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Tag:AL East
Posted on: March 1, 2012 1:46 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 4:46 pm
 

Players, managers react to new playoff format

By Matt Snyder

MLB Playoff expansion
With the news spreading throughout baseball that playoff expansion is very likely for the 2012 season, some reactions from players and managers have started to trickle out of camps. As one would expect on a divisive issue, the reactions are all over the map.

For a very brief recap to those who haven't read about it yet, it's extremely likely that starting this season, MLB will have two wild card teams play one head-to-head game, with the winner advancing to face the division winner with the best record in the LDS. The second and third division winners will face each other. The new collective bargaining agreement established that this system would begin by 2013, but it's likely it will begin this season.

Anyway, here are some of the reactions we've gathered thus far:

Blue Jays manager John Farrell (CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler)

"I think it's great for baseball. Hopefully, we're in the mix to land one of those spots."

Mets third baseman David Wright (Andy McCullough via Twitter)

"That would have been nice five years ago."

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel (CSNPhilly.com)

“It’s hard to swallow sometimes if you play all year and win a lot of games and somebody who did not play as good as you consistently all year gets in and wins. But that’s the way it goes and that’s the process that we live with.

“I understand everything about that and I’m not knocking that. That’s what it is. But at the same time, I look at it as I’m not a second-place guy or third place or fourth place. Basically that’s the part – for me, personally, you shouldn’t get nothing for second or third. That’s the American system.”

Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen (MLB.com)

"Anytime you involve more people, it's good for the game. I think the Commissioner is doing a tremendous job adding people to have a chance to see playoff games, and I think that's great for the fans. This game, we play for them."

Red Sox DH David Ortiz (ESPN Boston)

“One game? That’s kind of crazy. You know how many things we’ve got to move around and pack for one game? It’d make more sense for two wild cards to play at least a two-out-of-three series while the other teams take a break for three days because they won their divisions.”

Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (TampaBay.com)

"I think it's exciting. It's exciting for all of us. ... I think the goal was to allow more teams to have a chance in the end, to hold on to those playoff hopes for longer.''

"I think it was pretty unanimous around the league that the more playoff spots the better. Once you get into the playoffs it's more revenue for the ballclub, it's more excitement for the players, so I think it would be a no-brainer for everybody.''

"I don't think anybody's 'comfortable' with [one-game playoff] -- it's an uncomfortable feeling going into any game that you know you could go home, your season could end. But at the same time, it's exciting -- you're in the playoffs now.''

Braves third baseman Chipper Jones (MLB.com)

"I'm not for it. I think the elite teams deserve to make it to the playoffs. Pretty soon, Major League Baseball is going to be like the NBA. There will be more teams that make it than don't. The season is too long as it is. Now you're going to give teams more travel. I don't agree with it, but we're just a piece of meat. We do what they tell us to."

Braves backup catcher David Ross (MLB.com)

"I like the one game for all of the marbles kind of thing because it's either put up or shut up," Braves backup catcher David Ross said. "It's going to be fun. The fans are going to be tuned in. It will get a lot of media attention. It will be a lot of fun."

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly (ESPN Los Angeles)

"I like it because it forces those two teams to use their best pitcher, so they have to use that guy to get in (to the next round). On paper, that gives the advantage to the team that wins the division because they can line up their rotation the way they want it. It seems fair to me that the team who wins the division gets that advantage.''

White Sox pitcher Chris Sale (ChicagoSports.com)

"Obviously, it’s exciting. Two more teams into the playoffs. At the same time, you want to be one of those teams for sure in there. You want to win the division. "They said it today, you are not playing for second place. It would be great if that did happen, but from here on out, we are going for that No. 1 spot."

White Sox manager Robin Ventura (ChicagoSports.com)

“In the past, when they added (the wild card), it created excitement and even last year, the last day of the season it added fun. You never know. It just depends on how the season goes. But it’s exciting for teams to get in. That’s for sure.”

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 6:28 pm
 

A-Rod, Jeter take high road against Bobby V.

Alex RodriguezBy C. Trent Rosecrans

On Tuesday new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine took two little barbs at the Yankees' Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Wednesday, the two Yankees took the high road when asked about Valentine's comments.

"I'm not going to win many battles here when it comes to words, especially against Bobby," Rodriguez told reporters, including the Associated Press.

Jeter said he was "indifferent" about Valentine's comments about his famous flip in the 2001 ALDS against the A's.

"Why are we talking about this, really?" Jeter told the AP. "He must be bored over there, huh? I don't understand."

He added what was a really good question -- "What do you want me to say? I mean, really. What am I supposed to say?"

Valentine did  back off of his statement that he dind't believe the Yankees practiced that play after talking to Red Sox bullpen coach Gary Tuck, who used to be a Yankees catching instructor.

"He said they do practice it. Total mistake on my part because they do practice it, that's for sure," Valentine told the AP. "It's hard to practice that because why are we going to practice a bad throw? That's not what we're doing here. But I get it. I get it. ... I want it on record that I love Derek Jeter as a player. It was not a slight towards him. I love him as a guy, too."

The Yankees actually practiced the play on Wednesday, which may or may not have been a coincidence.

"Ever since I've been here -- in 1996 -- we've asked our shortstops to kind of float in the infield," New York manager Joe Girardi said to the AP and other reporters. "We worked on it today. It happened to be cuts-and-relays day today."

And then there's Eric Chavez, the current Yankees and former Athletic, who had his own opinion about Jeter's famoous play to get Jeremy Giambi at the plate.

"I thought he was safe anyway," Chavez said, according to the AP.

As for Valentine, Jeter said he was "indifferent" and that he didn't know Valentine well enough to know what he was doing.

It should be noted that since Valentine started talking about the Yankees, he's not had to talk about the chicken and beer collapse of 2011, so maybe that had something to do with it.

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 5:22 pm
 

Luke Scott takes a swing at Red Sox fans

Luke Scott

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Luke Scott has never been one to shy away from his opinions, and Wednesday the former Oriole and current Ray took aim with his tongue, not his 7 1/2-foot spear.

Scott. who was injured and didn't play in the Orioles' victory over the Red Sox on the final day of the season, said his teammates were pulling for the Rays to take the final playoff spot from the Red Sox.

The reason, Scott's not a fan of the Red Sox fans. From MLB.com's Bill Chastain:
"Just their arrogance," Scott said. "The fans come in and they take over the city. They're ruthless. They're vulgar. They cause trouble. They talk about your family. Swear at you. Who likes that? When people do that, it just gives you more incentive to beat them. Then when things like [the last game of last season] happen, you celebrate even more. You go to St. Louis -- classiest fans in the game. You do well, there's no vulgarity. You know what? You don't wish them bad."
He added that the team's celebration went up a notch moments after the Orioles won when the Rays' Evan Longoria homered to knock the Red Sox out of the playoffs.
"Everybody's giving high-fives, then all of a sudden [Longoria] homers," Scott said. "Everybody's in the clubhouse and it's like, Bam! And we're like, 'Go home Boston! Pack your bags. See you next year.'"
Then on his way home, Scott even taunted Boston fans.
"It was like someone shot their dog. I rolled down the window and I'm like, 'Ah, hah, sucks doesn't it, when someone laughs or makes fun of you when things aren't going your way.'"
I'm guessing when the Rays and Red Sox play this year, the Sox fans may ratchet up their "ruthless" and "vulgar" ways.

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Posted on: February 28, 2012 9:43 pm
 

Spring primer: New York Mets

Terry Collins

By C. Trent Rosecrans
The Marlins made headlines with their offseason spending spree, the Phillies still have the game's most intimidating rotation, the Nationals have some of the game's biggest young talents and the Braves are a sleeper team that shouldn't be written off because of last season's late collapse. And then there's the Mets. Last season the team finished fourth in the division and went 77-85, and then they lost their best player. To say there's a lack of buzz surrounding the Mets would be an understatement.

Major additions: CF Andres Torres, CL Frank Francisco
Major departures: SS Jose Reyes, RH Chris Capuano

Probable lineup
1. Andres Torres CF
2. Daniel Murphy 2B
3. David Wright 3B
4. Ike Davis 1B
5. Lucas Duda RF
6. Jason Bay LF
7. Josh Thole C
8. Ruben Tejada SS

Probable rotation
1. Johan Santana
2. R.A. Dickey
3. Jonathon Niese
4. Mike Pelfrey
5. Dillon Gee

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Frank Francisco
Set-up: Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez, Bobby Parnell

Important bench players
OF Scott Hairston, IF Justin Turner

Prospect to watch
The team's top prospect is right-hander Zack Wheeler, acquired in the Carlos Beltran trade, but if he sees Citi Field this season, it'll likely be near the end of the year when the team's fate has already been decided. Outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis could contribute immediately. The 24-year-old missed the second half of the 2011 season with a torn labrum in his non-throwing (left) shoulder, but has been swinging the bat at full strength since last month. Before his injury, he was hitting .298/.403/.505 with six homers in 221 plate appearances for Triple-A Buffalo. A solid all-around player, Nieuwenhuis can play any of the three outfield sports, but center field may be where he could make his mark. The Mets have the 34-year-old Torres as the its starter in center and the 31-year-old Hairston backing him up, so it's not much of a stretch to see Nieuwenhuis get a chance sometime this season.

Fantasy sleeper: Lucas Duda
"From July 15 (about the time he took over for a departed Carlos Beltran) to the end of the season, Duda hit .322 with 10 homers and a .957 OPS -- numbers that jive with his minor-league track record. And that was at old Citi Field, complete with its big gaps, tall fences and ability to crush David Wright's spirit." -- Scott White [Full Mets fantasy team preview]

Fantasy bust: David Wright
"Over the last three seasons, he has a .284 batting average and .828 OPS, which are solid numbers but less than elite even for a third baseman. True, his struggles began the same year the Mets moved to spacious Citi Field, but that doesn't explain why his numbers have lagged on the road during that time. Thus, you can't assume the team's decision to move in the fences this year will be Wright's miracle cure. It'll help, but it won't eliminate the injuries, the perpetually rising strikeout rate and the curious home-road splits." -- Scott White [Full Mets fantasy team preview]

Optimistic outlook
Santana returns to Cy Young form and Niese takes a step forward, as the Mets pitching staff rounds into form. The new dimensions of Citi Field make a huge difference for the team's offense, with Wright and Bay returning to form, while Duda becomes a star. Even in this perfect world, the Mets could have trouble leapfrogging the Phillies, Marlins and Braves. But Bud Selig could always add another eight playoff spots, giving them a spot in the postseason.

Pessimistic outlook
Santana's injuries continue to haunt him and nobody steps up to take over at the top of the rotation. Davis isn't the same player that he was before his injury and Duda suffers from a sophomore slump, as the offense struggles overall. And then there's the chance that the problems on the field pale in comparison to the ownership problems. The worst-case scenario (well, for 2012, it's may be the best-case scenario for the long term) has a repeat of the Dodger fiasco.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: February 28, 2012 7:39 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 9:26 pm
 

Braves' Freeman could miss two weeks

Freddie FreemanBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Spring training always has its share of bumps and bruises, along with legitimate injuries, but it often takes a little time to figure out which is which.

Here's a brief roundup of some of Tuesday's injuries from around baseball.

• Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman could miss two weeks after his right knee popped out of place as he tried to scoop a low throw at first base.

"I was just doing pick drills and the knee gave out," Freeman told reporters (via MLB.com). "The kneecap went this way and I came back in. When I did this when I was playing in Triple-A, it took me two weeks. So that is what we are going on."

Freeman said he had a similar injury in 2010 and he could have come back after a week, but the team didn't want to push it.

• Speaking of the Braves,right-hander Tommy Hanson will retake his concussion test on Thursday and could throwing to live batters again that same day if he passes it. Hanson has been cleared for conditioning and throwing, but not for full workouts yet. He suffered a concussion in a car accident on Feb. 20. (MLB.com)

• Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, who has been dogged by injuries and illness each of the last two seasons, left Mariners camp on a cart Tuesday.

Seattle manager Eric Wedge told reporters Gutierrez hurt something in the pectoral region and had an MRI. The Mariners are still waiting on word of the results of the MRI. (Seattle Times)

• Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth was held out of Tuesday's workout due to back spasms.

"I'm not worried," Nationals manager Davey Johnson told reporters. "There's plenty of time."

Johnson said he didn't expect Werth to play in either of the Nationals' first two exhibition games, but he didn't plan on using too many of the Washington regulars in those games anyway. (NatsInsider.com)

• Rays rookie left-hander Matt Moore missed a second day with an abdomen strain, but Rays manager Joe Maddon told reporters the team isn't worried, they're just being cautious.

"It's an over-conservative thing we're doing right now," Maddon told reporters. "I really believe the next day or two, he should be fine." (St. Petersburg Times)

• Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is expected back in camp on Wednesday after having his Achilles tendon examined in Baltimore on Monday. The Phillies said they wouldn't have word about his status until he returns. (CSNPhilly.com)

• Joba Chamberlain, who underwent Tommy John surgery last year, threw off the mound for the first time Tuesday since the surgery. He threw 16 pitches and said he felt good afterward. He hopes to return in June. (Star-Ledger)

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Posted on: February 28, 2012 4:36 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 6:18 pm
 

Bobby V. takes swipes at A-Rod, Jeter



Bobby ValentineBy C. Trent Rosecrans


Somewhere in Bobby Valentine's office, there may be a checklist of people he should insult.

Monday, it was his predecessor with the Red Sox and Tuesday it's his rival, the Yankees. First on the list of Yankees to tweak? Alex Rodriguez, second was Derek Jeter.

When discussing retiring Boston catcher Jason Varitek, Valentine took a swipe at A-Rod. In a list of positives about Varitek, Bobby V. noted "he beat up Alex," referring to the 2004 dustup between the two.

Then, while discussing his team's work on relays and cutoffs, he dared blast Jeter's famous flip in Game 2 of the 2001 American League Division Series against the A's.

"We'll never practice that," Valentine told reporters (via the Boston Herald). "I think [Jeter] was out of position. I think the ball gets [Jeremy Giambi] out if [Jeter] doesn't touch it, personally. That was amazing that he was there. I bet it's more amazing that he said he practiced it. I don't believe it."

Would the ball have gotten there in time without Jeter's help? Looking back on it, it may have been closer than I'd remembered. I'm still not sure it had enough juice to get there on its own.

I'm surprised while he's at it, he doesn't bring up that in the same game where Jeter made his famous diving catch in the stands in 2004, Pokey Reese made a similar, but superior, play earlier int he game. (If you don't remember, Reese's catch was similar, but he went further and made the catch closer to the wall -- he just lacked Jeter's theatrics and his team didn't win that game).

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Posted on: February 27, 2012 5:36 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 6:09 pm
 

Jason Varitek to announce retirement

By Matt Snyder

Long-time Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek has elected to retire, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has confirmed. The news was first reported by the Boston Globe. The original report also indicated that Varitek will stay with the Red Sox organization "in some capacity."

Varitek, 39, spent his entire 15-year major-league career with the Red Sox. He went to the All-Star Game three times while winning one Gold Glove and one Silver Slugger. He hit 193 career homers while driving home 757 runs and scoring 664. His career line is .256/.341/.435. And, of course, the Red Sox's captain was part of two World Series-winning teams, including the "idiots" of 2004 that snapped the so-called Curse of the Bambino.

As the Globe report noted, only Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams and Jim Rice had longer stints with the Red Sox without having played for another big-league team.

Varitek also was part of one of the more dubious trade deadline deals. On July 31, 1997, the Mariners shipped Varitek and a 24-year-old Derek Lowe to the Red Sox for Heathcliff Slocumb. Slocumb had a 4.97 ERA and 1.64 WHIP with 13 saves and nine losses in a season and a half for the Mariners.

Kudos to Varitek on a very respectable career.

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Posted on: February 27, 2012 2:52 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 3:25 pm
 

Bobby V. fires back at Terry Francona

Bobby Valentine

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Well, earlier Monday former Red Sox manager Terry Francona said the Red Sox ban on alcohol in the clubhouse was a "PR move." Current Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine didn't give a "PR" or "PC" response.

"Remember," Valentine told reporters, including the Boston Herald's Scott Lauber, "you're getting paid over there for saying stuff. You get paid over here for doing stuff. I've done both."

It should be noted, Francona's done both too -- and has two more rings than Valentine.

Valentine continued -- "How was it PR?" he asked. "It means like 20 teams are looking for PR and that's why they're making good decisions."

Valentine did say he had the same rule in his last big-league managerial job with the Mets.

With ESPN's penchant to overblow everything Red Sox and Francona on its payroll, it's safe to say this won't be the last time Francona is asked about a Boston controversy -- and Valentine will object to whatever is said. Valentine is always entertaining, and with Francona in his new gig and a microscope on both, there should be plenty of fun for onlookers this season.

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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