SweetSpot: Jamie Moyer

Hey, you can't really blame the Toronto Blue Jays for signing Jamie Moyer, just a couple days after he asked for his release from the Baltimore Orioles, where he was pitching in Triple-A.

In the past couple of weeks the Blue Jays have seen three starters land on the disabled last: Kyle Drabek with season-ending Tommy John surgery; Drew Hutchison, out at least a few weeks with a sore elbow; and Brandon Morrow, out with a strained oblique. On Monday, Henderson Alvarez was pulled from the game in the sixth inning with a sore elbow.

It's been a devastating turn of events for the Blue Jays, a team that is currently 38-35 and scoring a lot of runs lately as Jose Bautista (12 home runs in June), Colby Rasmus (.330, 23 RBIs in June) and Brett Lawrie (.400 OBP since moving to the leadoff spot) have heated up, joining Edwin Encarnacion (21 home runs) for a high-scoring top of the order.

The rotation currently includes Brett Cecil and former reliever Jesse Chavez, who has allowed 10 runs in 8.2 innings over two starts. Aaron Laffey starts tonight and Joel Carreno has also started. So the team has nothing to lose with Moyer, who did pitch well in three Triple-A starts for the Orioles, allowing four runs in 16 innings with no walks and 16 strikeouts. But Norfolk is a long ways from the AL East and Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium.

"It's challenging, there's no doubt about it," general manager Alex Anthopoulos told MLB.com. "But I'm sure if you sit with the other 29 GMs, they have their own challenges. Other teams have had their position players go down. At the end of the day, you just put your head down and accept the challenge and do what you can."

Laffey was getting pounded in Triple-A (77 hits and just 38 strikeouts in 63.2 innings), but that's in Las Vegas where pop flies can turn into home runs. Scott Richmond -- who started 29 games for the Blue Jays in 2008 and 2009 -- was also just recalled; he's another potential starting option. Considering the list of options, I have little doubt Moyer will soon get a start for the Jays, especially if Alvarez is forced to miss a turn or two.

The Jays have survived the injuries so far. Morrow went down on June 11 and the club is 7-6 since his start. But that was mostly against the National League. We'll see if the patchwork rotation can hold things together and whether the offense can keep scoring five and six runs a game.
SweetSpot blogger Dave Schoenfield and I met in the bucolic Bristol studios to discuss the great game of baseball, with many ranging topics for Tuesday’s Baseball Today podcast , including:

1. After hitting Marco Scutaro in the head with a pitch, was Stephen Strasburg afraid to pitch inside?
2. From fast and young to slow and ... well, you know, Jamie Moyer found work, again.
3. Wade Miley, NL All-Star? Yep!
4. Why do I want Derek Jeter to get more hits than Peter Edward Rose?
5. How are the fans doing for the AL All-Star voting?
6. What should we expect from Anthony Rizzo as he’s set for his Cubs debut?
7. David Ortiz, Hall of Famer? Other than in nickname, how does he compare with Edgar Martinez?
8. Ozzie Guillen catches a big mistake and still loses the game.
9. What does the future look like for Justin Smoak?
10. Are the Orioles playoff-bound?

It really was a packed Tuesday edition of the Baseball Today podcast, so download and enjoy. Dave and I will return Wednesday!


"Show us some respect," yell Baltimore Orioles fans. Or maybe they're politely demanding. But I've seen the complaints in the Power Rankings comments, read the emails sent to "Baseball Today," been asked the question in my chats: Why doesn't anyone believe in the Orioles?

The Orioles traveled to Fenway Park this week in a precarious situation. They've lost two of three in Tampa. They've been swept in Toronto. They've lost two of three at home to Kansas City. They've lost two of three at home to Boston. They haven't won a series since the big weekend showdown in Washington from May 18-20.

So, yes, the concerns all of us "experts" had been raising -- it's a long season, let's see what happens to the rotation, let's find out if some of the hitters can keep up their hot starts, the bullpen can't keep its ERA under 2.00 all season -- were proving true. The O's were 27-14 after winning the second against the Nationals but had gone 3-10 since, with the staff posting a 4.95 ERA while the offense scored 3.5 runs per game.

These were the Orioles we all expected. And then they beat the Red Sox in extra innings on Tuesday. And then they beat the Red Sox 2-1 on Wednesday behind a solid effort from Wei-Yin Chen and scoreless innings from Pedro Strop and Jim Johnson. They're 5-0 at Fenway in 2012 and Chen is now 5-2 with a 3.49 ERA. The key moments came in the seventh inning after the Red Sox threatened with a pair of singles to start the frame. But after a sacrifice bunt, Chen struck out Marlon Byrd and induced Mike Aviles to pop out to first base.

Normally, Buck Showalter might have turned to his stellar bullpen, but after Tuesday's victory, in which the bullpen threw five innings, he left Chen to escape the jam. He set up Byrd with three fastballs and then got him swinging on a beautiful changeup. He threw three more fastballs to Aviles that he couldn't get around on. Don't underestimate Chen. His stuff plays up big, with his four-seamer reaching 94 mph. His last pitch to Aviles was clocked at 93. In 11 starts, he allowed two or fewer runs seven times and I think this outing will give Showalter more confidence to stretch Chen a little deeper into games.

So the Orioles remain in first place for another day, half a game ahead of the Yankees. Is it time to show them a little respect, to give Orioles fans what they crave? Let's do some position-by-position rankings to help sort out this tightly packed division. Rankings are simply listed in order of who I would want the rest of the season.

(Season-to-date Wins Above Replacement from Baseball-Reference.com, before Wednesday's games, listed in parenthesis.)

Catcher
1. Matt Wieters, Orioles (1.6 WAR)
2. Jarrod Saltalamacchia/Kelly Shoppach, Red Sox (1.6)
3. Russell Martin, Yankees (0.7)
4. J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays (0.2)
5. Jose Molina, Rays (0.1)

There is a case to be made that Boston's duo is more valuable since they've combined for 14 home runs and an OPS over .900. But Wieters brings elite defensive skills and I also don't believe Salty is going to slug .583 all season. For the second consecutive season, the Rays are essentially punting offense at catcher. Rays catchers have the worst OPS in the majors.

First base
1. Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox (0.8)
2. Mark Teixeira, Yankees (0.6)
3. Mark Reynolds, Orioles (-0.6)
4. Carlos Pena, Rays (0.4)
5. David Cooper/others, Blue Jays (incomplete)

Gonzalez is still struggling to get his stroke going, but he's the best of a weak group. Yes, I just called Mark Teixeira weak, but at this point he's a low-average guy who pops a few long balls, doesn't draw as many walks as he once did and isn't as great on defense as Yankee fans believe. But in this group that's good enough to rank second. Reynolds has a low WAR but he's missed time and that includes his bad defense at third base, a position we've hopefully seen the last of him playing. The Jays, meanwhile, need to quit fooling around at first base and find a legitimate hitter, or move Edwin Encarnacion there and find a designated hitter. You hate to waste a potential playoff season because you can't find a first baseman who can hit. (No, David Cooper is not the answer, although he's hit well so far in 11 games.)

Second base
1. Robinson Cano, Yankees (2.1)
2. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox (1.8)
3. Kelly Johnson, Blue Jays (2.1)
4. Ben Zobrist, Rays (0.7)
5. Robert Andino, Orioles (0.6)

I love Ben Zobrist almost as much as two scoops of Vanilla Heath Bar Crunch from Ben & Jerry's, but a .199 average isn't going to cut it in this group, even if you are on pace to draw 100-plus walks. Zobrist has actually play more right field so far, but should be back at second on a regular basis with Desmond Jennings back.

Third base
1. Evan Longoria, Rays (1.4)
2. Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays (3.1)
3. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees (1.2)
4. Kevin Youkilis/Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox (0.5)
5. Wilson Betemit/Steve Tolleson, Orioles (-0.1)

Lawrie's WAR is boosted by defensive metrics that treat him like he's the second coming of Brooks Robinson. He's a good player but don't I think he's been the second-best position player in the American League. Longoria hopes to return at the end of the Rays' current road trip. As for A-Rod, his health is always a question at this stage of his career, but Youkilis has health questions and I'm not a believer in Middlebrooks' ability to hit .321 with power all season. His 29/4 strikeout/walk ratio is something pitchers should learn to exploit. As for the Orioles ... third base is an obvious concern. But don't expect a rare intra-division trade to acquire Youkilis.

Shortstop
1. J.J. Hardy, Orioles (2.1)
2. Mike Aviles, Red Sox (2.2)
3. Derek Jeter, Yankees (0.9)
4. Yunel Escobar, Blue Jays (1.9)
5. Sean Rodriguez, Rays (1.9)

Wait ... Jeter has been the least valuable of this group so far? The other four all rate as excellent fielders -- in fact, Baseball-Reference rates them all in the top 13 fielders in the AL. Jeter, meanwhile, ranks 310th in the AL on defense -- out of 313 players.

Left field
1. Desmond Jennings, Rays (1.2)
2. Daniel Nava/Carl Crawford, Red Sox (1.7)
3. Brett Gardner/Raul Ibanez, Yankees (0.3)
4. Eric Thames/Rajai Davis, Blue Jays (-0.1)
5. Endy Chavez/Xavier Avery/Nolan Reimold, Orioles (-0.3)

Not to keep picking on the Orioles, but this is another problem position, especially if Reimold's disc problems lingers all season. Nava has quietly been a huge savior for the Red Sox, batting .305 with a .438 OBP. He's drawing walks at a crazy rate. He should slide some but he's provided the kind of depth the Orioles don't have.

Center field
1. Adam Jones, Orioles (2.5)
2. Curtis Granderson, Yankees (1.3)
3. B.J. Upton Rays (0.9)
4. Jacoby Ellsbury/Scott Podsednik/Marlon Byrd, Red Sox (0.5)
5. Colby Rasmus, Blue Jays (1.3)

Ellsbury might be the biggest wild card in this race, because the Red Sox can't survive much longer with the Podsednik/Byrd platoon. When will he return? How will he hit? He just started throwing and could return by the end of the month. I've conservatively put him fourth, which seems fair considering the unknown. And please note, Orioles fans, that I believe in Mr. Jones.

Right field
1. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays (0.9)
2. Matt Joyce, Rays (2.2)
3. Nick Swisher, Yankees (-0.1)
4. Cody Ross/Ryan Sweeney, Red Sox (1.6)
5. Nick Markakis/others, Orioles (0.3)

Markakis is out three to four weeks with a broken bone in his wrist, an injury that once again reflects Baltimore's lack of depth. But all five teams are solid in right field. Ross is about to return from his broken foot; we'll see if he pounds the ball like he was before the injury (.534 slugging).

Designated hitter
1. David Ortiz, Red Sox (1.4)
2. Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays (1.6)
3. Revolving Door, Yankees
4. Chris Davis, Orioles (0.3)
5. Luke Scott, Rays (0.0)

No respect for Davis? OK, he's hitting .295/.333/.494. And he has 53 strikeouts and eight walks. Sorry, call me skeptical, O's fans. Yankee designated hitters have actually fared well, hitting a combined .279/.354/.467 with 10 home runs.

No. 1 starter
1. David Price, Rays (2.2)
2. CC Sabathia, Yankees (1.9)
3. Ricky Romero, Blue Jays (0.3)
4. Josh Beckett, Red Sox (0.5)
5. Jason Hammel, Orioles (1.9)

Look, Hammel has been terrific so far thanks to a career-high strikeout rate and a career-high ground-ball rate. But this is tough group and the question is who is going to be best moving forward? My biggest concern is that Hammel has never pitched 180 innings in a season. Can he pitched the 210 to 220 that you need from a No. 1?

No. 2 starter
1. Brandon Morrow, Blue Jays (1.1)
2. James Shields, Rays (-0.4)
3. Andy Pettitte, Yankees (1.5)
4. Wei-Yin Chen, Orioles (0.7)
5. Jon Lester, Red Sox (-0.4)

I like Chen. Heck, right now I like him better than Jon Lester, which tells you how much I like him. But he averaged just 172 innings in Japan over the past three seasons. Can he hold up over 32 starts?

No. 3 starter
1. Jeremy Hellickson, Rays (1.0)
2. Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees (1.4)
3. Felix Doubront, Red Sox (0.4)
4. Brian Matusz, Orioles (0.2)
5. Henderson Alvarez, Blue Jays (0.4)

Matusz is holding his own at 5-5, 4.41, but he's still walking a few too many, allowing a few too many hits, a few too many home runs. The velocity is solid, averaging 91 on his fastball. We're talking minor upgrades needed in his command, getting the ball down in the zone more often to get more groundballs. If the Orioles are to have any chance, Matusz's improvement may be the single most important aspect.

No. 4 starter
1. Matt Moore, Rays (-0.6)
2. Ivan Nova, Yankees (0.3)
3. Jake Arrieta, Orioles (-0.4)
4. Clay Buchholz, Red Sox (-1.2)
5. Kyle Drabek, Blue Jays (-0.1)

Five pitchers who have struggled, but Arrieta's peripheral numbers are actually pretty solid. Like Matusz, there is hope for improvement. On the other hand, he's been awful since pitching eight scoreless innings against the Yankees on May 2, giving up 29 runs in 31.2 innings. His BABIP was .243 through May 2; it's .361 since. The truth is probably right in the middle, leaving Arrieta third on our list of fourth starters.

No. 5 starter
1. Alex Cobb/Jeff Niemann, Rays (0.3)
2. Drew Hutchison, Blue Jays (0.1)
3. Phil Hughes, Yankees (0.2)
4. Daisuke Matsuzaka/Aaron Cook/Daniel Bard, Red Sox (-0.3)
5. Tommy Hunter, Orioles (-0.5)

Hunter isn't really a major league starter, but I'm not sure Jamie Moyer -- just signed to a minor league contract -- is exactly a solution. The Orioles need to upgrade here.

Bullpen
1. Yankees (2.76 ERA)
2. Orioles (2.48 ERA)
3. Red Sox (3.66 ERA)
4. Rays (3.43 ERA)
5. Blue Jays (4.39 ERA)

If you watched Pedro Strop and Jim Johnson close out Wednesday's win, you'll realize the back of the Orioles' end has two guys with filthy stuff. Darren O'Day and Luis Ayala are strike-throwing machines and Troy Patton is a lefty who isn't a LOOGY. It's a good pen and it's deep. But the reliability of the pen ties into the rotation's inability to pitch deep into games -- Orioles relievers have already thrown 39 more innings than Yankees relievers, for example.

OK, let’s add it up … one point for ranking first, five points for ranking fifth. Hey, this isn’t meant to be scientific, so don’t overanalyze this too much. The totals:

Yankees: 36 points
Rays: 40 points
Red Sox: 45 points
Blue Jays: 51 points
Orioles: 53 points

Not the respect Orioles fans are seeking. Sorry about that; it’s nothing personal. Look, I don’t think the Orioles are going to fade away anytime soon. I worry about the rotation’s ability to hold up all summer and the bullpen’s workload. They lack depth on offense and have a couple of obvious holes. Hey, you never know, and the Orioles are certainly due for a winning season. I would love to see it happen.

PHOTO OF THE DAY
Javier Lopez Jake Roth/US PresswireJavier Lopez is sending a message to Mark Kotsay: Tag, you're out!
Drafts were on our minds for Thursday’s Baseball Today podcast , not only the upcoming amateur draft but also ESPN’s Franchise Player Draft. Keith Law and I explain it all!

1. Who would be the one player you start a franchise with? We discuss our picks and also the injuries to a few of the top players.

2. The Colorado Rockies moved on from the Jamie Moyer experiment, and we discuss what might be next for the left-handed gentleman.

3. Russell Martin and an umpire had an interesting Wednesday night, interesting and sad. This one is hard to believe.

4. Emailers have questions on the amateur draft, which starts Monday, and Keith answers them!

5. Thursday’s schedule is a shallow one, but we’ll be watching the erratic Max Scherzer as well as the home/road blues for Brewers right-hander Zack Greinke. Are those splits explainable?

So download and listen to Thursday’s fine Baseball Today podcast and have a great day! We’ll return on Friday.

There are some athletes, most famously Jim Brown, who walk away from their sport at the height of their ability. These players, of course, are the exceptions.

Most players have to be dragged away kicking and screaming, and it's hard to blame them. After all, you work most of your life to get to the big leagues, and careers are pretty short as it is, why not play as long as you can? Jamie Moyer is clearly of this mindset, as he has kept pitching long after anyone could have possibly expected. The fact he came back to pitch this season at age 49 after missing all of the 2011 season recovering from elbow surgery, well, that was a great story.

But after getting knocked around for seven runs over five innings on Sunday against the Cincinnati Reds, Moyer has now allowed 28 runs in his past 30 innings, and it's looking like it might be time for Moyer to hang 'em up. If he doesn't, the Rockies are going to have to ask him to.

I hate to rain on the parade of this fun story, but facts are facts: Not only has Moyer been brutal this year, he hasn't been an effective pitcher since 2008. His ERA+ -- a stat that adjusts for park and 100 is average -- was 85 in 2010 and 84 in 2009. (In this case, lower is not better.) I hate to say it, but he's pretty much a novelty act. If you saw a Triple-A pitcher with Moyer's repertoire, there is no way you would think he was worthy of a major league job, yet Moyer is still employed. Yes, he has a track record of success, but as noted he hasn't been particularly effective for years.

After their loss on Sunday, the Rockies are now 14.5 games out in the National League West, and it looks like the 2012 season is a lost cause, so keeping Moyer on the team won't really make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. But think about the message this sends to the players in your organization. Players are led to believe that baseball is a meritocracy, and if you perform, you will get your chance. But right now, there is no reason that Moyer should be on the team based on merit. Imagine you are Carlos Torres, who is a 29-year-old right-hander for the Rockies' Triple-A affiliate. He's not a big prospect by any means and will likely never amount to anything in the majors. But he's striking out nearly a batter per inning at Triple-A while putting up a 2.45 ERA. What does Moyer's spot on the team say to a guy like Torres, a minor league lifer just looking for a chance?

I realize you could make an argument that a few Rockies starters don't deserve to be in the majors right now, but most of them -- such as Christian Friedrich and Alex White -- are theoretically part of the club's future. Moyer, obviously, is not. And if Moyer was coming anywhere close to holding his own, maybe the intangibles he brings would be worth keeping him around. However, he's basically up there throwing batting practice.

Maybe Moyer will turn things around and begin to give Colorado some quality innings, but based on his age and that he's been a well-below-average hurler for a few years, there is no reason to expect that to happen. It seems the end is nigh for Moyer, whether he likes it or not.
Both young and old players were on our minds as Keith Law and I gathered for Thursday’s Baseball Today podcast!

1. Brett Lawrie gets four games for his outburst and helmet throw, but is it enough? And what should happen to the umpire? Plus, are the Blue Jays collecting young players with reputations like Lawrie?

2. From young to old, Jamie Moyer continues to set marks each time he pitches, but isn’t that getting, ahem, a bit old? Plus, is WAR more valuable than wins?

3. The Angels switch hitting coaches, and of course Albert Pujols and Vernon Wells hit home runs. Do hitting coaches have much effect?

4. Seattle Mariners catcher Jesus Montero isn’t Gold Glove-caliber behind the plate, but what does KLaw think of his overall future, both offensively and defensively?

5. Thursday features a full slate of games, including the major league ERA leader on the mound, but will he continue his surprising success?

So download and listen to Thursday’s fun Baseball Today podcast and get ready for Friday’s show!
First base: The 49-year-old speedster. So not only did Jamie Moyer win his second game of the season in Colorado's 6-1 victory over Arizona, but he accomplished the following: (1) He legged out an infield hit that drove in two runs, becoming the oldest major leaguer to record an RBI; (2) He drove in more than he allowed; (3) He pitched into the seventh inning for just the second time this season; (4) He matched his career-high with two RBIs; (5) HE BEAT OUT AN INFIELD HIT! "I thought it was going to roll foul," Moyer said. "And I feel like I hesitated just a little bit, and then ... as I was running down the line, I saw the pitcher stop and the first baseman, I think he picked it up and he was going to throw it to the pitcher and then he realized the pitcher wasn't (covering the bag). So, then it became, I guess, a slow crawl to first base."

Second base: Detroit disaster. The Tigers continue to play uninspiring baseball, losing 11-7 to the Twins to drop to 18-19. Detroit committed four errors in the first three innings but actually led 7-6 through five innings before the bullpen surrendered five runs in relief of Rick Porcello. The Tigers rank last in the AL with a 5.17 bullpen ERA. Since starting 9-3, the Tigers are 9-16 as Porcello and Max Scherzer continue to get hit around -- they've combined to allow 109 hits in 87.1 innings. Austin Jackson also left the game with a mild abdominal strain and is day to day. If the Tigers are going to win the division, it appears it will be a slow crawl as opposed to the wire-to-wire domination many projected.

Third base: Mr. BABIP. Remember when everybody said Jeremy Hellickson couldn't replicate his rookie numbers? Too lucky, won't repeat his .223 batting average on balls in play, a figure that led the majors, not enough strikeouts and so on. Well ... so far he's doing it again. Hellickson is now 4-0 with a 2.77 ERA ... and .238 BABIP. On Wednesday, he held the Red Sox to one run in six innings, an improvement over an earlier start against Boston in which he allowed five runs and three home runs. While Hellickson's strikeout rate has increased from 5.6 to 6.5 per nine innings, his hit rate has increased from 7.0 to 7.8 per nine, so there is some regression to the norm going on here. Still, considering Tampa's defensive shifts, Hellickson's proclivity as a fly ball pitcher, and the great late movement he gets on his changeup, his BABIP may always be below league-average figures. In other words ... maybe he's more than just lucky; maybe he's good.

Home plate: Tweet of the day.
First base: Here come the Marlins. The Marlins won their sixth straight game to improve to .500. All six wins came on the road, in San Francisco and San Diego, with four of the wins coming by one run and two in extra innings. The key battle in Sunday's 6-3 win over the Padres came in eighth inning with the game tied, the bases loaded, two outs and Giancarlo Stanton facing reliever Andrew Cashner. Stanton saw eight high-octane fastballs from Cashner -- seven at 101 mph, one at 102 mph. Stanton missed the first pitch, later fouled off two pitches and then drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch to give the Marlins the lead. With Cashner perhaps rattled by the bases-loaded walks, the Marlins proceeded to add three more runs on a John Buck passed ball, a Gaby Sanchez single and another passed ball.

"I saw 102 (mph) but you can throw 120 and without command you are going to get hurt," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "It's all about command and making good pitches. It was a hell of an at-bat." Stanton is also getting locked in. After going homerless for 19 games, he's hit five in his past eight games. Ricky Nolasco also pitched well again, improving to 4-0 with a 2.72 ERA. He's allowed 12 runs in his start, relying on control (nine walks) and keeping the ball in the park (one home run). The Marlins finish their road trip with three games in Houston. Could this be a 9-0 trip?

Second base: Let's settle this on the playground. You have to love Jamie Moyer and Chipper Jones getting into a little squabble over stealing signs. Kids will be kids, I guess. Moyer accused Jones of relaying signs while on second base. But what's odd is Chipper's response: "Any time a grown man gets his integrity questioned, they're going to take it seriously and I'm no different. If he wants to discuss it, we'll discuss it, but he's wrong, plain and simple," he said. But haven't we been led to believe that stealing signs is, you know, part of the game? A sort of legal way to cheat, as opposed to, oh, let's say performance enhancing drugs. Yet Chipper acts like his his very manhood was thrown in the gutter. Could it be that stealing signs is considered an immoral way to victory?

Third base: Mixed messages. Two pitchers in need of positive returns also delivered on Sunday, as Cleveland's Ubaldo Jimenez threw seven shutout innings against the Rangers while Mat Latos struck out 11 in six scoreless frames. However, let's not get too excited just yet. While Jimenez allowed just two hits, he also walked five against six strikeouts, a sign that his control issues remain an issue (25 walks, just 20 strikeouts on the season). Latos' game came against the Pirates; still, that's two scoreless outings in his past three starts. While I'd still be concerned about Jimenez, maybe Latos is finally showing the talent that made him so effective with the Padres.

Home plate. Tweet of the day. Bryce Harper stole home. On a pickoff throw to first base by Cole Hamels. After reaching when Hamels hit him with a pitch. Which Hamels admitted after the game he did on purpose. As Joe Sheehan tweeted ...

Keith Law was joined by Rumor Central editor Chris Sprow for Wednesday's Baseball Today podcast . As always, there was plenty of baseball to discuss.

1. Keith and Chris share their thoughts on Jacoby Ellsbury's injury and what it means for the Red Sox.

2. Another center fielder injured his shoulder Tuesday night.

3. You may have heard that Jamie Moyer won. That's 49-year-old Jamie Moyer. No, he didn't quite crack Keith's top 100 prospects list.

4. Hard-throwing Dylan Bundy is on that list, however, and Keith wonders if the Orioles are handling him the right way.

5. Keith and Chris talk about all the long-term contract extensions and what this means for the future of free agency.

All that and more on Wednesday's Baseball Today.
First base: Double trouble for D-backs. Justin Upton sat out Tuesday's game against the Pirates due to the thumb injury he suffered April 8. Manager Kirk Gibson said his star right fielder -- batting .212 without an RBI -- saw a hand specialist and would likely undergo an MRI. "The thumb's been bothering him," Gibson told the Arizona Republic. "He's pushed hard through it. We've taken a day to re-evaluate what's going on with his thumb." To make matters worse for Arizona, Chris Young crashed into the wall in left-center making a leaping grab and left the game with a shoulder bruise. He too will undergo an MRI. The D-backs received a lot of criticism for signing Jason Kubel in the offseason, but this is where having four outfielders is an asset, not a problem. If Young can't go, Gerardo Parra can handle center.

Second base: Gold Glovers struggling on defense. Two-time Gold Glove winner Troy Tulowitzki committed just six errors last season but he made his sixth already in 2012, letting an easy double-play go through his legs, an error that led to two unearned runs and nearly cost Jamie Moyer his "oldest pitcher to win a game" achievement. Meanwhile, two-time Gold Glover Evan Longoria booted two grounders and made a throwing error for a three-error night in Tampa's 7-3 loss to the Blue Jays (three of Jeff Niemann's five runs were unearned). While Longoria just had one of those nights, Tulo's situation appears more serious, a possible "fielding slump" that is worth keeping an eye on.

Third base: No A's for Angels. Mike Scioscia removed Dan Haren after just 85 pitches, with the Angels leading 2-1 with two runners on and two out in the seventh. Lefty Daric Barton was up for the A's so Scioscia brought in Scott Downs, who did retire Barton to escape the jam. Even though Downs' is the team's best setup guy -- a guy who has proven he can retire right-handed hitters as well as lefties -- Scioscia took him out after four pitches and brought in Kevin Jepsen, a guy considerably lower in the bullen pecking order. Two walks and two hits later it was 3-2 Oakland, and then Yoenis Cespedes made it 5-2 with a two-run single off David Carpenter. Why Jepsen? Or why remove Haren so soon if your bullpen has been taxed in recent days? LaTroy Hawkins had thrown 31 pitches on Monday so was probably unavailable. Downs had thrown 14 pitches, hardly reason to limit him to four pitches. Jason Isringhausen had thrown 21 pitches on Sunday -- but Carpenter had thrown 37. The obvious question: Why not use closer Jordan Walden ... you know, for more than three batters. He's thrown two innings all season -- one inning in a 7-1 win and one inning in a 7-3 loss. In other words, he hasn't thrown a meaningful inning all season. In the last week, the Angels' bullpen has lost two leads in the eighth inning and one in the seventh. But whatever you do, SAVE YOUR CLOSER FOR THE NINTH INNING.

Home plate: Tweet of the day.

Rockies pitcher tweeting members of the Los Angeles Clippers after Jamie Moyer's win:

I can imagine a secret society of Jack Quinn fans, holed up in an Elks Lodge somewhere ready to pop bottles of champagne with each Jamie Moyer loss or no-decision. You know, sort of like members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins when an undefeated NFL team finally loses late in the season.

Quinn, of course, was the oldest pitcher to win a major league game, 49 years old and change when he pitched five scoreless innings of relief for the Brooklyn Dodgers on Sept. 13, 1932, to pick up the victory in a 6-5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Those imaginary bottles can be permanently put to rest now. Moyer pitched seven brilliant innings on Tuesday night at Coors Field -- well, as brilliant as a Moyer outing can be -- allowing only two unearned runs as the Colorado Rockies won 5-3. It was career win No. 268 for Moyer, tying him with Jim Palmer and more victories than Bob Feller or Carl Hubbell or Bob Gibson or Juan Marichal. And at 49 years and 150 days, he surpassed Quinn in the record books.

Things got dicey when Troy Tulowitzki booted a routine double-play ball in the seventh inning, leading to the two unearned runs and making the score 3-2. After the Rockies scored two more runs, things got dicey again in the ninth when Rafael Betancourt allowed a run and had the go-ahead run at the plate. But he fanned Yonder Alonso on a 3-2 changeup. The cameras panned to Karen Moyer, Jamie's wife, hugging two of the couple's eight kids and raising her first in excitement.

Jamie? Nowhere to be found. Hopefully he was hiding out in the clubhouse having a little sip of champagne.

* * * *

Moyer's first win came in his first major league start on June 16, 1986. Pitching for the Cubs, he allowed five runs but defeated Steve Carlton, who was making his next-to-last appearance in a Phillies uniform. Fred Mitchell's lede the next day in the Chicago Tribune: "The most comforting thought for Cub fans after rookie Jamie Moyer's first major-league win Monday is that the best is yet to come."

Moyer was a 23-year-old who had moved quickly through the Cubs' farm system after being drafted in 1984. "Maybe when I sit down and really just think about it, think back to what happened today, beating Steve Carlton will just add to this day," he said.

Even back then, Moyer wasn't exactly a flamethrower. "This kid knows how to change speeds, and today he was just behind hitters and he was in trouble. But he was lucky enough to get through it," Cubs pitching coach Billy Connors said. "He usually has great command of his pitches and can get everything over. He was behind every hitter today, and that's not Jamie Moyer."

Sound familiar? And then Connors delivered the money quote, one reason why 26 years later, Moyer is still hanging around. "But he can compete in the major leagues because he is the kind of kid who doesn't panic. He's a tough kid, and he kept his composure."

But the best didn't come right away. The Cubs eventually traded him to the Rangers, who would release him after the 1990 season. He signed with the Cardinals. On May 21, 1991, he got knocked out in the third inning as Barry Bonds hit two home runs off him, the second one a long three-run blast to right field that Bonds "watched longingly," according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Rick Hummel. It was the last batter Moyer faced in the game -- and in the majors that season. He was 0-5 with a 5.71 ERA. "'He gets so pumped up, he loses control of himself," Cardinals manager Joe Torre said after the game.

What happened to the composed rookie, the kid who knew how to pitch? Torre complained about a high changeup to Jose Lind. A couple days later the Cardinals sent him down to Triple-A. At that point, Moyer was 34-54 in his career with a 4.56 ERA. He was 28 years old, didn't throw hard and was pitching for Louisville. Career crisis? Moyer barely had one. The Cardinals didn't bother calling him up in September. The Cubs cut him in spring training in 1992. He was asked to become a pitching coach. He declined and signed with the Tigers in May, but spent the entire season in the minors even though Detroit had the second-worst pitching staff in the American League. The Tigers let him go after the season. He was now 30 years old and threw 85 mph. Career crisis? His career was over.

Oh yes, a story of perseverance. A story of a guy who obviously loves the game. But somebody had to give him one last chance. The Orioles gave it to him after he went 6-0 with a 1.67 ERA at Rochester. Maybe it was general manager Roland Hemond who liked Moyer. Maybe it was an assistant to Hemond named Gordon Goldsberry, who had been the Cubs' scouting director when the club drafted Moyer. Maybe it was assistant GM Doug Melvin who made the recommendation. Moyer replaced a young left-hander named Arthur Rhodes on the roster. He lost his first start but pitched well, although Orioles manager Johnny Oates hardly seemed impressed. "He threw the ball OK," he told the Washington Post. "That's what you're going to get from Jamie."

Four starts later he won his first major league game since 1990. "This has been a tough road for me the last couple years -- battling back, people saying I'm too old, everything negative. I've tried hard to remain positive. ... Now I know I can pitch at this level," Moyer said.

That was 19 years ago. He's been winning ever since. Since turning 30 he's won 234 games, with a winning percentage better than .600. He doesn't throw 85 mph anymore.

As I watched the game, I realized I've probably seen Moyer pitch in person or on TV more than any other pitcher, considering the 11 seasons he spent with the Mariners.

I've never ceased to be amazed at his ability to confound and confuse big league hitters. What can you say about one of the most unique players in history, other than: I hope to see him for at least another decade or so.

PHOTO OF THE DAY
Cody RossElsa/Getty ImagesMomma said there'd be days like this ... not that it'll make Cody Ross feel better about it.
Follow David Schoenfield on Twitter @dschoenfield.
Will the Boston Red Sox win another game this season? This was one of the debates on Thursday’s Baseball Today podcast as I was joined by SweetSpot blogger/editor David Schoenfield. We also heard from producer Jay Soderberg and the awesome bias cat!

1. The Red Sox are struggling, but didn’t this happen last year as well? Dave and I preach patience.

2. Former Boston star Johnny Damon is back in the news, and he might have found a new home. Is it a good fit?

3. Josh Johnson and Tim Lincecum each struggled on Wednesday, but which ace worries us more?

4. Speaking of aces, Jamie Moyer is on the mound Thursday against a foe that wasn’t born when Jamie made his big league debut. I love stats like that. What are realistic expectations for Moyer?

5. Our emailers need answers about Ruben Tejada, Joe Nathan and why an RBI groundout can hurt a player’s batting average.

So download and listen to Thursday’s memorable Baseball Today podcast, because this Schoenfield kid and me, we’ve got synergy.
I can't wait for the season to get going. You can't wait. Last October was the best we've had in years, and the offseason only fueled our baseball fever. Spring training is mercifully over. Let the games begin. Here are 100 reasons I'm pumped for the next seven months.

1. Albert Pujols in Anaheim. They call him The Machine, but Pujols had a few rusty bolts in 2011. He hit under .300 for the first time, his walk rate was down, and his extra-base-hit percentage was down. After a slow start through May (.267, nine home runs), he did hit much better after returning from his fractured forearm. He moves to a tougher division and will have to face the Rangers, A's and Mariners 19 times each -- with cavernous parks in Oakland and Seattle -- rather than the Cubs, Pirates and Astros. The pressure is on. The spotlight is bright. But machines are immune to all that, right?

2. Jim Thome's pursuit of a World Series title. He'll turn 42 in August and will play some first base until Ryan Howard returns. That's a pretty good story in itself (he hasn't played on the field since appearing in one game at first in 2008), but he's played in nine postseasons and reached two World Series without winning it all.

[+] EnlargeJamie Moyer
AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezAge is just a number for Jamie Moyer.
3. Jamie Moyer is back in the majors at age 49 and can surpass Jack Quinn as the oldest pitcher to win a game. Moyer's arsenal these days: an 80 mph fastball, a 70 mph changeup, a 65 mph curveball, a 55 mph slowball, a 20 mph Bugs Bunny ball and an 8 mph retirement community ball that bends time.

4. Justin Verlander's encore performance. Verlander threw 3,941 pitches in the regular season, the most since Livan Hernandez's 4,007 in 2005. Verlander added 360 more in the postseason. It's not necessarily a big deal -- Verlander's 2009 total is the third-highest since 2005 -- but you do wonder whether Jim Leyland will back off a little.

5. Roy Halladay's paintbrush.

6. Yu Darvish.

7. Yu Darvish's hair. Straight from Supercuts.

8. Adam Wainwright's return to the Cardinals' rotation. He was third in the 2009 NL Cy Young vote and second in 2010. He looked good this spring, pitching 18 2/3 innings and allowing just 11 hits. The strikeout rate wasn't great -- just nine K's -- but signs are positive a year after Tommy John surgery.

9. A full season of Stephen Strasburg, who was electric in his own return in September from TJ surgery in September 2010 -- his fastball averaged 95.8 mph, below the 97.3 he averaged in 2010 but still with enough velocity that it would have ranked No. 1 among starting pitchers. The big question for his season: How much the Nationals will limit his innings?

10. Jose Canseco's tweets.

11. Clayton Kershaw's slider. His fastball isn't too shabby, either. By the way, here's what Kershaw does in the offseason to stay in shape and get ready for the season.

12. Verlander, Halladay, Kershaw: three of the amazing generation of pitchers we get to enjoy. Maybe Darvish and Strasburg will join them. In 2011, 14 pitchers pitched at least 200 innings with an ERA of 3.00 or less. The last time we had even 10 such pitchers in one season was 1997, with 11. The last season with more than 14 was 1992, with 20. Yes, steroids are a small part of that. A small part. The best pitchers today are throwing harder and with meaner breaking stuff than we've ever seen. Guys like Kershaw and Halladay are relentless in their workout routines. It's not a lot of fun to be a hitter these days.

13. Well, Jose Bautista has a lot of fun.

14. A new generation of young hitters like Giancarlo Stanton, Eric Hosmer, Brett Lawrie, Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Starlin Castro and Jesus Montero. All will play their age-22 seasons in 2012.

15. Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez.

16. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.

[+] EnlargePrince Fielder
Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty ImagesPrince Fielder adds even more punch to the Detroit Tigers' lineup.
17. Will Cabrera win his first MVP award? He's finished fifth in the voting three times, fourth once and second once. Two things that could prevent him from winning:

A. Austin Jackson's on-base percentage. Cabrera hit .388 with runners in scoring position in 2011 but drove in "just" 105 runs.
B. Fielder. Batting behind Cabrera and his .400-plus OBP will give Fielder more RBI opportunities. If he ends up driving in 15 to 20 more runs than Cabrera, they could split votes.

Five other all-time greats who have never won an MVP award: Derek Jeter, Eddie Murray, Mike Piazza, Al Kaline, Manny Ramirez.

18. Cabrera playing third base. With Fielder at first base, the Tigers could have the worst first baseman and worst third baseman in baseball. (And, please, don't defend Fielder's defensive prowess at first base. He's better than Adam Dunn, I suppose ... but Dunn is a DH.)

19. Defensive runs saved!

Your leaders by position in 2011:

C -- Matt Wieters
1B -- Adrian Gonzalez
2B -- Ben Zobrist
3B -- Evan Longoria
SS -- Brendan Ryan
LF -- Brett Gardner
CF -- Austin Jackson
RF -- Jason Heyward

20. The Sandman.

21. The fans in Milwaukee. The Brewers drew a franchise-record 3.071 million fans in 2011. Depressed over losing Fielder? Hardly. They'll surpass that in 2012.

(Read full post)

Ah, April is here! Mark Simon and I tried to harness our joy for the season’s first official month in Monday’s Baseball Today podcast, discussing Power Rankings, ridiculous questions (and ridiculous on-field maneuvers) as well!

1. Let’s just say we’ve got different teams in our respective top 10s, and in a different order. The differences (Rangers versus Angels, where the Red Sox, Tigers and Phillies rank) are interesting.

2. Ubaldo Jimenez did a bad thing Sunday, but will it actually hurt the Indians? And does anyone look good from the beaning incident?

3. Congrats to Jamie Moyer for making the Rockies! Mark shares tweets about other professorial baseball players.

4. In search of some off-the-wall baseball season predictions, Mark involves Tim Tebow, Martin Brodeur and the MLS.

5. It wouldn’t be a Simon show without some ridiculous questions of the day and a little singing, and we’ve got it today!

So download and listen to Monday’s excellent Baseball Today podcast. It’ll make you laugh and cry.

2012 predictions you couldn't predict?

February, 18, 2012
2/18/12
11:00
AM ET
Last year, You Can't Predict Baseball came up with bold predictions for the year. We had a lot of fun coming up with them, and then laughing at how hilariously wrong they were at the end of the year. This year, we're bringing these predictions to SweetSpot, along with explanations for some of them. Keep in mind, these predictions are supposed to be bold, but not insane -- even we know the Orioles aren't going to the playoffs in 2012.

Los Angeles Angels: Kendrys Morales stays healthy all year.

Houston Astros: Bud Norris is top five in K/9 in the NL. We figured something good had to happen to the Astros, right? Norris actually has a pretty nice career K/9.

Oakland Athletics: Yoenis Cespedes is their starting center fielder by Memorial Day.

Toronto Blue Jays: Brandon Morrow makes the jump to elite starting pitcher. He's struck out more than 10 batters per 9 innings two years running, though his ERAs have remained ugly. We think this is the year his results finally match the stuff, especially considering his declining walk rate.

Atlanta Braves: Julio Teheran has more wins than Tim Hudson.

[+] EnlargeRickie Weeks
AP Photo/David J. PhillipWith Prince Fielder gone to Detroit and Ryan Braun facing possible disciplinary action, Rickie Weeks could lead the Milwaukee Brewers in home runs in 2012.
Milwaukee Brewers: Rickie Weeks leads the team in home runs. He was fourth on the team last year, with 20. In front of him were Corey Hart with 26, Ryan Braun with 33, and Prince Fielder with 38. Fielder is gone, and for this prediction we'll assume Braun will miss a third of the year due to a suspension. It's not too bold to think Weeks could pass Hart in 2012.

St. Louis Cardinals: Carlos Beltran outproduces Albert Pujols from last year. Albert Pujols was great last year, but not quite best-player-of-his-generation Albert Pujols. If healthy, it's not absurd to think of Beltran outproducing Pujols' 5.1 WAR in 2011.

Chicago Cubs: Matt Garza isn't their best pitcher. It'll be Ryan Dempster, who had great peripherals but bad results last year.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Aaron Hill will be good again. He was great with them in limited time, and Arizona's park is quite hitter-friendly.

Los Angeles Dodgers: James Loney will be a top-three first baseman in the National League. Many thanks to Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness for somewhat alerting us to this one. We just decided to take it semi-absurdly far.

San Francisco Giants: Madison Bumgarner is their best pitcher. In terms of ERA, he already wasn't very far behind Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, and his K/BB ratio eclipsed theirs by quite a bit.

Cleveland Indians: They'll have the best pitching in the American League Central. We're banking on Ubaldo Jimenez, making a major comeback to something closer to what he was in 2010, and the rest of the staff displaying the good that they did in 2011. We're also counting on the Tigers' starters not being very impressive behind Justin Verlander, which is bold but not quite insane, and the pitching of the White Sox, Twins and Royals not being able to keep up with Cleveland's.

Seattle Mariners: Jesus Montero catches 100-plus games. The Mariners probably aren't going to compete, so why not try and play him where he'll accrue the most value?

Miami Marlins: Despite all their new acquisitions and the hype, they still finish fourth in the NL East. When you think about it, this one isn't so crazy. If Josh Johnson isn't healthy and maybe even if he is their pitching still trails that of Philadelphia, Washington, and Atlanta; even with Heath Bell, we don't think their bullpen is as good, either. Their offense might be better than some of those teams', but the Marlins were quite a bit below league average offensively last year and we're not sure how much Jose Reyes is going to make up for that.

New York Mets: Mike Pelfrey is the worst starter in the NL. Pelfrey's been pretty terrible two of the past three years, and now they're moving the fences in at Citi Field. He was far better in his huge home stadium, but we're guessing with the moved-in walls he'll be significantly worse at Citi. Here at YCPB, we actually don't think the Mets are going to be quite as dire as many are saying, even if they do come in last place in the NL East - but Pelfrey won't be a bright spot.

Washington Nationals: Stephen Strasburg has a 17-strikeout game.

Baltimore Orioles: Matt Wieters is the best catcher in the AL. A lot of people are so obsessed with Wieters not matching the hype that they didn't notice he became a plus offensive performer last year, to go along with very good defense. His taking the next step isn't that bold as predictions go, especially if Joe Mauer has to move off catcher.

San Diego Padres: Luke Gregerson is a top-three closer in the NL.

Philadelphia Phillies: Cole Hamels is their best starter. And this isn't meant to be a slight to Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee, but considering their ages and the fact that Hamels is pretty darn good himself, plus a possible boost from a contract year...

Pittsburgh Pirates: Charlie Morton is their All-Star.

Texas Rangers: Yu Darvish isn't their best starter -- but he's still good. And we think he'll be pretty good, we just think Derek Holland will become more consistently good, or Matt Harrison will put up numbers like his 2011.

Tampa Bay Rays: James Shields will have no complete games. Predicting someone to have no complete games might not seem bold, but it is when it's a guy who was known as "Complete Game James" last season. Shields did have 11 complete games in 2011, an almost unheard-of number these days, but he had no complete games in 2009 or 2010.

[+] EnlargeJames Shields
Kim Klement/US PresswireAfter none in either 2009 or 10, James Shields pitched 11 complete games for Tampa Bay in 2011.
Boston Red Sox: No one hits 30 home runs. This might seem crazy when you consider their great offensive numbers last year, but only one player on their team hit 30 home runs and it was Jacoby Ellsbury with 32.

Cincinnati Reds: Brandon Phillips is the best second baseman in the NL.

Colorado Rockies: Jamie Moyer will have the best HR/9 on the staff.

Kansas City Royals: They reach .500. While their pitching won't be great, their offense will take a big step forward this year. Combined with the rest of their division being the Tigers and some dumpster fires, it's not that difficult to see it happening.

Detroit Tigers: They score fewer runs than they did in 2011. Yes, that’s even with Fielder. It's not improbable that Jhonny Peralta, Alex Avila and Delmon Young regress quite a bit from their numbers with Detroit last year, and that Prince Fielder's production "only" makes up for the offensive loss of Victor Martinez in 2012. They'll still have a very good offense, though.

Minnesota Twins: Joe Mauer hits 15 home runs.

Chicago White Sox: Robin Ventura gets ejected more times than Ozzie Guillen. Look at the state of the White Sox. We'd get ejected too.

New York Yankees: Hiroki Kuroda leads the team in ERA.

You Can't Predict Baseball is an affiliate of the SweetSpot network.

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