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Halladay: A nuanced approach that all agree on

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 | Feedback | Print Entry

Mariano Rivera throws a cutter that veers into the hands of left-handed hitters, and BrandonWebb might throw the best two-seam fastball that moves the other way. But Roy Halladay is really the only pitcher in the majors whothrows cutters and two-seamers with dramatic movement in both directions, which is why opposing hitters are constantly chortling about Halladay on those rareoccasions when they find their way on base against him.

"It pretty much happens all the time," said Toronto second baseman Aaron Hill, laughing. "He'll break their bats with apitch, and they'll drop in a single, and when they get [to second base], they'll say, 'I'll take that every time. I'll take that againstHalladay.'"

Aubrey Huff of the Orioles once got a hit off Halladay, and later in the same game, Toronto catcher Rod Barajas reachedfirst base, the position played by Huff that night, and Huff started talking about his hit. "He said he didn't know whether he had gotten his hit offa cutter or a sinker," Barajas said. "He's the toughest guy in the majors to hit against, because you can't predict what he's going todo. If you're looking for the cutter, he can throw the sinker, and if you're looking for the sinker, he can throw the cutter -- and even if you do siton it and get it right, he has a lot of movement and you'll probably miss it."

But opposing hitters are not alone in struggling with Halladay on the mound. Barajas says umpires are sometimes fooled by Halladay's fastballs, becausethey will see the pitch on the way homeward, and internally, they'll determine that the pitch is a ball, and at the last instant, it'll cut or sinkinto the strike zone just as the umpire calls a ball. Barajas says umpires will sometimes acknowledge to him that they simply gave up on the pitch too early."I thought there was no chance that pitch could come back to the plate," one umpire said to Barajas recently.

"He's got so much late life on his pitches that it can be a problem," Barajas said.

Halladay will take his 6-1 record, with a 3.29 ERA, into the firstgame of Toronto's second season tonight, when the Blue Jays play their first game against the AL East trio of the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox. Tonight hestarts against New York's A.J. Burnett in Burnett's first start in Toronto since leaving the Jays.

Halladay has been the anchor of a patchwork rotation made up of younger guys, and Barajas believes the others have benefited from Halladay's example."What these guys are looking at is how hard this guy works, and how hard he competes," Barajas said. "This guy never gives up. He beatseverybody else to the field by an hour to two hours, and I think these young guys see that and learn from it. I've seen huge improvement with ScottRichmond. He's more prepared in his starts now, because he does the video work; he does the extra work that Doc does."

A rotation built on young pitchers would tend to have control issues, but so far, the likes of Brett Cecil and RickyRomero and others have limited their walks. "You couldn't ask for a better job than they've done," Hill said. "Those guys have come in andpounded the strike zone, and that's all you can ask for."

Help is on the way. Within the next month, the Jays should get back Romero, Casey Janssen and Jesse Litsch from thedisabled list.

It's May, but this upcoming series is a bigdeal, writes Bob Elliott. This is Opening Day Pt. II for the Jays, writes RichardGriffin. It's A.J. versus Doc, and let the fun begin, as Mark Zwolinski writes.

The Jays versus the Yankees is a big series, writes Jeff Blair. Bob Klapisch wonders if the Yankees will be up to the task in Toronto.


Ryan Zimmerman is absolutely killing the ball: He mashed a couple of homers among three hits and now has a 29-game hitting streak, as Chico Harlan writes.Dom DiMaggio reflected upon his own hitting streak in an interview with Alan Schwarz.

Eric Wedge says he's not focusing on his job status.

Something to keep in mind: After June 1, the Indians will have finished all of their regular-season games against the Red Sox, Rays and Yankees. The Indians are currently 6.5 games out of firstplace, which means they're a couple of good weeks of baseball away from being right near the lead pack. It's too early to panic.

And there are problems throughout the ALCentral, writes La Velle Neal, and he's exactly right.
[h3]Dings and dents[/h3]
1. Josh Hamilton is ready to come off the disabled list,writes Jeff Wilson.

2. Carlos Delgado is hurting, and might continueto hurt.

3. Joakim Soria is on the disabled list, and the Royals wonder whether pitching in the WBC is the source of his problem, as Sam Mellinger writes.

4. Lastings Milledge's tough year continued: While playing in the minors, he broke a finger.

5. Jake Westbrook is making progress in his rehab, throwing a simulatedgame; he's expected to join the rotation in mid-to-late June.

6. Joey Votto was back in the lineup, but was not prepared to joke.

7. Derrek Lee is feeling better andcould be back in the lineup.

8. Brian Bruney is making progress, writes George King.

9. Lance Berkman is likely to play in the Astros'upcoming series.

10. Tom Glavine is set to throw some simulated innings.

11. Chipper Jones ishoping to be back in the lineup quickly.
[h3]Moves, deals and decisions[/h3]
1. +#%# Monfort says that Clint Hurdle is not introuble, as Troy Renck writes.

2. Bobby Jenks' purpose pitch is going to be reviewed, in the aftermath of comments he made about it. Theguess here is that he'll get suspended for a couple of games, because his remarks that the pitch had intent really leaves Major League Baseball in aposition where it has no choice but to discipline him.

3. MLB is also reviewing the Ryan Braun-Ryan Dempster at-bat from the other day, and the Cubs say they'll put up a fight if Dempster isdisciplined.

4. Luke Hochevar will return to the K.C. rotation tonight,as Bob Dutton writes.

5. Jose Contreras cleared waivers and is headed to the minors, at his request, writes Mark Gonzales.

6. Adam Dunn says he would have been open to negotiating with the Giants, as John Shea writes.
[h3]Monday's games[/h3]
1. The Indians seemed to focus on hitting the ball up the middle, and they pounded out awin over the White Sox, as Sheldon Ocker writes.

2. Willy Taveras led an offensive explosion over the Diamondbacks, as Hal McCoy writes.

3. Kyle Kendrick got pounded in the minor leagues.

4. Daniel Cabrera had a disastrous start and didn't handle it very well, as you'll learn after reading this Mark Zuckerman story.

5. Gavin Floyd struggled again, but Ozzie Guillen said he will stick with the right-hander, as Joe Cowley writes. Given theother problems in the White Sox rotation right now, what choice does he really have?

6. Johan Santana pitched superbly, but the Mets' bullpen let him down. Watching this game, there was acrucial sequence in which Mets manager Jerry Manuel decided to leave lefty Pedro Feliciano in the game to face theright-handed-hitting Matt Diaz, rather than call on a righty. Diaz ripped a two-run single. Watching this, I was thinking there has to be someinformation we don't know about.

An error by Jose Reyes cost Santana, as Adam Rubin writes.

7. The Diamondbacks continue to lose, and on Monday, they heard some booing. A.J. Hinchis glad the first weekend is over.
[h3]Why they won[/h3]
Why Derek Lowe won: Fifteen groundouts in this win, four outs on balls hit in the air. This was vintage Lowe … his groundout-airout rate had dipped to 1.64 entering theday. It was as high as 3.10 in 2006.

Why Randy Johnson won: Johnson threw 84 pitches, only 24 of them over 90 mph in his victory. Dialing backthe heat helped him stay in the zone. It was his second start with no walks and nine strikeouts this season.

Why Carl Pavano won: He threw first-pitch strikes to 23 of 27 batters (85.2%), the third-highest first-pitch strike percentage among allstarts this season. He threw a first-pitch strike to the first 17 batters of the game.
[h3]The Whiff Index[/h3]
The rate at which guys threw whiffed-on pitches from Monday's games.
[table][tr][td]Contact-ually Speaking[/td] [/tr][tr][td]Pitcher[/td] [td]Swings[/td] [td]Pitches[/td] [td]Pct[/td] [/tr][tr][td]Randy Johnson[/td] [td]16[/td] [td]84[/td] [td]19.0[/td] [/tr][tr][td]Johan Santana[/td] [td]13[/td] [td]108[/td] [td]12.0[/td] [/tr][tr][td]Carl Pavano[/td] [td]12[/td] [td]87[/td] [td]13.8[/td] [/tr][tr][td]Gavin Floyd[/td] [td]9[/td] [td]107[/td] [td]8.4[/td] [/tr][tr][td]Derek Lowe[/td] [td]7[/td] [td]95[/td] [td]7.4[/td] [/tr][tr][td]Bronson Arroyo[/td] [td]7[/td] [td]113[/td] [td]6.2[/td] [/tr][tr][td]Daniel Cabrera[/td] [td]7[/td] [td]93[/td] [td]7.5[/td] [/tr][/table][h3]Other stuff[/h3]
Mike Aviles is in a season-long slump, and the clock isticking on him.

• The Cardinals have ascended despite adversity, as Joe Strauss writes.

Jason Bay has been raking, as Michael Silverman writes.

Jim Leyland deserves an extension, writes LynnHenning, and he would not be surprised to see one announced any day now.

Carlos Lee is making a habit of delivering big RBIs,as Joseph Duarte writes.

• The Rangers' closer keeps racking up zeros, as Anthony Androwrites.

Adam Jones has made progress in this, his second season in the big leagues, writes Jeff Zrebiec.

Joe Mauer is off and running since coming off the disabled list, writes La Velle Neal.

Curtis Granderson's catches over the weekend were, well, grand, as Tom Gagewrites.

• The Marlins' bullpen has provided welcomerelief, writes Clark Spencer.

• There is no concern over Dustin Pedroia's lack of home runs, as Adam Kilgore writes.

Russell Branyan has worked to improve hiseyesight, as Geoff Baker writes. The 2009 Mariners are an unfinishedportrait, as Larry LaRue writes.

Jeff Larish values Marcus Thames' advice, as John Lowe writes.

• This is a season of a lot of pain -- and gain-- for the Red Sox, as Joe McDonald writes.

Chad Billingsley learnedfrom last year's playoffs, as Dylan Hernandez writes.

• Plate discipline is lacking for the Angels, writesMike DiGiovanna.

Brandon Moss is seeking a solution to hisearly-season batting woes, writes Rob Biertempfel.

Craig Counsell's modified stance has helped him,writes Anthony Witrado.

Brad Lidge says that he's closer to being his old dominant self, asDavid Murphy writes.

Ryan Howard is a more complete player than in the past, writes Jim Salisbury.

Lou Piniella wants the Cubs' relievers to start throwing strikes, as Gordon Wittenmyer writes.

• There's no need to get in aHuff over Joba, writes Mike Lupica.

Denard Span is showing his versatility all over the outfield,writes Kelsie Smith.

Evan Longoria makes it look easy, writes MarcTopkin.

• Expectations for the Padres pale incomparison with those for the Cubs, writes Chris Jenkins.

• A Pirates reliever is delivering beyond his years, writes Chuck Finder.

Milton Bradley had agood moment with an umpire the other day, as Paul Sullivan writes.

• The Yankees are set to sell off some YankeeStadium memorabilia, writes Anthony Rieber.

Kris Harvey wants to emulate his father, Bryan Harvey, as Tom D'Angelo writes.

Carl Crawford has found new legs, writes TonyFabrizio.

• The Rays' bullpen is the team's biggestconcern, writes Joe Henderson.

• A player that Jose Offerman hit with his bat has had his life altered forever, writes Stan Grossfeld. As a result, the player-- John Nathans -- has sued Offerman.

• Some ex-Athletics are taking a shot at acting in"Moneyball," the movie, as Susan Slusser writes.
[h3]PED zone[/h3]
• For Dodgers fans, the truth about Manny hurts, writes Ramona Shelburne.

• The media's moral outrage over Manny has been misguided,writes Lowell Cohn.
Joined May 10, 2007
Originally Posted by CincoSeisDos

Help please?

or at least the name of the kid they're talking about

Nicaraguan prospect on the rise

Friday, May 22, 2009 | Print Entry

Posted by Jorge Arangure Jr.

Nicaragua has only produced 10 major league players in its history, but this year it has a celebrated amateur prospect who is likely to get a six-figure bonus, maybe as high as seven figures.

Third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert has attracted interest from several teams, most notably the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals.

Still considered a raw prospect, the 6-foot, 190-pound Cuthbert, 16, is from Nicaragua's Caribbean coast, the same region that produced Boston Red Sox pitcher Devern Hansack.

"The best part of his game is his bat, as he hits the ball with much strength and consistency," said Gerald Hernandez, sports writer for the Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa. "He has an above-average arm and glove. He runs from first to home in 4.3 seconds. Since he has a strong physique he probably isn't going to get any quicker since he's likely to gain more muscle mass."

One scout said Cuthbert has a linebacker's frame, and his baseball skills will need refinement.

Hernandez said Cuthbert had a showcase in November that was attended by at least 15 scouts, including personnel from the New York Yankees, Seattle, Atlanta, Texas, Boston, San Diego, St. Louis and San Francisco.

Sources, though, say the Royals are clearly in the lead for signing Cuthbert.

Though certainly not one of the top baseball player-producing countries in Latin America, Nicaragua has enjoyed some success recently. Last year pitcher Francisco Valdivia signed with Seattle for a $735,000 bonus. Shortstop Everth Cabrera, a Rule 5 pick from Colorado, started the year with the San Diego Padres. And already this year, amateur shortstop Elmer Reyes signed with the Braves for a $20,000 bonus.

Cuthbert is Nicaragua's next top prospect.


Today will be a busy day for scouts. Firstly, top Canadian prospect Jake Eliopoulos is scheduled to pitch for the Canadian Junior National team in an exhibition game against the Seattle Mariners' Dominican Summer League team at 11 a.m. in Villa Mella. Then at 4 p.m. scouts will head over to the Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo for a showcase for trainer Edgar Mercedes' July 2nd prospects. Among those who will work out will be Wagner Mateo, who is considered one of the top outfield prospects in Latin America. Other July 2nd prospects expected to work out include outfielder Eugenio Hilario, shortstop Rosel Herrera, third baseman Alejandro Mejia and pitchers Anderson Encarnacion, Mario Sel Cairo, Gilberto Santo, Edison Baez, Angel Sanchez, Victor Payano and Edwin Area.

Mercedes' workout was originally scheduled to take place at the Cubs' academy in Boca Chica, but several rainstorms have pushed the workout to the Estadio Quisqueya, which is home to the Dominican Winter League powerhouse Tigres de Licey.


• Several sources say that it appears more likely that top Dominican catching prospect Gary Sanchez will sign with the New York Yankees for a bonus in the $3 million range. Though at least four teams are still showing interest in Sanchez, the Yankees have tagged the catcher as their No. 1 priority in Latin America, according to a source. Sanchez is close to picking a team, as he declined to participate in the upcoming exhibition series featuring the top Latin American prospects playing against teams in the New England Collegiate Baseball League

• It appears Major League Baseball might be close to suspending Cuban prospect Felix Perez, who was set to sign a $3.5 million bonus with the New York Yankees before running into problems with the U.S. consulate because of problems with his passport. It is believed that Perez might be older than he originally claimed to be. When asked if Perez had been suspended, Lou Melendez, MLB's vice president of international operations, wrote in an e-mail "Not at this time." Mark Newman, senior vice president of baseball operations, responded in an e-mail, "I have not been informed as of yet. I would think he would be at some point."

• A source said shortstop Jose Gregorio Vinicio, who is on the initial roster to participate in the exhibition series with the Latin American all-stars, is likely to sign with the Red Sox for a $2 million bonus.

Want to be part of the conversation? Write Jorge at in English or Spanish.

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