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Tag:Russell Martin
Posted on: February 21, 2012 9:11 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 10:43 am
 

Spring primer: New York Yankees



By C. Trent Rosecrans

After a one-year stint as an underdog, the Yankees are back to being the clear favorite in the American League East. New York fortified its rotation with Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda, upgrading what appeared to be its one weak link.

Yankees spring training
Major additions: RHP Michael Pineda, RHP Hiroki Kuroda, DH Raul Ibanez
Major departures: RHP A.J. Burnett, DH Jesus Montero, RHP Bartolo Colon, DH Jorge Posada

Probable lineup:
1. Derek Jeter SS
2. Curtis Granderson CF
3. Robinson Cano 2B
4. Alex Rodriguez 3B
5. Mark Teixeira 1B
6. Nick Swisher RF
7. Russell Martin C
8. Raul Ibanez DH
9. Brett Gardner LF

Probable rotation:
1. CC Sabathia
2. Hiroki Kuroda
3. Michael Pineda
4. Ivan Nova
5. Phil Hughes

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Mariano Rivera
Set-up: RHP David Robertson, RHP Rafael Soriano

Important bench players
C Francisco Cervelli, IF Eduardo Nunez, OF Andruw Jones, IF Eric Chavez

Prospect to watch: With the additions of Kuroda and Pineda, there's not quite the pressure on left-hander Manny Banuelos that there was last spring. Banuelos doesn't turn 21 until March 13, so he can develop without the pressure of being the savior of the Yankees. His results last season at Double-A and Triple-A didn't live up to the hype, but he's still a quality young pitcher than can contribute to the rotation in the future.

Fantasy breakout: Michael Pineda

"With a year of experience, he'll be better equipped to handle a full workload, which could lead to 15-plus victories with the Yankees' stellar lineup backing him. And most likely, any rise in ERA will be in relation to the early 2.58 mark, not the final 3.74 mark." - Scott White

Fantasy sleeper: Phil Hughes

"With an improved workout program this offseason, he should be able to pick up where he left off late last year, when he was throwing in the low-to-mid 90s. True, Hughes wasn't exactly an ace then, but just by holding a regular rotation spot for the high-scoring Yankees, he's a sleeper in Fantasy. And if he can recapture the form he showed in the first half of 2010, when he was an All-Star, he's a late-round steal." - Scott White

Optimistic outlook: Pineda lives up to expectations, Kuroda is solid, Nova takes a step forward, Hughes makes 30 starts and Sabathia wins the Cy Young. That pitching, with a healthy A-Rod, Granderson repeating his 2011 output and Teixeira lives up to his contract and the Yankees win the AL East easily and go on to win the World Series.

Pessimistic outlook: Anything less than a World Series title is the end of the world in New York, so it doesn't have to be too bad for Yankees fans to overreact. But the worst-case scenario is the team's older stars continue to age, with injuries taking away A-Rod, Jeter, Teixeira and Martin for long periods of times. Pineda struggles in New York and his lack of a third pitch comes back to bite him, Kuroda is mediocre and Nova takes a step back. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays take a step forward and New York finishes behind Tampa Bay, Boston and Toronto.

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Posted on: December 16, 2011 7:39 am
Edited on: December 16, 2011 7:41 am
 

HomegrownTeam: Los Angeles Dodgers



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.

Do the Dodgers do well in drafts and international signings? The answer is a resounding yes. What they do with those players could certainly be questioned, but as far as building a foundation, few have been better in recent years. See below.

Lineup

1. Dee Gordon, SS
2. Shane Victorino, RF
3. Matt Kemp, LF
4. Paul Konerko, 1B
5. Adrian Beltre, 3B
6. Carlos Santana, C
7. Franklin Gutierrez, CF
8. Miguel Cairo, 2B

Starting Rotation

1. Clayton Kershaw
2. Edwin Jackson
3. Ted Lilly
4. Hiroki Kuroda
5. Chad Billingsley

If you don't like us using Kuroda -- some commenters have disagreed with including guys who were professional players in Japan in this series -- you can slide in James McDonald or the youngster Rubby De La Rosa.

Bullpen

Closer - Joakim Soria
Set up - Javy Guerra, Joel Hanrahan, Kenley Jansen, Takashi Saito, Jonathan Broxton, Pedro Feliciano, Cory Wade
Long - McDonald

Notable Bench Players

Russell Martin, Henry Blanco, James Loney, Blake DeWitt, Trayvon Robinson, Jerry Sands, Alex Cora

What's Good?

Spoiler Alert: This section is going to be much longer than "what's not." How about starting with the offensive firepower Victorino, Kemp, Konerko, Beltre and Santana bring in the 2-6 spots of the order? That is sick. Gordon has good potential and Gutierrez was a decent hitter before his stomach issues derailed him a few years ago. The starting rotation is good, deep, has a good lefty-righty mix and a true ace sitting at the top. The bullpen is so deep it's unimaginable. It's not as great as the Yankees' bullpen (Clippard-Robertson-Axford-Rivera) in this exercise, but this is definitely an elite unit. The bench is pretty damn good, too. Best of all, though, how about the defensive range? Gutierrez was widely considered the best center fielder in baseball before his stomach woes. Victorino is a three-time Gold Glover while he lost out to Kemp this season. I decided to shift Kemp to left because Victorino has a cannon that is an asset in right. Not that Kemp can't throw. This would be one insane defensive outfield. Beltre is the best defensive third baseman in baseball, too. That's a lot of help for an already-good pitching staff.

What's Not?

Anything would be a nitpick. Maybe that Dee Gordon might not yet be ready to lead off for this team? If that was the case, you could move up Victorino and then the bottom of the order becomes a bit weak. But, again, that's a nitpick.

Comparison to real 2011

I kind of chuckled during all the MVP arguments when people would say that Kemp played for a team that "sucks." The Dodgers finished 82-79. Yes, they were out of contention for pretty much all of the season, but they finished above .500, so they definitely don't suck. Of course, those real-life Dodgers couldn't hold a candle to this group. This is a World Series-caliber club, but the funny thing is, did you see Arizona's team? The D-Backs lineup is much better, but the Dodgers have the better defense and pitching. We'd have a nice battle for the NL West title and maybe even see a rematch in the NLCS. If only ...

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Posted on: October 7, 2011 2:15 am
Edited on: October 7, 2011 12:59 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 New York Yankees

By Matt Snyder

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: New York Yankees
Record: 97-65, 1st place in AL East. Lost ALDS 3-2 to Detroit.
Manager: Joe Girardi
Best hitter: Curtis Granderson -- .262/.364/.552, 41 HR, 119 RBI, 136 R, 10 3B, 25 SB
Best pitcher: CC Sabathia -- 19-8, 3.00 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 230 K in 237 1/3 IP

2011 SEASON RECAP

It was a pretty normal regular season for the Yankees, as they brought home their 12th AL East title in the past 16 seasons, but it wasn't drawn up the same way as other successful seasons. The pitching rotation from Day 1 was patchwork. Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon and a host of others -- such as Mark Prior -- were brought in during spring training to see if any would stick and it worked out to varying degrees with Garcia, Colon and rookie Ivan Nova. The offense was once-again mighty, as Curtis Granderson emerged as an MVP candidate to pick up the slack for the injured and struggling Alex Rodriguez. Still, in the end, this season will be viewed as a failure since the Yankees didn't win the World Series. If they don't win the World Series, they fell short of expectations. More than 20 other teams would have been ultimately satisfied by this campaign, but not the Yankees. Losing in the ALDS is a failure. Period.

2012 AUDIT

The Yankees are in a familiar spot. They're set up to contend for a World Series title again in 2012, but they are going to have to fill some holes -- namely that they need another reliable starting pitcher. Eyes can look forward and see they need to get younger pretty soon, but with several contracts locked in, the Yankees don't have much choice for 2012. And there is no reason to expect the Yankees to be anywhere but right in the playoff mix come September of 2012. It would be foolish to think otherwise.

FREE AGENTS

Robinson Cano, 2B (club option)
Eric Chavez, 3B
Nick Swisher, RF (club option)
Jorge Posada, DH
Bartolo Colon, SP
Freddy Garcia, SP
CC Sabathia, SP (can and probably will opt out)
Luis Ayala, RP

OFFSEASON FOCUS

They will most certainly bring back Sabathia and Cano. From there ...
  • The rotation will have Sabathia, Nova, Hughes and probably A.J. Burnett. He makes too much money to not plug in there. He has the ability to be a decent fifth starter. Still, that rotation appears pretty top-heavy for a team that expects to be the best in the majors. So they need a legitimate second starter behind Sabathia. And he's sitting right there, if interested. C.J. Wilson of the Rangers is left-handed, which fits well in Yankee Stadium, and is a free agent. With the Posada money coming off the books, in addition to the Colon/Garcia money, the Yankees can likely outbid anyone else for Wilson's services. They could even backload a deal if need be, because people like Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter have expiring contracts in the next several years.
  • As I alluded to above, it's time to part ways with Posada and let Jesus Montero take over as the full-time DH. The youngster showed he has the ability to become a serious threat in the lineup and the Yankees need to inject some youth into the aging lineup. 
  • Pitching prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances don't appear to be ready yet, but they're close. They will be monitored pretty heavily heading into 2012 and if Hughes or Burnett aren't getting it done, it's possible there's a change made. Nova is proof the Yankees aren't afraid to throw someone in the fire.
  • Swisher's situation in right is interesting. Is he worth eight figures? Probably not, according to most teams. But the Yankees can afford that and there aren't many better options out there. What if the Twins don't come to terms on a contract extension with Michael Cuddyer, though? It wouldn't hurt for the Yankees to weigh their options, but the best guess is Swisher comes back. 
  • Really, there isn't that much more that needs to be done. Russell Martin, Mark Teixiera, Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson will again be everyday starters. The rotation has four men set and the back-end of the bullpen has a returning Joba Chamberlain along with Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera. The biggest issue is getting one more starting pitcher and then filling the bench with also-rans like the Yankees did this year with Andruw Jones, Eric Chavez et al. Considering they were close, but not good enough, I fully expect the Yankees to throw the bank at Wilson and that will be the only significant offseason move concerning a player outside the organization. The only caveat to that is the Yankees will have to agree with Sabathia first -- and I do believe the Yankees will do whatever it takes to keep him -- which means they could miss out on Wilson in the meantime. If they do miss out, the leftovers aren't awesome. Edwin Jackson, Erik Bedard and Joel Pineiro look like the best bets. If they wanted to trade, they're probably looking at the likes of Wandy Rodriguez or Jeff Niemann (I don't think the Rays would part with James Shields cheaply), so expect the Yankees to be very agressive with both Sabathia and then Wilson.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 28, 2011 1:35 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Red Sox, Rays, Cards get it done



By Matt Snyder


Red Sox offense. They really, really needed this one. And you have to give the Red Sox credit, they came through when it mattered. They fell behind 1-0 in the first inning, but then Jacoby Ellsbury hit a two-run homer. Marco Scutaro would also hit a 2-run homer later in the game. Still, the Red Sox pitching staff allowed seven runs against the Orioles and a huge effort was needed from someone offensively. It was provided by an unlikely source, as emergency catcher Ryan Lavarnway hit two home runs and drove home four in the Red Sox's 8-4 victory. The two blasts were the first two of his career and he became the youngest Red Sox player to homer twice in the same game since Nomar Garciaparra did it in 1997 -- and they were the exact same ago to the day (Ian Browne via Twitter).

Cardinals' offense. Starting pitcher Jake Westbrook was awful, and the Cardinals trailed 5-0 after three innings. It was of no matter in the end, though, because they'd piece together 13 runs in the final six frames to win the game. On the whole, the Cardinals pounded out 17 hits, including four doubles, a triple and two home runs. The biggest hits were Skip Schumaker's three-run double in the fourth, Ryan Theriot's go-ahead, two-run triple in the seventh and Allen Craig's three-run homer in the eighth to put the game out of reach.

Matt Joyce, Rays. Ben Zobrist hit a two-run homer earlier in the game and the Rays bailed themselves out with a huge triple play, but neither would have mattered if Joyce didn't come through with a pivotal three-run bomb in the bottom of the seventh to put the Rays on top 5-3. That was the eventual final score.

Bonus Up No. 1, Prince Fielder: Three home runs is a pretty decent night, don't you think? He hits home runs a lot (230 in his career now and he's only 27), but this was the first three-homer game of his big-league career.

Bonus Up No. 2, Jose Reyes: He went deep twice and maintained his percentage-point lead for the batting title.

Bonus Up No. 3, Jarrod Parker: The 22-year-old Diamondbacks' prospect made his major-league debut against the Dodgers. He went 5 2/3 shutout innings and allowed just four hits. If you don't take the D-Backs seriously yet, imagine them with Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Parker, Trevor Bauer (third overall pick this past June) and Archie Bradley (seventh overall pick this past June) in the rotation a few years from now. Oh, and Justin Upton's only 24. That's a strong foundation. And while we're here ... a walk-off grand slam after trailing 6-1 in the 10th? C'mon. Big ups to Ryan Roberts for imitating Kirk Gibson as he rounded the bases, too.



Derek Lowe, Braves. Four innings, six hits, five earned runs, a loss and the Braves are now tied in the NL wild-card race. Oh, and Lowe makes over $15 million a year.

Bronson Arroyo, Reds. How about this one? According to Elias Sports Bureau -- via a Reds' press release -- Arroyo is now the second pitcher in major-league history to have allowed at least 40 home runs and less than 50 walks in the same season. We've all heard the phrase "trust your stuff" when pitchers walk too many hitters. Maybe Arroyo should trust his stuff a bit less. Trade some of the bombs for free passes.

Russell Martin, Yankees. He hit into a huge triple play, but that's just a ground ball with bad timing. My issue came when he tried to beat the throw by diving into first base. See last night's 3 Up 3 Down -- the Nick Punto entry -- for the rant relating to that. (What, is it spreading?)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 17, 2011 11:29 am
 

Yanks' Cervelli may not be available for playoffs

Francisco CervelliBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Yankees backup catcher Francisco Cervelli may not be ready for the playoffs, manager Joe Girardi told reporters on Friday. Cervelli suffered a concussion on Sept. 8 and hasn't played since. Cervelli is scheduled to visit a neurologist next week.

"I think you have to prepare that he won't be (available) only because it's so unpredictable," Girardi told reporters (via New York Daily News). "That's what's so scary because we've seen so many guys miss so much time with them, and they're still missing time. I heard (Justin) Morneau talking about when he dove for a ball at first base, the concussion symptoms came back. You just don't know what's going to happen."

Francisco CervelliIf Cervelli's unable to play in the first round of the playoffs, the Yankees will have to make a choice between two rookies to backup Russell Martin. Austin Romaine is the better defensive catcher of the two rookies, but Jesus Montero has the more potent bat. The two have combined for just 18 big-league innings behind the plate and one start apiece.

Montero, 21, is hitting .286/.359/.571 with three homers and six RBI in 39 plate appearances spanning 10 games (mostly as a DH), while Romine has one hit in four plate appearances in two games. He replaced Montero for the final three innings of Montero's one start behind the plate.

The Yankees, of course, still have Jorge Posada, who can catch, but he's logged just as many innings behind the plate as Montero this season (6), and manager Joe Girardi isn't a huge fan of Posada's skills behind the plate. If he's used as the DH, the Yankees would lost the DH if Martin were to leave a game with injury and he was the only backup.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 12, 2011 10:12 am
 

Pepper: Ortiz says it's time to panic



By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Wild Cards were all sewn up -- or so we thought.

While it appeared the Braves and Red Sox would cruise to the Wild Card (or the AL East title for Boston), but in the last week, things have gotten interesting. St. Louis swept Atlanta to move just 4.5 games behind Atlanta and Tampa Bay is now just 3.5 games behind the Red Sox as Boston finished a 1-6 road trip, including being swept by the Rays.

Still, there's not a whole lot of baseball left, the two favorites are still favored by mathematicians to hold onto their leads. So it's not time to panic, right?

"Hell yeah, you've got to panic at this point, but you're not going to do anything panicking but playing better," Boston's David Ortiz told reporters (Boston Herald). "Of course you're freaked out, you go on this road trip, 1-6, it's not good. We've got these guys breathing down our next and we're not in first place, either."

Give him credit, Ortiz is always entertaining and this time he's right. The team should worry about the Rays and can't get too worked up about it because panic doesn't help a team play any better. It's an interesting balancing act, playing with urgency, but not panic. Baseball's a tough game that's even tougher when you press.

Cuddyer's homer helped save teammate: Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer hit two game-winning homers in a minor-league playoff series in 2001 to lead his team to a victory in the best-of-five series. If his team had lost the series, teammate Brad Thomas and his wife, Kylie, had already booked a flight home to Australia. The couple would have started its journey on American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles on Sept. 11, 2001. With the win, Thomas and his wife had to stay for the next series.

"He credits me for saving his life," Cuddyer told MLB.com. "I mean, I don't know about that. It was just a twist of fate."

Thomas is currently on the Tigers' 60-day disabled list.

Cuddyer also wrote about the incident on FoxSports North.

Wainwright remembers: We all have our own personal stories about where we were on Sept. 11, 2001 -- I drove from Athens, Ga., to Washington, D.C., the day before to go to see PJ Harvey at the 9:30 Club on Sept. 10, 2001. I still have the ticket stub and a September 12, 2001, Washington Post to share with my kids some day. Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright was in New York for the Red Sox-Yankees game on Sept. 10, 2001, and then cancelled a morning meeting near the World Trade Center the next day in order to get on the road to Cooperstown with his brother. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

Waiting on Theo: Matt touched on this yesterday, but word is Tom Ricketts is willing to wait for his dream GM, Boston's Theo Epstein. While MLB looks down on major offseason announcements before the end of the World Series, those decisions happen all the time and are usually uncovered before the official announcement. However, there is a real wait if one of those interviewed and hired is still working. That could be the case with Boston's Epstein, reportedly Ricketts' top pick. If Epstein is in the least bit interested, Ricketts will wait. [Chicago Tribune]

Beckett to throw: Red Sox right-hander Josh Beckett will test his injured right ankle in a bullpen session Monday and could return to the rotation by the end of the week -- welcome news to the Red Sox. [Boston Herald]

Weeks to go slow: Rickie Weeks returned to the Brewers' lineup on Sunday, walking and being hit by a pitch in his only plate appearances and was taken out of the game after four innings. The team plans on taking it slow with him. The Brewers are off on Monday and manager Ron Roenicke said he would try to get Weeks back into the game on Tuesday and maybe increase his innings. Weeks missed six weeks after suffering a severe left ankle sprain. [Appleton Post-Crescent]

Cruz ready to return: The Rangers are in the closest playoff race in baseball, leading the Angels by 2.5 games and they get some good news on Tuesday when Nelson Cruz says he'll be ready to return from the disabled list. Cruz went on the DL on Aug. 30 with a strained left hamstring and ran in the outfield on Saturday. The Rangers don't have any minor-league affiliates still playing, so the team will activate Cruz without a rehab assignment. [MLB.com]

Zimmermann bored sitting out: Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann hasn't pitched in two weeks and won't pitch in the final two weeks of the season. The good news is that next season he won't have an innings limit. With Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals have the building blocks for a very good rotation. [Washington Post]

Prado struggling: An All-Star in 2010, Atlanta's Martin Prado his having a disappointing 2011. The 27-year-old super utility player is hitting .261/.307/.385 this season, well below the .307/.356/.454 line he put up in his first five seasons in the big leagues. The prolonged slump is costing him sleep, Prado told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Romine relishes chance: While Jesus Montero garnered headlines when he was called up, the Yankees have a better catching prospect, Austin Romine. With injuries to Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli, Romine made his big-league debut on Sunday. Romine had thought his season was over after Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre finished its season, but Joe Girardi needed a replacement and got in touch with Romine on Saturday. Girardi hadn't been able to get in touch with the catcher, so he had to go to the Angels' clubhouse to talk to Romine's brother, Andrew, an infielder with the Angles, to get a better number. Austin Romine replaced Montero in the ninth inning, catching Mariano Rivera, who recorded his 599th career save. [MLB.com]

ThunderBolts to White Sox: Just two years ago Dylan Axelrod was pitching for the Windy City ThunderBolts of the independent Frontier League. On Wednesday, he'll be throwing in the Windy City again, but for the White Sox in place of former Cy Young winner Jake Peavy. [Chicago Tribune]

Mo Coco: Reds closer Francisco Cordero is willing to re-negotiate his $12 million option for 2012 and general manager Walt Jocketty told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that an extension is a "possibility." Cordero, a whipping boy in Cincinnati, has had an outstanding year, recording 32 saves with a 2.30 ERA with five blown saves. Since coming to the Reds in 2008, Cordero has 145 saves and 23 blown saves, converting 86 percent of his chances with a 2.94 ERA. The Reds don't have an obvious candidate to take over in the ninth inning if they decline his $12 million option. He was the team's highest-paid player in 2011 and his $12 million in 2012 would be the tied for the team's highest-paid player along with second baseman Brandon Phillips, who also has a $12 million option for 2012 that the team is expected to pick up.

Eat before you go: We see a report like this just about every year, but it's always a good reminder -- if you want your food handled properly before you eat it, you've got to make sure to do it yourself. [CBS Chicago]

Bourjos takes blame: We all have those people we know or work with that will never admit fault -- there's always some crazy excuse or reason something went wrong, and it's never their fault, it's some extenuating circumstance. The Angels' Peter Bourjos is not that guy. His error doomed the Angels on Sunday, and instead of complaining about the sun or anything, taking full responsibility for the play that killed his team. [Los Angeles Times]

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Posted on: September 10, 2011 10:09 pm
 

Posada enters game as catcher, throws out runner

PosadaBy Evan Brunell

Prior to Saturday, Las Vegas would have refused to take a bet on Jorge Posada throwing out a runner as catcher in Saturday's game, believing that they would have been stealing the better's money. (Well, at least more blatantly then they already do.

Except that happened.

Posada was pressed into service as catcher when Russell Martin took a foul tip off his right hand, necessitating leaving the game. Backup catcher Francisco Cervelli was unavailable thanks to a recurrence of concussion symptoms, so it was left to Posada to shoulder the load. Jesus Montero, who was DHing, also put on his catcher's gear before being told to take it off. If Montero had not been starting, he likely would have subbed in but since he was the DH, manager Joe Girardi did not want to lose the DH early in the game. (A DH that takes the field then causes the DH spot to be lost for the remainder of the game, requiring the pitcher to hit.)

It was the first time Posada had caught all year. And by year, we mean it -- he didn't even take any reps in spring training.

But that's not even the most impressive thing. The first thing the Angels did when Posada entered the game was to try to run on him, but Posada threw out second baseman Howie Kendrick on a high throw to nip that in the bud.

Martin was hit by a Maicer Izturis foul tip in the second inning but remained in the game despite blood on his thumb. However, when he threw the ball into center field while warming up CC Sabathia prior to the third, he was yanked.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 26, 2011 1:05 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Gonzalez's power binge continues

Gonzalez

By Evan Brunell

3 UpAdrian Gonzalez, Red Sox: Including Wednesday night, Adrian Gonzalez homered on three consecutive pitches, with the latter two coming in the first two at-bats of Thursday's game, helping pace the Red Sox to a 6-0 victory. Gonzalez's second homer of the night was estimated at 448 feet, just one foot less than Jacoby Ellsbury's blast off of Felix Hernandez in July for the longest Sox homer of the season. A-Gon now has 23 homers on the year, five in the last three games. Before Tuesday, he hadn't homered since July 30. Gonzalez finished 2 for 4 with three RBI.

Jeremy Hellickson, Rays: Jeremy Hellickson twirled a beaut on Thursday, shutting down the Tigers 2-0 by going seven strong, giving up two earned runs, a walk and six hits. He struck out seven, but four of those came in the same inning. That was made possible by Austin Jackson opening the top of the third with a strikeout, reaching first on a wild pitch. Ramon Santiago, Delmon Young and Victor Martinez all then followed with whiffs, all four of them whiffing. The rookie's ERA was further shaved to 3.01, and it's difficult to imagine he doesn't walk away with the Rookie of the Year award.

Russell Martin, Yankees: Martin had a game to remember on Thursday, going 5 for 5 with two home runs. The backstop has been a zero on offense since the first several days of the season, but has heated up the past week, with another strong game coming last Friday. Between these two games, Martin's OPS has skyrocketed to .761 on the year, up from .689 on Aug. 16. That's a fast turnaround in OPS for someone who has played the entire season.



Phil Hughes, Yankees: The Yankees won 22-9, so there were plenty of lousy A's players who took the mound and blew up. In fact, all six Oakland pitchers in the game gave up at least one run, led by Bruce Billings' 1 1/3-inning relief effort, giving up seven earned runs. But we're profiling Hughes here, who took a major step back in his return from a mysterious drop in velocity that saw him knocked around in April. After four straight strong starts, Hughes gave up six runs in 2 2/3 innings to the punchless A's, who rapped out seven hits despite grabbing no walks and whiffing five times. Hughes failed to capitalize after a poor A.J. Burnett start that might have seen New York trim its rotation back to five men and boot Burnett. But now, who knows?

Adam Lind, Blue Jays: It was a golden sombrero day for Lind, who whiffed four times in five hitless trips to the plate. Lind also went 0-for-4 on Thursday and is mired in a slump over his past several games and in the month overall, with his OPS dropping from .807 to start August down to .749 by game's end, unable to solve the Royals, who started Jeff Francis. Lind had come back strong from a dispiriting 2010, but thanks to the slump, his bounceback year looks far less impressive than it did earlier in the season.

Tyler Clippard, Nationals: Fangraphs has two statistics for relief pitchers, called shutdowns and meltdowns, that is essentially saves and blown saves for relievers as a whole, allowing for better comparison. Coming into Thursday's game, Clippard had 34 shutdowns and six meltdowns, which is an excellent ratio. Well, you can add a meltdown to that statistic, as Clippard gave up three earned runs in just 2/3s of an inning against Arizona, allowing the Diamondbacks to pad their 2-1 lead to 5-1 in a game they would eventually win 8-1.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com