Tag:AL West
Posted on: February 20, 2012 1:53 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 2:25 pm
 

Manny Ramirez to sign with A's

Manny Ramirez

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Manny Ramirez and the A's have agreed to a minor-league deal, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman reports. Ramirez will earn $500,000 with the big-league club, according to Heyman.

Ramirez, 39, will be suspended the first 50 games of the A's season, but will be able to take part in spring training. Ramirez missed all of last season after a positive drug test resulted in his second violation of Major League Baseball's drug policy. He had his 100-game suspension reduced to 50 after sitting out all of last season. He played in just five games for the Rays before his suspension.

He will not be paid during his suspension. The A's 51st game is June 2 at Kansas City.

Ramirez will be 40 on May 30.

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Posted on: February 20, 2012 8:06 am
Edited on: February 20, 2012 4:48 pm
 

Kinsler says he didn't see Hamilton drinking

By C. Trent Rosecrans

One of the most surprising things about the recent relapse by Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton was that he involved a teammate, Ian Kinsler, in his night of drinking.

On Sunday, Kinsler spoke publicly for the first time since Hamilton's Jan. 30 night out. He said he didn't see Hamilton drinking that night.

"Josh is taking care of it," Kinsler said, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "He's open and up-front about it, it's not really my place to talk about it. I know I was there for part of the night. I've kind of gotten over it. I'm focused on the season. I support Josh. I'm completely supportive of him. I think all of his teammates are and all the coaches are. We're going to be here for him and whatever he needs."

Kinsler said he's heard the rumors that he was drinking with Hamilton, but said he's not concerned about it.

"I was there. I know what happened," he said. "People can say what they think was happening or what they want to say about the situation. There were, seriously, eight people in that bar. I don't know how many people were focused on us. We weren't out in the middle of the bar."

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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 8:27 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 9:45 pm
 

Report: Uehara trade could lead to Oswalt signing

Roy Oswalt

By C. Trent Rosecrans


The Rangers' possible trade of reliever Koji Uehara may be enough to give the team enough salary relief to go ahead and sign free-agent right-hander Roy Oswalt, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

Oswalt had reportedly favored signing with the Rangers, but after shelling out big bucks for Yu Darvish, the Rangers didn't have enough left in their budget for what has been rumored to be his $10-million demand.

However, since Oswalt hasn't found a team that was on his wish list with enough money to meet his demands, he may have lessened those. Uehara is scheduled to make $4 million this season and has reportedly used his limited no-trade clause to nix two trades this offseason.

Wilson writes the Rangers may be looking for a utility infielder in return for Uehara, with the A's preferring to deal Adam Rosales rather than Eric Sogard.

Oswalt, 34, met with the Rangers last month and it is believed he told them he only wanted to start, not come out of the bullpen. He was 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA for the Phillies last season in 23 starts. He was twice put on the disabled list because of lower back problems.

The Rangers have said they wanted to move move Neftali Feliz in the rotation, but he -- or another starter -- could find themselves back in the bullpen if Oswalt signs. The team signed Joe Nathan this winter and he will close if Feliz starts.

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Posted on: February 17, 2012 2:37 pm
 

A's close to trading for Koji Uehara



By Matt Snyder


The Oakland A's are close to acquiring Rangers relief pitcher Koji Uehara from the Rangers, CBSSports.com Danny Knobler has confirmed. The news was first reported by Bay Area News Group.

Earlier this offseason, Rangers reliever Koji Uehara nixed a trade to the Blue Jays by exercising his no-trade clause. We learned that there were six teams on his no-trade list and that the Jays were one of them. Still, this didn't mean the Rangers intended to keep Uehara.

With closer Joe Nathan, setup man Mike Adams and Alexi Ogando, Scott Feldman, Mark Lowe, Yoshinori Tateyama, Mark Hamburger and more, the Rangers hardly need Uehara. Dealing him for pretty much anything would provide salary relief, as Uehara's set to make around $5 million in 2012.

The A's, on the other hand, have lots of questions in the bullpen. It appears Brian Fuentes is set to be the closer, though he'll have to deal with Grant Balfour, Fautino De Los Santos and Joey Devine (as we pointed out in the AL West position battles). And the rest of the bullpen is an unknown.

Uehara, 36, was excellent for the first part of the 2011 season. He had a 1.72 ERA and 0.70 WHIP in 47 innings for the Orioles. For the Rangers, though, he had a 4.00 ERA and gave up five home runs in just 18 innings (he only allowed six homers for Baltimore). He was awful in the postseason, too, giving up five hits, five earned runs, three home runs and two walks while recording only four outs.

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Posted on: February 15, 2012 10:10 pm
Edited on: February 15, 2012 10:15 pm
 

Hamilton says he's undergoing a 'makeover'

Josh HamiltonBy C. Trent Rosecrans

For the first time since his relapse, Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton answered questions on Wednesday, speaking with his Pastor, Dr. James Robison, on GBTV.com, the online home of right-wing political commentator Glenn Beck.

Hamilton said he was undergoing a "Josh Hamilton makeover," going to "one-on-one" counseling, as well as counseling sessions with his wife, Katie.

"I'm doing good. I'm well, my family's well. We're taking this as a serious issue," Hamilton said. "I had a slip-up in '09 and moving past that, it was, 'OK, I'm fine. It was one night, everything's over.' We didn't really move back towards what cause me to slip-up, why did I all of a sudden choose to do this? And it happened again.

"This time, it's not just, 'OK, it happened, we'll move past it and maybe it won't happen again.' We want to find out why it continues to happen. It's not on a regular basis, but whether it's things in my life, whether it's stress or home things, or whatever the case may be, those things might be a trigger."

Hamilton said his faith will be the focus of the makeover.

"It's going to be a process," Hamilton said. "I'm not fixed. I'm doing things right a day at a time. I can always use prayer from people."

He spoke about his relationship with his wife and daughters, and that he was concentrating on communicating with them better. He said that's improved since his relapse.

Josh Hamilton
"It has been a special time," Hamilton said. "The communication the last one-and-a-half weeks has been more than there has been in the past eight years. I'm not saying I haven't been communicating but it has been more meaningful communication."

He didn't shy from taking responsibility or having to live in the public eye.

"Thank you to everyone who has been supporting me," Hamilton said. "You guys know my heart, and I think you sense that. Me, personally, I'm going to do everything I can do to break these walls down and become a better man, a role model, and someone your little ones can to and want to strive to be like one day -- a man who is not perfect, but admits to his mistakes and wants to get better."

Here's the entire interview:



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Category: MLB
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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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com