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On this date in 1979, the Pirates beat the Orioles 4-1 to win the World Series in seven games. Willie Stargell, the '79 NL MVP, hit a two-run home run in the victory. Here are links for Monday night as we await the beginning of this year's World Series…
- Jim Callis of Baseball America envisions Matt Barnes and Anthony Ranaudo in Boston's 2015 rotation.
- Callis also explains that the Dodgers weren't sure what they had when they drafted right-hander Edwin Jackson in 2001. He was athletic enough to pitch or play in the outfield.
- Bob Simpson, a co-chairman of the Rangers' board, told reporters, including Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com, that the Rangers are committed to sustaining their current level of play.
- Victor Martinez told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that he's prepared to catch in 2012. The switch-hitter didn't catch at all after August 4th because of a knee sprain, but he's willing to don the tools of ignorance again. Martinez's health will affect Detroit's level of interest in backup catchers this offseason.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post suggests it will be hard to get the Yankees to offer C.C. Sabathia much more than Cliff Lee obtained from the Phillies ($120MM over five years). Sabathia is expected to opt out of the four years and $92MM remaining on his contract this offseason and though he enjoys playing in New York, it doesn't seem like he's going to give the Yankees a hometown discount.
- The Yankees favor Yu Darvish over C.J. Wilson of the Rangers, according to Sherman.
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney hears that Yankees scouting director Damon Oppenheimer is highly regarded by the Angels. The Orioles hold D'Backs exec Jerry Dipoto in similarly high esteem, according to Olney (on Twitter).
A few stray items of note on this Thursday evening …
- MVP voters who omit pitchers from their ballots should be recused from voting, opines Tracy Ringolsby of FOXSports.com. Voting rules stipulate that all players, including pitchers and DHs, be considered for the MVP, so Justin Verlander and Roy Halladay are legitimate candidates, explains Ringolsby.
- The Tigers' signing of Victor Martinez to a four-year contract is proving to be one of the better moves of the offseason, opines Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com.
- Nationals righty Chien-Ming Wang has been durable upon returning to the big leagues after missing two-plus years to injury, but he has trouble warming up his surgically repaired right shoulder before starts, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Because of this, Wang, a free agent at season's end, has been struggling early in his starts before settling in.
- Each of the eight likely playoff teams boasts a strong relief tandem, writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. Half of them were formed in the past year: Last offseason, the Diamondbacks traded for David Hernandez and signed J.J. Putz, and the Tigers signed Joaquin Benoit. In July, the Brewers traded for Francisco Rodriguez and the Rangers acquired Mike Adams.
A couple notes regarding the Red Sox and Indians, who both won on Saturday night (in Boston's case, twice) …
- The Red Sox wanted to trade for both Erik Bedard and Rich Harden once their attempt to acquire Hiroki Kuroda from the Dodgers fell through, tweets Peter Gammons. Bedard, of course, ended up in Boston, while the acquisition of Harden was nixed by Red Sox medical staff.
- It's unclear whether the Indians were the team that placed a waiver claim on the Rays' B.J. Upton, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, but it'd make sense for the Tribe to do so. Outfielders Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo are banged up, and the Indians were one of the teams interested in Upton prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, according to Hoynes.
- Lost in the shuffle of Jim Thome's first homer since rejoining the Indians was the Major League debut of reliever Nick Hagadone, writes Hoynes. Hagadone, a lefty, was acquired along with Justin Masterson in the deal that sent Victor Martinez to Boston in 2009. That doesn't look like such a bad swap in retrospect, especially if Hagadone turns out to be a solid member of the Tribe's bullpen.
With the first round of the 2011 draft in the rear view mirror, let's take a look at a few links..
- Slugger Nick Johnson was in the Indians' clubhouse before tonight's game against the Twins, but skipper Manny Acta says that it doesn't mean that we'll see the veteran promoted to the majors, writes Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. Instead, the first baseman will be promoted from Double-A Akron to Triple-A Columbus.
- Because of their signing of Victor Martinez, the Tigers were without a first round pick tonight. Six months later, Tigers VP David Chadd has no regrets, writes MLB.com's Jason Beck. The club wound up surrendering the No. 19 overall pick to the Red Sox, who used the pick to take UConn pitcher Matt Barnes.
- Athletics third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff was shocked to learn of his demotion to Triple-A tonight, writes Jane Lee of MLB.com.
Hector Noesi got his first MLB win in unconventional fashion yesterday, pitching in and out of trouble through four innings of scoreless relief against the Orioles. Here’s the latest on the Yankees, the O’s and their division rivals after a bizarre game in Baltimore…
- Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail and manager Buck Showalter are likely weighing a variety of options after the extra-inning game and Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun explains them.
- John Tomase of the Boston Herald argues that letting Victor Martinez leave as a free agent last season was the right decision for Boston. Though the Red Sox will likely miss the backstop this year, they’ll also miss his decline years.
- The Red Sox are in ‘hang-in’ mode with Tim Wakefield and Alfredo Aceves starting and John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka on the disabled list, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Red Sox have inquired on Kevin Millwood and Cafardo suggests we should keep an eye on Derek Lowe, though he appears unavailable.
- Though Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter helped the Yankees win five championships, keeping the veterans in pinstripes when they’re no longer elite players has its consequences, in the opinion of Les Carpenter of Yahoo Sports. “The price of relative stability, of naming cornerstones and leaving them in place,” Carpenter writes, “is the inability to get rid of them.”
On this date nine years ago, Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez disposed of the Mariners in the first inning by striking out the side on nine pitches. Today, the outlook isn't nearly as rosy for Boston, which is above .500 for the first time this year. Here's the latest:
- The Red Sox announced that Daisuke Matsuzaka experienced elbow tightness during his last start. An MRI confirmed that the right-hander appears to have a sprained ulnar collateral ligament and strain to his common flexor mass. The Red Sox will re-examine him in two weeks.
- Boston's other injured starter, John Lackey, received a cortisone shot in his right pitching elbow, according to Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com (on Twitter).
- Tonight, Victor Martinez returns to Fenway Park for the first time this season. Back in March, Alex Speier of WEEI.com explained that the Red Sox didn't offer V-Mart more than $42MM in guaranteed money, but believed he would have returned if they had matched the Tigers' $50MM offer.
- Peter Gammons weighed in on all things Red Sox earlier today.
- Former D'Backs manager Bob Melvin has returned to the organization as a special baseball advisor, according to MLB.com's Steve Gilbert.
- Patrick Newman of FanGraphs checks in on some former Major Leaguers who are now playing in Japan.
- Victor Martinez told MLB.com's Jason Beck that he has no hard feelings toward his former team, the Red Sox. "I have nothing but great things to say about the organization, the city, the fans," Martinez said. "It was one of my great experiences in my big league career." Tomorrow Martinez returns to Boston for the first time since signing with the Tigers.
- Paul Molitor told Jim Caple of ESPN.com that he grew up idolizing fellow Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, who passed away today. For more reflections on the popular "lumberjack type" slugger, check out Caple's piece.
Whether you look at home runs (6) and RBI (23) or wins above replacement (1.0) and wOBA (.387) you’ll see Alex Avila’s name all over early season leaderboards. He has thrown out 12 of 33 would-be base stealers so far this year (36%) and the most recent of his six home runs came when he was navigating Justin Verlander through nine no-hit innings on Saturday.
“That was definitely nice. It’s the best of both worlds,” Avila told MLBTR this weekend. “I was joking with Justin that four of my six home runs are when he’s pitching. It seems that when he’s pitching, I’m going to hit one out.”
A 5th round pick in 2008, Avila is the son of Tigers assistant GM Al Avila. He hit .228/.316/.340 and threw out 32% of would-be base stealers as Detroit's primary catcher in 2010. This year, he’s feeling more comfortable as a hitter and as a defender.
“When you first come up, there’s always an adjustment period, a time when you’ve got to learn and figure out how to not only catch, but hit in the big leagues and the experience definitely helps,” Avila said. “You learn more about yourself and the league and make adjustments from there.”
The Tigers aren’t expecting Avila to continue at his current 28-homer pace, but the front office believes he can continue to be a valuable everyday catcher – and his father’s not the only one who thinks so.
“He has a nice left-handed swing,” GM Dave Dombrowski said. “We think he can hit.”
Avila’s new teammate, Victor Martinez, is one of baseball’s best hitting catchers, having reached the 20-homer plateau five times in the past seven seasons. Though the Tigers don’t plan on asking Martinez to catch more than a couple times per week, he has still helped Avila develop as a backstop.
“Absolutely,” Avila said. “Victor has helped me a ton with both aspects of my game. He’s such a positive person and generous with his time. He’s just fantastic.”
It's still too early to assume the 24-year-old Avila will continue hitting at this rate. But at this point, it appears that the Tigers have a pair of quality catchers thanks to his development.
Photo courtesy Icon SMI.
Max Scherzer led the Tigers past the Yankees with eight innings of shutout ball yesterday, striking out nine along the way. It was the second consecutive win for the Tigers, who already trail the Indians by 7.0 games in the AL Central. Here's the latest out of Detroit…
- Manager Jim Leyland told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that he's relieved to have Victor Martinez back in the lineup, since the Tigers acquired him to hit behind Miguel Cabrera.
- In a piece for the Detroit Free Press, Jamie Samuelsen praises GM Dave Dombrowski for developing pitchers, but questions the Tigers' development of position players since 2002, when Dombrowski took over as GM.
- Brennan Boesch told Steve Kornacki of MLive.com that Hall of Famer Al Kaline passed along some valuable insight this week. Kaline, who made more than 7,000 outs in his big league career, told Boesch not to be afraid of failure at the plate.
The Orioles will attempt to recover from their first loss of the season tonight when they face Brad Penny and the Tigers. In the meantime, here are some links…
- Victor Martinez tells Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun that he appreciated the Orioles' interest in him this offseason, when they offered $48MM over four years to become their first baseman. "It was a pretty tough decision," Martinez said. Instead, he signed with the Tigers for $50MM.
- Orioles pitching coach Mark Connor told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that catcher Matt Wieters is "by far the most amazing 'feel' guy at that age" he has ever seen. Wieters' tempo and game-calling are impressing the Orioles. Those skills were a big reason the Orioles weren't interested in Martinez as a catcher.
- Peter Schmuck of the Sun isn't looking to nitpick, but he says Adam Jones' approach at the plate is one potential area of concern for the Orioles early on.
- After a surprising 4-1 start thanks to their impressive pitching, the Orioles are 15th on WEEI.com's power rankings.