Posted on: September 21, 2010 8:05 pm

Gillick won't rule out another run as GM

PHILADELPHIA -- Pat Gillick spent much of the last month vacationing in Germany and Russia. He just turned 73, and he loves the job he has as a Phillies consultant.

And yet, Gillick won't rule out taking another job as a major-league general manager.

"You never know," he said, before the Phillies-Braves game Tuesday night. "The right situation, I might -- if it's the right situation."

Gillick is one of the best general managers ever, having built winning teams with four different franchises. He won two World Series with the Blue Jays, made the playoffs in Baltimore and Seattle and then put together the Phillies team that won it all in 2008.

Gillick retired as the Phillies general manager after the 2008 World Series, turning the team over to assistant Ruben Amaro.

"The reason I left here was that Ruben was ready," Gillick said. "Ruben had gone through a number of interviews [elsewhere], we were together for three years, and it's just like a guy that's in Triple-A, and you say, 'Is he ready to go to the big leagues?' At some point, you think the guy's ready. He was ready."

Gillick said that there was another reason he made the move at that time.

"I tried to leave him a good club, too," he said. "I've been accused that I picked my spot to get out [in the first three jobs]. That's not true."

It's hard to what Gillick would consider the "right situation," and it's hard to know if that right situation even exists. Given Gillick's record of success, though, you'd think any team with an opening would at least want to ask him.

Posted on: September 17, 2010 11:05 am
Edited on: September 17, 2010 11:06 am

3 to watch: The Comeback edition

Chris Young returns to the Padres rotation Saturday. Andy Pettitte returns to the Yankees rotation Sunday.

The Padres fell out of first place Thursday. The Yankees fell out of first place Wednesday.

Yes, there's a difference. Of course there is.

The Yankees, according to the computers at coolstandings.com, are a 97.3 percent lock to make the playoffs. The Padres, the computers say, are basically 50-50.

But the computer here at 3 to watch says Pettitte's return could have just as big an impact on this coming postseason -- probably more -- than Young's.

Young might help the Padres get into the playoffs. Pettitte could well be the difference in whether the Yankees win once they're there.

The Padres rotation, 7-14 with a 5.33 ERA over the club's last 25 games, could use a boost. But unless Young drives in some runs (he's a .139 career hitter, with 10 RBI in 190 at-bats), it may not be enough to matter.

The Yankees are in a bit of a slump at the plate, too, scoring just 34 runs in their last 10 games (eight of them losses). But the real issue that threatens their run at a second straight title is a rotation that features one great pitcher -- CC Sabathia -- and a ton of question marks.

Since Pettitte's last start, on July 18 against the Rays, the Yankee starters other than Sabathia have combined to go 22-20 with a 5.68 ERA.

Pettitte was having one of his best seasons when he went down with a groin injury. Besides that, he's the winningest postseason pitcher ever, with an 18-9 record and 3.90 ERA in 40 career starts. He won four of his five starts last postseason, and left the other one when it was tied 3-3 in the seventh inning.

There's no doubt the Yankees need him to be healthy, and need him to be strong. There's at least some doubt about how ready he is, which manager Joe Girardi acknowledged when he said that recently demoted Javier Vazquez would be ready to start Sunday if Pettitte can't.

On to 3 to watch:

1. Yes, the Braves still have six games remaining with the Phillies, who they now trail by three games in the National League East. That's good, if you think the Braves can catch the Phillies. It's bad, if you think they can't, because it means their schedule is tougher than those of the other wild-card contenders. And that makes it doubly important for the Braves to beat up on teams like the Mets, particularly with Tim Hudson on the mound against Dillon Gee, in Braves at Mets, Saturday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Citi Field .

2. Young hasn't started a big-league game since the second game of the season, and he spent the rest of the year dealing with a right shoulder that took forever to recover from the surgery he underwent in August 2009. He has worked two simulated games and three minor-league rehabilitation games over the last month, and now the Padres believe he's ready. They hope he's ready, because he'll be starting in Padres at Cardinals, Saturday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Busch Stadium , for a team that is out of playoff position for the first time since the middle of April.

3. Getting Pettitte back is crucial to the Yankees, whether they win the division or finish second and take the wild card. But the Yankees keep saying that winning the division matters, and in that case Pettitte's start in Yankees at Orioles, Sunday afternoon (1:35 ET) at Camden Yards takes on even more significance. The Yankees' four remaining head-to-head games with the Rays will be played next week at Yankee Stadium, but the rest of the teams' remaining schedules favor Tampa Bay. Besides that, the Yankees don't want to give the Red Sox (six games behind) any hope that they can make their six remaining head-to-head games with the Yankees more significant.

Posted on: August 13, 2010 10:50 am
Edited on: August 13, 2010 10:55 am

3 to watch: The Beat S.D.? edition

In San Francisco, they hate the Dodgers. It's that simple. They hate Dodger Blue. They hate Tommy Lasorda.

In San Diego, they hate the Dodgers. No doubt about it. There's nothing they love to chant more than "Beat L.A.!"

But the Dodgers aren't going to be at AT&T Park this weekend. The Padres are.

The Dodgers aren't leading the Giants by 2 1/2 games in the National League West. The Padres are.

Who knows if Giants-Padres hatred is even possible. Maybe this is the weekend we find out.

Thank you, Jonathan Sanchez.

Sanchez is no Brandon Phillips, but he did "guarantee" that the Giants will sweep the Padres in these three games, and then go on to make the playoffs.

"We're going to play San Diego now and we're going to beat them three times," he said, after losing his last start, Sunday in Atlanta. "If we get to first place, we're not going to look back."

No, it's not exactly "little bitches" material. And he's no Joe Namath.

But it's better than everyone getting together and laughing about the Dodgers being nine games out.

Or is it?

On to 3 to watch:

1. The Padres know how good Sanchez can be, because he no-hit them last year. He hasn't beaten them in four meetings since, but two of those were 1-0 losses to Mat Latos earlier this season. Sanchez may be happy to know that he won't be facing Latos in Padres at Giants, Friday night (10:15 ET) at AT&T Park . Clayton Richard, who has a 6.69 ERA over his last seven starts, will open the series for the Padres, with Latos facing Madison Bumgarner on Saturday, and Wade LeBlanc opposing Tim Lincecum on Sunday.

2. Now this is a rivalry, Cubs and Cardinals. Except that the Cardinals just got done fighting with the Reds, and the Cubs aren't a factor in the National League Central. And Carlos Zambrano, who starts in Cubs at Cardinals, Saturday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Busch Stadium , has done a lot more to anger Cubs fans than he has to upset Cardinal fans. Chris Carpenter, who played a big part in stirring up the Cardinals-Reds feelings, starts for St. Louis.

3. This is not a rivalry, Orioles and Rays. But with the O's seemingly revived under Buck Showalter, it'll be interesting to see whether they have any effect on the American League East race. Including this weekend, the Orioles have nine games remaining with Tampa Bay, six games left with the Red Sox, and six left with the Yankees. We may know more by the time 24-year-old Jake Arrieta faces 23-year-old Jeremy Hellickson, in Orioles at Rays, Sunday afternoon (1:40 ET) at Tropicana Field .

Posted on: July 29, 2010 5:40 pm

Buck choice wasn't unanimous

Buck Showalter could turn out to be the right choice for the Orioles. But he was hardly a unanimous choice.

Sources familiar with the team said that owner Peter Angelos originally favored former Oriole Rick Dempsey, who he thought would excite the fans and fire up his team. General manager Andy MacPhail, meanwhile, was said by sources to favor ex-Indians manager Eric Wedge.

Angelos was talked out of Dempsey by people who work for him, and Showalter was his second choice. Since Angelos favored Showalter, he got the job.

Angelos' meddling is nothing new, and it's one reason that some people close to the team wonder if the Orioles will ever win again under his ownership. The Orioles have enough good young talent that they should be a perfect turnaround candidate, but it will take support from ownership that hasn't always been there in the past.

Showalter, who has proven adept at turning losers into winners -- if not at turning them into champions) -- could be a strong enough personality to overcome the obstacles. He has dealt with strong owners before at each of his three previous stops.

In any case, the best thing the Orioles did was to get the manager in place now, giving him time to watch the team from the inside for the final two months of the season. By October, Showalter should have a much better idea of which current players need to go, and which ones could be part of a better future.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 29, 2010 1:49 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2010 2:17 pm

Showalter to be named O's manager next week

Buck Showalter will be the next manager of the Orioles.

A source familiar with the talks confirmed to CBSSports.com that the Orioles are putting the finishing touches on Showalter's contract, and expect to introduce him at a press conference Monday. The Orioles, whose 31-70 record is the worst in baseball, are off Monday and open a seven-game homestand Tuesday against the Angels.

The 54-year-old Showalter last managed in the big leagues with the Rangers, in 2006. He spent 11 seasons with the Yankees, Diamondbacks and Rangers, earning a reputation for being able to turn around losing franchises, but never taking any of the teams to the top.

The Yankees and Diamondbacks both won the World Series in the season immediately after Showalter was fired.

Showalter had been considered a strong candidate in Baltimore since soon after the Orioles fired Dave Trembley on June 4. While Juan Samuel won praise for his work as the interim manager, the Orioles went 16-31 on his watch and he wasn't given serious consideration for the full-time job.

Showalter's hiring was never a slam dunk, though.

Sources familiar with the team said that owner Peter Angelos originally favored ex-Oriole Rick Dempsey, thinking that Dempsey would excite the fans and fire up his team. Meanwhile, according to multiple sources, general manager Andy MacPhail wanted to hire ex-Indians manager Eric Wedge.

Angelos apparently was talked out of hiring Dempsey by people who work for him, and Showalter was his second choice. MacPhail was said to strongly believe that the Orioles needed a manager with prior big-league experience, preferably one who had taken a team to the postseason.

Showalter's hiring was first reported by his current employer, ESPN.

Posted on: June 4, 2010 9:38 am
Edited on: June 4, 2010 9:44 am

Orioles fire Trembley as manager

The disappointing Orioles season has cost Dave Trembley his job.

The team fired Trembley after nearly three years as manager. Third-base coach Juan Samuel will take over as the interim manager, while club president Andy MacPhail searches for a full-time replacement. Gary Allenson, who had been managing the Orioles' Triple-A Norfolk affiliate, will be the new third-base coach.

Phil Garner and Bob Melvin are expected to be among the candidates the Orioles consider.

The Orioles never expected to contend in the tough American League East, but they expected to make progress this year. Instead, after losing leadoff man Brian Roberts and closer Mike Gonzalez to injuries, they have a worst-in-baseball 15-39 record, and have lost their last eight games.

Trembley, who took over when MacPhail fired Sam Perlozzo in June 2007, finished with a 187-282 record. The Orioles haven't had a winning season since they last made the playoffs in 1997.
Category: MLB
Posted on: May 7, 2010 9:53 am
Edited on: May 7, 2010 9:56 am

3 to watch: The Ernie and Robby edition

In Detroit, 10,000 fans showed up at Comerica Park on a day when there was no game. That's what Ernie Harwell meant to people in Michigan.

In Philadelphia, players will hang a No. 36 jersey in their dugout for every game the rest of the season, in honor of a man who last played for the team before any of them were born. That's what Robin Roberts meant to the Phillies.

If you didn't know Harwell -- or especially if you did -- check out "Ernie Harwell: We'll Remember," the tribute produced by Fox Sports Detroit.

If you didn't know Roberts -- or especially if you did -- check out the fine tributes on philly.com.

And join us for this memorial edition of 3 to watch, focusing on Harwell's beloved Tigers, Roberts' beloved Phillies, and the Orioles, the one team that employed both of them:

1. When Harwell came to the Tigers in 1960, his first game was a 15-inning, 4-2 win over the Indians in Cleveland. This weekend, it's Tigers at Indians, Friday night (7:05 EDT) at Progressive Field . 15 innings, anyone? The Tigers will be wearing an "EH" patch on their uniforms, as they will for the rest of the season.

2. 15 innings? That's nothing. In Philadelphia, they still talk about the day in 1952 when the Phils played a 17-inning game against the Boston Braves -- and Roberts went the distance. What a pitching line: 17-18-6-5-3-5. And, of course, he won, improving to 23-7 on the season. We're not expecting more of the same in Braves at Phillies, Friday night (7:05 EDT) at Citizens Bank Park . But we do know that Phillies starter Jamie Moyer, like so many of his teammates, is a longtime Roberts admirer. 17 innings, anyone?

3. Harwell's first major league job was with the Dodgers, famously going to Brooklyn from the minor league Atlanta Crackers in a trade for catcher Cliff Dapper. He went from the Dodgers to the Giants in 1950, and was the television voice for Bobby Thomson's Shot Heard 'Round the World. But he had stronger ties to the Orioles, who he joined in 1954, the year they moved to Baltimore from St. Louis. Harwell left for Detroit after the 1959 season. Roberts arrived in town three years later, after he was released by the Yankees. Harwell's first Orioles team lost 100 games, and changed managers at the end of the season. Roberts' Orioles didn't lose 100, but they did release him midway through the 1965 season. Things aren't too good in Baltimore now, and with another tough series this weekend, including Orioles at Twins, Friday night (8:10 EDT) at Target Field , time could be running out on current manager Dave Trembley.

Posted on: April 30, 2010 10:30 am

3 to watch: The who needs April edition

Saturday is May 1, and that means Saturday is the first anniversary of Joe Mauer's 2009 debut with the Twins.

The first anniversary of the first day of an MVP season.

A year ago today, the two teams that would meet for the American League championship were 11-10 (Yankees) and 9-11 (Angels). The team that would win the National League wild card, the Rockies, was 8-12. The guy who would win the NL Rookie of the Year (Chris Coghlan) was still in the minor leagues, and the guy who would win the AL Rookie of the Year (Andrew Bailey) had yet to record the first of his 26 saves.

The point isn't that April is meaningless. But a great season doesn't depend on it.

Which is good news for Cliff Lee, Brad Lidge, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Ian Kinsler and anyone else readying for a 2010 debut this weekend.

And good news for this weekend's 3 to watch:

1. Felix and Cliff. Cliff and Felix. That was supposed to be the 2010 Mariners, right? So maybe it fits that Lee's injury-delayed Mariner debut falls on Felix Hernandez bobblehead night, in Rangers at Mariners, tonight (10:10 EDT) at Safeco Field . The M's went 11-11 while Lee recovered from an abdominal strain, and in the crazy American League West, that was good enough to leave them just half a game out of first place. They're one game ahead of the last-place Rangers, who will be just as happy to see second baseman Ian Kinsler make his 2010 debut, after missing the first month of the season with an ankle problem.

2. The Phillies survived Lidge's terrible 2009 season, all the way up to the World Series, so it's no real surprise that they survived when he missed the first 21 games of this season while recovering from elbow and knee surgeries. But fill-in closer Ryan Madson converted only four of his six save opportunities and has a 7.00 ERA, so we'll believe manager Charlie Manuel when he says, "We can always use Lidge back." He returns tonight, although the game we want to see in this series is Mets at Phillies, Saturday afternoon (3:10 EDT) at Citizens Bank Park . That's Roy Halladay (4-1, 1.80) against Mike Pelfrey (4-0, 0.69, and 24 consecutive scoreless innings). Of course, with Halladay's history (51 career complete games, including two in his first five starts with the Phillies), Lidge may not be needed on Saturday.

3. What should we expect from Matsuzaka, who missed the first month of the season with a strained neck? We really don't have much of an idea, do we, which is what makes his 2010 debut, in Red Sox at Orioles, Saturday night (7:05 EDT) at Camden Yards compelling. At his best, Matsuzaka gives the Red Sox perhaps the best 1-5 rotation in baseball, along with Josh Beckett (who had a terrible April), Jon Lester, John Lackey and Clay Buchholz. At his worst -- well, last year Matsuzaka was 4-6 with a 5.76 ERA in just 12 starts.

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