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Tag:John Baker
Posted on: March 8, 2012 11:27 pm
 

Spring primer: San Diego Padres

Bud Black

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Padres' offseason was dominated by their trade with the Reds -- sending starter Mat Latos to Cincinnati for four players, including projected starting first baseman Yonder Alonso and former All-Star Edinson Volquez. In an attempt to find more offense, the Padres also added Carlos Quentin in a deal with the White Sox. The Padres know their problem is scoring runs, and now it's just trying to figure out how to get it.

Major additions: OF Carlos Quentin, 1B Yonder Alonso, RHP Edinson Volquez
Major departures: CL Heath Bell, RHP Mat Latos, 1B Anthony Rizzo, LHP Wade LeBlanc, RHP Aaron Harang

Probable lineup
1. Will Venable RF
2. Chase Headley 3B
3. Cameron Maybin CF
4. Carlos Quentin LF
5. Yonder Alonso 1B
6. Nick Hundley C
7. Orlando Hudson 2B
8. Jason Bartlett SS

Probable rotation
1. Tim Stauffer
2. Clayton Richard
3. Edinson Volquez
4. Cory Luebke
5. Dustin Moseley

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Huston Street
Set-up: Luke Gregerson, Andrew Cashner, Joe Thatcher

Important bench players
OF Chris Denorfia, 1B Jesus Guzman, C John Baker, RP/PH Micah Owings

Prospects to watch
While the Latos trade is one that will be referenced throughout the season, the team could ultimately benefit more from last season's traded that sent reliever Mike Adams to Texas in return for right-hander Joe Wieland and left-hander Robbie Erlin. Both Wieland and Erlin are control pitchers with flyball tendencies that will benefit from the trade. Both starters project to benefit from pitching half their games at spacious Petco Park rather than at the bandbox in Texas. Wieland went 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA in five starts at Double-A San Antonio after the trade, while Erlin was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in six starts for the Padres' Texas League affiliate. Both could find themselves in the big leagues later this year.

Fantasy sleeper: Edinson Volquez
"Volquez struck out 19 in 23 2/3 innings and held the opposition to a .250 batting average in four September starts. Another reason to be encouraged is that Volquez has a strong history at his new home ballpark, going 1-1 with a 2.33 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings. PETCO Park can also help Volquez as he looks to cut down on his home runs allowed. Volquez was plagued by the long ball in 2011, yielding 1.6 homers per nine innings." -- Michael Hurcomb [Full Padres fantasy preview]

Fantasy bust: Yonder Alonso
"There are a few issues heading into 2012 we need to highlight before Fantasy owners reach for Alonso on Draft Day. The first being that he is moving to pitcher-friendly PETCO Park. Alonso is more of a line-drive hitter, which won't help his power numbers in San Diego. Second, Alonso is just 69 games into his MLB career. Once opposing teams get a better scouting report, the road will almost certainly get tougher for Alonso." -- Michael Hurcomb [Full Padres fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
The offensive additions bring a jolt to the Padres, with Quentin leading the way. While Petco does play big, it's not as extreme against right-handed pull hitters and he has one of the best offensive seasons we've seen in Petco. Speaking of offense, Alonso's left-handed but his natural stroke leads to a ton of doubles and with Maybin on base more often, he scores easily on so many of Alonso's two-baggers. The pitching staff benefits from the park more than the offense hurts and once again an unheralded pitching staff dominates -- led by a finally healthy Volquez -- and leads San Diego to a surprising run at the National League West title.

Pessimistic outlook
It's the same old, same old -- decent pitching at home, but not enough runs. Without scoring runs, the team slogs through another season, losing more than 90 games again. But hey, they're still in San Diego, so it's not all that bad.

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Posted on: February 7, 2012 7:38 am
Edited on: February 8, 2012 3:47 pm
 

Spring position battles: National League West



By Matt Snyder


We are finally just a few short weeks away from spring training beginning, so let's continue looking at some positional battles that will unfold through February and March. Monday, we looked at the AL West and now it's time to look at the NL West.

Arizona Diamondbacks
None: None yet.

I understand this probably comes off as a bit lame, but look at the D-Backs depth chart and tell me where there are any legitimate battles. From the starting lineup to the rotation to the bullpen, it would appear the defending NL West champs have very few question marks heading into the 2012 season. I would keep an eye on last year's first-round pick, starting pitcher Trevor Bauer (maybe pushing Josh Collmenter to the long relief role at some point in June or July?), but it's very doubtful he fits in the rotation out of spring. He got knocked around (7.56 ERA, 1.68 WHIP) in four Double-A starts last season. So I've got nothing here. They are already set.

San Francisco Giants
First Base: Aubrey Huff vs. Brandon Belt

Is it time to pass the torch yet? The Giants had no patience with Belt last season, as the 23-year-old prospect was shipped back to the minors in April after just 60 plate appearances. He came back to stay in the middle of July, hitting .231/.296/.469 the rest of the way, but that was only in 142 plate appearances. And he did show good power, hitting eight homers in that stretch. In 111 career Triple-A games, Belt has a .441 on-base percentage and 20 home runs. Meanwhile, Huff is 35 and coming off a season where he hit .246/.306/.370 with just 12 homers in 579 plate appearances. With the additions of Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera, it's unlikely the Giants shove Belt back in the outfield initially, so they must make a decision here. Do they leave Belt in Triple-A again, where he's proven he's a stud, have him ride pine in the bigs, or just move on past Huff and let Belt have the job?

Shorstop: Ryan Theriot vs. Brandon Crawford vs. Mike Fontenot

The 25-year-old Crawford is easily the best defender of this group, but at some point the Giants will need some offense. Crawford is a career .234/.291/.327 hitter in Triple-A. In 220 big-league plate appearances, Crawford hit .204/.288/.296 last season, so he's a complete offensive liability. Ryan Theriot hit .271 with a .321 OBP last year, and he also has no power. He does, however, have a career .282 average and .344 OBP. Fontenot hit only .227/.304/.377 last season, but he certainly has the most power of the trio here. Basically, there isn't really a good choice, but there's still one to be made. Of note: Fontenot and Crawford hit left handed, so maybe Theriot ends up platooning with one of them.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Left Field: Jerry Sands vs. Tony Gwynn Jr. vs. Juan Rivera

Did Sands' month of September give the Dodgers confidence he's ready to take over in left right away? It's possible. After hitting pretty poorly in his stint earlier in the season, Sands hit .342/.415/.493 with two homers, nine RBI and five doubles in 83 plate appearances in the last month. He's only 24, but he's also hit for great power in Triple-A (29 home runs in 418 plate appearances in Albuquerque last year). This one is all about him, with Gwynn being the backup option and Rivera being the desperation option.

Closer: Javy Guerra vs. Kenley Jansen

Guerra is the incumbent and successfully converted 21 of 23 save chances last season. He's only 26 and posted a 2.31 ERA, 1.18 WHIP in his 46 2/3 innings last season, too. So he's the obvious closer, right? I'm not so sure. The 6-foot-5 Jansen is only 24 and has elite closer written all over him. He had a rough start, but from June on, Jansen posted a 0.55 ERA, 0.67 WHIP with four saves, seven holds and zero blown saves. His stuff is nasty, as he struck out 96 hitters in 53 2/3 innings on the season. It looks like the sky is the limit, so would the Dodgers really leave him in the eighth inning due to Guerra's 2011 performance?

Colorado Rockies
No. 3-5 starting pitchers: Alex White vs. Drew Pomeranz vs. Juan Nicasio vs. Guillermo Moscoso vs. Tyler Chatwood vs. Josh Outman vs. Jamie Moyer

After stockpiling pitchers the entire offseason, it wasn't too surprising to see the Rockies trade away both Kevin Slowey and Jason Hammel. Of course, they got back Jeremy Guthrie and still have an absurd logjam behind Guthrie and Jhoulys Chacin. And Jorge De La Rosa will be back at some point later in the season (he had Tommy John surgery last June). White and Pomeranz are both young and inexperienced enough to justify more time in Triple-A, but they probably have the best stuff of anyone on the list. Chatwood got plenty of MLB experience last season, but he's still only 22 and his numbers weren't good. It's hard not to root for Nicasio, as he's coming back from a broken neck. He made some good starts for Colorado last summer, too. Outman's never really shown more than mediocrity and Moyer is 49. I very much like Moscoso's chances,  for one, as he's 28 and had a 3.38 ERA and 1.09 WHIP last season for Oakland. The ballpark difference in home games will be bad, but the NL West has fewer fearful hitters than the AL West and some spacious parks. So I'll officially predict Moscoso gets in, but beyond him, it's a complete toss up.

San Diego Padres
Catcher: Nick Hundley vs. John Baker vs. Yasmani Grandal

Hundley has had parts of four seasons to prove himself. Last season, he did hit well, with a .288/.347/.477 line, but injuries limited him to just 82 games. His career high, due to many different circumstances, is 85. The 31-year-old Baker has had the past couple seasons ruined due to an arm injury (Tommy John surgery and rehab took out nearly all of last season), but back in 2008-09 he hit .281/.364/.423 for the Marlins. The two could actually platoon, because Baker hits lefty while Hundley hits righty. Grandal, though, has loads of talent. He was the Reds' first rounder in 2010, is a switch hitter and has a career minor-league line of .303/.401/.488. He's only played four games in Triple-A, though, so he'd probably have to go nuts with his bat in the spring to get a shot out of the gate. The smart money is on the Padres going with Hundley as the primary starter, Baker as a backup who sees a good amount of playing time and Grandal spending most of the season in Triple-A. Maybe even a platoon with Hundley and Baker. Still, there's enough here for a potentially good three-way battle this spring. And you never know on Grandal. He jumped from High-A to Triple-A in 2011 and his experience before that was just eight Rookie League games in 2010. Maybe he's one of those guys that doesn't need much minor-league seasoning.

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Posted on: November 22, 2011 6:41 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2011 6:47 pm
 

Marlins, Padres agree to swap Baker, LeBlanc

By Matt Snyder

The Miami Marlins and San Diego Padres have agreed to trade catcher John Baker and pitcher Wade LeBlanc, the two teams announced Tuesday night.

The Padres acquire Baker, a 30-year-old catcher who missed the overwhelming majority of the 2011 season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. The only time he's gotten close to regular playing time was in 2009, when Baker hit .271/.349/.410 with nine homers, 50 RBI and 25 doubles. He could serve as a backup to Nick Hundley, though a straight platoon is possible, as Baker hits left-handed while Hundley is right-handed.

The Marlins land LeBlanc, a 27-year-old left-handed starting pitcher. He made just 14 starts in 2011, going 5-6 with a 4.63 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. He closed the season on a strong note, putting up a 2.25 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 20 innings during his last three starts. The Marlins have been rumored to be looking to trade both Ricky Nolasco and Chris Volstad, while also reportedly pursuing free agent starting pitchers C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle. Thus, it's unclear right now exactly what LeBlanc's role will be for the ballclub.

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Posted on: May 29, 2011 4:14 pm
Edited on: May 30, 2011 8:19 am
 

Posey officially out for the season

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Buster PoseyLast May 29, Buster Posey made his 2010 debut, going 3-for-4 with three RBI and starting his charge toward the Rookie of the Year award and a World Series title. On the same day a year later, he underwent surgery to repair three ligaments in his left ankle, Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports.

Baggarly later tweeted that Giants trainer Dave Groeschner said Posey was officially out for the rest of the season. Posey had two screws inserted into his ankle and will have another surgery to remove those screws in eight to 10 weeks. Posey won't be able to walk on his own for three months, Baggarly wrote.

Days after Posey's season was likely ended by a play at the plate with Florida's Scott Cousins, the debate about what to do about collisions at the plate is still going strong.

One of the latest to chime in is Florida Marlins catcher John Baker, who was not at the game because he is coming back from Tommy John surgery. Writing for Yahoo!'s Big League Stew, Baker simultaneously defends his teammate and also expresses sympathy for a fellow catcher (not to mention getting a shot in at Nyjer Morgan).

Besides the typical, who was right, who was wrong arguments -- I think Baker makes two really interesting points.

1. The fact Posey was the one hurt made it bigger news than it would have been had it been, say, Scott Baker.

I know that Buster Posey is a rising star, but let's rewind to last season when Nyjer Morgan went out of his way to hit Brett Hayes (effectively ending his season and sparking an ugly brawl the next day) in what was clearly a dirty play. How come no one was on PTI arguing for a rule change then?

And if it wasn't Cousins who hit Posey, but instead someone like Tulowitzki, or Pujols, what then? Would the term "dirty play" be used? Apparently to get some attention in baseball you have to be a star with a World Series ring. Don't worry Hayeser, I've got your back (so does Gaby).

2. Baker favors a compromise for a rule change and dubs it the "Buster Posey rule":

If the runner is forced to slide, then the catcher cannot be allowed to block the plate (like the collegiate rule). Because throws aren't always on line, contact still will happen, but I can't disagree that everyone would be safer.

Where else in sports can you get a 90-foot head start and run full speed into a grossly under-padded target looking in a different direction? Not the NFL, NHL, NBA, or even the fighting sports. In mixed martial arts and boxing, both combatants understand the rules. Buster Posey never even had a chance to "protect himself at all times."

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Posted on: November 16, 2010 3:43 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:08 pm
 

Catcher Buck close to Marlins deal

John Buck
The Marlins made finding a starting catcher one of their top offseason priorities, and it looks like they've quickly addressed that need. They are on the brink of a three-year deal with Blue Jays free agent John Buck, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com has confirmed.

Florida got just a .226/.289/.338 line out of six catchers last season. Ronny Paulino, who played the most games (85), had his season end because of a failed drug test. His suspension extends into the first part of next season, and it sounds like he could be on the outs with the organization. The other three catchers the Marlins used most gave them nothing at the plate: Brad Davis (.204), Brett Hayes (.211) and John Baker (.213).

Buck, 30, was picked up off Kansas City's scrap heap last winter on a one-year contract and had an All-Star season, batting .281 with 20 homers and 66 RBI.

The Jays were afraid he would end up out of their price range, and traded Colorado for Miguel Olivo two weeks ago, though they promptly made the curious move of declining his $2.5 million 2011 option. We'll see whether the Jays start negotiating in earnest with Olivo at this point, because they need a veteran to help J.P. Arencibia break in next season.

UPDATE: The Sun-Sentinel is reporting that the deal is worth $15-20 million. That's huge money for the Marlins, and huge money for a guy who batted .235 with an on-base percentage under .300 for six seasons prior to 2010. The Marlins certainly had a huge need at catcher, and Buck was one of the better options, but you can understand why the Jays bailed out on the bidding.

-- David Andriesen

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

Posted on: October 12, 2010 11:40 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2010 10:35 am
 

R.I.P. Marlins: New wave arrives

RIP As the sports world waits for the crowning of a champion, 22 other teams are busy preparing for spring training. What went wrong for these teams, and what does 2011 hold? MLB Facts and Rumors here at CBS Sports will be answering those questions through all of October. Now: the oft-maligned Florid Marlins.

The Marlins were slapped on the wrist in the offseason for not spending enough money on major-league payroll, then had their financials leaked. Meanwhile, owner Jeffrey Loria walked Fredi Gonzalez right out of town and into the grateful arms of the Braves, and the team missed .500 by one game.

WHAT WENT WRONG

The Marlins had a gaping hole at catcher for much of the season. John Baker was on the verge of establishing himself as a permanent starting catcher, but his 2010 season was cut off as soon as it had began and he underwent Tommy John surgery. That left Ronny Paulino, good only against lefties, to play full time before angering the organization after testing positive for PEDs. That left the team with Brett Hayes and Brad Davis down the stretch.

For the last two seasons, the Marlins have been waiting on Cameron Maybin to break out. They'll have to wait some more, as Maybin hit just .234/.302/.361 in 322 plate appearances and Cody Ross got the bulk of playing time in center before he was sent to the Giants. Florida remains high on the 23-year-old, but at some point has to start producing.

Ricky Nolasco has been far, far better than his ERAs of the last two seasons might indicated. Nolasco shacked up respective ERAs of 5.06 and 4.51 in 2009 and 2010, but his xFIP tells a far different story at 3.28 and 3.55, respectively. Luck and poor defense abandoned Nolasco, however, so he remains a tantalizing pitcher who just needs breaks to go his way.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Mike Stanton The Marlins introduced some intriguing prospects to the majors, the most interesting of all being Mike Stanton (pictured, right). At just 20, Stanton bashed 22 home runs in 396 PA along with 22 doubles, good enough for a .259/.326/.507 line. All he has to do is cut down on strikeouts, raise the batting average and he will be a once-in-a-generation stud. As it is, he's already a once-in-a-generation power hitter.

He's joined by Logan Morrison, a natural first baseman who is playing out of position in left for the moment. In 287 PA, LoMo hit .283/.390/.447 and gives the Fish an incredible 3-4 combo for years. First baseman Gaby Sanchez also impressed, albeit at the advanced age of 27.

Josh Johnson was a dominating pitcher and proved Florida made the right call in signing him to a four-year deal just before the regular season. Johnson had a pedestrian 11-8 record thanks to bad luck, but was absolutely stellar in other facets of the game. His 2.30 ERA, 3.15 xFIP and 186 punchouts in 183 1/3 innings makes the 26-year-old one of the best pitchers in the game.

HELP ON THE WAY

Florida has graduated most of its better prospects already in Sanchez, Stanton, Morrison, Scott Cousins and Alex Sanabia. However, there are still two top prospects that could make an impact as soon as 2011.

Matt Dominguez, despite not playing above Double-A, is a candidate to start at third base for Florida as early as 2011. While that may be an aggressive move, Dominguez is major-league ready with the fielding and his bat should eventually come around. First, the team needs to figure out who plays where between Dominguez, Dan Uggla, Morrison, Sanchez and Chris Coghlan.

Catcher Kyle Skipworth will eventually be the answer to Florida's catching issue. While he can't step in and contribute in that capacity in 2011, he could make his debut in advance of a 2012 job. Skipworth will spend most of the year in Double-A as a 21-year-old and needs to improve his contact skills. The power is there, all Skipworth needs is to string together a few more hits.

Dan Uggla EXPECTATIONS FOR 2011

The Marlins expect to contend, which is partly why owner Jeffrey Loria fired Fredi Gonzalez. What he didn't realize, however, was that the talent of the Marlins was pretty much of a .500 team. The club should be better next year with full seasons from Stanton and Morrison, but need to upgrade its rotation and find a capable catcher to make some noise.

SUGGESTIONS FOR 2011

The Marlins shouldn't rush Matt Dominguez to the majors. He deserves to see his bat develop more in a less strenuous setting. However, the team should plan around Dominguez' eventual promotion, even if that's not until 2012. In addition, Logan Morrison is too much of a liability on defense to stick in left field.

The club should stick Coghlan in left field with the intention of leaving him there for the next few years, or until either Scott Cousins or Isaac Galloway knock the door down. Morrison shifts to first base, with Sanchez being dangled as trade bait for either a catcher, top relief pitcher or a starter that can give Florida a deep rotation.

Dan Uggla (pictured above, right) is entering the final year of his arbitration, and the club would do well to sign him for three- to four years, although Uggla may be looking for a longer deal than that. If the Marlins can convince Uggla to take three or four years, they can go into 2012's rebranding as the Miami Marlins with a new stadium and have Uggla as a name to sell fans on. If not, Coghlan can shift to second and free agency or internal promotions used for a left fielder. Florida could also opt to trade Uggla this offseason, put Coghlan at second and package Uggla and Sanchez for a major upgrade. The latter scenario is unlikely, plus Uggla is needed by Florida if they hope to win over the next several years.

2011 PREDICTION

Florida will hang around the wild card chase and could even put a scare into a few teams down the stretch, but will ultimately fall short.

Check out the rest of the R.I.P. reports here .

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: September 21, 2010 10:05 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2010 10:06 pm
 

Marlins on hunt for No. 1 catcher

Brad Davis The Marlins are dead-set on acquiring a No. 1 catcher in the offseason, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports .

John Baker has missed the majority of the year to injury and recently underwent Tommy John surgery. While Baker's agent said the catcher is "cautiously optimistic" about being ready for spring training, that's no sure thing. In addition, Ronny Paulino is in the doghouse after being suspended for 50 games (eight of which must be served at the beginning of 2011) and Florida is expected to look elsewhere before deciding whether or not to tender the arbitration-eligible Paulino a contract.

Yorvit Torrealba, Bengie Molina and John Buck will be considered for the opening, Jackson reports. Just don't bet on Victor Martinez joining the team -- both due to his subpar defense and large pricetag. Miguel Olivo, an ex-Marlin, could also be a possibility if Colorado doesn't pick up his option.

Other names that popped up were Jason Varitek, David Ross, Matt Treanor (another ex-Marlin) and Rod Barajas, but these players would only play part-time.

That leaves the No. 2 job to be won between Baker, Brad Davis (pictured) and Brett Hayes, with Paulino given the pink slip.

Another possibility to lead the Marlins is Ivan Rodriguez, who led Florida to the 2003 World Series. Although he is under contract with the Nationals for 2011, I-Rod has said he wants to finish his career in Florida, plus the Nats are suddenly deep in young catchers. The Nats and Marlins could link up in a trade, much like when Florida sent outfielder Josh Willingham north prior to the 2009 season.

 -- Evan Brunell

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

Posted on: September 2, 2010 4:29 pm
 

Marlins add a catcher

Being a catcher for the Marlins is like being a drummer for Spinal Tap.

The latest future victim is Mike Rivera, who played with Milwaukee in 2009 and has also appeared with the Tigers, Padres and Brewers. Rivera, 35, has been signed and assigned to Triple-A New Orleans, the Miami Herald 's Clark Spencer writes .

Spencer also notes Marlins catcher John Baker will undergo Tommy John surgery on Friday and will miss the 2011 season. The Marlins also have Ronny Paulino serving a 50-game suspension and lost Brett Hayes to a dislocated shoulder thanks to Nyjer Morgan on Tuesday.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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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