Posted on: February 8, 2012 4:11 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Gearing up for spring training, we're headed east -- -but not too far east, just east from west, or in other words, to the Central, starting in the American League and what positional battles will be fought in the American League Central this spring, continuing the spring position battles series.
Chicago White Sox
Closer: Matt Thornton vs. Jesse Crain vs. Addison Reed
With Sergio Santos in Toronto and Chris Sale headed to the rotation, the White Sox are once again looking for a closer. Thornton saved three games last season and Crain one, but both are more or less keeping the seat warm for Reed, the team's top (and perhaps only) prospect. Thornton, an All-Star in 2010, won the closer battle last season before blowing his first four save opportunities to start the season and he was ultimately replaced by Santos. Crain pitched well last season, but it's Reed that has a chance to be special.
Fifth starter: Kevin Slowey vs. David Huff vs. Jeanmar Gomez vs. Zach McAllister
Ubaldo Jimenez is the team's opening-day starter followed by Justin Masterson, Derek Lowe and Josh Tomlin. The fifth spot is probably Slowey's to lose. The 27-year-old right-hander was twice traded this offseason, first to Colorado and then to Cleveland. While he struggled last season (0-8 with a 6.67 ERA in eight starts and 14 games), he's a proven back-of-the-rotation starter with a 39-29 record and 4.66 ERA. He's also familiar with the AL Central. Gomez made 10 starts for the Indians last season, as did Huff, the only lefty of the group. McAllister made four starts and wasn't overly impressive.
Third base: Miguel Cabrera vs. third base
When the Tigers signed Prince Fielder, the stated plan was that Cabrera will move to third, leaving the DH spot for Victor Martinez -- who isn't playing this year. The Tigers, it appears, are trying to keep Cabrera from getting too big to play third in preparation for 2013 when they'll really have a logjam at the position with Fielder, Cabrera, Martinez and Delmon Young. For now, it seems like wishful thinking that Cabrera can play a passable third base. But if he can, it helps the team out -- especially defensively in the outfield with Young not trying to figure out what to do with that that thing on his left hand.
Kansas City Royals
Second base: Johnny Giavotella vs. Chris Getz vs. Yuniesky Betancourt
What you've heard is true -- there's a ton of talent in Kansas City. In fact, the lineup is nearly set, except for second base and center field. Center should be manned by Lorenzo Cain, who doesn't have a realistic competitor for the spot, but second could be a question. Giavotella came up in 2011 to middling results - .247/.273/.376 with two homers and five stolen bases in 187 plate appearances, but he has a chance to take the position if he can play at the level he established in the minors, where he was a .305/.375/.437 hitter since being taken in the second round of the 2008 draft. While just 5-foot-8, he has shown the ability to make contract (striking out no more than 67 times in any of his minor league seasons) and walk nearly as much as he strikes out (192 minor-league walks to 212 strikeouts). He's not the best defender, but he's adequate. Getz is nobody's idea of a long-term answer. He hit .255/.313/.287 last season, but plays good defense. And then there's Betancourt, who was signed not add depth. The former Royals shortstop will not and should not be pressuring light-hitting Alcides Escobar, but he could add some pop to the infield at second.
Disabled list: Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau vs. the disabled list
No two players may be as essential to their team's success as Mauer and Morneau. The two made a combined $37 million last season -- more than the entire Royals team. And, by the way, Kansas City finished eight games ahead of the Twins in the AL Central. The Twins just barely avoided being a $100-million, 100-loss team, but it took a 1-0 victory over the Royals on the last season to do it. Mauer played in 82 games, while Morneau played in just 69, with the two combining to hit seven home runs between them. Morneau's never seemed to fully recover from the concussion he suffered in July of 2010 and Mauer's had a variety of injuries, missing games with a leg injury, as well as lower back stiffness, a bruised shoulder, neck stiffness and pneumonia. Both players will play first base and DH some to try to keep them healthy, but questions will continue until either plays a productive 130-game-or-so season.
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Tags: Addison Reed, AL Central, ALcides Escobar, C. Trent Rosecrans, Chris Getz, Chris Sale, David Huff, Delmon Young, Derek Lowe, Indians, Jeanmar Gomez, Jesse Crain, Joe Mauer, Johnny Giavotella, Josh Tomlin, Justin Morneau, Kevin Slowey, Lorenzo Cain, Matt Thornton, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Royals, Sergio Santos, spring position battles, Tigers, Twins, Ubaldo Jimenez, Victor Martinez, White Sox, Yuniesky Betancourt, Zach McAllister
Posted on: November 25, 2011 3:09 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2011 1:38 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no waivers, no minor- or major-league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams.
For years, the Minnesota Twins were the model of how to build a consistent winner in a small market. From 2001-2010, the Twins appeared in the playoffs six times and recorded just one losing season. But the wheels fell off in 2011, with a mixture of bad fortune and bad pitching. The Twins have two former MVPs in their lineup, but it would be tough to find two former MVPs who did less in 2011 than Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. Those two homegrown players were supposed to be cornerstones for the franchise, but their performance last season was more fitting a tombstone. The team's fortunes, for better or worse, will be tied to those two for the next few years.
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Michael Cuddyer, 3B
3. Joe Mauer, 1B
4. Justin Morneau, DH
5. Torii Hunter, RF
6. Jason Kubel, LF
7. Wilson Ramos, C
8. Danny Valencia, 2B
9. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS
1. Matt Garza
2. Nick Blackburn
3. Kevin Slowey
4. Brian Duensing
5. Anthony Swarzak
Closer - Jesse Crain
Set up - LaTroy Hawkins, J.C. Romero, Pat Neshek, Glen Perkins, Grant Balfour, Peter Moylan
Notable Bench Players
A.J. Pierzynski, Ben Revere, Luke Hughes, Trevor Plouffe.
With Ramos and Pierzynski on the roster, there's zero reason for Mauer to get anywhere near catching gear -- unless it's for another commercial. With Mauer freed of pitching duties, he can concentrate on first base and Justin Morneau doesn't have to worry about playing in the field. Even though Morneau is a very good defensive first baseman, keeping him off the field could keep him on the field. Last year he suffered concussion-like symptoms after merely diving for a ball. Limiting his risks for a recurrence of head injuries should be a top priority for the Twins, and the easiest way to do that solves the team's other big problem, getting the most out of their long-term deal with Mauer. While the Twins don't have anyone on this list with a large number of saves on their resume, there are a ton of good relievers.
It's a good thing the team has good relievers, because they're going to need them -- and even more than the seven listed above. The rotation, after Garza, is shaky. That rotation isn't going to get much help from its defense, either. The roster makeup requires several position shuffles, including Cuddyer to third, a position he's played, but is not too keen on playing. The Twins also have to put Nishioka at shortstop. Although he played there some in 2011, the team signed Jamey Carroll to play shortstop every day in 2012 for a reason.
Comparison to real 2011
Well, if you thought it couldn't get much worse in Minnesota than it did in 2011, it may with this lineup and rotation. Minnesota went 63-99 in 2011, and it probably breaks the 100-loss barrier with this squad, but don't expect them to be historically bad, so it'd probably only cost four-to-eight wins in my unscientific research. Either way, it's an ugly summer in Minneapolis.
Up next: Pittsburgh Pirates
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Tags: A.J. Pierzynski, AL Central, Anthony Swarzak, Ben Revere, Brian Duensing, C. Trent Rosecrans, Danny Valencia, Denard Span, Glen Perkins, Grant Balfour, homegrown, J.C. Romero, Jamey Carroll, Jason Kubel, Jesse Crain, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Kevin Slowey, LaTroy Hawkins, Luke Hughes, Matt Garza, Michael Cuddyer, Nick Blackburn, Pat Neshek, Peter Moylan, Torii Hunter, Trevor Plouffe, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Twins, Wilson Ramos
Posted on: June 7, 2011 10:31 am
Edited on: June 7, 2011 11:25 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
While the first-round of the MLB Draft is gaining more attention in the last couple of years, the later rounds are where most of the work is done.
The second round starts today at 11 a.m. ET, so here's a look at some of the best second-round picks in recent memory.
Angels: In 1999, the Angels took John Lackey out of Grayson County Community College with the 68th overall pick in the draft. In 1995, they took Jarrod Washburn with the first pick of the second round.
Athletics: The A's took Vista, Calif., high schooler Trevor Cahill with the 66th overall pick in 2006. Two years before that they took Kurt Suzuki in the second round and in 2003 they took Andre Ethier in the second round. They traded him for Milton Bradley and Antonio Perez in 2005.
Cubs: You have to go back pretty far -- unless you go with Bobby Hill -- to find much success with the Cubs' second-round pick, but if you go as far back as 1984, they took Greg Maddux with the third pick of the second round and he turned out OK. Also among their second-round picks is former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter (1996).
Giants: Of recent vintage, the Giants have taken Nate Schierholtz in 2003 and Fred Lewis in 2002, but the most interesting second-round pick by San Francisco was in 1982. That year they took the son of a team legend with the 11th pick of the second round (39th overall), but Barry Bonds went to Arizona State instead.
Indians: Jason Kipnis is one of the team's top prospects, taken in the second round in 2009. In 1995, the Indians took first baseman Sean Casey out of Richmond with the 53rd overall pick.
Mets: There's some slim pickins for the Mets recently, but few Mets fans would trade their second-rounder of 1977, Mookie Wilson. (Seriously, this one was tough, the only players the Mets have picked in the last 15 years who have made the majors were Kevin Mulvey, Neal Musser, Pat Strange and Tyler Walker -- maybe that explains some things.)
Nationals (Expos): Jordan Zimmermann was the team's second-rounder in 2007. Current Reds All-Star second baseman Brandon Phillips was taken by the Expos with the sixth pick of the second round in 1999.
Orioles: Nolan Reimold was taken 61st overall in 2005, but if you want to go back a few years, the team took Cal Ripken with the 22nd pick of the second round in the 1978 draft. Ripken was the third of four picks the Orioles had in the second round that year.
Padres: San Diego took Chase Hedley in 2005.
Pirates: Last year's pick was Stetson Allie, who many expected to go in the first round. Lefty Tom Gorzelanny was taken in the second round in 2003 and catcher Ryan Doumit was taken 59th overall in 1999.
Reds: NL MVP Joey Votto (2002) was the third pick of the second round (44th overall) and Travis Wood was taken in the second round of the 2005 draft. Keep an eye on 2009 pick Billy Hamilton, who already has 45 stolen bases this season for Class A Dayton.
Royals: For all the prospects the Royals have stockpiled in the last couple of years, strangely not too many are second-rounders. Outfielder Brett Eibner (2010) was the only member of the Royals' Top 10 by Baseball America taken in the second round. You have to go back to Carlos Beltran (1995), Jon Lieber (1992), Bob Hamelin (1988), Mark Gubicza (1981), Darryl Motley (1978) and Dennis Leonard (1972) to find serious big-leaguers. Oh, and also a kid out of El Segundo, Calif., in 1971 named George Brett. He was pretty good, too.
White Sox: A's outfielder Ryan Sweeney (2003) is the team's best second-rounder since Bob Wickman (1990) -- not counting Jeff Weaver, who went back to school after he was picked in 1997 and was taken by the Tigers a year later.
Yankees: In the last 20 years, only two Yankees second-rounders have made the big leagues, Shelley Duncan (2001) and Randy Keisler (1998). Catching prospect Austin Romine was the team's second-rounder in 2007. In 1982, the team did take a shortstop from McAdory High School in Bessemer, Ala., who went on to play football at Auburn instead. His name is Bo Jackson. That was the year after the team took Stanford outfielder John Elway.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: Aaron Cook, Alan Trammell, Andre Ethier, Angels, Anthony Swarzak, Astros, Athletics, Austin Romine, Barry Bonds, Billy Buckner, Billy Hamilton, Blue Jays, Bo Jackson, Bob Hamelin, Bob Wickman, Bobby Hill, Brandon Inge, Brandon Phillips, Braves, Brett Anderson, BRewers, Brian McCann, Broxton, Cal Ripken, Cardinals, Carl Crawford, Carlos Beltran, Chase Hudley, Chris Tillman, Cubs, Dan haren, Darryl Motley, David Bush, Dennis Leonard, Derek Bell, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Dustin Pedroia, Frank Viola, Fred Lewis, Freddie Freeman, George Brett, Giants, Greg Maddux, Hunter Pence, Indians, Jarron Washburn, Jason Bourgeois, Jason Kipnis, Jeff Weaver, Jesse Crain, Jimmy Rollins, Joey Votto, John Lackey, Jon Jay, Jon Lester, Jon Lieber, Jonathan, Jordan Zimmermann, Josh Hamilton, Justin Masterson, Kevin Mulvey, Kevin Slowey, Kurt Suzuki, Mariners, Mark Gubixza, Marlins, Mets, Mike Stanton, Milton BRadley, MLB Draft, Mookie Wilson, Nate Schierholtz, Nationals, Neal Musser, Nolan Reimold, Orioles, Padres, Pat Strange, Phillies, Pirates, Quincy Carter, Randy Keisler, Rangers, Rays, Red Sox, Reds, Rich Poythress, Rockies, Royals, Ryan Doumit, Ryan Sweeney, Scott Baker, Sean casey, Seth Smith, Shelley Duncan, Stetson Allie, Tigers, Tom Gorzelanny, Travis Wood, Trevor Cahill, Twins, Tyler Walker, White Sox, Yankees, Yovani Gallardo
Posted on: April 13, 2011 10:13 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:50 am
By C. Trent Rosecrans
I don't really root for or against teams, but there is some fun as a blogger in the White Sox losing, because it means the most entertaining manager in the game, Ozzie Guillen may have something fun to say.
After the White Sox blew another lead on Wednesday, he had didn't disappoint:
"I don't have any closer," Guillen said. "I don't. Then we will see. From this point on, you just scratch your head and second guess yourself what you're doing wrong, bringing people to the mound with a three-run lead for the third time and we can't hold the lead. That's not a good sign.
"I see the same [stuff] you guys see. Exactly same [stuff.]
You can see the video of Guillen here:
The White Sox bullpen has been a disaster, blowing a late lead three days in a row. The White Sox were able to bounce back to win in extra innings on Tuesday. In just 12 games this season, the White Sox have blown six saves, four of them were blown by Matt Thornton. Chris Sale, who has the team's only save, also has a blown save.
Guillen said he went into Wednesday's game ready to use all three of his potential closers -- Sale, Jesse Crain and Thornton -- and he did just that.
After John Danks allowed just one run in eight innings, Sale allowed three straight hits to start the ninth, before he was replaced by Crain, who walked a batter and struck out another. Thornton came in with bases loaded and one out, gave up a bloop single to Josh Willingham to tie it before getting out of the inning, only to give up the lead in the 10th.
The only one, it seemed, that was stepping up their game was Guillen's son Oney, who actually had a good tweet on the situation.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: February 21, 2011 7:28 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2011 7:28 pm
If Albert Pujols does end up in Chicago, it will be on the Northside, not the Southside, as White Sox general manager Kenny Williams tells CSNChicago.com's Chuck Garfien his team is unwilling to spend the type of money on one player Pujols will demand.
The word is Pujols is looking for $30 million a year -- too rich for Kenny's blood.
"If [White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf] gave me $30 million right now, I'm not going to spend it on one guy. Sorry White Sox fans," Williams said. "But I tell you what, I'm going to take that $30 million and I'm going to distribute it around. My team is going to be better as a whole than it is with one player who might get hurt. Then you're done. Sorry, that's just me. And that's no disrespect to a future Hall of Famer, first ballot, one of the greatest players in history."
Of course, the White Sox added nearly $25 million to their payroll this offseason, with escalations in existing contracts plus adding Adam Dunn to a four-year, $56-million deal, reliever Jesse Crain (three years, $13 million) and re-signing Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski.
Williams also talks about labor and the upcoming CBA, saying he wouldn't mind a work stoppage for the "health of the game," -- pretty much taking the opposite stance of Hank Steinbrenner.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
Posted on: December 15, 2010 9:54 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2010 12:26 am
The White Sox have agreed to a three-year deal with Jesse Crain, as Peter Gammons reports .
This is the latest in a series of three-year deals given to relievers. First Joaquin Benoit set the market, then Scott Downs and Matt Guerrier followed.
Gotta say, it's a good year to be a middle reliever.
Crain recently finished up a year in which he pitched 68 innings of a 3.04 ERA. He boasts a career ERA of 3.42 along with a 4.48 xFIP, so may be hurt by the move to homer-friendly US Cellular Field.
That said, Crain is just 29 and punched out 8/21 batters per nine in 2010, walking 3.57. Throwing an average fastball that is just a hair under 95-mph, he matches up with Chicago's affinity for hard-throwing relievers.
In other relief news, Hardball Talk has Bobby Jenks nearing an agreement with the Rays. This is a fantastic agreement for both sides, as Jenks will land somewhere where he won't have any trouble sewing up a closer's gig. That'll allow him to spend 2011 trying to rehabilitate his value, while the Rays pick up an underrated pitcher who seemed to clash with skipper Ozzie Guillen in Chicago. (However, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal says Jenks isn't close to a decision and has also heard from the Yankees.)
The Red Sox continue their slew of uninspiring relief signings, blanching at the three-year demands out there. A day after inking Matt Albers, the Red Sox have brought back lefty Lenny DiNardo, as WEEI reveals. The deal is of the minor-league variety. DiNardo was with the Red Sox from 2004-06, then traveled to the A's where he enjoyed success on now-Red Sox pitching coach Curt Young. He struggled from 2008-10 with injuries and bounced from the A's to Royals and back to Oakland. Now, he'll serve as depth for Boston with an outside shot toward winning a bullpen job out of spring training.
The Jays, meanwhile, aren't asleep at the switch in finding a reliever. They're hot after Octavio Dotel, as FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. Dotel could potentially close in Toronto, which may appeal to the 37-year-old. The club could pit Dotel and Jason Frasor in a contest for the job. Dotel isn't the reliever he once was, but in a market where three-year deals are the norm for relievers, Dotel suddenly starts to look attractive on a one- or two-year pact.
Lastly, the Yankees are hard after a left-handed reliever. That puts them in line for Brian Fuentes, Pedro Feliciano, Arthur Rhodes, and more. Rhodes was thought to be close to a deal to re-up with the Reds but with the market the way it is, may listen to alternatives. Fuentes is the best lefty on the market, so the Yankees will have to pony up, but they have a ton of cash burning a hole in their pocket.
UPDATE : Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports has Crain's deal at three years, $13 million.
Also, Kerry Wood is headed back to the Cubs, as Rosenthal adds . The two sides are working on an agreement for Wood to set up Carlos Marmol, freeing up Andrew Cashner for the rotation.
-- Evan Brunell
Posted on: December 4, 2010 3:37 pm
Twins general manager Bill Smith could be busy in Florida this week, as shortstop J.J. Hardy is still in demand as a trade candidate. "About six" teams have talked to the Twins about Hardy in recent weeks, the Star Tribune 's La Velle E. Neal III reports .
Neal speculates that the Astros, Cardinals, Giants, Padres, Pirates and Orioles are interested in Hardy, who finished his first season in Minnesota hitting .268/.320/.394 with six home runs and 38 RBIs in 101 games.
The Twins will be looking for a "quality reliever" or a "speed" player in return for Hardy, 28.
The Twins are negotiation with Japanese second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka and would play Alexi Casilla at shortstop. Minnesota needs to bolster a bullpen that's likely to lose Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier to free agency.
The free agent shortstop market was incredibly thin, with an aging Derek Jeter as the best one on the market, while shortstops available via trade are mostly overpaid and old.
-- C. Trent RosecransFor more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 30, 2010 11:55 pm
The Rangers' Frank Francisco and the Blue Jays' Jason Frasor have accepted salary arbitration, the Major League Baseball Players Association announced Tuesday night. They were the only two of 27 arbitration-eligible free agents to accept.
Francisco and Frasor are both middle relievers and may have found themselves hamstrung by being Type A free agents and costing a draft pick to sign.
Turning down arbitration were Kevin Gregg, Octavio Dotel, Trevor Hoffman, Kevin Correia, Pedro Feliciano, Aaron Heilman, Brad Hawpe, Felipe Lopez, Scott Downs, Randy Choate, Grant Balfour, J.J. Putz, Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano, Carl Pavano, Adrian Beltre, Chad Qualls, Cliff Lee, Jayson Werth, Adam Dunn, Jesse Crain, Orlando Hudson, Paul Konerko, Miguel Olivo and Adam LaRoche.
Those 25 players could still re-sign with their previous teams.
-- C. Trent RosecransFor more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: 2010 free agency, Aaron Heilman, Adam Dunn, Adam LaRoche, Adrian Beltre, Blue Jays, Brad Hawpe, Carl Crawford, Carl Pavano, Chad Qualls, Cliff Lee, Felipe Lopez, Frank Francisco, Grant Balfour, Hot Stove League, J.J. Putz, Jason Frasor, Jayson Werth, Jesse Crain, Kevin Correia, Kevin Gregg, Miguel Olivo, Octavio Dotel, Orlando Hudson, Paul Konerko, Pedro Feliciano, Rafael Soriano, Randy Choate, Rangers, Scott Downs, Trevor Hoffman