Tag:Alex Rodriguez
Posted on: February 3, 2012 1:58 pm
 

Harper would join short list of 19-year-olds

As CBSSports.com colleague Jon Heyman wrote, the Nationals plan to give 19-year-old Bryce Harper a real chance to make their team out of spring training.

In fact, one Nationals official told me he believes that Harper should make it, and that even though he is still learning, "he can help you win while he learns."

Besides, it's not unheard of for a 19-year-old to play in the big leagues. Mike Trout did it for 14 games with the Angels last summer. Both Uptons (B.J. and Justin) did it.

Alex Rodriguez played in the big leagues when he was still 18 years old.

But according to research through baseball-reference.com, Harper would be the first 19-year-old to break camp with a team since Felix Hernandez with the 2006 Mariners, and the first position player to do it since Andruw Jones with the 1997 Braves.

Harper will be 19 years, 172 days old when the Nationals open their season on April 5 in Chicago. King Felix (19.118 when he debuted in August 2005) was the last big leaguer that young, and Adrian Beltre (19.078 when he debuted in June 1998) was the last position player that young.

A look the 19-year-olds who have played in the big leagues since 2000:

-- Trout played 14 games with the Angels last July, hitting just .163 with a .492 OPS.

-- Justin Upton was 23 days shy of his 20th birthday when the Diamondbacks called him up in 2007.

-- Hernandez came to the big leagues to stay at age 19.

-- B.J. Upton was 18 days shy of his 20th birthday when he debuted with the Rays in August 2004.

-- Jose Reyes debuted with the Mets the day before he turned 20 in June 2003.

-- Wilson Betemit came up with the Braves as a 19-year-old in September 2001.
Posted on: October 29, 2011 6:47 pm
 

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

The Yankees don't think it was such a great month. The Phillies are sure it wasn't a great month.

Oh, and the Red Sox? No, the last 31 days weren't exactly pleasant for them.

But it sure was great for the rest of us, the best month of baseball most of us have seen, or will see, in our lifetimes.

If it gets better than this, I won't complain. But I'm not planning on it.

We had the best single regular-season night ever, on the final night of the regular season, and maybe the best game ever, on the next-to-last night of the World Series.

We had so many great games that the best individual offensive performance in World Series history barely makes the list. So many that Chris Carpenter's three-hit 1-0 shutout in a winner-take-all Game 5 wasn't even his most important performance of the month.

This is the third year now that I've written a postseason recap, and it's the first time that the best game of the month wasn't the first game I saw. Nothing against Tigers-Twins (Game 163 in 2009) or Roy Halladay's no-hitter (Division Series 2010), but it's a better month when the drama builds.

This month, we saw Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera, Chris Carpenter, Nelson Cruz and David Freese. We saw squirrels. We saw Na-po-li. We saw history.

We saw Game 6.

What a month.

Here's a look back:

Best game: Some people are insisting that Game 6 of the World Series can't be called great, because there were physical errors early and possible managerial errors late. Sorry, but that's ridiculous. So it wasn't the best-played game ever. Fine. It had thrills, it had drama, it had plenty to second-guess, it had great performances and gritty performances. You go ahead and say it wasn't perfect. I'm going to say it was the best game I've ever seen.

Best moment: The flashbulbs going off when Albert Pujols batted in the seventh inning of Game 7 were great. Yes, it could have been his final Cardinals at-bat. But the best moment of the postseason -- Pujols' best moment -- was when he called time out to allow the Miller Park crowd to honor Prince Fielder, who very, very likely was stepping to the plate for his final Brewers at-bat.

Best chant: In the end, maybe this wasn't the Year of the Napoli, after all. But it sure was the month of the "Na!-Po!-Li!" at Rangers Ballpark. Mike Napoli became such an instant hero that I saw a Rangers fan who had altered his year-old Cliff Lee jersey, adding "Na-po" above the "Lee."

Best crowd: It was incredibly loud all month in Texas. It was louder than ever in St. Louis for the final outs of Game 7. But everyone who was at Miller Park this month came back raving about the atmosphere and the Brewers' fans (and everyone who was at Chase Field said there was barely any atmosphere for the Diamondbacks' two home games).

Best player: Tough call. Freese was a revelation, and not just in the World Series. Cabrera was outstanding. So was Ryan Braun. But Pujols was the guy I'll remember most, from his great defensive play against the Phillies to his historic three-homer game against the Rangers.

Best movie review: Moneyball took a beating every time Cardinals manager Tony La Russa took to the podium. La Russa went to see the movie the night Game 6 was rained out, and the next night he said that it "strains the credibility a little bit." La Russa, like others, complained about the portrayal of scouts, and about the lack of mentions of Miguel Tejada, Eric Chavez, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito and Tim Hudson. "That club was carried by those guys that were signed, developed the old-fashioned way," La Russa said. "That part wasn't enjoyable, because it's a nice story but it is not accurate enough."

Most disappointing team: The Red Sox. The Phillies didn't make it out of the first round. Neither did the Yankees, who then apologized to their fans for their "failure." But Boston's collapse was so bad that it led to the departure of the manager and general manager who broke the curse. The Red Sox will recover, but they'll never be the same.

Best prediction: It's well established by now that I can't pick winners. But when the postseason began, I jokingly wrote that every series would go the distance. Turned out I was almost right, as 38 of a possible 41 games were required. Three of the four Division Series went the distance (and none were sweeps). Both League Championship Series went six games. And the World Series went seven, for the first time in nine years. Oh, and I even picked the World Series winner, Cardinals in 7, even if I did it because Rangers officials demanded that I pick against them.

Five who helped themselves: 1. Pujols. I'm not saying it makes a difference in his final free-agent price, but a great postseason reminded all of us how good he really is.

2. John Mozeliak. You think Cardinals fans will finally admit that it was a good idea to trade Colby Rasmus to help this team win now?

3. Mike Napoli. The Angels traded this guy for Vernon Wells. The Blue Jays then traded this guy for Frank Francisco. The Rangers will not be trading him.

4. Ryan Braun. MVP voting includes only the regular season, and not the postseason. But anyone who chose Braun over Matt Kemp in the National League race had to be happy to see him hit .405 with a 1.182 OPS in October.

5. David Freese. He was the best story of the month, the hometown kid who quit baseball after high school, and came back to become the World Series MVP. Now everyone knows him.

Five who hurt themselves: 1. C.J. Wilson. He's still going to get overpaid on the free-agent market, but imagine how much he might have gotten if he'd had a good October, instead of a lousy one.

2. CC Sabathia. He's still going to get a great new contract, too, but imagine how much he might have gotten if his postseason ERA was 1.23, instead of 6.23 (and if his waist size didn't expand just as fast).

3. Cliff Lee. The team he left went to the World Series without him. And the team he couldn't beat in Game 2, after his teammates gave him a 4-0 lead, went on to win the World Series.

4. Alex Rodriguez. Two years ago, he had a nice October and shed the label of postseason choker. This year, he went 2-for-18 against the Tigers and appeared on the back page of the New York Post as one of the Three Stooges (along with Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira).

5. Tony La Russa (for about 48 hours). I'm guessing Cardinals fans will now totally forgive him for the phone/noise/bullpen mess from Game 5. He's now the guy who has won two World Series in St. Louis, to go with the one he won in Oakland. Still one of the very best managers in the game -- in the history of the game, that is.


Posted on: October 26, 2011 1:51 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2011 6:50 pm
 

After 51 years, the Rangers know how to wait

ST. LOUIS -- Wednesday was gray and gloomy at Busch Stadium. The weather forecast for Game 6 of the World Series? Ugly.

Kind of like most of the Rangers' franchise history.

They were born 51 years ago as the second Washington Senators, the second coming of a team that wasn't exactly successful the first time around. They moved to Texas just 11 years later, and played in a glorified minor-league ballpark for 22 years after that.

They never won a playoff series until last year, their 50th season. Their biggest-ever free agent signing was Alex Rodriguez, and it was basically a disaster.

They built this World Series team while in bankruptcy court.

"If people knew what has transpired over the last four years, it's an amazing story," franchise icon and club president Nolan Ryan said a few days back. "It's a phenomenal story."

And now that story includes a rainout that pushes back the Rangers' first-ever potential World Series clincher.

Perfect.

These guys already understand what it means to wait.

After all they've been through, one more day is hardly going to affect them.

"It's not like we're going to sit here and bite our nails," Michael Young said. "It's just a rainout."

Young, a Ranger since 2000, sets the tone in the Texas clubhouse. He knows what they've been through, knows what the organization has been through.

"I'm definitely appreciative of where we are," he said. "It's a lot of fun to be part of the group that has taken this organization where it hadn't been."

Young and the other Rangers players say that even they don't know the entire story of the bankruptcy, which forced Major League Baseball to basically take the team over from Tom Hicks, and then oversaw the sale to the ownership group that runs the Rangers now.

"I appreciate the bigger picture," manager Ron Washington said. "I really appreciate that Nolan Ryan and the guys, they kept it out of the clubhouse."

But even if they didn't know the details, the Rangers players couldn't escape everything going on around them.

"This organization has been through a lot," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "It's my sixth year, and there's been lots of ups and downs just in my six years."

Part of that, Kinsler said, was simply changing the image of a franchise that had never won big. There was a sense of the Rangers as a team that could never pitch enough to win, or as a team that would fall apart after summers spent in the Texas heat.

"A lot of it was labeling," Kinsler said. "We were labeled as a team that just hit, a team in a hitters' park. The label was that we were so one-dimensional. To be able to turn that, change that, I think is huge."

They've changed it so much that they've been in the World Series two straight years, and that now they're within one win of a championship.

"We've been on quite a run," Kinsler said. "We've been the dominant team in the American League the last two seasons."

They've built something good, and they know it. They've built something that no one else could build with this franchise, through half a century, through Washington and then Texas.

They've built it, and now they'll wait one more day for Game 6, which stands as the biggest game this franchise has ever played.

They can wait another day.

And, oh, Nolan Ryan is right. It is a phenomenal story.
Posted on: August 30, 2011 8:02 pm
 

For A-Rod, it's the thumb -- this time

BOSTON -- It's the thumb now, the left thumb.

Before that, it was the right knee. And the left shoulder.

And the left calf, and the right hip, and the right quad.

If Alex Rodriguez played for the Mets, Fred Wilpon might say he's had everything wrong with him.

The thumb is the issue this week, sore enough that Rodriguez had a cortisone shot on Monday and may not play until Friday. He took ground balls but no batting practice Tuesday, and he's out for at least the first two games of the series against the Red Sox.

And more than that, he felt the need Tuesday to reassure people that he can still play at the level he's accustomed to playing at.

"This year has been the most frustrating, because I've had three different things going on at some point," he said, referring to the thumb, the knee and the shoulder. "But my body feels really good, and when I'm healthy, I feel I can do all the things like I did in April, or in spring training."

In spring training, Rodriguez looked like a possible MVP again. In April, he hit .290 with five home runs and 18 RBI in 20 games.

For the season, Rodriguez has played just 84 games (he'll end up playing the fewest games since he became a regular in 1996), hitting .289 with 14 home runs and 53 RBI.

He's 36 years old now, but it's hard to say that he's nearing the end of his career. Not when he still has six years -- and at least $143 million -- remaining on the contract he signed after the 2007 season.

The Yankees have played better without him than with him this season, going 32-18 (entering play Tuesday) in games he hasn't started and 48-34 in games he has started.

They didn't have him Tuesday, won't have him Wednesday and likely won't have him Thursday.

Then he'll be back . . . until the next thing goes wrong.
Category: MLB
Posted on: July 9, 2011 5:44 pm
Edited on: July 9, 2011 8:46 pm
 

All-Star Game is losing star power

Try making a list of players who could get you to turn on the television just to watch them play.

Albert Pujols? Justin Verlander? Alex Rodriguez? Felix Hernandez? Jose Reyes? Chipper Jones? Derek Jeter?

You see what I'm getting at?

For all the debate over whether Bruce Bochy snubbed Andrew McCutchen, the real developing problem with Tuesday night's All-Star Game is that, intentionally or not, it's the game itself that is getting snubbed.

All-Star Games need star power. All-Star Games need stars.

The game's greatest stars gathering in the desert, or whatever that annoying TV promo has told us for months.

Or some of the game's greatest stars. Or a few of the game's greatest stars.

I'm not assigning fault here. I'm not suggesting that we've headed back to the 1990s, when too many stars did all they could to avoid the All-Star Game.

Pujols didn't make the team because he had a sub-par first half, got hurt and plays a position filled with other outstanding players. Verlander and Hernandez made the team but are pitching for their own teams on Sunday and thus will be ineligible to pitch on Tuesday.

A-Rod and Chipper both have bad knees and may both end up having surgery.

Ryan Braun, who got the most votes of any player in the National League, has a sore left leg and will miss the All-Star Game, too.

At least Braun's injury allowed Bochy to add the deserving McCutchen to the team, which Bochy did Saturday night.

The reasons for the absences really don't matter. The problem for baseball is that an All-Star Game that has already seen fading interest is now going to be played without so many stars who people would watch.

Mariano Rivera? CC Sabathia? Cole Hamels? Matt Cain?

It's true that Jeter's decision to pull out of the game (citing the calf injury that forced him to the DL for three weeks) allowed Cleveland's Asdrubal Cabrera to be the rightful American League starter at shortstop. It's true that Cabrera is having a far better season than Jeter, is far more "deserving."

But Jeter just became the 28th player with 3,000 career hits.

Who do you think the average fan is more likely to tune in and watch, Derek Jeter or Asdrubal Cabrera?

There will be great players in Phoenix. But there will be so many great players missing.

Too many.

It's no one's fault. But it is too bad.

Posted on: July 9, 2011 10:19 am
Edited on: July 9, 2011 5:34 pm
 

A-Rod has tear in knee, may have surgery

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez has a slight tear in the meniscus of his right knee, and may have surgery that could keep him out of action for a month.

An MRI exam Friday revealed the tear, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Saturday morning that Rodriguez would likely decide later in the day whether to have surgery now or to play through the injury and have surgery after the season. Rodriguez told reporters after the Yankees' 5-4 win over the Rays that he'll get a second opinion before deciding.

Rodriguez has gone a career-high 85 at-bats since hitting a home run, a stretch that dates back to before he first hurt his knee in June 19 game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

"I just don't think he has the drive in his back side to be the power hitter he can be," Girardi said.

Girardi said the ultimate decision on whether or not to have surgery now would be up to Rodriguez, but he also suggested that having surgery now might be best.

"Players have [played through similar injuries], but I'm not sure how productive they can be," Girardi said. "It's unpredictable."

Rodriguez has hit .321 in the 14 games since hurting his knee, but 14 of his 18 hits were singles (the other four were doubles).

Braves third baseman Chipper Jones has been playing with a meniscus tear for nearly two months, but Jones told reporters Friday night in Philadelphia that he may now opt for surgery.

"It's not getting any better," Jones said, according to MLB.com. "The [cortisone] shot didn't do anything for me."

Rodriguez announced Friday that he would skip the All-Star Game. If Jones opts for the surgery, he would miss the All-Star Game, too.

Posted on: July 3, 2011 3:34 pm
 

Players? Fans? For most part, they agree

For all the complaints about fan voting, how much different would the All-Star lineups look if the players picked them instead?

Not much.

In the National League, the players and fans agreed on the starter at all eight positions. In the American League, they agreed at six of the nine spots (including designated hitter).

The only differences were at shortstop (fans took Derek Jeter, players took Asdrubal Cabrera), third base (fans took Alex Rodriguez, players took Adrian Beltre) and at the third and final outfield spot (fans took Josh Hamilton, players took Jacoby Ellsbury).

A few other All-Star items of note:

-- The late votes helped, with four changes in the final week of voting (all four going in favor of someone the players voted for). Alex Avila (over Russell Martin), Prince Fielder (over Albert Pujols), Jose Reyes (over Troy Tulowitzki) and Matt Kemp (over Matt Holliday) won the fan vote, after trailing with a week to go.

-- As always, there will be changes in the rosters this week. Some are almost guaranteed, as five All-Stars (Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, James Shields, Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez) are scheduled as of now to pitch next Sunday. They'll remain on the All-Star team, but will be ineligible to pitch, and another pitcher will be added to the team in place of each one. You can almost bet that there will be more changes, because of injuries.

-- As of now, here are the other 25 pitchers scheduled to start Sunday: Derek Lowe, Chris Volstad, Jordan Zimmermann, Ramon Ortiz, Mike Pelfrey, Ted Lilly, Edinson Volquez, Jaime Garcia, Brett Myers, Paul Maholm, Randy Wolf, Zach Duke, Tim Stauffer, Matt Harrison, Jon Lester, Brett Cecil, CC Sabathia, Carlos Carrasco, Scott Baker, Dan Haren, Trevor Cahill, Felipe Paulino, Jake Peavy and either Alfredo Simon or Mitch Atkins.

-- For all the talk of how New York dominates the voting, only two New York players have ever been the leading overall vote-getter. Darryl Strawberry of the Mets led in 1986, and Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees led in both 2007 and 2008. Only one Red Sox (David Ortiz in 2005) has led, and no Phillie has ever led. Jose Bautista is the first Blue Jay to lead, and the Blue Jays are the 20th different franchise to have an overall vote leader. No team has had more than two, but a Mariner has led in eight different years (five by Ken Griffey Jr., three by Ichiro Suzuki).

-- The 10 franchises that have never had an overall vote-leader: Rockies, Diamondbacks, Pirates, Phillies, Marlins, Astros, Tigers, Indians, White Sox, Rays.

-- The Yankees still ended up with the most All-Stars (barring final-week changes), with six. The Phillies, Braves, Giants and Tigers had four apiece. But what might be more surprising is that 14 of the 30 teams had only one All-Star picked on Sunday.


Posted on: June 5, 2011 4:38 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2011 5:04 pm
 

3 to Watch: The draft edition

There's no doubting how important the baseball draft is.

The Giants don't win the World Series if they don't pick Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey in three straight first rounds from 2006-08. The Phillies don't become a powerhouse without taking Pat Burrell, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels in the first round between 1992-2002. The Rays are still losers if not for first-rounders like Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton and David Price (and Delmon Young, who brought them Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett).

And the Rangers don't get to the World Series last year if they don't use a 2008 first-round pick on Justin Smoak, who they could turn into Cliff Lee.

Three of the last four American League Most Valuable Players were taken first overall (Alex Rodriguez, Joe Mauer, Josh Hamilton).

The draft is crucial, and for all the talk of how the late rounds matter (yes, Albert Pujols was a 13th-rounder), the fact is that most American-born All-Stars (foreign players aren't draft-eligible) come from the very early picks.

So should you study up for Monday's 2011 version of the draft? Should you make plans to watch the first round on the MLB Network?

No, not unless you're close friends with someone who might get picked.

The truth is that unlike the NBA and NFL drafts, the baseball draft is much more interesting in retrospect than it is the day it happens.

It's great to look back and see how previous drafts went, once we know which picks were great and which were flops. Go ahead and check out C. Trent Rosecrans' rundown of each team's best first-round pick from the last decade, and Matt Snyder's rundown of the worst.

You know the names -- the good ones, anyway.

As for this year's draft, feel free to watch something else on Monday -- maybe Zack Greinke against the Marlins, maybe Matt Kemp vs. Cliff Lee.

But because the draft is important, we'll also give you this draft version of 3 to Watch, as in three things to know, whether you watch or not:

1. Some years, having the top pick is great. It was great the last two years for the Nationals, when Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper were available. It was great the only two times the Mariners had it, because Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez were available. But most drafts have no Strasburg and no A-Rod. And many drafts are like this one, with plenty of debate over the best available player. The Pirates pick first, and there have been conflicting reports on who they'll take. The local paper suggested it would be UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole, while highly-respected draft-watcher Jim Callis of Baseball America said University of Virginia right-hander Danny Hultzen. It seems almost certain to be one of the two, even though some scouts think Oklahoma high school pitcher Dylan Bundy will be better than either of them. I'll trust Pirates scouting director Greg Smith, who made the call to take Justin Verlander when he was in the same job with the Tigers.

2. Most scouts seem to believe this is a deep draft, which should benefit the Rays, who have a record 12 picks in the first two rounds. As Rays general manager Andrew Friedman said to the New York Times, "The more arrows you have, the more likely you are to hit the bull's-eye." On the other hand, the Rays' first pick isn't until No. 24 in the first round, in a draft where the top six players seem to have separated themselves from the group (Cole, Hultzen, Bundy, UCLA pitcher Trevor Bauer, Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon and Kansas high school outfielder Bubba Starling).

3. Yes, you read that right. Two UCLA pitchers are expected to go within the first six picks. Before you ask, yes, it has happened before. In 2004, Rice produced three of the top eight picks (all pitchers), with Phil Humber going third to the Mets, Jeff Niemann going fourth to the Rays and Wade Townsend going eighth to the Orioles. And Vanderbilt came close in 2007, when David Price went first overall to the Rays, and Casey Weathers went eighth to the Rockies.




 
 
 
 
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