Posted on: May 5, 2011 1:19 pm
Edited on: May 5, 2011 1:22 pm
Andre Ethier is a long way from tying Joe DiMaggio. He's not far from tying Willie Davis.
If not for Jonathan Sanchez, he already would have.
Sanchez was the Giants' starting pitcher on April 1, the only time this year that Ethier was held without a hit. He had a hit the day before, and he's hit in all 29 games he's played since.
Sanchez is why 29 isn't already 31, which would tie Davis's Dodgers franchise record.
"He just doesn't see me that well," Sanchez said. "Lefty on lefty. I get him out. I'm not sure why."
Ethier has just four hits -- and 11 strikeouts -- in 30 career at-bats against the Giants' left-hander. He's 0-for-6 with three strikeouts against Sanchez this year, going 0-for-3 on April 1 and also on April 13 in San Francisco.
In the April 1 game, Ethier went 0-for-3 against Sanchez, then grounded out in his final at-bat against reliever Dan Runzler. On April 13, after his 0-for-3 against Sanchez, Ethier singled against Javier Lopez to extend his streak to 10 games.
Sanchez isn't the only opposing starter to hold Ethier hitless this year, but he is the only one to do it twice.
Ethier also went 0-for-3 against Chris Carpenter (in Game 14 of the streak) and Tim Hudson (in Game 15), and went 0-for-2 against Barry Zito (in Game 2) and Ryan Dempster (in Game 20). Ethier also went 0-for-1 against Clayton Richard, who left after one inning because of a long rain delay.
The Dodgers face the Giants April 18-19 in Los Angeles. Good news for Ethier: Assuming the Giants stay with their current rotation, Sanchez (who is pitching against the Mets Thursday afternoon) would not pitch in that two-game series.
Posted on: September 26, 2010 9:35 pm
As Bruce Bochy walked out to the field for batting practice Sunday, he turned back with a message.
"Kansas City, 1," the Giants manager said. "See, I'm watching the scoreboard."
For four more days, Bochy will keep watching, and not to see if the Royals score another run. For four more days, the Giants and Padres and Braves will eye each other from a distance, knowing that all three teams remain very much alive and that only two playoff spots can be divided among them.
It's really that simple now in the National League. The Phillies are in, and the Reds are basically in, too. The Rockies, it now seems certain, are out.
So among the Giants, Padres and Braves, the teams that end up with the two best records will make it. The team that ends up worst among those three won't.
As the week begins, Bochy's Giants have the advantage, holding a half-game lead over the Padres (and thus holding first place in the NL West) and holding a one-game lead over the Braves (who trail the Padres by half a game in the wild-card race).
The Braves have other advantages, mostly because the Padres and Giants meet at the end of the week (meaning that for the last three days of the season, one or the other them has to lose), but also because their final three games are against the Phillies, who by then will no doubt have officially clinched the NL East crown and will be more focused on preparing for the playoffs than on beating the Braves.
But the Braves have other issues, mainly that they're not playing nearly as well as the Giants or Padres are right now.
In any case, it should be a fun week for everyone, at least until one of the three teams gets knocked out.
"Intense," Giants outfielder Cody Ross said. "This is as much fun as I've ever had playing baseball."
On to 3 to watch:
1. The Braves have their final six games at home, where their 52-23 record is the best in the majors. That much we know. Now, if we only knew who was going to pitch. The Braves told reporters Sunday in Washington that Jair Jurrjens may get a shot in his sore knee Monday, in hopes that the pain will let up enough that he can start a game for the first time since Sept. 14. There's been some thought that Jurrjens could return for Marlins at Braves, Tuesday night (7:10 ET) at Turner Field , but the Braves also said that they've considered bringing Tim Hudson back on three days' rest to make that start. If Jurrjens can't go, and if manager Bobby Cox doesn't want to use both Hudson and Derek Lowe on short rest, the other option would be to use rookie Mike Minor, who seems to have hit a wall and is 0-2 with a 9.37 ERA in four starts this month.
2. The Padres have rotation questions of their own, and the biggest one is how Mat Latos will do. Latos has been San Diego's top starter all year, but in his last three starts he's 0-3 with a 13.94 ERA, and has lasted a total of just 10 1/3 innings. Latos faces Ryan Dempster in Cubs at Padres, Tuesday night (10:05 ET) at Petco Park . The way the Padres' rotation sets up, Latos would also start the final game of the season, Sunday in San Francisco.
3. So how about the Giants? They have Monday off, and that leaves them with the question of whether to pitch Tim Lincecum on his normal day, in Diamondbacks at Giants, Thursday afternoon (3:45 ET) at AT&T Park . The other option would be to pitch Barry Zito Thursday on normal rest, and save Lincecum for the first head-to-head game with the Giants on Friday night. Bochy said Sunday that such a plan hasn't yet been discussed, but he added that they will "talk about the club and any changes" on Monday. As of now, the pitching matchups for the series with the Padres would be Zito vs. Clayton Richard on Friday, Matt Cain vs. Tim Stauffer on Saturday and Jonathan Sanchez vs. Latos on Sunday.
Posted on: November 17, 2008 4:46 pm
The Cubs were in on the Jake Peavy trade talks, and last week they were reported to have interest in Randy Johnson. This week, though, it seems more likely that they'll re-sign Ryan Dempster, their own free-agent pitcher.
There has been some progress in the Dempster talks, according to sources, to the point where some believe a deal could be coming soon.
Dempster went 17-6 with a 2.96 ERA for the Cubs in 2008, and the thinking all along was that he wanted to stay in Chicago. Negotiations hit a little bit of a snag last week, leading the Cubs to explore other options, but now they once again seem focused on keeping him.
Even if they get Dempster signed, the Cubs won't be done for the winter. They still need a left-handed hitting outfielder.
While manager Lou Piniella has said he'd like to get a right fielder, and then use Kosuke Fukudome in a center-field platoon with Reed Johnson, others in the Cubs organization would rather keep Fukudome in right and acquire another left-handed hitter who could be matched up with Johnson in center field.
The Marlins have already traded four of their arbitration-eligible players, and some rival teams believe that Hermida will be the next to go. In addition to the Cubs, the Rays are a team said to have interest.
Florida nearly dealt Hermida away in July, when he was part of the three-way trade that would have sent Manny Ramirez to the Marlins. That deal fell apart, and so did Hermida, who hit .192 in August and hit just two home runs in the final two months of the season.
"Up to this point, he's an underperformer," said one scout who sees the Marlins often. "That's why they're willing to move him. It seems like he'd rather hit singles than home runs, and that's not good for a corner outfielder."
The Dodgers offered Ramirez $45 million over two years, which works out to $22.5 million a season. Now that they've withdrawn that offer, why couldn't they simply offer CC Sabathia $22.5 million a year, which would work out to $135 million over six years?
Sure, the Yankees have offered even more than that, a reported $140 million, but the Dodgers could satisfy Sabathia's preference to play close to home and stay in the National League.
One potential problem with that scenario: The Dodgers have a ton of talented young players (Russell Martin, Jonathan Broxton, Andre Ethier, James Loney) who will be due large raises in the coming years. So the Dodgers might be hesitant to tie up so much money for so many years to come.
The Dodgers seem content to let the Ramirez and Sabathia situations play out while they take care of their other winter business, including trying to re-sign shortstop Rafael Furcal and third baseman Casey Blake. Dodgers manager Joe Torre is said to be especially fond of Blake, and he has told people that the Dodgers turnaround began not when they traded for Ramirez, but several days earlier when they acquired Blake from the Indians.
What about the Angels, who had Sabathia on their radar even before they traded for Mark Teixeira in July?
Well, according to sources, owner Arte Moreno has told his baseball people that signing Teixeira is the top priority, ahead of Sabathia.
"He told them to make sure they get Teixeira signed," said one executive who has spoken with the Angels. "He said start with him, and then move on from that."
There has been some debate on how interested the Yankees have been in Peavy, but the Padres did have two scouts watching Phil Hughes' start last Friday in the Arizona Fall League. Hughes has been impressive in Arizona, to the point where one (non-Padres) scout suggested Monday that he'll be ready to help the Yankees in 2009.
The problem for the Yankees is that a Peavy trade would require both prospects and money, because agent Barry Axelrod would require them to redo Peavy's contract as a condition of waiving his no-trade clause. The Yankees weren't willing to make a prospects-and-money deal for Johan Santana last winter (when there were fewer free-agent options available), so it's hard to imagine why they would be anxious to do one now.
Posted on: November 10, 2008 4:06 pm
The Braves still believe they have the best offer out there for Jake Peavy, even as some people in baseball believe that the Cubs are the favorites to land the San Diego right-hander. But even as they try for Peavy, the Braves are also making plans to go after other starting pitchers.
Dempster is believed to favor a return to the Cubs, who would like to keep their 17-game winner.
But the Braves are serious about upgrading their rotation, as general manager Frank Wren told my colleague Scott Miller at last week's GM meetings in California.
"We need a couple of starters," Wren said. "Maybe even more than that. I'd like to beef up our rotation. That's the area we've been known for."
Wren wouldn't talk specifics, but people who have talked to the Braves say that only CC Sabathia is definitely out of their price range. The Braves aren't interested in Ben Sheets, but sources said they will talk about any other free-agent starters.
Posted on: September 25, 2008 5:43 pm
Edited on: September 25, 2008 5:57 pm
Lou Piniella strongly suggested Wednesday night that Ryan Dempster would be his Game 1 starter. Today, he made it official.
"He deserves it," Piniella said. "He's been extremely consistent and reliable all season long. Plus, Games 1 and 5 are at home, so it makes all the sense in the world."
Piniella didn't name the rest of his playoff rotation.
In other Cubs news, Piniella left Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto and Aramis Ramirez out of his lineup for tonight's game against the Mets. Mark DeRosa is also out, but he's unavailable because of a calf strain.
Piniella said that the Brewers, battling the Mets in the NL wild-card race, have no reason to be upset, because the Cubs have already won two of the first three games against the Mets.
"I'm resting my team," Piniella said. "That was a long, long game (Wednesday night)."
Piniella hinted that he'll also rest many regulars Friday night in Milwaukee, but that he plans to play most of them Saturday and Sunday.
"We have two days off Monday and Tuesday," Piniella explained. "I've got to play the regulars, because I don't want to see them sit for three or four days."
That all assumes, of course, that the Cubs don't ahve to play a makeup game Monday.
There are two scenarios in which they would. Rain is coming to New York, although as of now (almost 6 p.m.) the rain still hasn't arrived. If tonight's game can't be played, it would be made up on Monday if necessary.
And then there's the third game of the Hurricane series, the one in which the Cubs and Astros played two games in Milwaukee last week. The only way that game would be played Monday in Houston is if the Astros make up three games on both the Mets and Brewers between now and Sunday.
What makes that strange, of course, is that one part of the Astros making up all those games on the Brewers is that the Cubs would have to beat the Brewers all weekend in Milwaukee. Imagine a scenario Sunday in which the Cubs could get Monday off by losing, but could force themselves into a meaningless (for them) Monday trip to Houston should they win.
What kind of lineup do you think Piniella would play that day?
Posted on: September 4, 2008 11:10 am
The Cubs are nine games up on a playoff spot with 22 games to play. Even with their tough schedule (6 vs. Milwaukee, 4 vs. Mets, 3 at Houston), they should get to October even if their rotation is headed by Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly, rather than Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden.
But that's not really the point, is it?
If this 100-year drought is going to end, the Cubs don't just have to get to October. They've been to the playoffs before, as recently as last year.
No, the scary part for the Cubs is that they don't seem to know for sure whether Zambrano will pitch again this year. And while they've penciled in Harden for a start next week against the Cardinals, any hint that he's hurt (he'll go at least 11 days between starts because of "discomfort") brings up all of his awful history with injuries.
Should the Cubs be worried? You bet.
Posted on: July 14, 2008 5:29 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2008 7:26 pm
The National League is always up against it in the All-Star Game, anyway. The simple problem, as became clear in the interleague matchups, is that the American League has better players.
The NL needs every edge it can get. Instead, NL manager Clint Hurdle heads into Tuesday night's game at Yankee Stadium with a staff full of tired pitchers.
Arizona's Brandon Webb, who leads the league with 13 wins, threw 108 pitches on Sunday. He said today that he has "a zero percent chance" of pitching in the All-Star game.
"I don't think I'm even available," Webb said.
Cincinnati's Edinson Volquez and San Francisco's Tim Lincecum are first and second in the NL in ERA. Volquez threw 112 pitches Saturday, and Lincecum threw 116 on Sunday. Both said they're available for an inning, but neither could have been considered to start the game.
"It's my regular bullpen day, and I pitched in similar situations in college," Lincecum said. "I always go after my bullpens with the same tenacity I do a game, so it shouldn't be a problem."
"We'll just get (Milwaukee's Ben) Sheets to throw seven innings," Dempster said.
One other NL pitching issue: When Kerry Wood had to pull out of the game with an injury, Hurdle picked Cubs teammate Carlos Marmol to replace him. But it turns out that the Cubs would rather that Marmol, who pitched in 49 games in the first half, doesn't pitch on Tuesday night.
A couple of other things to think about on All-Star Monday:
-- Twins catcher Joe Mauer was talking about Johan Santana today, and he reminded everyone how good Santana has usually been after the All-Star break. It wasn't true last year, when he was 5-7 with a 4.04 ERA, but from 2003-06, Santana went a combined 40-4 with a 2.07 ERA in the second half.
"He really gets going in the second half," Mauer said.
-- In talking about the weak trade market for starting pitchers, one scout pointed to the number of pitchers with great stuff who are being made into relievers. He mentioned All-Stars Jonathan Papelbon and Joakim Soria, both of whom could start and have started at some point in their careers.
Incidentally, Papelbon has no interest at all in becoming a starter.
"I think that was settled a long time ago," he said.
A long time ago? Only if spring training 2007 qualifies as long ago.