Sunday, June 29, 2008
That is generally not the proper decorum one would expect to be observed by an employee being paid $2 million a year, who has had only checkered success on four different teams in four years.
No, it's not at all what you expect, unless perhaps the individual is Shawn Chacon, who suffers from NPO -- what psychiatrists have defined as Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Evidently the 30-year-old, former Astros right-hander was indignant about being removed from the Rangers starting rotation last week and being relegated to the job of long reliever or -- less generously -- mop-up man. So much was he insulted that he refused to see the team manager in his office; so much so, that he refused to see the general manager, Ed Wade, in his office.
So, Wade decided, regrettably, to admonish the player, at virtually Chacon's own insistance, in public in front of the team. The rest is history.
Chacon is in the unemployment line and rightfully so. It is axiomatic that -- no matter if you are a U.S. senator, chairman of the board of IBM, or a burger flipper at Mickey-Ds -- you never grab the boss by the neck.
This story will be filed in the annals of famous sports anecdotes (read: gaffs) which fans and sportswriters will talk about for years.
The compelling question remains, why would a player snap? Why would an athlete with such tremendous talents, gifts and abilities, a millionaire, at the top of the sports pyramid, commit such a boneheaded ands egregious move?
Riddle me this: what does Shawn Chacon, Milton Bradley, Elijah Dukes, Julio Lugo, and Delmon Young all have in common? Yup, they all play baseball and have trouble responding to authority. Add into the mix a few other notorious sports figures like Latrell Spreewell, Terrell Owens, Keyshawn Johnson, Terry Glenn, Adam "Pac-man" Jones, Dion Sanders, Allen Iverson, Jermain O'Neil, Andre Rison, Michael Vick, Warren Sapp, Bill Romanowski, Brian Bosworth, Dennis Rodman...the list goes on and on, a group colloquially labeled with a certain eight-letter word beginning with the letter 'a' and ending with the word-root 'holes'.
All are terrific athletes with enormous athletic talent and potential for winning titles for their teams, breaking individual records, and entering the Hall of Fame, but for some reason elect a different path; path of controversy, contentiousness, trouble with management, trouble with the law, trouble with substance abuse, domestic violence; and, trouble with the fan base as well as the front office.
It's very sad, very sad. It's very disquieting. It's also very normal.
Here is verifiable proof of the paradoxical reality that horses asses outnumber horses, with all these guys simply representing a subsegment of the normal population (with traits to some extent shared by each and every one of us) burdened by some degree of personality disorder.
We all have something. Most of us can keep the lid on it, some of us cannot. In particular, the crowd herein, we believe, actively display the narcissistic type of personality disorder. According to Moore & Jefferson (Handbook of Medical Psychiatry, 2nd ed. 2004 Mosby, Inc.) people with a narcissistic personality disorder see themselves as superior to others, regardless of their actual achievements in life.
They feel entitled to admiration and expect that others will defer to their wishes. Relationships are valued only insofar as they enhance these people’s self-esteem; they have little capacity for empathy or any true interest in the well-being of others.
These individuals tend to be very sensitive to criticism, or even a hint of criticism. If humiliated, they may react with overt rage; more often, however, they mask their reaction with an attitude of lofty indifference, as if what others think actually makes no difference to them. Narcissistic traits may first occur in childhood; during adolescence they gradually coalesce into a stable symptom complex.
Individuals such as Shawn Chacon have a lofty opinion of themselves; they see their accomplishments as admirable and often indulge in daydreams or fantasies of glory, power, or idealized love.
Personal defects are not tolerated. Grooming, dress, and makeup capture large amounts of time and must be impeccably done. The grand gesture is preferred, and entrances and exits are preferably done with a flourish.
These people regard themselves as omniscient and omnipotent; they rarely permit themselves to stoop to ask others for assistance. Narcissists tend to gravitate toward those whom, in one way or another, reflect their grandiose image of themselves. The company of other “ideal creatures” is often quite satisfactory, yet if any fault is found within these acquaintances, they are discarded as unworthy.
Admirers are tolerated, perhaps even welcomed at times, but are quickly discarded should any criticism be offered. Others are exploited for what they can do for the narcissistic person; of themselves they seem to have little value. Narcissists do not have truly reciprocal relationships with others. They may be socially correct, even polite, yet they are perceived as frosty and distant.
They seem to lack a capacity for sympathy or intimacy. Should an acquaintance be in need, their only motive for offering help would be to demonstrate their own power. These people do not make “anonymous” gifts of time or money and are rarely willing to sacrifice anything of their own.
People with narcissistic personality disorder do not tolerate unfavorable comparison with others. Should another’s achievements seem to shine more brightly, these people may become intensely envious, even enraged, and often attempt to belittle or devalue the accomplishments of others.
Should this fail to salve their wounded self-esteem, they often seek revenge. If any degree of criticism seems to touch them to the mortal quick; a vicious counterattack may occur, or, if that appears unlikely to succeed, they may withdraw from the field with a cold regal disdain and contempt for their opponents.
Others often feel exploited and manipulated by a narcissistic person. They feel as if they are regarded as mere pawns in the narcissist’s life and, often in short order, come to regard the narcissist as abrasive and arrogant.
Unfortunately, this disorder is chronic and lifelong; with age, however, the clinical picture may change. They are often intolerant of the inevitable decline that comes with age and often develop lingering, mild depressive symptoms. Social and occupational complications follow inevitably from the symptoms of this disorder. The inability to love another or to form a friendship leaves these people with a sense of loneliness and isolation.
Work may or may not suffer. If the narcissistic person happens to be talented, then the drive for admiration and praise may lead to brilliant success. However, should the narcissist happen to have only a normal complement of abilities, the inability to ask for or accept help leaves the narcissist stumbling and failing to accomplish what others, who can work cooperatively, are able to do.
Although theories abound, nothing is known with certainty regarding the cause of narcissistic personality disorder. Moreover, four other personality disorders may at times enter into the differential diagnosis: antisocial, histrionic, obsessive-compulsive, and borderline -- each with it's own set of characteristic beliefs and modes of conduct, well beyond the scope of this report.
Patients with narcissistic personality disorder have been treated with individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, and family therapy, and each method has anecdotally been reported as successful. However, no controlled outcomes studies have been carried out. Apart from treating intercurrent disorders, especially depression, pharmacologic treatment is of no avail. It is as such for Chacon and the rest. They lack the capacity to see themselves as others see them and have a penchant to flush their teams, their careers, and livelihoods down the loo. There is little anybody can do about it.
Yet here it is with just three days left to tally the totals, and young Joe Mauer has parlayed his recent hot streak into a tenuous but tangible lead, a shocking misdeed achieved through devious, sinister, underhanded and borderline corrupt (gasp!) BALLOT BOX STUFFING!
Yes, the "Vote for Mauer" mantra has been repeated so often and so ubiquitously that rumor has the young Minnesota native overtaking even Gov. Tim Pawlenty on presumptive presidential nominee John McCain's vice presidential short list.
Dishonest? Sure! Cynical? Most definitely! Republican? Well, let's not go that far. But at any rate, is it Joe Mauer's fault that he finds himself riding the crest of a tidal wave of love, admiration, loyalty and devotion? And whom, after all, is more deserving?
In the best tradition of late broadcaster and National Baseball Hall of Fame board member Tim Russert, an examination of the public record shows Mauer has hit nearly .360 over the past two months, raising his season average to more than .330 while playing outstanding defense, an All-Star qualifying resume if there ever was one.
The All-Star game will be held at Yankee Stadium -- one of the last contests before it is demolished -- on July 15, with voting to be concluded Wednesday via the Monster online ballot at MLB.com, and the winners to be announced July 6.
Barring a filibuster in New England, expect Mauer to be named the starter, and deservedly so.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Vincent -- appearing in South Hadley, Conn., to promote a new book less than month before the beginning of induction week at Cooperstown, N.Y. -- said Dimaggio was magnetic not only on the field but off, and could be perfectly charming when he wanted. Dimaggio was especially endearing if you took him to an Italian restaurant and picked up the check, Vincent said.
"I told him once, I've never seen your wallet," said Vincent, quoted in Saturday's editions of The Republican in Springfield, Conn.
Vincent's book, "We Would Have Played for Nothing," a collection of interviews with baseball stars of the 1950s-60s, has no focus on Dimaggio's frugality. But among his acquaintances Dimaggio's stinginess was almost as well-known as his record 56-game hitting streak.
Despite considerable wealth, Dimaggio set aside time regularly to sign photographs and memorabilia at $100 a pop and more.
And Dimaggio was so tight-fisted that allowed he his asthmatic, alcoholic and drug addicted son Joe Jr. to live virtually penniless on the streets for years until finally granting him a modest, $1600 a month trust fund in a will probated only three years before Joe Jr.'s death.
His second wife -- actress Marilyn Monroe -- whom Dimaggio was known to secretly date even after their divorce, died more than $100,000 in debt though he regularly ordered fresh roses for her grave at Forrest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles.
New York newspapers once carried an account of Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner neglecting to leave instructions to admit Dimaggio at a Yankee Stadium ticket booth, so Dimaggio refused to pay and stomped off.
The former Stanford standout -- 2-1 with a 1.11 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 33 innings for the independent Gary RailCats -- is trying to demonstrate versatility, durability and effectiveness by converting back to starting. Cogan led the Northern League with 25 saves coming out of the bullpen last year during the league's 98-game summer season.
Cogan must extricate himself from his Northern League obligations in order to sign a minor league contract with Double A Reading, then continue to demonstrate his worthiness under the watchful eye of pitching coach Rich Dubee.
For the week ending June 1, the Chicago area native was 2-0 with a 0.63 ERA, striking out 10 in his last 6.2 innings for the period.
Cogan was drafted in the 12th round of the 1999 draft, pitching 39 games with a 5.84 ERA as a middle reliever for the Royals in 2001. He was released and signed with the Cardinals two years later, but went down with a shoulder injury after a tough spring.
It's hard to imagine that the high-flying youngster can avoid what would seem to be an inevitable crash, but so far Laffey must be congratulated.
Among American League rookies, Laffey's 2.83 ERA is third best, as he and battery mate Kelly Shoppach's well-chosen sinkers, curveballs and changeups have induced opponents to ground into a number of seemingly easy outs. It doesn't hurt that the Indians defense has committed the fewest errors in the league to rank second with a .987 fielding percentage, while turning 91 double plays, third best.
Ironically, Laffey failed to impress during a brief introduction last year, with his relatively presentable 4.56 buying him nothing better than a ticket to Triple A Buffalo. But with injuries to Fausto Carmona and Jake Westbrook, Laffey has been able to make the most of his unexpected quick return to the majors.
While Laffey has been hit hard on the road, he has been untouchable at home, where his ERA stands at 1.39, helping him win an accolade as American League Rookie of the Month for May, as he turned in a 3-2 record with a microscopic 0.79 ERA. Over 34 innings, opponents batted .220 against him for the period.
Laffey's June mark stands at 2.87. He was 7-3 with a 3.28 ERA at Buffalo.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Though Dukes career has been marred by a string of angry confrontations, embarrassing episodes and petty run-ins with the law -- the 6-foot-1, 240 pound slugger has been a model citizen since arriving from Tampa Bay in Washington, leading some to believe that with age comes mental maturity.
After struggling to keep his batting average above .200 for most of the season, Dukes' hot streak his raised his overall mark above the .250 threshold as he tries to hit to all fields, though so far only to left and center with authority.
Even though Dukes is right handed, he is flirting with a .300 clip against righties, perhaps an indication of just how high Duke's upside might be.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
But with Crede down with recurring back trouble again, Fields is nowhere to be found this year, having been banished to Triple A Charlotte where he is hitting just .251. Worse is that even though Fields is a right-handed hitter, he has been unable to hit lefties for any better than a .245 clip, and hardly can be expected to be promoted even though he has eight homers.
Fields is only 25, with plenty of time to improve, but the season is beginning to get old and he looks more each day like the White Sox might have done well last winter to consider him a sell-high candidate.
Meanwhile, Crede once again shows why no team was willing to trade much for him last spring, even though the team claimed his back troubles were -- er -- behind him. Preliminary indications are that the latest soreness in his lower back may not be especially serious, but having undergone spinal surgery, one cannot help but wonder whether he may be a time bomb waiting to self-destruct. Statistically, he has a 33 percent chance that the surgery could eventually be considered a failure.
Look for Pablo Ozuna to pick up most of Crede's at-bats for now.
The 21-year-old Georgia native -- rated the top Cardinals prospect over the past two years -- started off slowly this season, mired in an extended slump in which his batting average was below .200 for weeks.
At one point Rasmus was reportedly even under consideration for demotion to Double A Springfield, but he suddenly has caught fire, raising his average to .251 overall by hitting .371 over his last 10 games.
With Cardinals outfielders Brian Barton, Joe Mather and Chris Duncan hitting a combined 22 for 121 during the month of June -- a .181 average -- Manager Tony LaRussa will not need much of an excuse to call upon the Rasmus.
Though Rasmus still has much to learn, he has earned high marks for his fielding and has 10 stolen bases.
Monday, June 23, 2008
But ESPN also does some silly things. Not only does it have a creepy obsession with Boston sports teams, but Peter Gammons’ trade rumors are notorious for almost always being erroneous, it once employed Keith Olbermann, and it seems to think that spelling is not only a sport, but one that warrants television coverage. And now this.
The top story on ESPN.com today questioned whether Schilling belongs in the hall of fame. Hall of Fame debates are fine, but Curt Schilling? Greg Maddux and Pedro Martinez must not be close enough to retirement. ESPN itself notes that since 1992, among righthanders, he has 83 complete games (only Greg Maddux is within less than 25). Only Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens have more strikeouts. Only Pedro has a better K/9 ratio and Schilling’s strikeout to walk ratio is better than any pitcher in the modern era. That’s some excellent evidence for the Schilling is not a hall of famer argument.
Curt Schilling was one of the most dominant pitchers of his generation. A six-time all-star, he was instrumental in three World Series championships and starred in a 4th, pitching a complete game shutout in the 1993 World Series to force a game 6. Over 3000 strikeouts are good for 14th all-time, and had he not pitched his first two and a half years in relief, he would be top ten or higher. He also did that bloody sock thing.
The only explanation is that ESPN is still bitter that their decision to let a hockey announcer broadcast the ALCS backfired. Gary Throrne’s claim that Curt Schilling’s bloody sock was fake led to this blistering criticism from Schilling: “Gary Thorne overheard something and then misreported what he overheard. Not only did he misreport it, he misinterpreted what he misreported.” Schilling has never been a fan of the media and he made it pretty obvious back then that he was not happy with ESPN, so now they post this hilarious "story."
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Yet McPherson -- switched from the outfield back to third base for Triple A Albuquerque -- was rejected again, despite his hitting another pair of home runs during the past week to lead the Pacific Coast League with 23, with an outstanding .300 batting average.
The Marlins continue to look at McPherson and other callup candidates, if for no other reason than to find players who can help reduce the team's .976 fielding percentage, worst in the majors, and number of errors, now at 65, second only to Texas.
Ironically, McPherson's primary rival is corner infielder Jorge Cantu, who has a hot bat but leads the team with 14 errors. Cantu's fielding alone would seem to be enough of a reason to give McPherson a shot, but McPherson has 11 errors for Albuquerque, though the total may be misleading as those miscues came when McPherson was learning a new position in left field.
It will be interesting to see whether McPherson's number of errors are more tolerable now that he has moved back to third base, and whether the move will raise his value. If not, indications are McPherson will continue to labor in obscurity until an injury or the September roster expansion changes his outlook.
Here's an 8-minute video clip of switch-pitcher Pat Venditte of the Staten Island Yankees making his major-league debut, and facing a switch-hitter. I believe there's something in Revelations about this ...
The New York Times reported:
As Henriquez walked to the plate, Venditte, assuming Henriquez would bat left-handed, stood behind the pitching rubber with his glove on his right hand and the ball in his left. Henriquez, looking out at Venditte, then stepped across the batter’s box, determined to hit right-handed and gain a righty-lefty advantage. Seeing this, Venditte quickly switched his custom-made glove to his left hand and put the ball in his right, hoping to gain a righty-on-righty advantage.
Henriquez stepped out and began asking the home-plate umpire, Shaylor Smith, to lay out his options, then summoned his third-base coach. With the matter unresolved, Henriquez again stepped across the batter’s box in an attempt to bat left-handed. Again, Venditte switched glove and ball. The cat-and-mouse game reached full comedic gear when Henriquez again strolled across the batter’s box to hit right-handed, and Venditte responded with the old switcheroo, setting up as a righty.
Other things Venditte can do: Bite his toenails; tie a cherry stem into a knot with his tongue; pat his head and rub his tummy ... at the same time!
He can also adjust his cup with either hand.
In one final comment on Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi's lucky golden thong, Giambi has explained to Radio Station WNJE 10.50 that he only wears it, or loans it out to Derek Jeter or other teammates, when absolutely necessary as it has never failed to break him out of a slump and he wants to assure that its magic does not wears off.
Noting that he has had the thong hanging in his locker for 12 years, Giambi said that it's a guaranteed producer of hits because "you can't think of anything else with that thing so far up your crack."
File under "More Information Than I Really Need."
With Todd Wellemeyer and Adam Wainwright the latest Cardinals pitchers to go on the disabled list, coach Dave Duncan has been asked to rush injured Mark Mulder back into action, no small task given the fact the Mulder has lost 5-6 mph off his fastball and has been repeatedly hammered in a number of minor league rehabilitation starts.
Still, the Cardinals are running out of bodies, so Mulder will be brought back -- perhaps as soon as Tuesday -- with the benefit of a special, Dave Duncan miracle plan that calls for a crew of orderlies from the Barnes Jewish Hospital Trauma Center to stand by to unload Mulder out of the back of the ambulance, place him onto a gurney and roll him out to the mound.
Because Mulder will be a pitch count of, oh, say seven, he will dispense with pregame warmup tosses in order to save his stamina to go deeper into the game. Catcher Yadier Molina will be given the responsibility of placing the ball in Mulder's hand and closing his fingers around it, then pointing him in the direction of the plate.
An extra supply of new balls will be on hand because it is expected that Mulder will quickly dirty and scuff them as most of his pitches will hit the dirt about 10 feet in front of the plate. Communication between Mulder and the dugout will be strictly limited to hand signals to the third base coaching box, as Manager Tony LaRussa's two mound visits must be used to check Mulder's pulse, replace his intravenous saline solution bottle and wipe the spittle from the front of his uniform.
At the conclusion of Mulder's appearance, the Cardinals will attempt to persuade the Triple A Memphis Redbirds to take him back, a difficult task because the Redbirds have already twice sent him back to Double A Springfield.
Friday, June 20, 2008
It has taken nearly two years, but the words of former corner infielder Shea Hillenbrand that fired Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was running "a sinking ship" at long last appear to have been prophetic.
Say what you will about Hillenbrand and his seemingly self-absorbed perspectives, the record shows that Hillenbrand hit a solid .291 with 18 homers and 82 RBI in 152 games for the Blue Jays in 2005, only to have Gibbons bench him regularly during the following year in favor of Troy Glaus and Lyle Overbay.
Whether Gibbons' decision at that time was prudent or effective is an open question, but certainly one could not expect Hillenbrand to have liked it.
The fact remains that Hillenbrand had been a pretty good ballplayer until Gibbons got inside his head, not only by benching him but questioning his devotion and loyalty to his teammates simply because Hillenbrand asked for some personal time to be with his wife Jessica when the couple was bringing home their newly adopted infant, a girl named Dakota, to their Phoenix area home during the second half of the 2006 season.
A personal day under such circumstances hardly seems unreasonable, but Hillenbrand's request was rebuffed and Hillenbrand was incensed, and rightfully so.
At that particular time it was immediately incumbent upon Gibbons as manager to smooth over the problem, not aggravate it by continuing to undermine Hillenbrand by raising questions about his supposedly misplaced family devotion. Nor should Gibbons have discouraged Hillenbrand's natural competitive instincts to play every day.
Rightly or wrongly -- mostly wrongly -- an angry and hurt Shea Hillenbrand revealed his indiscreet opinion of Gibbons and his methods by writing on the clubhouse chalkboard that "this is a sinking ship."
And a sinking ship it was, yet Gibbons chose to engage Hillenbrand in a clubhouse screaming match in which Gibbons attempted to argue that the Blue Jay were not sinking, but rather The Good Ship Lollipop.
Not only did the Blue Jays fail to as much as sniff the World Series, the team continued to underperform all last season and into this year, with the mediocrity of the team's current 35-39 record all the more ironic considering Gibbons has had the benefit of one of the deepest and potentially best rotations in the majors with Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett, Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan and Jesse Litsch; and a batting order that features Vernon Wells, Alex Rios, Scott Rolen, Aaron Hill, Lyle Overbay and Shannon Stewart.
Reporters and pundits closely familiar with the team are almost unanimous in their criticism that the Good Ship Gibbons was in disarray, unfocused and often unprepared.
Most teams' group pictures will be used in next year's baseball card editions, but the Blue Jays' image should also appear in the dictionary, under 'U' as an illustration for the word "underachievement."
More free baseball rumors
Injured Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki -- hitting just .156 before going down with a knee injury after 26 games -- finally is swinging the bat with authority, even if it is against only minor league pitching.
Tulowitzki's resurgence is unsurprising considering he was running well enough this week to steal a base for Triple A Colorado Springs, not to mention going 3-7 with a double in two rehabilitation starts for his team's Triple A Pacific Coast League affiliate at Colorado Springs.
His return to major league play is expected tonight, according to radio station KOA .850 in Denver.
Observers have reported to MLB Newsonline that Tulowitzki occasionally appears slightly tentative, as he is coming off a muscle tear that initially had been anticipated to keep him out of action until the All Star break or beyond. Tulowitzki told MLB.com he is experiencing no pain, however.
More free baseball rumors
Injured Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols' issues at this time are largely those of pain tolerance, manager Tony LaRussa has told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
He appears to be on schedule for return to action.
Eligible to come off the disabled list when the team travels to Kansas City next week, Pujols is swinging the bat and taking grounders at first base during pre-game workouts with his teammates, the newspaper said.
More free baseball rumors
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Cubs starter Sean Marshall -- poised to return to Chicago from Triple A Iowa -- erased any doubts about lingering health issues as he surrendered just one run in eight innings in the 4-1 downing of Mets Pacific Coast League affiliate New Orleans.
Marshall's performance -- in which he lasted into the eighth inning and lowered his ERA to 3.41 in two starts -- virtually assures he will replace injured ace Carlos Zambrano, who is expected to miss at least one start while on a regimen of anti-inflammatory medicines due to what the team has described as relatively mild shoulder discomfort.
The 6-foot-7, 240-pound Marshall has been up and down with the Cubs since being taken in the sixth round of the 2003 draft, and had been sidelined with injuries coming out of spring camp. He was added to the Des Moines roster only 10 days ago after clearing up lingering questions about his durability.
Marshall is expected to start Tuesday.
Barring setbacks in his performance, Horne likely will be promoted to New York before the end of the month, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Horne, 25, having fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, has been throwing a lively fastball that occasionally tops out at 97-mph, complementing it with a bonafide, major league curveball and a newly improved changeup.
If unsuccessful in a deal for Bedard or Sheets, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman will fall back on a lateral negotiation to acquire lefty Randy Wolf from the Padres, according to the source. Cashman is trying to accomplish either deal without fanfare, the source said.
In addition to Horne, an unnamed pitcher and middle infielder at Short A Staten Island are also among the components of the transaction, said the source.
Chan Ho Park will take Kuroda's turn Saturday against the Indians. The team has made no decisions regarding Kuroda's roster replacement, but the name being thrown around most by Joe Torre is Justin Orenduff, a 2004 supplemental first round pick. Orenduff is 2-2 in 13 starts with a 5.25 ERA at AAA Las Vegas.
The Dodgers won't need a fifth starter until June 28th so Orenduff would likely be used in a relief role. This also explains why Orenduff is being considered over top pitching prospect James McDonald, who yesterday pitched seven shutout innings for AA Jacksonville. If Kuroda's injury becomes more long term, McDonald might get a call-up because Torre has been reluctant to disrupt the bullpen by starting Park on more than a spot start basis.
Sure thing, Billy. There's people in Hell that want ice water, too.
With the Brewers playoff berth still within reach, one can hardly expect Melvin to deal away a right-handed role player who is hitting better than .360 against lefties, though Hall's overall effort at the plate has been sorely lacking.
Expect Melvin and manager Ned Yost to continue to hold Hall in reserve while riding out the hot streak of Hall's replacement, Russell Branyan, currently hitting home runs at a rate of nearly one per seven at-bats for a total of nine since being called up last month.
Mariners starter Eric Bedard and Brewers starter Ben Sheets are also on General Manager Brian Cashman's radar screen, again with the young shortstop included in the offer, the source said, requesting anonymity.
The unnamed pitcher will be brought up to be showcased within coming weeks, it was reported.
In the routine, after stretching and limbering exercises Zambrano has a catcher, trainer or fellow pitcher repeatedly slam his fists on Zambrano's shoulders as though he were an NFL linebacker being fitted for his shoulder pads.
Nice. The only problem is, Zambrano, of course, is not wearing shoulder pads.
Zambrano underwent an MRI exam Thursday, and will have another on Friday. Indications are Zambrano likely will miss a start as a replacement was to be called up from Triple A Iowa.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
At 8-3 with a 3.72 ERA against offensive-minded Pacific Coast League hitters, de la Cruz, 24, appears to have mastered his near 100-mph fastball as he allowed only one run in his last six innings, striking out nine for a microscopic 1.06 ERA in 18 frames. Had the Marlins known his most recent hot streak was coming, de la Cruz might already have been called up ahead of Tucker.
Tucker meanwhile is a promising but weaker link in the Marlins rotation, starting out of the gate slowly with a more than 5.00 ERA in his first two appearances, though he has confused a small sample of lefty hitters with his anomalous delivery that may one day convince the team he could be converted to a closer.
As soon as the Tucker experiment is completed in its present manifestation, look for de la Cruz to make a splash.
Yet McPherson's chances for promotion appear blocked, with no spot for him on the major league roster, even after he was moved from third base to the outfield.
Though the 6-foot-4, 240-pound left-handed hitter's more than .300 batting average and prodigious power are at least mildly inflated in the western desert air, McPherson clearly could have been starting for any number of major league teams by now if only he had not been seriously sidelined by various injuries in recent years, most notably spinal trouble.
McPherson has two homers in his last five home games, the last one flying well over the flagpoles past the 410-foot marker in center field, and the previous one landing on top of a grass embankment well beyond the right field fence.
Wise arrived in Chicago this morning even before Konerko was evaluated, as trainers already had feared the worst, WSEC Radio said.
Wise, hitting at a better than .300 clip with nine homers for Triple A Charlotte, will likely be used sparingly at first but if he proves worthy should get plenty of opportunities as Konerko's injured oblique muscle is sure to keep him down for a good month or more.
Nick Swisher will move to first base with Wise being mixed and matched with other hitters as circumstances dictate.
Wise reportedly runs well but is not the type of burner who steals a lot of bags, yet his athleticism punched his ticket to Chicago ahead of third baseman Josh Fields who presumably might have been able to cross the diamond to first base but has done nothing special at the plate this year.
Former Pittsburgh prospect Brad Eldred, like Konerko a lumbering first baseman, has been left to languish in the minors as well.
Randolph had been widely criticized this year following New York's monumental collapse last season. Inconsistency has plagued the Mets and Randolph only made the situation worse, fanning the flames of controversy by insinuating that criticism by the New York media was racially motivated.
The Mets were preseason favorites in the NL east, but currently sit 6.5 games out of first place. Jerry Manuel will manage the team on an interim basis.
ESPN commentator Peter Gammons is already touting Harden as the most dominant pitcher in the AL right now.
While Beane is sure to demand a king's ransom in line with the Dan Haren and Mark Mulder deals, the abundance of injured and underperforming starters around the majors makes for many intriguing trade partners. While teams will no doubt be reluctant to part with the type of high-end prospects it would take to pry Harden from the A's, the winds of desperation are beginning to swirl for several teams struggling to stay in contention.
Omar Minaya's desperation could lead him to try to add another legitimate top of the rotation arm. The Yankees, faced with the emergence of the Rays and the recent freak injury to Chien-Ming Wang, might be willing to take a gamble on Harden's overpowering fastball, even with the injury concerns. The Tigers are a major disappointment to this point. With the loss of Jeremy Bonderman and the disaster that is Dontrelle Willis, General Manager Dave Dombrowski has to be feeling the pressure. Depending on the results of Brad Penny's MRI, the Dodgers could also be in the market for a quality starter.
All trade talks involving Harden are tempered by the fact that Oakland currently sits only 3.5 games behind the first place Angels. If Oakland can hang close to the Angels, Beane could very well decide to stand pat and make a run at the division. However, should the A's falter, look for a heating up of talks to deal Harden, starter Joe Blanton, shortstop Bobby Crosby, and second baseman Mark Ellis.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Because of the difference in function between the two types of rib muscles, an oblique strain might have pointed to a need for several weeks of rest, whereas the intercostal muscle injury could mean as little as a few days, according to medical experts.
Still, it will be up to Konerko to tell when and if he can return to play, his decision based on how much pain he must endure. Disabled status remains a possibility.
Konerko sustained the injury in the batting cage during pregame practice Sunday, and is listed as day-to-day. He is to be re-evaluated Tuesday. Konerko sustained another, entirely different muscle strain in his back about two years ago, and missed only two games.
Konerko is commonly regarded by insiders to be psychologically indisposed to miss time for any reason.
Gwynn's .310 average leads the Triple A Nashville Sounds among players with 75 or more at-bats, staging Gwynn's rendezvous with a major front office decision on whether the Brewers should promote or trade him.
Ordinarily, trading Gwynn might be considered unthinkable. But the possibility becomes closer to reality as Melvin must determine whether the team has a realistic shot at competing for a wild card berth this year, thus creating a need to deal Gwynn or other young players to acquire pitching for the playoff run.
Further complicating the issue is that Gwynn is blocked in Milwaukee by left fielder Ryan Braun, center fielder Mike Cameron and right fielder Corey Hart. If Gwynn continues to be held as a deep reserve, the team risks losing him altogether as he will soon be out of options and must be exposed to other teams should he be called up then sent down again next season.
Cabrera and his $9 million contract has become expendable on Chicago's South Side in part because General Manager Ken Williams and Manager Ozzie Guillen have quietly concurred that rising young second baseman Alexei Ramirez will be capable of taking over Cabrera's position next year, according to an MLB rumor quoted by Boston Globe columnist Nick Cafardo.
The White Sox also have first round pick Gordon Beckham under contract. A second baseman who can hit with power, Beckham is expected to advance quickly through the minor leagues and he and Ramirez could soon become the team's newest double-play cornerstones, Cafardo said.
Some of Bavasi's questionable moves during his tenure:
- Signing Richie Sexson for four years $50 million
- Trading top prospect Adam Jones, George Sherrill (now Baltimore's closer), and three pitching prospects for Erik Bedard
- Signing Carlos Silva for 4 years $48 million. Silva is 3-7 with a 5.79 ERA
The Mariners are going nowhere this year and probably nowhere next year or the year after, but this firing could set the stage for an Erik Bedard trade.
The new GM will have no attachment to Bedard and it would make sense to trade the team's most valuable commodity. The Yankees might be interested, now that Chien-Ming Wang is out for six weeks. The Cubs and Blue Jays have also shown interest in the past.
Only so much credence can be assigned to such MLB rumors, of course, but the Major League Baseball Information Highway being what it is, these and various other manifestations of gossip, hearsay and canard are unfortunately the sole conduit for information about potential injuries in the early going.
If true, this MLB rumor potentially portends of serious trouble for Konerko, who in all probability would be assigned to the disabled list for a minimum two weeks -- more likely four or more -- if the rib muscle he supposedly strained turns out to be significantly torn as would be the case in the instance of an audible popping noise.
In any event, an added incentive to sideline him would be the fact that Konerko has been dealing with an injured right thumb for six weeks, and both injuries might heal faster with rest.
However, no number of radiographs, CAT scans, sonograms or magnetic resonance images at this time will tell anyone anything any more about his rib muscles than will Konerko himself after his having the advantage of 48 hours rest, at the conclusion of which he will simply inform team physician Dr. Chuck Bushjoseph just exactly how he feels.
In other words whether he returns to play or not is this simple: If Konerko can swing the bat without pain or discomfort, he will be back; and if he can't, he will simply be forced to sit out for however many days are required, no more; no less.
Until then, only God knows the outcome.
Anderson will be given extra playing time as outfielder Nick Swisher moves to first base until Konerko returns.
Though Konerko is listed as day-to-day for now, Manager Ozzie Guillen said during his post-game media conference Sunday that he is "not too optimistic" that Konerko can keep from missing several days, perhaps much more. Guillen was doubtful whether team's idle day on Monday would be enough to make a difference.
"Hopefully, with the day off it will be better," Guillen was quoted as saying in Monday's editions of the Chicago Sun-Times. "...You hope for the best."
Konerko felt a sharp pain near his ribs while swinging a bat before Sunday's game, with preliminary indications that it might be an oblique tear or strain. Konerko has been playing poorly all year, with his batting average mired at .215.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Having played five innings in his first rehab start at Visalia Wednesday, and six Thursday, the young star was granted permission to leave the team and rest Friday night after starting the game at designated hitter, batting once and then departing with his acquaintances.
Tulowitzki has been moving with relative fluidity, though he occassionally appears to be slightly favoring his injured knee, which is normal.
"Other than that, he looks pretty good," said Greg Young, play-by-play broadcaster for KESP Radio in Modesto.
Barring setbacks, Tulowitzki is to make his last appearance with the Nuts tonight, then travel to Triple A Colorado Springs for another week of rehab starts.
The 22-year-old former Long Beach State standout -- second runner up in last year's Rookie of the Year balloting -- signed a six-year, $31-million contract extension last year and is expected to be eased back into the Rockies lineup as soon as possible, perhaps by June 20.
The re-emergence of the 28-year-old Gerut -- named top rookie by the Sporting News after hitting .279 with 22 homers and 75 RBI in 127 games with the Indians in 2003 -- continues to draw attention to seeming inadequacies in the Indians coaching and scouting staff, which willingly let Gerut get away three years ago.
Gerut's separation from the Tribe is slightly complicated, having been excellerated by his torn anterior cruciate ligament in 2004, and his struggles to recover while playing for Triple A Buffalo.
And yet the fact remains that while Gerut was on the comeback trail he was traded for Cubs outfielder Jason Dubois, the Indians having failed to recognize not only Gerut's remaining potential but his strength of character, tenacity and determination to revive his career.
Ironically, after acquiring Dubois for Gerut the Indians also failed to develop Dubois, who like Gerut had been regarded as a potential star.
If it had been only Gerut whom the Tribe let get away, or just Dubois, that would be one thing. But rightly or wrongly a peculiar pattern can be discerned when one considers that no sooner than the team had acquired top prospect Andy Marte last year -- for instance -- coaches began tinkering with his swing to the point that he hasn't been the same either, though he remains with the team.
Add the cases of Gerut, Dubois and Marte to the Indians handling of second baseman Brandon Phillips, now a star in Cincinnati, and second baseman Josh Barfield, who has spent most of this season in Buffalo, and one cannot help but wonder.
Not only has Barfield failed to succeed under Indians tutelge, but the player traded to acquire him -- third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff -- has done quite well for himself in San Diego, the Indians having nothing to show from that deal either.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Martinez underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove chips from his throwing elbow only 24 hours earlier at the Cleveland Clinic, where Dr. Mark Schickendantz pronounced the procedure successful.
Martinez is expected to be out for up to two months, then undergo an evaluation as to whether he can resume play behind the plate on a limited basis, finish the year mostly at first base, at designated hitter or merely come off the bench.
The possibility -- however remote -- that he would sit out for the remainder of the year has not been ruled out. The performance of catcher Kelly Shoppach -- widely recognized as an outstanding all-around replacement potentially coming into his prime at 28 -- likely will figure prominently in evaluating the best course for the team when Martinez finishes his rehabilitation program.
Fans had been suspicious for weeks after Martinez -- who normally can be counted on for 20-30 homers a year -- had failed to hit a single ball over the fence in more than 200 plate appearances since spring.
Martinez also prompted MLB rumors by sitting out immediately at the end of spring with what he described as a "sore hamstring," even though hamstring injuries are very rare for catchers because catchers stretch in a squatting position for extended periods.
Few have speculated whether the hamstring issue was a cover story to hide the fact that Martinez was having trouble with his throwing arm, a possibility that would tip off opposing base runners that they could steal with impunity. Martinez already had been cited among the weakest throwing catchers even before his elbow trouble was confirmed by a magnetic resonance image.
Though apparently uncomfortable when the season began, Martinez managed to hit enough singles to maintain a .350 average over the next 30 days, yet refused to complain for another two weeks. Finally mounting pain while swinging the bat became more conspicuous as he hit .221 in May and .200 in since June 1, prompting the MRI exam.
After giving up 7 runs in 3 2/3 innings in today's loss, Penny will fly to Los Angeles tomorrow to have an MRI on his right shoulder. It is hard to say whether Penny is actually hurt or if this is just an excuse for his 5.88 ERA, but the latter is more likely.
But six or seven packs a day? No, says the 67-year-old Tigers manager, not even close.
"It's only about a pack and a half, and I don't smoke all of those (completely), so it's only about a pack," Leyland said in an interview with WSER Radio .670 during a recent stopover in Chicago.
Leyland, whose team has been playing well lately, said the Tigers problems -- though mysterious to many -- are common in baseball and have more to do with blocks of personnel going through momentary sluggishness simultaneously than fundamental shortcomings of the whole. It's part of a normal process to rotate individuals -- either through attrition, need for development or injuries -- throughout the year to react to productivity declines, Leyland said.
"It's all just part of the process," Leyland said.
Having just demoted reliever Clay Rapada to Triple-A Toledo, Leyland must now find room for relievers Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney, who will considerably brighten the team's outlook as they come back from injuries. Reliever Freddy Dolsi likely will be ticketed to Toledo to make room for the two budding bullpen stars, one of whom will sooner or later replace veteran closer Todd Jones.
Varitek, 36, continues to travel with team and act as captain, and is listed as day-to-day. Likely as not, Varitek will resume play within the next few days if not immediately.
Now with the Rays having flirted with first place and the Yankees having flirted with last, could the two teams' potential reversal of fortunes result in the deal being turned upside down?
It is far to early to write off the Yankees as contenders for a playoff berth, but given numerous problems with the starting rotation it is conceivable that the team might reach a point at which Managing Partner George Steinbrenner or his son Hank Steinbrenner may decide that the Yankees best long term outlook would be to position the team to win next year, when contending will be far more critical with the opening of the new Yankee Stadium.
Either way, the Yankees are in need of a youth movement and the Rays are in need of experience, so don't be surprised if circumstances intensify the need to consumate the long considered, on-again, off-again deal for Crawford, with someone like 35-year-old star outfielder Hideki Matsui -- according to knowledgeable sources -- in the bait.
2007: .288 AVG 50 HR 119 RBI
2008: .278 AVG and on pace for 27 HR 83 RBI
2007: .320 AVG 34 HR 119 RBI
2008: .276 AVG and on pace for 22 HR 95 RBI
What happened to these guys? The answer is simple: Fielder became a wimp and Cabrera turned into a blimp.
Before the season, Fielder announced that he had gone vegetarian after reading a book given to him by his wife, Chanel (wtf). "After reading that, [meat] just didn't sound good to me anymore," Fielder said. "It grossed me out a little bit." What a pansy. This is a guy who starred in a McDonalds commercial as a kid and now he's screwing up the circle of life by abstaining from meat.
A comparison of his home runs per at-bat in 2007 and 2008:
pre-hippy: 1 HR per 11.46 at-bats
as a hippy: 1 HR per 21.54 at-bats.
A significant decline. Perhaps this will spur some "must eat like a man" clauses in free agent contracts this winter.
On the other end of the spectrum sits Cabrera, who clearly eats anything put in front of him. His weight and fitness problems have been well documented in the past, but they just keep getting worse.
Cabrera came up as an outfielder, but the Marlins moved him to third base because of mobility problems. Several weeks into this season, the Tigers moved him to first base for the same reason. Now, there is talk of moving him to DH. The next step is presumably to ask for a courtesy runner every time he gets on base.
The solution is clear. Fielder needs to substitute some steaks for the tofu and Cabrera needs to mix in a few salads and some running in between games, or just stop eating altogether.