Tag:Felix Hernandez
Posted on: February 3, 2012 1:58 pm
 

Harper would join short list of 19-year-olds

As CBSSports.com colleague Jon Heyman wrote, the Nationals plan to give 19-year-old Bryce Harper a real chance to make their team out of spring training.

In fact, one Nationals official told me he believes that Harper should make it, and that even though he is still learning, "he can help you win while he learns."

Besides, it's not unheard of for a 19-year-old to play in the big leagues. Mike Trout did it for 14 games with the Angels last summer. Both Uptons (B.J. and Justin) did it.

Alex Rodriguez played in the big leagues when he was still 18 years old.

But according to research through baseball-reference.com, Harper would be the first 19-year-old to break camp with a team since Felix Hernandez with the 2006 Mariners, and the first position player to do it since Andruw Jones with the 1997 Braves.

Harper will be 19 years, 172 days old when the Nationals open their season on April 5 in Chicago. King Felix (19.118 when he debuted in August 2005) was the last big leaguer that young, and Adrian Beltre (19.078 when he debuted in June 1998) was the last position player that young.

A look the 19-year-olds who have played in the big leagues since 2000:

-- Trout played 14 games with the Angels last July, hitting just .163 with a .492 OPS.

-- Justin Upton was 23 days shy of his 20th birthday when the Diamondbacks called him up in 2007.

-- Hernandez came to the big leagues to stay at age 19.

-- B.J. Upton was 18 days shy of his 20th birthday when he debuted with the Rays in August 2004.

-- Jose Reyes debuted with the Mets the day before he turned 20 in June 2003.

-- Wilson Betemit came up with the Braves as a 19-year-old in September 2001.
Posted on: November 14, 2011 5:22 pm
 

Kemp signs, and 2013 free-agent class takes a hit

MILWAUKEE -- Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder made it to the free-agent market.

Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez didn't.

It's always fun to look a few years down the line to see who what treats each year's free-agent marketplace will offer.

And it's always important to remember that those treats may or may not reach the market.

Matt Kemp could have been a free agent next winter. Jered Weaver could have, too.

Kemp and Weaver chose to take the big money upfront and stay in Southern California instead.

For now, Matt Cain and Cole Hamels remain on the list of possible 2012-13 free agents. In fact, right now Matt Cain and Cole Hamels probably top the list of 2012-13 free agents.

Hamels may not make it to the market, either. The Phillies would like to sign him to a long-term deal this winter.

Cain may not make it there, either. And it wouldn't exactly be shocking if Zack Greinke (another potential 2012-13 free agent) stays in Milwaukee.

The 2012-13 class was never going to match this winter's class. There wasn't a Fielder, and there wasn't a Pujols. There wasn't a Verlander or a Felix, two ace starters who would have been free agents this winter if they hadn't signed long-term deals with their own teams.

With Kemp and Weaver, though, the class would have featured a potential MVP and a potential Cy Young winner.

Without them, it just doesn't look as good.


Posted on: August 24, 2011 11:37 am
Edited on: August 24, 2011 12:03 pm
 

So maybe it really isn't about the money

Players always go for the most money.

Except when they don't.

Except when Cliff Lee says, "At some point, enough is enough." Except when Jered Weaver says, "Could have got more. Whatever. Who cares?"

Except when Zack Greinke says, sorry Nationals, it's not your money, it's your team. Except when Roy Halladay says, "This is where we wanted to be."

There's a trend developing here, and it might be bad news for the Yankees.

The old rule of thumb was that free agents -- or even free-agents-to-be -- always signed for the biggest contract. And the Yankees always knew they could offer that biggest contract, if they wanted to.

But what if that's not true anymore?

What if the best players decide that once the money gets big enough -- $17 million a year, or $20 million a year, or $24 million a year -- an extra $1 million or $2 million or $30 million isn't going to buy happiness?

What happens is that Halladay gets himself traded to the one team he wanted to play for. What happens is that Greinke turns down a non-contending Nationals team (that offered him a big-money extension) so he can go to a contender in Milwaukee (under his current contract). What happens is that Lee turns down more guaranteed money, because he wants to be back in Philladelphia.

And what happens is that Weaver, as colleague Scott Miller details, bucks the Scott Boras trend. Instead of waiting for free agency (after 2012) and even bigger bucks, he tells Boras that "money really wasn't an option for me" and re-signs with the Angels.

Actually, two trends are at work here. With more money available throughout the game, more and more young aces -- Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander and now Weaver -- never get to free agency. Hernandez and Verlander both would have been free agents this winter, if they hadn't signed extensions.

Imagine that bidding frenzy.

Or maybe not. Maybe, even if they had gone to the market, both would have signed for less than the last available dollar. Maybe both would have turned down the Yankees.

We always snickered when free agents said, "It's not about the money," before or after taking the biggest deal they could find.

But maybe there's a point where it really isn't "all about the money." And maybe now, we're reaching that point.

Posted on: July 25, 2011 9:07 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 1:17 pm
 

M's want a win -- but they don't want out

NEW YORK -- Felix Hernandez said Monday that his feelings haven't changed. He still wants to be a Mariner.

He still wants to remain a Mariner.

"Why not?" he asked me.

Why not? I can think of 15 reasons why not, 15 reasons why the Mariners must be the most miserable team to play for right now.

Make that 16 reasons now, after a 10-3 Mariner loss to the Yankees that was so ugly that it seemed to explain the 15 straight losses that came before it.

If you believe King Felix and his teammates, they don't agree with me. They don't want out. They just want a few wins.

They want one win -- fast.

They've set a club record already, with 16 straight losses. They've lost more consecutive games than any team since the 2005 Royals lost 19 in a row, more consecutive games than all but six teams in the history of the American League. They've lost fans, they've lost admirers, and they've lost believers among baseball people who had started to think a month ago that general manager Jack Zduriencik might be building a future contender.

"Their offense is absolutely non-existent," said one scout who watched the Mariners last week. "They've got Miguel Olivo hitting cleanup -- Miguel Olivo! [Justin] Smoak is still sort of a prospect. And Chone Figgins? I might as well be playing third base for them."

Olivo hit cleanup again Monday night, going 0-for-4 to drop his batting average to .220. It was the 36th time he has hit cleanup for the Mariners this year, after hitting cleanup a total of 11 times in his nine previous big-league seasons.

You'd think that any player who could get out would want out. You expect to walk into the Mariner clubhouse and see players checking the CBSSports.com Eye on Baseball blog.

It's not like that, or at least it wasn't like that Monday.

"I'm very proud to say I'm a member of the Seattle Mariners," Doug Fister said.

Unlike Hernandez, who the Mariners have consistently declared off-limits in trade talks, Fister seems to have some chance of getting dealt this week. The Tigers and Reds scouted him last week in Toronto, and the Tigers continue to have a scout following the Mariners. Fister starts Tuesday night against the Yankees, with the weight of the 16-game losing streak transferred to his shoulders.

The Mariners seem more interested in talking about Jason Vargas, the pitcher who started against the Yankees on Monday. Vargas allowed eight runs (four earned) in four innings, in an outing that wasn't as bad as all that, but wasn't real good, either. Fister has more value. Erik Bedard, who comes off the disabled list to start Friday against the Rays, could have value, as well.

Both Fister and Vargas have losing records with a decent ERA. Fister is 3-11 despite a 3.30 ERA, and he's 0-6 since the beginning of June, with a 3.38 ERA and a .578 opponents OPS.

As that scout said, the Mariners' offense is basically non-existent. It's why their 43-59 record isn't exactly a surprise, even if the way they got there is.

The M's were 43-43 when the losing streak began. They were just 2 1/2 games out of first place.

If you'd asked shortstop Brendan Ryan then if there was a chance that they'd lose the next 16 games, he'd have told you no.

"Zero percent," Ryan said. "I don't even know how many stars have to be aligned for this to happen. It's Friday the 13th, and a full moon. Every day.

"With our pitching staff, it would have been much more believable to win 15 in a row."

The strong starting pitching is the reason the Mariners got to 43-43 in the first place. But even then, they seemed to be playing over their heads, an idea that manager Eric Wedge basically agreed with Monday.

"I don’t think we were as good as we looked back then, and we're not as bad as we look now," Wedge said.

Wedge pointed to the Mariners' young talent (eight players have made their big-league debut with the M's this year), and insisted that the long-term plan remains solid.

"Grand plan, big picture," he called it. "We're building something here."

And he said this 16-game losing streak will end up being part of it.

"We'll be stronger for it," Wedge said. "This is something you'll never forget, that you'll draw from. Having lived through this makes you stronger.

"Believe you me, they'll be a whole lot tougher after going through this."

Perhaps they will be, but the way the Mariners have played over the last week isn't exactly encouraging. Three times in the last week, they had runners get picked off (including Ichiro, who fell for the third-to-first move that never works).

But they don't seem to be blaming each other, and they don't seem to want out -- at least not openly.

"We've got a good group," Wedge said. "They're together. They're good teammates."

They may be good teammates, but they're not a good team.

At this point, maybe they should trade King Felix, but they don't want to. And if you believe him, he doesn't want out, either.

Not even after 16 in a row.



Posted on: July 24, 2011 9:01 pm
Edited on: July 24, 2011 11:16 pm
 

3 to Watch: The White Sox (or white flag) edition

The White Sox are having the most disappointing season in baseball. The White Sox could still win the American League Central.

The White Sox could be 1 1/2 games out of first place by Wednesday. Or the White Sox could be sellers by Wednesday.

It's a time of year where things change quickly, with teams assessing their needs and chances daily.

Even by that standard, the White Sox are a team to watch this week.

They begin the week two games under .500, and 4 1/2 games behind the first-place Tigers. The Tigers are in Chicago for three games starting Monday night.

By the time the series ends Wednesday, the White Sox could be a true contender. Or they could be so far out of it that they go into full sell mode, looking to deal a pitcher like Edwin Jackson and perhaps outfielder Carlos Quentin.

Or maybe they're still left guessing whether they're in it or not. Maybe all they can do is to contemplate possible deals like the one the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Sunday, where they would trade a major leaguer for another major leaguer (in this case, a pitcher like Jackson for Cardinals center fielder Colby Rasmus).

There are other teams to watch this week, notably the Rays, who have fallen 6 1/2 games out in the wild-card race after losing two of three in Kansas City. But the Rays were already telling teams that they don't plan to move pitcher James Shields.

But no team has been as disappointing this year as the White Sox, and no team will be as interesting to follow over the next few days.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Partly because of the trade deadline, and partly because Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee won't start in the series, the Giants' visit to Philadelphia doesn't feel as big as it probably should. It's still worth watching, and it's worth noting that the Phillies allowed fewer runs over the first 100 games of the season (332) than any team since the 1989 Dodgers. Vance Worley is one of the surprising reasons for that, and Worley faces Tim Lincecum in Giants at Phillies, Tuesday night (7:05 ET) at Citizens Bank Park.

2. The White Sox began the second half by beating Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer on back-to-back days in Detroit, then missed a chance to sweep the series when they lost to Brad Penny. They get Verlander and Scherzer again in this series, with Verlander facing Mark Buehrle in Tigers at White Sox, Tuesday night (8:10 ET) at U.S. Cellular Field. Also worth watching: Jake Peavy's velocity when he faces the Tigers on Wednesday. In Peavy's last start, in Kansas City, his average fastball was below 90 mph.

3. The Mariners are also a team to watch this week, and not just because they've lost a club-record 15 straight. On a market short of starting pitcher, the M's have made Jason Vargas and Doug Fister available, and those two start Monday and Tuesday against the Yankees. They have not made Felix Hernandez available, and they're hoping that Felix won't be trying to break a 17-game losing streak when he faces Phil Hughes in Mariners at Yankees, Wednesday afternoon (1:05 ET) at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees will be hoping that Hughes looks a lot better than he did in his last start, last Friday against the A's. The M's have won each of Hernandez's last five starts against the Yankees.



Posted on: July 24, 2011 9:00 pm
 

3 to Watch: The White Sox (or white flag) edition

The White Sox are having the most disappointing season in baseball. The White Sox could still win the American League Central.

The White Sox could be 1 1/2 games out of first place by Wednesday. Or the White Sox could be sellers by Wednesday.

It's a time of year where things change quickly, with teams assessing their needs and chances daily.

Even by that standard, the White Sox are a team to watch this week.

They begin the week two games under .500, and 4 1/2 games behind the first-place Tigers. The Tigers are in Chicago for three games starting Monday night.

By the time the series ends Wednesday, the White Sox could be a true contender. Or they could be so far out of it that they go into full sell mode, looking to deal a pitcher like Edwin Jackson and perhaps outfielder Carlos Quentin.

Or maybe they're still left guessing whether they're in it or not. Maybe all they can do is to contemplate possible deals like the one the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Sunday, where they would trade a major leaguer for another major leaguer (in this case, a pitcher like Jackson for Cardinals center fielder Colby Rasmus).

There are other teams to watch this week, notably the Rays, who have fallen 6 1/2 games out in the wild-card race after losing two of three in Kansas City.

But no team has been as disappointing this year as the White Sox, and no team will be as interesting to follow over the next few days.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Partly because of the trade deadline, and partly because Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee won't start in the series, the Giants' visit to Philadelphia doesn't feel as big as it probably should. It's still worth watching, and it's worth noting that the Phillies allowed fewer runs over the first 100 games of the season (332) than any team since the 1989 Dodgers. Vance Worley is one of the surprising reasons for that, and Worley faces Tim Lincecum in Giants at Phillies, Tuesday night (7:05 ET) at Citizens Bank Park.

2. The White Sox began the second half by beating Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer on back-to-back days in Detroit, then missed a chance to sweep the series when they lost to Brad Penny. They get Verlander and Scherzer again in this series, with Verlander facing Mark Buehrle in Tigers at White Sox, Tuesday night (8:10 ET) at U.S. Cellular Field. Also worth watching: Jake Peavy's velocity when he faces the Tigers on Wednesday. In Peavy's last start, in Kansas City, his average fastball was below 90 mph.

3. The Mariners are also a team to watch this week, and not just because they've lost a club-record 15 straight. On a market short of starting pitcher, the M's have made Jason Vargas and Doug Fister available, and those two start Monday and Tuesday against the Yankees. They have not made Felix Hernandez available, and they're hoping that Felix won't be trying to break a 17-game losing streak when he faces Phil Hughes in Mariners at Yankees, Wednesday afternoon (1:05 ET) at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees will be hoping that Hughes looks a lot better than he did in his last start, last Friday against the A's. The M's have won each of Hernandez's last five starts against the Yankees.


Posted on: July 22, 2011 10:49 am
Edited on: July 22, 2011 1:03 pm
 

3 to Watch: The legit Pirates edition

The Cardinals are a game out of first-place in the National League Central, and one out of every five games left on their schedule is against the Pirates.

Is that good or bad?

Isn't it great that we're even asking that question?

We are asking it, because even here in late July, we're still asking whether the Pirates -- the first-place Pirates -- are for real. We're still asking if they're just a great story, or if they're more than that.

"They're legit," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.

They're 51-45, six games over .500. Or as the skeptics like to point out, six wins over Houston over .500, because if you take out their 12 games against the awful Astros, the Pirates are right at .500 against the rest of the league.

They're 51-45, and if they were in the National League East, that would leave them 10 1/2 games out, and we'd consider them sellers. They'd be 4 1/2 behind the Giants in the National League West, without any real chance of winning.

But they're not in the East and they're not in the West. They're percentage points up on the Brewers and a game up on the Cardinals, who come to Pittsburgh this weekend for a series like none that PNC Park has ever seen.

The games Friday and Saturday are already sold out. The game Sunday is close to selling out.

People are excited, as they should be. The Cardinals are impressed, as they should be.

"Maybe if this were May or June, you might discount teams," Matt Holliday said. "But this is late July."

The Cardinals and Pirates haven't played since the first week of the season, when the Pirates won two of three in St. Louis. The Cardinals scored just seven runs in the entire series.

"I said it then," Lance Berkman said. "If they get pitching like that all year, they'll be tough."

They haven't gotten pitching like that all year, not yet. But they've got pitching like that through 96 games, and they are tough.

"Their young players are into their second or third year, and they have a better idea," La Russa said. "And they've pitched well. It's a very familiar formula.

"And it works."

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Chris Carpenter took the loss in one of those three April games against the Pirates, even though he allowed just one earned run in six innings. It was his first loss to the Pirates in seven years, a span in which he had gone 10-0 with a 1.85 ERA. Carpenter faces Paul Maholm in Cardinals at Pirates, Friday night (7:05 ET) at PNC Park. Carpenter will be followed by Jaime Garcia on Saturday, and Kyle Lohse on Sunday, assuming Lohse's right middle finger cooperates. He was examined by a doctor in St. Louis, and cleared to pitch. For the Pirates, Kevin Correia and Charlie Morton will follow Maholm in the rotation.

2. When the Mariners played so well in the first half, general manager Jack Zduriencik's job looked safe. Now the Mariners have lost 12 in a row, and people are asking again whether Zduriencik will survive. The more immediate question is when the Mariners will win a game, now that they're within two of tying the record for the longest losing streak in club history. The best chance might come in Mariners at Red Sox, Friday night (7:10 ET) at Fenway Park, when Felix Hernandez pitches against John Lackey. According to the Mariners, Hernandez has the lowest career ERA at Fenway (1.49) of any pitcher with five or more starts there. On Saturday, in the game that could tie the record, it's Blake Beavan against Josh Beckett.

3. The Twins are going for it in the American League Central, although if they collapse this weekend against the Tigers, maybe they'll change their minds. They lost Thursday night to Justin Verlander, dropping to 0-6 against Detroit this season. The most interesting matchup of the weekend may come in Tigers at Twins, Sunday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Target Field, when Francisco Liriano faces Rick Porcello.




Posted on: July 9, 2011 5:44 pm
Edited on: July 9, 2011 8:46 pm
 

All-Star Game is losing star power

Try making a list of players who could get you to turn on the television just to watch them play.

Albert Pujols? Justin Verlander? Alex Rodriguez? Felix Hernandez? Jose Reyes? Chipper Jones? Derek Jeter?

You see what I'm getting at?

For all the debate over whether Bruce Bochy snubbed Andrew McCutchen, the real developing problem with Tuesday night's All-Star Game is that, intentionally or not, it's the game itself that is getting snubbed.

All-Star Games need star power. All-Star Games need stars.

The game's greatest stars gathering in the desert, or whatever that annoying TV promo has told us for months.

Or some of the game's greatest stars. Or a few of the game's greatest stars.

I'm not assigning fault here. I'm not suggesting that we've headed back to the 1990s, when too many stars did all they could to avoid the All-Star Game.

Pujols didn't make the team because he had a sub-par first half, got hurt and plays a position filled with other outstanding players. Verlander and Hernandez made the team but are pitching for their own teams on Sunday and thus will be ineligible to pitch on Tuesday.

A-Rod and Chipper both have bad knees and may both end up having surgery.

Ryan Braun, who got the most votes of any player in the National League, has a sore left leg and will miss the All-Star Game, too.

At least Braun's injury allowed Bochy to add the deserving McCutchen to the team, which Bochy did Saturday night.

The reasons for the absences really don't matter. The problem for baseball is that an All-Star Game that has already seen fading interest is now going to be played without so many stars who people would watch.

Mariano Rivera? CC Sabathia? Cole Hamels? Matt Cain?

It's true that Jeter's decision to pull out of the game (citing the calf injury that forced him to the DL for three weeks) allowed Cleveland's Asdrubal Cabrera to be the rightful American League starter at shortstop. It's true that Cabrera is having a far better season than Jeter, is far more "deserving."

But Jeter just became the 28th player with 3,000 career hits.

Who do you think the average fan is more likely to tune in and watch, Derek Jeter or Asdrubal Cabrera?

There will be great players in Phoenix. But there will be so many great players missing.

Too many.

It's no one's fault. But it is too bad.

 
 
 
 
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