Daily Dose: End of the line for Big Unit?

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Randy Johnson seemed optimistic after having his injured shoulder
examined by team doctors Monday, explaining: “I’m feeling a lot better
than I was three weeks ago” and will “have to get with the doctor and
see what he recommends and just kind of take it from there.” Less than
24 hours later his Hall of Fame career was put in serious jeopardy
following the diagnosis of a partially torn rotator cuff.

Johnson is hoping to pitch again this season, but the soon-to-be
46-year-old has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list and won’t
throw again for at least 2-3 weeks. He’s been relatively effective
while going 8-6 with a 4.81 ERA and 80/31 K/BB in 92 innings this year,
but rotator cuff injuries are incredibly tough to come back from for
26-year-olds, let alone 46-year-olds. Cooperstown class of 2015?

While one of the greatest left-handed pitchers in baseball history
could be facing the end of the line, here are some other notes from
around baseball …

* Even after trading Ryan Garko the Indians inexplicably refuse to
simply call up Matt LaPorta and stick him in the lineup every day, but
in the meantime they did bring up former top prospect turned current
bust Andy Marte. Marte has had zero success in the majors, hitting .211
with a .603 OPS in 174 games, but is still just 25 years old despite
being around forever and has been thriving at Triple-A.

While playing at Triple-A for the fourth straight year, Marte has
hit .327/.369/.593 with 18 homers and 24 doubles in 82 games to reverse
a long trend of declining production. Between his .277 career batting
average and poor 50/22 K/BB ratio this year the odds are against Marte
hitting more than .250 or so, but he blasted 25 homers per 600 PA at
Triple-A even prior to showing this season’s huge pop.

* Jason Giambi’s trip to the disabled list with a quadriceps injury
opened the door for Daric Barton to get another long look in Oakland,
but he suffered a hamstring injury of his own five games in and joined
Giambi on the shelf Tuesday. Barton’s long-term outlook has declined
dramatically during the past two seasons and he now looks likely to
become merely a solid regular rather than a potential star.

He’s expected to return in 2-3 weeks, but with Giambi also sidelined
the A’s have turned to minor-league veteran Tommy Everidge at first
base. Everidge made his MLB debut Tuesday and went hitless in his first
four at-bats before delivering an RBI double with two outs in the ninth
inning as the A’s erased a three-run deficit against Jonathan Papelbon.

Everidge is 26 years old and had a mediocre track record in the
minors prior to this season, but hit .306/.380/.489 in 55 games at
Double-A and .382/.432/.636 in 43 games at Triple-A to earn the
call-up. My guess is that he won’t stick in the majors, but Everidge
has averaged 21 homers per 600 plate appearances along with solid plate
discipline, so he could certainly have AL-only value for a little bit.

AL Quick Hits: Chien-Ming Wang has decided on shoulder surgery
after meeting with Dr. James Andrews, ending his brutal season at 1-6
with a 9.64 ERA … Jim Thome was held out of Tuesday’s lineup with back
soreness … Matt Wieters had his first four-hit game Tuesday, raising
his batting average to .273 … In a swap of backup outfielders, the
White Sox acquired Mark Kotsay from the Red Sox for Brian Anderson … As
of Tuesday night, general manager J.P. Ricciardi said that his “gut”
feeling has Roy Halladay staying in Toronto … Daisuke Matsuzaka told
Japanese reporters Monday that the Red Sox’s training methods are to
blame for his shoulder problems … Scott Kazmir threw more than seven
innings Tuesday for the first time in over a year, holding the Yankees
to one run while beating CC Sabathia … Ian Kinsler left Tuesday’s game
with a strained calf … Mark Buehrle followed his perfect game by being
flawless through five innings Tuesday, setting the MLB record with 45
straight batters retired before falling apart in a loss.

NL Quick Hits: Roy Oswalt has been diagnosed with a strained
back after exiting Tuesday’s start in the second inning … Matt
Lindstrom (elbow) is due to come off the disabled list this weekend,
but may not immediately resume closing … Pedro Martinez hinted that he
hopes to join the Phillies’ rotation after his second rehab start
Friday at Triple-A … Todd Wellemeyer has been shifted to the bullpen
after posting a 5.79 ERA and 1.75 WHIP in 110 innings, with Mitchell
Boggs replacing him in the rotation for now … Troy Glaus’ rehab stint
has been indefinitely put on hold because of lingering back pain …
Oakland shipped Sean Gallagher to San Diego to complete the Scott
Hairston deal, making him a nice fantasy sleeper for next season …
Colby Rasmus (heel) was back in the lineup Tuesday after sitting out
four games … After missing four weeks with a broken toe, Ryan Dempster
came off the shelf by allowing six runs over five innings Tuesday.

Astros err in letting Scott Kazmir start sixth

Scott Kazmir
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Scott Kazmir went winless with a 6.52 ERA in six September starts. He allowed 41 hits, eight of them homers, in 29 innings, posting an 18/11 K/BB ratio. When the Astros got five innings of two-run ball from him Friday against the Royals, they should have thanked their good fortune and moved right along to the pen.

And they knew this. They must have. Josh Fields got up in the pen after Kazmir issued a one-out walk in the fifth. The left-hander got out of the frame, making himself eligible for the victory in what was then a 4-2 game, but it was still very surprising to see him come back out for the sixth, particularly with the switch-hitting Ben Zobrist (.926 OPS against lefties) and right-handed Lorenzo Cain due up.

Kazmir retired Zobrist, but he gave up a double to Cain. He was then pulled, even with the left-handed Eric Hosmer coming up. Manager A.J. Hinch had committed my biggest baseball pet peeve: he sent his starter back to the mound with the idea of pulling him after his first mistake.

It worked out terribly. Oliver Perez gave up a pair of soft hits to Hosmer and Kendrys Morales before walking Mike Moustakas. Fields then entered and walked the unwalkable Salvador Perez to tie the game at 4. The Astros gave up another run in the seventh and lost the game 5-4.

Maybe that’s the way it would have worked out anyway. Kazmir did give up just the one baserunner. It might not have even harmed the Astros if Perez had better luck.

Still, the thinking that went into the decision was disturbing. It’s always better to bring that reliever in with no one on base when you can. That’s especially the case with this Astros pen, which lacks a double-play specialist, much less a Wade Davis. But anyone in that pen would have been a better choice than sending Kazmir out to face Zobrist and Cain for a third time. Hinch needs to be more aggressive going forward.

Cardinals’ giveaway incorrectly claims ownership of 2001 division title

cardinals logo

The Cardinals have won so many division titles, it’s tough to keep track of them all. At least, it would be tough if it weren’t for Baseball Reference.

40,000 rally towels were given away to fans at Busch Stadium ahead of Friday’s NLDS Game 1 against the Cubs. The towel listed all of the years the Cardinals won the NL Central… and 2001. That year, they tied with the Astros for the best record in the National League at 93-69. However, because the Astros won the season series 9-7, they were awarded first place and the Cardinals took the Wild Card.


Video: Josh Donaldson and Keone Kela exchange words, benches clear

Josh Donaldson
The Associated Press

The Blue Jays’ and Rangers’ benches emptied in the bottom of the 13th inning after Josh Donaldson barked at reliever Keone Kela. Donaldson had smoked a Kela offering home run distance but foul, then sent a salvo of not-fit-for-TV words in the right-hander’s direction. Kela barked back and both benches emptied. There was no violence and no ejections.

Donaldson apparently believed Kela was trying to quick-pitch him, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. That the pitch was quickly thrown didn’t seem to bother him any, considering the type of swing he put on the ball.

Here’s video of the incident at MLB.com.

Quick pitching has been one of a handful of unwritten rules getting more attention, it seems, this year. In August, Phillies bench coach Larry Bowa took issue with Mets reliever Hansel Robles quick pitching.