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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Fomer All-Star Closer Rod Beck Passed Away At 38

By David

The legendary Billy Joel put it so eloquently when he said ''only the good die young'', and the baseball world was tragically reminded of that last night when it was discovered that former reliever Rod Beck passed away at the age of 38.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Detroit Tigers Trade LHP Mike Maroth To The St.Louis Cardinals

By David

Southpaw Mike Maroth has left the winning environment of Detroit to join the struggling St.Louis Cardinals who are 5 games under .500 in the lackluster NL Central.

The Cards are desperate for pitching as ace Chris Carpenter, lefty Mark Mulder and right-hander Braden Looper are all on the disabled list.

Two of their current starters, Kip Wells and Anthony Reyes are 3-19 with an E.R.A. over six through the first two and a half months of the season. Earlier this week they signed Tomo Okha who was 2-5 with a 5.79 earned run average with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Due to the return of veteran Kenny Rogers from a blood clot in his left shoulder, the Tigers had extra spots in their rotation. Maroth, who had been with Detroit for the past six seasons, said ''this is a team stacked with pitchers, which is a great situation to be in from an organizational standpoint.''

Even though Maroth is 5-2 this season with a 5.06 E.R.A., he'll provide much needed assistance to a poor pitching staff.

Former Marlins Manager Joe Girardi Rejects Orioles Offer

By David

Former NL Manager of the Year and current YES analyst Joe Girardi has opted to stay in the broadcasting booth and not take the Orioles managerial position.

After being offered the job earlier this week, Girardi said ''I'm extremely excited the Baltimore Orioles called me. It's a great job, too, but not at this time''. New president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail had a strong relationship with Girardi during their time with the Cubs, and therefore it was expected for both men to begin to put the O's back on the map.

Baltimore is a proud organization that has experienced an abundance of success over the years, but in the past decade they have evolved into one of the laughing stocks of baseball. That partly has to do with owner Peter Angelos who has required complete control over the team and takes until the last second to make important decisions. Now, with the hire of MacPhail he will become the buffer between Angelos and the Orioles baseball guys(Mike Flanagan and Jim Duquette).

Girardi has reiterated on countless occasions that he wants to return to the managerial ranks, but apparently this was not the quintessential scenario for him and his family. The former Cubs and Yankees catcher's dream jobs would be to manager either Chicago and New York, but there is no guarantee that those positions will be available in the coming years.

Currently, Dave Trembley is the interim manager and outfielder Jay Payton said '' I'm very happy with the guy we got.'' Still, the search for a permanent manager remains and names such as Dusty Baker, Jerry Manuel, Joey Cora and Don Baylor.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

O's interview Girardi for manager's job

06/20/2007 1:26 AM ET

BALTIMORE -- Joe Girardi was interviewed in Chicago on Tuesday by Baltimore Orioles executives, a day after the team fired manager Sam Perlozzo.

"They have a process that they need to get through, and we'll see what happens," Girardi told The Baltimore Sun after the interview. "They basically told me that they wanted to do it sooner or later, but it is a process. It was a good meeting. I am not sure what their timetable is."

ESPN's Peter Gammons is reporting that the team has offered him their vacant managerial job. The Baltimore Sun cited cited two team sources as saying Girardi was the front-runner for the job. A source close to Orioles said the ESPN report was inaccurate.

"We met for a couple of hours," Orioles executive vice president Mike Flanagan told The Sun. "We're not going to get into characterizing how well it went."

Girardi was a first-time manager last season when he led Florida to a 78-84 record last year, keeping the youthful Marlins in contention until late September.

He was fired at the end of the season following a rift with owner Jeffrey Loria, then was voted NL Manager of the Year -- the first to win the award with a losing record.

A former coach for Yankees manager Joe Torre, Girardi returned to New York this season as a broadcaster for the YES Network.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Cubs Derek Lee Punched San Diego's Chris Young - Fight Video

The Cubs are below .500 as of this writing, so I guess hitter and first baseman Derek Lee figured that the best way to get the club off the dime was to hit Chris Young in response to whatever he said. The trouble is, no one's reporting what he said and the slugger faces possible suspension. According to the Chicago SunTimes, this is what happened:

In the fourth, Young hit Lee in what appeared to be the upper left arm with the pitch, knocking him to the ground. Lee got up, walked by Young on the way to first, then said something to the 6-foot-10 260-pound right-hander.

After the pitcher apparently responded, Lee threw a punch that didn't land. Young tried to throw a punch back that missed. Then he and Lee tried to connect at the same time.

By that time both benches had emptied, resulting in pushing, shoving and holding in a scrum as Lee and Young were held back. Several players fell to the ground before order was restored.

Lee said the pitch actually hit him in the wrist and caught more bat than him. He said he was angry because he thought Young was throwing at his head.

Here's the video:

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Baltimore Orioles On Eight-Game Losing Streak

By David

After surging into the month of June on a six-game winning streak, the Orioles have lost eight in a row and thirteen out of their last fifteen.

As the club embarks on a six-game West cost swing to San Diego and Arizona the chance of the O's snapping their losing streak does not seem bright.

Once they end interleague play they return to Camden Yards to face the Yankees and Angels before traveling to Chicago and Texas to close out the first half of the season.

During their nine-game home stand the Orioles went 1-8, while being outscored 53-29. Their porous pitching staff permitted twenty-one Diamondback runners to pass home plate this weekend as they were embarassed in front of their home fans for yet another time.

Outspoken designated hitter Kevin Millar called his teams play ''brutal'' and reiterated that ''we've just got to find a way to stop the bleeding now.'' With a restructed bullpen that has failed miserably to live up to expectations it will be difficult for the O's to wright the ship.

Watson extends streak to IL-record 43 games

Congratulations to Brandon Watson. A job well done.

06/17/2007 6:22 PM ET
By Marissa Rega / Special to MLB.com

Clippers leadoff batter singles in sixth to surpass 95-year-old record
Brandon Watson established a new International League record by hitting safely in his 43rd straight game as Columbus fell to Ottawa, 9-8, in 11 innings Sunday.

"It's unbelievable. I don't have any words for it," the 25-year-old center fielder said. "I believe that I've been fortunate to surpass such a record."

The 25-year-old center fielder flied out in the first inning and lined out in the third before ripping a single in the sixth to break the 95-year-old record set by Rochester's Jack Lelivelt.

"[Ottawa starter J.D. Durbin] threw a slider, and I just stayed on it enough to get it up the middle," Watson explained. "Today was a little tougher because it was the day to break the record."

Watson struck out in his second at-bat in the sixth and again in the eighth before being replaced in the ninth. He is batting .360 (63-for-175) with six doubles, a triple, 19 runs scored and 10 RBIs during the streak that began May 1.

End Of The Line For Third Baseman Sean Burroughs

By David

First round draft picks in 1998 include World Series winner Jeff Weaver who was selected 14th overall by the Detroit Tigers, Brad Lidge who was taken 17th overall by the Houston Astros and appeared in the 2005 Fall Classic as the teams closer, and J.D. Drew who was picked fifth overall by the St.Louis Cardinals and who had the opportunity to sign a 5-year, $70 million contract with the Boston Red Sox during the off- season.

Other notable players include Pat Burrell, Mark Mulder, Corey Patterson, Felipe Lopez and Austin Keanrs. The one underlying theme about each player mentioned is that they're current major leaguers who are enjoying successful careers.

Sean Burroughs was the ninth overall pick in the '98 draft by the San Diego Padres and this past week he was released by the Seattle Mariners. Seattle was his third stop in the last two years and unless he miraculously turns around his career baseball will never see the once promising prospect dawn the galore of a big league uniform.

Instead of making the shrewd decision by accepting a scholarship from the University of Southern California, Burroughs signed with the Padres straight out of High School. In his first big league season in 2004 he batted .298 with two homers and 47 runs batted in. While his defense was always his strength during his three seasons in the majors, he struggled with the bat.

In 440 career games Sean managed to belt three home runs and drive in 65 runs. At the rate Yankees' third baseman Alex Rodriguez is slugging he will have 65 RBI's before July's all-star game.

Given numerous opportunities to succeed, he was never able to mature into a big time player and live up to expectations.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Punches Exchanged Between San Diego Padres and Chicago Cubs

By David

First it was a brawl between teammates Carlos Zambrano and Michael Barrett. Now the Cubs have focused their attention to fighting with their opponents.

In Saturday's 1-0 lose first baseman Derrek Lee retaliated from an inside pitch thrown by the Padres' Chris Young by attacking him. It was a battle of heavyweights with Lee registering at 6-foot-5 and Young 6-foot-10.

After being plunked on the side of the head by Young's fastball Lee gingerly walked down the first base line starring the Padres right-hander square in the face. By all indications Young said some inappropriate words to Lee and that triggered a benches clearing brawl where both men began to take cheap shots at each other.

Luckily, no punches were landed cleanly, but according to http://www.mlb.com/ San Diego's Jake Peavy was seen sucker-punching the Cubs first baseman. When the melee was over and the umpires had seperated both teams four people in total were ejected.

The Padres' two best starting pitchers, Chris Young and Jake Peavy were tossed from the game, while the Cubs' biggest offensive threat Derrek Lee and hitting Gerald Perry were ejected for their inexcusable actions.

The one major shock from this incident was that the two players who instigated the brawl are two of the best behaved and like able players throughout MLB. Young and Lee are stand up guys who represent the game of baseball in the best possible light and would never be suspected of fighting.

The unfortunate part of this fracas is that lengthy suspensions are sure to loom. Even though San Diego might lose Young for only one start, the Cubs will be without their power hitting first baseman for the next 3-5 games. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez is currently on the disabled list with left patellar tendinitis and will not be available to return until this weekend at the earliest.

At 31-36 and 6.5 games behind the upstart Brewers for the division lead the Cubbies can ill afford to lose one of their premier players. This deplorable incident should serve as a remainder to all little leaguers that the actions of big leaguers on television are not always correct and should not be condoned.

L.A. Angels Defeat L.A. Dodgers In Battle Of Right-Handers

By David

The Freeway Series continues to sway the Angels way as they defeated their cross town rival for the fourth time this season.

24-year old right-hander Jered Weaver pitched 5.1 scoreless innings, allowing only four hits along the way as he improved his record to 6-3. Darren Oliver, Scot Shields and closer Francisco Rodriguez combined to pitch 3.2 innings of one-hit baseball as the Angels defeated the struggling Dodgers 3-0.

In front of 56,000 fans L.A.'s biggest off-season addition Jason Schmidt was searching for his first victory at Dodger Stadium Saturday afternoon. The right-hander lasted a mere 4.2 innings as he surrendered 3 earned runs, five hits and four walks to raise his E.R.A. to a dismal 6.31. He is now 1-4 on the season and 0-4 at home with a 10.43 E.R.A.

Out of their five starting pitchers(Lowe, Penny, Wolf, Schimidt, Kuo), Jason has the highest salary, highest expectations and highest E.R.A. The former all-star signed a 3-year, $47 million contract during the Winter and he has caused nothing but headaches for the team and fantasy owners through the first 10 weeks of the season.

Conversely, the Angels pitching staff is clicking on all cylinders and the ball club is riding high with a record of 43-26. They sport a 4.5 game lead over the A's in the ardent AL West and their 24-9 home record is the best in baseball.

Anaheim's starting five of Lackey, Escobar, Weaver, Colon and Santana are hungry for a return to the World Series and that has been indicative by their play on the field. Kelvim Escobar is 7-3 with a 2.89 E.R.A. and ace pitcher John Lackey is 10-4 with an anemic 2.53 earned run average. Lackey's ten victories are tops in MLB and his E.R.A. is fifth best in the majors.

If the Angels continue on their torrid pace they very well could be representing the American League in this year's Fall Classic.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Terrible Start For The Chicago White Sox

Can it get any worse for the Chicago White Sox? At 27-35 they are 10.5 games back of the Indians for the division lead and 8.5 back in the wild card race.

Two years removed from a World Series title the White Sox are gravely underachieving and playing like a group of whining babies. Manager Ozzie Gullien has been extremely vocal about volunteering to be fired and if his team can't string together a few wins General Manager Kennie Williams might be forced to hand him the pink slip.

New York Mets Struggling As They Enter The Subway Series

By David

The New York Mets have lost five straight and nine out of ten as they head into a three-game set with the red hot New York Yankees this weekend in the Bronx.

At the beginning of the month manager Willie Randolph had his team fifteen games over .500, but they are now eight over the .500 mark and two games ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies.The Amazins are coming off of a road trip where they lost 2 out of three to the Tigers and were swept by the Dodgers. In all six games they held the lead early on, but either saw their starting pitcher or bullpen hand the game to the opposition.

Conversely, the Yankees have won nine straight and find themselves 7.5 games back of the division leading Red Sox. At 33-31, their pitching and hitting is clicking on all cylinders. Their big four of Wang, Clemens, Pettitte and Mussina have pitched lights out and their offense has begun to wake up.

Tonight the Yankees' send Roger Clemens to the mound to face off against left-hander Oliver Perez. This will be the rockets second big league appearance since he made his debut last Saturday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Seattle Mariners Playing Extremely Well

By David

At 35-26, the Seattle Mariners are the surprise story of MLB through the first two months of the season.

Predicted by the majority of baseball analysts and writers to finish dead last in the AL West, the M's are three games back of the division leading Angels and one game back in the wild card race.

Mike Hargrove who lead Seattle to a 69-93 record in '05 and a 78-84 record last season was on the hot seat entering this year, but is now up for manager of the year honors. While his pitching staff has been inconsistent this season, posting a disappointing 4.73 E.R.A., their offense has been the second best in the American League.

The team has posted a .287 batting average with 59 home runs and 308 runs batted in. Leading the way has been right fielder Ichiro who is batting .333 with 17 stolen bases and 87 hits and is currently third in all-star voting for outfielders in the AL.

Jose Lopez has distinguished himself as one of the premier second baseman in the AL with his .295 average and 37 RBI'S, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt is not only doing it with the glove, but now has a batting average over .300 and catcher Kenji Johjima is quietly having a career season.

Johjima who is in his second season in the majors is batting .335 with seven homers, 27 runs batted in, 63 hits, 15 doubles and a staggering .527 slugging percentage. Along with his .997 fielding percentage Johjima is having the second best season of any AL catcher. Only New York's Jorge Posada with his .353 batting average and .559 slugging percentage is playing better.

If the Seattle Mariners are to continue their torrid pace they will find themselves in the thick of things come September.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

New York Yankees Continue Hot Streak

By David

With a three-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates at the stadium this weekend, the Yankees continue to show signs that their struggles are over and they are ready to compete for a playoff spot.

The Bronx Bombers have now won six in a row and nine out of eleven to pull within 9.5 games of the first place Boston Red Sox.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Giants' Barry Zito Struggles Against The Oakland Athletics

By David

Has there ever been a time in your life when a former co-worker or friend who you spent countless years with leaves and comes back to haunt you?

After signing a 7-year, $126 million contract with the San Francisco Giants during the off season Barry Zito knew that he'd have the opportunity to face his former team at least once, twice if he was lucky.

On May 18th in his first start against his former team Zito was ruffed up for seven runs in four short innings of work. While the A's went onto win 15-3, it was shocking that the former CY Young winner struggled against the team he spent the first seven years of his career with.

You would think that he'd be used to the tendencies of his former teammates and would know how to pitch to them. Luckily, Barry had the chance to redeem himself yesterday at AT&T Park against players that he mentored for several seasons.

Unfortunately, it was a case of student defeating teacher as the A's hitters pounced on Zito for nine hits and three earned runs in four innings. The southpaw is now 6-6 with a 4.02 E.R.A. to begin his Giants career. Before Saturday's start Zito had won his previous three outings and surrendered just one run in hi last twenty innings pitched.

For the second consecutive time the player with the largest contract for a pitcher in baseball history was not able to defeat his former co-workers.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Astros' Berkman earned two-game suspension for onfield outburst

Associated Press
Updated: June 8, 2007, 7:43 PM ET

HOUSTON -- Astros first baseman Lance Berkman was suspended for two games and fined an undisclosed sum Friday, three days after he was ejected against Colorado and tossed his batting glove and equipment bag onto the field.

The suspension by Major League Baseball was to have begun Friday night against the Chicago White Sox. Berkman, however, is appealing the decision and was to play Friday.

"I think it's just a normal course of action so we can have a little bit more time to look at all of our options," Berkman said Friday in Chicago.
"It just gives everybody a little more time to make a decision as to whether it best behooves the club to go ahead and serve the suspension or to try to fight it with an appeal if we think we have a good chance of winning."

Berkman was ejected Tuesday night in the eighth inning after arguing a third strike. He then threw his glove and bag onto the field from the dugout.

He violated rules by returning in the ninth inning when the benches emptied after the Rockies' Manny Corpas hit Houston's Carlos Lee with a pitch. The Astros won 4-1.

"The suspension is automatic. But I'm not outraged by it, other than I think the whole incident is unfortunate because I don't feel I did anything to deserve to be thrown out of the game in the first place," said Berkman.

"Which means I should have been able to come back out on the field because I would never have been out of the game. I still don't know why he threw me out of the game. I didn't charge over there until after he gave me the heave-ho."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

Cardinals Sign Closer Troy Percival

By David

First it was starting pitcher Roger Clemens who attempted to make a comeback and now it's 37-year old reliever Troy Percival who signed a minor-league contract today with the St.Louis Cardinals.

During his 11-year career Percival racked up 324 saves, while posting an impressive 3.10 E.R.A. After retiring during the middle of the 2005 season due to arm injuries, the future Hall of Famer signed on to become a special assignment pitching instructor with the Angels.

He spent ten successful seasons with Anaheim before he signed with Detroit before the '05 season. His addition to a struggling St.Louis team will provide an instant boost in both the clubhouse and on the field.

Fortunately, he's one of the good guys in the game who has worked extremely diligently to get the point where he is in his career. Currently, he ranks 12th on the all-time saves list and he'll look to add onto that number during his time in the gateway city.

Surprisingly, the one strength of the Cards team this year has been their bullpen that ranks sixth in MLB with a 3.41 E.R.A. I figure that Percival was enticed by the fact that he has the opportunity to play with Albert Pujols and learn from people like Dave Duncan and Tony La Russa.

The only thing that scared me when I read about the signing was that Percival has never pitched in the NL and he will quickly have to adapt to facing different hitters.

It has been rumored for several weeks that Percival was ready to return from retirement, but the reigning World Series champions were not among the list of choices. Initially, the Philadelphia Phillies and Florida Marlins were mentioned as teams he was interested in.

He will report to triple AAA Memphis to begin his comeback return and in the coming weeks he will be making an impact on the major league level.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Chicago Cubs Struggling To Play Well

By David

After going on a $300 million spree during the Winter, the Chicago Cubs were expected to be a top the National League Central. Instead, they are in third place at 23-31 and losers of seven out of their last ten games.

Clearly, manager Lou Piniella had seen enough and was ready to blow a gasket when he threw a temper tantrum during Saturday's game against the Braves. His fit was directed at third base umpire Mark Wegner who was the unfortunate victim of Piniella's disrespectful tirade. Once again, sweet Lou embarrassed himself on a national stage and earned himself an indefinite suspension from MLB.

If you thought that his fight with the umpire was the worst incident that could happen to a woeful Cubs' team, then you didn't see the exchange of punches between starting pitching Carlos Zambrano and batterymate Michael Barrett.

After another poor pitching performance Chicago's ace took out his frustrations on his teammate in the dugout and the locker room. He instigated a scuffle that landed Barrett with a busted lip and both players with an undisclosed fine. Instead of working out their differences like men, both guys acted like children and set a deplorable example for any youngster watching at home.

Unfortunately, constant fighting between players and management will not translate to a winning product on the field. The front office spent over $300 million on players like Soriano, De Rosa, Lily and Marquis, but have ended up with a team that is reminiscent to the one that finished an NL worst 66-96 last season.

Even though both Chicago teams are under performing, the north siders have no excuse because they play in a weak division. At least the White Sox are forced to compete with teams like the Twins, Tiger and Indians on a night to night basis. Can someone tell me what the excuse is for the Cubs?

Despite Zambrano's inflated 5.62 E.R.A., the other four starters all have earned runs averages of under 3.52. Marshall, Marquis and Hill all have theirs at 2.93 or lower. One of the main problems has been the poor start by the bullpen and the inconsistent production by the offense. To make matters worse, the team is 2-12 in one-run games.

If things don't begin to turn around in a hurry, sweet Lou might be singing the blues right out of the windy city.

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