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Tag:C.J. Wilson
Posted on: December 7, 2011 3:47 am
 

Latest on Rangers, and other meetings notes

DALLAS -- More baseball talk from the second full day at the winter meetings:

-- The hometown Rangers have watched the Marlins dominate the first two days of the meetings, and they spent Tuesday night meeting with the representative for pitcher C.J. Wilson, who they very likely will not re-sign. But the Rangers have been active on many other fronts, according to sources. They're in on free-agent pitcher Mark Buehrle, and potentially in on free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder. Also, despite already signing closer Joe Nathan, the Rangers have considered a run at A's closer Andrew Bailey, who is available in trade.

-- The Phillies have decided against pursuing free-agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez, and will instead keep Placido Polanco at third and fully concentrate their efforts on retaining shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Ramirez still has interest from the Brewers and Angels, and the Brewers could be the best fit (assuming they don't re-sign Fielder).

-- While much of the day Tuesday was dominated by the Albert Pujols chase, agent Scott Boras has decided to let the Fielder market develop more slowly. Interested teams include the Cubs, Rangers, Mariners, Orioles and possibly the Nationals, plus the Brewers.

-- The Reds have continued to pursue starting pitching. They've been probably the most aggressive team after Jair Jurrjens of the Braves, and have also continued a dialogue with the Rays that began last July.

-- While the Marlins pursued Pujols, they also continued to look at starting pitching. The Marlins have tried for both of the top two free-agent starters (Wilson and Buehrle), and have also made trade inquiries on Gio Gonzalez of the A's and Wandy Rodriguez of the Astros, among others.

-- The Cardinals have been so focused on trying to retain Pujols that they have yet to have a full-group meeting on what path they would pursue if he leaves. Some think they could pursue Rollins or Ryan Madson, and others believe that they could jump in on Buehrle.


Posted on: November 15, 2011 1:16 am
Edited on: November 15, 2011 1:18 am
 

Angels among 8-9 teams interested in C.J. Wilson

MILWAUKEE -- The most popular pitcher at the general managers' meetings is in Japan.

Not from Japan. In Japan, on vacation.

C.J. Wilson is headed home Friday, on his 31st birthday. He won't have a new contract and a 2012 team by then, but based on the early interest, he'll have plenty of choices and a chance to make plenty of money.

In fact, early indications are that Wilson could well command a six-year contract.

Agent Bob Garber, who shuttled from meeting to meeting on Monday, wouldn't comment on that, but did say that there are 8-9 teams interested in Wilson, and that he hopes to narrow the group to the four or five most interested teams before more serious negotiations begin.

Garber had dinner Monday with new Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto, who did little to hide his interest in stealing Wilson away from the rival Rangers.

"Obviously, we have interest," Dipoto said. "I hope C.J. feels the same way. We'll find out."

The Angels would seem to be set at the top of their rotation, with Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. But as Dipoto said, "I don't know that you can ever have enough pitching."

Wilson grew up in Southern California, but Garber said his ultimate decision on where to sign will "really have nothing to do with location."

Wilson hasn't at all ruled out a return to the Rangers, and Garber said the idea of chasing a third straight trip to the World Series has appeal. The Rangers haven't ruled out re-signing Wilson, either, but with the level of interest elsewhere, it seems unlikely that he'll remain in Texas.

Wilson has had two strong seasons as a starter, going past 200 innings each year and finishing with a combined 31-15 record. He had a poor October this year, going 0-3 with a 5.79 ERA in six starts, but that doesn't seem to have hurt his market appeal.

The Washington Post reported Monday that the Nationals have interest in Wilson, as well as in Roy Oswalt, another Garber client. Garber spent some time with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo Monday evening.



Posted on: October 29, 2011 6:47 pm
 

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

The Yankees don't think it was such a great month. The Phillies are sure it wasn't a great month.

Oh, and the Red Sox? No, the last 31 days weren't exactly pleasant for them.

But it sure was great for the rest of us, the best month of baseball most of us have seen, or will see, in our lifetimes.

If it gets better than this, I won't complain. But I'm not planning on it.

We had the best single regular-season night ever, on the final night of the regular season, and maybe the best game ever, on the next-to-last night of the World Series.

We had so many great games that the best individual offensive performance in World Series history barely makes the list. So many that Chris Carpenter's three-hit 1-0 shutout in a winner-take-all Game 5 wasn't even his most important performance of the month.

This is the third year now that I've written a postseason recap, and it's the first time that the best game of the month wasn't the first game I saw. Nothing against Tigers-Twins (Game 163 in 2009) or Roy Halladay's no-hitter (Division Series 2010), but it's a better month when the drama builds.

This month, we saw Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera, Chris Carpenter, Nelson Cruz and David Freese. We saw squirrels. We saw Na-po-li. We saw history.

We saw Game 6.

What a month.

Here's a look back:

Best game: Some people are insisting that Game 6 of the World Series can't be called great, because there were physical errors early and possible managerial errors late. Sorry, but that's ridiculous. So it wasn't the best-played game ever. Fine. It had thrills, it had drama, it had plenty to second-guess, it had great performances and gritty performances. You go ahead and say it wasn't perfect. I'm going to say it was the best game I've ever seen.

Best moment: The flashbulbs going off when Albert Pujols batted in the seventh inning of Game 7 were great. Yes, it could have been his final Cardinals at-bat. But the best moment of the postseason -- Pujols' best moment -- was when he called time out to allow the Miller Park crowd to honor Prince Fielder, who very, very likely was stepping to the plate for his final Brewers at-bat.

Best chant: In the end, maybe this wasn't the Year of the Napoli, after all. But it sure was the month of the "Na!-Po!-Li!" at Rangers Ballpark. Mike Napoli became such an instant hero that I saw a Rangers fan who had altered his year-old Cliff Lee jersey, adding "Na-po" above the "Lee."

Best crowd: It was incredibly loud all month in Texas. It was louder than ever in St. Louis for the final outs of Game 7. But everyone who was at Miller Park this month came back raving about the atmosphere and the Brewers' fans (and everyone who was at Chase Field said there was barely any atmosphere for the Diamondbacks' two home games).

Best player: Tough call. Freese was a revelation, and not just in the World Series. Cabrera was outstanding. So was Ryan Braun. But Pujols was the guy I'll remember most, from his great defensive play against the Phillies to his historic three-homer game against the Rangers.

Best movie review: Moneyball took a beating every time Cardinals manager Tony La Russa took to the podium. La Russa went to see the movie the night Game 6 was rained out, and the next night he said that it "strains the credibility a little bit." La Russa, like others, complained about the portrayal of scouts, and about the lack of mentions of Miguel Tejada, Eric Chavez, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito and Tim Hudson. "That club was carried by those guys that were signed, developed the old-fashioned way," La Russa said. "That part wasn't enjoyable, because it's a nice story but it is not accurate enough."

Most disappointing team: The Red Sox. The Phillies didn't make it out of the first round. Neither did the Yankees, who then apologized to their fans for their "failure." But Boston's collapse was so bad that it led to the departure of the manager and general manager who broke the curse. The Red Sox will recover, but they'll never be the same.

Best prediction: It's well established by now that I can't pick winners. But when the postseason began, I jokingly wrote that every series would go the distance. Turned out I was almost right, as 38 of a possible 41 games were required. Three of the four Division Series went the distance (and none were sweeps). Both League Championship Series went six games. And the World Series went seven, for the first time in nine years. Oh, and I even picked the World Series winner, Cardinals in 7, even if I did it because Rangers officials demanded that I pick against them.

Five who helped themselves: 1. Pujols. I'm not saying it makes a difference in his final free-agent price, but a great postseason reminded all of us how good he really is.

2. John Mozeliak. You think Cardinals fans will finally admit that it was a good idea to trade Colby Rasmus to help this team win now?

3. Mike Napoli. The Angels traded this guy for Vernon Wells. The Blue Jays then traded this guy for Frank Francisco. The Rangers will not be trading him.

4. Ryan Braun. MVP voting includes only the regular season, and not the postseason. But anyone who chose Braun over Matt Kemp in the National League race had to be happy to see him hit .405 with a 1.182 OPS in October.

5. David Freese. He was the best story of the month, the hometown kid who quit baseball after high school, and came back to become the World Series MVP. Now everyone knows him.

Five who hurt themselves: 1. C.J. Wilson. He's still going to get overpaid on the free-agent market, but imagine how much he might have gotten if he'd had a good October, instead of a lousy one.

2. CC Sabathia. He's still going to get a great new contract, too, but imagine how much he might have gotten if his postseason ERA was 1.23, instead of 6.23 (and if his waist size didn't expand just as fast).

3. Cliff Lee. The team he left went to the World Series without him. And the team he couldn't beat in Game 2, after his teammates gave him a 4-0 lead, went on to win the World Series.

4. Alex Rodriguez. Two years ago, he had a nice October and shed the label of postseason choker. This year, he went 2-for-18 against the Tigers and appeared on the back page of the New York Post as one of the Three Stooges (along with Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira).

5. Tony La Russa (for about 48 hours). I'm guessing Cardinals fans will now totally forgive him for the phone/noise/bullpen mess from Game 5. He's now the guy who has won two World Series in St. Louis, to go with the one he won in Oakland. Still one of the very best managers in the game -- in the history of the game, that is.


Posted on: October 23, 2011 2:53 am
 

Nowitzki's fastball was a Rangers highlight

ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's a cheap joke, and totally unfair, to say that Dirk Nowitzki was the Rangers' best pitcher of the night.

Sorry. I'm saying it, anyway.

Nowitzki, the Dallas Mavericks star, became something of a story earlier in the week when baseball first said he wouldn't be chosen to throw out a ceremonial first pitch. The Rangers insisted, Bud Selig got involved, and Nowitzki was handed the honor for Game 3.

Now we know why.

Not because he was good luck for the Rangers (quite obviously, he wasn't). Not because he could have retired Albert Pujols (on Saturday's evidence, no one could have).

No, simply because he looked good -- and entertaining -- while throwing the first pitch to Michael Young.

"Dirk had great rhythm with his pitch," Rangers starter C.J. Wilson said. "He was throwing downhill. He was kind of Ogando-ish."

Wilson meant Ogando-ish, as in the way Alexi Ogando has thrown all season and for most of the playoffs. Not Ogando-ish, as in giving up four runs and a Pujols home run that caromed off the facing of the second deck.

Anyway, the point is that Nowitzki made the most of the chance. He even did "the claw," which the Rangers players use to signify a big play.

He also took some advice from the Rangers players.

Or tried to, anyway.

"My last [first pitch] in July was a little high," Nowitzki said. "This time they told me to throw a four-seam fastball. I still don't understand what that means. But I think that's the grip I had. Or was it a two-seam fastball? No, I forgot."

Either way, Wilson was impressed.

"His hand's so big, it's like me throwing a golf ball," Wilson said.

However he did it, he did it well.

And yes, he did it better than any of the Rangers pitchers who followed.

Posted on: October 18, 2011 7:48 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2011 12:14 pm
 

Bullpens are great, but in WS starters matter

ST. LOUIS -- The World Series managers announced their starting pitchers Tuesday.

They didn't say who will pitch the sixth inning.

Or the fifth, for that matter.

Yeah, that was a joke, a weak one, but one even the Cardinals and Rangers starters themselves are telling after two playoff rounds that at least temporarily changed the way we look at starters.

No Cardinal starter went past the fifth inning against the Brewers. No Rangers starter has thrown a pitch in the seventh inning this entire postseason.

It's enough to make you forget that both these teams had decent to good rotations during the regular season. It's enough to make you forget that the Cardinals only got through the first round because of the best-pitched game of the playoffs so far -- Chris Carpenter's three-hit shutout in Game 5 against the Phillies.

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These two bullpens are good, and these two managers aren't afraid to use them. But it's not as if they're hoping to use them early.

Really, it isn't.

"No, we haven't completely changed the game," Cardinals Game 3 starter Kyle Lohse said with a chuckle. "We're not going with 12 relievers. But I was joking about that the other day, that we're not really starters."

The Rangers rotation actually had the third-best ERA in the American League in the regular season (3.65), behind only the Rays and the Angels. The Cardinals rotation was middle of the pack, eighth in the 16-team National League at 3.81.

Both were much better over six months than they've been over the last three weeks (5.43 for the Cardinals, 5.62 for the Rangers).

"Their starting staff, by the way, is no joke," the Cardinals' Skip Schumaker said Tuesday.

Both teams are staying with the same four starters they've used through the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Cardinals will go with Carpenter in Game 1, followed by Jaime Garcia, Lohse and Edwin Jackson. The Rangers have announced C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis for the first two games, but haven't yet said whether Derek Holland or Matt Harrison will start Game 3 (the other would go in Game 4).

Lewis and Wilson are the only Rangers starters who have gone past the fifth inning in this postseason, with Lewis pitching into the sixth inning twice, and Wilson doing it once.

"Trust me, we like the attention we're getting in the bullpen, but we'd love for those guys to give us seven or eight strong innings," Rangers reliever Mike Adams said. "I would love to see one of these guys go eight."

The Cardinals feel the same way.

"I told someone that it's nice to know that next year I only have to go five, with the bullpen going four," injured Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright said. "But you take the ball with the intention of throwing the last pitch. There is some solace in knowing that if you don't, the bullpen has got your back."

In this postseason, the bullpen has had the back end of the game, and in too many cases the front end of the game, too.

In the World Series, don't be shocked if that changes.

"I really think the key is going to be the starters," Cardinals outfielder Lance Berkman said. "And both sides have very capable starters."


Posted on: October 7, 2011 6:25 pm
 

ALCS will go seven, and the Tigers (may) win it

The boss wants me to tell you who will win the American League Championship Series.

I'd rather tell you how long it's going to go.

One round into the 2011 postseason, I'm convinced that I'm better at guessing that.

Before the playoffs began, I said (somewhat ridiculously) that every series would go the distance. And I wrote (even more ridiculously) that the Yankees would win it all.

Three of the four first-round series went the full five games (and not one series was a sweep).

And the Yankees? They're out.

So here's my ALCS pick: It's going seven games. It's going to be a great series, just as good as the series that the Tigers and Rangers won to get here.

And . . . the Tigers are going to win it.

I'm sure of it . . . no, I'm not. But I do believe it, mainly because this is the series where Justin Verlander is the difference.

It was supposed to happen in the Division Series, because Verlander was going to start twice, and win twice, and that meant the only way the Tigers were going to lose was if the other team won each of the other three games.

Then the rain came, and the Tigers beat the Yankees just as much because of Max Scherzer and Doug Fister and the bullpen as because of Verlander (maybe more so).

But that rain meant that Verlander is now on regular rest for Game 1 of the ALCS, Saturday night in Texas, against C.J. Wilson.

Advantage, Tigers.

Wilson is good, the best pitcher on this winter's free-agent market. Verlander is the best in the game.

It's a seven-game series, not five. Tigers manager Jim Leyland has resisted using Verlander on short rest, which would mean Verlander can contribute just two of the four wins the Tigers need to advance.

The Tigers will need contributions from their other starters, just as they did against the Yankees. But the rest of the Rangers' rotation doesn't offer guaranteed wins, either.

These are two fun teams, two good teams, and I can't pick either one with much conviction.

But the difference is Verlander, and that means the Tigers are going to win.

In seven games.

Posted on: September 2, 2011 10:42 pm
 

Red Sox? Yankees? How about the Rangers?

BOSTON -- Friday in the Boston Globe, columnist Dan Shaughnessy called Red Sox-Yankees the "overdue dream ALCS matchup."

Spend enough time in this part of the country, especially during Red Sox-Yankees week, and you can get sucked into believing that an all-AL East ALCS is not only overdue and dream, but also inevitable.

Until the Rangers come to town and remind you that they are the defending American League champions.

Friday's reminder was a loud one, with three home runs and a 10-0 win over the Red Sox.

Yes, there is another AL team capable of going to the World Series, and it's the same team that went there last year.

The Rangers themselves would rather not talk about it, because unlike the Yankees and Red Sox they're not yet close to guaranteeing their spot in the playoffs. Their 3 1/2-game lead over the Angels, entering play Friday, gives them the most tenuous hold of any of the eight teams currently in playoff position.

"I don't think that far ahead, because there are no guarantees in this game," manager Ron Washington said. "We haven't won anything yet."

But while winning the West is not an insignificant issue, it's reasonable to assume that the Rangers will hold off the Angels. It's also reasonable to think that they could pose a real threat to the Red Sox and/or the Yankees.

The lineup is basically the one that eliminated the Yankees last October, with Adrian Beltre, Mike Napoli and Yorvit Torrealba in place of Vladimir Guerrero and Bengie Molina.

Yes, but Cliff Lee is gone.

Yes, he is. But the Rangers' rotation is deeper than you think, and the Rangers have strengthened their bullpen so much that they can limit the outs they need from those starters.

"You make the best of what you have," pitching coach Mike Maddux said Friday. "And I like what we have."

The Rangers made the best midseason move in baseball last year when they traded for Lee. They made the best series of midseason moves this year with their deals for relievers Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez, as colleague Scott Miller detailed a few weeks back.

With strong lineups all around the American League -- and rotation questions all around, too -- this year's AL playoffs could well be decided by the bullpens. The Rangers, who read the trade market well, could be in as good position as anyone.

The challenge for Maddux and Washington is to keep their starters from getting too worn down before October begins.

C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis both pitched through October last year, and you wonder about how that will affect them. Alexi Ogando is a converted reliever who has already pitched more than twice as many innings this year as he did all of last year.

Derek Holland, who beat the Red Sox by throwing seven shutout innings and allowing just two hits Friday night, has pitched more innings than he did a year ago.

"I'm not concerned," Washington said. "But of course we're looking at it. There is some drawback to these young guys not being there before, but it is also something they have to experience. Every starting staff in baseball that makes it to the postseason, consistently, they have to go through it before they figure it out.

"So we're going through it."

Wilson said Friday he feels better physically than he did entering September a year ago, saying he "refined" his workouts and has seen the effect.

Privately, the Rangers hope that they can create some distance between themselves and the Angels soon, in part because it would enable them to give their starters (and even some of their position players) extra rest before October.

Publicly, they say they don't expect the Angels to go away.

But the Rangers also believe that they're more ready for what's ahead, this month and probably next, than they were a year ago.

"Last year, we were constantly talking about staying focused," Michael Young said. "This year, there's no need to talk about it, because we know. We just know it."

They know that, and they know they're good.

And if everyone in the Northeast (and a bunch of people elsewhere) want to assume that this year is all about the Red Sox and Yankees, the Rangers aren't going to worry about it.

"That doesn't bother us at all," Young said. "It's a great rivalry (Yankees-Red Sox). I think if you go to our part of the country, I think you'd find that a lot of people are talking about us."

Win again in October, they'll have people talking everywhere.
Posted on: August 25, 2011 11:45 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 11:49 pm
 

3 to Watch: The glimmer of a chance edition

Last Friday morning, the host of a morning talk show on the Angels' flagship radio station asked me if Mark Trumbo's dramatic home run the night before had given the Angels "a glimmer of a chance" in the American League West.

Good thing I said yes.

It would have been easy to say no. I was tempted to say no.

The Angels had just lost three of four to the Rangers. They still trailed the Rangers by six games in the American League West.

There was no way they were coming back. But maybe because I wanted to be nice, or maybe because I almost believed it, I said yes.

Good thing I did.

The Angels are in Texas this weekend, and if they win all three games they leave town Sunday night in first place. If they win two of three, they leave town one game out.

Even if they lose two of three, they're three games out, with a month to play.

They have at least "a glimmer of a chance."

Good thing, too, because baseball needs a pennant race in the American League West.

The Tigers have gone ahead by 6 1/2 games in the American League Central. The Brewers are so far ahead in the National League Central (10 games, as of Thursday morning) that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch asked if it's time for the Cardinals to start selling off players.

The Yankees and the Red Sox have known for weeks that they'll be in the American League playoffs. Same goes for the Phillies and Braves in the National League.

If the Rangers had pulled away, we could have been stuck with just the NL West, with the surprising Diamondbacks, the champion Giants . . . and the Rockies?

With five straight wins, the Rockies had pulled to within 8 1/2 games of the lead, before the Diamondbacks won Thursday to make it nine games.

"It's a longshot," Troy Tulowitzki told reporters. "But if anyone can do it, it's us."

The Rockies are 63-68, hardly contender-like. But it's only four games worse than they were after 131 games in 2007.

That year, they ended up with 90 wins. This year, 90 wins might win the NL West.

I'm not sure it's even a glimmer of a chance yet. But Tulowitzki is right.

If anyone can do it, it's them.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. You'd be surprised how many players talk about going back to finish their career where they started it. Jim Thome got the chance, when the Twins traded him to the Indians Thursday night. Thome, who last played for Cleveland in 2002, returns for Royals at Indians, Friday night (7:05 ET) at Progressive Field, which was known as Jacobs Field the last time he played for the Indians. Ubaldo Jimenez, last month's big Indians acquisition, will be on the mound.

2. The best thing the Angels have going for them is the top of their rotation, with Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. And manager Mike Scioscia seems ready to use all three of those aces this weekend, even though it would mean using Santana and Weaver on three days' rest for the first time in either's big-league career. Santana would face Rangers ace C.J. Wilson in Angels at Rangers, Saturday night (8:05 ET) at Rangers Ballpark. Weaver would pitch Sunday night against Colby Lewis. Haren opens the series on regular rest, Friday against Derek Holland.

3. The Rockies' longshot run last year basically ended on a Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles, when they took a 6-1 lead and ended up losing 7-6. And it fell apart completely a few nights later in Arizona. Their longer-shot run heads to Los Angeles and Arizona this week, including Rockies at Dodgers, Sunday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Dodger Stadium.



 
 
 
 
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