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Tag:Matt Snyder
Posted on: February 20, 2012 8:23 pm
 

Rockies extend Tracy via 'handshake agreement'

By Matt Snyder

The Colorado Rockies have announced via their official Twitter feed that there's a "handshake agreement" in place to keep Jim Tracy as the manager beyond the 2012 season. His current contract is set to expire after this coming season, but with this agreement he won't be a lame duck manager.

"We expect this relationship to continue for a number of years," general manager Dan O'Dowd said in a statement. "We are building a culture of value together in a world of performance."

Tracy, 56, is 230-210 as Rockies' skipper, with a career mark of 792-782. He took over in Colorado when Clint Hurdle was fired after an 18-28 start in 2009. Under Tracy, the Rockies caught fire, going 74-42 the rest of the way, winning the NL wild card for the third time in club history. The 92 total wins were a club record. They stumbled to 83-79 in 2010 and then to 73-89 last season, finishing fourth.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: February 20, 2012 7:37 pm
 

Rendon, Zimmerman not battling at third base, yet



By Matt Snyder


Much of the attention in Nationals camp this spring will focus on the likes of Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Gio Gonzalez. There will surely be talk of Jayson Werth, Wilson Ramos and Mike Morse for varying reasons as well. But a major storyline that's lying in the weeds and could be an issue as soon as 2013 is Ryan Zimmerman vs. 2011 first-round pick Anthony Rendon at third base.

Rendon, 21, is a third baseman by trade, though he had played second base some in college, too. Speculation from many of the scouting websites (Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, etc.) have him being big-league ready very soon, as early as the start of the 2013 season. And they also say he's best suited for third base, even a plus defender there, while he'd be below average at second or short.

Of course, in Zimmerman, the Nationals have a 27-year-old third baseman who has won a Gold Glove. The issue, however, is that Zimmerman regressed on defense in 2011. Injuries hampered his range (Fangraphs.com's UZR/150 score for Zimmerman was 17.8 in 2010 and -4.4 in 2011) and he had to develop a new throwing motion to try and protect himself from further injury. That new throwing motion caused accuracy issues, too. The Nats Blog made a good case a few weeks ago that Zimmerman could easily be the Nationals' first baseman of the future, with Rendon sliding right in at third.

For now, Zimmerman is saying all the right things.

“I think I want to play third base until someone is better than me at it,” Zimmerman said (Nationals Journal). “I think there’s teams that move people. I’ve said it all along — I want to be here as long as I can. I want to play my whole career here. If that means me playing third base for five more years and then moving somewhere because someone is better than me at third and it’ll help us win, then I’ll do it. If that means me playing third base for 10 years and then going to first base or wherever, then I’ll do it. I don’t care."

Rendon will be getting reps at third base, shortstop and second base in camp, and he gave the requisite due to Zimmerman.

“Oh, yeah, sure, he’s going to be here a long time, I’m pretty sure,” Rendon said (Nationals Journal). “He’s an all-star. He’s a great player. I’m not coming here to take anything away from him. He’s set in stone. I’m not trying to ruin that.”

It's very interesting to think about all the options moving forward, depending upon how things shake out. If Rendon pans out at second, Danny Espinosa could shift to shortstop and take out Ian Desmond. If Rendon needs to be at third and Zimmerman's health issues at third continue, Zimmerman could shift across the diamond. Of course, then the Nationals have nowhere to move Mike Morse when they acquire an upgrade in center field and have Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper at the corners.

This is all just something to think about, with no immediate urgency. Regardless, if Rendon develops into an All-Star-caliber bat -- as many believe he will -- Washington has a very nice problem on its hands.

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Posted on: February 20, 2012 6:42 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 8:49 pm
 

Crawford surpises Valentine, aims for opening day

By Matt Snyder

Just a few days ago, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said he expected left fielder Carl Crawford to miss a few weeks to start the 2012 season. Crawford had surgery on his left wrist a month ago, so having him miss some time wouldn't be altogether shocking. Monday, however, Crawford surprised his new manager, who may have spoken too soon late last week.

"I didn't know (Carl) was there," Valentine said (ESPN Boston). "I walked around the corner and he was throwing the ball. It was great to see him. His health looks much better than I expected. (I was) pleasantly surprised."

And Crawford doesn't want to miss any games.

"I definitely don't want to miss any games. That's my goal right now."' said Crawford (ESPN Boston), noting that the odds of him being in the opening-day lineup are good.

After signing a seven-year, $142 million contract, the four-time All-Star hit .255/.289/.405 with just 65 runs and 18 steals. In 2010 for the Rays, Crawford hit .307/.356/.495 with 13 triples, 19 homers, 110 runs, 90 RBI and 47 stolen bases.

If Crawford does miss time, Cody Ross and Ryan Sweeney would man the corner outfield spots, flanking center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. If all goes as planned for Crawford, though, Ross and Sweeney will be battling for the right field job from the outset.

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Posted on: February 19, 2012 11:07 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 11:22 pm
 

K-Rod contemplates lawsuit against former agents

By Matt Snyder

Brewers relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez may file a lawsuit against his former agents, Paul Kinzer and Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

K-Rod and his attorneys allege that he was led to believe he had a no-trade clause that included 10 teams -- the Brewers being one of them -- by his agents when he initially signed a three-year contract with the Mets before the 2009 season. Instead, the former closer found out there was no such clause in July of last season. After realizing the omission, Rodriguez fired the agents and hired Scott Boras.

"They did something atrocious,'' Rodriguez's attorney Richard Johnson said (USAToday.com). "Their utter arrogance makes this so evil. It's like rear-ending somebody, but instead of stopping your car and trading insurance information, these guys blew up the car, took off, and ran away. They committed negligence, and turned it into a fraud case.''

Boras negotiated a $500,000 buyout out of K-Rod's vesting option for 2012, which was worth $17.5 million. He would have pretty easily finished enough games to make the option vest had he stayed with the Mets or been traded to a team that would use him as the closer. Instead, he accepted the buyout and was traded, eyeing a big free agent this deal in the offseason.

As the closer market dried up this past offseason, however -- not to mention the fact that Rodriguez had zero saves with the Brewers -- Rodriguez decided to accept arbitration from the Brewers instead of hitting the open market and ended up with a one-year, $8 million contract.

"He's going to lose a lot of money, the question is whether it's seven figures or eight figures,'' said Johnson(USAToday.com). "There's long-term damage to his career. He wasn't even in position to be marketed as a closer last winter. They really [messed] with his career in a monumental way.''

Had Rodriguez's contract contained the no-trade clause, he could have made sure he was in a closing situation -- perhaps having a great second half and setting himself up for a free agency offer from a team seeking a closer. Instead he'll remain in the setup role at least one more season.

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Posted on: February 19, 2012 7:56 pm
 

Tim Hudson to miss first month of '12 season



By Matt Snyder


Late in November, Braves starting pitcher Tim Hudson had surgery on his back that fused his L5/S1 disk. Not much was made of it at the time because it was believed he'd be ready to go at the start of the season. Instead, he's going to miss the first month.

"Me getting back for the start of the season was never really a possibility, just from a timeline standpoint," Hudson said (MLB.com). "The kind of surgery I had is a three-to-sixth-month deal. Five months puts me at May 1."

Hudson could have certainly been ready for the start of the 2012 season had he undergone the procedure immediately when the 2011 season ended, but the initial plan was to avoid the surgery until after the 2012 season. By late November, though, he was forced to have the surgery.

Hudson, 36, was 16-10 with a 3.22 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 158 strikeouts in 215 innings last season. He was pitching through the pain in his back, though.

With Hudson down, the Braves' need a fifth starter behind Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor in April. Top prospects Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado are logical choices to battle it out, while Kris Medlan would work as well.

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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 1:09 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 1:19 pm
 

Will Cubs extend Garza instead of trading him?



By Matt Snyder


As new Cubs leaders Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer went all Norman Dale on the roster this offseason -- certainly more in the "break 'em down" portion than "build them back up" part -- starting pitcher Matt Garza was involved in myriad trade rumors. The right-hander was connected with the Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers, Blue Jays and a few other teams in trade rumors, but so far nothing has come to fruition.

Now, with spring training opening and Garza still on the Cubs' roster, multiple Chicago outlets are reporting the Cubs instead intend to build with Garza as one of the foundations of the club, meaning the talk is of a contract extension, not a trade.

Cubs offseason moves
‘‘We’ve said many times he’s the kind of guy we need,’’ Hoyer said (Chicago Sun-Times). ‘‘We need more Matt Garzas, not less. We need a rotation full of those guys, so if we can work something out, that’d be wonderful.’’

After all the moves the Cubs made this offseason, it appeared for a bit they were embarking on a long-term, slow rebuild. If the Cubs do lock up the 28-year-old Garza long-term, though, it would be a clear sign they are looking to win within the next three to four years, instead of a more distant approach.

‘‘I think patience is important, but urgency is important, as well,’’ Epstein said (Chicago Sun-Times). ‘‘The goal of the 2012 Cubs is to win the World Series. And our goal as an organization is to build an organization that competes on an annual basis in the postseason and gives ourselves a chance to win the World Series ... There aren’t going to be any shortcuts. We’re looking at the big picture, and we’re building this thing the right way. But urgency, of course. And the goal is clear.’’

Garza was 10-10 in his first season with the Cubs, but suffered from bad luck in terms of defense, run support and batting average on balls in play. He had a 3.32 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 197 strikeouts in 198 innings. If the Cubs do hold onto Garza -- CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler reports some still believe the Cubs will shop Garza during spring training -- the odds of him being the opening-day starter are pretty good, with Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, Paul Maholm and either Travis Wood or Chris Volstad joining him in the rotation.

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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