San Diego Skipper Believes in Volquez
Unable to go out and jump into the free agency the San Diego Padre had to get creative during the past offseason.
The Padres raided Cincinnati's farm system by trading away Mat Latos, who as a rookie in 2010 won 14 games and finished with a 2.90 ERA and in return got an All-Star caliber starting pitcher in Edinson Volquez along with first baseman Yonder Alonso and two prospects that will be an important part of their future in catcher Yasmani Grandal and pitcher Brad Boxberger. All were drafted in the first round by the Reds.
San Diego manager Bud Black sees a lot of promise in Cueto, who made the NL All-Star team in 2008 but underwent Tommy John surgery the following season. He went 5-7 last year and spent time in the minors trying to iron things out.
“We liked the arm when we acquired him. He's done great work with our pitching coach. He is a guy that you look at the internal numbers, they're great,” manager Bud Black said Saturday night after Volquez's start, the righty's second straight win.
Volquez is 2-2 with 24 walks and 43 strikeouts in eight starts. The Padres have won his last four starts but didn't provide much support in the hitting department as he lost his first four starts of the season.
“The walk is maybe a touch high if you really want to pick on something. But this guy has got a good arm. This guy's been a major league quality pitcher,” said Black. “We just want to keep him as consistent as possible over the course of the season and I think at the end of the year you'll look and say this guy had a hell of a year.”
Robinson Cano Confident in Relievers While Mariano is Out
The Yankees have fared well in Mariano Rivera's absence ever since he tore his ACL on May 3. Lets face it, the Yanks are the Yanks and could have just gone out and bought their way out of this hole but instead they went with what they have which isn't too shabby.
Yankees All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano said both David Robertson and Rafael Soriano have held down the fort with Rivera, considered one of the greatest to ever close, out for the season.
“We all know he's someone you can't replace. We have to ask God that the relievers keep pitching the way they've been doing so but not demand that they do the job Mariano did. We just need them to do a good job,” Cano told Fox News Latino this weekend.
Robertson, given the closer's duties by Yankees manager Joe Girardi, has one save in his four appearances since Rivera went out. He had a rough outing last Wednesday when he imploded against Tampa, allowing three hits and four runs, including a three-run shot to blow the save but bounced back two days later to pitch 2/3 of a scoreless inning.
The obvious choice would have been Soriano to close out. Instead he's the main eighth inning guy despite saving 45 games in 2010 as an All-Star with Tampa. In five outings since Rivera's injury, he's picked up two holds and also notched a save last Thursday night while Robertson got a night's rest.
Amazing Meltdown in Miami
The New York Mets have been one of baseball's pleasant surprises in the first five weeks of the young season but they should be worried about their closer's inability to preserve leads and finish games as of late.
The Mets revamped their bullpen during the offseason after trading away closer Francisco Rodriguez last summer in a cost cutting move and didn't go after Philadelphia's Jonathan Papelbon who was a free agent but would have commanded a lot of money.
So they added Ramon Ramirez via a trade and signed free agents Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco, who has held the closer's job.
But while Francisco has saved eight games he also blown two, one of them Friday night after the Mets rallied to take the lead. Unhappy with a call on a pitch by the home plate umpire, he lost his cool Sunday afternoon in Miami and was ejected after he had been lifted for another reliever and already out of the game.
He's given up 14 runs in 13 2/3 innings of work in the 15 appearances he's made this year. His 8.56 ERA and 1.98 are alarming and could lead to an eventual replacement unless manager Terry Collins has a chance of heart.
His replacements are that much better although they could always turn to Bobby Parnell who possesses a blazing fastball but has failed to seize the late inning gig in the past due to his ineffectiveness. They could also turn to Rauch who has closed in the past or Ramirez.
At this point their options are limited at best and they could just end up riding the hot hand unless management makes a move for a closer, if they are still in contention in July and only if ownership wants to spend to do so.
King Felix, Jesus Montero Share Optimism on Mariners' Chances
Winning in the American League West won be that easy for the Seattle Mariners when dealing with the Texas Rangers and the slumping Los Angeles Angels, who are no were near as bad as their record indicates. Even the Oakland Athletics can get into the mix in the division.
But when you look at the Mariners, do they really have a chance to stay in competition and go toe-to-toe with the Rangers and Angels. Seattle is 16-20, good for third place in the division, just a half-game ahead of the last place Angels.
Mariners ace Felix Hernandez maintains all the confidence in the world that the team can be successful with the way Texas and Los Angeles are built and he's not alone.
“Nothing is impossible,” King Felix told Fox News Latino while the Mariners visited the New York Yankees for a three-game set this past weekend. “Everything could happen here. In reality if we keep playing the type of baseball we've been playing, we'll be OK.”
Jesus Montero was acquired from the Yankees for front line starter Michael Pineda who is out for the year and brings a power bat the Seattle lineup has desperately lacked in the past. He says it's going to be hard to keep up with the Angels and Rangers but he feels that the team is battling out there to win as many games as they can and hang around.
“It's a bit difficult. Yes it's is true but we feel comfortable. We're young and we're playing the game hard. We're going out there every day to fight and try to win every game,” Montero told Fox News Latino. “Everyday we're trying to do the best we can to win. We're young but we're doing our best out there.”
Business As Usual For Giants in Brian Wilson's Absence
When you lose a closer of Brian Wilson's stature or Mariano Rivera, having guys around in the bullpen that are capable of stepping forward to do the job lessens the blow to a certain extent.
So with the Giants bearded All-Star closer out for the season since April after undergoing Tommy Johnson surgery, the team didn't look too far, tabbing Santiago Casilla as their closer.
Set up man Sergio Romo admitted to Fox News Latino that although it's hard not having their regular closer on an everyday basis, the human element of his daily interaction with the guys in the clubhouse has been deeply missed.
“Without Brian Wilson things have appeared more difficult but this team is well built in the bullpen to stay strong, to go forward without Wilson but his injury hurt us because of his personality, the teammate he is, the type of person he is and also what he can do out on the mound, there's no one that can do it the same way like him,” Romo said.
Romo maintained that everyone has confidence in each other's ability. He pointed out Casilla's ability to make pitches and the attitude needed to close games, having done that in the past during winter ball.
“When he comes in we all know what time it is,” Romo said.
Casilla has been stellar as the team's current ninth inning man, converting seven of eight saves since Wilson's injury.
“We feel good. He's shown some confidence in me and all I have to do is work hard. I just have to try to do the job when the opportunity is given to me,” Casilla told Fox News Latino.
Adry Torres, who has covered MLB, NFL, NBA and NCAA basketball games and related events, is a regular contributor to Fox News Latino. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @adrytorresnyc