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Tag:NL East
Posted on: February 11, 2012 10:44 am
 

Spring position battles: National League East



By C. Trent Rosecrans


We finish our look at spring training's position battles with the National League East, home of some of the most intriguing teams in the game -- and the Mets.

Previous spring position battles: AL West | NL West | AL Central | NL Central | AL East

Atlanta Braves
Fifth starter: Mike Minor vs. Randall Delgado vs. Julio Teheran

There's not a team in baseball that wouldn't drool over having to make this decision. The three are expected to be the keystone to the rotation in the future, but Minor's still the oldest of the bunch having just celebrated his 24th birthday the day after Christmas and therefore expected to be the first to make an impact in the majors. Delgado turned 22 on Thursday and Teheran celebrated his 21st birthday last month. The left-handed Minor made 15 starts last season for the Braves, going 5-3 with a 4.14 ERA. Meanwhile, Delgado dazzled in his seven starts, going 1-1 with a 2.83. Teheran didn't live up to the expectations many had for him -- but he was just 20 and made only three starts. He'll be fine. More than fine.

Miami Marlins
Center field: Emilio Bonifacio vs. Chris Coghlan vs. Yoenis Cespedes?

This is up in the air until Cespedes makes his decision, although it seems more and more like he'll be a Marlin. There's no question the Marlins want him and there's no question they want him in center field. If he does sign with Miami, the team will have to see how ready the 26-year-old is for the big leagues. He may not start in Miami, but the goal would be to have him there for the long-haul. Bonifacio is coming off a career-best .296/.360/.393 season with 40 stolen bases, but he was aided by a .372 batting average on balls in play -- something that will likely drop, but should still be high because of his speed. He also increased his walk rate, which helped as well. Coghlan won the 2009 Rookie of the Year, but a knee injury in 2010 has hampered him since his first season. He hit just .230/.296/.368 with five home runs and seven stolen bases in 298 plate appearances last season and his future is up in the air.

New York Mets
Second base: Daniel Murphy vs. Justin Turner vs. Ronny Cedeno

Murphy's likely to get the nod, as long as he can field the position adequately. Murphy made the majority of his starts at first base last season, but with the return of Ike Davis, Murphy needs a home thanks to his .320/.362/.448 line. Turner hit .260/.334/.356 as the team's primary second baseman (71 starts), but is probably no more than a utility player in the long run. Cedeno was signed from the Pirates to back up Ruben Tejada at shortstop, but he could figure in the second base situation if worst comes to worst.

Philadelphia Phillies
Left field: John Mayberry Jr. vs. Domonic Brown vs. Laynce Nix

The job is probably Mayberry's to lose after hitting .273/.341/.513 with 15 home runs and 49 RBI last season. Brown, the team's former top prospect, struggled in his 56 games and 210 plate appearances with the Phillies last season, hitting .245/.333/.391 with five homers. Brown has the talent, but it has to actuate for him to earn more playing time. The left-handed Nix is a backup, but could add depth to the outfield with the absence of Ryan Howard at first base. A good fielder, Nix struggles against left-handed pitching, so he's not an everyday type player.

Washington Nationals
Center field: Rick Ankiel vs. Roger Bernadina vs. Bryce Harper

Well, Harper won't be in center field, but he's basically fighting for that spot. If he makes the team out of spring, he'll be in right and Jayson Werth will be in center. That still seems unlikely, as good as the 19-year-old is. Ankiel won a spring-training battle with Nyjer Morgan last year, leading to Morgan's trade to Milwaukee. The Nationals brought Ankiel back on a minor-league deal, but he's still probably the favorite. He hit .239/.296/.363 with nine home runs last season. Like Ankiel, Bernadina hits left-handed. Last year he put up a .243/.301/.362 line with seven home runs in 91 games and 50 starts in center field.

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Posted on: February 9, 2012 5:31 pm
Edited on: February 15, 2012 11:42 am
 

Shane Victorino to appear on CBS show



By C. Trent Rosecrans
and Matt Snyder

We've seen Shane Victorino's range in the outfield, now it's time to see his range as an actor.

Victorino will guest star on CBS show Hawaii Five-0 on Monday, Feb. 20 at 10 p.m./9 Central. Victorino, nicknamed "The Flyin' Hawaiian," will be playing Shaun, an employee on a corporate retreat out in the jungle of Oahu. He tries to coax a fellow employee into their team-building exercises (see picture below). Said employee doesn't listen and instead heads off into the jungle herself, winds up lost and stumbles upon an ancient Hawaiian tribal warrior who has been stabbed to his death in the neck.

From there, drama is certain to ensue.

The episode is titled "Kupale," which means "defender" in Hawaiian. Victorino is, of course, a Gold Glove outfielder, so we get a nice little double entendre there.

The Phillies are all over the TV these days, with the Phillie Phanatic on a recent episode of 30 Rock, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Howard on Entourage. Victorino was also on Jon & Kate Plus 8 in 2008.



Photo credit: CBS Entertainment

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Posted on: February 8, 2012 5:42 pm
 

Reyes' hair sells for $10,200 on eBay

By Matt Snyder

How much money would you spend for someone's hair? What if I told you the person in question was a Major League Baseball superstar and the proceeds were going to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation?

Well, someone would have answered that question with: Ten Thousand, two hundred dollars.

Because that just happened. Reyes' hair sold for $10,200 on eBay Wednesday afternoon.

Reyes had to cut his long hair because the Marlins have a policy in place that forbids long hair. It's probably a bit antiquated, but whatever, they are paying Reyes over $100 million for the next six seasons. The haircut was broadcast on MLB Network last Friday.

In all, it's good that five figures are going to a great cause. I just can't believe someone paid any amount of money for hair, much less five figures, but to each his own.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: February 8, 2012 5:19 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 8:18 pm
 

Will A-Rod pass torch to Harper as most disliked?

By Matt Snyder

Earlier Wednesday, Forbes.com released its annual list of most disliked athletes, and only one baseball player appeared on it. Not surprisingly, it was Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees. Now, I don't say that because I personally dislike A-Rod (I don't), but it's pretty evident he's the most hated baseball player among casual fans nation-wide.

[EYE ON NFL: Suh, Vick, Burress among most-disliked athletes]

But seeing the list got me thinking -- from a baseball standpoint, because that's what I do -- of two different things. First of all, that's pretty cool that only one player made the list. The NBA and NFL combined for seven of the top 10. Plus, a few years ago, I'm sure A-Rod would have been joined by Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Manny Ramirez.

So is baseball becoming more irrelevant? I'd say no. The World Series got gigantic ratings and earlier this year was tied with college football for second in a poll of America's favorite sport (take a wild guess as to what was No. 1).

So it's entirely possible baseball's new crop of players are just that much more likable. The testing for PEDs has to help, obviously, because fans really seem to hate guys getting rich and taking down records from beloved players like Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and the like by cheating the system. I feel like there's more to it, but that's probably a different discussion for a different day.

Anyway, the second thing that came to mind was this: A-Rod's been a fan punching bag for far too long. Isn't it old at this point? And, really, "A-Roid?" C'mon, let's be more creative than that. Baseball needs a new Public Enemy No. 1.

Bud Selig probably qualifies for many, judging from the intense ire he draws in our comments section, just as Frank McCourt and the Wilpon family do, but this is only for players.

And my best guess is Bryce Harper.

Just as I did with A-Rod above, I'll start by pointing out that I don't dislike Harper. My colleague Gregg Doyel wrote last August about how unfairly maligned Harper is. But there's only so much that can do. Let's look at the elements that I subjectively think usually cause the national public to dislike a player -- and see how they apply to Harper.

1. He's rich. C'mon. Let's face it. Jealousy is what drives most hate, and many fans are jealous of rich athletes to begin with. But it can't be just this, otherwise every single player would be hated.

2. He's not like them. Bryce Harper was so talented he began to gain significant hype when he was 15 years old. He was rich before he turned 18, so it wasn't like he labored as an adult to "make it." Also, many sports fans are loyal to their teams and cities. Harper is a fair weather fan. He recently took to Twitter to defend himself for growing up a fan of: Duke basketball, USC football, the Yankees, the Lakers and the Cowboys. I'm guessing that makes millions of fans cringe.

3. Excessive hype. Fans generally seem to get sick of hearing about guys and hard-core baseball fans have already been hearing about Harper for the past three-plus years. And he's still not even 20. It's only going to build as he gets closer to joining the Nationals.

4. Outward arrogance/bad PR. While Harper works hard, never gets in trouble off the field and seems to have great intentions, he's had a few public relations issues already. He blew a kiss at a pitcher after homering off him in the minors last year. He was ejected from a game for screaming at an umpire. At the Future's Game last year, he missed a cutoff man that ended up costing his team a run, but in the locker room he said he didn't care that he just wanted to show off his arm. It also didn't help when a coach said he faced the most scrutiny of any player since Jackie Robinson (which isn't a comparison, but when the names are used side-by-side it just feels wrong to many).

Fair or not -- and I'd argue almost all of this is unfair -- many fans are already taking to message boards and Twitter and calling Harper things like a "spoiled little kid." I'm guessing that Harper hits this list within the next few years. So maybe A-Rod passes the torch to Harper.

And here's the thing that is most important: The entire general public doesn't "hate" someone irrelevant. So Nationals fans should actually be rooting for Harper to be good enough to "deserve," if you will, the impending wave of scorn.

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Posted on: February 8, 2012 1:29 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 8:37 pm
 

Cespedes: 'Hopefully I can play for the Marlins'

Yoenis Cespedes

By C. Trent Rosecrans


There are plenty of differences between life in Cuba and in the United States -- and while I'm no expert on Cuba (besides my two years living in Guantanamo Bay while in elementary school), I'm guessing the free agency process is something Cespedes hasn't experienced before.

Coming to America
One of the keys to this process is leverage -- and if he wants to play in Miami, he's doing it wrong. In Miami on Wednesday to visit the Marlins -- the first leg of what is expected to be a tour -- Cespedes arrived at the airport and briefly spoke to the assembled media.

"It would be good [to play here]" Cespedes told "half a dozen media members" at the airport (via Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel). "There are a lot of Cubans and they would support me a lot. Hopefully I can play for the Marlins."

Or maybe I'm wrong and he doesn't want to play in Miami and he's being ultra-savvy to get the Chicago teams to up their offers.

Rodriguez also notes that in addition to the usual suspects of Cespedes admirers -- the White Sox, Cubs, Orioles and Tigers -- the Indians and Athletics are also interested in signing Cespedes.

The 26-year-old center fielder is going to sign for a lot of money, wherever it is. So far, estimates have been for as "little" as $35 million and as much as $60 million.

Cespedes donned a hard hat for his walkthrough at the almost-completed park in Miami's "Little Havana" neighborhood. In Spanish, he said he believes the Marlins "can compete for a World Series" as early as this season.

Cespedes can't sign with a team until he's cleared by the U.S. Treasury's Department of Foreign Assets Control, but he can negotiate and agree upon a deal. His agent, Adam Katz, has said he expects Cespedes to start spring training on time, but the only question is where.

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Posted on: February 8, 2012 12:20 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 2:00 pm
 

Oswalt, Jackson turned down Pirates' offers

PNC Park

Edwin JacksonBy C. Trent Rosecrans


Remember when the Pirates were accused of hoarding their money and not trying to spend any money to get better?

Well, now they're willing  to pay -- but nobody wants their money.

Well, that's a little extreme. I'd take it, you'd take it. But neither Roy Oswalt nor Edwin Jackson would take it. Both players turned down, despite offers as much as $10 million, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.

Jackson, who took a one-year, $10 million from the Nationals last week, was offered deals for both one and three years, with the three-year deal being "slightly less" per year than the one-year deal.

Roy OswaltOswalt on the other hand, is still unsigned, but turned down the Pirates.

The Pirates' opening-day payroll is expected to be around $48 million -- the lowest in the National League Central.

Pittsburgh led the NL Central -- which send two teams to the playoffs and is home to the World Series champs -- as late July 25, but finished fourth with a record of 72-90, for its 19th consecutive losing season.

One of the reasons the Pirates faltered late was its starting pitching, which stumbled down the stretch. Pirates starters were 35-28 with a 3.62 ERA in the first half of the season and 14-33 with a 5.04 in the second half.

Pittsburgh added lefty Erik Bedard as a free-agent, but his injury history makes him tough to count on for a full season. With Charlie Morton's availability for the start of the season in doubt, Bedard may be the team's opening-day starter. James McDonald, Kevin Correia and Jeff Karstens likely round out the rotation.

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Posted on: February 8, 2012 11:32 am
 

Video game previews Marlins' new ballpark

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Want to see the Marlins new park? Well, instead of waiting for opening day, the ever-realistic MLB The Show for PS3 has the scenes from the new stadium, complete with a home run and the accompanying celebration.

Check it out:



I didn't buy the 2011 version, but I may have to upgrade just so I can take some recreational substances and hit home runs to watch the sculpture go wild.

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Posted on: February 7, 2012 1:06 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 5:44 pm
 

Reports: Marlins to meet with Cespedes Wednesday

By Matt Snyder

And the dance begins ...

Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes has been said to have anywhere from six to 12 suitors at different points this offseason, but he first needed to gain residency in the Dominican Republic. Once that was done, he still had to be declared a free agent by Major League Baseball. He then needed to be "unblocked" by the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Coming to America
Tuesday, multiple reports surfaced (including Juan C. Rodriguez, Miami beat writer) that Cespedes has acquired a visa and will arrive in Miami either Tuesday night or Wednesday afternoon [UPDATE: He's here, and Rodriguez took a picture of Cespedes in the airport upon his arrival]. Those reports are also stating the Marlins will meet with Cespedes Wednesday in an attempt to woo him.

Cespedes, 26, is an outfielder that some scouts have said could possibly have a Bo Jackson-type power-speed combination. According to Baseball-Reference.com, Cespedes hit .333/.424/.667 with 33 homers, 99 RBI, 11 steals and 89 runs in 90 games last season in Cuba.

"He's a five-tool guy, built like an NFL running back," one scout told Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com in December. "He has tremendous raw power, with all the tools to be a 30-30 guy in the big leagues."

In addition to the Marlins, the Cubs and Tigers have been most heavily connected to Cespedes in rumors.

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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