Friday, July 30, 2010

Z Culpa

Carlos Zambrano's mea culpa to ESPN on Monday merely served to vindicate what most of us were already thinking-he's had it with Chicago, and wants out ASAP.

But Zambrano should choose his actions carefully. Further meltdowns like the one last June will result in his permanent search for a job.

Cartoon courtesy of yours truly.

Have a good weekend everyone!
tamtam

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Throwback Thursday: Three Terrible Trades of the 1990's

One of the many fascinating things about baseball is that it continually redefines the word 'dynamic'. Owners, managers, and coaches attempt to build teams which emphasize the unique strengths of each player. In order to cultivate the perfect team, those in charge will extend offers to players on other teams who they feel will enhance their team's synergy. Sometimes, these trades work out well for both teams, however, there are those cases where a trade turns out to be either extraordinarially one-sided, or an owner has miscalculated the potential of players traded away. Below is a list of three terrible trades of the 1990's.

  • August 30, 1990 - Boston Red Sox trade Jeff Bagwell to the Astros for Larry Andersen

  • In 1990, the Red Sox were looking to secure the AL League Championship, and they believed a stronger pitching staff would get them there. To their defense, Bagwell was an unknown third baseman, while Andersen was a veteren hurler with a steady arm. While the Sox did make it to the league playoffs, Andersen only played in 15 games, and signed with the Padres a month after arriving in Boston. Bagwell made his debut with the Astros as a 1st baseman, and his stellar performance that year eaned him the title of Rookie of the Year, and over the next 14 seasons, Bagwell earned an MVP (1994), four All Star appearances, three Silver Slugger awards, and a Golden Glove. Many people believe Bagwell, who retired in 2005, is guarnateed a spot in the Hall of Fame.

  • July 18, 1993 - San Diego swaps Fred McGriff to Atlanta for Melvin Nieves, Donnie Elliott, and Vince Moore

  • Exactly. The Braves traded who for Fred McGriff? Nieves played sporatically over the next seven seasons and was at best mediocre. Elliot pitched a total of 35 innings, and Vince Moore never played in the majors ending his career in 2004 as an Edinburgh Roadrunner. Fred McGriff was instrumental in the Braves getting to the National Leage Championship that year, and although they lost to the Phillies, with Griff's solid swinging, the Braves went on to a World Series Championship in 1995. For the Braves, McGriff earned 3 Silver Sluggers, and made five All Star appearances.

  • July 31, 1997 – The Oakland Athletics trade Mark McGwire to the St. Louis Cardinals for T.J. Mathews, Blake Stein, and Eric Ludwick.

  • While the spector of steroids has marred any of his achievemnts, McGwire was a force to be reckoned with. The Athletics, however, believed the 9-time All Star, and Rookie of the year had seen his better days, and wanted three pitchers. Over the next four years, McGwire hit 220 home runs (of his career total of 583), broke the single-season homerun record in 1998, and played on three All Star teams. McGwire also batted .500 in the Cardinals division domination over the Braves in 2000.
    Mathews was the only pitcher who made any sort of contribution to the Athletics, giving them four and a half seasons, three of which he managed to win 6, 7, and 9 games. Ludwick started bad and ended worse, and Stein was traded to the Royals after one and a half seasons.

    With Roy Oswalt having now accepted the trade to Philadelphia for J.A. Happ and two minor league players (Anthony Gose and Johnathan Villar), only time will tell if this trade proves to be a productive one for the Astros. Otherwise, they may have just committed the first bad trade of the new decade.


    Red Hot Chili Peppers - Give It Away (Live)

    Tuesday, July 27, 2010

    Name To Know: Jon Jay

    A rookie with an OPS over 1.000 is rare. One that is thriving mostly in obscurity outside of St. Louis, even more rare. Jon Jay is tearing the cover off the ball. In 44 games he's posted some very impressive numbers .387/.437/.624 (1.061 OPS), 19 r, 11 2b, 3 hr, and 12 rbi. He's seeing more time with the Cardinals as his bat remains hot and manager Tony Larussa begins to trust him more in the field and lineup. The 25 year old outfielder was drafted in the 2nd round back in 2006. He bats and throws left and can play all three outfield positions. Through the minors he's always hit for average, batting .301 in 5 seasons. He possesses a decent eye at the plate, makes contact, has good speed, and a little pop in his bat. For now he's an excellent 4th outfielder for the Cards, but with continued success he may play himself into a starting role alongside Matt Holliday and Colby Rasmus in St. Louis' outfield.

    Monday, July 26, 2010

    Did You See That?

    Hey, it's Monday. Don't try to pretend you are working, we all know better. You're version of "work" right now involves signing up for your football fantasy team(s), getting your lineup set on the pitiful group that you call your baseball fantasy team(s), reading all the news that you feel you might have missed out on, and doing anything else on the computer that makes you look busy in case the boss walks in.

    Then again, I guess that is why you are here.

    If that is in fact the case, welcome. Let's get a look at some of the things that happened around Major League Baseball while you were preoccupied with that thing we all call "life". Me? Oh, my life is baseball, so here is what I caught wind of this week that may have slid past you.

    Brad Ausmus To Hang 'Em Up
    He has been a defensive presence behind the plate since he broke into the league in 1993 for San Diego. The Padres may have been his first major league team, but Ausmus was drafted by the New York Yankess in 1987 and selected by the Colorado Rockies in the expansion draft in 1992. It was not until a July trade in 1993 that Ausmus would find his way onto a big league roster.

    Ausmus has built a career off stellar defense winning three gold gloves along the way. He quietly put together a solid career that had multiple teams, four at the major league level, to rely on his leadership behind the plate. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Ausmus' legacy will be discussed in his transaction history. You see in June of 1996, Ausmus was dealt from San Diego to Detroit. From there, his trade history makes a few turns that are hard to imagine. In December of 1996, in a famous 10-player trade, Ausmus was dealt from Detroit to Houston. Just over two seasons later, Houston would trade Ausmus in a 7-player deal back to Detroit. Finally, in January of 1999 he would make one more U-Turn as he was dealt as part of a 6-person trade that sent him back to Houston. He would settle in at Houston until 2009 when he would sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers. At the beginning of 2010, Ausmus would play one game before finding his way to the disabled list and having surgery on his back. The catcher fought hard and returned to the lineup for the Dodgers and did so this week on July 24th. After the game, while talking to reporters, he announced that this end of this year would mark the end of his career, retiring almost as quietly as he has played his entire career.

    It Can Be A Dangerous Game
    Baseball is not a contact sport but serious injuries will happen. Most often, these injuries happen on the field with the players involved in the plays. It is the oldest rule that I can remember being taught. When at a game, when playing, when watching or when being involved in baseball in any way, "Keep your eye on the ball". Sometimes views are obstructed. Sometimes the game moves at speeds that prevent a human from being able to track the sphere that is three inches in diameter.

    Such an instance happened this week in Arizona during a game with the Giants. Pat Burrell of the Giants sliced a foul ball into his own dugout. The players near the dugout railing scattered as the line drive shot towards the team's bench. Utility player Eugenio Velez was sitting on the back of the bench leaning against the wall at the back of the dugout. According to Arizona first baseman Adam LaRoche, the ball struck Velez in the head, though he is not sure exactly where.

    Velez was removed from the stadium on a stretcher though his manager, Bruce Bochy, reported that he never lost consciousness. Everything seems to point to Velez being fine, though he will most likely be placed on the 15-Day disabled list for precautions.

    Sometimes You Have To Try Something New
    We are all aware of the intriguing story of Rick Ankiel, the young Cardinal pitcher that found a rebirth of his career as an outfielder. Prior to the 2010 season, Ankiel left the Cardinals' organization to join the team on the other side of the state in Kansas City.

    Recently, the Kansas City Royals have a young player in the farm system attempting to do just the opposite. Brian Anderson has spent his past few season in Boston and Chicago playing the outfield for the American League teams in those cities. He signed this off-season to attempt to join the Royals organization as an outfielder. Anderson did not make the team and left spring training due to "personal reasons". Shortly thereafter, Anderson contacted the team and expressed his dream to pitch in Major League Baseball. He has began his climb back to the major league level in the Arizona League where he serves as a relief pitcher currently.

    There you have it, a rundown of a few stories that may have slid past you this week. I hope I helped you discover a few things that you may not have seen previously. Tune in next week and help me answer the question, Did you see that?

    Bill Ivie is the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com and Executive Editor of their affiliate site, i70baseball.com. You can find him on BlogTalkRadio hosting the I-70 Baseball show every Monday night at 10 p.m. CST.

    Thursday, July 22, 2010

    Name To Know: Josh Thole

    A 23 year old offensive minded catcher that has adequate skills behind the plate is not something you find in every organization, let alone at the MLB level. Well, the New York Mets have developed one and his name is Josh Thole. Standing 6'1" and weighing 205 lb, he's the ideal size for a backstop and should holdup over the long haul (into his early 30's). Thole made his debut last season and was called up in late June this year. In his brief MLB career he's done nothing but hit- .372/.420/.474, 5 r, 29 h, 3 2b, 1 3b, 1 hr, 15 rbi, 1 sb, and 8:8 BB:K in 32 games. He's also caught 33% of base stealers and has a CERA of 3.85.

    Not impressed yet? Josh was selected in the 13th round of the 2005 draft and has worked his way up the Mets food chain ever since. In 6 minor league seasons he sports a nice slash line of .289/.376/.381 (.757 OPS). He doesn't possess much power (only 10 homeruns), but he can hit doubles (96) due to his above average speed for a catcher, and has a tremendous eye at the plate 197:190 BB:K. With Rod Barajas currently on a 1 year rental plan with the Mets and no real threat to him elsewhere in the organization, it's a safe bet to see Thole getting plenty of MLB time at and behind the plate going forward.

    Monday, July 19, 2010

    Did You See That?

    Hello there. Come on in and have a seat as we make our weekly rundown of stories from Major League Baseball that might have slipped through the cracks or not caught your attention.

    This week, we move "Did You See That?" to a new day where you will find it every week. The weekly recap article will come to you every Monday right here on More Hardball.

    It seems foolish to point this out because it was everywhere this week and is not exactly a story that slides through any cracks. However, I feel that not acknowledging it would be negligent as it was easily the top story in baseball this week.

    Good-Bye To The Boss
    He was one of those "Larger Than Life" figures in sports. George Steinbrenner was the guy that fans of other teams hated, fans of the Yankees loved, and owners across professional sports everywhere modeled themselves after. Mark Cuban and Jerry Jones might be owners that overstep their bounds, get involved where they do not need to be, and manipulate the media to accomplish their own agenda, but somewhere today George Steinbrenner is watching them with a smirk and saying, "Keep trying, you will never be me".

    The Yankees Have Another Scare
    Steinbrenner passes days after legendary public address announcer Bob Sheppard departed this world. On Saturday the Yankees played host to their annual "Old Timers Game" and brought out the great players of yesterday to play an exhibition in front of young and old fans alike. Easily one of my favorite moments in any baseball park, this classic event brought a large amount of concern to an already disheveled Yankee Nation when the position behind the plate was not manned by Hall-Of-Famer Yogi Berra. Yogi, at age 85, had fallen in his home and was admitted to the hospital for observation. While the family reports that his condition is satisfactory and he is recovering at home, the Yankee Family holds it's breath a little in concern.

    The Heat Is On
    Those players, fans, and residents of the area will tell you that St. Louis heat and humidity are nothing to joke about. With temperatures that reach into the 100's on the thermometer, the humidity and heat index will cause the field to feel like it is more like 120 degrees. Players get dehydrated, fans beg for the frozen lemonade and cold drink vendors to come to their seats more often, and managers keep a close eye on their players to not over exert themselves. On Saturday, James Loney appeared to pull a hamstring on a swing that produced a weak pop fly to first base. In a show of sportsmanship, Yadier Molina immediately held the Dodger firstbaseman up on his feet while trainers assisted him off the field. At the time of this article being written, Loney is scheduled to play on Sunday, showing that the cramp was a byproduct of the heat. In addition, Cardinal superstar Albert Pujols will take the day off Sunday, yielding to rookie Allen Craig for the day.

    Tony Gwynn, Jr. Homers The Hard Way
    San Diego has quietly put together a solid season yet again and find themselves in the playoff hunt after the All Star break. The season started with speculation of where Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell would be playing by season end and has now turned to discussion of who the Padres may be picking up to solidify their season. In the midst of this season, Tony Gwynn, Jr. has put together an impressive season that has seen him hit three (3) home runs. What do you mean, three home runs is not impressive? I say they are. Two of them are inside the ball park jobs, the most recent coming Saturday. Impressed now? I thought so. After a diving attempt in left field by Diamondback Rusty Ryal let the ball trickle into the corner, Gwynn would motor around the bases and slide into home with a face first slide that resembled more of a exhausted moment of rest then it did a player beating a throw. Gwynn joined his father as one of only three players in Padres history to have multiple inside the park home runs in a career. The other is Gene Richards, who also had two in a season in 1982.

    There it is, your rundown for the week. I know it is not easy to keep up with all things baseball during the week, but that is why I am here. I got your back.

    Bill Ivie is the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com and Executive Editor of their affiliate site, i70baseball.com. You can find him on BlogTalkRadio hosting the I-70 Baseball show every Monday night at 10 p.m. CST.

    Friday, July 16, 2010

    Homeboys

    Now here's something you don't read about everyday.

    It's no secret that Major League Baseball employs a great number of athletes. But out of all those athletes, how many of them are fortunate enough to play for the hometown team AND live at home?

    Meet Pittsburgh Pirates 2nd Baseman, Neil Walker, and Oakland A's pitcher Tyson Ross.


    These two individuals are MLB players who are truly homeboys. As far as anyone at the top of the MLB hierarchy knows, these two are the only ones who live at home and play for their hometown teams.

    I guess even baseball players are not immune from the recession either. They've discovered that like the rest of us, moving back in with mom and dad after you've found a job saves rent money, gets us home-cooked food, clean laundry on a regular basis, AND a clean room! Though it's not exactly a pickup line when hunting for dates ("Hi, my name is Neil, I'm a second baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and I live with my parents..."), I suppose until they settle in with their jobs, home is the best place to be.

    If you want to read more about the enticing lives of two stay-at-home players, the link is here.

    Have a good weekend everyone! Make sure you get out of the house sometime and enjoy the warm weather!
    tamtam

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    First Half MVP's


    Good evening everyone. I have been absent of late due to emergency situations and my fiance (soon to be wife) being 13 weeks pregnant. I want to apologize to everyone for my absence and want to commend everyone from More Hardball for stepping up.
    Now on to my first half mvps. I will be looking at each position and also choosing starting pitcher and closer. I will also be examining coaching as well. This is an NL/AL combination so I will not be looking at both leagues individually.
    Coaching-Dusty Baker. Who would have ever thought the Reds are in the position that they are in coming into the all-star break. This team has showed great promise and the smart decision making by Dusty has put the Reds in a pivotal spot to possibly continue rolling and maybe make the playoffs. I know that the NL Central has always been the Cardinals division but I think that this year could be the Reds to win.
    First Base-Miguel Cabrera. Dude is off the hook. He is has a .346 average, 77 RBIs, 22 HR's, and a slugging percentage over .600. Also has a 98% fielding percentage. The homeruns he has hit this year have averaged 419 feet.
    Second Base-Robinson Cano. He is currently batting .336 with 16 HR. He is on pace to break all of his own single season records. He has also only committed one error this year is over 200 attempts.
    Shortstop-Alex Gonzalez. Dude is a menace at the plate. He is rarely a first ball hitter and tends to strike out an at bat for all its worth. Surprisingly he has a high BB average per game along with 25 doubles and 50 RBI's for a team that is below its prime. He has been put in situational at bats this year and has fared greatly.
    Third Base-Scott Rolen. This man is well past his time. When he left Philadelphia he was having the best years of his life, leading up to a great performance in 2004 with St. Louis which included 34 HR, 124 RBI, his numbers have dived greatly. This year he has changed his batting stance slightly and has a higher arm position at the plate which has resulted in 87 hits and 17 HR. He is on pace to break his own personal records in these categories, however he is also striking out a lot. If he keeps that number down he is more than likely to win Comeback Player of the Year Award.
    Outfield-Matt Kemp. I only picked one outfielder. There are several that are doing an outstanding job both offensively and defensively including Batista and Victorino but Kemp is producing out of this world stats. On pace to be part of the 30/30 club, finish with possibly 10 triples and 40 doubles and should end up with a .275 batting average. The other advantage over the other outfielders is that he is dating Rihanna. That gives him the edge.
    Starting Pitcher-Ubaldo Jimenez. This was not easy. It could have been Johnson or Price but the deciding factor is Jimenez's home ballpark. We are talking about Coors Field. The place where balls fly out faster than any other park. Where a fly out can turn into a two run homerun. He has given up 31 runs in 18 starts. That is astounding. Man started the season with 24 scoreless innings. In three recent starts he has allowed a total of 17 runs. in the other fifteen starts he has allowed only 14 runs. He is on pace to go 24-7. He will run into some tough matchups later in the season but ultimately win the Cy Young.
    Closer-Heath Bell. with a record of 4-0 and 24 saves he is on pace to break his own saves record. He is also striking out 1.2 per inning. He is the reason the Padres are doing so well. He has been a constant workhorse the past two years.

    R.I.P. George Steinbrenner


    George Steinbrenner passed away of a heart attack around 6:30 this morning. The Yankees owner was 80 years old.
    For more information, visit ESPN.

    Did You See That?

    Hello old friend. As I sit down to type this I feel like I know you Hardballers like family. I mean, come on, we have been together now for what, two weeks?

    If you are reading this article I am imagining that you must have read my first one. It may be a bit self serving and based in total illusion, but hey, it's my head and only the voices in it have a say against it.

    Last week we talked about what happened over the Independence Day weekend while you were out with your friends. That, my friend, is just the kind of guy I am.

    But it inspired me to bring the same thing to you each week. So, every Tuesday, right here on More Hardball, I will be happy to bring you a quick run down of the things that happened while you were too busy doing other things.

    So let me bring you two stories this week, one of them is very self serving, I hope you will forgive me. We will start with that one:

    BaseballDigest.com Launches Affiliate Site
    For those of you that do not realize, I am the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com. The online entity of the longest running baseball only magazine in the nation, they recently allowed me to open my own site dedicated to covering the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals. By the time you read these words, the site will be live and functioning at I-70 Baseball and I invite you to drop in and give it a read.

    Johnny Damon Takes A Step Towards History
    I think it was the least covered story around baseball this week. In the midst of walk off wins, huge comebacks and dominant pitching performances, one of the games truly consistent players took a step towards keeping himself in the record books for a very long time to come. Damon would talk with reporters before the Tigers' game on July 7th and discuss wasted opportunities in his youth. How many games he would miss, at bats that he would not follow through with, or swings that he would rather have taken back. But it was on this day that he would bust out of a slump that had him mired over the previous week. The weight of the situation would finally lift from his shoulders and a single up the middle would become his 2,500th hit of his career. Later that night, with the weight of the situation completely off his shoulders, he would hit a long home run down the right field line with a runner on second base to win the game for the Tigers in walk-off fashion. His 2,501st hit of his career was a walk-off, two-run homer in the bottom of the eleventh inning. But on that July night, Johnny took a step towards history.

    Bill Ivie, Jr. loves to talk baseball with fans, friends, and readers and can be found on Twitter doing just that @poisonwilliam
    You can find his work on BaseballDigest.com, i70baseball.com and every Tuesday right here on More Hardball.

    Friday, July 09, 2010

    Moon over My Hammie-Viewer Discretion Advised

    **WARNING-There is some questionable content with today's post, so please wait until you get home to read today's post.**

    Here's a story that originally broke on "The Fightins", but was picked up by Deadspin. During an interview with baseball's oldest pitcher Jamie Moyer, the NBC camera inadvertently caught a bare ass on live TV.

    What, you say? A Phillie unintentionally mooned the entire City of Brotherly Love?! As far as I can tell, yes. Photo proof is provided below:





    Here's a close-up for further verification:





    So now that I've succeeded in scarring you for life, the burning question remains-namely "WHO'S ASS IS THIS?!"

    The folks at The Fightin's think the dubious derriere belongs to none other than Cole Hamels.

    Since I don't follow the Phillies, I wouldn't know whose who, and until word comes in otherwise, I'll go along and say that Cole Hamels has mooned the Phillie nation. Hellloooo Hineytown!

    Have a good weekend everyone!
    tamtam

    Thursday, July 08, 2010

    Throwback Thursday: 1990 All Stars

    Today at 4 pm, voting for the 2010 All Star team will end, and the rosters finalized. The current questions hounding the final fan picks - Will Votto surpass Zimmerman? Wagner end his career as an All Star? Swisher surprise Youkilis? - will be answered. So much politicking has surrounded this final round of voting with candidates Twittering and Facebooking (are these seriously verbs now?) attempting to drum up support.

    It is hard to believe that a mere 20 years ago, the World Wide Web was still a year away from going public, twittering was something a bird did, fans voted for starters via ballots distributed at Major League ballparks, and 29 men from each league participated.

    The Midsummer Classic was played in Chicago's Wrigley Field on July 10, to a drenched crowd of just over 39,000 - rain had plagued the game from the beginning. Cubs public address announcer Wayne Messmer sang O' Canada! followed by the Star Spangled Banner performed by Richard Marx. Hall of Fame star Ernie Banks (Chicago's own, Mr. Cub) threw the ceremonial first pitch.

    The game itself was not terribly exciting. Despite the slugging power on both sides, there were no home runs hit. Oakland A's pitcher Bob Welch relinquished two hits, while the National League pitching staff, led by Reds hurler Jack Armstrong, gave up 7. The only inning that saw much action was the 7th, which was delayed due to rain, and the American League scored the only two runs of the game, securing its third All Star win in a row. Bret Saberhagen picked up the win, Dennis Eckersley earned the save, and Jeff Brantley received the loss. Julio Franco of the Texas Rangers, picked up the MVP Award for his double that allowed the two runs to score.

    That year, nine future Hall of Fame recipients took the field:
    Rickey Henderson, Wade Boggs, Cal Ripken, Jr., the late Kirby Puckett, and Dennis Eckersley (AL)
    Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Ozzie Smith, and Tony Gwynn (NL)

    The Complete 1990 All Star Roster:



    **Source: Baseball Almanac

    Wednesday, July 07, 2010

    Where My Molinas At?

    The Catching Molina Brothers is More Hardball's crowning achievement. The post is over a year old but still gets us about 100 hits a day. Therefore, I thought it was time to catch up on everyone's favorite backstop trio...

    Where My Molinas At?
    *Bengie Molina re-signed with the Giants this offseason, but with Buster Posey ready to take on full-time duties behind the plate that left the eldest Molina as an unneeded piece in San Francisco. Just a few days ago Bengie was shipped to Texas, where he'll do the bulk of the game calling for the Rangers. His numbers are down a bit this season (.256/.636), but being 35 years old and catching in his 13th MLB season that's to be expected. He did hint around earlier this season that this one may be his last.

    *Middle brother Jose Molina has managed to remain gainfully employed as a backup backstop, this year with the Toronto Blue Jays. Jose is the lighter hitting of the three amigos, but his catching skills remain sharp and therefore he remains a valued commodity in the game.

    *The younger Molina, Yadier, is still with the Cardinals, his only employer. Despite having a down year offensively (.229/.611), the fans voted him into his 3rd straight All-Star game. Yadier's defense is his biggest attribute and he's in line for a 3rd straight Gold Glove as well.

    Tuesday, July 06, 2010

    Weekend Recap

    You can stop pretending to work. It was a long, holiday weekend and we all know you are just not going to be into it today. Hide as you might, the boss knows that you are trolling the internet looking for something to read that will keep you from thinking about whatever it is that you are supposed to be thinking about today. Settle in for a few minutes and let me distract you from work and help you catch up on what you missed over the holiday weekend.

    Meanwhile, while you were busy blowing stuff up, swimming, grilling, relaxing and doing everything you could to celebrate this great Nation's birthday, the boys of summer were still out there playing that kids game that we all love to watch. While you were out running around with the family, friends, and enjoying some adult drink, I kept an eye on our old friend Baseball for you. I know, it's a tough job...

    Chris Carpenter Pitches His Shortest Outing Ever In St. Louis
    Teams rely on their ace pitchers to produce. When fans lay out the games on paper and look ahead to what the future holds, they assume the team will at least have a solid chance to win when that go to guy takes the mound. This weekend further proved the old adage "That's why they play the game". The Cardinals took the field against the Brewers and would have Jaime Garcia, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright schedule to throw in three of the four games. No one would anticipate that the team would find it hard to win with Chris Carpenter on the mound on Saturday. Add to the fact that the offense was able to scratch out five runs, and you would figure the Cardinals would win that game. But the Redbird ace imploded on the mound, giving up seven earned runs in three innings and turning the game over to a bullpen in much need of rest. The bullpen did not help matters and the Cards dropped the game 12-5.

    Amid Trade Rumors, Cliff Lee Continues To Dominate
    Cliff Lee has been the most discussed person in trade rumors around the internet as we approach the non-waiver trade deadline. In response to all the discussions, Lee took three consecutive complete games into the weekend as the Mariners faced the Tigers on Sunday. His streak would end as he would not throw a complete game, but not for lack of trying. He would strike out eleven, walk one and scatter nine hits over eight innings before handing the ball to Brandon League slam the door on yet another win. Lee now has eight wins over three loses and boasts a 2.34 earned run average. His value continues to climb and teams will have to meet a large price tag, but I have to believe he will be somewhere else come August.

    27 Players On All Star Rosters For The First Time
    When the All Star rosters were named this year, 27 of the 66 names were there for the first time. The 15 National Leaguers that will be in the mid summer classic for the first time are Ubaldo Jimenez (Colorado), Martin Prado (Atlanta), Arthur Rhodes (Cincinnati), Evan Meek (Pittsburgh), Matt Capps (Washington), Adam Wainwright (St. Louis), Yovani Gallardo (Milwaukee), Omar Infante (Atlanta), Brandon Phillips (Cincinnati), Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado), Michael Bourn (Houston), Marlon Byrd (Chicago), Chris Young (Arizona), and fan elected Jason Heyward (Atlanta) and Andre Ethier (Los Angeles). The American League will send 12 of their own to the game for the first time including David Price (Tampa Bay), Jose Bautista (Toronto), Clay Buckholz (Boston), Neftali Feliz (Texas), Phil Hughes (New York), Jon Lester (Boston), Trevor Cahill (Oakland), Fausto Carmona (Cleveland), Matt Thornton (Chicago), Elvis Andrus (Texas), Ty Wigginton (Baltimore), and John Buck (Toronto). As injuries and adjustments are made, more players will be named.The game in 2008 in St. Louis featured 30 first time All Stars.

    Dontrelle Willis Released For The Second Time This Season
    Willis was released earlier this year by the Detroit Tigers and caught a chance to regain form with the Arizona Diamondbacks. In the midst of adjustments at the management level, Willis was first assigned to the bullpen then Designated For Assignment. It should be interesting to see if another team will take the young lefty under their wings and try to "fix" the hurler.

    Geoff Jenkins To Announce Retirement
    Finally, news broke Monday that Geoff Jenkins had placed a call to Brewers management to express his desire to officially retire as a Brewer. Friday night, July 9th, the Brewers and Jenkins will hold a press conference to announce his official retirement from the game. Jenkins is set to throw out the first pitch at the game later that night.

    Come back next week as we will take a look at some more baseball chatter, right here on More Hardball.

    Bill Ivie writes for BaseballDigest.com, is the Executive Editor of i70baseball.com, and can be found on the United Cardinal Blogger Radio Hour and i70baseball Radio hosted on BlogTalkRadio.com. Follow him on Twitter @poisonwilliam

    Monday, July 05, 2010

    New Header!


    The new header is freakin' awesome! Well done Burton, well done.

    Sunday, July 04, 2010

    Happy Fourth!

    Enjoy your cookouts, the games, the family, the beer, and whatnot! Remember what this day is about; a document full of new ideas of government that inspired a nation to rise up against their oppressors. And lastly, don't go blowing off your fingers improperly using any fireworks or anything.



    Thursday, July 01, 2010

    Throwback Thursday: Kent Hrbek

    As we here at More Hardball continue to evolve, we're going to be introducing some new ideas from time to time. The idea of Throwback Thursdays was inspired by GM-Carson's Phillies themed blog, We Should Be GM's, who often posts "Phlashback Phridays" featuring some of Philadelphia's former players and key events in Phillies history. For the most part, Throwback Thursdays will be similar to this concept, but will widen the scope to focus on players or events we found memorable while growing up. For the first Throwback Thursday post, I have chosen the hefty lefty of the Minnesota Twins, Kent Hrbek.

    As a life-long fan of the Atlanta Braves, I quickly learned who Kent Hrbek was during the 1991 World Series, despite the fact he had played 10 seasons with the Twins prior to their encounter with the Braves. Hrbek was a solid first baseman, and a reliable slugger, though his post season stats left much to be desired. But most importantly, in the eyes of Braves fans all over the country, Hrbek was a cheater! At least, that was the perception.

    The highly controversial play occurred during Game Two of the World Series. The Braves were down by one in the top of the third, with two outs, and the tying run on 2nd (Lonnie Smith). Silver Slugger, Ron Gant, had a 1-1 count before smacking a line-drive deep between the shortstop and 3rd base. Smith headed to 3rd, and Gant sprinted past 1st before realizing he could not safely make it to 2nd, as Dan Gladden had already hurled the ball to pitcher Kevin Tapani. Gant turned back as Tapani threw the ball to Hrbek at 1st. Gant made it to the plate before the ball reached Hrbek's glove, but still had plenty of forward momentum to potentially carry him off the bag. Hrbek took full advantage of this by grabbing Gant's leg and lifting Gant off the bag, causing him to stumble. The umpire (Drew Coble) called Gant out to end the inning, and the Braves proceeded to lose the game by 1 point. (Readers of ESPN's blog, Page 2, recently ranked this call as #10, in their poll for Worst Calls in Sports .) Atlanta fanatics were so outraged, that some wrote hate mail to Hrbek, and even penned a few death threats.

    Despite his infamy in Braves country, Hrbek was a star in Minnesota, and had been for years. A native of Minnesota, and a lifelong Twin, he was immensely popular among the St. Paul-Minnesota crowd, and Hrbek rarely disappointed. He christened the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome with it's very first home run (April 3, 1982) in an exhibition game against Philadelphia. Though he only had one season as an All Star (1982), Hrbek was a consistent power hitter, earning a lifetime batting average of .282, with 293 home runs, and 1086 RBI, all while keeping his strikeouts relatively low (798 over a 14 season career). In 1982, he came in 2nd for AL Rookie of the Year - behind Cal Ripken Jr. He was integral in getting the Twins to their first two World Series victories in 1987 and 1991, despite not performing too well in post season games - though in 1987, he did hit baseball's 14th grand slam in World Series history in Game Six against St. Louis.

    Hrbek suffered his share of time on the DL, and his aches and pains constantly hindered his otherwise stellar performance. In 1994, with the strike-shortened season, Hrbek retired at the age of 34. The following year, his number (14) was retired by the Twins ball club, and in 2000 he was in the inaugural class of the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame alongside Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew, and Kirby Puckett. Today, Hrbek stars on a local St. Paul-Minnesota television show entitiled Kent Hrbek Outdoors. Hrbek also holds fund raisers to broaden awareness of ALS (aka Lou Gehrig's disease), and to provide funding for ALS research. He is also a devoted family man, and enjoys spending much of his time with his wife, Jeanie, and his daughter, Heidi.