Quantcast

Jorge Soler hits home run in first career at-bat (Video)

The future for the Chicago Cubs has arrived and it is looking brighter than Clark W. Griswold’s house on Christmas.

Jorge Soler CubsThe Cubs called up 22-year-old Jorge Soler from Triple-A and gave the Cuban outfielder his first career start on Wednesday. Oh yeah, and Soler just so happened to homer in his first career at-bat.

Batting fifth in the order, Soler took a 2-1 90-mph fastball from Mat Latos deep to center field to lead off the top of the second inning for the Cubs in Cincinnati. Though teams often give youngsters the silent treatment after their first home run, the Cubs were all thrilled in the dugout and couldn’t resist congratulating Soler with tons of high-fives.

Soler’s home run was just a continuation of what he had been doing at Triple-A. The 22-year-old was hitting .340/.432/.700 with 15 home runs in 62 games in the minors this season.

In addition to Soler, the Cubs have 22-year-old prospect Arismendy Alcantara up with the club, as well as 21-year-old Javier Baez, who has 7 home runs in 21 games but also 44 strikeouts. Perhaps the best prospect of the bunch is infielder Kris Bryant, who has destroyed minor league pitching but is unlikely to be promoted to postpone his eventual free agency.

Ned Yost calls out Royals fans after walk-off win

Ned YostThe Kansas City Royals came away with a dramatic walk-off win against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night. With his team trailing 1-0 in the ninth, Alex Gordon blasted a two-run homer that scored Alcides Escobar and gave the Royals a much-needed win to protect their 1.5-game lead in the NL Central. Despite that, manager Ned Yost was not all smiles after the game.

Yost was irritated at the fact that only 13,847 people showed up to the game.

“I mean, what, 13,000 people got to see a great game?” Yost asked reporters without being prompted to share his thoughts on attendance.

Of course, that led to follow-up questions. Yost welcomed them, because he clearly had an axe to grind.

“We’re in a pennant race, yeah,” he said. “We’ve been working on trying to build this team for the last three or four years to put ourselves in a position where we can contend for a championship. And not only the division, but we want to contend for a world championship. It’s really, really important we have our fans behind us at the stadium.

“I know it’s a school night. But I’ve been through this before in Atlanta (when the Braves first made the playoffs) in ‘91, where it didn’t matter what night it was, that place was packed at the end of August and September. The fans really got into it.

“They’re a big part of our success, especially at home. Because the electricity they provide, the energy they provide, helps you get through games like this. You know? …”

Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star, who transcribed the above quotes, took issue with Yost’s comments and bluntly described them as “stupid.” It’s hard to disagree with him. For starters, Mellinger pointed out that the Royals are 4-6 in front of crowds of 30,000 or more this season. He also noted that on Aug. 26, 1991 the Braves played a Monday night game in front of 12,889 people while in a pennant race. Atlanta moved into first place with a win the next night, and 15,806 people were there to see it happen.

Mellinger’s well-reasoned takedown of Yost’s surprise attack on Royals fans is worth reading. He went on to discuss how the Royals have been bottom-dwellers for decades, so Yost has some nerve expecting a packed house now that the team has been hot for a few months. Do you know how much money fans have spent watching the Royals lose?

Yost’s remarks were poorly timed, to say the least.

H/T Hardball Talk

Astros fan spikes terrible first pitch (Video)

Is it just me, or has this been one of the worst years for ceremonial first pitches that Major League Baseball has ever seen? A Houston Astros fan may have topped them all on Tuesday night.

As you can see, the young lady spiked the ball directly into the ground. She obviously just couldn’t get her fingers to let go of their grasp on the ball, and the end result was a pitch that was almost as bad as the underhand toss we saw from Miss Texas earlier this month.

Astros-fan-spikes-first-pitch

Unlike Bob Costas, the Astros fan didn’t ask for a second chance. She took her lumps and went to retrieve her souvenir before accepting a much-needed hug from Astros mascot Orbit. At least she went down gracefully.

H/T Cut 4

Giancarlo Stanton on Marlins future: ‘Five months doesn’t change five years’

Giancarlo-Stanton-MarlinsThe Miami Marlins are still in playoff contention, and April 25th came and went a long time ago. Imagine that. Currently 65-65 and 10 games behind the Washington Nationals in the NL East, the Marlins are just three games back in the Wild Card race. Could they actually make the playoffs.

As expected, Giancarlo Stanton has led the way for Miami at the plate. The 24-year-old is hitting .299 with 33 homers, 97 RBI and an on-base percentage of .407 during his MVP-caliber season. He’ll also be a free agent in two years. If the Marlins make the playoffs, would Stanton consider signing an extension?

“Five months doesn’t change five years,” Stanton recently told Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports.

Those six words say it all. The Marlins have lost 90 or more games in each of the last three seasons. They lost 100 last year in what was Stanton’s worst season (.249/24/62) as a full-time MLB player. Stanton admitted that the horrible 2013 season left a foul taste in his mouth.

“The way I felt last year, with the whole situation of losing and not playing my best, that was one of the worst feelings I ever had,” he explained. “I put it as a waste of time. I spent all that time in the offseason. To lose 100 games and to not do my best? It was like, ‘What’d I do all that in the offseason for?'”

Stanton said the Marlins are moving in a “positive direction,” but he is clearly hesitant to look ahead. While Miami has played much better this season, three games could be a lot to make up for a team that has perfected the art of losing over the past several seasons.

“We’ve definitely done better than anyone thought we would do,” Stanton said. “At the same time, we’re still not where we need to be to keep playing beyond the designed schedule. … I want to be the only game on TV at the end of the day.”

The Marlins will at least make an attempt to sign Stanton to a long-term extension, but does he trust that they will assemble a winning team around him? This is a team with a $46 million payroll, and Stanton’s yearly salary will be at least equivalent to the $24 million Mike Trout recently agreed to with the LA Angels. Staying in Miami doesn’t seem like an option. Expect the Marlins to trade Stanton for a boatload of top prospects sooner rather than later.

Adam Jones robs home run with great catch, turns double play (Video)

Adam Jones came through with a serious web gem on Monday night to ensure the Tampa Bay Rays would not make a comeback on his Baltimore Orioles.

Baltimore hit five home runs in a 9-1 win — including back-to-back-to-back homers in the fifth — and Jones kept up the momentum on defense. The center fielder went far over the fence to rob Evan Longoria of what would have been a 3-run homer in the sixth.

Adam Jones Orioles

As if that weren’t already enough, he alertly threw into second base to get Matt Joyce, who was trying to tag up and advance from first.

It’s amazing what Jones can do in the field when he’s not trying to blow bubbles with his gum.

Rangers exec Thad Levine says team gets trade ideas from Twitter

Rangers logoTexas Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine admitted the team gets trade ideas from Twitter, which means he’s not completely different from me or you.

Levine conducted an “AMA” (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit last week to promote his fantasy sports charity, “Meaningful Wins.”

Levine answered just about every single question he was asked, and he gave insightful responses. Among the ones that stood out to us were his admission that the team uses Twitter for trade ideas.

From his AMA:

Q. How difficult has social media made it to keep trade or signing negotiations private? Has this impacted your approach to these things?

A. You identified one of our biggest challenges. This has impacted us unfortunately quite negatively. Used to be that we could tell all the players involved in trades before it became public. Now, that is extremely difficult to do. Last year, Ian Kinsler found out through the media that he had been traded. We felt awful, but someone called the media literally before we were able to complete a call to Ian.

That being said, at the trade deadline, we are all on twitter, because you may be surprised how many trade discussions are inspired or refined by tweets

A lot of times Twitter can be an effective tool because it’s such a good marketplace for information. Execs can use it to find out what players supposedly are available, who’s talking with whom, and what the latest rumors are. Don’t forget — an MLB.com reader predicted the Ian Kinsler for Prince Fielder trade, so you can never discount crowd sourcing as an effective tool.

In addition to Twitter, Levine also says the Rangers use popular baseball sites Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference as resources.

Q. How much information do teams have access to beyond what we have as fans through sites like B-Ref, Fangraphs, and so on?

A. We scour the entire sites, and several others. We are not too proud. If there is cutting edge information out there, we want to know about it.

Those sites, and others, have done such a phenomenal job. I believe that is why you see so many clubs hiring their employees. Really the only thing that we have access to that they do not is an extensive database from our scouts. We use those sites extensively in our analysis.

In addition to those revealing responses, Levine shared some other insight about the club. He said he believed a lot of Josh Hamilton’s success with the Rangers had to do with the outfielder’s relationship with manager Ron Washington.

“Truth be told, a large part of his success here can be attributed to how open he was with Ron Washington and how much chemistry the two had.”

He also said this of relief pitcher Neftali Feliz, who used to be one of the hardest throwers in the game before injuring his arm.

“Feliz continues to regain arm strength, but i do not anticipate him returning to throwing 96-100 mph.”

Warning to any teams: if you get a call from the Rangers saying they’re looking to deal you Feliz, now you’ll know why.

Pete Rose screwed up his reinstatement plan from Bud Selig

Pete Rose jacket

Pete Rose had a reinstatement plan set up for him by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, but a book he put out in March derailed those plans, so says Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt.

Schmidt, who has lobbied for his former teammate many times in the past, wrote a column for the Associated Press Sunday in which he argued for Rose’s reinstatement by Major League Baseball. Schmidt defends Rose, argues that a bad entourage got to the Hit King regarding the gambling, and ultimately says he wants Rose’s name to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot.

One thing to come out of Schmidt’s column that I previously was not aware of is that Selig actually had a reinstatement plan for Rose that was ruined when Charlie Hustle put out a recent book.

From Schdmit’s column:

Following Pete’s apologetic admittance to gambling after 14 years of denial, Commissioner Selig seemed in a cooperative and forgiving mood, actually helping to map out an itinerary for Pete’s possible reinstatement.

Over the following few months, things went sour, as did the commissioner’s attitude.

Pete’s penchant for bad decisions and relationships, plus a need for money, caused a premature book release in New York, which conflicted with the Hall of Fame election news conference. This was a direct hit to baseball and couldn’t have come at a worse time for Pete.

Commissioner Selig never returned to this issue with the same attitude he had that day in Milwaukee, and the Rose case file hasn’t been opened since.

I’m trying to piece together the timeline laid out by Schmidt here. The publication date of the recent Rose book, “Pete Rose an American Dilemma,” is March 11, 2014. The first review I saw for it was Jan. 12, 2014. The results of the 2014 Hall of Fame class voting were announced on Jan. 8, 2014. Seems like Rose had his book reviewed around the same time the Hall of Fame class was announced.

We don’t know all the details of the situation between Selig and Rose. Selig recently said he still has five months to think about reinstating Rose before his tenure as MLB commissioner ends. It seems like he is more than open to the possibility of reinstating Rose, but Pete just can’t get out of his own way. For younger fans, I imagine this is not too dissimilar from working with Jose Canseco, who we all know can be extremely flaky. I still bet Selig reinstates Rose for his last act as commissioner.