Tag:Matt Snyder
Posted on: February 29, 2012 8:23 am
Edited on: February 29, 2012 10:47 am
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Molina, Cardinals agree on 5-year, $75M extension



By Matt Snyder


The Cardinals and All-Star catcher Yadier Molina have agreed on a five-year contract extension that is worth around $75 million, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman is reporting. The deal will be finalized soon.

[Heyman: Cards see Yadier's value]

The contract won't take effect until the 2013 season, since Molina had a one-year option picked up for the 2012 season. That means the 29-year-old veteran is under contract through the 2017 season. So he very well may end up playing his entire career for the Cardinals.

Molina hit .305/.349/.465 with 14 homers, 65 RBI and 55 runs last season for the Cardinals in the best offensive season of his career, as he established career highs in runs, hits, doubles, home runs, RBI, average and slugging percentage. He also won his fourth straight Gold Glove and helped guide an Adam Wainwright-less pitching staff to a World Series championship -- giving Molina his second ring, just as all three of the Molina brothers have. Yadier, the youngest Molina, was integral to the offense in the playoffs, too, hitting .333 in both the NLCS and World Series with a whopping nine RBI in the World Series.

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Posted on: February 27, 2012 10:03 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 12:33 pm
 

Spring primer: Washington Nationals



By Matt Snyder


The Washington Nationals have never had a winning record. They finished 81-81 in 2005 but came in last. Then they dipped all the way down to consecutive 59-win seasons before winning 69 in 2010 and going 80-81 last season. So is 2012 the time for the first Nationals winning season -- and possibly more? Unfortunately for the Nats, they play in one of the toughest divisions in baseball. Fortunately for the Nats, they are improved from last season's third-place team.

Danny Knobler's camp report: Harper decision might make all the difference | Likes, dislikes

Major additions: LHP Gio Gonzalez, RHP Edwin Jackson, RHP Brad Lidge
Major departures: OF Layne Nix, RHP Livan Hernandez, RHP Todd Coffey

Probable lineup
1. Ian Desmond, SS
2. Jayson Werth, RF
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. Michael Morse, LF
5. Adam LaRoche, 1B
6. Danny Espinosa, 2B
7. Wilson Ramos, C
8. Roger Bernadina, CF

Probable rotation
1. Stephen Strasburg
2. Gio Gonzalez
3. Jordan Zimmerman
4. Edwin Jackson
5. Chien-Ming Wang

John Lannan is also a possibility as the fifth starter, and remember Strasburg is on a 160-inning limit this season.

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Drew Storen
Set-up: Tyler Clippard, Brad Lidge

Important bench players

C Jesus Flores, IF/OF Mark DeRosa, OF Rick Ankiel

Prospect to watch
C'mon. You know who. We've all been watching Bryce Harper since he was about 15, and from everything said in camp it sounds like 2012 is the year we see him in the majors. Will he break camp with the club? Only if they're ready to play him everyday, which means Werth is shoved to center. I believe the Nationals would have to be 100 percent convinced Harper was ready to star right now, otherwise there's no reason to do so -- especially since the defense would suffer as a result. More likely, an injury or underperformance opens the door sometime in May or June. Regardless, scouts collectively believe Harper is an elite-level superstar when he does stick in the majors. Anthony Rendon bears watching as well, but not to the extent of Harper.

Fantasy breakout: Jordan Zimmermann
"One could argue that in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery Zimmermann had already broken out. Last year the 25-year-old posted a 3.18 ERA and 1.15 WHIP and only an innings limit kept him from being a top 40 starting pitcher. This season, Zimmermann won't be curtailed in terms of his workload, and better yet, there is room for him to perform better even on a per-inning basis. He averaged slightly less than seven strikeouts per nine innings in 2011, not meeting the standard he set prior to his surgery but he started to miss a lot more bats over his final 10 starts. Over that span, Zimmermann got to strike three 53 times in 58 2/3 innings. With more innings and a higher K-rate likely this season, look for Zimmermann to emerge as a No. 3 starting pitcher in mixed leagues." - Al Melchior [Full Nationals fantasy team preview]

Fantasy bust Jayson Werth
"Leaving a homer-friendly ballpark in Philadelphia behind, many expected Werth to have a down year in 2011, but the worst may be yet to come. Park factors may have worked against Werth with his move to Washington but even before he signed with the Nationals he was facing a steady decline in his home run per flyball ratio. While Werth's home run power seems to be evaporating the 46 doubles he hit in 2010 was merely an outlier as he has never hit more than 26 in a season barring that one year." - Al Melchior [Full Nationals fantasy team preview]

Optimistic outlook
Every player plays like he's capable and the Nationals don't have a major weakness. The offense has the potential to be strong top-to-bottom, with great starting pitching -- Edwin Jackson proving to be the best No. 4 in the league -- and a lock-down back-end of the bullpen. If everything comes together like it can, the Nationals would make the playoffs. They may not be able to win the toughest division in the National League, but with a possibility of two wild cards on the table -- seriously, Bud, how long until this is decided?!? -- there's certainly no reason to count out the Nats.

Pessimistic outlook
While there are good hitters in the lineup, the lack of an elite slugger in addition to a hole in center field holds the offense back. Werth's struggles bleed into 2012, Zimmerman again can't stay healthy and the pitching staff is plagued by Gonzalez's control issues and Jackson's inconsistency -- not to mention Strasburg's inning limit. Playing in the mighty NL East, the Nationals come in fourth or even last, with the Mets surprising and jumping over them.

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Posted on: February 27, 2012 8:54 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 9:01 pm
 

Scott Sizemore out for season with torn ACL

By Matt Snyder

The Oakland Athletics have suffered a big blow to their prospective infield. The club announced Monday night that third baseman Scott Sizemore will miss the entire season, as he's torn the ACL in his left knee. Due to swelling in the knee, Sizemore will be re-evaluated in two weeks to see if a surgery date can then be set.

“I really feel badly for Scott,” manager Bob Melvin said in a release. “He’s worked extremely hard and was ready for a breakout season this year. We were counting on him to provide some much-needed power from the right side of the plate. Now his total focus has to be on a successful surgery and rehabilitation so he can return stronger than ever. In his absence, we feel we have some viable options in Adam Rosales, Eric Sogard and Josh Donaldson. They can all bring something to the position.”

Obviously, season-ending injuries to starters are always big blows, but the A's could have better handled it to an outfielder, where they have Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, Yoenis Cespedes, Jonny Gomes, Brandon Allen, Collin Cowgill and several others. At third base, the A's were paper thin before this injury.

Melvin mentioned three options, but none are good ones.

Rosales is a 28-year-old utility infielder who logged just 43 innings at third last season. Worse yet, he hit just .098/.162/.197 and is a career .226 hitter who doesn't walk much or have power.

Sogard, 25, hit .200/.243/.329 in 74 plate appearances for the A's last season. He played just 70 innings at third. He's a career .298 hitter against Triple-A pitching with marginal power at best.

Donaldson is a 26-year-old catcher-by-trade, but appeared in 27 games at third in Triple-A last season -- where he hit .261/.344/.439 with 17 homers in 503 plate appearances.

Otherwise, the A's are left scraping the bottom of the barrel -- if they aren't already doing so with Rosales, Sogard or Donaldson -- or searching outside the organization.

Sizemore, 27, hit .249/.345/.433 with 11 homers and 52 RBI for the A's in 93 games after coming over in a late May trade from Detroit.

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Posted on: February 27, 2012 8:02 pm
 

Yadier Molina close to long-term extension



By Matt Snyder


It appears Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina will not hit free agency the way his friend Albert Pujols did this past winter. The All-Star catcher is close to a long-term extension with the Cardinals, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reports.

Molina had a one-year, $7 million option exercised for this coming season and he was due to become a free agent after '12. If he signs a long-term contract, the 29-year-old backstop will end up being a Cardinal for the overwhelming majority of his career.

Molina hit .305/.349/.465 with 14 homers, 65 RBI and 55 runs last season for the Cardinals in easily the best offensive season of his career. He established career highs in runs, hits, doubles, home runs, RBI, average and slugging percentage. He also won his fourth straight Gold Glove and helped guide an Adam Wainwright-less pitching staff to a World Series championship -- giving Molina his second ring, just as all three of the Molina brothers have. Yadier, the youngest Molina, was integral to the offense in the playoffs, too, hitting .333 in both the NLCS and World Series with a whopping nine RBI in the World Series.

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Posted on: February 27, 2012 7:13 pm
 

Royals sign Salvador Perez to long-term contract



By Matt Snyder


Royals general manager Dayton Moore has taken a page out of the Andrew Friedman playbook. Monday evening, the Royals announced that they have agreed to a five-year contract, that also has three club options, with young catcher Salvador Perez. That means that the Royals effectively have control over keeping Perez through the 2019 season.

Perez, 21, hit .331/.361/.473 with three homers, 21 RBI and 20 runs in his 39 games for the Royals last season. He began the season as a highly-touted prospect in Double-A, where he spent 79 games. He played in just 12 Triple-A games before getting his call to the bigs, where he spent the last six weeks of the season.

Like Friedman's masterpiece deals with Evan Longoria and Matt Moore in Tampa Bay, the risk for the Royals is minimal. If Perez hits all his incentives and the Royals pick up every option, Perez will make just $26.75 million, reports Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. And if the Royals do pick up all three club options, one would expect Perez is playing at a level higher than just over $3 million per season.

Obviously, we can't paint Perez as the victim, either. This is a mutually beneficial deal. What if Perez flames out and never meets his potential? What if a series of injuries ends his career? Wel, the base of the contract is $7 million (per Dutton), money Perez would never sniff if not signing this deal.

Perez is part of an excellent young core of players the Royals hope will get them in pennant contention for the next several seasons. Along with Perez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Johnny Giavotella lead the movement for position players, complementing still-young veterans like Alex Gordon and Billy Butler.

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Posted on: February 27, 2012 6:49 pm
 

Tigers still might trade for a starting pitcher



By Matt Snyder


The Tigers enter the 2012 season as the overwhelming favorites to win the AL Central division. But that doesn't mean the front office is planning on sitting back and taking it easy. In fact, the Tigers are going to be scouting starting pitchers from other clubs this spring, says assistant general manager Al Avila (Alex's father), per MLive.com.

“We’ll be looking at other pitchers in other camps throughout spring training to see if there’s anything that makes sense for us,” Avila said (MLive.com).

Tigers in spring training
The Tigers were turned down when they offered free agent starter Roy Oswalt a one-year, $10 million deal this winter, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com learned. They were also heavily connected to Matt Garza of the Cubs in trade rumors throughout December and January.

As things currently stand, prospect Jacob Turner is the most likely candidate to end up as the Tigers' fifth starter behind Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello. It's just that the Tigers seem very eager to win the World Series this season, without being patient, and Turner is only 20 years old. Plus, he struggled in his small sample of three starts last season for the Tigers.

We know Oswalt won't accept an offer and is planning on only pitching around a half-season anyway, but it'll be interesting to see if a trade for Garza or anyone else comes to fruition. The Tigers have pretty much already gone all-in for the season, so why stop now?

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Posted on: February 27, 2012 6:25 pm
 

Report: Danys Baez retiring

By Matt Snyder

Obviously this isn't nearly the same magnitude as the announcement that Jason Varitek will retire, but pitcher Danys Baez will retire from baseball as well, FoxSports.com reports.

Baez, 34, may have been forced into retirement by a lack of interest from big-league clubs. He had a 6.25 ERA and 1.56 WHIP last season for the Phillies. He also coughed up 43 hits while striking out only 18 in 36 innings.

Baez is a one-time All-Star, as he made the game as a member of the then-Devil Rays in 2005. He saved 41 games that season. For a three-year stretch, Baez was a quality closer. He averaged 32 saves per season with a 3.42 ERA from 2003-05.

Over the course of his 10-year career, Baez pitched for the Indians, Devil Rays, Dodgers, Braves, Orioles and Phillies.

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Posted on: February 27, 2012 5:36 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 6:09 pm
 

Jason Varitek to announce retirement

By Matt Snyder

Long-time Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek has elected to retire, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has confirmed. The news was first reported by the Boston Globe. The original report also indicated that Varitek will stay with the Red Sox organization "in some capacity."

Varitek, 39, spent his entire 15-year major-league career with the Red Sox. He went to the All-Star Game three times while winning one Gold Glove and one Silver Slugger. He hit 193 career homers while driving home 757 runs and scoring 664. His career line is .256/.341/.435. And, of course, the Red Sox's captain was part of two World Series-winning teams, including the "idiots" of 2004 that snapped the so-called Curse of the Bambino.

As the Globe report noted, only Carl Yastrzemski, Ted Williams and Jim Rice had longer stints with the Red Sox without having played for another big-league team.

Varitek also was part of one of the more dubious trade deadline deals. On July 31, 1997, the Mariners shipped Varitek and a 24-year-old Derek Lowe to the Red Sox for Heathcliff Slocumb. Slocumb had a 4.97 ERA and 1.64 WHIP with 13 saves and nine losses in a season and a half for the Mariners.

Kudos to Varitek on a very respectable career.

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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