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Tag:NL Central
Posted on: February 8, 2012 1:29 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 8:37 pm
 

Cespedes: 'Hopefully I can play for the Marlins'

Yoenis Cespedes

By C. Trent Rosecrans


There are plenty of differences between life in Cuba and in the United States -- and while I'm no expert on Cuba (besides my two years living in Guantanamo Bay while in elementary school), I'm guessing the free agency process is something Cespedes hasn't experienced before.

Coming to America
One of the keys to this process is leverage -- and if he wants to play in Miami, he's doing it wrong. In Miami on Wednesday to visit the Marlins -- the first leg of what is expected to be a tour -- Cespedes arrived at the airport and briefly spoke to the assembled media.

"It would be good [to play here]" Cespedes told "half a dozen media members" at the airport (via Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel). "There are a lot of Cubans and they would support me a lot. Hopefully I can play for the Marlins."

Or maybe I'm wrong and he doesn't want to play in Miami and he's being ultra-savvy to get the Chicago teams to up their offers.

Rodriguez also notes that in addition to the usual suspects of Cespedes admirers -- the White Sox, Cubs, Orioles and Tigers -- the Indians and Athletics are also interested in signing Cespedes.

The 26-year-old center fielder is going to sign for a lot of money, wherever it is. So far, estimates have been for as "little" as $35 million and as much as $60 million.

Cespedes donned a hard hat for his walkthrough at the almost-completed park in Miami's "Little Havana" neighborhood. In Spanish, he said he believes the Marlins "can compete for a World Series" as early as this season.

Cespedes can't sign with a team until he's cleared by the U.S. Treasury's Department of Foreign Assets Control, but he can negotiate and agree upon a deal. His agent, Adam Katz, has said he expects Cespedes to start spring training on time, but the only question is where.

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Posted on: February 8, 2012 12:47 pm
 

Astros will experiment with Wallace at third

Brett Wallace

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Moving to third base is the new black.

Kevin Youkilis did it last year, the Tigers say they'll do it with Miguel Cabrera, the Marlins hope Hanley Ramirez will do it -- and now the Astros want Brett Wallace to move across the infield as well, according to Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle.

Wallace, drafted as a third baseman by the Cardinals in 2008, hasn't played anywhere but first base since coming up with the Astros in 2010. But the Astros have Carlos Lee's $18.5 million contract at first base for one more year before they could actually use him as a designated hitter in their move to the American League. By that time, though, the Wallace experiment at third base will likely have failed and Wallace can play first (or DH) and Lee will be somewhere else making much less money.

Wallace, 25, has hardly lived up to expectations since the Astros traded fellow prospect Anthony Gose to Toronto for the left-handed hitter. Wallace was traded twice in a year and five days, first by the Cardinals to Oakland for Matt Holliday and then to Toronto for Michael Taylor. Since being called up in 2010, Wallace has managed to hit just .248/.323/.354 with seven home runs in 537 plate appearances. Last season he hit .259/.334/.369 with five homers in 115 games.

Wallace hasn't played third base since 2009, when he played 52 games at the position for the Cardinals' Triple-A team in Memphis. Toronto and Houston never used him at third.

Levine writes that Astros general manager Jeff Lunhow, who drafted Wallace for the Cardinals in 2008, said Wallace has been taking ground balls at third base this offseason and will continue to play there in the spring.

The Astros hardly have Mike Schmidt or George Brett in waiting at the hot corner, as the other candidates for third base are Jimmy Paredes and Chris Johnson.

Johnson, 27, started 98 games at third base for the Astros last season, hitting .251/.291/.378 with seven home runs in 107 games and 405 plate appearances. Paredes, 23, played 46 games for Houston last season, hitting .286/.320/.393 with two homers in 179 plate appearances. Paredes hit.270/.300/.426 with 10 home runs in 93 games at Double-A Corpus Christi before being called up to Houston.

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Posted on: February 8, 2012 12:20 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 2:00 pm
 

Oswalt, Jackson turned down Pirates' offers

PNC Park

Edwin JacksonBy C. Trent Rosecrans


Remember when the Pirates were accused of hoarding their money and not trying to spend any money to get better?

Well, now they're willing  to pay -- but nobody wants their money.

Well, that's a little extreme. I'd take it, you'd take it. But neither Roy Oswalt nor Edwin Jackson would take it. Both players turned down, despite offers as much as $10 million, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.

Jackson, who took a one-year, $10 million from the Nationals last week, was offered deals for both one and three years, with the three-year deal being "slightly less" per year than the one-year deal.

Roy OswaltOswalt on the other hand, is still unsigned, but turned down the Pirates.

The Pirates' opening-day payroll is expected to be around $48 million -- the lowest in the National League Central.

Pittsburgh led the NL Central -- which send two teams to the playoffs and is home to the World Series champs -- as late July 25, but finished fourth with a record of 72-90, for its 19th consecutive losing season.

One of the reasons the Pirates faltered late was its starting pitching, which stumbled down the stretch. Pirates starters were 35-28 with a 3.62 ERA in the first half of the season and 14-33 with a 5.04 in the second half.

Pittsburgh added lefty Erik Bedard as a free-agent, but his injury history makes him tough to count on for a full season. With Charlie Morton's availability for the start of the season in doubt, Bedard may be the team's opening-day starter. James McDonald, Kevin Correia and Jeff Karstens likely round out the rotation.

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Posted on: February 6, 2012 3:12 pm
 

Cespedes not legally able to sign yet

Yoenis CespedesBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Yoenis Cespedes is not yet able to sign with a big-league team, Cespedes' agent, Adam Katz, said on MLB Network Radio on Sunday (via MLive.com).

"I have had several Cuban players before, but I've never gone through this process before and it is onerous and unpredictable," Katz said. "You just have to breathe into it and not have too many expectations."

Although Cespedes has been declared a free agent by Major League Baseball, the 26-year-old center fielder can't finalize a contract with an MLB team until he is "unblocked" by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, Katz said. Katz and Cespedes are waiting on that action to sign a contract and report for spring training. Katz said he was confident Cespedes would be ready to play for a team when camps start -- but he was still cautious.

"I'm not going to predict or poke the bear in the zoo or have any expectations," Katz said. "We have some optimism and we'll see."

The Marlins, Tigers, White Sox, Cubs and Orioles are reportedly the most interested in Cespedes.

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Posted on: February 5, 2012 6:17 pm
 

GM: Reds not actively courting Roy Oswalt

Roy OswaltBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Roy Oswalt is still a free agent, although at least one general manager seems to think the right-hander is headed to Texas.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

"We had discussions with them a while ago," Reds GM Walt Jocketty told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "The last we heard he was going to Texas. That was on Monday. I don't know if that deal is still in place."

Oswalt had reportedly wanted to sign with the Rangers or Cardinals, but a report on Saturday said neither team had enough money to sign the 33-year-old right-hander. The Reds, who have signed Ryan Madson and Ryan Ludwick this offseason, don't have much left in their budget, either, according to Jocketty. The former Cardinals GM said the Reds would need to move payroll in order to sign Oswalt.

"If he doesn't sign," Jocketty told Fay, "we'd take another look at it."

The Reds currently have Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo and Mike Leake penciled in as their first four starters, with Homer Bailey the favorite for the fifth spot and Aroldis Chapman transitioning into a starting role during spring training. The Reds' moves of acquiring Latos, Madson and Sean Marshall show the team is being aggressive in trying to take over the Albert Pujols-less National League Central and adding Oswalt would be another step in that direction. It would also keep the team from having to face Oswalt, who is 23-3 with a 2.81 ERA in his career against Cincinnati.

The Red Sox and Phillies were also reportedly still interested in Oswalt, along with the Reds, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com.

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Posted on: February 4, 2012 9:33 pm
 

Giants won't bid on Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes

By C. Trent Rosecrans


One team that won't win the Yoenis Cespedes sweepstakes is the Giants, because, like Lotto, you gotta be in it to win.

Giants general manager Brian Sabean said at the team's FanFest on Saturday (via the San Francisco Chronicle) that his team would not bid on the Cuban outfielder.

"The price tag is probably beyond what his talent is," Sabean said.

The Cubs, Marlins and White Sox are considered favorites for the 26-year-old, with the Orioles and Tigers also seen as possible landing spots.

On Thursday, Marlins president David Samson told MLB.com that his team is "aggressively negotiating" a contract with Cespedes.

At this point it seems Cespedes will likely land a deal larger than Aroldis Chapman's six-year, $30.25 million deal signed in 2010. Cespedes could command $40 million or more.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.


Posted on: February 4, 2012 2:57 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2012 3:21 pm
 

Several NFLers took swings at baseball

Tom Brady

By C. Trent Rosecrans


In 1995 the Expos drafted a catcher out of Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., the same high school that produced Barry Bonds and Gregg Jeffries. Montreal scout Gary Hughes thought the team got a steal, but knew the catcher lasted until the 18th round because he was a good football player and would be difficult to sign.

In the end, Tom Brady passed on baseball, went to the University of Michigan on a football scholarship and will be playing in a football game this weekend. He made the right choice, but that doesn't mean the Expos scouts were wrong -- Brady was obviously a good athlete with a strong arm and good leadership skills, all things you want in a catcher.

CBSSports.com's Super Bowl Central

Brady's not the only NFL player who flirted with a career in baseball, several current NFL players have a baseball background. While there's no Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders or Brian Jordan currently playing at the highest level in both sports, there are a variety of NFL-MLB ties, from players who, like Brady, were drafted and didn't sign, to those who played in the minors and even one minor-leaguer who is hoping to be drafted into the NFL this year.

Here's a look at some current NFL players with baseball experience:

Cedric Benson -- The Bengals running back was drafted by the Dodgers in the 12th round of the 2001 draft and played nine games for the team's Gulf Coast League team, going 5 for 25, with all five of his hits going for extra bases -- three doubles and two triples. While he didn't homer, he walked 10 times in 34 plate appearances and was hit twice for a .412 on-base percentage and an .892 OPS.

Mark Brunell -- The 41-year-old Jets backup was… the lefty was drafted by the Braves in the 44th round of the 1992 draft, but didn't sign.

Kerry Collins -- The Tigers took him in the 26th round of the 1990 draft, the first of three future NFL players drafted, before Greg McMurtry and Rodney Peete. He was drafted again by the Tigers in the 60th round of the 1991 draft and the 48th round of the 1994 draft. He never signed.

Quan CosbyQuan Cosby (right) -- The former Broncos and Bengals kick returner was a sixth-round pick by the Angels in 2001 and played four years in the team's minor-league system, spending two seasons with Cedar Rapids in the Class A Midwest League. In four seasons, he hit .260/.330/.321 with 71 stolen bases. In his last season, 2004, he stole 23 bases and hit five homers. After that season he went back to school at Texas and played wide receiver with the Longhorns. Undrafted in football, he signed with the Bengals and played last season with the Broncos before being waived at the end of the season and signed by the Colts.

Eric Decker -- The Broncos wide receiver was drafted in the 39th round by the Brewers in 2008 and in the 27th round by the Twins in 2009.

Dennis Dixon -- Twice drafted, the Steelers' third-string quarterback signed with the Braves after going in the fifth round of the 2007 draft. He played in the Gulf Coast League and Appalachian League that year, hitting a combined .176/.322/.216 as an outfielder. He was a perfect 5-for-5 in stolen bases, but struck out 22 times in 90 plate appearances, while putting up just a .176 average.

Matt Moore -- No, not the Rays' lefty Matt Moore, but the Dolphins quarterback. Moore was taken in the 22nd round of the 2004 draft by the Angels.

Golden Tate --  The Seahawks' wide receiver was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 42nd round of the 2007 draft and the Giants in the 50th round of the 2010 draft. He played two seasons of baseball at Notre Dame, hitting .329 as a sophomore and scoring 45 runs, the third-most in school history.

Michael Vick -- The Rockies drafted Vick in the 30th round of the 2000 draft, but he never signed.

Hines Ward -- The Marlins took Ward in the 73rd round of the 1994 draft, but he never signed.

Brandon Weeden -- CBSSports.com has the Oklahoma State quarterback the fourth-rated QB in the upcoming draft after leading Oklahoma State to an 11-1 record last season as a 28-year-old. The reason Weeden was so advanced in age as a college quarterback was that he spent five seasons in the minor leagues after the Yankees took him in the second round of the 2002 draft. Weeden, a right-handed pitcher, was 19-26 with a 5.02 ERA in 108 games and 65 starts in the minors. He averaged nearly a strikeout an inning, but had a 1.573 WHIP for the Yankees, Dodgers and Royals systems.

Ricky Williams -- The same year the current Ravens running back won the Heisman Trophy at Texas, he hit .283/.309/.283 in 55 plate appearances in the short-season New York-Penn League for the Batavia Muckdogs in the Phillies system. Despite a career .211/.265/.261 line in four years in the Phillies' system, the Expos took him in the 1998 Rule 5 draft before trading him to the Rangers. Williams didn't join the Rangers and never played another professional baseball game.

Russell Wilson -- Wilson is the 10th-ranked quarterback in the upcoming draft, according to CBSSports.com. Wilson, a second baseman, was drafted in 2007 by the Orioles and again in the fourth round of the 2010 draft by the Rockies. After spurning the Orioles out of high school, Wilson did sign with the Rockies, which led to a rift between him and his college coach at N.C. State, Tom O'Brien. WIlson played baseball each of the last two summers, playing 61 games for the Asheville Tourists of the Class A South Atlantic League last season, hitting .228/.366/.342 with three home runs and 15 stolen bases. He struck out 82 times in 236 plate appearances before heading to Wisconsin for his senior year of college. At Wisconsin, he led the Badgers to the Big 10 title. He recently told the Rockies he won't be reporting to spring training. The Rockies hold his rights for five more years and have said they'd welcome him back.

Of course, there are plenty of guys who went the other way and chose baseball instead of football, players like Todd Helton (who once started ahead of Peyton Manning at Tennessee), Adam Dunn (who was at Texas as a quarterback), Seth Smith (who backed up Eli Manning at Ole Miss), Joe Mauer (who was the nation's top recruit at quarterback and signed with Florida State) and Matt Holliday (who was offered a scholarship to play quarterback at Oklahoma State).

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Posted on: February 3, 2012 6:36 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2012 4:42 pm
 

Public accountability part of Hamilton's recovery

Josh Hamilton

By C. Trent Rosecrans


The first time I met Josh Hamilton was the two days before pitchers and catchers reported in 2007. The Reds had acquired him from the Cubs after the Rule 5 draft and he was at the team's complex in Sarasota, Fla., working with manager Jerry Narron and Johnny Narron, who would go on to become what the Rangers would call his "accountability coach." I briefly saw Josh and was struck by the size of the guy -- if God were to build a baseball player, he'd look exactly like this -- minus the tattoos. That wasn't the first time I was shocked by Hamilton.

Josh Hamilton
Our first meeting was quick, we introduced ourselves and that was it. His full press conference and time to write the full Josh Hamilton story would come later. As the Reds beat writer for the Cincinnati Post, I'd be spending plenty of time with Hamilton in the next seven months or so, talking to him quite a bit and watching a budding superstar on the field.

Early in the first spring training, Hamilton held a press conference and said he'd take all questions. He went through his entire story, a story that has become widely known since then, but was incredible and fresh at the time. He was open, honest and above all, accountable for his own actions. At one point, he spoke about the guy who introduced him to drugs, who opened the door to his path of addiction. He made sure to note, the guy "wasn't a bad person, he was just into bad things." That always impressed me. Josh said he made the decision, he'd live the with the consequences and refused to blame anyone but himself for his addiction.

I only remember one question he wouldn't answer, it came after his press conference I went up to him and asked about specifics of which drugs he used and he said it didn't really matter, that wasn't the point -- but did note he never used a needle. I respected his wishes and left it alone.

Josh HamiltonAfter hours of writing, I wrote "the Josh Hamilton story" for my newspaper. It was long and didn't even come close to explaining the whole story, but I did my best and tried to do it justice. After that, all spring the story was about what he did on the field and it became evident that he'd not only make the team, but he'd be a big part of that year's team.

For a while, the Hamilton story went quiet, but once the regular season began, the "Josh Hamilton story" came up every time we went to a new city. The first game of every road series against a new team, Hamilton would hold another press conference, telling his story again and again. Throughout the season, he'd repeatedly tell the same stories, always smiling, always open, always honest. It was an incredible performance.

One day I asked him how he did it, if it ever got old? Was he sick of reliving his greatest mistakes and explaining himself in every new city? His answer shocked me -- he not only didn't mind doing it, he felt it was vital to his recovery.

"The media," I remember him telling me, "you, the other reporters, the fans -- everyone who hears my story holds me accountable. I want that, I need that."

I thought of that story two years ago when photos of him drinking at a bar in Arizona surfaced and I thought about it again last night when the reports surfaced that he'd relapsed and had a night of drinking. But it hit home when I saw it again today in his press conference. That was the same Josh Hamilton I heard many times, every time sincere, every time fighting his disease and blaming nobody but himself. And again, he said he needed help -- from the media, from the fans, from his family and from anyone who could help him. Addiction is a disease, one that is never cured, but managed. He's managed it well since 2007, but he's not cured and he never will be. But for now, as sad as I was to hear about his relapse, I'm happy to hear he's not only taking responsibility, but he's ready to continue his battle with addiction -- and if he doesn't win it, I hope he's always ahead in the count.

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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