Tag:NL Central
Posted on: January 30, 2012 3:35 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2012 4:14 pm
 

Rally Squirrel upstages Skip Schumaker on card

Skip Schumaker
By C. Trent Rosecrans


As if Skip Schumaker wasn't already better known by the guy at the plate when the "Rally Squirrel" ran across the field in Game 3 of the NLDS between the Cardinals and Phillies, Topps cemented it as the squirrel has even bogarted Schumaker's baseball card.

If you don't remember the Rally Squirrel -- well, you're probably not a baseball fan and I'm not sure what you're doing here -- here's a reminder:



Skip SchumakerAbove you see the real 2012 Topps Skip Schumaker card -- with only a picture of Schumaker's right foot. The only way you can tell it's Schumaker is that his name's on the card. It's the first time in Topps history that a card doesn't feature a player's face (and the first to show part of the face of a squirrel, I'm assuming). Although, according to Beckett, there will be cards with Schumaker's face, with the squirrel version a "short-print" variation.

So, just for Mrs. Schumaker, to the right is Skip's face. We here at Eye On Baseball know what he looks like.

And speaking of picturing something -- Topps went ahead and altered photos to show what two of the biggest free-agent acquisitions, Albert Pujols and Jose Reyes, look like in their new uniforms:

Albert Pujols


The 2012 Topps Series 1 is scheduled to hit stores on Wednesday, so you can try your luck at getting a squirrel in a pack.

Hat tip: Big League Stew.

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

Posted on: January 30, 2012 2:11 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2012 3:58 pm
 

Giants OF Pat Burrell will retire



By C. Trent Rosecrans


Just days after J.D. Drew said he was retiring, Pat Burrell is also ending his career in baseball. It seems only fitting that the two will go out after the beginnings of their career were intertwined. CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman reports Burrell will retire.

The two were picked within the first five picks of the 1998 draft, but the story goes back to 1997.

The 1997 Golden Spikes Award winner from Florida State, Drew was taken by the Phillies with the second overall pick in 1997. However, Drew and agent Scott Boras wanted a record $10 million contract from Philadelphia, which wouldn't meet that demand. Instead of relenting, Drew went to play in an independent league and re-enter the 1998 draft.

It just so happened the Phillies had the top pick in that draft as well. But instead of trying their luck with Drew, they took Burrell, the 1998 Golden Spikes Award winner, out of Miami. Drew went to the Cardinals with the fifth pick.

Burrell signed quickly and was immediately cast as the anti-Drew.

While Drew would make his big-league debut in 1998, Burrell spent two more years in the minors before appearing with the Phillies in 2000. That year he finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting after hitting 18 home runs and driving in 79. In nine years with the Phillies, he hit .257/.367/.485 with 251 homers, winning the World Series in 2008, his final season in Philadelphia.

The Phillies didn't have need for the outfielder anymore in 2009, letting him sign with the Rays as a DH in 2009, but he struggled in that spot, hitting just .218/.311/.361 with 16 homers in 2009 and the first part of 2010. Hitting .202 with two homers in his first 24 games in 2010, the Rays released him.

Burrell signed with the Giants and rebounded, hitting 18 homers in 96 games for San Francisco, winning another World Series.

After signing a one-year deal with the Giants for 2011, he couldn't replicate his magic of the season before, hitting .230/.352/.404 with seven home runs in 92 games thanks to a right foot injury that had a large part in his retirement. In parts of 12 seasons, Burrell finishes with a career .252/.361/.472 with 292 home runs.

Drew's career line stands at .278/.384/.489 with 242 home runs in parts of 14 seasons.

While both players had good careers, neither turned out to be among the better players of their generation as so many predicted.

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

Posted on: January 29, 2012 4:37 pm
 

Cardinals shopping RHP Kyle McClellan

Kyle McClellanBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Cardinals are "actively shopping" right-hander Kyle McClellan, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Joe Strauss writes, but general manager John Mozeliak told him he expects McClellan to be with the team when pitchers and catchers report next month.

According to Strauss, the Orioles are the leaders if the Cardinals do indeed move McClellan, who is due $2.5 million next season. The Padres and Diamondbacks are other teams who have expressed interest. However, an Orioles official told MASNSports.com's Roch Kubatko that he didn't expect the Cardinals to move McClellan.

The 27-year-old McClellan began 2011 as a starter, but moved back to the bullpen after the team acquired Edwin Jackson. He was not on the team's roster for the division series or World Series. Overall, McClellan was 12-7 with a 4.19 ERA in 43 games and 17 starts last season. He was 6-6 with a 4.21 ERA in his starts and 6-1 with a 4.14 ERA in 26 games. He struck out 76 batters in 141 2/3 innings.

McClellan was a starter in the minors, but didn't start a game in the majors until 2011. He had a 2.27 ERA in 68 games in 2010 with 60 strikeouts in 75 1/3 innings. He's 19-22 with a 3.61 ERA in his career, picking up six saves.

THe Cardinals have a surplus of relievers, with Eduardo Sanchez, Lance Lynn, Fernando Salas and Mitchell Boggs as right-handed set-up men for closer Jason Motte, with lefties Marc Rzepczynski and J.C. Romero.

The team could also use the money saved on McClelllan, a St. Louis native, for starter Roy Oswalt, who has expressed interest in joining the Cardinals.

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


Posted on: January 29, 2012 11:43 am
Edited on: January 29, 2012 1:17 pm
 

Roger Clemens strikes out 2 in UT alumni game

Roger ClemensBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Even at 49, Roger Clemens can still bring the heat. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner struck out two of the three University of Texas batters he faced in Saturday's alumni game.

Clemens threw a perfect inning in the game that featured the current Longhorn team against for Texas players. The Longhorns are ranked No. 13 in Baseball America's preseason rankings after appearing in the College World Series last season.

Clemens, who won the College World Series with Texas in 1983, started the game and struck out the first two batters, Cohl Walla and Taylor Stell. Neither Walla nor Stell were alive when Clemens picked up his second Cy Young in 1987. By the time the freshman Stell was born in 1993, Clemens had won 152 games and three Cy Young Awards.

New Padres closer Huston Street relieved Clemens, striking out a batter, and also played second base. Street singled and also scored a run in the 2-0 victory by the alums.

The Mariners' Chance Ruffin, the Reds' Drew Stubbs, the Rangers' Omar Quintanilla, the Cubs' James Russell and former big leaguer Brooks Kieschnick all played for the Texas alums.



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

Posted on: January 27, 2012 8:21 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2012 9:19 pm
 

Selig hopes to settle Epstein compensation soon

Bud SeligBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Cubs and Red Sox have made their proposals for Boston's compensation for allowing Theo Epstein to move to Chicago, but commissioner Bud Selig said he doesn't have a timetable for making a decision.

"I'd like to get it done as expeditiously as possible," Selig said Friday night at SoxFest in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The two teams have submitted written proposals, possibly including names of specific players, to Selig, according to the newspaper.

"The clubs tried to settle it themselves. I have a lot of patience because everything controversial generally winds up on my desk," Selig said. "In this case, I did give the clubs more latitude and hoped they could come to some conclusion. But they didn't and now it's my case."

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


Posted on: January 25, 2012 10:49 pm
 

Reds sign Francis to minor-league contract

By Matt Snyder

Free agent pitcher Jeff Francis has signed a minor-league contract with the Cincinnati Reds, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has learned.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

Francis, a 31-year-old left-hander, was 6-16 with a 4.82 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 91 strikeouts in 183 innings for the Royals last season. He was once an effective starter, but that was back in 2006-07 with the Rockies.

Not only that, but the Reds have plenty of starting pitching. Mat Latos and Johnny Cueto are the top two in the rotation, with Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake and Homer Bailey in tow as well. Plus, left-handed fireballer Aroldis Chapman is being converted to a starter this spring as well. So even if Francis gets a nod in the rotation before long reliever Sam LeCure, he is the seventh option.

On the other hand, Latos, Cueto, Arroyo, Leake and Bailey are all right handed. If Chapman doesn't cut it as a starter, it's entirely possible Francis gets a look as the fifth starter at some point, just to have a lefty in there.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: January 25, 2012 8:04 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 10:40 pm
 

Keppinger close to signing with Rays

By Matt Snyder

The Rays are close to an agreement with free agent infielder Jeff Keppinger, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has confirmed. The news was first reported Wednesday night by the Tampa Bay Times, which reported that we should expect the signing by the end of the week.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

Keppinger, 31, split last season between the Astros and the Giants. He only appeared defensively at second base, which was a departure from his utility infielder role in the previous five seasons. He hit .277/.300/.377 with 20 doubles. He is a career .281 hitter with a .332 OBP.

Keppinger won't be counted on as an everyday starter with the Rays. They already have Ben Zobrist and Sean Rodriguez to play up the middle. Reid Brignac can backup shortstop, so Keppinger looks likely to be the backup at second base. That also means he's an available fill-in if Ben Zobrist plays in the outfield, where he started 33 games in 2011. But, again, this won't be happening regularly as the Rays have Desmond Jennings, B.J. Upton and Matt Joyce in the outfield.

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


Posted on: January 25, 2012 4:22 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 5:08 pm
 

Reds trade for infielder Wilson Valdez

By Matt Snyder

The Cincinnati Reds have acquired someone capable of playing shortstop, but this news may not appease the fan base. The Reds sent left-handed pitcher Jeremy Horst to the Phillies for utility infielder Wilson Valdez.

Valdez, 33, hit .249/.294/.341 with 14 doubles, four triples and one home run last year for the Phillies in 300 plate appearances. He appeared in at least 24 games each at third base, shortstop and second base. He even pitched an inning, funnily enough against the Reds, picking up the victory in a marathon 19-inning affair on May 25.

The Reds will mark Valdez's seventh team in seven big-league seasons. He's a career .243 hitter with a pretty terrible .621 OPS. His value lies in being able to adequately back up the three aforementioned infield positions.

Of course, the Reds still face a potential hole at shortstop. Young Zack Cozart underwent Tommy John surgery in August. Since he's not a pitcher, nor was the surgery in his throwing arm, he should be ready to start the season. The Reds have him slated as the opening-day starter. If there is a setback, however, the Reds appear to have both Paul Janish and now Valdez as options. But in the most basic sense, Valdez has been acquired merely for depth.

Horst, 26, appeared in 12 games for the Reds last season, sporting a 2.93 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in his 15 1/3 innings. In Triple-A, Horst had a 2.81 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 42 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings.

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