Tag:AL West
Posted on: March 5, 2011 2:21 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2011 2:24 pm
 

Beltre to take field Sunday

By Matt Snyder

Newly-signed Texas Ranger Adrian Beltre is expected to return to the field Sunday for batting practice and some light drills, reports the Star-Telegram .

Beltre strained his calf Feb. 24 and was said to be out 10-14 days with the injury at the time. Sunday will be 10 days since the injury, but he won't be ready to return to game action just yet. The activities -- which include fielding some grounders and running -- will simply be the next step in the process of returning to health.

The 31 year old signed a five-year, $80 million contract with the Rangers in the offseason. The move caused an issue in camp, as Michael Young was moved off third base and was then disgruntled over the situation. But the coincidence here is that Beltre's injury simply reinforced the value Young can hold for the Rangers, as he could fill in at third. He's also been working out at first base and is expected to DH some, too.

Beltre hit .321 with a .919 OPS last season for the Red Sox, easily his best offensive season since his last (healthy) contract year, 2004. Young, 34, hit .284 with a .774 OPS in a season when he saw a six-year string of consecutive All-Star appearances broken. Beltre is a far superior defender by nearly every metric.

Expect Beltre to be brought along slowly here. Young provides insurance. Even if the lineup is best with both healthy, there's no reason to risk anything longer term in early March.

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Posted on: March 4, 2011 7:21 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 9:00 pm
 

3 up, 3 down: Jon Daniels' best, worst moves

DanielsBy Evan Brunell

The Rangers have handed GM Jon Daniels a four-year extension, rewarding the 33-year-old for steering the club to its first-ever AL pennant in 2010. For all of Daniels' talents, however, he's made quite a few missteps along the way. Here's a look back at Daniels' three best and worst moves as Rangers GM...

3 UP

1. The Teix Heist

The reason the Rangers made the World Series is thanks to the trade that sent Mark Teixeira to the Atlanta Braves. Consummated at the trade deadline of 2007, this deal represented the first time Daniels was trading away a major piece of a team and he needed to hit a home run.

He did. By dealing Teix and left-handed reliever Ron Mahay, Daniels hauled in catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, shortstop Elvis Andrus, pitchers Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Beau Jones. The fact Salty stalled in Texas is concerning, but many viewed the backstop at the time as one of the elite young catchers in the game. Andrus would go on to blossom as Texas' starting shortstop while Feliz won the AL Rookie of the Year Award with 40 saves last season and is currently shifting to the rotation. Harrison is a young lefty who is battling for a rotation spot himself, while Jones is the one non-entity.

This deal will continue to pay dividends over time, as Andrus and Feliz will be in town for years to come while Harrison is valuable depth. Saltalamacchia's career is not yet over as he is slated to start in Boston, and the jury is out on Daniels' return for Salty in three minor leaguers.

2. Game Over

Daniels made another significant trade the day of the 2007 trade deadline when he dealt "Game Over" Eric Gagne and cash to the Red Sox for Kason Gabbard, David Murphy and Engel Beltre.

Gagne was impressive in his first season as an ex-Dodger and after missing the bulk of the 2006 season. He wasn't the lockdown closer of old, but looked as if he could be a quality part of the bullpen. Except as Red Sox fans know, he completely imploded and while he walked away with a World Series trade, he will forever be known as Gag-me in Boston. (For some reason, there are over 11,000 views of a video I took recording Gagne's Red Sox debut.) His saving grace in Boston was as a Type-B free agent, and the Red Sox would later trade the player they drafted with the compensatory pick to Cleveland as part of the Victor Martinez deal.

Meanwhile, David Murphy is one of the more valuable fourth outfielders in the game and would be a starter for many other teams. Beltre has his makeup questions but is developing nicely as Texas' center fielder of the future. Gabbard flamed out, but at the time was a possible back-of-the-rotation starter.

3. Draft Bonanza

A major reason why Daniels has stayed viable as GM of the Rangers is his drafting history. Of course, major credit goes to the people working under him that are in charge of the draft, but Daniels deserves credit for putting these people in those roles as well as having a hand in the drafting and development of these players.

His first draft pick, Kasey Kiker, has yet to develop significantly but is just 22 and does hold some promise. However, his following two have had major league time already: power-hitting Chris Davis who has unfortunately failed time and time again to lock down a starting spot in Texas and Danny Herrera, who is a member of the Reds bullpen currently and was used to get Josh Hamilton. Michael Main was used to get Bengie Molina, while Blake Beavan and Justin Smoak were packaged for Cliff Lee

Tommy Hunter was a viable member of the rotation last season and could have a nice career as a back-of-the-rotation pitcher, while Julio Borbon is prepared to start in center field. Tanner Scheppers ranked No. 77 on CBSSports.com's Top 100 Prospects and  may have ranked higher if he was clearly going to be a starter. The club also came away with an impressive haul in the 2010 draft.

Honorable Mention: One would expect the deal bringing in Josh Hamilton to be one of Daniels' better deals, but it's hard to justify that as one of his best deals simply by virtue of giving up Edinson Volquez. There's no denying Hamilton's talent -- after all, he won the AL MVP award -- but Volquez has turned out pretty well for himself. There's a similar case to be made for the trade that imported Carlos Lee and Nelson Cruz from Milwaukee in exchange for Laynce Nix, Kevin Mench, Francisco Cordero and Juan Cordero, so the honorable mention goes to signing Colby Lewis to a two-year deal prior to the 2010 season. Lewis was an utter failure stateside before heading to Japan and discovering his talent. Daniels didn't hesitate to bring in Lewis, and all he did was become the Rangers' best right-handed starter in the team's run to the AL pennant.

3 DOWN

1. The Young and Heartless

In March of 2007, Daniels signed shortstop Michael Young to a five-year, $80 million extension, a contract that was strange at the time and now has snowballed. Two seasons later, Daniels bumped Young to third base in a contentious move to free up short for Elvis Andrus. Young's bat has continued to be solid, but he remained a defensive liability at third and in a much-publicized spat, is now headed to DH and first base after demanding a trade. However, thanks to Young's contract, it will be difficult to move him.

Daniels certainly shouldn't have signed Young to this deal, but that's not why this ranks as one of his three worst moves as GM. While there's a lot of "he-said, he-said" going on by both sides, the fact remains that Young is not very keen on speaking to Daniels and feels "misled." Whether or not you believe Daniels or Young (or think the true answer is somewhere in-between), Daniels should have done a far better job managing the crisis as this has become a nightmare, both in terms of Young's trade value and in public relations. Heck, it even made a three-year-old kid very upset.

2. A-Gone

It's hard to fault Jon Daniels for trading away Adrian Gonzalez as he needed pitching and had Mark Teixeira at first. But goodness, couldn't he have done better? In his second significant trade of his GM career -- the first was also pretty bad -- Daniels shipped away someone who would become one of the best first-basemen in the game in short order in Gonzalez to the Padres along with Chris Young, who fashioned a nice run for himself in the rotation for San Diego. Terrmel Sledge was a throw-in to get Adam Eaton, Akinori Otsuka and Billy Killian in return.

Eaton was a disaster, making just 13 starts and moving onto the Phillies where he was even worse, while Otsuka became the Rangers' closer but fell to injury in 2007 at age 35 and has not returned to the majors since. Killian is now in independent baseball.

Hey, every GM has trades they regret. It's part of life. But this is one regrettable trade that makes one really cringe looking back on it.

3. A-Rod to Soriano to Nothing

OK, so Daniels wasn't responsible for the initial trade of Alex Rodriguez, but he certainly was responsible for turning Rodriguez's return in Alfonso Soriano into something. Unfortunately, his first major trade was a flop when he shipped Soriano to the Washington Nationals for Brad Wilkerson, Armando Galarraga and Terrmel Sledge. Sledge would be shipped in another terrible deal a month later in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, while Wilkerson couldn't arrest the decline he began in his final season for the Nats in '06. He did not top 350 at-bats in the two seasons he was a Ranger.

While Galarraga was and still is nothing to write home about, he chewed up almost 500 innings for the Tigers after the Rangers essentially gave him away, predominantly as a starter the last three seasons -- and of course, as the architect of the 28-out perfect game. He is now a Diamondback and expected to serve in the back of the rotation. These types of pitchers are far from sexy and you can't blame Daniels for tossing Galarraga in the deal, but it only serves to make this deal look even worse given he got absolutely nothing of value for Soriano, which in turn meant the team got nothing for A-Rod.

In Daniels' defense, he was handicapped by Soriano entering the final year of his deal, but Daniels should have looked for prospects in any deal, not an outfielder on the decline, a pitcher he would give away a couple years later and a bit piece that would go on to become part of Daniels' worst trade to date.

Dishonorable Mention: Not to pile on Daniels, who has turned into a very fine GM, but just like he has plenty of candidates for honorable mention, he has candidates for this category as well. Signing Kevin Millwood to a five-year, $60 million deal was head-scratching at the time and he stumbled badly on December 23, 2006 when he dealt away John Danks, Nick Masset and Jacob Rasner to the White Sox for Brandon McCarthy and David Paisano. Danks and McCarthy were two highly-regarded prospects at the time, but Danks is the one that blossomed, while Masset would go on to bust out himself as an important part of the Reds bullpen.

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Posted on: March 4, 2011 5:31 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 7:37 pm
 

Angels on prowl for lefty hitter

ChurchBy Evan Brunell

The Angels are on the hunt for a left-handed hitter, as ESPN's Buster Olney reports.

While the Angels have plenty of switch-hitters on its projected 13-player squad with six, only one bats exclusively from the left side in DH Bobby Abreu. However, three of the switch-hitters are projected to be on the bench, including catching prospect Hank Conger although the Angels could opt to go with right-handed hitting Bobby Wilson to back up Jeff Mathis. An additional two switch-hitters don't provide much thump in the lineup with Erick Aybar and Alberto Callaspo, leaving Kendry Morales the only switch-hitter who is an offensive threat. (Check out the Angels' depth chart.)

No wonder the team would like to expand its options from the left side. But what position fits?

Catcher is one option if the Angels are interested in bringing in someone from outside, but given how much emphasis skipper Mike Scioscia places on catching and the battery of tests he runs these catchers through early on in spring training, it's unlikely the club will import an outside presence, especially with a strong prospect in Conger on hand along with Scioscia favorite Mathis and yet another backup candidate in Wilson.

The club appears set in the infield. While they wouldn't mind upgrading from Howie Kendrick at second base or Alberto Callaspo at third, that would require a larger deal, a move most teams wouldn't be prepared to do at the moment -- and there aren't many options there. It's unlikely L.A. would import a backup to steal playing time from Macier Izturis. They could go with two infielders and bump Mark Trumbo down to Triple-A, which is a distinct possibility if they can find a left-hander who would provide power off the bench and an ability to play first and a little outfield like Trumbo.

Where the most likely move will come from is in the outfield, where switch-hitter Reggie Willits is far from guaranteed as the fourth outfielder. Willits has spent chunks of the last five seasons with the Halos, including a 518-plate appearance stint in 2007 but hasn't shown any aptitude with the bat and is easily replaceable -- and there's no obvious option behind Willits.

So who could the Angels go after? For starters, let's look at left-handed outfielders currently on the free agent market.

Ryan Church.

That's pretty much it. The 32-year-old split last season between the Pirates and Diamondbacks. Most of his playing time came in Pittsburgh where he flopped big time although his bat bounced back in Arizona. Church (pictured) has a career .264/.336/.431 mark in 2,128 PA and may be an upgrade over Willits, although that's far from a sure thing especially when you look at defense and speed. One thing in Church's favor is his platoon splits against right-handers, posting up a .272/.345/.451 mark against righties in 1,634 PA. Church isn't an exciting option, but he's certainly a viable option.

It's far too early to speculate on the trade market, but there will be a flood of players available via free agency and waivers later on in the spring, even some that may be capable of starting (which would likely push Peter Bourjos to the bench or Triple-A). However, anyone available via those means will also be of similar quality to Church. At this point, all the Angels can hope to do is find one name among the many that will cross their desks over the next few weeks and select one that they think has the most value to the club and cross their fingers.

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Posted on: March 4, 2011 11:45 am
Edited on: March 4, 2011 11:52 am
 

Bradley's wife claims abuse

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Milton BradleyMariners outfielder Milton Bradley has been accused of hitting his wife with the top of a glass coffee table, according to court documents obtained by RadarOnline.com.

Milton's wife, Monique, is seeking a divorce. She requested a restraining order on January 24. The two already have a March 9 scheduled hearing in Los Angeles Attorney's office for making threats against his wife in January. It's unclear if this is related to that incident.

From the report:

"The glass shattered on my head and I started to bleed. As soon as Milton saw me bleeding, he started crying and begging me to forgive him. He stated that he lost it and that he would kill himself if I left him. I did not know what to do."

The incident happened at a hotel in New York when the couple was in town for New Year's Eve. She also says hotel security came to the door, but Milton Bradley said there was no problem. Monique didn't go to the hospital for the incident.

Bradley actually filed for divorce in January of 2006, but never finalized the divorce.

Bradley is off to a hot start for the Mariners this spring, going 5 for 8 with two doubles and three RBI.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 4, 2011 9:53 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:29 pm
 

Pepper: Big Puma struggling through spring

Lance Berkman

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Cardinals came out of the offseason sacrificing defense for offense, but that offense may have a hard time even getting on the field.

Lance Berkman, inked in as the team's right fielder going into the spring, was scratched from the team's lineup on Thursday because of a sore left calf. Berkman had already been limited to designated hitter work because of a bad left elbow.

It's just the first week of games, and Berkman has been limited to play in the field. On Thursday, Berkman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he was "perfectly fine" and would still go to Kissimmee, Fla., on Friday to face his old team, the Astros.

Friday morning, Berkman wasn't on the bus, missing another game.

Prospect Zack Cox filled in for Berkman at DH on Thursday and knocked in a run, but he's not ready to fill in full-time for Berkman in the field and the National League doesn't have the DH.

Sure, it's early, and several players are battling bumps and bruises, but not all of them are 35, coming off a down season, moving to a more demanding physical position, blocked at their old position and being counted on to remedy a team's offense. That's a lot on the shoulders of the Big Puma, and it's looking less like he can shoulder that load.

WAKE-UP: As if stepping into the box against a guy who can sling the ball 105 mph wasn't enough to get your attention, the first pitch ending up somewhere near the bull certainly got Dodger Trent Oeltjen's attention. Thursday night, the first pitch of Chapman's inning of work went over the catcher's mitt and over the umpire's head. His next three pitches to Oeltjen were strikes, including strike three looking.

"If it was at my face, I wouldn't have had time to move," Oeltjen told the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez. "It woke me up. He sent a message he was throwing hard."

Said new manager Don Mattingly: "Jeez, huh? He was Randy Johnson-ish. It gets there quick, doesn't it?"

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS: Carlos Zambrano didn't fight anyone in his Thursday start for the Cubs -- not only that, he threw three scoreless innings. However, he did complain of arm fatigue after the start.

"I was just tired," Zambrano said to the Chicago Sun-Times. "It's normal. I wasn't feeling power in my arm, but I guarantee you I will work hard and feel good in my next start."

Zambrano note he typically feels a "dead-arm" at least once a spring.

JUST BAD NEWS: Yesterday the question was if Astros' catcher Jason Castro would miss the beginning of the season. Today, it's if he'll play at all this season.

Thursday night, Castro was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Castro was scheduled to have surgery this morning, and general manager Ed Wade said he could return "by mid-September." (Houston Chronicle)

WAIT FOR JUDGEMENT? Matt Cain said he hasn't thrown a ball since coming down with elbow inflammation on Sunday and will likely miss multiple starts this spring. 

However, Cain's not too concerned, even after taking an MRI.

There is a history -- and this is something to watch -- of pitchers going to the postseason one season and having trouble the next because of the increased workload. While Cain's not worried, it'll be something to monitor with all of the Giants' pitching staff. (San Francisco Chronicle)

ANOTHER WART: Hopefully Orioles starter Brian Matusz won't tweet a picture like Michael Cuddyer, but he'll also be having a wart professionally removed.

Matusz's wart is on the middle finger of his pitching hand. Still, he threw two scoreless innings on Wednesday even with the wart. He had it some last year, but pitched through it. He said it bothers him some on his breaking ball. (Baltimore Sun)

WAS THAT REALLY A CONSIDERATION? Oliver Perez has been the New York media's favorite target for a while, but is this really necessary? The New Your Daily News' "breaking news" from "a source" is that the Mets have internally decided Perez will not be a starter during the regular season.

The Daily News' Andy Martino wrote that the day after he wrote the team would cut Perez (and his $12 million salary) if he didn't perform well in his start on Thursday. Well, he threw two scoreless innings against the Cardinals, so Martino didn't get his wish. Instead, he had to find a new way to pile onto Perez.

Hey, it's not to say Perez doesn't stink. He does. Or that he's not overpaid -- he is. It's just, this breathless reporting seems almost like piling on. Sure, the Mets have said he's in contention for the rotation, but the Mets say a lot of things, and it's not like we believe those.

NOW HE COULD BE IN A ROTATION: Neftali Feliz wasn't too happy with his first start of spring. Still, he threw two scoreless innings, so it wasn't bad. He also threw three different pitches, but struggled with his command and rhythm.

The Feliz story may be one of the more interesting ones of spring, and certainly something to watch as the month goes along. He'll throw three innings next week. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

VISA TIME: Edinson Volquez, Cincinnati's opening-day starter, could pitch his first spring training start because of a visa problem, but he should be able to make his next start after a quick trip to his native Dominican Republic.

"Everything is set," he told the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay. "They're just waiting for me to pitch it up."

He was unable to pitch in games at which admission is charged because he came to camp on a travel visa, not a work visa. His work visa was held up because of his failed drug test and suspension last season.

COCO CONTRITE: A's outfielder Coco Crisp said he's embarrassed about his DUI arrest on Wednesday morning. (San Francisco Chronicle)

GO METS OR GO HOME: Former Cardinals and A's closer Jason Isringhausen is back in camp for the Mets, after starting a comeback last season in the Reds system.

Isringhausen played in Triple-A last season, but says his bus-riding days are over. If he doesn't break camp with the Mets, he'll just go home and call it a career. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

OR JUST GO HOME: Boston's J.D. Drew says he's considering retiring after this year. It's been one of those things he's hinted at before and is hardly a surprise. (Boston Herald)

SO WHO IS A-ROD? According to Wikileaks, a U.S. diplomatic cable on the 2009 Iranian election called President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the "George Steinbrenner of Iran" when talking about his influence over the national soccer team.

I'm guessing that wasn't a compliment. (Associated Press)

WHAT'S A WORLD SERIES WORTH? How much are World Series starts worth to a Hall of Fame discussion? Or, even more words about Jack Morris from Baseball Prospectus.

Honestly, I used to be a Morris for the Hall guy, I'm not anymore. I used to not be a Bert Blyleven guy, but I am now. But I'll certainly never change my feeling that I never want to hear another Morris-Blyleven debate.

A BETTER SCORECARD: An interview with Bethany Heck, the designer of a new, better, scorebook. Heck's 20-game scorebook is like "if Moleskine made a scorebook…" (Bugs & Cranks)

WHAT TO WATCH: Jake Peavy will make his first start since July 6 today against the Angels in Tempe, Ariz.

"Hopefully, we'll see some of the hard work we've done pay off," he told the Chicago Tribune.

QUARTERBACK SHOWDOWN: There's a Groundhog Day aspect to spring training, so Padres manager Bud Black found a way to break up the monotony -- a quarterback combine.

While Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert (seriously, could you draft a quarterback named "Blaine") did this in Indianapolis last week, Black had his former quarterbacks -- top prospect Casey Kelly, Cory Luebke, Orlando Hudson and Nick Hundley -- go through their own competition Thursday morning.

According to MLB.com's Corey Brock, the three went through several drills, including hitting a moving target. Luebke, a high school quarterback in Ohio, upset Kelly, who signed a letter of intent to play QB at Tennessee.

"We're here for six weeks," Black said. "… We try to do some things to keep the guys going."

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: The Reds have announced the front-runner for the year's best bobblehead. On July 2 against the Indians, fans will receive the combination Dusty Baker bobblehead and toothpick holder. The bobblehead even has Dusty with a toothpick in his mouth (and, of course, sweatbands on his arms). So far, it's the best bobblehead I've seen on tap for this year, with the Reds also getting second place for their Jonny Gomes bobblehead and arm, mimicking the way Gomes tugs at his helmet before every at-bat.

Dusty Baker

IF YOU'RE NOT ALREADY BEARDED OUT: The literary journal McSweeney's is selling a "How to Beard Yourself Like Brian Wilson" poster.

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Posted on: March 4, 2011 9:53 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:29 pm
 

Pepper: Big Puma struggling through spring

Lance Berkman

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Cardinals came out of the offseason sacrificing defense for offense, but that offense may have a hard time even getting on the field.

Lance Berkman, inked in as the team's right fielder going into the spring, was scratched from the team's lineup on Thursday because of a sore left calf. Berkman had already been limited to designated hitter work because of a bad left elbow.

It's just the first week of games, and Berkman has been limited to play in the field. On Thursday, Berkman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he was "perfectly fine" and would still go to Kissimmee, Fla., on Friday to face his old team, the Astros.

Friday morning, Berkman wasn't on the bus, missing another game.

Prospect Zack Cox filled in for Berkman at DH on Thursday and knocked in a run, but he's not ready to fill in full-time for Berkman in the field and the National League doesn't have the DH.

Sure, it's early, and several players are battling bumps and bruises, but not all of them are 35, coming off a down season, moving to a more demanding physical position, blocked at their old position and being counted on to remedy a team's offense. That's a lot on the shoulders of the Big Puma, and it's looking less like he can shoulder that load.

WAKE-UP: As if stepping into the box against a guy who can sling the ball 105 mph wasn't enough to get your attention, the first pitch ending up somewhere near the bull certainly got Dodger Trent Oeltjen's attention. Thursday night, the first pitch of Chapman's inning of work went over the catcher's mitt and over the umpire's head. His next three pitches to Oeltjen were strikes, including strike three looking.

"If it was at my face, I wouldn't have had time to move," Oeltjen told the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez. "It woke me up. He sent a message he was throwing hard."

Said new manager Don Mattingly: "Jeez, huh? He was Randy Johnson-ish. It gets there quick, doesn't it?"

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS: Carlos Zambrano didn't fight anyone in his Thursday start for the Cubs -- not only that, he threw three scoreless innings. However, he did complain of arm fatigue after the start.

"I was just tired," Zambrano said to the Chicago Sun-Times. "It's normal. I wasn't feeling power in my arm, but I guarantee you I will work hard and feel good in my next start."

Zambrano note he typically feels a "dead-arm" at least once a spring.

JUST BAD NEWS: Yesterday the question was if Astros' catcher Jason Castro would miss the beginning of the season. Today, it's if he'll play at all this season.

Thursday night, Castro was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Castro was scheduled to have surgery this morning, and general manager Ed Wade said he could return "by mid-September." (Houston Chronicle)

WAIT FOR JUDGEMENT? Matt Cain said he hasn't thrown a ball since coming down with elbow inflammation on Sunday and will likely miss multiple starts this spring. 

However, Cain's not too concerned, even after taking an MRI.

There is a history -- and this is something to watch -- of pitchers going to the postseason one season and having trouble the next because of the increased workload. While Cain's not worried, it'll be something to monitor with all of the Giants' pitching staff. (San Francisco Chronicle)

ANOTHER WART: Hopefully Orioles starter Brian Matusz won't tweet a picture like Michael Cuddyer, but he'll also be having a wart professionally removed.

Matusz's wart is on the middle finger of his pitching hand. Still, he threw two scoreless innings on Wednesday even with the wart. He had it some last year, but pitched through it. He said it bothers him some on his breaking ball. (Baltimore Sun)

WAS THAT REALLY A CONSIDERATION? Oliver Perez has been the New York media's favorite target for a while, but is this really necessary? The New Your Daily News' "breaking news" from "a source" is that the Mets have internally decided Perez will not be a starter during the regular season.

The Daily News' Andy Martino wrote that the day after he wrote the team would cut Perez (and his $12 million salary) if he didn't perform well in his start on Thursday. Well, he threw two scoreless innings against the Cardinals, so Martino didn't get his wish. Instead, he had to find a new way to pile onto Perez.

Hey, it's not to say Perez doesn't stink. He does. Or that he's not overpaid -- he is. It's just, this breathless reporting seems almost like piling on. Sure, the Mets have said he's in contention for the rotation, but the Mets say a lot of things, and it's not like we believe those.

NOW HE COULD BE IN A ROTATION: Neftali Feliz wasn't too happy with his first start of spring. Still, he threw two scoreless innings, so it wasn't bad. He also threw three different pitches, but struggled with his command and rhythm.

The Feliz story may be one of the more interesting ones of spring, and certainly something to watch as the month goes along. He'll throw three innings next week. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

VISA TIME: Edinson Volquez, Cincinnati's opening-day starter, could pitch his first spring training start because of a visa problem, but he should be able to make his next start after a quick trip to his native Dominican Republic.

"Everything is set," he told the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay. "They're just waiting for me to pitch it up."

He was unable to pitch in games at which admission is charged because he came to camp on a travel visa, not a work visa. His work visa was held up because of his failed drug test and suspension last season.

COCO CONTRITE: A's outfielder Coco Crisp said he's embarrassed about his DUI arrest on Wednesday morning. (San Francisco Chronicle)

GO METS OR GO HOME: Former Cardinals and A's closer Jason Isringhausen is back in camp for the Mets, after starting a comeback last season in the Reds system.

Isringhausen played in Triple-A last season, but says his bus-riding days are over. If he doesn't break camp with the Mets, he'll just go home and call it a career. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

OR JUST GO HOME: Boston's J.D. Drew says he's considering retiring after this year. It's been one of those things he's hinted at before and is hardly a surprise. (Boston Herald)

SO WHO IS A-ROD? According to Wikileaks, a U.S. diplomatic cable on the 2009 Iranian election called President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the "George Steinbrenner of Iran" when talking about his influence over the national soccer team.

I'm guessing that wasn't a compliment. (Associated Press)

WHAT'S A WORLD SERIES WORTH? How much are World Series starts worth to a Hall of Fame discussion? Or, even more words about Jack Morris from Baseball Prospectus.

Honestly, I used to be a Morris for the Hall guy, I'm not anymore. I used to not be a Bert Blyleven guy, but I am now. But I'll certainly never change my feeling that I never want to hear another Morris-Blyleven debate.

A BETTER SCORECARD: An interview with Bethany Heck, the designer of a new, better, scorebook. Heck's 20-game scorebook is like "if Moleskine made a scorebook…" (Bugs & Cranks)

WHAT TO WATCH: Jake Peavy will make his first start since July 6 today against the Angels in Tempe, Ariz.

"Hopefully, we'll see some of the hard work we've done pay off," he told the Chicago Tribune.

QUARTERBACK SHOWDOWN: There's a Groundhog Day aspect to spring training, so Padres manager Bud Black found a way to break up the monotony -- a quarterback combine.

While Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert (seriously, could you draft a quarterback named "Blaine") did this in Indianapolis last week, Black had his former quarterbacks -- top prospect Casey Kelly, Cory Luebke, Orlando Hudson and Nick Hundley -- go through their own competition Thursday morning.

According to MLB.com's Corey Brock, the three went through several drills, including hitting a moving target. Luebke, a high school quarterback in Ohio, upset Kelly, who signed a letter of intent to play QB at Tennessee.

"We're here for six weeks," Black said. "… We try to do some things to keep the guys going."

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: The Reds have announced the front-runner for the year's best bobblehead. On July 2 against the Indians, fans will receive the combination Dusty Baker bobblehead and toothpick holder. The bobblehead even has Dusty with a toothpick in his mouth (and, of course, sweatbands on his arms). So far, it's the best bobblehead I've seen on tap for this year, with the Reds also getting second place for their Jonny Gomes bobblehead and arm, mimicking the way Gomes tugs at his helmet before every at-bat.

Dusty Baker

IF YOU'RE NOT ALREADY BEARDED OUT: The literary journal McSweeney's is selling a "How to Beard Yourself Like Brian Wilson" poster.

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Posted on: March 3, 2011 9:54 am
Edited on: March 3, 2011 12:30 pm
 

Pepper: Perez's last chance?

Posted by C. Trent Rosecrans
Oliver Perez

For most established big leaguers, it's beyond idiotic to put much stock in many spring training results -- nobody's a star or scrub based solely on a game in the first week of March -- but Oliver Perez isn't the typical case.

The Mets pitcher has been hanging on to his roster spot by a three-year, $36-million thread for a while. In the last year of his ridiculous contract, the left-hander may be released if he "does not show significant improvement over Sunday's two-inning, four-run disappointment" today against the Cardinals, the New York Daily News' Andy Martino writes, citing two "major league sources familiar with the Mets' thinking."

Sunday, Perez was throwing an 84 mph fastball and struggled with his command. He was initially slated as a reliever for today's game, but he will instead start.

Manager Terry Collins said, "I'm quite sure he'll have another try after [Thursday]." But Martino says that may not be the case.

Since signing his big deal (any guess who his agent is?), Perez has gone 3-9 with a 6.81 ERA in 31 games. He made 14 starts in 2009 and seven last season before being put in the bullpen. He didn't pitch at all in June, and pitched just two games in August -- on the first day of the month and the next-to-last day of the month, and just one day in September.

There was talk the Mets would release him after the season, but they gave him one last try -- and that very last try could come today.

SPEAKING OF ALBATROSS CONTRACTS: Bruce Bochy told reporters Wednesday that Barry Zito's spot in the Giants' rotation is secure, despite a San Francisco Chronicle column citing a "source close to the team" as saying his job isn't safe.

General manager Brian Sabean also denied the story was a plant.

"Absolutely, unequivocally not," Sabean told Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. "We have too much respect for players, and more so, I have a great relationship with Barry Zito. If things had gotten to that point, I would have talked to him directly, firsthand."

Zito walked five of the 13 batters he faced in his spring opener on Monday.

A.J. Burnett DOESN'T SUCK? So says, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal.

In fact, Rosenthal points out the much-maligned Yankees' career numbers are pretty darn close to those of Boston's Josh Beckett, another former Marlin. The numbers Rosenthal uses are indeed close -- Burnett is 110-100 with a 3.99 ERA and an opponents' OPS of .701 in his career, while Beckett is 112-74, with a 3.96 ERA and .708 opponents' OPS.

The secret for Burnett to be successful, Rosenthal writes, is for Burnett to believe he can be successful. The Yankees certainly hope that's true.

WHO ISN'T? Speaking of disappointing Red Sox pitchers… John Lackey is "just tired" of talking about his 2010 season, he tells WEEI.com's Rob Bradford.

If I got $18 million to put up a 4.40 ERA. In his first season since coming over from the Angels, Lackey made 33 starts and put up a 14-11 record.

IT'S THE MONEY, STUPID: It's going to be difficult for either Dustin Ackley or Michael Pineda break camp with the Mariners, even if they earn a spot in spring, Larry Stone of the Seattle Times writes, because of the possible Super 2 status.

The Mariners may have to guess when to bring up their talented rookies in hope of not allowing them to reach arbitration eligibility early. To be safe, now most teams wait until June to bring up a heralded prospect. Remember Buster Posey? He was called up to stay last year on May 29.

Recently teams have guessed on when the Super 2 cutoff date would occur and lost on Tim Lincecum (2007) and Jay Bruce (2008) falling before the cutoff date. Teams worried about payroll, like the Mariners, are unlikely to take a gamble.

Ramon HernandezCITIZEN CATCHER: Congratulations to Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez, who took a couple of days off from Cincinnati's camp to go to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to take his United State citizenship test. Hernandez passed the test on Tuesday and will be sworn in at a later date.

"I already live here and I have my life here," Hernandez, a native of Venezuela, told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. "My kids are U.S. citizens and my wife is a U.S. citizen. I'm the only one left. I feel like I've got to do it because I live here."

Hernandez celebrated with a double against the White Sox on Wednesday.

A PITCHER'S BEST FRIEND: A physicist writes an article on Baseball Prospectus stating that if the Diamondbacks used a humidor at Chase Field, they'd see a 37 percent drop in home runs. (Hat tip to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic)

THOSE AREN'T PILLOWS: The Planes, Trains and Automobiles worthy story of Mike Napoli's journey from the Angels to the Blue Jays to the Rangers from the Orange County Register's Bill Plunkett

SOMEONE IS INTERESTED IN THE METS: A group that includes Rays minority owner Randy Frankel and Entourage creator Doug Ellin, is interested in buying a share of the Mets, the New York Times reports.

Frankel would have to sell his share of the Rays, if approved.

THE DOCTOR IS AN IN-PATIENT: While the NFL seems to have someone on every Dancing With the Stars incarnation, MLB will be represented on Celebrity Rehab by former Mets ace Dwight Gooden.

Gooden, 46, will join Lindsay Lohan's dad and the kid from Baywatch on Dr. Drew's show, TMZ.com reports.

MMMM… GRAVY: A flow chart telling you which Major League Baseball team you should root for.

ANIMAL STYLE: For those non-Californians heading out to spring training in Arizona, here's a little help when it comes to the culinary hotspot that is In-N-Out. You've heard of the secret menu? Here's a look at every "secret" item on the menu.

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