Tag:AL Central
Posted on: March 23, 2011 10:22 pm
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3 up, 3 down for 3/23: Seven strong for Shields



By Matt Snyder


3 UP

James Shields, Rays. Roy Oswalt getting clocked in the head overshadowed this outing -- and rightfully so at the time -- but Shields threw a masterpiece against the Phillies Wednesday. It wasn't against scrubs either, as names like Rollins, Howard and Ibanez were in the order. He went seven shutout innings, allowing just four hits and one walk. He struck out four while lowering his spring ERA to 1.88.

Carlos Silva, Cubs. With Randy Wells nailing down the No. 4 spot in the Cubs' starting rotation, there's only one opening remaining. Silva had been brutal so far this spring, but he made a case to remain in consideration Wednesday. He threw six innings and coughed up just one earned run. In fact, he only allowed three hits and walked none. I still like Andrew Cashner for that job, but reports had Cubs' skipper Mike Quade very pleased with Silva's outing.

Matt Kemp, Dodgers. The 26 year old continued his torrid spring, crushing a three-run bomb off John Danks to highlight a 2-4 day. He's now hitting .320 with a 1.072 OPS this spring. He has five home runs and 15 RBI in only 50 at-bats.

3 DOWN

Matt Cain, Giants. He entered the game with five scoreless innings under his belt in the spring. He left with a 5.63 spring ERA after giving up seven hits and five earned runs in three innings. Good thing the spring games don't count.

Daniel Hudson, Diamondbacks. The promising young arm for the Snakes couldn't get through three innings after allowing eight hits, two walks and seven runs. Only one of the runs was earned, but a Hudson throwing error was what helped open the door for the huge Rangers' third inning.

Ryan Doumit, Pirates. An interesting case, as you could glance at the box score and see Doumit collected two hits in four at-bats. But look deeper, as his ineptitude in everything but handling the stick was illustrated Wednesday. He allowed his third passed ball of the spring and was picked off on the basepaths -- twice! As the Pirates reportedly continue to shop him, efforts like these won't help.

BONUS -- YOU MAKE THE CALL

Francisco Liriano, Twins. He struck out nine hitters in three innings. Yes, every out he recorded was of the punch-out variety. Of course, he needed 76 pitches just to get through those three innings and along the way he walked three guys and gave up four hits. The one earned run isn't awful (it would be a 3.00 ERA), but a walk per inning is, just like the WHIP of more than two. Still, love seeing nine K in three innings. So would the outing be listed in up or down? You make the call.

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Posted on: March 23, 2011 6:08 pm
Edited on: March 23, 2011 9:25 pm
 

Red Sox, Tigers, Mets lost money in 2010

By Matt Snyder

More Finances
Forbes.com has released its annual list of the values of each Major League Baseball franchise, along with the revenue and operating income for 2010. It's kind of interesting to check, especially since we're still in spring training and thus relegated to following minor injuries and battles for the final few roster spots.

Not surprisingly, the New York Yankees were the highest-valued franchise at $1.7 billion. Despite a mind-boggling payroll, the Yankees make so much money they turned a $25.7 million profit last season. Every team turned a profit except the Red Sox, Tigers and Mets, actually.

The Red Sox had an operating income of negative $1.1 million. The Mets lost $6.2 million and the Tigers were a disastrous negative $29.1 million.

Also, the Mets franchise value took a 13 percent hit, though it's not exactly the Pirates, as the Mets' value was listed at $747 million. The only other franchise to lose value was the Indians, who took a 10 percent hit. The Padres were the third team to not gain value, as there was no change.

Interestingly, the Padres had the highest operating income, at $37.2 million. The Nationals checked in second at $36.6 million. Remember, the Nationals have the richest owner in baseball -- Ted Lerner -- so the road is definitely paved for the Nats to drastically increase payroll should they decide to do so. As I've written before, don't count them out as being a major player by the end of this decade.

The Rangers saw the highest increase in value with the Giants third, which makes sense considering they played in the World Series. The Twins saw the second-highest increase in franchise value, which coincided with opening their new home park, Target Field.

After the Yankees, the rest of the top five franchises in value are the Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs and Mets.

Check out the full chart by clicking here .

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Posted on: March 22, 2011 10:14 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/22: Fox strikes again

Jake Fox

By C. Trent Rosecrans

3 UP

1. Orioles bats -- Jake Fox, pictured, hit his eighth homer of the spring for Baltimore, but he wasn't alone in peppering Yankees pitching on Tuesday. Luke Scott hit a shot over the scoreboard in right-center. J.J. Hardy also homered. The Orioles are slugging .445 this spring, the best mark by an American League team in Florida. The Phillies at .447 are the only Grapefruit League team with a better slugging percentage.

2. Wandy Rodriguez, Astros -- Sidelined the last two weeks with left shoulder tendinitis, Houston's left-hander allowed three hits and an unearned run in four innings, throwing 40 strikes in 60 pitches. Rodriguez is scheduled to start again on Sunday and then face Cliff Lee in the Astros' second game of the regular season.

3. Travis Buck, Indians -- The Indians outfielder had two homers in Tuesday's game against the Diamondbacks, raising his spring total to four. He had four total homers in 177 at-bats between the minors and the A's last season.

3 DOWN

1. Adam Dunn, White Sox -- Chicago's new slugger struck out three times on Tuesday in an 0-for-4 performance, giving him 22 strikeouts this spring. He's hitting .208/.311/.358 this spring with one homer in a team-leading 53 at-bats.

2. Mike Leake, Reds -- The day after it looked like Leake had his ticket to Cincinnati punched thanks to Johnny Cueto's injury, the A's took BP on the Reds' right-hander. Leake gave up single runs in each of the first two innings on Tuesday and then allowed five in the third, while recording only one out. In all he gave up six hits, seven earned runs, walked four and saw his ERA rise to 9.39. Daric Barton and Coco Crisp both hit solo homers off of Leake.

3. Welington Castillo, Cubs -- A rough day for Castillo, who nearly beat out an infield single, but showed his catchers speed and was thrown out in his only plate appearance of the day. Sure, lots of folks went 0 for 1 on Tuesday, but not many saw their average drop from .706 to .667. Castillo has 12 hits in 18 at-bats, plus two walks, so his on-base percentage is still .700. For those of you not used to that statistic, it's officially "not too bad."

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Posted on: March 22, 2011 11:58 am
Edited on: March 22, 2011 1:29 pm
 

Phillies may chase Michael Young

YoungBy Evan Brunell

The Phillies may be prepared to go after Michael Young (pictured) hard with the looming possibility that Chase Utley could miss the entire season with patellar tendinitis, which also threatens his career. 

The report out of the New York Daily News makes note that the Phillies' payroll is virtually maxed out as it has cracked the $160 million barrier. However, Texas is reportedly open to eating half of Young's deal, which will pay him $48 million over the next three seasons. In addition, the Rangers could accept Joe Blanton back from the Phillies -- on the ledger for $17 million over the next two years. However, it is difficult to fathom the Rangers being willing to chew up $28 million in Young's salary over the next three years, plus add Blanton's deal on top. In addition, Texas is seeking a strong prospect in return for Young, and the Phillies may not be willing to offer up yet another prospect in a farm system that has been razed by the Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay trades.

Even if Utley is able to return to the roster this season, the club could just make Young a roving backup infielder. However, he could easily continue to start if Jimmy Rollins or Placido Polanco struggle. In addition, the two are free agents after the year, which would open up a starting spot for Young.

It's obvious, despite the team's denials to the contrary, that Philadelphia is extremely concerned about the state of Utley's knee and are rushing to contingency plans. Luis Castillo was signed to a contract Monday after being released from the Mets, but he is only a temporary stopgap unless he suddenly returns to the .300-average days of old, and even then he provides limited value.

Related

Unfortunately for Philadelphia, there just aren't any cheap, good options to supplant Utley at second base. The team may actually have better luck shifting Polanco to second, his primary position, and chasing a third baseman to fill the gap. The White Sox are known to have made Mark Teahen available, and he would be a nice fit in Philadelphia if the dollars make sense. Teahen could play third and is even capable of playing right field, another position in flux for the squad. 

That's pure conjecture, but as heavy expectations are heaped upon the Phillies, the front office has to find a way to withstand the loss of Utley and ex-right fielder Jayson Werth on offense. After all, for all the good pitching a team can have, you can't win without scoring runs.

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Posted on: March 22, 2011 10:26 am
Edited on: March 22, 2011 11:16 am
 

Pepper: After death of child, Cordero persevering

Cordero

By Evan Brunell

WORST NIGHTMARE: After midnight the morning of Dec. 4, former Nationals closer Chad Cordero got the worst news one could get: his three-month old daughter was dead from SIDS, otherwise known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Cordero was once one of the best closers in the game, saving 47 games for the inaugural season of the Washington Nationals after coming up with the Mariners. Cordero's been a non-entity for years now, struggling with injuries amid stints with the Mariners and Mets. He is now in camp with the Blue Jays, but first had to go through a horrific experience. His daughter, Teyta, was staying with his grandparents and was put to bed to sleep, but was checked on regularly. The last checkup came around midnight before Cordero's mother, Patti, discovered Teyta had passed at 12:45 a.m.

It was, like, so hard -- for weeks," wife Jamie Cordero said. "Like you didn’t want to go to sleep, because you just felt that much further away from her, like it really happened. But looking back right now, I’m just glad those first few weeks are over, because it’s just like hell."

Cordero is slated to appear in his first major-league game on Tuesday and will do so with Teyta near him, as he had her face tattooed on his left forearm. It's not clear how realistic a shot Cordero has at the big-league roster, but there's one person in Toronto who believes in him.

"If there was anybody who would fight back, it would be him," Toronto scouting director Dana Brown said, who drafted Cordero when with Montreal. (Washington Post)

STAKE IN METS TO DEPEND ON MONEY: The reports of the Mets selling 20-25 percent of the club are technically not true. While that could end up being the percentage of the team sold, the goal for the Wilpons is to sell whatever share meshes with a specific amount the team is looking for. While this amount would be nowhere near what's needed to gain majority control, it does mean that the new owner could own as much as a third of the company, if not more. It will all come down to what the Mets are valued at. (New York Daily News)

WHO WILL START? The Brewers are having trouble finding a solution to replace Zack Greinke, but the team continues to insist that it will fill the spot internally, with Marco Estrada the latest candidate who will draw the start Tuesday. The club is keeping an eye on the open market, though, and while they won't bring in someone making significant dollars, there will be some intriguing names that could be available. If the Cubs release Carlos Silva, he could head to Milwaukee. The same goes for the Yankees and Freddy Garcia, who may have lost the No. 5 spot to Bartolo Colon. (MLB.com)

UPTON GLAD FOR SUPPORT: B.J. Upton wasn't really paying attention to racial remarks an Orioles fan yelled out during a spring-training game Sunday, but manager Joe Maddon certainly was -- and so were other members of the team who spoke up. Upton, for his part, says he hears these type of  comments constantly. "There's 30, 40,000 people in the stands; you're bound to hear it. It's 2011, you know what I mean, but it is what it is. Freedom of speech, I guess." (Tampa Tribune)

THE BEST WEAPON: Manager Terry Francona doesn't have any interest in returning to a closer by committee, which Boston tried the year before Tito arrived. However, he clearly recognizes the value of having a top set up man to deploy where needed, calling Daniel Bard "the best weapon you can have. ... Sometimes you wait to get to your closer, you’ve already lost. With guys like Bard, it’s bases loaded, seventh inning, you’re going to win or lose right there."

I JUST PLAY: Jake Peavy would love to stay on schedule and be ready for opening day, but he realizes that manager Ozzie Guillen is the man that makes the decisions. Peavy took care to make clear he wasn't interested in calling the shots and has not done so all spring. In light of Peavy's recent setback, the team will exercise caution in working the righty back into the rotation given how close he is to returning to action. (ChicagoBreakingSports.com)

PICK-TO-CLICK: Devin Mesoraco won't be making the Reds' roster, but he's caught the eye of manager Dusty Baker, who called the backstop his "pick-to-click" player. He could be the first option up from Triple-A if Ramon Hernandez and/or Ryan Hanigan get injured. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

ROAD TO THE BIGS: South Korea said no. Japan said no. So Tim Redding returned stateside and is now on the verge of making the major-league roster for the Dodgers as Vincente Padilla and Jon Garland have both been knocked out by injuries. You don't see that kind of story often. (Los Angeles Times)

BACK IN CENTER: Grady Sizemore will clear another hurdle Thursday when he plays center field for three innings for the first time since having microfracture surgery on his left knee in June. He served as DH in a game Sunday and will likely fill that capacity again on Thursday. (MLB.com)

LEAVING VIERA? The Nationals have been rumored to be looking for a new spring-training destination for quite some time. And now, from the mouth of owner Ted Lerner, it's confirmed that Washington is looking to move out from the east coast of Florida to cut down on travel time. While they would like to stay in Florida, Arizona is not being ruled out. (Washington Post)

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Posted on: March 21, 2011 11:16 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:30 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/21: Colon making his case

Bartolo Colon

By C. Trent Rosecrans

3 UP

1.  Bartolo Colon, Yankees -- While many scoffed at the idea of Colon coming back after a year off and joining the Yankees' rotation, he's certainly making his case. Colon, 37, had another strong outing on Monday. Colon retired 18 of the 20 batters he faced, including five strikeouts. He allowed two hits and a run.  In 15 innings this spring, he has a 2.40 ERA, with 17 strikeouts and one walk.

2. Joe Mauer, Twins -- It's not just that Mauer had two hits and an RBI against the Pirates on Monday, but he also caught six innings. It was Mauer's second start behind the plate of spring.

3. Mets second basemen -- Now that the Luis Castillo soap opera is behind us, the Mets four remaining candidates for the second base job all contributed in a four-run ninth to lead New York past Atlanta. Brad Emaus, Daniel Murphy and Luis Hernandez each had run-scoring hits, while Justin Turner was hit by a pitch.

3 DOWN

1. Arizona -- Isn't Arizona supposed to be a desert? Six Cactus League games were banged on Monday because of rain.

2. Mike Pelfrey, Mets -- The Mets' opening day starter was pounded for seven runs (four earned) and seven hits by the Braves. Pelfrey allowed six consecutive hits to start the ending and when it appeared he'd actually record an out, David Wright's error allowed another run to score. He finally retired the eight batter of the inning, only to be lifted due to a high pitch count.

3. Some fans -- Rays manager Joe Maddon had a fan tossed from Sunday's game after the fan made racial comments toward outfielder B.J. Upton. Upton said Monday that he heard the comments, but was more worried about his game. Upton said it's not the first time he's heard such comments (via MLB.com) -- "A lot of times, it happens when I'm in the outfield of a visiting stadium. Even I've heard it at home, too. I think it was just a situation where everyone heard it. Put it this way -- it's not too far-fetched to hear it." That's not surprising, but it's still sad.

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Posted on: March 21, 2011 10:40 am
Edited on: March 21, 2011 10:42 am
 

Pepper: Barry Bonds' trial begins

Bonds

By Evan Brunell

BONDS ON TRIAL: Monday marks the first day of the long-awaited trial in which Barry Bonds is charged with lying to a grand jury about his usage of steroids.

Bonds, who has adamantly stated that he never used steroids -- at least knowingly -- has had several legal victories leading up to the trial and it is anyone's guess whether Bonds will be convicted. If he is found innocent, former commissioner Fay Vincent believes his chances of making the Hall go up, but any conviction is "the end of the discussion for at least 30 years."

The anecdotal evidence against Bonds is overwhelming, and even if he's found innocent, it will be difficult to find a person who truly believes Bonds did not knowingly use steroids. It's unclear how much impact this trial will have on Bonds' Hall of Fame hopes. There will be plenty of writers who vote for Bonds if he cleared all the legal hurdles, but there will be just as many who pursue their own brand of vigilante justice, and there are plenty of supporting arguments for each party.

While the government has been limited by Bonds' victories in pre-trial hearings, they do hold a positive steroid test in which Bonds tested positive for the clear and the cream. That will force the trial to devolve into a "he said-she said" argument, with the government prepared to call 52 witnesses -- but none among them will be Bonds' close friend and trainer Greg Anderson, who has already served over a year in prison for contempt of court and could serve more.

While the lurid trial figures to get plenty of ink in the coming weeks, don't forget that Roger Clemens lands on trial in July, and that has the promise to be an even more salacious affair. (San Francisco Chronicle)

TO PLAY OR NOT TO PLAY?: While Japan struggles to deal with the devastation that the earthquake and tsunami wrought, there's a hot debate on whether the Japanese baseball league should begin play. Some look at how baseball was the salve for America's heartbreak after 9/11, some think the comparison is ridiculous. Either way, the Central League will open four days late and play only day games the first week to save power. The Pacific League will start up April 12. (New York Times)

STICKING WITH J.P.: Projected starting catcher J.P. Arencibia has had an awful start to spring training for the Jays, this after finishing last season 1 for his last 30. Even with the news that backup Jose Molina will catch Brandon Morrow and Kyle Drabek, that's still almost 100 games lined up for Arencibia, and the team is prepared to let the slugger play his way through any struggles. (Canoe.ca)

HUSTLIN': Mark Teixeira wasn't pleased with Ben Francisco Sunday, as the Phillies outfielder bumped into Teixeira on a groundball to first. "That's not a hustle play," Tex sniffed. "He could hurt me or hurt himself." Teixeira has a fair point, as most players will allow themselves to be tagged out on a play in front of them, but it's hard to blame Francisco for this one, who is battling for the starting right field job. (New York Post)

SAME OLD: The disabled list for Jake Peavy? What a surprise. After Peavy suffered a setback and admitted he has been pitching with rotator-cuff discomfort since March 4, manager Ozzie Guillen didn't mince words, saying Peavy is likely to start the season on the DL and will not make his next start Thursday. Peavy needed that start to stay on track to be the club's No. 5 starter on April 6, but Phil Humber will take his place instead. As for when Peavy can pitch again? He'll have to get past Ozzie first. (ChicagoBreakingSports.com)

WANTED: BACKUP INFIELDER: The Padres are on the hunt for a backup infielder, but may wait until next week for prices to drop on available players. Robert Andino of the Orioles and Alberto Gonzalez of the Nationals have caught San Diego's attention, and each should be available for a reasonable cost. (MLB.com via Twitter)

MORE POWER TO SCOTT: Scott Boras has a host of players under contract with the Nationals, including their three faces of the franchise in Jayson Werth, Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. That will wield a lot of influence with the Nats, but contrary to popular perception, Boras may actually be able to exert a positive influence. (Washington Post)

WATCH YOUR MOUTH: Joe Maddon heard an Orioles fan yell something racist to Rays center fielder B.J. Upton, so Maddon had the fan removed from the game. (St. Petersburg Times) Upton and other coaches confirmed hearing the comment, but the O's fan has since created a Twitter account to defend himself, saying he did not make racist comments. (Twitter: @AssClownOsFan)

REED WANTS SPOT: Jeremy Reed has a bit of a reputation of having an over-inflated sense of self and the ego to match. However, in camp to fight for a backup outfield spot alongside Chris Dickerson and Brandon Boggs, Reed has done near everything right in the hopes it's enough to land on the 40-man roster and make the team. He has stiff competition in Dickerson, but manager Ron Roenicke is impressed with Reed's work ethic. (MLB.com)

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Posted on: March 20, 2011 10:02 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/20: Morel wins 3B gig

Morton

By Evan Brunell

We're getting to the part of spring training where players on the bubble who are given serious consideration for a job start looking for pink slips in their locker. Just one good (or bad, as Andrew Miller will probably find out) day could be enough to swing a decision. So who helped and hurt themselves today?

3 UP

1. 3B Brent Morel, CHW: 4 AB, 2 H. Morel's day at the plate was nothing to write home about, but he received good news earlier in the day when manager Ozzie Guillen told the youngster he had won the third base job. Morel's known for his glove more than stick, but he should be able to hold his own on offense. Now, Mark Teahen will be bumped to a backup role and certainly is available in a trade.

2. CF Chris Heisey, CIN: 6 AB, 2 R, 3 H, 2 RBI, 2 K. Heisey appears to have won the fourth outfielder's job in Cincinatti, besting Fred Lewis and Jeremy Hermida. The 26-year-old also impressed off the bench as a bench player, although he struggled when drawing the starting assignment. He could eventually emerge as a starter, but a career as a solid No. 4 outfielder appears more likely.

3. SP Charlie Morton (pictured), PIT: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K. Where did this come from? Morton has a 1.29 ERA in spring training after finishing last season with a 2-12 record and 7.57 ERA in 17 starts as a 26-year-old. However, Morton has likely fought his way into a rotation spot by dint of his excellent spring in which he has punched out eight and walked just one in 14 1/3 innings.

3 DOWN

1. DH Jack Cust, SEA: 4 AB, 1 H, 1 RBI, 3 K, 4 LOB. Seriously, this is a typical Cust line right here. Cust is known for a low batting average, strong eye and solid to good power (he banged two homers on Saturday). Cust is going to be looked upon to help Seattle move past their brutal offensive season last year, but his power has been largely dormant the last two years.

2. SP Andrew Miller, BOS: 0 IP, 4 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 0 K. There's been plenty of ink written about the promise Andrew Miller has and how Boston may be the place for him to put it all together. One start doesn't make that go away, but this brutal outing underscores just how long to go Miller has to be anything of value to the big-league team. The odds are still stacked against him. Miller had long odds to make the Red Sox bullpen anyways, and this outing may have just sealed his fate.

3. SP Edinson Volquez, CIN: 2 1/3 IP, 1 H, 5 ER, 5 BB, 3 K. Volquez has never been one known for control, but he seems to have particularly struggled with it on his return from Tommy John surgery. That's not uncommon, but for Volquez to continue to have these issues speaks to a larger issue, whether that's a tougher time in returning from the surgery or an underlying issue of dude just not having command at all. Given the Reds lack a frontline ace despite not wanting for depth, Volquez's struggles are concerning.

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