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Tag:NL West
Posted on: February 19, 2012 11:46 am
Edited on: February 19, 2012 12:37 pm
 

Mike Cameron retires from baseball

By Matt Snyder

Exactly two months after signing a minor-league deal with the Washington Nationals, Mike Cameron has decided to call it a career, according to the club.

Cameron appeared to be a possibility as a center-field platoon partner with either Roger Bernadina or Rick Ankiel -- both of whom are left-handed -- but now the Nats are without a righty option. Of course, if Bryce Harper makes the team out of spring, the plan is to play Jayson Werth in center every day.

Cameron, 39, closes with a good career resume. In 17 seasons, he hit .249/.338/.444 with 278 home runs, 968 RBI, 1,064 runs and 297 stolen bases. He won three Gold Gloves, made one All-Star Game and received MVP votes two times. He has a shot at getting on the Hall of Fame ballot (Bill Mueller and Tony Womack were on this year's, for example), but no shot of getting in.

He never spent more than four years with the same ballclub, playing for eight different franchises: The Mariners, White Sox, Mets, Red Sox, Padres, Brewers, Reds and Marlins. Amazingly, as you can see, he played in every single division.

He was also involved in two pretty big transactions as part of trades in exchange for both Ken Griffey Jr. and Paul Konerko.

The highlight of Cameron's career had to be on May 2, 2002, when he hit four home runs in one game -- becoming the 13th player in big-league history to accomplish the feat.

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Posted on: February 18, 2012 1:33 pm
 

Spring Training: A time for optimism



By Matt Snyder


Come Monday, just two days from now, every single team will have pitchers and catchers in big-league camp. Ten clubs -- Orioles, Twins, Phillies, Pirates, Cardinals, Angels, Cubs, Reds, A's and Giants -- have their pitchers and catchers report Sunday.

Soak it in, fans. The far-too-long wait is over. No more do we have to yearn for the season while chasing Yu Darvish or Yoenis Cespedes or Prince Fielder rumors. Instead, the actual season is closer than the horizon.

When spring training opens for baseball teams, it's the fan version of New Year's Day. Feel free to make baseball fan versions of resolutions, and don't you dare let anyone tell you it's not possible. After all, what would opposing fans have said to a Diamondbacks fan last year at this time if he dared to have the audacity to predict an NL West title?

It's the time for optimism, no matter which team you love. So let's fan the flames. Here's an optimistic -- overly optimistic in some cases -- one-liner on every team that fans of said team can eat up with a spoon. And don't forget to bookmark our spring training landing page while we're at it.

This is the year for the (insert team) because ...

Diamondbacks: Last year was just the beginning. This is a young nucleus just beginning to come into its own. The sky is the limit. 

Braves: Jason Heyward will come into form, giving a gigantic offensive boost and the Kimbrel-Venters duo in the bullpen won't wear down this time around. And the starting pitching depth and talent is insane.

Cubs: There's new management, a new attitude, a new culture and the locker room is finally freed from the Carlos Zambrano albatross.

Orioles: They have pitching depth and catcher Matt Wieters is poised for a huge breakout season to spur the sneaky-talented offense.

White Sox: Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Jake Peavy will all have huge bounce-back seasons while Matt Thornton finally settles in as closer.

Red Sox: Last September was a fluke, but also a wakeup call. And Daniel Bard proves a solid starting pitcher, as opposed to the man he's replacing (John Lackey).

Reds: No Pujols, no Prince, no Braun (for 50 games)? No problem in the Central for the Reds, who have a pair of aces -- Mat Latos and Johnny Cueto -- with a solid, young offense and good defense.

Tigers: Prince. Cabrera. Verlander. Enough said.

Indians: Ubaldo Jimenez returns to ace form, just as Grady Sizemore plays like he did five years ago. Shin-Soo Choo gets back to his old ways while the youngsters (Jason Kipnis, Lonnie Chisenhall, etc.) come into their own.

Marlins: They had the best offseason of any NL club, so why not the best regular season?

Rockies: Michael Cuddyer and Marco Scutaro moving to Coors Field will be huge, just as the continued growth of Dexter Fowler will be. And Ramon Hernandez working with that young pitching staff -- bolstered by the great Ubaldo trade, which landed Alex White and Drew Pomeranz -- is even better.

Astros: It's the last year in the National League, so they have a going away present -- courtesy of their new owner and GM. And they're keeping the name Astros!

Royals: No need to wait until 2013. The young lineup (Alex Gordon, Johnny Giavotella, Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, Lorenzo Cain, etc.) is ready to take over the AL Central while starter Jonathan Sanchez thrives with his change of scenery.

Twins: Injury-free this season and they're home-free. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau party like it's 2009.

Angels: Albert Pujols makes the offense as dangerous as any, and who wants to face that playoff rotation (Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson, Ervin Santana) in October?

Mets: Ike Davis and Johan Santana return healthy while the likes of Jason Bay and David Wright thrive with the new dimensions of Citi Field.

Dodgers: There are plenty of supporting pieces (Dee Gordon, Andre Ethier, James Loney, Ted Lilly, Aaron Harang, etc.) to superstars Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw and a studly 1-2 punch at the back-end of the bullpen in Kenley Jansen and Javy Guerra.

Yankees: Enough talk. Time for No. 28.

Brewers: Ryan Braun's appeal will be upheld and the club won't miss a beat without Prince Fielder chasing the dollars, as Aramis Ramirez and Mat Gamel step up.

Phillies: One fluky playoff series doesn't change the fact that the Phillies were the best team last season. This year they don't fall short.

Athletics: Billy Beane's makeover pays off early, as the likes of Brad Peacock, Tom Milone and Jarrod Parker thrive while Yoenis Cespedes does his Bo Jackson impression all summer, jumpstarting the formerly stagnant offense.

Pirates: The division is much weaker and the Pirates are ready to strike, with A.J. Burnett's change of scenery and Erik Bedard's health. The young offense is as exciting as ever, too, with Jose Tabata and Alex Presley setting up for Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker.

Padres: Carlos Quentin and Yonder Alonso bring punch to a once-punchless offense while the pitching staff enjoys the fruits of Petco Park.

Cardinals: Albert who? The Cardinals are bigger than one man. The offense will be just fine with Carlos Beltran, Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday in the middle while the pitching staff gets back Adam Wainwright (ever heard of him?).

Giants: Buster Posey is back, Brandon Belt is ready and the outfield has a new Melky Cabrera/Angel Pagan combo -- all of which boost the offense. And you know the pitching is fine. Two titles in three years?

Rays: Compare last year's roster to this year's. The latter is much better already, so they won't need a miracle comeback in September.

Mariners: They finally have some offense, with young Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero leading the way.

Blue Jays: The bullpen is fixed -- you know, the one that allowed 25 blown saves last year on an 81-81 team.

Rangers: Third time is the charm. Yuuuuuuuuu!

Nationals: You think anyone wants to face Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez in a three-game series? Plus, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman are due huge bounce-backs and we're about to see the debut of Bryce Harper.

So run with these and expand upon them, fans of every team. If someone tells you otherwise, who cares? Again, no one other than D-Backs fans -- and maybe not even them -- saw Arizona coming last year. Every season has examples like that. As far as baseball fans are concerned, it's the first day of spring. Anything is possible, so bring the optimism.

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Posted on: February 17, 2012 9:13 pm
 

NFL lineman helped Matt Kemp get in top shape



By C. Trent Rosecrans


With pitchers and catchers reporting this weekend, there will be a slew of reports about players coming into camp in great shape -- either having lost weight or put on muscle. The only thing we'll see more of than these reports people on Twitter and on blogs mocking those reports thinking they're making an original point about these kind of stories by making tired jokes.

One of these stories came over the Associated Press wire on Thursday, as the AP talked to Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp about his offseason training. Kemp attributed much of his success last season to his offseason workouts at Zone Athletic Performance in Scottsdale, Ariz. Kemp dropped 15 pounds before going to camp last year and went on to an MVP-type season. What caused an editor to send me a link to the article was the hook that Zone is owned by an NFL player, who worked out alongside Kemp. What caught my eye was that NFL player was Eagles guard Evan Mathis.

Mathis isn't exactly a household name, despite the fact that ProFootballFocus.com ranked him the No. 1 guard in the NFL last season. But I covered Mathis both in college at Alabama and in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals and got to know him a little bit. So, with that as a starting point, I emailed Mathis about working with Kemp and he agreed to answer a couple of questions about his work with Kemp, as well as with the Dodgers' Dee Gordon and Darnell McDonald of the Red Sox.

Any doubt Mathis knows what he's talking about? Check out this photo of what he did during the NFL lockout:

Evan Mathis

Q: How'd you hook up with Matt Kemp?
A: We met six or seven years ago at a now-defunct training facility.

Q: Do you follow baseball at all, did you know much about him?
A: When we first met, he hadn't been in the majors yet.

Q: So after working with Matt last offseason, how closely did you follow him last year?
A: He was pretty much Zone Athletic Performance's first professional athlete client. As soon as we opened he was in there training preparing for his 2011 season. I definitely followed him throughout the season watching his hard work and dedication pay off.

Q: I'm sure you were happy with his success, but where you surprised?
A: Not at all.  The two trainers at Zone who handle our professional athletes, Garrett Shinoskie and Adam Mathis, have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to bringing the best out of an athlete. When you combine that with a player who has the drive and determination that Matt has, it's destined for success.

Q: What's the difference between working with baseball players and working with football players?
A: I'm not the one writing the programs but it is definitely different. But so is training an offensive lineman and a safety. Everybody has different strengths, weakness, goals, and requirements.  All of that goes into the formula for devising anyone's most efficient workout program.

Q: Are there any similarities?
A: Indeed there are some similarities. Most baseball and football players can benefit greatly from developing explosion through their hips.

Q: You mention the hips, that seems to make sense -- it's something you hear from all coaches. Hips seem to be an underrated part of the body to work on, but it makes sense because it's close to your center of gravity and controls everything in both the top and bottom half of the body. What kind of specific things do you do to strengthen that part of the body?
A: In baseball it's more about rotating the hips. A player can make an explosive rotation and put their strength behind the swing. For myself in football, when I hit a defender I explode through my hips and lift their center of gravity on contact. Some simple hip exercises include the medicine ball keg toss, kettle bell swing, step-ups, and the list goes on. The most important aspect of training for hip explosion is maintaining ones flexibility. At Zone, the trainers use the first ten minutes of each workout to do stretches and warm-ups to ensure maximum flexibility.

Q: Not giving away any secrets, but what's a typical workout like for an elite-level pro athlete? What about the diet?
A: Off-season training at Zone usually consists of 6 day weeks, each workout an hour long.  The average schedule is like this: Monday = arms, Tuesday = legs, Wednesday = core/conditioning, Thursday = torso, Friday = power, Saturday = core/conditioning. Each day has different dietary guidelines based on that day's workload.

Q: What's the most important thing you teach at Zone?
A: In a close second to the training is the diet.  Most athletes have no idea how to follow efficient nutritional guidelines. An athlete has to treat their body like a machine and put the best fuels into that machine that will maximize its production. I still have Garrett write out my diet because I'm not the expert in that field and he is.

Q: What kind of diet tip do you have for anyone out there?
A: The biggest thing for me was understanding the importance of carbohydrates. When used the right way, they can feed your muscles to maximum growth and help you maintain a high metabolism. My diet is a carb cycling diet. Based on the intensity of each day's training I will have either a high, medium, or low intake of carbs for that day. A lot of people try the low or no carb diets but that's like trying to drive a car with no gasoline. Your body needs its carbs. Getting into the details of the carb cycle would turn this response into an essay. There are numerous articles on the web about it and the trainers at Zone are actually working on an eBook guide as we speak.

Q: Any workout tips?
A: Change your routine every three-to-four weeks, don't stick to the same lifts for long periods of time. Every three weeks at Zone we have a completely new set of workouts. This aids in injury prevention, avoids training plateaus, and ensures that all muscle groups are getting their necessary attention.

Q: Often when a player starts camp and says they're "in the best shape of their life" people kind of roll their eyes and make a joke out of it. Does it matter or is it just talk?
A: Being in the best shape of your life definitely does matter for an athlete. There are two problems when it comes to an athlete saying that. The first is whether or not it's true when they say it. The second is, while it may be true, some guys won't work to maintain it throughout the season. Kemp stayed in constant contact with the trainers at Zone making sure he was doing everything he could to carry over all of the hard work he did throughout the season. I said I was in the best shape of my life going into last season and it definitely showed on the field.  I had a great year and it gave me a great starting point for this off-season to get in even better shape for 2012.


Q: Are you a baseball fan at all? Do you have any baseball background?
A: Growing up I was always a baseball fan. I was an avid card collector, a huge Frank Thomas fan, and I played a little baseball from ages 12-17. I still dabble in card collecting and can tell you almost any player's rookie year from 1986-2003. I tell Matt Kemp every day I see him that we need to go to the field so I can show him how to crush a ball. He thinks that it would be easier for him to crossover to football than it would be for me to go to baseball. I'm confident that I would crush a few bombs in BP if given the chance.

Check out the attached picture of a tweet between myself and Frank Thomas. I have to make something like this happen one day.


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Posted on: February 17, 2012 7:44 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 7:46 pm
 

Tony Gwynn talking, laughing after surgery

Tony Gwynn

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Great news from San Diego -- Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn not only is feeling well after his surgery to remove a malignant tumor from his right cheek, but he's also talking and laughing.

From Bill Center of the San Diego Uniton-Tribune:
"When I woke up and saw the clock, I just blurted out 'I made it,' " the Hall of Fame outfielder said Friday morning in an interview with U-T San Diego in his room at UC San Diego's Thornton Hospital.

"As soon as I realized that I heard myself, I knew I could talk. We’re so far ahead of where we were last time."
Gwynn said he didn't have a good feeling going into the surgery, but came out feeling even better than he did in his first surgery, 18 months ago. In the first, doctors didn't take out a nerve in his cheek for fear that it would paralyze that side of his face. On Tuesday, in part of a 14-hour surgery, doctors removed the nerve and replaced it with one from his neck and shoulder.

According to Gwynn, doctors have told him it will be 18 months before the nerve totally regenerates. The head coach at San Diego State, Gwynn said he hopes to return to the field in about a month and also return to his duties as an analyst for the Padres' broadcasts.

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Posted on: February 16, 2012 3:47 pm
 

Rockies won't limit Nicasio in spring training

Juan Nicasio

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Want a feel-good story? How about Juan Nicasio?

The Rockies' right-hander suffered a broken neck last August when he was hit by an Ian Desmond liner. Not only is Nicasio in camp with the Rockies, he's in line for a spot in the team's rotation.

"I am one of those people that didn't think we would be talking about him on Feb. 16 on how he has a very, very good chance to be a member of our rotation. But that's where we are at," Rockies manager Jim Tracy told Troy Renck of the Denver Post. "He's coming into camp with the mindset that he's making the team."

Tracy said Nicasio will have no limitations this spring and will even participate in the team's "ragball drills" where pitchers are graded on their ability to field comebackers.

As a rookie in 2012, Nicasio was 4-4 with a 4.14 ERA in 13 starts, dominating at Coors Field where he was 4-1 with a 1.98 ERA in seven starts (and 0-3 with a 7.04 ERA in six starts away from Coors).

The Rockies are set at the top of their rotation with Jeremy Guthrie and Jhoulys Chacin, but after that, the final three rotation spots are up for grabs. As Matt Snyder pointed out last week, there's plenty of candidates, with few answers. Among those gunning for a spot in the rotation in addition to Nicasio are Alex White, Drew Pomeranz, Guillermo Moscoso, Tyler Chatwood, Josh Outman and Jamie Moyer.

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Posted on: February 15, 2012 2:34 pm
Edited on: February 15, 2012 3:17 pm
 

Nine ways to improve Major League Baseball

By Matt Snyder

We're just a few days until all 30 teams will have had pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Just like any true baseball fan, I'm giddy with excitement.

Just like with anything, the major-league level sport could use some improvements. While MLB was tied with college football for the second-most popular sport in a Harris Interactive poll, the demographics show that baseball is in danger of drastically losing popularity, as the study showed most baseball fans are older than 50. Now, obviously that gives a solid 20-year window before doomsday really hits, but baseball still needs to be cognizant that growing the younger audience is key for long-term growth.

That means baseball needs to be a little more Blackberry/iPhone and a little less rotary phone. Remember, not all change is bad. At one point in time, it was a home run when the ball bounced over the fence. I wonder what the "purists" thought when they changed it to a ground-rule double? If you wanna call me names and claim I'm not a purist, below you'll find several targets. But make no mistake about it, I'm trying to find ways to make the game more exciting for the next generation. In this century, things move faster and people have less time to pay attention. Adapt or die, as "Billy Beane" said in "Moneyball."

So here are nine things I'd change about baseball in order to make it better suited for the next generation. Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments section and make this an interactive discussion.

1. Put in a pitch clock. I'm dead serious -- put it up like basketball has a shot clock. Not only is it, you know, a freaking rule that pitchers have to throw a pitch within 12 seconds of getting the ball, but this would add some drama for many younger fans. The best reason, obviously, is that the umpires would actually be forced to enforce the rule that they so often just ignore. The rulebook (Rule 8.04) states "The 12-second timing starts when the pitcher is in possession of the ball and the batter is in the box, alert to the pitcher. The timing stops when the pitcher releases the ball."

Has anyone ever watched Josh Beckett (pictured right, surely finding a way to avoid throwing a pitch within the first 20 seconds he has the baseball) pitch? I bet he's had outings where he never once threw a pitch within 12 seconds. It makes me feel like I'm watching Steve Traschel all over again ... well, except that Beckett's actually good. I'm not blaming Beckett. The umpires let him do it and he's not alone at all (Vicente Padilla also comes to mind). Just using him as an example.

2. Get someone with some common sense to rework the blackout rules. I've covered this before, so just click through and see how amazingly stupid it is. Bud Selig needs to hire someone to do something about it. Hell, I'll throw my hat in the ring and volunteer.

3. More Saturday day games. Sunday is fine, because everyone plays a day game with the exception of the ESPN Sunday Night Game. And I understand weekday games needing to be at night. But on Saturday, we usually get about three afternoon games and the rest are at night. This is the best time for families to get their kids to the game and many families don't like to have their kids out at the ballpark late Saturday night for many reasons. Why not just start the Saturday games at 1:00 p.m. local time? Especially when school is in session. I also wouldn't mind seeing Game 3 of the World Series falling on a Saturday afternoon. It's not like Saturday night is prime for TV ratings.

4. Expand replay to everything but balls and strikes. Why does someone like Ron Kulpa or Jim Joyce have to be burdened with an honest missed call for the rest of his life? The Joe Wests of the world are in the minority here, as most of the umpires are honest, hard-working guys who just want to get the call right. As the fast motion and without the benefit of multiple camera angles, calls are going to get missed. The insane thing is we have the technology to show they were wrong within seconds, yet don't allow the umpires to use it. Why not just have a centralized review office at the MLB headquarters where one replay official watches every game? You don't need to give the managers challenges or have the entire umpiring crew go underneath the stadium for 15 minutes. Let's just use some common sense and start getting every call correct. It's very possible.

5. Make the DH universal. I've written about this before and the reasons are very simple. First of all, it's insane that a professional sports organization has a different set of rules for two leagues, especially when the leagues play each other during the regular season and decide a champion by facing each other in the World Series. So you either have to take the DH away from the AL or add it to the NL.

And here's where the purists freak out and start calling me names, since I say add it to the NL. I wouldn't be averse to taking it away from the AL, just as long as the same rules are applied to both leagues. But adding to NL makes more sense here. The first reason is that the players union would obviously never allow the DH to go away, as it would cost jobs to veteran players. The second reason is it's better for offense, and we're trying to get kids to watch the games, remember? Plus, pitchers suck at hitting. We're supposed to be watching pro athletes at their best ... also realize teams don't have to use a DH. So if the Marlins want to bat Carlos Zambrano, for example, more power to them. Just don't come with this "baseball is meant to be played both in the field and at bat" junk. Pitching is a specialization. You don't make a quarterback play defense in football anymore.

6. Out with penny-pinching owners. Among the many complaints I'm waiting on in the comments section is that I didn't mention a salary cap. Here's the deal: With baseball's system, players are under team control for six years. That's a lot longer than other sport. And with the revenue sharing system, many small-market clubs are making hefty profits. Take 2010 (Forbes.com hasn't released the 2011 numbers yet). Did you know three teams lost money that season? The Red Sox, Mets and Tigers. Large markets. Guess who had the highest operating income? The Padres, who made almost $40 million. And after the season they traded superstar first baseman Adrian Gonzalez for prospects because they couldn't "afford" to sign him long term.

The problem with the difference in payrolls is mostly on these tight-fisted owners from the old boys club of owners. Just over a week ago, Joe Sheehan of SI.com wrote an excellent article about how owners like the Royals' David Glass, Athletics' Lew Wolff, Pirates' Robert Nutting and Blue Jays' Rogers Corporation are pocketing millions upon millions while crying that they can't afford high-priced talent (though I'd probably cut the Jays out there, to be fair).

The money is there, so it should be spent on improving the on-field product, not the bottom line of a billionaire. The fans of these teams and others deserve better. There should be more George Steinbrenners -- who would rather lose money while the team wins than vice versa -- not less.

7. Shorten spring training. The always-entertaining Brandon McCarthy, A's starting pitcher, wrote the following about spring training last week for SI.com's Hot Clicks: "It's so, so, so LONG: It's six weeks of practice and pretend games. It just never seems to end. It's like our version of Oregon Trail. By the time camp ends, someone's died of Dysentery, there's a bunch of new kids that have been born, and your feet are killing you."

He's right. How many fake games do you need? Cut out two weeks and ...

8. Start/end the season earlier. The reasoning is two-pronged. The first prong is that baseball in cold weather isn't near as enjoyable as baseball in warm weather. With the World Series creeping up on November, there are just too many chances for weather issues during the most important games of the year (remember Game 5 of the Phillies-Rays series). If spring training was shortened, the season could begin the third week of March. Yes, weather is bad for the first several weeks of the season in many parts of the country, but the scheduling is easier then. There are enough warm-weather and retractable-roof teams to cover the first month. The games aren't nearly as important as the playoff games and in the playoffs you don't get to choose the venue (how about a Minnesota vs. Chicago World Series in the first week of November? Shivers everywhere). So you'd start the playoffs the third week of September and the World Series would be over in the middle of October. The second prong is you cut away time in competition with the NFL. Sorry, the NFL is a monster and there's no changing that in the near future, so don't compete with it anymore than necessary. Two less weeks of facing off against the NFL would be great for the sport of baseball.

9. Blackball Jose Canseco. Oh wait, I guess he claims that already happened. Whatever, just please go away, Jose. Take Lenny Dykstra with you. #4TRUTH. Yes, I realize this doesn't have to do with MLB, but I just can't stand these guys. The game is much better without having them around it.

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Posted on: February 9, 2012 12:57 pm
 

11 bidders for Dodgers revealed

By C. Trent Rosecrans

There are 11 groups that have advanced to the second round of bidding for the Dodgers, and the Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin has the entire list.

Here's Shaikin's list, taken from his story, with his notes on the bidders:
Magic Johnson/Stan Kasten: Could soon be joined by richest man in L.A., Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong.

Rick Caruso/Joe Torre: Not out of the running in the Soon-Shiong sweepstakes.

Steven Cohen/Arn Tellem: Cohen about to invest $20 million in Mets, able to spend 75-100 times as much on Dodgers.

Stan Kroenke: Owner of NFL's St. Louis Rams could move L.A.'s football team back home.

Peter O'Malley: Former Dodgers owner backed by South Korean conglomerate E-Land.

Tony Ressler: Minority owner of Brewers has discussed partnership with O'Malley.

Leo Hindery/Tom Barrack: New York media executive has teamed with L.A. real estate investor and sportsman.

Stanley Gold/Disney family: That's the family of the late Roy Disney, Walt's nephew.

Jared Kushner: Publisher of New York Observer, son-in-law of Donald Trump.

Michael Heisley: Owner of NBA's Memphis Grizzlies hired Jerry West to run his team.

Alan Casden: USC Board of Trustees includes Dodgers bidders Casden, Caruso, Gold.
Shainkin writes that late bidders could still enter the field, but it appears to be set among this 11. Heisley, the owner of the Memphis Grizzlies also bid on the Cubs and the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL. The 75-year-old Chicago resident has said he'd be willing to sell the Grizzlies to a Memphis-based owner, but nobody has taken him up on it.

Shaikin has been the authority on the entire McCourt story and has just done amazing work. If you have the least bit of interest in the Dodgers' bidding and McCourt mess, he's a must-follow on the internet and on Twitter (@BillShaikin). I'm in awe of the work he's done on this story, as he's been ahead of the curve every step of the way and done some amazing reporting on the dollars, cents and sense of the entire story.

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Posted on: February 8, 2012 6:27 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 6:53 pm
 

Minor signings: Branyan, Suppan find homes

By Matt Snyder

We're coming up on the start of spring training, so these last several days will see plenty of minor-league signings. Wednesday, veteran pitcher Jeff Suppan and veteran slugger Russell Branyan were signed. The Yankees inked Branyan to a minor-league deal while the Padres locked up Suppan with a minor-league deal of their own.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

Branyan, 36, will get $750,000 plus incentives if he makes the team, reports CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman, and could prove to be a pretty interesting signing for the Yankees. He's left-handed and has good power. He hit 31 homers in 116 games for the Mariners in 2009 and then hit 25 bombs in 428 plate appearances in 2010. Now, last season Branyan hit just .197/.295/.370 for the Diamondbacks and Angels. Still, with the short porch in right field and the Yankees having a possible need at DH (Andruw Jones is probably the best bet to get most DH at-bats right now), this has a shot at paying off. Then again, if the Yankees sign Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon or Raul Ibanez, Branyan's chances of making the club plummet.

Suppan, 37, will get $950,000 if he makes the Padres, per Heyman. Suppan spent the entire 2011 season in Triple-A, going 11-8 with a 4.78 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in 165 2/3 innings. He last pitched in the majors in 2010, where he split time between the Brewers and Cardinals. He hasn't really been a productive pitcher since 2006. The good news for the Padres is he's simply organizational depth. Tim Stauffer, Clayton Richard, Edinson Volquez, Cory Luebke and Dustin Moseley appear to be the rotation with Micah Owings next in line.

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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