Tag:AL East
Posted on: March 21, 2011 10:40 am
Edited on: March 21, 2011 10:42 am
 

Pepper: Barry Bonds' trial begins

Bonds

By Evan Brunell

BONDS ON TRIAL: Monday marks the first day of the long-awaited trial in which Barry Bonds is charged with lying to a grand jury about his usage of steroids.

Bonds, who has adamantly stated that he never used steroids -- at least knowingly -- has had several legal victories leading up to the trial and it is anyone's guess whether Bonds will be convicted. If he is found innocent, former commissioner Fay Vincent believes his chances of making the Hall go up, but any conviction is "the end of the discussion for at least 30 years."

The anecdotal evidence against Bonds is overwhelming, and even if he's found innocent, it will be difficult to find a person who truly believes Bonds did not knowingly use steroids. It's unclear how much impact this trial will have on Bonds' Hall of Fame hopes. There will be plenty of writers who vote for Bonds if he cleared all the legal hurdles, but there will be just as many who pursue their own brand of vigilante justice, and there are plenty of supporting arguments for each party.

While the government has been limited by Bonds' victories in pre-trial hearings, they do hold a positive steroid test in which Bonds tested positive for the clear and the cream. That will force the trial to devolve into a "he said-she said" argument, with the government prepared to call 52 witnesses -- but none among them will be Bonds' close friend and trainer Greg Anderson, who has already served over a year in prison for contempt of court and could serve more.

While the lurid trial figures to get plenty of ink in the coming weeks, don't forget that Roger Clemens lands on trial in July, and that has the promise to be an even more salacious affair. (San Francisco Chronicle)

TO PLAY OR NOT TO PLAY?: While Japan struggles to deal with the devastation that the earthquake and tsunami wrought, there's a hot debate on whether the Japanese baseball league should begin play. Some look at how baseball was the salve for America's heartbreak after 9/11, some think the comparison is ridiculous. Either way, the Central League will open four days late and play only day games the first week to save power. The Pacific League will start up April 12. (New York Times)

STICKING WITH J.P.: Projected starting catcher J.P. Arencibia has had an awful start to spring training for the Jays, this after finishing last season 1 for his last 30. Even with the news that backup Jose Molina will catch Brandon Morrow and Kyle Drabek, that's still almost 100 games lined up for Arencibia, and the team is prepared to let the slugger play his way through any struggles. (Canoe.ca)

HUSTLIN': Mark Teixeira wasn't pleased with Ben Francisco Sunday, as the Phillies outfielder bumped into Teixeira on a groundball to first. "That's not a hustle play," Tex sniffed. "He could hurt me or hurt himself." Teixeira has a fair point, as most players will allow themselves to be tagged out on a play in front of them, but it's hard to blame Francisco for this one, who is battling for the starting right field job. (New York Post)

SAME OLD: The disabled list for Jake Peavy? What a surprise. After Peavy suffered a setback and admitted he has been pitching with rotator-cuff discomfort since March 4, manager Ozzie Guillen didn't mince words, saying Peavy is likely to start the season on the DL and will not make his next start Thursday. Peavy needed that start to stay on track to be the club's No. 5 starter on April 6, but Phil Humber will take his place instead. As for when Peavy can pitch again? He'll have to get past Ozzie first. (ChicagoBreakingSports.com)

WANTED: BACKUP INFIELDER: The Padres are on the hunt for a backup infielder, but may wait until next week for prices to drop on available players. Robert Andino of the Orioles and Alberto Gonzalez of the Nationals have caught San Diego's attention, and each should be available for a reasonable cost. (MLB.com via Twitter)

MORE POWER TO SCOTT: Scott Boras has a host of players under contract with the Nationals, including their three faces of the franchise in Jayson Werth, Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. That will wield a lot of influence with the Nats, but contrary to popular perception, Boras may actually be able to exert a positive influence. (Washington Post)

WATCH YOUR MOUTH: Joe Maddon heard an Orioles fan yell something racist to Rays center fielder B.J. Upton, so Maddon had the fan removed from the game. (St. Petersburg Times) Upton and other coaches confirmed hearing the comment, but the O's fan has since created a Twitter account to defend himself, saying he did not make racist comments. (Twitter: @AssClownOsFan)

REED WANTS SPOT: Jeremy Reed has a bit of a reputation of having an over-inflated sense of self and the ego to match. However, in camp to fight for a backup outfield spot alongside Chris Dickerson and Brandon Boggs, Reed has done near everything right in the hopes it's enough to land on the 40-man roster and make the team. He has stiff competition in Dickerson, but manager Ron Roenicke is impressed with Reed's work ethic. (MLB.com)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

More MLB coverage
Posted on: March 21, 2011 10:40 am
Edited on: March 21, 2011 10:42 am
 

Pepper: Barry Bonds' trial begins

Bonds

By Evan Brunell

BONDS ON TRIAL: Monday marks the first day of the long-awaited trial in which Barry Bonds is charged with lying to a grand jury about his usage of steroids.

Bonds, who has adamantly stated that he never used steroids -- at least knowingly -- has had several legal victories leading up to the trial and it is anyone's guess whether Bonds will be convicted. If he is found innocent, former commissioner Fay Vincent believes his chances of making the Hall go up, but any conviction is "the end of the discussion for at least 30 years."

The anecdotal evidence against Bonds is overwhelming, and even if he's found innocent, it will be difficult to find a person who truly believes Bonds did not knowingly use steroids. It's unclear how much impact this trial will have on Bonds' Hall of Fame hopes. There will be plenty of writers who vote for Bonds if he cleared all the legal hurdles, but there will be just as many who pursue their own brand of vigilante justice, and there are plenty of supporting arguments for each party.

While the government has been limited by Bonds' victories in pre-trial hearings, they do hold a positive steroid test in which Bonds tested positive for the clear and the cream. That will force the trial to devolve into a "he said-she said" argument, with the government prepared to call 52 witnesses -- but none among them will be Bonds' close friend and trainer Greg Anderson, who has already served over a year in prison for contempt of court and could serve more.

While the lurid trial figures to get plenty of ink in the coming weeks, don't forget that Roger Clemens lands on trial in July, and that has the promise to be an even more salacious affair. (San Francisco Chronicle)

TO PLAY OR NOT TO PLAY?: While Japan struggles to deal with the devastation that the earthquake and tsunami wrought, there's a hot debate on whether the Japanese baseball league should begin play. Some look at how baseball was the salve for America's heartbreak after 9/11, some think the comparison is ridiculous. Either way, the Central League will open four days late and play only day games the first week to save power. The Pacific League will start up April 12. (New York Times)

STICKING WITH J.P.: Projected starting catcher J.P. Arencibia has had an awful start to spring training for the Jays, this after finishing last season 1 for his last 30. Even with the news that backup Jose Molina will catch Brandon Morrow and Kyle Drabek, that's still almost 100 games lined up for Arencibia, and the team is prepared to let the slugger play his way through any struggles. (Canoe.ca)

HUSTLIN': Mark Teixeira wasn't pleased with Ben Francisco Sunday, as the Phillies outfielder bumped into Teixeira on a groundball to first. "That's not a hustle play," Tex sniffed. "He could hurt me or hurt himself." Teixeira has a fair point, as most players will allow themselves to be tagged out on a play in front of them, but it's hard to blame Francisco for this one, who is battling for the starting right field job. (New York Post)

SAME OLD: The disabled list for Jake Peavy? What a surprise. After Peavy suffered a setback and admitted he has been pitching with rotator-cuff discomfort since March 4, manager Ozzie Guillen didn't mince words, saying Peavy is likely to start the season on the DL and will not make his next start Thursday. Peavy needed that start to stay on track to be the club's No. 5 starter on April 6, but Phil Humber will take his place instead. As for when Peavy can pitch again? He'll have to get past Ozzie first. (ChicagoBreakingSports.com)

WANTED: BACKUP INFIELDER: The Padres are on the hunt for a backup infielder, but may wait until next week for prices to drop on available players. Robert Andino of the Orioles and Alberto Gonzalez of the Nationals have caught San Diego's attention, and each should be available for a reasonable cost. (MLB.com via Twitter)

MORE POWER TO SCOTT: Scott Boras has a host of players under contract with the Nationals, including their three faces of the franchise in Jayson Werth, Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. That will wield a lot of influence with the Nats, but contrary to popular perception, Boras may actually be able to exert a positive influence. (Washington Post)

WATCH YOUR MOUTH: Joe Maddon heard an Orioles fan yell something racist to Rays center fielder B.J. Upton, so Maddon had the fan removed from the game. (St. Petersburg Times) Upton and other coaches confirmed hearing the comment, but the O's fan has since created a Twitter account to defend himself, saying he did not make racist comments. (Twitter: @AssClownOsFan)

REED WANTS SPOT: Jeremy Reed has a bit of a reputation of having an over-inflated sense of self and the ego to match. However, in camp to fight for a backup outfield spot alongside Chris Dickerson and Brandon Boggs, Reed has done near everything right in the hopes it's enough to land on the 40-man roster and make the team. He has stiff competition in Dickerson, but manager Ron Roenicke is impressed with Reed's work ethic. (MLB.com)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

More MLB coverage
Posted on: March 20, 2011 10:02 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/20: Morel wins 3B gig

Morton

By Evan Brunell

We're getting to the part of spring training where players on the bubble who are given serious consideration for a job start looking for pink slips in their locker. Just one good (or bad, as Andrew Miller will probably find out) day could be enough to swing a decision. So who helped and hurt themselves today?

3 UP

1. 3B Brent Morel, CHW: 4 AB, 2 H. Morel's day at the plate was nothing to write home about, but he received good news earlier in the day when manager Ozzie Guillen told the youngster he had won the third base job. Morel's known for his glove more than stick, but he should be able to hold his own on offense. Now, Mark Teahen will be bumped to a backup role and certainly is available in a trade.

2. CF Chris Heisey, CIN: 6 AB, 2 R, 3 H, 2 RBI, 2 K. Heisey appears to have won the fourth outfielder's job in Cincinatti, besting Fred Lewis and Jeremy Hermida. The 26-year-old also impressed off the bench as a bench player, although he struggled when drawing the starting assignment. He could eventually emerge as a starter, but a career as a solid No. 4 outfielder appears more likely.

3. SP Charlie Morton (pictured), PIT: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K. Where did this come from? Morton has a 1.29 ERA in spring training after finishing last season with a 2-12 record and 7.57 ERA in 17 starts as a 26-year-old. However, Morton has likely fought his way into a rotation spot by dint of his excellent spring in which he has punched out eight and walked just one in 14 1/3 innings.

3 DOWN

1. DH Jack Cust, SEA: 4 AB, 1 H, 1 RBI, 3 K, 4 LOB. Seriously, this is a typical Cust line right here. Cust is known for a low batting average, strong eye and solid to good power (he banged two homers on Saturday). Cust is going to be looked upon to help Seattle move past their brutal offensive season last year, but his power has been largely dormant the last two years.

2. SP Andrew Miller, BOS: 0 IP, 4 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 0 K. There's been plenty of ink written about the promise Andrew Miller has and how Boston may be the place for him to put it all together. One start doesn't make that go away, but this brutal outing underscores just how long to go Miller has to be anything of value to the big-league team. The odds are still stacked against him. Miller had long odds to make the Red Sox bullpen anyways, and this outing may have just sealed his fate.

3. SP Edinson Volquez, CIN: 2 1/3 IP, 1 H, 5 ER, 5 BB, 3 K. Volquez has never been one known for control, but he seems to have particularly struggled with it on his return from Tommy John surgery. That's not uncommon, but for Volquez to continue to have these issues speaks to a larger issue, whether that's a tougher time in returning from the surgery or an underlying issue of dude just not having command at all. Given the Reds lack a frontline ace despite not wanting for depth, Volquez's struggles are concerning.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

More MLB coverage
Posted on: March 20, 2011 1:53 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:48 am
 

Pepper: Collins to dial down intensity

Collins

By Evan Brunell

TIME TO LOOSEN UP: Terry Collins is well aware of his reputation as a no-nonsense manager whose intensity lost the respect of his players when he helmed the Astros and Angels.

However, to hear Collins tell it, he realizes where he went wrong and wants to make changes.

 

"I’ve thought about it a lot," he said. "I took it way too serious. Even though I enjoyed it, I didn’t enjoy it. It was all about the winning, winning, winning, instead of enjoying being around these guys and watching them play, enjoying the experience and the challenge of competing. That’s what I love to do.

"There was that thing that I had to prove something. I still want to prove that we’re good enough, but I don’t think it’s the same type of attitude I had in the past. And with that comes the fact that these guys are human beings, and they need communication."

Collins plans to have the Mets play aggressively, as his Angels did -- which still continues to this day under manager Mike Scioscia. He also places a premium on players aspiring to be great and staying focused, which sounds a lot like the old Collins, but the skipper knows that.

"Hopefully, the energy -- or whatever people want to say, the intenseness that I have -- may work here," Collins said. (New York Times)

 

IZZY COULD SET UP: Jason Isringhausen was once one of the Mets' most heralded pitching prospects before injuries completely wrecked his early years. He was later moved to Oakland and became a closer, famous for his time in St. Louis. Now, after missing most of the last two years, Izzy appears poised to set up closer Francisco Rodriguez back in New York. (New York Post)

IT'LL BE PUDGE: After a brief skirmish among Nationals reporters as to the state of the catching, it appears Ivan Rodriguez will certainly start Opening Day for Washington -- but Wilson Ramos figures to get the bulk of work behind the plate in short order. (Washington Post)

NO MORE GUYS: Five Guys is a weakness of Evan's, and it will no longer taunt him in Nationals Park, as the burger chain has opted not to renew its lease despite being one of the more popular options for customers. (Eater.com)

SILVA'S SPOT IN DANGER: Carlos Silva has had a beyond-awful spring training and although he's slated to take the bump once more next Wednesday, that may not happen. Manager Mike Quade and GM Jim Hendry are expected to sit down and make some touch decisions prior to then. It's entirely feasible that Silva will be put out of the running for the No. 5 starter's spot at that time. (Chicago Sun-Times)

GOOD NEWS FOR BREW CREW: Milwaukee already has enough problems figuring out who will replace Zack Greinke in the rotation, so bad news regarding Shaun Marcum is not ideal. However, the righty believes while he may have to skip a start in spring training, he will be on track for the regular season. (MLB.com)

THE NATURAL: Ken Griffey, Jr.'s talent on the field sometimes evoked comparisons to the immortal Ray Hobbs, but who knew that Griffey had untapped potential? Griffey stopped by the Mariners' broadcast booth for five innings Friday and drew rave reviews. (MLB.com)

BENGIE WANTS TO PLAY: Don't call Bengie Molina retired, brother Jose of the Blue Jays says. Rather, Molina isn't interested in playing unless any contract he signs "shows him sufficient respect." Is it just me, or is an offer to extend your career and haul in at least another half-million plenty of respect to give? (FOX Sports)

INCREMENTAL PROGRESS: The Yankees haven't made formal who the Nos. 4 and 5 starters will be (bank on Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia) but now we know who is following CC Sabathia on the mound: A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes, respectively. (New York Post)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

More MLB coverage

Posted on: March 19, 2011 3:35 pm
Edited on: March 19, 2011 3:43 pm
 

No reason to worry about Beckett

By Matt Snyder

It's folly to pay too much attention to spring stats, but those who do might have noticed Josh Beckett's 6.52 ERA in his first three starts. Saturday, he had another rough outing when viewed through a certain prism. He worked 4 2/3 innings, throwing 83 pitches -- only 49 of which were strikes. He allowed seven hits and five runs. Of course, only one of those runs was earned and, despite all those balls, he only walked one guy.

Sure, it's slightly disconcerting to have not seen anything resembling a dominant outing yet, but remember, he had that concussion earlier in the spring and missed a start. So he's currently where guys who have been completely healthy all spring were last week. Being the spring, he's still working himself into shape and probably playing with pitches in locations he wouldn't normally use either.

I find it kind of funny how short people's memories on Beckett seem to be. He's 30, not 40. He had a bad season in 2010, which was riddled with injury woes. But should that erase 2009? He was 17-6 with a 3.86 ERA and 199 strikeouts in 212 1/3 innings.

In fact, if you look at Beckett's Red Sox years, there's a trend that's easy to spot. He was either terrible or mediocre in even numbered years, while he was either good or great in odd-numbered years. I generally hate to point to things like that, due to the fact that it could be an anomaly, but what if Beckett gets motivated by bad years and too proud of himself after good years? It's possible. If that's the case, he'll have a good year.

It's 2011. He's healthy. He's not old. He's not carrying a burden of being the only good pitcher on the staff.

Josh Beckett will be just fine.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

 

More MLB coverage
Category: MLB
Posted on: March 19, 2011 11:21 am
Edited on: March 19, 2011 11:49 am
 

Pepper: Live from my mother's basement!

By Matt Snyder

It just won't go away, this petty little feud.

I speak, of course, of the "old school" baseball people who hate blogging -- yet blog themselves, which is weird -- and despise anyone who dares to disagree with their beliefs, especially when it comes to "newer" statistics (though OBP is hardly new). Check out this really awesome paragraph from Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle :
It won't be long before we get the first wave of nonsense from stat-crazed dunces claiming there's nothing to be learned from a batting average, won-loss record or RBI total. Listen, just go back to bed, OK? Strip down to those fourth-day undies, head downstairs (to "your mother's basement and your mother's computer," as Chipper Jones so aptly describes it) and churn out some more crap. For more than a century, .220 meant something. So did .278, .301, .350, an 18-4 record, or 118 RBIs. Now it all means nothing because a bunch of nonathletes are trying to reinvent the game?
Now, I'm not gonna go nuts. Several people already have across the 'net, though the great Joe Posnanski already took care of the heavy lifting in the most rational post possible -- and came back for a little more .

I'll just add that my personal feeling is that it's always dangerous to side with someone who attacks people for simply disagreeing. I prefer on-base percentage over batting average because not making outs is a much better measure of a good baseball player than disregarding walks and hit-by-pitches and figuring a hit percentage. In fact, I don't understand how it's not obvious -- seriously, a walk doesn't even count in batting average! -- but I'm not about to attack the character of someone who disagrees. If you feel compelled to freak out and use a decade-old joke that makes no sense, maybe you are the one with the problem? Just a thought.

As for the "non-athlete" thing, I have a short anecdote to illustrate my point. I realized I hated batting average as compared to OBP one time when I went 0-1 with three walks and three runs scored -- noticing it was a .000 batting average for the day, yet a pretty damn good day of helping my team win.

And the game wasn't even in my mother's basement. Seriously!

Honestly, though, don't you think guys in a similar situation in the bigs would feel the same way? What about a pitcher who throws a complete game and only allows one unearned run, yet loses 1-0. And he goes home and sees on MLB Network that a pitcher for the Yankees allowed seven earned runs in five innings and got the win because the Bombers' offense went nuts. Judging pitchers on wins and losses would have us believe the latter performed better. Really?

Again, I don't understand how it's not obvious these stats aren't the best ones. If this was elementary school you'd get an F for disagreeing. Maybe I should start making lame jokes in return instead of having an actual, meaningful conversation. Apparently that's the best way to plead your case when it comes to the old school.

MORNEAU AT NIGHT: Justin Morneau played his first night game in a long, long time Friday night, and things went well. "It's just different. For the most part, the stuff has come on later in the day. So I wanted to see, because we usually play night games during the season, I wanted to see where I was at, and I felt pretty good." That "stuff" to which he is referring, in case you've been asleep since last July, would be lingering symptoms from his concussion. (MLB.com )

STOREN STRUGGLES: Second-year pitcher Drew Storen was supposed to be the Nationals' closer this season. He still very well may be eventually, as he has the highest upside of any of the candidates. But he's had a pretty disastrous spring and might be in jeopardy of being optioned to the minors. It's not likely, but possible. (Washington Post )

DON'T DOUBT DAVIS: Doug Davis has worked out for four teams in Arizona and is looking to catch on somewhere (MLB Trade Rumors ). It's uncertain that he'll definitely be able to grab a job in a rotation at some point this year, but I don't plan on wagering against the veteran. He's already kicked cancer's butt.

UBALDO GETS NOD: We've been posting the announcements of opening day starters as stand-alone pieces, but Ubaldo Jimenez as the Rockies' opening day starter is far too obvious. It would have been shocking if he wasn't handed that responsibility. Just a heads-up, don't expect posts on CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay or Felix Hernandez on this subject either. (MLB.com )

ELVIS MUSCLES UP:
Elvis Andrus hit a home run Friday. He hasn't done so in a regular-season game since September 2 ... of 2009. (ESPN Dallas )

FANS HAVE CLOUT?
You always wonder if teams take these sort of things under consideration, but it's incredibly rare -- if not unprecedented -- for a team to admit fan venom played into a move. But the Mets did so with Luis Castillo (ESPN New York ). Manager Terry Collins and general manager Sandy Alderson both admitted that the Mets' fans' collective hatred of Castillo played a role in the team cutting him.

WESTY'S ROAD BACK: Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland has stared death in the eyes and survived. Now he's on the comeback trail. I won't even attempt to do this lengthy feature justice, instead I'll just say please go read it. It's great stuff. (Boston.com )

RETURN TO DODGERTOWN? The Dodgers' spring training games are not drawing well. In fact, attedance is down 42.3 percent from last season in Camelback Ranch. The average draw per game is barely over half the capacity. (Los Angeles Times )

A QUESTION OF DURABILITY:
Scott Rolen hasn't played more than 140 games since 2006 and not more than 150 since 2003. He's 36. He faltered in a big way in the second half last season. But he's saying all the right things and preaching accountability. (MLB.com )

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

 

More MLB coverage

Posted on: March 18, 2011 10:39 pm
Edited on: March 18, 2011 10:40 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/18: Wake and Rake

Wakefield

By Evan Brunell

It's pitching day here at 3 up, 3 down with only Melky Cabrera the non-pitcher to be featured in this lineup. While some hitters had some fine days, the most interesting lines came from pitchers, as we'll find out...

3 UP

1. SP Francisco Liriano: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K. Liriano has been the subject of trade rumors this offseason, with the rush continuing into spring training. Apparently Liriano's now going to be the hot name in trade talks after Cliff Lee dominated that arena for two years. Lirano got spring training off to a brutal start but really shined Friday against the Orioles, who had a dominating performance by Brian Matusz to hang tough.

2. SP Brandon Morrow: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K. Don't sleep on Morrow, whose K/9 would have led the AL had he pitched enough innings to qualify. The Jays will lift their protective hands off Morrow just a bit more in 2011, and Morrow could soon become a household name after coming within a final out of a no-hitter last season. His showing Friday knocked his spring ERA down to an eye-popping 0.75.

3. CF Melky Cabrera: 3 AB, 2, R, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 K. The Melk Man is hitting a scorching .529 and it could actually be possible that Cabrera's ready to bounce back from a dismal season in Atlanta, where he was out of shape and it showed. After thrilling fans with the Yankees, Cabrera seems doomed to being overhyped and flaming out. But while spring statistics don't mean much, Cabrera's strong showing so far means the still-just-26-year-old could actually have some life in his bat.

3 DOWN

1. RP Tim Wakefield: 3 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 4 HR, WP. Um... yeesh. What is there to say? Wakefield's spot with the Red Sox is tenuous at best, as this sobering piece from the Boston Globe reports. Could the knuckleballer's career be coming to an end? Probably not, but four home runs in the span of six batters is pretty gosh-darn bad. For what it's worth, manager Terry Francona said Wake's knuckler has been the best he's seen so far this spring, but starting in the second inning, the knuckler wouldn't move outside of the strike zone. Such is the life of a knuckleballer.

2. SP Wily Peralta: 1/3 IP, 5 H, 5 HR, 2 BB, 0 K. Ouch. Double ouch. Triple ouch. The first ouch was for Zack Greinke getting hurt. The second for Shaun Marcum experiencing shoulder tightness that could be an issue. And triple ouch for Peralta's day, which gives him a spring ERA of 9.00. Peralta's just 21, but was thought to be right up there in terms of getting a shot to start with Greinke out. But this start doesn't help him leapfrog ahead of... uh... who are the other candidates again?

3. SP J.A. Happ: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 1 K. It's not every day that allowing zero runs gives you a bad day, but Happ is quite an interesting character. He has long defied the laws of ERA, as his career mark is 3.27 against an xFIP of 4.61. How long can Happ continue to defy the baseball gods with a criminally-low BABIP and strand rate? So far, he's defying them just fine.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 

More MLB coverage
Posted on: March 18, 2011 4:55 pm
Edited on: March 18, 2011 5:08 pm
 

Rays confirm closer by committee setup

McGeeBy Evan Brunell

Joe Maddon appears set on moving forward with a closer-by-committee approach this season.

The Rays have been forced to overhaul their entire bullpen and currently project to have just Andy Sonnanstine as a returning member of the 2010 bullpen with any appreciable time. Tampa will also have J.P. Howell, who missed the entire 2010 season due to injury along with Mike Ekstrom, a Padres castoff who chipped in 16 innings. The last holdover is prospect Jake McGee (pictured), who received a cup of coffee in September.

External imports include Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta, Adam Russell and Cesar Ramos. None of the names, internal or external, have any extensive relieving history outside of Howell and Farnsworth. But even these two are question marks when it comes to closing games. That set up an opportunity to go closer by committee, and that's certainly right up manager Joe Maddon's alley, who loves to turn conventional baseball on its ear if it means grabbing an advantage -- an extra two percent advantage, if you will.

The history of closer by committees is not kind, with the 2003 Red Sox as the latest cautionary tale. However, would naming a closer when there isn't an obvious candidate to even those close to the action be any better than opting to go with the best reliever for the situation, period?

"It's just going to be the leverage of the moment, how we get to the ninth inning, who's been used already to make sure that we had a lead going into the ninth inning," Maddon said. "I'm liking the way this is looking right now. I think we're going to have several candidates to get the last out. I don't just want to say, 'You're going to get the last out every night,' but on any given night, I think we have the ability to potentially move that last out or last two outs around, based on left-handed or right-handed hitters."

Related

Although Maddon plans to begin the season with this arrangement, he's not looking to make it permanent -- at least for now. Maddon expects to keep his options open, which is a smart move when the closer of the future may already be in the bullpen in McGee, who is set to begin his rookie season.

"I think he'll be ready to do that at some point in his career," Maddon said of the lefty eventually emerging as closer. "I just don't know exactly when I'm going to be comfortable with that.

"Jake's got a high-end arm. My biggest concern, is he ready emotionally to handle that, and if it does not go well, how's he going to react?"

It's dangerous to read too much into that quote, but it's rather interesting that Maddon is concerned about McGee's emotional state. Nefali Feliz saved 40 games last season as a rookie and the Braves have two rookies battling for the closer's spot this spring. Is it just normal concern about thrusting McGee into the closer's role immediately or is there something more here?

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

More MLB coverage

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