Tuesday, September 30, 2008

One and Dunn

As of the end of the 2008 regular season, there are exactly two hitters in the history of Major League Baseball who hit 40 home runs and drew 100 walks in five consecutive seasons.

Barry Bonds is one.

Adam Dunn is the other.

That the Reds decided it was Dunn who was the problem with the team tells you all you need to know about the intelligence of the people running that team.

Of course, this is the same team that gives 300 at-bats to Corey Patterson and thinks Brandon Phillips is a cleanup hitter.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dodger Impostor

Headline spotted on Yahoo News:

Man accused of posing as Los Angeles Dodger on field

My first thought:

Andruw Jones?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

CC Sabathia Stops Agent from Cautioning Brewers

Brewers ace CC Sabathia -- awaiting his third successive start on three days rest next Sunday -- has told his agent to stop complaining to his team's front office about his arm being overused or injured, according to baseball commentator Peter Gammons in an interview on radio station 1050 am in New York.

"Don't call them anymore," Gammons quoted Sabathia as telling his representatives at Legend Sports Group. "I want to win."

And win he has, striking out 11 in seven innings in a 4-2 victory over the Pirates, bringing the Brewers into a tie with the Mets for a wild card berth with just four games left to play.

The Brewers will start Sabathia on three days rest again on Sunday to avoid having to pitch other struggling starters.

Sabathia's most recent outing was his second in a week, a pace that has prompted concern among his representatives that he may injure his arm and undermine his attempt to enter the free agent market to gain an unprecedented, six-year contract exceeding $15 million a year.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Carlos Zambrano Plays the Dead Grandmother Card

Not to be overly discouraged by Carlos Zambrano's last outing -- when he was knocked out in the second inning after giving up eight runs on six hits -- the Cubs have trotted out the old high school excuse that his grandmother died.

Yes, and the dog ate his homework.

Without intending to trivialize the genuine sadness of Zambrano's loss of a loved one, other reasons than a death in the family must be considered in order to get the full picture of
Zambrano's potential for leading the Cubs to the World Series.

True, Zambrano returned from the funeral in his native Venezuela suffering from lack of rest, a skewed biological clock and weakness in his lower extremities. That's certainly plausible.

And though he pitched a no-hitter in his previous outing, the fact remains that the 27-year-old, six-five, 250-pound fireballer has been been putting a great deal of stress on his multi-million-dollar right arm, and thus has been given anti-inflammatory medicines to ease discomfort in his shoulder. The medication suggests he has torn muscle fibers that potentially may continue to diminish his strength and durability between now and the end of this long, long season.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella subsequently has added two more starters to his rotation, the idea being to rest his regular starters in preparation for the post-season. Prudent? Yes. A red flag? Maybe.

One of the more telling statistics about Zambrano is his 7.43 ERA in August, after which the team noticed Zambrano throwing abnormally because of stress and fatigue. Though Zambrano continues to hold the league to less than a .250 batting average, with a 14-6 record and a 3.77 overall ERA, he has been giving up nearly a hit an inning in addition to a walk every other inning.
Averaging six inning per start in his 29 appearances, his overall performance must be considered superior, the question remains as to just exactly how much he has left between now and the end of October.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Will Athletics Trade Bobby Crosby? Fat Chance!

It's hard to believe that Atheltics shortstop Bobby Crosby not so long ago was one of his team's top weapons, so highly regarded that he actually hit regularly in the No. 3 hole despite his mediocre batting average and lack of consistent power.

And now fans are expected to believe that Crosby will be dealt in the off-season to make way for untested 2005 first round pick Cliff Pennington? Why? In the first place, no one wants Crosby, and in the second place, Pennington is even worse, with "bust" written all over him.

But even if Pennington should find himself over the winter -- a very big if -- who would want Crosby, who at 28 has been unable to stay healthy for even a single season since his rookie campaign. His series of injuries even include a broken back.

Just how bad is he? Consider that Dodgers scouts studied Crosby when star shortstop Rafael Furcal went down to an injury in the midst of this year's critical pennant race, and passed in favor of Royals minor league veteran Angel Berroa, the one-time top rookie who hit just .234 in his last major league season two years ago.

Yes, expect Bobby Crosby to hang around for the last year of his contract with the Athletics next season, not because he deserves to, but because there is no one to take his place, and worse, no one wants him.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Really Embarrassing to be Mario Salas

Juan Pierre hit his first home run in 1070 at-bats off Pirates mess Mario Salas.  I don't know what is more embarrassing, surrendering a Pierre home run or having Salas' 8.47 ERA.  I'd probably take the 8.47 ERA.

Juan Pierre Impostor

A casual fan watching tonight's Dodgers/Pirates game may have assumed that Juan Pierre was in left field for the Pirates in the second inning.  The Dodgers Nomar Garciaparra hit a ground ball past third, which was cut off quickly by the Pirates left fielder.  At this point the camera was on Nomar making a hard turn for second base, no doubt causing millions of Dodger fans to assume that Matt Kemp was coaching first base.  

But despite Nomar having just barely rounded first, a gaunt man in left field casually turned to make a throw to third base. Confused?  I was.  Until i saw his Juan Pierre-like throwing motion and the ensuing 17 bounce throw wide of third base.

The impostor is named Nyjer Morgan.  Like Pierre, he throws left handed but looks like he should throw right handed, he looks like he hasn't eaten in weeks, and he can't hit the cutoff man on the fly from left field.  His first name is also questionable.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Angels Closer Francisco Rodriguez Overrated?

Even as Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez helped his team cinch a division title with his 56th save -- one shy of Bobby Thigpen's 1990 record -- the soon-to-be free agent's anticipated price tag has come under fire -- considering his six blown saves and various other shortcomings.

"Would you want to pay $15 million a year for a guy who doesn't pitch before the ninth inning (and) who has made the majority of his appearances with a lead of at least two runs in the ninth inning -- a comfort zone (in which) even average relievers will convert more than 90 percent?" asks Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci.

Verducci sees closers such as K-Rod as being not altogether exceptional, and certainly more commonplace than one might expect.

"Not once in his 68 appearances this year has he obtained more than three outs. He never has pitched with his team trailing, and only five times has he pitched with the game tied, and only seven times did he enter with a runner on," Verducci noted.

Brad Penny - GIANT Mess

Dodgers porker Brad Penny, the guy who wears Hurley gear during post-game interviews (when he was good enough to warrant an interview) despite being from the number one hick state in the union (Oklahoma), made his much anticipated (by the Padres) return to the mound tonight.  

The at least 260 pound Penny met and surpassed all expectations.  He walked his first batter then gave up two singles, and was disqualified by Joe Torre before he could record an out.

The final batter to single off Penny, whose name matters not, is a September call-up despite hitting .215 in AAA.  Vin Scully found this curious and amusing.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


"Batting 6th, center fielder, Andruw Jones" - Dodgers lineup card.

Christ on a crutch.  It was one thing in July when Joe Torre continuously allowed this guy to violate the batters box.  Voluntary ignorance, you may call it.  But there are now two weeks left in the season and the Dodgers have a slim lead for first place.  Allowing Andruw Jones - or any .160 hitting position player - anywhere near the field is nothing short of aggressive ignorance, flagrant violations of common sense, and incompetence not seen since the signing of Andruw Jones.   

Jones struck out in the second inning.

This Makes Sense

I stopped counting after Joe Torre left Nomar Garciaparra out of the lineup for six straight games.  I think the streak got up to about nine or so, but Nomar was back in the lineup tonight against the Padres.  

Nomar's absence from the lineup was warranted - he's hitting .232, and .222 since the all-star break.  But he is an acceptable one night substitute for James Loney, who has the night off. What is curious, however, is that Torre thought it rational to put a guy who was not good enough to hit 8th yesterday into the cleanup spot tonight.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Dave Duncan Tries Four-Man Rotation for Cardinals

Ever the iconoclast, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has signed off on pitching coach Dave Duncan's use of a four-man, starting rotation as the season winds down.

Though a rising undertone throughout professional baseball has questioned the effectiveness of the five-man rotation, La Russa gave no indication that his innovation was anything other than a temporary measure to take advantage of schedule anomalies benefiting the team's best four starters: Adam Wainwright, Todd Wellemeyer, Braden Looper and Kyle Lohse.

But with La Russa having already instituted the revolutionary use of pitchers hitting in the No. 8 spot in the batting order, he might be as likely as any to try new ideas. It is the second time in three weeks that Duncan has trotted out the four-man schedule.

No. 5 starter Joel Piniero is the odd man out, with just one start in a month's time.

Speculation recently surfaced that Rangers President Nolan Ryan -- upon giving systemwide orders that all his pitchers attempt to pitch at least one inning deeper into games -- might be staging a return to the four-man scheme in use when Ryan and other starters commonly pitched 250-300 innings a season rather than the 200-inning limit targeted for today's hurlers.

The 200-inning target was adopted to prevent arm troubles, but some observers have complained that the switch has resulted in more injuries, rather than fewer.

Duncan has been widely credited with engineering the successful comebacks by Lohse and Piniero, the return of Chris Carpenter from the disabled list, plus the conversion from relievers to starters by Wainwright, Wellemeyer and Looper. The team has opened contract negotiations to assure that Duncan returns next year.

Duncan has been with La Russa for 25 years.

Randy Johnson Must Wait Until 2009 to Reach 300

The decision to rest Diamondbacks hurler Randy Johnson virtually prevents him for reaching 300 regular season, career wins before next year, though he still has a shot at 30 starts this season.

Having given up five runs on four homers and six hits to the Cardinals before being knocked out in the fourth inning in his last outing, Johnson continued to feel worrisome shoulder discomfort when he threw on the side in Los Angeles Saturday morning.

Due to fatigue, he had been experiencing soreness for a week, a condition conspicuous to observers when they watched Johnson throw.

Because the team has elected to rest the 6-foot-10 lefty for one or two starts -- targeting him to pitch just four more games before the end of the season -- Johnson cannot be expected to return any sooner than when the Diamondbacks play the Reds next weekend. Therefore, he cannot possibly reach more than 298 regular season, career wins this season, and likely will have fewer.

Johnson -- who will observe his 45th birthday this week -- has 294 career victories.

Rookie Max Scherzer will take Johnson's spot in the rotation for now.

The good news is that the future Hall-of-Famer has been successfully recovering from far more serious trauma to his back and knee, chalking up 10 wins against nine losses with a 4.21 ERA so far this year, well exceeding the outlook many gave him last spring.

Side Session Indicates Randy Johnson's Soreness

Diamondbacks hurler Randy Johnson -- having given up five runs on four homers and six hits to the Cardinals before being knocked out in the fourth inning in his last outing -- continued to feel worrisome shoulder discomfort when he threw on the side in Los Angeles Saturday morning.

He had been experiencing pain for a week. Observers said Johnson's uneasiness was obvious when he threw.

Attributing the pain to fatigue, the team has elected to rest the 6-foot-10 lefty for one or two starts before targeting him to pitch four more games before the end of the season. Therefore, Johnson cannot be expected to return any sooner than when the Diamondbacks play the Reds next weekend.

Rookie Max Scherzer will take Johnson's spot in the rotation for now.

The good news is that the 44-year-old future Hall-of-Famer has been successfully recovering from far more serious trauma to his back and knee, chalking up 10 wins against nine losses with a 4.21 ERA so far this year.

He still has a shot at 30 starts by season's end, easily surpassing the outlook many gave him last spring, but now must wait until 2008 before before being able to reach the 300-win plateau. He has 294.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Things Maybe Coming Together for Dodgers?

The Dodgers aggressive attempt to throw away the season suffered a big blow tonight, as the Dodgers came from behind to win their 5th straight, defeating the Padres.

It appears that it is now the Diamondbacks turn to give self-sabotage a go, having won just 3 of their last 10 and allowing the Dodgers to creep within 1 1/2 games of first place.  We may know this weekend the success of those efforts.  

Although the two teams face each other this weekend in a crucial 3 game series - and the D'Backs are throwing Dan Haren, Brandon Webb, and Randy Johnson - the Dodgers appear to have a mildly easier schedule.   They'll face the Padres 6 times, Giants 6 times, Pirates 4 times, and the Rockies 3 times.  The D'Backs draw the Giants 7 times, Rockies 6 times, and the Reds 3 times, but must go to St. Louis for a crucial 4 game series.

The Dodgers no doubt feel blessed to have drawn the hapless Padres 9 times in the final month, but after their performance in Washington last week, a 4-5 record would surprise nobody.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Angel Berroa Hits Home Run, Wade LeBlanc Shoots Self

Dodgers shortstop Angel Berroa hit his first home run since 2006 tonight, raising his batting average to .238 and causing embarrassment to Padres mess Wade LeBlanc.