Tag:Mariners
Posted on: June 6, 2011 7:22 pm
Edited on: June 6, 2011 10:56 pm
 

A Mariner surprise, and other draft thoughts

SECAUCUS, N.J. -- We knew this draft would provide some surprises.

We never thought the surprises would start so soon.

After the Pirates opened the draft by picking UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole, as expected, the Mariners followed by choosing University of Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen with the second pick.

Hultzen wasn't a pick out of the blue. The Pirates went to the final weekend before deciding between Cole and Hultzen at No. 1.

But in every pre-draft scenario discussed among officials at the draft, the pitching-rich, offense-poor Mariners were going to take Rice University third baseman Anthony Rendon.

"Completely unexpected," Hultzen told MLB Network after the pick was made.

The Diamondbacks followed by taking UCLA right-hander Trevor Bauer, also as expected.

Rendon went to the Nationals, with the sixth pick.

At that point, the six players expected to go 1-6 had gone 1-6. In that sense, the draft was going as expected.

But who knew the Mariners would pass on Rendon and take Hultzen?

Other first-round thoughts:

-- The Orioles took high school pitcher Dylan Bundy, who some scouts considered the most talented pitcher in the entire draft.

-- As recently as Sunday, the Royals were expected to stay away from local high school product Bubba Starling, not because they didn't like him but because he has a football scholarship to Nebraska and they weren't convinced he wanted to sign. Eventually, the Royals took Starling, in part because their preferred picks were taken before they drafted. The Royals loved Bundy, and would have liked the college pitchers, too, but with Mike Moustakas on a fast track to the big leagues, they didn't want a college third baseman (Rendon). Kent Babb, a writer for the Kansas City Star, wrote on Twitter that Starling told him two months ago that "it would make it very difficult to go to Nebraska if the Royals picked him." The pressure is now on the Royals to come up with the money to sign him, but it's a good bet that they will.

-- Two picks after Nebraska's next quarterback went to the Royals, Oklahoma's next quarterback went seventh overall when the Diamondbacks used their second first-round pick on Archie Bradley. Bradley is also well-regarded, enough so that there was talk before the draft that the Orioles would take him with the fourth pick.

-- Starling and Bradley are the type of athletes that baseball needs, and also the type of athletes that teams often need to go "above-slot" to sign. With that in mind, I asked commissioner Bud Selig if he worried that the hard-slotting system that he advocates would make it harder to attract the best athletes. Not surprisingly, he insisted that it wouldn't.

-- UCLA became just the second school to have two of the first three picks. Arizona State did it in 1978, with Bob Horner going first overall to the Braves and Hubie Brooks going two picks later to the Mets. Cole is the first UCLA player to go first overall in the June draft. Chris Chambliss went first overall in the January draft, back when there was a January draft.

-- Bundy and Bradley didn't go to school together, but they have worked out together for years. In an interview on MLB Network, Bundy said they were "pretty much brothers."

-- Mets pick Brandon Nimmo is from Wyoming, which made him the first first-round pick ever out of a Wyoming high school. He was only the 13th player ever taken out of a Wyoming high school. The only previous pick in the first 10 rounds was Michael Beaver, taken by the Phillies in the sixth round in 1966. Neither Beaver nor any of the other 11 has played in the big leagues. Thirteen Wyoming-born players have played in the big leagues. Mike Lansing, who had the most at-bats of anyone born in Wyoming, went to Wichita State and was drafted out of college.

-- As advertised, this was a pitcher-heavy draft. The first four picks were all pitchers, for the first time ever. But it also points up another general problem baseball has right now, which is that there aren't enough good young hitters in the game right now. It's one of the reasons that offense is down in the big leagues, and it's one of the things scouts covering the minor leagues talk about.

-- Baseball has improved the visibility of the draft in recent years, almost all for the better. But it probably wasn't a great idea for one of the MLB Network guys to walk to the front of the media section and yell to the fans sitting behind that they should applaud every pick: "Even if it's fake, it looks good on TV."

-- Baseball keeps trying to get more players to attend the draft, but the only player in attendance who was drafted Monday was Larry Greene, a high school outfielder from Georgia who went to the Phillies in the sandwich round (39th overall). Some players are still playing, others are advised by agents not to attend, but Greene was thrilled he made the trip from Nashville, Ga. He said his father and mother convinced him to come. "She got what she wanted," he said. One of the few players to attend the draft in the past was Mike Trout, who was taken 25th overall by the Angels in 2009 and has since become one of the hottest prospects in the game.

-- Sign of the times? A couple of hours after they were both drafted by the Diamondbacks, Bradley (@ArchieBradley7) sent a public Twitter message to Bauer (@BauerOutage): "hit me up man we need to talk lol."

-- Because the Yankees signed Rafael Soriano as a free agent, they didn't have a first-round pick, and didn't pick at all until the sandwich round (51st pick, for losing Javier Vazquez). They took Dante Bichette Jr., the son of the ex-big leaguer. And according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, that's appropriate because Dante Sr. and Yankee manager Joe Girardi were close when they played for the Rockies. Girardi has a son named Dante, and Bichette's youngest son is named Joseph.

For more draft coverage from CBSSports.com, click here









Posted on: June 6, 2011 9:21 am
Edited on: June 6, 2011 9:44 pm
 

UCLA's Cole will go #1 in draft

The Pirates plan to make hard-throwing UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole the top pick in the draft, a baseball source confirmed to CBSSports.com Monday morning.

Cole, whose fastball has been clocked at 100 mph, finished his junior season with the Bruins with a 6-8 record, a 3.31 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 114 1/3 innings. UCLA was eliminated from the NCAA tournament with a Sunday night loss to UC Irvine.

The Pirates had narrowed their search to three players -- Cole, University of Virginia right-hander Danny Hultzen and Rice University third baseman Anthony Rendon -- before settling on Cole.

Rendon is expected to go to the Mariners with the second pick, and the Diamondbacks will likely take Cole's UCLA teammate Trevor Bauer third. The rest of the first round is harder to call, but Hultzen and high school kids Dylan Bundy and Bubba Starling are widely regarded as three players who should go very quickly after Cole, Rendon and Bauer -- but not necessarily in that order. There has also been talk that the Orioles will take Oklahoma high school pitcher Archie Bradley with the fourth pick.

Assuming that Cole and Bauer go 1-3, and that seemed very likely as of midday Monday, they would be the first teammates drafted that high since 1978, when Arizona State's Bob Horner and Hubie Brooks went first (to the Braves) and third (to the Mets).

Cole was the Yankees' first-round pick in 2008, but refused to even consider an offer, telling them he was determined to go to college. He and Bauer led UCLA to a second-place finish at the College World Series last year (Cole was 11-4 with a 3.37 ERA, with 153 strikeouts in 123 innings), but Cole and the team had a disappointing 2011 season.

Pirates scouting director Greg Smith has a history of success at picking pitchers. He selected Justin Verlander in 2005, when he was the Tigers' scouting director, and last year with the Pirates he chose Jameson Taillon, now regarded as one of the top pitching prospects in the minor leagues.

The draft begins at 7 p.m., and the first round will be shown on the MLB Network.



For more draft coverage from CBSSports.com, click here
Posted on: May 27, 2011 10:05 am
Edited on: May 27, 2011 11:09 am
 

3 to Watch: The King defends his crown edition

It's been a quiet start to the season for Felix Hernandez. Even the talk that he'll be traded seems to have died down, either because of the Mariners' continued strong denials, his own declarations of how happy he is in Seattle or the team's decent start to the season.

Meanwhile, as of now Hernandez isn't even in the top 10 in the American League ERA race. He leads the league in strikeouts and he's third in innings pitched, but if the Cy Young vote were held today, he'd barely receive a vote.

And none of that means he won't repeat his title.

Through 11 starts, Hernandez actually has better numbers than he did at this point last year. He's 5-4 with a 3.01 ERA, as compared to 2-4 with a 3.50 ERA through his first 11 starts of 2010.

Last year, the Mariners were held to one run or none in three of his first four losses. This year, they've been held to no runs, one run and two runs in three of his first four losses.

And that means this Saturday's start against the Yankees is King Felix's biggest of the year so far.

The strongest voices against Hernandez in last year's Cy debate weren't the ones complaining about his so-so 13-12 record. Rather, they were the ones complaining that he didn't pitch in important games, and pitched in the weak-hitting American League West.

The strongest counter-argument was Hernandez's record against the Yankees. He won all three of his starts against New York, allowing just one run on 16 hits in 26 innings.

As Felix defenders have said all along, the bigger the stage, the better he pitched.

The stage isn't huge this weekend, but the Yankees are the highest-scoring team in the American League. The Mariners are playing so well (and the division is so weak) that they're just 1 1/2 games out of first place.

It's a late-night Saturday start, but it's still the Yankees, and it still would be a great place for Hernandez to launch his reelection campaign.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Every day, it seems, I talk to another baseball person who mentions how unimpressive the Indians were in spring training, and how shocking it is that they still have the best record in baseball. But they do, and they even survived Grady Sizemore's latest trip to the disabled list, with Sizemore expected to return this weekend. Still, the doubters are going to doubt, and wonder if this is the week the Indians' collapse begins. Coming off two straight home losses to the Red Sox, they now get Tampa Bay's two best starters, beginning with David Price in Indians at Rays, Friday night (7:10 ET) at Tropicana Field. Josh Tomlin, who is 6-1 and has held opponents to a .182 batting average, starts for the Indians.

2. Even with Buster Posey, the Giants have scored the fewest runs in the National League. Even with Buster Posey, the Giants' margin of error has been slim, their first-place record built largely on a 14-5 record in one-run games. Now the Giants don't have Posey, and they go on the road to face a Brewers team that is finally healthy and has won six straight and 13 of 16. The good news for the Giants: They open the series with Tim Lincecum on the mound, in Giants at Brewers, Friday night (8:10 ET) at Miller Park. The bad news: The Brewers starter is Shawn Marcum, who has won his last six decisions.

3. Hernandez hasn't even been the most-talked-about starter in his own rotation, which he shares with 22-year-old Michael Pineda. Pineda looks great, and his start against the Yankees on Friday is worth watching, too. But Felix is still the King, and that puts Yankees at Mariners, Saturday night (10:10 ET) at Safeco Field on this list.


Posted on: May 8, 2011 8:27 pm
 

3 to watch: The perfect matchup edition


Twice last year, Roy Halladay pitched against Josh Johnson.

Their combined numbers in those two games: 32 innings, 16 hits, 2 runs, 1 earned run, 3 walks, 30 strikeouts and a 0.28 ERA.

And one perfect game.

One game ended 1-0, in Halladay's favor (that was the perfect game, and the one run was unearned). The other game ended 2-0, in Johnson's favor.

The second game, in which Halladay allowed one run on six hits in eight innings, is his only loss in 19 starts against National League East opponents in his year-plus with the Phillies. He's an incredible 18-1 with a 1.56 ERA in those 19 games.

Which brings us to Tuesday night, when Halladay and Johnson meet up for the first time this season.

It's far too early to call this a Cy Young showdown (and Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals, who is 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA and two shutouts, might be just as good an early candidate). And since this is just the second of six series between the Phillies and Marlins, there's every chance that Halladay and Johnson could meet up again.

That's fine. Anytime they meet, they're the featured game on 3 to watch. Anytime they meet, I'm paying attention, and I'm betting you will, too.

On to 3 to watch:

1. By this point in his Cy Young season, Zack Greinke was 6-0 with a 0.40 ERA. This year, because he played basketball and broke a rib, he's just now making his first home start, in Padres at Brewers, Monday night (8:10 ET) at Miller Park . Brewers fans are no doubt excited to see Greinke, but you have to wonder how much the Brewers' recent slide (eight losses in the last nine games) has hurt their enthusiasm.

2. Coming out of spring training, the Braves were the popular pick as the NL East team with a chance to take the division title away from the Phillies. But it's the Marlins who have spent most of the first five weeks of the season in second place, often just half a game behind the Phils. The Marlins split two games in Philadelphia last month (a third game was rained out), and they get their next chance at home this week. The highlight matchup, of course, is Halladay vs. Johnson, in Phillies at Marlins, Tuesday night (7:10 ET) at Sun Life Stadium.

3. If Halladay vs. Johnson might help decide the NL Cy Young race, then Michael Pineda vs. Zach Britton might have helped decide the American League rookie of the year race. Too bad that Pineda is facing Jake Arrieta (a fine young pitcher, but not a rookie) in Mariners at Orioles, Tuesday night (7:05 ET) at Camden Yards . Pineda, 4-2 with a 2.58 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings, is the early leader. Britton, 5-2 with a 2.93 ERA, faces the Mariners on Thursday night.

Posted on: May 3, 2011 4:36 pm
Edited on: May 3, 2011 6:49 pm
 

What will baseball do about its DUI problem?

Baseball suspended Ozzie Guillen for tweeting during a game.

Shin-Soo Choo was arrested for driving under the influence, and he isn't expected to miss a game.

We shouldn't be surprised. Choo is the sixth baseball player to face DUI charges this year alone.

Not one of the six has missed a regular-season game because of it.

I'm not sure what the proper penalty should be. Choo, like the others, does face legal charges.

But like the others, he won't face any baseball charges. There's no precedent for punishing players for off-field matters, and for now the Basic Agreement between the players and owners doesn't provide for it.

With six DUI incidents this year, you can be sure the owners will raise the issue in this summer's negotiations on a new Basic Agreement.

Meanwhile, baseball gets another black eye.

Fortunately, none of the players cited for DUI so far this year seems to have hurt anyone. But fans remember that Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver two years ago, and one fan suggested to me on Twitter that any player getting a DUI should be forced to donate a month's salary to the Adenhart Memorial Fund.

So far, that's not happening.

All we can do is present the ugly list, with the ugly details, and hope that the next player who goes out drinking remembers that he has enough money to afford a cab home -- and that the potential cost to his reputation is a lot more than the price of that cab ride:

The list:

-- Adam Kennedy, Mariners, Jan. 26 in Newport Beach, Calif. Kennedy signed with the Mariners on Jan. 10. Not even three weeks later, he was calling Seattle reporters to apologize to fans, after he was caught driving over the limit. "Regettable is an understatement," Kennedy told the Seattle Times.

-- Austin Kearns, Indians, Feb. 12 in Nicholasville, Ky. Police said Kearns was driving down an emergency lane without headlights, and was weaving. No wonder he didn't tell the Indians about it until the arrest became public several weeks later.

-- Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, Feb. 16 in St. Lucie County, Fla. This was the ugliest of all of them, with Cabrera allegedly firing threats and drinking Scotch in front of police officers. Baseball worked out a treatment plan for Cabrera, but said he would face penalties if he didn't stick to the plan.

-- Coco Crisp, A's, March 2 in Scottsdale, Ariz. Crisp was stopped at 2:15 a.m., driving a 2009 Rolls Royce Phantom with an expired license.

-- Derek Lowe, Braves, April 28 in Atlanta. Another bad one. According to police, Lowe was drag-racing another car, while drunk, on Peachtree Road in Buckhead.

-- Shin-soo Choo, Indians, May 2 in Sheffield Lake, Ohio. The details are still to emerge on this one, but Choo was picked up early Monday morning. Police said he blew a 0.20 on the Breathalyzer test, more than twice the legal limit. Police also said he asked an officer for directions to his (Choo's) home, then was weaving as he drove away and was pulled over.



Posted on: April 22, 2011 1:32 pm
Edited on: April 22, 2011 7:09 pm
 

It's been a cold (and low-scoring) April

Stats can lie. STATS Inc. doesn't.

So what should we make of the latest offering from the Chicago-based statistics service, which reported Friday that scoring in baseball is at a 19-year low for the first month of the season?

According to STATS, major-league games are averaging just 4.31 runs, down from 4.55 in April last year and the lowest since a 4.12 average in April 1992.

STATS suggests colder weather as a factor, and that's reasonable. It has been colder than normal in much of the country. I know for a fact it was cold and windy on Thursday night at Citi Field . . . when the Mets (9) and Astros (1) combined for 10 runs.

CBSSports.com colleague Scott Miller points out that the Padres have contributed (or not contributed) to the lack of scoring. The Padres have just 60 runs in 19 games, and have already been shut out five times (and they face Roy Halladay on Sunday).

Has it been cold in San Diego?

Scott tells me it has been.

Others will no doubt point to steroid testing, and there's little doubt that's a longer-term factor. STATS listed the six lowest-scoring Aprils in the last 20 years, and four of them have been in the last five years (2009 was the exception). None of the six were in the probable peak steroid years, between 1994 and 2006.

It's also possible that there are just more good hitters than good pitchers right now. Scouts talk about how hard it is to find good position players, and several teams with strong pitching (A's, Giants, Padres, Mariners) are offensively-challenged.



Category: MLB
Posted on: April 3, 2011 8:47 pm
 

3 to watch: The fourth starter fallacy edition

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: March 30, 2011 3:13 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2011 4:05 pm
 

The All-DL opening day All-Stars

It's a team that might contend for a title, if it could only get on the field.

Then again, that's exactly the problem.

Think of the players that will (or likely will) begin the season on the disabled list. It's quite a group, lacking a little (for now) on the left side of the infield and behind the plate, but overflowing with top-level starting pitching and back-of-the-bullpen depth.

Not all the opening day rosters are official yet. Some teams are waiting until closer to Thursday's 11 a.m. deadline for final decisions, which only means that the All-DL-Stars could have an even better lineup by the time the first pitch is thrown.

Jason Bay, for example, should be your All-DL-Star left fielder by then. The Mets are expected to put him on the disabled list, but they haven't said so publicly yet. So I left him off, in part because this team is strong enough without him.

For now, we'll only go with guys we're pretty sure of.

So here goes:

1B -- Kendrys Morales, Angels

2B -- Chase Utley, Phillies

SS -- Clint Barmes, Astros

3B -- Nick Punto, Cardinals

LF -- Cody Ross, Giants (Bay could take his spot)

CF -- Grady Sizemore, Indians (with Franklin Gutierrez also available)

RF -- Corey Hart, Brewers

C -- Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers

Rotation -- Adam Wainwright, Cardinals; Zack Greinke, Brewers; Johan Santana, Mets; Mat Latos, Padres; Brandon Morrow, Blue Jays (with Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey and others in reserve)

Closer -- Brian Wilson, Giants (with the Phillies' Brad Lidge and the A's Andrew Bailey setting him up)

You'd take that team, wouldn't you?

You'd be guaranteed to lose on opening day, because not one of them could play, but you'd take that team.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com