Author: Matthew Pouliot

Tim Lincecum

Despite poor results, Tim Lincecum happy with spring debut


Tim Lincecum gave up three runs and failed to make it through his two scheduled innings Tuesday against the Dodgers, but he was pleased following his first start of the spring.

CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly has the quotes:

“It’s a good sign,” Lincecum said, “when you feel the ball’s coming out of your hand better than the year before.”

Lincecum struggled with his delivery last spring and didn’t have his usual velocity or command, problems that lingered all season long.

“Last spring it was trying to make something out of nothing,” Lincecum said. “I didn’t have the strength or the mechanics to sustain anything. Now the question isn’t whether I’m going to throw strikes. It’s where I’m going to throw strikes.”

According to Baggarly, Lincecum was throwing 92-93 mph in the first inning today and 89-92 mph in the second. Lincecum generally worked at 89-92 mph last year.

After Lincecum’s successful relief stint in the playoffs last year, some suggested the Giants might be better off keeping him in the bullpen. However, GM Brian Sabean and company certainly weren’t thinking that way. Beyond their top five starters, the Giants have perhaps the worst rotation depth of any big-league team, with Yusmeiro Petit or Chad Gaudin probably ranking as the sixth starter of the moment.

Chad Cordero touches 91 mph in return appearance

Chad Cordero

Back on a big-league mound after a nearly two-year absence, Chad Cordero gave up a home run but retired three of the four Mariners he faced in his Angels debut Monday.

Both’s Tracy Ringolsby and USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale had pieces on him and his trials today.

Cordero’s minor league deal, signed earlier this month, didn’t include an invitation to major league camp, but he was brought over to get an inning in today with the Angels’ top hurlers not pitching yet.

“He was like 40 pounds lighter, so I didn’t recognize him,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “But once he got on the mound, you could tell it was him.”

Cordero pitched at 89-91 mph today, said GM Jerry DiPoto. That’s actually right where he was before hurting his shoulder in 2008; according to Fangraphs data, his average fastball ranged between 89 and 90 mph every year from 2003-07.

The soon-to-be 31-year-old Cordero isn’t a candidate to make the Angels out of spring training, but he hopes to contribute later on this season.

“This reminds me how much I missed it,” Cordero told Nightengale. “I hated it when I was released. If I have to pitch in A-ball, Double-A to get here, I’ll do it. I’ll be a mop-up guy if I have to. I want to be here because I love this game so much.”

Cordero, a 2003 first-round pick, saved 47 games for the Nationals as a 23-year-old in 2005. He racked up 128 saves in total before turning 26. However, he’s made just 15 appearances since 2008 (six then, nine in 2010) because of shoulder issues. He’s also making his way back from a tragedy after losing his 11-month-old to sudden infant death syndrome in 2010.

As if you needed another reason to hate Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

The Boston Globe has a feature on the non-profit foundations set up by athletes, and as one might expect, some do a better job of funneling money to their stated missions than others do.

One, though, stands apart and might even be considered a fraud:

A foundation started by New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez gave only 1 percent of proceeds to charity during its first year of operation in 2006, then stopped submitting mandatory financial reports to the IRS and was stripped of its tax-exempt status. Yet the group’s website still tells visitors the A-Rod Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization.

That website, hosted by, remains active, though the latest news is from Sept. 5, 2007.  It should be noted that while nothing suggests the Foundation has been shut down, there’s no apparent way to donate to it on the webpage. There’s also no link back to the foundation on Rodriguez’s official homepage. And given that Alex’s ex-wife, Cynthia, is featured prominently as part of the Foundation’s website, one assumes that if A-Rod does decide to jump back into the charity business, he’ll be coming up with something completely new.

The Boston Globe’s reporting also suggests that the foundations of Josh Beckett and ex-Patriots receiver Deion Branch weren’t very efficient, while those set up by Curt Schilling and 49ers quarterback Alex Smith did a better job of making sure what they took in got into the proper hands.

Dontrelle Willis’ comeback with Cubs lasts seven pitches

Dontrelle Willis

Dontrelle Willis might truly be finished this time. Making an unscheduled appearance against the Dodgers, the left-hander left the game after just seven pitches Monday with shoulder tightness, the Cubs reported.

Willis, who announced his retirement last July after a stint with the Orioles’ Triple-A team, signed a minor league contract with the Cubs in January. He walked the first batter he faced today and threw one pitch to the second before exiting accompanied by the trainer. He was pointing towards his shoulder while in the dugout and seemed pretty distraught.

The 31-year-old Willis last pitched in the majors with the Reds in 2011, going 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 13 starts. The NL Cy Young Award runner-up in 2005, he hasn’t been an effective starter since 2006. Since being traded to the Tigers with Miguel Cabrera after the 2007 season, he’s won just four of 40 starts.

Alfonso Soriano as a Granderson replacement seems far-fetched

Curtis Granderson

The silver lining about a 10-week injury to Curtis Granderson: Opening Day is still more than a month away.

Losing Granderson’s power is far from an ideal way for the Yankees to start the spring, but it’s hardly a season-wrecker either. And while there might be some concern over whether Granderson will regain his power right away after his broken forearm heals, I think that’s less of an issue than it would be were it a wrist or hand injury.

One problem the Yankees do face here is that they released their best Granderson replacement last month. Veteran Chris Dickerson hit .316/.417/.514 with 17 steals in 69 games for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and also popped a couple of homers in 14 at-bats in the majors last season. A plus defender in a corner still capable of manning center, he was the fourth best outfielder on the Yankees’ roster at the time of his release. The main issue is that, like the three guys ahead of him, he’s a left-handed hitter, which made him poorly suited for a spot on the team’s bench.

The Yankees also lost Russ Canzler on waivers earlier this month. Like Dickerson, he’s now an Oriole. He would have been a liability in left field, but he projected better offensively than any of the Yankees’ current internal options, a group that includes journeymen Juan Rivera, Matt Diaz and Thomas Neal and prospect Zoilo Almonte and Melky Mesa.

The one internal option not getting much play yet is Eduardo Nunez. Nunez started three games in left field for the Yankees last season, but the team was committed to keeping him at shortstop this spring with Derek Jeter rehabbing. Perhaps that will change next month if Jeter shows he’s ready to play shortstop on Opening Day.

Of course, then there are the external options. Alfonso Soriano is the name on everyone’s lips, even though he still has two very expensive seasons left on his contract. Also, he wields a no-trade clause and he presumably wouldn’t be happy about shifting to a part-time role once Granderson returns. Soriano was asked about the Yankees possibility by CSN’s Patrick Mooney today: “If they call for me, I have to think about it because I don’t want to take a quick reaction and say yes or no.”

The Cubs would presumably cover a heavy portion of the $38 million left on Soriano’s deal in order to move him, but still, even taking on $5 million or so for 2014 would hurt the Yankees as they try to get under the luxury tax. For a one-month Granderson replacement, he wouldn’t make much sense.

Other external options include free agents Scott Podsednik, Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu, none of whom figure to hold much appeal. The Mariners have Casper Wells and Eric Thames expendable after loading up on veterans. The right-handed-hitting Wells would actually be a pretty nice fit as a fourth outfielder after Granderson returns. The Tigers’ Brennan Boesch and Padres’ Jesus Guzman could be made available. There are also veterans like Ben Francisco (Indians), Conor Jackson (Orioles), Darnell McDonald (Cubs), Tony Gwynn Jr. (Dodgers), who might not make their current teams and could be had next to nothing, though they’re not necessarily better bets than Rivera and Diaz.

The guess here is that Rivera is the Yankees’ Opening Day left fielder.  He doesn’t have a whole lot left, but he’s a better bet than Diaz and none of the younger prospects are ready to hit in the majors. Keeping Mesa around as a defensive replacement might make sense, though only until Granderson comes back.