Posts Tagged ‘Anibal Sanchez’

Got Melk—Under Drug Testing Program, That Is

This is just what the San Francisco Giants don’t need, though it probably did the Washington Nationals—who just squared off against the Giants in San Francisco—a small favour: Melky Cabrera, the MVP of this year’s All-Star Game, suspended fifty games for a positive testosterone test.

The announcement came practically on the heels of the Giants announcing contract talks with Cabrera would go on hold until season’s end. Cabrera, of course, was enjoying a very respectable walk year, with a .906 OPS and a National League-leading 156 hits, 51 of which came in May alone (tying Randy Winn’s team record for any month, and breaking Willie Mays’ team record for May, since the Giants came to San Francisco in the first place), a significant factor in the Giants at this writing sitting tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in the NL West.

Got melked by a positive testosterone test . . .

Cabrera’s suspension begins at once. If the Giants get to the postseason, those games will be included as part of Cabrera’s suspension. If they don’t, Cabrera will finish serving the sentence at the open of the 2013 regular season.

Give Cabrera credit for this much: He ducked nothing and manned up at once when handed his sentence. “My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used. I accept my suspension under the Joint Drug Program and I will try to move on with my life. I am deeply sorry for my mistake and I apologize to my teammates, to the San Francisco Giants organisation, and to the fans for letting them down,” he said in a formal statment.

The Giants landed Cabrera in the off-season in a swap that sent Jonathan Sanchez (P) to the Kansas City Royals. He signed a single-year deal with the Giants rather than go to salary arbitration.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE JUNGLE . . .

CONTINUING THE CUB SHUFFLE—Theo Epstein’s work on remaking/remodeling the Cubs continued Wednesday with the execution of Oneri Fleita as vice president of player personnel. “All of us with the Cubs owe Oneri a debt of gratitude for his tremendous service to the organization over many years. Oneri has impacted countless people here in a positive way, and we wish him well as he continues his career elsewhere,” said Epstein in a statement. Fleita had been in the Cubs’ organisation since 1995; he was actually given a four-year contract extension in 2011, before Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer were brought aboard. The Cubs also canned manager of baseball information Chuck Wasserstrom, who’d been with the Cubs for 25 years; and, reassigned statistical analysis manager Ari Kaplan to become a consultant to owner Tom Ricketts.

THE BOSTON BRISTLE, CONTINUED—Boston Red Sox principal owner John Henry says none of the players who wanted to meet with the brass in that July New York sit-down actually called for manager Bobby Valentine’s execution. Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports—whose colleague, Jeff Passan, wrote the article that launched this week’s  hoo-ha over the meeting—argues that, whatever you do or don’t think about Valentine’s style vis a vis a rickety Red Sox clubhouse, Henry must tell one and all that Valentine’s his man through the end of his contract (it expires after 2013, specifically) at least, “that employees do not fire managers.”

Tell everyone this isn’t working because bad contracts and worse attitudes have fouled the place, but will not any longer. Tell them that it will be addressed this winter, that the talented [general manager Ben] Cherington is under orders to see to it, no matter the cost in discarded mistakes and malcontents. Now what? Tell them none of this will be tolerated any longer. 

That’s a pretty point. But what do you say about a manager who, yes, walked into a fragile enough situation to begin with—and after assorted Red Sox brass, perhaps unaware of what other assorted Red Sox brass thought, told assorted Red Sox players last winter that the divide-and-conquer Valentine wasn’t even a blip on their managerial radar—chose almost from the outset to inflame rather than inspire his players?

Will John Henry’s hammer drop on Bobby V., his rickety clubhouse, or both . . .?

It wasn’t the players who threw Kevin Youkilis under the proverbial bus right out of the chute, questioning his heart in hand with his physical condition, possibly as revenge for Youkilis, supposedly, being the one who dropped the proverbial dime on the chicken-and-beer contingency of last September. (Enough say that was the precise moment Valentine lost much of his clubhouse.)

It wasn’t the players who filled out the wrong lineup card against the Minnesota Twins shortly after the Youkilis yak—though it was one player (catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia) who caught the blunder in time enough for its correction.

It wasn’t the players who made a starter out of setup man Daniel Bard only to learn the hard way Bard would be in over his head in that role.

It wasn’t the players who finked on now-traded Kelly Shoppach, who took his complaint about playing time to Valentine for a private discussion about it.

It wasn’t the players who took poor Will Middlebrooks’s “nice inning, kid” barb from Valentine public. (Though it may have been one player, post-Tommy John patient John Lackey, out for the season while he recuperates from the procedure, who took that remark to Henry privately. Emphasis on “privately.” Lackey may have his troubles otherwise, but he wasn’t looking to make a press pump out of it.)

It wasn’t the players who betrayed Clay Buchholz’s private request for an extra day’s rest and threw in a subtle implication that Buchholz’s heart, too, should be deemed suspect.

It wasn’t the players who decided Jon Lester absolutely needed to stay in, on a day he clearly didn’t have it, for an eleven-run beating from which no one could find anyone to step in for him before it got past a five-run first-inning flogging.

And it wasn’t the players who told the Boston Herald, ““I hear a lot of (players) say, ‘Why doesn’t anybody talk about this other team like that? Why don’t they talk about anyone else?’ I just say, ‘It’s just because this is who we are. We’re the Red Sox.’ And maybe it’s because of who I am, too. They have to understand, I’m here. There’s going to be a lot of bullets thrown my way, and they can become collateral damage.”

The Red Sox players aren’t quite innocent. But if Henry were to heed Brown and deputise Cherington to clean house, the housecleaning probably has to include the manager, too. If Valentine has a few too many of the wrong players to lead, high-priced or otherwise, a few too many of the right players (high-priced or otherwise) have the wrong manager to lead them. And what would make someone think that cleaning out the Red Sox clubhouse would give the divide-and-conquer Valentine a better shake at anything . . .  other than possibly blowing up a cleaner clubhouse, perhaps while shrugging that off as just a case of collateral damage from the “bullets” thrown his way?

Valentine has his talents as a manager. Unfortunately, they’re not suited for just any old place. And Boston, for better or worse, isn’t just any old place.

ABOUT THOSE TRADE-DEADLINE PICKUPS—In a word, says SweetSpot’s David Schoenfeld, they’ve been duds thus far, to a considerable extent:

Ryan Dempster—After all the hoopla about where he’d go (or want to go), before he finally consented to go to Texas, Dempster as a Ranger has been nuked for 19 runs in 17 1/3 innings in three starts, two of which saw him reached for eight runs each.

Anibal Sanchez—As a Tiger, he’s been a pussycat: 1-3, 7.97 ERA since going to Detroit, 19 runs in 20.1 innings, and by the way he got lit up Monday, too.

Zack Greinke—Until he beat the Indians Tuesday night, Greinke came off a five-walk game and the Angels hadn’t won in his previous three starts since joining them.

Hunter Pence—Struggling when the Phillies dealt him to the Giants in the first place, Pence through Tuesday had a .445 OPS.

Ichiro Suzuki—The good news: He’s been a better Yankee than Mariner this season. The bad news: He’s not exactly pushing the Empire Emeritus closer to the top.

Jonathan Broxton—In four innings with Cincinnati, he’s burped up four runs. Not to mention one loss and one blown save in one of his gigs.

The good news? Hanley Ramirez isn’t putting up a better OPS in Los Angeles than he did in Miami, but he has driven in eighteen runs since joining the Dodgers. Omar Infante (to the Tigers) and Shane Victorino (to the Dodgers) are doing well in their new environs. Chris Johnson also has eighteen ribs since joining the Diamondbacks. And Paul Maholm, not exactly the most glittering name on the non-waiver trade block, has allowed only three runs in his first two Atlanta starts, building himself to a total of eight runs in his previous eight starts.

The Trade Winds, Continued, and Other Sobrieties

Don’t look for Justin Upton to move at the non-waiver trade deadline . . . or any other time this season, say the Arizona Diamondbacks. “Close to a 100 percent chance nothing happens,” as team president Derrick Hall phrases it.

Upton.

Among the clubs thought to be interested in landing the talented outfielder—who hit 31 bombs, landed an .898 OPS, and placed fourth in the National League’s MVP voting in 2011 but broke slow out of the proverbial box this season—were the Toronto Blue Jays, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Atlanta Braves, the Detroit Tigers, and the Texas Rangers. For his part, Upton has a no-trade clause that lists the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees, and the Cleveland Indians as destinations he can block.

Hall insists there’s no urgency to make any deal.

We’re in no hurry to move this guy—nor do we think we need to. Everybody in this organization is open for discussion and conversation, including Justin Upton. If people call, we’re going to listen. We’ve had a lot of people call, and we’ve said, ‘No, thank you’ to all of them. That hasn’t changed.

Dempster.

Ryan Dempster, meanwhile, is saying no, thank you to a possible deal to the Braves right now. Or, to anyone else just yet. The Chicago Cubs righthander—whose scoreless innings streak made him one of the National League’s hottest pitchers for a good period—says he doesn’t want to move, if at all, without first weighing the entire picture:

I want to look everything over first before I make any decisions and I have time to do that. There’s a week before the trading deadline. That’s where I stand on it.

The Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers were two teams known to have had eyes for Dempster, at least for the coming stretch drives.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE JUNGLE . . .

Sanchez.

TIGERS GO FISHING—And land Anibal Sanchez (RHP) and Omar Infante (2B) in a swap for Jacob Turner (RHP) and including minor league competitive-balance picks, in a deal said to underline the Tigers’ hankering to win now. For Infante, it’s a homecoming: he played with the Tigers from 2002-07 before the Tigers swapped him as part of the Miguel Cabrera deal. The change of scenery may benefit Sanchez as well, since he has talent but has had trouble staying healthy. The Fish may not come out too badly in this deal, either, if Turner—who’s expected to go to Triple A for a spell—can horse the talent that has him well rated. The Tigers and the Marlins traded draft lottery picks, the Tigers getting a pick between rounds one and two next year and the Marlins getting one between rounds two and three.

This may only be the beginning, from the Marlins’ standpoint—Fox Sports is reporting the Fish may be opening a major fire sale, though with a different twist. They’ve been there before, most notoriously after winning the 1997 World Series, but this time the team seems to be admitting their all-in-on-payroll strategy of last winter didn’t work so well, either, in their case, and are looking now just to reshuffle a badly underachieving team. Infielder Hanley Ramirez is thought to be the Marlin most likely to go next (they tried to deal him to Boston last week; the Dodgers and the Athletics are thought to be interested), while Josh Johnson seems to be on the Los Angeles Angels’ radar. (The Angels had a scout watching Johnson work a magnificent start Monday; the Marlins, for their part, had a scout  in Anaheim, possibly watching Peter Bourjos.)

Duda.

DOWN WITH DUDA—Struggling New York Mets outfielder/first baseman Lucas Duda is going down to the Buffalo (AAA) farm to straighten out his batting stroke and his fielding positioning, after spending the season shuffling around the field and losing something from his swing. The plan is to let Duda play his normal positions at Buffalo (left field, first base) in a bid to fix himself.

Beat it!

BEAT IT!—Duda is going to have company going to Buffalo: relief pitcher Pedro Beato, who once looked like the Mets’ setup man of the future, is going to accompany him. Beato earned the demotion by torching the Mets—after getting a bases-loaded force out—when he relieved Tim Byrdak in the tenth Monday and the Washington Nationals jumped all over him for a bases loaded single (Bryce Harper, who’d cleared the fence early in the game), a three-run double (Ryan Zimmerman), a two-run homer (Michael Morse), and the first six-run extra inning the Mets had surrendered in their entire history. Beato’s implosion ruined a second straight turn of spotless relief prior by the Mets’ troubled bullpen. Meanwhile, closer Frank Francisco was given a cortisone shot in his troublesome knee in a continuing bid to get him back to shore up the pen, and prospect Matt Harvey—whose callup looked in doubt awhile after he was lit up pitching for Buffalo Saturday night—will join the Mets in time to square off against the Diamondbacks come Thursday.

Kendall—better than you thought?

GOODBYE—Says veteran catcher and three-time All-Star Jason Kendall, calling it a career just a week after he signed a minor league deal with the Kansas City Royals organisation. Once thought to be a formidable catcher, Kendall was weakened by injuries over the years and missed the last month of 2010 and all of last season with shoulder surgery. Kendall spent his career with the Royals (2010), the Milwaukee Brewers (2008-09), the Cubs (2007), the Oakland Athletics (2005-07), and the Pittsburgh Pirates (1996-2004), where he enjoyed his prime and made his three All-Star teams. Kendall retires as a fair-hitting catcher with a solid (.366) lifetime on-base percentage and difficulty striking out (he averaged 53 punchouts per 162 games), 38.3 wins above a replacement player (WAR), though he was about an average defencive catcher.

Believe it or not, Kendall registers a 108 on the Hall of Fame batting monitor devised by Bill James (the average Hall of Famer registers 100) and 38 percent of the Jamesian Hall of Fame batting standards. It won’t quite get him into Cooperstown, of course, but I bet you were surprised to remember he was as good as he was for most of his fifteen major league seasons.

At least one Kansas City teammate thinks Kendall was Hall of Fame caliber where it really mattered. Tweeted Billy Butler: [Kendall] was old school and played the game right & all while being a great dad.

OOPS!—One of the pieces the Red Sox took from the White Sox in their desperation to rid themselves of Kevin Youkilis has moved on. The Olde Towne Team sent Brent Lillibridge (who’s played every position on the field except pitcher or catcher, incidentally) to the Cleveland Indians for minor league pitcher Jose de la Torre. The Red Sox may yet get the better end of this deal: de la Torre was 8-1 with a 2.91 ERA in 34 games between AA and AAA before the deal.