Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
 
Tag:Ozzie Guillen
Posted on: November 9, 2011 7:15 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 7:38 pm
 

Can Marlins convince big guns to wear new unis?

Talk about moving and shaking.

The Miami Marlins have a new manager with a Q rating off the charts in Ozzie Guillen. They've squired free agents Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes around their new ballpark this week on recruiting visits. They've been in touch with free agent Prince Fielder, and sources say they're very active in the relief pitching market as well (Heath Bell?).

Thursday, a Marlins contingent is due in the Dominican Republic to watch Yoennis Cespedes, the flashy Cuban defector who is expected to be declared a free agent within the next few weeks.

Now, poised to unveil new uniforms on Friday, the question is: Will the Fish be able to hook a marquee free agent or two to wear those new threads?

Perhaps a better -- and certainly more direct -- question: Are the Fish really and truly serious about changing their gills and writing jumbo-sized checks? Or is this an early winter blitz to sell tickets that will end with ticket-holders looking around a new ballpark next summer wondering where all those big plans went?

Sorry, two questions there, not one.

But with the Marlins, things are rarely as they seem.

Unquestionably, their early-winter actions have the attention of an industry that has long been accustomed to watching owner Jeffrey Loria do what Mike Ditka once accused Bears owner George Halas of doing: Throw nickels around like manhole covers.

But the Marlins finally have a new stadium and they know they need to fill it. In fact, club president David Samson, during an interview on SiriusXM radio Wednesday, predicted that the club will be "drawing, I'd say, 30,000 to 35,000 every single game."

Last year, the Marlins averaged 19,007 per game, last in the National League and 28th in the majors.

"They're trying to sell tickets," one industry source said Wednesday of the Marlins' aggressive early movement. "They're trying to get people excited about the ballpark. If they can do that, good for them."

If they can lure Reyes, All-Star Hanley Ramirez, who underwent left shoulder surgery after playing in only 92 games last season, would slide over to third base.

Buehrle, who has logged 200 or more innings pitched for 11 consecutive seasons, would provide a nice veteran anchor to the rotation -- and his workload undoubtedly would help pick up the slack the next time ace Josh Johnson goes back onto the disabled list.

Certainly, if the Marlins can sign Reyes or Buehrle, that would preclude them from adding Fielder. And despite the early push, one veteran agent said Wednesday he can't see the Marlins adding more than one marquee free agent.

Still, it's the time of the winter for dreaming, and the Marlins right now are dreaming big. Just a year ago, they traded slugger Dan Uggla to Atlanta because they couldn't agree to terms on a contract extension. Just two Januarys ago, the players' union nicked them for violating revenue-sharing rules and not spending enough money on player payroll.

We know the Marlins are moving into a brand new ballpark in 2012.

But are they really moving into a new world as well?

As Samson and Guillen pulled out all the stops with Reyes at the iconic Joe's Stone Crab for lunch Wednesday, they would have us believe they are. They've indicated that they intend to crank up their payroll in 2012 to $80 million or so, from $57 million in 2011.

Fine. But until they finally dress one (or more) of these guys in those new uniforms, it's all sizzle and no steak -- or, as they'd say at Joe's, all shell and no crab.

Until they finally dress one (or more) of these guys in those new threads, the Marlins remain as they always have: Buyer beware.
Posted on: October 6, 2011 5:26 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 6:46 pm
 

Sox choice of Robin Ventura innovative, shocking

Leave it to the Chicago White Sox and general manager Kenny Williams to zig when everyone else thinks they'll zag, to take the path through the woods when everyone else is looking at the paved roads.

The White Sox picked a manager Thursday straight out of left field, a guy who has never been in a major-league dugout as a skipper or as a coach.

But you know what? Because Robin Ventura was in the dugout for 2,079 games as a player, and because of who he is, the choice is perfect.

Ventura was in a White Sox uniform for 1,254 of those games. He was a player's player, beloved in the clubhouse. He knows the White Sox. He's popular in Chicago. -- maybe moreso than Ozzie Guillen was (though not as loud, not nearly as loud).

Can he manage? We'll find out.

This is one of those hires that could turn out to be out-of-the-box brilliant ... or a spectacular failure.

 I will say this: Last time the White Sox named a manager who had never called the shots in a big league game, they won a World Series title. His name was Ozzie Guillen.

Consider this another promotion from the White Sox Alumni Club (Ventura will become the 17th former White Sox player to manage the club). There are no guarantees that it will work, but say this for owner Jerry Reinsdorf: He's been around a long time and the guy appreciates -- and facilitates -- White Sox tradition.

The biggest names in the Sox rumor mill were two highly respected coaches, Davey Martinez of Tampa Bay and Sandy Alomar Jr. in Cleveland. If Chicago was going with a rookie manager, why not Ventura? He knows the players very well, he knows the Chicago media, he knows the South Side terrain.

Ventura had been working as a special assistant to director of player development Buddy Bell since June. Every GM has special assistants, but I've never heard of a director of player development having one.

But that's what savvy GMs do: They stash talented people in their organization, because you never know when, say, an Ozzie will wear out his welcome.

Williams, on a late afternoon conference call Thursday, called Ventura "one of the classiest people I've ever met in the game." The GM, while admitting this was an unexpected development, said he interviewed Ventura from 1994-1998, when Williams worked in player development and Ventura was the White Sox third baseman.

"He just didn't know it," Williams said.

Among the criteria Williams listed that Ventura fit: "A passion for the city, for the organization and the drive to win a World Series championship. This person had to have leadership and communicative ability, I think, that will work with our veteran players and with our young players."

Will that lead to managerial brilliance? Who knows?

"I have a passion for it, I have a passion for this team and this city," Ventura said on the conference call. "the passion is there to do it. I was asked to do it. I'm honored to have this opportunity."

Ventura, 44, has a lot in common with White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko in terms of character, baseball acumen and blue-collar work ethic. Clearly, after the rifts in the organization that developed under Williams and Guillen, Ventura is a uniter, not a divider. Which is exactly what the Sox need.

Now, if he can just get Adam Dunn to hit ...

Posted on: September 2, 2011 1:31 pm
 

Love Letters: Hurricanes, Sox & O's all blow

Of hurricanes, Orioles and White Sox ... which really aren't all that different, when you think about it:

FROM: Nick D.
Re.: Last-place Orioles remain stuck in familiar late-season rut

I started to read this article and then I stopped. ... Stop writing articles giving me hope for my woefully bad O's. I read these every year and every year they're the foundation holding up the AL East. Stop. Please. You people keep opening the same wound.

Next time I'll bring the cotton balls and hydrogen peroxide.


FROM: Rob
Re.: Weekend Buzz: Rain postponements taking toll on 2011 - then comes Irene

Scott,

The fact that fans who purchased tickets to Saturday's games at Fenway Park had to wait out those delays is absurd. The greed of the organization is the reason. They did not want to have to cancel the games and reschedule, or God forbid they would have to offer refunds or tickets to an alternate game. To try to play those games through the hurricane was absurd. It is frustrating to read your articles because none of this is mentioned and you show an unreasonable bias to the Yankees. If it was the Yankees organization that did this, you would be the first one criticizing them.

The Red Sox were so greedy they let fans into Fenway for free following the rain delay in Game 2 Saturday.Appalling, wasn't it? It's called trying to make sure the games get played when there is precious little time left in the season to reschedule them, mister.

FROM: Bill

There is no reason to have rainouts anymore. If a small-market team like Seattle can have a retractable roof stadium, why haven't the BIG GUNS protected game revenues with new Stadiums, including retracting covers. Hellloooo Yankees!

Put a retractable roof on Yankee Stadium, the ghost of Babe Ruth will rip his plaque out of Monument Park and install it somewhere in Montana.

FROM: J D

Hey, Miller ... More Yankee bashing, huh? Shocking. And you're not right. Like Joe Girardi said, a lot of other games in baseball and other sports changed their schedules to be amenable to Hurricane Irene. They still could have played an actual DH, not split, and honored Flanagan -- which the Yankees did the night before in very good form, btw, before their game with the A's. Or they could have played a game on Saturday in the early morning before the storm hit. It's all about the fact of the O's not wanting to lose a gate in one of the rare times they would actually make some money with the Yankees in town. Now, the Yankees will have to use up one of their rare September off days to play a game in Baltimore after finishing up a three-game series with the aforementioned O's the very next day, and with a long West Coast road trip looming. ... And way not to mention the Red Sox's unwavering interest in getting both games in no matter what the weather to improve their standings and keep a September off day.

You lost credibility with the sentence "And you're not right." Because, fact is, I'm almost always right. Including on this topic. 

FROM: Jack L.
Re.: Up-and-down White Sox look to final month to save season

Scott:

I'm a lifelong, die-hard White Sox fan who literally follows the team hour by hour, not just day by day. You did a very nice job of summing this season up. The only difference between being a gawker checking out a freeway wreck in the other direction and watching the White Sox play this year is that the freeway wreck is at least somewhat interesting, even if you can't really see much of it. IMHO, Kenny Williams is clearly the guy that needs to go. Trader Kenny completely lost his touch with the first stinker of a Nick Swisher trade and has just made one bad move after another ever since save for unloading Edwin Jackson prior to the trade deadline.

At least don't follow the White Sox minute by minute. Think how miserable you'd be then.

FROM: Richard

Fire Kenny Williams, he sucks as a GM. It's been his signings that brought the White Sox four of the worst contracts in White Sox history. Let's not forget the Manny Ramirez deal last year as well after letting Jim Thome slip away. The Sox paid Ramirez multiple times what Thome was paid all year for one month of services. If not for Zambrano's and Soriano's contracts on the North Side, Williams would really be exposed for the horrible GM he has been. I think the players enjoy playing for Ozzie Guillen, and he has gotten a lot out his players considering the start the Sox have had in the last two years.

According to my Love Letters readers' poll, Williams' approval rating drastically trail those of Guillen.

FROM: Mike M.

Love your work. Love it if you could do a story about the Angels owner (Arte Moreno) vs. Scott Boras and include why Boras has that ground level box behind home plate at Anaheim Stadium. Boras looks like an idiot standing in the TV background of most pitches while he talks on his cell or works his laptop. As a Mariner fan I laugh thinking what Angels fans think about seeing him all the time.

It's a simple, economical issue: Boras' company purchases that ground-level suite with old-fashioned greenbacks. But while you may laugh, think of all the advertising that TV time translates into for hundreds of players who might be watching in other cities and contemplating what Boras could do for them.

FROM: Scott
Re.: Weekend Buzz: Yanks getting stronger down the stretch

Scott, while I respect your opinion, how has the Yankees pitching been woeful? Their ERA is better than Detroit, Boston, and Texas's, their bullpen ERA is the best in baseball, and outside of A.J. Burnett, no one on that staff has been woeful outside of Phil Hughes before his injury. Right now, Ivan Nova and Hughes are pitching as well as anyone, CC Sabathia is an ace, and between Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon, the Yankees have a respectable four starter for the playoffs. It just makes no sense why people are so quick to discredit the Yankees pitching without looking up the numbers.

If you read the column, and not just the headline and sub-head, you'd have your answer: I was EXAGGERATING, teasing Yankees' fans for being so quick to panic.


Likes: LA Marathon founder Bill Burke making a $1.2 billion bid for the Dodgers. It's funded in part by Chinese investors, and wow, think how much fun we all could have with THAT. Great take by Harold Meyerson in Friday's LA Times on the op-ed page: "There's no need to rehash the McCourts' destruction of one of American sports' most fabled and successful franchises. At this point, anyone who takes the team off their hands would be a better owner, right? Could there really be a more problematic proprietor? And then, along comes China." ... Absolutely loved Thursday's A-1 headline in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "Obama jobs speech up against Packers opener." ... Good job, Falcons of Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central High, getting on the board with a 12-6 win over New Boston Huron on Thursday after a tough opening week loss.

Dislikes: Sports Illustrated's rare regional covers. I know, business is business. But I'm old school and I don't like not having a particular cover.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Hey barkeep
"What's keeping you, keep pouring drinks
"For all these palookas, hey you know what I thinks
"That we toast to the old days and DiMaggio too
"And old Drysdale and Mantle, Whitey Ford and to you"

-- Tom Waits, A Sight For Sore Eyes
Posted on: June 17, 2011 6:41 pm
 

Marlins managerial change surely coming soon

From the start of this season, no manager was more disposable than Florida's Edwin Rodriguez.

Hired mid-stream last summer without any prior big-league experience to replace the fired Fredi Gonzalez, the Marlins thought enough of Rodriguez to remove the "interim" tag and make him their permanent manager for 2011 ... but they didn't think enough of him to give him more than a one-year contract.

Now, with the Marlins in their worst skid since 1998, club history tells us that Rodriguez is a dead man walking.

No owner in the game has run through more managers than Florida's Jeffrey Loria since the start of the 2003 season.

Perhaps it's because, the first time he whacked a manager (Jeff Torborg), Jack McKeon came in on a puff of cigar smoke and led the Marlins to their second World Series win in five seasons.

Maybe it's because the impatient and temperamental Loria simply is George Steinbrenner on training wheels.

Whatever, Torborg was gassed in May of '03. McKeon, riding his World Series triumph and gutsy pitch-Josh-Beckett-in-Game-6 decision, managed two more seasons and left of his own accord following '05. Joe Girardi managed in '06 but clashed with Loria and was fired after just one season. Gonzalez made it through three full seasons but was fired last June.

Now, coming up on the one-year anniversary of the Gonzalez bloodletting (June 23), it is Rodriguez who is moving toward the guillotine. His Marlins have lost seven in a row, 15 of their past 16 and 18 of 21.

They already sacrificed a coach, firing hitting instructor John Mallee on June 8.

How'd that work out? They're 1-8 since.

The Marlins have lost close (six of seven losses between June 1 and 9, amazingly, were one-run defeats) and they have lost in routs (the Phillies hammered them by a combined score of 17-2 over two games of a four-game Philadelphia sweep this week).

With ace Josh Johnson on the disabled list (again), Hanley Ramirez producing a career-worst season (.205, four homers, 17 RBIs) and third baseman of the future Matt Dominguez hitting just .190 this spring and then fracturing an elbow, a club that needed everything to go right to contend hasn't come close to either.

Most things have gone wrong -- they shipped Chris Coghlan (.230) back to the minors on Friday -- and they've dropped behind the Nationals into the NL East cellar.

With Loria, this usually means goodbye, manager.

And barring a sudden turnaround this weekend against in-state rival Tampa Bay, sometime before the start of Monday's brief, three-game homestand against the Angels is a pretty good guess as to when.

Only question is, where the Marlins will turn.

Loria could go back to old buddy Bobby Valentine, the hot rumor a year ago, and see if their two nations can come together this time around.

He also could wait until this winter and see what happens with Ozzie Guillen. The White Sox manager -- and former Marlins coach -- remains a highly popular figure in Loria circles. And being that Ozzie keeps a home in the Miami area, the Marlins wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for him if things go south on the South Side of Chicago. Guillen's contract runs through this summer, with an option for 2012.

When this season started, the Marlins thought they could win now, and they felt like they had to win now because they needed to build momentum and translate that into ticket sales when they move into their new park next year.

Those plans are now in shambles. And when that happens in South Florida, usually, whatever comes next involves Loria, and an itchy trigger finger.

Posted on: May 9, 2011 11:53 pm
 

Short Hops: 3 thoughts on the Marlins (and more)

The Florida Marlins are off to the best start in club history, Josh Johnson is pitching like a Cy Young winner and Anibal Sanchez is threatening to re-visit No-Hitter Land. A lot is going right for the Marlins, and it couldn't be coming at a better time. This summer isn't just about this summer for Florida. With a new stadium set to open in 2012, these aren't your typical cut-rate Marlins. They need to stir interest and sell tickets and bring a strong product into their new ballpark to set a solid foundation.

This isn't to say the Marlins are looking to flex their financial muscle. But they're definitely looking to win, and behind Johnson, Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco, they've got three starters going in the right direction. And, in Leo Nunez, they've got one closer consistently nailing things down.

Three thoughts on the Marlins as they tangle with Philadelphia this week:

1. Johnson is incorporating a slower curve with the help of Marlins pitching coach Randy St. Claire in an effort to work deeper into games. He's thrown more than 200 innings in his career just once, in 2009, and both Johnson and the Marlins would like to get him to that level consistently. Already, he throws a fastball, slider, sinker and change-up. With a fastball that already kills at 94, 95 m.p.h., the curve that is clocked around 77, 78 is leaving hitters with little chance.

2. The Marlins are off to their best start with All-Star Hanley Ramirez off to one of his worst, which bodes well for them for later this summer. Because, as one scout says, "Hanley will hit. He always hits." The man who has hit the most home runs of any major-league shortstop since 2006 started the season with none in his first 23 games. He's currently hitting just .195 with one homer and 13 RBI. While the Marlins wait, first baseman and team leader Gaby Sanchez, plugs along as one of the game's most underrated players.

3. Without question, the biggest difference in this year's Marlins is at the back end of games. Florida's bullpen is second in the NL with a 2.59 ERA. Last year's Marlins ranked ninth in the league with a 4.01 ERA and ninth in saves (39). This year, Nunez's 11 saves (the Marlins' total) are tied for third in the NL. Brian Sanches, Randy Choate and Ryan Webb have been instrumental in the improvement.

-- The Marlins are expected to pursue a third baseman at some point this summer, but veteran Greg Dobbs has been outstanding there in the wake of the fractured elbow prospect Matt Dominguez suffered late in spring training. Dobbs' steady glove and .359 batting average and .411 on-base percentage have eased some of the Marlins' pain.

-- One scout, who was in Seattle for this weekend's White Sox-Mariners series, on Milton  Bradley being designated for assignment Monday: "He was going through the motions. Good for Jack [Zduriecik, Mariners' general manager]."

-- Among the reasons to believe Cleveland is for real: On Monday, the Indians' +48 run differential was best in the majors. Next-closest in the American League: The Yankees, at +38. Next-closest in baseball: St. Louis at +44, followed by the Phillies, who were even with the Yanks at +38.

-- Those watching closely the final two months of last season know that Cleveland right-hander Justin Masterson's 5-0 start is no fluke. Masterson's 2.86 ERA from Aug. 4 through season's end in 2010 ranked ninth in the AL. Currently, his 2.11 ERA is fifth in the AL. "The last six weeks last year, he was able to repeat his delivery more often," Indians manager Manny Acta says. Part of that is, pitching coach Tim Belcher has helped him institute a series of checkpoints in his windup and deliver, which allows the 6-6 Masterson to be more efficient at making in-game adjustments. It's also allowed Masterson to reduce his walks. Over 47 innings pitched this year, he has 34 strikeouts and just 13 walks.

-- The Twins' -68 was by far the game's worst run differential. Nobody's even close: Next-worst are the Dodgers and Houston, each at -35.

-- One scout on the Cubs: "They have no speed, and not much power."

-- The Padres have been shut out a stunning eight times in 34 games, twice as much as anybody else (the Nationals, Red Sox, White Sox and Athletics each has been shut out four times). Indications are, Petco Park is getting in the heads of newcomers like Brad Hawpe (signed over the winter) and Ryan Ludwick (acquired at last July's trading deadline) and others.

-- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle on Petco, where he's also managed several games as Colorado's skipper: "I think the worst damage it did when it was first built was to the home team. There was wailing and gnashing of teeth you could hear from across the other side when this thing was first built. I think it's been tinkered with since. I think perception is so huge in this game. The first thing hitters look for are flags and distances. Actually, I just try and get them focused saying, 'Look at all that grass out there. There's room for all kinds of hits. Let's focus on that.'"

-- More Hurdle on Petco Park: "I've got to believe if you put Tony Gwynn in here, you know what? He'd get a lot of hits in here. I do believe that, unfortunately, there's this thing called the male ego, and if that number's big out there [on the outfield fence] and you think, 'I’m still going to hit it out', before you know it, you're doing more grunting and manipulating your swing just to try and hit it out rather than just hit it hard."

-- Outstanding: Angels outfielder Torii Hunter's at-bat music for his first trip to the plate at home each night is the theme from Sanford & Son, the old television show. It started as a joke last week when Hunter was in a slump.

-- Great line from Larry Stone, the excellent baseball writer for the Seattle Times, on the rise of Justin Smoak: "The Mariners are trying to coax Pat Meares out of retirement so they can do it with Smoak & Meares."

-- White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen on counterpart Mike Scioscia earning his 1,000th win managing the Angels on Sunday: "You manage for 100 years, you will have 1,000 wins." Seriously, Guillen added, "I think it's a great thing, especially when you manage the same ballclub."

Likes: The "20 Greatest Games" on MLB Network is a cool feature. Watched the network's treatment of Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, Jack Morris' 1-0 classic for the Twins over Atlanta, with Morris and John Smoltz in studio. It's worth seeing. ... White Sox outfielder Mark Teahen says he still keeps in touch with some of his ex-Royals' teammates -- the few left from when he was there. ... Glad to see LaTroy Hawkins (shoulder surgery) back in Milwaukee's bullpen. ... Latest CD rave: The Sound of Love: The Very Best of Darlene Love. Man, that woman can sing.

Dislikes: Gatorade used to be so easy. You worked out, you sweated, you rehydrated. But now, there's Gatorade for before your workout (Prime), during/after your workout (Perform) and post-workout (Recovery). What if you drink them in the wrong order. Then what happens? ... So now Kate Hudson is in this Something Borrowed? Does she choose her roles, or handlers? And to think, there was such hope for her after Almost Famous.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"You're the reason I changed to beer from soda pop
"And you're the reason I never get to go to the beauty shop
"You're the reason our kids are ugly little darlins'
"Oh, but looks ain't everything
"And money ain't everything"

-- Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, (You're the Reason) Our Kids Are Ugly

 

Posted on: May 9, 2011 9:14 pm
Edited on: May 9, 2011 9:23 pm
 

White Sox consider six-man rotation with Peavy

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Ready to welcome right-hander Jake Peavy back into the bigs on Wednesday, the White Sox are kicking around going with a six-man rotation until they can write Peavy's comeback in ink rather than pencil.

"Hopefully, he stays there for good," Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said before Monday night's game against the Angels here.

Just 10 months past extensive shoulder surgery and into uncharted waters, Peavy's comeback this spring has been highly impressive, albeit a bit uneven. The Sox had to put the brakes on when he developed shoulder tenidinitis in late March, and one of his minor-league rehabilitation starts for Double-A Birmingham was cut short because of muscle tenderness three weeks ago.

Consequently, even while re-inserting him into their rotation, the Sox are being cautious. But part of the issue is, they need him to pitch, because they need to win games. His return can't be an experiment just to see if he's ready. They can't baby him.

"You always worry," Guillen said. "I always worry about anybody who goes on the field [to play].

"He's worked so hard. He's put in a lot of hours of rehab. I love to see him pitch. Last year, it was rehab, bullpen [sessions], the minor leagues ... he can't wait to pitch here and stay in the big leagues every five days.

"Nobody wants to be out there more than him."

While Guillen said a six-man rotation is a possibility, he emphasized that it's just something the Sox are considering.

"I don't know," Guillen said.

As of now, Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Edwin Jackson and Gavin Floyd are locked into the rotation. Phil Humber is the man who was viewed by some as keeping a spot warm for Peavy's return, but Humber has been excellent so far in 2011. Though just 2-3, the right-hander has a 2.97 ERA.

Guillen said Humber definitely will start on schedule Friday in Oakland.

"It's not fair for him [to say], 'OK, you pitched good, thank you for coming, goodbye,'" Guillen said. "I'm not that type of person. I'm not that type of manager.

"You throw well, you earn it. And after that. ..."

After that, we'll see. By spotting in a sixth starter, Guillen said, it could take some of the stress off of others in the rotation. Floyd, for example, did not pitch after September 20 last summer because of tightness in the back of his right shoulder.

Peavy is slotted for Wednesday night against Angels rookie Tyler Chatwood. He said Monday he's feeling great after his final rehab outing, pitching for Triple-A Charlotte against the Mud Hens in Toledo last week.

Posted on: April 29, 2011 1:43 pm
 

Short Hops: Yanks, Zo-rilla, Padres zeroes & more

-- The Yankees are doing exactly what they need to do in the first few weeks of the season, and that's take advantage of home cooking. They opened with 11 of 14 games at home, and through May 1, they play 18 of their first 25 games at home. So far, they're 10-5 at home, and they've got a chance to continue to pad their home record while they play 46 of their first 79 games at Yankee Stadium. The flip side, and the reason it is important for Joe Girardi's club to build up as much collateral at home as possible: From Aug 1 through season's end, the Yankees are home just 20 times (nine home games in August and 11 in September).

-- Zo-Rilla is back: Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist has crushed four homers in his past five games, including one each in Thursday's day-night doubleheader in Minnesota. He had a monster doubleheader, collecting 10 RBI, giving him 18 over his last five games and 25 for the season. Impressive, yes, but his best moment might have come right after the game when he quipped to reporters, "This must be what it's like to feel like Sam Fuld."

-- Tampa Bay is 13-3 since April 10 which, yes, is the best record in the majors since that date.

-- Kansas City was the last team in the majors to lose a series this season, and now look at the Royals: six losses in a row. The Yankees were the last team in the majors to lose consecutive games, to the White Sox on Monday and Tuesday.

-- Seattle's historically bad offense last summer looks positively Ruthian compared to what the Padres are doing (or, rather, NOT doing) so far this season. San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez-less lineup has been shut out seven times in the month of April. That, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, is a major-league record. When the Padres score just ONE run, they're 9-9.

-- Yes, it's a different deal this year for the Padres from their 90-win team of a year ago. Ryan Ludwick (.202, four homers, 11 RBI), Brad Hawpe (.143, 23 strikeouts in 63 at-bats), Orlando Hudson (.238, .300 on-base percentage) and Jason Bartlett (.231) have gotten off to miserably slow starts, and there are growing questions regarding whether cavernous Petco Park is defeating hitters mentally. That was one key to last year's group -- which included David Eckstein, the Hairston brothers, Jerry Jr. and Scott, and Tony Gwynn Jr. -- the bottom line was winning, and there was no griping about Petco. "You've got to be mentally tough to get through some things," Padres manager Bud Black says. "That's part of being a total player, part of being a total, major league professional player. It works the same way if you're a pitcher in a small park. It works the same way for pitchers in Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Houston."

-- The Dodgers' Andre Ethier takes a 24-game hitting streak into this weekend's series with San Diego, but it could be in jeopardy Friday night. Ethier lifetime is hitting .077 (1 for 13) against Padres starter Clayton Richard.

Likes: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen saying the other day he has his closer -- outfielder Brent Lillibridge -- following Lillibridge's great, diving catches in Yankee Stadium. ...  Andre Ethier's hitting streak at 24 games. ... The way Brandon Phillips always refers to the "Redlegs", not the "Reds", in his tweets (@DatDudeBP). ... Great casting on Hawii Five-O. Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan (son of James) are really good together. ... First listen reaction to Steve Earle's new disc I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive: Outstanding. The disc might even be better than the title.

Dislikes: If you see me at Fast Five, please come up and say hello. Maybe that would then distract me from my next move: Jumping off of a bridge. Man, summer movie season stinks.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Now listen youngster, be on your way
"Don't bother me til a later day
"I like my men like I like my whiskey
"Mmm, aged and mellow"

-- Little Esther, Aged and Mellow Blues

 

Posted on: March 21, 2011 2:39 pm
Edited on: March 21, 2011 11:01 pm
 

Stuff my editors whacked from the column

PHOENIX -- Outtakes from the Wonderful World of Oz(zie Guillen) and the White Sox Camp:

-- Catcher A.J. Pierzynski breaks down four strong arms that should give opponents late-inning fits this summer:

On lefty Matt Thornton: "Easy gas. He throws the easiest 97, 98 m.p.h. there is. It's amazing how he can have that motion, and then all of a sudden 97, 98 comes out of it."

On lefty Chris Sale: "Amazing. As skinny as he is, with such a slight frame, to do what he's done in less than a year is incredible."

On righty Sergio Santos: "Great story, switching positions (from shortstop to pitcher). He's got a full year in the bigs now, and his stuff translates. It's a great story. I remember watching Sergio Santos when he was a shortstop and they had him throw in the bullpen. We all watched because we knew about his arm strength. I was like, 'I wish I had his arm. I'd be a pitcher.'"

On righty Jesse Crain: "Thank God he's not on the Twins anymore. Him and Matt Guerrier killed us. It seemed like they pitched every game against us. He's bigger than I thought. His stuff is good and he goes about his job the way you should. It's a testament to his coming up with the Twins."

On lefty Will Ohman: "I haven't seen him pitch yet this spring, but he knows what it takes and he's got a great track record against left-handers. He can throw every day. It'll be interesting to see how Coop [pitching coach Don Cooper] and Ozzie [Guillen, manager] manage the left-handers."

-- Mark Teahen, in Year Two of a three-year, $14 million deal, is having a scorching spring (10 for 26, one homer). But there appears to be no room for him the lineup: The Sox really like Brent Morel, and Guillen has informed the kid that he's won the third base job.

"If Morel is on the club, he has to play every day," Guillen told me earlier this week.

So, where does that leave Teahen? As a bat off the bench to provide depth? On the trading block? It would be a tough contract to trade.

As for Morel, the Sox's lineup is strong enough that he should be fairly well shielded. Their expectation isn't gaudy numbers. It's that he simply battles each at-bat, handles himself well and shows some progress. As long as he does that and catches balls at third base, the Sox will be happy.

Sunblock Day? Gray skies for the first time in three weeks in Arizona. Temps in the low 60s. Brrrr.

Likes: Great vibe in the White Sox clubhouse this spring. This is a team that knows it is good. Very good. ... Ozzie Guillen's coaching staff is underrated. Very high on pitching coach Don Cooper and hitting coach Greg Walker. ... The Pinenut sea bass topped with an orange sauce that was a bit sweet and a bit spicy at Rokerij in Phoenix the other night with the chile potato and the prickly pear margarita. Outstanding. ... Warren Zevon's Mr. Bad Example. ... A big good luck to the Falcons of Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central High in their state quarterfinal game against undefeated Schoolcraft High on Tuesday night in the Michigan High School Boys' Basketball Tournament. It's been an extraordinary athletic year for that fine school, and here's hoping the Falcons extend their season.

Dislikes: Twice in recent days a motorcycle rider has passed me on the freeway without wearing a helmet. I know Arizona's got other issues, but this state needs to pass a law requiring cycle riders to wear helmets. That, or the riders need to smarten up. Last thing I want to see is a wreck on the freeway where some motorcycle rider's head explodes like a pumpkin.


Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Now, one and one is two, two and two is four
"I'm heavy loaded baby, I'm booked, I gotta go
"Cryin' baby, honey, don't you want to go
"Back to the same old place, my sweet home Chicago"

-- Robert Johnson, Sweet Home Chicago

 

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