Tag:AL Central
Posted on: March 3, 2011 8:34 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2011 8:35 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/3: Jones returns to third base

Jones

By Evan Brunell

3 UP

1. 3B Chipper Jones, ATL: 2 AB, 1 R, 1 H. For the first time since tearing his ACL, Chipper Jones played first base in a game Thursday, and things turned out just fine. Jones has made a rapid return from surgery and is trying to get used to playing the field again. He fielded a grounder flawlessly and also caught a popup in his four innings of work.

2. SP Brett Cecil, TOR: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K. Quite an impressive game for Cecil, even if it is spring training. The youngster is gearing up for his first full season in the majors and is excited to see manager John Farrell allowing him to throw 60 pitches. "The way I see it, [60 pitches] is just a glimpse of the future of how [Farrell] is going to let us pitchers go deeper into the game," Cecil told the AP. Even though we got a little bit of a high pitch count, I'm extremely happy."

3. SP Neftali Feliz, TEX: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K. Not a bad start for Feliz, who is attempting to convert from closing to starting. The AL Rookie of the Year churned out 36 pitches but is still working on feeling out how much effort to expend with each pitch to ensure he can go deep in games. "I need to find my pace so I can go longer," Feliz said via a translator according to the AP. "I don't know how hard to go so that I can go longer."

3 DOWN

1. SP Randy Wolf, MIL: 1 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 0 K. Yuck. Not a pretty start for Wolf, but it's still very early and he's likely still rounding into game shape. He's no longer being looked at to top the rotation with the additions of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum along with the ascension of Yovani Gallardo, but the Brew Crew still needs a strong season from the lefty in the quest for the division title.

2. SP Troy Tulowitzki, COL: 2 AB, 0 H, 0 R, 0 RBI, 1 K. Tulowitzki was forced to leave the game after whiffing on an awkward swing to end the fourth inning. He was later diagnosed with a bruised right heel, but any injury -- no matter how slight -- to the Rockies' new multi-millionaire and face of the franchise is nothing to feel good about.

3. RF Elijah Dukes, FAIL: Hit pregnant ex-girlfriend. OK, so it was a bit humorous earlier this offseason when word surfaced that Dukes had "retired" from baseball and was intent on a new career as a rapper named Fly Eli. But will Dukes ever learn? He's fathered multiple children by multiple mothers, has a history of violence and threw away a career in the majors. Has he learned? Nope. Will he ever learn? Doesn't look like it. Unfortunately, it may be time to write Dukes off as a redeeming member of society.

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More MLB coverage
Posted on: March 3, 2011 2:17 pm
 

Cuddyer's wart is gone

Posted by C. Trent Rosecrans

So, for any of us (myself included) that just shook our head at Michael Cuddyer's wart, which was going to keep him out a week or two, well… you were wrong. I was wrong. 

Cuddyer attempted all the regular over-the-counter, do-it-yourself remedies this offseason and finally had to return to Minnesota to have it removed by a doctor.

Well, Cuddyer went to Twitter to show just why he was hampered, and as they say, a picture is worth 1,000 words -- even when it's just a couple of words repeated over and over.

Here's his Tweet:

Michael Cuddyer

And here's the photo:

Michael Cuddyer

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 2, 2011 7:19 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2011 9:09 pm
 

Indians reportedly deal Laffey to Mariners

By Evan Brunell

Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that the Indians have traded Aaron Laffey to the Mariners. There is no confirmation of the deal yet.

Such a deal does not come as a surprise, as the Indians are deep in fringe starters competing for a rotation spot while the Mariners have unexciting and limited options for their own rotation spot.

Laffey likely won't be handed a spot in Seattle and will have to fight for it, but the odds are high he will snag a spot. Laffey has a career 4.41 ERA in 320 1/3 innings. The 25-year-old has split time between the rotation and bullpen since debuting in 2007 and has made 49 total starts and appeared in 30 games out of the bullpen.

Laffey does not have good command (3.6 BB/9, but 4.3 over the last two seasons) and a poor strikeout rate at 4.4, but fringe left-handers are always welcome.

UPDATE: The Indians received cash considerations and Matt Lawson, who was a throw-in in last year's Cliff Lee deal with the Rangers. The 25-year-old may have a few stints as a backup infielder in the majors but that's about it.

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Posted on: March 2, 2011 5:55 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2011 8:27 pm
 

Royals flush with talent, primed for run

HosmerBy Evan Brunell

The Kansas City Royals are flush with prospects, giving pained K.C. fans hope after the major league club flailed in recent years. While these prospects aren't quite ready for prime time, the first influx should start arriving in the summer and continue through 2012.

On CBSSports.com's Top 100 prospects list, the Royals walked away with a staggering 10 names, far ahead of Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Toronto, which tied for second with six representatives apiece.

In order, the Royals players that are among the 100 best are 1B Eric Hosmer (No. 5), 3B Mike Moustakas (No. 10), RF Wil Myers (No. 11), SP Mike Montgomery (No. 22), SP John Lamb (No. 28), SP Jake Odorizzi (No. 76), SP Danny Duffy (No. 79), SS Christian Colon (No. 84), SP Chris Dwyer (No. 98) and RP Jeremy Jeffress (No. 99).

Sheesh, that's a lot -- and that's not all, as Baseball America ranked right-hander Aaron Crow No. 9 and outfielder Brett Eibner No. 10 on the top 10 organizational prospects list. This was prior to the trade with Milwaukee that netted Odorizzi and Jeffress, but Crow and Eibner are no slouches either.

Once all these prospects hit, the Royals will be flush in elite talent making minimal dollars, so the Royals should be a force in short order. While other AL Central foes are in no hurry to see what K.C. can do, let's take a look at what the club could look like in several years. The only players included on this list are current members of the team, those that appeared on top 10 organizational lists by varied sources or are highly regarded but are unlucky enough to play in a system so stacked they don't fall on a top 10 list although they could in other organizations.

Here's a full 25-man projection:

C Salvador Perez
1B Eric Hosmer (pictured)
2B Christian Colon
3B Mike Moustakas
SS Alcides Escobar
LF Brett Eibner
CF Lorenzo Cain
RF Wil Myers
DH Billy Butler

Bench 1B: Clint Robinson
Bench IF: Johnny Giovatella
Bench IF: Jeff Bianchi
Bench OF: Jarrod Dyson
Bench OF: David Lough

SP Mike Montgomery
SP John Lamb
SP Jake Odorizzi
SP Danny Duffy
SP Chris Dwyer

RHRP Patrick Keatging
RHRP Luis Coleman
LHRP Tim Collins
RHRP Aaron Crow
RHRP Jeremy Jeffress
RH CL Joakim Soria

This potential roster doesn't even list a backup catcher, but it's pretty obvious that K.C. is absolutely stacked with talent -- especially since pitcher Noel Arguelles and others aren't even listed! (Note that Colon is a shortstop but is slotted at second here although questions remain about his ability to play second long-term. He may yet remain at short if Escobar does not pan out.)

Despite the impressive depth, keep in mind not every prospect pans out. Still, the Royals have quite a fair amount of assets at their disposal, as each name above is expected to at the very least debut in the majors at some point.

One gaping hole that appears here, however, is at catcher. Currently, the team is getting by with Jason Kendall, Brayan Pena and Lucas May, although only May figures to still be with the Royals when the full influx of prospects arrive. Salvador Perez is listed by BA as the projected catcher for 2014, which is why he is here. He is reportedly a gifted catcher with limited offensive potential, but who needs a bat behind the dish when you have a lineup like what K.C. projects to have?

That said, the massive amounts of trade chips the Royals have plus the oodles of money that will be at its disposal should import several other impact players into the team. This is a club positioned for one heck of a run in the middle part of the decade.

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Posted on: March 2, 2011 5:15 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2011 12:30 am
 

Sorting out Johnson's place on Indians

By Matt Snyder

In case you missed the news yesterday, Nick Johnson is on the verge of signing a minor-league contract with the Indians (Twitter links contained via MLB Trade Rumors ). And if you did miss it, shame on you. How dare you not follow every move of Nick Johnson. This is clearly the most monumental signing of the offseason.

I kid, I kid.

Still, the move is at least intriguing enough to see where he might fit with the Tribe, should he join the big league club at some point -- and stay healthy for an extended stretch, which is a huge "if."

The reason for this is Matt LaPorta is expected to play first base for the Indians this season while Travis Hafner is slotted as the designated hitter. Johnson can't fit anywhere else.

Now, obviously the Tribe only took a flier on Johnson to see if it would pan out. It's a minor-league contract, after all, so there is no risk or obligation. But let's say all three aforementioned players stay healthy and hit the ball like they're capable.

LaPorta, 26, was the centerpiece of the CC Sabathia trade. Even if his development hasn't come as fast as expected, someone with his potential isn't going anywhere, especially for a team not expected to contend.

Hafner was one of the best hitters in baseball from 2004-2006 -- and still pretty solid in 2007 -- but injuries have derailed that a bit. He had a 131 OPS-plus in 462 plate appearances last season, so we know he can still swing it. He's just averaged 90 games a year over the past three, though, so this could be where Johnson comes into play.

Say what you will about his health, but Johnson sports a career .401 OBP. If he battles all the way the back to 100 percent health, there should be a spot on a major-league roster for him. At 32, he's definitely not too old to be productive.

Again, this was a move with very minimal risk. If Johnson ends up injured and worthless, it doesn't harm the Tribe at all.

If he's healthy and swinging the bat well, he can be the insurance policy for the oft-injured Pronk.

But what if both are healthy and swinging the bat well? This could actually be where Indians management is really looking. Both guys are left-handed, so they are redundant to the roster -- therefore: Trade. Bait.

Travis Hafner is due to make $13 million in 2012, so he might be tough to move. Still, if a team suffers a serious injury and/or needs a big bat in the middle at the trade deadline, it isn't inconceivable to see a move. Let's just say the Yankees deal Jesus Montero in a desperate attempt to nab a top-line starting pitcher and then Jorge Posada suffers a season-ending injury -- it's not out of the question on either front. If that was the case, Pronk in pinstrips for the last two months of 2011 and all of 2012 makes some sense, especially with that short right-field porch. It would be a win-win deal.

And if they couldn't deal Hafner, they could get a something for Johnson. He wouldn't be as attractive as Hafner, but he'd come without the lofty price tag.

Anyway, that's all a long way from now and both Johnson and Hafner would have to be healthy. Just something to think about as we wait for meaningful baseball to be played.

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Posted on: March 2, 2011 4:30 pm
 

Prospects who could vault to top of 2012 list

ChisenhallAs part of the CBSSports.com Top 100 prospects list, there are many who will graduate from the list and thus provide holes to be filled. A fair number will be filled from those who are drafted in June, but there will also be leaps forward by certain players. Here's the top five names to watch for a massive leap forward (no one ranked No. 25 or higher were considered):

No. 30 Jonathan Singleton, PHI
Age: 19
Position: 1B
Bats/Throws: L/L

It's not fair, is it? After the Phillies depleted their farm system to trade for Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, here they are with Domonic Brown ranked No. 3 on the Top 100 list and Singleton No. 30. Singleton could leap up this list with a consistent showing in 2011; he couldn't hold up to a full season in 2010. He's being moved to left field, so will have to sustain his offense while learning a new position.

No. 31 Lonnie Chisenhall, CLE
Age: 22
Position: 3B
Bats/Throws: L/R

Chisenhall is the Indians' great hope to anchor the infield and provide an elite bat alongside catcher Carlos Santana and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. With a strong season, Chisenhall could make a late-season debut although one has to cast an eye toward 2012 for any regular playing time. At just 22, Chisenhall figures to spend the entire year in Triple-A.

T-No. 44 Zach Wheeler, SF
Age: 20
Position: SP
Bats/Throws: R/R

Wheeler, drafted No. 6 in the 2009 draft, impressed in his first showing in the professional ranks. He started 13 games and relieved in seven more, pitching a total of 58 2/3 innings and turning heads with a 10.7 K/9 rate although that was paired with a 5.8 BB/9 rate. If he can knock down that walk rate, he could zoom up the list. In Wheeler's favor is missing time in 2010 with a cracked fingernail that may have impacted his command. Wheeler could eventually emerge as a No. 1 and shows an ability to handle workloads of 200-plus innings.

No. 63 Nick Castellanos, DET
Age: 19
Position: 3B
Bats/Throws: R/R

Castellanos was drafted No. 44 overall in the 2010 amateur draft solely because of bonus demands. His potential is sky-high and could be the best third baseman on the 2012 top prospect list, although Chisenhall and Brett Lawrie will have something to say about that. The Tigers love taking prep players, and Castellanos is no exception. He has big power and a solid glove, but the jury is still out on how he transitions to advanced competition.

No. 100 Carlos Martinez, STL
Age: 19
Position: SP
Bats/Throws: R/R

Formerly Carlos Matias, the Red Sox have to be annoyed they lost out on Martinez after faulty paperwork on the player's end. Martinez punched out 78 in 12 starts in the Dominican Summer League over 59 innings and turning the heads of many. Martinez's fastball plays in the high 90s and holds one of the best fastballs in the game as Baseball America's Ben Badler reports. He does need to improve his secondary stuff but at just 19, has plenty of time to do so. Now with a work visa finally secured, Martinez will be stateside for 2011. A top-10 ranking is probably optimistic, but top-25 should be well within reach.

HONORABLE MENTION: No. 44 Brett Lawrie, TOR third baseman and No. 38 Gary Sanchez, NYY catcher.

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Posted on: March 2, 2011 2:54 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2011 3:01 pm
 

Pierzynski gets ticket, Guillen laughs on Twitter

By Matt Snyder

First things first, if you are on Twitter and are not following Ozzie Guillen (@OzzieGuillen ), go follow him now. You can come back and read this post afterward. Whenever he feels like it, you are bound to see some gems. And a few from Wednesday are screengrabbed below.

Apparently on his way to the White Sox-Reds Cactus League game, Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski got a ticket. And his manager thought it was hilarious. Hilarious enough to invoke four tweets, in which Ozzie relays that his backstop has had approximately 223 tickets (note: could be a slight exaggeration) and was wearing his uniform:



I've said it before and I'll say it many times again in the future: there is not a more entertaining manager in baseball. Thank you, Ozzie. Please keep up the good work.

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Posted on: March 2, 2011 2:47 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2011 4:44 pm
 

Which top prospects could impact majors in 2011?

By Evan Brunell

CBSSports.com's Top 100 prospect list is out, casting light on players that will eventually become household names. But until that happens, these prospects need to tap into their potential and prove they can hack it at the big league level.

Below is a list of top prospects that could make an impact on the majors in 2011. Before getting into the list, "impact" is defined as those who are projected to break camp with the team and play an important role with the club. Others, such as Jesus Montero, Dustin Ackley, Brandon Belt, all will have an impact once the hit the majors -- but that's likely to come in the summer months, and are listed at the end of the article.

BrownNo. 3. Domonic Brown, PHI
Age (all ages as of April 1, 2011): 23
Position: RF
Bats/Throws: L/L

Brown is battling for the starting right field job and although Ben Francisco is proving to be a stiffer challenger than thought, Brown will still get ample opportunites in the majors. There's some thought he could return to Triple-A, but he has nothing left to prove at that level and progression will only come with playing time in the bigs. Philly may have to swallow hard and deal with the growing pains, but the payoff will eventually be huge.

HellicksonNo. 6. Jeremy Hellickson, TB
Age: 23
Position: SP
Bats/Throws: R/R

Hellickson could step in and replace Matt Garza without batting an eye, as the youngster is fully prepared to pitch in the cauldron that is the AL East. Hellickson will turn 24 on April 8, but already has 36 1/3 innings of major league experience under his belt. He walked just eight (plus two intentional) plus whiffing 33, which is an impressive debut but only underscores just how ready he is for prime time.

ChapmanNo. 9. Aroldis Chapman, CIN
Age: 23
Position: RP
Bats/Throws: L/L

Chapman won't be closing in Cincinnati, but will put pressure on Francisco Cordero as the setup man. We all saw what Chapman could do last season and he should continue to baffle hitters. The Reds considered making him a starter but opted to keep him in the bullpen which may unfortunately preclude a move to the rotation. It is difficult for teams justify moving young players that succeed in the 'pen back to the rotation.

DrabekNo. 16. Kyle Drabek, TOR
Age: 23
Position: SP
Bats/Throws: R/R

Of all the names on this list, Drabek has the most tenuous hold on a roster spot but the team seems excited about his potential and wouldn't rule out a run at 200 innings. He shouldn't have too much trouble cracking the rotation and even if he starts in Triple-A, it won't be for long. One can't project Drabek to replace the man he was traded for (Roy Halladay), but he should eventually anchor the rotation.

FreemanNo. 19. Freddie Freeman, ATL
Age: 21
Position: 1B
Bats/Throws: L/R

As mentioned in the Top 100 list, Freeman lacks the ceiling of other first baseman such as No. 18's Brandon Belt, but is ready for the majors now and is locked in at first base. He figures to have a couple All-Star appearances in his future but not much beyond that. He should settle in as a valuable first baseman over his first six years, largely thanks to being under team control.

MinorNo. 29. Mike Minor, ATL
Age: 22
Position: SP
Bats/Throws: R/L

Minor doesn't have the ceiling of other top pitching prospects (similar to Freeman and first base), but he's also ready for the majors and was noticeably effective in the majors last season before he tired and lost velocity at the end of the season. If Minor can withstand the rigors of a full 162-game season, he should be an excellent No. 4-5 starter for the Braves, with the potential of more.

SaleNo. 33. Chris Sale, CHW
Age: 22
Position: RP
Bats/Throws: L/L

Sale is similar to Chapman in that he could start, but the White Sox have opted to keep Sale in the bullpen. He could vulture a few saves, but Matt Thornton is still expected to be the closer. That opens the door for Sale to play an important role in the late innings. He may be asked to switch to the rotation for 2012.

DominguezNo. 66. Matt Dominguez, FLA
Age: 21
Position: 3B
Bats/Throws: R/R

Dominguez can't quite hit, but boy, he can sure pick it. Already compared to Mike Lowell at the tender age of 21, Dominguez is expected to open the year at third for the Marlins. It appears Florida understands Dominguez will be a non-factor on offense and is willing to take that risk. But why start the service clock of an impact player when he could use more seasoning? Dominguez will never be a great hitter, but an extra year in the minors could go a long way. Read more from Scott Miller.

ArencibiaNo. 71. J.P. Arencibia, TOR
Age: 25
Position: C
Bats/Throws: R/R

Arencibia had quite an introduction to Toronto, but quickly faded after inconsistent playing time. Now finally handed to the keys to the starting job, there appears to be no question that Arencibia can hit. Catching, however, is another matter. The Jays have a couple other catchers in the system that could supplant Arencibia before long, which would shift the 25-year-old to first base or DH.

KimbrelNo. 85. Craig Kimbrel, ATL
Age: 22
Position: RP
Bats/Throws: R/R

Kimbrel is the favorite to open the year as closer, although he may share time with Jonny Venters. Kimbrel posted a ridiculous strikeout rate last year and could quickly rise up the ranks of top closers. Carlos Marmol has proven that walking a ton of batters is OK as a closer as long as you strike out players, bit still, Kimbrel could stand to improve in that area.

EspinosaNo. 86. Danny Espinosa, WAS
Age: 23
Position: 2B
Bats/Throws: S/R

A converted second baseman, Espinosa will start alongside Ian Desmond for the Nationals. He showed intriguing power in his 112-plate appearance look in 2010, but probably showed more power than he will produce over a longer season. The bright side? His .214 batting average was an anomaly. The jury is still out on just how good he can be at the major-league level and it appears likely he will eventually settle in as the top infield option off the bench, although he'll get every chance to prove he can be more.

McGeeNo. 95. Jake McGee, TB
Age: 24
Position: RP
Bats/Throws: L/L

McGee has to be considered the odds-on favorite to emerge as long-term closer of Tampa, but will start off setting up whoever wins the gig -- likely Kyle Farnsworth (cringe). McGee has excellent stuff and could have played well in the rotation, but the Rays moved him given his injury and durability issues. He's just as good a bet as Chapman, Sale and Kimbrel on this list to have a nice, long career as closer.

ON THE BUBBLE:
No. 4 Jesus Montero, NYY catcher... No. 8 Dustin Ackley, SEA second baseman... No. 14 Zack Britton, BAL starter... No. 18 Brandon Belt, SF first baseman/left fielder... No. 37 Kyle Gibson, MIN starter... No. 52 Simon Castro, SD starter... No. 57 Yonder Alonso, CIN first baseman/left fielder... No. 74 Chris Carter, OAK first baseman... No. 79 Hank Conger, LAA catcher... No. 82 Zach Stewart, TOR starter... No. 92 Jordan Walden, Angels reliever... No. 96 Brent Morel, CHW third baseman... No. 99 Jeremy Jeffress, KC reliever.

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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