Tag:Barry Bonds
Posted on: June 16, 2011 1:15 pm
Edited on: June 16, 2011 2:05 pm
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Bonds, Griffey headline 'disrespectful' sons



By Matt Snyder


With Father's Day coming this weekend, it's the perfect time to think about how you can show up your Dad. What better way than to remind him you're better than he is? Maybe disrespectful, but still fun nonetheless.

I know when my son becomes more successful in life it will certainly be a sign of disrespect. Assuming in the sense that you disrespect your father if you outperform him -- and we're also assuming you have a sense of humor and realize this is tongue-in-cheeck -- we've compiled a list of 10 recent sons who disrespected the memory of their fathers by playing better. This is by no means exhaustive, just a quick glance at 10 dudes who played within the past decade or so that were better than their major-league fathers. Look for 10 "respectful" sons to be posted later Thursday at Eye On Baseball.

Roberto/Sandy Alomar. Father: Sandy. Sandy Sr. played for 15 seasons in the majors, making a single All-Star Game. He hit .245 with just 13 career home runs and a .578 OPS. He obviously stuck around for defensive purposes, yet never won a Gold Glove. He did have two sons come along and show him how it was done. Robbie's a Hall of Famer and one of the greatest second basemen of all time. Sandy Jr. had far too many durability issues to come close to that type of stature, but he did make six All-Star Games, won a Rookie of the Year and played in two World Series.

Barry Bonds. Father: Bobby. Bobby was no slouch, that much is for certain. He was a great power-speed combo guy, garnering 332 home runs and 461 stolen bases in his 14 seasons. He finished in the top five of MVP voting twice and ended his career with an .824 OPS. His son, however, scoffed at the notion of simply living up to Dad. He obliterated Bobby as a player. Barry won seven MVPs and is one of the greatest players in baseball history.

Robinson Cano. Father: Jose. If you didn't know Jose Cano was a major-league player, you can rest easy. You are certainly not alone. Jose appeared in six games as an Astros pitcher in 1989. He had a 5.09 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in 23 innings. Robinson's already one of the best second basemen in baseball and could very well be on his way to a Hall of Fame career, but that remains to be seen. Regardless, he's far exceeded his father already.

Prince Fielder. Father: Cecil. Cecil was one of the most prolific home run hitters in baseball for a good seven years. He led the majors in RBI for three straight seasons and was the first to break 50 homers in years. Prince, however, already has more wins above replacement and has been one of the most feared power hitters in baseball for the past five years. He's having a monster season, with an OPS over 1.000 and leading the NL in RBI. By the time the dust settles, Prince's big-league career will dwarf Cecil's. Remember, Cecil wasn't good until he was 26. Prince is 27 now.

Ken Griffey Jr. Father: Ken. Similar to the Bonds duo, Ken Sr. was hardly a bad player. He was a three-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion. He had a career .290 batting average and .359 OBP. He stole 200 bases while hitting 152 homers. But Junior was an icon, a 13-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glover who clubbed 630 home runs in his career.

Jason Kendall. Father: Fred. Fred appears to have been one of those catchers who just hangs on forever because he's a reliable backstop. He was a dreadful hitter, as evidenced by his career .234 average and .598 OPS. Using OPS-plus, he had only one above average season and was otherwise not even close to average. You won't mistake Jason for a Hall of Famer, but he was a three-time All-Star and a really good-hitting catcher for about six seasons. His career .366 OBP is very solid for a catcher, and you've got to respect those 189 steals.

Robb Nen. Father: Dick. The elder Nen played in parts of six MLB seasons, accruing 918 plate appearances. He hit just .224 with a .288 OBP. Robb was a dominant closer for about a decade, gathering 314 saves and 10 strikeouts per nine innings over the course of his career. He was a three-time All-Star, twice went to the World Series as closer -- winning once -- and moved the radar gun to triple digits on occasion. Even though Robb's career ended rather abruptly, it still was far superior to that of his father's.

Cal Ripken Jr. Father: Cal. Cal Sr. never made the bigs, but he did manage there. He had a far-from-illustrious minor-league career as a player. We know all about Cal Jr. and his consecutive games streak, along with the Rookie of the Year, two MVPs, all those All-Star Games, the 431 home runs and, well, you get the point.

Nick Swisher. Father: Steve. Steve made an All-Star Game in 1976, but he was overall a pretty bad hitter and never won a Gold Glove (he can thank Johnny Bench for that). Simply put, Steve Swisher was a nine-year major-leaguer who couldn't hit (.216/.279/.303) but stuck around because he was a backup catcher. Nick's a solid corner outfielder, having hit more than 20 homers six times and sporting a career .357 OBP. He's been to an All-Star Game and won the World Series, too.

Jayson Werth. Father: Dennis. Dennis Werth played in just 117 games in parts of four seasons, hitting .209 with three home runs and 15 RBI. He was basically just a pinch-hitter, getting 172 plate appearances in those 117 games. Jayson's been to an All-Star Game, two World Series, led the league in doubles, hit 129 bombs and now cashed in with a huge contract from a possibly up-and-coming team.

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Posted on: June 7, 2011 10:31 am
Edited on: June 7, 2011 11:25 am
 

Looking back at second-round picks

Joey Votto

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.

Astros: Perhaps the team's best player right now, outfielder Hunter Pence, was the 64th overall pick in 2004. 

MLB Draft

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.

Blue Jays: Right-hander Dave Bush in 2002 is probably the team's best second-round pick since taking Derek Bell in 1987.

Brian McCannBraves: Current first baseman Freddie Freeman was selected with the 78th overall pick in 2007, but the best pick was easily 2002's No. 64 overall pick, a local high school catcher named Brian McCann.

Brewers: The Brewers took Yovani Gallardo with the fifth pick of the second round in 2004.

Cardinals: In 2001, the team took Dan Haren with the 72nd overall pick. More recently, Jon Jay was taken in the second round of the 2006 draft.

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).

Diamondbacks: A's starter Brett Anderson was Arizona's second-rounder in 2006. He was part of the big trade that send Dan Haren to the Diamondbacks.

Dodgers: The Dodgers got future closer Jonathan Broxton with the 60th overall pick in 2002.

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.

Mariners: Recently-demoted Orioles starter Chris Tillman was taken in the second round of the 2006 draft. Keep an eye on 2009 second-rounder Rich Poythress, who had 31 homers in Class A last season.

Mike StantonMarlins: It wasn't until the 12th pick of the second round -- and 76th overall -- for someone to pick up Mike Stanton in 2007. 

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.

Phillies: Jimmy Rollins was the team's second-rounder in 1996, going 46th overall.

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.

Rangers: The only player taken by the Rangers in the second round of the last decade to make the majors is Jason Bourgeois.

Rays: The Rays famously took Josh Hamilton No. 1 overall in 1999, but their second-round pick that year was pretty good too -- Carl Crawford.

Red Sox: How about Justin Masterson (2006), Dustin Pedroia (2004) and Jon Lester (2002)?

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.

Rockies: For recent vintage, Seth Smith (2004) is the pick, but you can go back a few years and pick Aaron Cook (1997).

George BrettRoyals: 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.

Tigers: The Tigers took Brandon Inge with the 14th pick of the 1998 draft as a catcher out of Virginia Commonwealth. In 1976, Alan Trammell was the second pick of the round.

Twins: A nice run of arms earlier in the decade with Kevin Slowey (2005), Anthony Swarzak (2004), Scott Baker (2003) and Jesse Crain (2002). Frank Viola was the team's second-rounder in 1981.

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.

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Posted on: May 24, 2011 9:09 pm
Edited on: May 24, 2011 9:25 pm
 

Bonds to foot Stow kids' college bill

By Matt Snyder

Often the target of venom, be it from media, fans or both, Barry Bonds is rarely presented in a positive light anymore. So let's switch things up a bit here and talk him up for a second: Bonds is reportedly going to pay for both of Bryan Stow's children to attend college (NBC Bay Area).

Stow is the 42-year-old man who was beaten severely on opening day by some Dodgers fans simply because he was a Giants fan. He was jumped from behind and is still in critical condition, in a medically induced coma. Stow is a single father, with a son and a daughter each in elementary school.

Now, the skeptics out there will surely swipe at Bonds and say he's just trying to garner some positive attention, but the news didn't come from Bonds. In fact, it was the attorney who represents Stow's family who passed along Bonds' gesture. Bonds actually visited Stow in the hospital on April 22 and spent an hour in the room, signing a baseball bat for Stow's two kids.

Let us tip our cap to Mr. Bonds for the generous gesture and continue to hope that Stow will pull through as best he can.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: April 13, 2011 5:37 pm
Edited on: April 13, 2011 7:17 pm
 

What does guilty verdict mean for Barry Bonds?

BondsBy Evan Brunell

Barry Bonds was found guilty of obstruction of justice on Wednesday, but the jury in Bonds' case could not come to an accord on the perjury charge which cracks the door open for his Hall of Fame chances.

While the government could still re-try Bonds on the three counts of perjury for telling the grand jury charged with making some sense of the whole steroid mess in 2003 that he did not knowingly use steroids or human growth hormone, the main takeaway from today is that the steroid era is most definitively not over.

Everyone thought that once Bonds was strung up on guilty counts or found innocent, that it would help to bring the steroid era to a close. But as has happened time and time again, somehow the one solution that ends up continuing the saga popped up again.

Bonds' obstruction of justice charge essentially means that Bonds made the grand jury's job investigating the steroids scandal back in 2003 that much more difficult. The government had contended that Bonds was evasive and misleading, which spurred the charge, and the jury has agreed. However, it's a rather odd charge to come back guilty on -- if Bonds wasn't found guilty of lying, how exactly did he obstruct justice?

The vagaries therein are perplexing. Can you really ding Bonds and consider the fact he lied based solely on the obstruction of justice charge? No -- if you assume he was telling the truth, he still could be found guilty of obstruction of justice just by being an overall uncooperative witness and/or the circumstances demanding that he essentially obstruct justice by parroting a skeptical claim that he took steroids, but did not knowingly do so.

Unfortunately -- or fortunately if you're happy the government effectively flushed millions of dollars down the drain and may want a Round 2 -- the jury's indecision on Bonds' perjury counts means we simply can't rule out the possibility Bonds was telling the truth. Hey, everyone knows that Bonds took steroids, that's not the issue. The issue is Bonds' claim he had no idea what he was taking even though his home run output doubled, his hat size exploded and... um, well, there was "shrinkage" in a certain area of his body as his ex-mistress testified.

As long as it's possible Bonds was telling the truth, his Hall of Fame case still stands -- and could even be bolstered by the news out of court. On one hand, you will have voters believing Bonds was a Hall of Famer even without steroids. On the other hand, you can add in those who feel that it's impossible to discern who juiced, so why not treat the era as a whole and vote for whoever belongs, period? (Hey -- who knows who took amphetamines or not in the '70s or drugs in the '80s?)

And on this mysterious third hand humans don't have, should Bonds be penalized his chance at immortality because he didn't know he was taking steroids? That's the can of worms that we've opened here, and you can bet that there will be voters who vote for Bonds based on his effective acquittal of these charges. Even if the federal government decides to hold another trial, between the indecisiveness of the first jury and the bangup job that Bonds' defense lawyers did, nothing can be assumed anymore. And for that reason, you can bet Bonds will linger on the Hall of Fame ballot for a long time, and with enough time, it's completely feasible to see Bonds enter the Hall, especially as voter turnover happens and moves to the younger contingent, a group that appears more willing to consider the case of tainted stars.

Yes, it's bordering on ludicrous to assume that Bonds didn't know what he was ingesting. If trainer Greg Anderson wasn't so adamant about refusing to testify, he would likely provide all the evidence needed to put Bonds behind bars. And yet... since he does not, we can't assume that such evidence exists. Remember words like "innocent until proven guilty" and "preponderance of doubt" that you may have learned way back in junior high? Yeah, well, that still applies. And right now, Bonds continues to stand innocent of the charges that could have slammed the door rather emphatically on the steroid era. (Well, until Roger Clemens' own perjury case comes along in the summer, but that would have just been a sordid epilogue.)

Instead, we're left to sift through the mess. Again.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: April 13, 2011 10:50 am
Edited on: April 13, 2011 12:26 pm
 

Pepper: Huston Street off to fast start

Street

By Evan Brunell

HOT HUSTON: The Rockies have zipped out to a 7-2 start, and closer Huston Street has nailed down five of those victories. The early success has enabled Colorado and Street to put aside a frustrating 2010 season. Meanwhile, Street is reaching milestones in Colorado as he ranks third on the franchise list for total saves, but also tops the list in save percentage.

Part of Street's success -- no blown saves this season -- has to do with his changeup, which wasn't really a factor last year.

"A lot of it has to do with the weapons that [Street] has available to him when he has hitters in counts that he wants to get them into," manager Jim Tracy said. "It's a combination of two things, actually. His put-away pitches are there where we saw them in the past. That's No. 1. And No. 2, the fact that his ball is doing exactly what he wants it to do. I'm throwing it here, it goes there. That is what makes him so special. When the guy is right, he can thread needles. That's exactly what he's been doing these last few times out. The performance in Pittsburgh the other night, when he threw three innings and threw only 27 pitches, is indicative."

Street feels this season has gone perfectly so far. While he'd always be confident, the road's been a bit easier in the early going as he hasn't really had a roadblock put in his way so far.

"You always carry confidence out there. You always expect to get the job done," he said. "It's frustrating when you don't. It's more so when you're not executing because of mechanics or a lack of a feel for a pitch at a certain time. I felt that this year I had the perfect Spring Training. No setbacks, just gradually build, turn up the velocity and the intensity, and it's allowed me to develop all three pitches nicely. At the same time you've got to go out and execute, and I've been making some good pitches, and I've had some good plays behind me to help out in some big spots. It's a team game and we're winning as a team." (MLB.com)

BASEBALL TODAY: Josh Hamilton is injured again, the Red Sox lose again and the Orioles get a big early season test. Tony Lee of NESN.com joins Lauren Shehadi to discuss the latest.

BACK OFF: Manager Ozzie Guillen isn't happy about the hometown fans giving mock cheers to White Sox outfielders for catching balls hit to them. Hey, after five flubs so far in the early going, can you really blame them? (Chicago Tribune)

JUST WIN, BABY: Jayson Werth knows how it works. After bashing a home run against his former team to lead Washington to victory, Werth spoke about how important it is for the Nats to beat the Phillies -- and really, everyone else. Winning will change the culture and bring fans to the ballpark. Doesn't take a mad scientist to figure that out, but at least Werth has the right mentality after signing his lucrative contract. (MASN)

A LEGEND GROWS: Sam Fuld's incredible night Monday was not lost on the masses, who propelled him to Twitter stardom. ESPN even came calling for a couple interviews after he stroked four extra-base hits to catch everyone's attention. The outfielder came back down to earth in Tuesday's game, but his name is already out there. (St. Petersburg Times)

POWER: Justin Upton flashed some power in Tuesday's game by blasting a 478-foot home run against the Cardinals. (Matthew Leach on Twitter)

SWITCHING IT UP: Aubrey Huff and Brandon Belt could be switching positions, with Huff returning to his more familiar first base while Belt takes a crack at right. Manager Bruce Bochy has been displeased with the team's defense. But what do you expect when you play a first baseman out of position in right and a DH (Pat Burrell) in left? (MLB.com)

MORE BEER: There is a second outdoor beer garden opening a couple blocks from Nationals Park. Hey, fans need a nice stiff drink before watching a team that could lose 90 games, right? (MASN)

LONGORIA PROGRESSING: Evan Longoria has experienced no setbacks in his recovery from a strained left oblique. He'll need a few rehab games but should be able to return on schedule at the end of the month. (MLB.com)

ONLY JAPAN: Ever had to try to hit a pitch thrown by someone in midair after jumping off a trampoline? Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi had to deal with this on a trip to Japan a while back. (Fangraphs)

THANKS, CARLOS: If Indians pitchers want to thank someone for their early suggest, manager Manny Acta suggests thanking catcher Carlos Santana. Acta praised Santana's game-calling in the early going and believes getting the additional work now and seeing more teams and players that he wasn't familiar with is really helping his progression. (MLB.com)

BLAME THE JERSEY? A Pittsburgh sports columnist recently wrote an article centered around Bryan Stow, the Giants fan who was critically beaten at the hands of two Dodger fans. The two takeaways from the articles? Adults wearing sports jerseys are creepy and weird, and Stow basically had it coming. Big League Stew rightfully excoriates the article. (Big League Stew)

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Posted on: March 29, 2011 5:02 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:51 am
 

Top 20 things to expect from 2011 season

Jeter

By Evan Brunell

The 2011 season is slated to start Thursday, and with it comes no shortage of storylines to watch. Last year brought the advent of Stephen Strasburg, yet another Cliff Lee trade, and of course, the Giants being crowned champions. What's on deck?

1. East Coast hype

An all-too easy criticism of mainstream media or any sports journalist is the dreaded "East Coast bias" label. However, this season, most of the intriguing teams and races will come from both the AL and NL East.

In the senior circuit, the Phillies have a vaunted rotation, but injuries to Domonic Brown and Chase Utley have left the door ajar for the Braves to sneak in. Many seem to be overlooking Atlanta, but the club won 91 games and will add Dan Uggla to the lineup while improving production out of left field. The Marlins, meanwhile, have a strong rotation and enough offensive potential loaded in their young players that they can't be discounted. Add in the mess that is the Mets along with some nice storylines in Washington (Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg and Jayson Werth to name three), and there's plenty of topics to go around.

Likewise, in the league with the DH, the Red Sox were the darlings of the offseason after importing Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, while adding Bobby Jenks to the bullpen, and appear to be the team to beat, as Yankees GM Brian Cashman has admitted. But you can't count out New York, and Cashman has a quality club ready to push for the division. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, underwent quite a remake but can't be counted out, as this is a club that could crack 90 wins with only a smidgen of luck. The Jays are fresh off a surprising year and have Jose Bautista to draw national interest, while the Orioles are hopeful the middling veterans imported will push the team toward the .500 barrier.

That's not to say that other teams don't have compelling storylines, but the concentration of quality and ease of finding compelling storylines for each team means that the East Coast will dominate the news.

2. Breaking records

It will be a banner year for three players set to hit significant milestones, and there are plenty of other players nearing milestones that, while not Hall of Fame caliber, will put emphasis on the productive careers they have had.

Rounding the Bases

Perhaps the most revered milestone for a hitter to reach, 3,000 hits will come into play for Derek Jeter, who is just 74 hits away. He will probably reach the mark in late May or early June, depending on if he's the .270 batting average Jeter of 2010 or the .314-average Jeter of his career.

Jeter isn't the only Yankee poised for a milestone, however. Mariano Rivera is closing in on 600 saves, as he currently has 559. Given that the major-league record for saves is 601 by Trevor Hoffman, Rivera could also make it to the top of the mountain. That said, Mo will need a good year to reach 600 saves as he has not cracked the 40-save barrier in four out of the past five years.

Ivan Rodriguez is also close to 3,000 hits, needing 183. However, given he has not reached that mark since 1999, you can bet I-Rod will need until at least 2012 to reach the milestone. Heck, depending on how much he plays and produces, he may need until 2013, even though that is quite unlikely.

Jim Thome is 11 home runs away from becoming the eighth member of the 600-club. Paul Konerko needs 35 homers to reach 400, while Adam Dunn (354) and David Ortiz (349) would need big seasons to hit the 400 mark.

Closing in on 2,000 hits are Carlos Lee (1,967), Orlando Cabrera (1,948), Scott Rolen (1,944), Jason Giambi (1,914), Albert Pujols (1,900), Adrian Beltre (1,889), Luis Castillo (1,889), Konerko (1,861), Michael Young (1,848), Derrek Lee (1,843), Juan Pierre (1,842), Andruw Jones (1,840) and Placido Polanco (1,836).

3. A new labor agreement

Baseball's collective bargaining agreement is due to expire after the season, but both baseball and the players union are already beginning work on coming to an accord. In a year where the NFL has locked out its players and the NBA appears headed down that path, it's important for baseball to work together with players and come to an agreement in short order.

Fortunately, after years of rancor, both sides have a harmonious working relationship and it should not be difficult to come to an arrangement even with sensitive topics such as revenue sharing and draft slotting among what will be discussed. The last agreement was finalized and announced on Oct. 25, 2006, so any announcement may not come until the conclusion of the playoffs.

However, recent word comes from the Boston Globe that any hint of a work stoppage would be a shocker, even with delicate issues such as revamping the revenue-sharing agreement. Also on deck is adding wild cards, an international draft and draft slotting.

4. Giants doing just fine

There are a lot of people wondering if the Giants can possibly repeat their World Series run of last year, doing so with a suboptimal offense and squeaking into the playoffs by the skin of their nose.

However, the offense should be much improved with Buster Posey behind the dish for a full year, Aaron Rowand squarely on the bench and Miguel Tejada replacing Edgar Renteria. While Tejada may have his issues, especially on defense, he should be able to improve on what Renteria gave the Giants last season. In addition, prospect Brandon Belt should be in the majors by June at the latest and will add another dimension to the club.

The rotation is one of concern, even if it's ridiculously deep given how young everyone is sans Barry Zito and the load they shouldered last year to win a ring. Fortunately, the Giants are cognizant of this and plan to give starters a lighter load to start the year. Plus, even if one or two starting pitchers fall flat on their face, there's still plenty of quality starters. One concern is the depth behind the front five, which is extremely thin.

5. Yankees trade for starting pitcher

There's simply no way the Yankees don't strike for a starting pitcher this season, but it may not be Francisco Liriano. The lefty is the hot name in trade circles and while Liriano still stands a good chance of being dealt, it probably won't be until after the year.

But the Yankees need help now. They had enough trouble filling the Nos. 4 and 5 spots in the rotation, so imagine what the depth behind them is like once injuries strike -- and they will. Fortunately for the Yankees, they have a solid farm system and a top prospect in Jesus Montero they can dangle for the right pitcher.

Even if the right pitcher doesn't come along to whisk Montero away, there will be no shortage of candidates as the year goes on for the Yankees to grab. What bears watching is who they grab. While acquiring a No. 4 starter would certainly deepen the rotation, it's more important for New York to get a frontline pitcher. Does anyone feel confident with A.J. Burnett following CC Sabathia in the playoffs? Didn't think so, and it would be presumptuous to project Phil Hughes' emergence into that pitcher even if the talent is there.

6. Strasburg recovering from Tommy John surgery

StrasburgStrasburg underwent Tommy John surgery to repair his elbow on September 9, and recovery from such surgeries these days tends to take 9-12 months. Edinson Volquez returned to the majors 11 months after such a surgery. While the Nationals may play it cautious, Strasburg is right on schedule, and given his tremendous work ethic and young age, should have no problem meeting the conservative 12-month estimate.

That means Strasmas could be back just in time to close the season out, where he'll certainly dominate headlines once more. Strasburg would certainly need minor-league rehab starts first, but his timeline should assure him of the ability to get into games before the minor-league regular season ends in early September. Given the club will have expanded to 40 players at that point and will likely be out of the division race, it won't be difficult to get Strasburg back on the roster and in a major-league game.

Could the Nationals play it conservative and hold him back until 2012? Sure, it all depends how Strasburg progresses. But even if they hold him back, Strasburg certainly would play Winterball to get his footing under him. Most pitchers returning from T.J. surgery tend to struggle with command upon return, and the only way to address that is to get on a mound and pitch.

7. Bonds, Rocket dominate headlines

BondsThe trial of Barry Bonds has already started, but is still ongoing. It should be wrapped up before long, but that doesn't mean that Bonds will exit the headlines -- whatever the ruling on Bonds' perjury trial, it will have long-lasting ramifications on the game.

If Bonds is found guilty, many ink will be spilled on how this cements Bonds' exclusion from the Hall of Fame, plus articles on how Bonds is finally getting his comeuppance.

In addition, Roger Clemens will be put on high alert, given the Rocket will be undergoing his own perjury trial in the summer. If Bonds is found innocent, there will be a hot debate once more on whether to vote Bonds into the Hall. You will find those writers who believe that, despite the acquittal of Bonds, he knowingly abused steroids. There will be those who concede that while Bonds likely knew exactly what was going on, the law has deemed him innocent, and thus should be elected. And of course, a broad spectrum of opinions therein.

The Clemens trial, meanwhile, will dominate headlines even more than Bonds given the salacious details that have leaked out about Clemens' career, plus the off-putting way in how Clemens has fought the rumors he used steroids.

Much like the Bonds trial, the verdict will spark debate amid wide-ranging opinions. If both are convicted, there will be those who consider the steroid mess closed thanks to triumphing over perhaps the best hitter and pitcher of the steroid era. If both are innocent, it may open the door for those to wonder openly if they are not truly innocent, that the problem may lie with the system itself if it allows Bonds and Clemens to walk free.

Either way, the Bonds and Clemens trial will spark plenty of discussion that will last for years as they attempt to get into the Hall of Fame.

8. Questioning if Mets stay solvent

WilponsThe Mets are hoping to close a deal to bring in a new investor by the close of July. While it is not yet known what percentage of the team these investors will hold, it is expected to be in the 20-25 percent range, although the Wilpons are focused on acquiring a certain price over selling a certain percentage.

Why? 

They need the money. The Mets have debt to pay off, a $1 billion lawsuit staring them in the face (thanks, Irving Picard) and a ticking clock in which to stay solvent. If the Mets aren't able to bring in a new investor by that time, they will likely need a loan from MLB. At that point commissioner Bud Selig would likely have free rein to do what he wants with the Mets, including telling the Wilpons to sell the entire club.

That's incredibly unlikely, especially since the Wilpons (Jeff pictured on the left, Fred right) and Selig have a long, good relationship, but it bears mentioning.

Most investors are requesting majority control of the Mets -- which won't happen, unless the Wilpons' hands are forced -- or right of first refusal if the Wilpons eventually have to cough up the team. This should be an acceptable compromise to the Wilpons, who need to worry about money more than they do any possible future owner of the club.

9. New wave of prospects arriving

At the beginning of March, CBS Sports revealed its top 100 prospects, and along with the list came information on which prospects could make an impact this season.

Topping the list was No. 3 prospect Domonic Brown, who was expected to start in right field for the Phillies and attempt to replace Werth. Unfortunately, the team is now left scrambling after Brown fractured the hamate bone in his hand. He shouldn't be out terribly long, but may struggle with his power stroke upon returning. Philly may have to wait until 2012 to extract real value from the kid.

Meanwhile. No. 6's Jeremy Hellickson will open the season as a member of Tampa Bay's rotation and could easily replace the statistics Matt Garza tossed up. He's that good, that ready for the major leagues and has to be considered the front-runner for the AL Rookie of the Year award.

A fellow pitcher in Kyle Drabek (No. 16) appears on the verge of cracking Toronto's rotation after a successful late-season stint with the Blue Jays. Across the border in Ohio, Aroldis Chapman (No. 9) is readying for a full year in the bullpen and could wrest the closer's job away from Francisco Cordero by year's end.

The prospects keep on coming, as the Braves boast three in No. 19's Freddie Freeman, No. 29 Mike Minor and No. 85 Craig Kimbrel. Freeman should provide a steady presence at first base even if he lacks high-end ceiling. Minor figures to open the year in Triple-A, but should make an appearance before long and have a nice career in the middle of the rotation. Kimbrel is considered by many to be the Braves closer of the future.

There are plenty of other projected starters who will infuse baseball with youth, such as No. 33's Chris Sale, who will relieve for the White Sox; No. 66's Matt Dominguez who is on pace to play third for Florida -- ditto the same for No. 96's Brent Morel for the White Sox; No. 71's J.P. Arencibia is readying for a season as Toronto's backstop; No. 86's Danny Espinosa rocketing through two years of the minors to open the year as the starting second baseman for Washington; and No. 95 Jake McGee's apparent future as Tampa Bay's closer. You also can't discount No. 18 Brandon Belt, who could easily take home the NL Rookie of the Year honors provided he logs enough time for the Giants. Starting pitchers Zach Britton (No. 14, Orioles), Simon Castro (No. 52, Padres) and Kyle Gibson (No. 37, Twins) are on the verge of the bigs as well.

10. Philly thankful Blanton stayed

When the Phillies signed Cliff Lee, the consensus was that Philadelphia would trade Joe Blanton. After all, who needs a No. 5 starter due $17 miliion over the next two years when you have Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels?

Philly couldn't find a fit, however, and will now head into the season with Blanton on the roster. This is a good thing. Just because Blanton is the No. 5 starter doesn't mean he doesn't hold value, and being able to trot Blanton out against the back of the rotation for other teams will give Philadelphia an edge -- one it needs after losing Brown and Chase Utley.

Will Blanton stay with the team for the remainder of the year? Who can say, but even trading Blanton in July for pieces Philly knows it needs for a World Series run -- and to teams who will be increasingly desperate for pitchers once injuries and attrition hit -- is far more valuable than any deal of Blanton in January would have accomplished.

11. Firings

There's no question some managers and GMs will be shown the door in 2011. But who?

Skippers on the hot seat are covered here, so let's take a look at some GMs that could get the axe.

CollettiNed Colletti, Dodgers: Granted, Colletti has been hamstrung by the financial woes of owner Frank McCourt, but Colletti hasn't exactly done a good job with what he's been given. He appears to have learned from his mistakes in signing disasters like Jason Schmidt and Andruw Jones and giving away Carlos Santana, but he also hasn't improved the team significantly. This team is simply muddling along, and Colletti looks like the classic "change for change's sake" for McCourt to try to improve morale. Of course, nothing will improve morale more than McCourt taking a hike.

Jim Hendry, Cubs: Hendry has been an up-and-down GM with the Cubs. While he made a bold gamble in trading for Garza and the Cubs may be a mild sleeper, if the team missteps yet again it's difficult to fathom the Ricketts family holding still. Hendry is a holdover from the previous ownership regime and is signed through 2012, but that wouldn't give the ownership pause in firing him. If the Cubs slip, Hendry is highly likely to be given his walking papers, especially since he stuck his neck out by hiring Mike Quade.

Tony Reagins, Angels: Reagins has done nothing but take steps back since taking over for Bill Stoneman, all the more curious given Stoneman was promoted and oversees Reagins. But the moves Reagins has made, such as (obviously) Vernon Wells are head scratching. Similar moves for Scott Kazmir and insisting on playing Jeff Mathis have followed. Manager Mike Scioscia loves Mathis, but it's up to Reagins to tell Scioscia no and take Mathis away if need be. Unfortunately, this team looks lined up to disappoint again and hover around .500. Will that fly for a second consecutive year in L.A.? Doubt it, and Scioscia won't be the first candidate on the chopping block.

Ed Wade, Astros: It's possible Wade could be on the chopping block in his third season with Houston. The Astros are widely expected to slide back and simply aren't successful at the major- or minor-league level when it comes tom talent. That may speak more to the owner than GM, but the owner doesn't get fired. Also, McLane is thought to be interested in selling the team and is reportedly close to selling to Jim Crane, who previously attempted to buy Houston and lost out on the Rangers last season. Should that happen, new ownership would absolutely want to bring in its own leader.

Jack Zduriencik, Mariners: Jack Z's leash is likely long enough to give him at least one more year, but in Year 3, the Mariners simply don't seem to have improved from his tenure. Yes, they surprised many in 2009, and part of it was probably flukish, but Zduriencik took a historically anemic lineup from 2010 and added ... Jack Cust. If he can get a strong season from Justin Smoak and impressive debuts from Dustin Ackley and Michael Pineda, he should be safe.

12. Surprise teams

It happens every year. There's always that one team that takes a big step forward and contends for the postseason. Last year was especially notable in this regard, with the Reds, Padres, Giants and Blue Jays all performing better than expected. The one team to keep an eye on for 2011 is Colorado.

The Rockies finished with 83 wins last year, which is a surprise given the talent. Everyone knows the name Ubaldo Jimenez, Troy Tulowitzki (pictured) and Carlos Gonzalez, but the rest of the team aren't scrubs either. Colorado has been in the national consciousness the last few years given its Rocktober run in 2007 and another postseason appearance in 2009, but it hasn't been able to sustain that excellence.

TulowitzkiThat could be changing now that Gonzalez has fully matured into a middle-of-the-order hitter and have built out a rotation that should keep Colorado in the game. The Rockies are counting a bit on production from Ian Stewart at third and Chris Iannetta at catcher, but when you look at this team, it's a playoff-caliber club that should challenge the Giants in the NL West.

Unlike Colorado, however, there will also be those teams that crash and burn despite expectations. San Diego is widely expected to slide back, but expectations have also been adjusted due to trading Adrian Gonzalez. The one team that may not be able to live up to its billing is the Brewers.

Like Colorado, the star players are obvious -- Zack Greinke and Prince Fielder are the star names, but Ryan Braun and Shaun Marcum are no lightweights, either. The one area of concern in Milwaukee is the utter lack of depth which will end up a real problem if and when injuries strike. Look at what's happened to the rotation -- without Greinke to start the season, the club is going to have to trot out what will effectively be slop in the No. 5 spot. There's similar stories on offense with little help ready to step in and a complete punting of shortstop defense and center field offense.

The Brewers should finish .500, but they are a popular pick to win the World Series and it's difficult to envision them even making the playoffs unless everything goes right. The odds of that happening are as slim as Greinke accepting a trade back to the Royals.

13. Suffering in K.C ... plus optimism

"The day is darkest before dawn," or so goes the saying. That's certainly true in Kansas City, which will throw out a team capable of losing 100 games. But boasting the game's best farm system in a very long time is just the salve to ease the pain Royals fans will enjoy  watching Luke Hochevar function as the team's "ace."

The Royals have pared payroll, knowing it's pointless to try to pretend they can contend, plus the necessity to keep certain positions open for prospects that are nearing the majors. While Alcides Escobar will start the season in the majors, that won't be enough to excite the masses until the first wave of prospects hit, with Mike Moustakas likely to join the club in June or July.

Fans are going to have to sit through Jeff Francoeur flailing at pitches, Alex Gordon trying desperately to reverse his "bust" label and Jason Kendall struggling to take corporeal form ... but the picture only gets rosier, starting with 2012 where it's possible three of the most heralded prospects could break the year with the club, then an additional three hitting the majors at some point over the summer.

While watching the Royals, at least in the outset, will be an exercise in futility, by September, they may become the hot team to watch for the baseball fanatic.

14. Pirates finish last -- or will they?

The Pirates are poised to register their 19th consecutive losing season, but there is some optimism in Pittsburgh. The first wave of position player prospects have hit, and the club can point to Andrew McCutchen in center field, Jose Tabata in left, Neil Walker at second and Pedro Alvarez at third as reasons to be optimistic with the offense. There are some other intriguing pieces down on the farm offensively that could make an impact such as catcher Tony Sanchez, and with a strong year, outfielder Starling Marte could be knocking on the door.

The club is also building solid pitching depth, with Rudy Owens and Bryan Morris perhaps making their big-league debuts this season, although the cream of the crop in Jameson Taillon (the No. 2 overall pick behind Harper in last season's draft) and Stetson Allie are further away. While the team waits for Taillon and Allie, however, it could pluck Gerrit Cole with the No. 1 pick in June. Cole has been called by some as the "next Stephen Strasburg." Lofty expectations to be sure, but if Cole is picked and advances quickly, the Pirates could start doing some damage in several years.

In 2011, finishing under .500 is a virtual certainty. But will the Bucs finish in last place? It's possible they could pull out a fourth-place finish. It all depends how well the rotation performs and Alvarez, Tabata and Walker all adjust to a full year in the majors. The Astros may just have enough solid major-league talent to grab a fourth-place finish, but that's in doubt. Hey, any type of progress will be welcome in Pittsburgh.

15. Wild (card) about the postseason?

There seems to be overwhelming momentum toward expanding the playoffs with another wild card likely being added to the fray to battle the other wild-card winner in a best-of-3 series. That means that for the first time since 1995, the postseason would take on an entirely different complexion.

In 2010, the Yankees would have taken on the Chicago White Sox, while the Braves would have had to stave off the San Diego Padres, who lost the division by one game to the Giants.

The year prior, the Red Sox would battle the Rangers, giving the national audience a hint of what was to come in Texas while the NL would have pitted Colorado against the division-rival Giants. Assuming two wild cards can't come out of the same division, the Marlins would have drawn the honor.

Sounds like fun, right? Except that there would be no Game 163s anymore, so knock out the epic Tigers/Twins battle for the division in 2009. Likewise, the Rockies and Padres would never have played Game 163 in 2007.

Should the second wild card be added to the game, an NFL-style tiebreaker will most likely be used to determine outcomes when two teams tie for the wild card or division. On one hand, that's a bit disappointing, because Game 163s are tremendous fun. But on the other hand, that fun would simply be extended to the new wild-card playoff format and happen every year instead of having to wait for the occasional Game 163 scenario to roll around.

Either way, it would be a shocker if there wasn't a new playoff system in place for 2012.

And here's five more things that could happen this season ... 

Ramirez1. In the first game between the Red Sox and Rays, Manny Ramirez forgets he's on the Tampa Bay squad and runs on the field with the Red Sox to begin the game. He asks Crawford what he's doing in left field and why they are wearing opposite uniforms. Crawford tries to explain the situation, but ManRam simply shrugs and heads into the Green Monster.

2. Ozzie Guillen surprisingly releases a book about Jenks (remember when he said he could "write a book on the kid" in the offseason?), full of salacious details about Jenks' time in Chicago, including the revelation that Jenks ate a middle reliever during one game. In his first game against the White Sox in 2011, an enraged Jenks throws at the head of the first two batters, hitting them before Guillen comes out on the field to complain. Jenks then beans Guillen and the two brawl on the field, which leads to a multi-million dollar match between the two in UFC in which Jenks, who hired Mike Tyson as trainer, attempts to bite Guillen's ear off.

3. During one particularly heated Cincinnati-St. Louis matchup, the benches clear, and Johnny Gomes comes face to face with Adam Wainwright. Without a word exchanged, Gomes promptly delivers a crane kick to Waino. "First learn stand, then learn fly," Dusty Baker sagely observes.

4. Joe Maddon, who is already known for using uncommon words, takes things to a whole new level. Witness this quote: "David Price can unequivocally bung. How dexterous is the swain? He's as recherché as Sandy Koufax in his diurnal course." Good luck deciphering that.

5. Pujols announces the team he has chosen to sign with during the last homestand of the season -- against the Cubs on Sept. 25. In the bottom of the ninth inning, with the bases loaded, down three runs with a full count and the division title in the balance for the Cardinals, Pujols watches strike three right down the middle. As the crowd groans, Pujols rips open his jersey, revealing a Cubs home jersey underneath and dropkicks Tony La Russa as the announcers scream "NOOOOOOO!" And fade to black.

OK, so these five things won't happen, but one can dream. The rest you can expect.

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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)

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More MLB coverage
Posted on: March 2, 2011 10:02 am
Edited on: March 2, 2011 10:19 am
 

Pepper: Teixeira ditches Boras



By Matt Snyder


Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira has decided to part ways with Scott Boras (seen above during happier times), ending a 12-year relationship with the uber-agent.

"There are a lot of things and no reason to go into details," Teixeira said. "We have been together long enough and time to go in a different direction ... When I hired Scott at 18 to help with career there was talk about free agent contract. At times I was Mark Teixeira, Scott Boras client instead of Mark Teixeira, baseball player." (New York Post )

As a Boras client, Teixeira landed an eight-year, $180 million contract. He still has six years left on that deal, so one could argue he doesn't really need an agent's services too much the next few years. He's going to make $22.5 million in 2016 before becoming a free agent.

Boras also lost Alex Rodriguez as a client earlier this offseason.

It's an interesting query: Why are these guys leaving Boras? Both have plenty of years and money left on their contracts -- incredibly lucrative ones that Boras negotiated. Does it show a lack of loyalty or the players tiring of Boras -- or neither, as it could be just a coincidence?

Here's an enlightening quote on the situation.

Bryan Hoch, the MLB.com beat writer for the Yankees, tweets that "Teixeira said he wants to focus more on helping Yankees win and impact in community, not next contract. Feels Boras isn't best fit for that."

Interesting. So with six years left on a deal, Boras is still talking about the next one? While that's certainly his job, I can see how it would be a bit exhausting. It's not like Tex is going to be in the poor house anytime soon.

DEJA VU: Milton Bradley is swinging a hot bat in the spring. He's had problems with his current manager before (Eric Wedge), but he's learned from his mistakes and is now focused on doing the right things to help the team win. The manager is singing his praises. And it's March 2. We've heard this song and dance before, even if some specifics are different. Maybe one of these days something will change. Until then, history is the biggest indicator of future behavior. After 11 seasons, you don't even need a whole hand to count the number of times a season has ended on a positive note for Bradley. He's going to have to prove otherwise for a full season before getting the benefit of the doubt here. (MLB.com )

LILLY SCRATCHED: Ted Lilly was supposed to make his spring training debut Wednesday, but he's been scratched due to the flu. No long-term worries here whatsoever, though no new date for Lilly's first spring outing has been set. (MLB.com )

TROUBLE ON THE HOME FRONT? There seems to be some signals crossed in Pirates camp when it comes to Scott Olsen. Sunday, Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington said that Olsen was fighting for the fifth rotation spot and could be sent to the bullpen if he loses out. That was news to Olsen. "He hasn’t told me that, I don’t know anything about the bullpen, I’m a starter," Olsen told the Post-Gazette. "They didn’t bring me in here to be a bullpen guy," he continued. "They want to do that, we are going to have to have a conversation about it, and we haven’t had one about it." Um, really? We're talking about a guy with this line in his career as a starting pitcher: 36-49, 4.87 ERA, 1.48 WHIP. In the past two years, he's 6-12 with a 5.76 ERA and 1.59 WHIP. And he apparently thinks he's in a position to make demands? Wow. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette )

STAYING PUT: Brandon Phillips wants to stay with the Reds. The Reds want to keep him. Of course, in baseball we know we have to deal with much more than that, when it comes to dollars the player feels he's worth and the dollars the smallish market team can pay him -- especially with all the young talent the Reds have on the roster. John Fay breaks down how it might shake out. (Cincinnati Enquirer )

HIATUS? Former Tigers pitcher Jeremy Bonderman has still yet to sign a contract. In fact, he may be ready to sit out an entire season. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports via Twitter that he talked to a player who knows Bonderman and "more than likely he's going to sit this year out." Crasnick also offered that Bonderman "doesn't have the energy for more rehabs, or going to camp and having to fight for a spot." In several ways, it's easy to feel bad for Bonderman. First of all, he was thrown into the fire on the worst major-league team in recent memory as a 20 year old -- that 2003 Tigers team that went 43-119. Bonderman took his lumps all year, going 6-19 with a 5.56 ERA. A few years later, he was a quality pitcher on a team that made the World Series. Since then, he's fallen apart with injuries and has never really scratched the surface on his potential. He's still only 28, so maybe a full season of rest can do some long-term good for his baseball potential. (Crasnick on Twitter )

FRIENDS FOREVER: Barry Bonds' ex-trainer is going to jail, again, instead of testifying against Bonds. Loyalty or blind stupidity? You make the call. (Associated Press )

NO LOANS FOR YOU! The Mets will not be receiving any more loans from Major League Baseball. That cool $25 million from last November will have to do. Maybe the Mets could borrow back some of the money Jason Bay didn't earn last year? (New York Times )

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