|With Melky's suspension, Giants manager Bruce Bochy has to use Gregor Blanco in left field. (US Presswire)|
The Weekend Buzz while you were trying your best to hold onto the final days of summer before school starts again. ...
1. Scumbag Central: Even as the teammates he burned prepare for an enormous late-August series in Dodger Stadium beginning Monday night, the sewage Melky Cabrera left behind continues to seep through the Giants' clubhouse.
As if being docked 50 games for failing a performance-enhancing drug test wasn't bad enough, turns out that Cabrera allegedly tried to beat the rap by creating a fake Web site and a nonexistent product, thus giving an entirely new meaning to the term "Melk-Man." How low can one man (and his shadowy helpers) go in opting for synthetic Melk instead of organic milk?
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The bombshell dropped Sunday morning in the New York Daily News , leaving the Giants attempting to put the spilled milk back into the bottle before turning their attention to the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw, who await them Monday night.
Manager Bruce Bochy, third baseman Pablo Sandoval and first baseman Brandon Belt all declined comment on Cabrera's foray into Web site management, citing a lack of knowledge on the particulars. Belt did say that if the Giants are fortunate enough to advance in October, he would welcome Cabrera back because "anybody who can swing it like him getting back into the lineup can help the team win."
That assumes that a Cabrera not oozing extra testosterone can still be the hitter he suddenly "blossomed" into during the past two seasons, rather than return to the spare part he often was with the Yankees. Good luck with that.
Bochy's plan going forward is to use Gregor Blanco most of the time in left field, with Justin Christian getting some starts. The Giants are 2-2 since Cabrera's suspension, and Sunday's 7-1 hammering in San Diego dropped them into second place in the NL West, half-a-game behind the Dodgers.
"We're all disappointed," Bochy said. "You're always disappointed when you hear of any player who failed a drug test.
"The facts are, we're doing everything we can not to have anything like this happen. We're fully behind MLB's drug policy.
"Here are the facts: We don't allow anybody in our clubhouse unless they have a credential. We don't allow supplements in our clubhouse. What else can you do?
"I'm all for solving the problem. But you can be the best parent in the world, you can be world-class parents, and your kid could still go south and have issues. The gist of this is, we can't follow these guys 24/7.
"It comes down to a choice. He's a veteran. He's a grown man. Our training staff raises awareness as well as anybody in baseball. These are unfortunate things. He's been drug-tested several times."
Now come the Dodgers, who swept the Giants (outscoring them 19-3 in the process) in Los Angeles July 27-29.
"Both of us know what's at stake," Bochy says. "They're playing well. They're coming off of a good series [winning two of three in Atlanta]. Obviously, they had their way with us last time. All of the guys are looking forward to it ... [but] no matter what happens, we've got a lot of baseball left."
2. Minute Maid, Seconds Broken: The job Brad Mills signed up for with the Astros changed practically before the ink was dry on his contract. His first season, the club off-loaded Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt by July, his second they shipped away Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence and this summer they dealt Carlos Lee, Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers, J.A. Happ and Brandon Lyon. The club was sold, stripped down, pawned to the American League (starting in 2013) and last year lost a club-record 106 games.
I was in Houston's camp for Mills' full-squad workout during spring training in 2010, and after the traditional clubhouse meeting to kick things off, then-owner Drayton McLane emerged and said Mills had just delivered the finest managerial speech the owner had ever heard. Come on, on the first day of spring training? Things then became even kookier. Mills never had a chance. As former Astro Lance Berkman told me this spring, clearly, "it's an organization that's lost one identity and is searching for a new one." With Mills now gaining notoriety as the first manager fired in 2012, the search continues.
3. The "C.J." stands for "Consistently Jank": C.J. Wilson now is a perfect 10, if you're counting consecutive winless starts, and score another for the Rangers over theAngels. Texas knew when to cut bait, and Wilson is a major factor in an AL West race that is fast becoming most notable for the Angels' spectacular crash-and-burn. When the Angels blew an 8-0 lead (with Wilson on the mound) Saturday, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, it equaled club records for both Tampa Bay's biggest comeback win ever and the Angels' biggest blown lead in a loss.
You can scrap Mike Trout's MVP candidacy if the Angels fail to make the playoffs, and, truthfully, it's hard to see Mike Scioscia returning as manager if it gets to that. And it very well might: The Angels now trail Texas by nine games with just 40 left. Over? Did he say over (to quote Belushi in Animal House? Know this: The Angels have not won three in a row since June 26-28.
Wilson now is 0-5 with a 5.70 ERA over 10 starts since June 26. More perplexing, a Zack Greinke-infused Angels' rotation that was supposed to dominate is 3-7 with a 6.53 ERA in 18 starts this month. The Angels now have lost 13 of 18 games.
4. Athletics celebrate anniversary of 20-game winning streak: And the anniversary of 13 consecutive days of boxing out the lowly Angels while holding onto second place in the AL West.
5. Love that dirty water: At this point, it's clear Bobby Valentine will fall victim to the toxic mess in Boston. When he does, the Red Sox will have to look themselves in the mirror. And it still will be an ugly reflection.
6. Angel Campos: Rabbit. Ears.
7. There the Pirates go again: Trying to prevent a repeat of last year's free-fall, the Bucs nevertheless celebrated Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente's birthday Saturday with another loss. They should have just read David Maraniss' excellent Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Lost Hero ... which they could have easily read in less time than it took to play Sunday's marathon.
8. Cubs, Castro deal: The club and shortstop Starlin Castro are close on a six-year, $70 million deal. Or, to put it another way, when Castro's next deal is up, the Cubs will be ... approaching the halfway mark on their next rebuilding project?
9. And he doesn't even need anger management training: Chad Billingsley on Sunday became the first Dodgers pitcher to win six consecutive starts since Kevin Brown (2003), and now is 6-0 with a 1.30 ERA since the All-Star break. He's walked just eight, struck out 27 and surrendered just one home run over 41 2/3 innings.
10. Objects in rear-view mirror closer than they appear: In the Bronx, this might be true. The Yankees continue to maintain a good lead in the AL East, but the Rays and Orioles continue their dogged pursuit. Joe Maddon's club turned an 8-0 deficit into a 10-8 win in Anaheim Saturday, and their 37 runs in the four-game sweep were the Rays' most-ever in a single series. The O's, meantime, wiped out a 5-0 Tigers lead in the first inning Sunday to win 7-5. And as colleague Danny Knobler notes, the Orioles are winning a shocking 70 percent of one- and two-run games.