Tag:AL West
Posted on: March 24, 2011 2:13 pm
Edited on: March 24, 2011 2:17 pm
 

Gutierrez still struggling with health

By Matt Snyder

The stomach issues that have plagued Franklin Gutierrez for over a year still just won't go away. Thursday will mark the fifth straight game he's out of the Mariners' lineup in a spring training game.

"We've got to get Franklin to a place where he feels comfortable," general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "It's bothering him, and we're waiting for more test results. Franklin doesn't feel strong." (News Tribune )

The 28-year-old gold-glover is undergoing more tests on his stomach to see if there's more the Mariners or Gutierrez himself can do. There were some tests two weeks ago that indicated he had a slow digestive system and needed to change his diet.

He still has time to be ready for opening day, but everything would probably have to be perfect from here on out for his body to be completely ready for the start of the season. Considering the amount of movement he needs to do in covering the vast center field at Safeco, it's tough to see him being ready to go full-time right out of the gate.

Gutierrez hit .245 with a .666 OPS, 12 homers and 64 RBI last season. He's generally considered one of the best defensive players in baseball.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 24, 2011 10:54 am
Edited on: March 24, 2011 11:52 am
 

Pepper: Lack of Mauer power not concerning

Mauer

By Evan Brunell

MAUER POWER: Joe Mauer dipped from 28 home runs in 2009 to just nine last season, one coming at the new home park of Target Field. That's partly due to struggling with injuries and partly thanks to Target Field being the hardest park to hit a home run in. Mauer struggled to adjust in the first half (.293/368/.424) but finished strong in the second half (.373/.447/.527) and isn't interested in struggling again this season.

"A lot of times, I was hitting balls to left field that would be out of a lot of other parks, and they were caught for outs," Mauer said. "So you try to muscle it up a little bit more, and you become a little late [with each swing]. So yeah, it definitely does play with your mind."

While Mauer may try to load up on away home runs, he has the proper frame of mind for how to approach his new home.

"Just keep it simple, try to hit hard line drives, find those gaps and run a little bit."

That could lead to a ton of doubles for Mauer, who racked up 43 after just 30 in 2009. While anyone would prefer homers to doubles, the fact that Mauer can still drive the ball for doubles shows that his power is far from waning.

That hasn't stopped some from questioning the eight-year, $184 million pact that will keep Mauer in a Twins uniform. The deal, universally hailed at the time, has since come under question, but GM Bill Smith dismissed the concerns.

"The contract wasn't done in a one-year vacuum," Smith said. "It's the body of work that Joe had from 2005 through 2009. And we look forward to the coming years, hopefully the coming decade, with Joe Mauer as one of the cornerstone players in this franchise." (Minnesota Star Tribune)

THE EMERGENCE: Brandon McCarthy struggled in Texas to deliver on the promise that caused the team to trade John Danks. However, now with Oakland, McCarthy has moved away from power pitching and has focused on letting the movement on his pitches do the work. That's led to a sensational spring training, and McCarthy is now ready to go for the season. (San Francisco Chronicle)

CLOSING TIME: Now that Alexi Ogando is officially returning to the bullpen, he indicated he would enjoy closing. Ogando may get that shot if Neftali Feliz remains in the rotation, but that's unlikely to happen. "I feel I'm mentally strong and don't think it will affect me that much," Ogando said. (MLB.com)

WATCH YOUR MOUTH: After years of not training players to deal with the media, the Yankees changed their tune in 2007 to integrate a media-training program. That program has since escalated to mock interviews, role playing, guest speakers and more. Derek Jeter has also assisted in this, telling youngsters that they are still on the clock even when the uniform comes off. (Wall Street Journal)

HERE'S A TIP: Daniel Hudson had such a poor start Wednesday that he landed on the 3 up, 3 down list. The righty feels he may have been tipping his pitches, as he noticed hitters "spitting" his changeups while nailing fastballs. (MLB.com)

NO PAIN, BIG GAIN: Tim Stauffer came through his start with excellent results Wednesday after skipping a previous start due to a sore hip flexor. Stauffer put together perhaps the most impressive outing a Padres starter has had so far this spring and is ready for his first full season in the majors as a starter. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

BEER, FASTER: Ever wanted a way to get your beer at the ballpark faster? You're in luck as the Red Sox are adding two beer stands to Fenway Park this season that fills beers from the bottoms up. Yes, you read that right. A recyclable magnetic cap on the bottom of the beer cup flips open to allow beer to pour in before sealing itself shut. This will allow up to 44 beers to be filled per minute. (Boston Herald)

GETTIN' IN THE GROOVE: Brian Matusz didn't mince any words when asked what went wrong during his start Wednesday. "From the get-go, warming up, I couldn't find my rhythm tonight," he said. The good news? Matusz headed to the bullpen after his 1 1/3-inning outing and found his groove then. "It's going to be four hard days of work and then be ready to go on the fifth day," he added. "It was just one of those days where I didn't have it, I didn't get in my rhythm, I didn't do it. Now I know what went wrong and I know what to fix and I'll take it from there." (MASN)

MORE HOT DOGS, PLEASE: Get this: hot dogs may actually be healthier for you than rotisserie chicken, a new study reveals. While the skin of the chicken has more protein, it also packs more carcinogenic compounds, while hot dogs, along with pepperoni and deli meat, have very low amounts. (MSNBC)

FACELIFT: A year after heading to the World Series, the Rangers have spruced up the home ballpark by throwing up a video board that is virtually more than double the size of the old one, the sound system being completely reworked, an upgraded weight room and more. (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)

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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 23, 2011 4:45 pm
 

Twins dangling Kevin Slowey in trade

SloweyBy Evan Brunell

The Twins have mercifully made Kevin Slowey available in a deal, as they have chosen Scott Baker to be their No. 5 starter, as FOX Sports reveals.

Why is it merciful? Because Slowey deserves to start, and it is the Twins' loss to choose players such as Nick Blackburn over Slowey, who has a sterling 1.50 career walk rate per nine innings, paired with a 6.86 K/9 mark. While his 4.41 career ERA isn't great, it looks a lot better with a 4.32 xFIP and he could easily dip below 4 in the National League. Heck, as a 26-year-old, he still has the talent to do so in the AL.

Slowey is a flyball pitcher, so best profiles in a park that plays to his tendencies. If he can land in such a place -- Seattle is one possible destination -- it would be to his benefit. The Mariners are looking to improve their starting pitching depth and could offer up reliever Brandon League in a deal for Slowey. Working against this is the fact League is slated to open the year as closer with David Aardsma out to injury. The M's may not want to turn their bullpen into a motley crew, but frankly, if it's between League and Slowey and a poor bullpen, Slowey's the choice.

Any deal involving Slowey will require relievers in return as the Twins lost Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch and Brian Fuentes. The club does have Joe Nathan returning and Matt Capps functioning as setup man, but the rest of the bullpen is in dire straits.

Other teams currently in need of a starter include the Brewers, Cardinals, Dodgers, Blue Jays and White Sox, but some are only interested in internal options as their starting pitching depth is temporary, such as the Dodgers or White Sox. However, even for those teams, Slowey would be an intriguing add as it is not every day you get a young right-handed starter with spotless command and a track record.

The Blue Jays in particular have been linked to Slowey, but given Toronto has Octavio Dotel and Frank Francisco on the verge of landing on the disabled list, it's unclear if the Jays are interested in compromising their relief depth.

Bet on the Twins entering the season with Slowey, but it would be a surprise if he wasn't moved by July to a team in need of a starter. The Padres could end up the best fit, as they have a cavernous park and could possibly have relievers to deal.

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Posted on: March 23, 2011 2:16 pm
Edited on: March 23, 2011 2:32 pm
 

Webb suffers setback, to see doctor

By Matt Snyder

Brandon Webb was slated to pitch batting practice Wednesday and was headed to a start in a minor-league game this upcoming weekend, but Wednesday was, instead -- as Webb himself put it -- "not a good day." (ESPN Dallas )

Everything is now on hold as Webb could not get loose and ended up not throwing batting practice at all. In fact, he's going to see team Rangers team doctor Keith Meister before deciding what the next step might be for the right-hander.

With anyone coming off an injury, this would be concerning. With Webb, it's far worse. He has suffered setback after setback since undergoing surgery in August of 2009, not once able to face major-league hitters in game action. His timetable to appear in the bigs was probably six weeks into the season, at best, before this setback. Now, there's no telling when he'll be ready. He'll know more after meeting with the doctor, but will almost certainly have to slow things down again.

The pitcher who won the 2006 Cy Young and finished second each of the following two seasons is getting further in the rearview mirror. And at age 31, he's not exactly a young buck anymore.

Fortunately for the Rangers, they do have a dearth of starting pitching options. The concern here is more for the career of Webb.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 23, 2011 1:03 am
 

Getting to know the Mariners

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MVP

Ichiro SuzukiFew players in baseball are as consistent as the Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki.

Suzuki's played in at least 146 games in each of his 10 big league seasons, he's managed at least 206 hits in each of those, has received MVP votes in all but one season and has earned 10 Gold Gloves and 10 All-Star appearances since coming to the United States.

Last season he had the second-lowest OPS of his career (.754), but even at 37, Suzuki is one of the elite players in the game. 

PLAYER ORACLE

Dick Pole played with Bob Galasso for the 1977 Seattle Mariners
Bob Galasso played with Bryan Clark for the 1981 Seattle Mariners
Bryan Clark played with Ken Griffey Jr. for the 1990 Seattle Mariners
Ken Griffey Jr. played with Luke French for the 2009 Seattle Mariners

POP CULTURE

It's easy to forget how big Ken Griffey Jr. was in the '90s, but no player has had the Q rating among the general public that Griffey enjoyed in that decade since then (at least in this country, Ichiro may have him topped in Japan).

Griffey was everywhere -- from Nike commercials (another favorite is here), to video games, to the big screen (Little Big League) and the little screen -- appearing on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and in one of the best episodes in the history of The Simpsons.

Griffey was one of nine ringers brought in by Mr. Burns for the company softball team in "Homer at the Bat" (Episode 8F13).

Eight of the ringers, including Griffey, are sidelined with various incidents. Griffey, who is given the made-up job of lunch room cashier, suffers gigantism from an overdose of nerve tonic, given to the team by Mr. Burns. The others find other ways to miss the big game -- Wade Boggs is knocked out in a bar argument over England's best prime minister, Jose Canseco is burned rescuing pets and items from a burning house, Roger Clemens is hypnotized into thinking he's a chicken, Don Mattingly is booted from the team by Burns for wearing "sideburns", Steve Sax is sentenced to six life terms for various unsolved murders in New York City, Mike Scioscia gets radiation poisoning and Ozzie Smith disappears at the Springfield Mystery Spot. Darryl Strawberry is the only big leaguer to play in the game, he hits nine home runs but is taken out in the ninth inning with the score tied and bases loaded because Mr. Burns wants a right-handed hitting Homer Simpson to face the left-handed pitcher. Homer gets hit by a pitch and wins the game.

Griffey has just four lines --  "Hey, what's up guys," "Wow, it's like there's a party in my mouth and everyone's invited,"  "Pick me, pick me,"  and "all right" -- but apparently had trouble with those, as shown in these outtakes that are an "easter egg" on the Season 3 DVD. "I'm a baseball player, we don't act," he says.

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Posted on: March 22, 2011 5:18 pm
 

Angels shut down Morales

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Kendrys MoralesThe Angels have shut down first baseman Kendrys Morales after he saw a doctor in Los Angeles on Monday. The team has set no timetable for his return.

"We're going to have to take a half-step back to take a step forward," Angels manager Mike Scioscia told the Orange County Register's Bill Plunkett.

Morales was examined by the Dr. Phil Kwong, a foot and ankle specialist. An MRI showed no structural damage, general manager Tony Reagins said. Morales was diagnosed with soreness in the big toe and ball of his left foot.

Morales is trying to come back from last year's broken left leg, but the team said this injury is not directly related to the surgery he had last year, but the injury has slowed his recovery from that surgery.

"I'm real confident in saying he'll be back in relatively short order," Reagins told Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. "I'm not anticipating him being out for months."

The team had already expected Morales to begin the season on the disabled list. The Angels will likely start the season with 25-year-old rookie Mark Trumbo manning first. Trumbo is hitting .340/.354/.766 with five home runs in 47 at-bats this spring.

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Posted on: March 22, 2011 12:39 am
 

Getting to know the A's

By C. Trent Rosecrans

MVP

Hideki MatsuiThe A's may have baseball's deepest pitching staff one-through-12, and if not, there aren't many teams in front of them. The team should have the pitching to contend in the American League West, but the problem may be scoring enough runs. 

Oakland was 11th in runs scored last season (663), ahead of only Cleveland, Baltimore and Seattle. Only the Mariners (101) hit fewer home runs than the A's (109) and had again the Mariners were the only team with a worse slugging percentage (.339) than the A's (.378).

Billy Beane's answer? Hideki Matsui.

Matsui signed a one-year deal worth $4.25 million and is expected to add some much-needed pop to the A's lineup. That said, Matsui is coming off a year with 21 home runs in Anaheim and moving into a less-friendly stadium in Oakland. It will be tough for Matsui to repeat his .274/.361/.459 slash line he put up last season (good for a 124 OPS+) with 21 homers and 84 RBI. But if he can come close to matching that production, he'll certainly help the A's score runs and contend in the AL West.

Player Oracle

Home Run Baker played with Waite Hoyt for the 1922 New York Yankees
Waite Hoyt played with Bert Haas for the 1937 Brooklyn Dodgers
Bert Haas played with Minnie Minoso for the 1951 Chicago White Sox
Minnie Minoso played with Harold Baines for the 1980 Chicago White Sox
Harold Baines played with Frank Thomas for the 2001 Chicago White Sox
Frank Thomas played with Daric Barton for the 2008 Oakland Athletics

Pop Culture

In 1972, Vida Blue appeared in four World Series games and also in Black Gunn, a blaxploitation film starring Jim Brown and Martin Landau.

Blue stars as Sam Green, who works at a parking lot and is interrogated by mob members about a robbery. Green is beaten up for not telling the mobsters anything. Brown's titular character, in the end, gets his bloody revenge.

Blue was also the subject of a song by Albert Jones in 1971, the year the left-hander won the Cy Young and American League MVP, going 24-8 with a 1.82 ERA.

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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