MLB Trades and News Featured in Podcast #17

Sports Microscope PodcastThere have been a flurry of MLB trades in the last few days as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches. One of the biggest saw the Colorado Rockies trade Troy Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays for Jose Reyes and a couple of prospects. In Podcast #17, host Gene Gumbs tells you why this was a poor trade for the Rockies and a bad sign for the future of the franchise.

The Kansas City Royals, New York Mets and Anaheim Angels have been very busy as well. Jonathan Papelbon finally got his wish and was shipped out of Philadelphia, but Cole Hamels is still waiting to find out where he’ll land.

Your host also laments the embarrassing effort the Boston Red Sox have put out the last few days. There is real worry in Red Sox Nation that this season could go from bad to ludicrous. Is it time to bring up all the young pitchers and send Joe Kelly, Justin Masterson, Rick Porcello and Wade Miley to the sin bin?

Also in MLB trade deadline episode:

  • The Minnesota Twins need to make a move
  • Are the San Francisco Giants the best team in the NL?
  • A-Rod’s performance this year shows he never needed PEDs
  • Did the Mets do enough?
  • KC moves put them at the head of the class
  • My pick for team of the week

You can listen to the latest episode here or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Enjoy and thanks for listening!

Shane Victorino to Angels – Does This Mean Sox are Sellers?

Red Sox logoShane Victorino was traded to the Anaheim Angels this afternoon, in exchange for infielder Josh Rutledge. This begs the question if the Red Sox have officially thrown in the towel and will start moving some other pieces, or if this move is just to thin out the logjam in the outfield.

There has been talk that teams are interested in Mike Napoli, whose bat has started to come alive lately, and several teams looking for bullpen help might be interested in Koji Uehara.

Rusney Castillo was called up from Pawtucket and is in the lineup tonight, and after shelling out $72 million to sign him, Boston has to find out what they have. They also have to decide what they are going to do with Jackie Bradley, Jr., Daniel Nava is ready to come back to Boston as well, and they still have Allen Craig. So there’s no doubt the Sox have too many outfielders.

I personally sad to see Victorino go. Injuries aside, he plays the game the right way and has a good time doing it. He’s a class act and will be missed in that clubhouse. It doesn’t hurt that he’s hit over .300 in his last twenty games.

In the meantime, the Cole Hamels watch continues. I still would like to see him, and his relatively budget-friendly salary for the next three years, in a Sox uniform.

David Ortiz Needs to Check Himself

Boston-Red-Sox-LogoDavid Ortiz was booed at Fenway Park today – and rightly so. In the sixth inning, Ortiz grounded back to pitcher Alfredo Simon, who badly booted the ball. Instead of hustling out of the box, Ortiz jogged (and I use that term loosely) down to first. Despite misplaying the ball, Simon had plenty of time to recover and throw Ortiz out. Now, I’m not say Ortiz would have definitely been safe, but it would have been a close play if he had shown a little hustle.

That lack of effort actually prompted Ian Kinsler to let a popup in shallow right drop in the ninth inning with a runner on first. Had Ortiz not “sprinted” down to first place on that play, the Tigers could have had a double play. Good for Kinsler. Not good, Big Papi, when one of your opponents shows you up like that.

For a guy who is supposed to be the heart and soul of this team, David Ortiz needs to set a better example and show his teammates and the fans that he plays the game the right way. He has one job as a designated hitter – swing the bat and run the bases.

With his stature on the team, he should be the one making sure everyone hustles and continues to do their jobs. Unfortunately, running out every ground ball does not seem to be part of his skill set. This is not the first time something like this has happened with him.

The last thing this under performing team needs is a return to the fried chicken and beer days of Terry Francona‘s last season in Boston. He needs to step up and be the leader everyone thinks he is.

Hamels raises the stakes

On another note, Cole Hamels have Ruben Amaro a birthday present today (and it might not even be his birthday). Hamels tossed a no-hitter against the Cubs, sending his stock as trade bait back through the roof. There were some questions lately about his inconsistent performances, and the fact the Phillies had waited so long to move him.

Problem solved.

Houston Astros Draw First Blood in Trade Deadline Duels

houston Astros logoThe Houston Astros have shown they mean business in 2015, making the first major acquisition prior to the trading deadline, when they acquired Scott Kazmir from the Oakland Athletics for a pair of prospects.

Kazmir has been outstanding this season, pitching to a 2.38 ERA this season. He is record is 5-5, but that speaks more the anemic A’s lineup more than his pitching. Kazmir joins a rotation anchored by Dallas Keuchel, Colin McHugh, and rookie Lance McCullers. With nine games left against the Angels this year, Kazmir may be the difference between winning the division and being a wild card.

With the way the Anaheim (yes, Anaheim) Angels have played of late, winning seven straight and eight of the last ten, the Astros had to do something. What surprises me is that they didn’t make a move to improve the offense. Granted, they do have George Springer and Jed Lowrie coming back from injuries in the next couple of weeks. Perhaps general manager Jeff Luhnow thinks that’s enough, but carrying bats like Luis Valbuena (.203) and Chris Carter (.190) is tough.

Kazmir is a free agent at the end of the season, so he may be a three-month rental, but he is a Houston native, so perhaps that will give the Astros a chance to re-sign him – especially if they make a strong post-season run.

Did You Know A Woman Played in the Negro Leagues?

Indianapolis Clowns logoI’ve been following baseball for most of my 55 years and love researching and talking about the “old days.” An outstanding piece in The Baseball Attic blog details the career of Toni Stone, a woman who played in the Negro Leagues with the Indianapolis Clowns and Kansas City Monarchs in the 1950s. In fact, she is one of three women to play in the Negro Leagues.

Have to admit I’d never heard of her. It’s definitely worth a read! Check it out here.

Ben Cherington May be the Biggest Red Sox Problem

Red Sox logoAs the 2015 Red Sox season continues to descend into the abyss and the frustration of the fans increases, I think it’s fair to ask if ownership should take a good, long look at whether general manager Ben Cherington should continue being the one making the decisions for the franchise. Look, every GM is allowed a mistake or two, but Cherington and company continue to make them at an alarming rate.

To be fair, Cherington has done some good things, including:

I haven’t found many others, to be honest. And before you give Ben Cherington credit for the well-stocked minor league system and great young players, realize that the majority of these guys were drafted or signed during Theo Epstein’s tenure that ended after the 2011 season. This includes:

Now let’s look at some of the missteps that have led to two straight embarrassing campaigns:

Get the theme from above? You can blame David Ortiz and Mike Napoli for their sub-par seasons if you want, but if you look at the list above you’ll see that a lot of the problems with this team are because of Cherington’s decisions. Building a starting rotation of guys who let the population of third world countries get on base, and throwing money at guys on the free agent/international market just for the sake of making a splash does not work.

To his credit, Cherington has stepped up and taken responsibility, but it may be time for ownership to actually hold him accountable. Cherington certainly did that with Juan Nieves when he fired the pitching coach for not magically transforming the mediocre talent he handed him.

There’s no doubt that player performance is a big part of the problem this season – and Cherington can’t change that – but the Red Sox general manager seems to be getting a little bit of a pass. I hear far more writers/pundits being critical of John Farrell and the players rather than the architect who designed the sinking ship.

MLB Trade Deadline Focus of Podcast 16

Sports Microscope PodcastThe MLB trade deadline is only ten days away and as teams jockey for post-season position, general managers need to decide if they’ll be buyers, sellers, or stand pat. Podcast #16 breaks down some of the big names on the block, and which teams might be interested.

Will Cole Hamels finally be traded, or did Ruben Amaro wait too long? Which team can afford the high-rent district of Johnny Cueto?

One thing is for certain, the Boston Red Sox season has flat-lined, and the carvers are putting the finishing touched on the headstone. Red Sox fans don’t have to look any further than Ben Cherington for blame. The general manager put together a sub-par pitching staff that has lived up their mediocre career statistics.

Also in MLB trade deadline episode:

  • Would the NY Mets dare trade a young pitcher to get a bat?
  • The impressive run by Zack Greinke
  • A big week for the Kansas City Royals
  • Albert Pujols hits #549, passing Mike Schmidt
  • Zach Johnson wins his second golfing major
  • My pick for team of the week

You can listen to the latest episode here or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices. Feel free to leave feedback and ideas for future episodes. Enjoy and thanks for listening!

Idiots and All-Stars Featured on Podcast #15

Sports Microscope PodcastThe Sports Microscope’s idiot meter has been pegging lately. We all know people who aren’t the sharpest tool in the shed, right? Well the sports world has its share (and maybe someone else’s too), and the papers and Internet have been filled with them the last couple of weeks. It goes to show you, idiots are everywhere!

A grumpy Podcast #15 looks at some things that just make you shake your head.

Supposedly mature athletes are potentially ruining their careers and earning potential by playing with fire(works), driving drunk, or doing other risky things. Others feel themselves entitled enough to pout and threaten to hold out if they don’t get a few “extra” million. A certain NASCAR driver feels they have the right to mouth off and challenge the icons of a sport without first earning the privilege. And an MLB reliever continues to show that athletes should be seen and not heard.

I can’t take it. Just behave like men (and women), shut up and play.

Also in this episode:

  • Highlights from the MLB All-Star Game
  • Jacob deGrom‘s All-Star moment
  • Remembering Ken Stabler
  • A look around baseball as the second half starts
  • Is it time for the Tigers to wave the white flag
  • My pick for team of the week

You can listen to the latest episode here or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices. Feel free to leave feedback and ideas for topics for further episodes. Enjoy!

MLB All-Star Game Talk Highlight of Podcast #14

Sports Microscope PodcastNow that the MLB All-Star Game actually means something, the composition of the roster becomes a little more important. While the fans have the say-so in the starting lineup, the players have a vote for some of the reserves and pitchers, and the respective managers get to round them out.

The American League roster is led six Royals and skippered by KC manager Ned Yost. The Cardinals placed five players on the NL roster, and manager Bruce Bochy made a couple of questionable choices and left off at least one huge name.

Also in this episode:

  • Talk about the US Women’s World Cup title
  • Why soccer will never surpass football’s popularity
  • Bryce Harper‘s decision not to participate in the Home Run Derby
  • Rick Porcello‘s do-or-die start on Wednesday for the Red Sox
  • Mike Scioscia‘s KO of former GM Jerry Dipoto
  • Is Justin Verlander‘s career on the wane?
  • My pick for team of the week

You can listen to the latest episode here or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices. Feel free to leave feedback and ideas for topics for further episodes. Enjoy!

Women’s World Cup Title Nice End to Holiday Weekend

uswnt logoPerhaps the only thing better than the US Women’s World Cup team beating Japan 5-2 in the final today, would have been if an own goal hadn’t sunk the English team and it could have been a Fourth of July rematch 239 years in the making.

Having said that, Carli Lloyd’s 15-minute hat trick was something to watch as the US blitzed the Japanese and made the rest of the game rather anti-climactic. What was even more amazing was watching her third sail in after being launched from just inside midfield. The stunned look on the face of Japanese goalie Ayumi Kahori told you all you needed to know.

Japan did try to make a game of it – helped by yet another own goal, this one from America’s Julie Johnston in the 52nd minute – but Tobin Heath quickly dispelled any thoughts of a Japanese miracle comeback with (as my fiancee put it) an F-you goal two minutes later on a pass from Morgan Brian. (Her words not mine, folks!)

While the first 15 minutes or so were exciting to watch, the majority of the rest of the match was simply a case of watching the Americans try not to make a glaring mistakes. With the exception of the own goal, mission accomplished.

One my other favorite things was the inclusion of Connecticut native and former USWNT coach Tony DiCicco on the broadcast team. In my mind, the best women’s national soccer coach ever in this country, he guided the US to an Olympic championship in 1996 and the 1999 women’s World Cup. DiCicco was professional in his commentary, though you could hear the pride in his voice that he had helped build the program. In fact, he made comment that he believed his 1999 team would be proud of what the 2015 team accomplished.

With the 2016 Olympic Summer Games coming up in Rio, perhaps head coach Jill Ellis can duplicate DiCicco’s accomplishment and bring home a gold medal and a World Cup title. Here’s hoping so.