Orioles’ Showalter takes shots at Theo Epstein, Derek Jeter

Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter (R) and batting coach Jim Presley talk in the dugout during the third inning of a MLB spring training game against the New York Yankees in Sarasota, Florida, March 22, 2011. REUTERS/Steve Nesius (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

“I’d like to see how smart Theo Epstein is with the Tampa Bay [Rays] payroll. You got Carl Crawford ‘cause you paid more than anyone else, and that’s what makes you smarter? That’s why I like whipping their butt. It’s great, knowing those guys with the $205 million payroll are saying, ‘How the hell are they beating us?’”

All right! Let’s fire this f**king season up!

Those comments were made by Orioles skipper Buck Showalter, who recently did an interview with Men’s Journal. He also took a few swipes at Derek Jeter in which he said the Yankee captain “ticks” him off.”

“The first time we went to Yankee Stadium, I screamed at Derek Jeter from the dugout,” Showalter told the magazine, according to the Bergen Record. “Our guys are thinking, ‘Wow, he’s screaming at Derek Jeter.’ Well, he’s always jumping back from balls just off the plate. I know how many calls that team gets — and yes, he [ticks] me off.”

I love it. Some readers got upset with me last year because I didn’t mind when Reds’ second baseman Brandon Phillips stirred the pot with his comments about the Cardinals. But I don’t mind stuff like this. It brings intrigue to a league that has the opportunity to regain some of its popularity back from the NFL because of the CBA mess. I respect and love the game of baseball as much as anyone (I’ve played it my entire life and someone would have to cut my limbs off to ever get me to stop), but comments like Showalter’s breathe some life into Bud Selig’s stuffy league.

What’s ironic is that Epstein would somewhat agree with Showalter’s comments. In fact, just last week Epstein told the Boston Herald that “it’s definitely easier” to win with the more money you have. But as Epstein points out, there’s more to his job then just spending John W. Henry’s money.

“It’s easy to get defensive when people attribute a lot of our success to our payroll,’’ Epstein told Borges. “To a degree they’re right, but it’s still a challenge. It’s definitely easier the more money you have, but I’m justifiably proud of what our organization has done in the draft, in scouting, in player development. The core of our roster is 26 years old, and most of them came up through the organization.”

Epstein is right. Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Jonathan Papelbon, Daniel Bard and Jed Lowrie all came up through the Red Sox’s farm system. It’s also important to note that Boston isn’t a big market team. They may spend like a big market team, but that’s only because the fans’ interest is so high in Baaahstin. Otherwise, Boston is actually a mid-market team.

But getting back to Showalter, whether he was trying to poke the embers in the AL East or pump up his young Orioles, it works. Baltimore may finish in fourth place again this year, but Showalter is trying to light a fire under his club’s ass. It’s time for everyone to wake up in Baltimore and maybe Showalter can be the rooster. (What? Stupid…)

The only beef I have with what he said is the part about “whipping” the Red Sox’s butts. As ESPN’s Gordon Edes points out, the Showalter-led Orioles went 3-3 against Boston last year, which hardly constitutes whipping anyone’s butts. Still, I like his spunk.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

2011 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Second Basemen

New York Yankees Robinson Cano hits a solo homer in the third inning against the Texas Rangers in game 5 of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium in New York City on October 20, 2010. UPI/John Angelillo

All 2011 Fantasy Articles | 2011 Position Rankings

We try to give our readers a basic strategy when it comes to our rankings and our strategy for second base is rather simple: Nab one of the top seven guys in the first 1-5 rounds or good luck sifting through the garbage later.

Can you acquire value in guys like Ben Zobrist, Aaron Hill, Brian Roberts and Gordan Beckham later in your draft? Of course, but why not invest one of your first five picks in a top-7 player and not worry about trying to address a thin position later?

If it’s your strategy to fill your 2B spot in Rounds 11-12, then great: We don’t begrudge anyone else’s strategy. But we prefer to nab one of the top 7 players in the early rounds and call it a day. Below are the top 7 in 2011.

Robinson Cano, Yankees
Cano was one of fantasy baseball’s most reliable offensive players in 2010 and it appears as though his down year in ’08 is in the rearview mirror. He finished among the top 3 at his position in batting average, home runs, RBIs and runs scored and is easily the No. 1 fantasy second baseman heading into 2011. Expect numbers similar to last season: .319 BA/103 R/29 HR/109 RBI/3 SB.

Chase Utley, Phillies
Considering he’s already banged up, Utley may scare some owners away on draft day. But he’ll still go in the second round so if you want him, don’t wait. Utley’s best days are probably behind him but he’s still a top-five option at a thin position, so don’t talk yourself out of taking him just because he’s been banged up this spring. (He did rebound nicely after coming back last year, so you don’t want to be the fool that passed on him because of his present injuries only to watch him mash later.)

Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
Pedroia is now completely healthy after having foot surgery last season and while he might not steal a ton of bases early in the year as he gets back into game shape, he should finish with double-digit swipes when it’s all said and done. You can probably expect 100-plus runs, 15-18 dingers and a .300 average out of the BoSox second baseman in 2011.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mikey’s MLB power rankings

Things have shifted a lot in MLB since I took a hiatus last weekend. Wow, have they ever shifted. The Rockies have now lost 5 in a row and are fading out of the race. The Phillies have won 11 in a row to take over the top spot. The Rays are ahead of the Yankees now in the AL East and the Twins are as hot as the Phils. The Braves are whopping 7 games back of the Phillies now. Damn, this is getting fun.

1. Philadelphia Phillies (93-61)—Peaking but maybe too soon. Still, when you have Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels, it’s not really fair. And everyone else is getting healthy now.

2. Tampa Bay Rays (92-61)—They finally overtake the Yanks, but have company up here. Still, they’ve been consistent all year and they have David Price at the top of their rotation.

3. Minnesota Twins (92-61)—Even without Justin Morneau, this is a very dangerous team. But are they peaking too soon as well?

4. New York Yankees (92-62)—When I heard the New York sports talk guys being all gloom and doom after a split with the Rays this past week, I didn’t understand it. But when you look at the remaining schedules of both teams, you get it. A loss to Boston last night probably didn’t do much for Yankees fans’ confidence.

5. San Francisco Giants (87-67)—Making for one of the most compelling pennant races, because the winner will move on while the loser may not even take the wild card.

6. San Diego Padres (86-67)—Looking back, that long losing streak came at the right time, and the wrong time, at the same time.

7. Cincinnati Reds (86-68)—The magic number is 3. I wonder if Brandon Phillips will get a Christmas card from the Cardinals’ organization this year.

8. Atlanta Braves (86-68)—Now trailing in the wild card race by a half-game. This is another compelling race that shouldn’t have been so compelling, but seriously, how do you hold off the Phils and that pitching staff?

9. Texas Rangers (85-68)—Magic number is 2, will they be the second team to clinch?

10. Boston Red Sox (85-68)—I don’t think they’ve officially been eliminated yet, but it’s getting very, very late. And what a shame for a team that really is as talented as most of the teams on this Top 10 list.

Tom Brady’s comments about Jets, “Hard Knocks” should surprise no one

FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 02: Tom Brady  of the New England Patriots walks off the field after training camp on August 2, 2010 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Tom Brady hates the Jets and therefore, doesn’t watch HBO’s “Hard Knocks” because of it.


While appearing on sports radio station WEEI this morning, Brady said, “I hate the Jets, so I refuse to support that show.” Good – he should hate the Jets. They haven’t won a Super Bowl since “The Brady Bunch” premiered on TV and yet they’re the most talked about team in the NFL right now. They’re also a direct rival of Brady’s Patriots, so why should he show them any love? (Besides, Brady has more important things to watch these days than “Hard Knocks”…like his wife for example.)

I was criticized a couple of weeks ago when I wrote that Brandon Phillips’ comments about the Cardinals were refreshing, but I’ll say the same thing here: We need more of this in sports. That’s not to say that Phillips wasn’t out of line with what he said, because he was. But we’ve reached a point in professional sports where rivalries are dying between teams (read that again: between the teams, not fans) because everybody loves one another.

I like what Brady said and here’s hoping that the Patriots-Jets battles this season are once again highly entertaining. Nobody wants Brady and Rex Ryan to engage in a week-long smack talk, but a simple, “I freaking hate the Jets” from time to time out of an athlete is welcomed by me.

Now, let’s play some football.

Mikey’s MLB power rankings

With football season upon us, that’s when baseball gets real interesting. To me, there is no better time of year than that first weekend in October when you have four MLB playoff series and a full slate of NFL games. As for the pennant races, they’re starting to shift and some teams are beginning to pull away while others lose hold on their position…

1. New York Yankees (75-47)—A one-game lead but the Mariners are in town this weekend, so it’s as good a time as any to start padding the margin over the Rays and Sox again.

2. Tampa Bay Rays (74-48)—Still hanging on, as the Yankees continue to look in their collective rear-view mirror.

3. San Diego Padres (73-48)—The Giants had their five-game winning streak, and the Padres answered with one of their own, widening their late August lead to 6 games over the G-men until losing last night. Is there any question about manager of the year here?

4. Atlanta Braves (72-50)—Bobby Cox hopes his team will feast on Cubs’ pitching at Wrigley while the Phils face the Nats at home.

5. Texas Rangers (68-53)—The Rangers lost four in a row this past week but still have a seven-game lead over the A’s and Angels. I’d say they have nothing to worry about.

6. Minnesota Twins (71-51)—As we suspected, the Twins keep adding to their lead, now 4.5 games over the White Sox.

7. Cincinnati Red (71-51)—Just when the Cardinals made a statement, the Reds have now won 7 in a row while St. Louis has lost 5 straight, giving Dusty Baker’s boys a 4.5 game lead and increasing the chances Brandon Phillips will start smack-talking again, if he hasn’t already.

8. Boston Red Sox (69-54)—Time is running out on the Sox, and also on Roger Clemens’ days as a free man.

9. Philadelphia Phillies (69-52)—They’ve stayed hot, but so have the Braves. Do you think the Phils wish they still had Cliff Lee?

10. San Francisco Giants (69-54)—Only trailing Philly in the wild card chase by one game, two in the loss column. But a recent slide took them out of that spot and their hopes of a division crown are fading away.

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