Tag:Matt Snyder
Posted on: March 2, 2012 6:31 pm
 

Fielding Bible projections for 2012 released



By Matt Snyder


Highly-respected defensive analysts John Dewan and Ben Jedlovec have released their Fielding Bible projections for the 2012 Major League Baseball season, with the Tampa Bay Rays being projected as the best defense in the majors and the Miami Marlins proejected to have the worst.

The system used in the Fielding Bible is "defensive runs saved," which doesn't only factor in errors, it also uses range and player placement to determine how many runs a defense either saves pitchers or costs them. Clubs with a positive score are said to have defensively saved pitchers runs while those with a negative score have cost their pitching stuff some runs.

Last season, the Rays were the best in the majors with a +85 score. That's quite a feat, saving 85 runs for your pitching staff. On the flip side, the Marlins checked in with a -75, which is flat-out atrocious.

This season, the projections have the Rays saving 42 runs and the Marlins at a -30.

The top five projected defenses for 2012, in order, in the projections: Rays, Mariners, Reds, Rangers and Angels.

The bottom five, listed from 26-30: Orioles, Cubs, Mets, Twins and Marlins.

The Phillies made the highest leap from last year's score to this year's projection, going from a -59 ('11 score) to +6. Losing Raul Ibanez from left field helps, as does having a full season of Hunter Pence and someone other than Ryan Howard manning first base for a few months, the press release for the Fielding Bible noted.

Other teams with projections showing a big improvement from last season were the Mariners, Rangers, Yankees and A's (though the A's are still projected in the negative).

The clubs expected to take the biggest hit defensively are the Astros (going from 12th ranked to 25th) and Dodgers (11th to 24th). Losing Pence and Michael Bourn for the first half of the season has to be a major part of the Astros slide. The Tigers -- with Miguel Cabrera shifting to third base -- Brewers, Padres and Rockies are also projected to fall down the Fielding Bible standings.

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Posted on: March 2, 2012 3:56 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 9:32 pm
 

2012 MLB top prospects



By Matt Snyder


We at CBSSports.com don't have a scouting guru, but prospect rankings are incredibly popular among fans these days, so we aren't about to neglect covering the preseason rankings. So this post will contain the consensus top 60 prospects from the baseball world. I've gone through and averaged out the rankings from the five major outlets that do them.

Why 60? Well, the outlets usually rank 100 (Baseball Prospectus does 101), but after around 50 there's nothing close to a consensus. It's a muddled mess of disagreement. There were 147 players mentioned between the five top 100 (or 101) lists and once you get north of a certain handful of can't-miss prospects, the rankings are all over the place. Even in the top 60 below, you've got someone like Wily Peralta from the Brewers' system. He was ranked 39th by ESPN.com and 94th by Baseball Prospectus. Hak-Ju Lee of the Rays was ranked 12th, 20th, 44th, 46th and 67th, respectively, by the five outlets.

One thing they do agree upon? The top three prospects in baseball are Matt Moore, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. Of course, they don't agree on the order.

The five rankings sets we used:

- Baseball Prospectus (Kevin Goldstein)
- ESPN.com (Keith Law)
- MLB.com (Jonathan Mayo)
- Baseball America (staff vote)
- Scout.com on FoxSports.com (Frankie Piliere)

So here are the consensus top 60 prospects in baseball, according to these five published outlets. Notes of other things that might interest will follow the chart.

Prospect Position Organization Average rank
Best rank
Worst rank
1. Matt Moore
LHP Rays 1.6 1 3
2. Bryce Harper
OF Nationals 2 1 3
3. Mike Trout
OF Angels 2.4 1 3
4. Jurickson Profar
SS Rangers 6.4 4 7
5. Shelby Miller
RHP Cardinals 6.8 5 10
6. Julio Teheran
RHP Braves 7.2 4 18
7. Manny Machado
SS Orioles 7.4 4 11
8. Jesus Montero
C Mariners 7.8 5 12
9. Gerrit Cole
RHP Pirates 10.4 9 12
10. Dylan Bundy
RHP Orioles 13.4 6 30
11. Jameson Taillon
RHP Pirates 13.6 8 16
12. Devin Mesoraco
C Reds 15 8 25
13. Trevor Bauer
RHP Diamondbacks 17.2 9 21
14. Jacob Turner
RHP Tigers 18.4 11 29
15. Wil Myers
OF Royals 19.2 13 28
16. Manny Banuelos
LHP Yankees 20.8 9 30
17. Miguel Sano
3B Twins 21 12 28
18. Travis d'Arnaud
C Blue Jays 21.4 6 43
19. Tyler Skaggs
LHP Diamondbacks 21.4 13 26
20. Danny Hultzen
LHP Mariners 23.2 13 36
21. Bubba Starling
OF Royals 25 15 41
22. Nolan Arenado
3B Rockies 25.8 18 42
23. Carlos Martinez
RHP Cardinals 26 19 32
24. Archie Bradley
RHP Diamondbacks 28 19 38
25. Anthony Rendon
3B Nationals 29.2 17 56
26. Drew Pomeranz
LHP Rockies 29.6 14 45
27. Taijuan Walker
RHP Mariners 30.6 14 77
28. Jarrod Parker
RHP A's 31.6 23 52
29. Zack Wheeler
RHP Mets 34.8 27 53
30. Arodys Vizcaino
RHP Braves 35 14 64
31. Francisco Lindor
SS Indians 36.2 17 60
32. Hak-Ju Lee
SS Rays 37.8 12 67
33. Matt Harvey RHP Mets 41.6 26 54
34. Martin Perez
LHP Rangers 44.4 20 UR
35. Michael Choice
OF A's 45 16 80
36. Gary Brown
OF Giants 45.8 18 68
37. Christian Yelich
OF Marlins 46.6 34 75
38. Brett Jackson
OF Cubs 46.8 32 89
39. Jonathan Singleton
1B Astros 47.6 34 75
40. Billy Hamilton
SS Reds 47.8 23 70
41. Mike Montgomery
LHP Royals 48.6 23 UR
42. Jean Segura
SS Angels 49 22 69
43. Anthony Rizzo
1B Cubs 49 36 77
44. Jake Marisnick OF Blue Jays 50 29 67
45. Jarred Cosart
RHP Astros 52.8 25 78
46. Mike Olt
3B Rangers 54 43 75
47. Anthony Gose
OF Blue Jays 54 39 70
48. Xander Bogaerts
SS Red Sox 54.2 33 76
49. Nick Castellanos
3B Tigers 55 37 73
50. Zach Lee RHP Dodgers 55.8 41 72
51. Dellin Betances
RHP Yankees 56 28 83
52. Gary Sanchez
C Yankees 56.2 42 81
53. Wily Peralta
RHP Brewers 56.8 39 94
54. Randall Delgado RHP Braves 56.8 42 98
55. George Springer
OF Astros 57.4 33 84
56. Jake Odorizzi
RHP Royals 57.8 47 71
57. Oscar Taveras
OF Cardinals 58.2 24 UR
58. Rymer Liriano
OF Padres 60.6 40 100
59. James Paxton
LHP Mariners 62.4 51 77
60. A.J. Cole
RHP A's 63.2 33 88

• If a player went unranked by any outlet, he received a value of 105 in the calculated average. More than one of those would easily be enough to knock a guy from the ranks, so everyone above with a "UR" next to his name in the "worst rank" category above was ranked by four of the five outlets.

• Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish was ranked fourth by Baseball America and ignored by all other outlets. I've got to believe the four outlets that didn't rank the Japanese phenom don't consider him a prospect. Which is weird, because most define "prospect" as someone who still has "rookie" eligibility. Darvish still does, but they have the right to rank whomever they wish.

Athletics' outfielder Yoenis Cespedes was ranked 20th by Goldstein and 14th by Baseball America while the other three outlets declined to rank him. My response to this would be similar to that of Darvish.

• Goldstein mentioned that he'd rank Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler 39th, so I actually plugged him in and bumped everyone else down one spot. After all, I fully expect Soler to be signed sometime this season. Still, Soler didn't make the top 60 above because no one else ranked him.

Nick Franklin (SS, Mariners) would have easily made the top 60 here, but Goldstein left him unranked.

Will Middlebrooks (3B, Red Sox) would have easily made the top 60 here, but Law left him unranked.

• The following players were ranked somewhere by all five outlets but didn't make the cut for the average top 60, listed in order of best average ranking: Yasmani Grandal (C, Padres), Casey Kelly (RHP, Padres), Trevor May (RHP, Phillies), Yonder Alonso (1B, Padres), Sonny Gray (RHP, A's), Starling Marte (OF, Pirates), Josh Bell (OF, Pirates), Javier Baez (SS, Cubs), Mason Williams (OF, Yankees), Jedd Gyorko (3B, Padres) and Addison Reed (RHP, White Sox).

• For the complete lists of each, please note I linked to them in the introduction above. Just click on it and go (of course, ESPN.com and Baseball Prospectus are pay sites, so you can't see those for free). Those guys all focus on scouting throughout the year as their primary job, so they know more than you and I on this front.

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Posted on: March 1, 2012 10:33 pm
 

Spring primer: Miami Marlins



By Matt Snyder


All of a sudden, in just one offseason, the Miami Marlins have undergone a complete makeover. They have a new name, logo and stadium. New, more colorful uniforms are part of the deal as well. Still, that's all window-dressing if the on-field product resembles the 72-90 one from 2011. And it doesn't. Not only did the Marlins bring in three highly-coveted and high-priced free agents, but they traded for fiery Carlos Zambrano and brought in one of the most outspoken -- and, at times, effective -- managers in baseball. How Ozzie Guillen's new-look troops fare in the 2012 season remains to be seen, but two things are certain: More people will be in attendance to find out and it's not going to be boring.

Major additions: SS Jose Reyes, LHP Mark Buehrle, RHP Carlos Zambrano, RHP Heath Bell, LHP Wade LeBlanc
Major departures: RHP Javier Vazquez, C John Baker, RHP Burke Badenhop, RHP Chris Volstad

Probable lineup
1. Jose Reyes, SS
2. Emilio Bonifacio, CF
3. Hanley Ramirez, 3B
4. Giancarlo Stanton, RF (a.k.a. Mike Stanton)
5. Logan Morrison, LF
6. Gaby Sanchez, 1B
7. John Buck, C
8. Omar Infante, 2B

Probable rotation
1. Josh Johnson
2. Mark Buehrle
3. Anibal Sanchez
4. Ricky Nolasco
5. Carlos Zambrano

Wade LeBlanc is the injury replacement.

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Heath Bell
Set-up: Edward Mujica, Mike Dunn

Important bench players

C Brett Hayes, IF Greg Dobbs, OF Scott Cousins, OF Bryan Petersen

Prospect to watch
For this year, there really aren't many guys on the radar ready to jump in and immediately help. Third base prospect Matt Dominguez is in Triple-A, but he's now blocked by one of the team leaders in Hanley Ramirez. All the other highly-ranked Marlins prospects are in the lower-levels of the minors. So we'll go with Dominguez here for this reason: Should he have a big first three months in Triple-A while the Marlins are in the thick of the pennant race, he makes for good trade bait at the deadline. Maybe they could use him to upgrade the bridge to Heath Bell or even as part of a package to landing a really good center fielder.

Fantasy breakout: Logan Morrison
"Morrison's track record suggests both his walk rate and BABIP should rebound, and in fact, his .268 BABIP from a year ago looks like the result of some horrendously bad luck. He is a strong bet to improve on his OBP and, at worst, maintain the home run power he displayed in 2011. Add in some improvement and subtract out his minor league demotion and DL time from last season, and Morrison suddenly profiles as a No. 3 mixed league OF." - Al Melchior [Full Marlins team fantasy preview]

Fantasy bounce-back: Hanley Ramirez
"Ramirez had a miserable first half last season, and just when he started to get untracked, he suffered a shoulder injury that led to season-ending surgery. As the season progressed, Ramirez adjusted and started hitting more line drives and flyballs, and his batting average and power numbers rose accordingly. Even though his overall stats were pale compared to his norms, a good sign for Ramirez was that his home run per flyball rate was not much lower than usual." - Al Melchior [Full Marlins team fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
Everyone behaves, Ramirez and Johnson stay healthy and have big seasons while the youngsters (Stanton, Morrison) develop into stars. Especially now that there are two wild cards, the Marlins have a great shot at the playoffs with this group. And once you get there, anything can happen, so I'd say an optimistic outlook has them winning the third World Series in franchise history. If you look at the upside in the offense and rotation in particular, it's hard to argue against a best-case scenario being a championship. Then again ...

Pessimistic outlook
Utter disaster. The club doesn't respond to Guillen, Johnson injures his arm again, Zambrano melts down, Morrison quibbles with management over Twitter, Ramirez starts slow and demands a trade due to wanting to play shortstop again ... you get it. I can't think of another club with such high-peak and low-valley potential entering the 2012 season. This group of personalities could be the new Bronx Zoo champion or a catastrophic mix on the field that finishes last. Almost literally, anything could happen. As I said in the intro, it certainly won't be boring. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

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Posted on: March 1, 2012 9:30 pm
 

Injury roundup: Johan, Longoria and more



By Matt Snyder


Johan Santana's progress in spring training is going to continue to be a huge storyline because he was once the best pitcher in baseball and if he's able to return to form, the Mets will enter the season with a huge boost in psyche. Thursday, he took another big step forward. The left-handed ace faced hitters for the first time since September.

“I felt pretty good,” Santana said (Associated Press). “I was able to throw for the first time having hitters standing up at the plate and swinging the bat. It was pretty good.

“I was told I was going to be challenged from those guys and I had to step up and do my thing. I was able to come in and throw my fastballs inside and see how they react and to be able to throw my changeup. Overall, it was good.” (AP)

Santana will next start against the Cardinals in a split-squad game Tuesday. He's scheduled to throw either two innings or 40 pitches, whatever he hits first.

Other minor injury news and updates -- major news like back surgery would be covered in its own post -- from Thursday in spring training:

• Star Rays third baseman Evan Longoria was hit in the hand with a pitch during an intrasquad game. That's scary, because hand bones are routinely broken when hitters are struck with a pitched ball in baseball. Longoria and the Rays dodged a bullet, though, as X-rays were negative and it's merely a bruise. Longoria is listed as day-to-day. (TampaBay.com)

Marlins ace Josh Johnson missed the majority of last season with shoulder issues. He threw 37 pitches in a bullpen session Thursday and reports that he feels "good" and is "tired of the screen in front of" him. He'll get his chance to throw without the L-screen Monday, when he starts Miami's spring opener against the Cardinals. (Fish Tank blog)

Brewers starting pitcher Shaun Marcum has some "tenderness" in his right (throwing) shoulder and will back off his throwing program a bit. Worry not, though, the Brewers say because Marcum was already going to dial it back this spring after having such a big workload last season -- only two years removed from Tommy John surgery.

"We don't need throw 20 innings in Spring Training," Marcum said (MLB.com). "That's pointless. Spring Training is so long for everybody, by the end of it you're wasting pitches and wasting time."

Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche was kept out of workouts Thursday with a mild left ankle sprain, but it sounds like a precautionary measure.

"I don't want to flare it up any more than it is," said LaRoche (MASNSports.com). "There's no point right now risking dragging this thing out for another week if we can knock it out in a couple days. I would rather get some throwing in, get some swings and just try to stay off of it as far as running."

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Posted on: March 1, 2012 5:30 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 5:31 pm
 

Braun's attorney responds to sample collector

By Matt Snyder

Since the sample collector released a statement Wednesday about the decision that Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun won't face suspension for his positive drug test, it was only a matter of time before the Braun camp replied.

Braun wins appeal
And it has. Here is a statement released by Braun's attorney, David Cornwell:

“Ryan Braun presented a winning defense in the forum that counted. The landmark decision in Ryan's favor was based on the evidence and the plain meaning of the words in baseball’s Joint Drug Program. The collector’s attempt to re-litigate his conduct is inappropriate, and his efforts will only be persuasive to those who do not understand the evidence or the rules. Ryan Braun was properly vindicated. Both Major League Baseball and Major League Baseball Players Association should be applauded because their Joint Program worked.”

Now that everyone has said his piece, hopefully it's time to get past everything and start looking forward to the 2012 season. Braun won his appeal, he won't be suspended and that's final.

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Posted on: March 1, 2012 5:13 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 5:40 pm
 

Yankees aim to get payroll under $189M by '14



By Matt Snyder


The New York Yankees are going to be doing a little tightening of the belt. Thursday, managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner told reporters that the "goal" is to have the payroll below $189 million before the 2014 season. That's not an arbitrary placement or year and monetary figure, either, as baseball's new collective bargaining agreement has set the luxury tax threshold at $189 million and it goes into effect starting in 2014. Also, goal may not be the correct word here.

"I'm looking at it as a goal, but my goals are normally considered requirements," Steinbrenner said (Associated Press). "Is it a requirement with baseball that we be at 189? No, it's not a requirement. But that is going to be the luxury-tax threshold, and that's where I want to be."

The Yankees were hit with a $13.9 million luxury tax last season.

The Yankees are heading for opening day with a payroll of around $210 million this season, according to Steinbrenner. Here's what the opening day payrolls have looked like since 2004, the last time the Yankees weren't over $189 million, via Baseball Prospectus' Cot's Contracts:

2004: $184,193,950
2005: $208,306,817
2006: $194,663,079
2007: $189,639,045
2008: $209,081,577
2009: $201,449,189
2010: $213,359,389
2011: $207,047,964

Steinbrenner sounds like he wants to -- at least mildly -- shift focus, too.

"I'm a finance geek. I guess I always have been. That's my background," he said (MLB.com). "Budgets matter, and balance sheets matter. I just feel that if you do well on the player development side and you have a good farm system, you don't need a $220 million payroll. You don't. You can field every bit as good a team with young talent."

It's going to be interesting to see how they squeeze down under the threshold, because Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez are due to make over $70 million combined in 2014. Derek Jeter has an $8 million player option, too. You also have to assume Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson are going to command huge paydays (both have club options in 2013 but are free agents after that). Brett Gardner and David Robertson will be in their final year of arbitration while Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda are also still under club control. Otherwise, the roster will have to be filled out from the farm system, trades or free agency.

The Yankees do have some promising young prospects like pitchers Dellin Betances and Manuel Banuelos.

"We'll see how these young kids perform towards the end of this year and into next year," Steinbrenner said (AP). "The young kids are going to play a big part of being able to lower this payroll. I am going to need some of these young pitchers to step up."

Still, the bottom line is we might be seeing a lot more offseasons like this one -- where the Yankees take a backseat on the huge free agent signings.

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Posted on: March 1, 2012 4:02 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 4:41 pm
 

Sizemore has surgery, out 8-12 weeks

By Matt Snyder

Just last week, it was revealed that oft-injured Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore had been shut down due to a lower-back injury. Unforunately the news got worse Thursday. The Indians have announced that he underwent a micro discectomy Thursday morning. The procedure was done by Dr. Barth Green in Miami. The timetable for recovery is eight to 12 weeks.

[Knobler: More bad news for Tribe]

For Sizemore, 29, it's just more of the same. He once appeared on the verge of superstardom, but hasn't been able to stay healthy.

From 2005-2008, he averaged 160 games played per season. Since then, he's only played in 210 total (an average of 70 per season). His performance has suffered when he's been on the field, too, as Sizemore's OPS from 2009-11 was .728. From 2005-08, it was .868.

Sizemore hit free agency this past offseason, but the Indians brought him back on a one-year, $5 million deal that could have grown to $9 million if he hit a certain number of plate appearances. That's going to be really tough now, as eight weeks from right now is April 26. Even if he's ready to go by then, he'd need a minor-league rehab assignment before being able to join the Indians. And if there are any setbacks, we're looking at a June return.

With Sizemore out of the lineup, the Indians can slide Michael Brantley to center and go with Shelley Duncan, Aaron Cunningham or even Matt LaPorta in left field.

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Posted on: March 1, 2012 2:52 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 2:53 pm
 

Molina extension official, contains option year

By Matt Snyder

The Cardinals officially announced the five-year, $75 million contract extension for catcher Yadier Molina Thursday afternoon. We reported the dollar amount Wednesday morning on CBSSports.com, but didn't yet know that the contract also contained an option year.

CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman is now reporting that there is a mutual option for a sixth season worth another $15 million. With it being mutual, obviously both sides have to agree for it to be exercised. So it's possible this contract is worth $90 million to Molina. The Cardinals have also included a full no-trade clause in the contract for Molina.

"This is a great day for the Cardinals," said owner Bill DeWitt (via Heyman). "When we have a franchise-type player, we always try (to re-sign him)."

The contract won't take effect until the 2013 season, since Molina had a one-year option picked up for the 2012 season. That means the 29-year-old veteran is under contract through the 2017 season and could be locked up through the 2018 season if the option is exercised. It's a safe bet to consider him a lifelong Cardinal.

Molina hit .305/.349/.465 with 14 homers, 65 RBI and 55 runs last season for the Cardinals. He also won his fourth straight Gold Glove and his second World Series championship. Yadier, the youngest of three major-league Molina brothers, was integral to the offense in the playoffs, too, hitting .333 in both the NLCS and World Series with a whopping nine RBI in the World Series.

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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