Tag:AL West
Posted on: January 4, 2012 10:42 am
 

Rodney signs one-year deal with Rays

By Matt Snyder

The latest bullpen reclamation project in Tampa Bay? Walk-plagued Fernando Rodney. The 34-year-old right-hander will sign a one-year contract worth $2 million with the Rays either Wednesday or Thursday, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has learned.

Rodney has been a late-innings reliever throughout his career with flashes of promise. He's always had a good strikeout rate and sometimes it's been outstanding (10.9 K/9 in 2008). Rodney's also saved 87 games in his career. However, he just can't stay out of his own way, allowing far too many baserunners (career 1.46 WHIP). Last season, it got worse, as he walked 28 hitters while striking out just 26 in 32 innings. He also hit three batters and threw two wild pitches. Poor control has led to a 4.29 career ERA and a 4.50 mark last season. Advanced stats (FIP, xFIP, WAR) show Rodney was even worse last season than those numbers indicate, too.

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Then again, we've seen the Rays turn things around for struggling relievers before. Last season's biggest example was Kyle Farnsworth. Rodney certainly won't be the closer or initially leaned upon as strictly an eighth-inning guy. He'll just be in the mix late with the likes of Joel Peralta, Jake McGee and J.P. Howell.

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Posted on: January 3, 2012 5:40 pm
Edited on: January 3, 2012 10:20 pm
 

Coco Crisp headed back to Oakland

Coco Crisp

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Coco Crisp is returning to Oakland pending a physical, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman confirms.

The outfielder has agreed to a two-year deal worth $13 million and a club option for $7.5 million in 2014 with a $1 million buyout, ESPN.com's Buster Olney tweets.

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Crisp had been garnering interest from several teams and said Monday that he'd made a decision, but hadn't told the team yet. That team will be his old team.

Last year Crisp, 32, hit .264/.314/.379 with eight home runs and a league-leading 49 stolen bases. In parts of 10 seasons with the Indians, Red Sox, Royals and A's, Crisp is a career .275/.330/.406 hitter.

Crisp was one of the few true center fielders on the free agent market, so several teams other than the A's reportedly had interested. The Orioles, Cubs, Cardinals and Dodgers had been rumored to have some level of interest in Crisp, who will instead stay in Oakland. Geography -- not to mention a guaranteed $14 million -- also may have played a part in Crisp's return to the A's. A Los Angeles native, Crisp reportedly wanted to stay in the state of California.

The outfield market now hinges on Cuban Yoenis Cespedes, while there are also some corner outfielder types available, like Cody Ross, J.D. Drew, Ryan Ludwick, Kosuke Fukudome, Raul Ibanez, Jonny Gomez, Juan Pierre and Magglio Ordonez. As for a center fielder, Corey Patterson is also available, but that's not going to excite too many teams. 

As for the A's, they keep their leadoff man, but at a price. Crisp will reportedly make $6 million in 2012 and $7 million in 2013. So far this offseason, the A's focus has been on shedding contracts and spending less money. Crisp's contract is in line with several other outfielders signed this winter -- just below Jason Kubel's two-year, $15 million deal with the Diamondbacks and more than Grady Sizemore's one-year, $5 million deal with Cleveland.

Crisp should hold down center field for Oakland, with newly acquired Josh Reddick in right and a battle in left between prospects Michael Taylor, Chris Carter and Collin Cowgill, who was part of the trade that sent Trevor Cahill to Arizona. Oakland could also dip into the free-agent market for another outfielder to try to round out the roster, but general manager Billy Beane has already said the team would be spending most of its money in the draft and international signings for next season. It wouldn't make sense for the A's, who are committed to rebuilding, to bring in anything more than a stopgap measure for left field -- although, at this point that may be all that's left.

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Posted on: January 3, 2012 4:57 pm
 

Video: Jack Wilson's kicking prowess

By C. Trent Rosecrans

As a University of Georgia graduate, I know how important a good kicker is -- so with that, I sure hope Jack Wilson has some eligibility left. The free-agent shortstop could always go back to school after 11 years in the big leagues, and maybe even earn a scholarship.

Check out this video of Wilson's kicking prowess:

Several failed baseball players have gone back to school to play football after their baseball careers fizzled, guys like Chris Weinke, Josh Booty, Quincy Carter and Quan Cosby, so why not a guy who has already earned more than $40 million playing baseball? Hey Mark Richt, make the right call this time, and see if Wilson wants to stay in Georgia for the next four years.

H/T: Big League Stew

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Posted on: January 3, 2012 3:22 pm
 

Beyond the closer -- baseball's best facial hair



By C. Trent Rosecrans


When it comes to baseball facial hair, all the glory seems to go to the closers -- from Rollie Fingers to Rod Beck to the modern-day duo of Brian Wilson and John Axford. Wilson's beard has made him baseball's version of Peyton Manning -- appearing in more commercials than games. And then there's Axford, the Brewers' closer won the title of Mustached American of the Year from the American Mustache Institute, despite the fact he's Canadian.

Well, why should closers have all the fun? We need to get back to the glory days of the 70s and 80s when mustaches weren't just for the closers, they were for everyone in baseball. So, with that in mind, here is some of baseball's best mustaches, beards and other facial hair variations that are sported by players other than closers.

The outfielder -- Toronto's Eric Thames

 

Thames gets bonus points for versatility, changing his facial hair throughout the season, from simple stubble to some fantastic sideburn-mustache combos. Kudos to Thames for several of his combinations and his sheer willingness to experiment. A true All-Star in terms of facial hair.

The infielder -- Seattle's Brendan Ryan

 

Ryan finished the season clean-shaven, but hopefully he's using the offseason to get this glorious 'stache back in shape for spring training. Ryan also knows how to sport some awesome stirrups, so the man knows his style.

The starter -- Minnesota's Carl Pavano

 

Pavano's 'stache has its own Facebook page, as well it should.

The middle reliever -- Cincinnati's Sam LeCure

 

LeCure used his mustache to raise money for prostate cancer as part of the Movember movement. While a native of Missouri, LeCure went to college at Texas, so he's taken note of the great gunslingers of the old west for inspiration for his 'stache.

The manager -- Seattle's Eric Wedge

 

Like Ryan, Wedge shaved late in the 2011 season. Let's hope Wedge brings back the mustache -- which just commands respect. 

The bench coach -- Tampa Bay's Dave Martinez

 

Martinez didn't shave his beard, but he did give it a good trim late in the season. But you've got to give the guy credit for keeping that glorious monster alive during a Florida spring and summer. Sure, Tropicana Field is air conditioned, but you've got to leave the ballpark sometimes and that humidity is deadly.

The umpire -- Jim Joyce



Joyce became a household name for the way he handled his blown call costing Armando Galarraga a perfect game in 2010, but his mustache screams authority and confidence, meaning we believe him now when he says out or safe -- no matter what's happened in the past.

The mascot -- Mr. Redlegs

 

Mr. Met is probably the best mascot in the game, but the Reds took the Mr. Met template and one-upped him with a handlebar mustache -- which is like the bacon of facial hair, it makes everything better.

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Posted on: January 1, 2012 1:08 am
Edited on: January 1, 2012 1:10 am
 

Report: Mariners close to signing Iwakuma

Hisashi IwakumaBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Mariners are close to signing Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, according to Nikkan Sports (via YakyuBaka.com).

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The A's won the bidding for Iwamura's posting fee last offseason, but were unable to reach an agreement with him in the 30-day window, so he returned to Japan for the 2011 season, where he went 6-7 with a 2.42 ERA in 17 games. In parts of 11 seasons in Japan, he went 107-69 with a 3.25 ERA and started three games -- including the championship game -- for Japan in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. In the WBC, he finished with a 1.35 ERA in three starts, two against South Korea and one against Cuba.

Iwakuma, 30, was limited by right shoulder problems in May, but went on to pitch well the rest of the season. Iwakuma exercised his international free agent option, allowing him to sign with any Major League team.

There had been reports that as many as five teams had interest in Iwakuma, and then recently the number was listed at four, including the A's, Twins and Mariners. The Pirates and Nationals were also rumored to be interested in Iwakuma at some point.

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Posted on: December 30, 2011 5:18 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2011 11:19 am
 

And the Bloggies go to...



By C. Trent Rosecrans

No need to get dressed up -- but the Bloggies are here and they're best viewed in sweatpants or pajama pants. The winners, the winner get nothing. But we get to fill out a post and bring something new.

So, Monday (Part I) and Tuesday (Part II), we put up the nominees in several categories and let the fans vote. Well, we couldn't just stick to that, because we all know the internets is for disagreement over awards, so Matt Snyder and I will chime in with our picks, as well.

Best Moment(s) of 2011
Fans: World Series Game 6
Snyder: Game 6
Rosecrans: Sept. 28

Most Historic Milestone
Fans: Derek Jeter's 3,000th
Snyder: Jim Thome's 600th
Rosecrans: Jeter's 3,000th

Biggest Surprise
Fans: Cardinals
Snyder: Albert Pujols to the Angels
Rosecrans: Cardinals

Biggest Disappointment -- Individual section
Fans: Ryan Braun's failed test
Snyder: Braun
Rosecrans: Coco Crisp not sticking with the 'fro

Biggest Disappointment -- Team
Fans: Red Sox
Snyder: Red Sox
Rosecrans: Red Sox

Most Bush League Moment
Fans: Carlos Zambrano quitting on his teammates
Snyder: Carlos Guillen's celebration in the Jered Weaver/Tigers feud
Rosecrans: Zambrano

Worst Call
Fans: Jerry Meals
Snyder: Billy Butler's "inside the park" home run
Rosecrans: Meals

Biggest "Can't-Look-Away" Character
Fans: Ozzie Guillen
Snyder: Nyjer Morgan
Rosecrans: Guillen

Best Twitterer
Fans: @DatDudeBP (Brandon Phillips)
Snyder: @BMcCarthy32 (Brandon McCarthy)
Rosecrans: @BMcCarthy32

Biggest bonehead move
Fans: Mike Leake been caught stealing
Snyder: Leake
Rosecrans: Leake

Best celebration
Fans: None: They're all lame
Snyder: None
Rosecrans: None

Weirdest injury
Fans; Matt Holliday and the moth
Snyder: Holliday
Rosecrans: Holliday

Most impressive home run
Fans: Francisco

Snyder: Upton

Rosecrans: Upton

Best defensively play
Fans: Phillips

Snyder: Revere

Rosecrans: Revere

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Posted on: December 29, 2011 6:50 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 7:19 pm
 

Report: Pujols contract heavily backloaded

By Matt Snyder

We already knew Albert Pujols signed a gargantuan 10-year contract worth over $250 million to play for the Angels. What we didn't know initially was how the contract would break down. Considering the Angels went into the offseason saying they couldn't drastically increase payroll, it's not overly surprising that Pujols' contract is reportedly backloaded pretty heavily. From Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com:
Pujols will make a base salary of $12 million in 2012 and $16 million in 2013, said a source. His salary will gradually increase until it surpasses $30 million annually near the end of the deal.
Crasnick also notes that Pujols agreeing to have a lower salary in the next two seasons helped the Angels afford to sign starting pitcher C.J. Wilson. Then again, getting paid over $30 million when he's surpassed 40 years of age doesn't exactly sound too shabby for Pujols.

Also, Crasnick reports the deal has taken a while to finalize because the it includes a "personal services contract with the Angels once [Pujols'] playing days are done."

Pujols turns 32 this coming January, so he'll turn 42 before the final year of this contract. And, again, he'll make over $30 million that season. While Pujols has been the best player in baseball for a while -- finishing in the top five of MVP voting 10 of his 11 seasons, it's hard to see him being worth anywhere close to that salary in 10 years. The Angels are obviously counting on him earning back the entirety of the deal in the first five to seven years.

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Posted on: December 28, 2011 5:24 pm
Edited on: December 28, 2011 6:04 pm
 

Red Sox get Bailey, Sweeney from A's

Andrew Bailey

By C. Trent Rosecrans


The Red Sox have their closer, acquiring Andrew Bailey from the A's, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reports. The Red Sox sent outfielder Josh Reddick along with minor-league third baseman Miles Head and right-handed pitcher Raul Alcantara, while sending outfielder Ryan Sweeney to Boston along with Bailey.

Josh ReddickBailey is the third pitcher the A's have traded this season, along with starters Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez

Bailey, 27, will replace Jonathan Papelbon, who signed with the Phillies, as the Red Sox closer. A two-time All-Star, Bailey has 75 saves in his first three seasons with a 2.07 ERA. He had 24 saves and a career-high 3.24 ERA in 2010.

Reddick, 24, has struggled to find time in the Red Sox lineup, but managed to play 87 games in 2011, logging 278 plate appearances, hitting .280/.327/.457 with seven home runs and 28 RBI.

The 20-year-old Head hit .299/.372/.515 with 22 homers and 82 RBI at both Class A levels, splitting his time almost equally between Greenville and Salem. Alcantara, 19, started 13 games in the rookie league and short-season Class Am going 1-4 with a 2.20 ERA, striking out 50 batters in 65 1/3 innings.

Boston also gets the 26-year-old Sweeney, who hit .265/.346/.341 last season for the A's, but has hit just 14 homers over parts of six seasons with the White Sox and A's. Sweeney is arbitration-eligible, as is Bailey.

Last week after the Gonzalez trade, A's general manager Billy Beane said the team was looking to rebuild in hopes of having a young, talented team in time for a new stadium.

Bailey joins the new-look bullpen in Boston along with recently acquired Mark Melancon, while Sweeney will work in a platoon role in the Boston outfield.  

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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