Casey Blake accuses Ted Lilly of cheating

Following the Cubs’ 1-0 blanking of the Dodgers on Thursday at Wrigley Field, L.A. third baseman Casey Blake accused Chicago starter Ted Lilly of cheating, stating that the pitcher should have been punished for starting his windup on some pitches from in front of the rubber.

From the L.A. Times:

“I know he doesn’t have an overpowering fastball,” Blake said. “I know he’s trying to get as much of an edge as he can. But he moved in.

“That’s cheating. You’ve got to stay on the rubber.”

“Sometimes a batter will get in the box and he’ll step out, and behind the box, and on the lines,” Lilly said. “I don’t think he’s trying to cheat. It might not be intentional.”

By pitching from in front of the rubber, Lilly said, a pitcher would lose the leverage of pushing off the rubber. Any such deliveries were strictly inadvertent, he said.

“I might have done it a couple times, just trying to gain my footing,” he said.

Lilly makes several good points. If a pitcher starts his windup from in front of the rubber, then he loses the leverage and momentum he gains from pushing off the slab. I don’t see why a pitcher would intentionally pitch in front of the rubber unless he’s trying to mix up the speed of his pitches in order to fool a hitter.

Lilly is also right about the hitters re-creating the dimensions of the batter’s box by scraping off the back line. That allows hitters to see pitches for an extra half second, which could make a huge difference, yet they’re never punished for that. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but why are some rules enforced and some aren’t? Rules should be always enforced or the league should evolve and adjust them.

Lilly didn’t come right out and say that he didn’t pitch in front of the rubber on some occasions, so obviously Blake was right in what he saw. But I’m a little surprised that Blake threw such a tantrum over it and went as far as to call Lilly out for being a cheater. I wonder how much tissue paper the Dodgers had to use in the clubhouse after Blake was done crying. The poor clubhouse attendant probably needed a mop afterward.

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2010 MLB Preview: NL West

In order to help get you ready for the MLB season, we’re doing division-by-division rankings with quick overviews on how each club could fair in 2010. Next to each team, you’ll also find a corresponding number written in parenthesis, which indicates where we believe that club falls in a league-wide power ranking. Be sure to check back throughout the next two weeks leading up to the season, as we will be updating our content daily. Enjoy.

All 2010 MLB Preview Content | AL East Preview | AL Central Preview | AL West Preview | NL East | NL Central | NL West

Last up is the NL West.

1. Colorado Rockies (7)
Before I wax poetically about the youthful Rockies, I have an axe to grind about the television broadcasting crew of Drew Goodman, Jeff Huson and George Frazier. Those three form one of the most biased, nonobjective broadcasting teams in baseball history. I’m not kidding. The Rockies never get the same calls as their opponents do. The Rockies never get the national recognition like everyone else does. The Rockies are the greatest team to ever walk the planet and if they played a roster compiled of Jesus, Moses, God and the 12 apostles, Colorado should win 5-4 in extras nine times out of 10. If not, the Rockies beat themselves, because there’s no way Jesus and the gang were better. Don’t believe me? Just ask Goodman, Huson and Frazier. All right, now that that’s out of the way – the Rockies are a damn fine club and should leapfrog the Dodgers in the division this year. Their core – Troy Tulowitzki, Ian Stewart, Chris Iannetta, Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez – are all 27 years old or younger and that doesn’t include 26-year-old stud Ubaldo Jimenez, who is absolutely filthy when he’s on. Throw in key veterans like Todd Helton (a perennial .300 hitter) and Jeff Francis (who could win 15-plus games filling in for the departed Jason Marquis), and Colorado has the tools to make a deep run. The question is whether or not starters Francis and Jorge De La Rosa will keep their ERAs below 5.00 and the young offensive players can move forward in their development and not backwards. But outside of the ultra-annoying broadcast team, I love the Rockies from top to bottom this year and believe they can do some damage in 2010.

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Giants’ closer Wilson upset with Blake’s mocking gesture

Not all Giants players were ecstatic in the clubhouse following their 7-5 victory over the Dodgers in 13 innings on Sunday (and taking two of three from their most hated rivals in the process).

Something ugly apparently happened after today’s 7-5, 13-inning win. Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake apparently insulted Brian Wilson with a gesture.

One by one, the Giants visited Wilson in the clubhouse to console him after a friend sent to Wilson’s cell phone an image of Blake mocking the cross-armed gesture the closer makes after each save.

Wilson’s gesture partly relates to his religious faith and partly to his late father. Wilson seemed very distraught about the incident. As Tim Lincecum was about to address reporters, a team employee interrupted and pulled Lincecum away, presumably to talk to Wilson.

Wilson did not seem eager to discuss the incident. Asked if he might discuss it with Blake the next time they meet, Wilson stood silent while Jeremy Affeldt, standing in the next locker said, “Blake knew what he did.”

Blake, who homered against Wilson in the 12th inning to deal the Giant his second blown save, had left the clubhouse when two San Francisco reporters sought his response.

Baseball players are a little sensitive on a whole, but I could see why Wilson would be upset with Blake mocking a gesture that was created to honor his faith and his late father. It’s not like Wilson does it to show anyone up – he always turns his back while walking off the back of the mound and he never gestures to the opposing team while doing it. These situations have a tendency to blow over, but nevertheless, this could add another log in the fire to an already great Giants-Dodgers rivalry.

Either way, Blake should worry more about his team losing three of four since losing Manny Ramirez for 50 games.

2009 MLB Preview: #10 Los Angeles Dodgers

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Offseason Movement: The Dodgers were mostly quiet this offseason outside of adding Orlando Hudson, Guillermo Mota and Randy Wolf. Oh yeah, and after 4,958 days of painful back and forth negotiating, L.A. GM Ned Colleti was able to re-sign outfielder Manny Ramirez to a two-year deal.

Top Prospect: James McDonald, RHP
The Dodgers have a couple of top prospects, including OF/1B Andrew Lambo and INF Ivan DeJesus Jr., but McDonald is the closest to making the big league roster. The club has been in search for a fifth starter all spring and they could tab McDonald for the role if he continues to pitch well in exhibition games. McDonald doesn’t overpower hitters (his fastball only tops out at 92 mph), but he has a nasty curveball and his command is solid as well. It’ll be interesting to see if L.A. gives the 24-year old the fifth spot in the rotation or sends him down to Triple-A for more seasoning.

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2009 Fantasy Baseball Preview: Third Basemen

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Here is everything you need to know about the depth at the third base position these days: On CBS Sports’ cheat sheet for the top players at each position, they list 41 starting pitchers, 25 relief pitchers, 67 outfielders, 25 first basemen, 25 second basemen, 25 shortstops, 30 catchers…and 15 third basemen. Fif, teen. But wait, it actually gets worse: of those 15 third basemen, two are full-time first basemen (Kevin Youkilis, Miguel Cabrera) one is a full-time catcher (Russell Martin), and one played nearly 100 games at DH (Aubrey Huff). In other words, just over a third of all the teams in Major League Baseball have a third baseman worth drafting. And they include Ryan Zimmerman and Edwin Encarnacion as two of those 11 players, meaning even that number is padded.

What this means for you, gentle reader, is that assuming Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez and Albert Pujols are no longer on the board, you are a stone cold fool if you don’t draft either David Wright or Alex Rodriguez at your earliest opportunity, and you could even be excused for drafting Wright or A-Rod ahead of the other three. (Don’t let this whole ‘steroids pariah’ hoopla scare you; A-Rod’s gonna put up crazy numbers this year.) Almost overnight, third base has become a fantasy wasteland, so you’d be wise to snag a stud third baseman if you can, especially now that Ryan Braun has lost his 3B eligibility and Troy Glaus decided to go under the knife at the 11th hour. But even when the big names are off the board, don’t panic; there are some players that can keep your fantasy team from having a smoking hole in the ground where third base used to be.

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