Tag:NL East
Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:53 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 1:58 pm
 

Nats farmhand comes through with Santa proposal

By Matt Snyder

Ben Graham is a 24-year-old right-handed pitcher for Class A Hagerstown in the Nationals system. He had a 3.30 ERA out of the bullpen, so it was a nice season, but he definitely has reason to be happy right now.

During a halftime performance by the Tennessee Titans cheerleaders this past Sunday, Graham put on a Santa Claus outfit and sidled up to his girlfriend, Titans cheerleader Janae Kram.

"I was trying to keep my cool and do the performance," she said (WKRN.com). "They were telling me [before the performance] that Santa was going to do something and it could be a little embarrassing, so I was thinking the old man is going to dance with me. When I looked over and saw Ben it was really exciting."

Here's a video of the proposal to remember.



Hat-tip: D.C. Sports Bog

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Category: MLB
Posted on: December 14, 2011 12:49 pm
 

Teixeira, Dickey, Mullin to receive 'Thurmans'

By Matt Snyder

The 32nd annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner will be held in New York City on January 31st, and this time around Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey and former St. John's basketball star Chris Mullin will receive "Thurmans," in honor of the late Yankees catcher Thurman Munson, who died at age 32 when he crashed a plane during flying lessons.

The list of past winners of Thurmans, per press release, is as follows:
The list of notable athletes to previously receive the Munson Award reads like a sports “Who’s Who,” and includes: Yankees – Yogi Berra, Don Mattingly, Mariano Rivera, Willie Randolph, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Robby Cano, Bernie Williams, Bobby Murcer, Joe Torre, Joe Girardi and Nick Swisher; Mets – Tom Seaver, John Franco, Darryl Strawberry, Mike Piazza, Ron Darling, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Keith Hernandez, Rusty Staub and Gary Carter; Basketball – Willis Reed, Oscar Robertson, Dave DeBusschere, Patrick Ewing, Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, “Dr. J” Julius Erving, Sen. Bill Bradley, Mark Jackson, Charles Oakley, Allan Houston and John Starks.
Also, Yankee legend Yogi Berra will receive the Legend Award.

The dinner benefits the benefits AHRC-New York City Foundation.

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Posted on: December 13, 2011 6:55 pm
 

Eye on Photos: Marlins new ballpark



By Matt Snyder


The Marlins new ballpark is set to open in 2012 -- which is why they were trying to spend money like madmen at the Winter Meetings -- and it's now more than 90 percent complete, according to team officials. Tuesday, members of the local media were treated to a tour of the entire facility.

Joe Capozzi (Twitter handle: joecapMARLINS) of the Palm Beach Post's Fish Tank blog was kind enough to let us post the following pictures that he took on the tour. Check out the pictures below. Click on any individual picture for a full size (630x500 px).

This will be the spacious Marlins' clubhouse. The steps leading up to the center-field seating area. 
A nice view from center field, overlooking the entire playing surface, facing home plate. 
The view of home plate from the left field foul pole, almost literally. 
Nice view of the playing surface from the press box, which would be a similar view to nearly any seat in the area.  An announcer scouts out his new view ... 
This is an indoor batting cage, that will have a viewing area, so fans can watch players take batting practice. A view of right field from seats on the third base side of the stadium. 

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Posted on: December 13, 2011 10:32 am
 

Dontrelle Willis signs with Phillies



By Matt Snyder


The once-relevant Dontrelle Willis has gotten another shot -- this time on a team with a great pitching staff. The 29-year-old left-hander has signed with the Phillies, CBSSports.com Jon Heyman is reporting. The signing is pending a physical.

Willis won the NL Rookie of the Year in 2003 and was the runner-up in Cy Young voting in 2005, but he regressed in 2006, fell apart in 2007 and hasn't been able to do much of anything since. He was even demoted all the way to Class A at one point. Last season, he started 13 games for the Reds, going 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA and 1.52 WHIP.

With the Big Three, Vance Worley, Joe Blanton and Kyle Kendrick in Philly, don't expect the artist formerly known as D-Train to see the rotation anytime soon.

List of MLB free agents

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Posted on: December 12, 2011 7:05 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 7:24 pm
 

Burke Badenhop traded to Rays

By Matt Snyder

The two teams from Florida have completed a trade, sending right-handed reliever Burke Badenhop from Miami to Tampa Bay, the Rays announced on Twitter. The Marlins get minor-league catcher Jake Jefferies in return.

Hot Stove Season
The move feels vintage Andrew Friedman, the Rays' executive who seems to have a knack for grabbing relievers on the cheap and having them come through with a good season. Kyle Farnsworth last season is a great example, just as Joaquin Benoit (2010) and several others have been in the past four years.

Badenhop, 28, had a 4.10 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in 63 2/3 innings last season for the Marlins. Sabermetric stats showed he pitched much better than those numbers and suffered from bad fortune. His FIP was 2.95 and BABIP allowed was a high .327. So if things regress to the norm, Badenhop's numbers will come down.

Also, he is very cheap. He'll likely make between $1 million and $2 million bucks through arbitration each of the next two seasons before hitting free agency.

Jefferies, 24, hit just .238/.282/.327 with two home runs in 242 plate appearances between High-A and Double-A. He was a third round pick in the 2008 draft.

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Posted on: December 12, 2011 3:01 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 3:34 pm
 

Hero of the day: Marlins catcher John Buck

By Matt Snyder

We have to write about players for bad reasons -- suspensions for failing drug tests, arrests, etc. -- so it's fun when there is a reason to write something glowing about a player's off-field activity. And we have a great nugget on this Monday afternoon. Marlins catcher John Buck helped rescue two elderly women from an overturned vehicle late last week.

Buck reportedly arrived at the site of a car accident one minute after it happened near the Sawgrass Mall in Sunrise, Florida. He ran to the overturned car to help two others pull the two women from the car. From palmbeachpost.com:
“It wasn’t that serious,’’ he said. “But the car upside down and the way it landed, the two older ladies were pretty lucky.’’

Buck didn’t stick around too long – he was on his way to pick up his son from school.

“I pulled them out, then the police came, I gave my report and was like, ‘Guess my job’s over.’ So I took off.’’
Whether Buck thought it was serious or not is irrelevant. He rushed over to help a pair of elderly ladies who had just been in a car accident. Kudos to him for being a Good Samaritan and then staying humble about it afterward.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: December 12, 2011 1:14 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 1:18 pm
 

Phillies trade Ben Francisco to Blue Jays

By Matt Snyder

The Phillies have traded outfielder Ben Francisco to the Blue Jays in exchange for minor-league pitcher Frank Gailey, the Phillies announced Monday.

Francisco, 30, hit .244 with 10 doubles, six home runs and a .704 OPS in 293 plate appearances, serving as a backup outfielder for the NL East champions. He came through with a huge three-run home run, which ended up being the game-winner, in Game 3 of the NLDS against the Cardinals.

After having acquired Laynce Nix, the Phillies didn't have much more use for Francisco. Aside from All-Star outfielders Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence, the Phillies also have John Mayberry, Nix and Domonic Brown.

As for the Blue Jays, they now have a pretty crowded outfield -- assuming no more trades are in the works. In addition to 2010-11 MVP candidate Jose Bautista, Eric Thames, Colby Rasmus, Travis Snider, Rajai Davis and Francisco could all figure in the mix.

Gailey is a 26-year-old left-hander. He went 5-6 with a 3.41 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 61 strikeouts in 74 innings across both High-A and Double-A. At that age and in that level of the minors, he's obviously just organizational depth for the Phillies.

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Posted on: December 12, 2011 11:49 am
Edited on: December 12, 2011 11:56 am
 

Homegrown Team: Nationals/Expos



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, 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. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

We continue the series today with the Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos. Yeah, remember them -- the best team in baseball in 1994 before the strike ended the season without a World Series? If you don't, you'll need to be reminded of a certain Bartolo Colon trade, which ended up being awful for the Expos, who got 17 starts from Colon after coughing up three future All-Stars for him. What we see is a team that looks pretty good, but has loads of young talent either already developing in the bigs or soon to be arriving.

Lineup

1. Grady Sizemore, CF
2. Brandon Phillips, 2B
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. Vladimir Guerrero, RF
5. Jason Bay, LF
6. Danny Espinosa, 1B
7. Ian Desmond, SS
8. Brian Schneider, C

Starting Rotation

1. Cliff Lee
2. Stephen Strasburg
3. Jordan Zimmermann
4. Javier Vazquez
5. John Lannan

Bullpen

Closer - Drew Storen
Set up - Bill Bray, Craig Stammen, Collin Balester, Miguel Batista
Long - Armando Galarraga, Brad Peacock, Tom Milone, Ross Detwiler

Notable Bench Players

Bryce Harper, Chris Marrero, Wilson Valdez, Anthony Rendon, Jamey Carroll, Orlando Cabrera, Geoff Blum and Roger Bernadina.

What's Good?

The starting rotation is really good, especially if you start to think about the future. Much like the real Nats, Peacock, Milone and Detwiler all have the potential to break through and really make this a strong top-to-bottom rotation. Here, you have a perennial Cy Young candidate sitting at the top, too. The batting order definitely has the potential to be good, but there are a lot of question marks, so we can't really be overly excited about it. But, much like with the rotation, there is some serious potential on the way in Harper and Rendon. Finally, the bench is really good. This team has depth.

And in case you're curious, the three All-Stars the Expos gave up for Colon were Sizemore, Phillips and Lee. None of the three had made their major-league debut at the time of the trade.

What's Not?

If we were really going to stick Vlad in right field, we'd have to pray no one hit the ball out there. Should I have gotten more creative and put Vlad at first, moving Espinosa out to right? Maybe. We could move Vlad to 1B and throw Harper into the fire, play Bernadina in the outfield and move Vlad to first or just bench Guerrero. I'm open to any idea, but the idea I used was to maximize the offense. Hey, it worked when the Cardinals put Lance Berkman in right this past real season, right? Also, Schneider is a pretty bad catching option at this point, but there were zero other options on current 40-man rosters or in free agency in the MLB (which is what we used to build these rosters). Finally, the bullpen is very thin in front of Storen in the late innings.

Comparison to real 2011

The real-life Nats are just on the cusp of breaking through, though it'll be tough in the stacked NL East. These Nats would be a bit better with the legitimate ace Lee and a great bench. Maybe mid-80s in wins, but with tons of help on the way. Much like with the real Nats, it's kind of a "watch out next year" type deal -- with the likes of Harper, Rendon, Peacock and Milone waiting in the wings while Strasburg, Zimmermann, Storen, Espinosa et al continue to get better.

Next: Boston Red Sox

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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