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Tag:AL West
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 7:41 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 7:51 pm
 

Angels sign Jason Isringhausen

By Matt Snyder

Relief pitcher Jason Isringhausen has signed a minor-league deal with the Angels, the club announced Wednesday evening.

Isringhausen, 39, didn't pitch in the majors in 2010, but had a 4.05 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 46 2/3 innings last season for the Mets. He even gathered seven saves, which put him at exactly 300 in his career -- good for 22nd on the all-time list.

The Angels appear to be moving forward with youngster Jordan Walden as the team's closer, but they did land the veteran depth they seeked this offseason in LaTroy Hawkins and now Isringhausen. The latter two and Scott Downs will be the bridge to Walden, but any of the three could take over if the 24-year-old -- who had 10 blown saves last season -- falters.

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Posted on: February 22, 2012 4:52 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 3:34 pm
 

Yu Darvish has an odd way of staying 'balanced'

Yu Darvish

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Notice anything odd about the photo of Yu Darvish above?

How about now that you look at these two photos?



Yep, the right-handed Darvish was throwing left-handed. According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, Darvish occasionally plays catch left-handed to keep both arms strong and balanced.

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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 1:22 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 2:35 pm
 

Spring primer: Seattle Mariners


By Matt Snyder


The Mariners are coming off a 67-95 season, when they finished 29 games out in the AL West -- seven behind the third-place A's. It was the sixth time in the past eight years Seattle came in last and they haven't seen the postseason since 2001. One big trade headlined the offseason as they attempt to turn the tide.

Scott Miller's Camp Report: With Jesus, Seattle seeks resurrection | Likes, Dislikes

Major additions: C/DH Jesus Montero, RHP Kevin Millwood, C John Jaso, RHP Hisashi Iwakuma
Major departures: RHP Michael Pineda, UT Adam Kennedy

Probable lineup
1. Chone Figgins, 3B
2. Dustin Ackley, 2B
3. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
4. Justin Smoak, 1B
5. Jesus Montero, DH
6. Mike Carp, LF
7. Franklin Gutierrez, CF
8. Miguel Olivo, C
9. Brendan Ryan, SS

Probable rotation
1. Felix Hernandez
2. Jason Vargas
3. Hisashi Iwakuma
4. Kevin Millwood
5. Hector Noesi

Blake Beavan and Charlie Furbush are also in the mix.

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Brandon League
Set-up: RHP Shawn Kelley, LHP George Sherrill

Important bench players
C John Jaso, IF Kyle Seager, OF Casper Wells, OF Trayvon Robinson

Prospect to watch
With the second overall pick in the 2011 draft, the Mariners pegged left-handed starting pitcher Danny Hultzen from the University of Virginia. It's likely his presence -- in addition to Furbush, Beaven and prospects Taijuan Walker and James Paxton -- made it easier to deal Pineda for some offensive help. Hultzen appeared in the top 30 overall in most prospect rankings this spring and is said to be close to big-league ready. The M's likely don't have a reason to rush him, but if he's ready come June or July, it wouldn't be surprising to see him make an impact this season.

Fantasy sleeper: Kyle Seager
"Seager isn't much of a home-run threat, and playing home games at Safeco Field won't help matters, but his gap power and keen batting eye could help him to an average in the .290 to .300 range, if not higher. Owners may look at last season's .258 mark, his lack of prospect hype and his place in a less-than-imposing Mariners lineup and discount him. However, Seager's ability to get on base and rack up doubles makes him worth a late-round flier in mixed league formats." - Al Melchior [Full Mariners team fantasy preview]

Fantasy "head-to-head hero:" Dustin Ackley
"Ackley's in-the-park extra-base hits will make him one of the seven or eight best second basemen in Head-to-Head, but the potential for mediocre homer and run production makes him a later-round option for mixed league Roto owners." - Al Melchior [Full Mariners team fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
Ackley and Montero become stars, Figgins returns to form, a finally-healthy Gutierrez returns to form as well and Ichiro thrives in the 3-hole, finally giving the Mariners a viable offense. Iwakuma adjusts to America impressively while Hultzen storms onto the scene in early June to provide an additional pitching boost. The Rangers and Angels suffer major injury and underachievement issues, and the Mariners shock everyone by winning the AL West.

Pessimistic outlook
Heading into this season, expect the Mariners to be picked third by pretty much everyone. Thus, the pessimistic outlook would be that the Mariners find a way to finish below the A's. If the offense sputters, younger players stall in their development and the rotation behind King Felix proves thin -- which is possible -- that last place finish could repeat.

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Posted on: February 21, 2012 8:51 pm
 

Abreu says play him every day or trade him

Bobby AbreuBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Angels apparently don't have a spot for outfielder Bobby Abreu and he's not real happy about it. Abreau told Enrique Rojas of ESPNdesportesLosAngeles.com that he'd rather be traded than be a platoon player.

"I'm an every-day player. I can still be in the lineup for a Major League team," Abreu, still in his native Venezuela, told Rojas on Tuesday. "I will not be on the bench knowing that I can play.

"If the Angels don't have a position for me, then the best thing is to trade me. It would be the correct [thing] to do. I won't be able to do nothing sitting on the bench."

Abreu is in the final year of his contract with the Angels and will make $9 million this season. He will turn 38 next month.

There seems to be the odd man out in the Angels' outfield, with Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter and Peter Bourjos as the probable lineup. There's also the case of Mike Trout, one of the top prospects in baseball, who also plays the outfielder. The team is also crowded at DH, with Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo having to play somewhere after the team signed Albert Pujols.

Abreu told Rojas that Angels manager Mike Scioscia told him he'd like to play him in both corner outfield spots and DH, still playing most every day. But Abreu said if he's strictly a bench player, he'd prefer a trade.

"I want to play, and I believe I can help this team," he told Rojas. "But if there's no spot for me, then I would prefer to play somewhere different."

Abreu hit .253/.353/.365 last season with eight home runs in 585 plate appearances. His batting average and on-base percentage were similar to his 2010 performance (.253 batting average, .353 on-base), but his power dropped considerably, with his slugging percentage dipping to .365 and failing to reach double-digit home runs for the first time as a full-time player.

Abreu is the only left-handed hitter among the team's outfielders, which could help his case. Trumbo is also a right-hadned hitter, while Morales is a switch-hitter. Last season, Abreu hit all eight of his homers off of right handers, and hit .259/.366/.400 against right-handers and .238/.319/.279 against left-handers and he's always hit right-handers better.

Of course, Abreu can want a trade, he has very little leverage when it comes to forcing it to happen.

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Posted on: February 21, 2012 6:04 pm
 

Darvish impresses catcher in first bullpen



Luis MartinezBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Yu Darvish is scheduled to meet with the media on Thursday at Rangers camp, but until then, he's off limits. The Rangers even took the unusual step of keeping the media from watching Darvish's initial workout with the team.

Because of that, Luis Martinez became a popular man on Tuesday. Martinez caught Darvish's first bullpen session with the Rangers and found himself surrounded by media afterward. According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Martinez answered questions from approximately 30 Japanese media members and four from Texas.

According to Martinez, Darvish threw 30 pitches at about 70-80 percent, with the last few pitches coming in somewhere in the lower 90s. Martinez said Darvish actually apologized to him when he missed his spots.

"I was talling him, 'It's OK. You're just warming up. It's your first bullpen,'" Martinez told reporters, including Wilson. "He threw sliders, curveballs, changeups, splits. He threw 30, and within those 30, there were about 10 different pitches.

"He's unique in his own way. He's a great talent."

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Posted on: February 20, 2012 4:15 pm
 

Manny just the latest A's retread



By C. Trent Rosecrans


The A's adding Manny Ramirez was hardly a surprise -- it had been rumored for a while.

But it should be even less surprising considering the track record of A's general manager Billy Beane. Beane, of course, is probably the most famous general manager since Branch Rickey thanks to Moneyball (the book and the movie), in part because of his eye for a bargain. While the biggest bargains in baseball are usually young players under team control, there's also value in older players that other teams don't want anymore. Beane's had more than his share of those types of players.

In Moneyball (again, both the book and the movie), Beane's addition of a declining David Justice paid dividends as the 36-year-old hit 11 homers in 118 games (not to mention putting up a .376 on-base percentage). Last season Beane picked Hideki Matsui out of the bargain bin along with a Stephen King novel at Barnes and Noble. This season, it's Ramirez, who will get $500,000 contract with the big-league club after serving his 50-game suspension.

Manny RamirezUsually it's former corner outfielders or first basemen who can add a little slugging and some decent on-base skills (two things Ramirez should be able to add), to be used at DH and in the field in a pinch. Sometimes it works, like with Justice, other times it doesn't -- like with Eric Karros in 2004. But it's cheap, so these veterans are as disposable as a cheap razor.

Here's a list of significant players near the end of their career signed by the A's since Beane took over in 1998, followed by the season they played in Oakland, how old they were that season, their slash line, home runs and RBI.

Rickey Henderson 1998, 39, .236/.376/.347, 1, 14 (led the league with 66 stolen bases and 118 walks)
*Kevin Mitchell 1998, 36, .228/.279/.346, 2, 21
*Tony Phillips 1999, 40, .244/.362/.433, 15, 49
Tim Raines 1999, 39, .215/.337/.341, 4, 17
*Mike Stanley 2000, 37, .268/.363/.464, 4, 18
Ron Gant 2001, 36, .259,.344/.420, 2, 13
*David Justice 2002, 36, .266/.376/.410, 11, 49
*Ron Gant 2003, 38, .146/.182/.220, 1, 4
*Eric Karros 2004, 36, .194/.243/.311, 2, 11
*Mike Piazza 2007, 38, .275/.313/.414, 8, 44
Mike Sweeney 2008, 34, .286/.331/.397, 2, 12
Frank Thomas 2008, 40, .263/.364/.387, 5, 19
*Nomar Garciaparra 2009, 35, .281/.314/.388, 3, 16
Jason Giambi 2009, 38, .193/.332/.364, 11, 40
**Hideki Matsui 2011, 37, .251/.321/.375, 12, 72

* retired after their year with the A's
** Matsui is currently an unsigned free agent

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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