Tag:NL East
Posted on: January 28, 2012 11:59 am
Edited on: January 28, 2012 12:03 pm
  •  
 

Mets headed for dubious payroll record in 2012

By Matt Snyder

After losing upwards of $70 million last season, the Mets are set to drastically lower payroll in 2012. We knew that. But an ESPN.com report from Friday noted just how severe the drop will be. In fact, it's likely to be historic. With a payroll ESPN.com projected at $90.7 million for the coming season, it would represent a drop of $52.1 million -- reportedly the largest payroll drop in MLB history.

The previous "record" was held by the Texas Rangers' drop from 2003 to 2004, when they shed the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez from the payroll. In all, the Rangers slashed $48.4 million in player salaries, but the Mets are poised to blow past that. These Mets have shed the contracts of Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez, among others, from the opening-day payroll of 2011.

As long as Fred Wilpon's ownership group is in charge, the Mets will continue to find ways to generate any kind of revenue they can while also trying to not alienate their fan base -- as they wish to remain owners of the club. They have lowered ticket prices for the 2012 season, but will that keep the turnstiles moving frequently enough to turn a profit for the season? The NL East appears loaded, as the Nationals are up and coming while the Marlins just went on a winter spending spree. We know how good the Braves and Phillies are. Slashing payroll in record fashion is hardly the best way to convince your fans the team is trying to field a winner in one of the best divisions in the majors. 

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Category: MLB
Posted on: January 27, 2012 11:33 am
Edited on: January 27, 2012 11:54 am
 

Phillies sign Pierre to minor-league deal

By Matt Snyder

Free agent outfielder Juan Pierre has signed a minor-league contract with the Phillies, the club announced Friday.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

The 34-year-old Pierre is a true pro in every sense of the word, but his on-field value at this point isn't much. He hit .279 last season, but he rarely walks and has no power, so his .657 OPS is pretty poor. Plus, he's a corner outfielder now, so the lack of power hurts his value even more. He did steal 27 bases last year, but was caught stealing 17 times.

Pierre is only going to be providing depth for the Phillies, though it's not too much a stretch to see him playing quite a bit at some point. Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence aren't going anywhere, but the left field job belongs to Laynce Nix right now, with John Mayberry the backup. You'd think Domonic Brown would get another look, but if not, Pierre is waiting in the wings.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: January 26, 2012 3:31 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 3:38 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Storen or Kimbrel?



By C. Trent Rosecrans


One of the most volatile positions on the field is closer -- one minute a guy is lights-out, the next he's teaching High School phys ed, like Kenny Powers. The few guys you can count on can count on big bucks, and even some with questions can still get big money.

Don't want to shell out big money on a big-name closer? Sometimes young guys can get the job done at a fraction of the cost with a young pitcher with a live arm. While the Phillies and Marlins have dolled out a combined $77 million this offseason, two other teams in the National League East will pay less than $1 million combined for two guys who saved 15 more games than the Jonathan Papelbon and Heath Bell combined in 2011 -- Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel and Washington's Drew Storen. So, for today's penultimate matchup in the Would You Rather Have? series, it's two young, NL East closers.

Would You Rather Have
The case for Storen

Storen was the Nationals' second pick in the 2009 draft, but first to make the majors, beating Stephen Strasburg to D.C. He picked up five saves in 2010, before starting out 2011 as the team's full-time closer. He finished 2011 with 43 saves and nearly a strikeout an inning. He has a fastball that averages 95 mph and a very good slider, to boot. His changeup isn't great, but as a one-inning guy, two pitches are plenty.

In addition to his strikeout rate, he allowed just 2.39 walks per nine innings, a number that was better than his first year. He also bettered his strikeout rate (8.84 strikeouts per nine innings), ground ball rate (47.3 percent), left-on-base percentage (81.1 percent), ERA (2.75) and xFIP (3.14). Storen -- despite some questionable coaching from CBSSports.com blogger Matt Snyder earlier in life (true story) -- appears to be improving and could get even better than he was in 2011. Although it should be noted his batting average on balls in play dropped by .050 last season, from .296 in 2010 to .246 in 2011.

The case for Kimbrel

Kimbrel was a unanimous choice for National League Rookie of the Year -- and for good reason. He was nearly unhittable. The right-hander had a 1.039 WHIP while leading the National League with 46 saves and putting up just a 2.10 ERA. In 77 innings -- and 79 games -- Kimbrel struck out 127 batters, walking 32. He did that all while allowing a .314 batting average on balls in play.

Like Storen, Kimbrel gets by on his mid-90s fastball and a slider, both above-average pitches.

Another thing to love about the two pitchers is that they're both under team control through the 2016 season, although Storen is likely to be a Super Two, giving him an extra year of arbitration starting next season.

Our call

With apologies to Storen, this one isn't that close. Kimbrel's a little younger, will have one less arbitration year and is probably just flat better. The only question is how Kimbrel handles the workload he was handed by manager Fredi Gonzalez last season, when he put up a 4.76 ERA in the last month of the season. While he faced just three more batters and pitched only 1 2/3 innings more than Storen, his higher walk rate and strikeout rate means he threw 1,314 pitches in 2011 to 1,100 by Storen. Still, neither has been injured at the big-league level and expect Gonzalez to learn from his mistakes. Storen's a good pitcher, but Kimbrel's an easy pick here.

Fan Vote: Would you rather have Storen or Kimbrel on your favorite team?



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

Posted on: January 26, 2012 11:11 am
Edited on: January 26, 2012 11:18 am
 

Brad Lidge signs 1-year deal with Nationals

Brad Lidge

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Nationals have signed former Phillies closer Brad Lidge to a one-year deal, the team announced on Thursday.

FREE AGENT TRACKER


The 35-year-old Lidge appeared in just 25 games for the Phillies last season because of a shoulder injury. His 2010 was limited by an elbow injury.

Lidge was 0-2 with a 1.40 ERA in those 25 games last season, but managed just 19 1/3 innings, striking out 23 and walking 13, putting up a WHIP of 1.500.

With Washington, the right-hander will likely serve as a setup man for closer Drew Storen and right-hander Tyler Clippard.

Lidge has 223 career saves with the Astros and Phillies over 10 seasons, accumulating a 26-31 record and a 3.44 ERA.

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 4:59 pm
 

Marlins sign Austin Kearns to minor-league deal

By Matt Snyder

Tuesday brought us the Prince Fielder signing and -- to an obviously much lesser extent -- Francisco Cordero signing. Wednesday? How about Austin Kearns? Yeah, that's all we've got to pass along in terms of free agents signing on this day. But it is a transaction nonetheless, as the Miami Marlins have signed Kearns to a minor-league contract, which includes an invitation to spring training, the club announced Wednesday afternoon.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

Kearns was a first-round pick of the Reds back in 1998 and was then considered one of baseball's top prospects back in 2001 and 2002. Things haven't quite gone as expected, however, as Kearns will now be joining his fifth franchise. He hit .200/.302/.287 with two homers and seven RBI in just 174 plate appearances last season for the Indians. He's still not old, at age 31, so there's hope of getting him back to a 2007-type level, when Kearns was a full-time player for the Nationals and hit .266/.355/.411 with 16 homers and 35 doubles.

If Kearns does make the team, don't expect him to be a starter. Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton are firmly entrenched as the Marlins' corner outfielders. This was a depth signing.

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.
Posted on: January 24, 2012 6:08 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 7:50 pm
 

'Mystery Team' goes from joke to major player

Mystery Team

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Once again, the Mystery Team got its man, as Prince Fielder is headed to Detroit -- not Washington or Texas.

Last November, the idea of a "Mystery Team" was a joke -- a meme making fun of writers who dared to suggest there were things they didn't know, a team that could get by the new world order of Twitter and the 86,400 second news cycle. One blogger even called the chance of Cliff Lee signing with anyone other than the Yankees or Rangers "the invention of an agent" who was using a writer who dared to buck the status quo. That blogger even highlighted his jabs at the writer with a picture of the Mystery Machine, the vehicle of choice for Scooby Doo and pals. And it wasn't just snarky bloggers who have more jokes than information, mainstream writers got in on the meme as well.

Prince to Tigers
And then, well… Cliff Lee signed with the Mystery Team.

And so did Adrian Beltre.

But that didn't stop the barbs. After Albert Pujols went to Anaheim and now Prince Fielder to Tigers, the Mystery Team is no joke.

It's almost to the point where for the biggest of the big free agents, the Mystery Team is a favorite. And if we're not there, we're probably to the point where the Mystery Team should never be counted out of the running, and certainly to the point where it shouldn't be mocked.

The biggest reason there's more Mystery Team chatter is because there's more chatter, the people making the biggest decisions are doing so with respect to Twitter and the proliferation of outlets reporting on baseball and sports, in general. We're at the point where fans see an interviewing Theo Epstein in a Chicago Starbucks and it makes national news. The teams aren't laughing about "bloggers in their mother's basements" anymore -- it's serious stuff. If rivals learn of a team's plan, it can cost them on the field and off the field in terms of money.

In response, teams are being much more careful about where they are seen and who they are seen with. At the winter meetings, teams will use service elevators and back hallways, places unavailable to the public -- and the press -- to get around.

Also, when it comes to the highest levels of free agents, the type that could cost $100 or $200 million, you're not talking about a general manager having the final say, it's the owners who have to pull the trigger. That leads to an agent, such as Scott Boras, dealing with the money people, not the baseball people who have less of an incentive to keep quiet. The more people who know that a team is considering signing a player, the more chance it can leak out. At some point, the GM can say, "yeah, I'd love to have Albert Pujols." And that's a no-brainer. It's all up to the owner to decide if he wants to spend the money, so he meets with the agent, and maybe the player.

There are still cases like Jose Reyes, where pretty much everyone assumed he'd end up in Miami, but we're also at the point where you should never, ever count out the Mystery Team.

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



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