Tag:Matt Snyder
Posted on: February 26, 2012 1:39 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 5:18 pm
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Joel Zumaya has torn UCL, is out for season



By Matt Snyder


Saturday, oft-injured Twins relief pitcher Joel Zumaya had a bullpen session cut short when he felt something in his elbow. Unfortunately, it appears the news is as bad as it could be. An MRI revealed that Zumaya has torn the ulnar-collateral ligament in his throwing elbow, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has confirmed. For those unaware what this means, tearing the UCL means the pitcher will need Tommy John surgery in order to recover.

"He feels bad, I feel bad. Not the news I wanted to hear on Sunday morning," said Twins GM Terry Ryan (Dustin Morse on Twitter). "This is a 12 month thing."

So Zumaya's 2012 season is already over. In fact, one has to wonder how much more he can take before calling it a career. Since the 2007 season began, Zumaya has suffered a ruptured hand tendon, separated shoulder, a fracture in his elbow area and more. He only appeared in an average of 27 games from 2007-10 and missed all of 2011 after exploratory surgery in his elbow.

“He’s distraught, as you’d expect,” Ryan said (Associated Press). “He’s going to come in here in the next day or so and we’re going to talk about the immediate future for him.”

Zumaya stormed onto the scene as a rookie in 2006 for the Tigers when he was just 21 years old. He lit up the radar gun in triple-digit fashion with ease, even getting clocked up in the 104 miles per hour range. He had a 1.94 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 83 1/3 innings that season. He appeared ready to be one of the league's elite bullpen pitchers for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, he's never been able to stay healthy since.

The Twins signed Zumaya to a one-year, $850,000 contract this past offseason for bullpen depth. They will, however, only be on the hook for $400,000 since he won't be on the opening day roster. In a very short time, he already made a strong impression in the Twins' clubhouse.

“He looks like some monster out there pitching against you,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said (AP). “But you get him in your clubhouse and you realize there’s special people and he’s a special person and it’s a really sad day for him and his family and our baseball team, too, because we were all hoping this guy would be able to get back on this thing and make it through. Unfortunately it didn’t work out.”

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Posted on: February 26, 2012 12:54 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 5:17 pm
 

Astros 'leaning heavily' toward new uniforms



By Matt Snyder


The Houston Astros will move to the American League West in 2013, and they may have new uniforms in doing so. In fact, it sounds pretty likely.

“If the change is going to be made, certainly next year going to the American League is our transition and we’re leaning heavily that way," new owner Jim Crane said (via Ultimate Astros).

[Knobler: Crane off to a good start]

Any logo or uniform changes must be submitted to Major League Baseball by May 1, but the public won't see them until after the 2012 season. Of course, the Marlins changed up this past year and there were some leaks throughout the late part of the regular season.

Crane pondered changing the name from Astros earlier this offseason, but the outcry from fans was so overwhelming he backed off. It appears he will continue to keep fan feedback a priority.

“We’ll get some of the staff and some of the fans in on the next look, and hopefully we’ll make a decision on the deadline that they’re requiring if we’re going to make a decision,” Crane said (Ultimate Astros).

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Posted on: February 26, 2012 12:28 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 12:59 pm
 

Chris Perez out 4-6 weeks with oblique strain

By Matt Snyder

Just a few days after we learned the Indians have lost Grady Sizemore for a few weeks due to injury, the Tribe has been dealt another blow. All-Star closer Chris Perez will miss four to six weeks of action with a left internal oblique strain, according to the club's official Twitter account.

Head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff said Perez's body "wasn't ready for the intensity of the bullpen session." (Per Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer)

Six weeks from today is April 7, otherwise known as the first weekend of the regular season. Even if Perez can come back in a month, he'll need to work himself into game shape, so there's a decent chance he'll be unable to open the season with the Indians. Perez told Jordan Bastian of MLB.com that the goal is to be back March 15 and that he is "confident" he'll be ready for opening day. The Indians haven't ruled him out for opening day and said he "should" appear in games "toward the end of spring."

Perez, 26, had 36 saves with a 3.32 ERA and 1.21 WHIP last season for the Indians. If he's out for any period of time, the likely fill-in candidate for save chances is Vinnie Pestano.

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Posted on: February 26, 2012 9:24 am
Edited on: February 26, 2012 4:11 pm
 

Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals agree on extension



By Matt Snyder


The Washington Nationals have agreed to sign third baseman Ryan Zimmerman to a six-year, $100 million contract extension, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has confirmed. Zimmerman's current five-year, $45 million deal doesn't expire until after the 2013 season, so this extension takes him through the 2019 season, and there's a $24 million club option for the 2020 season. Zimmerman also agreed to have $10 million deferred as a personal services fee, meaning the amount won't count toward the Nationals payroll -- there is no salary cap, but there's a luxury tax. The contract also contains a full no-trade clause, the inclusion of which had previously been a sticking point for Zimmerman.

Nationals spring training
The deal is the second-largest in MLB history for a third baseman, after Alex Rodriguez's current contract (A-Rod's first megadeal came when he was a shortstop). Zimmerman is now one of just six players signed through 2019, joining Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan Braun and Matt Kemp.

"All along, all I've wanted is to be able to stay with the Nationals, which I consider my hometown team, and help the franchise become a winner while also being compensated fairly," Zimmerman said Saturday night, before the extension was complete. "While nothing is finalized, I am confident that we can reach an agreement that will accompish all those things. I'm from Virginia, I was drafted by the Nationals and I've seen this organization make great progress since I signed here. I want to see it through to the ultimate goal of winning a World Series."

More from Zimmerman on being from the area: "That was the whole point of this thing from the beginning," he said (MASNSports.com). "I love playing here and I love the organization, but it's always been like this from day one when I started playing here - how I'm lucky to be in this position to be so close to my family, to kind of be in the area where I grew up, where I went to school. I enjoy playing here."

He also added that signing the extension was a "relief."

Zimmerman, 27, was the Nationals' first-round draft pick in 2005 -- the club's first year in Washington -- out of the University of Virginia and made his big-league debut late that season. He then finished second in the 2006 NL Rookie of the Year voting and has since been an All-Star while winning both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. He hit .289/.355/.443 with 12 homers and 49 RBI in 101 games in 2011, as he was hampered by an abdominal injury. The previous season, he hit .307/.388/.510 with 25 homers and in 2009 he had 33 homers, 106 RBI and 110 runs scored.

The Nationals now have a young core of players locked up for several years, including Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, Bryce Harper, Drew Storen, Danny Espinosa and Wilson Ramos.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 10:02 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 7:57 pm
 

Spring primer: Chicago Cubs



By Matt Snyder


After watching the Cubs go from a 97-win club to a 71-win version in just four seasons, owner Tom Ricketts took serious action in 2011. He fired general manager Jim Hendry and landed his version of a big fish, in former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein. Epstein took over as club president then added Jed Hoyer as general manager and Jason McLeod as senior vice president of scouting and player development, among other front office pieces. The new management group then hired Dale Sveum as the big-league manager and started to clean house. It's going to be a long process, but said process has begun in earnest.

Scott Miller's camp report: Cubs Giddy With Optimism | Likes, Dislikes

Major additions: OF David DeJesus, 1B Anthony Rizzo, 3B Ian Stewart, LHP Paul Maholm, RHP Chris Volstad, LHP Travis Wood
Major departures: RHP Carlos Zambrano, OF Tyler Colvin, RHP Andrew Cashner, 3B Aramis Ramirez, 1B Carlos Pena, LHP Sean Marshall, LHP John Grabow

Probable lineup
1. David DeJesus, RF
2. Starlin Castro, SS
3. Marlon Byrd, CF
4. Bryan LaHair, 1B
5. Alfonso Soriano, LF
6. Ian Stewart, 3B
7. Geovany Soto, C
8. Darwin Barney, 2B

Probable rotation
1. Matt Garza
2. Ryan Dempster
3. Paul Maholm
4. Randy Wells
5. Travis Wood

Chris Volstad will also be in the mix, but I gave Wood the nod because he's left-handed.

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Carlos Marmol
Set-up: Kerry Wood, Jeff Samardzija

Important bench players

IF Jeff Baker, C Welington Castillo, OF Tony Campana, OF Reed Johnson

Prospects to watch
There are two here in particular that could make an impact in 2012: OF Brett Jackson and 1B Anthony Rizzo. It's entirely possible both are in the lineup come August. With Rizzo, it's a matter of whether or not LaHair can hit in the majors long-term -- as he could merely be one of those so-called Quadruple-A players. If that is the case and Rizzo is hitting well in Triple-A, the Cubs might well decide to turn to Rizzo. With Jackson, he's blocked all over the outfield, however, center field could easily be cleared in July. If the Cubs fall out of contention prior to the trade deadline -- and let's face it, that's a pretty good bet -- Byrd is a great trade candidate (sorry, I don't think the Cubs can deal Soriano just yet due to his contract). Byrd is in the final year of his contract and can play all three outfield positions, so surely some contender would cough up one mid-tier prospect for him. If that happens, the logical step for the Cubs would be to see how Jackson fared in center field for the final two months to determine if he can stay there or if he needs to be moved to a corner.

Fantasy sleeper: Bryan LaHair
"Usually, when a player in his late 20s puts up eye-popping numbers at Triple-A like a .331 batting average, 38 homers and 1.070 OPS, he's dismissed right away as a Quadruple-A player, but apparently the Cubs' front office thinks LaHair is different -- and not just because of his impressive 59 at-bat stint in the majors last year. The experiment could still be a failure of Kila Ka'aihue proportions, which is why you shouldn't bother with LaHair in mixed leagues, but late in NL-only formats, why not?" - Scott White [Full Cubs team fantasy preview]

Fantasy bust: Carlos Marmol
"If blown saves were Marmol's only problem, it'd be one thing, but the bottom line is he's not the efficient out-getter that Epstein and Hoyer would like their closer to be. His walk rate is as bad as it gets, and as a result, he's always pitching out of jams. Sure, his high strikeout rate helps compensate for it, but if he produces anything short of a best-in-the-league-type hit rate, his WHIP is in the danger zone." - Scott White [Full Cubs team fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
The deep pitching staff throws well and pays immediate dividends, as the bullpen improves with much better rest. Plus, behind the changes in right field and third base, the defense is also improved. Even Marmol's control issues drastically dwindle. LaHair and Stewart prove they can hit major-league pitching throughout the season and DeJesus turns out a perfect leadoff man for the suddenly balanced offense. And the Cubs find themselves right in the thick of the NL Central race with the Cardinals, Reds and Brewers until the end of the season, possibly even finishing somewhere in the top three.

Pessimistic outlook
By the end of July, Garza, Dempster and Byrd are all traded as the Cubs have no shot of making the playoffs. The Cubs try to avoid the cellar in a battle with the Astros, but continue the rebuilding effort and look forward to hitting the 2013 free agency class full-steam (less than $40 million is committed to 2013 payroll so far). Really, this is more realistic than pessimistic, because as much as the Cubs' coaches, players and front office say they're trying to win this year, it's obvious this is a two-year plan at the absolute minimum.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 9:51 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 9:52 pm
 

Manny Ramirez: Meet Brett Anderson

By Matt Snyder

It didn't take long for Manny Ramirez -- a.k.a. Manny Being Manny -- to make his humorous mark in A's camp Friday. See the following tweet from injured A's pitcher Brett Anderson:


I'd say this easily qualifies as my favorite tweet of the year so far. Pure hilarity.

There is a huge age difference here, as Anderson is only 24 while Ramirez is 39. Still, Anderson has 62 major-league starts under his belt, so it's not like he's a rookie. Unfortunately, the two have never faced each other in a game, otherwise it would have been even funnier -- not that any extra humor is necessary.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 4:20 pm
 

Sizemore injured, 'unlikely' for opening day

By Matt Snyder

Once one of Major League Baseball's most promising, young stars, Indians' center fielder Grady Sizemore's career has been derailed by injuries. Unfortunately, his luck hasn't changed one bit in 2012.

Friday, Indians head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff told media (including Jordan Bastian of MLB.com) that two weeks ago Sizemore suffered a lower back strain and is "unlikely" for opening day. Sizemore injured himself while fielding ground balls and has been shut down since. There is "no timetable yet for [a] return to baseball drills."

It's hard to not feel bad for the guy, as Sizemore simply can't stay healthy anymore. From 2005-2008, he averaged 160 games played per season. Since then, he's only played in 210 total (an average of 70 per season). His performance has suffered when he's been on the field, too, as Sizemore's OPS from 2009-11 was .728. From 2005-08, it was .868. His stolen base and home run rates have gone down as well.

Last season, Sizemore hit .224/.285/.422 with 10 homers and zero stolen bases in 71 games. He hit free agency, but the Indians brought him back on a one-year, incentive-laden contract.

With Sizemore out of the lineup, the Indians can slide Michael Brantley to center and go with Shelley Duncan, Aaron Cunningham or even Matt LaPorta in left field.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 3:46 pm
 

Starlin Castro touches upon allegations

By Matt Snyder

Back in early January, accusations of sexual assault against Cubs All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro emerged. Castro was interviewed by police in mid-January upon his return to America from his home in the Dominican Republic, otherwise there hasn't been much news on the subject.

Friday, in Cubs camp, Castro addressed the situation, sort of.

"I cooperated with the police [by] talking about that," he said (Chicago Sun-Times). "I don't have [anything more] to say about that. I'm ready to play baseball and practice very hard to help this team win this season."

Alfonso Soriano, Castro's closest friend on the Cubs, got his buddy's back.

"I think he didn't make a mistake because he did not do anything wrong, and I believe in him," Soriano said (Chicago Sun-Times). "He's such a great guy, and he thinks everybody can be friends with him. Now he knows when that happened to him he has to be a little more careful."

And Castro agreed: "You've got to be careful, because a lot of bad people in the world." (Chicago Sun-Times)

So it would appear Soriano and Castro are painting the picture that the allegations against Castro were untrue. And it has been about five weeks since the police interviewed Castro for several hours, so it's entirely possible this matter is behind the Cubs' shortstop.

Castro, 21, hit .307/.341/.432 with 10 homers, 66 RBI, 91 runs, 22 stolen bases and an NL-leading 207 hits last season. He made his first All-Star Game.

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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