Day: September 22, 2011

casper wells getty

Mariners shut down Casper Wells due to head issue


From beat writer Larry LaRue of the Tacoma News Tribune comes word that the Mariners have put an early end to Casper Wells’ 2011 season due to ongoing complications with his head.

The mysterious ailment, which is affecting Wells’ equilibrium, was originally diagnosed as a “severe sinus issue.” But that was ruled out this week after a visit with a specialist. Wells’ eyes have also been checked, and there’s nothing wrong with them either.

The Mariners’ medical team will continue to seek a diagnosis and a course of treatment. For now, they’ve simply shut the 26-year-old outfielder down as a precautionary measure.

“I didn’t go with the team and I’ve seen a couple of doctors this week and found out what it isn’t, we just haven’t figured out yet what it is,” Wells said Thursday. “I don’t want the perception to be I’m taking it easy – the last few weeks, I couldn’t pick up the fastball.

At first I thought it was my eyes, then I thought maybe some kind of sinus infection. In the outfield, I was having trouble seeing the ball. At the plate, the only thing I could really pick up was the curve, and I hit one for a home run in the Texas series at home.”

Wells hit .237/.317/.442 with 11 homers in 241 plate appearances this season between the Tigers and M’s.

Cardinals fall apart in ninth, lose to Mets 8-6

Lance Berkman

New Cardinals closer Jason Motte picked a bad time to suddenly lose it.

Up 6-1 after seven against the Mets, the Cards allowed one in the eighth and six in the ninth to lose 8-6 on Thursday.

A win would have left the Cardinals one game back of the idle Braves with both teams having six games left.  Now they’re two back as they begin a series against the Cubs on Friday.

The Cardinals got homers from Allen Craig and Albert Pujols in building their lead.  Jake Westbrook allowed just one run and three hits in six innings, but he was pulled for a pinch-hitter after a mere 84 pitches.

Things still looked good initially from there.  Arthur Rhodes worked a flawless seventh, and Octavio Dotel allowed an unearned run in the eighht, making it 6-2.  The Cards turned to their closer then, but Motte walked three of the five hitters he faced and had another reach on a Rafael Furcal error.  Marc Rzepczynski took over with the score 6-3 and the bases loaded and gave up an RBI single to Jose Reyes.

Fernando Salas was next in.  He gave up a two-run double to Ruben Tejada, tying the game with still just one out in the inning.  Left fielder Shane Robinson almost made what would have been an outstanding leaping grab on the play, but he came up a little short.  After an intentional walk to Angel Pagan reloaded the bases, Salas was able to strike out David Wright.  However, Willie Harris followed with a line drive single to right, plating two more runs.  After, Nick Evans flied out to end the inning, the Cards went down in order in the bottom of the ninth.

The Cardinals are going to need some real help from the Nationals and Phillies now if they hope to catch the Braves.  They do get to face the Cubs and Astros in their last two series, so a 5-1 or even a 6-0 finish can’t be ruled out.  Atlanta is in the driver’s seat, though.

Should MLB credit Manny Ramirez with time served?

Manny Ramirez

If Manny Ramirez hadn’t been stupid enough to file retirement papers when he learned he was getting slapped with a 100-game PED suspension back in April, he would have been eligible to resume playing in the majors last month.  That’s not to say anyone would have taken him — the Rays almost certainly would have released him, and it’s doubtful anyone would have been quick to pick him up — but eligibility wouldn’t have been an issue.

So, now Manny says he wants to play in the Dominican Republic, serve his 100-game ban and potentially return to the majors.  Those last two things are new, but he was talking back in late April about playing winter ball, and no one from the commissioner’s office stepped up then and shot the idea down.  It’s only now, with training camp opening in four days, that MLB has said Ramirez can’t play for Aguilas Cibaenas.

MLB doesn’t owe Ramirez any favors.  He’s flaunted the rules and got busted twice.  If he’s found cheating again, he’d get a well deserved lifetime ban.

The second suspension, though, isn’t supposed to be a lifetime ban.  Only that’s what it is if MLB decides to enforce it now.  Ramirez wouldn’t be able to play this winter, and he’d have to sit out until mid-July next year.  His career would almost certainly be over at that point.

Which leaves me wondering if there’s some room for compromise here.  Can filing those retirement papers when he wasn’t sure he was done by looked at as just another Manny-being-Manny moment?  How about giving him partial credit for all of the time he’s already missed?  Ban him for the first 20 games of the Dominican Winter League season and the first 20 games of next year, though allow him to play in the minors during that time if he’s able to find some team willing to take him off?  Ramirez will still have paid a fair price, and maybe he’ll still have a chance to go out on a better note.

I’m not saying that’s the way to go.  I’m not feeling particularly charitable to Ramirez right now.  I’m mostly interested in what everyone else thinks.

Leyland: Justin Verlander won’t go on short rest in ALDS

Justin Verlander
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Tigers manager Jim Leyland has already decided his ALDS rotation and won’t consider bringing Justin Verlander back on short rest, even if the Tigers are behind after three games.

“Verlander will pitch Game 1 and Game 5,” Leyland said. “All the second-guessers can come out and say I should pitch him in the fourth game if we’re behind, but that’s not going to happen.”

Leyland didn’t announce the rest of his rotation, but he said that it’s already been settled and that nothing will change based on the Tigers’ opponent and whether they open at home or on the road.  That’s a clear indication that Doug Fister will start Game 2, followed by Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello.

Some had previously speculated that the Tigers might go with Scherzer in Game 2 if they started off at home.  Scherzer has a 3.66 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP at Comerica Park this year, compared to a 5.23 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP on the road.  Last year, he had a 2.99 ERA at home and a 3.99 ERA on the road.

MVP candidate Matt Kemp likely to seek extension with Dodgers

Matt Kemp, Ryan Vogelsong, Chris Stewart

While speculation has Andre Ethier potentially on the way out this winter, Matt Kemp is looking to stay in Los Angeles.  Asked about a contract extension by ESPN Radio’s Beto Duran, Kemp replied that we “haven’t started talks… but I plan on being with the Dodgers the rest of my career.”

Kemp would be the obvious choice for NL MVP honors this year if he were playing for a better team, and he might win the award anyway, even with the Dodgers staggering to a .500 finish.  He’s third in the league with a .322 average, tied for second with 35 homers, first with 116 RBI, second in steals with 40 and second with a .969 OPS.  Ryan Braun is right there with him offensively, but Kemp is the more valuable defender and has played in 10 more games.

Kemp is currently in the final year of a $10.95 million contract that covered his first two arbitration seasons.  He could ask for $15 million or so in arbitration this winter, and he’ll be eligible for free agency for the first time after next season.  Just 27 (actually, he turns 27 tomorrow), he’d have every right to ask to become one of the game’s highest-paid players as part of an extension.  Should he come close to matching his 2011 numbers next year, he’d definitely top Carl Crawford’s seven-year, $142 million contract as a free agent.

The Dodgers might just want to go ahead and offer him that kind of deal now.  Kemp may not remain one of the game’s top 10 players going forward — he hit just .249/.310/.450 last year and he’ll probably need to move to an outfield corner two or three years down the line — but he’s been incredibly durable and this should be merely the first in a string of 30-homer seasons.  Also, he loves L.A. and the team could use all of the good publicity he could get.  If Either goes this winter, the Dodgers really need to make sure Kemp will be staying beyond 2012.