Posted on: June 3, 2009 11:40 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2009 11:55 pm

300 raindrops (or maybe a few more)

WASHINGTON -- So now Randy Johnson goes for his 300th win on Thursday.

Weather permitting.

We all forgot to add that qualification earlier this week, when we told you that Randy Johnson would go for his 300th win Wednesday -- which, we now know, he didn't. We forgot the most basic of baseball rules, which is that when the field looks more suited for Michael Phelps than for Josh Phelps (or Ken Phelps), they don't play.

"The players would have been under water, and the fans here would have been wet and tired," said Giants president Larry Baer, in full agreement with the decision to postpone Wednesday's game -- and Johnson's first try at 300-win history. "For a game with a player going after a milestone, you want to have something more optimal."

It's still far from certain that Thursday will provide more optimal conditions, and Baer ("I don't have a Doppler doctorate") was making no such guarantees.

As of now, the plan is for Johnson to start a 4:35 p.m. Eastern time first game of a doubleheader Thursday, for his first try at 300. If Johnson doesn't get a win Thursday, his next start would now be on Tuesday in Arizona -- and wouldn't that be an appropriate spot for history.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves, which we promised not to do. And anyway, The Weather Channel says the chance of rain in Washington at 4 p.m. Thursday is 70 percent. And a double-rainout Thursday would presumably push Johnson's next start to Friday night at Florida.

Not that we're about to believe any weather forecasts right now.

"It was supposed to stop raining an hour ago," Baer helpfully pointed out.

Around about 9 p.m. Wednesday, the Nationals said it was supposed to start raining soon, and continue raining for about an hour. Just before 10 p.m., Baer and Nationals president Stan Kasten had appeared in the Nationals Park press box, and at that point Kasten said they expected the rain to stop in 15 minutes.

"We're going to get this game in tonight," he said. "We're going to try."

A little less than an hour later, the decision was made that the field was unplayable.

Everyone seemed to agree with the decision, even though everyone seemed equally unhappy to have waited so long with no baseball being played (and no history being recorded).

"It's pretty bad out there [on the field]," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "I wanted to get it in, but you don't want it to be a farce."

We can't tell you for sure what Johnson himself was thinking, but Bochy said his pitcher handled the delays fine. For the most part, anyway.

"I think it was finally starting to weigh on him at the end," Bochy said. "They made the right call, and he's all set to go tomorrow."

It was quite a day for the Giants, many of whom had a private tour of the White House Wednesday morning. While they enjoyed the tour, they never expected it to be the one highlight of the day.

"The sitting around and waiting was not cool," outfielder Randy Winn said. "The White House? That was fun."

He's right. Sitting around and waiting isn't fun. I should know that.

I should also know about rain-delayed history, because I was at Camden Yards the night Eddie Murray hit his 500th home run sometime right around midnight, in a game that began about two hours late because of rain.

For a while Wednesday, we were looking at the possibility of another midnight milestone, and looking back, we would have taken it. We would have said it was worth the wait.

Now, we're waiting until Thursday.

"Tomorrow," Giants shortstop Edgar Renteria said as he got ready to leave the ballpark. "Tomorrow is going to be a special day for him."

Weather (and baseball) permitting.
Category: MLB
Posted on: June 3, 2009 9:59 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2009 10:51 pm

History delayed -- at least until Thursday

WASHINGTON -- Randy Johnson could still get his 300th win in Washington.

But not tonight.

It's almost 11 p.m. Eastern time as I write this, and Nationals president Stan Kasten just announced that tonight's game is off. The plan is to play a traditional doubleheader starting at 4:30 p.m. ET tomorrow. Johnson is scheduled to start the first game of the doubleheader, against Jordan Zimmermann.

Kasten said the decision to postpone the game was made because the field is no longer playable.

Category: MLB
Posted on: March 13, 2009 6:37 pm
Edited on: March 14, 2009 2:35 am

Pudge says he could sign soon

MIAMI -- Pudge Rodriguez said in January that a team signing him would "hit the lotto."

Two months later, he's still unsigned, even after he went 6-for-11 with two home runs for Puerto Rico in the first round of the World Baseball Classic.

"First of all, my focus has been on the Puerto Rico team, and trying to help Puerto Rico win the Classic," he said Friday. "But this is very important for my future. General managers and even owners, I'm sure, are watching."

Rodriguez said that he's "shocked" and "surprised" that he hasn't been able to land a contract yet, but he did say that guaranteed playing time remains an issue.

"To be honest, I'm in tremendous shape and I still believe I can play on an everyday basis," the 37-year-old catcher said. "I'm telling you, I'm ready to play everyday."

Where will that be?

"You'll see soon," Rodriguez predicted.

While Rodriguez wouldn't mention which teams he's talking to, the Giants and Twins are believed to have some interest. While neither team has a need for an everyday catcher, both could use an offensive boost. The Astros so far haven't shown interest, even though their catchers are having a brutal spring.



Posted on: February 23, 2009 5:43 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2009 7:47 pm

Manny: No Giant sense of anticipation

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Across town at Camelback Ranch, the Dodgers have an open locker that might as well have Manny Ramirez's name on it. He's a constant presence in their camp, even though he's not actually here.

Over here at Scottsdale Stadium, home of the only other team with acknowledged interest in Ramirez, it's as if he barely exists. His name rarely comes up, and when it does, Giants officials do anything and everything to play down that interest.

General manager Brian Sabean says Ramirez is "back burner" for his team, and other Giants people suggest that unless negotiations break down with the Dodgers and Ramirez is willing to go to San Francisco for something like a one-year, $20 million deal, they're not getting him.

Remember, the Dodgers have already offered $25 million for one year.

The Giants don't seem inclined to beat that, and from all indications so far they haven't tried. The Giants don't seem overly concerned that Ramirez will sign with their division rival, presumably because they've expected that to happen and because they're not willing to outbid the Dodgers.

Could the Giants be bluffing? Sure, although as their other winter moves suggest, they're more a strike-fast team when they really want a player.

Why wouldn't the Giants, 29th in baseball in runs scored in 2008 and dead-last in home runs, jump at adding Ramirez? Good question, but Giants people insist that they don't want to tie their hands long-term, because they like their young players coming up. They also suggest that they'll have the financial flexibility to add a bat at midseason, and that they think some teams will have enough financial difficulty that a big bat could be available.

Without referring to Ramirez directly, Sabean also said that the Giants would prefer to add a bat at a corner infield spot, rather than in the outfield. The Giants have a starting outfield of Fred Lewis, Aaron Rowand and Randy Winn, and they're looking for ways to get at-bats for Nate Schierholtz. Meanwhile, they're committed to Pablo Sandoval at one corner infield spot. Right now he's the third baseman, but he could shift to first if a third baseman became available.

Oh, and by the way, there's no obvious Manny locker waiting in the Giants clubhouse.

Incidentally, Ramirez apparently never showed any interest in playing for the Dominican Republic team in the World Baseball Classic. Giants executive Felipe Alou, who will manage the Dominican team, said Ramirez's name never came up, and that Manny has had no contact with those who run the team.

Three years ago, Ramirez was on the provisional Dominican Republic roster for the first WBC, but he elected not to play. That year, when he was under contract to the Red Sox, Ramirez didn't report to spring training until March 1.

Alou's roster seems to be changing daily. He said yesterday that Carlos Marmol would be playing, but Marmol announced today at Cubs camp that he won't be.


Category: MLB
Posted on: November 13, 2008 2:16 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2008 3:35 pm

Sabathia, Lee and (almost) Lincecum

The Indians had CC Sabathia, who won the 2007 American League Cy Young Award.

They have Cliff Lee, just announced as the winner of the 2008 AL Cy Young.

They almost had Tim Lincecum, who earlier this week won the 2008 National League Cy Young.

When Lincecum was a draft-eligible sophomore at the University of Washington in 2005, the Indians gambled on him with a 42nd-round pick. Lincecum didn't sign, but one Indians official said this week that the final gap in the negotiations came down to just $300,000. Lincecum went back to school, and it worked out for him. The Giants took him 10th overall, and gave him a $2.025 million bonus.

Not even a year later, Lincecum was in the big leagues. Two years later, he was a Cy Young winner.

Lee's path to the Cy Young wasn't nearly as smooth. Acquired by the Indians from Montreal in the 2002 Bartolo Colon trade, he became an 18-game winner in 2005. Lee then became a minor leaguer in 2007, after going 5-8 with a 6.38 ERA in his first 16 starts.

He had to compete for a job in spring training 2008, but by the end of April he was 5-0 with an 0.96 ERA, and he was well on the way to the Cy Young.

So now it's two straight Cy Youngs for the Indians, who before 2007 had won just one of them in their history (Gaylord Perry, 1972).

"Hopefully (Fausto) Carmona wins next year, and we can keep it in the Tribe," Lee said today.

Posted on: November 10, 2008 4:23 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2008 4:41 pm

Does anybody want Barry Zito?

While the Giants' main focus this winter is on finding some way to add offense -- no surprise since San Francisco was 29th in the majors in runs scored -- they've also told teams that they'd love to dump Barry Zito.

"They're trying to give him away," said an official of one team that had spoken to the Giants. "I think they would eat as much money as it would take to get rid of him."

You can be sure it would take a lot. Zito has $101.5 million and five years still to go on the $126 million, seven-year deal he signed with the Giants two winters ago. Two years into that deal, Zito has lost his fastball and has also lost 30 games, going 21-30 with a 4.83 ERA for the Giants.

The Giants have decided to build their team around young starters Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, and they've told teams both are untouchable in trade talks. Somehow, though, the Giants will need to find some hitters.

"They're starving for power at the corners," the official said. "They want a third baseman, a right fielder, a first baseman. They just need bats."

Category: MLB
Posted on: November 4, 2008 1:38 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2008 1:43 pm

Should the Brewers even want Sabathia to sign?

Good for the Brewers for making a big-money offer to CC Sabathia. They had to do it. And now he has to tell thanks, move on, and wait until the teams with real money are allowed to start making their bids.

We all know Sabathia isn't staying in Milwaukee. The truth is, they shouldn't even want him to stay, not at the $20 million or more they presumably offered.

Sabathia was perfect for the Brewers in 2008, when they only had to pay him the prorated portion of his $11 million salary for the final three months of the season. But how in the world do you fit a $20 million salary, especially for one starting pitcher, into the $81 million payroll the Brewers had in 2008?

But the Brewers payroll will rise in 2009, you say. Sure it will, but how high?

Only 12 players in baseball made even $16 million in 2008. Of those 12, eight played in New York (five with the Yankees, three with the Mets). Three others began the season with the Red Sox, Mariners and Angels, three other teams with payrolls of $117 million or higher. Only Todd Helton of the Rockies made as much as $16 million for a team with a payroll under $100 million.

Yes, Sabathia changed the baseball culture in Milwaukee. The trade was a fine idea, and it worked out, even though the Brewers lost to the eventual champion Phillies in four games in the Division Series.

But signing Sabathia to a contract that would keep the Brewers from being able to build a team around him wouldn't have been a good idea.

You can bet the Brewers know that. They had to make him a big-money offer, and good for them for doing it.

Sabathia had to reject that offer, which he no doubt will. Good for him, and good for the Brewers, too.


The Giants haven't been talked about as a serious player in the Sabathia free-agent market, but one scout wondered this week what would happen if they could land him.

"Look for San Francisco to be the up-and-coming team in that division," the scout said. "Two years from now, that team could go deep into the playoffs. If they got Sabathia, they might do it next year."


While the Yankees search for pitching at the general managers' meetings in Dana Point, Calif. (a search they hope will bring them Sabathia), there was some good Yankee news out of the Arizona Fall League on Monday.

Phil Hughes pitched five shutout innings for Peoria, allowing just one hit, with no walks and eight strikeouts.

At least one (non-Yankee) scout who attended was very impressed.

"He was very good," the scout said. "He commanded his fastball very well. People forget that he's still only 22 years old. He should be a senior in college right now."

The same scout said that Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson, who hasn't allowed a run in 13 2/3 AFL innings, is the most impressive player in the league this year.

Hanson is the pitcher the Braves have refused to include in their trade discussions with the Padres about Jake Peavy.

Posted on: July 29, 2008 1:20 pm

Are Dodgers interested in Paul Byrd?

The Indians haven't been optimistic that they'll find someone to take Paul Byrd off their hands, but perhaps the Dodgers will bite.

A Dodger scout who had been in Cleveland watching Casey Blake was told to stay in town through Monday night's game, and he was watching as Byrd threw seven shutout innings against the Tigers.

Byrd is 4-10 with a 5.28 ERA, but he has won two straight games. The start before he beat the Tigers, he allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings against the Angels.

Besides, said another scout who watched Byrd Monday, he'd be an even better fit for a National League team.

"I would take Byrd, especially if I was a National League team, because the (other) NL teams haven't seen him," the scout said. "He pitched well (Monday). He would have beaten anybody."

The Denver Post has reported that the Rockies have talked to Cleveland about Byrd, but the Rockies did not have a scout watching him Monday night.


The Mariners have yet to make a trade, but  you'd think they should be able to make several before Thursday's 4 p.m. deadline.

One name to keep in mind: Arthur Rhodes.

The veteran left-hander hasn't allowed a run in 11 2/3 innings since the end of May, and he was impressive in an inning Monday night in Texas. The Brewers, who definitely need bullpen help, were among the teams in attendance (so were the Tigers).

"He had a very good slider, he was throwing 92 and his arm angle was good," said a scout from another team. "He was outstanding."


The Mets have reason to be concerned about John Maine, who is to have an MRI on his right shoulder today in New York. While Maine didn't want to leave Monday night's game against the Marlins, Mets officials got worried when he had trouble getting loose in 85-degree heat.

The Mets do get one break if it turns out that Maine's injury isn't severe. With off days Thursday and Monday, and with Pedro Martinez returning to pitch this weekend, they could conceivably go nearly two more turns through the rotation before they would need to pitch Maine or find a replacement for him.

In any case, the Mets continue to chase both relief help and a corner outfielder. It's not clear which one should be a bigger priority. In fact, one Mets person said that seems to shift from day to day.


The Marlins keep looking for catching, but they keep running into roadblocks. They felt that Texas's price for Gerald Laird was too high, and when they asked the Giants about Bengie Molina, they were supposedly asked for three top prospects who they wouldn't give up.

Maybe they can revisit Pudge Rodriguez, especially if the Tigers have a couple more nights like Monday.
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