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: May 2, 2011 3:57 pm
Edited on: May 2, 2011 6:33 pm

Is it time to believe in the Indians?

A week ago, I'll admit, I was still dismissing the Indians' hot start.

I'm still not ready to believe, but I'm getting there -- and not just because their 19-8 record is the best in the majors.

Plenty of teams play well for the first 30 games of the season, only to fade. In fact, of the last 12 teams to start a season 19-8 or better, only seven made it to the playoffs. The 2006 Reds started 19-8, and didn't even manage to finish .500.

One scout who follows the American League Central said Monday, "The best thing the White Sox and Tigers have going for them is that they're chasing the Indians and Royals."

Still, there are reasons to believe, according to scouts who have followed the Indians:

1. Grady Sizemore looks like himself again. When I did the Indians camp report in February, I wrote that the most interesting question for the Indians was "whether the Grady Sizemore of 2007-08 will return."

"He's back," one scout said. "He's moving awfully well."

2. Michael Brantley looks like Grady Sizemore, too.

"He's another Sizemore," the scout said. "He takes good at-bats, he can throw, and he can run."

3. Justin Masterson is better than he was, Josh Tomlin is better than you think, and Alex White can be a difference-maker.

Masterson started 0-5 last year. He's 5-0 this year. Scouts say he could be even better if he would consistently use his sinker against left-handed hitters, who are still hitting .295 against him.

Tomlin is 4-0, and on the way to living up to one scout's spring training prediction that he would win more games than Fausto Carmona or Carlos Carrasco.

As for White, the 2009 No. 1 draft pick who debuted Saturday against the Tigers, one scout called him "the real deal." Told that the Indians actually think 2010 first-rounder Drew Pomeranz will be better than White, the scout said, "Well, then they'll have two top-of-the-rotation guys."

White only joined the rotation because both Mitch Talbot and Carrasco are hurt, but this scout predicted that there's no way the Indians can send him back to the minor leagues now.

"They'll just have to pay him," he said. "They ought to sign him to a long-term deal right now."

4. Tim Belcher's message is getting through.

Belcher worked in the Cleveland front office after retiring as a pitcher, then became the Indians' pitching coach last year. One scout gives him credit for the Indians' strong start, saying, "Belcher has them pitching to a game plan. The stuff isn't that electric, but they make it work."

5. The Orlando Cabrera effect. Cabrera moves from team to team, but as one scout said Monday, winning follows him. Since July 2004, when the Expos sent him to the Red Sox as part of the Nomar Garciaparra deal, Cabrera has changed teams seven times, but has made the playoffs every year but one.

"He's a menace," one scout said. "He's not great at second base, but he wins."

And so, for now, do the Indians.

Posted on: April 29, 2011 12:50 am

3 to watch: The How do you know? edition

Already this year, Josh Johnson has carried a no-hit bid into the eighth inning. And another into the seventh. And another into the sixth. And another into the fifth.

In five starts, he's never given up a hit before the fourth inning.

The easiest thing to do would be to predict that Johnson is going to throw a no-hitter this year.

And I'm not going to do it.

Not after talking to Edwin Jackson, I'm not.

Jackson threw a no-hitter last year, when he was pitching for the Diamondbacks. But when I asked him to guess who will throw this year's first no-no, he politely refused.

"How do you ever know?" asked Jackson, who now pitches for the White Sox. "Because if you'd have asked me if I was going to throw one, I'd have said, 'Never.' I'd have bet my paycheck that I'd never throw one."

How do you know?

"I always said I'd never throw one," said Mark Buehrle, Jackson's White Sox teammate. "And I've got two."

Buehrle was willing to guess, though.

"Somebody like [Justin] Verlander or Josh Johnson," he said.

Verlander has thrown a no-hitter, in 2007 against the Brewers. Johnson hasn't -- yet.

Johnson gets another chance Saturday in Cincinnati.

On to 3 to watch:

1. Since the start of 2009, Tim Lincecum has at least one win over every National League opponent, with one exception. Would you guess it's the Nationals? Lincecum lost his only start against the Nationals last year, and a Bob Howry blown save cost him a potential win in 2009. He gets another chance in Giants at Nationals, Friday night (7:05 ET) at Nationals Park.

2. Back in spring training, we asked when Alex White would make his debut with the Indians. We didn't guess it would be in April, and we didn't guess he'd be joining a first-place team. It is, and he is. The Indians' 2009 first-round pick is only getting a chance this soon because of two injuries to starting pitchers, but he will get a chance in Tigers at Indians, Saturday night (6:05 ET) at Progressive Field. One oddity, though: White is actually four months older than Rick Porcello, the Tigers' Saturday night starter. Porcello will be making his 63rd big-league start.

3. You wouldn't think Johnson would no-hit the Reds. The Reds haven't been no-hit since 1971 (Rick Wise) . . . unless you count that Roy Halladay no-hitter in the playoffs last year. Then again, Johnson's first major-league win came in Cincinnati, and in that game he allowed no hits . . . in three innings of relief. But no, I'm not predicting he throws a no-hitter in Marlins at Reds, Saturday night (7:05 ET) at Great American Ballpark. How do you know?

Posted on: April 28, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: April 28, 2011 4:34 pm

Indians prospect White joins rotation

Alex White is coming to the big leagues.

The Indians announced that White, their top draft pick in 2009, will make his big-league debut Saturday against the Tigers. White takes the place of Carlos Carrasco, placed on the disabled list Thursday with inflammation in his right elbow.

White has a 1.90 ERA in his first four starts at Triple-A Columbus, with five walks and 28 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings. White, whose fastball touches 97 mph, was ranked by Baseball America as the 47th-best prospect in the whole minor leagues.

The Indians don't expect Carrasco to be out long. Club officials said tests show no structural damage, but the team wants to be careful with the 24-year-old, who was part of the 2009 Cliff Lee trade with the Phillies.

The Indians replaced Carrasco on the 25-man roster by recalling Frank Herrmann from Columbus, but Herrmann is a reliever. The team will make another roster move to activate White on Saturday.

White was considered the Indians' top pitching prospect last winter, but club officials are now even more excited about 2010 first-round pick Drew Pomeranz, who is now on a fast track. Pomeranz had a great spring, is off to a good start at Class A Kinston, and will likely be promoted to Double-A soon.

Posted on: April 27, 2011 1:57 pm
Edited on: April 27, 2011 6:10 pm

Aaron, Ripken, Yaz, and the drummer in Cleveland

Bet you can't name the guy who has appeared in more Indians games than anyone else in history.

I couldn't.

It's Terry Turner, and I only know that because I just looked it up. He played with the Tribe from 1904-18, and I only know that because I looked it up, too.

Turner played in 1,619 games, according to the Indians media guide. Or in 1,625 games, according to Lee Sinins Baseball Encyclopedia.


Anyway, this isn't about Terry Turner. It's about John Adams.

You do know him. You may not know the name, but you know the drum.

He's the guy who bangs the drum in the bleachers at Progressive (still better known as Jacobs) Field. And, according to the Indians, he's going to bang that drum in his 3,000th Indians game on Wednesday night.

3,000 games!

No wonder that Adams and that drum are more associated with the Indians than any player (except Bob Feller), or any manager or coach.

3,000 games!

Only four players in baseball history appeared in 3,000 games for one team.

Only five managers in baseball history managed 3,000 games for the same team.

I'll be honest. I covered plenty of games at Progressive (I still think of it as Jacobs) Field, and plenty of times that drum drove me crazy. But it's been a while since I've been there, and I kind of miss it.

Oh, and those four guys who appeared in 3,000 games for one team? Hank Aaron with the Braves (3,076), Cal Ripken Jr. with the Orioles (3,001), Carl Yastrzemski with the Red Sox (3,308) and Stan Musial with the Cardinals (3,026).

And the five managers? Connie Mack with the A's (7,466), John McGraw with the Giants (4,424), Bobby Cox with the Braves (3,860), Walter Alston with the Dodgers (3,658) and Tommy Lasorda with the Dodgers (3,041).

Posted on: April 17, 2011 9:43 pm

3 to watch: The first-place battle edition

The Giants are in Colorado this week, for the first time since Tim Lincecum complained about the "juiced balls" at Coors Field . . . in a game where he allowed just two hits in eight innings.

That'd be a good place to start 3 to watch.

The Angels are in Texas this week, for the first time since the Rangers ended their run of three straight American League West titles.

That'd be a good place to start 3 to watch.

Forget it. So far as I can tell, only one player was so excited about this week's schedule that he tweeted Sunday that he was "on to KC for a 1st place battle."

It was Indians closer Chris Perez. Or @ChrisPerez54 , as he's known on Twitter.

And he's right. The first-place Indians are in Kansas City this week, to meet the second-place Royals.

Now that's the place to start 3 to watch. So far as I can tell, there's never been a true first-place battle between the Indians and Royals.

The only time they finished first and second in the same division, in 1995, the Indians won the AL Central by 30 games and the second-place Royals were actually under .500.

It's been 11 years since both the Indians and Royals both had winning records on the morning of April 18. Charlie Manuel was the Indians manager the last time it happened.

And, of course, it wasn't supposed to happen this year.

The Royals were pointing towards 2012 or 2013, when their best-in-baseball prospects arrive. The Indians were pointing towards sometime in the future, too.

To be honest, the Royals and Indians should have been pointing towards the future. They still should be, but you can't blame either team for celebrating some early success.

If nothing else, they've proven that they won't be pushovers for the White Sox, Tigers and Twins, the teams expected to battle for the AL Central title. The Royals have already impressed opponents with their gritty play and with their bullpen (especially Tim Collins and Jeremy Jeffress). The Indians have impressed opponents with their strong starting rotation.

There will be plenty of time to talk about the Rockies and Giants, and the Rangers and Angels, and even the Yankees and Blue Jays, the fourth pair of first- and second-place teams that will meet this week.

This week of first-place battles belongs to the Indians and Royals.

On to 3 to watch:

1. The Rockies, in their entire 18-year history, have never won a division title. They've been to the playoffs three times, but all as wild cards (including in 2007, when they went to the World Series). If they're going to be as good as they think they can be ("You want to become that Philadelphia Phillies-type team," Troy Tulowitzki said last week), then they'd better start winning titles. That means beating San Francisco, and this week, including Giants at Rockies, Tuesday night (8:40 ET) at Coors Field would be a good place to start. The Giants have their top three starting pitchers going in the series. The Rockies get their ace, Ubaldo Jimenez, back on Tuesday, after he missed two weeks because of a cut on his thumb.

2. The Angels are missing Kendrys Morales. The Rangers are missing Josh Hamilton. But as of Sunday, Matt Harrison was third in the American League in ERA, and Jered Weaver was fourth. And it'll be Harrison facing Weaver, in Angels at Rangers, Wednesday night (8:05 ET) at Rangers Ballpark .

3. OK, so Harrison and Weaver are third and fourth in the AL in ERA. You know who's fourth? One hint: He plays for Cleveland. It's Justin Masterson, who was acquired from Boston in the Victor Martinez trade and until this year was best known for not being able to pitch to left-handed hitters. His left-right splits aren't great this year, either (righties hit .103, lefties .273), but Masterson has already beaten the White Sox, Mariners and Orioles. His next start comes in Indians at Royals, Wednesday night (8:10 ET) at Kauffman Stadium.

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: February 27, 2011 4:07 pm

In so many places, a sad spring

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs don't go a day this spring without thinking of Ron Santo.

They barely go a day without talking about him.

"It's good to think of him," manager Mike Quade said Sunday, a few moments after recording his first radio pregame show with Keith Moreland, Santo's successor in the Cubs broadcast booth.

The Cubs will wear a patch on their uniforms to honor Santo, who died in December. The Indians are wearing a patch to honor Bob Feller. At Goodyear Ballpark on Sunday, the grounds crew painted a "19" in front of the Indians dugout for Feller, and a "10" in front of the Reds dugout for Sparky Anderson.

In Peoria, the Mariners ran a video on Dave Niehaus before their spring opener.

Nice tributes, all of them. It's sad that this spring is filled with them.

Santo. Feller. Sparky. Niehaus.

And now Duke Snider.

The Hall of Fame announced Sunday that Snider died in California, at the age of 84.

Unlike some of the others, Snider wasn't around big-league ballparks as often in recent years. For many fans of my generation and those younger, the biggest memory of Snider is from Terry Cashman's song, "Willie, Mickey and the Duke."

But Snider lives on in the memories of Brooklyn Dodger fans. He lives on in the memories of those who have been with the Dodgers over the years.

"Although it's ironic to say it, we have lost a giant," Vin Scully said, in a statement released by the team. "He's joining a great Dodger team that has moved on."

The Dodgers will no doubt find a way to honor Snider. I have no doubt they'll do it well, just as the Cubs have done, just as the Indians and Reds have done, just as the Mariners have done.

In too many places, it's been a sad spring.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com