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Tag:AL East
Posted on: February 12, 2012 11:46 am
Edited on: February 12, 2012 3:45 pm
 

Update on Burnett-to-Pirates trade talks

By Matt Snyder

This past week, trade talk connecting maligned Yankees starting pitcher A.J. Burnett to the Pirates picked up. Here's the latest, via CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman.

The Yankees and Pirates are still talking and there's been "progress and continuing optimism" on getting a deal done. One obvious snag to this point has been money, as Burnett is due a whopping $33 million for the next two seasons. The Pirates are willing to take on more than $10 million while the Yankees would prefer a 50/50 split, but there are indications of a compromise on the horizon. Next, the Yankees are seeking "at least a reasonably decent prospect" in return, but the Pirates are actually more willing to compromise on the money issue than prospects.

Pirates, Yankees talk trade
Burnett, 35, was 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 173 strikeouts in 190 1/3 innings last season for the Yankees. He led the majors in wild pitches, one season after leading the majors in hit batsmen. He's currently ticketed to be the Yankees' fifth starter, but shedding his salary would help free up some extra money to sign a left-handed designated hitter like Raul Ibanez, Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui.

If the proposed trade comes to fruition, Burnett would probably bump Jeff Karstens from the Pirates' rotation, joining Erik Bedard, James McDonald, Kevin Correia and Charlie Morton. Of course, Morton's health is in question to start the season and Bedard's health is pretty much always in question, so there would be a great bet that all six of the pitchers would get a good amount of starts.

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Posted on: February 11, 2012 4:55 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2012 5:02 pm
 

Report: Marlins offer Cespedes $40 million

Yoenis Cespedes

By C. Trent Rosecrans


The starting point, it appears, for Cuban center fielder Yoenis Cespedes is $40 million.

A report on Cafe Fuerte, a Spanish-language blog based in South Florida, quotes a source as saying the Marlins offered Cespedes a six-year, $40 million contract. It also said he has no immediate plans to meet any other teams. However, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald tweeted that he's heard the Marlins' offer was less than the $40 million reported by Cafe Fuerte.

Cespedes visited Miami earlier this week and then returned to the Dominican Republic on Thursday. During his visit, Cespedes told reporters he'd like to play for the Marlins.

The 26-year-old outfielder has drawn the interest of not only the Marlins, but also the Cubs, White Sox, Tigers, Orioles and Indians.

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Posted on: February 10, 2012 8:41 pm
 

Orioles won't add Manny Ramirez

Manny RamirezBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Athletics, Blue Jays and Orioles had been said to have interest in Manny Ramirez -- but strike the Orioles from that list.

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Baltimore's Dan Duquette told reporters Friday that the Orioles probably won't be adding Ramirez, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com.

"I don't think there's going to be a fit for Manny," Duquette said. "We've looked at that all winter and I'm not sure there's a fit there for the Orioles. I wish Manny a lot of luck, but I just don't think he fits in our ballclub right now."

Duquette said he didn't foresee the Orioles signing any more players before the team starts camp.

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Posted on: February 10, 2012 6:30 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2012 11:25 pm
 

Report: Youkilis engaged to Tom Brady's sister

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Kevin YoukilisMove over Kate and Prince William, Boston's getting its own royal wedding -- Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis is engaged to Julie Brady, sister of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, according to the Boston Herald.

The two, according the report, had been dating for "at least" a year and "recently" were engaged.

The report says Brady and her 5-year-old daughter will move from Califormia to Florida when spring training begins. Brady is one of three of the quarterback's sisters.

Youkilis has had a wedding before, but never married. In 2008, he had a marriage ceremony with Enza Sambataro, but never filed the paperwork to make it legal and split up in 2010.

I'm guessing beer and fried chicken won't be on the reception's menu.

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Posted on: February 10, 2012 1:15 pm
 

Report: Orioles sign reliever Luis Ayala

By Matt Snyder

The Baltimore Orioles have added yet another pitcher. The club has reached an agreement with right-handed reliever Luis Ayala, reports Roch Kubatko of MASN. As I noted in the AL East spring position battles article, the O's have a ton of pitchers competing for spots in camp this year, but Ayala should figure as a shoo-in in the bullpen along with Jim Johnson, Matt Lindstrom and Kevin Gregg.

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Ayala, 34, had a good season for the Yankees in 2011. He had a 2.09 ERA and 1.27 WHIP with 39 strikeouts in 56 innings after missing all of 2010 with an injury. He previously had Tommy John surgery back in 2006.

Ayala has pitched in the geographic area before, having made 174 appearances for the Washington Nationals from 2005-08 before being traded to the Mets.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: February 10, 2012 10:59 am
 

Spring position battles: American League East



By Matt Snyder


Here we are for the fifth of six installments of spring positional battles. This one is the mighty AL East, the most polarizing and probably best division in the majors.

Previous spring position battles: AL West | NL West | AL Central | NL Central

New York Yankees
Designated Hitter: Andruw Jones vs. Russell Branyan vs. Free Agent vs. Revolving Door

I still feel like the Yankees will sign either Johnny Damon, Raul Ibanez or Hideki Matsui -- any of whom likely nails down this job full-time. But it's undecided as of right now, and wide open. Will Andruw Jones or Russell Branyan hit well enough to justify being the full-time DH? Maybe, or maybe they platoon -- as Jones hits from the right side while Branyan is a lefty. Or maybe the Yankees use bench players like Eduardo Nunez, Bill Hall and Chris Dickerson in the field while using starters like Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher at DH a few times a week in order to keep guys healthy and in tip-top shape.

Tampa Bay Rays
No. 4-5 starters: Jeff Niemann vs. Wade Davis vs. Matt Moore vs. Six-man rotation

Talk about a nice "problem" to have. The Rays obviously have David Price, James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson as the top three in the rotation. While there isn't a big problem with either Niemann or Davis, it's time to find a place in the rotation for Moore and I'm certain they will. The 22-year-old left-hander was awesome in his limited time in the majors last year, including a stellar outing against the Rangers in Texas for Game 1 of the ALDS. Moore's already received the type of team-friendly contract Evan Longoria got when he was a rookie -- as Moore is signed through 2016 with club options running all the way through 2019. So the question is, do the Rays demote either Niemann or Davis to the bullpen or trade one of them? Niemann would be the trade candidate, as Davis also has a team-friendly contract with club options that take him through 2017. And I doubt this happens, but the Rays could always go with a six-man rotation. Seeing how this plays out will a big spring storyline.

Boston Red Sox
Shortstop: Nick Punto vs. Mike Aviles vs. Jose Iglesias

After trading both Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie this offseason, the Red Sox are left with what appears to be Mike Aviles against Nick Punto at short. Punto had a good offensive campaign by his standards last season, when he hit .278 with a .388 on-base percentage. He only had six starts at shortstop, though, and his career numbers don't indicate he's worthy of an everyday gig at shortstop. Aviles also only started six games at short last season, and he only hit .255/.289/.409. He did hit well for the Red Sox, but it was a small 107 plate appearance sample. So the choice between Punto and Aviles is dubious defensively and neither is a good offensive option. Enter Iglesias, the dazzling defensive prospect. He's a dreadful hitter -- his line in Triple-A was .235/.285/.269 last season -- but it's not like Aviles or Punto are going to be confused with Troy Tulowitzki or anything. Maybe the Red Sox just plant Iglesias in the nine-hole and enjoy the exceptional defense?

Corner Outfield spots: Cody Ross vs. Ryan Sweeney vs. Carl Crawford and his health

Crawford is said to be questionable for the start of the season after undergoing minor wrist surgery a few weeks ago. If he's healthy, he starts in left easily while Sweeney and Ross battle it out for the right field job. If Crawford can't start the season, Ross and Sweeney are the corner outfielders, yet still fighting for the right field job for when Crawford returns. At some point, Ryan Kalish will return from offseason shoulder surgery and could eventually fight for playing time in right field as well.

Toronto Blue Jays
Outfield logjam: Colby Rasmus vs. Eric Thames vs. Rajai Davis vs. Travis Snider

We know who mans right field, but these four guys are competing for the other two spots. Thames in left field and Rasmus in center seem the most likely, but Davis will get a shot at either spot and Snider is in the mix for left.

No. 5 starter: Dustin McGowan vs. Kyle Drabek

This may bleed up into the No. 4 starter as well, but I'll give Brett Cecil the nod for now, since he is left-handed. The top three are Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow and Henderson Alvarez. So, for now, I'll guess the last spot comes down to McGowan and Drabek. McGowan was once a very promising young arm. He went 12-10 with a 4.08 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 144 strikeouts in 169 2/3 innings back in 2007, when he was 25. He then made 19 starts before falling injured in 2008 and finally just resurfaced late last season -- two shoulder surgeries and one knee surgery later. Does he have anything left? He was good in 12 minor-league starts in 2011, but had a 6.43 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in the small sample of 21 innings pitched for the Blue Jays. Drabek was a top 30 prospect each of the past two years, according to Baseball America, but he fell flat last season for the Jays. He had a 6.06 ERA, 1.81 WHIP and more walks than strikeouts for the big-league club. Even worse, he was knocked around for Triple-A Las Vegas, to the tune of a 7.44 ERA and 2.03 WHIP in 75 innings. Walks, again, were an issue with Drabek issuing 41 compared to 45 strikeouts. Prospects Deck McGuire and Drew Hutchison could also figure in the mix eventually, but this feels like Drabek vs. McGowan heading into March.

Baltimore Orioles
The entire pitching staff: Johnny Wholestaff vs. Joe Allstaff

So let's see ... the following pitchers might have a chance at the starting rotation: Zach Britton (very safe bet), Jason Hammel (safe bet), Jake Arrieta, Brad Bergesen, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Dana Eveland, Wei-Yin Chen, Tsuyoshi Wada, Alfredo Simon and Tommy Hunter. That's quite a mix of pitchers to sift through, but the job isn't overwith yet, because we have to look at the bullpen.

Three pitchers -- Jim Johnson, Matt Lindstrom and Kevin Gregg -- will compete for the closer job, with Troy Patton, Pedro Strop and Darren O'Day also being part of the bullpen mix. Of course, guys like Simon, Hunter and Bergesen will get a shot in the bullpen if they miss out on the rotation, too. There are more (Willie Eyre, Armando Galarraga, etc.), but I already named 17 pitchers vying for 12 spots.

We could probably move Simon and Hunter to the bullpen while eliminating Eveland from the starting mix, but that still leaves eight guys in competition. In the bullpen, Johnson seems the best bet to win the closer gig, with Lindstrom and Gregg setting up. Add Strop, Patton, Simon and Hunter and you have your seven. But, again, we've thrown out Eveland and there would still be three extra starters along with O'Day, Eyre et al on the outside looking in.

I'll say one thing: Orioles manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Rick Adair won't be bored this spring. Maybe frustrated, but definitely not bored.

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Posted on: February 8, 2012 11:27 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 11:28 pm
 

'Oil Can' Boyd pitched under influence of cocaine

Remember former Red Sox pitcher Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd? He also pitched for the Expos and Rangers, but the overwhelming majority of his career was with the Boston Red Sox. He was a significant part of the rotation on the 1986 World Series team. He also evidently liked to pitch while under the influence of cocaine.

“Some of the best games I’ve ever, ever pitched in the major leagues I stayed up all night; I’d say two-thirds of them,” said Boyd (CBS Boston), after admitting that he was under the influence of cocaine "in every ballpark" he'd ever pitched.

Oil Can wasn't done, saying not all his teammates did enough to help him:

“All of them didn’t rally around me,” he explained (CBS Boston). “All of them knew and the ones that cared came to me. The Dwight Evans and Bill Buckners… It was the veteran ball players. Some guys lived it… They knew what you were doing, and the only way they knew was they had to have tried it too.”

And that race was part of the issue:

“The reason I caught the deep end to it is because I’m black. The bottom line is the game carries a lot of bigotry, and that was an easy way for them to do it,” Boyd said (CBS Boston). “If I wasn’t outspoken and a so-called a ‘proud black man,’ maybe I would have gotten the empathy and sympathy like other ballplayers got that I didn’t get; like Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Steve Howe. I can name 50 people that got third and fourth chances all because they weren’t outspoken black individuals.”

Boyd, 52, was 78-77 with a 4.04 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 799 strikeouts in 10 major-league seasons. He has a book -- "They Call Me Oil Can" -- coming out this summer.
Category: MLB
Posted on: February 8, 2012 6:27 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 6:53 pm
 

Minor signings: Branyan, Suppan find homes

By Matt Snyder

We're coming up on the start of spring training, so these last several days will see plenty of minor-league signings. Wednesday, veteran pitcher Jeff Suppan and veteran slugger Russell Branyan were signed. The Yankees inked Branyan to a minor-league deal while the Padres locked up Suppan with a minor-league deal of their own.

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Branyan, 36, will get $750,000 plus incentives if he makes the team, reports CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman, and could prove to be a pretty interesting signing for the Yankees. He's left-handed and has good power. He hit 31 homers in 116 games for the Mariners in 2009 and then hit 25 bombs in 428 plate appearances in 2010. Now, last season Branyan hit just .197/.295/.370 for the Diamondbacks and Angels. Still, with the short porch in right field and the Yankees having a possible need at DH (Andruw Jones is probably the best bet to get most DH at-bats right now), this has a shot at paying off. Then again, if the Yankees sign Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon or Raul Ibanez, Branyan's chances of making the club plummet.

Suppan, 37, will get $950,000 if he makes the Padres, per Heyman. Suppan spent the entire 2011 season in Triple-A, going 11-8 with a 4.78 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in 165 2/3 innings. He last pitched in the majors in 2010, where he split time between the Brewers and Cardinals. He hasn't really been a productive pitcher since 2006. The good news for the Padres is he's simply organizational depth. Tim Stauffer, Clayton Richard, Edinson Volquez, Cory Luebke and Dustin Moseley appear to be the rotation with Micah Owings next in line.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com