Monday, March 30, 2009

Brett Gardner named Yankees starting CF

Bill Madden of the NY Daily News might have wrote about New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter eventually making the transition from shortstop to centerfield to make way for prospect Ramiro Pena. However, 2009 starting centerfielder was named yesterday.

The New York Yankees named Brett Gardner as their starting centerfielder. He beat out Melky Cabrera, who will remain on the regular-season roster in a reserve role.

"Right now I think Gardie has a little bit of the edge," Girardi said after the Yankees beat the Pirates 9-8. "He brings a little more speed to the lineup."

He was hitting .385 this spring with five stolen bases in 22 games. Last year, he was 13 of 14 on his stolen base attempts.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Derek Jeter to move to centerfield?

The New York Yankees are moving Derek Jeter from second to leadoff in the batting order. Per Bill Madden of the Daily News, Jeter may be making another move in the relatively near future.

Jeter, who has decreased range at shortstop, may be moved to centerfield at some point due to the emergence of 23-year-old prospect Ramiro Pena, who's likely to play 3B until A-Rod returns.
"Best looking young shortstop I've seen in a couple of years," said one National League scout.

"When I first saw him three years ago, you could knock the bat out of his hands," said one veteran scout whose primary assignment is in the minor leagues. "But he was a magician with the glove and that made him someone to keep an eye on. Now that he's gained a little weight, put on a little muscle, he's no longer an ‘out.' He can handle the bat. I always felt his glove would get him to the big leagues, but now I can see him as an everyday shortstop."
Madden argues that Pena will likely spend some time in the big leagues and minors in 2009, but could become the everyday shortstop in 2010. At which point, Jeter would move to CF.

Cubs go with Gregg over Marmol

Per Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Cubs have named Kevin Gregg as their closer over Carlos Marmol.

During the past two seasons, Gregg was the Marlins closer. He saved 32 games in 2007 and 29 games in 2008. Last year, Gregg also blew nine save opportunities.

As the set-up man to Kerry Wood last season, Marmol saved seven games and was credited with 30 holds.

Marmol is likely the team's closer of the future, but will remain the set-up man for now.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Justin Duchscherer to have elbow surgery

The Oakland A's Justin Duchscherer will have exploratory surgery on his right elbow and start the 2009 season on the disabled list. Duchscherer ended last year on the DL after having hip surgery.

This will be his fifth stint on the DL in the past four years.

Duchscherer, who is in the last year of his contract, may return to the A's bullpen when he's healthy again. But he has no interest in returning to the bullpen.

In 2008, Duchscherer was 10-8 in 22 starts with an ERA of 2.54 and a WHIP of 1.00.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

David Price sent to minors

The Tampa Bay Rays did it last year with Evan Longoria. Although he was playing well in spring training, Longoria started the season in the minors.

Now, the franchise is sending David Price, the number one overall draft pick in 2007, down to the minors.

The main argument for the move is monitor his workload.
"We have obviously spent a lot of time talking about this,” Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “When we came into camp, we came in with an open mind, knowing full well that there were certain developmental issues that we wanted him to focus on and also the workload. And just the increase and how we’re going to monitor that."
During the spring, Price has pitched 8 1/3 innings with an ERA of 1.08 and has struck out 10 batters.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Curt Schilling is officially retired

As posted on his blog, Curt Schilling is "calling it quits."
"The game always gave me far more than I ever gave it. All of those things, every single one of those memories is enveloped with fan sights and sounds for me. Without the fans they would still be great memories, but none would be enduring and unforgettable because they infused the energy, rage, passion and ‘feel’ of all of those times. The game was here long before I was, and will be here long after I am gone. The only thing I hope I did was never put in question my love for the game, or my passion to be counted on when it mattered most. I did everything I could to win every time I was handed the ball."

"I am and always will be more grateful than any of you could ever possibly know."
Despite being a Yankees fan, what I respected most about Schilling was his passion for the game and his appreciation of its history. Unlike many younger players in baseball (and other sports), they don't have an appreciation for what those before them have done. (But, of course, I still think Schilling is a loud-mouth.)

Schilling retires with a career record of 216-146, 3116 strikeouts (14th all-time) and an ERA of 3.46. Schilling was a part of three World Championship teams (2001 D'Backs as well as the 2004 and 2007 Red Sox).

Let the Hall of Fame debate begin...

BJ Upton to miss first week of season?

Tampa Bay Rays CF B.J. Upton, who was recovering from off-season shoulder surgery, was hit by a pitch on his left hand on Saturday. While the X-rays were negative, Upton has a bruised bone and swelling near his pinkie finger.

Upton is expected to miss the first week of the season when the Rays head north to face division rivals Boston and Baltimore.

The Rays will use Gabe Kapler, Gabe Gross, Ben Zobrist and Justin Ruggiano in center and right field depending on whether the opposing pitcher is right- or left-handed.
"I like the fact we are that versatile," [Rays manager Joe] Maddon said. "We're versatile, but we don't make ourselves weaker."
In 2007, Upton hit 24 HRs in the regular season. But he only hit 9 HRs during the regular season in 2008.

With the post-season power surge that Upton had (7 HRs and 16 RBIs in 16 games), I expect him to have a huge season.

Maddon is doing the right thing by not rushing Upton back and jeopardize having him healthy later in the season.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Gavin Floyd gets 4-year, $15.5 million deal

The Chicago White Sox have signed Gavin Floyd to a four-year contract worth $15.5 million.

Floyd, who signed a one-year deal on Feb. 25th for $520,000, is now under contract until 2012. The White Sox have an option for 2013.

In 2008, Floyd was 17-8 with a 3.84 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. Floyd, who was the fourth player selected in the 2001 draft, struck out 145 batters last year.

A-Rod and Spitzer have Manhattan Madam in common

Question: What do disgraced former N.Y. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and Alex "A-Rod" Rodriquez share in common?

Answer: Manhattan Madam Kristin Davis.

According to Davis, she dated A-Rod, who was also a client of her high-scale prostitution ring.

"Throughout the years, there were a number of clients that I befriended and it was not uncommon for them to want the women they can't have whether it be the phone bookers or the madam," Davis said.

"In regard to Alex, all I can say is our paths have definitely crossed personally and professionally."

Davis received five years probation and served three months in jail after copping a plea.

For A-Rod, the penalties in the court of public opinion are going to be steep. If he thought that his steroid-usage admission lifted a huge burden off his back, those care-free days were short-lived.

Corey Koskie officially calls it quits

Corey Koskie, who was out of baseball in 2007 and 2008, has decided to end his comeback attempt and call it quits.

Koskie, who was playing for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic, suffered dizziness after diving for a groundball.

After the 2006 season, he left baseball due to concussions. While he doesn't believe he suffered a concussion from the recent play, he started to question whether it was worth it.
"After that play I kind of thought, 'What am I doing out here?' " Koskie said. "Whether I got the wind knocked out of me or what, I did feel a little funky after it. I don't think it was a concussive event, but I did feel a little funny."
For his career, Koskie hit .275, 124 homeruns, drove in 506 runs and stole 71 bases. He had a career year in 2001 when he had a line of: BA of .276, 100 runs, 26 HRs, 103 RBI and 27 SBs.

Hamels' bullpen session goes smoothly

Philadelphia Phillies ace Cole Hamels threw a bullpen session yesterday without any problems. It was his first session since he received an anti-inflammatory injection on Tuesday.
"That was the point we were trying to make, taking five minutes off and seeing how it feels when I come back and throw a second time," Hamels said. "I went from the windup and felt good. That's the huge thing, to be able to feel comfortable that you're healthy and nothing is going to nag at every pitch."
The next step for Hamels, who threw a total of 41 pitches yesterday, is to throw 50 pitches in a minor-league game on Tuesday.

It's still unknown if he'll be ready to start for the Phillies on opening night (April 5th).

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Washington says Kinsler would have won MVP if...

Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington says that if Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler didn't miss the final six weeks due to injury, Kinsler would have won the A.L. MVP. The award was won by Dustin Pedroia, the Red Sox second baseman.

"There would have been no contest if Kins doesn't get hurt," Washington said. "No doubt about it. He would've put some numbers up that nobody would have caught him. He would've continued to score runs. He would've continued to hit doubles. He would've gotten some more home runs. He would've continued to add to his stolen base total without getting caught."

In 121 games, Kinsler posted a .319 batting average, scored 102 runs, hit 41 doubles and 18 homeruns, drove in 71 RBIs and stole 26 bases. Not only did he steal 26 bases, but he was only thrown out twice.

Pedroia played 157 games. In less games, Kinsler stole more bases and hit more homeruns than Pedroia. If Kinsler played the same number of games as Pedroia, his pace was 132 runs (118 for Pedroia), 53 doubles (54 for Pedroia) and 92 RBIs (83 for Pedroia).

However, injuries are part of baseball (and any sport, for that matter). And baseball is perhaps the game where players go through peaks and valleys more so than other sports. So while I think Kinsler probably would have put up better numbers almost across the board than Pedroia (if healthy), I think Washington's assertion that it would have been "no contest" is off.

That being said, it's always good for team morale when the manager (and/or front office) has the players' backs.

Joe Mauer won't be ready opening day

Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer won't be ready for opening day, which is April 6th, and he's not sure when he'll return.

He has inflammation in the sacroiliac joint and headed to Baltimore last week for a second opinion on the injury.

I just have to get healthy,” Mauer said. “I don’t think I’m ready to get out there and play any games. I know it’s getting closer. I really don’t know if I’m going to be there or not.”

Last year, Mauer batted .328, which edged Boston's Dustin Pedroia for the A.L. batting crown, and drove in 85 runs.