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Tag:AL East
Posted on: February 20, 2012 2:45 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 4:50 pm
 

Beltran gives former teammate a nosejob

Jonathan Niese

By C. Trent Rosecrans

It's not unusual to hear of teammates giving each other gifts -- from watches to cars and just about everything in between. But this is a new one.

Carlos Beltran, now a Cardinal, got Mets pitcher Jonathon Niese a new nose.

Yep, Beltran paid for Niese's nose job this offseason after making a playful barb that Niese needed a new nose. Beltran went so far as to offer to pay for it, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com.

"He wanted me to have a new nose," Niese told Rubin. "So he offered to pay for it. I was just like, 'All right.' Then it turned into seeing doctors and to getting it fixed."

The picture above, is clearly the "before."

The surgery may have also been a performance-enhancer for the 25-year-old left-hander. He said the surgery has helped him breathe better.

"It's helped a lot with my running," Niese said. "It helps with my working out. As far as the mound, I'm not sure."

Niese was 11-11 with a 4.40 ERA in 27 games and 26 starts last season, striking out 138 batters in 157 1/3 innings.

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Posted on: February 20, 2012 2:22 pm
 

Rivera on retirement: 'I know,' but won't say



By C. Trent Rosecrans


Mariano Rivera arrived at Yankees camp a day later than the rest of the Yankees' pitchers and catchers report and he said he has a decision about if he will report next year -- he's just not going to share that decision.

"I know now," Rivera told reporters (via ESPNNewYork.com). "I just don't want to tell you. I know now. I will let you guys know when I think I should tell you."

When? "I will tell you that in October, maybe," he said.

Rivera's age may now match his jersey number (42), but if he decides to hang them up after this season, chances are it's not just some kind of victory lap celebration. Even entering his 18th big-league season, Rivera is among the game's elite closers. Last season he finished with 44 saves and a 1.91 ERA in 64 games. He struck out 60 in 61 1/3 innings, while walking just eight batters. His WHIP was 0.89 last season and stands at 0.998 for his career. He also broke Trevor Hoffman's career saves record last season and now owns the all-time mark with 603 -- a number that should only grow this season (and maybe beyond).

Rivera is in the second year of a two-year, $30 million deal signed following the 2010 season.

"It is hard when you have the ability to continue and you have to make that decision," Rivera told reporters, including ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand. "It's hard. For me, baseball is not everything.

"There are a lot more things than baseball. I've been blessed. I've had a great career, but at the same time there are a lot of other things to do."

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Posted on: February 20, 2012 9:00 am
Edited on: February 20, 2012 12:45 pm
 

Yankees add Raul Ibanez

Raul IbanezBy C. Trent Rosecrans

As expected, the Yankees have agreed to a one-year, $1.1 million deal with veteran outfielder Raul Ibanez, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman confirms. The deal is pending a physical.

Heyman wrote last week that the Yankees will likely add infielder Eric Chavez soon, as well. Chavez, 34, played well last season for the Yankees as a backup to Alex Rodriguez at third base. Monday, Heyman reported the Yankees are still talking to Chavez, who would get a big-league deal if he joined the Yankees.

Ibanez, 39, will likely serve as a designated hitter for the Yankees, but can still play left field when needed. Last season was Ibanez's worst since establishing himself as an everyday player in 2001. He hit .245/.289/.419 with 20 home runs for the Phillies in 2011. He was significantly better against right-handers last season, hitting 16 of his 20 homers against righties and putting up a .747 OPS against right-handers versus a .585 OPS against left-handers.

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Posted on: February 19, 2012 6:54 pm
 

A.J. Burnett-to-Pirates trade is official

Burnett to Pirates
By Matt Snyder

A.J. Burnett is officially a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The final two hurdles in the transaction that sent Burnett to the Pirates via trade were for the right-handed pitcher to pass a physical and Major League Baseball to approve the trade. Both happened Sunday, according to CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman.

The trade had to be approved by the MLB offices due to the Yankees paying $20 million of the remaining $33 million on Burnett's contract.

The return for the Yankees is two lower-level minor-league players, 25-year-old right-handed reliever Diego Moreno and 20-year-old outfielder Exicardo Cayones. Neither are expected to make much of an impact on the Yankees' system, as this deal was basically a salary dump.

Burnett, 35, was 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 173 strikeouts in 190 1/3 innings last season for the Yankees.

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Posted on: February 19, 2012 1:48 pm
 

Polar opposites Beckett, Lester talk collapse



By Matt Snyder


After a historic collapse in September, blowing a huge wild-card lead to the Rays, the Red Sox offseason got off a turbulent start for several reasons, chief among them a revelation that starting pitchers were drinking beer, eating fried chicken and playing video games in the clubhouse during games. So when pitchers and catchers reported to camp this weekend, obviously the subject came up.

With All-Star pitchers Josh Beckett and Jon Lester, there were two different approaches.

Lester came full of accountability and apology.

“We stunk. I stunk. Tampa Bay was better,” Lester said (BostonHerald.com). “I take complete responsibility for it.”

Beckett, on the other hand, gave what the Boston Herald termed "the bare minimum," while also going a bit on the offensive.

“I’m upset with myself for the lapses of judgment, but there’s also some ill feelings toward some people," he said (BostonHerald.com), with "people" obviously being the clubhouse leak that exposed the locker-room activities.

“I’m not saying we didn’t make mistakes, because we did make mistakes in the clubhouse. But the biggest mistake we made was — the biggest mistake I made — was not pitching well against Baltimore. I was prepared to pitch every time I went out there. I just didn’t execute pitches when I needed to.” (BostonHerald.com)

The Herald also called Beckett "defiant" in the face of the questioning while saying Lester was "contrite."

While it's easy to see that anyone would be annoyed for being outed like that, Beckett's outward frustration shows that he isn't fully accountable for the clubhouse actions. He's only sorry he got caught. It's like blaming the police officer for getting a speeding ticket -- Yeah, I shouldn't have been speeding, but I'm mad at the cop for pulling me over. But the cop wasn't the one speeding, just as the clubhouse leak wasn't the one in the wrong in September. If Beckett was truly accountable, he would be acting like Lester, the true staff ace of the Red Sox.

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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 6:28 pm
 

Report: Yankees close to signing Clay Rapada

By Matt Snyder

Friday, the Yankees lost some left-handed relief pitching depth when Hideki Okajima failed his physical and was released. Saturday, they appear to have zeroed in on his replacement. The Yankees are near an agreement with Clay Rapada on a minor-league contract and invitation to spring training, MLB.com reports.

Rapada is a 30-year-old left-hander. In parts of five big-league seasons, he's appeared in 78 games and compiled a 5.13 ERA and 1.48 WHIP. Last season, for the Orioles, he had a 6.06 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 18 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings. He was designated for assignment from the Orioles as a corresponding move to their trading Jeremy Guthrie to the Rockies for Matt Lindstrom and Jason Hammel.

Rapada would likely spend most of his time in the minors as a backup option in case Boone Logan gets hurt. Most ballclubs -- especially in the AL -- really only need one lefty in the 'pen, so Logan will serve as the primary option.

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