Via MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch:
Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter has been sidelined all season due to thoracic outlet syndrome in his right shoulder, the same injury that kept him out of action for most of the 2012 season, save for some late September and October action. Initially, the Cardinals planned to use Carpenter as a reliever if and when he returned, but as he has made progress coming back from the injury, the trajectory seems to put him back in the starting rotation at some point.
Manny Ramirez will likely get his 2013 season started on Sunday with Triple-A Round Rock, reports Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. The Rangers recently signed the controversial 41-year-old slugger to a Minor League deal in what amounts to a low-risk, medium-reward flier.
We last saw Ramirez in the Majors in 2011 when he had a very short-lived, controversy-laden stint with the Tampa Bay Rays. He posted a .118 OPS before failing a drug test, prompting his retirement. During the off-season, he requested and was granted reinstatement into Major League Baseball, then signed a Minor League deal with the Athletics as spring training began. With Triple-A Sacramento, Ramirez posted a .697 OPS in 69 trips to the plate. He requested his release from the team. During the off-season, he played in the Dominican Professional Baseball League.
Ramirez signed with the EDA Rhinos of the Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan for the 2013 season. There, he finally found success at the dish, hitting .352 with eight homers and 43 RBI in 49 games. Ramirez opted out of his contract with the Rhinos on June 15, then signed with the Rangers, effectively starting the next chapter of his waning baseball career.
Love him or hate him, you can’t slight the guy’s passion for the game. Not many 40-year-olds, let alone those who have done as much on the field and earned as much money as Ramirez has in his career, would traverse the globe to continue playing for relative peanuts in relative obscurity. And in a season in which Raul Ibanez is helping us rethink what we know about 40-year-olds playing baseball, it wouldn’t be the strangest thing if Ramirez hit his way back into the Majors.
Diamondbacks right-hander Brandon McCarthy is, in this writer’s humble opinion, the best baseball-related follow on Twitter. Most athletes post religious and/or motivational quotes and typical post-game cliches with a minimum of real interaction with fans, but McCarthy makes it a point to acknowledge at least a good portion of those sending him tweets. He mixes in original and thoughtful tweets about the game he plays along with a nice serving of humor.
Yesterday, McCarthy shared his opinion on extra-inning games in baseball. He doesn’t like them, and thinks games should go no more than 11 innings.
It’s certainly interesting food for thought, even if there’s very little chance anything gets changed. And he’s right about the quality of the game being worse in extra innings: pitchers this year have allowed a .735 OPS in extras, higher than any single regulation inning. The aggregate strikeout-to-walk ratio is a meager 1.8, lower by far than the lowest regulation inning (1st inning, 2.3) and pitchers allow hits on balls in play at a .315 clip compared to the overall .295 league average. That is because, the longer the game goes, the worse the pitching gets as managers reach deeper and deeper into the bullpen, sometimes having to rely on position players pitching. Similarly, the quality of defense falls as managers use one-dimensional pinch-hitters who must then play the field.
In a column posted earlier, Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly wrote about Phillies GM Ruben Amaro using his team’s ten-game homestand leading into the All-Star break as the defining factor in the team’s “buyer” or “seller” status. After tonight’s opener, a victory against the Braves, they stand at 42-45, 7.5 games behind the first place Braves.
“This homestand is very important,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said before Friday night’s game. “We’ve got to play well to stay in contention, clearly. I think we’ll know a lot more about this team after this homestand.”
Could the makeup of the team change if the Phillies don’t have a good homestand?
“It could,” Amaro admitted. “It could. I hope we’re adding to this club rather than subtracting. That’s the goal, but as I always say and I’ve been saying, the players will dictate it.
“These next 10 days are big.”
The team’s biggest trade chips are second baseman Chase Utley (a free agent after the season) and starter Cliff Lee. Both have limited no-trade clauses and would have to waive them before moving to certain teams. Catcher Carlos Ruiz, third baseman Michael Young, outfielder Delmon Young, and starter Roy Halladay will become free agents after the season, making at least the first three attractive to contending teams in search of a second-half upgrade.
The Phillies’ Minor League system has enjoyed big seasons from pitcher Jesse Biddle and third baseman Maikel Franco. Along with recent first round draft pick J.P. Crawford, their system is in better shape now than it was to start the season. Still, the Phillies could use some more young, projectable talent as it enters a transition phase, an issue easily resolved over the next three and a half weeks.
Per Eduardo Encino of the Baltimore Sun, the Cubs wanted middle infielder Jonathan Schoop and left-handed pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez from the Orioles for starter Matt Garza. Schoop rated as the organization’s #3 prospect and Rodriguez #5 according to Baseball America at the end of October last year.
Garza missed about nine starts to begin the 2013 season due to a strained right latissimus dorsi. Since making his season debut on May 21, however, he has pitched quite well, posting a 3.45 ERA over 57.1 innings. The Cubs, however, are 15.5 games out of first place and Garza is a free agent after the season, making it very likely that the right-hander is wearing a different uniform before the trade deadline on July 31. The Orioles, at 48-38, are only 4.5 games out of first place in the AL East and are otherwise in a good spot to make a run at one of the two Wild Card spots. Their starting rotation is in need of an upgrade as five of ten pitchers to have made at least five starts this season have posted a 5.00 ERA or worse.