Tag: Craig Breslow

World Series Game 2: Craig Breslow Latest Pitcher to Throw Away Playoff Game

When Boston’s Craig Breslow airmailed a throw to third base in the seventh inning of Game 2 of the World Series, he allowed the decisive run to score for St. Louis. The result immediately drew the ire of Red Sox fans across the nation. Bostonians have a right to be disappointed by the play, but they should not be surprised, as costly errors by pitchers have become a consistent theme in the MLB postseason.

Indeed, Breslow could join an unfortunate fraternity of hurlers who have thrown away baseballs, and with them their teams’ title hopes. The most famous example is Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees. He threw Damian Miller’s bunt into center field in the ninth inning of Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. The error contributed to the Arizona Diamondback’s comeback and stands as one of the few blemishes on Rivera’s postseason resume.

But there have been more recent occasions that were equally important. The Cardinals have won two World Series in the past decade, but it might have been more had their pitchers been able to defend their position. Jason Marquis’ bobble of a Craig Biggio bunt in Game 4 of the 2005 NLCS allowed the winning run to score in a series the Cardinals would eventually lose to the Houston Astros.

St. Louis took a 3-1 series lead in the 2012 NLCS to the Giants, but squandered a chance to end the series at home in Game 5. The key play? Lance Lynn threw away a potential double-play ball in the fourth inning, leading to four unearned runs in a 5-0 loss. When asked about the play, a dejected Lynn could only offer, “Weird things happen,” according to ESPN.com’s Michael Knisley. The Giants won the next two games in San Francisco to advance to the Fall Classic.

Even in this year’s Series, the Cardinals were victimized in Game 1 when Adam Wainwright miscommunicated with his Gold Glove battery mate Yadier Molina and allowed a routine pop-up to drop between them. But St. Louis has also benefited from fielding ineptitude on the part of opposing pitchers. Their 2006 championship was aided by a World Series record of five errors by the Detroit Tigers pitching staff.

Finally, the 2009 Yankees waltzed into the World Series after a Game 6 victory over the Los Angeles Angels in the ALCS. A close game was made decidedly less so when Scott Kazmir somehow botched a seemingly un-botchable thirty-foot throw en route to a 5-2 loss.

It’s hard to be certain why pitchers continue to make such mistakes. In general, they are worse fielders than the average defensive player, logging a .961 fielding percentage in the 2013 regular season compared to .985 for all other players, according to ESPN.com. The gap is actually greater than the numerical discrepancy shows, however, since pitchers have far less difficult plays to execute than the guys playing behind them.

The low degree of difficulty might actually be the reason for the errors, though. Pitchers can get psyched out by the apparent easiness of a simple throw to a base, especially since they are so accustomed to making one throw over and over againpitches to the plate.

Take Breslow‘s error as a case study. While many have questioned whether he should have even attempted a throw in the first place, the video replay clearly shows an opportunity for an out. Breslow himself explained, “I looked up and I saw that I definitely had a play there,” according to MLB.com.

But the moment he picked up the loose ball behind home plate, an error was imminent. Instead of making a quick throw to third base, he inexplicably took a big crow hop, as if firing to home from the outfield. By the time he actually released the ball, the runner Jon Jay was almost at the base and Breslow had been overthinking the throw for a few seconds. His error was almost predictable.

Baseball fans should keep an eye on pitchers’ fielding abilities as the World Series shifts to St. Louis. It’s typical for pundits and forecasters to size up a playoff matchup by examining the teams’ more obvious assets: the back end of the bullpen, the middle of the lineup, and so on.

But when two teams are as evenly matched as the 2013 Red Sox and Cardinals, it may come down to which team’s pitchers can execute routine throws, especially if history serves an any indication.


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Trevor Cahill In, Jarrod Parker Out: Diamondbacks Trade Is in Eye of Beholder

On Friday, the Arizona Diamondbacks acquired pitchers Trevor Cahill and Craig Breslow from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for right fielder Collin Cowgill and pitchers Jarrod Parker and Ryan Cook.

While some Diamondbacks fans may be quick to criticize this trade, the addition of both Breslow and Cahill falls in line with GM Kevin Towers’ comments last month regarding a wish to add “more veteran pitching” to the roster.

Breslow is a left-handed pitcher who has amassed a 3.06 career ERA in six MLB seasons with the San Diego Padres, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins and Oakland.

As Breslow has never started a game at the major league level in his career, expect this 31-year-old to work exclusively out of the Arizona bullpen, where he will add experience and veteran leadership to a relief staff whose average age is in the mid-20s.

Breslow’s extensive experience throughout baseball will be a nice compliment to the development of potential newer pitchers Sam Demel, David Hernandez and Zach Kroenke, to name a few.

Cahill is Breslow’s opposite: He is right-handed and has started all 96 MLB games he has appeared in for the Oakland A’s. With just three years in the league, he is technically a budding veteran, although his young age of 23 years suggests he still may be very receptive to further growth.

His statistics might have regressed from his All-Star 2010 season (18-8, 2.97 ERA) to 2011 (12-14, 4.16 ERA), but Cahill’s youth suggests a change of scenery and move from the AL to the NL might just be enough to jump start a period of success in the desert.

Cahill is a career 40-35 pitcher with a 3.91 ERA in his 583.0 innings of big league work. He ranked first in the AL with 34 games started in 2011, which is a testament to his durability.

Cahill’s level of experience and age is a perfect compliment to the projected Diamondbacks rotation of Ian Kennedy (26 years old), Daniel Hudson (24 years old), Josh Collmenter (25 years old) and potentially Micah Owings (29 years old), who went 8-0 last season as a primarily relief pitcher.

Owings, who was bumped from the Diamondbacks rotation in 2011 due to the acquisition of currently injured free agent Jason Marquis, should be a promising candidate for the No. 4 or No. 5 spot in the 2012 rotation.

Unfortunately and as trades tend to go, the Diamondbacks did surrender several key youngsters, including highly rated pitcher Jarrod Parker and outfielder Collin Cowgill.

Sure, Parker was injured and underwent what has become an increasingly routine Tommy John surgery in 2009, but since his return last season, he has continued to show signs of improvement and potential.

Though it is fairly impossible to predict MLB success from just one appearance, Parker pitched 5.2 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers in late September 2011, allowing zero runs and striking out one with a WHIP of 0.88 in his big league debut.

Cowgill played 36 games in his first year at the major league level, recording a .239 batting average in 92 at bats. Cowgill had received numerous awards at the minor league level, including five All-Star selections over his past MiLB two seasons and receiving the PCL Rookie of the Year Award in 2011.

As much as the Diamondbacks wanted to bolster their rotation and bullpen heading into 2012, the A’s were eager to start rebuilding a team that hasn’t seen postseason baseball since 2006.

This trade allows both teams to make a statement—just with different levels of enthusiasm.

In an offseason that has seen the Los Angeles Angels acquire Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson on the same day, perhaps no other transaction can come anywhere close to drawing a similar level of fervor.

Still, the Diamondbacks’ end of the bargain seems particularly ho-hum compared to the A’s acquiring Parker and Cowgill.

Cahill and Breslow might be what the GM ordered, but the names seem excessively practical in this offseason trade environment, especially when contrasted with the departure of Parker—and the buzz associated with his maturation.

Ultimately, to declare Diamondbacks are significantly better or worse because of this trade is rather premature and inevitably subjective.

Cahill has never pitched for a non-Oakland team before and even in his limited experience against the National League in 2011, Cahill was fairly consistent with a 2-1 record and 2.52 ERA. His two starts against the San Francisco Giants and one against the Philadelphia Phillies were virtually flawless with a sub-1.15 ERA and 19 strikeouts over 21.2 innings pitched.

In 2010, Cahill was 3-0 against the NL with a 2.42 ERA in four starts.

Breslow pitched his best during his brief stint with San Diego in 2005, his only NL team, and has kept his ERA under control as of late.

Both pitchers’ win-loss records in Oakland are not very revealing because they both played for a team with one of the worst offenses in the American League over the past few years—third to last place in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, home runs, RBI, runs scored, hits and total bases.

The glass-half-full Arizona fan might also point to the uncertainty of Parker’s lasting post-Tommy John potential, the risk involved in signing three fresh-faced ballplayers and the relief of unloading three debatable prospects.

On the other hand, the glass-half-empty Arizona fan might point to the loss of a potentially great prospect in Parker, a highly decorated young outfielder in Cowgill and an apparently middle-of-the-road Cahill and Breslow combination.

In the end, the value and outcome of the Diamondbacks and Athletics trade is truly in the eye of the beholder.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Red Sox Considering Oakland Reliever Craig Breslow

Even as former Red Sox pitcher Craig Breslow was fanning his third batter in two innings of work against his former team this week, the Boston front office was kicking the tires on bringing the Oakland Athletics reliever back to Beantown.

Breslow last pitched for the Red Sox during the injury-plagued 2006 campaign.

That year, Breslow posted a 3.75 ERA over 12 innings of work. But two years later, he was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Indians.

Subsequently claimed by the Minnesota Twins and then the Athletics, Breslow found in Oakland something he lacked his first time around in Boston—innings.

Allowed a regular bullpen spot, Breslow has been nothing if not effective. This year, Breslow has posted a 3.02 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP across 44.2 innings.

The southpaw could contribute significantly down the stretch on a Boston club currently sporting one of the worst bullpens in the majors.

Particularly attractive when it comes to Breslow are his second-half numbers.

Breslow’s career August ERA is 2.56 and that number sinks to 1.83 in September and October.

The Sox will have competition if they decide to pursue Breslow. The New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers are also rumored to be interested, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports .

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Bob Geren Is No Einstein But He Does Fit His Definition of Insanity

Bob Geren does not belong with the name Albert Einstein, but he does have something in common with him. That is Einstein’s definition of insanity, which is doing the same things over and over again expecting a different result. 

Well, for the Oakland A’s and their bullpen, Geren continues to make the same errors in decision making or in some cases the lack of decision making process. Tonight’s another perfect example of Geren’s insanity. 

Craig Breslow came into pitch and I have no problem with Breslow being used in the eighth inning as long as he doesn’t have to face a powerful right handed bat. He got Erick Aybar a switch hitter batting right handed on flyball to right. 

Howie Kendrick was the next batter in the inning and he gave ball a good ride to right center field. If the A’s outfielders hadn’t been playing deep it could have been trouble, but Coco Crisp easily made the running catch. 

Bobby Abreu came to the plate and he hit a soft groundball to Cliff Pennington that he had to make a tough play on and wasn’t able to get Abreu at first. Next up, Torii Hunter, a dangerous aggressive hitter.

The kind of hitter that no manager should want their left handed pitcher to be facing in a situation where if Hunter takes Breslow deep. Geren did have Curt Young the A’s pitching coach go out to talk with Breslow. 

That didn’t work out so well because Hunter unloaded on a pitch and took it opposite field for a line shot over the right field fence. The game goes from being tied at 3-3 to the Angels winning 5-3. 

Luckily for the A’s they made a comeback of their own and tied the game up 5-5, but imagine if Geren actually did what he is paid to do! Would it have been a reasonable decision to bring in a right hander to face the aggressive Hunter? Absolutely! 

Of course this isn’t the first time that Breslow has been taken deep by a right handed bat in a close game either. 

The next lack of a decision came in the top of the 10th inning. Instead of relieving Andrew Bailey, Geren left him in to go two innings. Still the move was questionable at best. 

It’s understandable that Geren wanted to get Bailey some work after all he hadn’t pitched since July 4, but one inning should have been sufficient. Considering that the A’s have two more games to play against the Angels and the games are normally very close. 

What’s even worse though is that the A’s could have built momentum going into the all-star game if they had swept the Angels who had been struggling of late. The A’s were 41-45 coming into the game and the Angels were 46-42. 

Meaning that the A’s were four games back at the start of tonight’s game if they had won the A’s could have been only three games back of the Angels for second place in the American League West.

Instead the A’s are now five games back and can only hope to win the next two games of the series and be three back when the A’s had a chance of being only a game back at the break. 

Tonight’s just another example of just how bad a manager Geren is. There’s no excuse for the way he manages a game and furthermore, how he has kept his job for so long is beyond any A’s fans comprehension. 

Yes, Geren’s General Manager Billy Beane’s best friend, but there comes a point in time where Beane has to man up and fire his best friend. At the all-star break would be a great time to do it. 

Also, along with Geren hitting coach Jim Skaalen can go too!  

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Another Loss for the Oakland A’s After the Bullpen Is Misused Once Again

Bob Geren’s continued misuse of the Oakland A’s bullpen is getting very tiresome. Another game for the A’s where the decisions made by Geren were headscratching to say the least. 

Although, there was one decision that Geren made right was taking Gio Gonzalez out after pitching seven solid innings and bringing in Craig Breslow. This because Breslow has been the most consistent reliever out of the bullpen this year for the A’s. Every other decision after that has cost the A’s runs and the game. 

After Breslow pitched an inning, he was relieved by Andrew Bailey the A’s closer for the ninth inning. Most managers know the only reason to bring a closer into a game is in a save situation, unfortunately Geren doesn’t realize this. 

With the way Breslow had pitched in the eighth inning there was no reason not to bring him out for the ninth. Bailey came in and got the first out with a strikeout, got the second batter to fly out to shallow centerfield, but Bailey was not able to get the third out. 

He gave up a walk and then Bailey who was not paying attention to the runner allowed an easy stolen base. Jay Bruce was at the plate pinch hitting and even though Bailey got ahead of him and had him with two strikes, he left a pitch on the inside corner that was way too good of a pitch in that situation, and Bruce smacked the ball easily into right field for a single. Ryan Sweeney had no chance at throwing the runner out who scored from second. 

Bailey got out of the inning without incurring any more damage. Now, Bailey has also shown he can go more than an inning and at this point would have been left in. He didn’t take the loss because Kevin Kouzmanoff hit the first pitch he saw from Fracisco Cordero out of the ballpark tying the game up at 2-2. 

Into the game came the struggling Michael Wuertz. First pitch Ramon Hernandez sees he hits a rocket out to left field hitting the foul pole for a homerun. The next batter was Brandon Phillips who hit a single to right center. 

Wuertz was actually lucky that Phillips didn’t hustle down the line because he could have easily been at second base. Paul Janish was the next batter and he sacrificed Phillips to second. 

Joey Votto was the next batter for the Reds. Instead of bringing in a more experience left handed reliever in Jerry Blevins, Geren brought in Cedric Bowers to face Votto. Bowers didn’t help himself by falling behind to Votto with a 3-1 count. 

Instead of just letting Votto go to first, he tried to groove a pitch into Votto who was sitting dead red and hit the ball out for a two-run homerun. A game that was tied at 2-2 to start the inning was now a 5-2 Reds lead. 

Bowers should have been taken out right after he gave up the homerun, instead he was left in to face the dangerous Scott Rolen who promptly hit a solo shot off of Bowers to add to the Reds lead, 6-2.

The A’s in the bottom of the inning put some pressure on the Reds who actually showed Geren what you do in those situations. Cordero walked the first two batters of the inning. 

Baker then replaced Cordero with Daniel Ray Herrera who gave up a single to Kurt Suzuki but no runner was able to score. The A’s had the bases loaded with nobody out. 

Ryan Sweeney was the next batter up for the A’s and Herrera induced a ground ball to the right side that allowed a run to score, but now the A’s had runners on second and third with one out. 

Jordan Smith then relieved Herrera for the Reds. He got Kouzmanoff, the A’s hottest hitter, to ground out to third that allowed another A’s runner to score cutting the Red lead to 6-4. 

Jack Cust with a runner at second and the ability to tie the game just missed tying the game. He ran the count full, but ended up striking out that ended the game. 

Baker shows he’s been around for a while and he’s not going to leave a pitcher who is struggling in very long. In this case Cordero started the inning with back to back walks. 

Geren on the other hand, after Bowers allowed the two-run homerun to Votto, left Bowers in to face a dangerous hitter in Rolen. 

Not too mention the fact that Geren went in the top of the 10th inning with a reliever coming into the game with a 6.35 ERA and the pitcher replacing him had a decent ERA of 3.24 but didn’t have experience in a situation he was put into. 

It has come to the point for Geren to use Wuertz only in blowouts. It is clear that Wuertz’s confidence is not 100 percent and the only way for him to build into games where he isn’t going to blow a win. 

Yet, that’s too hard for Geren to realize. He still believes that Wuertz is the same guy from 2009 when Wuertz hasn’t even been remotely close to pitching like he did last year. 


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