Bob Harkins

Tampa Bay Rays v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Angels, Nationals reportedly discussing Peter Bourjos trade

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We detailed earlier today that Peter Bourjos seems to have gone missing. Now tonight we find that multiple teams are looking for him.

The Los Angeles Angels center fielder hasn’t played much since the Angels called up uber-prospect Mike Trout from the minors, losing ground in a crowded outfield race that also includes Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter and an occasional dose of Mark Trumbo.

Bourjos has hurt himself with his struggles at the plate this season, turning himself from a passable-bat, supreme speed/defense guy into merely a supreme speed/defense guy. But he’s still only 25 and his positives and potential make him quite valuable.

Thus, it’s not surprising that some teams are beginning to sniff around. As Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports reports:

The Nationals and Angels have had preliminary discussions about a trade that would send center fielder Peter Bourjos to Washington, major-league sources told FOXSports.com.

The Royals, Diamondbacks and Blue Jays also have checked on the availability of Bourjos, sources say.

Morosi reports that it’s unclear how far along talks are, but that the Angels are surely looking for bullpen help and perhaps a catcher now that Chris Iannetta is facing an extended absence.

Hunter’s contract is up after this season, so that could potentially clear up room in the outfield. But the Angels are likely stuck with Wells through 2014. So in that respect, it sort of makes sense to deal Bourjos. But it could be painful nonetheless for Angels fans down the line if Bourjos ever figures things out at the plate.

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In first start since no-hitting Twins, Jered Weaver to face … the Twins

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Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire didn’t enjoy Jered Weaver’s no-hitter against his Twins last Wednesday.

Gardenhire paced behind his desk while addressing reporters after the game, the picture painted by Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune showing the manager in a slow burn, using great effort to avoid blowing up. I’m guessing he looked something like this.

That’s understandable. It’s been a long season already for the Twins (and it’s only May 7), who enter the week with the worst record in baseball (7-20). Being no-hit by a great pitcher is one thing, but Gardenhire was unhappy with his team’s pitching, lack of aggression and lack of attention to detail.

He said the Twins’ performance was “not acceptable,” and that his team looked “like Little Leaguers out there, and that’s a bunch of bull.”

Gardenhire missed the Twins’ series in Seattle over the weekend. Not because he needed a break – though that’s entirely possible – but because he returned to Minneapolis for his daughter’s graduation from Southwest Minnesota State.

He returns to manage his club on Monday night, and hopefully his weekend was relaxing because waiting for the Twins will be the Los Angeles Angels with – you guessed it – Jered Weaver on the mound.

Monday night will be Weaver’s first start since his no-hitter, and if you don’t know anything about Johnny Vander Meer, you might want to click here and study up.

The odds of Weaver tossing consecutive no-hitters are essentially zero. There’s no way he’ll be as focused, as sharp and as lucky as he was last week. And as bad as the Twins offense is – they managed just one hit on Saturday against Felix Hernandez and a lone Mariners reliever —  they’re still a bunch of big leaguers like Joe Mauer and Denard Span and Josh Willingham.

Still, as favorable a scheduling occurrence this is for Weaver, it is equally unlucky for Ron Gardenhire’s Twins.

Serenity now, Skip. Serenity now.

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If this is the end for Mariano Rivera, it’s a sad day for baseball

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Mariano Rivera’s career could be over.

Think about that for a moment, and let it set in. If that is indeed the case, if the 42-year-old is unable to come back, or unwilling to go through the grueling rehab required to pitch again, then this is truly a sad day for baseball.

Rivera was injured on Thursday in Kansas City while shagging balls during batting practice, his knee buckling as he crumpled awkwardly to the dirt of the warning track. He was diagnosed with a torn ACL, prompting Yankees manager Joe Girardi to say “this is bad. There’s no question about it.”

A gifted athlete, Rivera has been shagging balls his whole career. As Keith Olbermann relays in his blog, Joe Torre once said Rivera was easily his best defensive center fielder.

“Yes, he’s a great outfielder,” Torre said, “He’s always bugging me to let him play there in a game. But does anybody really think I’d be crazy enough to let him play in a game? What if he got hurt?”

How prescient, and how unfortunate.

This is not how legends are supposed to go out. Our final image of Rivera in uniform should not be of him writhing on the warning track, or being carried to the cart by his teammates. It should be of him tipping his hat to the crowd as he walks off the mound after saving one last victory.

The numbers for this 12-time All-Star are simply ridiculous:

  • First on the all-time saves list with 608
  • 1119 strikeouts and 277 walks in more than 1200 innings
  • A 2.21 ERA and 0.998 WHIP
  • A career ERA+ (which measures his ERA against his peers, with 100 being average) of 206.

And then don’t forget the postseason: 42 saves in 96 games. A 0.70 ERA and a 0.759 WHIP. And five championship rings.

But even though the numbers are amazing and worthy of Cooperstown enshrinement on their face, they are only part of the Mariano Rivera picture.

Throughout his career, from setting up John Wetteland on the 1996 championship team, to pitching these past 18 years in the fishbowl atmosphere of the Bronx, Rivera has carried himself with a level of class and grace rarely seen in life, let alone in sports. The greatest closer of all time might also be the most universally respected athlete in sports. When he does decide to retire, whether tomorrow or sometime down the line, he will hang up his cleats as the last player – fittingly — to wear No. 42, which was retired across baseball in 1997 to honor the great Jackie Robinson.

It’s too early to know how long Rivera will be out, and if he’ll come back. Chipper Jones missed nearly eight months with a similar injury in 2010-11. Rivera was non-committal as he fought back tears and talked to reporters after Thursday’s game.

“At this point, I don’t know,” Rivera said. “At this point, I don’t know. Going to have to face this first. It all depends on how the rehab is going to happen, and from there, we’ll see.”

Here’s hoping the injury is not as bad as feared. Here’s hoping that even if it is, Rivera decides to come back, even if only for one more trip to the mound. He might not care for the burden of a season-long farewell tour. It’s simply not his style. But this is no way for a legend to go out.

Mariano Rivera deserves a better sendoff.

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