Tag:Blue Jays
Posted on: January 20, 2012 6:30 pm
 

Report: A's interested in Manny Ramirez

Manny Ramirez

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Billy Beane's Home for Wayward Designated Hitters may have found its next resident. The A's are "very interested" in bringing in Manny Ramirez, ESPNDeportesLosAngeles.com reports.

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Ramirez, 39, will have to serve a 50-game suspension at the beginning of the season, but then would be free to DH for whatever team will have him. According ot the report, the Orioles and Blue Jays watched Ramirez at a batting cage and liked what they saw.

Last season Hideki Matsui was the celebrity guest star in the A's lineup, but the team has decided not to bring him back.

Ramirez had one hit in 17 plate appearances in five games for the Rays before he was suspended for 100 games for his second positive drug test and subsequently retired. Ramirez applied for reinstatement in December. His suspension was reduced to 50 games after missing the entire 2011 season.

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Posted on: January 16, 2012 10:35 am
Edited on: January 16, 2012 10:46 am
 

Would You Rather Have: Bautista or Braun?



By Matt Snyder

As we continue the ongoing series of Would You Rather Have, we'll tackle a PED-themed version today. As every baseball fan surely knows by now, Ryan Braun failed a drug test and is facing a 50-game suspension for the beginning of the 2012 season, unless his appeal is upheld. Jose Bautista, on the other hand, has never failed an MLB drug test. However, I'd wager a hefty sum that if the Braun news first broke as "an unnamed All-Star slugger has tested positive for a banned substance" that the overwhelming majority of people would have guessed Bautista was the culprit.

In no uncertain terms, I think it's unfair how many people -- and it's not just fans, some media members are in on the witch hunt -- seem to believe that Bautista could not possibly get better at age 29 without having cheated. I've written about it multiple times (like here) but it drives me crazy. His body type hasn't changed one bit. Then again, neither has Braun's.

Whatever the case may be, that's why I connected these two superstar corner outfielders. Fair or not, one of these players has failed a drug test and the other has the suspicions of the majority of baseball fans. Since they are both big-time power hitters and play a corner outfield position, the debate works. Let's dive in.

The case for Bautista

Last year at this time many people believed the slugger's breakout campaign in 2010 was a fluke, but then Bautista went out and had an even better all-around season. He was once again punished for not playing on a team in contention in the MVP voting, finishing third. This time around it was much more egregious, considering the batting average and on-base percentage gains made. Bautista led the AL in home runs, walks, slugging percentage, OPS and Wins Above Replacement, Baseball-Reference.com version (he actually tied Justin Verlander there with 8.5).  Bautista's 181 OPS-plus led the majors and is insane (if you aren't familiar with the stat, it's ballpark adjusted and means Bautista's OBP plus slugging percentage was 81 percent better than the league average).

Would You Rather Have
Also impressive, Bautista walked more times than he struck out, an amazing feat for a slugger of his caliber. Albert Pujols regularly does it, but not many other power hitters ever do.

While neither outfielder here is going to approach a Fielding Bible Award any time soon -- both rate out poorly in advanced defensive metrics -- Bautista has a nice arm in right field, racking up 13 outfield assists in 116 games last season (he played 25 games at third). Using the eye test, too, I'd much rather have Bautista in the outfield than Braun.

Oh, and Bautista isn't facing a 50-game suspension.

The case for Braun

The 2011 NL MVP, Braun had a spectacular season with 33 homers, 111 RBI, 109 runs, 33 stolen bases and led the NL in slugging percentage and OPS. His OPS-plus was 166 and WAR was 7.7, for comparison's sake. Since winning the NL Rookie of the Year (after playing just 113 games) in 2007, Braun has been one of the best hitters in all of baseball.

Again, neither is a very good defender in terms of range or saving runs for his pitching staff, but one thing Braun does very well is not commit errors. He's only made six errors in the past four seasons combined. So while he won't get to as many balls as, say, Brett Gardner, Braun is sure-handed when he does.

If you wanna use age, Braun isn't that much younger than Bautista. He does have a three-year lead, as he turned 28 in November while Bautista turned 31 in October.

Our call

You can call me petty, but I'm going with Bautista until -- if ever -- he fails a drug test of his own. I'm pretty sure I would have leaned that way in October, but it would have been incredibly tough. That's irrelevant now, though, because Braun's name is tainted, even if temporarily, while Bautista's is not.

Vote away, and I have to say, I'm very interested to see how this one goes down. Lots of different issues in play, so let's hear those opinions. Please do keep in mind this is moving forward. Even if Braun misses 50 games this year, he's signed with the Brewers into his late 30s.

Fan Vote:



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Posted on: January 12, 2012 1:39 pm
 

Interminable Prince-to-Nationals rumors live on



By Matt Snyder


If it's starting to feel like an inevitability that top remaining free agent Prince Fielder will end up with the Washington Nationals, that's because nearly all of the chatter is focused on a Nats-Prince marriage. The funny thing is, some of the local beat writers continue to report that the Nationals won't bid on Fielder -- along with a big caveat.

Take Wednesday's report from MLB.com's Nationals beat writer Bill Ladson. The first line of the report says "there is a '99 percent' chance that the Nationals will not sign" Fielder. Of course, it later says the Nationals aren't willing to "give Fielder anything close" to the contract that the Angels gave Pujols.

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Step back and think about it for a second, though. The teams most connected to Fielder at this point are the Nationals, Mariners, Rangers and Orioles. The Blue Jays have been mentioned and Wednesday ESPN.com's Buster Olney even said the Dodgers "should" try to ink Fielder. The one thing we know about all of those teams is that -- while some of them could afford to do so -- they aren't willing to pay Pujols money for Fielder. If we can gather anything from the reports of the past six weeks, it's that Fielder isn't going to get a mega-deal.

So it's easy to say the Nationals won't sign Fielder "at his current asking price," but that doesn't mean they won't sign him. In fact, as Nationals Journal reported Thursday morning, Fielder's agent Scott Boras met with Nationals owners Ted and Mark Lerner Wednesday night.

It's going to be interesting to see what happens with the robust slugger, who will sign before spring training begins (MLB.com) -- just don't start counting teams out when you see a caveat like "at his current price." Asking prices fall. Just ask Ryan Madson -- another Boras client, by the way -- and the Cincinnati Reds.

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Posted on: January 7, 2012 4:13 pm
 

Report: Orioles, Jays to look at Manny Ramirez

By Matt Snyder

Could Manny Ramirez be headed back to the AL East? According to a report from ESPN Deportes (via Hardball Talk), the controversial slugger will soon hit in a batting cage for scouts from the Blue Jays and Orioles in Miami. He will be having a workout later this month for any interested clubs, so this might be a sign the Jays and O's are more serious than others.

Ramirez will have to serve a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance last season -- before he retired it was set to be 100 games, but since he sat out basically all of last season it's been reduced to 50 -- before hitting the diamond.

Also, Ramirez isn't exactly young. He'll turn 40 before his 50-game suspension is completed.

When he's motivated and not suspended, Ramirez can probably still hit the ball. He was one of the best right-handed hitters of all-time for a long stretch. His career line of .312/.411/.585 with 555 home runs and 1,831 RBI would certainly be a lock to get him into the Hall of Fame had he not tested positive for PEDs twice.

He does have a history of "Manny Being Manny," well, everywhere, but one of his best moments of tomfoolery came in Camden Yards. See below.



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Posted on: January 1, 2012 2:12 pm
 

Jason Frasor traded back to Blue Jays

By Matt Snyder

For the second time this winter, the White Sox have shipped a relief pitcher to the Blue Jays. This time around, it's Jason Frasor headed back to Toronto in exchange for minor league pitchers Myles Jaye and Daniel Webb, the White Sox have announced.

The two clubs also made a trade during the Winter Meetings, sending closer Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays. Also interesting here is that Frasor was traded to the White Sox by the Blue Jays in July. He's made 475 career appearances, 455 of which came with the Blue Jays, so Frasor is definitely back where he's familiar.

Frasor, 34, had a 3.60 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in 60 innings last season, but he was much better (2.98 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) with the Blue Jays. He was really bad for the White Sox after the deal. So maybe the change of scenery was bad and he'll recover now that he's back with the Jays.

Jaye is a 20-year-old right-hander. He went 3-3 with a 3.00 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 54 innings in Rookie Ball last season.

Webb is a 22-year-old right-hander. He was 4-5 with a 5.48 ERA in 67 1/3 innings last season, all but 1 1/3 of which were in Class A. He also threw 1 1/3 innings in Rookie Ball.

Frasor will be part of the bridge to Santos, along with also-newly acquired Darren Oliver and Casey Janssen.

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Posted on: December 31, 2011 7:36 pm
 

Matt Garza still drawing plenty of interest

Matt Garza

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Teams still looking for a front-line starter have apparently focused in on one guy -- Cubs pitcher Matt Garza.

The 28-year-old right-hander is available as new Cubs brass focuses on rebuilding long term, while Garza's attractive not only because he went 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA for the Cubs last season, but also because he's arbitration-eligible for the next two seasons.

According to several reports, the Marlins, Tigers, Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays are interested in Garza. The American League East teams are particularly interested, because Garza has braved baseball's best division as a member of the Rays.

The newest name out there available for the Cubs is Toronto right-hander Kyle Drabek, Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune writes. Drabek was the main piece the Phillies sent to Toronto in exchange for Roy Halladay. Drabek, 24, was 4-5 with a 6.06 in 18 games and 14 starts for the Blue Jays in 2011.

CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported the Blue Jays and Yankees have the type of pieces the Cubs are coveting for Garza. Word is the asking price for Garza is quite high, which would match what has been given up for the likes of Gio Gonzalez, Mat Latos and Trevor Cahill, although those three are under team control for longer than Garza.

The Cubs, though, don't have to act now. They can hold onto Garza and wait until a team gets more desperate during the season. It would, however, be a bit of a surprise if Garza is still a Cub in August.

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Posted on: December 30, 2011 3:46 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2011 5:22 pm
 

Blue Jays agree to deal with LHP Darren Oliver

Darren OliverBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Blue Jays have agreed to a deal with 41-year-old left-hander Darren Oliver, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has learned.

Oliver spent the last two years in Texas, going 6-7 with a 2.40 ERA with three saves in 125 games over the last two seasons as the Rangers advanced to the World Series in back-to-back years.

Oliver appeared in 61 games for the Rangers in 2011, plus another eight postseason games. He started the 10th inning of Game 6 of the World Series, giving up back-to-back singles with the Rangers ahead by two runs and three outs away from the team's first World Series title. He exited after Kyle Lohse's sacrifice bunt put the tying run in scoring position. That run would eventually score in the team's 10-9 loss in 11 innings.

The Blue Jays currently have just two left-handed relievers on their roster, Evan Crawford and Luis Perez. Perez, a rookie in 2011, appeared in 27 games with a 5.12 ERA. Crawford, 23, hasn't pitched above Double-A and was placed on the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule V Draft.

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Posted on: December 22, 2011 11:53 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 12:19 am
 

Homegrown Team roundup: Who is our champ?



By Matt Snyder

Well that was fun. An entire month of Homegrown teams has now been concluded. Now it's time to see how this thing would play out -- and let's avoid any "realistic" talk. Nothing about this is realistic. It's an exercise intended for fun and entertainment.

If you need to review the teams, go check out our landing page, where there's a link to the Homegrown unit from each of the 30 teams.

We'll run through this thing division by division, then the playoffs and then pick a Homegrown World Series champion. I encourage the comments section at the bottom of this post to be used for you readers to do this on your own as well, doing as much as every single divisional breakdown or as little as simply posting your World Series picks. Let's get interactive and discuss, as this is a truly subjective exercise. I also have no doubt some people will post comments telling us we're idiots for predicting the Mariners to win the AL West, for example, thinking this is predictions for the real 2012 season. When that happens, please direct them to this paragraph. Thanks in advance for your help.

[Note: I'll put our staff rankings in parentheses, but those are the average of rankings by three of us -- editor Michael Coulter and bloggers C. Trent Rosecrans and myself. The picks below are only mine, so there could be some differences.]

AL EAST
1. Blue Jays (5)
2. Rays (6)
3. Red Sox (7)
4. Yankees (16)
5. Orioles (30)

We do an exercise like this and we end up right back where reality is: With the AL East having three of the best 10 teams in baseball. Of course, the Yankees aren't included this time, so there is some variety here ... except for last place.

AL CENTRAL
1. Royals (10)
2. Indians (11)
3. Tigers (17)
4. White Sox (24)
5. Twins (27)

The division lacks elite teams and I could see arguments for either the Royals or Indians. Maybe even the Tigers. I ultimately went with the Royals because I like their lineup and getting Zack Greinke back atop the rotation gives a boost.

AL WEST
1. Mariners (1)
2. Angels (15)
3. Rangers (23)
4. A's (26)

I feel like Seattle would have this thing clinched in early September. The other three aren't even close here.

NL EAST
1. Braves (2)
2. Phillies (8)
3. Nationals/Expos (9)
4. Mets (14)
5. Marlins (20)

Very strong division here, as I wrote that the Mets Homegrown unit would challenge for the NL wild card. It's just that three teams in this division (and two more in the West) happen to very clearly be better.

NL CENTRAL
1. Cardinals (13)
2. Pirates (12)
3. Astros (21)
4. Reds (18)
5. Brewers (25)
6. Cubs (29)

Like the AL Central, this is a sub-par division. In the rankings where three of us voted, the Pirates edged out the Cardinals, but I still think the Cardinals' Homegrown team is a bit better and these are my picks. Definitely feel free to do something different in your own picks below -- and I know my boy Trent would. I do think 83-85 wins would take this thing, though, and the winner would be destroyed in the first round of the playoffs.

NL WEST
1. Diamondbacks (3)
2. Dodgers (4)
3. Rockies (19)
4. Giants (22)
5. Padres (28)

Two-horse race here, as both the D-Backs and Dodgers came out ranked in our top four overall. The other three teams in this division aren't even .500 ballclubs in this exercise.

PLAYOFFS

AL Wild Card: Tampa Bay Rays
NL Wild Card: Los Angeles Dodgers

ALDS
Blue Jays over Royals in 3
Mariners over Rays in 5

NLDS
D-Backs over Cardinals in 3
Braves over Dodgers in 5

ALCS
Mariners over Blue Jays in 7

NLCS
Braves over D-Backs in 6

THE HOMEGROWN WORLD SERIES
Mariners over Braves in 7

Can we say it was a pitchers' duel for the ages in Game 7 with Adam Wainwright vs. Felix Hernandez? Sure, why not? This is just for fun anyway.

So those are my picks. Again, make your own below and we can compare.

CONCLUSION

I probably don't have to do this, but I felt like clarifying a few things. First of all, you know how sometimes people leave comments like "it must be a slow news day!" like it's some kind of huge insult? Yeah, it's actually true some of the time -- especially in the offseason. Aside from the whirlwind that is the Winter Meetings -- and this year's version was insane -- the time from Thanksgiving to Christmas in baseball can be a collective "slow news day." And we knew this. So we came up with the idea to run this series, as it would give us something of substance every single day for 31 days (including this recap).

Now, we didn't just do it to kill time. That would be a waste of readers' time. We wanted to do something that was a bit unique, interesting and also fun. Making fictional lineups is pretty fun for any die-hard baseball fan. Think about, is an "All-Star team of players over 30 years old" really worth anything but a fun discussion? No. It's entertainment for those of us who love talking baseball. That's what the Homegrown series was all about. If you aren't a die-hard fan or hate ever thinking about something unrealistic, it's not for you, and that's OK.

Most of the feedback we got was good. Some was really bad, but that's the way things go. No exercise is ever going to be universally accepted, especially when the Internet provides the cloak of anonymity and someone can just type "this is awful, you suck" and then move along to the next page. For everyone who weighed in, thanks for the feedback. We appreciate all comments, both good and bad -- but mostly, we were happy to see that so many did find it interesting and fun. That was the goal.

As for any "flaws" in this exercise, if one was trying to draw some broad, sweeping conclusion, there would be many flaws. The Yankees, for example, are generally always picking in the last few picks of the first round in the MLB Draft and also lose picks frequently as they sign top-shelf free agents. On the other hand, teams like the Rays, Pirates and Royals have enjoyed quite a few chances to pick toward the top of the draft and to also nab supplemental picks as free agents depart. Plus, there's a reason there are real-life trades: Because no team could possibly have enough foresight on how prospects turn out and put together a well-rounded roster from draft/international signings only.

Also, in an effort to avoid inconsistency, we only used the 40-man rosters and major-league free agents. If a player is retired or in the minors and not yet on a 40-man roster, we didn't use him. Several Giants fans, for example, really wanted prospect Gary Brown to be used as the center fielder, but he's not on the 40-man (yet). I understand that if this was a realistic scenario, the ballclub might more quickly promote a guy to fill a hole, but, again, this wasn't meant to be "realistic" in any stretch of the term. And on Brown specifically, he spent 2011 in High-A ball, so he's hardly big-league ready.

We knew all of these so-called "flaws" heading in. I cannot possibly stress enough that the object of this series was for entertainment and nothing more. There's no need to go thinking too hard about it or getting worked up about your favorite team being either over- or underrated. Who cares? This isn't reality. Take the series for what it's meant to be.

Most of all, we thank our readers for taking part in this fun little exercise and encourage each and every one of you to post your rankings or standings or simply pick a World Series champion below. The beauty of it is there's no wrong answer, as it is entirely subjective. Get the discussion going as you sit in the office with nothing to do on the last day before Christmas weekend.

We have had a few requests for possibly doing these again next year -- but instead placing the players on the team they debuted in the majors with. That's definitely something we'll look into. We take all feedback seriously here at Eye On Baseball.

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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