 early in the session, later topping out at 86.

About 20 scouts, representing at least 15 teams, attended the workout. Both New York teams were represented, and some who know Garcia believe he would love to pitch for the Mets.

Garcia's agent, Peter Greenberg, said today that Garcia would ideally like to sign with a team soon. But Greenberg also said that if teams don't show enough interest, Garcia would be prepared to go to winter ball to prove himself, and then aim to sign a contract for 2009.

One of the scouts who watched Tuesday said that might be the best course.

"I'm not sure he'll be ready to help a team before next spring," the scout said. "From what I saw, he needs at least four to five starts (in the minor leagues). And the problem if you sign him is that he would still be a free agent at the end of the year."

Garcia last pitched in June 2007, for Philadelphia. He had surgery on his shoulder last August.

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 5, 2008 3:06 pm

In baseball, lightning shouldn't strike once

Baseball shouldn't take a chance with lightning. Period.

I was at Wrigley Field Monday night. I saw, heard and felt the lightning strike that ended the Cubs-Astros game. It scared me. It scared everyone.

"I understand that players don't want to be out there (at that point)," umpire crew chief Wally Bell said this morning. "I don't want to be out there."

I don't blame Bell for what happened. I'm not sure I blame the Cubs, either, even though I take issue with general manager Jim Hendry's explanation that "No one was hurt, so in this one, they made the right call."

No, it wasn't the right call, because someone easily could have been hurt.

Baseball has no lightning policy. Now would be a fine time to write one. When there's lightning in the area, when there's a tornado sighted 15 miles from the ballpark, stop the game. End the game.

"Think about it," Astros first baseman Lance Berkman said. "People get killed by lightning strikes all the time. It's not likely, but it's a heck of a lot more likely if you're standing outside in a lightning storm."

Berkman heard ex-teammate Craig Biggio talk many times about being on the field when a friend was killed by lightning. Maybe that's why Berkman had the most sensible reaction to what happened Monday.

"You've got to keep some perspective here," he said. "This is a baseball game and these games are important because teams are trying to make the playoffs and everybody understands that. But at the same time don't lose your mind. You got tornado sirens going off and severe weather all over the place. There's no reason for it. There's no reason to put fans at risk. There's no reason to put players at risk. You put umpires in a bad spot because everybody's like, 'Well, it's on them. They got to make the call.' "

Berkman's right. The key is to figure out a way to keep this from happening again -- and more important, to keep something worse from happening.

"Everybody was at risk," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. "Everybody."

And it's not a good enough answer to say that no one got hurt.

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