Tag:AL East
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 7, 2012 4:07 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 9:03 pm
 

Yankees sign Bill Hall to minor-league deal

By Matt Snyder

Free agent Bill Hall has signed with the Yankees. The news was broken by Bill Hall, as he just posted on his own Twitter account: "IT'S OFFICIAL IM A YANKEE!!!!!!!! #IwannaRing!!!!" CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman reports that Hall signed a minor-league deal worth $600,000 with incentives.

Hall, 32, spent the first seven years of his career with the Brewers, but he's become a journeyman since then. In the past three seasons, he's played for five teams (including another stint with the Brewers). Last season, he spent time with both the Giants and the Astros, hitting .211/.261/.314 with two home runs and 14 RBI in 199 plate appearances. He did hit 18 homers in just 344 at-bats for the Red Sox in 2010, so there's hope for a decent season.

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Hall played second base and left field last season, but he's spent a lot of time at third base, too. If Hall makes the club, he'll provide infield depth along with Eduardo Nunez.

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Posted on: February 6, 2012 3:12 pm
 

Cespedes not legally able to sign yet

Yoenis CespedesBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Yoenis Cespedes is not yet able to sign with a big-league team, Cespedes' agent, Adam Katz, said on MLB Network Radio on Sunday (via MLive.com).

"I have had several Cuban players before, but I've never gone through this process before and it is onerous and unpredictable," Katz said. "You just have to breathe into it and not have too many expectations."

Although Cespedes has been declared a free agent by Major League Baseball, the 26-year-old center fielder can't finalize a contract with an MLB team until he is "unblocked" by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, Katz said. Katz and Cespedes are waiting on that action to sign a contract and report for spring training. Katz said he was confident Cespedes would be ready to play for a team when camps start -- but he was still cautious.

"I'm not going to predict or poke the bear in the zoo or have any expectations," Katz said. "We have some optimism and we'll see."

The Marlins, Tigers, White Sox, Cubs and Orioles are reportedly the most interested in Cespedes.

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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 5, 2012 6:17 pm
 

GM: Reds not actively courting Roy Oswalt

Roy OswaltBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Roy Oswalt is still a free agent, although at least one general manager seems to think the right-hander is headed to Texas.

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"We had discussions with them a while ago," Reds GM Walt Jocketty told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "The last we heard he was going to Texas. That was on Monday. I don't know if that deal is still in place."

Oswalt had reportedly wanted to sign with the Rangers or Cardinals, but a report on Saturday said neither team had enough money to sign the 33-year-old right-hander. The Reds, who have signed Ryan Madson and Ryan Ludwick this offseason, don't have much left in their budget, either, according to Jocketty. The former Cardinals GM said the Reds would need to move payroll in order to sign Oswalt.

"If he doesn't sign," Jocketty told Fay, "we'd take another look at it."

The Reds currently have Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo and Mike Leake penciled in as their first four starters, with Homer Bailey the favorite for the fifth spot and Aroldis Chapman transitioning into a starting role during spring training. The Reds' moves of acquiring Latos, Madson and Sean Marshall show the team is being aggressive in trying to take over the Albert Pujols-less National League Central and adding Oswalt would be another step in that direction. It would also keep the team from having to face Oswalt, who is 23-3 with a 2.81 ERA in his career against Cincinnati.

The Red Sox and Phillies were also reportedly still interested in Oswalt, along with the Reds, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com.

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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 12:16 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2012 12:19 pm
 

Yankees could bring back Damon or Matsui



Raul IbanezBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he'd still like another bat for his lineup and would be interested in two former Yankees returning to the Bronx.

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"Johnny [Damon] has been a great player for a long time," Girardi told Dan Martin of the New York Post. "There's been a bunch of names talked about, and they're all good players. [Raul] Ibanez, he's had a great career, and [Hideki] Matsui has had a great career. Obviously, we know what Johnny and [Matsui] have meant to this organization and Ibanez has had success wherever he's been. … I can't tell you it's going to be one of those three guys, but we know they know how to play here."

The Yankees had been counting on Jesus Montero as their main designated hitter, but he was traded to Seattle for Michael Pineda. Instead of the 22-year-old Montero as the DH, it appears the Yankees want to go with a much older player and expect the new DH to be more of a complementary player than an impact bat like Montero. Matsui, Damon and Ibanez are 37, 38 and 39, respectively.

Matsui, a Yankee from 2003-2009, hit .251/.321/.375 with 12 home runs for the A's last season. Damon, a Yankee from 2006-2009, hit .261/.326/.418 with 16 homers for the Rays last season. Ibanez has never played for the Yankees, but spent the last three seasons in Philadelphia. He hit .245/.289/.419 with 20 home runs in 2011.

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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