Tag:Matt Belisle
Posted on: December 2, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 5:10 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Atlanta Braves

Elvis Andrus

By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional?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.

The Braves have seemingly always believed in developing talent from within and occasionally supplementing from the outside. It's a formula that's worked for many years and has become a blueprint for most of baseball. However, that doesn't mean they don't make mistakes from time to time, and if you're a Braves fan, you probably already rue the date July 31, 2007, already. On that day, the Braves sent Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Beau Jones to the Rangers for Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay. The Rangers have been to two World Series since the trade and the Braves none.  

Lineup

1. Elvis Andrus, SS
2. Martin Prado, LF
3. Brian McCann, C
4. Chipper Jones, 3B
5. Jeff Francoeur, RF
6. Freddie Freeman, 1B
7. Jason Heyward, CF
8. Kelly Johnson, 2B

Starting Rotation

1. Adam Wainwright
2. Tommy Hanson
3. Brandon Beachy
4. Matt Harrison
5. Mike Minor

Bullpen

Closer - Craig Kimbrel
Set up - Neftali Feliz, Jonny Venters, Matt Belisle, Julio Teheran, Charlie Morton
Long - Bruce Chen

Notable Bench Players

Adam LaRoche, Mark DeRosa, Rafael Furcal, Yunel Escobar, Wilson Betemit, Andruw Jones, Jordan Schafer, Tyler Flowers, Brayan Pena and Garrett Jones give this team an acceptable backup at every spot on the diamond and more. 

What's Good?

The depth is incredible -- in the pitching staff and the position players. Even if Wainwright weren't available because of his injury, the team has Chen, Morton or the rookie Teheran to step in, or they could move Feliz to the rotation without even having to look anywhere else for its closer.

What's Not?

Heyward is playing out of position in center -- it was between him and Francoeur, so I went with Heyward. Other than that? Well, Wainwright might still have been injured and the rotation is young, but talented.

Comparison to real 2011

There's no chance this team would have missed the playoffs, like their real-life counterparts did. The rotation is solid (even without Wainwright) and would have given first-year manager Fredi Gonzalez more innings, meaning he may not have run Kimbrel and Venters into the ground. The lineup has enough punch to aid that goal. Does this team win the World Series? Maybe. The rotation isn't a postseason killer -- yet, but there's certainly potential.

Next: Toronto Blue Jays

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 14, 2011 11:43 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 11:52 am
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Atlanta Braves


By C. Trent Rosecrans

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: Altanta Braves
Record: 89-73, 2nd place in NL East, 13 games back
Manager: Fredi Gonzalez
Best hitter: Brian McCann -- .270/.351/.466, 24 HR, 71 RBI, 51 R
Best pitcher: Tim Hudson -- 16-10, 3.22 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 158 K, 215 IP

2011 SEASON RECAP

If it weren't for the Red Sox, the Braves' collapse would have been the biggest story of the last part of the 2011 season. Atlanta held an 8 1/2-game lead in the wild card on Sept. 5 before losing 13 of their last 18 and 20 of their last 30 to finish a game behind the Cardinals. Unlike Boston, Atlanta didn't lose its manager and general manager as a result. Only first-year hitting coach Larry Parrish was axed because of the team's failings.

R.I.P. series

There was plenty to like about 2011, especially in rookie first baseman Freddie Freeman, rookie closer Craig Kimbrel and second-year setup man Jonny Venters. The second two manager Fredi Gonzalez liked so much he ran them into the ground, putting Venters into a league-high 85 games and pitching the 23-year-old Kimbrel in 79. Lefty Eric O'Flaherty also pitched in 78 games, as the Atlanta bullpen ran out of gas in the final month of the season.

The worst part of the season was the regression of right fielder Jason Heyward. The runner-up for the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year struggled in his sophomore campaign, hitting just .227/.319/.389 with 14 home runs and 42 RBI in 128 games. 

2012 AUDIT

The Braves were unlucky when it came to injuries, and they return most of the team that did play well for most of the season -- so it doesn't seem like there are big moves that need to be made, just some tweaks. The team is set for a while at first base, second base and behind the plate. Chipper Jones is coming back for one more year to man third. Atlanta also picked up a center fielder in Michael Bourn to fill that hole. The future of the rotation is bright, and that's the foundation the team can build upon.

FREE AGENTS

Alex Gonzalez, SS
Jack Wilson, utility IF
Eric Hinske, OF ($1.5 million club option)
Nate McLouth, OF ($10.65 million club option)
Scott Linebrink, RP
George Sherrill, RP

OFFSEASON FOCUS
  • The team needs to decide what to do about its shortstop positions. Alex Gonzalez solidified the position defensively, but the free agent shortstop is 34 years old and the team may want an upgrade offensively. A lot depends on what Gonzalez is willing to take from Atlanta, if he is open to a one-year bargain deal, or maybe two years,  it wouldn't be the worst option. Otherwise, the team will have to look elsewhere. If Marco Scutaro is available on the cheap, he may not be a bad choice. The team isn't going to be able to afford the likes of Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins, so any long-term solution is going to have to be creative -- or wait.
  • General manager Frank Wren has said Heyward isn't guaranteed a starting spot -- to drive that point home, the Braves need to sign a veteran bat that could actually take some at-bats away from Heyward -- or at least be able to fill in when the team is facing a left-hander. That outfielder could also play left, where the team has to decide if Martin Prado is the answer or if he's just a placeholder in the outfield until Chipper Jones retires and Prado returns to the infield.
  • The Braves' back end of the bullpen should be strong, but they need an innings-eating right-hander to help keep Venters and Kimbrel from having to appear in every game. He may cost a little more than the Braves would like to spend, but reuniting with former Braves second-round pick Matt Belisle could be a solid addition.
  • Whoever is the new hitting coach will be the third in three years. Parrish never really fit in and had trouble getting his message across. Sometimes it's not the message, just how it's delivered. The team needs to look inside the organization (or for someone who has been in the organization) to find a voice that fits and will stay for a couple of years.
  • Finally -- several players just need to rest for a couple of months. McCann seemed to come back to soon and struggled after his return, and Prado rushed back from offseason surgery, rehabbing all offseason, and appeared warn out. And then there's Venters and Kimbrel -- those arms could use a lot of time off.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 22, 2011 4:12 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 San Diego Padres

By C. Trent Rosecrans

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: San Diego Padres
Record: 68-88, 19.5 games back in NL West
Manager: Bud Black
Best hitter: Chase Headley -- .291/.377/.405, 4 HR, 44 RBI, 42 R, 28 2B, 13 SB
Best pitcher: Mat Latos -- 8-14, 3.60 ERA, 1.212 WHIP, 176 K, 187 1/3 IP

Nobody expected much out of the Padres after losing Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox  and they didn't disappoint. If 2010's run at the NL West title was a shock, 2011's last-place finish wasn't.

2011 SEASON RECAP

San Diego was eight games back by the end of April, so it's hardly a surprise the team finished dead last in the NL West. After fantastic pitching led the team to the brink of the playoffs a year ago, the team couldn't recreate its magic of 2010. Mat Latos took a step back (but was still pretty good), while Clayton Richard made just 18 starts before being shut down for the season and undergoing shoulder surgery.

While nobody stepped up to take all of Gonzalez's offensive load, the team had some surprisingly good offensive performances, as third baseman Chase Headley put together a solid season, as did catcher Nick Hundley (.289/.352/.471 with eight homers) and first baseman Jesus Guzman (.313/.369/.479 with five homers). And then there was Cameron Maybin, the former first-round pick of the Tigers and big part of the trade that sent Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera from Florida to Detroit had been labeled as a disappointment for several years now despite the fact he's now just 24 years old. Not only did Maybin hit a respectable .266/.322/.397 with nine homers and 38 stolen bases, he's shown the ability to patrol the spacious outfield at Petco. If he continues to improve and works on his on-base percentage, Maybin can be a maintain in San Diego.

2012 AUDIT

With the rise of the Diamondbacks, the return of the Giants, what has to be a better year for the Rockies and hopefully new ownership in Los Angeles, there's not much room for optimism in the NL West for the lowly Padres. But hey, it's a really nice ballpark, and you live in San Diego, what can you really complain about?

The rotation should be relatively stable, with Latos, Richard, Tim Stauffer and Dustin Moseley, with Cory Luebke, Robbie Erlin, Joe Wieland and Casey Kelly ready to step in if needed. The bullpen is a bigger question, with free agent Heath Bell and the departure of Mike Adams

The biggest weakness in the lineup is the middle infield, where Orlando Hudson was OK, but aging, and Jason Bartlett didn't do much. Kyle Blanks has once again flashed the ability to rise above the constraints of the ballpark, but lacked consistency.

FREE AGENTS

Heath Bell, RP
Jeremy Hermida, OF

OFFSEASON FOCUS

Can the Padres get anyone who can actually hit the ball? Or is it that tough to do Petco Park? Well, it'd be nice to get a big bopper, but with the reputation of Petco, no free agent hitter in his right mind is going to sign with San Diego. Even those with good numbers before coming to Petco, like Ryan Ludwick, left without much success. While Ludwick hasn't exactly rebounded in Pittsburgh, his free agent stock will take a tumble and there's no doubt he and his agent will blame it on Petco. Petco -- and the team's payroll ceiling -- will force the Padres to add offense through trades and developments rather than free-agent signings.

Then there's the matter of the team's bullpen. There will be a lot of the same names, but the backend will be different than it was this season after the trade of Adams and the possible departure of Bell. Here's five things I'd do to help the Padres going forward:

  • Wave goodbye to Bell. Bell wants to stay in San Diego, but the team's budget can't afford a luxury such as a veteran closer like Bell, who made $7.5 million in 2011 and will be expecting a raise. San Diego held onto the right-hander at the trade deadline, but for a team like the Padres, the value of the draft picks if he doesn't accept arbitration and signs elsewhere was more than the team would receive at the trade deadline. It's tough to see Bell go, but is hardly like watching Trevor Hoffman save games for another team. That's  something they've lived with before and can live with again.
  • Trade Guzman to the American League. The guy is born to be a designated hitter and you just don't utilize that position in the National League. The Padres should ignore Anthony Rizzo's 2011 (.138/.274/.244 in 146 plate appearances) and let him get his chance to play every day in 2012. Rizzo struggled in the big leagues, but killed it in Triple-A. There's enough talent there to believe the Triple-A results are the real deal. If not, you know going forward. Guzman could pick up yet another starter, a reliever or even a replacement second baseman for the the aging Hudson.
  • Pick up the option on Aaron Harang. It's a mutual option, so he has a say, but there's no player happier to be playing for one team than Harang is playing for San Diego. A native of San Diego, Harang has loved being around his and his wife's families, especially after having Twins last December. A close second to family concerns for Harang is the relief of pitching in Petco Park. A fly-ball pitcher, Harang gave up an average of 24 homers a year in his six full seasons in Cincinnati, with 35 in 2008. This season he's allowed 20 -- and just seven at home. He's not going to get Cy Young votes anymore, but he'll be steady in the rotation. While Harang could maybe get more than the $5 million the Padres are on the line to pay in 2012, he's not going to get any more money from San Diego. It's the perfect marriage for the player and the team. There was certainly itnerest in Harang at the trade deadline this year, and there may be a year from now, too. 
  • See what you have in outfielder James Darnell. Between Double-A and Triple-A, Darnell hit .310/.406/.547 with 23 homer runs. Darnell had been a third baseman, but played a bit in the outfield for Triple-A Tucson. He needs to work on outfield play in the offseaosn and come into camp ready to take a spot.
  • Any free agent signings need to be modest and target the bullpen. Target lower-priced, veteran arms who could help out in the bullpen, not overpriced closers. Names to think about include Shawn Camp, Matt Belisle and Todd Coffey. Nobdoy's going to get excited about these moves, but they could work out and shouldn't cost too much.

No, the Padres aren't going to the World Series with these moves, but they'll be under budget and have a better idea of what their futures holds after the 2012 season. Some things may not work out, Rizzo may not be the hitter we think he is, but we'll know. And as a wise man once said, that's half the battle. The other half is lasers. 

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 28, 2011 5:31 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2011 5:38 pm
 

Thursday afternoon rumor roundup

By C. Trent Rosecrans

It appears the Padres' Heath Bell may be the next big name off the trade board. CBSSports.com senior writer Scott Miller writes the talks are heating up, but there's still plenty of other trade rumors out there, so here we go:

• The Red Sox are looking at starting pitching, but they are telling team's they're focused on a right-handed-hitting outfielder, CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler tweeted.

• Knobler also reports the Tigers are down to three options for a starter -- Hiroki Kuroda, Aaron Harang and Jeremy Guthrie.

• Have the Red Sox and Mariners matched up for a deal? FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal reports the Mariners had two scouts watching the Red Sox's Triple-A team on Wednesday and another eyeing the Double-A team. The Red Sox are "all over" left-hander Erik Bedard, a source told Rosenthal. Boston could also be interested in right-hander Doug Fister or closer Brandon League, too.

• Bell expects to be a Ranger by Friday. Why? His parents are flying in from Texas on Thursday to spend 10 days with his family in San Diego, Bell joked to reporters after Wednesday night's game. Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune also says the Braves, Indians and Reds are the most interested in Ryan Ludwick, but you may want to cross the Indians off the list after they acquired Kosuke Fukudome from the Cubs on Thursday. Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman tweets that the Philles are also interested.

• After Wednesday's loss to the Rockies, Kuroda -- who has a no-trade clause -- told reporters, "My honest feeling is that I can't fathom wearing another uniform [other] than the Dodgers uniform right now." Still, MLB.com's Ken Gurick writes the Indians, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Tigers are still making a push for the right-hander. 

• The Brewers are interested in the Dodgers' Rafael Furcal and Jamey Carroll, but the Dodgers will only trade one of the two, Rosenthal writes. ESPN.com's Jayson Stark said the Giants have talked to Los Angeles about Furcal.

• La Valle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune says the Twins aren't looking to deal Denard Span, but notes the Nationals may be interested in Ben Revere or prospects Joe Benson and Aaron Hicks.

The rumor on Wednesday was that the teams were considering a Span for Drew Storen trade, but MLB.com's Bill Ladson cites a "baseball source" as saying the Nationals wouldn't do that deal.

• The Twins are looking for bullpen help, FoxSports.com's Tracy Ringolsby writes, and could be targeting the Rockies. Colorado could deal right-handers Rafael Betancourt, Matt Lindstrom and Matt Belisle, and could even give up closer Huston Street for the right price. The Rockies would be interested in Minnesota's Kevin Slowey.

• Rangers manager Ron Washington reiterates his call for bullpen help. The team is apparently interested in Bell and Leo Nunez, with Robbie Erlin and Chris Davis being dangled.

• The Phillies have given up on getting Houston's Hunter Pence, Heyman tweets. The Braves are the last team in on Pence, he said.

• The Mariners will be busy selling off pieces between now and Sunday's deadline, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes.

• The Cardinals are focusing on middle-infield help, Rosenthal tweets, as shortstop Ryan Theriot struggles.

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

Posted on: July 25, 2011 10:54 am
Edited on: July 25, 2011 12:16 pm
 

Trade Deadline Primer: NL West

By Matt Snyder

We conclude our series of primers for the MLB trade deadline with the home of the defending World Series champions: The NL West. It feels pretty obvious here, as there are two teams in it, two definitely out of it and one just kind of lingering in mediocrity.

San Francisco Giants
Status: Buyers.
Needs: Offense. Offense. Offense.
Notes: The Giants did already trade for Jeff Keppinger and promoted prospect Brandon Belt to the majors in an attempt to jumpstart their offense. Still, they may not be done. Outfield, shortstop and catcher would seem the obvious spots where an offensive upgrade would help, and the word is they'd rather add salary than give up prospects. Carlos Beltran's name has been prominent when it comes to the Giants making a move, but B.J. Upton's name has surfaced as a possible alternative. Plus, general manager Brian Sabean told reporters the Giants aren't close to getting Beltran (SFgate.com). Ivan Rodriguez would make sense as a half-season rental behind the plate, but he's injured and not coming back anytime soon. Sabean also recently said he wants to significantly upgrade the offense, but doesn't feel as if any moves are imminent (MLB.com). So it sounds as if the Giants will be quiet at least for the first half of this week. But remember, the July 31 deadline is only a non-waiver trade deadline. Players can pass through waivers and be traded in August, and that's how the Giants landed postseason hero Cody Ross last season.

MLB Trade Deadline
Arizona Diamondbacks
Status: Buyers.
Needs: Pitching. Big bat.
Notes: The Snakes are reportedly after pitching of all kinds (Fox Sports). Wandy Rodriguez's name has come up in rumors, but the Astros have been said to be asking for a lot in return. Maybe the asking price comes down as the deadline gets closer. He's really the only starting pitcher heavily involved in rumors to the D-Backs. Otherwise, it's been all relievers' names that have surfaced. Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports the D-Backs are focused on less-expensive, veteran relief pitchers. The following names have all been connected in at least semi-legitimate rumors: Jason Isringhausen, Kerry Wood, Brad Ziegler, Jason Frasor, Frank Francisco, Octavio Dotel, Jon Rauch. Obviously, there are bound to be more guys on the radar of the D-Backs and not all those names would work. Wood, for example, is very unlikely to leave Chicago. Basically, it sounds as if the Diamondbacks will be relatively quiet as they tinker a bit with the bullpen. But things can easily change. UPDATE: Shortly after this posting, the Diamondbacks were reported to be a great fit for Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena.

Colorado Rockies
Status: Sellers.
Players available: Ian Stewart, Chris Iannetta, Huston Street, Rafael Betancourt, Jason Giambi, Matt Belisle, Ty Wigginton, Aaron Cook ... Ubaldo Jimenez?
Notes: Well, the big name here is obviously Jimenez, but the Rockies want an absolute killing in return. It would actually be pretty shocking to see him dealt, as it seems as if his name was only floated so the Rockies could get a realistic reading of his value. Instead, the focus with Rockies rumors should be more on the players most likely to be traded. There aren't many quality catchers on the open market, and Iannetta is reportedly expendable because of minor-league backstops Jordan Pacheco and Wilin Rosario, according to Peter Gammons of MLB Network. MLB.com reports that Street, Belisle and Betancourt are available for the right price, also adding that Cook could be had -- if anyone would want him. Tracy Ringolsby of Fox Sports reported that the Rockies are fielding calls about Street and Betancourt, and also threw Ryan Spilborghs in the mix. Troy Renck of the Denver Post echoed a few of the above names and also threw in Ty Wigginton. Gammons then reported the Rockies aren't interested in moving Spilborghs. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has reported that Jason Giambi is garnering interest. Though the slugger reportedly wants to stay, he'll discuss any possible moves with the ballclub. Finally, one-time prospect Ian Stewart cannot seem to get things going and a change of scenery would probably be in the best interest of all involved parties. Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post reports the Rockies had been playing Stewart more frequently than usual because they were hoping another team saw something it liked and dealt for him. To sum things up, the Rockies are out of the race this season, but have a strong, young core and could easily compete in 2012. They'll likely only sell pieces that aren't part of the nucleus or could be replaced.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Status: Sellers.
Players available: Hiroki Kuroda, Rafael Furcal, Jamey Carroll.
Notes: If you're pining for your favorite team to land Matt Kemp in a blockbuster deal, you're going to be doing so for quite a long time. Kemp -- along with Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Rubby De La Rosa and Dee Gordon -- is unavailable as part of the future nucleus (MLB.com). Note the absence of Andre Ethier's name on that list. His name hasn't popped up much in legitimate rumors, but you never know. The Dodgers are pressed for money, and he's due a decent chunk next season before becoming a free agent after 2012. Much of the focus here has centered on Kuroda, though, and he's the most likely to be moved. General manager Ned Colletti has said he's ready to start dealing and is looking at 2012 (OC Register), so any prospects coming back would have to be nearly major-league ready. The Tigers are reportedly front-runners for Kuroda (Jeff Passan of Yahoo!), with the Brewers, Rangers and Indians in the mix. The Red Sox and Yankees are also reportedly interested, but Kuroda has said he's unsure if he wants to go to the East Coast and may use his no-trade clause to avoid the situation. Of course, now he's saying he's keeping his options open (Fox Sports). CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler notes that a trade might only be for two months, as Kuroda's a free agent at season's end and the Dodgers could just sign him back. Knobler said the Dodgers expect Kuroda to be pitching with them in 2012, if he stays in America. There have been whispers about Carroll heading to the Brewers and Furcal is surely available if a contender wants to take a shot at him staying healthy. Simply put, expect the Dodgers to be aggressive in dealing parts that aren't essential to building a contender for next season.

San Diego Padres
Status: Sellers.
Players available: Heath Bell, Ryan Ludwick, Mike Adams, Aaron Harang, Chad Qualls and maybe more.
Notes: We talked to Corey Brock of MLB.com -- the Padres beat writer -- and he said they love Adams, see him as a possible replacement for Bell, but he's not off the table. Brock also said they need a young, controllable shortstop and a catcher. General manager Jed Hoyer reportedly said he's going to make multiple deals to get prospects and the ballclub is not in the position to have any untouchables (Marty Caswell). As far as Adams goes, we've seen a report that he's not going to be traded and a report that the report wasn't true. So, yeah, your guess is as good as ours. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports that the Padres' trade talks are focusing on moving Bell, Qualls, Ludwick and Harang. Crasnick also notes that Jason Bartlett is going to remain in San Diego. On the other hand, Bell himself has said he expects to be traded. The Tigers have been said to be interested in Harang heavily, which is interesting because of the Kuroda-to-Tigers rumors. Ludwick has been connected to the Indians, Red Sox, Phillies, Reds and more. Adams and Bell have been rumored to pretty much every team in the race that is seeking bullpen help. The bottom line is that the Padres look to be the busiest team in the division and are looking to stock their farm system.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: February 19, 2011 10:39 am
 

Moring Pepper: Sorry Braves fans

Bobblehead Braves fans may not want to visit Target Field this year just in case they manage to go on the day of Kent Hrbek-Ron Gant bobblehead night.

The Twins confirmed to the Star-Tribune that the bobblehead seen to the right will indeed be given away this year -- at a date to be released in March.

The play, of course, is from Game 2 of the 1991 World Series when the Twins first baseman -- well, either kept the tag on Gant as he came off the base or pulled Gant off the base, the exact wording depends on your allegiance -- leading to 3-2 Twins victory.

I grew up playing first base, so I always identified with Hrbek -- it's all within he rules if you can get away with it. And there's a ton of little things you could do at first base that aren't exactly within the rules. I actually got a job in high school because of my knowledge of playing outside the rules. I was playing first four our team and one of the umpires was keeping an eye on me and noticed what I was doing. After the game, he asked if I was interested in umpiring Little League games in the summer, since I obviously knew the rules enough to know I was breaking them.

I've been wanting to get to Target Field soon, and this may push me to it. Or, you know, at least send me to the electronic Bay.

If you don't remember the play, here it is recreated by Legos:



BELISLE SIGNS: The Rockies signed reliever Matt Belisle to a two-year deal worth $6.125 million plus bonuses, his agency, CAA, tweets .

How far did baseball change in the 90s? I always think about Matt Belisle when I think about the draft and bonuses. When I was on the Reds beat, I remember guys sitting around talking about draft bonuses, and Ken Griffey Jr. was joking that he, the No. 1 overall pick in 1987 received a signing bonus of $160,000.

What was funny, was nobody believed him. To all the younger players, it seemed impossible that the No. 1 overall pick -- and Ken Griffey Jr. no less -- got just a $160,000 signing bonus.

Somebody pointed out Belisle was a second-round pick and I don't remember if Belisle or someone else revealed the Braves gave him $1.75 million in 1998 -- and that had Griffey going for a while. And it had everyone else laughing.

NICE RIDE: One of the best parts of spring training is checking out the rides players bring into the park. Check out Mariners' non-roster pitcher Royce Ring's ride. Not too shabby. (Everett Herald )

HAPPY TEAMMATES: Jason Varitek said he's happy to have Carl Crawford as a teammate, since now he won't have to try to throw him out. (Boston Herald )

Yankees TALE: A good story from Freddy Garcia about throwing a split-finger fastball for the first time during a game. (NorthJersey.com )

HALTED: The 56-game hitting streak of Florida International's Garrett Wittels was stopped Friday in the team's season-opener against Southeastern Louisiana. Wittels, a junior shortstop, was held hitless in four at-bats. The Division I record is 58 games, set in 1987 by Robin Ventura. (MLB.com )

CONCUSSION INFO: FanGraphs.com's Jeff Zimmerman looks at the recent history of concussions in baseball and looks at players' performance before and after the concussions. The small sample of players performed worse after their concussion.

This makes sense, but the bigger problem is concussion are likely under-reported. This has become a huge issue in football, expect to hear more about it in baseball.

THE RESULTS ARE IN: Pablo Sandoval is down 38 pounds since the end of last season. (San Jose Mercury News )

BAD HAIR SEASON: Johnny Damon's new 'do is drawing attention in Tampa -- gotta give it the ol' thumbs down. (St. Petersburg Times )

TRIBUTE: Bill Bergen may be the worst hitter in baseball history. (FanGraphs.com )

WELCOME RETURN : Could the VW Microbus be coming back? I love it. (Road & Track )

TEARFUL GOODBYE?: A ruling in a California court could hurt the future of EA's NCAA series of video games. (CNBC.com )

FEELING OLD: The new bassist for the Smashing Pumpkins is one of the little girls from the Siamese Dream album cover. (Kottke.org )

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb  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