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Tag:Matt Diaz
Posted on: February 25, 2012 9:51 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 10:23 pm
 

Spring primer: Atlanta Braves

Chipper Jones

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Thanks to the Red Sox collapse, the Braves' September disappearing act seems to have been forgotten by everyone outside of Atlanta and St. Louis. Atlanta led the wild card race by as many as 8 1/2 games in September before conceding the final NL playoff spot to the Cardinals, going 9-18 over the last month of the season, losing their last five and 13 of their last 18. While there were rumors of big changes in the offseason, none of that materialized and the Braves head into 2012 with the same team that appeared to be headed to the playoffs before the final month of the season.

Danny Knobler's camp report: After epic collapse, inaction brings optimism | Likes, dislikes

Major additions: None
Major departures: RHP Derek Lowe, SS Alex Gonzalez, OF Nate McLouth, RHP Scott Linebrink, LHP George Sherrill

Probable lineup
1. Michael Bourn CF
2. Martin Prado LF
3. Chipper Jones 3B
4. Brian McCann C
5. Dan Uggla 2B
6. Freddie Freeman 1B
7. Jason Heyward RF
8. Tyler Pastornicky SS

Probable rotation
1. Tim Hudson
2. Tommy Hanson
3. Jair Jurrjens
4. Brandon Beachy
5. Mike Minor

Hudson's status for the beginning of the season is in doubt, which would make room for right-hander Randall Delgado

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Craig Kimbrel
Set-up: Jonny Venters, Eric O'Flaherty, Kris Medlen

Important bench players
OF Jose Constanza, 1B/OF Eric Hinske, OF Matt Diaz

Prospect to watch
In three starts and two relief appearances, Julio Teheran went 1-1 with a 5.03 ERA and only struck out 10 batters in 19 2/3 innings, while walking eight batters. But it should also be noted he was just 20. Teheran will likely start 2012 back in Triple-A, where he went 15-3 with a 2.55 ERA. The right-hander has four pitches, including a fastball in the mid-90s. He may not be an ace right away, but few pitchers in the minors have his potential.

Fantasy sleeper: Mike Minor
"His strikeout and walk rates showed he has the skills to become a top-of-the-rotation-type pitcher, and with Derek Lowe banished to Cleveland, he suddenly has a rotation spot to refine them. The Braves' decision to clear that spot for Minor this offseason should give the 24-year-old a renewed sense of purpose entering spring training. If his performance during his final nine starts last year, when he posted a 3.83 ERA with more than a strikeout per inning, was a sneak peak at what he can do with a defined role, he'll be a late-round find on Draft Day." -- Scott White [Full Braves team fantasy preview]

Fantasy bounce-back player: Jason Heyward
"He developed numbness in his shoulder in spring training and, in an effort to play through the injury, altered his mechanics. His popout rate was through the roof, which is a clear sign his swing wasn't right. With an offseason of rest and the fresh perspective of new hitting coach Greg Walker, Heyward should be in for a bounce-back season. Expecting other-worldly numbers from him would, of course, not be prudent, but even a return to his rookie form would make him a top-25 outfielder." -- Scott White [Full Braves team fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
Everything that went wrong last year -- Uggla's early-season struggles, Heyward's sophomore slump, manager Fredi Gonzalez's overuse of the bullpen -- goes right this year, while the young pitching studs are as advertised. If all that happens, the Braves could win the NL East. Then with their starters and relievers, the Braves would be a tough out in any series.

Pessimistic outlook
Uggla plays the entire season like he did last May (.160/.241/.260 with two home runs), Heyward's 2012 is a repeat of 2011 and Hudson, Hanson and Jurrjens have a large chunk of time on the disabled list with varying injuries. Meanwhile, the rookies the team is counting on to perform -- Pastornicky and Minor -- struggle and the veteran Jones can't hold up for an entire season at 40. There's plenty that can go wrong and with the improvements made by the Marlins, the growth of the Nationals and the Phillies' pitching, the Braves could battle with the Mets for the bottom of the division rather than searching to avenge 2011's collapse.

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Posted on: December 8, 2011 8:43 am
 

Homegrown Team: Tampa Bay Rays

Josh Hamilton

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.

No team has had as much success drafting and developing its players like the Tampa Bay Rays. The one-time laughingstock of MLB is a model franchise to even the biggest spenders. The Rays have had big name leave, but keep replacing them with younger, seemingly better players. A year ago, the Rays lost Carl Crawford because they could no longer afford him. By the end of the season, Crawford and the Red Sox were sitting at home while the Rays were in the playoffs -- again. The reason is because they grown enough crops on the farm to have a successful harvest nearly every fall.

Lineup

1. Carl Crawford, LF
2. Desmond Jennings, RF
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. Josh Hamilton, DH
5. B.J. Upton, CF
6. Aubrey Huff, 1B
7. Reid Brignac, 2B
8. John Jaso, C
9. Elliot Johnson, SS

Starting Rotation

1. David Price
2. James Shields
3. Jeremy Hellickson
4. Wade Davis
5. Jeff Niemann

Bullpen

Closer - Dan Wheeler
Set up - Matt Moore, Andy Sonnanstine, Alex Cobb, Jake McGee, Jason Hammel, Jose Veras

Notable Bench Players

The Rays have a couple of decent bats off the bench in Delmon Young, Matt Diaz, Jonny Gomes and Jorge Cantu.

What's Good?

Crawford and Hamilton to go along with Longoria, Upton and Jennings? That helps, that's for sure. The rotation is exactly the same -- and that's a good thing. You've also got Moore sitting there. The starters are an embarrassment of riches. It's one of the main reasons the Rays can still compete in the AL East with a smaller payroll.

What's Not?

The bottom half of the lineup isn't great -- especially with Johnson at short. But there's enough help at the top of the lineup to make up for the bottom. The bench isn't deep defensively, but it's the American League so you don't need quite as much as you do in the National League. The bullpen isn't full of experienced relievers, but there are some quality arms that can switch from starting to relieving.

Comparison to real 2011

The same pitching staff plus Crawford and Hamilton make up for losing some of its Frankenstein bullpen and Johnny Damon. I put Hamilton at DH to try to save some wear and tear on his body, he can still play in the field every once in a while and give Jennings a day off and have someone like Young DH. Or Young can play in the outfield. The bullpen might be the most interesting question, but I think the offense and the starting pitching are enough to improve, if slightly, on the team's 91-71 finish.

Next: Philadelphia Phillies

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Posted on: August 31, 2011 11:56 am
 

Braves welcome back Diaz

Matt DiazBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Braves added a familiar face -- getting outfielder Matt Diaz from the Pirates along with cash in exchange for a player to be named. Diaz will be back with the Braves in time for tonight's game with the Nationals.

Diaz, 31, spent 2006-2010 with Atlanta before signing as a free agent with Pittsburgh in December to a two-year contract.

Diaz is hitting .259/.303/.324 this season in 100 games -- below his career totals of .296/.344/.440. However, the Braves aren't hiding the reason they got him, pointing out his average against left-handers in the release announcing the trade. As a team, the Braves are hitting .227/.296/.353 against left-handers, while Diaz is hitting .295/.342/.362 against lefties.

Diaz has also been hitting better lately against lefties, hitting .388 (19 for 49) since June 15, with a .436 on-base percentage.

The Braves are pretty set with their outfield of Jason Heyward, Michael Bourn and Jose Constanza, but can use Diaz in place of Heyward against lefties (Heyward is hitting just .188/.271/.313 against left-handed pitchers) and then off the bench, where he's fourth on the Braves' all-time list for pinch hits with 39.

The Pirates also sent outfielder John Bowker to the Phillies earlier in the day in exchange for a player to be named or cash considerations.

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Posted on: June 1, 2011 9:12 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2011 9:25 pm
 

Garrett Jones on verge of losing starting job

By Evan Brunell

MauerAs the Pirates scrap and claw to hang around .500, one of the players responsible for their strong April start could be on the verge of losing his job.

"You want to get your lineup out that you feel can be the most effective," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told MLB.com. "I think an effective bat from Garrett Jones would put our lineup in a much better place, but at the same time, there comes a point when you try to find a Plan B or another answer to spark some things for your offense."

Jones kicked the season off with a .265/.375/.500 line in April, looking more like the slugger that caught the attention of baseball back in 2009, when the then-28-year-old blasted 21 home runs in 358 plate appearances. He matched that home-run mark last season, but it came over a full year and with a batting average drop of almost 50 points. That left him with an unimpressive OPS of .720.

In May, Jones erased much of the positives from April by contributing a .179/.286/.299 line. Jones, who can play first base and left field, has been serving as the right fielder to date and is actually performing at an acceptable rate on defense, but that can't hide his offensive warts. And his offense is the reason he's in the lineup. Should Jones hit the bench, that will mean more playing time for Xavier Paul, claimed off waivers from the Dodgers earlier this season. Matt Diaz should also pick up more starts, but Diaz has been underperforming this year after being brought in to demolish left-handed pitchers.

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Posted on: April 20, 2011 5:36 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2011 5:38 pm
 

McCutchen takes leave of absence from Pirates

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Andrew McCutchenPirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen has been granted a leave of absence from the Pirates, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.

The Pirates have said McCutchen has gone home to deal with a personal matter, but would shed no more light on his situation or even how long he may be gone.

"That's really all we're going to share right now, out of respect to his privacy," manager Clint Hurdle said.

Jose Tabata will replace McCutchen in center field and Matt Diaz will start in left. Pittsburgh has games tonight and tomorrow night at Florida before returning to Pittsburgh for a series against the Nationals on Friday.

McCutchen is hitting .230/.356/.426 with three home runs this season. He was 0 for 4 in a 6-0 loss to the Marlins last night.

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Posted on: April 17, 2011 5:58 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2011 6:05 pm
 

McCutchen gets back on track with 3-hit day

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Andrew McCutchen CINCINNATI -- Sitting on the couch in the visitor's clubhouse, Andrew McCutchen watched himself reach out and send a Logan Ondrusek pitch into center field, scoring the eventual game-winning run in the Pirates' 7-6 victory over the Reds on Sunday.

Behind him, Pittsburgh outfielder Matt Diaz asked him, "Who is that kid?"

"I don't know -- just got called up today," McCutchen deadpanned.

The player on the field Sunday looked nothing like the one that had just three hits in his previous eight games and was hitting .204. The guy wearing No. 22 at Great American Ball Park on Sunday couldn't make an out at the plate (he did get caught stealing), finishing 3 for 3 with two walks and led off the game with his third home run of the season before knocking in the winning run in the eighth inning and corralling the final out for a Pirate victory.

"It was just a mater of time," McCutchen said. "All I could do is laugh about it, because that's not me, it's not what I do. All I could do is laugh, because I knew it was going to turn around eventually and now it's starting to turn around and I feel good and we'll go from here."

In the early season rollercoaster of averaging stats, Sunday's small sample sized helped McCutchen raise his batting averaged .046 points -- "I wish you could do that throughout the season, it'd be nice," he said.

The way math works, though, it can be just as devastating. McCutchen knows that, hitting .389/.500/.833 after his first five games and .204/.328/.367 after 13 games. After the 14th, he was back to .250/.381/.462.

"Time will tell, but it was an awful good day for him," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's been working hard and battling and believing in himself. Everything starts with a thought, no matter how bad the day, you always try to remember in this game you're never as good as you think you are and you're never as bad as you think you are, and this kid's a good player."

McCutchen led off the game with a homer off of Reds starter Edinson Volquez and Jose Tabata then followed with another homer on the next pitch, marking just the third time in Pittsburgh history that Pirate batters have hit back-to-back homers to start a game.

"I smacked his hand, maybe that helped," McCutchen said. "Maybe it was electric energy or something."

That's exactly what McCutchen is for this Pirates team. He's electric -- if he's on, the team can be on.

The Pirates won three of their first five during his hot start, while they struggled when he saw his average drop from .389 to .196. In the team's six wins, he's hitting .320 with a .433 on-base percentage. The team has also won all three games in which he's homered. In a recent eight-game stretch that saw six losses, McCutchen was hitting just .097/.222/.097.

That leadoff home run on Sunday was just the burst of energy the Pirates needed, adding three more runs in the opening frame.

"A home run, a hit or getting on base with a  walk, whatever -- if I can start the game off by helping the team out by not making an out, it definitely makes me feel good about the coming at-bats," McCutchen said.

It also makes his team feel good about their chances.

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Posted on: January 10, 2011 12:48 pm
 

Pirates get a jump on spring, hold minicamp

For those counting down to the date pitchers and catchers report, the Pirates are way ahead of you.

Pittsburgh is currently hosting a minicamp at its spring training home in Bradenton, Fla. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 's Rob Biertempfel reports "three dozen or so" players worked out at Pirate City, with new manager Clint Hurdle working out with players and doing drills for "about three hours."

"It was a good day," Hurdle said. "It was efficient. We were able to get on the field, move them around a little bit, work on some technique and play a little defense. There was some on-field hitting. IT's good to get back on the field and hear the crack of the bat and the smack of the ball in the mitt."

It was also a chance for many of the players to get re-acquainted and new players -- like Lyle Overbay and Matt Diaz -- meeting their new teammates.

"That's the hardest part, because I'm terrible with names," Overbay said.

There will be little throwing at the camp, except for Kevin Hart, who will throw a bullpen for the first time since May, when he had surgery to repair a torn labrum. If it goes well, he expects to be ready for the real spring training.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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


Posted on: December 8, 2010 12:26 am
Edited on: December 8, 2010 10:48 am
 

Diaz gets two-year deal with Pirates


For being a non-tender, former Brave Matt Diaz was drawing a lot of interest Tuesday in Orlando, with 10 teams reported to be interested.

The winner of the Diaz Sweepstakes? The Pirates, who were willing to give him a two-year commitment. Considering he's got a .301/.350/.456 slash line in 559 major-league games, and they needed a right-handed outfielder, this seems like a pretty decent acquisition for the Pirates. It will be interesting to see the financial details -- given the Pirates' payroll, you wouldn't think this would be a huge deal, but if they were bidding against nine other teams, who knows? Best guess is that the Pirates were the only team ready to hand him a starting job and go two years on the deal.

The 32-year-old will likely play right field in Pittsburgh.

-- David Andriesen

UPDATE : CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler confirms the deal at two years and $4.5 million.

-- Evan Brunell

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