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Minor Leagues Are Asset, Not Demotion

Player development is a tricky proposition for Major League Baseball organizations. It’s hard to know when the right time is to bring someone up to the majors and it’s hard to know what to do with them if they begin struggling. Sometimes players just don’t cut it when they’re initially brought up, or sometimes they do well before they begin struggling. Although it’s seen by many people as a demotion, I believe the minor leagues can be an asset to players, not an embarrassment.

Pitcher Max Scherzer might be the best example of how the minor leagues can be beneficial for a player recently. Scherzer is a fireballer who came to the Tigers in the Edwin Jackson/Curtis Granderson three-way deal via Arizona. Although Scherzer started off well throwing six shutout innings in his first start with Detroit, he started getting bombed later in April. In a string of four straight starts, Max surrendered at least five earned runs each time out seeing his ERA jump from 2.63 to 7.29. The Tigers knew something was wrong so they sent Scherzer down to Triple-A Toledo to face lower-level competition, regain confidence, and redevelop his fastball. The plan worked to perfection.

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Phillies Fan Gives Kid a Foul Ball…That’s Right, I Said Phillies Fan

Here at LBS, we’ve spent a decent amount of time over the past month or two ragging on Philadelphia Phillies Fans.  It’s not that we have anything against them, their team, or their city for that matter, they just tend to get bagged doing more bonehead things than other fans.  If you run onto the field and security Tasers you, you’re going to get made fun of.  If you throw up on a little girl on purpose, you’re a scumbag and you’re also going to get made fun of.  If you allow your young child to drink a beer and get caught on camera doing it, you’re going to be called out.  And if you fall directly on your face on national televsion, you’re probably going to be humiliated by the entire sports blog universe.

However, if you make a nice gesture and happen to be caught on national television doing it, we aren’t afraid to give you a pat on the back.  This fan deserves one.  Check out the video of a Phillies fan giving a little kid a foul ball, courtesy of Bob’s Blitz via Out of Bounds:

This guy made a pretty strong effort to get to that ball and I don’t think anyone would have blamed him for keeping it.  Instead, he decided to make some young kid’s day.  Good for him.  There’s hope for Phillies fans after all.

Sources:
Phillies Fan Foul Ball To Kid Move [Bob's Blitz]
Video Credit: YouTube user smilingsteve1313

Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton Get Into it

It’s always a shame anytime we post an item about teammates getting into a dust-up. Much like Hanley Ramirez who had to be reprimanded for being lazy going after a ball, Rays third baseman Evan Longoria confronted center fielder B.J. Upton who coasted for a ball hit in the left-center gap on Sunday. Rusty Ryal got a triple on the play and Gerardo Parra homered next, so luckily the play didn’t really affect the boxscore, but I’m sure the Rays now have an issue to address. Here’s a video of the Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton fight in the dugout via The Big Lead:

The only way I give Upton a partial excuse for the play is if he’s playing hurt, but even if that’s the case then he shouldn’t be in the lineup considering he’s down to .223 on the year and batting 7th. As long as you’re out there, you should be giving everything you have and it didn’t look like Upton was. Typically you’d prefer to see that sort of thing be addressed inside the clubhouse rather than in the dugout in front of television cameras, but at least it’s a good sign that Longoria won’t put up with that crap on his team. These guys just got no-hit and then two-hit Sunday so they need to do everything possible to keep up in the AL East. There’s no room for not hustling.

Sources:
Evan Longoria and BJ Upton Nearly Fight in Tampa Bay Rays’ Dugout [Video] [The Big Lead]

Guillen’s Dinner Date With Zambrano Could be Good for the Cubs

On Friday, the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox met for round two of the Crosstown Classic. The big story wasn’t the White Sox extending their win streak to 10 games — it was Carlos Zambrano’s meltdown in the dugout after giving up four runs in the first inning. The incident landed Zambrano an indefinite suspension from the Cubs.

After the game, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen met with Big Z for dinner. Now this may seem odd in most situations, but Guillen and Zambrano are known to be good friends because they both hail from Venezuela. Sox GM Kenny Williams said that the Cubs could look at the meeting as a positive thing:

“I view that [dinner], and I’m sure Jim does as well — if he doesn’t, someone needs to let me know and I will speak on the situation — but I view that as nothing but a positive. … Ozzie probably had some things that I’m sure the Cubs and Lou and Jim would have liked to have said to Carlos, that he was able to say in a much different way and probably get through to him.”

I couldn’t agree more. This hasn’t been the best year for Zambrano who was demoted to the bullpen when Ted Lilly was activated from the disabled list. Zambrano was once thought of as the Cubs’ ace and though he never really said he was mad about the move, I think Friday may have been a release of that anger and frustration.

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Edwin Jackson Gets No-Hitter, Pitch Counts Be Damned

This baseball season has been entirely about pitching dominance. We’ve had two perfect games (and a third taken away by a bad call) and now two no-hitters. Ubaldo Jimenez no-hit the Braves, Roy Halladay tossed a perfect game against the Marlins, Dallas Braden threw a perfect game against the Rays, and now Edwin Jackson has also no-hit the Rays. In an unusual twist, the Rays were also the victim of Mark Buehrle’s perfect game last year. Jackson joins Randy Johnson as the only other Diamondback to throw a no-hitter, though The Big Unit’s was a perfect game.

The no-hitter was especially sweet for Jackson because it came against his former team Tampa Bay who traded him to Detroit prior to last season for the likes of Matt Joyce. Jackson really tried to stick it to management as Joyce took the collar going 0-for-4. The unusual part about Edwin’s no-hitter is that he walked eight batters, hit B.J. Upton, and allowed Carlos Pena to reach on an error. As a result, Edwin threw a sky-high 149 pitches which is a total almost unheard of these days. He got 10 ground ball outs, 10 fly outs, six strikeouts, and Carl Crawford was thrown out at second caught stealing.

Jackson was hardly dominant by comparison to the other three, but we know he was un-hittable on this night. Manager A.J. Hinch may take some criticism for allowing Jackson to throw 149 pitches but I think you had to let him do it. How can you take a pitcher out of a game when he’s three outs away from no-hitter immortality? Best part is Edwin Jackson saying if Hinch had removed him, it would have been over his dead body: “It was a pretty controversial move especially with me having thrown so many pitches but I just told him ‘I’m not coming out unless I give up a homer or a hit.’ If [Hinch] wanted to rest me the next start he could but I’m not coming out.” That’s the type of attitude you love to see out of your pitchers. Let’s hope Jackson can build on this outing the rest of the season.

Photo Credit: Santicontreras on twitter

Carlos Zambrano Blows Another Gasket

Looks like our annual Carlos Zambrano meltdown has taken place, only a little later in the season than usual. Three years ago Zambrano got into a fight in the dugout with catcher Michael Barrett. Last year, Big Z was ejected for bumping an umpire and beating up a gatorade cooler. This year, Zambrano went ape in the dugout after the first inning against the White Sox. He was upset that Derrek Lee had missed a ground ball by Juan Pierre that turned into a double and led to a four-run first for the White Sox. Here’s the Carlos Zambrano meltdown video. It’s another classic:

Typically I’d like to defend Zambrano, but man, anyone can tell by watching that video that the dude is a nutjob. He was talking to himself, yelling at anyone in sight, and acting like an all-around jerk. I know that fiery edge makes him good but it also makes him volatile and it was not in a good way this time.

Video Credit: YouTube user Bcreger5150

Rob Dibble’s Ichiro Ass Tattoo

On Thursday’s PM edition of Hot Clicks at SI, Jimmy Traina linked to a story about Nationals broadcasters Rob Dibble and Ray Knight getting into a disagreement on air. I thought the disagreement (regarding Stephen Strasburg’s two-strike pitches on Wednesday) was rather petty and exacerbated by Dibs. While that story was only semi-entertaining, it reminded me of an even better Rob Dibble story Jimmy linked to last year that I never before shared. This may be old, but it’s too damn good to pass up. Check out this transcription of an exchange between Dibble and Bob Carpenter during a Nats telecast last year:

Dibble: OK, you carry Ichiro’s initials around on your butt the rest of your life.

Carpenter: Wow.

Dibble: You never heard that bet that I lost?

Carpenter: No!

Dibble: Yeah, when he first came over here I was poppin’ off on another radio show about ‘Oh, he’s not gonna be good, blah blah blah, our pitchers are gonna be better than him.’ And he went out and got 242 hits, hit .350, won the batting crown, was Rookie of the Year. So, I lost the bet and now I have Ichiro’s name and number tattooed on my butt in Japanese. And I had to run around Times Square in a g-string.

You should do yourself a favor and read the entire exchange because it’s pretty priceless. Doing some research prior to writing this post, I also came across this old article written by Dibble back when he was with ESPN and it really gives you a good idea of how inferior he felt Japanese ballplayers were at the time. Now that I think about it, the success of several Japanese players in MLB really has destroyed that notion, thanks mostly to Ichiro’s efforts which have been immortalized on Dibble’s butt. For the record, this Arizona fan is not impressed.