Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
 
Tag:AL West
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.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

More MLB coverage
Posted on: March 19, 2011 8:21 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/19: Say goodbye to Oliver



By Matt Snyder


3 DOWN

Oliver Perez, Mets. The much-maligned lefty has been a huge talking point all spring for Mets fans and scribes alike. Will the Mets simply cut their losses and eat the remainder of his contract -- which is one year and $12 million? They are already eating $6 million after dismissing Luis Castillo. Saturday, Perez probably put the nail in his own proverbial coffin. He entered the game in the seventh inning and coughed up back-to-back jacks after inheriting two runners. Reports have the Mets cutting ties with him as early as Sunday.

Cole Hamels, Phillies. For the second-straight outing, Hamels was torched. He allowed seven hits, five earned runs and three walks in 3 2/3 innings. He did strike out five.

Jason Marquis, Nationals. Not to be outdone by his fellow NL East bretheren, Marquis served up nine hits, six earned runs and three walks in 3 2/3 innings to the Mets. Despite Perez's best efforts to let the Nats back in the game, Marquis still took the loss -- as if that really matters in the spring.

3 UP

Derrek Lee, Orioles. He took a walk and scored a run in two plate appearances. His other was a strikeout, but the main thing was the veteran first baseman played for the first time this spring and reported afterward he was pain-free.

Trevor Cahill, A's. He had struggled thus far in the spring, but not Saturday. Cahill worked 6 1/3 innings, allowing only four hits and one earned run. He struck out three.

Travis Wood, Reds. At the same time Johnny Cueto was leaving a game injured, Wood was making a strong case to make the Reds' rotation even if Cueto is completely healthy. He was straight dominant through four shutout innings, and finished with four hits, one earned run and four strikeouts in five innings. He did seem to tire a bit in the fifth, but we're still a few starts away from the regular season. He'll get there.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

 

More MLB coverage
Posted on: March 19, 2011 11:21 am
Edited on: March 19, 2011 11:49 am
 

Pepper: Live from my mother's basement!

By Matt Snyder

It just won't go away, this petty little feud.

I speak, of course, of the "old school" baseball people who hate blogging -- yet blog themselves, which is weird -- and despise anyone who dares to disagree with their beliefs, especially when it comes to "newer" statistics (though OBP is hardly new). Check out this really awesome paragraph from Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle :
It won't be long before we get the first wave of nonsense from stat-crazed dunces claiming there's nothing to be learned from a batting average, won-loss record or RBI total. Listen, just go back to bed, OK? Strip down to those fourth-day undies, head downstairs (to "your mother's basement and your mother's computer," as Chipper Jones so aptly describes it) and churn out some more crap. For more than a century, .220 meant something. So did .278, .301, .350, an 18-4 record, or 118 RBIs. Now it all means nothing because a bunch of nonathletes are trying to reinvent the game?
Now, I'm not gonna go nuts. Several people already have across the 'net, though the great Joe Posnanski already took care of the heavy lifting in the most rational post possible -- and came back for a little more .

I'll just add that my personal feeling is that it's always dangerous to side with someone who attacks people for simply disagreeing. I prefer on-base percentage over batting average because not making outs is a much better measure of a good baseball player than disregarding walks and hit-by-pitches and figuring a hit percentage. In fact, I don't understand how it's not obvious -- seriously, a walk doesn't even count in batting average! -- but I'm not about to attack the character of someone who disagrees. If you feel compelled to freak out and use a decade-old joke that makes no sense, maybe you are the one with the problem? Just a thought.

As for the "non-athlete" thing, I have a short anecdote to illustrate my point. I realized I hated batting average as compared to OBP one time when I went 0-1 with three walks and three runs scored -- noticing it was a .000 batting average for the day, yet a pretty damn good day of helping my team win.

And the game wasn't even in my mother's basement. Seriously!

Honestly, though, don't you think guys in a similar situation in the bigs would feel the same way? What about a pitcher who throws a complete game and only allows one unearned run, yet loses 1-0. And he goes home and sees on MLB Network that a pitcher for the Yankees allowed seven earned runs in five innings and got the win because the Bombers' offense went nuts. Judging pitchers on wins and losses would have us believe the latter performed better. Really?

Again, I don't understand how it's not obvious these stats aren't the best ones. If this was elementary school you'd get an F for disagreeing. Maybe I should start making lame jokes in return instead of having an actual, meaningful conversation. Apparently that's the best way to plead your case when it comes to the old school.

MORNEAU AT NIGHT: Justin Morneau played his first night game in a long, long time Friday night, and things went well. "It's just different. For the most part, the stuff has come on later in the day. So I wanted to see, because we usually play night games during the season, I wanted to see where I was at, and I felt pretty good." That "stuff" to which he is referring, in case you've been asleep since last July, would be lingering symptoms from his concussion. (MLB.com )

STOREN STRUGGLES: Second-year pitcher Drew Storen was supposed to be the Nationals' closer this season. He still very well may be eventually, as he has the highest upside of any of the candidates. But he's had a pretty disastrous spring and might be in jeopardy of being optioned to the minors. It's not likely, but possible. (Washington Post )

DON'T DOUBT DAVIS: Doug Davis has worked out for four teams in Arizona and is looking to catch on somewhere (MLB Trade Rumors ). It's uncertain that he'll definitely be able to grab a job in a rotation at some point this year, but I don't plan on wagering against the veteran. He's already kicked cancer's butt.

UBALDO GETS NOD: We've been posting the announcements of opening day starters as stand-alone pieces, but Ubaldo Jimenez as the Rockies' opening day starter is far too obvious. It would have been shocking if he wasn't handed that responsibility. Just a heads-up, don't expect posts on CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay or Felix Hernandez on this subject either. (MLB.com )

ELVIS MUSCLES UP:
Elvis Andrus hit a home run Friday. He hasn't done so in a regular-season game since September 2 ... of 2009. (ESPN Dallas )

FANS HAVE CLOUT?
You always wonder if teams take these sort of things under consideration, but it's incredibly rare -- if not unprecedented -- for a team to admit fan venom played into a move. But the Mets did so with Luis Castillo (ESPN New York ). Manager Terry Collins and general manager Sandy Alderson both admitted that the Mets' fans' collective hatred of Castillo played a role in the team cutting him.

WESTY'S ROAD BACK: Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland has stared death in the eyes and survived. Now he's on the comeback trail. I won't even attempt to do this lengthy feature justice, instead I'll just say please go read it. It's great stuff. (Boston.com )

RETURN TO DODGERTOWN? The Dodgers' spring training games are not drawing well. In fact, attedance is down 42.3 percent from last season in Camelback Ranch. The average draw per game is barely over half the capacity. (Los Angeles Times )

A QUESTION OF DURABILITY:
Scott Rolen hasn't played more than 140 games since 2006 and not more than 150 since 2003. He's 36. He faltered in a big way in the second half last season. But he's saying all the right things and preaching accountability. (MLB.com )

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

 

More MLB coverage

Posted on: March 18, 2011 9:29 pm
 

Getting to know the Angels

By Evan Brunell

MVP

WellsThe Angels, for a host of reasons, really, really need Vernon Wells to come through. After proving he still had something left in his bat, Wells was dealt to the Angels in the offseason's most-criticized swap, as Wells has $81 million remaining on his ill-advised contract.

The Angels made the move hoping Wells would add to their offense that struggled in 2010. While losing Kendrys Morales to an injury in May didn't help Los Angeles' cause, the offense needed a shot in the arm to go along with Morales' return. But rather than commit seven years to Carl Crawford, the Angels struck for a worse player whose four years left on the deal are at the same ages as Crawford.

For the offense's sake, for the sake of the ledger books and for the sake of GM Tony Reagins, Vernon Wells must produce.

PLAYER ORACLE

  • Ted Kluszewski played with Al Jackson for the 1959 Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Al Jackson played with Nolan Ryan for the 1969 New York Mets
  • Nolan Ryan played with Darren Oliver for the 1993 Texas Rangers
  • Darren Oliver played with Jered Weaver for the 2007 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

POP CULTURE

You can't talk Angels pop culture without mentioning the classic Angels in the Outfield, starring Christopher Lloyd, Danny Glover, Tony Danza and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who you may remember as Arthur in Inception, Tom from (500) Days of Summer or as Tommy Solomon in 3rd Rock from the Sun as one of the main characters. Also making appearances in the film are Adrien Brody, Matthew McConaughey and Neal McDonough.

In Angels in the Outfield, released in 1994, Gordon-Levitt plays a foster child who sneaks into games played by the California Angels, who were among the league's dreck. It is at this time that he asks his father when they can be a family again, to which the father responds that the Angels have to win the pennant first. Gordon-Levitt, as Rogers, then prays for help. Lo and behold, the angels (not the baseball Angels...) respond!

Hey, we didn't say this movie was in the running for Best Picture. Anyways, we won't ruin the ending here, but suffice it to say that hilarity ensues as God's angels help the Calfornia Angels in their run to the pennant with Roger the only one who can see the angels. That draws the attention of the Angels manager (Glover), who uses Roger to help the team.

There's one part of the movie where Glover leaves in a starting pitcher despite 159 pitches up to that point. You'd certainly never see that today.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 

More MLB coverage
Category: MLB
Posted on: March 18, 2011 2:58 pm
 

Rangers' rotation shuffle shaking out

By Matt Snyder

According to pitching coach Mike Maddux, the Rangers have settled on the pitchers to fill the third and fourth spots in their starting rotation, behind C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis.

Though it was not official, Maddux told a radio show that Tommy Hunter and Matt Harrison were close to being given the nod and that "the other spot is going to come down to the last couple weeks." (ESPN Dallas )

That last spot has a whole six guys still in the mix. Obviously, if management wants Neftali Feliz in the rotation, that's his spot. If not, the Rangers are deciding between Derek Holland, Michael Kirkman, Dave Bush, Brett Tomko and Alexi Ogando.

The smart money there is on Holland, though Kirkman is an up-and-coming prospect and Bush has the wily veteran factor. It just depends on which direction the Rangers want to go. That spot is probably a temp gig anyway, with Brandon Webb making progress and a sure bet to join the fray at some point during the first half of the season.

Hunter, 24, has an 8.31 ERA this spring, but has struck out 10 guys and only walked one. He was 13-4 last season with a 3.73 ERA in 128 innings.

Harrison, 25, has only allowed five hits and one earned run in nine spring innings (1.00 ERA). He had a 4.71 ERA in 37 appearances last season -- only six of which were starts. He was 1-1 with a 5.29 ERA as a starter.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

 

More MLB coverage
Posted on: March 18, 2011 10:33 am
Edited on: March 18, 2011 11:18 am
 

Pepper: Kemp has something to prove



By Matt Snyder


Prior to last season, the common sentiment was that Matt Kemp was headed to stardom. It made sense. He was only 25 and was coming off a season where he hit .297 with a .352 OBP and 26 homers, 101 RBI, 97 runs and 34 stolen bases. Though he did hit two more home runs last season, he regressed rather significantly. His average dropped 48 points and OBP was a poor .310. He stole 19 bases, but was caught stealing 15 times. And the stat-line wasn't the worst part. His love life and butting heads with coaches made more news than his actual play.

But the proverbial page has been turned this spring.

"He seems great. I shouldn't say 'seems,' because he's been great," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told the Los Angeles Times .

Kemp came into the spring with that cliche of being in the best shape of his life. So far, it's coming through on the field, as he's hitting .316 with three home runs and three stolen bases. He's looking for it to carry over into the games that actually matter, and there's an extra motivation at play.

"Last year was a very disappointing season, personally and team-wise," he said to the Times. "I felt like I failed in some way. This year, I'm going to try to make sure that doesn't happen again, that we get back to the playoffs and get to where we should be."

HEILMAN ON THE HILL: Aaron Heilman hasn't started a game since 2005, but he's making a strong case to break camp as the Diamondbacks' fifth starter. Two of the three between Heilman, Barry Enright and Armando Galarraga will join the D-Backs' rotation, and Heilman became the first Arizona pitcher to toss five innings Thursday. He allowed two runs -- coming on a Matt Kemp homer, coincidentally. (MLB.com )

ABOUT FELIX'S NO-TRADE CLAUSE: A popular topic this week on the interwebs has been this list of teams Felix Hernandez has on his no-trade clause. Specifically, he can block a trade to the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Cubs, Angels, Dodgers, Rangers, Phillies and two still-unnamed teams. Now, upon first glance, it might seem he's scared to play in a large-market, high-pressure situation. Quite the contrary, however, as this is actually a savvy move by Hernandez and his agents. Reports indicate these are the teams they felt were most likely to try and acquire King Felix and would be able to offer financial incentives to waive the clause. While we're here, Yankees fans, Felix is not going to be traded this year. It's time to turn the page. (FOX Sports )

NICE CATCH:
Yankees legend Yogi Berra was speaking with Rays manager Joe Maddon Thursday when Berra tripped and began to fall. Maddon caught him. "It's one of those things, you just see it and he's going down. There's Yogi Berra falling right in front of me," Maddon said. "I try to catch him. It might have been my best play as a professional." If not for Maddon's steady hand, it would have been the second fall this spring for Berra. (TBO.com )

OUTFIELD DEFENSE: The best defensive outfield? The Mariners, followed by the Rangers, Giants and Yankees. (MLB.com )

BIG DAY: Kendrys Morales is either going to play Sunday or start the season on the disabled list. He did say rather definitively that he plans to play, but words can only carry you so far. If he's not fully recovered from last season's broken leg, he's just not ready. Mark Trumbo would be the Angels' starting first baseman if Morales can't go. (MLB.com )

ROLEN FOR HALL: This is interesting to me because I rarely consider a Hall of Fame case for a guy who has yet to retire, but Fangraphs.com takes a look at the possible Hall case for Scott Rolen. He probably doesn't pass that gut feeling test -- you know, when people say you should be able to hear the name and automatically just say "Hall of Famer!" if he belongs in -- but it does look like his numbers will merit strong consideration. Fangraphs does warn Rolen is in danger of becoming Ron Santo 2.0.

DEFUNCT LOGOS: This is a fun one. SBNation's Beyond the Box Score takes a look at its top 30 defunct MLB logos. I'm partial to the No. 5 logo, but there are some good ones in there.

LASTINGS IMPRESSION: It's easy to forget that Lastings Milledge is only 25. After all, he was a first-round draft pick in 2003 and was in the majors in 2006. Since then, it's been mostly disappointment, but he is raking this spring with the White Sox -- hitting .314 with four home runs and nine RBI. He hit two bombs in Thursday's win. The biggest plus might be seeing the humility. "Whatever production they get out of me is a plus. I’m not a key piece," he said. (Chicago Sun-Times )

A SIX-YEAR HIATUS? How about a Darren Dreifort comeback? He hasn't pitched since 2004, but threw a bullpen session this week at Dodgers camp. He's 39, but had severe injury woes in his career and retired at age 32. I'd say don't hold your breath. It's spring and sometimes people are just trying to file any story even remotely interesting. (MLB.com )

ON CONTRACTION:
The New York Post has a theory on what the majors could do with the Rays, A's, Mets and Dodgers. The Rays and A's would be contracted while the respective ownership groups would take over the messes that are the Mets and Dodgers. In order to curb the complaints of the player's union, major league rosters would be expanded to 27 players, thereby not eliminating jobs -- it would actually very slightly increase the number of major-league players. It's decent fodder for this time of the year, when we're killing time until the regular season begins, but I just don't ever see contraction happening.

SOUTH KOREAN IDOL: Shortstop prospect Hak-Ju Lee has fully embraced life in America, as he's become a huge fan of KFC and Papa John's, for example. He's also a big American Idol fan and sings really well -- according to himself. (TampaBay.com )

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

 

More MLB coverage
Posted on: March 17, 2011 11:51 pm
 

Ear on Baseball podcast, Episode 8

Coco Crisp

By C. Trent Rosecrans

In this episode we talk about bowling, fashion and science fiction with A's outfielder Coco Crisp.

Crisp enters his second season in Oakland is happy with the additions the Athletics made this offseason, aiding the offense and adding to an already deep pitching staff.

Crisp talks about his post-baseball career options and his desire to join the pro bowler's tour after he's done playing baseball.

It also may be the first interview in Crisp's life where someone doesn't make a lame joke about his name. But fret not, there are other lame jokes made and I forget that Barry Zito is no longer with the A's.

iTunes , Zune or XML.

Ear on Baseball, Volume 8 (35 minutes, 12 seconds)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

More MLB coverage

Posted on: March 17, 2011 4:59 pm
Edited on: March 17, 2011 5:53 pm
 

Beltre contemplated killing teammate (sorta)

Adrian BeltreBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Imagine you had one pet peeve -- say, I don't know, the use of the word "dude" -- and your coworkers thought it was so funny, they never called you anything but "dude." 

And there is one guy who not only took great pride in calling you "dude" but also made sure everyone else knew to call you "dude." Then, even though you got a new job in another part of the country, people on TV talked so much about how you hated to be called "dude" that everyone else in the country not only knew about it, but found it funny.

Welcome to Adrian Beltre's life (well, minus $80 million).

Beltre's well-known aversion to people touching his head has been picked up by his new Ranger teammates.

"He better get used to it," shortstop Elvis Andrus told MLB.com. "He might kick my tail, but I'm going to do it."

Beltre's tick was well-chronicled last season in Boston, with Victor Martinez being the lead instigator.

"Sometimes I thought about killing him," Beltre said. "But I thought about it. … I have family, so I didn't."

That's a lot of head rubbing. Is he serious? Well, in some of these cases, he looks like he could snap (see for yourself here). He's likely just joking, but on the right day...

Beltre said Martinez was the worst offender, but not the originator. The head rubbing began in Seattle, he said.

"It was my fault," Beltre said. "I don't remember, but somebody did it and I told them I didn't like it. That's like telling them to do it again. You know they're going to do it because you don't like it. So they started doing it over and over again.

"It's all in fun. It's not like I enjoy it, but I know guys try to have fun. Some guys overdo it, but it's no big deal."

Until, of course, you get to the point where you contemplate killing your teammate.

Let's just hope Martinez doesn't find Miguel Cabrera's button.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

More MLB coverage

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