Tag:NL East
Posted on: January 4, 2012 6:09 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2012 8:49 pm
 

Marlins agree to trade for Carlos Zambrano



By Matt Snyder


The Cubs have agreed to trade volatile and highly-paid starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano to the Marlins, with an announcement coming as soon as Thursday, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has learned. The preliminary deal is that the Cubs would pick up the overwhelming majority of the $18 million Zambrano is owed for 2012 and that starting pitcher Chris Volstad is headed to the Cubs. Multiple reports indicate the Cubs will pay $15 million to the Marlins.

New Cubs president Theo Epstein has been publicly saying he'd give Zambrano one last chance in Chicago throughout the entire offseason. In fact, earlier Wednesday on a Chicago radio show, Epstein said that he was "skeptical" but would give Zambrano a chance to prove he's changed. It's not too surprising that he would be putting off that vibe publicly while privately trying to rid his club of a past cancer, though.

For stretches, when Zambrano could remain healthy and well-behaved, he produced as a frontline starting pitcher. He's a three-time All-Star who finished exactly fifth three times in NL Cy Young voting. After anger management sessions midseason in 2010, he closed the season in lights-out fashion, going 8-0 with a 1.24 ERA. But then Zambrano walked out on his team last August after getting ejected from a game in Atlanta. Then-general manager Jim Hendry basically kicked Zambrano off the team, sending him away and placing him on the restricted list.

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Considering this and the fact that Zambrano is owed such a lofty salary next season, it's easy to see why Epstein wasn't so quick to cut ties with Zambrano for nothing. But it's possible Zambrano's long-time friendship with new Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen made the deal easier to consummate.

Guillen was specifically asked about Zambrano during the Winter Meetings and said the two exchange text messages everyday.

"Every time I talk to Zambrano," Guillen said, "all of a sudden people think I'm talking about contracts or moving him to the Marlins. That's tampering."

He then joked: "We do that on the side, not around people."

So while Guillen hasn't publicly courted Zambrano, it's obvious the two are great friends and would love to work with each other. Thus, the no-trade clause shouldn't be much of an issue.

The Marlins already have a top two in the rotation in Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle. With Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco around, they could feasibly slot Zambrano as the fifth starter in an attempt to alleviate any pressure he'd put on himself.

Volstad, 25, was 5-13 with a 4.89 ERA and 1.43 WHIP last season. He was once a fairly-highly touted prospect but hasn't made a great transition to the majors, aside from a solid rookie campaign (6-4, 2.88 ERA, 1.33 WHIP in 2008).

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Posted on: January 4, 2012 1:30 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2012 1:57 pm
 

Five active surefire Hall of Famers



By Matt Snyder


With the Hall of Fame voting results revealed this coming Monday, it's always a perfect time to look at ahead at future Hall of Famers. Sure, we'll debate about them when the time comes, but why wait? We've got time -- as it's a slow time of the year for baseball.

Thus, Eye On Baseball will do a five-part series about current players who may or may not eventually be enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York. The first part, this one, will deal with players who could retire right this second and be a sure bet to be voted into the Hall. While the resume isn't necessarily complete -- one of these guys' is far from complete -- it's already Hall-worthy.

Anyway, considering we're saying a player can retire right this instant and still easily get into the Hall, this list is short. It's just five names. We'll go in alphabetical order. To reiterate, this isn't players who we think will get in one day (which would certainly include someone like Roy Halladay). This list is of guys who could call a press conference and retire right now and still make the Hall.

Hall of Fame coverage
Derek Jeter: The Captain was already headed to Cooperstown regardless, but the 3,000th hit this past summer completed his first-ballot resume. He has a career .313 batting average with 240 homers, 339 steals, a Rookie of the Year award and five World Series rings. His postseason line -- .307/.374/.465 with 20 homers in 152 games -- along with seven top-10 finishes in MVP voting further cements his legacy.

Chipper Jones: Jones joined a division-winner and was one of the key members of 11 more division championships, winning the World Series once. The seven-time All-Star won the 1999 MVP -- pretty darn tough to do in those days for a presumed non-juicer -- and finished in the top 10 in voting five other times. He has 454 home runs and over 1,500 runs and RBI. Perhaps the most underrated aspect of Jones' game is he's walked more times than he's struck out in his career, helping to give him a .402 career on-base percentage. His .935 OPS ranks him 31st in MLB history.

Albert Pujols: Will the "longevity" crowd go nuts over this pick? Maybe. But c'mon. The guy has been one of the three best players in baseball for 11 years and the best since Barry Bonds retired. To randomly select a recent inductee, Jim Rice played 2,098 games in 16 seasons; winning one MVP and finishing in the top five six total times. Pujols? He's played in 1,705 games. In his 11 seasons, he's won three MVPs and finished in the top five 10 times. He already has 445 career home runs and his rate stats are insane. Pujols' .328 career batting average ranks him 33rd of all-time. His .420 OBP ranks him 19th and his .617 slugging percentage ranks him fourth ever. Only Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig had a higher mark. Yes, those rate stats tend to decline with age, so then I'd go back to the prime and point to the top five MVP finishes. Oh, and the two World Series rings, along with several huge postseason hits.

The point is, while he hasn't played 15 years, for example, few in the history of the game have ever put up 11 seasons at any point in their career as Pujols already has, so he's in right now. The only thing that could possibly keep him out is an unfortunate test at some point, but we're talking facts here, not baseless speculation.

Mariano Rivera: Obviously there's a spot for the best reliever in major-league history. Not only does Rivera hold the all-time record with 603 regular-season saves, but he's closed down 42 of 45 postseason save chances with a sparkling 0.70 ERA and 0.76 WHIP. Small sample? Not really. It's 141 innings, which is roughly twice as many as he'll throw in a given regular season. The 12-time All-Star also has those five rings, like Jeter does. Rivera's consistency, dominance and longevity mean he's a sure bet, even if other relievers have had trouble getting in.

Jim Thome: Is 600 the new 500? It used to be that hitting a 500th home run was like punching one's ticket to Cooperstown. That club has grown to 25 guys now, and will be adding one more pretty soon (Pujols). That's still pretty exclusive and might remain a barrier that always gets guys voted in -- assuming the PED cloud of suspiscion doesn't hang over their heads the way it does McGwire and Manny Ramirez, to name two. For good measure, though, Thome just went past 600 home runs this past season. Only seven have ever hit more homers in a career, three of which (Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez) will have to deal with those PED questions.

Thome doesn't just hit home runs, either. He's drawn 1,725 career walks (eighth all-time), which has helped him garner over 1,500 runs and a .403 career OBP. He also ranks 26th in history with 1,674 career RBI. Even if most of Thome's value does stem from hitting home runs, that's the best possible outcome a hitter can have. That's like saying all a football player does is score touchdowns -- more than all but seven have in the game's history. How is that bad?

Coming Thursday: Borderline candidates among older veterans
Friday: Players over 30 who have a shot of getting there with a few more good years
Saturday: Players under 30 building a good foundation
Sunday: Asterisk candidates -- on-field numbers good enough but PED issues cloud matters

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: January 4, 2012 1:30 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2012 1:57 pm
 

Five active surefire Hall of Famers



By Matt Snyder


With the Hall of Fame voting results revealed this coming Monday, it's always a perfect time to look at ahead at future Hall of Famers. Sure, we'll debate about them when the time comes, but why wait? We've got time -- as it's a slow time of the year for baseball.

Thus, Eye On Baseball will do a five-part series about current players who may or may not eventually be enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, New York. The first part, this one, will deal with players who could retire right this second and be a sure bet to be voted into the Hall. While the resume isn't necessarily complete -- one of these guys' is far from complete -- it's already Hall-worthy.

Anyway, considering we're saying a player can retire right this instant and still easily get into the Hall, this list is short. It's just five names. We'll go in alphabetical order. To reiterate, this isn't players who we think will get in one day (which would certainly include someone like Roy Halladay). This list is of guys who could call a press conference and retire right now and still make the Hall.

Hall of Fame coverage
Derek Jeter: The Captain was already headed to Cooperstown regardless, but the 3,000th hit this past summer completed his first-ballot resume. He has a career .313 batting average with 240 homers, 339 steals, a Rookie of the Year award and five World Series rings. His postseason line -- .307/.374/.465 with 20 homers in 152 games -- along with seven top-10 finishes in MVP voting further cements his legacy.

Chipper Jones: Jones joined a division-winner and was one of the key members of 11 more division championships, winning the World Series once. The seven-time All-Star won the 1999 MVP -- pretty darn tough to do in those days for a presumed non-juicer -- and finished in the top 10 in voting five other times. He has 454 home runs and over 1,500 runs and RBI. Perhaps the most underrated aspect of Jones' game is he's walked more times than he's struck out in his career, helping to give him a .402 career on-base percentage. His .935 OPS ranks him 31st in MLB history.

Albert Pujols: Will the "longevity" crowd go nuts over this pick? Maybe. But c'mon. The guy has been one of the three best players in baseball for 11 years and the best since Barry Bonds retired. To randomly select a recent inductee, Jim Rice played 2,098 games in 16 seasons; winning one MVP and finishing in the top five six total times. Pujols? He's played in 1,705 games. In his 11 seasons, he's won three MVPs and finished in the top five 10 times. He already has 445 career home runs and his rate stats are insane. Pujols' .328 career batting average ranks him 33rd of all-time. His .420 OBP ranks him 19th and his .617 slugging percentage ranks him fourth ever. Only Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig had a higher mark. Yes, those rate stats tend to decline with age, so then I'd go back to the prime and point to the top five MVP finishes. Oh, and the two World Series rings, along with several huge postseason hits.

The point is, while he hasn't played 15 years, for example, few in the history of the game have ever put up 11 seasons at any point in their career as Pujols already has, so he's in right now. The only thing that could possibly keep him out is an unfortunate test at some point, but we're talking facts here, not baseless speculation.

Mariano Rivera: Obviously there's a spot for the best reliever in major-league history. Not only does Rivera hold the all-time record with 603 regular-season saves, but he's closed down 42 of 45 postseason save chances with a sparkling 0.70 ERA and 0.76 WHIP. Small sample? Not really. It's 141 innings, which is roughly twice as many as he'll throw in a given regular season. The 12-time All-Star also has those five rings, like Jeter does. Rivera's consistency, dominance and longevity mean he's a sure bet, even if other relievers have had trouble getting in.

Jim Thome: Is 600 the new 500? It used to be that hitting a 500th home run was like punching one's ticket to Cooperstown. That club has grown to 25 guys now, and will be adding one more pretty soon (Pujols). That's still pretty exclusive and might remain a barrier that always gets guys voted in -- assuming the PED cloud of suspiscion doesn't hang over their heads the way it does McGwire and Manny Ramirez, to name two. For good measure, though, Thome just went past 600 home runs this past season. Only seven have ever hit more homers in a career, three of which (Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez) will have to deal with those PED questions.

Thome doesn't just hit home runs, either. He's drawn 1,725 career walks (eighth all-time), which has helped him garner over 1,500 runs and a .403 career OBP. He also ranks 26th in history with 1,674 career RBI. Even if most of Thome's value does stem from hitting home runs, that's the best possible outcome a hitter can have. That's like saying all a football player does is score touchdowns -- more than all but seven have in the game's history. How is that bad?

Coming Thursday: Borderline candidates among older veterans
Friday: Players over 30 who have a shot of getting there with a few more good years
Saturday: Players under 30 building a good foundation
Sunday: Asterisk candidates -- on-field numbers good enough but PED issues cloud matters

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: January 3, 2012 7:22 pm
 

Greg Dobbs re-signs with Marlins

Greg DobbsBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Marlins have signed Greg Dobbs to a two-year deal worth $3 million, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has learned.

Dobbs, 33, hit .275/.311/.389 with eight home runs and 49 RBI in 134 games and 439 plate appearances for the Marlins in 2011. A left-handed batter, Dobbs started 84 games for the Marlins at third base last season, another six in the outfield, three at first base and two as the DH. The Marlins should have a new third baseman in Hanley Ramirez, but Dobbs' experience makes him a valuable bench piece for Miami.

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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 2, 2012 4:30 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 4:34 pm
 

Hanley Ramirez sounds OK with position change



By Matt Snyder


Has new Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen successfully completed his first tough task as a manager? It sure sounds like it.

After the Marlins acquired shortstop Jose Reyes with a fat free agency contract, speculation swirled that incumbent shortstop Hanley Ramirez was angry with the situation -- and one report even suggested he demanded a trade. So Guillen was tasked with making Ramirez comfortable with the move. And here's a quote from Ramirez which directly covers the situation (from elnuevoherald.com via MLBTradeRumors.com):

"I've talked with Guillen, and what we both want is to win with the Marlins. When January arrives, we'll see what happens with the position change and everything else. If it's at third, fine. Wherever they put me, I'll do it in order to win."

So, at least for the time being, it sounds like Ramirez is going to move to third and be a team player.

Assuming everyone is healthy (and, yes, happy), the Marlins appear to have a pretty stout lineup. If no more moves are made, the opening day lineup could be:

More Marlins
1. Reyes, SS
2. Emilio Bonifacio, CF
3. Ramirez, 3B
4. Mike Stanton, RF
5. Gaby Sanchez, 1B
6. Logan Morrison, LF
7. Omar Infante, 2B
8. John Buck, C
9. Josh Johnson, SP

That's strong. Of course, the NL East looks to be very tough this season, as the Nationals are also on the rise and the Phillies and Braves both look to remain toward the top of the division. It's looking like the fourth-place team in the division is going to be a very good one.

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Posted on: January 2, 2012 2:56 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 3:02 pm
 

Prince Fielder-to-Nationals rumors won't go away

By Matt Snyder

Considering he's by far the biggest free agent left unsigned, Prince Fielder's name has been -- and will continue to be -- mentioned all over the place in rumors. The latest comes courtesy of Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. He reports that an "MLB official" says "word is spreading in the industry" that the Nationals are the favorite to land Fielder.

CBSSports.com's own Jon Heyman had previously reported that a Nationals player believes they are "shooting for" Fielder. And Monday, in response to the Haudricourt report, Amanda Comak of the Washington Times brings us the following: "According to team sources, the party line remains the same: Unless the price -- specifically in years -- drops, the Nationals are unlikely to be that landing spot."

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So what to believe?

Well, I'd say all of it. Here's why: The Nationals probably do want the price to drop, but are also interested in signing him if and when the price becomes right. Unless the Cubs or Rangers come out and blow away Prince and his agent, Scott Boras, what club is left to outbid the deep-pocketed Nationals (remember, they have the richest owner in baseball)? The Mariners or Orioles? Please. The Blue Jays? Maybe. If Fielder wants to go to the AL East and north of the border. Or he could join one of the most promising up-and-coming teams in baseball while staying in the NL.

So it seems as though the feeling that the Nationals will end up with Prince Fielder is very logical, and that's why they are continually speculated to be the frontrunner, even if management is telling all the local beat writers they aren't in on him. Just because they reportedly haven't offered him anything yet doesn't mean they won't.

Fielder, 27, hit .299/.415/.566 with 38 home runs, 120 RBI and finished third in MVP voting last season. While many question his long-term durability due to him being rather large, he's played an average of 160 games per season since being up full-time. He hasn't played less than 157 in a season and appeared in all 162 last year.

If the Nationals did land Prince, watch out. He would join Ryan Zimmerman, Danny Espinosa, Wilson Ramos, Jayson Werth and Michael Morse on offense, while they all waited on big-time prospects Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper to join the party. Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann anchor the rotation while Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard are the back-end of the bullpen. That's a lot of youth and talent.

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Posted on: January 1, 2012 1:41 pm
 

Halladay helps rescue anaconda attack survivor

By Matt Snyder

Is there anything Roy Halladay can't do?

The Phillies ace, who was runner-up in the NL Cy Young voting this past season, recently went on a fishing trip in Brazil with friends Chris Carpenter and B.J. Ryan. While on the Amazon River, Halladay helped rescue a man who had been wounded by an anaconda. The news was passed along by Skeet Reese, who is a Bassmaster champion, on his blog. Here's an excerpt:
We had plenty of wildlife encounters though. Along with the fishing, we decided to go hunting one night, and Carpenter and B.J. both shot a caiman; which is like an alligator. Me and Doc Halladay even came across a local, sitting bare naked on a tree by the river. What we were able to figure out is that he was fishing in the river for tropical fish to sell for aquariums when he got attacked by an anaconda.
 
The snake apparently bit him on the a** but he was able to free himself before the snake wrapped him up. Instead the snake wrapped around his motor on the back of his little 14 foot dugout canoe and tore it off the back of his boat. Doc and I helped him gather his gear and flip the boat back over and then towed him home. You could definitely see the bite mark on his a**, but he was able to fight it off; amazing.
Amazing, indeed.

Anacondas are among the largest snakes in the world. While they aren't venomous, they wrap themselves around their prey and literally squeeze the life out of said prey. It's unreal that this local fisherman lived though an encounter. And, of course, you have to give Halladay and Reese kudos for helping the guy get outta there. They had to be fearful the snake would return, right?

Also, you gotta give props to Carpenter and Ryan for taking down a caiman.

And all three now have off-field stories they can tell the rest of their lives.

Hat-tip: Big League Stew

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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