Thursday, January 31, 2008

Feliz finally a Phillie

After almost a week of waiting, former Shreveport Captain Pedro Feliz is a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Feliz officially was introduced as Philadelphia's new third baseman Thursday and it should be fun to watch him play in a hitters' park for the first time in his career.

Renowned for his glove and his arm, which is the source of one of the funnier comments ever made by a Captain, Feliz should give the Phillies the right-handed power bat they need to replace Aaron Rowand.

And, with Feliz free from Barry Bonds' massive shadow, he should respond offensively, especially with the thumpers up and down Philly's loaded lineup.

So after several months of waiting and wrangling, Pedro Feliz finally has a new home -- and it's one that should suit him to a T.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Clemens pops out

We're a few days from Groundhog Day, but Roger Clemens poked his head out of hiding and threw batting practice at the Houston Astros Elite Camp.

Clemens also sidestepped questions pertaining to his upcoming deposition over his use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.

By issuing a quick statement, Clemens deflected any questions about his alleged usage and kept from being a distraction at the camp, which is used to tutor the Astros' younger players.

Someone asked Clemens if he would return to pitch in 2008 and the Rocket laughed it off, saying he was just ready to be a batting practice pitcher.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Santana derby over

Finally, we all know where Johan Santana is headed.

In case you haven't heard yet, it's to the New York Mets for a bundle of prospects, but not the Mets top position player or pitching prospect.

If you're a Twins fan, this is a bit disconcerting as it appears Minnesota overplayed its hand and settled on less than market value for its ace.

At any rate, the Mets have a 72-hour window to finish an extension with Santana and wrap up the trade.

As for the Mets being the team to beat in the National League, that's open for debate, but every fifth day they have one heckuva chance to contend for that title.

Monday, January 28, 2008

First award of the year

LSUS' Cody Lott was named Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week on Monday.

Lott's win marks the first award for a local team as the Pilots and BPCC are the only teams to have played this season.

Lott scattered three hits and allowed one run in 5 1-3 innings of his Pilots debut as LSUS swept a doubleheader from GCAC foe Loyola on Saturday.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ping! We're off

College baseball season officially is here.

LSUS started the area schools' seasons with a doubleheader sweep of Loyola of New Orleans.

So two games into the season, the Pilots are 2-0 in conference play. Wonder what their magic number is?

I'm half-joking because Rocke Musgraves always has his team in the GCAC championship hunt and, if opening weekends are any indication (and they're usually not), LSUS will be right back into it.

We're still about three weeks away from the NCAA boys cranking up, but so far the area is perfect when it comes to college baseball.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

LSUS rained out

Oh well, I guess opening day will be pushed back to Jan. 27 for the LSUS Pilots.

In a shocking development, cold and rain in New Orleans cost the Pilots a chance to open their season on Saturday.

Now the Pilots will share opening day honors with Bossier Parish Community College, assuming the weather in New Orleans and Mesquite, Texas, cooperates.

Friday, January 25, 2008

It's Opening Day. Really?

The first thing I think of when I think of perfect baseball weather is mid-50s with a chance of rain.

The above sentence is an example of sarcasm. Yet, that is the forecast for Saturday in New Orleans, which happens to be opening day for the LSUS baseball team.

Yep, January 26 is opening day. That's the earliest start in the school's baseball history and it's not a good thing.

I think pushing the start of the NCAA season back to a uniform starting date was a bit much, but this is a bit much in the other direction.

There has to be a happy medium and, hopefully, one of the NAIA or NCAA finds it soon or else teams like the Pilots and Loyola of New Orleans may freeze out their opening days.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A couple of lists

While we sit in this gray, listless baseball-free period of the year, here's a couple of lists for you.

Baseball-related things I'm tired of:

1. Steroids -- MLB seems to be the only sport beating itself up over this -- and we have to keep hearing about it.

2 (or 1A.) Roger Clemens -- For goodness sakes Rocket, retire and start your personal services contract with Houston.

3. Johan Santana Trade Rumors -- It's been a daily occurrence -- or non-occurrence -- since early December. Its' time Johan, and the rest of us, learn where he's heading to spring training.

Baseball-related things I'm ready for:

1. Opening Day -- Nothing's better.

2. College baseball's start -- This will get you through until April.

3. The Fukudome Effect -- I'm not a Cubs fan but I'm curious to see if it will it be the same as Ichiro (stellar), Dice-K (successful, nothing spectacular) or Tsuyoshi Shinjo (Who?).

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Astros take a risk

The Houston Astros are making up for lost time. At least in the "Hey, look at us category."

There was the Brad Lidge trade in November. Then the trade for Miguel Tejada.

Now, the Astros are heading to arbitration with two players -- Mark Loretta and Jose Valverde, who was acquired in a trade with Arizona.

This is a big risk for the Astros, especially given Valverde's brilliant 2007 in which a majority of his NL-leading saves total would classify as "tough saves."

If they lose these two cases, Astros fans can get ready to open up their checkbooks a little wider for tickets at Minute Maid Park.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Closing time for college closers?

A couple of seasons ago, drafting college closers early was all the rage.

The thought process was success in high-pressure college environments would equal a swift move through the minors and quick assimilation into major league bullpens.

For a while, the theory was sound. Washington's Chad Cordero was in the majors the same year he was drafted by the then-Montreal Expos. Ditto for Cincinnati's Ryan Wagner that same year.

Huston Street was in Oakland within in a year of his drafting and was the 2005 AL Rookie of the Year.

Since then, the trend has been hit or miss, mostly miss. Joey Devine of North Carolina State fame never panned out for Atlanta and was traded with another minor league pitcher for Oakland's Mark Kotsay. J. Brent Cox (now J.B. Cox) hasn't moved as quickly through the Yankees farm system as many thought he would after he was stellar following Street at the University of Texas.

Then there's David Aardsma from Rice, who will be looking for work with his fourth team after the Chicago White Sox designated him for assignment after the club signed Octavio Dotel.

Remember, in June, Colorado drafted Vanderbilt closer Casey Weathers at No. 8 overall. Is he the guy to buck the trend? We should have our answer by the end of 2008.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sweet Lou ready to kick back

Apparently, when it comes to his lineup, this is what Lou Piniella will have to do all through spring training.

The second-year Chicago Cubs skipper already has put together his lineup for the season, so there's nothing left to do but kick back and enjoy some Arizona sun.

Seriously, in mid-January, Chicago's lineup is set. Piniella announced it Sunday and, yes, former LSU star Ryan Theriot is in it. Theriot will hit second, behind Alfonso Soriano, and play shortstop for the Cubbies.

Now that the lineup is out of the way, it's on to that pesky bullpen problem.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Red Sox like Wilkerson

That would be Rangers free-agent outfielder/first baseman Brad Wilkerson to be exact. And for the life of me I don't know why.

Well I guess if the Red Sox lose Eric Hinske to free agency then Wilkerson fills that role.

I have to admit, having watched Wilkerson since he played collegiately at Florida, I initially thought he was a great addition to the Rangers when Texas landed him in the Alfonso Soriano trade with Washington.

I could not have been more wrong. Wilkerson is a trooper who played through injuries during his time in Texas, but his production was lacking.

Granted the shoulder injuries likely had a lot to do with it, but, as of now, Wilkerson looks a lot worse for wear than he did just two seasons ago.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Rays take big risk

Tampa Bay right-hander James Shields had a breakout 2007 campaign.

It was so impressive that the organization is nearing a seven-year contract extension with the pitcher.

This is a slippery slope for the Rays, who have not signed ace Scott Kazmir to anything other than a one-year contract during his time in Tampa.

Sure Shields had a big season last year, but it's one year. Kazmir has been the Rays' ace for the past two seasons and deserves every bit the big payday Shields is in line for.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Rockies lock up Holliday

There should be at least two more seasons of Mile High happiness for Matt Holliday.

The runner-up for the NL MVP -- some would argue he deserved to win -- inked a two-year, $23 million pact with Colorado on Friday, avoiding arbitration.

It's a great move for both sides. Holliday seems genuinely happy in Colorado and has overtaken Todd Helton as the face of the Rockies franchise. And now Colorado has two years to work out an even bigger, longer extension for the slugging left fielder.

October was a good time to be a Rockie and a Rockies fan. With more astute signings like this, that may be the case more often than not.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Emaus, Sadler resurface

It's been almost a year or so since I've heard the name Brad Emaus and a couple of years since the name Billy Sadler popped up here in the office.

Until Thursday. I was surfing the Web, checking in on my buddies at and saw they had their annual 31st Team online. That's the team made up of prospects from each organization who don't make the publication's Top 30 prospect lists in their Prospect Handbook.

So I scrolled down and found Emaus and Sadler. For the uninformed, Emaus was a three-year starter at Tulane and a key part of the Green Wave's 2005 run to the College World Series. He signed with Toronto last summer and impressed with his power.

Sadler, meanwhile, pitched at LSU in 2003 when the Tigers reached the CWS. He was supposed to battle for a spot in San Francisco's bullpen last year, but control issues kept that from happening.

It looks as these two Louisiana college products still have bright futures and plenty to accomplish in their baseball careers.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Rangers make a good deal

Anyone who reads this blog knows I'm not the biggest fan of Texas general manager Jon Daniels' moves.

But I like his Wednesday gamble to sign Jason Jennings.

If Jennings is healthy -- and that's a big if given his recent surgery -- his presence will be a boost to the Rangers' rotation. Jennings learned early in his career how to pitch in a hitter-friendly environment as he won 17 games in a season with Colorado.

More importantly, Jennings, a Dallas native and former Baylor University standout, has something to prove after an injury-marred 2007 season with Houston.

An incentive-laden contract was the way to go and Daniels may have made his best move as Texas GM by landing Jennings.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Congress, leave baseball alone

Tuesday marked the second time Major League Baseball self-flaggelated itself in front of Congress.

Enough is enough. We all know baseball at the very least HAD a steroids/HGH problem. The chances are good that it still does.

We know the players who used steroids, HGH and other performance enhancers let children down. They let fans down. OK we get it.

Now enough with the Congressional hearings and investigations. Let some other sport take the heat (ahem, NFL).

Baseball has beaten itself up to the point of self-mutilation. It's time for the madness to end. Please, let Tuesday be the last time we hear baseball and Congress in the same sentence.

Monday, January 14, 2008

First schedule arrives

Thanks to the good folks at the Big Ten, yes Jim Delaney I'm talking to you, we're closer to pitchers and catchers reporting than we are to the start of the college baseball schedule.

That being said, Louisiana Tech has released its baseball and softball pocket schedules. My colleague Jimmy Watson was nice enough to pick up a pair while in Ruston over the weekend.

At first glance, Tech's baseball schedule is good, but not what it used to be -- thanks in large part to the uniform start date that takes effect this season.

The Bulldogs have four weekends of nonconference play before starting their WAC schedule. In previous years, Tech had at least six weekends of nonconference action.

Still Wade Simoneaux has put together a nice mix of weekend opponents. The highlight is a trip to College Station Texas, for a tournament featuring Arkansas, Ohio State and Texas A&M.

That weekend alone, along with a pair of games at Baylor later that week, should help the Bulldogs see where they stand in what shapes up as a pivotal year in Ruston.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Persistence pays off for Gwaltney

Louisiana Tech just sent another player to the minor leagues. This time, however, it's a promotion.

Over the weekend, former Tech right-hander Lee Gwaltney, who had pitched for the American Association's Fort Worth Cats for a couple of seasons, had his contract sold to the San Diego Padres.

Now, Gwaltney won't be toeing the rubber at Petco Park anytime soon, but it marks his return to affiliated baseball for the first time since 2006.

Just more proof that persistence pays off.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Clinic should be interesting

Ronnie Coker's Gametime Academy will host a baseball coaches clinic on Saturday, Jan. 19 at the Bossier City Holiday Inn.

The clinic will run from 9:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. and features some of the area's top coaches, including Louisiana Tech's Wade Simoneaux and LSUS' Rocke Musgraves.

Parents are welcomed to attend, which could give you a chance to find out exactly what your player needs to do to earn a college scholarship.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Cameron to Brewers

Just when you thought Houston had the market cornered on crazy winter signings, Milwaukee comes and shakes things up.

On Friday, the Brewers signed free-agent center fielder Mike Cameron. Yes, the same Mike Cameron who will miss the first 25 games of the season because of a substance violation. For the record, it was amphetamines, not steroids.

Cameron is a dazzling defensive center fielder who strikes out way too much. Aside from the glove, that makes him the perfect Milwaukee player. Just ask Ryan "I'm a Human Error Machine but I Hit" Braun.

The bottom line is Milwaukee has rebuilt its hopes from within, banking on a strong farm system to provide major league talent. One of those pieces is Tony Gwynn Jr., who is major league ready yet has received only 160 at-bats in two seasons.

This would have been a good time to put Gwynn into the fire and see how he responds rather than overpay for Cameron.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Another rodeo for Mirabelli

Looks like Doug Mirabelli will be back in Boston.

The backup catcher/cult hero is close to completing a one-year contract that will guarantee him around $550,000. Not bad for the ex-Captain who handles knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

If anything, it's good karma for the Red Sox to keep Mirabelli around. Remember what happened when they let him go to San Diego, then had to scramble to re-acquire him?

Plus, it keeps another player with Shreveport ties in the game.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Good news, bad news

If you're a closer, Tuesday's Hall of Fame announcement was good and bad.

Goose Gossage got in. That's good. But names like Lee Smith continue to fall farther away from election, that's bad.

Baseball has become a game that worships the specialists. Left-handed specialists. Closers. Designated hitters. Late-inning defensive replacements. The list goes on.

The problem is, the Hall doesn't want to admit there has been a shift in the game's philosophy. So expect players like Smith to suffer from that.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Another Ranger retread?

Word out of Arlington is the Rangers are close to signing Eddie Guardado.

Wow, stop the presses -- um, if this was 2004. That was when Guardado was a hot commodity. He was "Everyday Eddie," the portly left-handed closer who saved games with guts and guile.

Now? He's a nearly washed-up, surgery-overcoming veteran who, on his best days, survives on moxie and a mid-80s fastball.

This is a return to a troubling trend Rangers fans are accustomed to -- management signing once-popular players who are well past their primes.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Feel sorry for Clemens?

Believe it or not, I feel a little bit sorry for Roger Clemens -- if only because he is in a no-win situation.

I was one of the many who said Clemens' best defense against steroid and HGH claims was to come out and tell his side of the story, not hide behind lawyers and PR firms.

He did that Sunday on "60 Minutes" and came away looking less-than-sympathetic.

Still, for someone who wants us to believe he came by his seven Cy Young Award and 341 career victories honestly, it seems Clemens can't win this decision.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Another Louisiana kid traded

Most people around here probably do not know who Corey Coles is.

The 26-year-old Lafayette native was part of the trade earlier this week that sent Angel Pagan from Chicago to the New York Mets.

Coles was a freshman at Louisiana-Lafayette the season I spent as the Ragin' Cajuns baseball sports information director.

He was a pitcher then. He's an outfielder now.

I remember him being unafraid to step into big moments even as a freshman. He took the ball in a critical juncture of ULL's season and delivered what the Cajuns needed.

The fact it came at high-altitude, higher-ERA New Mexico State made it all the more impressive. I'm surprised Coles' live left arm hasn't played out on the mound, but he's still playing ball for a paycheck and that's all that matters.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Another move for Sox?

After a slow start to the offseason, the Chicago White Sox quickly are making up for lost time.

A day after dealing three prospects to Oakland for Nick Swisher, the Sox are rumored to be moving Paul Konerko to the Los Angeles Angels for a package that could include Howie Kendrick and Ervin Santana.

The move would send Konerko to a place he flirted with two seasons ago. Shortly after winning the 2005 American League Championship Series MVP award, Konerko became a free agent. The most mentioned destination for the slugging first baseman was southern California. However, he signed a four-year contract to remain on the south side of Chicago.

The move would improve both clubs as the Sox would land a potential All-Star second baseman in Kendrick and a talented, yet enigmatic, right-hander in Santana. Meanwhile, the Angels would finally land the missing impact bat that has plagued the club in recent seasons.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Mr. Clemens goes to Washington

Looks like we'll soon know the truth -- hopefully -- about Roger Clemens' alleged steroid/HGH usage.

A Congresional subcommittee looking into the Mitchell Report has asked Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Brian McNamee and Kurt Radomski to speak to them about the report.

Clemens' latest denials will come to light Sunday night on "60 Minutes" when he sits down with Mike Wallace for a one-on-one interview.

With Pettitte having taken responsibility for his HGH usage, it sets up an interesting senatorial showdown between Clemens and McNamee, one that has much bigger stakes than any baseball game ever could have.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Gents picked third has started its college baseball preview.

It's good reading. You can find a link to the picks on

Rivals tagged Centenary to finish third in The Summit League, which has expanded to eight teams this year.

Personally, I still find it hard to believe anyone would predict Centenary to finish lower than second in the conference simply because of geography.

Yes, I know Oregon State has won the last two national titles. Yes, I know there's a uniform start date beginning this year.

But I also know Western Illinois, the team picked to finish second, doesn't practice outside until at least the start of the season. And, no offense to the Leathernecks, but they're no Oregon State.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Larkin tries to play mentor

Everyone knows Washington general manager Jim Bowden is not afraid to take chances on players with questionable behavioral backgrounds.

Sometimes they pay off -- see Dmitri Young -- and sometimes they don't.

That is what the Nationals front-office man did when he traded for troubled outfielder Elijah Dukes.

Now Bowden is doing everything within his power to keep the young man's house in order, calling on ex-NL MVP shortstop and generally regarded good guy Barry Larkin to play mentor to Dukes in Washington.

It should be interesting to watch how this plays out given Dukes' history and Larkin's close connections with Bowden. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict a full-time job for Dukes -- as long as he heeds Larkin's advice.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Looking ahead

2007 officially is behind us so it's time to look ahead to 2008. In that vein, here's a list of what resolutions I'd like to see for our local college teams.

Centenary -- Continue to improve in Summit League play. The Gents should settle for no less than second place in the league.

Grambling State -- Keep making strides under coach Barret Ray.

LSU -- Bottle Paul Mainieri's enthusiasm and put it to good use.

Louisiana Tech -- Find some more pitching behind Luke Burnett and do not peak in April.

Northwestern State -- Give new head coach and pitching guru J.P. Davis some offense to go with what should be a solid staff.

LSUS -- Get back to the running game. Pilots' fans are accustomed to stolen bases and putting pressure on the defense.