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Cueto and Hampton On Different Paths

Yesterday may have been the beginning of the end for Mike Hampton, who is headed for the DL again after coming within minutes of starting his first game in 32 months. He has won only 5 games since 2004. Before 2004, he had started over 30 games or more for seven straight years. With him turning 36 in September, time may be running out on Hampton.

According to Cot's Baseball Contracts website, he will make $15 million this year, and next year, the Atlanta Braves have a $20 million option with a $6 million buyout. If he doesn't pitch this season, he will have made $43 million without making a pitch. I really can't blame Hampton for taking the money since he surely doesn't want to be on the disabled list, but I fault the teams for these long term contracts that don't pan out. Unless he comes back from the disabled list and wins at least 12-15 games I can see the Braves paying the $6 million buyout and keeping the other $14 million.

On the other hand, a pitcher making the $390,000 minimum salary is on the brink of becoming the NL Rookie of the Year if he continues to pitch like he did yesterday, and that pitcher's name is Johnny Cueto. Cueto retired the first 15 batters he faced, as he struck out 10 and allowed only one hit in his first major league start.

The most impressive stat to me is that he didn't walk a batter, and last year he walked only 0.82 batters per nine innings with Triple A Louisville. Last season, he played on three different levels as he ascended the path that led him to his first Major League start yesterday. He has a 29-15 record in the minors and has struck out 9.26 batters per nine innings in the minors.

On his way up on the up elevator, he may pass Hampton who seems to be on the way down but I have a feeling Cueto won't be taking the down elevator for many years. But then reality sets in and we won't really know just how good Cueto is based on one start but for one day at least he showed he is ready for the majors and I think we will be hearing the name Johnny Cueto often in 2008.

Around the Bases

American League

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John Danks of the Chicago White Sox showed he is ready to forget his 6-13 record and 5.50 ERA of 2007, as he pitched 6 2/3 innings of 2 hit baseball. He didn't get the win, but the White Sox defeated the Cleveland Indians 2-1 on solo homers by Juan Uribe and Joe Crede. The home run by Crede was the game winner. The White Sox bullpen pitched 2 1/3 innings of no hit baseball with Octavio Dotel (1-0) taking the win in relief.

Final score: Chicago White Sox 2, Cleveland Indians 1

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The Kansas City Royals are currently the only undefeated team in the majors, as they advance to a 3-0 record after a 4-1 win over the Detroit Tigers. Zack Greinke (1-0) allowed only one run in 7 innings to take the win. The Tigers have to be wondering what hit them after being swept by the Royals. The Tigers are the only winless team in baseball, which is not exactly what they expected after assembling one of the best batting orders in baseball. The Tigers are tied with the Texas Rangers as the second worst team in batting average in the AL (.206). Only the Oakland A's are worse with a .183 average. They are next to last in majors in runs scored with 5 runs after 3 games with the Giants the worst with 4 runs in 3 games.

Final score: Kansas City Royals 4, Detroit Tigers 1

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Ervin Santana (1-0) pitched the Los Angeles Angels to a 5-4 win over the Minnesota Twins. Torii Hunter may be hitting only .188, but his seventh inning homer helped the Angels win last night's game, along with Gary Mathews Jr. and Mike Napoli two jacks. So far, the loss of John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar to the DL has not hurt the Angels, as they sit atop the AL West standings.

Final score: Los Angeles Angels 5, Minnesota Twins 4

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Dustin McGowan and Phillip Hughes had almost identical stats: 6 IP, 2 earned runs, and 4 hits. However, the New York Yankees, behind the pitching Joba Chamberlain (1-0) and Mariano Rivera (who got the save) were able to pull off the win against the Toronto Blue Jays. Bobby Abreu got the game winning single for the Yankees.

Final score: New York Yankees 3, Toronto Blue Jays 2

National League

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Cincinnati Reds' Johnny Cueto (1-0) was almost perfect, as he gave up only one hit, which was a home run by Justin Upton. Cueto struck out 10 while walking none. Cueto only threw 24 balls out of 98 pitches, showing he was in complete command. The Arizona Diamondbacks only had two starting players who were hitting an even .200 with the rest below the Mendoza line. They are hitting a major league worst .154 this season.

Final score: Cincinnati Reds 3, Arizona Diamondbacks 2

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The Philadelphia Phillies pounded out 16 hits in their 8-7 ten inning win over the Washington Nationals. They had to overcome a 5-0 deficit to take the win. Jamie Moyer allowed 6 runs and 9 hits in 3 2/3 innings, but the Phillies' bullpen allowed only one run over the final 6 1/3 innings. 14 of the 16 hits by the Phillies were singles, but the main thing is that they won the game. Kyle Kendrick takes the mound tonight against Josh Fogg and the Reds. According to ESPN analyst Keith Law, Kendrick will not be the pitcher he was last season, but hopefully for Phillies fans everywhere, Law will be proven wrong. Jayson Werth drew a bases-loaded walk in the tenth inning to force in teh winning run.

Final score: Philadelpia Phillies 8, Washington Nationals 7

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The St. Louis Cardinals shut out the Colordado Rockies 3-0 behind the pitching of Brad Thompson (1-0). Cardinals pitchers lead the majors with a 1.00 ERA.

Final score: St. Louis Cardinals 3, Colorado Rockies 0

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Ryan Dempster (1-0) and the Chicago Cubs spotted the Milwaukee Brewers a 2-0 lead, but went on to win by a 6-2 score, while giving up only one earned run in 6 innings and finished the game with a 1.50 ERA. Dave Bush didn't fare so well, as he gave up 6 runs, 6 hits, and 5 walks in 5 1/3 innings, and left the game with a 10.13 ERA. Kosuke Fukodome leads the Cubs in batting with a .500 batting average while Derrek Lee and Ryan Theriot are both hitting .214. Geovany Soto is hitting .125, Aramis Ramirez is hitting .111 and Alfonso Soriano is hitting .077. Ramirez and Soriano are a combined 2 for 22 this season.

Final score: Chicago Cubs 6 Milwaukee Brewers 3

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Randy Wolf may the fourth starter for the San Diego Padres, but he indicated just how strong this starting rotation is by giving up only one run and four hits in 6 innings. It is easy to see why the Houston Astros are 1-3 with their .203 batting average. The Padres lead the majors in hitting with a .336 average, and are 5th in the NL in ERA with a 2.75 ERA.

Final score: San Diego Padres 3, Houston Astros 2

Tyler Yates (1-0), who was recently traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates by the Atlanta Braves beat his old team, as he and the Pirates took a 4-3 win in ten innings. In a very unusal move in the tenth inning, Bobby Cox had Chris Resop moved to left field after he had walked 2 of 3 batters and replaced by Royce Ring, who was brought in to face the lefthanded hitting Adam LaRoche, who struck out. Resop was then sent back to the mound to face Xavier Nady who proceeeded to drive in what turned out to be the winning run for the Pirates. Nady leads the majors in RBI's with 7. No Braves starter has lost a game this season, but the bullpen has lost all three games in which the Braves lost. The Braves can't feel too good about the first week of the season having lost 3 of 4 games to the Nationals and Pirates. Even worse, they face John Maine in his first start of the season today with Tim Hudson starting for the Braves.

Final Score: Pittsburgh Pirates 4, Atlanta Braves 3


Chan Ho Park has been recalled by the Los Angeles Dodgers so he will get the chance to show his excellent spring was not a fluke.

Jo-Jo Reyes has been recalled by the Atlanta Braves to replace Mike Hampton in the starting rotation.

Home Runs of April 3, 2008

Batter Team (B) Inning Pitcher Team (P) # on base Outs
Juan Uribe (1) White Sox 6th Jake Westbrook (1) Indians 0 0
Joe Crede (1) White Sox 8th Jake Westbrook (2) Indians 0 0
Justin Upton (1) Diamondbacks 6th Johnny Cueto (1) Reds 0 0
Jeff Keppinger (1) Reds 2nd Doug Davis (1) Diamondbacks 0 2
Alex Gordon (2) Royals 4th Jeremy Bonderman (1) Tigers 1 0
Mark Teahen (1) Royals 6th Jeremy Bonderman (2) Tigers 0 2
Brandon Inge (1) Tigers


Zack Greinke (1) Royals 0 1
Chris Coste (1) Phillies 3rd Jason Bergmann (1) Nationals 0 0
Gary Matthews Jr. (1) Angels 3rd Kevin Slowey (1) Twins 1 2
Torii Hunter (1) Angels 7th Brian Bass (2) Twins 0 0
Mike Napoli (2) Angels 7th Brian Bass (3) Twins 0 2
Jason Kubel (1) Twins 8th Justin Speier (1) Angels 0 2
Aramis Ramirez (1) Cubs 5th Dave Bush (1) Brewers 0 1
Kevin Kouzmanoff (1) Padres 1st Shawn Chacon (1) Astros 1 2

Players From the Past: Rocky Colavito

Rocky before the curse.

When I hear the name Rocky Colavito, I first think of his reputation for having one of the best outfield arms in baseball, even though he hit 374 lifetime home runs. He had such a notable career that there is no good starting place so will just start at the beginning.

Rocco Domenico Colavito was born in New York City on August 10, 1933, making him 74 at the time this is being written. When he was traded on April 17, 1960, it turned out to be the start of the Rocky Colavito curse, which still haunts the Cleveland Indians today. In the 48 years since the trade, the Indians have been in the World Series twice losing to the Atlanta Braves in 1995 and the Florida Marlins in 1997.

The unusal thing about the trade was that Colavito was AL home run champion the season before, and Harvey Kuenn, who the Indians received in return, was the AL batting leader in 1959. Kuenn was with the Indians for only one season after hitting .308, and then got traded to the San Francisco Giants. Colavito had four excellent seasons with the Tigers after playing for the Indians, capped by the 1961 season in which he hit 45 home runs and drove in 140 runs; however, he didn't lead the league in either category, but in 1965 he would lead the AL in RBI's with 108.

Colavito then was traded to the Kansas City Athletics in 1963 and then in 1965 he was traded back to the Indians. In 1967, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox, but by then, his career was coming to an end and he only hit 3 homers in 190 at bats with them. He then finished his career in 1968 with the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers.

On June 10, 1959, he hit four home runs in a game. In the 49 years since then, only Mike Cameron and Carlos Delgado have matched the feat among American League hitters. Colavito averaged 32 home runs a season for 11 years hitting at least 20 in all of those years.

On August 25, 1968, while with the New York Yankees, the Detroit Tigers had a 5-0 lead, and Colavito was brought in to pitch 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, and he was the last non-pitcher to win a game until Brent Mayne of the Colorado Rockies won a game in relief against the Atlanta Braves on August 22, 2000. He also pitched a game in 1958 for the Indians and retired with a 1-0 record, and allowed only one hit in 5 2/3 innings, but walked 5 batters. His lifetime ERA was 0.00.

On June 24, 1962, Colavito collected 7 hits in a 22 inning game which the Yankees won by a 9-7 margin over the Tigers.

Colavito tried to break the record for longest throw set by Don Grate with a throw of 443 feet, but the best Colavito could do on July 1, 1956 was a throw of 435 feet. His throw went over the center field fence.

Colavito was one of the few sluggers to have more walks than strikeouts with 951 walks and 880 strikeouts. He was also the first AL outfielder to play every game without an error.

Today, Colavito is an avid deer hunter and has bagged more than 60 deer. He is 74 and lives in Bernville, Pennsylvania.

He marks autograph requests he receives in the mail refused due to being scammed in the past. He is impressed with Grady Sizemore of the Indians. He also likes Terry Francona since he played baseball when his father, Tito Francona, played. He said he remembers Terry well when he was a baby and that he was a good baby and not a whiner. That is probably a little bit too much information.

Like most former players, he hates steroids and thinks Barry Bonds should receive an asterisk when passing Hank Aaron. He also objects to the styling the players do today when hitting home runs. He used to run out homers very slowly but when it agitated players on the other team he stopped doing it saying he didn't want to show up the pitchers.

Below from are his views on Manny Ramirez:

He also gets upset watching Manny be Manny.

"Manny [Ramírez] is a really good hitter, no doubt about it," says Colavito. "[But] I see him make a miscue in the field and I see a grin on his face. In our day, if you grinned, they might boot your [posterior] to the minor leagues. They wouldn't tolerate it and you might get disciplined by your peers."

Rocky's views on autographs:

But Colavito loved kids. "I told 'em to line up, stay in line, and I'd sign every single one of 'em," he says. "I'd tell my wife to figure another hour for signing autographs."

You can see why I am a longtime Rocky Colavito fan. Colavito played in a different time when he had to beg for a $3000 raise that would have him making $15,000 a year and was refused. He worked on a mushroom farm during the offseason. I doubt that Alex Rodriguez will ever need to work on a mushroom farm to make ends meet.

Rocky....thanks for the memories.