Posted on: February 29, 2012 1:32 pm
 

Now batting for the Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton

By Matt Snyder

Young Marlins slugger Mike Stanton's birth name is actually Giancarlo Cruz-Michael Stanton. He just started going by Mike in school because of the constant mispronunciations.

“It got really annoying having seven classes having to correct seven different people every single day.’’ he said (Fish Tank Blog). “Mike is part of my middle name so it was the easiest (solution). But I never changed it because I didn’t like it.’’

And now, Stanton says he's going to be introduced -- at least in all home games -- as Giancarlo Stanton from this point forward.

The Fish Tank blog post notes that Stanton is pretty easy-going with the name choices, so it's cool if you keep calling him Mike. His teammates have a wide variety of names they call him.

“Everything,’’ he said with a smile (Fish Tank Blog). “Cruz. Giancarlo, Mike, Mikey, Big Mike, Big Foot, Bam-bam. Man-Child. I respond to 25 different names.’’

Stanton, 22, is one of the brighter young stars in all of baseball. He amassed 56 home runs before his 22nd birthday (which was last November). Last season, his second in the majors, he hit .262/.356/.537 with 34 homers, 87 RBI and 79 runs. If he continues to develop on this path, I'm pretty sure Marlins fans will be happy to call him whatever he wants.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: February 29, 2012 1:11 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 1:39 pm
 

A unique perspective on Posey-Cousins collision



By Matt Snyder


Last May 25, Marlins bench player Scott Cousins bowled over star Giants catcher Buster Posey. The immediate result was a run scored that led to an extra-innings victory for the Marlins. In the process, however, Posey was injured and it turned out to be season-ending. He broke his fibula and tore three ligaments in his ankle.

The aftermath brought lots of backlash in Cousins' direction. At first, Posey wouldn't return his phone calls. Giants fans all over Twitter and message boards called the play dirty and threw taunts and insults Cousins' way. Those will all surely be rekindled when the Giants and Marlins face each other this season, too.

But new Giants reliever Clay Hensley has a unique perspective. He was on the Marlins when the play happened and is now playing for the Giants, so there's no worry of bias in standing up for a teammate. He was Cousins' teammate and now he's Posey's. Andrew Baggerly of CSNBayArea.com collected some really good quotes on the situation from Hensley.

On Cousins' perspective: “Awful,” Hensley said (CSNBayArea). “You’ve got a player, Scott Cousins, who plays hard and he’s a good guy and a good kid. He just wanted to make a play to help win a game. He’s in his home town, trying to cut a groove for himself with the ballclub. He personally felt he had no room (to slide). Nobody can say one way or the other besides him ... It was tough to watch. I know for his part of things, nobody felt worse than he did. You play the game hard, but you don’t want to hurt anybody.”

On the Marlins' locker room after the win: “It was quiet. Nobody was celebrating,” Hensley said (CSNBayArea). “I can guarantee you there wasn’t any, `Yeah, we got his ass!’ Nothing like that. Everybody was trying to figure out how bad it was. At the same time, Cousins was pretty distraught – wrecked, really – by it as well ... You’re playing to win every time you take the field, but baseball is like one big family. You don’t want anyone to get hurt.”

On Cousins' mindset the rest of the season: “(The collision) is something that affected him for a long time,” Hensley said (CSNBayArea). “We’d try. We'd say things. I remember I told him, `Hey, all you can do is keep your head up, keep working hard.’ That’s easy to say. I mean, this happened to him in his home city. Now we get home (to Miami) and he’s getting hate mail. It was really, really tough for him. He was definitely, really upset about the whole situation.”

Obviously Posey had a worse time last season than Cousins did, as the catcher had to rehab from a broken leg. I don't think Hensley is suggesting otherwise. But the hate in Cousins' direction is definitely unfair. Home-plate collisions are part of baseball. Just because Posey was injured on the play doesn't make it dirty. Hopefully by now all Giants fans have turned the page.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: February 29, 2012 12:23 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 1:02 pm
 

Bryce Harper deletes Twitter account

By Matt Snyder

Phenom outfielder Bryce Harper -- the top prospect for the up-and-coming Nationals -- has decided to delete his Twitter account.

"I was just over it. Got bored and decided to leave," Harper said Wednesday morning (MASNSports.com).

It's hard to tell if he's being totally up front, because it's possible he just got sick of all the hate. Plenty of players in the recent past have deleted accounts due to fan abuse -- Mets catcher Josh Thole comes immediately to mind as one example.

Harper has received some backlash for tweets he's sent, including him openly cheering for the Yankees in the ALDS last season. He also defended his favorite teams (a blatant fair weather variety: Yankees, Duke basketball, USC football, Cowboys and Lakers) recently on Twitter in a few exchanges with fans. Harper himself was polite and came across as not being bothered, but at some point the constant taunts surely gets to be a bit much.

Nationals spring training
Earlier this week, manager Davey Johnson mentioned social media use to his ballclub:

"We warned them about Tweeter (sic) and Facebook and all kinds of sites," Johnson said (MASNSports.com). "Nothing's secret anymore. I did point to a couple guys and said, 'Now you listen to this.' I'm (not) mentioning any names, but you know probably who."

Harper told reporters his Twitter account deletion had nothing to do with Johnson's warning, though.

Personally, I don't see any great reason for an athlete to bother with Twitter. Sure, there's plenty of adulation to go around -- if they're really desperate for more of it -- but the general public can be pretty collectively brutal, personal attacks and all. Some of the stuff crosses lines normal people would never even come close to crossing. Not only that, there's the issue of accidentally saying something stupid and getting raked over the coals for that.

It's a total guess, but I can't see how the good can cancel out the bad for an athlete on Twitter.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: February 29, 2012 10:45 am
 

Miguel Tejada wants shot at A's third base job

By Matt Snyder

Could Miguel Tejada fill the Oakland Athletics now-gaping hole at third base? If he gets his way, he will.

“Tell [A's general manager] Billy [Beane] to give me a call,” Tejada told A's reporter Susan Slusser (SFGate.com). “I don’t want big money. I just want to play.”

Earlier this week, the A's learned that third baseman Scott Sizemore tore his ACL and will miss the entire 2012 season. In his stead, the A's are searching for a replacement from the lackluster trio of Josh Donaldson, Adam Rosales and Eric Sogard. But would Tejada even be an upgrade?

He is 37 and hit just .239/.270/.326 last season for the Giants. After 15 seasons, he appears to not have much left.

Still, Tejada wants a shot to come full circle with the organization that brought him to America.

“I would love it,” he said to Slusser (SFGate.com). “I have always loved the A’s. That’s the organization that gave me a chance when I was a little kid in the Dominican. They opened all the doors for me. … That’s my family.”

Tejada played for the A's for parts of seven seasons, winning the 2002 AL MVP as their shortstop.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: February 29, 2012 8:23 am
Edited on: February 29, 2012 10:47 am
 

Molina, Cardinals agree on 5-year, $75M extension



By Matt Snyder


The Cardinals and All-Star catcher Yadier Molina have agreed on a five-year contract extension that is worth around $75 million, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman is reporting. The deal will be finalized soon.

[Heyman: Cards see Yadier's value]

The contract won't take effect until the 2013 season, since Molina had a one-year option picked up for the 2012 season. That means the 29-year-old veteran is under contract through the 2017 season. So he very well may end up playing his entire career for the Cardinals.

Molina hit .305/.349/.465 with 14 homers, 65 RBI and 55 runs last season for the Cardinals in the best offensive season of his career, as he established career highs in runs, hits, doubles, home runs, RBI, average and slugging percentage. He also won his fourth straight Gold Glove and helped guide an Adam Wainwright-less pitching staff to a World Series championship -- giving Molina his second ring, just as all three of the Molina brothers have. Yadier, the youngest Molina, was integral to the offense in the playoffs, too, hitting .333 in both the NLCS and World Series with a whopping nine RBI in the World Series.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: February 28, 2012 9:43 pm
 

Spring primer: New York Mets

Terry Collins

By C. Trent Rosecrans
The Marlins made headlines with their offseason spending spree, the Phillies still have the game's most intimidating rotation, the Nationals have some of the game's biggest young talents and the Braves are a sleeper team that shouldn't be written off because of last season's late collapse. And then there's the Mets. Last season the team finished fourth in the division and went 77-85, and then they lost their best player. To say there's a lack of buzz surrounding the Mets would be an understatement.

Major additions: CF Andres Torres, CL Frank Francisco
Major departures: SS Jose Reyes, RH Chris Capuano

Probable lineup
1. Andres Torres CF
2. Daniel Murphy 2B
3. David Wright 3B
4. Ike Davis 1B
5. Lucas Duda RF
6. Jason Bay LF
7. Josh Thole C
8. Ruben Tejada SS

Probable rotation
1. Johan Santana
2. R.A. Dickey
3. Jonathon Niese
4. Mike Pelfrey
5. Dillon Gee

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Frank Francisco
Set-up: Jon Rauch, Ramon Ramirez, Bobby Parnell

Important bench players
OF Scott Hairston, IF Justin Turner

Prospect to watch
The team's top prospect is right-hander Zack Wheeler, acquired in the Carlos Beltran trade, but if he sees Citi Field this season, it'll likely be near the end of the year when the team's fate has already been decided. Outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis could contribute immediately. The 24-year-old missed the second half of the 2011 season with a torn labrum in his non-throwing (left) shoulder, but has been swinging the bat at full strength since last month. Before his injury, he was hitting .298/.403/.505 with six homers in 221 plate appearances for Triple-A Buffalo. A solid all-around player, Nieuwenhuis can play any of the three outfield sports, but center field may be where he could make his mark. The Mets have the 34-year-old Torres as the its starter in center and the 31-year-old Hairston backing him up, so it's not much of a stretch to see Nieuwenhuis get a chance sometime this season.

Fantasy sleeper: Lucas Duda
"From July 15 (about the time he took over for a departed Carlos Beltran) to the end of the season, Duda hit .322 with 10 homers and a .957 OPS -- numbers that jive with his minor-league track record. And that was at old Citi Field, complete with its big gaps, tall fences and ability to crush David Wright's spirit." -- Scott White [Full Mets fantasy team preview]

Fantasy bust: David Wright
"Over the last three seasons, he has a .284 batting average and .828 OPS, which are solid numbers but less than elite even for a third baseman. True, his struggles began the same year the Mets moved to spacious Citi Field, but that doesn't explain why his numbers have lagged on the road during that time. Thus, you can't assume the team's decision to move in the fences this year will be Wright's miracle cure. It'll help, but it won't eliminate the injuries, the perpetually rising strikeout rate and the curious home-road splits." -- Scott White [Full Mets fantasy team preview]

Optimistic outlook
Santana returns to Cy Young form and Niese takes a step forward, as the Mets pitching staff rounds into form. The new dimensions of Citi Field make a huge difference for the team's offense, with Wright and Bay returning to form, while Duda becomes a star. Even in this perfect world, the Mets could have trouble leapfrogging the Phillies, Marlins and Braves. But Bud Selig could always add another eight playoff spots, giving them a spot in the postseason.

Pessimistic outlook
Santana's injuries continue to haunt him and nobody steps up to take over at the top of the rotation. Davis isn't the same player that he was before his injury and Duda suffers from a sophomore slump, as the offense struggles overall. And then there's the chance that the problems on the field pale in comparison to the ownership problems. The worst-case scenario (well, for 2012, it's may be the best-case scenario for the long term) has a repeat of the Dodger fiasco.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: February 28, 2012 7:39 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 9:26 pm
 

Braves' Freeman could miss two weeks

Freddie FreemanBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Spring training always has its share of bumps and bruises, along with legitimate injuries, but it often takes a little time to figure out which is which.

Here's a brief roundup of some of Tuesday's injuries from around baseball.

• Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman could miss two weeks after his right knee popped out of place as he tried to scoop a low throw at first base.

"I was just doing pick drills and the knee gave out," Freeman told reporters (via MLB.com). "The kneecap went this way and I came back in. When I did this when I was playing in Triple-A, it took me two weeks. So that is what we are going on."

Freeman said he had a similar injury in 2010 and he could have come back after a week, but the team didn't want to push it.

• Speaking of the Braves,right-hander Tommy Hanson will retake his concussion test on Thursday and could throwing to live batters again that same day if he passes it. Hanson has been cleared for conditioning and throwing, but not for full workouts yet. He suffered a concussion in a car accident on Feb. 20. (MLB.com)

• Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, who has been dogged by injuries and illness each of the last two seasons, left Mariners camp on a cart Tuesday.

Seattle manager Eric Wedge told reporters Gutierrez hurt something in the pectoral region and had an MRI. The Mariners are still waiting on word of the results of the MRI. (Seattle Times)

• Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth was held out of Tuesday's workout due to back spasms.

"I'm not worried," Nationals manager Davey Johnson told reporters. "There's plenty of time."

Johnson said he didn't expect Werth to play in either of the Nationals' first two exhibition games, but he didn't plan on using too many of the Washington regulars in those games anyway. (NatsInsider.com)

• Rays rookie left-hander Matt Moore missed a second day with an abdomen strain, but Rays manager Joe Maddon told reporters the team isn't worried, they're just being cautious.

"It's an over-conservative thing we're doing right now," Maddon told reporters. "I really believe the next day or two, he should be fine." (St. Petersburg Times)

• Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is expected back in camp on Wednesday after having his Achilles tendon examined in Baltimore on Monday. The Phillies said they wouldn't have word about his status until he returns. (CSNPhilly.com)

• Joba Chamberlain, who underwent Tommy John surgery last year, threw off the mound for the first time Tuesday since the surgery. He threw 16 pitches and said he felt good afterward. He hopes to return in June. (Star-Ledger)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.


Posted on: February 28, 2012 4:36 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 6:18 pm
 

Bobby V. takes swipes at A-Rod, Jeter



Bobby ValentineBy C. Trent Rosecrans


Somewhere in Bobby Valentine's office, there may be a checklist of people he should insult.

Monday, it was his predecessor with the Red Sox and Tuesday it's his rival, the Yankees. First on the list of Yankees to tweak? Alex Rodriguez, second was Derek Jeter.

When discussing retiring Boston catcher Jason Varitek, Valentine took a swipe at A-Rod. In a list of positives about Varitek, Bobby V. noted "he beat up Alex," referring to the 2004 dustup between the two.

Then, while discussing his team's work on relays and cutoffs, he dared blast Jeter's famous flip in Game 2 of the 2001 American League Division Series against the A's.

"We'll never practice that," Valentine told reporters (via the Boston Herald). "I think [Jeter] was out of position. I think the ball gets [Jeremy Giambi] out if [Jeter] doesn't touch it, personally. That was amazing that he was there. I bet it's more amazing that he said he practiced it. I don't believe it."

Would the ball have gotten there in time without Jeter's help? Looking back on it, it may have been closer than I'd remembered. I'm still not sure it had enough juice to get there on its own.

I'm surprised while he's at it, he doesn't bring up that in the same game where Jeter made his famous diving catch in the stands in 2004, Pokey Reese made a similar, but superior, play earlier int he game. (If you don't remember, Reese's catch was similar, but he went further and made the catch closer to the wall -- he just lacked Jeter's theatrics and his team didn't win that game).

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com