Tag:NL East
Posted on: February 6, 2012 3:12 pm
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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 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.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

"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 5, 2012 5:50 pm
Edited on: February 5, 2012 5:56 pm
 

Nationals sign Rick Ankiel to minor-league deal

Rick AnkielBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Rick Ankiel is returning to the Nationals -- or their camp, at least. Washington has signed the outfielder to a minor-league deal with an invite to the big league camp, Amanda Comak of the Washington Times tweeted and CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman confirmed.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

Ankiel hit .239/.296/.363 with 9 home runs in 122 games last season for the Nationals, his first year in Washington. He'd signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Nationals after spending 2010 with the Royals and Braves. Ankiel won the starting center field job out of spring training, leading to the Nationals' trade of Nyjer Morgan to Milwaukee. Washington, though, continues to search for a center fielder for the future and has been tied to the Angels' Peter Bourjos in some rumors that would have the Nationals sending right-hander John Lannan to Anaheim, allowing the Angels to make way for Mike Trout in center. Roger Bernadina is currently slated to start in center for the Nationals and they've also added Mike Cameron. Jayson Werth could also start in center if Bryce Harper makes the team out of spring as the right fielder.

The 32-year-old is a career .246/.309/.423 hitter in five seasons as a full-time outfielder after originally coming to the big leagues as a starter with the Cardinals. After suffering control problems, he went back to the minors and returned to St. Louis as an outfielder in 2007. In 2008, he hit 25 home runs, his best as a big leaguer.

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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 3, 2012 5:43 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 6:22 pm
 

Marlins' home run sculpture coming to life



By C. Trent Rosecrans


The Miami Marlins have been anything but boring since ending the 2011 season -- new players, new uniforms and a new stadium. While there have been debates about the merits of many of the team's transactions and designs, one thing has been universally panned -- the new home run celebration feature.

An Associated Press photographer got a tour of the new park on Thursday and posted the picture above on Friday.

This is what it's going to look like in action:



The other day, Matt posted some other photos from the ballpark that show exactly where the Red Grooms-designed sculpture will reside and its size relative to the rest of the ballpark.

As bad as this is… and it looks like some kind of train wreck, like the uniforms, it's growing on me. It'll be unique, that's for sure. It's garish, outlandish and, well, fits with Miami. I can't wait to see it in action after a Mike Stanton bomb. You know, at some point you just have to loosen up, relax and remember it's all a game and it's all for fun. It may not be traditional, but after 20 years of throw-back stadiums, I'm excited to see the future -- even if it looks like a South Florida souvenir shop exploded.

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Posted on: February 3, 2012 10:47 am
 

Nats taking steps to avoid Phillies fans in park



By Matt Snyder


The Washington Nationals' front office is tired of seeing Phillies fans take over their ballpark when Washington hosts the Phillies, so they're trying to do something about it.

In an effort they're calling "Take Back the Park," the Nationals are making it as difficult as possible for Phillies fans to outnumber Nationals fans in the May 4-6 series. Beginning today (Friday morning), the Nationals are offering single-game tickets for the series -- and only this particular series -- even though other single-game tickets won't be for sale for another month. Not only that, only buyers with credit cards tied to an address in Maryland, Virginia or the District of Columbia will be allowed to buy tickets (all information from WashingtonPost.com).

The Nats mean business. Not only on the field, where they've had a good offseason and appear to be a legitimate contender in the loaded NL East. But check out this series of quotes from COO Andy Feffer, all via WashingtonPost.com:

• “Frankly, I was tired of seeing it. Forget you, Philly. This is our park, this is our town, these are our fans, and it’s our time right now.”

Washington offseason
• “We’ve heard it enough, we’ve seen it enough, and I don’t like it any more than anyone else. We’re trying to build a team here, and nothing irks me personally or the people here more than to see another team’s fans — particularly Philly fans — in our ballpark, holding up signs. That’s not the way it should be. And I think we’ve got an opportunity here to do something different.”

• “We’ve got some other things planned for the Phillies. Don’t expect their buses to be hanging out and dropping off their fans right around the ballpark here. I’m gonna stick ‘em across the river if I can, make ‘em swim across.” [Note: The Post noted this was said as a joke]

• “Seriously, for those fans who do come, we treat all guests with respect and courtesy. But look, we’re not gonna make it easy for group sales, for buses coming from Philly. I will not make it easy for those guys to buy tickets or get into this ballpark. Once they’re here, obviously we treat all our guests as patrons, with respect.”

• “Look, this is what a rivalry’s about. The Phillies and Nationals should be that rivalry that people get fired up about, and that’s ok. I want Phillies fans to acknowledge that we’re a legitimate contender and that we’re for real. And you know what? If Phillies fans are a little bit irked, that means they’re paying attention.”

Whoa. Breaking out the big guns, eh, Nationals? I have to say, I love it. Old, traditional rivalries are great (Yankees/Red Sox, Cubs/Cardinals, Dodgers/Giants, etc.), but it's even more exciting to see new rivalries emerge. What if the Nationals are a contender this year and we see them lock horns with the Phillies a few times? That's great for baseball.

So what say you, Phillies fans? Are you "irked" and "paying attention" to the Nationals yet?

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Category: MLB
Posted on: February 3, 2012 7:53 am
Edited on: February 3, 2012 10:13 am
 

Baseball's worst contracts, Part III: Pitchers



By Matt Snyder


As we conclude the short series on overpaid players, we'll take a look at the man on the hill: The pitcher.

The interesting thing I found about pitchers is that not too many "long-term" contracts stood out like a sore thumb as being bad in terms of what is left on the current deal. A lot of the honorable mention types are for just one year, maybe two. This, I believe, illustrates the caution the overwhelming majority of teams exercise when coughing up long-term deals for pitchers.

That doesn't mean there are no guys on the list, however. We have a couple really good fits.

As a reminder, we're only talking about the contracts from now until the conclusion of the deal. Any money already banked doesn't count in this exercise.

Right-handed starters

Worst: John Lackey
Remaining contract: 3 years, $47.85 million

Ignore that Lackey is injured now and will miss all of the 2012 season. In fact, that actually helps the Red Sox here if last season was any indication. Lackey was brutal in '11, putting together a 6.41 ERA, 1.62 WHIP while leading the majors in earned runs and wild pitches. He allowed a whopping 203 hits in his 160 innings pitched and posted a negative WAR (Wins Above Replacement player). And when he's healthy again, he'll be 34.

Honorable Mention

A.J. Burnett, Yankees: He helped the Yankees win the World Series title in 2009, but was he really integral? He was bad in the ALCS and was terrible in one of his World Series starts after leading the league in walks and wild pitches during the regular season. Since then, Burnett is 21-26 with a 5.20 ERA and 1.47 WHIP. He's now the Yankees' fifth starter and will make $33 million for the next two seasons.

"Fausto Carmona," Indians: He may miss the season after being caught for identity fraud (his name is actually Roberto Hernandez Heredia). He's due $7 million this season.

Jake Peavy, White Sox: It's hard to not appreciate the way Peavy is an absolute bulldog on the hill, but he was 7-7 with a 4.92 ERA last season as he battled back from a severe injury and he's set to make $17 million in 2012.

Jake Westbrook, Cardinals: Twelve starts in 2010 got Westbrook a two-year deal with the Cardinals. He's going to make $8.5 million this season after a pretty bad 2011 campaign.

Carlos Zambrano, Cubs/Marlins: He'll make $19 million this year, but the Cubs are paying most of it so Big Z can pitch for the Marlins.

Derek Lowe, Braves/Indians: He'll make $15 million this year, but the Braves are paying most of it so Lowe can pitch for the Indians.

Left-handed starters

Worst: Barry Zito
Remaining contract: 2 years, $39 million

Perhaps the worst news is there's actually a club option for 2014. Now, obviously the Giants won't pick that up, barring Zito becoming Tim Lincecum overnight, but there's a $7 million buyout if they don't pick up the option. So Zito will cost the Giants $47 million more, at the very least, before they can wash their hands of him. This actually has to be one of the worst contracts of all time. Zito is 43-61 with a 4.55 ERA, 1.41 WHIP and zero postseason innings pitched in his five seasons with the Giants.

Honorable Mention

Johan Santana, Mets: He was earning his deal pre-injury, so this one isn't really anyone's fault. Santana is due $49.5 million for the next two seasons, though, so that is rough.

Relievers

Worst: Rafael Soriano
Remaining contract: 2 years, $25 million

Soriano wasn't even the Yankees' best setup man last season (David Robertson was way better). Soriano was a stud in Tampa Bay in '10, so it's possible he's a great closer for the Yankees in 2013, if Mariano Rivera retires. But even when Soriano had a good second half last season, his numbers weren't awesome. And, again, we're talking about a non-closer making eight figures per season.

Honorable Mention

Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies: It will be interesting to see how Papelbon performs throughout this contract. He could very well earn his $50 million over the course of the next four years, but I'm wondering what the Phillies' front office thought when they saw that the Reds signed 2011 Philly closer Ryan Madson to a one-year, $8.5 million deal. I also wonder how this deal will feel if the Phillies can't find a way to lock up Cole Hamels long-term (he's a free agent next offseason). So this one has less to do with Papelbon and more to do with what the deal might end up costing the Phillies, because $50 million is an awful lot to give to a closer.

Brandon Lyon, Astros: Lyon will make $5.5 million this season. His 2011 season was cut short due to an injury, but he had an 11.48 ERA with as many blown saves as actual saves (four).



Part I: Infielders and catchers
Part II: Outfielders and designated hitters

Source for all figures was Cot's Baseball Contracts

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Posted on: February 2, 2012 1:39 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2012 7:07 pm
 

Edwin Jackson signs one-year deal with Nationals



By Matt Snyder


Edwin Jackson is entering his 10th major-league season, and he'll do so with his seventh team. He is an agreement with the Washington Nationals on a one-year contract, the team announced Thursday. The deal, which was first reported by CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman, is pending a physical and Heyman reports it's believed to be between $8 million and $12 million.

"We saw an opportunity here to acquire a young, hard-throwing, power-pitching, innings-eating type of starting pitcher, and we thought it was good value at a good term," general manager Mike Rizzo said during a telephone conference call.

Jackson, 28, went 12-9 with a 3.79 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 148 strikeouts in 199 2/3 innings last season for the White Sox and Cardinals. He was dealt to St. Louis in late July and ended up winning a World Series ring with St. Louis. Also, while control was an issue early in  Jackson's career, his walk rate was a career-low 2.8 per nine innings in 2011.

"His walks are trending in the right direction," Rizzo said.

Jackson had a .339 opponents' batting average with the bases empty and a .239 average with runners on last season, but the Nationals think they can work with the issue.

"We're going to make a few tweaks to his delivery," Rizzo said. "Last year he was a different pitcher out of the windup than he was from the stretch."

Washington offseason
The Nationals won their arbitration hearing with fourth starter John Lannan this week, but the signing of Jackson could be a signal Lannan is on the move via trade. In fact, Fox Sports reported earlier Thursday the Nats are "aggressively shopping" Lannan. The Nationals now have a very strong front four in Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez and Jackson with either Chien-Ming Wang or Lannan filling the fifth spot. No matter who it is, that's a formidable top to bottom rotation.

Note that Strasburg is on an innings limit and the Nats can't be sure if Wang will hold up all season, so it wouldn't hurt to have extra starting pitching. If they did deal Lannan, they could still turn to Ross Detwiler, Craig Stammen or Tom Gorzelanny in a pinch. But for now, it's all about adding Jackson.

Jackson has been unable to find a permanent home in his career, but he's always been a productive pitcher. He doesn't profile as a frontline starter, but Washington doesn't need him to be one. He has great experience for his age, with over 1,000 regular-season innings pitched and seven postseason appearances, including four starts. Also good for Jackson is that Nationals Park profiles as a slight pitchers' park.

Jackson had been asking for a three- to five-year contract, but when the market dried up, agent Scott Boras and Jackson looked for a one-year deal so they could hit the market again next season. Washington bit.

"It made it much more palatable to us," Rizzo said.

The Nationals are coming off an 80-81 season in which they finished third place in the NL East for the first time since moving to Washington. With a full season of Strasburg and the additions of Gonzalez and Jackson, they appear eager to compete in a loaded division.

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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