Posted on: May 26, 2011 2:31 pm
Edited on: May 26, 2011 2:58 pm
PHILADELPHIA -- On one side, the longest game of the year was all about Wilson Valdez.
On the other side, it was all about Brandon Phillips.
Not so great story.
Valdez is the utility man who pitched a hitless 19th inning for the Phillies in the early hours of Thursday morning, becoming (according to the Elias Sports Bureau) the first player since Babe Ruth to start a game in the field and end up winning it on the mound.
Phillips is the sometimes spectacular Reds second baseman who spent the hours after the game apologizing to Reds fans for getting picked off at a key moment in the 11th inning.
The Reds had runners at first and second, Phillies pitcher J.C. Romero was struggling to throw strikes, and cleanup hitter Scott Rolen was at the plate with a 3-1 count. Phillips, on second base, got caught talking to Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, and Romero picked him off.
Reds manager Dusty Baker said Phillips apologized when he returned to the dugout.
After the game, Phillips, who tweets regularly and sometimes amusingly under the name @DatDudeBP, wrote on Twitter: "I want 2 apologize 2 all the #Reds fans 4 my mistake tonite. It was my fault 4 the loss, but I will keep my head up and get ready 4 the next game."
Asked Thursday morning if he planned to talk to Phillips about the play, Baker said: "I don't have to talk to him. The whole world is talking to him. All the great things Brandon has done, that [pickoff] could be shown for years. I still see [Jose] Canseco getting hit in the head."
Meanwhile, Valdez was back in the Phillies lineup for Thursday's day game, playing third base. He got a standing ovation when he came to the plate in the second inning.
A few other noteworthy developments on Thursday:
-- Baker said that had the Phillies not scored in the 19th, shortstop Paul Janish would have pitched the 20th inning for the Reds. He planned to put outfielder Chris Heisey at second base, move Phillips to shortstop, and insert pitcher Sam LeCure in the outfield. He said LeCure and Jay Bruce would have alternated between left and right field, depending on which hitter was at the plate.
-- LeCure and Matt Maloney were in the Reds bullpen, but both were unavailable to pitch because of heavy workloads early in the week. The Reds put Maloney on the disabled list Thursday, and called up Daryl Thompson. The Phillies also made a roster move, sending Daniel Herndon to Triple-A and activating Jose Contreras from the DL, but that was planned.
-- Since Valdez was in the game, he didn't warm up in the bullpen before pitching. Bullpen coach Mickey Billmeyer quipped: "He's a reliever, but he's not a bullpen guy."
-- One Phillies executive joked, "We can go with 11 pitchers now, because we have Valdez." But Phils PR man Greg Casterioto admitted he missed a chance, when he didn't list Valdez in the bullpen section on his daily notes.
Posted on: April 22, 2011 10:01 am
Some Reds try to play down their new-found rivalry with the Cardinals.
"There's no extra significance at all," Jay Bruce told the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Oh yeah? Tell that to Brandon Phillips.
When the Reds' team plane landed in St. Louis on Thursday night, Phillips went straight to his Twitter account .
"Just landed in St. Louis! Sad face," he posted. "But these wins will make me happy!"
One hour later, he was at it again, saying he told teammates that the best thing to eat in St. Louis was Lunchables.
No extra significance?
How about those T-shirts they're selling in St. Louis , the ones that read "Mike Leake stole this shirt for me"?
Look, we know rivalries can be overblown. Most teams don't really hate each other as much as the fans would like them to. Players change teams. As Reds manager Dusty Baker told reporters Thursday, it's not like the Reds have anything against Lance Berkman or Ryan Theriot.
Besides that, the Cardinals and Reds know better than most teams that head-to-head meetings often don't decide division titles. The Cardinals won 12 of 18 games against the Reds in 2010 -- including six of the final seven -- and the Reds still won the National League Central.
But please don't tell me that these games have "no extra significance."
On to 3 to watch.
1. As we mentioned in the last 3 to watch, the Indians and Royals are on top of the American League Central -- right now. And one scout who just finished watching the White Sox said they "look uninspired" and "look like they're still going through spring training." Perhaps they'll look more inspired this weekend in Detroit, starting with White Sox at Tigers, Friday night (7:05 ET) at Comerica Park. Mark Buehrle (5-0 in his last eight starts against the Tigers) faces Justin Verlander (5-0 in his last five starts against the White Sox). It's the first Buehrle-Verlander matchup in more than three years, since an April 2008 meeting when the White Sox won, 13-2, in a game where Nick Swisher and Pudge Rodriguez were the two leadoff hitters.
2. Mike Leake won't be starting in this weekend's Reds-Cardinals series. Chris Carpenter will be. All he's done against the Reds is win each of his last 10 starts, dating back to 2006. Last year alone, Carpenter was 5-0 with a 1.78 ERA against the Reds. He goes against Travis Wood in Reds at Cardinals, Saturday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Busch Stadium. The Fox network even thought enough of the matchup to send its top crew (Guess the Yankees and Red Sox aren't playing this weekend). ESPN even noticed. "We haven't been on the Sunday night game in I don't know how long," Baker told the Enquirer.
3. Remember when John Lackey was the Angels' ace? Remember when it seemed like another black mark against Angels owner Arte Moreno that he allowed Lackey to leave as a free agent, the same winter the Angels tried but failed to trade for Roy Halladay? Now Jered Weaver and Dan Haren are a combined 9-0 with a 1.20 ERA, while Lackey carries a 9.82 ERA into his start in Red Sox at Angels, Sunday afternoon (3:35 ET) at Angel Stadium. That's not to say the Angels couldn't use more rotation depth. While Weaver and Haren are 9-0 (going into Haren's Friday night meeting with Jon Lester), the rest of the Angels pitchers are 3-7.
Posted on: October 19, 2010 12:22 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 12:57 pm
For a decade now, the Cubs have gone with celebrity managers.
First Don Baylor, who stayed 2 1/2 years and had one 88-win season. Then Dusty Baker, who stayed four years and inspired the 2003 "Dustiny" run that ended a win short of the World Series. And then Lou Piniella, who won two division titles, won 97 games in 2008 and then presided over a year and a half of more disappointment.
Piniella retired in August, and when it came time to name his permanent replacement, the Cubs didn't go high-profile this time.
Instead, they've given the job to 53-year-old Mike Quade, who today signed a two-year deal with an option for 2013.
Quade is a baseball lifer, as colleague Scott Miller detailed in a column last month. He earned plenty of respect for his work during years in the minor leagues, and as a major-league coach. He earned even more for the way he handled the job of interim manager after Piniella left, and the Cubs' 24-13 record under his watch no doubt helped convince general manager Jim Hendry to give him the job full-time.
Hendry had other options, higher-profile options. He could easily have handed the job to Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg, who deserved a chance after going to manage in the minor leagues (and by all accounts doing his job very well). He could have tried throwing money at Joe Torre. He could have waited to see if Joe Girardi would leave the Yankees.
Instead, he stuck with Quade, who was barely known when he took over for Piniella and not much better known now. He never played in the major leagues, spending five seasons as a player bouncing around from Class A to Double-A and back. He worked all over the minor leagues as a manager, and even won the Caribbean Series once as a manager in the winter league in the Dominican Republic, but that doesn't exactly get you notoriety.
He'll be known now, all the more so if he can do the impossible and become the manager who finally takes the Cubs back to the World Series.
It's a huge challenge. It always is on the North Side of Chicago. If anything, it's a bigger challenge now, because the Cubs are a flawed team stuck with a bunch of bad contracts.
Is Quade the right guy? That's hard to tell. If September is a bad time to judge whether players are ready for the big leagues, it's just as bad for judging managers, and many teams have made mistakes holding onto interim managers who had once good September.
You wonder what this says about Sandberg, and also what it says to Sandberg. So many star players have refused to go manage in the minor leagues, and many of those have been given managerial jobs (Don Mattingly, for instance). Sandberg not only went to the minors, but Cubs people said he worked hard to learn every part of the operation (asking for advice on how to write scouting reports).
You wonder how this affects Girardi, who was never all that likely to leave the Yankees, but now is left without much leverage in his coming contract negotiations.
But Hendry knows that this hire needs to be a good one. He has enjoyed great support so far from the Ricketts family, who just finished their first season as the Cubs owners. Hendry knows that support could easily fade if the Cubs keep losing.
He knows that his fate could be tied to the next manager. Now, it's tied to Mike Quade.
You may not know Quade very well. Soon, you will.
Posted on: June 24, 2008 7:48 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2008 7:50 pm
Jim Leyland hates managing against his friends, because either you lose or they do. Dusty Baker says the same thing.
"You'd rather manage against adversaries," the Reds manager said today. "It's more fun."
As it turns out, though, there are a whole bunch of friendly matchups around the majors this week. Leyland against Tony La Russa. Baker against Cito Gaston. Bobby Cox against Ned Yost. Cox against Gaston.
Leyland worked for La Russa in Chicago, and worked with him in St. Louis. Yost worked for Cox in Atlanta. Gaston played with Cox, played for him and then coached under him in Toronto. Gaston and Baker were teammates when Baker broke into pro ball in Austin, Texas, in 1967.
"My first game was in Little Rock, and I dropped a fly ball," Baker said. "I cried, and I said I was going home. Cito said, "Don't worry, kid, I'll take care of you. . . . He helped raise me in the game."
So how does Gaston feel about facing both Baker and Cox in his first week back on the job? He doesn't mind it. He has no problem facing his friends.
"I've always felt that if someone's going to lose, let them lose," he said.
Tonight's A.J. Burnett-Bronson Arroyo matchup didn't attract any special-assignment scouts to the Rogers Center, something of a surprise since both starters are candidates to get traded.
While the Jays are willing to move Burnett, they're said to be setting their sights high, looking for an established outfielder (preferably left-handed hitting) in return.
As for Arroyo, it's just as well for him and for the Reds that no scouts were here. He didn't record an out in the second inning and left trailing, 9-1, after the shortest start of his career.
"I was in New York the weekend before Willie (Randolph) got fired," Wine said. "Then I was in Seattle for (John) McLaren's last game. Then I was in Milwaukee for (John) Gibbons' last game (with Toronto). Holy cow, I'm like a black cat."
You've seen the numbers that show the American League is once again dominating the National League in interleague play. The difference between the two leagues isn't lost on the players.
Did he mean that the Red Sox and Angels are better than any NL teams?
"Hands down," Hamels said. "They're a lot better than the NL teams. Even playing in an NL park."