Posts Tagged ‘Paul Maholm’

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, Approaching the Eleventh Hour, and other sorties . . .

The Ryan Dempster situation may be hovering in mid-air, but that didn’t stop the Chicago Cubs from dealing elsewhere Monday. They sent Geovanny Soto (C) to the Texas Rangers for a minor league pitcher; and, they sent Paul Maholm (LHP) and Reed Johnson (OF) to the Atlanta Braves for another pair of pitching prospects.

The early skinny has it that the Cubs moved two players they really no longer needed and landed a prime prospect, righthander Arodys Vizcaino, for their trading. Vizcaino was considered the Braves’ number two prospect, and with a 95+mph fastball until he went down for the season with Tommy John surgery. The Braves didn’t come out terribly in the deal; Maholm has been one of baseball’s most quietly successful pitchers this season, and Johnson brings a boatload of platoon outfield experience while having a solid season. These two should help the Braves’ postseason push.

The Rangers didn’t make out too badly, either. Soto may have been slipping since his 2008 Rookie of the Year campaign but he brings defensive depth to the Rangers’ catching corps. This allows them to think of Mike Napoli playing first base and even DHing and of the end of the line for Yorvit Torrealba, who’s expected to be designated for assignment. The pitcher the Cubs received in the Soto deal, Jacob Brigham, was a sixth-round 2006 draft who never appeared in the Rangers’ major league spring camp until 2012. Brigham is considered a) a hard thrower, and b) gravy for the Cubs if he ends up with the team productively.

Meanwhile, Matt Garza hasn’t gone anywhere yet but that doesn’t mean the Cubs aren’t still trying to move him, too. At last note, the Cincinnati Reds and the Toronto Blue Jays looked like potential matches for a Garza deal.

FURTHER TRADE WINDS . . .

* The Los Angeles Dodgers bumped up their bullpen for a postseason push, landing former All-Star Brandon League—who was one of six Seattle pitchers to collaborate on no-hitting the Dodgers in June—for minor league prospect Logan Bawcom (RHP) and Leon Landry (OF), both of whom could spell good things for the Mariners in the near future.

* The Mariners also sent righthanded relief pitcher Steve Delabar to the Blue Jays for outfielder Eric Thames.

* The Blue Jays landed another starboard-side reliever Monday, getting Brad Lincoln from the Pittsburgh Pirates for outfielder Travis Smith—the Pirates, for their part, had been looking for help at the plate and in the outfield as they continue pushing for their first postseason appearance since the first Clinton Administration.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE JUNGLE . . .

BOMBS AWAY—Bad enough the Los Angeles Angels flattening the Rangers 15-8 Monday. Worse: All hell breaking loose in the top of the sixth at the Rangers’ expense. Especially what Kendrys Morales did to the Rangers in the sixth inning to bust out of a slump and frame a nine-run inning. First, with the teams tied up at three, he hit one lefthanded with Albert Pujols aboard, nobody out, and Roy Oswalt on the mound. Then, after five straight singles, with Torii Hunter a punchout but Pujols given first on the house to re-load the bases at two out, Morales batted righthanded against Robbie Ross and hit a grand slam. It made Morales only the third player in Show history to go yard from both sides of the plate. (The others: Carlos Baerga, Cleveland, 1993; Mark Bellhorn, Chicago Cubs, 2002.)

He made it easy to forget that Mike Trout homered, drove in four, and scored thrice. Or, that Pujols doubled twice. Or, that Macier Izturis homered.

GOING LONG—Striking out 21 Oakland Athletics in fifteen innings wasn’t enough for the Tampa Bay Rays, when Jemile Weeks—all 0-for-7 of him on the night thus far—took advantage of a five-man infield alignment to sneak a sacrifice fly on which Brandon Inge beat a throw home for the 4-3 squeaker. The win extended the A’s major league walkoff win lead to twelve.