Tag:NL West
Posted on: February 7, 2012 5:03 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 5:04 pm
 

Dodgers, Kershaw agree to two-year contract

By Matt Snyder

The Dodgers and ace Clayton Kershaw have avoided arbitration by agreeing on a two-year contract extension worth $19 million to the left-hander, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has confirmed. The news was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Kershaw still won't be a free agent until 2015, so this contract doesn't change anything along those lines. It does avoid arbitration for next season, too, though. In arbitration this year, Kershaw was asking for a $10 million salary while the Dodgers were offering $6.5 million, so this deal represents a mutually beneficial compromise. Kershaw will get $7.5 million this season, $11 million in 2013 and a $500,000 signing bonus.

At a similar point in his career, Giants ace Tim Lincecum signed a similar deal, but it was a more lucrative two years and $23 million. Of course, Lincecum had two Cy Youngs by that point, while Kershaw "only" has the one he won in 2011.

Kershaw, 23, was 21-5 with a 2.28 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 248 strikeouts in 233 1/3 innings last season. He also won a Gold Glove and made his first All-Star Game.

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Posted on: February 7, 2012 7:38 am
Edited on: February 8, 2012 3:47 pm
 

Spring position battles: National League West



By Matt Snyder


We are finally just a few short weeks away from spring training beginning, so let's continue looking at some positional battles that will unfold through February and March. Monday, we looked at the AL West and now it's time to look at the NL West.

Arizona Diamondbacks
None: None yet.

I understand this probably comes off as a bit lame, but look at the D-Backs depth chart and tell me where there are any legitimate battles. From the starting lineup to the rotation to the bullpen, it would appear the defending NL West champs have very few question marks heading into the 2012 season. I would keep an eye on last year's first-round pick, starting pitcher Trevor Bauer (maybe pushing Josh Collmenter to the long relief role at some point in June or July?), but it's very doubtful he fits in the rotation out of spring. He got knocked around (7.56 ERA, 1.68 WHIP) in four Double-A starts last season. So I've got nothing here. They are already set.

San Francisco Giants
First Base: Aubrey Huff vs. Brandon Belt

Is it time to pass the torch yet? The Giants had no patience with Belt last season, as the 23-year-old prospect was shipped back to the minors in April after just 60 plate appearances. He came back to stay in the middle of July, hitting .231/.296/.469 the rest of the way, but that was only in 142 plate appearances. And he did show good power, hitting eight homers in that stretch. In 111 career Triple-A games, Belt has a .441 on-base percentage and 20 home runs. Meanwhile, Huff is 35 and coming off a season where he hit .246/.306/.370 with just 12 homers in 579 plate appearances. With the additions of Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera, it's unlikely the Giants shove Belt back in the outfield initially, so they must make a decision here. Do they leave Belt in Triple-A again, where he's proven he's a stud, have him ride pine in the bigs, or just move on past Huff and let Belt have the job?

Shorstop: Ryan Theriot vs. Brandon Crawford vs. Mike Fontenot

The 25-year-old Crawford is easily the best defender of this group, but at some point the Giants will need some offense. Crawford is a career .234/.291/.327 hitter in Triple-A. In 220 big-league plate appearances, Crawford hit .204/.288/.296 last season, so he's a complete offensive liability. Ryan Theriot hit .271 with a .321 OBP last year, and he also has no power. He does, however, have a career .282 average and .344 OBP. Fontenot hit only .227/.304/.377 last season, but he certainly has the most power of the trio here. Basically, there isn't really a good choice, but there's still one to be made. Of note: Fontenot and Crawford hit left handed, so maybe Theriot ends up platooning with one of them.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Left Field: Jerry Sands vs. Tony Gwynn Jr. vs. Juan Rivera

Did Sands' month of September give the Dodgers confidence he's ready to take over in left right away? It's possible. After hitting pretty poorly in his stint earlier in the season, Sands hit .342/.415/.493 with two homers, nine RBI and five doubles in 83 plate appearances in the last month. He's only 24, but he's also hit for great power in Triple-A (29 home runs in 418 plate appearances in Albuquerque last year). This one is all about him, with Gwynn being the backup option and Rivera being the desperation option.

Closer: Javy Guerra vs. Kenley Jansen

Guerra is the incumbent and successfully converted 21 of 23 save chances last season. He's only 26 and posted a 2.31 ERA, 1.18 WHIP in his 46 2/3 innings last season, too. So he's the obvious closer, right? I'm not so sure. The 6-foot-5 Jansen is only 24 and has elite closer written all over him. He had a rough start, but from June on, Jansen posted a 0.55 ERA, 0.67 WHIP with four saves, seven holds and zero blown saves. His stuff is nasty, as he struck out 96 hitters in 53 2/3 innings on the season. It looks like the sky is the limit, so would the Dodgers really leave him in the eighth inning due to Guerra's 2011 performance?

Colorado Rockies
No. 3-5 starting pitchers: Alex White vs. Drew Pomeranz vs. Juan Nicasio vs. Guillermo Moscoso vs. Tyler Chatwood vs. Josh Outman vs. Jamie Moyer

After stockpiling pitchers the entire offseason, it wasn't too surprising to see the Rockies trade away both Kevin Slowey and Jason Hammel. Of course, they got back Jeremy Guthrie and still have an absurd logjam behind Guthrie and Jhoulys Chacin. And Jorge De La Rosa will be back at some point later in the season (he had Tommy John surgery last June). White and Pomeranz are both young and inexperienced enough to justify more time in Triple-A, but they probably have the best stuff of anyone on the list. Chatwood got plenty of MLB experience last season, but he's still only 22 and his numbers weren't good. It's hard not to root for Nicasio, as he's coming back from a broken neck. He made some good starts for Colorado last summer, too. Outman's never really shown more than mediocrity and Moyer is 49. I very much like Moscoso's chances,  for one, as he's 28 and had a 3.38 ERA and 1.09 WHIP last season for Oakland. The ballpark difference in home games will be bad, but the NL West has fewer fearful hitters than the AL West and some spacious parks. So I'll officially predict Moscoso gets in, but beyond him, it's a complete toss up.

San Diego Padres
Catcher: Nick Hundley vs. John Baker vs. Yasmani Grandal

Hundley has had parts of four seasons to prove himself. Last season, he did hit well, with a .288/.347/.477 line, but injuries limited him to just 82 games. His career high, due to many different circumstances, is 85. The 31-year-old Baker has had the past couple seasons ruined due to an arm injury (Tommy John surgery and rehab took out nearly all of last season), but back in 2008-09 he hit .281/.364/.423 for the Marlins. The two could actually platoon, because Baker hits lefty while Hundley hits righty. Grandal, though, has loads of talent. He was the Reds' first rounder in 2010, is a switch hitter and has a career minor-league line of .303/.401/.488. He's only played four games in Triple-A, though, so he'd probably have to go nuts with his bat in the spring to get a shot out of the gate. The smart money is on the Padres going with Hundley as the primary starter, Baker as a backup who sees a good amount of playing time and Grandal spending most of the season in Triple-A. Maybe even a platoon with Hundley and Baker. Still, there's enough here for a potentially good three-way battle this spring. And you never know on Grandal. He jumped from High-A to Triple-A in 2011 and his experience before that was just eight Rookie League games in 2010. Maybe he's one of those guys that doesn't need much minor-league seasoning.

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Posted on: February 6, 2012 12:33 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2012 5:46 pm
 

Mariners to sign Hong-Chih Kuo

Hong-Chih KuoBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Mariners have agreed signed left-handed reliever Hong-Chih Kuo to a one-year deal, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman confirms. The contract is for $500,000, but becomes $1 million if Kuo makes the active roster and could grow to $2.25 million with incentives.

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Kuo, 30, was dominant from 2008-2010 with the Dodogers, putting up a 1.96 ERA over those three seasons in 133 games and a WHIP of 0.953, striking out 201 batters in 170 innings. Last year, though, Kuo struggled and was put on the disabled list twice, once for back strain and another stint with what was described as an anxiety disorder. Kuo appeared in 40 games and had an ERA of 9.00 in 27 innings. While his strikeout rate stayed high, striking out 36 of the 127 batters he faced, but had 23 walks, the most he had since 2006, despite pitching in the fewest innings since his first year in the United States. His WHIP was 1.741 after recording a 0.783 WHIP in 2010.

Kuo has a history of elbow injuries, undergoing multiple injuries on his left elbow throughout his career, including one after the 2011 season.

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Posted on: February 6, 2012 9:58 am
Edited on: February 6, 2012 1:09 pm
 

Orioles trade Jeremy Guthrie to Rockies

Jeremy GuthrieBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Orioles have traded starter Jeremy Guthrie to the Rockies for starter Jason Hammel and reliever Matt Lindstrom, according to CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman.

Hot Stove League
Guthrie, 32, was 9-17 with a 4.33 ERA last season, throwing more than 200 innings for the third consecutive season. The right-hander will be a free agent after the season and was scheduled to have his arbitration hearing with the Orioles on Monday, but his agent tweeted that Guthrie has agreed to a one-year deal with the Rockies. Heyman reports the deal is worth $8.2 million. Guthrie is 47-65 with a 4.19 ERA in his career, with 153 of his 154 starts coming with the Orioles. A former first-round pick by the Indians, he was picked up off of waivers by the Orioles before the 2007 season.

Hammel, 28, was 7-13 with a 4.76 ERA for the Rockies last season, while Lindstrom appeared in 63 games for Colorado, going 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA and two saves. The 31-year-old right-hander struck out 36 batters in 54 innings. Hamel is in the second year of a two-year, $7.75 million deal and has another year of arbitration for 2013 before becoming a free agent. Lindstrom is in the second year of his deal that will pay him $3.6 million this year with a team option for $4 million next season.

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Posted on: February 4, 2012 9:33 pm
 

Giants won't bid on Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes

By C. Trent Rosecrans


One team that won't win the Yoenis Cespedes sweepstakes is the Giants, because, like Lotto, you gotta be in it to win.

Giants general manager Brian Sabean said at the team's FanFest on Saturday (via the San Francisco Chronicle) that his team would not bid on the Cuban outfielder.

"The price tag is probably beyond what his talent is," Sabean said.

The Cubs, Marlins and White Sox are considered favorites for the 26-year-old, with the Orioles and Tigers also seen as possible landing spots.

On Thursday, Marlins president David Samson told MLB.com that his team is "aggressively negotiating" a contract with Cespedes.

At this point it seems Cespedes will likely land a deal larger than Aroldis Chapman's six-year, $30.25 million deal signed in 2010. Cespedes could command $40 million or more.

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Posted on: February 4, 2012 2:57 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2012 3:21 pm
 

Several NFLers took swings at baseball

Tom Brady

By C. Trent Rosecrans


In 1995 the Expos drafted a catcher out of Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., the same high school that produced Barry Bonds and Gregg Jeffries. Montreal scout Gary Hughes thought the team got a steal, but knew the catcher lasted until the 18th round because he was a good football player and would be difficult to sign.

In the end, Tom Brady passed on baseball, went to the University of Michigan on a football scholarship and will be playing in a football game this weekend. He made the right choice, but that doesn't mean the Expos scouts were wrong -- Brady was obviously a good athlete with a strong arm and good leadership skills, all things you want in a catcher.

CBSSports.com's Super Bowl Central

Brady's not the only NFL player who flirted with a career in baseball, several current NFL players have a baseball background. While there's no Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders or Brian Jordan currently playing at the highest level in both sports, there are a variety of NFL-MLB ties, from players who, like Brady, were drafted and didn't sign, to those who played in the minors and even one minor-leaguer who is hoping to be drafted into the NFL this year.

Here's a look at some current NFL players with baseball experience:

Cedric Benson -- The Bengals running back was drafted by the Dodgers in the 12th round of the 2001 draft and played nine games for the team's Gulf Coast League team, going 5 for 25, with all five of his hits going for extra bases -- three doubles and two triples. While he didn't homer, he walked 10 times in 34 plate appearances and was hit twice for a .412 on-base percentage and an .892 OPS.

Mark Brunell -- The 41-year-old Jets backup was… the lefty was drafted by the Braves in the 44th round of the 1992 draft, but didn't sign.

Kerry Collins -- The Tigers took him in the 26th round of the 1990 draft, the first of three future NFL players drafted, before Greg McMurtry and Rodney Peete. He was drafted again by the Tigers in the 60th round of the 1991 draft and the 48th round of the 1994 draft. He never signed.

Quan CosbyQuan Cosby (right) -- The former Broncos and Bengals kick returner was a sixth-round pick by the Angels in 2001 and played four years in the team's minor-league system, spending two seasons with Cedar Rapids in the Class A Midwest League. In four seasons, he hit .260/.330/.321 with 71 stolen bases. In his last season, 2004, he stole 23 bases and hit five homers. After that season he went back to school at Texas and played wide receiver with the Longhorns. Undrafted in football, he signed with the Bengals and played last season with the Broncos before being waived at the end of the season and signed by the Colts.

Eric Decker -- The Broncos wide receiver was drafted in the 39th round by the Brewers in 2008 and in the 27th round by the Twins in 2009.

Dennis Dixon -- Twice drafted, the Steelers' third-string quarterback signed with the Braves after going in the fifth round of the 2007 draft. He played in the Gulf Coast League and Appalachian League that year, hitting a combined .176/.322/.216 as an outfielder. He was a perfect 5-for-5 in stolen bases, but struck out 22 times in 90 plate appearances, while putting up just a .176 average.

Matt Moore -- No, not the Rays' lefty Matt Moore, but the Dolphins quarterback. Moore was taken in the 22nd round of the 2004 draft by the Angels.

Golden Tate --  The Seahawks' wide receiver was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 42nd round of the 2007 draft and the Giants in the 50th round of the 2010 draft. He played two seasons of baseball at Notre Dame, hitting .329 as a sophomore and scoring 45 runs, the third-most in school history.

Michael Vick -- The Rockies drafted Vick in the 30th round of the 2000 draft, but he never signed.

Hines Ward -- The Marlins took Ward in the 73rd round of the 1994 draft, but he never signed.

Brandon Weeden -- CBSSports.com has the Oklahoma State quarterback the fourth-rated QB in the upcoming draft after leading Oklahoma State to an 11-1 record last season as a 28-year-old. The reason Weeden was so advanced in age as a college quarterback was that he spent five seasons in the minor leagues after the Yankees took him in the second round of the 2002 draft. Weeden, a right-handed pitcher, was 19-26 with a 5.02 ERA in 108 games and 65 starts in the minors. He averaged nearly a strikeout an inning, but had a 1.573 WHIP for the Yankees, Dodgers and Royals systems.

Ricky Williams -- The same year the current Ravens running back won the Heisman Trophy at Texas, he hit .283/.309/.283 in 55 plate appearances in the short-season New York-Penn League for the Batavia Muckdogs in the Phillies system. Despite a career .211/.265/.261 line in four years in the Phillies' system, the Expos took him in the 1998 Rule 5 draft before trading him to the Rangers. Williams didn't join the Rangers and never played another professional baseball game.

Russell Wilson -- Wilson is the 10th-ranked quarterback in the upcoming draft, according to CBSSports.com. Wilson, a second baseman, was drafted in 2007 by the Orioles and again in the fourth round of the 2010 draft by the Rockies. After spurning the Orioles out of high school, Wilson did sign with the Rockies, which led to a rift between him and his college coach at N.C. State, Tom O'Brien. WIlson played baseball each of the last two summers, playing 61 games for the Asheville Tourists of the Class A South Atlantic League last season, hitting .228/.366/.342 with three home runs and 15 stolen bases. He struck out 82 times in 236 plate appearances before heading to Wisconsin for his senior year of college. At Wisconsin, he led the Badgers to the Big 10 title. He recently told the Rockies he won't be reporting to spring training. The Rockies hold his rights for five more years and have said they'd welcome him back.

Of course, there are plenty of guys who went the other way and chose baseball instead of football, players like Todd Helton (who once started ahead of Peyton Manning at Tennessee), Adam Dunn (who was at Texas as a quarterback), Seth Smith (who backed up Eli Manning at Ole Miss), Joe Mauer (who was the nation's top recruit at quarterback and signed with Florida State) and Matt Holliday (who was offered a scholarship to play quarterback at Oklahoma State).

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Posted on: February 3, 2012 9:55 pm
 

Buster Posey expects to be ready for opening day

Buster PoseyBy C. Trent Rosecrans

In what is likely to many "state of Buster" updates until the regular season begins, Giants catcher Buster Posey said Friday that he expects to be ready for opening day.

"I've done some stuff I didn't think I'd be doing so soon," Posey said at the Giants' offseason media availability on Friday (via MLB.com's Lyle Spencer). "I started taking batting practice on the field about three weeks before I thought I would. Timing is a huge part of hitting. I'm optimistic it'll be pretty smooth."

Posey did say he still feels aches in his surgically repaired left ankle, but has been assured that's normal.

The Giants are expected to use Posey at first base some during the season in an attempt to keep his bat in the lineup while minimizing the injury and fatigue risks that come with catching. That said, Posey noted he's having no trouble crouching behind the plate as he works in the offseason.

"It'll be questions and answers for a while," Posey told Spencer. "I can answer questions by being out there.

"I'm anxious. There are going to be a few extra things to do in spring training, but I'm happy where I am and I'm looking forward to a healthy season."

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Posted on: February 3, 2012 4:57 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 5:31 pm
 

Dodgers add Todd Coffey to bullpen

Todd CoffeyBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Dodgers have agreed to a one-year deal with right-handed reliever Todd Coffey, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman reports.

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Coffey will earn $1.3 million in 2012 with $350,000 worth of possible incentives.

Coffey, 31, was 5-1 with a 3.62 ERA in 69 games for the Nationals last season, striking out 46 batters in 59 2/3 innings. He had a WHIP of 1.257. In parts of seven seasons with the Reds and Brewers, Coffey is 24-18 with a 4.08 ERA and 11 saves.

Right-hander Javy Guerra finished the season as the Dodgers' closer and looks to be the favorite going into 2012, with Kenley Jansen there if he falters. Coffey can help in a setup role, along with right-hander Matt Guerrier and lefty Scott Elbert.

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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