Posted on: July 28, 2008 10:12 am

Maine event Monday night

Going to the Marlins-Mets game tonight. Should be good drama, but also another chance to look at the pitcher I called a 20-game winner this spring, John Maine.

I might have sounded crazy predicting a five-victory jump for the third-year right-hander, but his stuff in spring training looked better than anyone these eyes saw. Far better than Johan Santana's. Santana really doesn't blow people away anymore.

Maine came out of the gate throwing 97 mph, but struggling a bit with his command. He is a streaky pitcher -- remember the first half of 2007 and his final start of that year? -- so perhaps he can be a horse down the stretch.

I have traded for him in many leagues. Ross Devonport got me on a deal June 1. Rick Ankiel and Justin Duchscherer for John Maine. I had OF and pitching depth and figured I would "upgrade" Duchscherer to Maine. Whoopsy!

Maine is my pick to be better here on out, obviously, but throwing in Ankiel was just too much. Devonport is stalking me in the Fantasy Magazine league from third place, while I am a 1/2-point out of first now. Without that deal, I might have been leading things.

Posted on: March 31, 2008 4:58 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2008 6:37 pm

Opening day blog II

MIAMI -- Johan Santana was perfect through three before giving up a two-run homer to Josh Willingham. Hanley Ramirez had walked to snap a perfect game and two outs later the Hammer ended the no-hit bid with a 369-foot shot to left.

Santana gave up 33 homers last year, only the recently retired Woody Williams (35) and Santana's Minnesota replacement, Livan Hernandez (34), gave up more.

The Mets have not had a no-hitter in their history. The Marlins have three: Al Leiter, A.J. Burnett and Anibal Sanchez. Two of those are former Mets.

-- The Mets got to Hendrickson in the fourth, scoring six runs. Beltran led off with his second double in two at-bats, Delgado followed with a walk and the aforementioned sparkplug Angel Pagan drove in the first run on a double down the left-field line. Manager Willie Randolph showed confidence in the Moises Alou fill-in, not asking him to bunt with first and second and no outs.

Ryan Church, a lefty was on deck, so perhaps he had less confidence in the fellow newbie Church. Church singled in Delgado for the game's second run. Jose Reyes drove in a run on a single and David Wright had a bases-clearing three-run double to make it 6-0.

-- Wright was Bill James' choice to be the No. 1 player he was start a team with. Hitting third in this lineup, Wright could be on the verge of 120 RBI and an MVP campaign. After his bad April a year ago, Wright was arguably the best player in baseball the final five months of the season. If you throw out A-Rod's hit April a year ago, Wright was the No. 1 player in Fantasy.

-- Marlins No. 5 starter, Ricky Nolasco, who won't pitch until that spot comes up in the rotation April 12, came on for Hendrickson in the sixth. He gave up a Reyes single with two outs but got out of the inning when Matt Treanor threw the MLB steals leader out. Reyes looked safe on the replay.

-- Wright hit a second double in the seventh and Mets fans in South Florida already have started the "M-V-P" chants. He was thrown out trying to steal third a few batters later.


Posted on: March 31, 2008 4:41 pm

Opening day blog

MIAMI -- Mark Hendrickson, perhaps one of the worst opening-day starters in baseball, strikes out Jose Reyes to start the season. Quite a difference between the Marlins, who I ranked No. 30 -- dead last -- in my presason power rankings, and the Mets, the preseason No. 1.

Hendrickson vs. Johan Santana was reason No. 1 of 100s.

It should be an entertaining game, regardless of Santana's debut. The Marlins are the team that eliminated the Mets on the final weekend and day of last season, beating up Tom Glavine and handing the division to the Phillies.

That day Hanley Ramirez said something to the effect of ... uh ... Forget the Mets. Let's kick their seat cushions. The Mets posted that on the clubhouse wall with a note: "Someone has to pay."

Perhaps they meant opening day 2008 with Johan Santana up.


Posted on: March 31, 2008 2:13 pm
Edited on: April 1, 2008 5:54 pm

Slinging it

MIAMI -- Usually my game visiting ends in spring training, but I will make a more concerted effort to avoid the TV watching at home and actually go see baseball live. Today it's Johan Santana's debut vs. the Mets.

In a related story, I have been turned on the wonder that is the Slingbox. I am now able to watch my home TV -- including DirecTV's Extra Innings -- on my laptop and, get this, my cell phone!

Ah the wonders of technology.

I highly recommend getting a Slingbox connected to your home TV if you have a router, high-speed internet connnection, a reliable laptop with wireless access and a 3G cell phone that works with the Slingbox Mobile technology.

Watching a ballgame on your cell phone is a surreal experience I have enjoyed over the weekend and will all season. (My cell phone is the BlackJack. See Slingbox's website for the other recommended Windows Mobile phones).


Posted on: March 25, 2008 1:18 pm
Edited on: March 25, 2008 3:15 pm

Just two Fort games left

FORT LAUDERDALE -- Marlins-O's today. Scott Olsen vs. No. 5 starter finalist Brian Burres, who likely wins a rotation spot with a decent outing.

-- Melvin Mora continues his strong spring with a triple to left center that Alejandro De Aza dove for but missed. De Aza can run, but he played that into a triple. He should have held it to a double. Double-A demoted Cameron Maybin would have and might even have made the catch running away. De Aza also sailed a throw over the catcher to try to get Mora on a sac fly attempt.

-- Olsen is a head case, but as a third-year starting pitcher downgraded on a bad team, he could prove to be a sleeper in deeper leagues. A 200-inning season is not out of the question for him.

-- After I type that, Olsen has gotten slapped around hard. The O's are popping extra-base hits all over the place. Giving up hits is one thing, getting multi-tagged is something else. A stiff wind blowing in might have helped some of the flies, but Olsen is awful today regardless.

-- Jorge Cantu won the Marlins' starting third base job. Consider him a sleeper in NL-only leagues. But Cantu's fortune to the Marlins' misfortune. They clearly have the worst defense in baseball. Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla are great offensive players but they are butchers up the middle. Cantu and 1B Mike Jacobs pick it like DHs, as does Josh Willingham in left. Oh Maybin, where art thou?

Cody Ross in center, Jeremy Hermida in right and Matt Treanor behind the plate are the Marlins only non-below average defenders. Yet another reason to hate Marlins' pitchers in all Fantasy leagues this season.

-- Speaking of bad gloves. ... Aubrey Huff is playing third today with Mora as a DH. Huff won't play much at third at all this season, but he could be the fall-back option if something significant happens to the older Mora this year.

-- Burres tossed up all zeroes today and will be named the O's No. 5 starter by manager Dave Trembley right after the game. Pick him up in deeper AL-only leagues if you are desperate for a starting pitcher.


Posted on: March 5, 2008 3:04 pm

Sherrill is a closer and Trachsel is just a loser

FORT LAUDERDALE -- Marlins-O's, two of the worst teams in baseball but ones with plenty of opportunities for new talent, face off today. Steve Trachsel vs. Rick VandenHurk, capital H and no space. Curious to see VandenHurk in his bid for the fifth starter's spot.

-- Could do without seeing Trachsel. It took too pitches to confirm his status. Light-hitting Robert Andino launched a double to left that one-hopped the fence. A few batters later prospect Brett Carroll rolled the gap.

-- Carroll hit 22 homers in Triple-A last year and will head back there, but he is a guy you can see developing into a solid big leaguer -- perhaps at the age of 27 -- a la Cody Ross. Ross and Carroll have pop, although Carroll is much bigger, thicker and more upside long term. A check of the stat check: Carroll came into the day 5-for-8 with four RBI.

-- Luis Gonzalez, who once was slugging it out with Barry Bonds in 2001, is here today for the Marlins. He is now the veteran reserve role. Coincidentally, he blooped a single to center that reminded me of his '01 Series-winner off Mariano Rivera. Wow, that was a long time ago.

-- No Brian Roberts today. Saw him walking out of the clubhouse and heading home before the start of the game. No trade -- just a planned day off.

-- Nick Markakis is in the lineup -- a day after being angry about a minimum contract (much like Cole Hamels and Prince Fielder this spring). The 'Cake has a case. He is worth more in his pre-arbitration years. But I under the O's not wanting to pay him now, because they know they will have to overpay to keep him later.

-- Three flyouts for VandenHurk in the first. He is a flyball/strikeout pitcher, which works in roomy Dolphins Stadium. He is a guy I keep thinking more and more of this spring. He could be a sleeper in deeper NL-only leagues.

-- Jose Castillo is playing third today, a day after Dallas McPherson made his spring debut. McPherson is my pick to surprise this spring, but Castillo shouldn't be far behind. He has some pop for NL-only leagues, too, albeit far less than D-Mac. Castillo, whose only two hits thus far this spring are a homer and a double, is still young and the Pirates once thought he could develop into a 20-plus homer second baseman. Defense and Freddy Sanchez got in the way of him starting there. If the season started today, Castillo would probably start at third, but McPherson has some serious potential to make up ground in a hurry.

-- Melvin Mora robbed Castillo of a hit in the hole. Mora might not be a top 15 Fantasy third baseman anymore, but he still plays hard and plays every day. He crushed an Anthony Reyes pitch for a homer Tuesday. There will be worse third baseman than Mora picked in your league on Draft Day, but I wouldn't use anything more than a stopgap-type pick on him.

-- Mike Rabelo is catching for the Marlins today. When the Tigers dealt him to Florida, some thought it meant he might start. He is not fit to start. Matt Treanor likely will have that job. As I type that, Rabelo smacks a clean single to center. I only feel better amid my poor scouting skills because Trachsel is on the mound.

-- Aubrey Huff (sports hernia) is making his spring debut at DH. What happened to that guy? He once had so much potential. It is the curse of the Rays. Past and present players from that organization seem to be cursed.

-- VandenHurk picked Kevin Millar off first. What was Millar doing? Practicing his rundowns?

-- Dan Uggla walked! Stop the presses. If Uggla could make better contact and draw more walks, he would be the top Fantasy second baseman his power numbers suggest he should be.

-- Like Mora yesterday... I just thought: Carroll is going to run into one of these Trachsel offerings right here. If I am right, I am going to do this a lot more often. ... Damn. He tried... Just got under it. Flyout to center.

-- Adam Jones is sitting today with Tike Redman in center. The O's are even less watchable without the energy of Roberts and Jones.

-- Here's that Ross guy. If not for the elite talent of Cameron Maybin (idle today), I'd pick Ross to be the Marlins starting center fielder. He has a nice compact swing and power to go with it. If you are looking for an extra outfielder in deeper NL-only leagues, Ross is a nice pick. He forced Markakis to make a basket catch in deep right-center with two men on. With a more sluggish veteran in right, that would have been a two-run triple. The 'Cake can run.

-- VandenHurk is a tall, slender guy with good leverage. The Marlins could do a lot worse with him as their No. 5 starter. He allowed just one hit and a walk in three sharp innings. He pitched to just nine batters, picking Millar and Eider Torres off. Methinks he has a good pickoff move.

-- George Sherrill, potential closer, is in the game in the fourth for the O's. Closers pitch right after starters early in spring training, because they want to face the big league batters. Back in Black played over the PA when he came in. That must be his adopted schtick. It's a copycat league. Sherrill is a portly lefty, but he warmed up like his pants were on fire. He looked like a closer. Works from the stretch, standing turned toward right field instead of toward first base -- unorthodox. Popped the mitt pretty well and threw a big slow one to Castillo, who fouled it off. When he missed, it looked purposeful -- up and away. He got Castillo to fan on a fastball. He was popping the mitt with hard strikes early in the count. Closers have to do that. Flyout to right by Jason Wood. Two down. Rabelo, groundout. Hm.

-- Far more impressive than Jamie Walker and clearly has the edge on untested James Hoey. Dave Trembley is right. Sherrill is their closer. I have to update my projections on the O's relievers this afternoon. I had it split 50-50 between Sherrill and Walker. Downgrading Walker and bumping Sherrill up over 20 saves. Right now, my guess is Hoey sets up for Sherrill, with Walker serving a left-handed role in any innings needed. Chad Bradford is still around to submarine hitters in the latter innings, too.

-- One significant issue I noticed with Sherrill. His body type is not quite svelte. He could be an injury risk, capable of pulling any of his unshaped muscles at any time. If Hoey develops as the setup man, it could be likely we see him getting the save chances when Sherrill goes down. It will be a lot harder to take Walker out of a specialized lefty role.

-- Markakis is not a real big guy, but he sure can swing the bat. Of course, we all knew that already.

-- Jeremy Hermida, a Georgia prospect just like Markakis, looks similar in the box to Markakis. Hermida is bigger in the upper body -- very broad shoulders -- and has a more patient approach at the plate. The 'Cake is a sweeter swing, though.

-- Uggla swings hard. He almost separated both shoulders on a cut at a Bradford offering. Kidding about the injury. It just looked painfully hard. He queued one to right in the at-bat.


Posted on: February 28, 2008 4:07 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2008 4:16 pm

O my how bad BAL and FLA are (some of 'em anyway)

My thoughts while watching the Marlins and Orioles spring game in Fort Lauderdale:

-- Adam Loewen, coming off a broken elbow that ended his season a year ago, looks a lot thicker and stronger. He used to be a skinny, lanky left-handed pitching prospect to me. Now he looks like a sturdy big league pitcher. The bad news? He couldn't find the plate. They call it Daniel Cabrera syndrome in Baltimore.

-- Hanley Ramirez, who the Marlins might consider hitting third this season, led off with a walk off Loewen and then stole second and then third on catcher Ramon Hernandez, who three-hopped one to the third-base coach and allowed Ramirez to score. Hanley is in midseason form. Cameron Maybin was ninth in the lineup as the DH in the O's home spring park. Jeremy Hermida hit third. Maybin looked silly on two pitches out of the zone, striking out. The Marlins said if the season started today, Ramirez would leadoff. Maybin, if he makes the team, will be opened in the seventh or eighth spot, behind the catcher.

-- After the first steal, Loewen fanned Dan Uggla. He needs to make better contact to be a real Fantasy star. Those Ks will keep his average low.

-- Brian Roberts led off Sergio Mitre with a walk and a stolen base off Mike Rabelo ... er, check that, two stolen bases. David Gonos and Scott White are both of the opinion Roberts won't steal 50 bases again. He might not. But Roberts has a base-stealer's body. He's built to run and the O's look like a team that will run him ragged ... for as long as he is around. The O's have shopped him and reports had him going to the Cubs numerous times.

-- Jorge Cantu, behind Jose Castillo in the hunt for the third-base job and only in front of Dallas McPherson (back) because McPherson has yet to play, butchered a high chop by Melvin Mora. Roberts was going to score from third anyway, but Cantu has to put Mora out at first on that. Cantu's defense was never his strong suit and it will likely keep him from winning the job. We doubt he can ever have the season he had at the plate a few years ago for the Rays.

-- McPherson tweaked his side in the cage the other day, so he didn't make the trip to Fort Lauderdale. There is immense potential there for a former Angels prospect who once was slugging away with the likes of Ryan Howard for the minor league homer lead. Can't wait to see if McPherson can do anything this spring, but we'll have to wait a few more days.

-- The trainer had to come and get Mitre before he recorded an out. Not a good sign for a Marlins rotation that might have had to count on him as an ace. Avoid Marlins starting pitchers if you can. Scott Olsen and Andrew Miller is all you should concern yourself with at this point. Mitre was removed with right elbow discomfort, according to the Marlins. He's in the Scott Kazmir-zone: likely MRI and a couple weeks of rest.

-- Kevin Millar moved Mora over to third on a fly to right. Watching Millar in the cage earlier this spring, he was focusing on going to right a lot, almost exclusively in the times I saw him. Not something you want your Fantasy 1B to be working on. That's a slugger's spot. But Millar was working good baseball... hitting to the right side with no outs to get a runner on third with one out. O's newbie Luke Scott blew it, though, popping up to short left. Scott has to get that run home there.

-- Jay Gibbons, still one of the most impressive O's in batting practice, is a strong, compact man. He is starting the season on a 15-day suspension for his connections to HGH use.

-- Adam Jones drew one-out walk off Daniel Barone, who replaced Mitre. Good news. Bad news, he was picked off first. It looked like a hit-and-run with a 3-1 count on Luis Hernandez. Jones has had some troubles getting his feet wet with the O's (sign prior intrasquad blog).

-- Nick Markakis smoked a liner to right center and lagged it out for a double.

-- Jorge Cantu cued a soft liner down the line to left and legged out a double, too.

-- Maybin laced a double to right center. And then another down the line to right. Legging them out. He can really fly.

-- And Uggla bombed a shot to left center for an RBI double -- into a stiff wind. No all doubles are created equal. Uggla and Markakis' were most impressive. Watching the game adds a little to those numbers in the box score.

-- Cody Ross, who has a nice bat but is trailing Maybin in the center field battle, hit a long, long three-run homer to left -- again with a wind in his face. He watched it fly, too, knowing it was gone right off the bat. Hey, right off the bat. I guess that is where that phrase comes from -- learn something new every spring.

-- Jamie Walker, who was abused by Maybin, Uggla and Ross, plunked Jeremy Hermida. Walker doesn't look like closer-capable to us. Chalk one up for George Sherrill in the closer's battle.

-- The O's are staring at a year of a lot of long games again. That's some awful pitching.

-- Rabelo showed zilch at the plate. He is worthless in Fantasy. Don't own him. Matt Treanor should start for the Marlins and he is marginally useful in the deepest of NL-only leagues.

-- Hey! Andrew Miller sighting! He was supposed to pitch right behind Mitre, but Mitre's injury led to him waiting behind some relievers. Miller, a rail-thin lefty, has Jered Weaver hair -- new-age mullett-like. ... Miller popped the glove the loudest of all the pitchers so far.

-- Miller walked Adam Jones. Jones is showing a good eye. That's a very good sign. ... if he could only stop making outs on the bases. Miller looked strong against Roberts, getting ahead and inducing a double-play grounder. Miller might not be able to count on the Marlins for defense... especially up the middle, where Ramirez and Uggla are veritable butchers. A solid inning for Miller, who walked Jones and allowed a weak chop to right by Luis Rodriguez.

-- Miller was even more impressive in his second inning, sawing off Kevin Millar, breaking his pink Mother's Day bat. Momma will be so mad. He also made Luke Scott look silly on a strikeout. Scott hitting against lefties? Miller was no match for him.

-- The announcer pronounced it Tagg Bozied (Bose-eyed). Interesting. A name I always mispronounced.

-- Hermida walked. He is a nice No. 3 hitter, a lot of bases runners in Mike Jacobs' and Josh Willingham's future.

This game might go on forever. After three hours and a 12-2 score in just over five innings, I need to head back to the office (down the street) to get some actual work done.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com