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Tag:Pirates
Posted on: February 19, 2012 6:54 pm
 

A.J. Burnett-to-Pirates trade is official

Burnett to Pirates
By Matt Snyder

A.J. Burnett is officially a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The final two hurdles in the transaction that sent Burnett to the Pirates via trade were for the right-handed pitcher to pass a physical and Major League Baseball to approve the trade. Both happened Sunday, according to CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman.

The trade had to be approved by the MLB offices due to the Yankees paying $20 million of the remaining $33 million on Burnett's contract.

The return for the Yankees is two lower-level minor-league players, 25-year-old right-handed reliever Diego Moreno and 20-year-old outfielder Exicardo Cayones. Neither are expected to make much of an impact on the Yankees' system, as this deal was basically a salary dump.

Burnett, 35, was 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 173 strikeouts in 190 1/3 innings last season for the Yankees.

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Posted on: February 17, 2012 8:26 am
Edited on: February 17, 2012 5:45 pm
 

A.J. Burnett-to-Pirates trade agreed upon



By Matt Snyder


The reported A.J. Burnett-to-Pittsburgh deal is nearing completion, as CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has learned the two sides have agreed to make the trade. Burnett will need to pass a physical slated for Sunday, while Major League Baseball will need to approve the deal before it becomes official.

Money has been an issue from the start, obviously, as Burnett is owed $33 million for the next two seasons. Heyman reports the Yankees will pick up $20 million of that. Because the Yankees pay their players year-round, they've already paid him $2,062,500 this year and will pay him $9,437,500 more with the Pirates picking up another $5 million. In 2013, the Yankees will pay Burnett $8.5 million and Pittsburgh will pay him $8 million. With the saved money, the Yankees will now turn their focus to two bats. One target is left-handed hitting Raul Ibanez, presumably to fill the open DH slot -- or at the very least share time with right-handed hitting Andruw Jones. The Yankees' second target will be Eric Chavez, who spent 2011 with the club.

Burnett to Pirates
The return for the Yankees will be two lower-level minor-league players, 25-year-old right-handed reliever Diego Moreno and 20-year-old outfielder Exicardo Cayones.

Burnett, 35, was 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 173 strikeouts in 190 1/3 innings last season for the Yankees. He led the majors in wild pitches, one season after leading the majors in hit batsmen. Advanced stats, such as FIP, show Burnett hasn't been near as bad as his traditional stats indicate, however. He will also benefit moving from the mighty AL East -- in a hitters' park -- to the NL Central and the much more pitcher-friendly PNC Park.

Burnett will probably bump either Jeff Karstens or Kevin Correia from the Pirates' rotation, joining Erik Bedard, James McDonald and Charlie Morton. Keep in mind, though, that Morton's health is in question to start the season and Bedard's health is pretty much always in question, so I'd expect all six starters to get in their work this season.

As for the players going to the Yankees, neither are impact-type players. Moreno, a Venezuelan native, was 2-4 with a 3.63 ERA and 5 saves in 41 games in Class A and Double-A. He struck out 45 batters in 44 2/3 innings, while walking 18. He can hit 98, but has suspect command. Only seven of his appearances were in Double-A. Also from Venezuela, Cayones hit .228/.333/.325 between rookie-level and short-season Class A, with no homers in 38 games and 135 plate appearances. He stole three bases and was thrown out three times, as well. Make no mistake, these players weren't an important part of the deal. For the Yankees, it was about addition by subtraction.

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Posted on: February 16, 2012 12:03 pm
 

Arbitration season ends, owners win 5-2

Garrett Jones

By C. Trent Rosecrans


The Pirates wrapped up arbitration season on Thursday, beating Garrett Jones and settling with Casey McGehee on a one-year deal before heading to the arbitration room.

Jones was the seventh and final player to head to his arbitration hearing this winter, with owners taking a decisive 5-2 victory in 2012. Last season only three cases went to arbitration, with the players winning two (both against the Marlins -- the arbitrators must have felt sorry for them having to wear those new uniforms).

In a nutshell, the way arbitration works is that the player and team swap demands and after both sides make their cases, three arbitrators pick one number or the other -- in Jones' case, the arbitrators picked the team's offer of $2.25 million instead of Jones' demand of $2.5 million. Or, at any point before the door closes on the hearing room, the two sides can compromise. That's what the Pirates did with McGehee, settling at $2.5375 million, more or less between his request of $2.75 million and the team's offer of $2.35 million.

Because the hearings are so late in the offseason, most teams budget for the worst-case scenario with their arbitration-eligible players and the final result really on effects the guy signing the check and the guy cashing the check.

But hey, what's the fun of having winners and losers if you don't have a scoreboard. So here's looking back at this year's arbitration cases.

Team victories
The Brewers ($2 million) beat Jose Veras ($2.35 million)
The Nationals ($5 million) beat John Lannan ($5.7 million)
The Orioles ($800,000) beat Brad Bergesen ($1.2 million)
The Rays ($2.75 million) beat Jeff Niemann ($3.2 million)
The Pirates ($2.25 million) beat Jones ($2.5 million).

Marlins lossesPlayer victories
Emilio Bonifacio ($2.2 million) beat the Marlins ($1.95 million)
Anibal Sanchez ($8 million) beat the Marlins ($6.9 million)

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Posted on: February 14, 2012 9:37 pm
 

Report: Astros broadcaster to retire after 2012

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Astros radio broadcaster Milo Hamilton will announce his intent to retire following the 2012 season, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports.

The team will have a press conference for Hamilton, 84, on Wednesday.

Hamilton has announced Major League games for 59 years and won the Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award in 1992.

Hamilton's started broadcasting big-league baseball in 1953 with the St. Louis Browns. When the Browns moved to Baltimore, he stayed in St. Louis, where he worked with Harry Caray and Jack Buck in 1954. After just one season with the Cardinals, he caught on with the Cubs, working with Jack Brickhouse and Vince Lloyd. He served three years with the Cubs and after four-years out of baseball, moved to the White Sox in 1961.

Hamilton was the first voice of the Braves, getting the job when the team moved from Milwaukee in 1966. He worked in Atlanta until after the 1975 season, calling Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th career homer.



From Atlanta, Hamilton had stints with the Pirates and Cubs before joining the Astros in 1985.

Since 2006, he's mostly called only home games for the Astros. He will, however, make the trip to Miami in April to broadcast in the new Marlins ballpark, marking his 60th different ballpark in which he's called a game.

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Posted on: February 14, 2012 2:48 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 3:05 pm
 

Indians interested in Hafner-Burnett swap



By C. Trent Rosecrans

While CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman reports the Yankees and Pirates are still hoping to get a deal done that would send A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh, he also notes the Angels and Indians have tried to get in on the talks for Burnett.

While the Angels are on Burnett's no-trade clause, the Indians deal could make some sense. The two teams are discussing sending Travis Hafner to New York in exchange for the much maligned right-hander.

So does it make sense for the Indians? Perhaps.

Let's not make any mistake, Burnett's not been good as a Yankee and he's certainly not been $82.5 million good. But it's also a mistake to dismiss Burnett as a someone who doesn't belong in the big leagues or in a rotation. The right-hander has enough stuff to tempt a team to give him big money -- in fact before the Yankees splurged on Burnett, the Blue Jays spent a lot of money on him.

Let's get the first part out of the way, Burnett, despite early concerns in his career, has been durable, starting 32 or more games in each of the last four seasons. In 2008, he led the American League with 34 starts and threw 221 1/3 innings. Last season, for all the complaints and even some early hooks, he threw 190 1/3 innings, averaging nearly six innings a start. He still struck out 173 batters -- he can miss bats. He also misses the glove too much, throwing a big-league most 25 wild pitches, hitting nine batters and walking 83.

While Burnett's road ERA was actually worse than his home ERA, he did give up homers at a slightly lower rate away from Yankee Stadium.

Burnett's ERA last season 5.15 -- not exactly a number you want to see in the probables -- but his xFIP (Fielding Independent Pitching -- a measure of things pitchers are directly responsible for, while taking away the ability of his fielders and normalized for his ballpark) was a respectable 3.86. To put that in perspective, that was better than the likes of Mark Buehrle (4.14), Ervin Santana (3.93) and Trevor Cahill (3.90), and not much worse than the likes of Ryan Vogelsong (3.85), Jered Weaver (3.80) and Matt Cain (3.78). His career xFIP is 3.78 -- better than his career ERA of 4.10.

Burnett can add 10 teams to his no-trade list each season, with word that most of those teams are on the West Coast.

It still seems like the Pirates are the team that will get Burnett -- and he should help them -- picking up as little as $13 million of the $33 million owed to Burnett for the final two years of his contract.

The Indians still owe Hafner $13 million for this season and have an option for $13 million next season with a $2.75 million buyout, meaning they owe less than half of what they'd be on the line to pay Burnett. To make the deal, the Indians would likely need some money sent back to Cleveland, if not the $20 million they're willing to eat in a deal with the Pirates.

For the Yankees, Hafner is an upgrade of Russell Branyan or Andruw Jones, the two best candidates currently on the roster. Pronk's not the same hitter the Indians signed to a six-year, $66.1 million deal before the 2007 season, but he's still dangerous when at the plate, despite his injury concerns.

Hafner's home run rate has dropped from one per every 10.8 at-bats in 2006 to one every 25 at-bats last season (and a best of one every 21.1 at-bats in 2009 since 2006). But if he's healthy, his left-handed stroke would work well in new Yankee Stadium. While his power numbers have dropped, he still got on-base at a .361 rate, good for a 126 OPS+.

As for the Indians, a rotation with Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson, Derek Lowe, Burnett and Josh Tomlin should help in their chase with the Tigers.

In the end, it all comes down to money and just how much the Yankees would take off of Burnett's salary for 2013, but New York may not want to give much if they're taking Hafner's $13 million this season and the buy-out.

The Pirates have some good, young prospects and could offer more future talent while the Yankees could add one of the veteran free agent DHs still left on the market like Vladimir Guerrero or Johnny Damon at little financial hit.

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Posted on: February 12, 2012 11:46 am
Edited on: February 12, 2012 3:45 pm
 

Update on Burnett-to-Pirates trade talks

By Matt Snyder

This past week, trade talk connecting maligned Yankees starting pitcher A.J. Burnett to the Pirates picked up. Here's the latest, via CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman.

The Yankees and Pirates are still talking and there's been "progress and continuing optimism" on getting a deal done. One obvious snag to this point has been money, as Burnett is due a whopping $33 million for the next two seasons. The Pirates are willing to take on more than $10 million while the Yankees would prefer a 50/50 split, but there are indications of a compromise on the horizon. Next, the Yankees are seeking "at least a reasonably decent prospect" in return, but the Pirates are actually more willing to compromise on the money issue than prospects.

Pirates, Yankees talk trade
Burnett, 35, was 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 173 strikeouts in 190 1/3 innings last season for the Yankees. He led the majors in wild pitches, one season after leading the majors in hit batsmen. He's currently ticketed to be the Yankees' fifth starter, but shedding his salary would help free up some extra money to sign a left-handed designated hitter like Raul Ibanez, Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui.

If the proposed trade comes to fruition, Burnett would probably bump Jeff Karstens from the Pirates' rotation, joining Erik Bedard, James McDonald, Kevin Correia and Charlie Morton. Of course, Morton's health is in question to start the season and Bedard's health is pretty much always in question, so there would be a great bet that all six of the pitchers would get a good amount of starts.

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Posted on: February 9, 2012 4:51 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 10:47 am
 

Spring position battles: National League Central



By C. Trent Rosecrans


The National League Central is often looked down upon, but it produced both teams in the National League Championship Series last year, as well as the World Series. Both the Cardinals and Brewers have large voids in their lineup due to free agency, but all the teams have some questions when pitchers and catchers report to camp. Here's the NL Central spring position battles:

Chicago Cubs
Old vs. Young: Bryan LaHair and Marlon Byrd vs. Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson

For so long the Cubs' motto has been "wait 'til next year" -- that may have been changed to "wait 'til a couple of years" as Theo Epstein has fully embraced the rebuilding effort. The question is whether the braintrust thinks it's better for some of their younger players to learn at the big-league level or continue in the minors. The two biggest choices will be Rizzo and Jackson. Rizzo, 22, struggled in his call-up last season, hitting .141/.281/.242 with a homer in 153 plate appearances, but that was as a 21-year-old in San Diego. LaHair may only have 65 games in the big leagues, but that doesn't make him young -- just inexperienced. LaHair turned 29 in November and spent eight years in the minors. He hit .288/.377/.508 in his 20 games with the Cubs last season, but he's hardly anyone's idea of a long-term solution. Epstein drafted Rizzo while with the Red Sox and then traded for him when he took over the Cubs. It's Rizzo's job to lose. Meanwhile, Byrd is in the last season of his three-year, $15 million contract, so he's more likely to get traded than to be unseated in spring. The 23-year-old Jackson put up a .297/.388/.551 line at Triple-A Iowa with 10 homers in just 48 games after being called up from Double-A. The team's first-round pick in the 2009 draft will have a chance to show he's big-league ready. If the team does go with Rizzo and Jackson, it could be a sign of the team's future and the patience that Chicago will show going forward.

Cincinnati Reds
Left field: Chris Heisey vs. Ryan Ludwick

The Reds signed Ludwick to a bargain deal, hoping he can find the stroke he left in St. Louis. The 33-year-old has always hit well at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park, putting up a .276/.321/.600 stat line with nine homers in 30 games and 112 plate appearances in his new home park. Both Ludwick and Heisey are right-handed batters who fare better against right-handed pitchers. Ludwick is a career .272/.339/.464 hitter against righties and .237/.316/.435 against lefties. Heisey's split is more extreme -- .288/.346/.539 against right-handers and .180/.248/.300 against lefties. One thing that helps Ludwick's case may be Heisey's strength as a pinch-hitter. Last year the 27-year-old Heisey hit .324/.333/.529 with two homers as a pinch-hitter. There's another option here, as well. If Drew Stubbs struggles at the plate, Hesiey could be an option to play center alongside Ludwick in left. That's a remote possibility, though. The Reds are high on Stubbs' power/speed combination and he is an excellent defender in center.

Houston Astros
Third base: Brett Wallace vs. Chris Johnson vs. Jimmy Paredes

The fact that the Astros are looking to move Wallace to third base may tell you what they think of Johnson and Paredes. If Wallace shows he can play third, he's the likely favorite. Johnson struggled in 2011 after showing promise in 2010. Paredes hit .286/.320/.393 after taking over the position for the last two months of the season, but he's not seen as a long-term solution. Wallace could be.

Milwaukee Brewers
First base: Mat Gamel vs. himself

With Ryan Braun's status resolved, the Brewers don't really have many question marks. All five starters return, as do its closer and top set-up man. The lineup, with a platoon of Carlos Gomez and Nyjer Morgan and newcomer Aramis Ramirez at third base seems pretty much set -- barring injury. The only hole is a big one -- the one left by first baseman Prince Fielder. The position is Mat Gamel's to lose. The 26-year-old played in just 10 games last season, getting 27 plate appearances. His only extensive big-league experience came in 2009 when he hit .242/.338/.422 with five homers, primarily playing third base. However, he's never been able to establish himself and after playing both third base and the outfield, he played primarily first base at Triple-A Nashville last season, while making six errors in 20 games at third base. He's a first baseman now and a first baseman only. He's hit  well at Triple-A, hitting .301/.374/.512 in parts of four seasons at the top level of the minors, hitting 28 home runs for Nashville last season. Gamel will probably start at first on opening day even if he struggles in spring, but right fielder Corey Hart could be used at first if Gamel struggles even more. The team did sign Japanese outfield Norichika Aoki, who could play right if Hart moves to first.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Third base: Pedro Alvarez vs. Casey McGehee

Acquiring the veteran McGehee from Milwaukee could be seen as a kick in the pants for the second-overall pick of the 2008 draft. Alvarez hit just .191/.272/.289 in 74 games last season and the team may be getting worried about whether he'll ever develop into the star as expected. McGehee is coming off a rough season of his own, hitting just .223/.280/.346 with 13 homers after hitting 23 homers and 104 RBI in 2010. McGehee was replaced by Jerry Hairston Jr. at third base during the playoffs and by former Pirate Aramis Ramirez after the season.

St. Louis Cardinals
Second base: Skip Schumaker vs. Daniel Descalso vs. Tyler Greene

General manager John Mozeliak has insinuated he'd like to see Greene win the job. The 28-year-old has yet to produce at the level expected of him, hitting just .218/.307/.313 in 150 games and 359 plate appearances. Descalso filled in for the injured David Freese last season and responded with a .264/.334/.353 line, while Schumaker is the incumbent having hit .283/.333/.351 while starting 89 games at second, but none in the World Series. All three have some positional versatility.

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Posted on: February 8, 2012 12:20 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 2:00 pm
 

Oswalt, Jackson turned down Pirates' offers

PNC Park

Edwin JacksonBy C. Trent Rosecrans


Remember when the Pirates were accused of hoarding their money and not trying to spend any money to get better?

Well, now they're willing  to pay -- but nobody wants their money.

Well, that's a little extreme. I'd take it, you'd take it. But neither Roy Oswalt nor Edwin Jackson would take it. Both players turned down, despite offers as much as $10 million, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.

Jackson, who took a one-year, $10 million from the Nationals last week, was offered deals for both one and three years, with the three-year deal being "slightly less" per year than the one-year deal.

Roy OswaltOswalt on the other hand, is still unsigned, but turned down the Pirates.

The Pirates' opening-day payroll is expected to be around $48 million -- the lowest in the National League Central.

Pittsburgh led the NL Central -- which send two teams to the playoffs and is home to the World Series champs -- as late July 25, but finished fourth with a record of 72-90, for its 19th consecutive losing season.

One of the reasons the Pirates faltered late was its starting pitching, which stumbled down the stretch. Pirates starters were 35-28 with a 3.62 ERA in the first half of the season and 14-33 with a 5.04 in the second half.

Pittsburgh added lefty Erik Bedard as a free-agent, but his injury history makes him tough to count on for a full season. With Charlie Morton's availability for the start of the season in doubt, Bedard may be the team's opening-day starter. James McDonald, Kevin Correia and Jeff Karstens likely round out the rotation.

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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