Tag:NL Central
Posted on: January 24, 2012 5:50 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 5:01 pm
 

Report: Cespedes gains Dominican residency

UPDATE: Cespedes has been granted free agency, so let the bidding begin



By Matt Snyder


Now that Prince Fielder has signed, will the pre-2012 free agent talk die a quiet death? Not likely, as we can add one last big-name position player to the mix. Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes will hit the market very soon. He wasn't eligible to be a free agent until he had established residency outside of Cuba, and MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez is reporting that Cespedes has now done so in the Dominican Republic. Cespedes will be a free agent once MLB approves him.

Cespedes, 26, is an outfielder that some scouts have said could possibly have a Bo Jackson-type power-speed combination. According to Baseball-Reference.com, Cespedes hit .333/.424/.667 with 33 homers, 99 RBI, 11 steals and 89 runs in 90 games last season in Cuba.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

"He's a five-tool guy, built like an NFL running back," one scout told Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. "He has tremendous raw power, with all the tools to be a 30-30 guy in the big leagues. His mother pitched on the Cuban national softball team, so he has athleticism in the family."

Recent reports have indicated the Cubs and Marlins are the two most likely suitors for Cespedes, though about a dozen teams have been connected to him in rumors. Considering the Fielder-to-Tigers and Pujols-to-Angels movements we've seen this offseason, all bets are off here.

Here's Cespedes hitting a home run in the Dominican Winter League:



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Posted on: January 24, 2012 3:31 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 3:33 pm
 

La Russa to manage NL squad in All-Star Game

Tony La Russa

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Tony La Russa hasn't managed his last game. The retired Cardinals manager will lead the National League in this year's All-Star Game in Kansas City, commissioner Bud Selig announced on Tuesday.

It will be La Russa's sixth time managing in the All-Star Game, third in the National League. The manager of the defending league champion gets the nod every year, but this is the first time a retired manager has gotten the honor. Twice before managers have left a World Series team and managed in a different uniform the next season. Dick Williams did it in 1974 after leaving the A's for the Angels, and Dusty Baker donned the Cubs uniform in the 2003 game after leading the Giants to the 2002 World Series.

"Tony earned this opportunity with the remarkable run that the Cardinals completed last October, and I am delighted that he shared my enthusiasm about his staying in this role," Selig said in a statement released by MLB. "The All-Star Game celebrated all the best of our game, and it is very approrpriate that we will have the chance to celebrated one of the greatest managerial careers of all-time as part of the festivities."

Only Casey Stengel (10), Walter Alston (nine) and Joe McCarthy (seven), will have managed more All-Star Games than La Russa. Joe Torre also managed in six All-Star Games.

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Posted on: January 24, 2012 3:02 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 7:04 pm
 

Prince Fielder signs with the Tigers



By Matt Snyder


Chalk up one more for the so-called mystery team. First it was Cliff Lee going to the Phillies, then Albert Pujols heading to the Angels. Now Prince Fielder has shocked the baseball world by signing with the Detroit Tigers, a team that hadn't even been remotely connected to him in rumors the entire offseason. The robust first baseman has signed a nine-year contract worth $214 million, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has learned.

The Tigers were recently dealt what appeared to be a pretty severe blow, as Victor Martinez tore his ACL and could miss the entire 2012 season. So there went Miguel Cabrera's lineup protection, right? Think again. Owner Mike Ilitch really wants to win a World Series championship and this signing indicates one of the strongest reactions one can even imagine to news like that.

Prince to Tigers
Heyman also notes that the finalists to land Fielder were the Nationals, Tigers and one other "mystery team." So it's entirely possible the Nationals would have come away with Fielder had Martinez not torn his ACL. It's funny how things work sometimes.

A Fielder-Cabrera combo in the middle of that order will dominate AL Central pitching. Throw Justin Verlander into the mix, and the Tigers have three of baseball's biggest stars.

Fielder, 27, hit .299/.415/.566 with 38 homers, 120 RBI, 95 runs and 36 doubles last season for the NL Central champion Brewers. He finished third in MVP voting and also took home the All-Star Game MVP. Though Fielder is a large man, he is as durable as they come. He hasn't played in less than 157 games in a season since becoming a regular. He played in all 162 last season, following up seasons where he appeared in 161 and 162 games, respectively.

The smart money with Fielder and Cabrera is a split at first base, with the other serving as the designated hitter. Then again, what if the Tigers got nuts and tried to shove Cabrera back across the diamond to play third base again -- where he began his career? That would mean the infield defense would be awful, but would also leave room for a better hitting DH than Brandon Inge (who, at this point, looks like the third baseman). And if Victor Martinez comes back healthy? It works even better.

The Tigers won the AL Central by 15 games last season. Even if Martinez misses all of the 2012 season, Fielder is a pretty sizeable upgrade to the offense. So it would appear the division is the Tigers' to lose.

For now, though, the only details that really matter are that Prince Fielder is heading to Detroit -- where his father once held down the middle of the order -- and he's going to make a whole lot of money.



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Posted on: January 24, 2012 1:21 pm
 

J.D. Drew likely to retire from baseball



By Matt Snyder


After 14 seasons and truckloads of cash, J.D. Drew is likely going to retire, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has learned. Heyman notes Drew was only going to play if he found the "perfect" spot, and that evidently isn't going to happen.

Drew, 36, did have a very good offensive career. He hit .278/.384/.489, good for a 125 OPS-plus, with 242 homers, 944 runs scored and 273 doubles. He finished sixth in MVP voting in 2004 -- his lone season with the Braves -- and was an All-Star in 2008. His career 45.9 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is really good as well. He also won a World Series ring with the 2007 Red Sox.

On the other hand, many seem to scoff when hearing Drew's name and immediately think "overrated." That's because, in some ways, Drew's career could be considered disappointing. He entered the league as the top prospect in baseball, one of the most heavily hyped in the past 20 years. His agent, Scott Boras, continually got him paid like a megastar as well, as Drew accumulated $108,091,688 (Baseball-Reference.com) in his 14-year career. That's an average of roughly $7.72 million per season, which is pretty tough to do in the MLB system.

In addition to the hefty salary, Drew's inability to stay completely healthy contributed to the stigma that he was overrated. He never appeared in more than 146 games in a season and averaged just 470 plate appearances per campaign from 1999-2011.

This all led to Drew being one of the most polarizing players in baseball. He could have been one of the greats, but instead he's largely viewed as an overpaid, injury-prone slugger with great rate stats.

I would expect Drew to be on the Hall of Fame ballot five years from now -- I mean, Bill Mueller, Brad Radke, Phil Nevin and Tony Womack were on the ballot this year -- but just that one time, as he'll surely get less than five percent of the vote.

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Posted on: January 23, 2012 3:06 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 3:33 pm
 

Cubs 'prospects' get their 'Party Rock' on

By Matt Snyder

File this one in the "facepalm" section of your memory.

The Idaho Cubs are billed as Class-A Short Season affiliate of, obviously, the Chicago Cubs on their team websites -- but it's actually a prospect team sponsored by the Cubs' actual Class A affiliate: The Boise Hawks. This roster is full of players born in the early-to-mid 90s, none of whom are technically in the Cubs system. It's more like a prospect camp.

Anyway, the coaches must have believed these players need to either be A) humiliated or B) better at footwork, because the following video shows them being taught how to properly dance to LMFAO's "Party Rock." Seriously, you can't make this stuff up ...



Now let's not get all serious here. Even the "teacher" appeared to be laughing at a few different points of the actual dance. Maybe it's to weed out the "too cool" kids? Still, this was ... uh ... odd. To say the least.

Hat-tip:
Big League Stew

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Category: MLB
Posted on: January 21, 2012 11:29 pm
Edited on: January 21, 2012 11:29 pm
 

Ryan Braun accepts MVP at BBWAA dinner

Ryan BraunBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Ryan Braun accepted his National League Most Valuable Player Award at Saturday's annual dinner of the New York champter of the Baseball Writers' Association of American and made his first public comments since a report came out that he tested positive for increased levels of testosterone.

Braun made a short speech on Saturday (via MLB.com's Bryan Hoch):
"Sometimes in life, we all deal with challenges we never expected to endure. We have an opportunity to look at those challenges and view them either as obstacles or as opportunities. I've chosen to view every challenge I've ever faced as an opportunity, and this will be no different. I've always believed that a person's character is revealed through the way they deal with those moments of adversity.

"I've always loved and had so much respect for the game of baseball. Everything I've done in my career has been done with that respect and appreciation in mind. And that is why I'm so grateful and humbled to accept this award tonight."
Braun's representatives have denied their client took performance-enhancing drugs. Braun's appeal was heard by MLB earlier this week, CBSSports.com Insider Jon Heyman reported.

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Posted on: January 19, 2012 11:44 pm
 

Ryan Braun's appeal heard by MLB

Ryan Braun

By C. Trent Rosecrans


On Thursday, a three-person panel heard Ryan Braun's appeal of a 50-game suspension stemming from a positive test for raised levels of testosterone, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has confirmed.

The three members of the panel were MLB Players Association executive director Michael Weiner, MLB executive vice president for labor relations Rob Manfred and independent arbitrator Shyam Das, according to the New York Daily News, which first reported the story.

Braun is expected to make a short speech when he accepts his 2011 National League Most Valuable Player Award at Saturday's Baseball Writers' Association of America dinner in New York.

Braun's representatives have repeatedly denied allegations that the Brewers outfielder took performance-enhancing drugs.

According to Heyman, no major league player has successfully appealed a positive drug test.

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Posted on: January 19, 2012 3:48 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2012 9:19 am
 

Joe Magrane's daughter impresses 'Idol' judge

So here's a funny -- or maybe creepy is the right word -- non-baseball-yet-kinda-baseball-rel
ated tidbit.

Remember Joe Magrane? He had an eight-season big-league career, most notably a run in the Cardinals starting rotation in the late 1980s. He also has a 15-year-old daughter who recently appeared on American Idol and advanced to the second round of the competition by virtue of the impressing the judges. Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler was evidently the most impressed, as he made things a bit awkward with his choice of words upon meeting Magrane.

Tyler told Magrane that his daughter -- again, who is 15 -- is "hot, humid and happenin'." The best part, however, is the death-stare reaction from Magrane in Tyler's direction, not to mention the weird reactions of the other judges. Magrane even appears stewing through most of his daughter's audition song -- finally smiling toward the end and then joining the celebration.

Check out the funny creepy video below.



Hat-tip: LA Times blog

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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