Tag:Cardinals
Posted on: February 23, 2012 2:19 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 4:07 pm
 

Oswalt pulls a Clemens, prepares for half-season



By Matt Snyder


Free agent starting pitcher Roy Oswalt has told major-league teams that he's aiming to join a club at some point during the season.

"After much thought and careful consideration, Roy has decided to continue to evaluate his options," said Oswalt's agent, Bob Garber in a statement. "He is great health and will continue to stay in shape, while throwing regularly off the mound. Roy has every intention of pitching for a contending club at some point this season.''

Spring Training Coverage
You might recall Roger Clemens did the midseason thing twice last decade. In May of 2006, he signed with the Astros and went 7-6 with a 2.30 ERA that season. In May of 2007, Clemens signed with the Yankees, going 6-6 with a 4.18 ERA. He made a postseason start, too, but was chased after just 2 1/3 innings.

Oswalt, 34, wasn't lacking for attention this offseason, as he turned down a one-year, $10 million from the Tigers and also declined to discuss terms with the Red Sox. Oswalt is said to want to be as close as possible to his home in Mississippi, specifically targeting the Cardinals and Rangers -- neither of whom were interested or met Oswalt's asking price. As CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler noted on Twitter, Garber didn't specify which "contending club" Oswalt wished to join, and it's believed he still only wants to pitch for the Rangers or Cardinals. So he's basically waiting on an injury or underperformance to open up a rotation spot on either team.

He was once one of the more durable pitchers in baseball. From 2002-2010, he only failed to make 30 starts one season while throwing at least 208 innings in seven of those nine campaigns. Last season, however, Oswalt was hampered by a back injury and made just 23 starts. He was 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 93 strikeouts in 139 innings. In his one postseason start, he took the loss, allowing six hits and five runs in six innings against the Cardinals.

Oswalt is 159-93 with a 3.21 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 1,759 strikeouts in his career. He's a three-time All-Star and finished in the top six of Cy Young voting six times, but never better than third. He's pitched in the playoffs four different seasons, two with the Astros and two with the Phillies, once making the World Series (2005 Astros) but never winning it.

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Posted on: February 22, 2012 2:59 pm
 

Pujols still objects to nickname 'El Hombre'

Albert Pujols

By C. Trent Rosecrans


When Albert Pujols was in St. Louis, he made it clear he didn't like being called by the nickname "El Hombre," even asking fans not to call him by the monicker in 2010.

Pujols said he felt it was a disrespect -- not a clever play -- of Stan Musial's nickname, "The Man." That's why it was a surprise, in St. Louis especially, when the Angels put up billboards in Southern California with Pujols' picture next to the words "El Hombre."

On Wednesday, Pujols made it clear he still doesn't like the name and didn't authorize the billboards.

"Like I say, I haven't talked to them, but I prefer not to use [El Hombre]," Pujols told Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. "I still have the same respect for [Musial] as I had, not just waht he's done in baseball, but for what he did for his country. That's something you have to appreciate."

Musial served in the Navy during World War II and last season was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Obama.

According to the Angels, there are 20 such billboards in Southern California.

Hat-tip: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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Posted on: February 22, 2012 2:38 pm
 

Report: Edgar Renteria leaning toward retirement

Edgar Renteria

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Former World Series MVP Edgar Renteria is leaning toward retirement, although his agent, Barry Meister told FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal that the 35-year-old shortstop probably won't file official retirement papers anytime soon, leaving the door open for a return.

Renteria played for the Reds last season, but Cincinnati instead chose to go with rookie Zach Cozart as its starter at shortstop, along with backup Paul Janish. Renteria received two offers of minor-league contracts from National League teams, but he chose not go that route.

"It had nothing to do with the team," Meister told Rosenthal. "It just had to do with the feeling that this might be the right time."

Renteria won two Gold Gloves and was a five-time All-Star, as well as two World Series titles and another appearance. Although, the highlight of his career came early, when at 20 he hit the game-winning RBI single in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the 1997 World Series with the Marlins. He then won the World Series MVP with the Giants in 2010. He also appeared in the 2004 World Series with the Cardinals.

In an interesting twist, he could be hanging up his glove in the same offseason season that countryman and fellow Gold Glove shortstop Orlando Cabrera retired. Cabrera, 37, played for the Giants and Indians last season -- and coincidentally, was the shortstop for the Reds in 2010. He was also the shortstop for the Red Sox when Boston beat Renteria's Cardinals in the 2004 World Series.

What makes it really interesting is that the two, who are probably the greatest players to ever hail from Columbia, had a rivalry and didn't like each other. Here's a story from 2008 written by Jorge Arangure in ESPN The Magazine that examines and explains the feud. It's a fascinating read, but the crux is this -- Renteria felt Cabrera was jealous of him and then there's a money aspect to the entire deal.

In Cincinnati, I've dealt with both and found it odd. Teammates liked -- and even loved -- both players, they were well-respected and were also good with the media. Renteria, whom I was around less, seemed more quiet, while Cabrera is outgoing, loud and hilarious.

Renteria and his brother founded the Columbian Professional Baseball League and he is seen as a hero in Columbia, while last season Cabrera became a U.S. citizen.

If Renteria retires, he'll end his career with a .286/.343/.398 slash line, 140 home runs and 2,327 hits to go along with five All-Star appearances, two Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers. He also played on seven playoff teams with four different franchises. Cabrera finished his career with a .272/.317/.390 slash line, 123 home runs and 2,055 hits. He never made an All-Star team, but did win two Gold Gloves and played on six playoff teams. From 2004-2010, he appeared in the playoffs in all but one of those seven seasons, making six playoff appearances with five different teams.

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Posted on: February 20, 2012 2:45 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 4:50 pm
 

Beltran gives former teammate a nosejob

Jonathan Niese

By C. Trent Rosecrans

It's not unusual to hear of teammates giving each other gifts -- from watches to cars and just about everything in between. But this is a new one.

Carlos Beltran, now a Cardinal, got Mets pitcher Jonathon Niese a new nose.

Yep, Beltran paid for Niese's nose job this offseason after making a playful barb that Niese needed a new nose. Beltran went so far as to offer to pay for it, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com.

"He wanted me to have a new nose," Niese told Rubin. "So he offered to pay for it. I was just like, 'All right.' Then it turned into seeing doctors and to getting it fixed."

The picture above, is clearly the "before."

The surgery may have also been a performance-enhancer for the 25-year-old left-hander. He said the surgery has helped him breathe better.

"It's helped a lot with my running," Niese said. "It helps with my working out. As far as the mound, I'm not sure."

Niese was 11-11 with a 4.40 ERA in 27 games and 26 starts last season, striking out 138 batters in 157 1/3 innings.

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Posted on: February 14, 2012 9:37 pm
 

Report: Astros broadcaster to retire after 2012

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Astros radio broadcaster Milo Hamilton will announce his intent to retire following the 2012 season, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports.

The team will have a press conference for Hamilton, 84, on Wednesday.

Hamilton has announced Major League games for 59 years and won the Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award in 1992.

Hamilton's started broadcasting big-league baseball in 1953 with the St. Louis Browns. When the Browns moved to Baltimore, he stayed in St. Louis, where he worked with Harry Caray and Jack Buck in 1954. After just one season with the Cardinals, he caught on with the Cubs, working with Jack Brickhouse and Vince Lloyd. He served three years with the Cubs and after four-years out of baseball, moved to the White Sox in 1961.

Hamilton was the first voice of the Braves, getting the job when the team moved from Milwaukee in 1966. He worked in Atlanta until after the 1975 season, calling Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th career homer.



From Atlanta, Hamilton had stints with the Pirates and Cubs before joining the Astros in 1985.

Since 2006, he's mostly called only home games for the Astros. He will, however, make the trip to Miami in April to broadcast in the new Marlins ballpark, marking his 60th different ballpark in which he's called a game.

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Posted on: February 9, 2012 4:51 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 10:47 am
 

Spring position battles: National League Central



By C. Trent Rosecrans


The National League Central is often looked down upon, but it produced both teams in the National League Championship Series last year, as well as the World Series. Both the Cardinals and Brewers have large voids in their lineup due to free agency, but all the teams have some questions when pitchers and catchers report to camp. Here's the NL Central spring position battles:

Chicago Cubs
Old vs. Young: Bryan LaHair and Marlon Byrd vs. Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson

For so long the Cubs' motto has been "wait 'til next year" -- that may have been changed to "wait 'til a couple of years" as Theo Epstein has fully embraced the rebuilding effort. The question is whether the braintrust thinks it's better for some of their younger players to learn at the big-league level or continue in the minors. The two biggest choices will be Rizzo and Jackson. Rizzo, 22, struggled in his call-up last season, hitting .141/.281/.242 with a homer in 153 plate appearances, but that was as a 21-year-old in San Diego. LaHair may only have 65 games in the big leagues, but that doesn't make him young -- just inexperienced. LaHair turned 29 in November and spent eight years in the minors. He hit .288/.377/.508 in his 20 games with the Cubs last season, but he's hardly anyone's idea of a long-term solution. Epstein drafted Rizzo while with the Red Sox and then traded for him when he took over the Cubs. It's Rizzo's job to lose. Meanwhile, Byrd is in the last season of his three-year, $15 million contract, so he's more likely to get traded than to be unseated in spring. The 23-year-old Jackson put up a .297/.388/.551 line at Triple-A Iowa with 10 homers in just 48 games after being called up from Double-A. The team's first-round pick in the 2009 draft will have a chance to show he's big-league ready. If the team does go with Rizzo and Jackson, it could be a sign of the team's future and the patience that Chicago will show going forward.

Cincinnati Reds
Left field: Chris Heisey vs. Ryan Ludwick

The Reds signed Ludwick to a bargain deal, hoping he can find the stroke he left in St. Louis. The 33-year-old has always hit well at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park, putting up a .276/.321/.600 stat line with nine homers in 30 games and 112 plate appearances in his new home park. Both Ludwick and Heisey are right-handed batters who fare better against right-handed pitchers. Ludwick is a career .272/.339/.464 hitter against righties and .237/.316/.435 against lefties. Heisey's split is more extreme -- .288/.346/.539 against right-handers and .180/.248/.300 against lefties. One thing that helps Ludwick's case may be Heisey's strength as a pinch-hitter. Last year the 27-year-old Heisey hit .324/.333/.529 with two homers as a pinch-hitter. There's another option here, as well. If Drew Stubbs struggles at the plate, Hesiey could be an option to play center alongside Ludwick in left. That's a remote possibility, though. The Reds are high on Stubbs' power/speed combination and he is an excellent defender in center.

Houston Astros
Third base: Brett Wallace vs. Chris Johnson vs. Jimmy Paredes

The fact that the Astros are looking to move Wallace to third base may tell you what they think of Johnson and Paredes. If Wallace shows he can play third, he's the likely favorite. Johnson struggled in 2011 after showing promise in 2010. Paredes hit .286/.320/.393 after taking over the position for the last two months of the season, but he's not seen as a long-term solution. Wallace could be.

Milwaukee Brewers
First base: Mat Gamel vs. himself

With Ryan Braun's status resolved, the Brewers don't really have many question marks. All five starters return, as do its closer and top set-up man. The lineup, with a platoon of Carlos Gomez and Nyjer Morgan and newcomer Aramis Ramirez at third base seems pretty much set -- barring injury. The only hole is a big one -- the one left by first baseman Prince Fielder. The position is Mat Gamel's to lose. The 26-year-old played in just 10 games last season, getting 27 plate appearances. His only extensive big-league experience came in 2009 when he hit .242/.338/.422 with five homers, primarily playing third base. However, he's never been able to establish himself and after playing both third base and the outfield, he played primarily first base at Triple-A Nashville last season, while making six errors in 20 games at third base. He's a first baseman now and a first baseman only. He's hit  well at Triple-A, hitting .301/.374/.512 in parts of four seasons at the top level of the minors, hitting 28 home runs for Nashville last season. Gamel will probably start at first on opening day even if he struggles in spring, but right fielder Corey Hart could be used at first if Gamel struggles even more. The team did sign Japanese outfield Norichika Aoki, who could play right if Hart moves to first.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Third base: Pedro Alvarez vs. Casey McGehee

Acquiring the veteran McGehee from Milwaukee could be seen as a kick in the pants for the second-overall pick of the 2008 draft. Alvarez hit just .191/.272/.289 in 74 games last season and the team may be getting worried about whether he'll ever develop into the star as expected. McGehee is coming off a rough season of his own, hitting just .223/.280/.346 with 13 homers after hitting 23 homers and 104 RBI in 2010. McGehee was replaced by Jerry Hairston Jr. at third base during the playoffs and by former Pirate Aramis Ramirez after the season.

St. Louis Cardinals
Second base: Skip Schumaker vs. Daniel Descalso vs. Tyler Greene

General manager John Mozeliak has insinuated he'd like to see Greene win the job. The 28-year-old has yet to produce at the level expected of him, hitting just .218/.307/.313 in 150 games and 359 plate appearances. Descalso filled in for the injured David Freese last season and responded with a .264/.334/.353 line, while Schumaker is the incumbent having hit .283/.333/.351 while starting 89 games at second, but none in the World Series. All three have some positional versatility.

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Posted on: February 5, 2012 6:17 pm
 

GM: Reds not actively courting Roy Oswalt

Roy OswaltBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Roy Oswalt is still a free agent, although at least one general manager seems to think the right-hander is headed to Texas.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

"We had discussions with them a while ago," Reds GM Walt Jocketty told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "The last we heard he was going to Texas. That was on Monday. I don't know if that deal is still in place."

Oswalt had reportedly wanted to sign with the Rangers or Cardinals, but a report on Saturday said neither team had enough money to sign the 33-year-old right-hander. The Reds, who have signed Ryan Madson and Ryan Ludwick this offseason, don't have much left in their budget, either, according to Jocketty. The former Cardinals GM said the Reds would need to move payroll in order to sign Oswalt.

"If he doesn't sign," Jocketty told Fay, "we'd take another look at it."

The Reds currently have Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo and Mike Leake penciled in as their first four starters, with Homer Bailey the favorite for the fifth spot and Aroldis Chapman transitioning into a starting role during spring training. The Reds' moves of acquiring Latos, Madson and Sean Marshall show the team is being aggressive in trying to take over the Albert Pujols-less National League Central and adding Oswalt would be another step in that direction. It would also keep the team from having to face Oswalt, who is 23-3 with a 2.81 ERA in his career against Cincinnati.

The Red Sox and Phillies were also reportedly still interested in Oswalt, along with the Reds, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com.

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Posted on: February 4, 2012 2:57 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2012 3:21 pm
 

Several NFLers took swings at baseball

Tom Brady

By C. Trent Rosecrans


In 1995 the Expos drafted a catcher out of Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., the same high school that produced Barry Bonds and Gregg Jeffries. Montreal scout Gary Hughes thought the team got a steal, but knew the catcher lasted until the 18th round because he was a good football player and would be difficult to sign.

In the end, Tom Brady passed on baseball, went to the University of Michigan on a football scholarship and will be playing in a football game this weekend. He made the right choice, but that doesn't mean the Expos scouts were wrong -- Brady was obviously a good athlete with a strong arm and good leadership skills, all things you want in a catcher.

CBSSports.com's Super Bowl Central

Brady's not the only NFL player who flirted with a career in baseball, several current NFL players have a baseball background. While there's no Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders or Brian Jordan currently playing at the highest level in both sports, there are a variety of NFL-MLB ties, from players who, like Brady, were drafted and didn't sign, to those who played in the minors and even one minor-leaguer who is hoping to be drafted into the NFL this year.

Here's a look at some current NFL players with baseball experience:

Cedric Benson -- The Bengals running back was drafted by the Dodgers in the 12th round of the 2001 draft and played nine games for the team's Gulf Coast League team, going 5 for 25, with all five of his hits going for extra bases -- three doubles and two triples. While he didn't homer, he walked 10 times in 34 plate appearances and was hit twice for a .412 on-base percentage and an .892 OPS.

Mark Brunell -- The 41-year-old Jets backup was… the lefty was drafted by the Braves in the 44th round of the 1992 draft, but didn't sign.

Kerry Collins -- The Tigers took him in the 26th round of the 1990 draft, the first of three future NFL players drafted, before Greg McMurtry and Rodney Peete. He was drafted again by the Tigers in the 60th round of the 1991 draft and the 48th round of the 1994 draft. He never signed.

Quan CosbyQuan Cosby (right) -- The former Broncos and Bengals kick returner was a sixth-round pick by the Angels in 2001 and played four years in the team's minor-league system, spending two seasons with Cedar Rapids in the Class A Midwest League. In four seasons, he hit .260/.330/.321 with 71 stolen bases. In his last season, 2004, he stole 23 bases and hit five homers. After that season he went back to school at Texas and played wide receiver with the Longhorns. Undrafted in football, he signed with the Bengals and played last season with the Broncos before being waived at the end of the season and signed by the Colts.

Eric Decker -- The Broncos wide receiver was drafted in the 39th round by the Brewers in 2008 and in the 27th round by the Twins in 2009.

Dennis Dixon -- Twice drafted, the Steelers' third-string quarterback signed with the Braves after going in the fifth round of the 2007 draft. He played in the Gulf Coast League and Appalachian League that year, hitting a combined .176/.322/.216 as an outfielder. He was a perfect 5-for-5 in stolen bases, but struck out 22 times in 90 plate appearances, while putting up just a .176 average.

Matt Moore -- No, not the Rays' lefty Matt Moore, but the Dolphins quarterback. Moore was taken in the 22nd round of the 2004 draft by the Angels.

Golden Tate --  The Seahawks' wide receiver was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 42nd round of the 2007 draft and the Giants in the 50th round of the 2010 draft. He played two seasons of baseball at Notre Dame, hitting .329 as a sophomore and scoring 45 runs, the third-most in school history.

Michael Vick -- The Rockies drafted Vick in the 30th round of the 2000 draft, but he never signed.

Hines Ward -- The Marlins took Ward in the 73rd round of the 1994 draft, but he never signed.

Brandon Weeden -- CBSSports.com has the Oklahoma State quarterback the fourth-rated QB in the upcoming draft after leading Oklahoma State to an 11-1 record last season as a 28-year-old. The reason Weeden was so advanced in age as a college quarterback was that he spent five seasons in the minor leagues after the Yankees took him in the second round of the 2002 draft. Weeden, a right-handed pitcher, was 19-26 with a 5.02 ERA in 108 games and 65 starts in the minors. He averaged nearly a strikeout an inning, but had a 1.573 WHIP for the Yankees, Dodgers and Royals systems.

Ricky Williams -- The same year the current Ravens running back won the Heisman Trophy at Texas, he hit .283/.309/.283 in 55 plate appearances in the short-season New York-Penn League for the Batavia Muckdogs in the Phillies system. Despite a career .211/.265/.261 line in four years in the Phillies' system, the Expos took him in the 1998 Rule 5 draft before trading him to the Rangers. Williams didn't join the Rangers and never played another professional baseball game.

Russell Wilson -- Wilson is the 10th-ranked quarterback in the upcoming draft, according to CBSSports.com. Wilson, a second baseman, was drafted in 2007 by the Orioles and again in the fourth round of the 2010 draft by the Rockies. After spurning the Orioles out of high school, Wilson did sign with the Rockies, which led to a rift between him and his college coach at N.C. State, Tom O'Brien. WIlson played baseball each of the last two summers, playing 61 games for the Asheville Tourists of the Class A South Atlantic League last season, hitting .228/.366/.342 with three home runs and 15 stolen bases. He struck out 82 times in 236 plate appearances before heading to Wisconsin for his senior year of college. At Wisconsin, he led the Badgers to the Big 10 title. He recently told the Rockies he won't be reporting to spring training. The Rockies hold his rights for five more years and have said they'd welcome him back.

Of course, there are plenty of guys who went the other way and chose baseball instead of football, players like Todd Helton (who once started ahead of Peyton Manning at Tennessee), Adam Dunn (who was at Texas as a quarterback), Seth Smith (who backed up Eli Manning at Ole Miss), Joe Mauer (who was the nation's top recruit at quarterback and signed with Florida State) and Matt Holliday (who was offered a scholarship to play quarterback at Oklahoma State).

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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