Tag:Phillies
Posted on: June 24, 2008 7:48 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2008 7:50 pm
 

Friends don't let friends ... win games?

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.

*****

Atlanta advance scout Bobby Wine was at the game, because the Braves play the Blue Jays this weekend. Wine was just happy to be somewhere where a manager isn't about to be fired.

"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.

"We know what we're capable of doing against the National League teams," Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels said, after the Phils lost five straight to the Red Sox and Angels.

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."

Posted on: June 20, 2008 7:56 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2008 9:12 pm
 

Gillick on Cito, and other happenings

Pat Gillick, who won two World Series in Toronto with Cito Gaston as his manager, said he wouldn't be surprised to see Gaston succeed in his second go-round with the Blue Jays.

"I think he can," said Gillick, now the Phillies general manager. "But it depends on what kind of players he's got."

Gillick said he agrees with the idea that Cito was the right manager for the players Toronto had in the early 1990s.

"Absolutely," he said. "Cito did a great job. He had a tremendous rapport with the players. He's certainly a players' manager. People think it's pretty easy, but sometimes it's easier to screw up a good club than to keep them where they should be."

*****

Of the three teams that fired managers this week, you might have noticed that the Mariners were the only one that also fired their general manager.

There are those in baseball who believe that Bill Bavasi lost his job as Seattle GM because he wouldn't fire John McLaren himself. And there are just as many who believe that J.P. Ricciardi in Toronto and Omar Minaya with the Mets are in serious danger, if not now than at least at the end of the season.

Asked how Ricciardi could fire John Gibbons, his longtime friend, one veteran baseball man responded: "You don't worry about friends when your own job's on the line."

*****

That's three managerial firings in four days, with Willie Randolph early Tuesday morning, McLaren on Thursday and Gibbons today.

Tough time to be a manager?

"It's the nature of the game for anyone in this position," said the Angels' Mike Scioscia. "The only job security is performance."

Scioscia's job security, of course, ranks near the top of the list. But then, so does his performance.

"Those guys (who got fired) are terrific baseball men," Scioscia said. "But everybody's going to look at your report card and ask, are you getting the most out of your players?"

*****

Kudos to classy Angels center fielder Torii Hunter, who accepted full responsibility today when reporters asked him about his baserunning blunder Wednesday night. Hunter lost track of how many outs there were, and started jogging back to the dugout thinking the inning was over.

"It was the worst feeling in baseball," he said. "I've talked trash and pulled young guys over when they've done something like that. I was like an ostrich, with my head in the sand. It won't happen again. Trust me. You won't have to write that story again."

Incidentally, Hunter said getting away from the Metrodome's artificial turf has made a huge difference in how he feels this year.

"God knew what he was doing when he made grass -- it's healthier," Hunter said. "It's like organic food vs. antibiotic food. Organic's good for you."

*****

The Yankees are understandably happy with how Joba Chamberlain's move to the starting rotation has worked out, but it remains to be seen whether Chamberlain will be efficient enough with his pitches to work deep into the game against the better lineups in the American League. He needed 100 pitches to finish 5 2/3 innings Thursday against the weak-hitting Padres, and he's averaging nearly 18 pitches an inning in his four starts.

"Some days, 100 pitches might get you eight innings," Yankee manager Joe Girardi said hopefully. "Some days it might get you six or five. The key is that you shut down the other team."

That's true enough, but some are calling Joba the ace the Yankees need in Chien-Ming Wang's absence. You'd like an ace to get you into the late innings regularly, and it could be tough for Joba to do that right now (especially since the Yankees will be understandably cautious with his pitch counts).

Posted on: June 17, 2008 8:29 pm
Edited on: June 19, 2008 9:32 am
 

Hamels: 'I don't agree with the AL'

Another American League pitcher fell victim to National League rules today, when the Red Sox put Bartolo Colon on the disabled list with a back injury suffered while swinging and missing on Monday night. At least Colon isn't as important to the Sox as Chien-Ming Wang is to the Yankees. In fact, the Red Sox were simply able to put Daisuke Matsuzaka into Colon's spot in the rotation.

But there's another side to this whole DH/no DH question, and Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels expressed it.

"I don't agree with the American League," he said. "I don't want to be in the American League. I don't want to face a No. 9 hitter making $8 million."

When Hamels beat the Red Sox Monday, he twice escaped trouble by striking out Colon with two on and two out.

It doesn't hurt that Hamels is a good hitter himself, with a .316 average this season (although he's a more pitcher-like .176 for his career).

A few other Tuesday thoughts:

Did you notice that the Tigers' Marcus Thames has homered in five straight games, with six home runs total in that span? Well, Red Sox first baseman Sean Casey noticed. "I think if you give that guy 500-some at-bats, he'd have a shot to hit 40," said Casey, Thames' ex-teammate with the Tigers. "He's in the top five as far as the longest balls hit by guys I've played with. I'm a big fan of his."

The Mariners have a lot of work to do in the next month, but scouts from opposing teams say they should be able to start the rebuilding process by trading away pitchers Carlos Silva and Erik Bedard. The pitching market should be interesting to watch in July, with quite a few teams looking but also quite a few decents arms available (C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Paul Byrd, among others).

While several other American League teams bemoan their lack of speed (White Sox, Indians, Tigers, to name three), the Red Sox are seeing the impact of AL steals leader Jacoby Ellsbury. "He's brought a brand of baseball that we're not accustomed to," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "We talk about preparing for the Angels, Tampa Bay and Minnesota, teams that run and put pressure on you. Now other teams are having to prepare that way for us. We've always been good, but we've been big and slow. We went through periods where we didn't hit, and we looked big and slow."

 

Posted on: June 13, 2008 9:21 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2008 9:23 pm
 

Russell Martin: 'I still miss the infield'

Everyone in baseball talks about the game's catching shortage. Teams are always looking for players who might be converted to catcher. So why would the Dodgers think about moving Russell Martin to another spot?

The answer is they're not -- not yet. But Dodger people will tell you that it's entirely possible that Martin could become their second baseman or third baseman in two or three years, particularly if catching prospect Lucas May (now at Double-A Jacksonville) develops into a big-league player.

Martin is so good behind the plate that he won the National League's gold glove in 2007 (and the silver slugger, too). But he was a third baseman in junior college, and when he was growing up in Montreal, he was a shortstop.

"You've got to realize, I idolized Ozzie Smith," Martin said. "If I saw something he did, I'd go out the next day and try to do it myself. I had to learn to love to catch. I enjoy everything about it now, but I still miss the infield."

Martin has started four games at third base this year, as Joe Torre has tried to get his bat in the lineup on days when he doesn't catch. Torre said he thinks Martin is quick enough (and hits enough) to play in the middle of the infield.

Martin says he'll do whatever the organization asks. But when I asked him what he'd say if they suggested a permanent move to the infield, his eyes lit up.

"I'd change in a heartbeat," he said. "I'd jump at it, for sure."

*****

The Indians have known for a while that Victor Martinez was playing with a bad elbow, which is why they weren't alarmed by his complete loss of power (no home runs in 198 at-bats). But when Martinez joined Travis Hafner, Jake Westbrook and Fausto Carmona on Cleveland's disabled list this week, it almost ensured that C.C. Sabathia will be traded next month.

Indians officials would love to see a bidding war for Sabathia between the Yankees and Red Sox, but one other team they're keeping their eye on is Philadelphia.

*****

With their sweep of the White Sox this week, the Tigers aren't in sell mode yet. But if they ever get there, it'll be interesting to see what happens with Kenny Rogers.

Rogers has a 1.24 ERA in his last four starts, and he would be one of the most marketable Tigers. He's also on record as saying he wants to end his career as a Tiger, a sentiment he repeated today.

"I don't want to pitch anywhere but here," Rogers said.

Rogers has partial no-trade protection in his contract, but as a 43-year-old who strongly considered retirement last fall, he has the ultimate no-trade clause: he could tell teams he would retire rather than accept a deal.

"I don't envision it being a possibility, because I expect we're going to be in this (race) for the long haul," Rogers said.

 

 
 
 
 
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