Tag:NL West
Posted on: March 3, 2011 8:34 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2011 8:35 pm
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3 up, 3 down for 3/3: Jones returns to third base

Jones

By Evan Brunell

3 UP

1. 3B Chipper Jones, ATL: 2 AB, 1 R, 1 H. For the first time since tearing his ACL, Chipper Jones played first base in a game Thursday, and things turned out just fine. Jones has made a rapid return from surgery and is trying to get used to playing the field again. He fielded a grounder flawlessly and also caught a popup in his four innings of work.

2. SP Brett Cecil, TOR: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K. Quite an impressive game for Cecil, even if it is spring training. The youngster is gearing up for his first full season in the majors and is excited to see manager John Farrell allowing him to throw 60 pitches. "The way I see it, [60 pitches] is just a glimpse of the future of how [Farrell] is going to let us pitchers go deeper into the game," Cecil told the AP. Even though we got a little bit of a high pitch count, I'm extremely happy."

3. SP Neftali Feliz, TEX: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K. Not a bad start for Feliz, who is attempting to convert from closing to starting. The AL Rookie of the Year churned out 36 pitches but is still working on feeling out how much effort to expend with each pitch to ensure he can go deep in games. "I need to find my pace so I can go longer," Feliz said via a translator according to the AP. "I don't know how hard to go so that I can go longer."

3 DOWN

1. SP Randy Wolf, MIL: 1 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 0 K. Yuck. Not a pretty start for Wolf, but it's still very early and he's likely still rounding into game shape. He's no longer being looked at to top the rotation with the additions of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum along with the ascension of Yovani Gallardo, but the Brew Crew still needs a strong season from the lefty in the quest for the division title.

2. SP Troy Tulowitzki, COL: 2 AB, 0 H, 0 R, 0 RBI, 1 K. Tulowitzki was forced to leave the game after whiffing on an awkward swing to end the fourth inning. He was later diagnosed with a bruised right heel, but any injury -- no matter how slight -- to the Rockies' new multi-millionaire and face of the franchise is nothing to feel good about.

3. RF Elijah Dukes, FAIL: Hit pregnant ex-girlfriend. OK, so it was a bit humorous earlier this offseason when word surfaced that Dukes had "retired" from baseball and was intent on a new career as a rapper named Fly Eli. But will Dukes ever learn? He's fathered multiple children by multiple mothers, has a history of violence and threw away a career in the majors. Has he learned? Nope. Will he ever learn? Doesn't look like it. Unfortunately, it may be time to write Dukes off as a redeeming member of society.

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Posted on: March 3, 2011 9:54 am
Edited on: March 3, 2011 12:30 pm
 

Pepper: Perez's last chance?

Posted by C. Trent Rosecrans
Oliver Perez

For most established big leaguers, it's beyond idiotic to put much stock in many spring training results -- nobody's a star or scrub based solely on a game in the first week of March -- but Oliver Perez isn't the typical case.

The Mets pitcher has been hanging on to his roster spot by a three-year, $36-million thread for a while. In the last year of his ridiculous contract, the left-hander may be released if he "does not show significant improvement over Sunday's two-inning, four-run disappointment" today against the Cardinals, the New York Daily News' Andy Martino writes, citing two "major league sources familiar with the Mets' thinking."

Sunday, Perez was throwing an 84 mph fastball and struggled with his command. He was initially slated as a reliever for today's game, but he will instead start.

Manager Terry Collins said, "I'm quite sure he'll have another try after [Thursday]." But Martino says that may not be the case.

Since signing his big deal (any guess who his agent is?), Perez has gone 3-9 with a 6.81 ERA in 31 games. He made 14 starts in 2009 and seven last season before being put in the bullpen. He didn't pitch at all in June, and pitched just two games in August -- on the first day of the month and the next-to-last day of the month, and just one day in September.

There was talk the Mets would release him after the season, but they gave him one last try -- and that very last try could come today.

SPEAKING OF ALBATROSS CONTRACTS: Bruce Bochy told reporters Wednesday that Barry Zito's spot in the Giants' rotation is secure, despite a San Francisco Chronicle column citing a "source close to the team" as saying his job isn't safe.

General manager Brian Sabean also denied the story was a plant.

"Absolutely, unequivocally not," Sabean told Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. "We have too much respect for players, and more so, I have a great relationship with Barry Zito. If things had gotten to that point, I would have talked to him directly, firsthand."

Zito walked five of the 13 batters he faced in his spring opener on Monday.

A.J. Burnett DOESN'T SUCK? So says, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal.

In fact, Rosenthal points out the much-maligned Yankees' career numbers are pretty darn close to those of Boston's Josh Beckett, another former Marlin. The numbers Rosenthal uses are indeed close -- Burnett is 110-100 with a 3.99 ERA and an opponents' OPS of .701 in his career, while Beckett is 112-74, with a 3.96 ERA and .708 opponents' OPS.

The secret for Burnett to be successful, Rosenthal writes, is for Burnett to believe he can be successful. The Yankees certainly hope that's true.

WHO ISN'T? Speaking of disappointing Red Sox pitchers… John Lackey is "just tired" of talking about his 2010 season, he tells WEEI.com's Rob Bradford.

If I got $18 million to put up a 4.40 ERA. In his first season since coming over from the Angels, Lackey made 33 starts and put up a 14-11 record.

IT'S THE MONEY, STUPID: It's going to be difficult for either Dustin Ackley or Michael Pineda break camp with the Mariners, even if they earn a spot in spring, Larry Stone of the Seattle Times writes, because of the possible Super 2 status.

The Mariners may have to guess when to bring up their talented rookies in hope of not allowing them to reach arbitration eligibility early. To be safe, now most teams wait until June to bring up a heralded prospect. Remember Buster Posey? He was called up to stay last year on May 29.

Recently teams have guessed on when the Super 2 cutoff date would occur and lost on Tim Lincecum (2007) and Jay Bruce (2008) falling before the cutoff date. Teams worried about payroll, like the Mariners, are unlikely to take a gamble.

Ramon HernandezCITIZEN CATCHER: Congratulations to Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez, who took a couple of days off from Cincinnati's camp to go to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to take his United State citizenship test. Hernandez passed the test on Tuesday and will be sworn in at a later date.

"I already live here and I have my life here," Hernandez, a native of Venezuela, told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. "My kids are U.S. citizens and my wife is a U.S. citizen. I'm the only one left. I feel like I've got to do it because I live here."

Hernandez celebrated with a double against the White Sox on Wednesday.

A PITCHER'S BEST FRIEND: A physicist writes an article on Baseball Prospectus stating that if the Diamondbacks used a humidor at Chase Field, they'd see a 37 percent drop in home runs. (Hat tip to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic)

THOSE AREN'T PILLOWS: The Planes, Trains and Automobiles worthy story of Mike Napoli's journey from the Angels to the Blue Jays to the Rangers from the Orange County Register's Bill Plunkett

SOMEONE IS INTERESTED IN THE METS: A group that includes Rays minority owner Randy Frankel and Entourage creator Doug Ellin, is interested in buying a share of the Mets, the New York Times reports.

Frankel would have to sell his share of the Rays, if approved.

THE DOCTOR IS AN IN-PATIENT: While the NFL seems to have someone on every Dancing With the Stars incarnation, MLB will be represented on Celebrity Rehab by former Mets ace Dwight Gooden.

Gooden, 46, will join Lindsay Lohan's dad and the kid from Baywatch on Dr. Drew's show, TMZ.com reports.

MMMM… GRAVY: A flow chart telling you which Major League Baseball team you should root for.

ANIMAL STYLE: For those non-Californians heading out to spring training in Arizona, here's a little help when it comes to the culinary hotspot that is In-N-Out. You've heard of the secret menu? Here's a look at every "secret" item on the menu.

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Posted on: March 2, 2011 4:30 pm
 

Prospects who could vault to top of 2012 list

ChisenhallAs part of the CBSSports.com Top 100 prospects list, there are many who will graduate from the list and thus provide holes to be filled. A fair number will be filled from those who are drafted in June, but there will also be leaps forward by certain players. Here's the top five names to watch for a massive leap forward (no one ranked No. 25 or higher were considered):

No. 30 Jonathan Singleton, PHI
Age: 19
Position: 1B
Bats/Throws: L/L

It's not fair, is it? After the Phillies depleted their farm system to trade for Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, here they are with Domonic Brown ranked No. 3 on the Top 100 list and Singleton No. 30. Singleton could leap up this list with a consistent showing in 2011; he couldn't hold up to a full season in 2010. He's being moved to left field, so will have to sustain his offense while learning a new position.

No. 31 Lonnie Chisenhall, CLE
Age: 22
Position: 3B
Bats/Throws: L/R

Chisenhall is the Indians' great hope to anchor the infield and provide an elite bat alongside catcher Carlos Santana and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. With a strong season, Chisenhall could make a late-season debut although one has to cast an eye toward 2012 for any regular playing time. At just 22, Chisenhall figures to spend the entire year in Triple-A.

T-No. 44 Zach Wheeler, SF
Age: 20
Position: SP
Bats/Throws: R/R

Wheeler, drafted No. 6 in the 2009 draft, impressed in his first showing in the professional ranks. He started 13 games and relieved in seven more, pitching a total of 58 2/3 innings and turning heads with a 10.7 K/9 rate although that was paired with a 5.8 BB/9 rate. If he can knock down that walk rate, he could zoom up the list. In Wheeler's favor is missing time in 2010 with a cracked fingernail that may have impacted his command. Wheeler could eventually emerge as a No. 1 and shows an ability to handle workloads of 200-plus innings.

No. 63 Nick Castellanos, DET
Age: 19
Position: 3B
Bats/Throws: R/R

Castellanos was drafted No. 44 overall in the 2010 amateur draft solely because of bonus demands. His potential is sky-high and could be the best third baseman on the 2012 top prospect list, although Chisenhall and Brett Lawrie will have something to say about that. The Tigers love taking prep players, and Castellanos is no exception. He has big power and a solid glove, but the jury is still out on how he transitions to advanced competition.

No. 100 Carlos Martinez, STL
Age: 19
Position: SP
Bats/Throws: R/R

Formerly Carlos Matias, the Red Sox have to be annoyed they lost out on Martinez after faulty paperwork on the player's end. Martinez punched out 78 in 12 starts in the Dominican Summer League over 59 innings and turning the heads of many. Martinez's fastball plays in the high 90s and holds one of the best fastballs in the game as Baseball America's Ben Badler reports. He does need to improve his secondary stuff but at just 19, has plenty of time to do so. Now with a work visa finally secured, Martinez will be stateside for 2011. A top-10 ranking is probably optimistic, but top-25 should be well within reach.

HONORABLE MENTION: No. 44 Brett Lawrie, TOR third baseman and No. 38 Gary Sanchez, NYY catcher.

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Posted on: March 2, 2011 2:14 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2011 2:16 pm
 

Jimenez scratched with thumb infection

By Matt Snyder

Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez has been scratched from his scheduled start Wednesday due to an infection on his right thumb. He had it drained Tuesday and was able to throw a bit Wednesday, just not make the start. He noted it feels better and he expects to make his next spring start. (MLB.com )

Now, this feels like one of those instances where all the tough guys who don't play baseball sit around and snicker about a finger injury causing a professional athlete to miss work. "I'd never miss my job with a hurt finger!" you'll hear (or some derivative laced with profane insults to the player's manhood). Well, guys, first of all, congratulations! Secondly, this isn't a question of toughness. Throwing a baseball is a task that requires precision. If a pitcher has an injured thumb, he won't be able to control any of his pitches and would thus be redered ineffective. Plus, it's only spring training. Playing through the injury now means he runs the risk of delaying the healing process and being hampered when the games actually matter. Jimenez is too important to the Rockies to chance that happening.

The 27-year-old right-hander is coming off a breakout season in his young career. He was the All-Star Game starter for the NL after a huge first half. He slowed down a bit later in the season, but still managed to finish third in Cy Young voting with an 19-8 record, 2.88 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with 214 strikeouts in 221 2/3 innings. He had four complete games, two shutouts and one no-hitter.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 2, 2011 1:51 pm
 

Jamie McCourt wants to see Dodgers' finances

By Matt Snyder

In perhaps the most important divorce proceeding in MLB history -- or at least according to the couple involved -- Jamie McCourt is demanding to see the financial papers of the Dodgers. Her team of attorneys filed a motion with the court Tuesday, in which claims were made that:
Frank McCourt has committed "flagrant breaches" of his duty to protect the financial interests of his ex-wife Jamie, in part by negotiating a "secret deal" with Fox that "would have endangered" the value of the Dodgers' broadcast contracts ...
(LA Times )

Jamie's lawyers point to a decision in December by the Los Angeles Superior Court that threw out an agreement that would have made Frank the sole owner. So, according to the Jamie camp, this means he's half-owner -- which is why she wants to see the financial data for the team. This includes broadcast rights agreements, cash advances, loan applications, financing papers, debt payments and schedules, audited financial results and payments from Major League Baseball.

On Frank's end, he believes he's the sole owner of the Dodgers. His attorney noted the claims are "counterproductive and, frankly, inappropriate." He also stated that he believes Jamie's aim in this is a calculated move to harm the Dodgers.

Alright, let us all collectively exhale. We can't really say something cliche like "this is going to get ugly," because it's been ugly as sin for quite a while. Like Jabba the Hut ugly. These two really, legitimately hate each other.

Hanging in the balance, one of baseball's most popular and storied franchises. Fun times for Dodgers fans.

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Posted on: March 2, 2011 1:13 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2011 5:17 pm
 

Would Giants buy out Zito's contract?

By Matt Snyder

Barry Zito is slotted as the No. 5 starter for the defending World Series champions, but a report from the San Francisco Chronicle paints the picture that his hold on that slot is rather tenuous. In fact, Zito may be very close to seeing his time with the Giants come to an end.

Bruce Jenkins reports that he has a source close to the team who said there was "exasperation" in the organization about Zito and he's "definitely not safe." The report even stated the Giants would consider buying out his contract prior to opening day. This coming on the heels of Zito walking five batters out of the 13 he faced Tuesday against the Cubs in spring training play.

It's kind of shocking to read, though. Zito is still owed $57.5 million over the course of the next three seasons. Realistically, no team in its right mind would trade for that contract, considering recent output.

Zito has gone 40-57 with a 4.45 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in four seasons for the Giants. He still eats innings, though not as much as he did in Oakland -- his 199 1/3 innings last season were his best as a Giant, but his lowest output in six seasons across the Bay was 213. Still, he was ineffective enough to be left off the postseason roster for the Giants.

Basically, the Giants don't want Zito, but it's unlikely anyone else will at that price. But how bad does he have to be for the team to justify eating that much money? Especially when the only other options named in the report for the fifth-starter spot were Jeff Suppan (who has been worse than Zito recently) and Clayton Tanner (a 23 year old who was 9-9 with a 3.68 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in double-A last season)? I'd say he'd have to be historically bad in spring training. During the regular season, lots of things can happen, but a move to the bullpen feels more likely than eating a cool 50 million bucks. Then again, Jenkins is a reliable reporter, so I trust the quotes.

Man, what an albatross of a contract. Fortunately the Giants have a World Series trophy now. That seems to alleviate complaints about bad contracts.

UPDATE: Zito had a closed-door meeting with Giants manager Bruce Bochy Wednesday afternoon and was "not happy" upon exit, according to Andrew Baggerly of the San Jose Mercury News (via Twitter). More details are forthcoming. 
UPDATE: (By Evan Brunell) Zito revealed that Bochy told him the Giants had no idea what was being talked about in the original report. The lefty reiterated his desire to remain with the Giants and took umbrage with his work ethic being questioned.
“The thing about being out of shape, I have no idea who [the Chronicle's] sources are," Zito said according to the San Jose Mercury News. "Nobody I’ve talked to — trainers, strength coaches, the coaching staff — they’ve never heard anything about that. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the nature of the business.”
Releasing Zito never made sense -- although Zito has yet to and never will live up to his contract, he is still a capable back-of-the-rotation starter and the Giants aren't exactly flush in options behind Zito. Suppan, Tanner and retread Brian Lawrence... not exactly names to get excited about.

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Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
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