Tag:Dayn Perry
Posted on: March 7, 2012 11:43 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2012 4:30 am
 

Injury roundup: Wright, Posey, Trout and more

By Dayn Perry

David WrightInjury news and notes from Wednesday's camps ... 

  • Pirates second baseman Neil Walker missed Wednesday's contest with back tightness. As a precautionary measure, he's likely to sit out the next two to three games. [CBS Pittsburgh]

  • While Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts is able to take part in some low-level baseball activities, he still has no idea when he'll return to game action or even face live pitching after suffering multiple concussions.

    "It's still a progression," he said. "We have steps that we're taking, and it's a pretty systematic approach so I don't just go do everything I want every day. My doctor lays out a plan every day, and we kind of go by that. I'm definitely better than I was four months ago, so that's good. It's never as fast as you want, but we're getting there." [Baltimore Sun

  • Boston lefty Andrew Miller, who's in the mix for a spot in the rotation, won't be traveling with the team on Thursday because of slight stiffness in his throwing elbow. [WEEI]

PROJECTED LINEUPS AND ROTATIONS


​​​​​For more baseball news, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook. Or ...



Follow us on Twitter @EyeOnBaseball.


Posted on: March 7, 2012 9:56 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 10:01 pm
 

Phil Hughes's Fastball Impresses

By Dayn Perry

Phil HughesPhil Hughes, Yankee rotation hopeful, showed improved velocity in his spring debut on Wednesday, reports Marc Carig of the Newark-Star Ledger. Insofar as the Yankees' interests are concerned, that's of course a good thing. 

Last season, Hughes suffered diminished velocity early on and shortly thereafter spent almost three months on the DL with shoulder inflammation. He showed more oomph on the fastball after his return from injury, and said oomph was still with him on Wednesday in his first Grapefruit League appearance. 

Needless to say, Hughes will need to maintain that low- to mid-90s fastball as the season wears on and avoid the shoulder problems that hindered him in 2011. While the Yankees have done much to improve the rotation this offseason -- e.g., trading for Michael Pineda, signing Hiroki Kuroda and making A.J. Burnett go away -- a healthy and vintage Hughes may be necessary if they're going to win baseball's toughest division. 

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



Posted on: March 7, 2012 6:34 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 6:41 pm
 

The Darvish has landed

Yu Darvish

By Dayn Perry

Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish, whose first named will be punned a million humorless times in the coming years, made his U.S. major-league debut on Wednesday. In two scoreless frames, Darvish whiffed three Padres and surrendered two hits, including a one-out double to Orlando Hudson

On the day, Darvish logged 36 pitches -- 26 for strikes -- and mixed in five different offerings, thus flashing the deep repertoire that made him so coveted this offseason. Varied location, horizontal and vertical movement -- it was all there. And this velocity graph from Brooks Baseball shows that Darvish is familiar with the old pitching chestnut about "changing speeds":

Darvish Velocity Chart

In Japan, Darvish crafted a career ERA of 1.99, and, counting the posting fee, the Rangers have invested more than $110 million in the 25-year-old. Considering the free-agent loss of outgoing ace C.J. Wilson (to the division-rival Angels), Darvish will have little time for an adjustment curve if Texas is to win the pennant a third-straight season.

While it's foolish to draw any lasting conclusions from two Cactus League innings, Darvish did nothing to disappoint on Wednesday. ​

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



Category: MLB
Posted on: March 7, 2012 5:17 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 6:56 pm
 

Cubs may be closing in on Jorge Soler

Theo Epstein

By Dayn Perry

Power-hitting Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler may eventually sign with the Cubs for $27 million, MLB Network's Peter Gammons reports via Twitter

Soler is inevitably compared to his countryman Yoenis Cespedes, who signed a four-year, $36-million pact with the A's earlier this offseason, but there's one key difference: age. At 26, Cespedes is more major-league ready than the 19-year-old Soler. However, Soler, obviously, will have the opportunity to spend his formative baseball years under the aegis of a major-league organization, and he also boasts the higher ceiling. It's generally acknowledged that Soler is ready for High-A right now, so it's conceivable he could reach the highest level for good by late 2013. 

As for Soler's baseball skills, Baseball America's Jim Callis likens him to Royals uber-prospect Bubba Starling and suggests that, had he been eligible, Soler may have gone in the top five of last year's draft.

More from Callis: "Six-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Soler has explosive bat speed and power potential. He also has plus speed and arm strength and profiles as a classic right fielder, though he runs well enough to play center. Because of his youth, he'll need some time to develop, but he should be worth the wait."

After signing left-hander Gerardo Concepcion earlier this winter, Theo Epstein and the Cubs are obviously undaunted by the difficulties in vetting and projecting Cuban talent. Indeed, if the Soler rumors come to be realized, then this would amount to Epstein's boldest move since assuming control of the Cubs' baseball operations.  

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



Posted on: March 7, 2012 12:19 am
Edited on: March 7, 2012 4:27 pm
 

Spring primer: Los Angeles Angels

Angels
By Dayn Perry

Perhaps no team in 2012 will shoulder greater expectations than the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim). This offseason, new GM Jerry DiPoto and owner Arte Moreno shelled out more than $300 million in guaranteed monies to sign the luminous Albert Pujols and pluck C.J. Wilson from the division-rival Rangers. Add them to a team that won 86 games last season, and the Angels are certifiable pennant contenders. Anything less than a playoff berth -- especially now that there's a second wild-card berth in play -- will be a serious disappointment. 

Major additions: 1B Albert Pujols, LHP C.J. Wilson, C Chris Iannetta, RHP LaTroy Hawkins
Major departures: C Jeff Mathis, RHP Joel Pineiro

Probable lineup
1. Erick Aybar, SS
2. Howie Kendrick, 2B 
3. Albert Pujols, 1B 
4. Torii Hunter, RF 
5. Vernon Wells, LF 
6. Bobby Abreu, DH
7. Alberto Callaspo, 3B 
8. Chris Iannetta, C 
9. Peter Bourjos, CF 

Probable rotation
1. Jered Weaver
2. Dan Haren 
3. C.J. Wilson 
4. Ervin Santana 
5. Jerome Williams 

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Jordan Walden
Set-up: LaTroy Hawkins, Scott Downs, Jason Isringhausen

Important bench players
IF Maicer Izturis, 1B Kendrys Morales, 1B/OF Mark Trumbo, C Bobby Wilson

Prospect to watch: Mike Trout
To hear some analysts tell it, Trout edges out Bryce Harper and Matt Moore for the honor of top prospect in all of baseball. It's easy to understand why: Trout has more tools than a frat house. He's one of the fastest runners you'll ever see, he boasts Gold Glove-caliber skills in the outfield, and his smooth swing and pitch-recognition skills should yield high OBPs and plus  power at the​ highest level. It's no surprise, then, that Trout has thrived at almost every stop despite being much younger than his peer group. There's nothing he can't do on the diamond. 


Fantasy Sleeper: Kendrys Morales
"As if Morales' season-ending ankle fracture early in 2010 wasn't bad enough, the 28-year-old slugger then kept Fantasy owners on the hook right up until the end of spring training last year, burning some of the early drafting types for a second straight season. Needless to say, nobody is counting on Morales for much now, which means he's likely to go for next to nothing on Draft Day. So far, his work in batting practice has the Angels cautiously optimistic that he'll be ready for the start of the season. Of course, we were hearing reports just as favorable this time last year only to find out he needed a second surgery, but what are the chances of that happening again? A second surgery was surprising enough. A third would be grounds for a lawsuit. Granted, a healthy Morales would face the same playing time obstacles as Mark Trumbo, but considering Morales is the better all-around hitter, he's a better gamble in the late rounds than Trumbo is in the middle rounds." - Scott White [Full Angels team fantasy preview

Fantasy Bust: Mark Trumbo​
"It's not that Trumbo can't repeat last year's 29 homers. It's just that, given his lack of plate discipline, everything has to go just right for it to happen. And already things are going wrong. The biggest blow came when the Angels signedAlbert Pujols, leaving Trumbo without a position. He was supposed to learn third base this offseason as a creative way to keep his bat in the lineup, but a stress fracture in his foot kept him off the practice field. The Angels still might try to rotate him between DH, third base and possibly left field, but such instability often has an adverse effect on a player's batting average, which in Trumbo's case, could lead to an on-base percentage lower than any number of homers could justify. Besides, if Kendrys Morales is healthy, it's all moot anyway. Trumbo will get drafted in mixed leagues given his potential for 30-plus homers, but consdiering all the variables at work here, he could easily be a waste of a pick." - Scott White [Full Angels team fantasy preview]  

Optimistic outlook
The rotation turns out to be baseball's best. Albert Pujols rebounds from last year's "disappointing" campaign. Chris Iannetta constitutes a substantial upgrade over the mercifully departed Jeff Mathis. Mike Trout lives up to the press clippings, and what figures to be one of the top benches around helps push the Angels to the top of the AL West. Oh, and then they win the World Series. 

Pessimistic outlook
As good as the Angels are, it's not hard to envision struggles. That could happen if Pujols declines further, and they struggle to find a reliable fifth starter. The other starters are then undermined by a potentially thin setup corps. Vernon Wells struggles, and the team refuses to treat him as a sunk cost, which leaves Trout languishing in Triple-A. What else could go wrong? Kendrys Morales can't get healthy, and Mark Trumbo fails to repeat his 2011 power performance, which means the aging, worsening Bobby Abreu is without a steady platoon partner at DH. Meanwhile, the Rangers cruise to a third-straight division title. 

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


Sign  up for the CBSSports.com MLB Daily Newsletter.
Posted on: March 6, 2012 10:29 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 10:52 pm
 

Injury roundup: Hart, Longoria, Utley and more

Corey HartBy Dayn Perry

Notes on some maladies and afflictions from around baseball on Tuesday ... 

  • Rays third sacker and AL MVP candidate Evan Longoria has no idea when his injured right hand will allow him to join the lineup. He might, however, begin hitting off a tee on Wednesday. [Tampa Tribune]
  • Brewers right fielder Corey Hart was recently diagnosed with torn cartilage in his knee and on Tuesday underwent successful arthroscopic surgery this week. He'll miss three to four weeks almost certainly open the season on the DL, just as he did in 2011. [MLB.com]

  • Phillies second baseman Chase Utley still has no clear timetable for his return from chronic knee problems. 

    “We talked about him not playing for the first week or two weeks,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “We’re going to ease him into it. We know he’ll be ready when the bell rings. We just want to make sure he’s as fresh and as healthy as he can possibly be on Opening Day.” [The Zo Zone]

  • David Wright of the Mets is hampered by a ribcage injury, and he won't be able to see any Grapefruit League action until at least next week, manager Terry Collins told reporters. Wright is lifting weights and not experiencing any discomfort, but the Mets are taking a conservative approach with their third baseman. [Newark Star-Ledger]
  • Good news for the wondrously named Freddie Freeman, who was in the lineup on Tuesday well ahead of schedule. Freeman dislocated his left kneecap early in camp and was initially expected to be out for up to two weeks. 

    “I felt good,” Freeman said afterward. “I had no problems. I wasn’t even thinking about it. I’m not going to go out there if I didn’t feel like I could do it. It felt good swinging. It felt good fielding. I was able to come off the bag when holding on runners and go back just in case there was a throw back." [Atlanta Journal Constitution]

  • Nationals outfielder Michael Morse, fresh off his 31-homer breakout campaign of 2011, was a late scratch today because of a strained lat muscle. He's listed as day-to-day. [Washington Post]

  • Astros catcher Humberto Quintero will receive a cortisone shot on Wednesday and then head back to Houston to have his injured back examined. He hopes to be in the lineup on Friday against Toronto. [MLB.com]

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



Posted on: March 6, 2012 8:59 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 9:00 pm
 

Will the Phillies pay Cole Hamels?


Cole Hamels
By Dayn Perry

The Phillies might be progressing toward a contract extension for lefty Cole Hamels. Or both sides might be locked in a holding pattern. The Sporting News takes the former position, while Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com tweets that the latter is the case.  

Hamels, who's entering his walk year, will make $9.5 million for 2012, and, given his performance history and age (he won't turn 29 until December), he'll command a hefty contract on the market. The challenge for the Phillies is to lock him up before he gets there. 

On the other hand, while the Phillies are flush with revenues these days, they're also committed to more than $112 million in payroll spread across just 12 players for next season. As well, they're also faced with losing Shane Victorino after this season, and following the 2013 season Chase Utley and Hunter Pence are both eligible for free agency. In a related matter, it's quite possible that the Phillies are going to run up against the luxury tax threshold in the near future. That's surely going to be part of their calculus. 

Hamels's profile means he's likely going to command a contract of at least six years and at something north of $20 million per, unless, of course, the nebulous "hometown discount" comes into play. Are the Phillies willing to pay those rates and pony up for Victorino and take care of business with Utley and Pence when the time comes and perhaps pay the (luxury) tax man? Those are the difficult questions GM Ruben Amaro will soon be forced to answer. In all likelihood, everything starts with Hamels.

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



Posted on: March 6, 2012 7:40 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 8:11 pm
 

Baseball's changing strike zone

By Dayn Perry

Last season, run scoring cratered to its lowest level since 1992. Fans and observers like to spitball all kinds of reasons for this. The implementation of drug testing (although pitchers used PEDs, too, you know), weather patterns, an increasing emphasis on fielding in many organizations, a new "golden age" of pitching, a secret cabal of humidors, and so on. One reason that's not commonly put forward is umpiring. But might our men in blue be playing a crucial role in all those 2-1 games?

The findings of David Golebiewski of BaseballAnalytics.org suggest that umpires are indeed contributing to declining levels of offense. For instance, since 2008 the percentage of pitches  taken by the batter correctly called as strikes has risen from 74.5% to 79.1%. Lest that not sound like much, that amounts to almost 6,000 balls that became strikes. Needless to say, that makes a substantial difference on the scoreboard. 

Golebiewski digs further and finds that umps in the main are calling the zone a bit differently than they were just a few years ago. While the death of the high, at-the-letters strike is still widely lamented, it's the low strike -- the strike at the knees -- that's making a comeback. The pretty pictures linked to above prove it. 

If you're partial to connoisseur's baseball as opposed to the five-hour mutual bludgeoning, then all of this is a good thing.

(Hat tip: Rob Neyer)    

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

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