Minor Leaguer Suspended 100 Games; Two New Centerfielders Remind Me of Former Cubs

Jeremy Jeffress, Milwaukee’s first round draft choice in 2006, will serve a 100 day suspension following a third failed drug test. In a previous suspension, Jeffress admitted a weakness for marijuana. Jeffress is regularly listed on the top prospects lists, especially after fanning 102 batters in 79.1 innings at Brevard in the Florida State League. He’s been wild in a stint with Huntsville in AA – and apparently we know why. 

Mike Lowell’s treatment for an aching hip includes having fluid drained and an injection to help relieve inflammation. Boston MAY place him on the DL, but the team is waiting to see if the treatment helps any. This is the same hip on which Lowell had surgery last October. 

The Los Angeles Angels are back in first place, seem to be on a good roll, and now are getting pitchers back on the mound. Ervin Santana may be next, as he continues to pitch in the bullpen and in rehab outings. With good fortune, Santana could be back for the weekend.

Meanwhile, Oakland falls to the cellar in the AL West, and this next bit of news won’t help any.  Rookie Josh Outman isn’t going on the 15-day DL, it’s the 60-day version. He’s scheduled for surgery on his injured throwing elbow. Outman has been solid this season and represents a big loss to the A’s rotation.

Mets centerfielder Carlos Beltran is looking for a second opinion on his ailing knee. Options may include microfracture knee surgery.

Khalil Greene returns to the DL to treat an anxiety disorder. Mark DeRosa just took his job, Greene wasn’t hitting (1 for 17 with five strikeouts at one point), making errors at his new position (he’s a shortstop playing third base), and his season batting average meets the Mendoza line. I’d feel stress, too.

The Chicago Cubs placed Aaron Miles on the DL with a hyperextended elbow, and recalled centerfielder Sam Fuld. Based on his AAA numbers, I wouldn’t think that Fuld is a threat to stay with the team full time. He’s not bad – contact hitter, draws some walks, but no power. While he has good speed, he’s not stealing 60 bases for you – though he doesn’t get caught often. His stats look like those of former Cub Bobby Dernier. In his best season, he might help you out – but he’s already 27 and you’d think if he were going to contribute, the Stanford grad would have gotten here by now.

Looking for a little offensive spark, the Texas Rangers called up centerfielder Julio Borbon from AAA Oklahoma City. Borbon is a burner – 53 steals between A+ and AA in 2008, and already 19 steals in AAA this year. He was a late first round pick in 2007 out of Tennessee. He looks like the next Juan Pierre or Henry Cotto (if you remember that far back). Doesn’t strikeout much, makes a lot of contact, and maintains a decent batting average – but isn’t going to slug his way out of a paper bag. 

Joe Posnanski and Bill James have an interesting discussion about the age 33 and what it means to hitters. This is the kind of stuff you need to think about when making fantasy draft picks.

Mets Lose Beltran to DL; Fehr to Retire Next Spring

Well, the knee of New York Mets centerfielder Carlos Beltran is bad enough to require a DL stint. Bruising beneath the knee cap is getting worse and requires some rest. The Mets, already down a leg in the horse race, is in serious need of some good news.

Coming up from AAA is the Mets top prospect (according to Baseball America), Fernando Martinez. Martinez is one of those tools guys who could be pretty good one day. Just 20, this is Martinez’s second trip to Citi Field in 2009 and he’s there because he’s at least better defensively than Jeremy Reed. At Buffalo, Martinez has shown signs that he may have breakout power, but he’s not a threat to steal a lot of bases and he’s not going to work the count for walks. Still, someone who is 20 and nearly MLB ready is going to be treated like a top prospect – so enjoy the larger meal allowance. I’m not adding him to my fantasy team until at least 2012 unless he takes it up a notch. To me, he looks like Corey Patterson until he proves otherwise.

Ervin Santana felt pain in his triceps when working his bullpen session, so the Angels put Santana back on the DL and recalled Sean O’Sullivan to make the next start when Santana was scheduled to pitch. Sullivan won his major league debut, and has been successful despite pitching in the offensively paced Pacific Coast League. Baseball America sees O’Sullivan as the Angel’s 5th best prospect, mostly because he has good control and doesn’t give up too many long balls. I’d like to see a better strikeout pitch, but his stuff could work in the majors.

Maybe it’s me, but I like seeing the signings on the MLB Transaction page and looking at the small hamlets where summer rookie leagues are. Many newly signed Milwaukee Brewers draftees are heading to the Helena Brewers, while others head to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Cleveland) or the Batavia Muckdogs (St. Louis), the Missoula Osprey (Arizona), the Princeton Devil Rays (Tampa, of course), or the Idaho Falls Chukars (Kansas City). My favorite is in Wyoming, home of the Casper Ghosts (Colorado).

After 25 years as executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, Donald Fehr is stepping down. MLB’s site has a variety of different articles covering various opinions, and your favorite sports sites will be contributing dozens of essays as well. My quick take on it is that he’s been consistent and extraordinarily focused on protecting the players – which is his job. Nobody does his or her job as well as Fehr. And, because he’s so good at his job, and because his organization is so focused and protective, it makes it harder to adapt to other issues. If you judge him by how well the union has remained stable and the amount players have gained in things like income and control of their careers, then he’s been a complete success. If you judge him by “good of the game” issues, he cannot possibly look as good. That wasn’t his job.

I watched a good chunk of Game Seven of the 1965 World Series on the MLB network.  I never got to see Sandy Koufax (he retired just after I was born) and that was cool.  I will say this – the strike zone sure was a lot bigger then, and the batters knew it.  Umpires sure looked less comfortable in those suits.  And there was far less commercialism in the stadiums…  Where were the Manatees?  (A bunch of chubby guys in South Florida who dance between innings at Marlins games…)

Volquez Leaves Early and Everybody Strains a Groin

That didn’t last long…  Edinson Volquez makes his return for the Reds and lasts one inning – leaving with numbness in his pinky and ring fingers of his throwing hand.  An evaluation is forthcoming.

When is nothing a news article?  When a Houston Chronicle writer blogs about the Chicago White Sox showing interest in Roy Oswalt – and then White Sox GM Ken Williams denies that rumor publicly.

The New York Yankees topped Cleveland, setting a new errorless string in the process at 18 games.  A team will make an error at a rate of about five errors every eight games – give or take.  Consider it a coin flip – so to have won that coin flip 18 straight times is pretty remarkable.  It’s also contributed to winning because unnecessary runs don’t show up on the scoreboard.

Ichiro tied his own Mariners record by hitting in his 25th straight game.  MLB.com listed the Mariners who cleared 20 games, and it’s pretty much Ichiro – a lot – with an odd Joey Cora or Richie Zisk tossed in for good measure.

The Cleveland Indians are sharing the injury bug as well as any team.  Rafael Betancourt has been placed on the DL with a strained groin (hope it’s his own), making it eight players on the DL right now.  (Victor Martinez was able to play tonight – so they got lucky there…)  Coming back is Tony Sipp.  Sipp was hurt a couple of years ago, but has those dominating strikeout numbers that makes you hope that he’ll bring the good stuff to the majors – like nearly 12Ks per nine in the minors.  He was crazy wild, though, in his first stint, so let’s hope he leaves that wildness back in Columbus (AAA).

Strained groins are the injury of choice.  The Mets placed Angel Pagan, who was called up because of injuries to every other Mets outfielder (kidding, sort of), on the 15-day disabled list with a strained groin.

I was watching the Marlins game when two Brewers outfielders left with potential injuries – Mike Cameron and Ryan Braun.  I’m guessing both are day-to-day.  By the way, as a Marlins fan, it was nice seeing Jorge Julio blow a lead for someone else this time…

On the Mend?  Houston’s Jose Valverde threw from a mound for the first time since going to the DL with a calf injury.  The fading Astros need Valverde back as soon as possible.  And, Seattle’s Kenji Johjima says his toe injury is way better than originally feared.  Ervin Santana heads to Salt Lake City for a rehab stint and the Angels are two weeks away from a healthy and solid rotation (one prays).

Anibal Sanchez is going to come off the DL and start for the Marlins on Tuesday.  His rehab start in Jupiter went well and Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez hopes to get five good innings out of him.

And, Hiroki Kuroda, who hasn’t started since opening day, came off the DL to start for Los Angeles Monday night.  His return was well timed – the guy who replaced him, Eric Stults, just went to the DL himself.  Kuroda pitched well, but his Dodgers failed to win.

Not on the Mend?  The Yankees got some bad news today – both Xavier Nady’s and Jose Molina’s rehab efforts were curtailed with those nasty twinges…  In Molina’s case, he was catching when his injured quad acted up.  For Nady, it was an elbow that balked at throwing.

Justin Duchscherer’s elbow may be ready, but we’ll never know because he’s got a bad back.

Welcome to the show, Steven Jackson – the Pirates’ choice to replace Donald Veal.  Jackson was a 10th round pick of Arizona in 2004 out of Clemson and has hung around AAA for a few years now.  He has decent control, but not a great strikeout pitch.  Sent to the Yankees in the Randy Johnson deal, he started to show progress in 2008, but didn’t get a shot.  Eventually released, the Pirates grabbed him off the waiver wire a few weeks ago and he’s been okay.  Not a prospect, but he MIGHT eat a few innings for Pittsburgh.

If you are interested in reading more about Barry Bonds and how the Feds are going to appeal decisions that would disallow various testimony in the Bonds perjury trial, click here.