Posted on: September 26, 2011 12:36 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2011 2:00 pm
I won't pretend to know what's going on in John Lackey's marriage, or in his obviously troubled mind.
But I will say this: Theo Epstein was wrong.
The Red Sox general manager insisted last week that his team is not a "soap opera." He was wrong.
The Red Sox most definitely are a soap opera, an increasingly bizarre soap opera, playing out alongside a bizarre wild-card race.
How does one affect the other?
That's just one more thing we don't know, and can't know.
We know that last week, a Yankee fan bragged on Facebook about serving Red Sox pitcher Erik Bedard with papers in a child support case, just hours before Bedard started a game against the Orioles.
We know that Sunday, Lackey said he received a text message just 30 minutes before taking the mound against the Yankees. The text was apparently related to a report that Lackey has filed for divorce from his wife Krista, who has been battling breast cancer.
The Lackey report showed up on TMZ.com, a website that normally deals with celebrity gossip -- and soap operas.
It made for a strange scene in the Red Sox clubhouse Sunday night, where most of the team was exhaling after a win that may have saved the Sox' season, while Lackey was steaming.
"Let's be honest one time," he snarled, in a question about three first-inning runs.
The honest truth about his pitching is that Lackey was good Sunday night, much better than he has been, good enough to help the Red Sox save their season.
The honest truth about Lackey's other issues is -- how do we know?
It sounds bad. Of course it does. And so many of us are inclined to believe it's bad, either because we find Lackey unnecessarily confrontational, or because we're mad about how bad he has been on the mound.
He's not exactly a sympathetic character, and wasn't, even before TMZ got involved.
How does one affect the other? Do his personal problems have anything to do with his pitching problems?
It can happen. I know that. I know that in years on the baseball beat, I've seen more than one player have a poor season that coincided with personal off-field issues.
In most of those cases, we never knew the full story, and didn't report the little that we did know. It wasn't done, and it still isn't done by most of the sports media.
We don't know the full story about John Lackey, not yet and maybe not ever. But in today's world, it does get reported, and in this world, Lackey and his team end up dealing with it.
The Red Sox have dealt with plenty in this strange month, from Bedard to Lackey to the report of a front-office "disconnect" that brought on Epstein's emphatic denial last week.
From all indications, he was right about the front office and manager Terry Francona. There doesn't seem to be a disconnect.
He was wrong about the soap opera.
This is a soap opera, and the next episode will play out Monday night in Baltimore.
Posted on: July 31, 2011 4:20 pm
Edited on: July 31, 2011 5:01 pm
A day after their trade for Rich Harden fell through over reported concerns about his health, the Red Sox traded for another oft-injured pitcher, acquiring left-hander Erik Bedard from the Mariners in a three-team trade that also included the Dodgers, sources confirmed to CBSSports.com.
The deal was completed just before the 4 p.m. ET non-waiver trade deadline.
The Red Sox traded Double-A catcher Tim Federowicz and pitchers Steven Fife and Juan Rodriguez to the Dodgers, who then sent outfielder Trayvon Robinson to the Mariners. Bedard and minor-league reliever Josh Fields go to the Red Sox, who will also send Chih-Hsien Chiang to Seattle.
Bedard didn't make it out of the second inning in a horrible showcase start Friday night, when he came off the disabled list to pitch against the Rays. But the Red Sox obviously came out of that game convinced that Bedard was healthy, and with Hiroki Kuroda and Ubaldo Jimenez unavailable, and with Harden deal having collapsed, the Red Sox took a chance.
The Red Sox had been looking for rotation depth, especially with Clay Buchholz in California to see a back specialist early this week. All five pitchers who began the year in the Red Sox rotation have missed at least one start with a health issue, and Daisuke Matsuzaka is out for the year after Tommy John surgery.
Scouts who saw Bedard before he went on the DL said he was pitching like he did in his prime, when he was a 15-game winner with the Orioles in 2006. The Mariners acquired him from Baltimore in February 2008, in a deal that cost Seattle a package that included center fielder Adam Jones.
Posted on: July 29, 2011 11:26 am
Edited on: July 29, 2011 11:27 am
The starting pitching market is weak, so when news spread that Erik Bedard would come off the disabled list to start for the Mariners Friday night, scouts around baseball started calling their travel agents.
The Yankees and Red Sox are both expected to have scouts at Safeco Field to see Bedard. The Tigers will be there, too.
Scouts who saw Bedard before he got hurt reported that he looked close to his old self. He's been a successful pitcher when healthy, winning 15 games for the Orioles in 2006 and compiling a 3.64 ERA in 159 career games.
And he hasn't started more than 15 games in a season since 2007 (although Friday's start will be his 16th for the Mariners this year).
The good news on Bedard is that he was on the DL because of a knee problem, rather than an arm problem. Then again, Jarrod Washburn only had a leg problem when the Tigers acquired him from the Mariners in 2009, and he was a disaster in Detroit.
The Washburn experience makes the Tigers hesitant on Bedard, but with their desperation to find a starter and with the weak market, they'll have a scout there, anyway.
It should be quite a weekend around the big leagues, with the non-waiver trade deadline arriving at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday.
On to 3 to Watch:
1. The Tigers will also have a scout watching Orioles at Yankees, Friday night (7:05 ET) at Yankee Stadium, with Jeremy Guthrie starting for the O's. Guthrie has long been on the Tigers' list of possible targets, but he has rarely pitched well with Tiger scouts in the house. The Orioles have also been asking a high price for Guthrie, but again, on this market, anything's possible. A.J. Burnett starts for the Yankees, who have also been out shopping for starting pitchers. The Yankees keep hoping that Burnett will look like a true No. 2 starter behind CC Sabathia, but they also keep watching Ubaldo Jimenez, who may be better.
2. Bedard is the main attraction in Rays at Mariners, Friday night (10:10 ET) at Safeco Field, but it's worth noting that Jeff Niemann starts for the Rays. The Rays have told teams that they won't move James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson or David Price, but Niemann and Wade Davis are much more available. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the Rays offered Niemann to the Cardinals as part of a package for Colby Rasmus. The Tigers were offered Niemann, as well. They turned him down once, but they'll get another look when he faces Bedard.
3. Jimenez has always been the biggest name on this market. The Rockies claim that they will keep him if they don't get a great offer, but they would claim that no matter what, right? We'll see by Sunday, or maybe even by the time Jimenez is scheduled to start in Rockies at Padres, Saturday night (8:35 ET) at Petco Park. Aaron Harang, the scheduled starter for San Diego, is also available, and has been a possibility for the Tigers, Indians and others.
Posted on: July 28, 2011 3:43 pm
The fact that Hiroki Kuroda has emerged as one of the biggest names on the starting pitching market tells you all you need to know about that market.
Kuroda is 37 years old. He's a free agent at the end of the year, with very little chance of re-signing with any team he is traded to. He has won just six of his 21 starts this year (and none of his last four). The Dodgers won't just give him away; in fact, they're targeting top prospects for him.
Oh, and he has a full no-trade clause, and there's much doubt (and some debate) about where he'd be willing to go -- if anywhere.
"At this point, I can't imagine myself wearing another uniform," Kuroda told reporters after his start Wednesday night.
Sounds like a perfect guy to go get.
But in a marketplace where the Rockies are holding out for a huge return on Ubaldo Jimenez, where the Rays insist to teams that they won't trade James Shields, where the Mariners won't discuss Felix Hernandez and probably won't even trade Doug Fister ("Zero chance they move him," said one official from an interested team), Kuroda has started to look good.
The Tigers seem to have him at the top of their shrinking wish list, which began with dozens of names and now may be down to Kuroda, Jeremy Guthrie and Aaron Harang.
The Yankees, not thrilled about the price on Jimenez, remain involved on Kuroda.
Same goes for the Red Sox, who are telling teams they are focused on getting a right-handed hitting outfielder, but remain active with both Jimenez and Kuroda.
According to sources, the Dodgers continue to believe that Kuroda will eventually agree to go somewhere, with New York and Boston thought to be his top two picks.
"You'd think he'd be glad to go somewhere where they might score him a run," said one interested scout, noting that the Dodgers have scored just 15 runs in his last nine losses.
The Dodgers remain interested enough in the Tigers that they sent a scout to Grand Rapids, Mich., to see 19-year-old third baseman Nick Castellanos. Castellanos is one of the Tigers' top prospects, and many in the organization doubt that they would move him for Kuroda.
The Tigers don't seem terribly interested in Erik Bedard, the Mariners pitcher who will come off the disabled list to start against the Rays Friday night. Both the Yankees and Red Sox have some interest in Bedard, although obviously that depends on how healthy he looks Friday.
Posted on: April 3, 2011 8:47 pm
We talk about rotations as if they match up one-against-one, ace against ace, No. 5 starter vs. No. 5 starter.
But they don't.
Not even in the first week of the season.
You know how many opening day starters are going to face off against another opening day starter in their second start? Only 16 out of 30.
Barely half of them.
The schedules don't always match up. Rainouts get in the way. Guys get hurt. Some teams are skipping the fifth starter this week, some aren't.
So instead of CC Sabathia against Carl Pavano, you've got Sabathia vs. Brian Duensing. Instead of Josh Johnson against Livan Hernandez, you've got Johnson vs. John Lannan. And so on.
And that's just for the second start of the year. By the end of the month, the chances that one team's ace will match up against another's will basically be the same as the chances he matches up against the No. 5 starter.
That's how the Brewers' Yovani Gallardo could have the fifth-best run support in baseball last year, even though he started on opening day. The Brewers didn't score all those runs off other teams' aces.
That's how CC Sabathia could have the second-best run support among Yankee starters last year.
So if you're one of those saying Cole Hamels is going to have a great year because he's the Phillies' fourth starter, I'm going to disagree. I don't doubt Hamels will have a great year, but it won't be because he's going to have it easier than if he had started one of the first three games of the season.
Hamels will face Mets fourth starter Chris Young on Tuesday night, in the season debut for both pitchers. And maybe that's why I didn't include that game on this week's 3 to watch:
1. Josh Beckett was an opening day starter last year, and the year before that (and for three years with the Marlins, too). So is he a No. 4 starter, now that he's starting the fourth game of the season, in Red Sox at Indians, Tuesday night (7:05 ET) at Progressive Field ? Beckett had a poor 2010 season and a poor 2011 spring training, but now the Red Sox hope he can deliver them their first win, after a season-opening sweep in Texas. Teams do rebound after beginning a season 0-3. Six 0-3 teams in just the last 20 years have gone on to win a division title, most notably the 1998 Yankees who began 0-3, then won 114 of their next 159 games. Even 0-4 teams aren't dead. The 1999 Diamondbacks began 0-4 and went on to 100 wins. The 1995 Reds won their division despite starting 0-6, but they did it with just 85 wins. You can bet it will take more than 85 to win the American League East this year.
2. In three games started by Jon Lester, John Lackey and Clay Buchholz (combined career record: 206-129), the Rangers hit 11 home runs and scored 26 runs. Now the Rangers face a fascinating trio of Mariner pitchers, beginning with Erik Bedard (first start since July 25, 2009), continuing with Michael Pineda (major-league debut) in Mariners at Rangers, Tuesday night (8:05 ET) at Rangers Ballpark , and continuing with Felix Hernandez (2010 Cy Young winner) in Wednesday's daytime series finale. The 21-year-old Pineda's debut has been much anticipated, as he is one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball. It's an interesting matchup, too, because Rangers right-hander Alexi Ogando will be making his first big-league start.
3. Three games in, we know that the Orioles rotation has pitched 20 innings while allowing just one run on six hits. What we don't yet know is if that means that the Orioles young starters are ready to shine, or whether Rays (without Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena, and with Evan Longoria getting hurt) are going to be a bad offensive team. We should know a little more by the time Chris Tillman makes his second start, in Tigers at Orioles, Thursday night (7:05 ET) at Camden Yards . Tillman is the guy who held the Rays hitless for six innings on Saturday, getting pulled from the game because he had thrown 101 pitches. No matter how this week goes, it's safe to say the Orioles pitching doesn't get talked about enough. Some scouts in Florida this spring said the O's Zach Britton is even better than the Yankees' Manuel Banuelos, but it was Banuelos who got all the attention.
Posted on: July 1, 2009 6:58 pm
NEW YORK -- Scouts searching for starting pitching can set up shop in Seattle next week.
The Mariners announced today that Erik Bedard will return from the disabled list to start Tuesday at Safeco Field against the Orioles. Bedard will then start on July 12, the day before the All-Star break, at home against the Rangers.
Bedard, who hasn't pitched since June 7 because of shoulder soreness, is 5-2 with a 2.47 ERA, making him the best starting pitcher potentially available on this month's trade market. While the Mariners are only 3 1/2 games out of first place, they'll still entertain trade offers for him and for fellow starter Jarrod Washburn.
"People always ask whether we're going to be a buyer or a seller," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "I'd like to be a little of both."
The Mariners had originally talked of starting Bedard during this weekend's series in Boston. Instead, Bedard will throw a simulated game on Friday at Fenway Park, to prepare for Tuesday's start against the Orioles.
Posted on: October 22, 2008 6:10 pm
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Jack Zdurencik isn't well-known, and he has an easy-to-mispronounce name (it's zur-EN-sik).
But he might just be the perfect guy to take on the mess that's the Mariners.
"I guess that means they're going back to scouting and development," one scout said Wednesday, as word circulated that the Mariners have hired Zduriencik as their new general manager.
You'd think that's what it means, since the 57-year-old Zduriencik's background is in scouting and development. He was in charge of the Brewers' successful scouting operation for the last nine years, and under his guidance the Brewers drafted the core of the team that ended Milwaukee's 16-year playoff drought.
If this is the guy you pick to run your ballclub, presumably you're committed to building a winner from the ground up, rather than trying for a quick fix.
The quick fixes haven't worked in Seattle, that's for sure. This is a team that believed it was one trade away last winter, and reacted by surrendering young players in a deal with Baltimore for pitcher Erik Bedard. The Bedard deal was a miserable failure, but it wasn't the only one in recent years in the Pacific Northwest.
Now it's Zduriencik's turn, and now the Mariners will -- apparently -- try to build a winner. One look at Seattle's 2008 record (61-101) will tell you there's a lot of building to do.
One positive from that record: the M's will have the second overall pick in next June's draft, behind the Nationals.
With Zduriencik in charge, maybe they'll know what to do with it.
Posted on: June 19, 2008 2:01 pm
Edited on: June 19, 2008 5:38 pm
First the general manager. Now the manager.
It's been quite a week in Seattle, hasn't it?
The Mariners aren't as big a soap opera as the Mets, but they might be an even bigger mess. One scout who just watched them play said the only way to get things turned around would be to trade Ichiro. Don't expect that to happen.
Already Bill Bavasi is the ex-GM, and John McLaren is the ex-manager (replaced today by Jim Riggleman). What's clear now is that almost anyone else wearing a Seattle uniform could be gone, too. Erik Bedard, Carlos Silva (if anyone will take his salary), maybe Miguel Batista, maybe even J.J. Putz (if he can prove that he's healthy). They can't trade Richie Sexson, but they could release him.
Interim GM Lee Pelekoudas explained today's firing of manager John McLaren by saying the M's "owe it to ourselves and our fans to do everything we can to win as many games as possible."
No they don't. They're 17 1/2 games out. They're not coming back. They need to tear apart this team so they can start all over.