Posted on: June 11, 2011 12:23 pm
Edited on: June 11, 2011 2:35 pm

Live baseball chat Saturday!

By Evan Brunell

Join us at 4 p.m. ET for a live baseball chat that will span the three games taking place at 4:10 -- Reds-Giants, Cubs-Phillies and Rangers-Twins. Intriguing matchups all. Stop by and chat about the game and baseball in general with Eye on Baseball blogger Evan Brunell, as well as other CBSSports.com personalities.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Category: MLB
Tags: MLB
Posted on: May 20, 2011 2:13 pm
Edited on: May 20, 2011 4:06 pm

'Macho Man' Randy Savage, former ballplayer, dies

By Evan Brunell

SavageRandy Poffo, more commonly known as "Macho Man" Randy Savage of wrestling fame, passed away Friday.

TMZ was the first to report, saying that Poffo suffered a heart attack around 9:25 a.m. while driving, causing his Jeep Wrangler to cross a concrete median, through opposing traffic and collided with a tree head-on. He was transported to a hospital, where he died from injuries. His wife of one year, Lynn, was also in the car but came away with only minor injuries. Both were wearing seatbelts and alcohol was not a factor.

It's a tragedy that will strike hard at the hearts of wrestling fans everywhere. While I no longer follow professional wrestling, I was a fanatic as a child (The Boston Globe's Peter Abraham wrote a nice anecdote of meeting Savage back in 2005) and "Randy Savage" was captivating in his shtick, which landed him a sponsorship role with Slim Jim. He was an outlandish character who wore flashy and colorful garb and is widely considered by many to be the best Intercontinental champion of all time and served in elevating the title to a significant role rather than being known as the lesser title to the World Championship and was also known for his signature phrase, "Ohhhh yeahhh!"

But before he went onto wrestling fame, Poffo was a minor-league baseball player, entering the Cardinals system at age 18. Poffo was a Cardinals fan growing up and remained one his entire life Records are sketchy, but we know he batted .286 with a .492 slugging percentage in 63 at-bats for rookie ball in 1971. He would repeat the level in 1972 and 1973, before earning a promotion to Class A before washing out of the organization. He joined the Reds' system for 1974, hitting .232/.304/.358 in 521 plate appearances for Class A Tampa, cranking nine home runs before hanging them up for good.

Wrestlers have taken to Twitter to express their dismay over Poffo's death, including longtime friend Kevin Nash (otherwise known as Diesel) and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

"I'm completely devastated, after over 10 years of not talking with Randy, we've finally started to talk and communicate," Hulk Hogan tweeted Friday morning. "He had so much life in his eyes [and] in his spirit, I just pray that he's happy and in a better place and we miss him."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Photo courtesy uproxx.com, showing Poffo in his heyday.

Category: MLB
Tags: Cardinals, MLB, Reds
Posted on: May 16, 2011 11:30 am
Edited on: May 16, 2011 11:50 am

What Suns prez's gay admission means for baseball

Welts, Stern

By Evan Brunell

On Sunday, basketball's Rick Welts revealed to the New York Times that he was gay, becoming the first man in sports with a high-profile job to admit his homosexuality. Welts currently serves as team president of the Phoenix Suns, whose star player, Steve Nash, had already assumed everyone knew Welts was gay.

Basketball commissioner David Stern (pictured, right, with Welts in 2003) was similarly supportive, saying he hoped "the world will find this [admission] unremarkable."

Unfortunately, sports is one of the few places left where such an admission is remarkable, trailing even the military. "This is one of the last industries where the subject is off limits," Welts said. "Nobody’s comfortable in engaging in a conversation." Well, now Welts has taken matters in his own hands with his admission, saying he wants the silence over homosexuality in sports to end, and he wants to be a mentor to gay people who are concerned about pursuing a career in sports.

Homosexuality in sports is still a sensitive issue, and baseball is no exception. There are only two notable baseball players who have come out as gay in Billy Bean (not to be confused with Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane) and Glenn Burke and they haven't played in the majors in a long time and only came out after they were done playing baseball. In addition, they were never commanding of media attention, so while their coming out was and remains courageous, it was not significant from a baseball perspective. Boston Herald columnist Steve Buckley outed himself in a column this past January, and again, while courageous, it did not have a major impact on baseball. No, what will have a major impact on baseball is a player, manager, GM or president coming out. That's what it's going to take, and Welts blazing the trail could spur others to come out.

"This really is a huge milestone," an openly gay baseball fan told CBSSports.com. "I think that the heterosexism -- that is, the presumption of and pseudo-requirement to be straight, is particularly stifling in mens's sports."

It's very difficult for a man to come out publicly gay in men's team sports, as these sports are saturated with highly competitive, testosterone-drenched (some very much so thanks to performance-enhancers) players who have spent their entire careers in locker rooms. It's no wonder, then, that players would hesitate to out themselves and open themselves to derision and perhaps worse. Managers, too, are intimately involved with players and still have their own playing careers, however abbreviated, fresh in their minds while executives like GMs and presidents do have some measure of separation. (That's not to make light of Welts' coming out, which remains historically significant.)

Another effect that acceptance of homosexuality could engender is increased interest in sports by these millions of open and closeted homosexuals. That could increase revenue.

"I already feel disconnected from the straight community because I'm different," the fan said. "If I felt like I were accepted, it would bring me that much closer to the game and the people and I'd see them more as like me, than not like me. As a confident, out gay man, I don't particularly need to see an openness to homosexuality to support the game. But that's now. I would likely have been a fan much sooner if I felt like being gay was OK."

Make no mistake about it, though: baseball and sports should not become more accepting of homosexuality for profit-driven purposes. Rather, the point is being made that the game could be organically grown by simply becoming more accepting of those who are different. After all, if baseball continued to resist African-Americans, the game would not be around today, especially as Hispanic players continue to grow in numbers and have become an important part of the game's fabric along with African-American and Asian players. It's time for homosexual men to join that diversity.

While one definitely shouldn't consider Carl Everett representative of baseball players as a whole given his outrageous comments on many different topics, he highlighted the mountain yet to climb in terms of acceptance in baseball. Back in 2005, the ex-White Sox outfielder opined on homosexuality, saying that "Gays being gay is wrong. Two women can't produce a baby, two men can't produce a baby, so it's not how it's supposed to be. ... I don't believe in gay marriages. I don't believe in being gay." (In Everett's defense, he says he has had gay teammates and accepted it. Still, the comments were the one made public and are what people remember.)

Welts' coming out is the first step toward sports becoming more and more openly accepting of homosexuality, which could make a major difference in the lives of many, especially young children and teenagers who have seen a rash of bullying cause suicides. That's sparked an advertising program titled "It Gets Better," to tell these children that it indeed gets better. Everyone already struggles with self-identity and acceptance in the crucial formative years, and adding trying to be accepted as homosexual is another layer that can make lives unbearable.

"As role models for millions, the coming out of players and others in sports can have huge lasting effects on confidence, and of course teaching people bullying is not OK is critical," the fan added. "It really boils down to this: If someone can come out, and in that environment, then I can too, and that's a powerful thing."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Category: MLB
Tags: MLB, NBA
Posted on: May 10, 2011 8:09 pm

First official on-field rally caps unveiled

CapBy Evan Brunell

You'll probably never see official rally caps worn by players in major-league baseball, but minor-league baseball is a hotbed of innovation and that's now been extended toward its caps, as BizofBaseball.com relays. 

Plan B. Branding came up with a cap for the Altoona Curve, the Pirates' Double-A club based in Pennsylvania. The official cap, which players will wear, features mascot "Al Tuna," who appears during rally situations to pump up the crowd. The red hat converts into an orange-satin inner lining with tuna eyes.

This is a fantastic idea. Rally caps are the staple of little-league baseball kids worldwide, and frankly, it's surprising it's taken this long for it to reach the minor-leagues. The minors are constantly trying to innovate to attract more fans and revenue, and this is a great way to promote the team and give young kids a rally cap for use. Players should get a big kick out of it as well.

 Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, it's doubtful major-league baseball will follow in Altoona' footsteps (unless the promotion is a rousing success, perhaps) which is a shame as there's always room for more fun in baseball.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.  

Category: MLB
Tags: MLB, Pirates
Posted on: April 25, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 1:54 pm

Rash of oblique injuries due to several factors


By Evan Brunell

Oblique injuries are the latest pox to sweep across baseball, knocking out stars and scrubs alike in the early going. CBSSports.com's Scott Miller wrote on the widespread injury last week, and now the New York Daily News writes that the move away from steroids could be to blame.

"My theory is that drug testing in Major League Baseball is working and people are getting away from using illegal steroids," sports physician Lewis Maharam says. "They are moving to legal products such as creatine, but they don't know how to use it in conjunction with their workouts."

Creatine is a legal performance enhancer as no major sports organizations ban its use. Creatine is an amino acid that boosts lean muscle mass and strength by adding water molecules to muscle fibers which cause the fibers to separate. And here's where the side effect comes in that caused athletes to look at alternatives, such as steroids and human growth hormone: the water molecules makes muscle tears easier and slows down the repair process, knocking users out longer than normal to recover from an injury.

However, studies have shown that creatine is effective for sports that require intense bursts of energy. Baseball counts, as does tennis and golf -- but more endurance-based sports don't, like basketball and soccer. Despite that, baseball is also about endurance and making it through a grueling 162-game schedule. One has to wonder of the effectiveness of creatine, then, in a sport that requires bursts of energy in gameplay but taxes its players by requiring near everyday play.

Personal trainer Migdoel Miranda, who counts Phillies reliever J.C. Romero among his clients, agrees with the issue of creatine impacting players negatively over a full season.

"One of the main reasons these things happen to players is because these exercise programs are not targeted to be moving in a three-dimensional way that a human body is supposed to move," he says. "For example, we move in a frontal way, we move in a rotational way and we move in what we call a [sideways] way. A lot of these programs are missing one of those."

And hence, an underdeveloped muscle already prone to injury thanks to creatine equals a much greater chance of injury in that area.

"It's never a career-ending injury but it can be really debilitating," ex-professional baseball player Dan Rootenberg, president of New York's SPEAR Physical Therapy, asks. "You can't sneeze, cough, laugh or move without extreme pain."

Is creatine the answer to the oblique injuries?

No, if anything, it's only a part. After all, creatine is not discerning and does not focus on just oblique muscles. If creatine is truly fully to blame, it would not affect only one specific muscle. 

So what else could be impacting the sport's rash of injuries?

"It's a stability and mobility issue," Mackie Shilstone, director of the Fitness Principle in Louisiana, says. Shilstone has worked with many pro athletes, notably Serena Williams, one of women's tennis greats and part of another sport in which creatine is thought to help. "Oblique injuries are brought on by improper training of hip musculature. When you pitch or throw a baseball, part of your body has to stabilize, and part of your body has to mobilize. Same thing with hitting. "What's happening is that trainers are pushing athletes to overdevelop the front of their body while they ignore the posterior of the body."

The good news? Oblique injuries are probably a thing of the past... at least, the 2011-season past. Oblique tweaks are far more likely to happen early in the season and in games when players' bodies haven't quite adjusted to the sudden demands of the sport.

Rootenberg, the Manhattan physical therapist, says that oblique injuries tend to occur early in games and early in the season, when players' bodies are not in tune with the demands of the sport.

"What other sport do you go from standing there, doing nothing, and then have to give 100 percent?" Rootenberg asks. "That's why oblique injuries usually happen early in a game and early in a season. It's early, it's cold weather. This is the time we will see oblique injuries. If you are not warmed up, or if your body is not used to what you are asking it to do, you are susceptible to oblique injuries. We've got to do a better job in strengthening and stretching abdominal muscles."

Part of that can be fixed by players and trainers understanding the importance of obliques and incorporating them more prominently in off- and in-season workouts. But another question is at play here: Given many oblique injuries cropped up once players really got playing in spring training, which led into the regular season, should players be ramping up activity more in spring training?

FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal spoke to a GM about the bad starts many players have gotten off to. Despite speaking about a different subject, the GM's quotes apply here.

"The number of players off to bad starts is mind-boggling," the GM said. "It’s such a timing sport. We’re overprotective of players in the spring. They don’t get enough at-bats. It’s exacerbated in Florida by the travel. Teams don’t ask veteran players to travel, so they end up playing every other day rather than straight through."

It makes zero sense to have spring training stretch six weeks if players still aren't ready for the day-to-day grind of a full season by the close of the sojourns in Florida and Arizona. Baseball needs to do a better job of getting these players in shape -- both from a production standpoint as teams are paying these players to produce from Game 1 on -- and to keep players healthy, as the rash of oblique injuries speak to. It's as simple as organizations communicating to players that conditioning and game play will be ramped up in spring training past normal parameters.

Unless something changes, oblique injuries will become a common occurrence in late March and early April.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Photo of the oblique is thanks to build-muscle-and-burn-fat.com.

Category: MLB
Tags: MLB
Posted on: April 21, 2011 7:11 pm
Edited on: April 21, 2011 7:19 pm

Puerto Rico a warning sign for worldwide draft


By Evan Brunell

Carlos Zambrano has his reasons wrong, but the sentiment is the same: the Cubs hurler does not want baseball to expand to a worldwide draft.

"[It] would be bad for the kids from Venezuela and the Dominican because we are late developers," Zambrano told the Chicago Tribune. "We didn't have Little League or organized baseball. Kids played maybe once a week, that's it. If kids from my country were drafted and didn't develop quickly enough they wouldn't be around long. Now they develop and grow and then sign a little later than when they would be drafted."

It's rather odd that Zambrano doesn't know how things currently work in Venezuela, but players in his country and the Dominican Republic actually sign much younger than draftees. Players become eligible at age 16 and haul in significantly more dollars than they otherwise would have in a worldwide draft, which has been gaining steam in recent years and could be in place for 2012 or shortly thereafter as the new collective bargaining agreement is expected to include language on revamping the draft that currently only applies to players in the United States, Canada or Puerto Rico.

The latter country serves as a cautionary tale for the D.R. and Venezuela, as Puerto Rico entered the draft beginning in 1990 and has seen a steep decline in its citizens playing baseball.

Puerto Rico was once a hotbed of talent with players such as Roberto Alomar, Sandy Alomar, Carlos Baerga, Wil Cordero, Carlos Delgado, Jose Hernandez, Javy Lopez, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez, Benito Santiago, Ruben Sierra, Jose Valentin and Bernie Williams all signed as amateur free agents between 1982-88 as Portfolio.com relays.

Since then, only Carlos Beltran, Jorge Posada, Javier Vazquez are Puerto Ricans recognizable to many casual fans although Geovany Soto, the Molina brothers, Jonathan Sanchez and Jose Vidro also have had success in the majors along with late-bloomers Angel Pagan and Angel Torres. In fact, just 3.5 percent of position players in baseball came from Puerto Rico back in 2009 as the New York Times writes. Cuban and Venezuelan players, meanwhile have doubled in the last decade.

There are several reasons why Puerto Rico has tailed off in development, only for the D.R., Venezuela and other Latin American countries to flourish, and it starts with the draft.

"Why invest in Puerto Rico if 70 miles west and 500 miles south, in Dominican Republic and Venezuela respectively, I can invest directly in the detection and development without going through the Draft process?" asked Dr. David Bernier, Puerto Rico's secretary of sport way back in 2007 when he proposed a 10-year moratorium in Puerto Rico for draft eligibility as MLB.com wrote. Obviously, that was rejected by MLB as Puerto Rico remains part of the draft.

Part of the problem is that fusing Puerto Rico into the draft to circumvent the bidding process for amateur free agents reaching exorbitant amounts and going to the haves instead of the have-nots put the onus on the player instead of the team. Puerto Ricans are now forced to compete against American players with better coaches, competition, facilities and with more dollars and a stable environment at hand. Teams have shifted their focus away from investing in Puerto Rico and into the D.R. and other countries where academies have sprung up allowing teams to groom and later sign players. The draft acts as a chilling effect for these academies, as teams have no guarantee of acquiring a player that makes use of its facilities and coaches -- so why invest? In addition, grabbing players at age 16 allows clubs to track their development and progress more accurately and groom them into the type of players with the fundamentals that particular organization espouses.

In addition, the economy can be impacted by such a decision to institute a worldwide draft. The main reason Cuban players establish residency in a country other than the United States once they defect is not because it's cooler to live in another country than it is in America. (Although some may feel that way.) It's to avoid being part of the draft where spending is restricted. Amateur free agents in Latin American countries that command hefty bonuses are able to improve the living standards of their families, which in turn means money is being spent to improve those standards. That puts more money in the coffers of business and spurs economic growth. Now, less money is flowing into Puerto Rico, which means less is being spent.

Another issue deals with how baseball is treated in America and Puerto Rico. Baseball is not a supplement to education in Puerto Rico -- that is, there are no high-school leagues as baseball is limited to amateur games on the weekend.

"Major League teams invest resources in identifying talented athletes in the school systems and colleges of the continental U.S. and also directly into the development of players that belong to the countries excluded from the Draft," Bernier noted. "Our development model has never been, nor it is at the present time, a school-college based one; it is community based. It's the same model that was so effective in the years prior to the Draft, but now has less scouts' eyes and recruits in it."

There are four categories for players eligible in the draft: high school players who have graduated and not attended college or junior college; college players from four-year universities who have completed their junior or senior year are or are at least 21 years old; all junior college players.

The one common thread is all have their draft eligibility based on their education. That's caused Puerto Rican stars to abandon their country, instead heading to the U.S. for high school and college to keep up with the competition of American players. (Alex Cora, for example, left his country to attend the University of Miami.) That's caused even less attention to be paid in Puerto Rico when it comes to baseball as the players worth tracking will desert the country anyways.

But it has long-lasting implications for the children too young for college who struggle to find competent training and equipment in which to turn themselves into a star.

So what's the benefit of a worldwide draft? It appears there are two key answers to this question.

First, instituting a worldwide draft will cut down on corruption. Prior to taking over as GM of the Mets, Sandy Alderson was tasked with reducing corruption in the D.R., where buscones -- essentially self-appointed trainers and agents -- took advantage of both players and teams to pocket profits at minimal cost. Similarly, American investors have keyed in on the profits available to train children in the art of baseball in the D.R.

Instituting a worldwide draft would wipe out many of the corrupt buscones as signing bonuses would plummet given the slotting system baseball valiantly tries to get teams to use. It would also allow baseball to more accurately track relevant information of players, who routinely forge birth certificates to give the appearance that they are younger than they appear. Think Danny Almonte as a man playing among boys -- players who are actually 18 that pass themselves off as 16 appear that much more advanced than the players they are being compared to.

Secondly, instituting a worldwide draft is supposed to reduce the gap between haves and have-nots. Supposed to, at least. There's no clear evidence that this is currently the case. You aren't seeing the Yankees and Red Sox routinely pilfer away the most coveted international free agents. In fact, teams such as the Twins (before they became a financial powerhouse), Pirates, Athletics (who stunned many by snagging Michael Ynoa a few years ago) and others have aggressively spent in international free agency. Still, it doesn't stop some from parroting the claim.

Plus, it's not as if the draft is perfect in preventing those with funds taking advantage. There are several players who could be first-round talents every year that drop out because of bonus demands. They drop not out of the draft, but to organizations willing to pay top dollar. Boston is one such organization that routinely takes advantage of this every year, as are the Yankees.

Also working against a worldwide draft is a chilling effect on baseball in all countries. How much less popular will baseball become in the Dominican Republic once the opportunity to receive game-changing money is taken away? For all the corruption issues, as well, buscones actually provide a valuable service. Once you take away their opportunity to make money (legally, of course), buscones will desert the sport. You may even see less Cuban defectors, as the prospect of earning significant dollars vanishes.

Unfortunately, it appears that what's more important to baseball is reducing costs of signing bonuses so owners can pocket more profits. It's capitalism at its finest, but it's also very short-sighted. Baseball needs to find more ways to attract young, athletic players across the world to come to the game, not to have yet another reason to move away from it.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 
Category: MLB
Posted on: April 8, 2011 9:59 am
Edited on: April 8, 2011 10:17 am

Pepper: Bud Selig biking along


By Evan Brunell

STILL BIKIN': 1,000 straight days. That's how long Bud Selig has been using his exercise bike which is an impressive accomplishment. That means Selig's hopped on a bike literally every day for almost three years.

As someone who works out regularly and hates taking off days, that's an amazingly impressive feat that should be commended. The 76-year-old usually bikes for 53 minutes and then does a total of seven minutes of exercise. That's enabled him to keep in shape and he could have plenty of years ahead as a commissioner even if he plans to step down after 2012.

It may surprise you to learn that Selig wasn't always so healthy.

"I was smoking Tiparillos at the time," Selig recalled from 1980, when he was the Milwaukee Brewers president,  "and Dr. [Paul] Jacobs said: 'We've got to get you into an exercise program ... I don't want you running; you'll end up with bad knees, bad ankles, bad feet, bad everything.'"

And so the bike program was born. Selig should absolutely be thrilled with his accomplishment, as its simply not easy to do with his age and schedule.

"I'm very proud of it," Selig said. "When I finished exercising [Thursday morning] I was like a little kid." (MLB.com)

MLB TODAY: Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe hops onto CBSSports.com's MLB Today to talk Red Sox.

DONATING FOOD: This is a fantastic idea and makes you wonder why this isn't more widespread. The Pirates will be donating left-over concessions to shelters and soup kitchens to help feed the hungry. That could mean over 250 tons of food otherwise sent to the compost heap. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

AVOIDING FOOD: Don't read this if your stomach gets queasy fast or you've eaten at some of the worst violators of food safety, as this article details which ballparks are the worst and why. (BusinessInsider.com)

BLACKOUT: MLB.com's blackout policy has been nothing short of idiotic the last several years and frankly, it appears that won't change anytime soon. That's a disgrace, as the blackout policy is completely nonsensical. Between this and refusing videos from MLB.com to be embedded onto other sites ... while baseball is a great leader in internet and social media, baseball completely whiffs on the basics. (BizofBaseball.com)

REHABBING: Jake Peavy will make his first rehab start Friday and will make three more before his target of returning to the club in early May. (Chicago Tribune)

ON THE VERGE: Adrian Gonzalez is closing in on a deal to make him a Red Sox for a very, very long time. (Boston Herald)

CALL CSI: Chris Coghlan made an impressive catch Thursday -- so impressive, in fact, that someone felt compelled to sketch Coghlan's outline onto the wall. (@ericreinhold on Twitter)

PUT UP OR SHUT UP: Greg Reynolds was picked ahead of Tim Lincecum, Clayton Kershaw and Evan Longoria while Reynolds is scrapping to become a viable major leaguer. He believes it's time for him to "put up or shut up." The Rockies would appreciate the former. (Denver Post)

LINEUP OF A LIFETIME: It's always fun to put together lists of the best players you've seen play in your lifetime. Well, Derrick Goold went ahead and listed his own lineup and pulled in several other people to participate. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

WRONG SPORT? Former NC State quarterback Russell Wilson's transition to full-time baseball wasn't going so great Thursday as he went 0 for 4 with four strikeouts for Colorado's low-Class A affiliate. (Baseball America)

ONION: The Onion is a hilarious satirical website, and they haven't shied away from poking fun at baseball over the years. Here's a look at the top 25 baseball-related Onion articles. (Fangraphs)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 

Posted on: April 5, 2011 10:49 am
Edited on: April 5, 2011 1:05 pm

Pepper: Kazmir struggling, future in doubt


By Evan Brunell

Scott Kazmir's job could be in danger.

After going through what Kaz termed "boot camp" in the offseason, the hope was that the former top left-hander would move on from his 5.94 ERA from 2010, the highest among pitchers who tossed at least 140 innings. However, the former Rays ace had an awful spring training and imploded in his first start of the season on Sunday against the Royals.

Manager Mike Scioscia was already unhappy with Kazmir's progress, and his outing Sunday only made things worse. One has to seriously wonder if Los Angeles is considering releasing Kazmir and the $14.5 million left on his contract. It's certainly been a long fall from grace for Kazmir and unfortunately it appears as if whatever made him great in the past is gone for good.

The skipper had no easy answers for Kaz's slow start, saying that he has no velocity or command. "Kaz is a little more complicated, a little more baffling," he said. The Angels do have starting pitcher Joel Pineiro on the way back from injury along with reliever Scott Downs, so Kazmir could lose his rotation spot in quick order. 

The only question is: is he moved to the bullpen or do the Angels cut ties entirely? (Los Angeles Times)

GOING YARD: Will Texas' Nelson Cruz go yard again on Tuesday to have homered in five consecutive games? That's a question Eye on Baseball blogger C. Trent Rosecrans attempts to answer in MLB Today. (CBS Sports)

PETE ROSE MANAGING: That's Junior, not the Hit King. The son of Pete Rose is now managing the White Sox's rookie-level squad after long stints as a minor-league and indy-ball player. (Chicago Sun-Times)

KID REPLACING IDOL: Over in Washington, Wilson Ramos has the tough task of replacing his idol behind the plate in Ivan Rodriguez. Pudge has graciously accepted a reduced role, while the Nats are excited about the potential Ramos has. (Washington Times)

TAKING NO LIP: The judge in the upcoming perjury trial for Roger Clemens has had enough of the Rocket and his accuser, Brian MacNamee, taking to the media to spread their own opinions of the trial. Judge Reggie Walton has since reminded the two that they are not allowed to talk about the case. (New York Times)

STEROIDS OUT: Brian Giles' potential use of steroids has been disallowed in a pending palimony trial against his ex-fiance, who is accusing him of owing her over $10 million as well as abusing her. His links to steroids would have been used to attempt to establish that he did, in fact, abuse her. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

BEER VIA TWITTER: A Mariners beer vendor may be onto something here as he will take beer orders via Twitter for the Mariners' home opener on Friday. Seems like it could be abused, but it's hard to imagine anyone sitting at home sending a beer vendor fake orders from fake seats, even in this day and age. This is definitely a service that could end up becoming common in all stadiums depending how well it is executed. (CNBC)

MORE RESTRICTIONS: In light of the abominable beating two Dodgers fans put on a Giants fan, the L.A. County supervisor is calling for additional security at Dodger Stadium as well as more restrictive limits on sales of booze. (Los Angeles Times)

THERE'S ALWAYS HOPE: Austin Kearns' son was diagnosed with autism at 14 months back in 2009. His son is doing well, however, receiving treatment at a Cleveland hospital that was also the main reason why the outfielder returned to the Indians after signing with the team for 2010 and being traded halfway through the year to the Yankees. (MLB.com)

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Of the potential bidders to become minority owner of the Mets, one has the executive producer of Entourage footing the bill. If Doug Ellin ended up with the team, it could mean a jolt of starpower as quite a few of the actors on the show are Mets fans and could show up to games. (New York Daily News)

FREEZE! A rather interesting story that Stan Musial actually froze his appendix inside his body back in 1947. This allowed Stan the Man to stay on the field and finish out the year before having an appendectomy after the year. You don't usually hear about frozen appendixes, so it's quite a fascinating story. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

SEVENTH INNING FOR JOBA: Joba Chamberlain appears to have a lock on the seventh-inning relief gig. 'We love the way he threw the ball in spring training," manager Joe Girardi said. Interesting given GM Brian Cashman and other Yankee brass were displeased with how out-of-shape Chamberlain was in spring training. (MLB.com)

IS BASEBALL DYING? Sobering news -- 43 percent of MLB fans are age 50 or older in a 2009 survey, tops among all big four sports plus MLS and NASCAR, while a low 28 percent of the coveted age 18-34 demographic prefer baseball. Plus, children are leaving baseball in droves. (BizofBaseball.com)

NAME THAT TEAM: The Cincinnati Reds' Double-A affiliate is moving into a new stadium in Pensacola, Fla. next season. There's a contest being held to determine the nickname of the club, and you must also include why you think it's a good name. (Pensacola News Journal)

NICKNAMIN': Ever wonder how each baseball team got its nickname? All set. (Delaware County Daily Times)

ON THE WAY BACK: Mat Latos tossed a simulated game on Monday and came through it with flying colors. He will be re-evaluated Tuesday, and it's possible the right-hander could be activated as soon as Friday. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com