Tag:Matt Snyder
Posted on: March 1, 2012 1:46 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 4:46 pm
 

Players, managers react to new playoff format

By Matt Snyder

MLB Playoff expansion
With the news spreading throughout baseball that playoff expansion is very likely for the 2012 season, some reactions from players and managers have started to trickle out of camps. As one would expect on a divisive issue, the reactions are all over the map.

For a very brief recap to those who haven't read about it yet, it's extremely likely that starting this season, MLB will have two wild card teams play one head-to-head game, with the winner advancing to face the division winner with the best record in the LDS. The second and third division winners will face each other. The new collective bargaining agreement established that this system would begin by 2013, but it's likely it will begin this season.

Anyway, here are some of the reactions we've gathered thus far:

Blue Jays manager John Farrell (CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler)

"I think it's great for baseball. Hopefully, we're in the mix to land one of those spots."

Mets third baseman David Wright (Andy McCullough via Twitter)

"That would have been nice five years ago."

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel (CSNPhilly.com)

“It’s hard to swallow sometimes if you play all year and win a lot of games and somebody who did not play as good as you consistently all year gets in and wins. But that’s the way it goes and that’s the process that we live with.

“I understand everything about that and I’m not knocking that. That’s what it is. But at the same time, I look at it as I’m not a second-place guy or third place or fourth place. Basically that’s the part – for me, personally, you shouldn’t get nothing for second or third. That’s the American system.”

Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen (MLB.com)

"Anytime you involve more people, it's good for the game. I think the Commissioner is doing a tremendous job adding people to have a chance to see playoff games, and I think that's great for the fans. This game, we play for them."

Red Sox DH David Ortiz (ESPN Boston)

“One game? That’s kind of crazy. You know how many things we’ve got to move around and pack for one game? It’d make more sense for two wild cards to play at least a two-out-of-three series while the other teams take a break for three days because they won their divisions.”

Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (TampaBay.com)

"I think it's exciting. It's exciting for all of us. ... I think the goal was to allow more teams to have a chance in the end, to hold on to those playoff hopes for longer.''

"I think it was pretty unanimous around the league that the more playoff spots the better. Once you get into the playoffs it's more revenue for the ballclub, it's more excitement for the players, so I think it would be a no-brainer for everybody.''

"I don't think anybody's 'comfortable' with [one-game playoff] -- it's an uncomfortable feeling going into any game that you know you could go home, your season could end. But at the same time, it's exciting -- you're in the playoffs now.''

Braves third baseman Chipper Jones (MLB.com)

"I'm not for it. I think the elite teams deserve to make it to the playoffs. Pretty soon, Major League Baseball is going to be like the NBA. There will be more teams that make it than don't. The season is too long as it is. Now you're going to give teams more travel. I don't agree with it, but we're just a piece of meat. We do what they tell us to."

Braves backup catcher David Ross (MLB.com)

"I like the one game for all of the marbles kind of thing because it's either put up or shut up," Braves backup catcher David Ross said. "It's going to be fun. The fans are going to be tuned in. It will get a lot of media attention. It will be a lot of fun."

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly (ESPN Los Angeles)

"I like it because it forces those two teams to use their best pitcher, so they have to use that guy to get in (to the next round). On paper, that gives the advantage to the team that wins the division because they can line up their rotation the way they want it. It seems fair to me that the team who wins the division gets that advantage.''

White Sox pitcher Chris Sale (ChicagoSports.com)

"Obviously, it’s exciting. Two more teams into the playoffs. At the same time, you want to be one of those teams for sure in there. You want to win the division. "They said it today, you are not playing for second place. It would be great if that did happen, but from here on out, we are going for that No. 1 spot."

White Sox manager Robin Ventura (ChicagoSports.com)

“In the past, when they added (the wild card), it created excitement and even last year, the last day of the season it added fun. You never know. It just depends on how the season goes. But it’s exciting for teams to get in. That’s for sure.”

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Posted on: March 1, 2012 12:35 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 3:37 pm
 

Burnett has broken orbital bone, needs surgery

By Matt Snyder

Embattled starting pitcher A.J. Burnett is off to an unfortunate and quite dubious beginning in his Pirates career. Wednesday in Bradenton, Fla., Burnett was working on bunting and accidentally fouled a ball off of his right eye. He flew back to Pittsburgh to have it examined and the news is not good. The Pirates have announced that Burnett needs surgery Friday in Pittsburgh to repair an orbital fracture.

And there's a YouTube of the errant bunt attempt. Here it is:



It's no laughing matter, but when the injury first occurred, Burnett reportedly said, jokingly, "where did the bone go?" (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

SPRING PROJECTED LINEUPS/DEPTH CHARTS

There's no word yet on recovery time for the 35-year-old right-hander, but I asked SI.com injury guru Will Carroll on Twitter and he said it would be a "couple weeks. Just have to get it stable." So, assuming everything goes well, Burnett should be alright for the start of the regular season.

Fortunately for the Pirates, they have starting pitching depth. Even without Burnett, the Pirates have five starters, in Erik Bedard, Jeff Karstens, James McDonald, Charlie Morton and Kevin Correia. Unfortunately for the Pirates, Morton is recovering from hip surgery and may not be ready for the beginning of the season. If both Burnett and Morton are down -- which is the worst-case scenario -- it looks like Brad Lincoln would get the nod.

Burnett was run out of New York after posting a 5.15 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and an AL-leading 25 wild pitches last season for the Yankees. Still, he has plenty of talent, with the ability to post a high strikeout rate (8.2 per nine innings throughout his career). He was also a valuable member of the 2009 World Series champion Yankees rotation. The move to the NL Central should benefit Burnett as well, whenever he's ready to take the mound.

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Posted on: March 1, 2012 10:57 am
Edited on: March 1, 2012 11:00 am
 

No long-term extension for Mike Napoli

By Matt Snyder

While fellow World Series catcher Yadier Molina is soon to officially sign a five-year, $75 million contract extension, Mike Napoli has chosen a different route. The Rangers backstop told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that talks on a long-term extension have been "squashed."

“I’d love to be here, but I’ll test the market,” Napoli said (Star-Telegram). “Every player plays to get to free agency. But it’s not something I’m going to worry about. That’s why I have my agent.”

It's an interesting decision for Napoli. He was long adored by fantasy baseball players and stat-heads for his power, but never really allowed to fully blossom due to the Angels not believing he was good enough to hack it defensively. But with one of the best offensive second halves in baseball (1.171 OPS) and a huge postseason -- both offensively and defensively -- Napoli's value has never been higher.

In 2011, Napoli hit .320/.414/.631 with 30 home runs in just 369 plate appearances. He then hit .350/.464/.700 with two homers and 10 RBI in the World Series. It's often been said the Rangers were one strike away from winning the World Series, so in that same light you can say Napoli was one strike away from being World Series MVP. And he's wildly popular amongst Rangers fans, too.

Basically, it's the perfect time to cash in. So why isn't he doing so? It could be the Rangers are weary of paying a guy for his career year and low-balled him. It could be he believes he's going to go out and prove he can hit like he did in the second half all season, every season -- in which case he'll get a gargantuan deal next offseason. It's hard to tell without having heard all the behind-the-scenes discussions.

All we know now is that Mike Napoli will be a free agent after this season.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: February 29, 2012 2:25 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 3:16 pm
 

MLB playoff expansion for '12 extremely likely



By Matt Snyder


There is "momentum" for Major League Baseball to expand the playoffs to include 10 teams, five from each league, beginning in 2012, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has learned. Nothing is finalized but a deal is "extremely likely" and expected to be done soon. A Fox Sports report says the deal is a "go," also saying that a deal is close but not finalized. 

Michael Weiner, head of the players' association, told CBSSports.com's Scott Miller that a decision is expected by Thursday.

Playoff expansion
The expansion of the playoffs to include two wild cards per league was agreed upon by the MLB Players Association and the owners in the new collective bargaining agreement, but the decision hadn't yet been made whether it would start in 2012 or 2013. Commissioner Bud Selig had set a deadline of March 1 on when there would be an announcement, so evidently he's taking full advantage of Leap Day. Regardless, expect an official announcement by Thursday at the latest. And expect it to be expansion for this season.

The new playoff format is expansion in the number of teams, but it also puts more emphasis on the regular season, in terms of winning the division. With this new format, the two wild cards will play a one-game playoff. The winner will then have to turn around -- possibly after having to use their ace -- and play the team with the best regular-season record in the LDS.

This new format should appease most clubs. The titans will be happy that a wild card can't slip in on equal footing (see the Phillies vs. Cardinals series last season) and clubs in loaded divisions like the AL East and NL East now have a better shot at getting into the one-game wild card round.

One argument some seem to have against the new format is that if this format was in place last season, the magical last day of the season wouldn't have happened. True, but we fawned all over that night because it was one in a million. Most seasons, we aren't going to get anything close to that drama in Game 162. But now, in the new format, we get two head-to-head, do-or-die games the day after the regular season ends.

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 1:32 pm
 

Now batting for the Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton

By Matt Snyder

Young Marlins slugger Mike Stanton's birth name is actually Giancarlo Cruz-Michael Stanton. He just started going by Mike in school because of the constant mispronunciations.

“It got really annoying having seven classes having to correct seven different people every single day.’’ he said (Fish Tank Blog). “Mike is part of my middle name so it was the easiest (solution). But I never changed it because I didn’t like it.’’

And now, Stanton says he's going to be introduced -- at least in all home games -- as Giancarlo Stanton from this point forward.

The Fish Tank blog post notes that Stanton is pretty easy-going with the name choices, so it's cool if you keep calling him Mike. His teammates have a wide variety of names they call him.

“Everything,’’ he said with a smile (Fish Tank Blog). “Cruz. Giancarlo, Mike, Mikey, Big Mike, Big Foot, Bam-bam. Man-Child. I respond to 25 different names.’’

Stanton, 22, is one of the brighter young stars in all of baseball. He amassed 56 home runs before his 22nd birthday (which was last November). Last season, his second in the majors, he hit .262/.356/.537 with 34 homers, 87 RBI and 79 runs. If he continues to develop on this path, I'm pretty sure Marlins fans will be happy to call him whatever he wants.

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 1:11 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 1:39 pm
 

A unique perspective on Posey-Cousins collision



By Matt Snyder


Last May 25, Marlins bench player Scott Cousins bowled over star Giants catcher Buster Posey. The immediate result was a run scored that led to an extra-innings victory for the Marlins. In the process, however, Posey was injured and it turned out to be season-ending. He broke his fibula and tore three ligaments in his ankle.

The aftermath brought lots of backlash in Cousins' direction. At first, Posey wouldn't return his phone calls. Giants fans all over Twitter and message boards called the play dirty and threw taunts and insults Cousins' way. Those will all surely be rekindled when the Giants and Marlins face each other this season, too.

But new Giants reliever Clay Hensley has a unique perspective. He was on the Marlins when the play happened and is now playing for the Giants, so there's no worry of bias in standing up for a teammate. He was Cousins' teammate and now he's Posey's. Andrew Baggerly of CSNBayArea.com collected some really good quotes on the situation from Hensley.

On Cousins' perspective: “Awful,” Hensley said (CSNBayArea). “You’ve got a player, Scott Cousins, who plays hard and he’s a good guy and a good kid. He just wanted to make a play to help win a game. He’s in his home town, trying to cut a groove for himself with the ballclub. He personally felt he had no room (to slide). Nobody can say one way or the other besides him ... It was tough to watch. I know for his part of things, nobody felt worse than he did. You play the game hard, but you don’t want to hurt anybody.”

On the Marlins' locker room after the win: “It was quiet. Nobody was celebrating,” Hensley said (CSNBayArea). “I can guarantee you there wasn’t any, `Yeah, we got his ass!’ Nothing like that. Everybody was trying to figure out how bad it was. At the same time, Cousins was pretty distraught – wrecked, really – by it as well ... You’re playing to win every time you take the field, but baseball is like one big family. You don’t want anyone to get hurt.”

On Cousins' mindset the rest of the season: “(The collision) is something that affected him for a long time,” Hensley said (CSNBayArea). “We’d try. We'd say things. I remember I told him, `Hey, all you can do is keep your head up, keep working hard.’ That’s easy to say. I mean, this happened to him in his home city. Now we get home (to Miami) and he’s getting hate mail. It was really, really tough for him. He was definitely, really upset about the whole situation.”

Obviously Posey had a worse time last season than Cousins did, as the catcher had to rehab from a broken leg. I don't think Hensley is suggesting otherwise. But the hate in Cousins' direction is definitely unfair. Home-plate collisions are part of baseball. Just because Posey was injured on the play doesn't make it dirty. Hopefully by now all Giants fans have turned the page.

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 12:23 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 1:02 pm
 

Bryce Harper deletes Twitter account

By Matt Snyder

Phenom outfielder Bryce Harper -- the top prospect for the up-and-coming Nationals -- has decided to delete his Twitter account.

"I was just over it. Got bored and decided to leave," Harper said Wednesday morning (MASNSports.com).

It's hard to tell if he's being totally up front, because it's possible he just got sick of all the hate. Plenty of players in the recent past have deleted accounts due to fan abuse -- Mets catcher Josh Thole comes immediately to mind as one example.

Harper has received some backlash for tweets he's sent, including him openly cheering for the Yankees in the ALDS last season. He also defended his favorite teams (a blatant fair weather variety: Yankees, Duke basketball, USC football, Cowboys and Lakers) recently on Twitter in a few exchanges with fans. Harper himself was polite and came across as not being bothered, but at some point the constant taunts surely gets to be a bit much.

Nationals spring training
Earlier this week, manager Davey Johnson mentioned social media use to his ballclub:

"We warned them about Tweeter (sic) and Facebook and all kinds of sites," Johnson said (MASNSports.com). "Nothing's secret anymore. I did point to a couple guys and said, 'Now you listen to this.' I'm (not) mentioning any names, but you know probably who."

Harper told reporters his Twitter account deletion had nothing to do with Johnson's warning, though.

Personally, I don't see any great reason for an athlete to bother with Twitter. Sure, there's plenty of adulation to go around -- if they're really desperate for more of it -- but the general public can be pretty collectively brutal, personal attacks and all. Some of the stuff crosses lines normal people would never even come close to crossing. Not only that, there's the issue of accidentally saying something stupid and getting raked over the coals for that.

It's a total guess, but I can't see how the good can cancel out the bad for an athlete on Twitter.

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 10:45 am
 

Miguel Tejada wants shot at A's third base job

By Matt Snyder

Could Miguel Tejada fill the Oakland Athletics now-gaping hole at third base? If he gets his way, he will.

“Tell [A's general manager] Billy [Beane] to give me a call,” Tejada told A's reporter Susan Slusser (SFGate.com). “I don’t want big money. I just want to play.”

Earlier this week, the A's learned that third baseman Scott Sizemore tore his ACL and will miss the entire 2012 season. In his stead, the A's are searching for a replacement from the lackluster trio of Josh Donaldson, Adam Rosales and Eric Sogard. But would Tejada even be an upgrade?

He is 37 and hit just .239/.270/.326 last season for the Giants. After 15 seasons, he appears to not have much left.

Still, Tejada wants a shot to come full circle with the organization that brought him to America.

“I would love it,” he said to Slusser (SFGate.com). “I have always loved the A’s. That’s the organization that gave me a chance when I was a little kid in the Dominican. They opened all the doors for me. … That’s my family.”

Tejada played for the A's for parts of seven seasons, winning the 2002 AL MVP as their shortstop.

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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