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Tag:Daniel Bard
Posted on: February 1, 2012 9:57 pm
 

Red Sox 'unlikely' to add starter before spring

Ben CheringtonBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt are still looking for a new home -- and Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said he doesn't expect it to be in Boston.

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"We won't rule out adding a starter, but I think it's unlikely at this point," Cherington said during a taping of a NESN Hot Stove special (via the Boston Herald). "We're going to keep looking for ways to improve the team, including the pitching staff, but I wouldn't expect any major changes between now and the report date."

Now, not to say anything bad about Cherington, or to suggest he's being anything less than truthful, but these things can always change. Even Cherington noted that while he expects the Red Sox to go into spring with Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz as the three definite members of the rotation, the team could add a starter during spring training or during the season. Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves will go into spring trying to transition into starters and the team has also taken flyers on Vicente Padilla, Aaron Cook and Carlos Silva.

"We know that teams evolve," Cherington said (via the Providence Journal). "That doesn't mean you don't want to go into spring training with every position perfect and the team filled out, because optimally you would. That's never the case.

"The Cardinals are the obvious recent example of a team [evolving], but you can't count on that. You can't count on that and end up in the same spot they did. All we can do, we have the guys we have now and we'll keep looking for ways to add to that group and we don't know when those opportunities are going to come. We're confident that the group we have has a chance to be really good, and we'll do everything we can to add to that if there are opportunities."

The Red Sox could get Daisuke Matsuzaka back by midseason and also make a move at the trade deadline.

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Posted on: December 13, 2011 11:02 am
Edited on: December 13, 2011 12:24 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Boston Red Sox



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

One of the main reasons we came up with this exercise was because of the massive amount of fighting in the comments sections over who "buys" their teams instead of drafting and developing their own talent. In some cases, the accusations are true. In others, they aren't. While these Red Sox don't have Adrian Gonzalez or David Ortiz or Josh Beckett, you'll certainly see several key, familiar names.

Lineup

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
4. Hanley Ramirez, DH
5. David Murphy, LF
6. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
7. Jed Lowrie, SS
8. Kelly Shoppach, C
9. Josh Reddick, RF

Starting Rotation

1. Jon Lester
2. Clay Buchholz
3. Justin Masterson
4. Anibal Sanchez
5. Carl Pavano

Bullpen

Closer - Jonathan Papelbon
Set up - Daniel Bard, Rafael Betancourt, Frank Francisco, Hideki Okajima
Long - Kyle Weiland, Daisuke Matsuzaka? (Not sure I could stomach that ... )

Notable Bench Players

Ryan Lavarnway, Lars Anderson, Freddy Sanchez, Engel Beltre

What's Good?

The top of the order is sick. If Hanley Ramirez had one of his good years, that's a top four that few in baseball could match. The entire pitching staff is really, really strong, too. Lester as an ace works fine and Masterson and Sanchez are pretty darn good in those slots. There was one point last season (May) when Sanchez was almost as good as anyone. Then you move into the bullpen and the back-end is what it was in 2011, with Bard and Papelbon. Here, though, we get to add Betancourt and Francisco to the mix. That's quite a bridge to Papelbon, and remember, this with a good rotation.

What's Not?

The lineup thins out quickly. It's not awful by any stretch, because Lowrie, Shoppach and Reddick are a decent 7-9, but Murphy isn't good enough to be a fifth hitter in a great lineup and we still can't be sure how Rizzo pans out. Also, there is no depth, either on the bench or in the bullpen. The onus is entirely on the main guys to shoulder the entire workload.

Comparison to real 2011

Let's avoid all the off-field crap and just focus on the issue at hand. Is this team better than the one that was in the AL playoff race until the final out of the season? The offense isn't as good, that's for sure. Most of the other spots are at least close, but the Rizzo/Gonzalez gap at first base is gigantic. Pitching-wise, though, this group is better, top to bottom. There's no Josh Beckett, but there also isn't a full season of John Lackey with mixed in Dice-K and then the spare-part injury replacements they had to use for most of the season. The real-life Red Sox won 90 games and this group feels like a similar one in terms of wins. It's not elite, but it's pretty good.

Next: Detroit Tigers

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Posted on: December 10, 2011 11:00 pm
 

Red Sox to experiment with Bard as a starter

Daniel Bard

By C. Trent Rosecrans

By most accounts -- or guesses, really at this point -- Daniel Bard appears to be the closer for the Red Sox in 2012. However, going into spring training, Bard will work as a starter, new manager Bobby Valentine said on Saturday.

Speaking to a live audience of fans at Christmas at Fenway, Valentine said he's already spoken to the 26-year-old Bard about working as a starter at the beginning of spring training.

"He's going to be penciled in to be one of those guys who works going from his bullpen to pitching two innings to pitching four innings to pitching six innings," Valentine said (via the Boston Globe). "Whenever we get to that plateau, with the pitching coach I'll hopefully have by my side soon, and all the members of the staff and front office. We'll have to make a determination after that 18-20 inning mark as to where he will be during the season. I told him to prepare to be a starter and if that, in fact, does not happen to be ready and willing to be our closer."

Bard went 2-9 with a 3.33 ERA with a save in 2011, with 74 strikeouts in 73 innings. In his three years in the majors, Bard is 5-13 with a 2.88 ERA and five saves, striking out 213 in 197 innings. He hasn't started a game in the big leagues.

A starter in college at North carolina, Bard started 22 games in 2007, his first year of professional baseball, but hasn't started since. He was 3-7 with a 7.08 ERA at Low-A and High-A in 2007, striking out 47 and walking 78 in 75 innings. He was switched to the bullpen the next season and shot through the minor leagues to the big leagues in 2009.

The move would be similar to what the Rangers have recently done with Alexi Ogando and Neftali Feliz. Ogando stuck in the rotation last season, while Feliz was moved back to the bullpen and used as the team's closer. He's expected to move to the rotation in 2012. Former Ranger and now-Angel, C.J. Wilson was also moved from the bullpen to the rotation in Texas to great success.

The Red Sox could still sign a closer, Ryan Madson and Francisco Cordero are still all the free-agent market. Boston could also turn to former White Sox closer Bobby Jenks, already under contract with the Red Sox. The team could also put another reliever, Alfredo Aceves, into a starter's role in the spring.

Alternately, the team could sign a free-agent starter, such as Roy Oswalt or Hiroki Kuroda, and move Bard back into the closer's role.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 11, 2011 4:53 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2011 2:01 pm
 

Closer look at all 30 closing situations



By C. Trent Rosecrans
 and Matt Snyder

It appears the first domino in closer market has fallen (at least, we're pretty sure this time), but that leaves Heath Bell and Ryan Madson as the top relievers still available. But who needs a closer? Here's a look at the closing situation for all 30 teams.

AL East

Baltimore Orioles: Kevin Gregg is still under contract -- much to the chagrin of new general manager Dan Duquette's chagrin. Gregg will make $5.8 million in 2012, not exactly ideal for a guy with a WHIP of 1.642 last season and an ERA of 4.37 while picking up 22 saves. Jim Johnson recorded nine saves and threw just 91 innings, but doesn't exactly miss a ton of bats. The Orioles could move Johnson to the rotation.
Possibilities: Gregg, Johnson, Bell, Francisco Cordero, Francisco Rodriguez, Jonathan Broxton.

Red Sox: Well, obviously Papelbon is gone. Papelbon was the Red Sox closer for the last six years, recording the final out of the 2007 World Series among other memories. Still, As untouchable as he was in his first four years as the closer (1.74 ERA and 0.917 WHIP from 2006-2009), he had a 3.43 ERA and 1.104 WHIP over the last two seasons. Daniel Bard is unhittable at times, but struggled in the last two months of the season (which certainly wasn't uncommon among Red Sox), posting a 6.95 ERA in 21 games in August and September.
Possibilities: Bard, Madson, Bell.

New York Yankees: Mariano Rivera. Enough said.

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays let the Yankees overpay for Rafael Soriano and then picked up Kyle Farnsworth off the discard pile, signing him to a two-year, $6 million deal. In retrospect, it was genius -- Farnsworth had 25 saves with a 2.18 ERA in 2011 and the Rays will keep him another year and let someone else overpay him for 2013.

Toronto Blue Jays: Frank Francisco was the team's closer for much of 2011, but he's a free agent and the team could be looking to spend some money on a  closer.
Possibilities: Madson, Bell, Cordero, Rodriguez, Casey Janssen.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox: Right-hander Sergio Santos converted 30 of 36 save opportunities, liming batters to just a .181/.282/.314 slash line and he should be in line to keep his job in 2012. If he falters, Addison Reed has a chance to take over.

Cleveland Indians: Chris Perez is on solid ground as the team's closer, picking up 35 saves in 2011.

Detroit Tigers: The Tigers picked up the $9 million option on Jose Valverde.

Kansas City Royals: The Royals picked up the $6 million option on Joakim Soria and have options for 2013 and 2014.

Minnesota Twins: The Twins declined their $12.5 million option on incumbent Joe Nathan, but have expressed interest in bringing him back. Although his overall numbers -- 4.84 ERA, 1.164 WHIP, 14 saves -- weren't too impressive, he did convert all 11 of his saves in the second half of the season. Left-hander Glen Perkins had two saves in 2011 and struck out 65 batters in 61 2/3 innings. If the team doesn't sign a free agent -- or trade for someone -- Perkins would have the best shot.
Possibilities: Nathan, Perkins, Jon Rauch, Broxton.

AL West

Los Angeles Angels: Jordan Walden recorded 32 saves as a rookie and made the All-Star team. He did blow 10 saves last season, so it wouldn't be a complete shock if the team looked for an upgrade, but it's not expected, especially with tight purse strings this winter. The team could bring in a veteran for cheap that could close if Walden falters.
Possibilities: Walden, Scott Downs, Broxton, Rauch.

Oakland Athletics: Andrew Bailey is the team's closer, but a trade is always possible with Oakland.

Seattle Mariners: Brandon League had 37 saves and a 2.79 ERA in 2011.

Texas Rangers: The Rangers could be a wild card in the free agent closer market if they decided to move Neftali Feliz to the rotation. The Rangers tried that last spring but decided to keep Feliz in the bullpen. If they bring in a big-name, that would mean they believe Feliz can make the move. If not, there's still a chance of Mike Adams taking over for Feliz. Or they could bring in a low-cost veteran to have in reserve in case Feliz does work in the rotation.
Possibilities: Mike Adams, Madson, Cordero, Rauch, Broxton.

NL East

Atlanta Braves: Craig Kimbrel. Period. 

Miami Marlins: While the artist formerly known as Leo Nunez gets his name issue sorted out, the Marlins have a gaping hole at closer. The current members of their bullpen combined for four saves last season. Do the Marlins try to go with an internal option like Edward Mujica or make a splash on the free agent market (as they've been connected to several huge names already)? 
Possibilities: Nunez, Mujica, Madson, Cordero, Rodriguez, Bell.

New York Mets: If they stay internally, which is entirely possible, it looks like Bobby Parnell. But he wasn't awesome by any stretch when given save chances last season. The Mets have spent big on a free agent closer before (K-Rod), so would they be gunshy in doing so again? It's possible. But it's also possible they try to land someone like Ryan Madson. 
Possibilities: Parnell, Madson, Bell.

Philadelphia Phillies: Papelbon. 

Washington Nationals: Drew Storen closed 43 of 48 games in 2011, his first full season in the majors. One would think that would be enough to earn him at least another year on the job, but Storen's name keeps popping up in trade rumors and the Nationals have been reportedly interested in Madson. The Nats have plenty of money, so if they wanted to ink a big-name closer and deal Storen as part of a package for a center fielder (Denard Span, perhaps?), they would be able to do so. 
Possibilities: Storen, Madson, Bell, Cordero.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs: It's probably going to be Carlos Marmol again, but he better get himself in gear. Not only did he blow 10 saves, but his once-astronomical strikeout rate lowered a bit in 2011 and control continues to be a serious problem. With new brass at the helm, 2011 will likely be his last chance to get things fixed. 

Cincinnati Reds: Cordero had a great four-year run with the Reds, amassing 150 saves with a 2.96 ERA, but he's a free agent now. Fireballer Aroldis Chapman is ticketed for the starting rotation and Nick Masset seems to be awfully inconsistent. The Reds don't have the money to spend in free agency, so would they make a trade for, say, Huston Street or Andrew Bailey? Seems unlikely. Either Chapman doesn't make it as a starter and sticks as closer or someone internally (23-year-old Brad Boxberger?) gets a shot. This one is totally up in the air. 
Possibilities: Cordero, Chapman, Boxberger, Bailey, Street, Broxton.

Houston Astros: Mark Melancon saved 20 games with a 2.78 ERA last season. There are far bigger problems with this team to believe they'll try hard to make a change here.

Milwaukee Brewers: John Axford and his award-winning 'stache.  

Pittsburgh Pirates: All-Star Joel Hanrahan nailed down the job last season. 

St. Louis Cardinals: Jason Motte was never officially named closer by the stubborn Tony La Russa, but he did more than enough down the stretch and in the playoffs to earn the job for 2012, closing nine of 10 saves during the Cardinals' late run and five more in the postseason. 

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks: It will again be J.J. Putz with David Hernandez filling in if (when?) Putz falls injured.

Colorado Rockies: Street is reportedly on the trading block. If he's is dealt, look for Rafael Betancourt to take over. He collected eight saves with a 2.89 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning in 2011. 

Los Angeles Dodgers: Rookie Javy Guerra came on to save 21 games in 23 chances with a 2.31 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings in 2011. That's enough to have nailed down the job for the 2011 season, one would think. 

San Diego Padres: Bell is a free agent, but the Padres may just offer him arbitration, and he actually might accept it. If he does stay, the choice is obvious. If Bell leaves, there's a decent internal option in Chad Qualls. Qualls, 33, has 51 career saves. As far as free agency, if the Padres want to pay for a closer, they'll be paying for Bell. 
Possibilities: Bell, Qualls.

San Francisco: The Beard. 

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Posted on: November 11, 2011 3:27 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2011 3:59 pm
 

What do Red Sox do without Papelbon?

Bard, Papelbon

By Evan Brunell


With Jonathan Papelbon (photo, right) signing a contract to pitch for the Phillies, what does that mean for the Red Sox?

Boston has a closer-in-waiting in Daniel Bard (photo, left) ready to take over the role, but can they afford to elevate Bard into the role?

Over the last few seasons, the Red Sox have seen how valuable having two elite relievers at the top of the bullpen is. Former manager Terry Francona has often said that Bard was perhaps the most important reliever in the bullpen, even more so than Papelbon. Francona was able to deploy Bard in any inning he saw fit, as opposed to Papelbon, who was largely limited to the ninth inning with a lead as conventional baseball says is done these days. But if Bard ascends to the role, the Red Sox suddenly have a void as setup man, and it may be one more difficult to fill than closer.

The free agent market is saturated with closers, and a handful are expected to be available via trade as well. The setup man market? That's not exactly dripping with talent. While the natural inclination is to simply promote Bard into the closer's role, it may not make the most sense from Boston's end if they're committed to the best one-two punch at the back of the rotation.

But would that be OK with Bard? The Boston Globe says that Bard remaining as a setup man would harm Bard's financial goals. That's obvious -- even as valuable as a setup man is these days, it is far more lucrative to be a closer or a starter. The Globe says that if Papelbon had remained in Boston, Bard would have requested a transition to being a starting pitcher, something he flamed out attempting in the minor leagues. Either way, it appears as if Bard has approached no man's land -- either he's going to start or close. Of course, the Red Sox could simply force him to remain as setup man if the club signs Ryan Madson or Heath Bell. CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler reports that the Red Sox "will be in on" the two closers -- but Bard would be an unhappy camper if this occurs and likely bolts once he hits free agency. Does Boston want that?

One potential solution is to bring in a new closer, albeit temporarily, and ink Bard to a long-term deal with the goal of eventually making him a closer. While this outcome wouldn't work if the Sox signed Madson to replace Papelbon, it might work if that man is Joe Nathan or another closer that would only come on a one- or two-year deal. Boston could ink Bard for lesser dollars up front, followed by commensurate salary for a closer in the latter years, which would give the team time to find a bridge to Bard. Of course, anyone that agrees to a one- or two-year deal to close is doing so for a reason. Can the Red Sox put that much risk into the closer's spot?

Signing Madson or Bell doesn't necessarily preclude Bard from an eventual closer's spot. He's tied to the Red Sox through 2015, so even a four-year deal for another closer could set Bard up to become a closer once he's eligible for free agency, but Bard would be giving up a ton of dollars in the arbitration process as a setup man.

The Red Sox could also go a different direction, such as taking a risk on Jonathan Broxton for one season and installing him as setup man to Bard. Don't forget the team already has Bobby Jenks in the fold, who is looking to bounce back from an injury-marred 2011. He could be the setup man that the team needs if Bard becomes closer. That doesn't solve the setup man conundrum long-term, but it would work for 2012.

Here's a radical thought. Why doesn't Boston take this opportunity to tweak what it means to be a closer? Bard, simply by virtue of having pitched in these situations, knows how valuable an elite setup man can be. What if the Red Sox told him that while he was going to become the closer, he would also pitch in tight situations earlier in the game as needed? Does Boston really need to hold Bard back from a crucial eighth inning for the easy three-run lead ninth-inning save? This is pretty much wishful thinking, as the conventional idea of a closer is pretty much set in stone, but it's fun to dream.

No one knows which direction Boston will go. Heck, even GM Ben Cherington probably isn't 100 percent positive how things will unfold now that he has several different scenarios to juggle. This much is clear: Cherington has a challenge on his hands to replace the best closer in team history.

Check CBSSports.com's free-agent tracker, and follow all free-agency news from Eye on Baseball.

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Posted on: November 4, 2011 3:25 pm
 

Ex-Sox strength coach: Four players out of shape

PageBy Evan Brunell

On Friday, the Red Sox fired strength and conditioning coach Dave Page, who had been with the team since 2006, along with assistant athletic trainer Greg Barajas.

The move came as such a shock that Page, in an interview on WEEI, estimated "90 percent" of the team's roster -- plus others in the game -- reached out to him, with one such player saying "I feel this is all my fault."

Is this the same player that gave up on the season in September with no explanation? Page said there were four Red Sox players that were lax in their conditioning by the time the end of the season rolled around. He refused to name names, but did say that none of the players included Josh Beckett. Beckett, who noticeably put pounds on as the year progressed,  expressed concern to Page about his weight.

"We got to the end of the year where we had four guys -- without naming names -- we had four guys that we thought didn't make it to that part of the season where we hoped they would be: one position player -- an everyday guy -- one pitcher -- a starting pitcher -- and two bullpen guys," Page said. "For the most part, everybody else had stayed within where we wanted them to be. They were what we expected. Most of them were working."

Except for these four players, of course. And one in particular couldn't explain why he tailed off.

"I did have a good conversation with one player at the end of the year in Baltimore that really kind of opened my eyes," Page said. "I said, 'Hey, what's going on here? It seemed like you pulled the plug a little bit. Why?' He kind of looked down at the ground, looked back and me and said, 'I don't know why. I can't answer that question.' Which was kind of a shock."

Page, who earned the 2007 Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year award, named Daniel Bard, Rich Hill, David Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon, Jason Varitek and Kevin Youkilis among those who reached out, according to the Boston Globe.

“Papelbon and Youkilis were less than pleased. I can tell you that,” he said.

On WEEI, Page admitted to being taken aback about his firing, especially since it's been over a month since the end of the season. That fact, despite the departures of manager Terry Francona and GM Theo Epstein, led Page to "believe that things weren't going to change, and it really kind of limited my opportunities to move on with another team. It was very surprising."

Page also admitted that support from coaches and the front office were "better in the past," saying he approached coaches and front office personnel on a regular basis to express concerns. He also turned in weekly reports to Francona and the higher-ups, so they were aware of any failings in player conditioning. Page's comments marries up with skipper Terry Francona saying he felt as if the front office wasn't supporting him as much as it had in years past. That leads one to ask why. Perhaps the front office thought this was a team that wasn't going to last and needed wholesale changes. As a result, they weren't as supportive as in the past. That's all speculation, however.

Page also chimed in on the whole fried chicken and beer controversy.

"There was a lot of grumblings but I think that whole chicken-and-beer thing has gotten a lot of unnecessary play, to be honest with you," he said. "I really didn't see chicken in the clubhouse all that often. I'm in and out of there a lot. I rarely saw the chicken. If they were drinking beer it was probably upstairs and I wasn't up there. You'll see the starting pitcher drink a beer when he comes out of the game, that's pretty common. In my opinion, it wasn't as rampant as it's gotten to be made out to be."

Read more about the beer drinking controversy, or check out Eye on Baseball's coverage on Theo Epstein bolting to the Cubs.

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Image courtesy BaseTrainer.com.
Posted on: September 15, 2011 1:36 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Kershaw dazzles before ejection



By Evan Brunell

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: A one-hit shutout for Kershaw. Rather, it would have been if not for home-plate umpire Bill Welke tossing Kershaw in the sixth. Backstory: Last night, Gerardo Parra received a brushback pitch he didn't appreciate and launched a home run, pimping it out. The Dodgers weren't pleased as Parra jawed with catcher A.J. Ellis. Kershaw was also caught yelling from the dugout and allegedly telling Parra he would "get him" Wednesday night. Well, the first at-bat went without incident, Parra rapping a single. Allowing just one hit while punching out five as Kershaw took the mound for the sixth, he threw a pitch that grazed Parra's elbow. It certainly wasn't a full-on plunking, but Welke tossed Kershaw immediately without warning. Skipper Don Mattingly was thrown out in the ensuing argument. On one hand, you can understand why Welke would have been monitoring this situation and perhaps even a bit jittery about something exploding and wanting to keep a lid on it, but this was just silly. On a pitch that grazed Parra in a 2-0 Dodgers game during a shutout? It's hard to believe that warranted being ejected -- again, with no warnings issued prior.

Roy Halladay, Phillies:
It was yet another divine performance for Halladay, who coughed up just six hits and one walk en route to blanking the Astros in a complete-game victory that edged his record to 18-5 and ERA down to 2.34. The win clinched a playoff berth for Philadelphia and was Halladay's eighth complete game of the year. "That's the beauty of being here," Halladay said, referring to the Phillies' muted celebration after the game. "We expect to win. You convert to that quickly, coming from a team where that wasn't the case. We had some big wins last year and come into the clubhouse and that's where we expected to be."

Carlos Beltran, Giants:  It was a big day for Beltran, who blasted two home runs en route to a 3-1 drubbing of the Padres. Beltran was responsible for two of those runs off his solo homers in the 1st and 6th, pushing his overall line to .289/.386/.524 with 20 homers, notching 300 for his career. Beltran, once his injury subsided, arrived too late for the Giants to be of any good but has clearly proven San Francisco had the right idea in dealing for the outfielder. Now S.F. has to worry about extending him, as he'll be a prized player on the market.



Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: The Pirates are now officially going to lose more games than they win for the 19th straight season. The club wasted a promising start that had them in contention at the trade deadline by immediately falling off a cliff and McCutchen is a prime culprit as to why. Prior to the All-Star Game, the center fielder hit .291/.390/.505 with 14 homers and 15 steals. But since then, in 203 at-bats, he's slashing .222/.330/.399 with eight homers and five steals. It's a disappointing end to the year for the 24-year-old after going 0 for 4 with a strikeout against the Cardinals.

Daniel Bard, Red Sox: Bard has been on rocky terrain lately and blew a 4-2 lead against Toronto by giving up three runs in the eighth, two earned. His ERA cracked 3.00 with the shoddy outing, rising to 3.10. He's now given up at least a run in his last three appearances, including five on Sept. 7 which is when his troubles began. Before that, his ERA was 2.10. Now, the team's best relief pitcher is imploding. It was the sixth loss in seven games for the Red Sox, who begin a crucial four-game series against the Rays on Thursday, where the AL wild card will hang in the balance.

David Huff, Indians: A grand slam highlighted David Huff's night, and not in a good way. Huff allowed eight runs in four innings, including Josh Hamilton's slam. But only three runs were earned, thanks to a Lonnie Chisenhall two-out error off the bat of Ian Kinsler. It was a dazzling game all around for Texas, who won 9-1. "That's what a team that was in the World Series last year looks like, a team that will probably win their division," Indians manager Manny Acta told the Associated Press . "We have some catching up to do."

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Posted on: September 8, 2011 2:23 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Williams' gem leads Angels

Jerome Williams

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Jerome Williams, Angels: Williams was one of three pitchers to take a no-hitter into the sixth inning along with Oakland's Guillermo Moscoso and Philadelphia's Roy Oswalt, but neither of those pitchers was pitching for such high stakes. With the Rangers losing earlier in the day to the Rays, the Angels took the field Wednesday night knowing they could make up ground on their rivals in the only real playoff race left. Williams retired 15 of the first 16 batters he faced before Seattle's Trayvon Robinson homered to lead off the sixth inning and put Los Angeles in a 1-0 hole. It looked as if Robinson's stellar start would go for naught until the Angels rallied for three runs in the eighth inning to give Robinson and the Angels the 3-1 victory and to pull to 2.5 games behind the Rangers. Robinson's homer was the only hit the Mariners would record, as Williams struck out five and walked one.

Mark Reynolds, Orioles: Reynolds struck out four times (fun stat for the guy who's always sitting next to me at baseball games, strikeouts are worth one out, just like any other way a player makes an out), but with two outs in the 11th inning, Reynolds came through against Hector Noesi with an RBI single to give Baltimore a 5-4 victory in the Bronx.

Carlos Pena, Cubs: Pena was hitting just .135 off of left-handed pitchers and Reds lefty Bill Bray had limited left-handed hitters to just a .188 batting average this season -- so Dusty Baker's decision to replace Logan Ondrusek with Bray was sound. It just didn't work. With the game tied at 3 and one on and one out in the eighth inning, Pena caught up to Bray's first-pitch slider that didn't slide and put it on Sheffield Avenue for a 6-3 Cubs victory. Pena has five home runs and 16 RBI against the Reds this season.


A.J. Burnett, Yankees: As far as Burnett starts go, the Yankee whipping boy wasn't too bad on Wednesday, allowing four runs on seven hits in six innings, striking out seven and walking four. No, those aren't great numbers, but it's certainly good for Burnett this season. However, he did make history -- and not the kind he'd like -- on Wednesday with three wild pitches. It was the eighth time he's recorded at least three wild pitches in his career, the most in the modern history. Nolan Ryan, Phil Niekro and Tommy John all had seven games with three wild pitches, which is pretty decent company. Burnett has 23 wild pitches this season, the most in baseball.

Daniel Bard, Red Sox: Thanks to Bard, Tim Wakefield failed in his eighth attempt at his 200th career victory. With Boston leading 8-6 in the eighth inning, Bard hit the first batter he faced and after loading the bases and recording two outs, he gave up the lead by walking Eric Thames and Jose Bautista to tie the game. Matt Albers then came in to relieve Bard and gave up a three-run double to Edwin Encarnacion, who drove in five in the game to give the Jays the lead for good. Wakefield wasn't great, allowing five runs (four earned) and three hits in five innings. He walked three and hit two more, but was in line to record the W.

Orlando Cabrera, Giants: Many around the Bay Area are wondering why Giants manager Bruce Bochy is sticking with Cabrera over rookie Brandon Crawford at shortstop everyday. It didn't get any better in the team's 3-1 loss to the Padres on Wednesday. In the eighth inning, Cabrera dropped an easy popup behind the infield by Wil Venable, who later scored on a Cameron Maybin triple to give San Diego a two-run cushion going into the ninth with closer Heath Bell on the mound. It was Cabrera's fifth error in 30 games with the Giants. He's also struggling at the plate, going 3 for 28 in the team's last 10 games, including an 0-for-3 night on Wednesday.

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