Posted on: May 12, 2011 6:12 pm
CHICAGO -- If you don't like the Yankees and you don't like the Red Sox, sometime this weekend you're going to be complaining.
These guys again?
Carlos Pena won't be complaining. In fact, he'd love to be watching, if only his job as the Cubs first baseman didn't get in the way.
He grew up in Boston as a big Red Sox fan, and Pena said this week that even when he started playing in the major leagues, he was still a big Red Sox fan.
"One of the most unbelievable feelings I had was when the Red Sox came back [in the 2004 American League Championship Series]," Pena said. "I was 100 percent a die-hard fan, even though I was playing with the Tigers. Our season was over, of course.
"I remember almost dying of excitement."
Pena later played briefly for the Red Sox, but appeared in just three games against the Yankees, in 2006. He said his feelings about the Red Sox finally fell off after he went to the Rays in 2007, because Tampa Bay and Boston were then battling in the American League East.
Posted on: July 13, 2009 6:29 pm
ST. LOUIS -- A few notes and thoughts from All-Star Monday:
-- This one counts?
Since 2003, when baseball began awarding home-field advantage in the World Series to the league that won the All-Star Game, the American League has won every year. Not that it has helped in October, because the National League team has won three of those six World Series, including two of the last three. One issue: There hasn't been a seven-game World Series since 2002, and there hasn't even been a six-game World Series since 2003.
Still, players from the Tigers and Rays, who lost in 2006 and 2008 despite home-field advantage, said Monday that they would very much prefer to have home-field advantage if they get back to the World Series this October.
"The way we play at home (29-15 this year), it helps us out a lot," Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett said. "Last year, I think what happened was we were playing so great, but when we got to the World Series we changed our game. I really feel like if we get there again and we have the home-field advantage, we'd do it this time."
"It didn't work out last year, but in the grand scheme of things, it would be great to have it again," first baseman Carlos Pena agreed. "We were just emotionally drained from the Boston series (in the ALCS) last year, so we didn't take advantage of it."
Like the 2008 Rays, the 2006 Tigers split the first two games at home, then lost three straight on the road.
"I think if we could have gotten back to our place (for Game 6), playing in front of our home crowds, it could have been different," Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge said. "Home-field advantage is worth a lot."
"I saw a stat where 18 of the last 23 teams with home-field advantage won it," Tigers starter Justin Verlander said. "But you'd better check that."
We checked, and he's right.
-- Brantorino, explained
So now we know where the idea for last week's Brantorino final-vote push came from. It came from Shane Victorino.
The Phillies outfielder revealed today that he was the one who suggested to Bonnie Clark (the Phils' vice president for communications) that they team up with the Tigers for a two-team voting bloc to win the final vote for him and for Inge. He didn't take credit for the "Brantorino" marketing slogan, just the idea of teaming up.
"I just knew Inge and I were in second place in the voting," Victorino said. "And I knew Detroit was a great baseball city, just like Philadelphia."
Sure enough, it worked, as Victorino and Inge went on to win the voting.
-- A vote for Bob Melvin
Dodgers second baseman Orlando Hudson played for Bob Melvin the last three years in Arizona. He plays for Joe Torre now.
He sees a connection.
"[Melvin] reminds me of a young Torre," Hudson said.
So he was disappointed to see Melvin get fired?
"No, I was happy for him," Hudson said. "I was happy for him to get a fresh start."
-- Little man in the Derby
Inge said he was more excited about Monday night's Home Run Derby than about Tuesday's game.
"I might set a record for the smallest Home Run Derby contestant ever," said Inge, who the Tigers list at 5-11, 190.
Inge said his last Home Run Derby was at the Southern League All-Star Game in Greenville, S.C.
"That one didn't go so well," he said. "I went 0 for my first 9. But then I think I hit the farthest ball in the Derby."
Posted on: October 21, 2008 3:59 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2008 4:00 pm
That was the day Phillies manager Charlie Manuel mentioned watching Gil Hodges going 0-for-21 in the 1952 World Series, and Moyer responded with: "I think I faced Gil Hodges in that series."
So now Moyer is in the World Series, for the first time in a career that began 22 years ago with the Cubs. But instead of people joking about his age, they're asking why the Phillies are planning to pitch him in Game 3.
After all, the Phillies are 7-2 so far in the postseason, and Moyer (13.50 ERA) has both of the two losses.
"Now everybody wants to just put him on the shelf," Phils pitching coach Rich Dubee complained today. "We're not playing if it's not for Jamie Moyer. He won 16, and he probably could have won close to 20. That's how good he was. I don't think we're going to walk away from him."
Dubee suggested that Moyer will have an advantage in the World Series, because the Rays hitters haven't seen him recently. It's true that no one on the Rays has faced Moyer in the last two years, but it's also true that Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton are a combined 22-for-44 against him in their careers.
Dubee's other theory is that Moyer put huge pressure on himself in the playoffs, because he'd never made it to a World Series and wasn't sure he'd ever have another chance. Now that he's actually in the World Series, the theory goes, Moyer will relax.
And what does Moyer think of that theory?
"I'm not really thinking about what's happened in the past," he said.
One more Dubee theory from today: The Phils pitching coach believes his staff can pitch the Rays more effectively than the Red Sox did. They'd better, because in the final six games of the ALCS, the Rays hit 16 home runs and scored 43 runs.
"I think if we pitch to our capabilities, we'll be fine," Dubee said. "We have to get ahead in the count. Our guys can change speeds, which is something I don't think Boston did a whole lot of. A lot of those home runs were balls that were up in the middle of the plate. They made a lot of mistakes. Good hitters hit mistakes, and that's what the Rays did. Hopefully we'll avoid getting in the middle of the plate, and we'll get ahead in the count, and hopefully be able to change speeds and throw a number of pitches for strikes."
Posted on: October 11, 2008 4:51 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2008 5:20 pm
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- In their 2-0 loss to the Red Sox in Game 1 of the ALCS, the Rays made two outs while swinging at 3-0 pitches. One of them was among the biggest outs of the game, a Carlos Pena fly ball with two on and nobody out in the eighth.
So did manager Joe Maddon err by green-lighting Pena and, before that, Evan Longoria (who flied out to end the sixth)?
Fans tend to say yes. Fans tend to complain when hitters swing at 3-0 pitches, just as they tend to complain when hitters swing at the first pitch.
But the stats say most middle-of-the-order hitters become unbelievable hitters when they put the first pitch in play. Pena is 3-for-6 in his regular-season career on 3-0, with two home runs and a double (including a grand slam off Dan Haren this year). David Ortiz, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Howard and Justin Morneau, among others, all hit .500 or better when they put a 3-0 pitch in play (all stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com).
OK, but wouldn't they have just as good a chance at 3-1 or 3-2?
Not necessarily. When Pena doesn't put the 3-0 pitch in play, he becomes a .190 hitter.
"It's something we've done all year," Maddon said today. "With Pena, taking everything into consideration, I felt pretty good about it actually. If he doesn't top-spin that ball, it might have hit the back wall."
Pena said Friday night that Maddon spoke to him after the eighth-inning at-bat, telling him he had taken exactly the right approach.
By the way, the stats also show that some hitters won't swing 3-0 even when given a green light. Neither J.D. Drew nor Kevin Youkilis has ever put a 3-0 pitch in play, and Wade Boggs did it just seven times in his entire career -- going 2-for-7.
While Maddon didn't second-guess his decision to let Pena swing 3-0, he also didn't dispute Ortiz's contention that the Rays had a different look in their faces Friday from what he saw in the regular season.
"I agree, and I did see it," Maddon said. "That's why I thought it primarily manifested itself in the pitches we swung at. However, (the Red Sox) had kind of the same look themselves."
Posted on: July 29, 2008 5:51 pm
This entry has been removed by the administrator.
This message has been removed by the administrator.
Posted on: July 3, 2008 12:49 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2008 1:00 pm
Two scouts who watched the Red Sox get swept at Tropicana Field don't agree.
"If you look at the two clubs out there last night, there's no comparison," the first scout said. "And I'm serious. Tampa Bay has a better ballclub."
"It's not even close," the other scout agreed. "In every facet but the closer."
There are still questions about the Rays, particularly about whether their bullpen can hold up (especially if Troy Percival can't stay healthy). And there are those who wonder whether a young team that hasn't been through a pennant race before can survive through August and September.
"The second half is tougher," the scout admitted. "And they have a younger club. But they've got some talented guys, and talent overrides that."
The Rays are in the market for another bat in the outfield, with Xavier Nady the name most mentioned. They're also in on the C.C. Sabathia sweepstakes, even though their rotation is already the best in the division.
Another weakness is at first base, where one scout said that Carlos Pena "looks just like he did when he was playing for Detroit."
As for the Red Sox, they have to be looking for bullpen help.
"If the guys they have don't get any more consistent, I can't see them winning," the scout said. "Other than (Jonathan) Papelbon, there's no one there to rely on, that I can see."
Could the Braves actually be sellers in this month's trade market?
It's almost hard to imagine, because the Braves of recent years have always been a team that goes for it. And despite being five games under .500, the Braves are only six games behind the first-place Phillies.
But one club that has spoken with the Braves said that Atlanta officials intend to meet in the near future and decide whether or not they have a realistic chance of winning. If not, they'll sell, with Mark Teixeira the biggest and most interesting name available.
The Braves don't believe they have any chance of signing Teixeira long-term, and he's a free agent at the end of this season. Teixeira told reporters in Atlanta that he hopes the Braves don't trade him, but with no chance of keeping him past this year.
"It could happen tomorrow, or it might not happen until the 31st," said one person who speaks regularly with GM Mark Shapiro.
The Royals have told teams that they would at least listen on Zack Greinke, because he's one of the few players they have who could bring a big return. "It's going to take three good pieces to get him, but (GM Dayton Moore) will listen," one official said. . . . The Reds have told teams that only five players are off-limits in trade talks. The five? Edinson Volquez, Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto and Edwin Encarnacion.