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Tag:Marco Scutaro
Posted on: January 21, 2012 6:19 pm
Edited on: January 21, 2012 6:42 pm
 

Red Sox trade Marco Scutaro to Rockies

Marco Scutaro

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Rockies have acquired Boston's Marco Scutaro, CBSSports.com Insider Jon Heyman confirms. Scutaro will play second base and likely bat second for the Rockies.

The deal was rumored on Friday, but then other reports said it was dead -- only to be resuscitated on Saturday. The Denver Post's Troy Renck, who initially reported the possibility of the deal on Friday, wrote the deal was revived "when the Rockies were able to work through some financial issues" to make room for Scutaro's $6-million salary for 2012. Scutaro is a free agent after the season.

Right-hander Clayton Mortensen is headed to Boston in return for the 36-year-old Scutaro. But more than that, it opens the $6 million for the team to spend on a pitcher, such as Roy Oswalt.

Mike Aviles and Nick Punto could platoon at shortstop for the Red Sox in Scutaro's absence. The Red Sox could also go with rookie Jose Iglesias, who appeared in 10 games for the Red Sox last season. Iglecias has a big-league ready glove, but his bat is a serious question. he hit .261/.308/.316 at Triple-A Pawtucket last season.

The Rockies upgrade their lineup with Scutaro, who hit .299/.358/.423 for the Red Sox last season.Jonathan Herrera had been penciled in to not only play second, but bat second.

The Rockies' trade of Kevin Slowey on Friday helped add some more payroll flexibility. Slowey was slated to make $2.75 million in 2012.

Mortensen, 26, appeared in 16 games for the Rockies last season, making six starts. He was 2-4 with a 3.86 ERA overall and 2-3 with a 4.15 ERA in his starts. He struck out 30 batters in 58 1/3 innings, with a 1.354 WHIP.

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Posted on: December 17, 2011 5:55 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Cleveland Indians

Victor Martinez

By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional?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.

In the 90s, the Indians welcomed a new ballpark with a cast of homegrown talent and twice used that to go all the way to the World Series, losing to the Braves in 1995 and the Marlins in 1997. A core of Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Albert Belle, Charles Nagy, Paul Shuey, Jaret Wright, Julian Tavarez and more helped that Cleveland team become a power in the middle part of the decade before the pieces moved on. Thome went to Philadelphia, Ramirez to Boston and others dispersed or saw their skills diminish as the window of opportunity passed. The current Indians saw the start of a new influx of talent in 2011 with the likes of Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall, but more talent needs to come out of the system for the Indians to continue the promise of the first half of the 2011 season. The franchise has shown smart drafting and good development can get them to October baseball, and that it's the best way for a team of their means to get there -- and return.

Lineup

1. Jason Kipnis, 2B
2. Marco Scutaro, SS
3. Victor Martinez, C
4. Jim Thome, DH
5. Jhonny Peralta, 1B
6. Luke Scott, LF
7. Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
8. Ben Francisco, RF
9. Jose Constanza, CF

Starting Rotation

1. CC Sabathia
2. Fausto Carmona
3. Jeremy Guthrie
4. Bartolo Colon
5. Josh Tomlin

Bullpen

Closer - Vinnie Pestano
Set up - Tony Sipp, Aaron Laffey, Danys Baez, Edward Mujica, Rafael Perez, Brian Tallet

Notable Bench Players

There are some bit pieces, but not too much overwhelming talent coming off the bench. The best pieces are Maicer Izturis, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Russell Branyan.

What's Good?

This team could put up some runs, with a heart of the order featuring Martinez, Thome, Peralta and Scott, that's for sure. You've also got Sabathia leading the staff, and as the Yankees showed this past season, that can be enough to win the toughest division in baseball. Carmona is inconsistent, but still has a live arm, while Guthrie could thrive in a new environment and Colon proved he still has a little something in the tank during his 2011 season in New York. 

What's Not?

Even if this Indians staff is a slight bump up from the Yankees' of 2011, the bullpen is a step down -- and the bullpen was one of the big reasons New York was able to win with a rotation featuring Sabathia and prayers for rain. The bench here is also thin.

Comparison to real 2011

The Indians were one of the feel-good stories for much of 2011, leading the American League Central for most of the first half of the season before fading and finishing the season 80-82. This hypothetical team has a better offense, better starting pitching and a worse bullpen. It's in no way a complete team, but it would have a chance at a winning record. The Tigers finished 95-67, well ahead of anyone else in the division. No, this Cleveland team wouldn't challenge the Tigers, but it would likely be better than the real 2011 Indians.

Next: Miami Marlins

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 30, 2011 7:32 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 5:57 pm
 

Sabathia, Scutaro and more free agency notes

By Matt Snyder

Sunday morning officially marked the beginning of free agency in Major League Baseball. 148 players filed for free agency, and teams now have exclusivity on retaining their free agents until Thursday at 12:01 a.m. ET. Lots of smallish news broke Sunday with nothing really major, so let's check it all out here in a fun little bullet-pointed post for your perusal.

• The Yankees were expected to offer a contract extension to CC Sabathia this weekend (Jon Heyman) and ESPN New York reports they have done as much -- citing a source who said: "We believe it is a very fair offer, but we haven't heard anything back yet.''

Sabathia is signed through 2015, but he has an opt-out clause in his contract, and he's expected to do exercise it -- per multiple reports and common sense -- in order to get a longer and more lucrative deal.

• The Red Sox announced via press release that they have picked up shortstop Marco Scutaro's option for 2012, which is for $6 million. It's a bit of a birthday present, as he turned 36 Sunday.

More Free Agency
• The Cubs and Aramis Ramirez had a $16 million mutual option. The Cubs elected to exercise it, but Ramirez -- as has been expected for months -- declined it (Chicago Sun Times). So he'll be a free agent, and he's basically the only viable everyday third baseman on the market.

• The Giants have exercised relief pitcher Jeremy Affeldt's $5 million option for 2012 (Henry Schulman). You might recall Affeldt's 2011 season ended when he badly sliced open his hand while trying to separate some frozen hamburgers.

• The Giants also agreed to a two-year, $8.5 million contract with fellow left-handed reliever Javier Lopez.

• The Cardinals will exercise Yadier Molina's $7 million option, reports MLB.com's Matthew Leach.

• The Red Sox have not made an offer to Jonathan Papelbon, reports WEEI.com.

• The Brewers have declined their options on relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, making both free agents.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 27, 2011 3:05 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 3:06 pm
 

Free agent shortstop rankings: High risk, reward



By Matt Snyder

The theme here is high-risk, high-reward guys, at least toward the top. In the top two (and I'd include number four as well) teams are possibly looking at All-Star seasons or an albatross contract down the road, depending on how things shake out with health and the aging process. The entire list here contains gambles, but you know what? Sometimes in gambling you win.

List of MLB free agents

1. Jose Reyes. The 28 year old has now been an All-Star four times. He's led the majors in triples four times and the NL in steals three times. He upped his on-base percentage to .384 (nearly 30 points higher than his previous career high) in 2011 while winning the NL batting title. Had he not injured his hamstring twice, he may have been an MVP candidate. Of course, therein lies the issue. From 2005-08, Reyes was very durable. Since then, he's been unable to shake injuries. Someone is going to give him a big contract, there's little question about that. If Reyes can stay healthy, he'll be worth every dime. If he can't, the contract could end up handcuffing a franchise.
Potential teams: Mets, Tigers (shifting Jhonny Peralta to third), Giants, Nationals, Phillies, Brewers, Mariners

2. Jimmy Rollins. He turns 33 in a month and is actually coming off his best season since 2008. He can still steal bases, can still hit for moderate power and play good defense. He's just not a star anymore, and Rollins seems to be seeking a star-like contract. The hunch is some team that misses out on Reyes gives Rollins three to four years and regrets the deal by the third season, but it's possible he could be a good signing. 
Potential teams: Same as Reyes, Rollins is just the second option.

3. Marco Scutaro. He'll be 36 in less than a week, but he should have enough left in the tank to be a meaningful starter for the next two seasons. He had a .358 OBP in a tough division, so Scutaro could prove a good option for some ballclub that isn't capable of spending big money to fill a hole at short. Of course, they probably won't have a chance, because the Red Sox are expected to pick up Scutaro's option.
Potential teams: Red Sox

4. Rafael Furcal. It seems like Furcal has been around forever, and that's because he was a rookie at the ripe young age of 22. He's 34 now and certainly has lost some speed and power. Plus, he has only been healthy enough to play at least 100 games once in the past four seasons. Furcal has played better since joining the Cardinals, but he still hasn't shown enough to be considered a big name on the free agency market. He has said publicly he wants to remain in St. Louis and a one-year deal there is a distinct possibility.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Twins, Reds, Giants, Brewers, Mariners, Phillies

5. Clint Barmes. Barmes had a decent 2011 season for the Astros, shifting back to being an everyday shortstop -- the position he lost to Troy Tulowitzki in Colorado. He'll be very affordable and the Astros may let him walk, considering that's very little chance for them to compete in the next two seasons. It makes Barmes a nice, cheap option for teams strapped for cash.
Potential teams: Twins, Reds, Braves, Pirates, Giants

6. Willie Bloomquist.
The Diamondbacks will be getting Stephen Drew back from injury, but Bloomquist still has value to the franchise as a sort of supersub -- someone who can be plugged in as an injury replacement anywhere on the field (in 2010 he played every position except pitcher and catcher). The D-Backs are expected to pick up his option.
Potential teams: Diamondbacks

7. Yuniesky Betancourt. He has power, but his inability to get on base (.271 OBP in '11) and awful range at shortstop make Betancourt a liability most games. He did have a great offensive NLCS, so it's possible that lands him a few extra bucks on the open market. It's possible the Brewers pick up Betancourt's option if they can't get one of the above guys, but it's a $6 million option. That's hard to justify for a guy who can't get on base or field very well.
Potential teams: Pirates, Astros, Brewers, Twins, Braves

8. Ronny Cedeno. He's 29 and already shown his upside is severely limited. If the Pirates don't pick up his option, it's hard to see anyone signing him to come in and be the starter, at least not unchallenged.
Potential teams: Astros? Otherwise he'll be a backup just about anywhere.

9. Alex Gonzalez. The veteran will be 35 before next season starts, but he still has some pop. A team looking to bolster the offense's power could give him a one-year deal. There is talk the Braves will end up keeping him, so that bears watching.
Potential teams: Braves, Twins, Giants, Mariners

10. Cesar Izturis. He's only 31, but he's long since shown that he can't be a decent major-league hitter. He can help someone as a backup middle infielder that is only used as a defensive replacement, but his value is minimal. Look for teams with a good offensive shortstop that can't field to see Izturis as a late-innings defensive replacement -- but it can't be a star. Stars don't usually come out of the game.
Potential teams: Blue Jays, Braves, Padres, Rays, Nationals, Brewers, Retirement

11. John McDonald. Very similar to Izturis in that McDonald can play defense but not hit. He's just depth.
Potential teams: Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Braves, Padres, Rays, Nationals, Brewers

12. Edgar Renteria. Is there a place for an old backup who can barely hit or field anymore, but was once an All-Star and has a penchant for dramatic postseason hits? It's possible. Renteria could realistically be forced into retirement, but the guess is someone gives him a modest one-year deal.
Potential teams: Brewers, Twins, Mariners, Astros, Pirates, Retirement

13. Felipe Lopez. He's a headache off the field and has alienated himself from several ballclubs. He was an All-Star in 2005, when he hit 23 home runs and stole 11 bases, but Lopez hit just .206/.247/.277 in 2011 and he's north of 30 years old. If he gets a chance somewhere, it's gonna be on a minor-league deal.
Potential teams: anyone other than the eight teams he's already played for ... or forced retirement.

14. Orlando Cabrera. The soon-to-be 37 year old can't hit and his defense is drastically declining. With more and more teams ready to go young instead of wasting money on veterans, there is likely to be zero market for Cabrera's services early in the free agency period. It's possible when several of the names above fly off the board that some club grabs Cabrera on the cheap, but he also might end up like Jermaine Dye a few years ago ... just waiting on the right deal that never comes along.
Potential teams: Marlins? Mariners? Brewers? Retirement very possible.

15. Drew Sutton. He hit .315/.362/.444 in 31 games for the Red Sox, but there is little chance of that keeping up in the long run. Sutton is probably more likely to land a job -- for different reasons -- than Cabrera (age), Lopez (personality) or Renteria (asking price), but it's hard to tell who is going to view him as the proper fit to back up their shortstop.
Potential teams: Anyone and everyone.

Other free agents who could play shortstop: Jamey Carroll, Jerry Hairston, Ramon Santiago, Jack Wilson, Nick Punto, Omar Vizquel, Craig Counsell, Alex Cora

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 14, 2011 11:43 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 11:52 am
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Atlanta Braves


By C. Trent Rosecrans

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Altanta Braves
Record: 89-73, 2nd place in NL East, 13 games back
Manager: Fredi Gonzalez
Best hitter: Brian McCann -- .270/.351/.466, 24 HR, 71 RBI, 51 R
Best pitcher: Tim Hudson -- 16-10, 3.22 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 158 K, 215 IP

2011 SEASON RECAP

If it weren't for the Red Sox, the Braves' collapse would have been the biggest story of the last part of the 2011 season. Atlanta held an 8 1/2-game lead in the wild card on Sept. 5 before losing 13 of their last 18 and 20 of their last 30 to finish a game behind the Cardinals. Unlike Boston, Atlanta didn't lose its manager and general manager as a result. Only first-year hitting coach Larry Parrish was axed because of the team's failings.

R.I.P. series

There was plenty to like about 2011, especially in rookie first baseman Freddie Freeman, rookie closer Craig Kimbrel and second-year setup man Jonny Venters. The second two manager Fredi Gonzalez liked so much he ran them into the ground, putting Venters into a league-high 85 games and pitching the 23-year-old Kimbrel in 79. Lefty Eric O'Flaherty also pitched in 78 games, as the Atlanta bullpen ran out of gas in the final month of the season.

The worst part of the season was the regression of right fielder Jason Heyward. The runner-up for the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year struggled in his sophomore campaign, hitting just .227/.319/.389 with 14 home runs and 42 RBI in 128 games. 

2012 AUDIT

The Braves were unlucky when it came to injuries, and they return most of the team that did play well for most of the season -- so it doesn't seem like there are big moves that need to be made, just some tweaks. The team is set for a while at first base, second base and behind the plate. Chipper Jones is coming back for one more year to man third. Atlanta also picked up a center fielder in Michael Bourn to fill that hole. The future of the rotation is bright, and that's the foundation the team can build upon.

FREE AGENTS

Alex Gonzalez, SS
Jack Wilson, utility IF
Eric Hinske, OF ($1.5 million club option)
Nate McLouth, OF ($10.65 million club option)
Scott Linebrink, RP
George Sherrill, RP

OFFSEASON FOCUS
  • The team needs to decide what to do about its shortstop positions. Alex Gonzalez solidified the position defensively, but the free agent shortstop is 34 years old and the team may want an upgrade offensively. A lot depends on what Gonzalez is willing to take from Atlanta, if he is open to a one-year bargain deal, or maybe two years,  it wouldn't be the worst option. Otherwise, the team will have to look elsewhere. If Marco Scutaro is available on the cheap, he may not be a bad choice. The team isn't going to be able to afford the likes of Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins, so any long-term solution is going to have to be creative -- or wait.
  • General manager Frank Wren has said Heyward isn't guaranteed a starting spot -- to drive that point home, the Braves need to sign a veteran bat that could actually take some at-bats away from Heyward -- or at least be able to fill in when the team is facing a left-hander. That outfielder could also play left, where the team has to decide if Martin Prado is the answer or if he's just a placeholder in the outfield until Chipper Jones retires and Prado returns to the infield.
  • The Braves' back end of the bullpen should be strong, but they need an innings-eating right-hander to help keep Venters and Kimbrel from having to appear in every game. He may cost a little more than the Braves would like to spend, but reuniting with former Braves second-round pick Matt Belisle could be a solid addition.
  • Whoever is the new hitting coach will be the third in three years. Parrish never really fit in and had trouble getting his message across. Sometimes it's not the message, just how it's delivered. The team needs to look inside the organization (or for someone who has been in the organization) to find a voice that fits and will stay for a couple of years.
  • Finally -- several players just need to rest for a couple of months. McCann seemed to come back to soon and struggled after his return, and Prado rushed back from offseason surgery, rehabbing all offseason, and appeared warn out. And then there's Venters and Kimbrel -- those arms could use a lot of time off.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 13, 2011 12:03 am
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Boston Red Sox

BostonBy Evan Brunell

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Boston Red Sox
Record: 90-72, 3rd place in AL East, 7 games back
Manager: Terry Francona
Best hitter: Jacoby Ellsbury -- .321/.376/.552, 46 2B, 32 HR, 39 SB
Best pitcher: Josh Beckett -- 13-7, 2.89 ERA, 193 IP, 52 BB, 175 K

2011 SEASON RECAP

Here's guessing you've heard plenty about the Red Sox's 2011 season, so let's be brief. After stumbling to a 2-10 start, the Sox rebounded to go 81-44 over a 122-game stretch, then things completely imploded in September as Boston fell out of the postseason entirely, losing the wild card on the final day of the regular season.

While clubhouse dysfunction has ruled the news lately, the Red Sox's problems went deeper than that, as lack of pitching was a major problem that completely fell apart in September. Daisuke Matsuzaka fell to Tommy John surgery early on, pressing Tim Wakefield into year-long duty. Injuries were also sustained by Josh Beckett and trade-deadline acquisition Erik Bedard. Kevin Youkilis played in just 10 games after August 17, and J.D. Drew was a vanishing act from July 20-Sept. 24.

2012 AUDIT

The Red Sox are a good team, chemistry issues aside. There isn't much wholesale changes to be done, although there are several items of importance the Red Sox will have to address. The club could be looking at vacancies in right field, shortstop, DH and closer, so Boston has its hands full. It will also have to address the back of the rotation. A busy offseason awaits, but the core of the team is intact.

FREE AGENTS

Erik Bedard, SP
J.D. Drew, RF
Conor Jackson, OF
Hideki Okajima, RP
David Ortiz, DH
Jonathan Papelbon
Trever Miller, RP
Marco Scutaro, SS ($5 million team option, $3 million player option)
Jason Varitek, C
Tim Wakefield, SP
Dan Wheeler, RP ($3 million team option).

OFFSEASON FOCUS
  • There's a ton of different directions the Red Sox could go, especially with a new GM and manager on the way, but one thing's for sure -- the Red Sox need to bring in a strong presence somewhere next year. Whether that's a new closer, a starting picher or right fielder, Boston can't afford to stay pat after the horrendous collapse it experienced in September. Some options include not signing Jonathan Papelbon and investing that money elsewhere, whether that be in C.J. Wilson or Yu Darvish for the rotation, or signing Jose Reyes to play shortstop, although that's an avenue fraught with risk.
  • While Papelbon hasn't seemed terribly interested in staying with Boston in the past, the team needs to bring him back if they can. Papelbon has proven he can handle the ninth inning in Boston and is the type of ferocious competitor the team needs to emphasize in the wake of a dysfunctional clubhouse. A fallback would be Ryan Madson. Boston could also save money and promote Daniel Bard to closer, but then it needs to invest in a setup man, and it will be much easier to find a closer than it will be a setup man.
  • It will be difficult for Boston to play on the trade market because of a lack of upper-minors depth, but the club should be discussing John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Carlos Quentin with the White Sox and try to find a fit for at least one of these players. In a perfect world, Danks would be a great fit for Boston and the White Sox may be more motivated to move him than Floyd given Danks is nearing free agency while Floyd has signed an extension.
  • If Quentin is a no-go, there aren't many right-field candidates on the free-agent market Boston might be interested in, but a flier on David DeJesus makes sense, thanks to having Ryan Kalish and Josh Reddick as insurance. Kalish or Reddick should win the backup outfield job. If the Sox could pull it off, a trade of Andre Ethier would be a nice get, but that addresses Boston's strengths, not weaknesses. Shouldn't the team be worrying the most about its pitching? The Red Sox need to come away this winter with a starter capable of being called a No. 3, whether via free agency or the trade market.
  • Speaking of Ortiz, bring him back. Look, Kevin Youkilis probably best belongs as a first baseman or DH, no doubt. But a pairing of Ortiz at DH and Youk at 3B is way better than anything the team could get by moving Youk to DH and looking for a third baseman, of which there wouldn't be much available. The team simply has to gameplan for Youk to miss 25-40 starts and deal with it. The only way this would work is if Youkilis was sent out for that coveted starting pitcher. The Marlins are on the hunt for one -- perhaps Youk for ex-Sox farmhand Anibal Sanchez?
  • Pick up Marco Scutaro's option. Scoot was on fire down the stretch and easily earned his $5 million club option. He can return as a shortstop, allowing the team to use Jed Lowrie as trade bait or insurance for Youk. Mike Aviles is also hanging around.
  • Trade John Lackey. It almost doesn't matter where. He's been a massive disappointment in Boston and is not the same pitcher he once was. His constant bad attitude isn't helping the club and he needs to be considered a sunk cost. A popular trade is moving him to the Giants for Barry Zito, and while that would be a better alternative to keeping Lackey, there has to be another option for the Red Sox than having to take Zito, right? OK, maybe not.
  • Allow Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek to part. It will be tough for Wake and Sox fans alike not to have Wakefield around to try to get the all-time Red Sox record in wins, but Wakefield hasn't been a strong pitcher for sometime now and over the last few seasons has changed from a consummate team player to one who has increasingly gotten more selfish as retirement nears. Likewise, Varitek's impact on the team has dipped sharply. The two players departing would send a signal to the clubhouse that no one is safe and get more capable players in the fold. Wakefield's departure would also free up Alfredo Aceves to be the top option out of the bullpen to spot start.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 29, 2011 11:48 am
Edited on: September 29, 2011 4:00 pm
 

Pepper: Scutaro stumble costs Red Sox

Scutaro

By Evan Brunell


The Red Sox authored an unimaginable collapse, riding a 7-20 September all the way toward falling out of the playoffs at the last moment. As Boston fell to Baltimore 4-3, the Rays walked off against the Yankees 8-7 in an amazing end to the season. There's one play that stands out when looking back at how Boston blew Game 162 against the Orioles, and it appears to have been influenced by Red Sox Nation invading Camden Yards.

The setting: Red Sox shortstop Marco Scutaro is on first base in the eighth inning with Boston up 3-2. Carl Crawford at the plate. He slices a line drive to left fielder Nolan Reimold, who dove in an attempt to catch the ball. Scutaro, rounding second, heard cheers from the crowd. Scutaro, having briefly lost sight of the ball, paused, thinking cheers meant Reimold had made the catch. Except that Camden Yards is sometimes called Fenway Park South and it was no exception Wednesday. So the cheers actually meant Reimold had missed the ball.

"I heard the screaming, but I don't know if it was their crowd or our crowd, so I don't know if he made the play or not," Scutaro told the Providence Journal. "I just got a bad read. I should have just kept going."

Scutaro picked it back up once he realized what happened, and third base coach Tim Bogar tried to send him home anyways. The ball took a few hops to reach Matt Wieters, but it reached him before Scutaro did. Out.

Who knows if the Orioles would still have tied the game up or won in the ninth, but that extra insurance run and the wasted opportunity will haunt the dreams of Red Sox players all offseason.

"It seems like, the whole September, nothing works out for us," Scutaro said. "Everything went different ways and everything was against us, pretty much. I guess it was our destiny to be out of the playoffs. Nothing worked out. We didn't play good enough. What can I say? That's baseball."

Wakefield returning: Tim Wakefield has decided he wants to play another year and intends to return to the Red Sox. “I’ve definitely made up my mind that I definitely want to come back next year,” Wakefield told Fox Sports. “I have another goal in front of me that I’d like to accomplish, and that’s the all-time record for the Red Sox in wins. I’m only seven away. I think the fans deserve an opportunity to watch me chase that record. We’ll see what happens.”

Pavanostache: Carl Pavano had a mustache in 2010 that drew all manner of attention and was dubbed the Pavanostache, and enjoyed one of his best seasons. He didn't rock it at all in 2011 -- until Wednesday's final game, where he tossed his first shutout of the year, throwing a five-hitter. Does the mustache have some mystical power we don't know about? (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Payroll rising: The Marlins' payroll will rise, but president David Samson reined in expectations, saying that it won't reach as high as $100 million. The Marlins will set a record for payroll at the very least, he says, but payroll figures to top out at $80 million. (Miami Herald)

Moneyball: The controversy over Moneyball continues, and the subject of both the book and movie finally weighed in. GM Billy Beane responded to allegations from manager Art Howe that Beane had a hand in crafting Howe's negative portrayal in the movie. "I was wondering who was going to be the first guy to think I produced, wrote or directed this movie," Beane told the San Jose Mercury News, saying he wasn't involved in making the movie. "Now I have my answer. [Howe's] comments are completely misguided."

Skippering: Davey Johnson wants to return to the Nationals in 2012, but Washington is going to continue with interviewing other internal candidates. It still appears likely Johnson will return. (MASN)

Arrested: Milton Bradley has been arrested for the second time this year after allegedly swinging a bat at his wife and missing. He was booked on felony assault, released on bail and is due back in court Oct. 18. (Los Angeles Times)

Affair: Yankees GM Brian Cashman has just been caught up in what could be a messy affair. He is alleged to have entered into a relationship with a woman in 2009 who was married. (Deadspin)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.


Posted on: September 29, 2011 10:26 am
Edited on: September 29, 2011 10:37 am
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates

By Evan Brunell

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...


Team name: Pittsburgh Pirates
Record: 72-89, 23 games back in NL Central
Manager: Clint Hurdle
Best hitter: Andrew McCutchen: .260/.366/.459, 23 HR, 23 SB, 5.7 WAR
Best pitcher: Joel Hanrahan: 1-4, 68.1 IP, 1.83 ERA, 2.98 xFIP, 61 K, 16 BB, 40 SV

The Pirates entered 2011 knowing that a 19th straight losing season was going to happen. What they didn't know, however, was how badly their hearts would be ripped out of their chest accomplishing the feat. The Pirates have been a non-factor for almost two decades now, and only recently started to turn things around under the stewardship of GM Neal Huntington. While Huntington has improved the team, it's also been set back by a fruitless bounty for trading Jason Bay, and no pitchers really emerging as a bona fide ace.

2011 SEASON RECAP

The Pirates began 2011 by taking the opening game against the Cubs. The team would go on to finish April with a losing record, but it was just 13-15. The club was buoyed by Charlie Morton taking to his new delivery, emulating Roy Halladay, and posting a 3.00 ERA in five starts. Morton kicked into gear in May, though, with a 2.06 ERA in five starts, and so did the Pirates, splitting their games evenly for a .500 month. The best was yet to come, with a 16-13 June that put them on the map. Pittsburgh wouldn't stop winning, reaching seven games over .500 on July 19. That spurred the club to acquire Ryan Ludwick and Derrek Lee at the trade deadline.

And then, collapse. All that needs to be said is what the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review found from the Elias Sports Bureau:
In the modern history of Major League Baseball that began in 1900, no team has fared worse than these Pirates after holding first place through 100 games. Actually, no team has even come close. The Pirates' 16-40 record down the stretch makes for a .286 winning percentage. Next-worst was the 1977 Chicago Cubs, who went 60-40 to lead their division through 100 games, then went 21-41 for a .339 winning percentage.
2012 AUDIT

The Pirates will enter 2012 staring at the prospect of a 20th straight losing season, and the team understandably wants nothing to do with that. A major priority will be shoring up the rotation. Jeff Karstens and Charlie Morton appear to have pitched over their head and the team has gotten away with surprising health in the rotation as well, something that can't be counted on to repeat as well. On offense, the team has some amount of flexibility, but also needs to count on the core of McCutchen, Neil Walker, Jose Tabata and Pedro Alvarez to deliver.

Even as motivated as the team is to make upgrades and finish with a winning record, there is always the issue of money, which the team doesn't have in spades. Fortunately, though, the club is committed to less than $10 million in 2012, and only Hanrahan and Karstens figure to make leaps in salary through the arbitration process. Only Evan Meek and Charlie Morton are other arbitration-eligible players of consequence, and they won't earn a significant amount in their first year of eligibility. However, Huntington said 2012 will be about the young players, which makes complete sense. This is a team in the middle of building -- you don't just scrap that entirely. What the Pirates need to do is build around their young players.

FREE AGENTS

Ronny Cedeno, SS (club option)
Ryan Doumit, C
Derrek Lee, 1B
Ryan Ludwick, OF
Chris Snyder, C (club option)
Paul Maholm, SP (club option)

OFFSEASON FOCUS

There are . The Pirates need to shore up their rotation by bringing in another starter -- and this is on top of Maholm. If Maholm leaves, the wish list grows to two. In addition, the team really needs a better option at shortstop than Ronny Cedeno. He may be able to pick it, but he just can't hit. The team also needs a brand-new catching corps. Other than that, the prudent thing to do is allow this club to grow together.
  • The Pirates need to pick up Paul Maholm's $9.75 million club option. Maholm bounced back from a poor 2010 to post a 3.66 ERA over 26 starts. The 29-year-old isn't a great starter, but if he hit the free agent market, would receive a fairly hefty deal. The Pirates here have an opportunity to keep a vital cog of their rotation for just one more year. The ability to retain Maholm for only one year is worth the premium of a couple more million than he might otherwise get in free agency, as it will allow the team an extra year of evaluation, as well as the opportunity to trade him.
  • Although returning Maholm would seem to stuff the rotation with Maholm, James McDonald, Kevin Correia, Karstens and Morton, the team needs to build its pitching depth and shouldn't feel beholden to Correia to keep a rotation spot warm for him. The top names on the market in C.J. Wilson and Edwin Jackson don't figure to be interested, but there are other mid-rotation starters that would entertain Pittsburgh. Bruce Chen appears poised to get a solid two- or three-year deal from a club after two straight successful years in Kansas City. He's not a sexy name, but he would hold up well in the middle of the rotation and outperform Correia.
  • Decline the team option on Chris Snyder for $6.75 million and resign him. Before Snyder's season ended due to back problems, he was hitting .271/.376.,396. That's pretty good production, and Snyder can work his way back off the bench while giving the club a catcher with some familiarity with Pirate pitchers. The catcher's market in free agency is quite poor, and it's hard to imagine Ramon Hernandez picking Pittsburgh out of his suitors. The team could luck into Rod Barajas, but will most likely have to take a risk and sign someone like Kelly Shoppach or even bring Doumit back.
  • Resign Derrek Lee. This may not be easy to pull off as Lee probably won't want to return, but the Pirates need to try. Lee hit .337/.394/.583 and Clint Hurdle has already said he wants Lee back. Lee can provide veteran presence and leadership on a young team, which it desperately needs to adapt the right frame of mind toward finishing at least 81-81. If Lee won't return, the team should go after Carlos Pena. He's another player with a fantastic reputation who can pick it at first base defensively.. He can't hit for average, but can hit balls a far way.
  • Shortstop is the main area, and the Pirates really need to focus on adding value here. If Marco Scutaro hits the market, Pittsburgh should call him up with a two-year deal and hand him the starting shortstop gig, which would be enough to attract his attention. Given Scoot's hot end to the season, though, he would likely find a better opportunity. Clint Barmes would be a solid acquisition -- a rich man's Ronny Cedeno. (No, Jose Reyes won't happen.) Pittsburgh would be better served to go the trade route and try to find a better long-term option. If the Angels grab Reyes, the Pirates could deal for Erick Aybar, or take fliers on Alexi Casilla or Everth Cabrera. Finding a new shortstop won't be easy, but the Pirates need to do what they can to upgrade the position.
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