Zambrano suspended six games for tirade

Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano will be suspended six games after he bumped umpire Mark Carlson and then went on to throw a temper tantrum on the field and in the dugout in a game against the Pirates on Wednesday.

Zambrano’s agent, Barry Praver, said the penalty, which included a $3,000 fine, a source told, will not be appealed. The suspension began Thursday night and barring rainouts Zambrano will be eligible to pitch next Thursday at Atlanta.

The Cubs ace threw a baseball into left field, slammed his glove against the dugout fence, and used a bat to smash a Gatorade dispenser in the Cubs’ dugout after he was ejected Wednesday with Chicago leading 2-1 in the seventh inning of a 5-2 victory Pittsburgh.

“I apologize for that. Like I said, I should have more control of myself in that situation,” Zambrano said after the game. “I just wanted to get out of that inning and win the ballgame. I didn’t say a bad word. I should have gone to the clubhouse and keep watching the game. I apologize for throwing the ball and the other things.”

Six games seems a little extreme, but I like the fact that Big Z won’t appeal. What for? It’s like when you get a speeding ticket on the highway; yeah it sucks, but you got caught, so take your punishment and move on.

My question is, if Zambrano got a six game suspension for bumping an umpire, then why didn’t the ump that “forcibly guided” Tigers’ outfielder Magglio Ordonez out of the batter’s box during a game against the Twins a couple weeks ago not get punished? Zambrano gets six games for slightly bumping an umpire but an umpire who puts his hands on a player gets to skate with just an apology? This certainly isn’t worth a full on debate, but isn’t that a little ridiculous? Hey, if umpires don’t want to be touched, then they shouldn’t be touching players either.

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Ump pushes Magglio Ordonez

Joe Crede hit a dramatic game-winning grand slam for the Twins in the 13th inning to help Minnesota beat the Tigers 14-10 on Wednesday night.

But Crede’s slam took a back seat to an incident during the seventh inning when Detroit’s Magglio Ordonez argued a called third strike, then became angered when umpire Paul Schreiber put a hand on his shoulder to usher him out of the batters box.

The second angle is the most damning for Schreiber. It clearly looks like he tries to move Maggs out of the box. As the broadcasters pointed out, if umpires don’t want to be touched (players and coaches are immediately ejected if they touch an umpire), then they shouldn’t be allowed to touch players either.

Considering this isn’t a routine situation, I don’t know what would be the appropriate punishment in this case, but nevertheless Schreiber should be suspended. Was his push malicious? No, but again, if players are immediately tossed for laying even a pinky finger on an umpire, then the same rules should apply for when an ump touches a player.

Special thanks to my buddy Fumo for calling me about this incident…and then threatening to start his own sports blog if I didn’t post about it.

Could the Tigers release Magglio Ordonez?

Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press speculates that if Magglio Ordonez doesn’t start hitting soon, the Tigers could eventually release him this season.

It may be too early to bench or release Ordoñez , but it’s not too early to wonder about him. Here are some of Ordoñez’s numbers entering the Tigers’ game in Minnesota Tuesday night: .241 batting average, 108 at-bats, three extra-base hits, sixth in the batting order, 35 years old. I mean, the numbers could be worse. His cholesterol level could be 500. But those numbers are disturbing.

It’s not too early to ask questions. And with Ordoñez in 2009, the biggest question is this: Will he stay in the lineup?

It is a $30-million question.

At the end of this season, the Tigers will either pick up an $18-million option on Ordoñez or pay him a $3-million buyout. The Free Press Math Department tells me that’s a $15-million difference. Then there is another $15-million option for 2011.

I doubt the Tigers want to pay Ordoñez $30 million when he is 36 and 37 years old. Manager Jim Leyland has already dropped him in the lineup and started to remove him for defensive purposes. You don’t do that if a guy is worth $15 million a year.

But getting out of this contract is like getting out of the little island of Manhattan at rush hour: It seems like it should be easy, but it isn’t. Ordoñez’s agent, Scott “I know you hate me, but give me an hour and I’ll get you to pay me to hate me” Boras, negotiated trigger clauses into this deal. If Ordoñez has 135 starts or 540 plate appearances this season, his 2010 option becomes guaranteed. And if he has 270 starts or 1,080 plate appearances between this season and next, his 2011 option becomes guaranteed.

If Ordonez was hitting well, then it would be foolish for the Tigers to release him just to save money. But he’s currently one of the worst hitters on the team and as the article points out, why continue to play him so he reaches the appropriate amount of plate appearances and therefore assure that his contract is guaranteed? If he continues to struggle, why not release him and save that money so GM Dave Dombrowski can dump it into more productive players next year?

The only issue is whether or not the Tigers would be on the hook for Maggs’ salary if he reaches 135 starts or 540 plate appearances with another team. I would assume they would only be responsible for a certain amount, but I don’t know the details of his contract so I can’t answer that question.

2009 MLB Preview: #12 Detroit Tigers

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Offseason Movement: The Tigers didn’t make a ton of offseason moves, but they did add shortstop Adam Everett, catcher Gerald Laird, pitchers Edwin Jackson, Brandon Lyon and Juan Rincon.

Top Prospect: Rick Porcello, RHP
Porcello, who is widely considered one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, was selected with the 27th overall pick in the first round of the 2007 draft. He has a low-to-mid 90s fastball, a slider, changeup and a curve, but it’ll take time for that array of pitches to be mastered. Some believe that the 20-year old is ready now, but there are signs (mostly his K/IP ratio) that another year or two in the minors would do him good. Unless Jeremy Bonderman starts the season on the DL, Porcello will likely start in Double-A this season to gain more experience.

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2009 Fantasy Baseball Preview: Outfielders

All 2009 Fantasy Articles | 2009 Position Rankings

The great thing about addressing your outfielder positions on draft day is that there are so many to choose from that chances are if you don’t like one facet about a certain player (i.e. age, inexperience, he plays for the Red Sox and you’re a Yankees fan, etc.), you can move on to one of the many other choices available.

Conversely, with so many players to choose from, you’re liable to stick your head in an oven in order to avoid having to decide between which outfielders will explode and which will wind up on your league’s wavier wire after making you suffer for the first couple months of the season.

The nice thing about having so many choices for outfielders is that you can draft certain players to fill certain needs. As your roster starts to take shape on draft day, if you desire more power, then there are plenty of outfielders that can address that specific need. If your team is lacking speed, there are outfielders that you can target to rack up stolen bases. And if you were able to draft for both speed and power in previous rounds, then adding a couple outfielders that can hit for average will only help you in the long run.

That said, if you’re smart, you’ll pinpoint the outfielders that can do it all. Sure, they might not excel in any one area, but over the course of the season if you can land a guy that can spread out his production in home runs, RBIs, runs and average, it will do wonders for your team in the end. After all, balance is key in fantasy baseball and after you land your studs early on, you’re going to need to complete your roster with players that can produce in all areas.

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