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Tag:Javier Vazquez
Posted on: January 25, 2012 3:26 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 4:41 pm
 

Edwin Jackson, Roy Oswalt top free agents left



By C. Trent Rosecrans


With Prince Fielder finally off the market, we're officially in free-agent left-over time, with most of the big-name, big-money guys enjoying new contracts.

So, who is left? That's a good question. The best players available are starting pitchers -- with Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt leading the charge -- but in our free-agent tracker, only one position player (Derrek Lee) among the top 25 free-agent position players is available, while three top 25 pitchers remain (Jackson, Oswalt, Javier Vazquez).

Here's the best player -- and the rest -- among the remaining free agents at each position as we get closer and closer to spring training:

Ivan RodriguezCatcher: Ivan Rodriguez. OK, he's a big name, a future Hall of Famer, but he's also 40 -- and a catcher. Rodriguez, 156 hits from 3,000, adjusted to being a backup catcher last season and it's the role he'll play if he can find a team for 2012.
Others available: Jason Varitek, Ronny Paulino, Ramon Castro, Jason Kendall.

Derrek LeeFirst base: Derrek Lee. The 36-year-old finished the 2011 season in Pittsburgh and had a nice finish to the season, hitting .337/.398/.584 with seven homers in his return to the National League Central after struggling in Baltimore for most of the first half of the season. However, he did miss nearly a month after breaking a bone in his left wrist shortly after joining the Pirates. Lee could retire, CBSSports.com Insider Jon Heyman reported.
Others available: Casey Kotchman, Conor Jackson, Ross Gload, Russell Branyan.

Jeff KeppingerSecond base: Jeff Keppinger. The Giants non-tendered the 31-year-old infielder who struggled in his 56 games in San Francisco. Keppinger hit just .255/.285/.333 as the team's everyday second baseman, well off his career .281/.332/.388 line. Keppinger brings versatility with the ability to play any of the infield positions, and he's also played in the outfield. He could be a fit with the Mariners, Yankees or Rays.
Others available: Aaron Miles, Carlos Guillen.

Mark TeahenThird base: Mark Teahen. Our top third baseman was recently released to make room for a 41-year-old relief pitcher, what does that tell you? The Blue Jays acquired the 30-year-old Teahen in three-team deal that sent Edwin Jackson and others to St. Louis and Colby Rasmus to Toronto. Teahen hit .200/.273/.300 with the White Sox and Blue Jays, playing both corner infield and outfield spots, in addition to handling some DH duties. Another positive is that he often tweets pictures of his two adorable boxers.
Others available: Eric Chavez, Bill Hall, Alex Cora.

Ryan TheriotShortstop: Ryan Theriot. Theriot is versatile, with the ability to play pretty much anywhere on the field -- but he's best suited, defensively, to second base. He started the 2011 season as the Cardinals' starter at shortstop, but there's a reason the team went out to get Rafael Furcal. He hit .271/.321/.342 for the Cardinals last season, but at this point he's likely best suited as a utility player.
Others available: Edgar Renteria, Miguel Tejada, Felipe Lopez.

Yoenis CespedesOutfield: Yoenis Cespedes. While we have J.D. Drew ranked higher, he's expected to retire soon, leaving the extremely talented Cespedes as the top available outfielder. Cespedes has just recently acquired citizenship in the Dominican Republic, so now the official courting of the Cuban center fielder can begin. The Marlins, of course, are said to be very interested, even if Cespedes is less interested in Miami. Both Chicago teams are said to have interest in him as well.
Others available: Kosuke Fukudome, Raul Ibanez, Juan Pierre, Magglio Ordonez, Corey Patterson, Rick Ankiel, Marcus Thames, Jeremy Hermida, Jay Gibbons, Milton Bradley.

Johnny DamonDesignated hitter: Johnny Damon. The 38-year-old Damon is hardly the prototypical slugging designated hitter, but he still has some value. Last season he hit .261/.326/.418 for the Rays with 16 home runs. He could be a fit in Detroit, where he hit .271/.355/.401 with eight home runs in 2010.
Others available: Hideki Matsui, Vladimir Guerrero.

Edwin JacksonStarting pitcher: Edwin Jackson. At 28, Jackson has already pitched for six different teams and could be looking at his seventh. With the White Sox and Cardinals, the hard-throwing right-hander went 12-9 with a 3.79 ERA in 31 starts and 199 2/3 innings. He struck out 148 batters while putting up a 1.437 WHIP. There are recent reports that he's willing to sign a one-year deal, and is drawing interest from the Tigers. He was 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA for Detroit in 2009.
Others available: Roy Oswalt, Javier Vazquez, Rich Harden, Jeff Francis, Brad Penny, Chris Young, Brandon Webb, Jon Garland, Livan Hernandez, Tim Wakefield, Scott Kazmir, Rodrigo Lopez, Kyle Davies, Ross Ohlendorf, Doug Davis.

Arthur RhodesRelief pitcher: Arthur Rhodes. Rhodes turned 42 during the World Series and still appeared in 51 games during the regular season and eight more in the postseason. The left-hander had a disappointing run with the Rangers after signing a two-year deal with Texas. But he returned as part of Tony La Russa's bullpen in St. Louis, earning his first World Series ring in his 19 years in the big leagues.
Others available: Chad Qualls, Brad Lidge, Dan WheelerDamaso Marte, Michael Wuertz, Zach Duke, Javier Lopez, Juan Cruz, Jason Isringhausen, Mike Gonzalez, Todd Coffey, Shawn Camp, Scott Linebrink, Hong-Chih Kuo, Jamey Wright, Chad Durbin, Brian Tallet, Hideki Luis Ayala, Micah Owings, Dan Cortes, Sergio Mitre, Tony Pena, David Aardsma, Pat Neshek, Danys Baez, Ramon Ortiz.

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

Posted on: December 12, 2011 11:49 am
Edited on: December 12, 2011 11:56 am
 

Homegrown Team: Nationals/Expos



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

We continue the series today with the Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos. Yeah, remember them -- the best team in baseball in 1994 before the strike ended the season without a World Series? If you don't, you'll need to be reminded of a certain Bartolo Colon trade, which ended up being awful for the Expos, who got 17 starts from Colon after coughing up three future All-Stars for him. What we see is a team that looks pretty good, but has loads of young talent either already developing in the bigs or soon to be arriving.

Lineup

1. Grady Sizemore, CF
2. Brandon Phillips, 2B
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. Vladimir Guerrero, RF
5. Jason Bay, LF
6. Danny Espinosa, 1B
7. Ian Desmond, SS
8. Brian Schneider, C

Starting Rotation

1. Cliff Lee
2. Stephen Strasburg
3. Jordan Zimmermann
4. Javier Vazquez
5. John Lannan

Bullpen

Closer - Drew Storen
Set up - Bill Bray, Craig Stammen, Collin Balester, Miguel Batista
Long - Armando Galarraga, Brad Peacock, Tom Milone, Ross Detwiler

Notable Bench Players

Bryce Harper, Chris Marrero, Wilson Valdez, Anthony Rendon, Jamey Carroll, Orlando Cabrera, Geoff Blum and Roger Bernadina.

What's Good?

The starting rotation is really good, especially if you start to think about the future. Much like the real Nats, Peacock, Milone and Detwiler all have the potential to break through and really make this a strong top-to-bottom rotation. Here, you have a perennial Cy Young candidate sitting at the top, too. The batting order definitely has the potential to be good, but there are a lot of question marks, so we can't really be overly excited about it. But, much like with the rotation, there is some serious potential on the way in Harper and Rendon. Finally, the bench is really good. This team has depth.

And in case you're curious, the three All-Stars the Expos gave up for Colon were Sizemore, Phillips and Lee. None of the three had made their major-league debut at the time of the trade.

What's Not?

If we were really going to stick Vlad in right field, we'd have to pray no one hit the ball out there. Should I have gotten more creative and put Vlad at first, moving Espinosa out to right? Maybe. We could move Vlad to 1B and throw Harper into the fire, play Bernadina in the outfield and move Vlad to first or just bench Guerrero. I'm open to any idea, but the idea I used was to maximize the offense. Hey, it worked when the Cardinals put Lance Berkman in right this past real season, right? Also, Schneider is a pretty bad catching option at this point, but there were zero other options on current 40-man rosters or in free agency in the MLB (which is what we used to build these rosters). Finally, the bullpen is very thin in front of Storen in the late innings.

Comparison to real 2011

The real-life Nats are just on the cusp of breaking through, though it'll be tough in the stacked NL East. These Nats would be a bit better with the legitimate ace Lee and a great bench. Maybe mid-80s in wins, but with tons of help on the way. Much like with the real Nats, it's kind of a "watch out next year" type deal -- with the likes of Harper, Rendon, Peacock and Milone waiting in the wings while Strasburg, Zimmermann, Storen, Espinosa et al continue to get better.

Next: Boston Red Sox

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 21, 2011 1:43 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2011 7:03 pm
 

Free-agent position rankings: Sabathia heads SP



By Evan Brunell


As you're going to quickly realize after going through the position-by-position rankings of free agents, the market is rather poor this year. There are a couple of intriguing options at any spot, but the overall quality and depth is severely lacking. That could lead to a healthy trade market. But these players have to sign somewhere. Let's take a look at the top 20 starting pitchers and what to expect in the market...

Sabathia1. C.C. Sabathia: Sabathia may not fetch what Cliff Lee did a year ago, but there's no arguing against the lefty here as one of the best pitchers in the game. Despite his weight, Sabathia has been extraordinarily durable and there are zero questions surrounding his ability to pitch in a big-league game. He has yet to have a transcendent season as a Yankee, but is always right there in the discussion for Cy Young votes. It's hard to imagine Sabathia not doing better than four years and $92 million, which is what is remaining on his deal.
Potential teams: Yankees, Angels, Rangers, Red Sox

Wainwright2. Adam Wainwright: It's difficult to imagine the Cardinals declining their 2012 and 2013 options on Wainwright, but if they do, he'll get a pretty good deal in free agency. Waino may be coming off Tommy John surgery, but the right-hander was one of the best pitchers in the game before injury and all indications have Wainwright's rehab being completely normal. If he hit the market, he would do rather well for himself, even beyond the $21 million due him in the options. That, or he would get a pricey one-year deal to re-establish his value. If Waino hits the market, teams will be throwing themselves after him.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Angels, Nationals

Wilson3. C.J. Wilson: Wilson has the numbers for a significant salary after posting a 2.94 ERA on the season in 223 1/3 innings pitched, but many around the game view him as more of a mid-rotation starter, which could depress his value.  While Wilson will never be an ace, those that are calling him a No. 3/4 long-term seem to be going overboard a bit. Over the last two years, Wilson has proven he should be considered a No. 2/3 team and this is someone who figures to see his market heat up once push comes to shove. Wilson has long been linked to one of the Los Angeles' teams given that's where he grew up, but he'll be looking for as much money as he can get.
Potential teams: Rangers, Angels, Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, Royals, Blue Jays, Nationals, Marlins

Kuroda4. Hiroki Kuroda: Kuroda is a fantastic pitcher, but also extremely loyal. He truly bleeds Dodger blue and many reports have him uninterested in pitching for any other MLB team. In fact, he is considering a return to Japan should the Dodgers not be interested, but they would be crazy to let Kuroda go. He's willing to work on a short-term contract and can be an important front-line starter as the Dodgers limp along in an uncertain financial future. Los Angeles could potentially see both Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp depart as free agents after 2012, so the Dodgers will be motivated to get as strong a team together as they can for 2012.
Potential teams: Dodgers, Japan

Buerhle5. Mark Buehrle: The left-hander has sort of flown under the radar when it comes to free agency, but Buerhle could be in line for a big payday if he doesn't restrict himself. Buerhle has long thought to be only interested in playing for the White Sox or his hometown Cardinals. However, Chicago seems to want to "play the kids," and might prefer the compensation picks that would come with Buerhle. If the Cardinals extend Albert Pujols, they won't have the money for Buerhle, so he may have to look elsewhere for a job. He won't have difficulty finding one, topping 200 innings a season for the 11th straight season, starting as a rookie.
Potential teams: White Sox, Cardinals, Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Dodgers, Marlins, Rangers

Jackson6. Edwin Jackson: Jackson has been around the block, already pitching for his sixth team despite being 28 years old. He'll be looking for security and money in what will be the richest contract he'll ever get, which could open up some players beyond the top teams. Jackson is a No. 4 starter who tantalizes with No. 3 potential, which will be enough to get teams to open up their checkbooks once the bigger names on the market are gone. Jackson may not be a sexy pitcher, but plenty of teams recognize the fact that without depth in the rotation, there's nothing.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Angels, Dodgers, Marlins, Royals, Twins, Rangers, Cubs, Nationals, Rockies

Oswalt7. Roy Oswalt: Oswalt has threatened retirement and his back problems plagued his season in Philadelphia, so it would be a surprise to see his $16 million option exercised by the Phillies. Oswalt is certainly entering the phase in his career where he's going to be working on short-term injuries, especially with his back problems. It's difficult to imagine the righty deciding to hang up his cleats just yet, so should resurface somewhere on a one- or two-year deal. The Rangers, who figure to lose Wilson, could have interest in Oswalt to bring him back to Texas and have him mentor its young players.
Potential teams: Astros, Rangers, Phillies, Cardinals, Detroit, Angels, Dodgers

Dempster8. Ryan Dempster: Dempster holds a $14 million player option and it's hard to imagine him doing any better on the free-agent market on an annual basis, so you can expect this option to be picked up. If he does choose free agency, he'll command a contract similar to Edwin Jackson. The righty's ERA soared to 4.80 this season, but his peripherals were still strong, so you can bet on a bounceback season. Even though he will turn 35 next May, Dempster has shown to be very durable. There won't be any shortage of suitors for Dempster.
Potential teams: Cubs, Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Marlins

Hisashi Iwakuma9. Hisashi Iwakuma: Iwakuma tried to come stateside last season, but when the Athletics won his rights via the posting system, talks fell apart between GM Billy Beane and Iwakuma's agent, Don Nomura. The lefty will be an actual free agent this season, not bound by posting rights, so any team will be able to talk with Iwakuma. That should help his market, and as a left-hander with strong control, would play well in a pitcher's park. Iwakuma will likely fly under the radar as teams like Boston and New York seek more sure things.
Potential teams: Dodgers, Angels, Mariners, Nationals

Bedard10. Erik Bedard: Bedard slogged through yet another injury-plagued season but when he was on the mound, pitched rather well for the Mariners and Red Sox. His market will be depressed by his constant injuries, but at the same time, he's shown that he can still be an important part of the rotation and if he could get a full season's worth of starts for the first and only time since 2006, whatever deal he ends up signing will be a steal. Bedard will likely fall into the hands of a market that couldn't afford to sign any of the better free agents.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Royals, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Brewers, Tigers

Vazquez11. Javier Vazquez: Will he retire or won't he? While it sounds like the righty could be departing, the second-half he had was incredible for Florida. It showed that Vazquez may finally return to normal after his second stint in New York went terribly and he looked kaput in the early going down south. If Vazquez does return, he's going to have a very short list of teams he will pitch for, and it may only have the Marlins on it. If he considers other teams, bet on it being in the NL.
Potential teams: Marlins, Nationals

Colon12. Bartolo Colon: Colon had a nice resurgence in New York before tailing off. What he did will easily secure him another go-round with a team, but it's probably not going to be back with New York. Given what his market will be, virtually any team could be in play for Colon. We're entering the part of the starting pitching market in which these pitchers will start seeing their market develop once the top names come off the board. From hereon out, you're more likely to see small-market teams or those with an outside shot at contending come into play for these type of pitchers.
Potential teams: Padres, Orioles, Tigers, Royals, Indians, Angels, Mets, Marlins, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Astros

Capuano13. Chris Capuano: Capuano's market got a bit of an uptick as the season wound to a close given the Red Sox's attempt to acquire him for the final game of the season. Other than coming back as a reliever late in the year for the Brewers last season, Capuano hasn't been heard of since 2007. The 33-year-old showed that he still had plenty left in the tank, and, in fact, had his best season yet according to the advanced pitching metric xFIP. Plenty of NL teams, and even some AL teams, will kick the tires on Cappy.
Potential teams: Mets, Dodgers, Padres, Cubs, Royals, Twins, Red Sox

Chen14. Bruce Chen: Like Capuano, Chen has rebuilt his value the last couple of years. He came off a solid 2010 with the Royals into a free-agent market that had no interest in him, probably because there wasn't any idea if Chen could repeat his season. Well, he did, so he should be looking at a couple two-year offers on his plate this winter, and could attract attention from some wannabe contenders. Chen is still a risk, but there's a lot to like here as a backend starter.
Potential teams: Mets, Dodgers, Pirates, Royals, Diamondbacks, Padres, Marlins, Athletics, Astros

Maholm15. Paul Maholm: The Pirates hold rights to Maholm for one year at $9.75 million, but Pittsburgh is expected to decline. That would be a mistake. While Maholm isn't quite worth that amount of money, it's not all that far off, plus it gives the club a solid lefty for the price of one season under contract. That's a no-brainer, but if he hits the market, might be able to finagle a three-year deal by virtue of being one of the youngest pitchers on the free-agent market.  The lefty has shown flashes of being a very good pitcher -- including this year, and one might even argue that Maholm belongs higher on this list.
Potential teams: Mets, Pirates, Angels, Royals, Nationals, Tigers, Cubs, Cardinals, Angels, Orioles

Harden16. Rich Harden: Harden, predictably, kept on having his injury problems but when he was on the field, actually pitched rather well with command not seen since 2005, when he was one of baseball's blossoming talents. Harden can still throw gas. He may no longer be able to stick as a starter despite teams giving him every chance possible, but he has the potential to impact a game whichever inning he ends up pitching in.
Potential teams: Athletics, Rangers, Cubs, Red Sox, Padres, Dodgers, Mets, Marlins

Harang17. Aaron Harang: Harang pitched rather well for the Padres, but it's pretty easy to figure out why. His home park of Petco Park helped him immensely, so he probably won't find many offers much to his liking out on the market. He may not care, as he's made very clear that he wants to stay in San Diego. Should the Padres decline his $5 million option, he'll return -- just at a lower price.
Potential teams: Padres

Padilla18. Vicente Padilla: The Dodgers seemed to be high on Padilla last year, hoping he could serve as both a starter and reliever. That got cut short when Padilla began the season on the DL recovering from elbow surgery, then needing neck surgery mere weeks after coming off the DL. It appears as if Padilla has found a home in Los Angeles after signing a below-market deal to remain with the club. Likewise, the club also seems to like Padilla, who has struggled for years among allegations he's a heavy drinker and poor clubhouse personality, so a reunion with the cash-strapped Dodgers makes sense. A handful of other teams could be interested, but it's doubtful they will be any more attractive than L.A.
Potential teams: Dodgers, Astros, Giants, Marlins, Athletics

Francis19. Jeff Francis: At this point, Francis is pretty far off the "Jeffrey Franchise" label given to him when coming up with the Rockies. Francis rebuilt his value in Kansas City after missing all of 2009 and making 24 starts with Colorado in 2010. The lefty was able to put together 31 starts, even if he tallied just 183 innings. While he has strong control, his lack of a putaway pitch is his main drawback, and at this point, he's nothing more than a No. 4 starter. He'll find a spot this winter, but won't receive much money.
Potential teams: Royals, Cardinals, Padres, Dodgers, Orioles, White Sox, Mets, Marlins, Pirates, Astros

Garcia20. Freddy Garcia: Garcia once looked like the man whose major-league career was dwindling. But now, after the comeback he's had the last two years -- and especially in New York, where he was a more than able starter for the Yankees -- he's assured himself of at least a few more years' run in baseball. The righty is strictly a back-of-the-rotation starter who could serve as a swingman. His willingness to serve in such a role with the Yankees could have him back as a long reliever.
Potential teams: Really, he could land with any team.

Bonus pick: Yu Darvish: If Darvish gets posted, it will give teams an opportunity to get the best pitcher on the free agent market. The only thing that will hold Darvish back is skepticsm as to how his game translates to America, but he is just 25 and put up video-game numbers in Japan, so even if teams talk Darvish down publicly, there will be no shortage of bids. He will also be attractive to teams who covet draft picks, as he won't cost one to sign. Anyone with funds will make a play, even teams who aren't currently competitive. Given his age, Darvish might even work best on a building club, as he would be able to debut on a team with minimal expectations and get his feet wet.
Potential teams: Blue Jays, Cubs, Mets, Nationals, Rangers, Red Sox, Royals, Yankees

Free-agent position rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | DH | SP | RP

Free-agent overall rankings: Position players | Pitchers

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 28, 2011 3:06 pm
Edited on: September 29, 2011 10:28 am
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Florida Marlins

MarlinsBy Evan Brunell

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Florida Marlins
Record: 72-89, 29 games back in NL East
Manager: Jack McKeon (replaced Edwin Rodriguez, who resigned on June 19)
Best hitter: Mike Stanton -- .263/.357/.540, 34 HR, 87 RBI, 4.5 WAR
Best pitcher: Anibal Sanchez -- 8-9, 3.67 ERA ,3.35 xFIP, 196 1/3 IP, 64 BB, 202 K

The Marlins haven't been heard from much on the field since 2003, when they took down the Yankees to win their second World Series. Since then, the club has been in the news for their miserly spending, firing two well-regarded managers in Joe Girardi and Fredi Gonzalez and their owner's irrationality. The last few seasons, owner Jeffrey Loria has believed this team can contend, but anyone who actually looks at the club thinks otherwise. However, entering 2011, there was some hope for contention, but it all unraveled.

2011 SEASON RECAP

There's no doubting that the Marlins had a season to forget. The team's prized offseason acquisition that was supposed to give the club a formidable rotation, Javier Vazquez, stumbled to a 5.23 ERA in the first half. Meanwhile, team ace Josh Johnson continued his injury woes by only making nine starts.

And yet, the team got off to a strong start, posting a 16-9 record in April. They kept it up in May with a 15-13 record, and it looked like the Marlins might finally be players for the first time since 2009 (and before that, 2003 when they won the World Series). But Johnson's injury and Vazquez's ineffectiveness caught up with the team along with Hanley Ramirez's bizarre slow start to the year, causing the Fish to collapse in June and cost manager Edwin Rodriguez his job. Rodriguez resigned in the midst of an 11-game losing streak, which Jack McKeon snapped the second game after taking over. The team rebounded in July with a 17-10 mark, but collapsed yet again in August with a 7-20 mark once Hanley Ramirez hit the shelf for the remainder of the year, and it was over. At that point, the Marlins became known more for off-the-field headlines than on, demoting top prospect Logan Morrison to the minors in a thinly-veiled attempt to curtail Morrison's tweeting (@LoMoMarlins) and other off-the-field issues.

2012 AUDIT

The Marlins head into the offseason with heavy expectations on hand and a bit of a front-office restructuring, with Loria and team president David Samson taking on more of a role in baseball operations since the Marlins' moves the last few seasons haven't quite panned out under president Larry Beinfest and GM Michael Hill. Even if Beinfest leaves after being marginalized, it will be business as usual in Florida as the team is going through a facelift, finally abandoning the horrid Sun Life Stadium in favor of their own baseball-only park. In addition, the team is undergoing a name change to the Miami Marlins and has a new (not well-received) logo to boot. The Fish are taking this chance seriously to win over new fans and start a new beginning, hoping that baseball will finally start being viable in the Sunshine State. They're even willing to approach $100 million in payroll, reports say, which is a stark divergence from their penny-pinching ways.

On Wednesday, the last day of the 2011 regular season, the Marlins began their offseason by hiring Ozzie Guillen to manage and handing him a lucrative $10-million deal to manage Miami over the next four seasons. This hiring adds credibility to the team, both for being able to get a well-respected manager with a World Series ring (2005) and showing that the team will open their checks. However, they still have a difficult avenue ahead of them, with the powerhouse Phillies, elite Braves and emerging Nationals. If MIami has any hope of competing, they need to be serious about acquiring assets in the offseason to build out the rotation and add more bats to a team seriously deficient in offense.

FREE AGENTS

Jose Lopez, 2B
Javier Vazquez, SP

OFFSEASON FOCUS

The Marlins, ever since they showed just how serious they were in being players on the free-agent market, have been linked to the three top targets -- Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and C.J. Wilson. However, Pujols and Fielder both play first base and the club already has Gaby Sanchez at that position. While Sanchez is far from quality enough to block Pujols and Fielder, Logan Morrison is also a first baseman masquerading as a left fielder, so it's hard to envision the Marlins grabbing a first-baseman. Not to mention, even with the Marlins reportedly serious about laying out as much as $60 million in free agency, it's still a tremendous risk for the Marlins to get locked in a long-term contract.

For Miami to take the next step, and yet keep their team viable for long-term success, they should look to do the following...
  • Sign Aramis Ramirez to play third base. The Marlins really need to boost their offense, and Ramirez is a logical fit, even before Ozzie Guillen headed to Florida. Ramirez said the Marlins were an attractive team with Guillen, but warm weather and proximity to Ramirez's home of the Dominican Republic is also important. The Marlins are willing to throw money around, but Ramirez would be a better fit than Pujols or Fielder, filling a position of need while coming at a short-term cost, at least compared to Fielder and Pujols. In addition, Ramirez wouldn't break the bank, allowing the Marlins to...
  • Sign Hisashi Iwakuma. The Japanese pitcher was posted last season, but couldn't come to an agreement with the Athletics. Now a free agent, Iwakuma is free to sign with any baseball team. It's difficult to envision the Marlins signing C.J. Wilson, but Iwakuma makes much more sense. At a lower cost, the Marlins can get a viable starting pitcher to plug into the rotation. The failure of Daisuke Matsuzaka will make a lot of teams skittish on Iwakuma, opening the door for the Marlins to sign the lefty. The club also needs to convince Javier Vazquez to come back for another year, giving the club a rotation of Johnson, Sanchez, Vazquez and Iwakuma to start.
  • Additionally, the club could use a closer. Even if Leo Nunez -- er, Juan Carlos Oviedo -- comes back, the team could use an upgrade. There's a ton of closers hitting the free-agent market, and Huston Street will be available from Colorado. Given the team will already have made two commitments in Ramirez and Iwakuma, the better move would be to go after Street, with just $7 million left on his deal running through 2012. But Street isn't a sexy name, and the Marlins will want to make headlines. Ramirez and Iwakuma aren't splashes, but signing Francisco Rodriguez? That's a splash, but it might cost the Marlins a first round pick. Brad Lidge and Jonathan Broxton wouldn't require first-rounders, but are risks. Jonathan Papelbon would be a better target than Rodriguez, unless Milwaukee declines arbitration on K-Rod, which is entirely possible.
  • The Marlins need to show patience with their internal candidates. Logan Morrison hasn't been a force right away as some hoped, but the talent is there for him to break out. Similarly, Chris Coghlan had a lost season to ineffectiveness and injury, but is won the Rookie of the Year award in 2009 for a reason.
These moves all minimize Miami losing draft picks, don't lock the team into any long-term commitments they may become unable to sustain, address clear deficiencies on their team and would put them in position to contend.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: September 21, 2011 4:09 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2011 4:37 pm
 

On Deck: Yet another big day in wild-card races

OD

By Matt Snyder

As always, follow the game action live on CBSSports.com's scoreboard and keep up with the Playoff Race on our standings page.

Beckett's turn/Hellickson against CC: The Red Sox are just 5-15 in September, but the last time they won on the strength of pitching -- c'mon, we're not counting the 18-9 victory in that category -- it was behind All-Star Josh Beckett (13-5, 2.50). He beat the Rays 4-3 last Friday and is set to start again Wednesday night against the Orioles. Tommy Hunter (4-4, 4.81) will go for the O's. The Red Sox now have a 2 1/2 game lead over the Rays in the wild card, due to the Rays' losing to the Yankees Wednesday afternoon, so a win here would be a big step toward securing the final playoff spot. Orioles at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. ET. Back in the Bronx, the Rays will send Rookie of the Year candidate Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.91) to the mound for the second game of the twin bill. And he gets a tough assignment, too. Not only is he facing the Yankees' offense, but perennial Cy Young candidate CC Sabathia (19-8, 3.01) is the Yankees' starter. A Red Sox win teamed with a Rays loss would knock the Sox's magic number all the way down to four. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. ET. Also, we cannot forget about the Angels, who entered Wednesday 3 1/2 games out. They send No. 2 pitcher Dan Haren (15-9, 3.24) to the mound in Toronto against Dustin McGowan (0-0, 7.50). Angels at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. ET.

NL wild card: The Braves' magic number in the wild-card race is now six over the Cardinals and four over the Giants. All three are in action Wednesday night. Derek Lowe (9-15, 4.94) leads the Braves against the Marlins. Javier Vazquez (11-11, 3.92) will start for Florida, and he's been throwing really well for a while. Since an awful June 11 outing, Vazquez has a 2.03 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 100 strikeouts in 110 2/3 innings. The Marlins are 11-6 in those 17 starts, though the Braves haven't seen him all season. Braves at Marlins, 7:10 p.m. ET. Meanwhile, the Cardinals appear to have a pretty favorable matchup as Jaime Garcia (12-7, 3.59) gets the nod. He's had a good September and has a good history against Wednesday night's opponent, the Mets, who are sending Chris Schwinden (0-2, 5.40) to the hill. Mets at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. ET. As for the Giants, we'll worry about them again when the amount of games back is less than the magic number.

Phillies losing streak: Does this matter? The Phillies have lost four in a row. But even if they lost out and the Brewers won out, they'd tie for the best record in the NL. And the Phillies won the season series, which is the tiebreaker. So the games are completely irrelevant in terms of postseason positioning. Isn't there something to be said for staying sharp, though? By the time the Phillies start Game 1 of the NLDS, it will have been about two weeks since the games mattered. It might behoove them to get a few more wins under their belt and keep that swagger level high. The Vanimal, Vance Worley (11-2, 2.85) will square off against John Lannan (9-13, 3.68) and the Nationals Wednesday. By the way, the Nationals have only finished better than fifth once and that was a fourth-place finish. They're in third right now. So it's a really good bet they really want this game. Nationals at Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 31, 2011 10:00 am
 

Pepper: Concussion continues to haunt Morneau

Justin Morneau

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Justin Morneau said the concussion symptoms that will keep him out until at least Friday are "nothing like" what he went through last year, and I'm sure that's true.

But the fact that Morenau began experiencing those symptoms (a headache and fogginess) on Monday and still had the remnants of the symptoms on Tuesday are scary. There's so little we know about concussions, there's little understanding of how our brains react to being move inside its casing and how long it can affect a human.

Morneau has had plenty of other problems this season, but until this week concussions hadn't been part of his problem -- or at least that we know. That's the thing with concussions, there's so much we don't know and we may never know. Science is a wonderful thing, but it takes time. 

What is impressive is how the Twins have handled this -- they didn't rush Morneau back last season when they could have used him and they're taking all precautions this season. I hope this doesn't last the rest of Morneau's career, but I think it'd hardly be a surprise if it did.

There was a lot of attention to concussions last year in the NFL season, but this isn't just a football problem or even just a sports problem, it's a medical problem that we should all take a lot of interest in and make sure we understand as much as possible. Those who say it's just "ringing a bell" and players need to be "tougher" are just ignorant and it's a mindset that must be changed. [Star Tribune]

Game-changer: Technology isn't just great for fans -- the players are using technology in many ways to improve their games. ESPN.com's Jayson Stark takes an in-depth look at the way baseball is using technology, from iPads to using stats to predict pitching patterns. It's well worth the read.

Elite company: Marlins right-hander Javier Vazquez became the 30th pitch in major-league history to record 2,500 strikeouts in Tuesday's game victory over the Mets. [Miami Herald]

Rehab updates: Grady Sizemore will start his rehab assignment on Wednesday [MLB.com], while Boston's Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew started their rehab assignments on Tuesday -- Drew went 3 for 3 and Youkilis went 1 for 4 with a walk and reached on an error. [Dan Hoard]

Price of success: Remember Pirate Fever earlier this summer? Well, Pittsburgh fans are going to pay for it as the team is raising its prices for 2012. That said, the increase is modest from an average of $15.30 to $16.11 per ticket. The Pirates had the lowest average ticket price in baseball (in one of the best settings) for 2011 and will still be close, if not at, the bottom next season. The Pirates hadn't raised prices in a decade. The Pirates said most tickets would stay the same, decrease or increase by $3 or less. The dugout box seats will be raised by $5 -- but only $2 more than they were in 2002. [Pittsburgh Tribube-Review]

Favorite things: The Tigers wives put together auction gift baskets filled with players' favorite things every year, and you can learn a lot about some of baseball's best -- like Justin Verlander likes crappy food and crappy movies, Ryan Raburn loves killin' stuff, why Daniel Schlereth smells funny and that Phil Coke uses "liquid titanium massage lotion." [H/T MLive.com]

R and RBI: Curtis Granderson is leading the big leagues in both runs and RBI -- a feat that has been done just 19 times before, six times by Babe Ruth. [Baseball-Reference.com]

Wakefield pushed back: Tim Wakefield's seemingly never-ending search for his 200th win will be delayed a bit, as Red Sox manager Terry Francona told the knuckleballer that he's skipping his turn in the rotation for a turn. Andrew Miller will start Friday against Texas instead of Wakefield. Wakefield is 0-3 with a 4.97 ERA in seven starts since his winning No. 199. [Boston Globe]

Call ups: The clubhouse at Great American Ball Park could get pretty crowded. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said "quite a few" players will get called up when the rosters expand. The most heralded is catcher Devin Mesoraco, who Evan wrote about Tuesday. [Cincinnati Enquirer]

In-flight entertainment: You may be able to watch baseball games live on your phone on a flight. [Los Angeles Times]

Father-son show: Former Met Howard Johnson, 50, will play alongside his son, Glen, for the independent Rockland Boulders of the Can-Am League on Sunday and Monday. [New York Daily News]

Cool card: Check out these awesome baseball cards fans got when they went to a My Morning Jacket concert in Philadelphia last week. Very, very cool. [UniWatch Blog]

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 29, 2011 8:45 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2011 11:33 pm
 

September Storylines: Swan songs for players

Oswalt

By Evan Brunell

Note: Through Thursday, the Eye on Baseball team will be churning out two September Storylines per day.

The 2011 season could mark the end of the line for many players in the game -- some of whom will walk away of their own choosing and some who will be forced out. There will be legends and scrubs alike hanging up the cleats. Here's a look at the top nine players that could be bidding farewell to their playing career after the season.

A generation of shortstops: We're gonna start this list out by cheating immediately and count eight players -- yes, eight -- as one on the list. This season could be the end for a cadre of shortstops who, over the last two decades, have been responsible for significant playing time at the position. Orlando Cabrera, Craig Counsell, Rafael Furcal, Alex Gonzalez, Julio Lugo, Edgar Renteria, Miguel Tejada and Omar Vizquel could all choose to hang up their cleats. While none of these players appear to be viable starters in 2011, it's still a significant chunk of history to lose. Between these players, 61,355 plate appearances headed into Monday's games have been earned by these shortstops. Between these players alone, they are responsible for just over 102 full seasons of playing time, assuming 600 plate appearances a year.

It's unlikely that all these players will retire, especially since someone will have to occupy a starting or bench spot. Losing eight shortstops currently holding starting or backup positions would create a major depth void, and teams simply don't have enough resources to fill the gap. Several Dominican Republic newspapers believe Tejada will retire, while Counsell's retirement is a virtual lock.

Here's the breakdown of plate appearances per player through Sunday's games and their debut season:

Orlando Cabrera: 8,213 PA, 1997
Craig Counsell: 5,450, 1995
Rafael Furcal: 6,557, 2000
Alex Gonzalez: 5,935, 1998
Julio Lugo: 5,338, 2000
Edgar Renteria: 8,990, 1996
Miguel Tejada: 9,035, 1997
Omar Vizquel: 11,837, 1989

Roy Oswalt (pictured): Oswalt has made reference enough times to retiring after the season that one has to take the threat seriously. Oswalt rejuvenated his career last season and has been a capable pitcher for Philadelphia this year and is just 34 years old. If he wanted to, he could net another strong contract, but has struggled with back problems all year and has been held to just 17 starts on the season. If Oswalt decides he doesn't have anything left to play for, he'll just go back to his ranch and bulldozer that was a gift from Astros owner Drayton McLane.

If he does indeed retire, he'll do so as one of the best pitchers of the '00s, tying for fifth in the decade for wins with 137 and 10th in ERA with 3.23, a mark that jumps to fifth when you remove relievers from the equation.

September Storylines
To come:
      • Can Jose Reyes stay healthy?
      • Which minor-leaguers can make an impact?
    • A look at the postseason races
Jorge Posada: It's doubtful that the Yankee great will retire. Instead, he's likely going to move on to another team, but he could also end his career having played for just New York and as the best catcher in franchise history since Thurman Munson. In his first year as full-time DH after 14 seasons behind the plate, he's progressively earned less and less playing time the longer the year has gone on thanks to an anemic .244/.322/.407 line. At age 40, no team will live with Posada behind the plate and there are only so many DH jobs to go around. Posada will be in the same spot as several other players toggling between coming back for another year or retiring in jockeying for jobs. A down-and-out DH isn't exactly in demand, especially during a time where the DH is increasingly being used to give players in the field a break as opposed to sticking someone in DH the entire season and leaving him there.

Vladimir Guerrero: Vlad the Impaler looked like he might be done after the 2009 season, but hammered 29 home runs for Texas last year (albeit mostly during a scorching-hot first half), which earned him another starting job this season. But in Baltimore, the wheels have completely fallen off, with the 36-year-old hitting just .277/.307/.390. Guerrero is a lost cause in the field, so is limited to DH these days. He's clearly not doing a good job of it and could elect to walk away as one of the greatest Expos in franchise history and 446 career home runs through Sunday. Guerrero didn't sign until mid-February, adamant on getting a full-time job and an $8 million salary. He won't come close to those guarantees again and may elect to pack it in. The demand for Guerrero, especially after the year he's had, figures to be tame.

J.D. Drew: Drew isn't the only outfielder that many in the game would recognize that could retire, as Magglio Ordonez could also hang them up. But Drew's had a more prominent role, first becoming a lifelong villain in Philadelphia for spurning them in the draft, later signing with the Cardinals. Drew also has had a productive career, despite being injury-prone and has a World Series ring (2007, Boston) to show for it. The 35-year-old isn't the type of person to hang onto a baseball career as long as he can, and would absolutely walk away to be with family. Even though he's had a lousy year in which he lost his starting job to Josh Reddick, he wouldn't lack for job prospects if he decided to return. But given his reputation in the game as a passive player disliked by fans, with injuries constantly sidelining him and more money than he will ever need, Drew could walk away.

Tim Wakefield: Tim Wakefield has had a long and storied career, but is reaching the end of the line. He's failed in six straight instances to grab career win No. 200. Some of these games, he's deserved to come out with a win, but the last two years have been a struggle for him -- especially the second half this season -- and the Red Sox may opt to cut the cord. If that happens, Wakefield will retire, even if he feels like he could return for another season or two. He's also just eight wins away from the all-time Red Sox wins record, a mark that looked sure to fall two years ago but he's collected just 10 wins these last two seasons while losing his role as a permanent starter. When Wakefield retires, he will take his knuckleballer with him, leaving the late-blooming R.A. Dickey as the only knuckler in the majors. Wakefield's retirement is dependent more on Boston's interest in bringing him back.

Javier Vazquez: Vazquez was cryptic about his retirement plans to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, telling the paper that he has known for some time whether this will be his final year or not, but is declining to reveal his answer until after the season.

"Something I've always wanted to do is when I retire to do it on my terms," Vazquez, who has three children, of which the oldest is 8, said. I've never wanted to retire because I couldn't pitch anymore. I want people to say, 'He retired, but he could have kept pitching,' not, 'It was already time for him to retire.'" Vazquez has turned his season around since an awful beginning, posting a 2.53 ERA over his last 75 1/3 innings. Given that, plus the lack of free agent starters, Vazquez may be able to net another sizable contract, but it appears as if he's ready to go home at the age of 35.

As the Sun-Sentinel reports, if Vazquez does retire, he will do so having amassed the the second-most strikeouts by a Latin pitcher, behind just Pedro Martinez. In addition, the righty will probably pass Christy Mathewson for 29th all-time.

Jim Thome: Thome isn't the only slugging first baseman that could hang up his cleats -- Jason Giambi may also call it a season. But there's no doubt that Thome has had the more storied career, recently knocking his 600th home run and heading back to Cleveland in a deal, rejoining the team he came up and had his glory years with. Thome is hitting .238/.347/.477 on the year with 13 home runs in 251 PA, so he could easily find work next year if he wanted to. But with No. 600 out of the way, a return to Cleveland in the books and a current age of 41, Thome could decide to hang it up, even if he would do so without a World Series ring.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: August 23, 2011 4:45 pm
 

Hurricane forces Wednesday DH in Florida

By C. Trent Rosecrans

With Hurricane Irene working its way toward the Florida coast, the Marlins have moved Thursday's game with the Reds up a day to Wednesday, playing a doubleheader before Cincinnati returns home and Florida heads to Philadelphia.

The game had been scheduled for 7:10 p.m. Thursday, but now the team will play two on Wednesday, with first pitch for the first game scheduled for 4:10 p.m. and the second game coming 20 minutes after the conclusion of first game.

The two teams begin their three-game series tonight at Sun Life Stadium.

The storm is expected to to pass to the east of the Florida coast between Thursday and Friday and could impact the Marlins' Sunday game in Philadelphia if it stays on its current projected path.

The Reds' Homer Bailey will face Javier Vazquez in the first game, while Bronson Arroyo and Chris Volstad will start the second game. 

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com