Entries Tagged as 'braves'

Roger McDowell needs to apologize for anti-gay slurs

Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell seems to have gotten himself into a bit of a spot.  When confronted by a baseball fan in San Francisco, he reportedly hurled anti-gay slurs at him and also responded that kids don’t belong at a ballpark. 

Now, I know there is more to this story than what is being reported to the press or what Gloria Allred, the lawyer representing the “abused” fan, would have you believe, but if there is anything to this story, McDowell needs to shape up. 

I’ve heard some people already draw analogies between McDowell and former MLB pitcher John Rocker who was also known for stating his ideas quite vociferously.  The situations are quite different in my opinion. As much as I did not care for what Rocker said, it must be noted that he made his comments while in a private conversation with a sportswriter.  McDowell, however, was on the field and was in all purposes representing the game of baseball and the organization of Major League Baseball.  If (and again, it’s a big if) McDowell is culpable for his actions, he has what is coming to him. 

Mr. McDowell has “apologized” if you want to call it that.  My guess it was more damage control than anything. 

From the NY Daily News:

"I am deeply sorry that I responded to the heckling fans in San Francisco on Saturday. I apologize to everyone for my actions," McDowell quickly responded in a statement.

It sounds more like he’s saying he hadn’t said what he was thinking. 

We don’t need to make a federal case out of this.  Indeed, the fan in question, environmental researcher Justin Quinn, only really wanted an apology from McDowell.  I’m sure the lawyers involved will talk him out of that. 

But let’s at least get that.  A real one, I mean.

Roast Some Chestnuts on the Hot Stove

The Yankees made another move, now I believe, it’s the Red Sox turn.  Righthanded starting pitcher Javier Vazquez & lefty reliever Boone Logan (both with the White Sox a couple of years ago) were dealt to Atlanta in exchange for centerfielder Melky Cabrera, a 19 year old out of the Dominican Republic by the name of Arodys Vizcaino, and lefthanded relief pitcher Michael Dunn.  Vazquez crashed & burned in the Bronx, he did well with the Braves (but that’s the National League), it’ll be interesting to see how he makes out in the Big Apple (with big pressure), one of my happiest days as a White Sox fan  was when Javier Vazquez & Boone Logan were put on a train out of town.  Melky Cabrera, a fan favorite, will move into the lineup as the Braves everyday centerfielder, Dunn has a shot as a lefty in Atlanta’s pen, and the young righthander, Vizcaino, has a huge upside, only time will tell.

Atlanta also added their firstbaseman in the person of Troy Glaus.  Troy was injured last season with the Cardinals.  The hot corner has always been this big power hitter’s position, but he shouldn’t have any problems shifting across the diamond, his real position is BAT.

Darren Oliver went back to where he started, returning to Texas.  This will be Darren’s third go around with the Rangers.  Oliver spent the last three years in the Angels bullpen, the Halos are pursuing Fernando Rodney.

In a move that was kind of under the radar, Jason Marquis was signed by the Washington Nationals.  Marquis showed guts in winning 15 games last season with the Rockies.  This veteran righthander will provide the Nats with just what the doctor ordered, 200 innings & 30+ starts.  Next up Washington needs to secure Mike Capps as their team’s closer.

Throw Another Log on that Old Hot Stove

curtis-granderson-stealsSo far, the biggest trade was the three-way deal involving the Yankees, the Diamondbacks, and the Tigers.  New York got All Star centerfielder Curtis Granderson, enough said, they got the best player in the deal.  Arizona got starting pitchers Edwin Jackson & Ian Kennedy.  While Detroit landed centerfield prospect Austin Jackson, starting pitcher Max Scherzer, and a couple of lefties for their bullpen Phil Coke & Daniel Schlereth.

The Texas Rangers traded starter Kevin Millwood to the Orioles in exchange for reliever Chris Ray and Rule V selection Ben Snyder, the move was designed to free up money so Texas could sign free agent starter Rich Harden.  The Rangers had enough money left over to acquire thirdbaseman Mike Lowell for catching prospect Max Ramirez from the Red Sox.  Boston is interested in signing free agent thirdbaseman Adrian Beltre.

Pirates reliever Jesse Chavez has to be wondering whether it’s safe to unpack his bags, as he’s on his third team this offseason.  He was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays, who just dealt him to the Atlanta Braves for reliever Rafael Soriano.  The Braves no longer needed Soriano, since bringing in Billy Wagner & Takashi Saito.

The Chicago White Sox brought in former Seattle Mariners closer J.J. Putz to replace Octavio Dotel, whom they chose not to retain.

Hot Stove Starting to Heat Up

OmarVizquelThe White Sox fired up the Hot Stove signing SS Omar Vizquel & Andruw Jones.  Vizquel has been the best defensive shortstop of his time and will tutor Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez.  Omar might be headed for Cooperstown when he finally hangs them up, his numbers stack up with Ozzie Smith, and nobody flashed a better glove at short.  Speaking of excellent fielders, nobody did it better than Andruw Jones, but that was in his day.  Andruw isn’t all that old, but he got old in a hurry, with very old knees.  Jones will not embarrass himself in the outfield with the glove, although he won’t add to the team speed, but he was brought in here for his bat and to provide some outfield depth.

After a career year with the Blue Jays, Marco Scutaro cashed in with Boston, where he’ll be the Red Sox everyday shortstop.  Outfielder Mike Cameron’s new home will be Fenway Park, playing leftfield for the Bosox, which would mean Jason Bay will not be retained.  The Redbirds made a wise investment bringing Brad Penny on board.  Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan has to be licking his chops, adding Penny to a staff that already has Adam Wainwright & Chris Carpenter.  The Atlanta Braves bolstered their bullpen by adding lefty Billy Wagner and righthander Takashi Saito.  By signing with the Nationals, Ivan Rodriguez will serve as a backup catcher & mentor to Jesus Flores.

I’m sure there’s alot more to come, I’m especially looking forward to the Rule V Draft, which takes place on the 10th.

2009 MLB Rookies of the Year

roy625nov162009Back in the middle of September I was assigned the task of predicting who would win the rookie of the year awards.  Now two months later the winners were announced, Oakland A’s reliever Andrew Bailey in the American League and Florida Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlan.  I had predicted Rockies outfielder Dexter Fowler in the NL and Rangers SS Elvis Andrus in the AL.

In 2008 the A’s converted Bailey from a starter to a reliever in AA Ball in 2008.  Andrew immediately experienced success in the bullpen, carrying that success over into the 2008 Arizona Fall League, and on into the 2009 regular big league season.  He finished the season with 26 of 30 saves, a 6-3 record, a 1.84 ERA, with 91 strikeouts & 49 hits allowed in 83′ innings, and was Oakland’s lone All Star representative.

Chris Coghlan also enjoyed a conversion that enabled him to star in the big leagues, the former infielder was moved to leftfield.  He brought his bat out to the outfield with him, batting .321 with a .390 OBP, with 31 doubles, 6 triples, & 9 home runs, as the Marlins leadoff hitter.

Elvis Andrus, my choice for AL Rookie of the Year, the Rangers 21 year old shortstop out of Venezuela, finished 2nd in the balloting behind Bailey.  Elvis batted .267, with 33 stolen bases, 72 runs scored, & 128 base hits, with a very impressive range factor in the field of 4.86.  Right on the heels of Andrus was Detroit’s 20 year old righthanded starting pitcher Rick Porcello (14-9 & 3.96 ERA).  The 6’9″ Tampa Bay’s righthander, Jeff Niemann (13-6 & 3.94) was next, he was 17-0 with a 1.70 ERA as a Junior in 2003 with Rice.  Then came The Sporting News choice for Rookie of the Year, the White Sox very own, thirdbaseman Gordon Beckham (.270, 28 doubles, 14 homers, 63 RBIs).  Rounding out this crop of AL rookies was another pitcher from Oakland, southpaw Brett Anderson (11-11, 4.06 ERA, & 150 strikeouts in 175′ IP).

Closely behind Coghlan, over in the Senior Circuit, was The Sporting News choice for NL Rookie of the Year out of the University of Northwestern in Evanston, IL, Philadelphia’s lefthander J.A. Happ (12-4 & 2.93).  A distant 3rd was Atlanta’s phenom righthanded starting pitcher Tommy Hanson (11-4, 2.89, & 116 K’s in 127″ IP).  The Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen wasn’t far in back of Hanson, batting .286, 26 doubles, 9 triples, 12 homers, 74 runs scored, to go along with 22 steals, while playing a very good centerfield for the Buccos.  Next up the Brewers thirdbaseman Casey McGehee received some love, .301, 20 doubles, 16 homers, & 66 RBIs.  Interestingly six other rookies received very little support in their quest for league’s top rookie honors.  They were Randy Wells of the Cubs (12-10 & 3.05), Pittsburgh slugger Garrett Jones (21 HRs & .293), Padres SS Everth Cabrera (25 SBs & 59 runs), my choice Dexter Fowler Colorado outfielder (73 runs, 27 SBs, 29 2Bs, & 10 3Bs), Diamondbacks outfielder Gerardo Parra (.290, 21 2Bs, 8 3Bs, 60 RBIs), and last, but not least, Cardinals centerfielder Colby Rasmus (22 2Bs & 16 HRs).

AFL Rising Stars Game Has Me All Stoked

yonder alonsoBefore watching the Rising Stars Game last night on the MLB Network, I really didn’t know what I was going to see on my trip to Arizona.  After seeing a sampling of the talent out there, my bags are packed, & I’m stoked.

The Cincinnati Reds are going to have a tough decision at firstbase.  Joey Votto played there for the big club, batting .322 with 25 homers & 84 RBIs, he’s arguably their best hitter.  But their best hitting prospect is Miami’s Yonder Alonso.  Alonso posted big numbers at Miami, hitting .370 with 24 long balls in only 211 at bats, walking 76 times, while striking out only 35 times.  Last night he demonstrated his line drive swing, going 3 for 4, with a double, 2 ribbies, although he did K.

Another hitter in the Reds system, batted cleanup in the game, Chris Heisey, an outfielder, was the 504th player chosen in the 2006 draft.  He played at Messiah College, is from Lancaster, PA, and was signed after a tryout.  He got the scoring going for the West with a first inning home run off Tommy Mendoza, then later in the game added a double.

19 year old shortstop Starlin Castro of the Chicago Cubs was 2 for 3 in the game, showed great speed, seems to have baseball instincts, and should move Ryan Theriot over to secondbase in the near future.

Speaking of 19 year old shortstops, the Red Sox had Cuban prospect Jose Iglesias in this game and although he looked overmatched it was obvious the talent this kid possesses.  He should follow in the footsteps of Nomar Garciaparra & Hanley Ramirez, both out of the Bosox system.

One pitcher who didn’t have it was Atlanta’s Mike Minor, a first rounder out of Vanderbilt, 2/3 IP, 7 hits, 7 runs, & 1 walk, he was hit HARD.  The lefty was on Team USA, was the ace of the staff, and allowed only one unearned run in 12 1/3 innings versus Cuba, he was dominant.

Another pitcher who didn’t look good was Daniel Moskos of the Pittsburgh Pirates, taken in the 1st round in 2007, 2/3 IP, 4 runs on 5 hits, he got ROCKED.  Moskos is another soft throwing lefthander in the Buccos tradition of Zack Duke, Tom Gorzelanny, & Paul Maholm.

ASU’s Mike Leake showed some STUFF, working one inning, allowing one hit, and striking out three.  The Reds drafted this kid in the first round of the 2009 draft.  The AFL is his first experience in pro ball, he was 16-1, with a 1.71 ERA, and 162 strikeouts in 142 innings for the Sun Devils this past season.

LA’s own Danny Gutierrez brought his own cheering section, it seemed to help as the kid struckout the side in his one inning on the bump.  Danny was selected in the 33rd round of the 2005 draft by the Kansas City Royals.  Now this 6’2″ righthander out of Riverside Community College is pitching in the Texas Rangers organization.

There are so many more prospects that I could tell you about, but I have to save something for my trip out west, really looking forward to it, can’t you tell?!?!  Oh, BTW, the West Stars beat the East Stars, 8-7 on a late Matt McBride two run dinger, but none of that really matters.

Braves’ Cox will re-up then retire after 2010

Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox has agreed to a one-year extension but says he’ll plan to retire after the 2010 season.

"While I have decided that 2010 will be my last season in the dugout, I want to make it clear that we will all be working as hard as ever to win another world championship," Cox said in a statement.

While this statement sounds like the typical PR cliché, there’s no doubt in my mind that Cox really wants a World Championship for the Braves.  Cox ranks fourth all-time and second among active managers in wins.  He also ranks #1 in postseason appearances among all managers with 15.  

Rk Mgr Yrs G W L W-L% Plyof App WSwon PennWon
1 Connie Mack HOF 53 7755 3731 3948 .486 8 5 9
2 John McGraw HOF 33 4769 2763 1948 .586 10 3 11
3 Tony LaRussa 31 4762 2550 2209 .536 12 2 5
4 Bobby Cox 28 4335 2408 1924 .556 15 1 5
5 Joe Torre 28 4156 2242 1908 .540 14 4 6
6 Sparky Anderson HOF 26 4030 2194 1834 .545 7 3 5
7 Bucky Harris HOF 29 4408 2157 2218 .493 3 2 3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/23/2009.

Yet among all those postseason appearances, Bad Bobby Cox has only one World Championship to his name (when the Braves won it all in 1995).  I’m sure in the back of his mind, he’d like to shirk the bridesmaid title. 

Is Chipper walking away…

…or is he just blowing smoke?

“I’m not going to tolerate the numbers I have right now for very long,” Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I’m certainly not going to stick around for a big contract if I’m not having fun and not producing.”

He left himself an out though.

“I’m not saying I’m retiring at the end of this year or the end of next year, but if I become an average player, I’m not sticking around,” he said. “I’m not going to hamstring the ballclub with the money I’m making, and I’m not going to be happy being a mediocre player.”

My guess is that he’s just blowing off steam after going through a nasty slump.  He’s hit .117 in the last 23 games.  He has two more years of a lucrative contract left.  I doubt he’ll walk away from that.

Colbert’s Clouts Makes Him a Man of his Word

colbertWhen Nate Colbert was a boy growing up in St. Louis his father took him to a doubleheader in which Stan Musial hit five home runs in a doubleheader in 1954.  Young Nate turned to his father and said, “Someday I’m going to do that”.

Now fast forward to August 1, 1972, the San Diego Padres were playing a doubleheader against the Braves in Atlanta.  Colbert, nursing a bad back, wasn’t going to play.  But when he took batting practice with an old bat, he hit five balls out, and a couple of more that were long gone, but just foul.  Nate’s manager decided his slugger would play, so Nate taped up the old bat, and used it in the first game.  He hit two out in the first game and three more in the nightcap, leading the Pads to a sweep, 9-0 & 11-7, driving in 13 runs on the day, two more than Stan the Man.  Nate finished the season with 38 homers (second only to Johnny Bench’s 40) and 111 RBI’s (highest percentage of runs driven in to a team’s total runs scored in MLB history).

I still remember this big day by this big slugger, even today, but don’t ask me what I ate for breakfast!

McLouth Gets Call to the Majors

mclouth Nate McLouth has followed the path of just about every other talented players the Pittsburgh Pirates have had lately, when he was traded to the major league Atlanta Braves. The Braves gave the Buccos three minor leaguers (Gorkrys Hernandez, Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke) in exchange for the All Star/Gold Glove centerfielder. Pittsburgh’s GM was quoted as saying the organization got three above average prospects for arguably the best player on their team. Last year the Pirates were involved in a three team trade, whereby the Dodgers got Manny Ramirez, the Red Sox got Jason Bay, and Pittsburgh acquired Andy LaRoche. I sure wish the White Sox GM Kenny Williams had been hanging around with the Pirates GM, we sure could’ve used McLouth, and we had better prospects to include in a deal.