Pedro's most likely landing spot, Manny's next contract and more (cont.)
Rough day for the WBC
After a pregame interview on Sunday afternoon filled with negative questions the day after the U.S. team's embarrassing 11-1 loss to Puerto Rico, U.S. manager Davey Johnson good-naturedly implored of us, "Write something positive, will you?"
Well, the U.S. did beat the Netherlands 9-3 on Sunday night.
But hardly anyone came to see the game (the crowd looked only slightly better than Marlins vs. Nats). And those who did didn't seem to notice.
Worse, by the time the day was done, Chipper Jones was back in Orlando after aggravating his ribcage injury during pregame routines, Ryan Braun left the game with a sore right side and reliever Matt Lindstrom was pulled after suffering a sore shoulder. (Lindstrom is out for the rest of the WBC after an MRI on Monday revealed a strained right rotator cuff.) Not to mention AL MVP Dustin Pedroia, who left a day earlier with an oblique strain (very much like a ribcage or side).
While the WBC spin is that injuries are no more likely at these games, Braun conceded that there might be slightly more chance for injury playing nine innings all out in intense competition as opposed to low-key spring games, but he also said, very positively, "I don't think anybody would trade this experience for anything."
Lindstrom may actually have hurt his shoulder while throwing in anger well behind Netherlands batter Vince Rooi the pitch after Bryan Engelhardt hit a long home run off him. Though Lindstrom actually said he felt something while warming up. (But if that's true, then why enter the game?)
While Johnson had other explanations for Lindstrom's wildly errant throw one pitch after Engelhardt's long blast (the manager said the pitch slipped and was overheard insinuating that the injury may be to blame), Lindstrom himself basically admitted that he threw at Rooi. Said Lindstrom, who explained that he felt Engelhardt spent too long admiring his blast, "I was just trying to send a message." Lindstrom also excused the Netherlands' anger by saying, "We probably would have been angry if they threw at our guy," which is tantamount to an admission.
The long home run was hit in Lindstrom's home park, and perhaps he was feeling embarrassed by it. However, intentionally hurling a pitch at a Dutch batter in a blowout game is a much more embarrassing act in my book.
Is it a classic or an exhibition?
I love the WBC. Maybe I'm almost alone in this belief, but I do love it.
Yet, there's plenty wrong with the way the U.S. team goes about the games, inhibiting this series from being what it should be. Most of what's wrong with it is that the U.S. treats the games like an exhibition. They can say they don't do that, but in many respects they clearly do.
Perhaps the U.S. squad in future years can get together before spring training to ensure readiness by mid March. Because the way things stand now, they almost have to treat it like an exhibition. (Otherwise, even more guys may get hurt!)
Here's how we know the U.S. thinks this is mostly an exhibition:
Many great U.S. stars aren't here. By one estimate, it took about 70 phone calls and invitations to get 25 guys (no one here verified that 70 figure, but considering the stature of some of the players on the U.S. roster, it seems very possible).
Case in point: Rather than have Brad Lidge, Joe Nathan or Papelbon on the roster, there's a reliever from the Nationals (Joel Hanrahan) and one who was designated for assignment last year (LaTroy Hawkins).
Jake Peavy was left in to "get some work in," even though he had nothing vs. the Puerto Ricans. Johnson admitted the next day that Peavy had nothing and would have been gone had it been a playoff game, or even a regular-season game.
When Jones was scratched on Sunday, Johnson simply put Derek Jeter into the No. 3 hole rather than rearrange things. While Jeter is a great player who has occasionally batted third for the Yankees, he hadn't previously been seen as a No. 3 hitter in the power-laden U.S. lineup.
Johnson missed the workout and the first inning of Saturday's loss to Puerto Rico to attend his stepson's wedding.
Coach Mike Schmidt skipped the workout for "personal reasons."
Clearly, the U.S. team is conflicted about whether to try to win or try to "get its work in."
Notes from the WBC
Even after its 9-3 defeat to the U.S. team, you've still got to give it up to the Netherlands team, which bounced the Dominicans, played a nice game against the Venezuelans and upset Lindstrom with the long ball.
The Dominicans didn't help themselves. Reports suggest that they didn't take things seriously enough and were flying between Santo Domingo and Puerto Rico for parties.
Dominican outfielder Jose Guillen threw a fit after seeing his room at the hotel in Puerto Rico and noticing that there was just a couch, TV and desk. That disappointment caused Guillen to kick his keys at an MLB official in disgust. However, he felt slightly better when it was explained to him that he needed to open a door to what was actually a suite.
Damaso Marte not only injured his shoulder while at the WBC in Puerto Rico, he was also briefly detained by the police at one point. Rough trip for him.
Rough spring for Angels pitchers. Brian Fuentes suffered a back injury while on the bereavement list and never got to pitch in the WBC. Ervin Santana's elbow is being monitored back in Arizona. One thing about the Angels, though: They always seem to find a way.
Puerto Rico's Jose Oquendo looks like a pretty good major league managerial candidate from here. One thing the WBC is proving: It's better to hire a young up-and-comer than hold on to history and hire some past-his-prime manager. Felipe Alou, who spent some time ridiculing his Dominican roster to reporters in side sessions, is a case in point.
Bernie Williams is serious about wanting to get back on the field. But his stint with the Puerto Rico team isn't helping, as he's been cast in a cheerleader role. I love Bernie, but it may be time to stick with the music career.
Around the camps
Alex Rodriguez is taking a lot of heat this spring for various things. But he should get credit for taking one for the team by having half his hip surgery now to get him back on the field by May, then the other half of the surgery later. Two hip surgeries in one year doesn't sound like fun.
I don't care that Kevin Youkilis wants Peavy on the Red Sox. First of all, has Youkilis even been watching? This doesn't look like a good time to sink $63 million into Peavy, not the way he's pitching in the WBC.
Joe Crede made an interesting move going from the White Sox to the Twins, who happen to be one of the White Sox's chief rivals. But one White Sox person said he worries about Crede and his back on the turf. "He sometimes didn't play when we got to that turf in Minnesota," that White Sox person said.
The Marlins have their usual complement of superb prospects. Outfielder Michael Stanton is an especially impressive specimen. "He's like a young Andre Dawson," said Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez, citing the Marlins official who should be in the Hall of Fame but still isn't.
It's going to be hard for the A's to make it up if ace Justin Duchscherer isn't right.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Skip Schumaker experiment at second base isn't working out so far.
Enough already with these stories that one team or another isn't interested in Barry Bonds. When someone finds a team that is interested, that's a story. Until then, let's cease and desist.
MLB Truth & Rumors