Posted on: February 25, 2012 8:24 pm
 

Mets to honor Carter with patch

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Mets will wear this patch on their uniform this season to honor the late Gary Carter, the team announced on Twitter:



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Posted on: February 25, 2012 5:45 pm
 

Mike Aviles has not been traded

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Twitter is an amazing tool that can deliver news quickly and efficiently. But sometimes things aren't as they seem on Twitter.

Saturday afternoon, a Twitter account that claimed to be from Red Sox shortstop Mike Aviles said he'd been traded to the Rays. It was assumed, by many, to be real and retweeted. Really, what could be better word than from the horse's mouth?

Mike Aviles

Except, it's not the right horse.

According to several reporters, including Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe, confirmed with Aviles that the account doesn't belong to him. Aviles is not on Twitter, he told reporters.

With Twitter, as in everything else, let the buyer beware.

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Posted on: February 25, 2012 3:16 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 4:53 pm
 

Red Sox ban alcohol in the clubhouse

Bobby Valentine

By C. Trent Rosecrans


There'll be no beer in the Red Sox clubhouse this season, but fried chicken is presumably safe.

New manager Bobby Valentine told reporters on Saturday that he told the team alcohol would not be permitted in the clubhouse.

"The rules are not to embarrass themselves or the team, the community, their teammates," Valentine said (via WEEI.com). "I don't think that's a new rule. That's a longstanding rule of life. There's no beer in the clubhouse or on the last leg of road trips."

Valentine said he didn't allow alcohol in the clubhouse when he managed the Mets.

Boston's September collapse was symbolized by starting pitchers drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games.

Red Sox DH David Ortiz said he supported Valentine's new policy.

"We're not here to drink. We're here to play baseball," David Ortiz said (via the Boston Herald). "It ain't no bar."

Valentine noted 19 other teams don't allow alcohol in the clubhouse, including the Mets, Yankees and Cardinals. St. Louis banned alcohol in the clubhouse after the 2007 death of pitcher Josh Hancock.

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Posted on: February 25, 2012 2:39 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 4:21 pm
 

Nats, Zimmerman extend extension talks

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The beauty of a self-imposed deadline is that it's pretty easy to ignore it if you want to do so.

Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said his representatives and Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo continued their contract extension past the 10 a.m. deadline Zimmerman had set, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.

Zimmerman said the two sides had "a couple of little hurdles" remaining, and the main sticking point is still Zimmerman's request for a no-trade clause. "Something creative to ensure me I'll be here," Zimmerman said.

The sides have agreed on money, which CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman reported is roughly $18 million per year, but Zimmerman said he only wanted to take the deal if it was guaranteed he'd be staying in Washington. Heyman said Zimmerman's side offered a "creative" solution to the impasse. Zimmerman, 27, is signed through 2013.

The new deadline, is the end of the day, Zimmerman said -- unless it's not.

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Posted on: February 25, 2012 2:13 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 4:38 pm
 

Joel Zumaya hurt again

Joel Zumaya

By C. Trent Rosecrans


If Friday was a Grady Sizemore injury, Saturday must mean it was time for Joel Zumaya to get hurt, isn't it.

Unfortunately, that was the case. Zumaya, now a Twin, cut short a throwing session on Saturday after about 15 pitches. He is scheduled to have an MRI on Sunday, manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters (via MLB.com).

General manager Terry Ryan said the MRI would be on the inside of Zumaya's right elbow.

"Obviously he felt something that was discomforting so he came off, which was right," Ryan said, according to the Star Tribune. "We've had this happen down here  before. We've had people walk off the mound because they were hurt. I'm glad he came off there, we'll get it addressed tomorrow and see what the results of that MRI are. It would be a little less concerning if we didn't have the history with him, which he's experienced in his career.

"There's not a lot I give you until we get the results. They'll be out fairly soon. We'll get him in tomorrow morning, which is a good thing, Sunday morning."

Zumaya declined to speak to reporters.

CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman reports Zumaya said he felt "something" and wasn't happy as he left the field.

The right-hander missed all of 2011 after undergoing elbow surgery last spring training and hasn't played in a game since June 28, 2010, when he fractured his elbow while pitching for the Tigers against the Twins.

A rookie sensation in 2006, Zumaya appeared in 62 games, striking out 97 batters in 83 1/3 innings and lighting up radar guns, while putting up a 1.94 ERA for the Tigers. Since then, he's appeared in just 109 games over four seasons and no more than 31 in any season. His strikeout rate has been around one per inning since his rookie season, but hasn't exceeded it.

In 2007 he had a finger injury and a shoulder injury limited him in 2009 and 2009 before undergoing season-ending surgery.

The Twins signed the 27-year-old to a one-year contract in the offseason.

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Posted on: February 25, 2012 12:21 pm
 

MLB's Braun response gets Star Wars treatment



By C. Trent Rosecrans


Major League Baseball's response to the Ryan Braun decision sounded to many as a bit, shall we say, harsh?

One Twitter user, @FauxFrankWren, seemed to think the statement released by reminded him of the strong-armed tactics of a dictatorship from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.



Shyam Das does sound like a name only George Lucas could invent -- I wonder if he'll get his own action figure anytime soon.

Speaking of action figures, I'm not sure why Lucas didn't say anything in the late 90s when Luke Skywalker wasn't looking exactly natural.



Hat-tip: Big League Stew

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Posted on: February 25, 2012 10:39 am
 

Photo: Lance Berkman's new look

Lance Berkman

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Repeating as the World Series champions is a serious business -- and Cardinals first baseman Lance Berkman is obviously feeling the pressure.

In the team's first full workout on Friday, Berkman wore a fake mustache for "about two thirds" of the workout, according to the Associated Press cutline.

It's a good look.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 10:02 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 7:57 pm
 

Spring primer: Chicago Cubs



By Matt Snyder


After watching the Cubs go from a 97-win club to a 71-win version in just four seasons, owner Tom Ricketts took serious action in 2011. He fired general manager Jim Hendry and landed his version of a big fish, in former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein. Epstein took over as club president then added Jed Hoyer as general manager and Jason McLeod as senior vice president of scouting and player development, among other front office pieces. The new management group then hired Dale Sveum as the big-league manager and started to clean house. It's going to be a long process, but said process has begun in earnest.

Scott Miller's camp report: Cubs Giddy With Optimism | Likes, Dislikes

Major additions: OF David DeJesus, 1B Anthony Rizzo, 3B Ian Stewart, LHP Paul Maholm, RHP Chris Volstad, LHP Travis Wood
Major departures: RHP Carlos Zambrano, OF Tyler Colvin, RHP Andrew Cashner, 3B Aramis Ramirez, 1B Carlos Pena, LHP Sean Marshall, LHP John Grabow

Probable lineup
1. David DeJesus, RF
2. Starlin Castro, SS
3. Marlon Byrd, CF
4. Bryan LaHair, 1B
5. Alfonso Soriano, LF
6. Ian Stewart, 3B
7. Geovany Soto, C
8. Darwin Barney, 2B

Probable rotation
1. Matt Garza
2. Ryan Dempster
3. Paul Maholm
4. Randy Wells
5. Travis Wood

Chris Volstad will also be in the mix, but I gave Wood the nod because he's left-handed.

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Carlos Marmol
Set-up: Kerry Wood, Jeff Samardzija

Important bench players

IF Jeff Baker, C Welington Castillo, OF Tony Campana, OF Reed Johnson

Prospects to watch
There are two here in particular that could make an impact in 2012: OF Brett Jackson and 1B Anthony Rizzo. It's entirely possible both are in the lineup come August. With Rizzo, it's a matter of whether or not LaHair can hit in the majors long-term -- as he could merely be one of those so-called Quadruple-A players. If that is the case and Rizzo is hitting well in Triple-A, the Cubs might well decide to turn to Rizzo. With Jackson, he's blocked all over the outfield, however, center field could easily be cleared in July. If the Cubs fall out of contention prior to the trade deadline -- and let's face it, that's a pretty good bet -- Byrd is a great trade candidate (sorry, I don't think the Cubs can deal Soriano just yet due to his contract). Byrd is in the final year of his contract and can play all three outfield positions, so surely some contender would cough up one mid-tier prospect for him. If that happens, the logical step for the Cubs would be to see how Jackson fared in center field for the final two months to determine if he can stay there or if he needs to be moved to a corner.

Fantasy sleeper: Bryan LaHair
"Usually, when a player in his late 20s puts up eye-popping numbers at Triple-A like a .331 batting average, 38 homers and 1.070 OPS, he's dismissed right away as a Quadruple-A player, but apparently the Cubs' front office thinks LaHair is different -- and not just because of his impressive 59 at-bat stint in the majors last year. The experiment could still be a failure of Kila Ka'aihue proportions, which is why you shouldn't bother with LaHair in mixed leagues, but late in NL-only formats, why not?" - Scott White [Full Cubs team fantasy preview]

Fantasy bust: Carlos Marmol
"If blown saves were Marmol's only problem, it'd be one thing, but the bottom line is he's not the efficient out-getter that Epstein and Hoyer would like their closer to be. His walk rate is as bad as it gets, and as a result, he's always pitching out of jams. Sure, his high strikeout rate helps compensate for it, but if he produces anything short of a best-in-the-league-type hit rate, his WHIP is in the danger zone." - Scott White [Full Cubs team fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
The deep pitching staff throws well and pays immediate dividends, as the bullpen improves with much better rest. Plus, behind the changes in right field and third base, the defense is also improved. Even Marmol's control issues drastically dwindle. LaHair and Stewart prove they can hit major-league pitching throughout the season and DeJesus turns out a perfect leadoff man for the suddenly balanced offense. And the Cubs find themselves right in the thick of the NL Central race with the Cardinals, Reds and Brewers until the end of the season, possibly even finishing somewhere in the top three.

Pessimistic outlook
By the end of July, Garza, Dempster and Byrd are all traded as the Cubs have no shot of making the playoffs. The Cubs try to avoid the cellar in a battle with the Astros, but continue the rebuilding effort and look forward to hitting the 2013 free agency class full-steam (less than $40 million is committed to 2013 payroll so far). Really, this is more realistic than pessimistic, because as much as the Cubs' coaches, players and front office say they're trying to win this year, it's obvious this is a two-year plan at the absolute minimum.

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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