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Tag:Lance Berkman
Posted on: September 12, 2011 5:40 pm
 

On Deck: Rivera looks for 600th save

OD

By C. Trent Rosecrans


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Mariano RiveraOne Mo for 600: Remember when Derek Jeter's last 20 hits were breathlessly followed? It seemed like his every step was chronicled and he was fawned upon for becoming the latest member of the admittedly elite 3,000 hit club. And much of the backlash was about how it was reported that way just because it was a Yankee player. You know, it may have more to do with Jeter's popularity than the uniform. On Sunday, Mariano Rivera recorded his 599th career save and he's now just one save from becoming only the second player to ever get to 600 saves. He's two from tying the career save mark and he's three from holding it outright, unseating Trevor Hoffman. I get that a lot of the difference is about the save stat and its worthiness and its relative youth as an official statistic, but it still seems interesting that more isn't being made of one of the all-time greats getting so close to setting a record like that. Or maybe everyone just assumed he already held the record. Yankees at Mariners, 10:10 p.m. ET

Roy OswaltHunter PenceFamiliar faces: Philadelphia's Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence will be on familiar ground tonight as both make their first appearances at Minute Maid Park in a non-Astros uniform. Oswalt was traded to Philadelphia last season and Pence this season. Both have stepped up their game in Philadelphia, as Oswalt is 14-9 with a 2.88 ERA in his 19 starts with the Astros, while he was 6-11 with a 3.37 ERA in his last 19 starts with the Astros. Pence was liked in Houston, but in his short time in Philadelphia he's become beloved. In 38 games with the Phillies, he's hitting .320/.393/.551 with eight home runs and 24 RBI . He had 11 homers in 100 games for the Astros, while hitting .308/.356/.471. Houston can only hope neither of those two have the success that another form Astro has had in Houston -- Lance Berkman has hit .480/.519/1.160 with five homers in six games at Minute Maid Park this season and .429/.484/1.036 in eight games total against Houston. It's only fitting that former Phillie Brett Myers is on the hill for Houston. Phillies at Astros, 8:05 p.m. ET

Home sweet home: The Braves are coming off a 2-6 road trip that saw the team lose four games in the Wild Card standings to the Cardinals. The Braves are 44-28 at Turner Field this season, the third-best home record in the National League. Atlanta has nine of its final 15 games at home, while St. Louis plays 10 of its 16 remaining games on the road. The Braves will need another good start from rookie right-hander Brandon Beachy against Florida on Monday. Beachy allowed just two hits and a run in 5 2/3 innings against Philadelphia on Sept. 7, but picked up a no-decision when Atlanta's usually dominant bullpen gave up runs in the eighth and ninth innings of a 3-2 loss. Beachy's 1-0 with a 3.26 ERA in three starts against the Marlins this season, striking out 24 in 19 1/3 innings, but also walking 10. Marlins at Braves, 7:10 p.m. ET

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Posted on: September 8, 2011 10:43 pm
 

Juan Pierre joins 2,000 hit club

Juan PierreBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Juan Pierre's third-inning single against the Indians' David Huff on Thursday gave him 2,000 for his career. He's the 268th player in Major League history to reach 2,000 career hits and the eight player to reach the milestone this season. Pierre's the second White Sox to reach the career mark this season, joining Paul Konerko who notched his 2,000th career hit on Aug. 23.

It was only fitting that Pierre reached 2,000 with a single -- it was the 1,667 single of his career.

Also reaching 2,000 hits this season were Carlos Lee, Orlando Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Michael Young, Scott Rolen, Adrian Beltre and Konerko. He figures to be the last to get to 2,000 this season -- but 10 players are in striking distance to reach the mark next season -- Placido Polanco (1,947), Jason Giambi (1,945), Derrek Lee (1,940), Carlos Beltran (1,895), Andruw Jones (1,880), Jimmy Rollins (1,846), Torii Hunter (1,803), Lance Berkman (1,795) and Raul Ibanez (1,774).

Pierre, 34, is the 23rd active player with 2,000 hits, led by Derek Jeter with 3,069.

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Posted on: September 7, 2011 2:03 am
 

No midafternoon starts for Cards in 2012

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Cardinals will have one less thing to complain about next season, as the day after several St. Louis players complained about Monday's 3:15 p.m. start, the team said the will not schedule any midafternoon starts next season.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, general manager John Mozeliak said the team's holiday games will start either in the evening or in the early afternoon.

"I talked to those guys," Mozeliak told the newspaper. "I recognize it as a safety issue and it will be addressed."

Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday complained about the shadows at Busch Stadium following the team's 4-1 loss to the Brewers. According to the report, Pujols, Holliday and player union representative Kyle McClellan addressed the issue after a 7-0 loss to the Pirates on Aug. 27. After that game, Lance Berkman called the start time "a farce."

The Cardinals played 10 games at 3:10 or 3:15 p.m. this season -- seven for national television and three other scheduled by the team.

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Posted on: September 1, 2011 9:42 am
 

Pepper: Plenty of good seats available

Dodger Stadium

By C. Trent Rosecrans
 

Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke went to Wednesday afternoon's Dodgers-Padres game and talked to all six fans in section 314. Six. The announced crowd was 27,767 -- but there were actually fewer than 8,000, Plaschke estimated and may have been the smallest crowd in Dodger Stadium history. 

Every time I've been to Dodger Stadium it's been full and rocking -- this tells you as much as you need to know about how LA fans feel about Frank McCourt.

On the market: But the McCourts did sell one of their two homes near the Playboy Mansion, so there's that. It was the smaller of the two houses in Holmby Hills going for "just" $6.14 million. [Los Angeles Times]

Click here: Really nice work by the Detroit News illustrating just how quickly a Justin Verlander fastball gets on a batter. Check it out.

No sympathy: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is one of his closest friends in the game, but he's not exactly feeling sorry for him -- "No, because I've seen him celebrating a lot with a lot of champagne over his body when I've watch him [over the years]," he told reporters (MLB.com). "Get them next year, Gardy."

Jays scouting Darvish: Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos was in Japan on Wednesday scouting right-hander Yu Darvish. The Rangers and Yankees have also scouted him in person, while the Nationals, Orioles, Red Sox and Rays also have reportedly been interested in Darvish. [Toronto Sun]

Theo happy in Boston: Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein made his first remarks about his name being thrown around in talks about the open Cubs job -- he said he's "really happy to be with the Red Sox." He didn't elaborate much or deny any interest in the Cubs job, but why should he? Leverage is a good thing and there's no reason for Epstein to give that up. [WEEI.com]

Beane leading Cubs' wish list: Cubs owner Tom Ricketts was in San Francisco on Wednesday, while A's general manager Billy Beane was at home in the Bay Area and his team was in Cleveland -- coincidence? [Chicago Sun-Times

Rooftops expected: For the first time in a decade, all the Wrigley rooftops around the Cubs' home park have been inspected by city health officials. [Chicago Tribune]

Measuring power: An interesting article on FanGraphs.com asking the best way to measure power -- because what exactly are we talking about when we talk about power? It's more than just homers, but shouldn't homers count more? Anyway, the result is a stat called wXB -- or weighted extra bases. However, the problem with this is that are triples really a measure of power? You're not going to find anyone who says Dexter Fowler has more power than David Ortiz, but you wouldn't be surprised to learn Fowler has more triples than Ortiz.

Strasmas returns: Not that it's any surprise, but ticket prices have gone through the roof for the Stephen Strasburg's "Strasurrection" start on Sept. 6. [Washington Post]

Cards want to extend Berkman: The Houston Chronicle's Richard Justice told a St. Louis radio station that the Cardinals approached Lance Berkman about a contract extension in July and the 35-year-old "very much wants to stay" in St. Louis. However, the fact he didn't sign an extension implies Berkman will at least test the free agent waters. [NBC Sports]

Phillies doomed: The Phillies are a favorite for the World Series this season, but enjoy it now, Phillies fans. Grantland.com's Rany Jazayerli writes that the team isn't built for the long haul, as the team is saddled with bloated contracts and aging players. A really interesting read.

Moose is loose: Royals rookie Mike Moustakas has found his groove. After starting his career hitting .182, he's raised his average to .232 with a 14-game hitting streak. [MLB.com]

Movie time for A's: Several A's say they're curious to see Moneyball when it premiers later this month. [Baseball Prospectus]

Bay to center? Could the Mets move Jason Bay to center field in 2012? That's one of the things the team is considering, even though it seems like it would certainly weaken the team's outfield defense. But hey, the guy is owed a ton of money, so he'd have to be put somewhere. The move would also allow Daniel Murphy's bat to get in the lineup in left, with Lucas Duda in right. Of course, Murphy wasn't able to play left in 2009, so I'm not exactly sure why he would be able to now. [New York Daily News]

Pujols teases fan: A good friend of mine can't stand Albert Pujols -- when 60 Minutes did the feature about all his charitable work, my friend wasn't impressed. He once had a to do a story on Pujols, who blew him off. He went back the next day, and Pujols was a jerk to him again. So I'm guessing he'll like this story about Pujols taunting a Brewer fan. [Big League Stew]

Quentin's return uncertain: White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin is eligible to come off the disabled list on Monday, but he said he's unsure if he'll be ready to play by then. He went on the disabled list for a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder Saturday, but hadn't played since Aug. 20. [Chicago Tribune]

Uehara's option vests: When Rangers reliever Koji Uehara appeared in his 55th game of the season on Wednesday, his $4 million option for 2012 vested. [MLBTradeRumors.com]

More Garfoose: Not to overload you with Dirk Hayhurst stuff, but some might find this interesting -- the recently released pitcher is auctioning off some of his game-used gear for charity. [DirkHayhurst.com]

40th anniversary: On Sept. 1, 1971, the Pittsburgh Pirates became the first team in Major League history to field an all-minority lineup, with Dock Ellis taking the mound. [The Hardball Times]

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Posted on: August 31, 2011 1:55 pm
 

September Storylines: Kemp's season overshadowed

Matt KempBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Dodgers may have the best player in the National League, and yet he's been overshadowed by the team's ownership story and even his own teammate, Andre Ethier who has a long hitting streak and a mysterious injury that have garnered headlines. Heck, the biggest story of the year involving Los Angeles' Matt Kemp may be better known for his breakup with his girlfriend last offseason than his breakout on the field this season.

Yep, Matt Kemp may be the best player in the National League, and Dodgerland is still talking about the McCourts, Ethier's possibly injury and the return of their broadcast team. Meanwhile, Matt Kemp leads all big leaguers in Wins Above Replacement players at 8.0 (according to Baseball-Reference.com -- FanGraphs.com has him sixth overall and second in the National League at 6.6).

If advanced metrics aren't your thing, he's hitting .321/.396/.573 with 31 home runs and 101 RBI -- numbers that put him in the running for the triple crown. (He's also tied for second in the NL in stolen bases with 35, 12 behind the Braves' Michael Bourn.)

September Storylines
    • A look at the postseason races

Last year it was Albert Pujols, Joey Votto and Carlos Gonzalez challenging for the triple crown, this year Kemp has the best shot. Here's a look at his numbers, and chances.

Batting average: Kemp's currently hitting .321, good for fourth in the National League behind Jose Reyes (.335), Ryan Braun (.331) and Votto (.325) -- with David Murphy (.320) hot on his heels. A career .292 hitter, this is his best batting average since 2007, when he hit .342 in 98 games (and 311 plate appearances) as a 22-year-old. This is the best year of the 26-year-old's career, so it's not like past performance will predict production, but he has tailed off in the last month of the season in his career. Kemp's hit .264/.310/.426 in September and October in his career, while hitting .297/.354/.502 in the other months (although those numbers do include this season's production). 

Home runs: Kemp's tied for the National League lead with Mike Stanton and Pujols with 31 homers, with Lance Berkman and Dan Uggla just one homer behind, each with 30. Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder both have 29 homers, while Troy Tulowitzki and Jay Bruce each have 28 homers -- meaning the race is wide open. 

The Dodgers have 10 home games remaining on their schedule and 17 road games, which would appear to help Kemp who has 16 of his 31 homers on the road this season in fewer games, hitting a homer every 17.3 plate appearances on the road and one every 19.4 plate appearances at Dodger Stadium. However, the stadiums left on the Dodgers' tour of the National League haven't been kind to Kemp -- he has just three homers in the parks left on the team's travel schedule, with two of those coming at Arizona's Chase Field. He hasn't homered in either San Francisco's AT&T Park or San Diego's Petco Park, despite playing six games in both stadiums this season. Kemp has just two homers in San Francisco in his career (166 plate appearances) and three in San Diego (139 plate appearances). Overall, he's managed just one homer every 40.6 plate appearances in the six parks (Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Washington, San Francisco, San Diego and Arizona) the Dodgers will play in during September and 15 total, seven of those at Chase Field.

RBI: Kemp enters Wednesday's game with 101 RBI, already tying his career best (2009), and just one behind leaders Howard and Fielder. Tulowitzki is the only other player with more than 90 RBI, with 94 on the season. The RBI stat is dependent on what other players do, and after struggling in July, the Dodgers had one of their best offensive months of the season in August, scoring 127 runs in the month, the most of any month and getting on base at a .322 rate, only just below its .339 OBP in June. That said, that doesn't mean much, since the Dodgers followed their productive June with their worst month of the season in July. Predicting RBI is the ultimate folly, because not only does Kemp have to deliver, so do his teammates. The same thing can be said about the others on the list, as well. 

It'd be silly to predict a triple crown or even guess at a single crown for Kemp with a month to go in the season, but it's certainly worth keeping an eye on -- and gives Dodger fans something to cheer about, something that's not been easy to do in 2011.

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

Posted on: August 29, 2011 1:14 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 2:33 pm
 

Berkman an option as Rangers rental

By Matt Snyder

Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz left Sunday night's game with a strained left hamstring and the odds are pretty good he hits the disabled list. The Rangers won't make any moves until Cruz's MRI comes back, but if he does hit the disabled list, they'll be forced to use two from the group of David Murphy, Endy Chavez and Craig Gentry to flank Josh Hamilton in the outfield on a daily basis. Needless to say, that leaves the lineup void of some significant punch in Cruz's absence. That is, of course, unless the Rangers acquire Lance Berkman of the Cardinals.

Yes, Berkman has reportedly cleared waivers, so the Cardinals could listen to offers from any team. DallasNews.com is reporting that Berkman is an option for the Rangers, should Cruz hit the DL.

A deal is certainly possible. The Cardinals have fallen out of the NL Central race due to an insane surge by the Brewers (27-5 in last 32 games) and Berkman's a free agent at the end of the season. Thus, they probably wouldn't even want much back for him. If Berkman wanted to return to St. Louis in the offseason, he'd be free to do that, too.

The action must be fast, because in order to be eligible for the postseason roster, the Rangers would need to acquire Berkman by September 1.

An interesting twist in the situation is that Berkman chose the Cardinals over the Rangers as a free agent because he -- incorrectly, as it turns out -- believed the Cardinals had a better shot at the postseason. In fairness to Berkman, that was before Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright was injured.

Berkman, 35, is certainly familiar with the state, as he played parts of 12 seasons with the Astros before being traded to the Yankees last season. He's enjoyed a resurgent 2011 campaign, as he's hitting .289/.405/.570 with 30 homers, 81 RBI and 73 runs.

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Posted on: August 26, 2011 11:31 am
 

Fallout for Cards picking up Wainwright option

By Matt Snyder

The Cardinals fully expect to pick up Adam Wainwright's two-year, $21 million option following this season, according to general manager John Mozeliak (St. Louis Post-Dispatch). Obviously it's not official yet and something could change, but it seems like a safe assumption. Wainwright is currently on the disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, which he had in the spring. He's 29 and finished in the top three of Cy Young voting in both 2009 and 2010, so he's likely to return to ace form pretty soon.

The option was always in the Cardinals budget for the 2012 and 2013 seasons, so the only reason there was any question whatsoever was his injury. Still, when hearing about this option, the mind can't help but wander over to first base. As we all know, Albert Pujols is a free agent after this season.

I find it hilarious when people talk about Pujols having a down year in some sort of derogatory fashion. His numbers are the worst of his career, but saying it's a down year is actually a testament to how good he is. He leads the NL in home runs. He's hitting .290 with a .900 OPS. He's ninth in the NL with a 148 OPS-plus (to those unaware, that's 48 percent above the league average). This is a career year for most players in baseball history. And it's the worst of Pujols' career.

Basically, all Pujols' season has done is make "the best player in baseball" discussions into arguments. Before there was no question it was Pujols. Now, Pujols is simply on the short list of candidates. But he's still only 31 and very much in his prime.

With Pujols' ties to St. Louis and vice versa, there's every reason to believe a ballclub with the revenue stream the Cardinals have will do everything it can to keep him.

So then, the fallout is what kind of team can the Cardinals put around Wainwright, Pujols and Matt Holliday. The Cardinals are committed to just over $50 million in payroll for next season, but that's without Pujols, Chris Carpenter, Yadier Molina, Lance Berkman, Edwin Jackson, Rafael Furcal, five major-leaguers eligible for arbitration and several other pieces.

Let's assume the Cardinals give Pujols $25 million a season, which I feel like they'll do. That means they're up to around $75 million in player payroll for 2012. They're at around $110 million this season. Assuming they don't want to raise payroll, the Chris Carpenter option probably cannot be picked up.

Carpenter's player option is $15 million for next season. Molina's option is for $7 million and we've got to assume they'll grab that. The aforementioned arbitration-eligible players make around $8 million this season and usually arbitration lands raises. That jumps the payroll to $115 million range before even considering the players not yet eligible for arbitration, adding any free agents from outside the organization or retaining, say, Berkman. If the Cardinals wanted a similar team to this season, only having a healthy Wainwright in Edwin Jackson's rotation spot (Jackson is a free agent), the payroll might have to jump upwards of $15-$20 million. Maybe more, depending on myriad factors.

The Cardinals do make a lot of money, but are still in a relatively small market. If they don't want to raise payroll and still want to keep Pujols, the rest of the roster is going to take a hit in some form or another.

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Posted on: August 26, 2011 9:48 am
Edited on: August 26, 2011 9:56 am
 

Pepper: Penny the language enforcer



By Matt Snyder


In Thursday's Pepper, we passed along the story of Tigers pitcher Brad Penny yelling at Rays' infielder Sean Rodriguez while he ran hard after an infield popup. Rays manager Joe Maddon -- the most popular manager there is -- was furious after the game, believing Penny took issue with Rodriguez's hustle. I thought it was pretty ridiculous myself.

But Penny wanted to clarify things, obviously having heard the story spread a bit. He actually says he took issue with Rodriguez "screaming and cussing" in anger after having popped up.

"To me, that's a sign of disrespect if you're screaming that loud," Penny said (TampaBay.com). "All these kids can hear you, it's not too loud in here. So to me, that's not really professional."

Penny also noted he was disappointed anyone thought he didn't like hustle, saying he loves hustle and would be mad if players did not hustle.

It's hard to take issue with Penny trying to keep the ears of youngsters in Tampa Bay clean, but it's a bit odd to start yelling at an opposing player for it. As far as I could find via Google, this has never happened with Penny before. He's faced 7,819 batters in his career, so it's hard to believe an opposing batter has never cussed in frustration before. What about teammates of Penny over the years? Also, Penny currently plays for Jim Leyland -- have you ever read his lips when he's getting tossed from a game?

Again, I don't find fault with Penny wanting to prevent kids from hearing what is, frankly, going on in every single baseball game of the season. It just seems a bit odd that "watch your mouth" would ever be part of a major-league baseball game. As a parent, I'd like to express that it's my job to teach my children about inappropriate language and be their role model, not Penny's.

Berkman wants to come back: Cardinals outfielder Lance Berkman is enjoying a resurgent season for the Cardinals and he told reporters this week he wants to remain in St. Louis, if they'll have him. He said staying was his "first choice." (MLB.com)

#4TRUTH: That hashtag is what jailed ex-MLB player Lenny Dykstra uses on Twitter after most of his tweets. It's seemingly to help promote that he's innocent in the multiple crimes for which he's been charged. Add another to the list, because he's now being charged with indecent exposure (Associated Press). He would allegedly place ads online for housekeepers or personal assistants and would expose himself to responders.

So long, Jim Hendry Way: It's been a rough six weeks for Jim Hendry. Not only did he lose his job and have to act like he still had it for nearly a month, but now he's losing his street in Park Ridge -- where he lives. A portion of Northwest Highway was renamed Honorary Jim Hendry Way back in 2009, but now it's being changed back. Apparently, former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich forced the name and the town never wanted it in the first place. Now that Blago is headed for the slammer, the sign is coming down. To rub salt in the wound, check out this quote: "Of course, if he had brought us a World Series, I would have built a monument to him at the intersection. But, alas, all he brought us was Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano," mayor Dave Schmidt joked in an email (ChicagoTribune.com). Zing!

Crafty lefties: In honor of the recently-deceased Mike Flanagan, Joe Posnanski came up with a Crafty Lefty Hall of Fame. Pretty cool stuff, as usual, from Joe.

25 things you didn't know: Yahoo's Jeff Passan compiled a really interesting list of 25 things we didn't know about baseball. For example, Michael Young and Howie Kendrick haven't popped out all season, Jonny Venters gets the highest percentage of grounders in a decade and Brett Gardner is the best defensive player in baseball.

Add another name to the list: Thursday, I presented several rumored names on the Cubs' wish list to be the next general manager. We can add Dan Evans to the list, as the Chicago Sun-Times makes a good case for him. Evans is a Chicago native who grew up near Wrigley Field. He was an assistant general manager for the White Sox and then the Dodgers GM before the McCourt family took over and got rid of him. Evans was at the helm when Matt Kemp, Russell Martin, Chad Billingsley and Jonathan Broxton were drafted.

Futility: Twins catcher Drew Butera has a chance to do something pretty remarkably bad. He's hitting .160 with 200 plate appearances. Since 1975, no player in the majors has hit .160 or worse with at least 250 plate appearances. (Hardball Talk)

88's the goal: Blue Jays manager John Farrell wants to reach 88 wins this season. The significance is that it would tie the 1998 mark for the most wins since the Jays won the World Series in 1993 (MLB.com). That won't get them anywhere near the playoffs, but would an 88-74 record be enough for the haters to stop saying Jose Bautista plays for a "loser?" (See comments)

Happy Day-versary: 10,000 days ago, Jack Morris threw a no-hitter and Dwight Gooden made his major-league debut. (Hardball Times)

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