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CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Weekend Buzz: Mid-June is a time of change for MLB's strugglers


The Weekend Buzz while you were mourning -- and celebrating -- Clarence "Big Man" Clemons, King of All the World, Sultan of the Sax, the Babe Ruth of the E Street Band. ...

1. The Firing Line: Jim Riggleman's job status moved into question last month in Washington following sharply critical comments from outfielder Jayson Werth (who insisted they were aimed at the team, not the skipper).

"Things need to change," Werth said, and so they did. The Nationals have gone 14-9 since then, including a seven-game winning streak -- the Nats' longest in two years -- that finally ended on Sunday.

There was no such timely reprieve in Oakland, where the Athletics' current five-game winning streak did not begin until six days after Bob Geren was fired and Bob Melvin replaced him.

And when beleaguered manager and class act Edwin Rodriguez handed the Marlins his resignation on Sunday, prohibition in South Beach looked more probable than a baseball turnaround.

The Indians fire hitting coach Jon Nunnally after an awful stretch of offense from the team. (Getty Images)  
The Indians fire hitting coach Jon Nunnally after an awful stretch of offense from the team. (Getty Images)  
In a game of change, right now is the time of change. Mid-June is no longer early. Summers already are lost, or on the verge of being lost. Over the past two weeks, the count has reached two managers, three hitting coaches and two pitching coaches who have been ushered out.

Geren was fired, Rodriguez's fate was inevitable. All three hitting coaches were gassed: Cleveland's Jon Nunnally on Sunday, Florida's John Mallee and Texas' Thad Bosley both on June 8. The Astros fired pitching coach Brad Arnsberg last Tuesday, and Orioles pitching coach Mark Connor, citing personal reasons, also stepped down last Tuesday.

Change we can believe in?

Or the last gasps of dying seasons?

The Marlins now have lost 10 consecutive games, 18 of 19 and, sources say, are close to bringing in 80-year-old Jack McKeon to help this storm-damaged boat limp into port.

Why? Because Connie Mack is unavailable.

Seriously, McKeon would become the oldest manager since Mack, who was 87 during his final season in 1950. Next to McKeon, Casey Stengel looks like Justin Bieber. Stengel was 74 during his final year of managing, when he guided the Mets in 1965.

The Marlins, knowing they needed to take momentum into their new stadium next year, thought they could win this summer. And on May 26, they were 29-19, just one game behind the Phillies in the NL East.

Since, even Riggleman's Nationals have steamed ahead of the free-falling Marlins.

So the team that fired Jeff Torborg on Mother's Day in 2003 and won a World Series that fall now accepts the resignation of Rodriguez on Father's Day and seems ready to double-dip with the spunky McKeon.

"Who's going to want to come in now?" one NL executive asks. "If it continues to go bad, I'd think they would want somebody next year with a clean slate."

For now, the ever-classy Marlins open an abbreviated three-game stand against the Angels on Monday before flying across the country to Seattle for what once was a home series ... until the Marlins sacrificed it so they could vacate their stadium for a U2 concert.

Hey, U2 draws better than the Marlins, as the jokes go. And on they go -- both the jokes, and the Marlins.

2. Dear dad: We win, happy Father's Day! Minnesota has won seven in a row and 14 of 16, none of the victories more cool than Sunday's over San Diego, when catcher Drew Butera -- son of former big leaguer and current Toronto scout Sal -- poked a game-winning single on Father's Day.

3. St. Louis' struggles: As if losing seven in a row and eight of nine isn't bad enough (no, Tony La Russa is not likely to be included among the list of fired managers anytime soon), Albert Pujols sprained his left wrist in a collision with Kansas City's Wilson Betemit on Sunday. St. Louis holds its breath.

4. All A's for the A's: Under Melvin, Oakland now is 5-4 and gaining momentum. The A's have won five in a row -- including this weekend's sweet sweep of Bay bridge rival San Francisco -- and have pulled to within 5½ games of Texas in the pillow fight that is the AL West. Doesn't mean the A's are going to win, and we already know the ending of the Silver Screen edition of Moneyball (the A's don't win there, either) ... but, hey, at least they look like they know what they're doing under Melvin.

5. Starting pitcher for the AL? Moving into prime position is Detroit's Justin Verlander, who, after dispatching Colorado on Sunday, is 7-0 over his past nine starts with a 1.73 ERA, 59 strikes, nine walks and only 39 hits allowed in 73 innings.

6. John Danks has a hard head: Did you see the liner off of his skull on Saturday night in Arizona ... and then he actually smiled and stayed in the game? Given that he was in line for his third victory in three starts after finishing May 0-8, you can't blame him for pitching on. Especially with friends like Paul Konerko (three homers in three days over the weekend in Arizona) in the White Sox lineup.

7. Yunel Escobar has fat wallet: Toronto awards shortstop a two-year, $10 million extension through 2013, following similar extensions to shortstop Aaron Hill and first baseman Adam Lind. So now let's see if Escobar blasts four home runs in four games, as Lind did last Tuesday through Friday. OK, so maybe he won't. But he does rank second among AL shortstops with a .359 on-base percentage and he's got a very slick glove.

8. San Francisco has a big hole: With no Buster Posey or Freddy Sanchez, the Giants are 0 for their last 26 with runners in scoring position.

9. Nyjer Morgan has a big swing: Dude smashed his second homer in 100 at-bats for Milwaukee on Sunday against Boston ... after collecting exactly ZERO homers in 509 at-bats for Washington in 2010.

10. Dustin Ackley and Michael Pineda have big futures: Pineda took a no-hitter into the sixth against the Phillies on Friday, same night Ackley debuted with a base hit. Drafted second behind Stephen Strasburg in 2009, the second baseman sure looks like he's stepping into a pennant race.


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