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2.28.2007

Spring Fever

Braves 5, Georgia Tech 0

Ryan Langerhans homered and six pitchers combined on a two-hitter for the Braves, who continued their tradition of opening spring training against Georgia Tech or Georgia. Atlanta has never lost, improving to 20-0 against college competition with their 5-0 victory Wednesday afternoon.

Matt Harrison, one of Atlanta's top pitching prospects, gave up a single leading off the second, but struck out three during his two-inning stint. Jose Ascanio and Kevin Barry each worked two innings for the Braves, with Barry getting the win. Jonathan Johnson, Anthony Lerew and Joey Devine finished up with one inning apiece, combining for 14 K's.

Detroit 5, New York Mets 4

New York Mets pitcher Oliver Perez has such precise control, that he hit a Sports Illustrated photographer on the leg with one of his warmup pitches. He walked only one batter in two innings, but gave up four runs and five hits as the Mets lost 5-4 to the Detroit Tigers in their Spring Training opener.

Perez was 1-3 with a 6.38 ERA in seven regular-season starts last year with the Mets, who acquired him from Pittsburgh. He is a terrible 3-13 with a career 6.55 ERA in 22 major league starts.

Sean Casey went 1-for-2 with a double, and Marcus Thames had two hits, including a double.

Julio Franco hit a two-run single for the Mets, but Chad Durbin pitched two shutout innings without allowing a hit for Detroit. Durbin and Zach Miner both smoked a batter.

[MLB] and [MiLB]

Braves Get Busy


The Atlanta Braves got down to business on Wednesday, agreeing to terms with ten players. Catcher Brian McCann and outfielder Ryan Langerhans were each given one-year contracts with undisclosed financial terms, along with outfielder Matt Diaz, infielder Pete Orr and prospect Scott Thorman.

McCann, 23, batted a team-best .333 with 24 home runs and 93 RBIs - all career highs. The All-Star backstop had a great second half, collecting 18 homers and driving in 64 runs over his last 66 games. He is a career .317 hitter with 29 longballs in parts of two seasons with the Braves.

Langerhans, 27, struggled in his second full season in the majors, batting .241 with seven home runs and 28 RBIs in 131 games, but will compete for the starting job in left field this season.

The 27-year-old Orr saw some time backing up second base and hit .253 over 102 games last season.

Diaz, 28, played on a pretty regular basis last season, hitting .327 with seven homers and 32 RBIs, while platooning with Langerhans in left field.

Thorman, Atlanta's first-round selection in 2000, batted .234 with five home runs and 14 RBIs in 55 games last season, his first in the majors. The 25-year-old is at the top of the list to replace Adam LaRoche as the Braves' starting first baseman.

The club also signed pitchers Manny Acosta and Tyler Yates, outfielders T.J. Bohn and Gregor Blanco and catching prospect Brayan Pena to one-year contracts.

[]

Athletics In Temporary Shambles

Oakland Athletics outfielder Bobby Kielty, who injured his left knee during a rundown drill on Sunday, needs arthroscopic surgery and will be out for three to six weeks.

Kielty agreed to a $2.1 million, one-year contract in late January to avoid arbitration with the A's and play as the primary backup outfielder again for the club. Last season, he batted .270 with eight home runs and 36 RBIs in 81 games for the AL West champions.


Eye-candy center fielder Mark Kotsay is also out with a stiff back, one that haunted him several times last season. Milton Bradley will start center in his place for Oakland's first two Cactus League games, beginning with Thursday's exhibition opener against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Gold Glove third baseman Eric Chavez, who nursed tendinitis in his elbows and forearms for most of last season, also will sit for Thursday's game and is set to play for the first time Friday, also against the Brewers.

Former rookie of the year Bobby Crosby, who's been out since late August with a back injury, hasn't been slated to play yet, either and is still waiting to face live pitching.

[San Francisco Chronicle]

Trader Girardi


Florida Marlins officials were displeased when they discovered that last year's manager, Joe Girardi, gave rival pitcher Jon Lieber helpful tips on his delivery during the 2006 season.

Lieber claims his season with the Philadelphia Phillies hit a turnaround point shortly after he was whooped on by the Marlins July 31st. He credits a phone call from Girardi, who he played with from 2000-2002 with the Chicago Cubs.

"He just mentioned that the hitters said everything that was coming in was just very flat. I wasn't on top of the ball like I should have been," Lieber confessed.

Both teams contended for the NL wild-card berth, and Lieber went on beat the Marlins twice in September. Florida then finished 10 games behind NL wild-card winning Los Angeles Dodgers and seven games behind Philadelphia.

Girardi's relationship with management quickly went down the john in his only season with Florida, when he was fired in October, then chosen as NL Manager of the Year.

Lefty Dontrelle Willis doesn't see what the fuss is about. "What are you going to do now?" he said. "He doesn't even work here anymore. You can't dock his pay... I don't think it's a big deal. If we lost the wild card by two games, OK. But there are so many different other factors."

After his failing managerial career, Girardi has come to terms with the YES network to return to the broadcast booth for 60+ games as a Yankees analyst. He will also co-host a new show on the network, Behind The Plate, with John Flaherty, also a former Yankee catcher.

[]

Spring Fever

Marlins 12, Miami 7

Miguel Cabrera homered and top prospect Chris Volstad didn't allow any runs, aiding the Florida Marlins in their win over No. 12 University of Miami, 12-7 on Tuesday.

Volstad, who signed with the Hurricanes out of high school but instead turned pro after the Marlins made him their first-round draft pick in 2005, started and allowed two doubles but struck out two in 1.2 innings. He's expected to start the season at Class-A Jupiter.

Outfielders Jeremy Hermida and Joe Borchard also homered for the Marlins, who face their first big league opponent Wednesday when they play the champs - St. Louis Cardinals.

Tigers 14, Southern Florida 0

Jim Leyland used 8 pitchers and none of them gave up more than one hit in the Tigers' 14-run domination-fest over on Tuesday. The game began just as exciting, as Curtis Granderson hit a leadoff homer in the first.

One of the left-handers vying for the final spot in the rotation is Edward Campusano, who pitched a scoreless seventh inning, striking out two. He was selected from Milwaukee in the winter-meeting draft after saving 25 games in the minors last year.

[MLB] and [MiLB]

A Babe Hits A Milestone...

THE FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF HER 21ST BIRTHDAY!!!

Today, as you all may or may not know, is none other than Babe Soozy's 26th birthday (haha, she's got six months on me) and I would ask all of our gentile readers to wish her all the happiness, tequila, and Twins World Series wins in the world. Just think Sooz, had 1981 been a leap year, and you'd stayed snuggled inside your mother's uterus for another 12 hours or so, you'd only be like, six now:)

Drink up Soozinator, I hear alcohol tolerance plummets as we barrel toward the big 3-0...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SOOZ!!!

(Oh yeah, sorry for hijacking one of your wedding pictures for this post, but it was the only other one of you on your myspace that wasn't the fucking smoking hot picture you already have of yourself on your profile)

2.27.2007

Vets Committee Elects... No One


Looks like Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn will stand alone at the July 29th Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown.

Ron Santo, Jim Kaat, former head of the Major League Baseball Players Association and all the other candidates were left out of the Hall Tuesday when the Veterans Committee refrained from admitting new members for the third straight election.

Santo, former Cubs third baseman, five-time Gold Glover and nine-time All-Star, was picked on 57 of 82 ballots, racking up 70% of the vote... just 5 votes shy of an induction.

Kaat, a 283-game winner, nabbed 52 votes while Gil Hodges, who hit 370 home runs in his career, tallied fifty. Three-time AL batting Champ had 47 - a complete travesty.

A 15-member panel was expanded in 2002 to include all living Hall of Famers. The new committee votes every other year for players and every four years for the umpires, managers and executives. The 84 eligible voters on the vets committee included 61 Hall members, 14 broadcasters, eight writers and one holdover from the previous panel.

The rest of the players ballot was highlighted by Joe Torre, Roger Maris, Luis Tiant, Maury Wills and Bobby Bonds.

[Hartford Courant]

Crain Gets Serious With Twins


In an effort to keep their bullpen strong for 2007 and beyond, the Minnesota Twins gave reliever Jesse Crain a three-year contract on Tuesday, keeping him around for a dependable right arm and occasional setup man to closer Automatic Joe Nathan.

The 25-year-old went 4-5 with a 3.52 ERA in 68 games last season, helping the Twins come from behind for their fourth AL Central title in five seasons. In his final 22 appearances, Crain was 2-0 with a 0.38 ERA, allowing just 14 hits.

In his two-plus year career, spent solely in Minnesota, Crain is 19-10 with a 2.95 ERA in 165 appearances.

Crain said he was somewhat surprised when the Twins approached him about a new contract. "It was something I was actually hoping for, but I wasn't sure it was going to happen with everybody that had arbitration this year," Crain said. "I'm excited for it and look forward to being with the Twins."

[Star Tribune]

Gag Topps Card


Somewhere between the final proofing and its printing, someone at Topps thought it would be funny to put a smiling and waving President Bush in the stands and Mickey Mantle looking on from the dugout in a new #40 Derek Jeter baseball card.

A spokesman for Topps said that the discrepancy was discovered during the proofing of the card, but that it was already in the set. "We couldn't do anything but laugh," he chuckled.

This prank will most likely raise the price of the card, which is currently going for $202.50 on Ebay.

This isn't the first card to be tampered with during production. For example, the 1969 Topps of Aurelio Rodriguez featured a photo of a bat boy instead of an infielder. And how could we forget the infamous "f---face" inscribed on the bat of Orioles second baseman Bill Ripken's 1989 Fleer card? Jeter said he didn't know anything about the card and a White House spokesman declined to comment.

Derek Jeter may be pretty good, but he's no Honus Wagner, whose 1909 tobacco card just sold for a record $2.35 million to a Southern California card collector.

[]

I received the BEST birthday card ever today from one of my favorite women in the entire universe.

I just wanted to share its awesomeness with everyone.


Although a visa has been approved, Minnesota Twins righthander Sidney Ponson might be unable to pitch in a spring training game for nearly two weeks. He is scheduled to obtain his visa is on March 9th in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the day of the Twins' 10th spring training game.

Apparently, an immigration lawyer advised Ponson to get the wrong type of visa. Most players obtain P-1 visas - earmarked for international athletes - in order to play here in the big leagues. He was advised to obtain an O visa, one that is "specifically for the admission of persons with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business and athletics" which doesn't necessarily describe Ponson.

Ron Gardenhire is not happy.

"[Getting the visa] hasn't been done," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Who's dropping the ball? I know we're not dropping the ball, so somebody on his side, whether it's himself or his agent, needs to get this taken care of."

In other Twins news, if you're vying for a spot on the 40-man roster, now is not the time to have neck problems.

Right-hander Matt Garza felt a slight pain in his upper neck along with headaches while throwing Saturday batting practice and will undergo a CAT scan. Garza felt a slight pain in his upper neck while throwing batting practice on Saturday. If he actually misses any time this spring due to the injury, he will likely lose out on a spot in the rotation and start the season in the minors.

Infielder Jeff Cirillo also reported stiffness in his neck, unable to do much of anything on Monday, and is considered day to day. Also, outfielder Lew Ford, who had surgery on his left knee in January, was feeling some pain in his right knee after throwing in the outfield, possibly due to overcompensating with his right. He went in for an MRI with results due this week.


[Star Tribune]

2.26.2007


Thanks to Ian at for the heads up on this one - I've been far, far away from baseball news today, shoveling my way out of the house.

New York Yankees right fielder Bobby Abreu is expected to miss at least two weeks after significantly straining his right oblique during batting practice on Monday.

To some, this may seem like fate is attempting to bring outfielder Bernie Williams back, but GM Brian Cashman and manager Joe Torre claim that is not the case. "It's not an option we're looking at," Cashman said. "Bobby is coming back. The question is when."

The hope is that Abreu will be ready for Opening Day on April 2nd.

Torre said it was too early to announce his opening day starter, but here's the spring training lineup for this week: Chien-Ming Wang is scheduled to start the opener on Thursday against Minnesota and Andy Pettitte will pitch Friday, with Mike Mussina going Saturday and Japanese lefty Kei Igawa scheduled for Monday.

[Sporting News]

Curt Schilling Will Guide You Home


Not exactly a sports story, but Red Sox Ace and Boston Blowhard Curt Schilling has lent his voice to TomTom Inc., a GPS provider.

The business announced today that it is offering 70 preloaded voices for its portable navigation systems that consumers can buy and download. Besides Schilling, people can buy the voices of Burt Reynolds and Mr. T.

At the end of each trip, Schilling's voice thanks God for giving him the strength to tell you, "You're almost home! SLIDE!! SLIDE!!!"

[Boston.com]

Red Sox left-fielder and notorious space-case Manny Ramirez arrived at the Sox Ft. Meyers training camp today. As expected Manny did not speak to reporters, but jumped into batting practice against Dice-K, only taking three pitches. Manny's agents insist that he had no intention of attending the car auction that he was scheduled to be at this past Saturday, but just that he says yes to everything.

I actually believe that. David Ortiz was grilled on Manny's whereabouts, but insisted on keeping it real. Have I mentioned recently how much I absolutely love that large, large man? My sincere thanks to the Twins organization for letting him go:) (KISSES TO SOOZ)

Also in the link above is a Q and A between fans and Manny's agent, Greg Genske. One thing you gotta love about Red Sox Nation is that they don't mince words.

Q-Do you think since he’s your meal ticket, you should try to help him grow up?

A-“Again, I wouldn’t agree with your characterization, either of Manny’s behavior or of whatever else you’re talking about.”

For this, and many other "no comment" gems, check out the interview on Boston.com.

[Boston.com]


Johnny Damon rejoined the Yankees at Legends Field on Monday after a two-day excused absence to tend to what he described as a personal matter.

The center fielder spent the weekend at home with his family in the Orlando area, but wouldn't discuss the specifics, because "the issue has been resolved... everything is great." He did let on that it did not involve his father or baby girl, who was born in January.

"Fortunately, a little personal matter that I had take to care of was in February and not in June or July or anytime during the season. I feel a lot better today than a couple days ago. Something was worrying me and I took care of it. It's a non-issue now," he eluded.

Seriously? What, are you in the mob now? Damon did receive permission to leave after talking with GM Brian Cashman and manager Joe Torre following Friday's workout. He says that he feels like a stronger person because those two days were apparently key to keeping his mind clear. He says it's all about baseball now.

Carl Pavano Injury Update: The MRI exam and X-rays taken Sunday on the right-hander's injured left foot showed a bone bruise from being nailed by a liner during Saturday's batting practice. He says he feels a little stiff, but that it's nothing to worry about.



[ESPN]


Sunday morning, Scottsdale Stadium was filled with the music of Frank Sinatra, Hank Williams Jr. and... Will Ferrell?

The Giants again staged "Giants Idol," the two-day "American Idol" takeoff that features mostly rookies, benefits charity and helps the club get to know each other through light-hearted humiliation hilarity. Last year's inaugural event raised $6,000 for a local charity and proved to be a hit among players, who apparently valued the bonding.

This year's opening round was a huge rip-off, as it lacked the Kodak moments from last year, when Travis Ishikawa ripped off his pants to reveal Speedo underwear and Barry Bonds emerged from the clubhouse in drag as Paula Abdul. This time, there was much more lip-synching than actual singing, and it was The Other Barry's turn to portray Paula.

Infielder Rich Aurilia filled the role of Idol judge Simon Cowell, tearing Kevin Frandsen apart after his rendition of Afternoon Delight - Anchorman style in a sky-blue blazer, white turtleneck and hot double-knit checkered slacks to enhance his wig and fake mustache.

Outfielder Ben Copeland was bare-chested except for a purple vest and a striped tie, completing his rocker garb with skintight faux black leather pants cut off below the knee. After struggling through the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Around the World" he revealed a tattoo on his torso the read "Born Bad."

Mouthing "Fly Me To The Moon," right-hander Tim Lincecum wore a dark suit and fedora while clutching a cigarette in one hand and a pretend stiff drink in the other. Right-hander Matt Palmer, who actually relied on his own voice, sang Hank Williams Jr.'s "Country Boy Can Survive" wearing a 10-gallon hat, overalls and boots.

The competition will continue Monday when Fred Lewis, Eugenio Velez, Steve Holm, Eddy Martinez-Esteve and Ivan Ochoa will be the headliners.

Giants Idol Photos

[San Francisco Chronicle]


Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella will keep two of his big guns out of the first week of Cactus League games, to further nurse them back to health and avoid any sort of potential baseball-related injuries.

So far, so good for the right-handed Mark Prior, who threw 35 pitches to hitters in a live batting practice session on Sunday morning at Fitch Park. He'll have Monday off, then throw light toss and another BP session, his velocity improving each time. Prior himself expects to be ready by Opening Day without question, but he is not on pitching coach Larry Rothschild's list for the first five games.

After spending the winter rehabbing his right shoulder, Kerry Wood, is slowly but surely being groomed for the bullpen. He faced hitters on Saturday for the first time, slightly behind the other pitchers, but seems to be doing well after the hot tub incident earlier this month.

As for the rest of the starters, the Cactus League rotation will be Jason Marquis on Thursday against the Giants, followed by Carlos Zambrano on Friday vs. the Angels. Wade Miller will go Saturday against the Athletics along with Jeff Samardzija, and Rich Hill is on for Sunday against the White Sox. Ted Lilly, the other addition to the Cubs rotation, will face the Mariners on March 5th.

[Chicago Cubs]

Spring Training injuries are beginning to pile up.

Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Scott Hairston was drilled in the right arm by a line drive during batting practice on Saturday, while leading off at second. With the ball just missing his elbow, he was treated by trainers and left the field, but said later that the blow was nothing serious.

Hairston may not be able to throw for a couple of days, but since he was hit above the elbow, perhaps the damage will be minor. He has a history of injury problems, but is definitely in the mix for the final available roster spot with the D'backs.

In 15 at-bats with Arizona last season, the righty hit .400 with 6 hits - 2 of them doubles - 2 runs scored, a walk and five strikeouts.

[Arizona Republic]


This post is a request by our buddy Andrew, who once compared Jeff Samardzija to the incomparable Joe Mauer.

He's right. Two-sport star athletes are as rare as they come. But there is only one Joe Mauer.

Anyway, only two months ago, everyone assumed Samardzija - you can call him 'Shark' - would be sprinting 40-yarders in Indianapolis. Instead, he's at in Mesa, Arizona with the Chicago Cubs, a spot on the 40-man roster and a $10 million contract in his sights.

The reason everyone was so shocked? Shark was looking at a first or second round pick out of Notre Dame with the invitation to Cubs Spring training camp also on his doorstep. Ultimately, the decision was his to make.

He consulted Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis, obviously a strong advocate of football who also happens to be a huge Yankees fan. No pun intended. He also asked for the advice of former Notre Dame baseball coach, who just so happens to be a close friend of Cubs GM Jim Hendry. Of course, the young man also asked the opinion of his father, Sam. Probably a Cubs fan.

"It was just the feeling baseball gave me," he said. "I really can't explain it."

Samardzija's wide reciever career at Notre Dame was highlighted by 101 receptions for 1,576 yards with 15 touchdowns from 2003-05. On the flip-side of that coin, he was a career 21-6 with a 3.82 ERA from 2004-06. In seven starts between Boise and Peoria last year, Samardzija went 1-2 with a 2.70 ERA.

The 220-pound, 6'5" righty hurls his fastball up to 98 mph and complements it with a veteran-style slider, luring Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild to devote some extra time to him this spring. His first piece of pitching advice to the youngster was to cut his damn hair and wear his hat straight. No joke.

Coincidentally, Samardzija grew up a Cubs fan.


Player Bio: Baseball
Player Bio: Football

2.25.2007

After being nailed in the left foot by an Alberto Gonzalez liner on Saturday, Yankees pitcher Carl Pavano had an MRI exam and X-rays taken Sunday on his injured left foot. The team hasn't immediately released the results, but Pavano said afterward that he wasn't concerned since the tests were simply a precautionary measure. He continued to throw pitched after being hit, and doesn't seem at all concerned about a return to the mound.

Pavano didn't participate in on-field drills, but he did undergo treatment like icing and elevating. It's pretty up in the air if the right-hander will pitch in Tuesday's intrasquad game or not.

"Hopefully he doesn't fall behind significantly. It's not going to matter if he misses a day or so. I'm sure it's sore. We'll have to wait and see," manager Joe Torre said.

Pavano, going into the third season of a four-year contract, hasn't pitched in the majors since June 27, 2005, due to a variety of injuries.

Also, thanks to Sam for this tidbit of information: closer Mariano Rivera threw 32 pitches during his second BP session, adding a huge smile after Robinson Cano whiffed his last pitch. The righty told the New York Times that he won't sign with the Bronx Bombers' archrivals in Boston, considering the teams' fierce rivalry. So, you can quit drooling now, Red Sox fans.

In other Yankees news, center fielder Johnny Damon, who left spring training camp for what he stated as a personal matter, is expected to return as soon as Monday after missing two days of workouts. Right-handed pitcher Humberto Sanchez threw BP after his regular session had been pushed back one day due to mild tightness in his right forearm. Reliever Brian Bruney will be shutdown for four or five days with back problems and lefty pitcher Ben Kozlowski will not throw for a couple days due to issues with his side.

[CBS Sportsline and ESPN]

Season Preview: The Milwaukee Brewers

We're officially over the hump in the NL Central with this preview of the Milwaukee Brewers' upcoming season.

The Brewers' starting five appears to be set, beginning with ace and rather good looking young man, Chris Capuano. The left-hander struggled a bit last season, going 11-12 with a 4.03 ERA in 34 starts, but struck out 174 batters. He went 10-4 in the first half and earned a trip to the All-Star Game, but slumped to 1-8 after the break. Second in the rotation is righty Ben Sheets, coming off a season plagued by shoulder tendinitis that was caused by a torn upper back muscle he suffered in August 2005. Former NL Central nemesis, veteran Jeff Suppan, committed to a $42 million, 4-year deal with the Brew Crew on Christmas Eve. The NLCS MVP has a 5-0 record with a 1.76 ERA in seven career starts at Miller Park. Dave Bush 27, and Claudio Vargas, 28, both finished 2006 with 12 wins and room to grow. The club acquired Vargas along with catcher Johnny Estrada and reliever Greg Aquino from Arizona, parting with reliable left-hander Doug Davis.

The bullpen, highlighted by closer Francisco Cordero, is chock-full of right-handers. Jose Capellan, Derrick Turnbow, Dennis Sarfate and Matt Wise each throw from the right side, with Brian Shouse being the only left-hander in the bunch. Suppan's arrival to the rotation means the Brewers will now have an opportunity to send their prospects back for more Minor League seasoning. At the top of that list is 23-year-old righty Carlos Villanueva, who made the jump from AA to the big leagues last season, posting a 3.69 ERA in 10 appearances. Fellow 40-man roster members Grant Balfour and Ben Hendrickson will also compete, as will ten more non-roster invitees.

It's gonna be a knockdown, drag-out Spring Training battle between outfielders vying for roster spots, with much of the focus on Geoff Jenkins, a former first-round Brewers' draft pick and everyday player since 1999, who is coming off some sort of winter "soul searching" and will be looking to hold onto his job as the team's starting right fielder. There are eight other outfielders on the 40-man roster, all with Major League experience: Drew Anderson, Brady Clark, Gabe Gross, Tony Gwynn Jr., Corey Hart, Kevin Mench and Laynce Nix. There's also Bill Hall, the reigning club MVP, who will make the transition from the infield to outfield this season.

Second baseman Rickie Weeks and shortstop J.J. Hardy are both ready for the start of the season, anxious to prove what they're capable of with a full season as a young middle-infield duo. Both players needed season-ending surgery in 2006 to repair tendon problems - Hardy's in his right ankle and Weeks' in his right wrist. Craig Counsell, 36, was re-signed for a second season, mostly to serve as a backup to Hardy at short. Also returning is Tony Graffanino, 34, who was acquired from Kansas City last July to replace the injured Weeks at second. Both Counsell and Graffanino are 11-year veterans, and both have experience at all four infield positions, should injury arise.

Coming off a solid rookie season, first baseman Prince Fielder will be back for his sophomore season looking to build on a 28-homer, 81-RBI effort. Across the diamond though, the third base spot remains in limbo with Corey Koskie's status still uncertain for 2007, considering his battle with post-concussion syndrome. One possibility for Opening Day other than Koskie, Counsell or Graffanino, is top prospect Ryan Braun.

Trading for the switch-hitting Estrada, Milwaukee now has a new face to crouch behind home plate in front of last year's starter Damian Miller, who become a backup for the first time since 1998. At first, the 37-year-old Miller was angry about the trade. But as he put it, he began to "dwell on the positives. Maybe it's time for the kids to play." Miller suffered at least two concussions, and by the end of the season, was hurting in both Achilles tendons, right hamstring and lower back. Adding insult to injury, he strained a ribcage muscle during the final week of the season while holding open a door for a woman at the team hotel in Chicago. Mike Rivera, third on the backstop list, started the team's final 10 games behind the plate.

The Crew finished 75-87 last season, fourth in the division and 8.5 games back. They've made the offseason moves and seem to have a grip on their rotation. All that's left is to win some games. A big spot for improvement would be intradivisional work, as the club went 37-45 against teams in the NL Central. They also sucked on the road - away from Miller Park, the Brewers went 27-54 in 2006. If they want to have anything to do with a division title, besides not having one, they must start winning more away games.

[Depth Chart]

Following Saturday's workout at the Houston Astros spring training camp, lefty Troy Patton had to be carted off the field after stepping on a sprinkler head while running sprints in the outfield.

Patton claims the sprinkler head was covered up with grass, so he couldn't see it.

He was diagnosed with a slight left ankle sprain and is listed as day to day. The injury will force him to miss fielding practice for a few days, though he'll still be able to throw.

"I was really scared," Patton said. "Whenever I first did it, it hurt so bad. I heard a pop and I thought it was way worse than it was. I didn't like being hurt running. My arm feels great."

[Houston Chronicle]

Seattle Mariners reliever Mark Lowe will have arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow next week, pushing a potential return back to June or July.

Lowe, 23, was penciled in to be the Mariners' future setup man for closer J.J. Putz, until Lowe was placed on the DL Aug. 20th with what doctors feared to be tendinitis of the elbow.

He then had holes drilled into his elbow in October to regenerate cartilage, and an MRI last week showed the regeneration went well. His second surgery is to make sure all is well structurally with the joint.

Manager Mike Hargrove said last week he wasn't counting on Lowe pitching for Seattle this season, but did not rule out a possible midseason return. In 18.2 innings with the Mariners last season, the youngster went 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA, fanning 20 batters and walking nine.


Source:

2.24.2007

The Colorado Rockies signed outfielder Steve Finley to a minor league contract on Saturday as a non-roster invitee to the club's spring training camp.

Finley, who will turn 42 next month, hit .246 last year with the San Francisco Giants, including six homers and 40 RBIs. He's a career .272 hitter with 303 home runs and 320 stolen bases - one of only six players to do so - over 18 Major League seasons with eight different clubs.

Coors Field welcomes Finley's bat with open arms, as he has hit .314 there.


Source: Colorado Rockies


New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera threw live batting practice on Friday and reported absolutely no problems with his pitching arm. He threw 35 to the likes of Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon, Bobby Abreu and Robinson Cano.

The Yanks are planning on limiting Rivera to just one-inning outings this season, in hopes of reducing any strain on his arm as the season progresses. Claiming to be near 100% health, Rivera has also been messing around with a changeup, which could be added to his arsenal this season.

Still no contract-extension talks with the talented righty. The club would prefer to wait until the season is over to officially bring anything up.


Source: Hartford Courant

Season Preview: The Cincinnati Reds

Moving right along with our National League Central Season Previews is a long-winded look at the Cincinnati Reds 2007 season.

Ace Aaron Harang was 16-11 with a 3.76 ERA in 35 starts last season, pitching 234.1 innings with a league-best 216 strikeouts and six complete games. Yet, he didn't receive one tally, not even for third place, in NL Cy Young Award voting. Meanwhile, as the Reds lone All-Star rep, Bronson Arroyo, led the Majors in innings pitched (240.2) with a 14-11 record, a 3.29 ERA and 184 strikeouts. With the 1-2 punch of Harang and Arroyo, who cares who the third, fourth and fifth starters are? We'll get into it any way.

Kyle Lohse, who was dumped by the Twins at the July 31st deadline, had a pretty crappy combined 5-10 record with a 5.83 ERA in 19 starts and 15 relief appearances in 2006. The right-hander showed a bit of improvement in Cincy, going 3-5 with a 4.50 ERA in 11 starts. Eric Milton will be entering the final year of his three-year deal with the Reds, attempting to not allow more than 40 home runs as he did in 2005. The lefty was 8-8 with a 5.19 ERA and was wheeled into the operating room twice during the 2006 season.

Right-handers Kirk Saarloos, Matt Belisle, Elizardo Ramirez, non-roster invitee Victor Santos and lefties Bobby Livingston and Phil Dumatrait are all considered in the race for the final spot in the rotation, along with top pitching prospect Homer Bailey.

Midseason, the majority of the bullpen was overhauled in an effort to make a 5.16 first-half ERA more respectable. Some of the moves worked. For example, the additions of Eddie Guardado and Scott Schoeneweis, now a New York Met after free-agency. Trading for the sore-armed Gary Majewski on the other hand, did not help get the Reds into the playoffs. There was second-half improvement, though, as the pen ended the year with a 4.38 ERA. Left-hander Mike Stanton was signed to a two-year contract, leading all active pitchers with 1,108 career relief appearances and a 2.10 postseason ERA. He and David Weathers, a returning veteran, could likely share a bulk of the closer's duties until Guardado rehabilitates his way back from Tommy John surgery on his left elbow.

Todd Coffey could be used mostly in the seventh and eighth innings along with lefty Bill Bray. The pen is absolutely stocked with lefties with veteran Rheal Cormier and youngster Brian Shackelford also in the mix. Brad Salmon and Jared Burton will round out the right side.

Center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. was limited to 109 games in 2006, when he batted .252 with 27 home runs and 72 RBIs due to an injury list longer than this season preview. There is talk of the 37-year-old shifting to right field to lessen wear and tear on his various fragile body parts, but should he remain in center field, right could be a revolving door among several players. Utility outfielder Ryan Freel might see a bulk of the playing time with new acquisitions Jeff Conine and Bubba Crosby, Chris Denorfia and Norris Hopper. Adam Dunn's name sat on the Hot Stove as potential trade bait early and often during the offseason, but he will return as Cincinnati's regular left fielder. Rule 5 Draft acquisition and former #1 overall draft choice Josh Hamilton and non-roster invite Dewayne Wise will be vying to stick on the 25-man roster as reserve outfielders.

A middle-infield combo armed with good gloves and a couple of cannons, second baseman Brandon Phillips and shortstop Alex Gonzalez have the starting spots all locked up. Gonzalez, considered one of the top defensive shortstops in the AL last season with the Boston Red Sox, committed only 7 errors with a .985 fielding percentage and batted .255 with 9 homers and 50 RBIs. Their bench is also set with another former Twin, Juan Castro. Counted on for solid defense and the occassional spectacular play, Castro hit .284 in 54 games with the Reds last season.

Third baseman Edwin Encarnacion's defense pretty much sucked last year. The 23-year-old made 25 errors, tied for the most in the league, which could be attributed to age. His offensive picture has been much brighter, however. The righty hit .276 with 15 longballs and a team-leading 33 doubles, while his 72 runs driven in tied him for third on the club.

At the opposite corner of the infield, first baseman Scott Hatteberg is beyond any and all baseball growing pains at age 37. Committing just four errors in 1,074 total chances for a .996 fielding percentage, Hatteberg had a 100-game streak going last season without an error that was the longest in the Majors since 2003. His bat isn't half-bad either, hitting .289 with 13 homers and 51 RBIs last year. Backing up Hatteberg will be right-handed-hitting Jeff Conine. The 40-year-old veteran, who was acquired last month in a trade with Philadelphia to replace now San Francisco Giant Rich Aurilia's bat, hit a combined .268 with 10 home runs and 66 RBIs for the Orioles and Phillies last season.

Starting catcher David Ross, who came into Cincinnati with a reputation as mainly a defensive-minded catcher, pleasantly surprised the club when he established career-bests with 21 homers and 52 RBIs in a career-high 90 games while batting .255. Backing up Ross will be the switch-hitting Javier Valentin and newly-acquired Chad Moeller.

The Reds finished third in their division last season with a losing 80-82 record, 3.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals. They did boast a 46-39 record against teams in the Central, but they could use some improvement on the road to stay in contention for a playoff appearance.


Depth Chart

Crosby To Hit On Field


Oakland Athletics shortstop Bobby Crosby has a feeling that he will be hitting on the field as soon as Monday after another pain-free soft toss session on Friday.

After being sidelined in August for what eventually was diagnosed as a fractured vertebra in his lower back, the righty took the first step to a healthy return on Tuesday, hitting off a tee at Papago Park. The real test will come when he stands in against live pitching, which should happen early next week.

One theory surrounding Crosby's injury is that he swings much too hard. Bobby says he's willing to hold back a bit, but he's not sure if a life of swinging every bat like it was his last will be a hard habit to kick.

In 96 games last season, Crosby hit .229 with 9 home runs and 40 RBIs.


Source: Oakland Athletics

Zack Greinke Has Issues


Zack Greinke thought his baseball career was over last year, after being diagnosed with a social anxiety disorder.

Greinke, one of 2002's most awkward first-round draft picks, left Kansas City's spring training camp unexpectedly on Feb. 25, 2006 and headed to his Florida home for what he described as personal reasons. He returned to the Royals in September and says now that he's over it.

This thing he got over. Apparently, the kid didn't even like playing baseball. What? He told people while in the minors that he hated the game and didn't want to play it. Greinke went 8-11 with a 3.97 ERA in 24 starts as a rookie in 2004 but dropped to 5-17 with a 5.80 ERA the following year, when he led the AL in losses.

"That was actually my favorite year." Greinke said.

I know what you're thinking, Royals fan. What a dick! That was his favorite year? When he sucked the most ass in the league? No wonder the Royals were so terrible.

Greinke continued, "I felt bad because I let our team down. I realized I wasn't that good." Alright then.

He made it back to the big leagues on September 22nd when he pitched one inning against the Detroit Tigers. Overall, he was 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA in three relief appearances over 6.1 innings, arriving at spring training to compete for a spot in the Royals' rotation.

Greinke is slated to make his spring training debut on March 4th against the Texas Rangers.


Source: Kansas City Star

2.23.2007

Heads Up!

Baltimore Orioles reliever Jamie Walker suffered a mild concussion when he was smoked in the back of the head by a Nick Markakis liner during batting practice on Friday.

Walker went for X-rays at a nearby hospital, where he was diagnosed and given a CAT scan, which was negative. He is day to day.

Note to Jamie: Pay attention to the man in the box.

Source: CBS News

After Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi watched Joe Matumoto work out earlier this week, the club agreed to a minor league contract with the 36-year-old left-hander, who pitched for Brazil's national team. Matumoto was also given an invitation Toronto's spring training camp.

Matumoto, a Sao Paulo, Brazil native, was selected MVP of the 2005 South American Games, and is considered to be the ace of Brazil's National club.


Source: Toronto Blue Jays

We've all seen it: Yogi Berra leaping into arms after the final out of the pitcher's perfect game in the 1956 World Series.

For decades, it also was considered one of the few images that survived from that day, with footage from the original broadcast of the entire game assumed to be lost forever.

Enter Doak Ewing, an Illinois sports film collector and founder of Rare Sports Films, Inc. He revealed last year that in the early 1990s he had acquired a kinescope - made by using a movie camera to film a television broadcast directly off the screen - that featured all but the first inning of Game 5 between the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees.

Apparently, an Alaska man acquired the recording while serving overseas. It was a common practice in the 50s for networks to send kinescopes of the World Series to U.S. forces to watch, with the condition that they be destroyed afterward.

The Larsen game managed to survive, and from Alaska made its way to an Oregon flea market in the 90s, where a collector found it and notified Ewing, who hasn't showed it publicly or reproduced it for fear of having it pirated.

On Friday night, Ewing will show the only known recording of Larsen's perfect game to the public for the first time. The audience at the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center will include Larsen, Yogi Berra and Bob Wolff, who did the original radio broadcast. All three are anxious, since they haven't seen it since the day it was played.

The evening will begin with a baseball-style buffet, followed by the game and then a question-and-answer session with Larsen, Berra and Wolff. A portion of the ticket sales (80 of them priced at $300 each) will go to the museum and the Don Larsen Foundation.

Berra still recalls what he said to Larsen after the Yankees won the '56 Series in seven games and Larsen was named MVP.

"I could have won the car if you hadn't pitched a no-hitter."


Source: USA Today


Usually, the stories of so-and-so arriving at Spring Training camp are pretty meaningless to me. They're supposed to be there, so what's the story? This one's a little different.

Sammy Sosa arrived two hours early for spring training to complete a physical with the Texas Rangers early Friday morning, appearing to be in tip-top shape and high spirits after an entire season out of the game.

Sosa, 38, struck a minor league deal last month with the club for a chance at redemption.

The former NL MVP and seven-time All-Star, whose 588 home runs are fifth on the career list, was 16 when Texas signed him from the Dominican Republic in 1985, where he hit his first home run - the only one in 25 games for the club before being traded to the Chicago White Sox.

Before his 2005 season with the Orioles, when he hit .221 with 14 home runs and 45 RBIs in 102 games, Sosa was one of several players whose image changed forever when he testified before a congressional committee searching for players who used steroids before they were banned after the 2002 season.

If he makes the roster, rookie manager Ron Washington expects him to primarily see time at the designated hitter spot and bat in the middle of the lineup behind shortstop Michael Young and switch-hitting slugger Mark Teixeira. If everything works out, he will get a $500,000, one-year deal and could possibly earn up to $2.1 million more in performance bonuses.

Sosa enjoyed his MVP season in 1998, when he hit .308 with a career-high 66 home runs and 158 RBIs for the Chicago Cubs; the same year he battled 70-home run hitter Mark McGwire in the home run chase.


Source:

2.22.2007

Schilling May Be With Sox In 2008. Or Not

Red Sox ace Curt Schilling plans to file for free agency at the end of the 2007 season.

Schilling wins the "Roger Clemens Media Whore of the Week" award. The 2007 New York Yankees finished a very close second.

Sox GM Theo Epstein refused to award Schill a contract extension based on the fact that he will be 41 at the beginning of 2008, and has not had a consistently good season since the 2004 World Series win.

However, just to prove exactly how "non-story" this whole story is, Schilling didn't rule out resigning with the Red Sox at the end of this year. Way to pull a Pedro and take your contract grievances to the Boston Globe.


Source: ESPN

El Duque Leaves Mets Camp

Orlando Hernandez has left the Mets' spring training camp, returning to New York to have his neck checked out.

Set to be the #2 starter behind Tom Glavine in New York's somewhat shaky starting five, Hernandez felt the same discomfort in his neck during Spring Training as he did last season.

The 41-year-old righty went an even 11-11 with a 4.66 ERA last season; going 9-7 with a 4.09 ERA after joining the Mets from Arizona in late May, then missing the playoffs due to a torn calf muscle.

The Mets are already without Pedro Martinez until midseason following rotator cuff surgery. Among those competing for starting jobs are prospects Philip Humber and Mike Pelfrey, along with veterans Jorge Sosa, Chan Ho Park, Jason Vargas, Juan Padilla and Aaron Sele.

UPDATE: Hernandez has arthritis in his neck and will be sidelined for three or four days after receiving a cortisone shot and will undergo treatment throughout the year to manage it.


Source:

Chavez Still Battling Pain


Oakland Athletics third baseman Eric Chavez has admitted that his forearm and hamstring injuries have been bothering him throughout the winter, but he feels confident enough that he'll be able to cope with them if they should pop up again this season. He foresees himself wincing with pain on a daily basis.

That whole paragraph may not seem very encouraging to an A's fan, but despite the constant pain, Chavez still managed to win his sixth consecutive Gold Glove last season. On the other hand, his batting average dropped to a career-worst .241 and his 22 homers and 72 RBIs were his fewest since his first season as a starter in 1999. If Chavy doesn't heal up soon, expect just as little production from him in 2007.


Source: Oakland Athletics

Uribe Able To Report


A farmer, an Italian man and a shortstop walk into a bar...

As serious as this is, it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. After being accused of shooting a Dominican farmer in October, Juan Uribe has received permission from a judge to attend spring training in Arizona.

Under the ruling, the Chicago White Sox shortstop will no longer have to appear in court twice a month in the Dominican Republic for the remainder of the case. Instead, he must put down $15,400, guaranteeing he will make his next scheduled court appearance, set for March 17th. Cause that's a lot of money to a major league ballplayer?

The farmer, Antonio Gonzalez Perez, accused Uribe of shooting him after an argument near his hometown. An Italian man who also was shot, curiously did not file charges.

Uribe, 27, hit .235 with 21 homers and 71 RBIs last season and is set to make $4.15 million this year.


Source:

Season Preview: The Houston Astros

Continuing our look at the National League Central is a preview of the Houston Astros' upcoming season.

With Roger Clemens leaving much to be desired in the way of stability, the unquestioned leader of the Astros pitching staff is none other than Roy Oswalt, who went 15-8 last season with a 2.98 ERA. Jason Jennings and Woody Williams will fill up the next two spots, with a variety of others vying for the remaining two. Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez may be the best candidate for the fourth slot, considering his 2 years of big league experience and the possibility of being the lone lefty in the rotation. The pool of candidates to round out the order include right-handers Chris Sampson, Dave Borkowski, Matt Albers, Fernando Nieve and Brian Moehler, who recently signed a Minor League deal and received an invitation to Spring Training.

The back end of the bullpen is set with Brad Lidge, who struggled through a 5.28 ERA season at closer, followed by Chad Qualls and Dan Wheeler, with Trever Miller as the only left-hander available.

The remainder of the vacant spots could go to a number of pitchers, depending mostly on who emerges as better suited for relief or the rotation. Borkowski and Sampson are candidates for both with Moehler competing as well. Invitees Kevin Walker and lefty Scott Sauerbeck will also audition for a relief job to complement Miller along with veterans Rick White, Ben Weber and righty Miguel Asencio, who was acquired with the Jason Jennings trade.

At least two candidates will head into camp prepared to fight for the starting job in right field - the only outfield position readily available. While Luke Scott appears to have the best chance, lefty bat Jason Lane could be given a shot also. As for the other two outfield positions, they're solid. Chris Burke will begin the season in center field, and the clubs' new $100 million man, Carlos Lee, will roam left.

All eyes will be on 41-year-old Craig Biggio as he marches toward his 3,000th hit - only 70 hits away while holding down second base. Last year, he played in 145 games, which included 13 pinch-hit appearances, but this year, with the versatile Mark Loretta available to fill in at all infield spots, manager Phil Garner will certainly give Biggio even more time off.

The shortstop position will remain unchanged, but it may bring some controversy as slick-fielding Adam Everett's defensive prowess doesn't match up with his offensive shortcomings. Eric Bruntlett will be set to fill in along with Loretta.

Morgan Ensberg will be the leading candidate to man third base on Opening Day, with Mike Lamb also having a chance. While Jeff Bagwell is golfing in the tropics, Lance Berkman is set to be the everyday first baseman.

Another spot that isn't up for grabs is that of starting catcher. Brad Ausmus, the longest-tenured backstop in club history, will begin what could be his last season in a Houston uni going into the final season of his two-year contract. Humberto Quintero and Hector Gimenez are the leading candidates for backup.

The Astros finished 2 games above .500, a game-and-a-half behind the World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals, but only 2 games ahead of the Cincinnati Reds. It will take some work to stay on top, but the Astros have what it takes to keep the NLC interesting through September.


Depth Chart

Who Will Be The Twins' Big Bat?


Maybe that guy.

Jason Kubel tried to play through the pain last season and the year before that, he couldn't play at all. This spring he wants to give the Minnesota Twins a reminder on what exactly he can do when his knees are strong.

Kubel took over in left once Shannon Stewart's sore foot sent him to the DL late in May. He hit .333 in June, teamed up with one of the hottest months in Twins recent history, crushing five homers and driving in 16 runs in 81 at-bats - the biggest being a 12th inning grand slam winner at the Dome against the Red Sox.

Word on the street is that after the arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, Kubel is feeling 100 percent.

Perfect timing! Minnesota needs some production from the DH spot like you would not believe. Last season, seventeen different players were used there. Combined, they hit .258 with 63 RBIs - the worst in the league.

Rondell White, who was quite possibly the worst designated hitter of all time, was re-signed to be the regular left fielder. Though Kubel is still viewed as an everyday player in the outfield and will certainly serve as a backup for both White and Michael Cuddyer out in right, the perfect spot for him in the starting lineup is the DH spot.

He may have to work for it, though. Rehabbed Ken Harvey and [jolly] Matthew LeCroy, both in camp on minor league contracts, could also compete for the role. Newly acquired veteran Jeff Cirillo will be the backup corner infielder, but he may still have a big enough bat to see some time there as well.


Source: Minnesota Twins

2.21.2007

A Good Day For Players


In the second hearing Wednesday afternoon on the final day of arbitration, San Diego Padres second baseman Todd Walker won his case, getting a raise from $2.5 million to $3.95 million.

The Padres offered $2.75 million to Walker, who joined the Padres in a trade with the Chicago Cubs at the end of July. He hit .282 with three home runs and 13 RBIs with the San Diego, and .278 with nine homers and 53 RBIs overall.

Walker orignally came over to play third, starting 22 games there, but moved to second to replace Josh Barfield, who was traded to Cleveland in October. Marcus Giles, signed in December, is this season's projected starter at second.

In other Padres news, catcher Todd Greene, a non-roster invitee, dislocated his right shoulder during a drill in a freak accident and likely will miss the remainder of spring training. Greene hit .289 with two homers and 17 RBIs in 61 games with the San Francisco Giants last year.


Source: MLB

Cordero Awarded $4.15 Million


Washington closer Chad Cordero was given a sizable raise after winning his arbitration case on Wednesday, going from a meager $525,000 salary last season to $4.15 million in 2007.

The Nationals offered the jolly right-hander a $3.65 million salary for last season's 29-save performance, 7-4 record and 3.19 ERA. The year before, he led the majors with 47 saves, a franchise record.

Cordero is a career 17-11 with a 2.61 ERA and 91 saves in 106 opportunities since his 2003 debut with the Montreal Expos.


Source:

Benson Delays Surgery

Kris Benson is making one last, desperate attempt at avoiding surgery on his injured pitching shoulder with aggressive rehabilitation.

Two of the three medical experts he consulted advised against surgery to repair his torn rotator cuff. The rehab program he will begin this week will last over a month, but with success, he would return sooner than if he opted to have the surgery, which would most likely keep him out all season.

The Baltimore righty was 11-12 with a 4.82 ERA in 30 starts last season, his first with the Orioles after being acquired from the New York Mets. Benson pitched all season with the tear, before experiencing pain this winter.


Source: Sporting News

The Washington Nationals have signed a one-year agreement with the Tabasco Olmecas (of the Mexican Summer League), the Nationals' first working deal with an international club.

The agreement states that the Nats will be granted access to the Olmecas' scouting network and information, which is based primarily in Mexico and Latin America. It also calls for a coaching exchange where both clubs make visits to the other club's Spring Training camp.

In the history of baseball, 101 big leaguers are Mexican natives, including left-handed pitcher Fernando Valenzuela, former Nationals righty Esteban Loaiza and retired third baseman Vinny Castilla.

The government-owned Olmecas play in Villahermosa, the capital city of the state of Tabasco.


Source: MiLB.com

Blah Blah Barry Bonds


Barry Bonds entered Giants camp today sans entourage, who are not welcome due to the untrustworthiness of his trainers.

He also called out the federal government to "come get him" for perjury and tax evasion.

Bonds then slipped back into the tunnel toward the clubhouse, only to emerge with his new buddy, San Francisco's newly acquired ace, Barry Zito.

Newly clothed, the Barrys turned around – making sure to strike a pose for the cameras – and showed their new shirts, which said: "DON'T ASK ME... ASK BARRY" with an arrow pointing towards each other. Clever.


Source: San Francisco Giants

2.20.2007

Johnny Damon Has The IQ Of Toast

Red Sox Nation has more reasons to boo Judas Damon when he returns to Fenway this year.

Damon told MLB.com today that "he's always wanted to be a Yankee, even back when he played for the Royals."

Obviously, Daddy Steinbrenner would have understood his stripper-banging, clubhouse Jack Daniels swilling, lumberjack bead wearing ways. As Dan Shaugnessy once said, Johnny Damon has the depth of your average kiddie pool. As much as it may make your average Yankee fan die a little inside, Damon didn't sign with the Yankees because they are such an amazing organization, he went so he could continue to afford breast lifts for his "not a former stripper" wife. Come on, if Tampa Bay had offered him $20 million a year, he would have happily settled winning 5 or 6 games a season.

Damon also told MLB.com that his six-week-old daughter is already balancing and standing, and claims she will be walking by six months. I hope she ends up just as smart as her daddy.


Source: MLB

Zambrano, Cubs Avoid Arbitration


Carlos Zambrano accepted the Chicago Cubs' offer of a one-year contract to the tune of $12.4 million on Tuesday - almost double what he made in 2006 - avoiding salary arbitration just before their scheduled hearing.

Big Z earned $6.5 million last season while going 16-7 with a 3.41 ERA and 210 strikeouts. He asked for $15.5 million in arbitration, while the Cubs offered $11,025,000 - more than any player had been awarded thus far.

Finally, the two sides can focus on working out a multi-year deal, possibly somewhere in the five-year range.

No Cubs player has gone to arbitration since Mark Grace (whoa!) in 1993.


Source: Chicago Cubs

Mormons Have Fastballs, Too


Matt Lindstrom, a former Mormon missionary, is vying to become the closer this season.

The 27-year-old, blond-haired Swede grew up in Rexburg, Idaho, where he became a star at high school baseball, thanks largely to a 92 mph fastball.

But the missionary work from 1999-2001, along with a 2005 stress fracture in his upper arm has slowed his progress. During his two years in Sweden, Lindstrom picked up a ball only once - for a game of catch. He pitched last season for Mets affiliates Class-A St. Lucie and AA Binghamton before being traded to Florida in November.

With a fastball clocked at 102 mph last fall and an 80-some mph slider, the rookie right-hander is one of the better candidates for the closer spot since Joe Borowski's move to Cleveland. Other possibilities as spring training begins include Henry Owens, who came to Florida with Lindstrom in the Mets trade, lefty Taylor Tankersley, Kevin Gregg and Ricky Nolasco, who served as a starter much of last season.


Source: Miami Herald


Entering the final year of his contract with the Atlanta Braves, Andruw Jones showed up for spring training Tuesday about 10 pounds lighter and ready to swing a hot bat.

Jones hit 92 bombs and drove in 257 runs over the past two seasons while extending his Gold Glove streak to nine consecutive. With a change in ownership and payroll reduction, the burning question is, will the Braves be able to afford this luxury after 2007?

Turning 30 this April, Jones would like to stay with the Braves until the end of his career. It has been speculated that he gave Atlanta the hometown discount on his last deal (six-years, $75 million) bringing in his father to help with the negotiations instead of historically tough superagent Scott Boras.

Can Jones overlook the lucrative deals handed out this offseason, like Vernon Wells getting $126 million over seven years and Alfonso Soriano netting $130 million for eight? You can certainly expect him to join the same ballpark in 2008.


Source:

The Yankee Three-Ring Circus Continues


Derek Jeter responded today to comments that Alex Rodriguez made to the media yesterday, whining about how he and Jeter no longer have sleepovers.

I don't have a rift with Alex," the New York Yankees captain said today. "We go out there. We work together. This is our fourth year to be playing together."

This is just the latest addition to the Yankee player media masturbation fest that has taken place at spring training this year. Mike Mussina came out and was critical of Carl Pavano a while back, there's the ongoing Bernie Williams crying fest, Mariano Rivera taking his contract issues to the NYC back pages, and finally A-Rod crying because Derek doesn't like to spoon in the locker room anymore.

What's happening to the Yankees? When was the last time the Mets looked more respectable than the Yankees? I mean, nobody has come out and ripped on Carlos Beltran for his heavy bat.

Tim Hardaway does not approve.


Source: ESPN

If you are interested in regaining some street cred after your terrible fantasy football performace, for what is sure to be a babelicious Fantasy Baseball season.

Update: I may or may not have sent out way too many invites for our bad ass What's Your Fantasy League. If you find yourself with an invite or you still want to join in the immense amount of fun and the league is full, we will create an even sweeter AAA League for the stragglers.


Source: my brain


Detroit manager Jim Leyland fired back at former Tiger Dmitri Young on Tuesday, saying the first baseman was "totally out of line" for accusing the club of treating him unfairly by cutting him late last season.

"I'm not looking to have a bone to pick with anybody, but knowing what went on last year, for Dmitri to criticize the organization for lack of support I think is totally out of line," Leyland said. Ah, I may be alone on this one, but Sam Elliot Jim Leyland is the last man I want picking any bones with me.

Directly from Young's mouth: "They were probably saving their own tail, because they thought that the whole court thing there was going to be a distraction for a team that was winning. I thought it was a little unfair on their part, especially because of the time that I spent with the Tigers and represented them in a positive manner. I would have figured they would support me in the same manner, but they didn't."

This positive manner in which he represented the team included an assault charge, treatment for alcoholism and depression, a divorce and hospitalization for diabetes. Obviously, the organization's doing. He was cut by the Tigers a month before they played in the World Series, having hit .250 with seven home runs in 48 games before being let go.

Leyland also said that he was the one responsible for Young's release, making it clear that the troubled player was not an asset on the field last season, and that [Young] needed to take care of some very important issues regarding his own welfare.

Young is in the Washington Nationals' minor league camp this spring and has a shot at resuming his career. Leyland, of course, wishes him well, "To this day, I hope Dmitri Young has his life intact, because he's a good guy."


Source:


Former Boston Red Sox reliever has signed with the Nashua Pride, a minor league team in the Can-Am League.

The Venezuelan native, who last pitched in the majors for Boston in 2002, compiled a 23-10 record with 296 strikeouts, a 3.74 ERA, seven saves and 164 walks in 287 major league games.

Garces' 10-year career in the major leagues included stints with the Minnesota Twins, Chicago Cubs and Florida Marlins.


Source:

C'mon. Who else would kick-off our National League Previews but the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals?

There may be a little uncertainty surrounding the Cards' starting five, but one thing's for sure: Ace Chris Carpenter, the 2005 Cy Young winner, is pretty much secure and veteran Kip Wells' name is damn near written in ink. Beyond that? Adam Wainwright will either have a shot at the rotation or be tossed in the back of the bullpen (depending on the health of Isringhausen) and Anthony Reyes will probably take one of the two remaining slots.

Right-hander Braden Looper may be the favorite for the fifth spot, but Ryan Franklin and Brad Thompson, as well as rookie lefty Chris Narveson, will get the chance to compete. But when May and June roll around, Mark Mulder, who had shoulder surgery last fall, is expected to bump someone out of that lineup, depending on everyone's performances up to that point.

Jason Isringhausen is the franchise's career saves leader, with 173 in a Birds uni. He will enter this season as a question mark, though, after missing the last part of the regular season and all of the postseason with a hip injury.

The exceptional depth in the bullpen, aside from Looper and Thompson, stems from both sides with second-year reliever Josh Kinney, new acquisition Russ Springer and holdover Josh Hancock, all three rising strikeout pitchers. Ricardo Rincon hopes to return after missing most of 2006 due to major arm surgery, but in his absence, Tyler Johnson emerged as a dependable option alongside Randy Flores. With this kind of pitching depth, the Cardinals could be in a good spot to trade for another bat or starting pitcher, if needed down the line.

health is the primary concern in the outfield, with Jim Edmonds' in question after offseason shoulder and toe surgery and Juan Encarnacion recovering from an operation on his left wrist. And while Chris Duncan provided a big bat in 2006 with 22 homers, skepticism remains regarding his ability to repeat that kind of production. On the up-side, you don't see Edmonds' Gold Glove defense and 40-home-run power in the same package very often. Encarnacion is reliable year in and year out for 15-20 homers, a few steals and some amazing defensive plays and Duncan could be a 30-homer man. So Taguchi and Skip Schumaker offer sharp defense as well, with Preston Wilson recently signing on for another year at a backup. All three will have a shot at the designated hitter spot.

No questions up the middle, though. Scrappy World Series MVP David Eckstein will return along with Adam Kennedy and his spankin' new three-year contract. Aaron Miles and youngster Brendan Ryan will be there to back things up.

The Cardinals may have the best corners in the majors in Albert Pujols at first and Scott Rolen at third. Possibly the most comforting aspect of this duo is that they're locked down through 2010, with Pujols having a 2011 option, as well. Scott Spiezio, meanwhile, has hopefully gotten rid of that horrid red soul patch and is ready to return at backup.

After a regular season in which he took a giant step back offensively, catcher Yadier Molina was one of the Cardinals' best postseason players. He batted .358 with immense power, including the single biggest hit of the playoffs - the game-winning shot in Game 7 of the NLCS. He will return as head backstop in front of Gary Bennett, a right-handed hitter whose greatest asset is his defense.

St. Louis' bench is so plentiful, that the DH position has been up for grabs for the past few years. Last year it belonged to Spiezio and the year before that, Abraham Nunez. This year, Tony La Russa has confidence that Wilson will provide a huge right-handed swing, John Rodriguez a tough lefty bat and Taguchi, handling the bat better than either, will be just as great a defender in the outfield.

The Cardinals finished the 2006 season with an 83-78 record, 49-31 at home. There is room for improvement on the road though, as they had a 34-47 losing record away from Busch Stadium. Look for the Birds to work hard against division rival Houston to keep the title, as they finished only a game and a half in front of the Astros last year.


Depth Chart

2.19.2007

Williams A No-Show At Yankees Camp

As Yankees position players took physicals on Monday, Bernie Williams was nowhere to be seen.

Catcher Jorge Posada and closer Mariano Rivera have called Williams several times but haven't been able to reach him.

The 38-year-old outfielder has been in the Yankees' organization since signing with them on his 17th birthday in 1985, coming up to the big league club in 1991. With the emergence of Melky Cabrera as the fourth outfielder, the move of Jason Giambi to designated hitter and the assumed platoon at first base, there's just no room for Bernie on the roster.

Joe Torre said Sunday that Williams' feelings were hurt since the Yankees didn't offer him a guaranteed spot on their roster at this time.

Williams would not accept the non-roster invite, which Brian Cashman says he didn't offer out of disrespect, "It's just the only way I can provide for all parties to get satisfied in where we are this time and place," says the Yankees GM.

In other very important team news, the Yankees have installed a new clock next to Mike Mussina's locker, since his stall is located in the corner of the clubhouse and he couldn't see the other clocks near the doors. Oh, to be a pampered star...


Source:

Of course, we love to stay up-to-the-minute on our guys' injuries and rehabilitation progress. For your reading pleasure (or disdain) here is the scoop on a few players' health, going into spring training.

Devil Rays reliever Casey Fossum looked healthy in his Saturday bullpen session, his fourth since arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder in September. He threw 26 pitches, including a few breaking balls. If Fossum reports no soreness Sunday, he will probably resume bullpen sessions on alternating days. Manager Joe Maddon says there's no rush with Fossum likely placed at the end of the rotation to give him more time to prepare.
Source: St. Petersburg Times


After having bone spurs removed in December, Alex Cintron hopes to be ready in time for Cactus League play. He is limited to long-toss for now, but should be ready when the action gets underway. Also, if Juan Uribe's legal troubles keep him unavailable, Cintron is sure to inherit the starting job at short.
Source: MLB


Derrek Lee showed up three days early for Cubs training camp, worked in the batting cage and officially pronounced last season's wrist injury a non-issue. He swung the bat more than usual over the winter, mostly to build strength in the right wrist he broke in April. Consider him 100% healthy and ready to steal a dozen or so bases heading into the season.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times


Brad Wilkerson feels that his shoulder is 100% healthy and he will be ready to go by Opening Day. "It feels as good as it ever has," Wilkerson said. "We're still going to take some precautions and be smart so I can be ready for Opening Day. I feel by Opening Day, I should be 100 percent strong. The pain is gone; I just need a little more strength." Wilkerson doesn't have a guaranteed spot in the lineup with recent additions of Frank Catalanotto and Kenny Lofton, but the Rangers would like to see him spend some time in right field, possibly earning a spot on the every day roster.
Source: MLB


Pitcher Brett Tomko sprained his right ankle at home on Saturday, forcing him to miss outdoor conditioning and drills on Sunday. Apparently, it's only a minor sprain, but Tomko said the ankle was still a little swollen and sore after the tape was removed. This sucks mostly because manager Grady Little had just mentioned that he was impressed with Tomko's delivery and considered him "back in the picture" for a spot in the Dodgers rotation. Doh!
Source: MLB


In a sad follow-up story, veteran third baseman Corey Koskie has informed the Milwaukee Brewers that he will not be ready for spring training this Friday due to his ongoing battle with post concussion syndrome. Koskie is expected to miss the entire spring training and as of right now, will be replaced at third by the likely platoon of Craig Counsell and Tony Graffanino at the start of the season, along with the possibility of rookie Ryan Braun.
Source:


In other Brew Crew news, second baseman Rickie Weeks has been experiencing some soreness in his wrist and the club has barred him from swinging a bat until he sees a specialist. The pain doesn't seem to be stemming from a serious injury, so if all goes well, he will be ready to hit by the first or second week of spring training.
Source:


The Washington Nationals are not willing to set a timetable for infielder Nick Johnson's return after examining X-rays of his broken leg on Monday. Apparently, Johnson is a slow healer, since the process is taking longer than even the team orthopedist originally expected. Move Johnson way down to the bottom of your sheet, as he may only play half a season, if that.
Source: Washington Post


The scapula in the right shoulder of Cincinnati Reds pitcher Gary Majewski is minorly fatigued, which has been a major set-back during spring training. The right-hander was working one day and it popped. He visited the team doctor in January and found that his shoulder was indeed getting stronger, but the scapula had been overworked, thus becoming fatigued and creating soreness.
Source: Cincinnati Enquirer

And just for our good pal Sam, Carl Pavano has indeed thrown off a mound without any reported setbacks at the Yankees' minor-league complex. The club is taking a rather large risk in counting on him to round out their rotation this season, but it seems as though things have fallen into place and he should be ready to rock.
Source: Newark Star-Ledger

Gibbons To Stay Through '08


It seems the Toronto Blue Jays have given manager John Gibbons a one-year extension worth $650,000.

Gibbons, 44, has been around since the replacemnet of Carlos Tosca in the middle of the 2004 season. However, this was the final year of his contract, and going into spring training he still was not given an extension..

The Jays finished second in the American League East last season at 87-75, their best record since 1998.

Gibbons is walking the line with an overall record of 187-187.


Source: Toronto Globe and Mail

Jeter Has Lost That Loving Feeling


Alex Rodriguez has stooped to taking a lover's quarrel to the media, admitting that his relationship with Derek Jeter has "cooled."

"You go from sleeping over at somebody's house five days a week, and now you don't sleep over. It's just not that big of a deal," A-Rod told the AP yesterday. TOO EASY.

So what changed? A-Rod got sick of the nipple clamps? He accidentally erased off the Tivo and that was the last straw for Princess Derek? Jeter kept leaving the toilet seat up? Because you know A-Rod pisses sitting down.

What does this mean for the left side of the Yankees infield? Another season of a lovelorn Alex gazing longingly at Jeter while Derek blatantly ignores him?

Sorry guys, I'm a little off today. This one is just too easy. The whole story reads like a pathetic love song from a broken hearted woman. Bring back that lovin' feeling..


Source: Yahoo! News.

Mets Offer Sandy Alomar Jr. Minor League Deal


Sandy Alomar Jr. has decided to keep plugging away at his major league career, agreeing to a minor league contract with the New York Mets on Monday.

The 40-year-old catcher, who is expected to report to spring training Tuesday, hit .278 with 30 RBIs in 108 at-bats last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox, who acquired him in late July.

A six-time All-Star, Alomar was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1990. He is hoping to have more luck in New York than his brother Roberto, who struggled through the 2002 and 2003 seasons with the Mets. Speaking of the Alomars, his former All-Star second baseman father will be sending him home as the Mets' third-base coach this season.

Sandy Jr. is a career .274 hitter over 20 major league seasons with six different clubs.


Source: FOX Sports

2.18.2007

Griffey Reveals Cause of Hand Injury

Ken Griffey Jr. is finally setting the record straight, making sure everyone knows he did nothing to violate his contract when injuring himself.

The papier mache center-fielder says he broke his hand wrestling with his kids while on his fancy yacht in the Bahamas in December. Apparently, his 13-year-old son jumped in and knocked him off balance, forcing him to land awkwardly on his left hand to avoid crushing his three younger children.

Junior claims his hand feels fine and he expects to be ready to go for spring training. All he needs is word from the Cincinnati Reds' medical director to make sure he hasn't lost any range of motion.


Source:

Ending our preview of the AL East, not to mention the entire American League, is none other than the Baltimore Orioles.
We'll begin with the biggest news out of Baltimore, starting pitcher Kris Benson's season-ending rotator cuff injury. No faster could you say Anna Benson is a freak, the O's scooped up veteran Steve Trachsel to take his place.

That may be one of the club's bigger stories, but the latest is reliever Jose Acevedo's motorcycle accident in which he broke four ribs and his collarbone, colliding with a car in the Dominican Republic.

Erik Bedard, who just settled with the club out of arbitration on a $3.4 million, one-year deal, will lead the O's rotation, joined by strikeout pitcher/giant Daniel Cabrera, newly acquired Yankee Jaret Wright, and lefty Adam Loewen, who went 6-6 with a 5.37 ERA in 19 starts during his first major league season last year.

The newly revamped bullpen, which the club spent $40 million on this offseason, may be one to reckon with in 2007. Righty reliever Todd Williams will return along with veterans Chad Bradford, Danys Baez , Scott Williamson and lefty Jamie Walker, who were brought in to fill a gigantic hole of nothingness in the pen and bring a little thing called experience to aid closer Chris Ray.

The outfield is pretty stacked, with bag-thief Corey Patterson spending another year in center and 23-year-old Nick Markakis' cannon in right, expected to bat third in the order. The O's also found a full-time left fielder in Jay Payton, who was signed this offseason along with backup outfielder Aubry Huff; two huge additions.

The middle infield will be as strong as ever, with All-Star slugger Miguel Tejada (still one of the most impressive in the game) at short, teamed up with Brian Roberts' defensive prowess at second. Veteran utilityman Chris Gomez will be back, thanks to a productive September where he hit .437 despite returning from a broken bone in his right hand. Gomez will find competition in Brandon Fahey, who will be ready to step in at a moment's notice at either spot, and Freddie Bynum, who was acquired from the Chicago Cubs in an offseason trade.

You'll also find depth at the corners behind old reliable Melvin Mora at third and Kevin Millar at first, the same duo that won your hearts last year. Though Millar didn't provide the power expected from a first baseman in the beginning of last season, he posted Baltimore's second-highest on-base percentage (.347) and hit almost .300 in the second half.

The addition of Huff, who can play both corners but will likely spend a lot of time in left field, adds some depth along with Jay Gibbons, who may also see some time at first. Of course, Gomez can do anything, anytime, anywhere, so don't be surprised if you see him shuffling between infield positions.

With Javy Lopez taking his healthy bat and questionable glove to the Red Sox Colorado Rockies, Ramon Hernandez remains as the starting catcher, backed up by veteran Paul Bako, who should be able to share time at the plate even with a third insurance catcher in Adam Donachie.

Filling the designated hitter spot should be an easy task for manager Sam Perlozzo. With Huff, Millar and Gibbons vying for at bats between DH and first, it's a welcome turnaround from what was a short bench in 2006.

Baltimore finished the year at 70-92, a dismal 27 games behind the division-leading New York Yankees. But look anyway for the Orioles to seriously bring the business this season in the hefty AL East with some new additions, more experienced pitching, stronger defense and bigger bats.


Depth Chart

Belliard Gets Non-Guaranteed Deal

Ronnie Belliard, who is almost as gangsta as former teammate C.C. Sabathia, agreed to a non-guaranteed, minor league contract with the Washington Nationals on Sunday that will pay him $750,000 if he makes the roster.

The 31-year-old second baseman started 14 of 16 postseason games with the World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals last year after being acquired from the Cleveland Indians at the end of July. He hit a combined .272 with 30 doubles, 13 home runs and 67 RBIs last season.

This move should provide some diamond insurance for the Nationals, who are moving Felipe Lopez from short to second while crossing their fingers in hopes that Cristian Guzman remembers how to play ball after missing all of last season due to right shoulder surgery. Belliard could also serve as delectable trade-bait to a club with a struggling infield.

Over most of nine seasons with four major league clubs, Belliard has driven in 439 runs with 80 longballs and a career .272 batting average.


Source: MSNBC


Erik Bedard has avoided arbitration with the Baltimore Orioles, agreeing Saturday to a $3.4 million, one-year contract with the opportunity to earn $100,000 in performance bonuses.

The left-hander asked for a $4 million salary while the Orioles had offered $2.7 million, so he will earn more than double his salary in 2007 after going 15-11 with a 3.76 ERA in 33 starts last season, when he earned $1,625,000.

And rightfully so. Bedard set career highs in wins, innings and starts last year with 171 career-best strikeouts as well, which helped with the O's decision to concede.


Source: Baltimore Sun

2.17.2007


Tom Glavine needs 10 more victories to reach the 300 win milestone. After that, it's golf and grandkids.

The New York Mets' ace said that if he for some reason doesn't reach the 300-win mark, he'll be back after next season. He's not saying anything definitely, but it sounds as though he plans to call it quits after 2007.

The outlook is sunny though, as only twice in 19 major league seasons has Glavine failed to win at least 10 games, in 1988 and 2003.

The lefty, who will turn 41 next month, went 15-7 with a 3.82 ERA in 198 innings last year and 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA in three playoff starts, helping the Mets advance to Game 7 of the NLCS before losing to the St. Louis Cardinals.

The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner became a free agent in the offseason but returned to New York, agreeing to a $10.5 million, one-year contract, opting against a possible return to the Atlanta Braves.

His deal contains a $9 million player option for 2008, which he has the right to decline if he's thinking about retirement. Glavine is 290-191 with a career 3.82 ERA and 2481 strikeouts.


Source:


Miguel Cabrera and the took their salary dispute to arbitrators Friday, with Cabrera asking for $7.4 million and the club offering $6.7 million.

The All-Star third baseman finished second in the NL last year with a .339 batting average, driving in 114 runs with 26 homers, making only $472,000. A decision is expected Saturday.

Clubs are 4-0 in arbitration this year, with four players remaining scheduled for hearings next week: Baltimore's Erik Bedard, Washington's Chad Cordero, San Diego's Todd Walker and Chicago Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano.

UPDATE: Miguel Cabrera became the first player to win in salary arbitration this year when he was awarded a $7.4 million salary on Saturday instead of the Marlins' ungrateful offer of $6.7 million.


Boston outfielder Wily Mo Peña, who had been scheduled for a hearing Friday, agreed with the Red Sox on a one-year contract worth $1.875 million with an opportunity to earn an additional $100,000 in performance bonuses for extra plate appearances. In 84 games with the Sox last season, Peña batted .301 with 11 home runs and 42 RBIs.


Source: CBS News


There's a new drinking game kids are playing these days. It's called How Long Can Ken Griffey Jr. Last Without An Injury.

Wait. He still plays baseball? Yes. Bust out your N64 and challenge your buddy to a game of Slugfest, cause Junior feels just dandy and expects to be ready to go for the start of spring training on Saturday.

The Cincinnati Reds' old school center-fielder broke his left hand in an "accident at home" in December. We've gone over possible causes of the injury, but Griffey admits to nothing.

He was rather shifty when initially confronted by reporters, saying, "What does it matter?" He then joked that he injured himself while protecting his children from a shark he caught while fishing in the Bahamas.

What?

Could he have hurt it unwrapping left over Ken Griffey Jr. Candy Bars? Maybe he strained it while rewinding his guest appearance on the Simpsons. Sitting on the sofa? Scrap-booking? Sleeping?

Griffey, 37, hasn't actually played a regular season game in right field since 2004, but is expected to spend some time out there to give Ryan "Roadrunner" Freel some time in center.


Source:

2.16.2007

20 Percent Chance of Media Whorage in 2007


Roger Clemens announced today that there is a "20 percent chance that he will play in 2007." However, there is a 100 percent chance that he is an asshole. Clemens, clearly on his period and irritated that his name hadn't been in any papers in three days, apparently was working out with his son Koby and informed him that there wasn't a huge chance Rocket would return to the majors in 2007.

TANGENT WARNING: Roger Clemens has spent the last few seasons playing for the Astros, a sub-par NAAAtional League team. There is no argument that the majority of the better hitters in baseball are in the American League. Anyone remember Fat Roger's last season with the Yankees? Not so stellar. This Fat Bastard's ego is way too enormous to play for an American League team, because he will clearly suck. This charade of "will he, won't he" will continue well into the season, as ESPN has the dire need to constantly verbally felliate Roger whenever he takes a fucking shit. END TANGENT.

Stay tuned for constant ESPN coverage of Roger cutting his toenails as his fat 45-year-old juiced posterior.

Source: MLB.com

Acevedo Crashes Bike

pitcher José Acevedo was supposed to report to Orioles camp on Wednesday, but he never arrived.

Turns out the right-hander broke his collarbone and four ribs Friday when he crashed his motorcycle into a car in Santiago, Dominican Republic. He is expected to miss the entire season.

As a non-roster invitee to Orioles spring training who did not pitch for a major league team in 2006, Acevedo is 18-25 with a 5.74 ERA in five seasons with the Cincinnati Reds and Colorado Rockies.

Acevedo was conscious and in intensive care as of Friday.


Source: FOX Sports

Mets Claim Carvajal


Marcos Carvajal was claimed by the New York Mets off waivers from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Friday.

The 22-year-old righty went 2-2 with a 3.86 ERA in 38 games last season with the AA Montgomery Biscuits, striking out 70 batters in 72.1 innings. As far as his big league career goes, he was 0-2 with a 5.09 ERA in 39 games with the Colorado Rockies in 2005.

New York designated right-hander Steve Schmoll for assignment to open a spot on the roster for Carvajal. They have 10 days to trade him, send him outright to the minors or release him altogether.


Source:

Cleveland Fans Will Never Be Insulted


Keith "Burger King" Foulke, former Red Sox closer and notorious ornery asshole, announced his retirement today, despite recently signing a contract with the Cleveland Indians.

The 34-year-old jackass had signed a one-year deal worth $5 million (plus incentives) with the Indians for the 2007 season. Foulke had 34 saves during the Soxx championship season of 2004, but battled a variety of physical ailments including knees and elbows, face blemishes and ingrown toenails during '05 and '06.

Foulke lost the respect of most of Red Sox Nation back when he spoke of the boos that he was bombarded with in June of 2005, saying he didn't care what "Johnny from Burger King thought."

Enjoy retirement, you ungrateful prick.


Source:

The Legend of the Flaming Gyroball


Let me make it perfectly clear that [the spelling of] Dice-K is the most retarded nickname ever. Retarded as in gay, not mentally challenged... and gay is in lame, not homosexual. "D-Mat" is just as terrible. Is the name Daisuke Matsuzaka not unique enough?

Now that we have that straight, the Boston Red Sox brand spankin' new 26-year-old pitcher was awfully cheerful during a 40-minute press conference Thursday that covered many topics, including his curiosity for the knuckleball, his offseason dining with Ichiro, and of course, the infamous gyroball (pronounced either gyro like Elvis or gyro like the sandwich. Pick one and hope you're right).

Does it exist? Is he able to throw it? When will we see it?

"Mmmm. How should I answer?" he said. "I knew this question was coming today. I was preparing some optional answers for this particular question. Should I say, 'I have that pitch?' Or I could say, 'Which particular [pitch] are you referring to?' Or, 'Which ball are you calling a gyroball?' Overall, if I had the chance, I will pitch that ball."

Thanks for clearing that up.

The gyroball, for those unfamiliar, was developed in a test tube using computer simulations by two scientists somewhere in Japan, the formula shown only to Matsuzaka.

At the point of release, the pitcher rotates his arm so that it moves away from his body, causing the ball to break back and forth before it stops time completely. This strange delivery creates a bullet-like spin on the ball, like a perfectly thrown spiral. Picture John Elway or Dan Marino. Now with a baseball and Japanese.

The trajectory of the ball looks similar to a fastball or change up, but with a late lateral break - away from rightys and in on leftys, if thrown by a righty. Still with me? Good. All that matters is it's allegedly damn near unhittable and Matsuzaka is the only one who knows how to throw it. Besides maybe those two scientists and another guy.

Like you, I'm just brimming with anticipation. Good thing it hasn't been over-hyped by every media outlet possible.

Thanks to for to a slow-motion video of the gyroball in action.


Source: Extra Bases and imagination


Worry not, Giants fans. Barry Bonds' $15.8 million, one-year deal was finally approved by the commissioner's office on Thursday, halting over two months of nonsense between the controversial slugger and the San Francisco Giants over contract language.

His first contract was immediately rejected by the commissioner's office because it contained a provision detailng his promotional appearance responsibilities. Management and the players' association agreed last year during bargaining not to allow any language in new contracts regarding promotional appearances other than the standard clause in all player contracts.

The deal also stated that the Giants could and would terminate the deal in the event Bonds is indicted, which his agent, Jeff Borris, claimed is unenforceable under baseball's labor agreement. As if any one is unfamiliar, a federal grand jury is investigating whether Bonds perjured himself when he testified in 2003 in the BALCO steroid distribution case when he said that he did not knowingly taken any performance-enhancing drugs.

Bonds will fill the final spot on the team's 40-man roster and appears as healthy as ever after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow this offseason. He is scheduled to report Monday to spring training and will likely take part in the club's first workout on Tuesday.

After playing in only 14 games in 2005 following three operations on his right knee, Barry hit .270 with 26 homers and 77 RBIs, drawing 115 walks in 130 games last year.


Source:

2.15.2007


That's right, Kerry Wood is injured.

The Chicago Cubs righty was getting out of his hot tub at home like usual, and slipped and fell. Now he needs a few days to recoup, missing the Cubs' spring training kickoff, once again.

But Wood is 30 pounds lighter than last year and ready for the bullpen to take some strain off of his surgically repaired right elbow and shoulder, which he says feel stronger than ever.

Turning 30 this June, Wood is a career 71-56 with a 3.68 ERA in 189 major league games, one strike-out away from 1300.

On May 6, 1998, a month before he turned 21, Wood struck out 20 Houston Astros in one of the greatest pitching performances ever.

At least he didn't pull a Steve Sparks and blow out his shoulder trying to tear a telephone book in half.


Source:


Carlos Zambrano has recanted recent comments that he would leave the Chicago Cubs as a free agent after this season if he doesn't get a multi-year contract during spring training.

Even though he would rather get a new deal done by the season opener, Zambrano said Thursday he would be willing to negotiate a contract this fall, but will not discuss one during the season. Of course, the Cubs have dibs.

Zambrano said that reporters misconstrued what he said regarding his lack of a long-term deal, "I didn't say that if they don't sign me before the end of spring training I will not sign with the Cubs. I didn't say that. I want to sign with the Cubs. I just said they have till the beginning of the season; if not, I don't want to talk about [a contract] during the season."

In a television interview with this week, the Cubs' ace spoke adamantly in the third person, "I want to sign with the Cubs before the season starts," he told the TV station. "If they don't sign me, sorry, but I must go. That's what Carlos Zambrano thinks."

Zambrano, who has an arbitration hearing scheduled for Tuesday, will get a big pay raise no matter what. He earned $6.5 million last season while going 16-7 with a 3.41 ERA and 210 strikeouts, then asked for $15.5 million in arbitration. The team countered at $11,025,000, which is more than any player has been awarded thus far.

The 25-year-old Venezuelan signed with the Cubs in July of 1997, making his major league debut in 2001. Since 2004, he has a 46-21 record.


Source:


Right-fielder Michael Cuddyer and the Minnesota Twins agreed to a $3.575 million, one-year contract Thursday, including a $50,000 bonus with 650 plate appearances in 2007. The two parties avoided arbitration just minutes before their scheduled hearing.

After making merely $1.35 million last year while posting career-best numbers in his first full season as a regular, Cuddyer asked for $4.25 million while the Twins offered $3 million. The sides were together in a room waiting to argue their cases before the three arbitrators when they walked out and settled in the hall.

Cuddyer hit .284 with 24 home runs, 109 RBIs and 102 runs scored last season, batting cleanup between AL batting champ Joe Mauer and league MVP Justin Morneau. Cuddy's 11 outfield assists were tied for third in the league, as well.

The Twins had six arbitration-eligible players this year, avoiding hearings with each one. Twins pitchers and catchers will report to spring training in Fort Myers on Sunday, with the remaining members of the club due on Feb. 23rd.

One thing that has always bothered me is the heckler in MLB2k6 who says, "Cud-DY-er?! Why isn't it CUDDY-er?!" What does that even mean? Learn how to heckle, dude.


Source: Star Tribune

Yanks To Honor Lidle


The New York Yankees will honor former pitcher Cory Lidle by wearing black arm bands on the left sleeves of their uniforms, in his memory this season.

Lidle was acquired by the Yankees from the Phillies mid-season before dying in a Manhattan apartment building plane crash when he was just 34 years old.

The right-hander was signed in 1990 by the Minnesota Twins as an amateur free agent and after his release in 1993, was signed by the Milwaukee Brewers before being traded to the New York Mets in 1996. Due to his participation as a replacement player during the 1994 baseball strike, he was not eligible to join the MLB Players Union.

Lidle later appeared for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays, Cincinnati Reds, and Philadelphia Phillies. His best season came in 2001 when he went 13-6 with a 3.59 ERA for Athletics, helping them win the wild card spot.

In August 2002, Lidle gave up one run during the whole month, winning all five of his starts to lead the A's in their historic 20-game winning streak.

The Yankees have not assigned Lidle's #30 to any player during this spring training.


Source: Toronto Star

Cooper Brannan

After pain-staking research (a heads up by Maryland Orioles' Fan) we have updated "Because Lizzy Loves Men In Uniform" with a photo of Cooper Brannan, the 22-year-old wounded marine who was given a minor league deal by the San Diego Padres.


Source:

2.14.2007

DiNardo To Oakland

The Oakland Athletics have claimed former Red Sox lefty Lenny DiNardo off waivers.

The 27-year-old went 1-2 with a 7.85 ERA in 7 starts and 6 relief appearances with Boston last season before missing 92 games after straining his neck in May.

He returned from the DL on Aug. 31st and started once with five relief appearances.

To make room for DiNardo on the 40-man roster, the A's designated outfielder Hiram Bocachica for assignment.



Source:


The Cleveland Indians added another experienced righty to their bullpen on Wednesday with the signing of Cliff Politte to a minor league contract.

The 32-year-old appeared in 30 games last year for the Chicago White Sox, going 2-2 with an 8.70 ERA, but his season was cut short by inflammation in his throwing shoulder. He was released in July and underwent surgery in August.

In 2005, Politte went 7-1 with a 2.00 ERA in 68 relief appearances as the primary setup man when the White Sox won the World Series. He has a 22-23 career record with 15 saves and a 4.40 ERA in 330 games with the St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays and the White Sox.

The Tribe had the absolute worst bullpen in the big leagues last season, recording just 23 saves. This offseason, the club signed right-handed relievers Keith Foulke, Joe Borowski, Roberto Hernandez and lefty Aaron Fultz to address that large hole in their plans to take over the AL Central.


Source: Sporting News


Infielder Desi Relaford agreed to a minor league contract Wednesday with the Texas Rangers, including an invitation to their spring training camp.

During Relaford's 10-year major league career, he has played with six different teams. The most recent was the Colorado Rockies in 2005, when he hit .224 with 16 RBIs in 73 games. He was released by Baltimore at the end of spring training last year.

The Rangers also invited minor league right-hander Jose Vargas to major league camp. Vargas has spent the last two seasons in the Mexican League.


Source: Denver Post


Dmitri Young will re-join his former GM Jim Bowden in Washington after agreeing to a minor league contract with the Nationals on Wednesday, getting another shot after being released in September from the Detroit Tigers following substance-abuse and legal problems.

Late September, he was sentenced by a Michigan court to one year of probation for assaulting his ex-girlfriend. Last summer, the troubled former All-Star spent 30 days at a rehabilitation center for depression and alcohol abuse. He was not invited to the team's Spring Training camp.

Young, 33, batted .250 last season in Detroit, bringing in 23 runs with seven longballs in 48 games. He has a .289 career average with 154 home runs and 599 RBIs over parts of 11 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and Tigers.

Young enjoyed his best season in 2001, when he hit .302 with 21 homers and 69 RBIs for the Reds, where Bowden was general manager at the time.

The Nats also agreed to a minor league contract with third baseman Tony Batista on Tuesday, sans Spring Training invite.

Batista, 33, was released by the Minnesota Twins in June, mainly for not being that great of a baseball player. He batted .236 with five home runs in 50 games for the club and is a career .251 hitter.

Umm... why? Discuss.


Source: Detroit Free Press

Mo Lays The Smack Down

Probably one of the classiest guys in baseball, and the only Yankee I don't violently hate, Mariano Rivera, has brought his contract issues to the backpages of New York tabloids.

The 37-year-old closer for the Bronx Bombers has gone on the record saying "If they don't give me the respect I deserve, I have to move on." Yankees GM Brian Cashman said he's only spoken with Rivera once this offseason, and there was no mention of Rivera's contract after 2007.

Rivera is arguably one of the best closers in baseball, and in a market that is dry with good bullpen help, Mo could probably get top dollar from another team if he is allowed to become a free agent.

Like from the Red Sox....


Source: ESPN


Happy Valentine's Day, readers! For some of you, today is a completely irrelevant Wednesday. For others, it is a day to either bathe in chocolate or cry over your exes. Guess what? There's no crying in baseball. That's right.

For Lizzy and Sooze, it marks the day where battery mates report to Spring Training camp. Today is all about our first love: the game.

Pitchers and catchers from the Orioles, Cubs, Angels, Yankees, Phillies, Cardinals, Giants, Mariners and Nationals report to camp today, ready to start workouts this week.

I can almost hear the birds chirping in this -10 degree weather.


Source: and MLB



Right-handed pitcher Geoff Geary agreed to a one-year contract worth $837,500 with the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday, side-stepping arbitration.

Geary was an impressive 7-1 with a 2.96 ERA and one save in 81 games last season, allowing 103 hits and 20 walks, fanning 60 batters in 91.1 innings of relief. He is 10-2 with a 3.78 ERA in 159 appearances over four seasons.


Source:

2.13.2007


The Baltimore Orioles have forgotten all about your rotator cuff, Kris Benson.

The club moved on faster than your ex-girlfriend, filling Benson's spot in the rotation with free agent righty Steve Trachsel. The two parties have agreed to a $3.1 million, one-year contract which includes a $3 million salary this year and a 2008 club option with a $100,000 buyout, pending a physical.

Trachsel, 36, was 15-8 with a 4.97 ERA for the New York Mets last season and is a career 134-143 with a 4.28 ERA in too many 14 major league seasons.


Source:


Right-hander Jae Kuk Ryu will join fellow South Korean Jae Seo in Tampa Bay after being acquired from the Chicago Cubs for a couple of minor league prospects on Tuesday.

Ryu, 23, made his major league debut with the Cubbies last season, posting an 0-1 record and an 8.40 ERA in 10 games. Awesome. He also started 23 games with AAA Iowa, going 8-8 with a 3.23 ERA; a little better.

The Cubs received outfielder Andrew Lopez and right-hander Greg Reinhard in the deal.

Lopez, 20, batted .256 in 56 games with Princeton's Rookie League. Reinhard, 23, was 6-10 with a 4.50 ERA in 26 starts for Southwest Michigan's Rookie League.

The D'Rays designated righty Marcos Carvajal for assignment on Tuesday to make room on the 40-man roster for Ryu. Carvajal appeared in 39 games for AA Montgomery last season, going 2-2 with a 3.86 ERA.


Source: Reuters of our friendly neighbor to the North

Because Lizzy Loves Men in Uniform...


Oh, my, the hotness. A marine and a baseball player. I think I need a minute....

Ok.

So anyway, the San Diego Padres have agreed to allow a former Marine, who served two terms in Iraq, a spring training tryout. Cooper Brannan, 22, is a former high school pitcher from Arizona.

“He is a little raw, but he is very athletic and has a great body and a loose arm,” Grady Fuson, Padres vice president of scouting and player development told the San Diego Tribune.


Source: San Diego Tribune

Washington Nationals pitcher John Patterson and Florida Marlins reliever Kevin Gregg argued their salary cases in front of arbitrators on Monday, hoping to get the raises their clubs refused to hand out.

Patterson, who went 1-2 with a 4.43 ERA in eight starts last year before season-ending surgery on his pitching arm, asked for a raise from $450,000 to $1.85 million while the Nats offered less than half of that at $850,000.

Gregg, acquired in November from the Los Angeles Angels, asked arbitrators for an increase from $365,000 to $700,000 while the Marlins argued for a $575,000 salary. Gregg went 3-4 with a 4.14 ERA in 29 starts and three relief appearances last season.

So far, it's Clubs 2, Players 0. Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Beimel and Tampa Bay backup catcher Josh Paul were the first two players who went to arbitration this year, failing miserably. Eight players remain scheduled for hearings, which run through Feb. 20th. Oh yes, we'll keep you posted.

UPDATE: Clubs 4, Players 0.


Source: Yahoo! Sports

2.12.2007

Pitcher Matt Herges agreed to a minor league contract Monday with the Colorado Rockies, along with an invitation to their spring training camp.

If the 36-year-old righty makes it onto the 40-man roster, he will get a $600,000, one-year contract and the chance to earn $150,000 in performance bonuses.

Once a closer for the San Francisco Giants, Herges has a 32-29 record and a 3.89 ERA over an eight-year career with the Dodgers, Expos, Padres, Diamondbacks, Giants and Florida Marlins, where he went 2-3 with a 4.31 ERA in 66 relief appearances last season.


Source: ESPN

Nationals Get Some Nookie



The Washington Nationals officially signed outfielder Nook Logan to a one-year contract on Monday, with undisclosed financial terms.

The switch-hitter started 25 of Washington's last 29 games in center field after being acquired from the Detroit Tigers on September 1st, batting .300 with 13 runs scored.


Source: MLB

Walker, Toronto Blue Jay


Why not the Texas Rangers, Pete? Just a thought. It would've made my title that much funnier.

The Toronto Blue Jays signed right-handed pitcher Pete Walker to a minor league contract on Monday, along with an invitation to spring training.

The 37-year-old went 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 23 games with the Blue Jays last season before undergoing rotator cuff surgery.

Walker has a 20-13 record and 4.48 ERA in 113 relief appearances and 31 starts over seven major league seasons with four different organizations.


Source: Toronto Star

Kris Benson, husband of former stripper and notorious skank-weirdo Anna Benson, will likely miss the entire 2007 season with a torn rotator cuff. Surgery is required, and Benson will likely be out for anywhere from eight to 12 months. A recent MRI revealed the tear, team doctors said.

Benson signed with the Baltimore Orioles in 2006, and went 11-12 with a 4.06 ERA during his first season at Camden Yards.


No word on whether Anna's S&M tendencies contributed further to Benson's injury.


Source:

The Chicago White Sox agreed to terms on a minor league contract with aging first baseman/designated hitter Eduardo Pérez, inviting him to spring training on Monday.

Pérez, a 37-year-old veteran, split last season between Cleveland and Seattle, batting just .253 with 9 home runs and 33 RBIs in 80 games.

The son of Hall of Famer , Eduardo is a career .247 hitter with 79 homers and 294 RBIs in 754 games over 13 seasons with seven different franchises... I sense a pattern.


Source: Chicago Tribune

The New York Yankees will make another run at the American League East this year. Shocker.

The offseason this year has been fairly quiet for the Bronx Bombers. No blockbuster deals or major acquisitions. The most noise the Yanks have made involves sending The Big Ugly back to Arizona. As I always say, if you can sign a 43-year-old man with a bad back for a ridiculous amount of money, I say do it. Much to-do has been made over proverbially injured bench-warmer Carl Pavano in this offseason, with him claiming that he is able to win back the respect of his teammates after signing a massive contract back in late 2004, and then spending two full seasons with an assortment of hangnail and blemish-related injuries.

Starting pitching for the Bronx Bombers will be a question mark for them, with Chien-Ming Wang returning as the most productive and reliable member of the rotation. Andy Pettitte has made the return from Texas, but is quite old, and just spent a few years pitching in the NAAAtional League. We know what happens to pitchers who go from the NL to the AL (*cough*Matt Clement*cough*).

Mike Mussina is really hot, but injury-prone, up there in years, and quite inconsistent. Pavano will probably be in there somewhere. In keeping up with the trend to sign Asian guys during the offseason, the Yanks signed Kei Igawa to a 3 year, $20 million dollar deal. Mariano Rivera returns as closer. Duh.

The infield will be again anchored by Derek "Justin Timberlake steals all my women" Jeter, Alex "I might opt out" Rodriguez at shortstop and third respectively. Robinson Cano, who was nearly the AL Rookie of the Year last year, will start at second. And Doug "GIVE THE RED SOX FANS BACK THE FUCKING BALL" Mientkiewicz will be playing first base for the Yanks to allow Jason "Shrek/Balco" Giambi to become a full time DH. Miguel Cairo will be waiting around in case anyone hurts themselves, which is bound to happen.

The outfield may be the best in baseball with Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and Bobby Abreau all making returns for the bombers; switch-hitting Melky Cabrera might have to wait around until someone is injured to play.

This could be the most dangerous hitting team in baseball. However, pitching may come back to bite them on their pinstriped asses. The starting rotation is mostly old and injury-prone and nobody knows what kind of shape the bullpen will be in until the season actually gets going. Kyle Farnsworth headlines the relief crew, with lefties Sean Henn and Mike Myers, right-handers Luis Vizcaino and Scott Proctor also returning.

If everyone stays healthy, it'll be the Sox and the Yanks again for the AL East.


Depth Chart

Season Preview: The Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Continuing our preview of the American League East is a look at the Tampa Bay Devil Rays upcoming season.

Pitching is not exactly the D'Rays strong point and I'm not sure what exactly is. Their stud, Scott Kasmir will lead the starting five again this season, coming off of a year where he went 10-8 with a 3.24 ERA in 24 starts. Not bad. He will be joined by lefty Casey Fossum and righties James Shields, Tim Corcoran and occassional reliever Jason Hammel, who each struggled through losing seasons in 2006. Since there are no new faces in Tampa Bay's rotation, left-hander J.P Howell and righty Brian Stokes will rightfully vie for a starting spot.

Experienced reliever Dan Miceli will join righties Shawn Camp, Ruddy Lugo, Chad Orvella and Seth McClung, who will take a shot at the closer spot, along with lefty Jon Switzer rounding out the pen. Out of these six, you will find not one with an ERA under 3.81, so there is room for improvement this year, which should come with more innings.

Rocco Baldelli, who hit .302 last season, will once again roam center field, accompanied by monster lefty Carl Crawford (.305) in left and Delmon Young in right. Young enjoyed a pretty productive season last year, hitting .317 in 30 games with the D'Rays. Switch-hitting first baseman Greg Norton and designated hitter Jonny Gomes will back things up in the outfield.

When your DH has only 41 career home runs with a .241 average, things could get dicey. Joining Norton (.296) at the opposite corner is five-time Japanese League All-Star Akinori Iwamura at third base, supported by righty B.J. Upton.

Heads-up second baseman Jorge Cantu and will tag team with Ben Zobrist and short stop Brendon Harris, who played only 25 games last season between the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Nationals. Ty Wigginton will back up all positions in the infield.

Dioner Navarro, who caught 54 games for Tampa Bay last season will start behind the plate with Josh Paul, who caught four more games and Shawn Riggans, who has but 10 games of major league experience.

The Devil Rays had a terrible 61-101 record last year and will attempt to avoid another 100-loss season, without having done anything extravagant to their lineup, besides adding an arm from the Japanese League, which was a good move on their part... if they want to stay hip, you know.


Depth Chart

2.11.2007


Reliever Oscar Villarreal agreed to a one-year contract worth $925,000 with the Atlanta Braves on Sunday, settling the club's last possible arbitration case.

The righty could make another $100,000 in bonuses depending on how many games he starts and finishes.

Villarreal, 25, pitched in 58 games for the Braves last season, all but four of them in relief, ending 9-1 with a 3.61 ERA. Over four seasons spent mostly with the Arizona Diamondbacks, he is 21-10 with a 3.53 ERA in 172 games.


Source:


The Minnesota Twins are proud to announce that Joe Mauer has finally been rewarded for his breakout, All-Star season.

The club locked up Mauer's sweet swing and defensive prowess on Sunday, agreeing on a contract that will run through 2010 for $33 million plus incentives.

Last year, the 23-year-old lefty became the first catcher to win the American League batting title, hitting a smokin'.347 while setting career highs in nearly every other offensive category. He ranked third in the AL with a .429 OBP and hit 13 home runs, 84 RBIs and scored 86 runs with a .507 slugging percentage.

A fan favorite and native of St. Paul, Minnesota, Mauer was the top overall pick in the 2001 draft and is a career .321 hitter with 28 home runs, 156 RBIs and 165 runs in 306 games over three seasons with the Twins.


Source: Star Tribune

In other important, somewhat strange baseball news, the commissioner's office has announced that balls must be stored at a uniform temperature after they are delivered from the manufacturer. Rawlings, who has a bad ass picture of AL Batting Champ Joe Mauer on its website's front page, has recommended the baseballs be stored at 70 degrees with 50% humidity.

This decision comes after much debate concerning the humidor installed at Coors Field.

Some players have complained in the past about the humidor balls, specifically, new Minnesota Twins third baseman, Jeff Cirillo. He played for the Colorado Rockies from 2000-2001 and claims the baseballs stored at Coors are spongy, big and water-logged. He even went so far as to accuse the club of cheating, somehow.

This would be true if they were trying not to produce runs.

The ballpark ranked first in the majors in scoring from its conception in 1995 until 2002. Curiously, the organization installed the humidor in 2002, and has seen the collective scoring average drop every season since then, down to just over 10 runs per game last season, their lowest ever. The ballpark's scoring average peaked at fifteen in 1996.

Every one's all square now, Jeff. All 30 clubs will have humidors installed next season, so everyone will suck equally.

Major League Baseball also told clubs they may only use balls manufactured in the current year.


Source: MLB and Jeff Cirillo's Rant

2.10.2007

One thing that may separate us from other baseball sites is that we find arbitration hearings EXTREMELY EXCITING. They're super intense and inch us ever closer to the first pitch of the regular season. Also, they make for a great betting platform and possibly a fun drinking game.

Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Beimel and Tampa Bay backup catcher Josh Paul became the first two players to have salary arbitration hearings this year.

During Friday morning's hearing in Phoenix, Paul asked arbitrators for a raise from $475,000 to $940,000 while the D'Rays argued for $625,000. He hit .260 last season, driving in 8 runs with one home run in 146 games, hardly enough to earn nearly a million dollars.

Later in the afternoon, Beimel asked three different arbitrators for a raise from $425,000 to $1.25 million while the Dodgers countered at $912,500. He was 2-1 with a 2.96 ERA and two saves in 62 appearances last year.

While decisions on the cases are expected this weekend, history shows that owners have the edge, winning 269 cases to the players' 200 since arbitration began in 1974.

Out of the 106 players who filed last month, only 12 remain scheduled for hearings, which run through Feb. 20th. Buckle up, because this can only get more exciting as Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer, third baseman Miguel Cabrera, Washington closer Chad Cordero and Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano still have not reached deals with their respective clubs.

UPDATE: Looks like that controversial 2005 ALDS incident still haunts Josh Paul. While catching for the Los Angeles Angels in Game 2, he failed to apply the tag to A.J. Pierzynski, resulting in a late ninth-inning rally for the Chicago White Sox. As if anyone in Chicago will ever let you forget, the Sox went on to win their first World Series since 1917 that year. Long story short, the arbitrators chose Tampa Bay's offer.

UPDATE #2: Joe Beimel lost his arbitration case on Saturday, as well and will earn $925,000 in 2007 instead of the $1.25 million he had requested.


Source: MLB


This was supposed to be a post for the ladies on John Smoltz' looming divorce. Somehow, it has turned into Bernie Williams possible divorce from the Yankees, which is just as juicy.

Williams, 38, apparently will not be attending spring training with the New York Yankees. He turned down their minor-league contract offer on Friday, saying he would continue to pump iron, hang out with his family and make beautiful music on his acoustic guitar wearing earth-tone sweaters and a smile, until the Yankees come to their senses and offer him a real contract.

With the club's plan to go with 12 pitchers, form a platoon at first base and move Jason Giambi to DH, there is no room on the 25-man roster for the aging outfielder.

He did well filling in last season when left fielder Hideki Matsui and right fielder Gary Sheffield were injured, batting .281 and driving in 61 runs with 12 homers.


Source: New York Post

2.09.2007


The Baltimore Orioles avoided salary arbitration with center fielder Corey Patterson on Friday, agreeing to terms on a one-year contract worth $4.3 million - a $1.5 million hike in what he made last season.

Whether you consider Patterson talented or a total underachiever, he had a solid season with the O's in 2006, batting .276 with 16 home runs, 53 RBIs and a career-high 45 stolen bases, the third-highest total in the American League.

Patterson, 27, is a career .257 hitter with 86 longballs, 284 runs batted in and 131 steals in parts of seven seasons with the Chicago Cubs and Orioles.

Patterson's signing leaves just one Oriole left eligible for arbitration - ace lefty Erik Bedard, who made $1.4 million last season and went 15-11 with a 3.76 ERA in 33 starts.


Source:


Chan Ho Park reportedly signed a one-year, $600,000 contract with the New York Mets on Friday.

After signing a five-year deal with the Texas Rangers in 2001, Park wasn't all he was cracked up to be. He showed slight improvement after being dished to the San Diego Padres midway through the 2005 season, but missed a good portion of 2006 due to fun things like anemia and intestinal bleeding.

The Yonhap News first reported Park's signing at $3 million for one year, which would be awfully nice of the Mets to offer that amount straight-up for a year of mediocre pitching. It turns out that with the $600,000 he has the opportunity to earn $2.4 million in performance bonuses based on innings pitched.

Park is a career 113-87 with a 4.37 ERA over 14 seasons, including his first eight which he spent with the Los Angeles Dodgers.


Source: Yonhap News and

2.08.2007


The Oakland Athletics agreed Thursday to a one-year, $1 million deal with Shannon Stewart, closing the gap in their outfield with less than a week before the club will report to Spring Training in Arizona.

Stewart, 32, has been limited by plantar fasciitis in both feet over the past three years, playing in 44 games with the Minnesota Twins in 2006 and 92 games in '04.

The A's were one of the teams present at a workout by Stewart last week, apparently coming away impressed enough to offer him a contract, regardless of his history of unstable health. He can earn an additional $1.5 million in performance bonuses, if he manages to stay off the DL.

Stewart will compete with Nick Swisher for a starting job in left field. Should Shannon make his way into the starting lineup, Swisher would likely move to first, bumping Dan Johnson out of that spot.

Stewart is a career .299 hitter with 102 home runs notched in his belt, scattered over 11 seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays and Twins.


Source: San Francisco Chronicle


Bronson Arroyo and the Cincinnati Reds agreed Thursday to a $25 million, two-year contract extension through 2010, calling for a $2.5 million signing bonus and an $11 million option for 2011 with a $2 million buyout.

This deal comes just two days after the Reds agreed to a $36.5 million, four-year contract with Aaron Harang, their other top starter. That agreement also includes a 2011 option, guaranteeing some damn good pitching for at least two or three more years.

After the Reds obtained the 30-year-old Bronson from Boston last March in a trade for outfielder Wily Mo Pena, the righty led the majors with 240.2 innings pitched and was 14-11 with a 3.29 ERA.

He and Harang, who won 16 games and pitched 234.1 innings, became the first pair in Reds history to each pitch at least 200 innings and have at least 184 strikeouts, with Harang leading the National League with 216 strikeouts last season.


Source: Cincinnati Enquirer


The last arbitration-eligible Pittsburgh Pirate, second baseman Jose Castillo, agreed Wednesday to a $1.9 million, one-year contract with plate appearance incentives.

Castillo hit .253 with 14 home runs and 65 RBIs in 2006, struggling though the last month of the season when he went 8-for-73 (.110) with two RBIs and two extra-base hits after Sept. 1st.

Because of that slump, he will be battling Jose Bautista for a starting infielder's job during spring training. The backup third baseman hit .235 with 16 homers and 54 RBIs in 117 games with the Bucs last season.


Source: MLB

2.07.2007


Pedro Martinez has been pumping iron and working out 4-5 hours a day for the past 3 1/2 months. He believes he has "100% flexibility in his arm and totally sexy rehabbed, calves" following last October's surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his pitching arm.

Martinez, 35, has put on 12 pounds of man-muscle from his workout regime, but won't begin throwing a baseball until next month and won't return to the New York Mets' rotation until June or July, at the earliest. Pedro has two more years left on his contract and appears to be leaning towards retirement once it expires, telling the New York Daily News that he won't pitch beyond 40.

The future Hall-of-Famer had a 9-8 record and 4.48 ERA in 23 games last season, striking out 137 batters in 132 innings pitched. He is a career 206-92 with a 2.81 ERA in fifteen major league seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Montreal Expos, Boston Red Sox and Mets.


Source:

The Detroit Tigers traded outfielder Jeff Frazier to the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Yorman Bazardo on Wednesday.

Bazardo went 6-5 with a 3.64 ERA in 25 starts last year with the San Antonio Missions, finishing with the fourth-best ERA in the Texas League and he was 2-0 with a 1.78 ERA in the Venezuelan Winter League. The right-hander struck out six batters in five scoreless innings over two games for Venezuela in the Caribbean World Series.

Frazier hit .228 with 13 homers and 73 RBIs in 135 games with the Lakeland Flying Tigers last season.

Designated for assignment was right-hander Preston Larrison, who split his season between the Erie Seawolves and the Toledo Mud Hens.


Source: Detroit Free Press

2.06.2007


Joe Mays, once a 17-game winner for the Minnesota Twins in 2001, agreed to a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday, along with a non-roster spring training invitation.

The 31-year-old right-hander has a terrible 48-70 record with a 5.05 ERA in 206 big league games, 156 as a starter.

After his splendid 17-win season where he held a career-best 3.13 ERA with the Twins, Mays signed a $20 million, four-year contract. This is about the time things started to go down hill. He won only 18 games for Minnesota and between the lack of performance and elbow surgery, Twins GM Terry Ryan said, "It's been real, here's your $500,000 buy-out."

Mays pitched in 13 games for the Kansas City Royals and Cincinnati Reds last year, surprisingly ending the season 0-5 in 11 starts and two relief appearances.


Source: Mercury News

Byrnes Reaches Deal With D'backs


The Arizona Diamondbacks met with Eric Byrnes on a one-year, $4.575 million contract on Tuesday, avoiding arbitration with the acrobatic outfielder.

Byrnes, 30, hit .267 and set career highs with 26 home runs and 79 RBIs in his first season with the Diamondbacks last year. He also stole a career high 25 bases and matched his best 143 games played.

Byrnes became the first D'backs player to hit 25 bombs and steal 25 bags in the same season and even appeared on Baseball Tonight, sans hair-dresser, during the 2006 playoffs.

Byrnes has a career .261 batting average with 74 home runs and 259 RBIs over parts of seven seasons with Oakland, Baltimore, Colorado and Arizona.


Source: AZ Central


The most overpaid player in the history of sports has embarked on a new career: Children's book author.

Alex Rodriguez penned "Out of the Ballpark," which hit your local Barnes and Noble yesterday. "Out of the Ballpark" is about a boy named Alex who's baseball team has made the playoffs. Alex ends up botching a key play during a game, and putting far more pressure on himself. Except he continues to play awful. This should ring a bell for fans of the Bronx Bums.

So now, grieving adult Yankee fans of the world, can tuck in their kids, and read them a story about how its OK to suck at your job, as long as you're making $25 million dollars a year.


Source:

Nationals Get Down To Business


Outfielder Ryan Church and righthanded reliever Jon Rauch were among 12 players on Tuesday that the Washington Nationals struck deals with for the 2007 season.

Church, 28, appeared in 71 games with the Nationals last season, hitting .276 with 10 home runs and 35 RBIs. In three seasons with the Montreal Expos, he is a .269 hitter with 83 RBI in 203 career games.

Making 85 appearances last season, the 28-year-old Rauch became one of Washington's top relievers, going 4-5 with a 3.35 ERA and two saves. Since being acquired from the Chicago White Sox in a midseason trade in 2004, Rauch is 9-9 with two saves in 109 games and a 3.11 ERA.

Also reaching agreements were righthanders Saul Rivera, Ryan Wagner, Emiliano Fruto, Tim Redding, Jason Bergmann and Joel Hanrahan, lefthanders Billy Traber and Micah Bowie, outfielder Michael Restovich and infielder Josh Wilson (awesome 'stache).

As a huge part of the Nats' bullpen, 29-year-old Saul Rivera went 3-0 with a 3.43 ERA and one save in 54 appearances during his rookie season. Ryan Wagner, 24, appeared in 26 games in his first season with Washington, posting a 3-3 record and a 4.70 ERA.

Emiliano Fruto, 22, went 2-2 with a 5.50 ERA and one save in 23 relief appearances as a rookie last season. Signed as a free agent in November, 28-year-old Tim Redding was 0-6 with a 10.57 ERA in 10 games (seven starts) with the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres last season.

Micah Bowie, 32, was 0-1 with a 1.37 ERA in 15 relief appearances with Washington after a two-year absebse from the majors. Billy Traber, 27, went 4-3 with a 6.44 ERA in 15 games (eight starts) with the Nationals last season.

The 27-year-old Michael Restovich, who was acquired in the offseason, appeared in 10 games with the Chicago Cubs last year, hitting .167 and drove in one lonely run. In five seasons between Minnesota, Colorado, Pittsburgh and Washington, Restovich is a career .250 hitter with six home runs and 20 RBIs in 137 games.

Bergmann, Hanrahan and Wilson all played in the minors last season.

The Nationals have just four players left unsigned heading into spring training, including closer Chad Cordero and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.


Source: Nationals Press Release

Rangers Sign Chen To Minor League Contract


During what turned out to be a horrid season with the Baltimore Orioles, Bruce Chen went 0-7 with a 6.93 ERA in 40 games. After pooing on the 12 starting opportunities he was given, the 29-year-old was thrust into the bullpen, never to be heard from again.

Until today.

The Speculation bus parks here, since Chen has officially signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers, including an invitation to spring training where he could show his stuff in hopes for a spot on the roster.


Source:

Royals Give Deals to Wellemeyer, Standridge


Sweetest. Picture. Ever.

Todd Wellemeyer and the Kansas City Royals agreed Tuesday to a $635,000, one-year contract. The right-handed pitcher made $347,500 last year and had asked for $740,000 in arbitration while the Royals had offered $565,000.

Wellemeyer, 28, joined the Royals bullpen midway through last season after the Florida Marlins placed him on waivers. He went 1-2 with a team-best 3.63 ERA in 28 relief appearances for Kansas City, allowing just 48 hits in 57 innings pitched.

KC also agreed to a minor league contract with righty reliever Jason Standridge with an invite to spring training. Standridge has played for Tampa Bay, Texas and Cincinnati, spending the last half of the season with AAA Louisville. Standridge, 29, is a career 3-8 over 119 innings with a 5.64 ERA.


Source: Kansas City Star

Reds Give Harang 4-Year Deal


The Cincinnati Reds and right-handed pitcher Aaron Harang have agreed to a 4-year, $36.5 million contract that includes a club option for 2011.

Harang, 28, put together an amazing season last year, leading the National League with 216 strikeouts and six complete games. He tied for the NL lead with 35 starts and 16 wins, ranking among the leaders in innings pitched with two shutouts, fewest walks per nine (2.2) and most strikeouts per nine (8.3), while sporting 3.76 ERA.

Since he was nabbed from the Oakland A's at the 2003 trading deadline, Harang has been the club's leader in almost every pitching category, making 80 consecutive starts without walking more than 3 batters; the third-longest streak in baseball among active pitchers.

Harang is set to be the Reds' Opening Day starter again this season.


Source: Cincinnati Enquirer

Moving right along with our tour of the American League East is a look ahead to the Toronto Blue Jays 2007 season.

Roy Halladay will lead the starting five, coming off of a 16-5 season where he held a 3.19 ERA in 32 games. A.J. Burnett, in his first year with Toronto, had a 10-8 record and Gustavo Chacin and his sweet shades went 9-4. These winning records are followed by the newly acquired Tomo Ohka, who was 4-5 with a 4.82 ERA last season with the Milwaukee Brewers, and John Thomson, who was a shoddy 2-7 in 18 games with the Atlanta Braves in 2006.

Lefty B.J. Ryan will return in his second year as the Jays' closer after converting 38 of 42 save opportunities in 2006. Second-year reliever Jeremy Accardo will join lefties Scott Downs, Brian Tallet and Davis Romero, a youngster who pitched in only 7 games last season. Also returning to the pen are righties Brandon League, Jason Frasor, Dustin McGowan and Francisco Rosario.

The entire starting outfield hit over .300 last season. Vernon Wells, who hit .303 with 32 homers and 106 RBIs last year, will again dominate center field, alongside Alex Rios, who batted .302 last season, in right field and Reed Johnson, who hit .319 last year, in left. Lefty Adam Lind will back up all positions.

A couple of old-reliables will hold down the corners, with Lyle Overbay at first base and Troy Glaus at third.

Aaron Hill will once again play second, teamed up with 16-year veteran Royce Clayton, 37, at short stop. Yes, he still plays baseball. In 87 games with the Washington Nationals in 2006, Clayton hit .269 and managed not to break a hip. Righty John McDonald will play second fiddle up the middle. Yep, that rhymed, but let's not forget utility infielder Jason Smith, who will back up all positions with no problem.

Gregg Zaun, 36, will return as the Jays' catcher, backed up by Jason Phillips, who will also relieve Overbay at first on occasion.

And last but certainly not least, every one's favorite designated hitter Frank Thomas will blast balls into the day, evening and night skies once again. The Big Hurt nailed as many longballs as years he has lived (39) and drove in 114 runs last season with the Athletics before signing a two-year deal in November with Toronto worth $18 million clams and a giant offensive threat.

Our friendly neighbor to the North finished ten games behind the New York Yankees last season to gain second place ahead of the Boston Red Sox by one game, ending with a fairly even 43-41 record against teams in the East. The Jays will look to hold onto their tough-to-beat image at the Rogers Centre dome and improve their 37-44 road record from last season.


Depth Chart


Finally, a player in his mid-thirties satisfied with calling it quits.

Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Rick Helling announced his retirement from baseball on Monday after a 12-year major league career, aiming to spend more time with his family.

The 36-year-old right-hander spent his final two seasons as a reliever with the Brewers, going 0-2 with a 4.11 ERA in 35 innings last year, spending the first two months of the season on the disabled list with a sprained right elbow, then returning to the DL in early September due to torn cartilage in his left knee.

Helling went 93-81 with a 4.68 ERA for MilwaukeeTexas, Arizona and Baltimore. His best season was 1998, when he went 20-7 for the Rangers Helling won a pair of World Series titles with the Florida Marlins in 1997 and 2003.

"I have been very lucky to play on some great teams," Helling said. "I've been very lucky to play as long as I have. I have no regrets."


Source: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

2.05.2007

I turned down tickets to a Red Sox-Yankees game at Yankee Stadium in mid-September of last year. That is how badly the season ended for my beloved Olde Towne Team.

There's a lot of questions in place for the 2007 season. Will JD Drew play more than 8 games? Will Jonathan Papelbon be as effective as a starter as he was as a closer? Will Daisuke Matsuzaka live up to the hype? Who the heck knows. It'll be interesting if nothing else.

The Red Sox may have the best starting rotation in baseball, anchored by the loudest mouth in baseball, Curt Schilling. Josh Beckett will return for his second year with the club, and hopefully a more productive one. Daisuke Matsuzaka will have the number three spot, Papelbon will be number four, knuckleballer Tim Wakefield will be the five, and cancer survivor Jon Lester will hopefully hold the number six spot.

If everyone stays healthy, the gyroball lives up to the hype, and Papelbon is effective in the starting spot (these are all huge if's) the Sox could make another run at a World Series in 2007. The bullpen, however, is another giant question mark.

The most reliable member of the bullpen, Papelbon, is no longer there. Mike Timlin has been streaky at best over the last two years, Julian Tavarez was far better as a starter than out of the bullpen, Manny Delcarmen didn't live up to the hype, Kyle Snyder was a huge waste of money and life and Lenny DiNardo has potential, but potential is only worth something when you can actually do something with it.

Keith "Burger King" Folke departed for Cleveland during the offseason, which was better for all parties involved I think, because he hasn't been the same since '04, and was not a favorite in the clubhouse. The Sox plan on holding "audtions" for the closers spot during spring training. Bring your glove, and show up in Fort Myers. It could be you.

Captain, oh my Captain Jason "Best Ass in the Majors" Varitek retuns as the starting catchter for the Sox. Varitek had a mediocre year at best with his bat during 2006, and spent the last half of the season sitting with a knee injury. Dougie "Slowest Baserunner EVER" Mirabelli returns as Tim Wakefield's other half. If you remember, Mirabelli signed with the Padres before last season, but the Sox sacrificed life and limb to get him back, as it was proven that Josh Bard wasn't cable of catching the knuckleball.

Kevin "Don't look at him too closely in HD" Youkilis will return as the Sox leadoff man and first baseman. Youk surprised a lot of people last year with his bat, and switched from playing third to playing first, much to the chagrin of J.T. Snow. Mike Lowell will return at third, and Dustin Pedroia and Alex Cora will split up the spots at second and shortstop. Anyone else think Lowell looks like he's about 40? I was totally shocked to learn he was only 32.

My favorite Manny Ramirez will bring is peeing in the Green Monster antics back to left field and his 145 RBI producing bat, Coco Crisp will hopefully have a better year in center, and Trot Nixon has been replaced with JD Drew in right field. The Red Sox still boast the most dangerous back to back hitting lineup in the league, with Manny and David "Big Papi" Ortiz. Best thing the Sox did this entire offseason was keep Manny. If they'd dumped him, Papi wouldn't have seen a pitch all year.

Still, a lot of questions for the Sox, and the biggest one, like every year, is pitching. Papi will still hit a lot of homeruns. Manny will drive in a lot of RBIs, but will the starting rotation be as effective in real life as it is on paper, and will some semblance of a bullpen be made out of all these yougins?


Depth Chart

Koskie Still Plagued By PCS


In other Brew Crew news, Milwaukee's third baseman, Corey Koskie has yet to participate in any baseball-related activities due to post-concussion syndrome.

In the wake of catcher from concussion-related illness, there is a looming fear that Koskie won't be ready for spring training, let alone the start of the Brewers' regular season.

If that is the case, Milwaukee could use a combination of Tony Graffanino and Craig Counsell to cover third base.

Assistant GM Gord Ash, who oversees the club's medical program said, "Sitting here, two weeks from the start of spring training, we can't say he'll be ready to play. We really won't know much until we see him and see what he can and can't do."

Koskie is a career .275 hitter with a .966 fielding percentage over nine seasons with the Minnesota Twins, Toronto Blue Jays and the Brewers.


Source: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel


The Milwaukee Brewers settled their arbitration agreements Monday with the four-year, $24 million contract given to tentative center fielder Bill Hall.

Hall made $418,000 last year and had asked for $4,125,000 while the Brewers had offered $3 million. After starting short stop J.J. Hardy injured an ankle, Bill took over and finished the season with a .270 batting average with club-best 78 extra-base hits and 297 total bases in a career-high 148 games.


Source: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel


Cincinnati Reds reliever Eddie Guardado agreed to a minor league contract with the club while recovering from surgery to repair a torn ligament and tendon in his throwing arm.

The 36-year-old lefty was invited to the Reds' major league training camp after taking over the closer role when the Reds acquired him from the Seattle Mariners in July of last year. He had 10 saves in 12 opportunities before joining the disabled list in late August.


Source:

The Minnesota Twins are reportedly working on a four-year contract offer worth about $33 million for AL batting champion Joe Mauer.

Mauer, who will turn 24 this April, became the first American League catcher to win the batting title in 2006, leading the majors with a .347 batting average with 13 home runs and 84 RBIs. With three years of arbitration remaining, a four-year deal would bind Mauer past his first season of free-agent eligibility.

This is a particularly smart move for Minnesota, considering they've only hooked MVP first baseman, Justin Morneau for one-year thus far, with other imperative contracts to examine within the upcoming seasons.

Before Minnesota's new stadium is erected in 2010, two-time Cy Young winner and strike-out master Johan Santana will be needing a raise (2008) along with gold glove center fielder Torii Hunter, whose 2007 contract was picked up for $12 million to avoid free agency. The team will need to lock up some of their talent before their key players are swept away by larger contracts than the Twins are able to afford.


Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press

2.04.2007

Closing our season preview of the American League West is a look at the Los Angeles Angels' upcoming season. LA's roster is so incredibly overflowing with excess players, I have no idea where to even start.

How about the mound? They say that pitching and defense wins ball games. The Angels have some pitching... John Lackey will headline the starting rotation along with Kelvim Escobar and Ervin Santana. Youngster Jered Weaver and lefty Joe Saunders have starting spots while Bartolo Colon will try to sneak into the fifth spot as he continues to recover from his shoulder injury.

Strikeout pitcher Francisco Rodriguez will return to the closer spot along with a bullpen dominated by young right-handers. Long-time Angel Scot Shileds and returning righty Greg Jones will join a couple of new guys: Justin Speier from the Toronto Blue Jays and Darren Oliver, who spent last season with the New York Mets. Second-year Angel Hector Carrasco and southpaw Phil Seibel (who hasn't pitched since 2004 with the Boston Red Sox) will round out the pen.

Gary Matthews Jr., who hit .313 last season, will patrol centerfield along with terrifying bat Vladimir Guerrero in right and lefty Garret Anderson, who has been with the organization since they were known simply as the California Angels, taking over left field. Juan Rivera will back up all positions along with Reggie Willits and Tommy Murphy.

Switch-hitting third baseman Chone Figgins and lefty Casey Kotchman will hold down the corners, backed up by Robb Quinlin, Macier Izturis and Dallas McPherson. Seriously, the backups are never-ending for this club. If everyone came down with ricketts, they'd still be good to go.

Howie Kendrick, who played only half a season with the Angels in 2006, will start at second base, tag-teamed with Orlando Cabrera's quick glove at short.

Shea Hillenbrand
, snagged from the Blue Jays, will be the main designated hitter, backed up by at least ten other players.

Mike Napoli is ready to challenge Jose Molina for the starting backstop role, with young catcher Jeff Mathis just waiting for someone to get injured.

Look for the Angels to be dead set on beating out the Oakland A's for the top seat in the West. They were held four games back at the end of last season, but had an excellent 32-25 intradivisional record along with winning stats on the road and at home.


Depth Chart

2.03.2007


The Pittsburgh Pirates nearly have their arbitration cases wrapped up with the signing of NL batting champ Freddy Sanchez on Saturday. The two parties agreed to a $2.7 million, one-year contract with an opportunity for a $10,000 bonus after 650 at bats. Sanchez hit .344 last season with 200 hits and 85 RBIs.

The club also signed free-agent reliever Dan Kolb to a Minor League contract, with an invitation to Spring Training. Kolb will make $1.25 million if he makes the team and could earn another $1.3 million in incentives, otherwise he will return to free-agency. The right-hander held a 4.84 ERA last season with the Milwaukee Brewers in 48 innings pitched.

Second baseman Jose Castillo is the only remaining Pirate eligible for arbitration with a hearing scheduled for Feb. 14th.


Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Lefty Jim Parque has not pitched in a major league game since 2003. That could change, since he agreed Friday to a minor league contract with Seattle and will be at the Mariners' spring training camp later this month.

The 31-year-old Parque, who has a career record of 31-34, quit the game while rehabbing a torn labrum in his left shoulder, halting a seven-year career spent mostly as a Chicago White Sox starter before a stint with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2003.

If he makes it back to the big leagues, he would get a $450,000, one-year contract with a chance to earn more in performance bonuses.


Source: Seattle Post

2.02.2007


The Colorado Rockies re-signed Josh Fogg on Friday to a one-year contract worth $3.625 million.

In his first season with the club last year, 30-year-old Fogg went 11-9 with a 5.49 ERA in 31 starts. He ranked second on the team in wins and is one of 14 pitchers in the National League to record 10 wins in each of the last four seasons.

The right-hander is a career 50-51 with a 4.89 ERA in 167 career appearances (150 starts) over six seasons for the Chicago White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Rockies.


Source: Denver Post


Right fielder Alex Rios agreed with the Toronto Blue Jays Friday to a one-year, $2,535,000 deal. In his first All-Star season in 2006, he hit .302 with 17 homers and 82 RBIs. However, he missed over 30 games due to a staph infection in his leg. *Shudder*

The Jays also struck deals with left-handed pitcher Scott Downs for $1,025,000 and outfielder Reed Johnson for $3,075,000, finalizing their arbitration settlements.


Source: Toronto Star


The Milwaukee Brewers gave catcher Johnny Estrada a $3.4 million, one-year contract on Friday, as their Opening Day catcher.

Last season, before being traded to the Brewers as part of a six-player deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks in November, Estrada hit .302 with 11 homers and 71 RBI in 115 games.

Milwaukee has one player remaining in arbitration: outfielder Bill Hall, who is rumored to be getting as much as a four-year contract as soon as the next few days.

Source:


American League MVP Justin Morneau agreed Friday to a $4.5 million, one-year contract with the Minnesota Twins, midway between the $5 million he had asked for and the $4 million the Twins had offered.

Last year, the 25-year-old first baseman hit .321 with 34 homers and 130 RBIs, his salary at just $385,000. He has got to be one of the lowest paid MVPs in history, in comparison.

Minnesota also settled arbitration cases with third baseman Nick Punto and utility outfielder Leeeeeeeew Ford. Punto agreed to a $4.2 million, two-year contract, and Ford got a $985,000, one-year deal.

Punto, who hit .290 with 47 RBIs and 17 steals for the AL Central champs, will get $1.8 million this season and $2.4 million in 2008. Ford was a backup last year who hit .226 with 18 RBIs in 234 at-bats.

AL batting champion Joe Mauer remains to be given a deal; he asked for $4.5 million while Minnesota offered him a meager $3.3 million. Mauer's sweet swing was worth only $400,000 last season.

Outfielding third baseman Michael Cuddyer and reliever Juan Rincon are the last two players to have arbitration hearings for the Twins.

Update: Juan Rincon settled for a one-year, $2 million contract Friday evening.


Source: Star Tribune


Another righty was added to the Pittsburgh Pirates' predominantly left-handed rotation when they picked up free agent Tony Armas Jr. on Thursday, signing him to a one-year deal with a club option for 2008. No word on how much he will make, but he raked in $2.26 million last season with the Washington Nationals.

Three years after undergoing rotator cuff surgery, 28-year-old Armas went 9-12 with a 5.03 ERA in 30 starts in 2006, increasing his workload a bit and showing a little improvement each season.

The native Venezuelan has a wide pitching range, hurling a sinking fastball as well as a slider, changeup and curveball. However, he will most likely have to vie for the fifth rotation spot with fellow righty Shawn Chacon.

Armas made his Major League debut with the Montreal Expos in 1999 and is 48-60 with a 4.45 ERA in 151 starts in his eight-year career.


Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


A judge has dismissed the lawsuit claiming the Los Angeles Angels discriminated against men by giving tote bags to women only during a Mother's Day baseball game on May 8, 2005.

Superior Judge Jonathan Cannon of Orange County ruled Thursday that the giveaway was not biased against men since the event was a way to honor mothers.

The lawsuit, filed by unstable Los Angeles psychologist Michael Cohn, whose mother never hugged him, claimed thousands of men and fans under age 18 were each entitled to $4,000 in damages because they were treated unfairly. Women over 18 received the gifts that day... possible "mothers". He really wanted a pink tote bag, so the Angels sent him four of them after they received his angry letter. He sued them anyway.

In a way, Dr. Cohn won, since the organization has changed its policy since then. Last year, the team gave tote bags to the first 25,000 fans who came to the Mother's Day game.


Source: Souix City Journal

2.01.2007


San Francisco Giants catcher Mike Matheny's decision to retire was not his own. His doctor was unable to clear the longtime catcher for 2007 after a concussion brought his season and ultimately, his career to a screeching halt in late May.

After the May 31st game in which he took a series of foul tips to the mask, Matheny's doctors warned him that he could suffer extensive damage if he received another blow.

In early December, 36-year-old Matheny underwent extensive testing to see if his symptoms had subsided, but they hadn't. As recent as Dec. 28th, he experienced fatigue, memory problems and an inability to focus or see straight for more than a day.

Matheny earned his fourth NL Gold Glove award last year and holds a .239 career batting average with 67 homers and 443 RBIs in 1,305 games with the Milwaukee Brewers, Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals and the Giants.

His plans for the future are to spend more time at home with his wife and their five children.

"It's been a fun ride," he said. "The finality of it just kind of hit today as I was signing the papers. I have been blessed beyond what I could have imagined. For me it's all been kind of a fantasy ride the whole time."

Source: The Mercury News

Phillies Dish Myers $25.75 Million


Right-handed pitcher Brett Myers agreed to a three-year, $25.75 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday, side-stepping arbitration.

Myers, 26, went 12-7 with a 3.91 ERA in 31 starts last season, leading the Phillies in all things pitching: wins, ERA, starts, innings (198), strikeouts (189), winning percentage (.632) and opponents' batting average (.257). What a stud.

He re-joins the deep rotation of newcomers Freddy Garcia and Adam Eaton, rising lefty Cole Hamels and vet Jamie Moyer. The Phillies also have Jon Lieber on their hands, who could be on his way to the trading block.

The darker side to this American Dream is of course Myers' taking some time off last season following his arrest for hitting his wife in the face during a lover's quarrel near Fenway Park. The charge was dropped in October, so I won't go there.

Myers was selected as the 12th overall pick in the 1999 amateur draft, and has a 54-40 career record with a 4.34 ERA in 140 starts and one relief appearance.

Editors note: Brett Myers has some hard core eyebrows. They're pretty much out of control... they don't even look real!


Source:


Second baseman Brian Roberts agreed Thursday to a $4.2 milion, one-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles, meeting in the middle of his $4.6 million asking price and the O's offer $3.8 million offer.

Rebounding from an elbow injury last season, Roberts made $3.1 million and hit .286 with 10 home runs and 55 RBIs at the leadoff spot. In 138 games, he scored 85 runs and stole 36 bases.

His new contract includes incentives for making the All-Star team, earning a Gold Glove or Silver Slugger Award, and being named MVP for the season or in the playoffs.

This deal leaves center fielder Corey Patterson and pitcher Erik Bedard hanging in arbitration. Patterson is seeking $4.6 million, while the Orioles (surprise!) are offering $4 million. An even bigger gap existed between the club's $2.7 million offer to Bedard's $4 million he filed.


Source:


Outfielder Austin Kearns agreed to a three-year, $16.5 million contract extension with the Washington Nationals Thursday. His income will steadily rise as he makes $3.5 million in 2007, $5 million in 2008 and $8 million in 2009 with a club option for 2010 worth $10 million or a $1 million buyout.

Kearns, 26, will now avoid two years of salary arbitration and possibly two years of free agency, should the Nats pick up the option. Last season, he hit .264 with 24 home runs and 86 RBIs in 150 games; his first full season in the Majors.

Kearns is a .265 hitter with 79 homers and 299 RBIs in 515 career games over a span of five seasons.


Source: Washington Post


The New York Yankees have reportedly offered former All-Star outfielder Bernie Williams a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training.

Is Bernie seriously considering this? If he still wants to play baseball, he has many opportunities to go DH somewhere else, or at least become another club's fourth outfielder.

Plus, Bernie's agent is none-other-than Superagent Scott Boras. He made flame throwing gyroballer Daisuke Matsuzaka a zillionaire, so I'm sure he can find a home for Williams, stat. I thought that was the new big league trend, anyhow: pick up an aging free-agent, claim they're healthier than ever, then add them to your 25 or 40-man roster. Maybe even start them on Opening Day, just for old time's sake.

Then again, maybe he's too sad to go. Williams has been with the Yankees organization since 1991 and old habits die hard. There's always the retirement option, where Bernie could make sweet melodies with his acoustic guitar, finding purpose and pastel-colored serenity.


Sources: and Verve Music Group


The Milwaukee Brewers signed right-handed pitcher Jose Capellan to a one-year contract, the club announced Wednesday. During his second season in the Brewers bullpen in 2006, Capellan compiled a 4.40 ERA and a 4-2 record, fanning 58 batters in 71.2 innings.

Milwaukee also inked outfielder Drew Anderson, after his rookie season with the Brew Crew. His major league experience includes striking out 4 times, hitting a single and walking once.

Switch-hitting second baseman Hernan Iribarren was also given a chance at the big league level. In 108 games with Single-A affiliate Brevard County, whose mascot is a manatee, [seriously] Iribarren batted .319 with 50 RBIs.

Righty Mike Jones and lefty Manny Parra were also given contracts.


Source: