Posted on: December 20, 2011 5:37 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2011 6:05 pm

Rockies sign Casey Blake to one-year deal

By Matt Snyder

The Rockies have agreed to sign free agent third baseman Casey Blake to a one-year contract, general manager Dan O'Dowd announced to reporters during a press conference to introduce new right fielder Michael Cuddyer. The deal is worth $2 million, according to CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman. It is still pending a physical, which is especially important to remember here because Blake battled a neck injury all season. In fact, he had season-ending surgery to repair it in September.


Blake, 38, appeared in only 63 games last season and wasn't really 100 percent when he did play. In 2010, he hit .248/.320/.407 with 28 doubles and 17 home runs.

The Rockies have a hole at third base until highly-touted prospect Nolan Arenado is ready. The 20-year-old spent last season in High-A ball, so there's no way he's ready to make the jump all the way to the bigs in time to be the opening day starter in 2012. Perhaps inking Blake to a one-year deal shows the Rockies are confident he'll be ready to take over by 2013? It's entirely possible. Of course, if Arenado's not ready, the Rockies can surely find another stopgap to sign to a one-year deal. Arenado hit .298/.349/.487 with 20 homers and 122 RBI in 134 games for the Modesto Nuts in 2011.

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Posted on: December 19, 2011 9:40 pm

McCourt insinuates Dodgers ticket prices too low

By Matt Snyder

Here comes a story that is surely going to make the already very popular Frank McCourt even more beloved among loyal Dodgers fans.

McCourt, the man who currently has the Dodgers in bankruptcy court, is basically being forced to sell the Dodgers -- as Los Angeles fans rejoice -- but he's reportedly indirectly advising prospective buyers to raise ticket prices.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the "bid book" that McCourt and his attorneys have put together for parties interested in buying the Dodgers notes that the Dodgers had the 10th highest average ticket in the majors last year, despite playing in the second-largest market (I wonder if it notes the pesky little detail that the L.A. market is split with the Angels?).

The LA Times report also notes the Dodgers' revenues have declined each year since 2008 and that the club's debt exceeds $599 million.

Also of note, the Dodgers only sold 64.7 percent of their tickets last season. So now is as good a time as any to drive even more fans away by raising ticket prices, right Frank?

As I said, Dodgers fans have to just love this man.

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Posted on: December 19, 2011 7:13 pm

Mattingly goes drag for 'Nutcracker' portrayal

Don Mattingly was a star player for the Yankees back in the 1980s and is the current manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he recently put a different talent on display in his hometown of Evansville, Indiana. Not only did he take part in a play, but he portrayed a member of the opposite gender.

Mattingly played Mother Ginger in the Evansville Ballet's performance of the holiday classic: The Nutcracker. You gotta give props to Mattingly, as not many in his profession would put their pride on the line for such a production, but he has never really acted like he's more important than the average person anyway.

The full television news story is available via streaming video on tristatehomepage.com.

Here's a grainy (sorry, the video was tiny) screen-grab of Donnie Baseball in drag.

Category: MLB
Posted on: December 19, 2011 1:37 pm

Video footage of a recovering Bryan Stow

By Matt Snyder

We unfortunately know the story all too well by now. Giants fan Bryan Stow was beaten within an inch of his life on opening day 2011 by a pair of cowardly Dodgers fans -- who jumped him from behind.

Stow is still alive and is making progress, which is wonderful news. But in watching the video below, it's very evident that his entire life was changed by the vicious attack. I just can't help but wonder why any human being would want to do this to another human being -- especially over something as trivial as cheering for a different baseball team. Pathetic.

Anyway, the seven-minute video below is well worth the watch -- serving both as some hope for Stow's continued recovery and as a reminder that we should never be taking sports seriously enough to get into a physical confrontation. So before you feel like proving your "manhood" by slugging someone from behind, please think it through. It's just not worth it.

Hat-tip: The Splash

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Posted on: December 16, 2011 7:39 am
Edited on: December 16, 2011 7:41 am

HomegrownTeam: Los Angeles Dodgers

By Matt Snyder

What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

Do the Dodgers do well in drafts and international signings? The answer is a resounding yes. What they do with those players could certainly be questioned, but as far as building a foundation, few have been better in recent years. See below.


1. Dee Gordon, SS
2. Shane Victorino, RF
3. Matt Kemp, LF
4. Paul Konerko, 1B
5. Adrian Beltre, 3B
6. Carlos Santana, C
7. Franklin Gutierrez, CF
8. Miguel Cairo, 2B

Starting Rotation

1. Clayton Kershaw
2. Edwin Jackson
3. Ted Lilly
4. Hiroki Kuroda
5. Chad Billingsley

If you don't like us using Kuroda -- some commenters have disagreed with including guys who were professional players in Japan in this series -- you can slide in James McDonald or the youngster Rubby De La Rosa.


Closer - Joakim Soria
Set up - Javy Guerra, Joel Hanrahan, Kenley Jansen, Takashi Saito, Jonathan Broxton, Pedro Feliciano, Cory Wade
Long - McDonald

Notable Bench Players

Russell Martin, Henry Blanco, James Loney, Blake DeWitt, Trayvon Robinson, Jerry Sands, Alex Cora

What's Good?

Spoiler Alert: This section is going to be much longer than "what's not." How about starting with the offensive firepower Victorino, Kemp, Konerko, Beltre and Santana bring in the 2-6 spots of the order? That is sick. Gordon has good potential and Gutierrez was a decent hitter before his stomach issues derailed him a few years ago. The starting rotation is good, deep, has a good lefty-righty mix and a true ace sitting at the top. The bullpen is so deep it's unimaginable. It's not as great as the Yankees' bullpen (Clippard-Robertson-Axford-Rivera) in this exercise, but this is definitely an elite unit. The bench is pretty damn good, too. Best of all, though, how about the defensive range? Gutierrez was widely considered the best center fielder in baseball before his stomach woes. Victorino is a three-time Gold Glover while he lost out to Kemp this season. I decided to shift Kemp to left because Victorino has a cannon that is an asset in right. Not that Kemp can't throw. This would be one insane defensive outfield. Beltre is the best defensive third baseman in baseball, too. That's a lot of help for an already-good pitching staff.

What's Not?

Anything would be a nitpick. Maybe that Dee Gordon might not yet be ready to lead off for this team? If that was the case, you could move up Victorino and then the bottom of the order becomes a bit weak. But, again, that's a nitpick.

Comparison to real 2011

I kind of chuckled during all the MVP arguments when people would say that Kemp played for a team that "sucks." The Dodgers finished 82-79. Yes, they were out of contention for pretty much all of the season, but they finished above .500, so they definitely don't suck. Of course, those real-life Dodgers couldn't hold a candle to this group. This is a World Series-caliber club, but the funny thing is, did you see Arizona's team? The D-Backs lineup is much better, but the Dodgers have the better defense and pitching. We'd have a nice battle for the NL West title and maybe even see a rematch in the NLCS. If only ...

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Posted on: December 15, 2011 6:37 pm

Dodgers to have promotion for Angels manager

By Matt Snyder

The Dodgers are going to be handing out bobbleheads of the opposing manager -- in Dodgers garb -- on June 12. The Angels will be in Dodgers stadium for their annual interleague series there, and the Dodgers giveaway is a bobblehead doll of former catcher/Angels current manager Mike Scioscia. Obviously there's nothing wrong with honoring a Dodgers great, it's just really rare that it is happening when he's guiding the enemy on that particular day.

(And, yes, it's a slow news day. You don't have to ask in the comments section, I'll confirm it here.)

Scioscia, 53, was a two-time All-Star in his 13-year Dodgers career. He never played for another big-league club and is the franchise's all-time leader in games behind the plate (1,394). He was the starting catcher for the 1981 and 1988 World Series championship teams as well.

The Scioscia bobblehead is part of a promotion called the Dodger Stadium Greats Bobblehead Series. It includes bobbleheads "of the most unforgettable Dodgers in Dodger Stadium history." The others: Maury Wills, Don Drysdale, Orel Hershisher, Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell, Ron Cey, Tommy Lasorda, Walter Alston, Fernando Valenzuela and Sandy Koufax.

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Posted on: December 14, 2011 11:48 pm

Checking in on past products of posting system

By Matt Snyder

With Yu Darvish having been posted and the deadline to submit bids having passed, we now wait in anxious anticipation to see which team wins the honor to negotiate with the 6-foot-5 right-hander. Due to some of the past failures within the system, there seems to be a certain amount of stigma attached to paying so much money just to negotiate with a player. Let's check out the players who signed major-league contracts after going through the posting system and see how they fared.

Before we get to the players, though, let's clarify a few things. First of all, the posting system didn't begin until December of 1998. So Hideo Nomo, for example, was never posted. Also, not every single Japanese import since 1998 went through the system, either. Players who get to free agency in Japan become international free agents -- this is the route Hideki Matsui and Kosuke Fukudome, to name two, have taken. International free agents can sign with whatever MLB team they wish and have no posting fee paid to their former teams. And some players went through the posting system and either ended up signing minor-league contracts or not signing at all.

The following eight players did go through the posting process prior to last season and end up with a major-league contract. Let's look at each, chronologically.

(player, year posted, winning team, posting fee paid -- which does not include player salary)

Ichiro Suzuki, 2000, Mariners, $13.125 million
The 10-time All-Star won the MVP his first season in America. He's led the league in hits seven times and sports a career average of .326. He's become a franchise icon and could be headed to the Hall of Fame despite not playing in America until he was 27. So, yeah, this one worked out just fine.

Kaz Ishii, 2002, Dodgers, $11.26 million
The left-handed pitcher lasted just four seasons, with control being a major problem. Ishii led the majors with 106 walks his rookie year and then offered up 101 and 98, respectively the next two seasons. He ended with a 39-34 record, 4.44 ERA and 1.53 WHIP in his MLB career.

Akinori Otsuka, 2003, Padres, $300,000
This couldn't have turned out much better for the Padres. Not only did Otsuka post a sparkling 1.75 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 87 strikeouts in 77 1/3 innings in 2004, but he was also a valuable member of the 2005 playoff NL West champs. Then, the Padres traded him to the Rangers with Adam Eaton in a move that landed both Adrian Gonzalez and Chris Young (the pitcher). That's a pretty nice return for originally posting less than the current league minimum salary.

Shinji Mori, 2005, Rays, $750,000
The relief pitcher tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder and missed all of the 2006 season. He was then released by the Rays and returned to Japan, having never appeared in a major-league game.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, 2006, Red Sox, $51,111,111.11
Yes, "Dice-K" has been awful for the past three seasons and is now trying to recover from an injury. He might never be a valuable member of a rotation again, but he's still only 31 and did produce for two seasons. He finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting in 2007, also pitching well in winning Game 3 of the World Series (which the Red Sox would sweep). Then in 2008, Dice-K went 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA and finished fourth in AL Cy Young voting. So, yeah, he's been really bad the past three years, but to call him a complete and utter bust would be a stretch. Over the duration of his deal, he's definitely been way overpaid, but was still valuable for two seasons.

Darvish Posting
Akinori Iwamura, 2006, Rays, $4.5 million
He was helpful for two seasons for the Rays, including when he was the starting second baseman on the 2008 American League champions. He hit .281 with a .354 on-base percentage during his Rays' career, but he lost his job in 2009 to Ben Zobrist and then fizzled in 2010 for both the Pirates and A's. Iwamura was released by the A's at the end of the season.

Kei Igawa, 2006, Yankees, $26,000,194
If you want to find a colossal waste of money in the posting system attached to a gigantic bust, this is the guy you're looking for. He's far more a "bust" than Dice-K. In 16 major-league appearances, Igawa went 2-4 with a 6.66 ERA (which just looks eerie, no?) and 1.76 WHIP. And get this, Igawa hadn't pitched in the majors since 2008, yet still made $4 million from the Yankees this past season as he played out the duration of his five-year contract. The left-handed pitcher appeared in four Triple-A games and 16 Double-A games. And the Yankees paid more than $45 million total for him. Wow.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka, 2010, Twins, $5.329 million
It was a season to forget for the skinny middle infielder. Nishioka broke his leg during the first series as Nick Swisher took him out on a potential double-play turn. When Nishioka healed up and came back, he was one of the worst offensive players in the majors, hitting .226/.278/.249. He was so bad, in fact, that the Twins went out and signed Jamey Carroll to be the everyday shortstop while Alexi Casilla will play second. So the posting fee and $9.25 million contract (which is a three-year deal) is for a backup that they definitely never want stepping in the box for any important at-bats. That's money not-very-well spent.

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Posted on: December 14, 2011 3:36 pm

Kemp, Rodgers come to Ryan Braun's defense

By Matt Snyder

By now, surely every baseball fan has heard about 2011 NL MVP Ryan Braun getting nailed for failing a performance-enhancing drug test. The 50-game suspension is pending an appeal, but in the meantime seemingly everyone is weighing in with opinions on the matter. Braun very recently got public, vocal support from a pair of MVP candidates.

Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp, who finished second in the NL MVP voting to Braun, would have won the award if the BBWAA decided to revote. Still, Kemp is supporting his friend.

"Nobody's proven anything man ... we don't know anything." Kemp told TMZ.com. "That's a good dude. That's my homie."

Also, fellow Milwaukee-area fan favorite -- and frontrunner for NFL MVP -- Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers voiced his support on ESPN Milwaukee radio (via Sports Radio Interviews).

Braun situation
"I was very surprised the news came out the way it did. You would think that there would be some sort of confidentiality surrounding the situation because he is appealing it. Other than that, I don’t really want to comment a whole lot on the allegations or whatnot. I would say I 100 percent support Ryan and believe in him and it’s not going to affect our friendship in the least. I’m 100 percent supporting him and behind him and believe in everything that he says.”

And then Rodgers brought out the big guns:

"I’ve known Ryan for a while now and we’ve spent a lot of time hanging out. I’ve been in the locker room and I’ve seen him working out and stuff. It’s just ridiculous the allegations. I think as much as he probably can’t say a whole lot right now just the fact that he was willing to take a test right after that and I don’t know exactly what all is out there but I just am trusting that my good friend has not been using anything illegal and I’m very confident that’s the case because I know how much he cares about the integrity of the game and wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize that.”

It's going to be a while before we know how Braun's appeal comes out, but he seems to be getting lots of support from people close to him. That didn't seem to happen with, say, Roger Clemens or Manny Ramirez. Is it because Braun's a nicer guy with more friends or because he actually is innocent? We can't say just yet.

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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