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Tag:Orlando Cabrera
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.

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

Posted on: February 23, 2011 11:46 am
 

Indians hoping to take step forward

Sometimes it's easy to forget the Indians are part of the league now that they've drifted back into irrelevancy. But don't sleep on Cleveland, who is slowly rebuilding the pieces needed to make a similar run to the World Series they pulled off in 2007. Check out CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler's spring training report:

And what does new arrival Orlando Cabrera have to say about his new team and playing a new position at second base? Hit play and find out:

-- Evan Brunell

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

Category: MLB
Posted on: February 22, 2011 3:54 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2011 4:11 pm
 

Cabrera hoping to reach goals before retirement

CabreraOrlando Cabrera reportedly announced he was hanging up his cleats after the year as he told Columbian newspaper El Universal (via MLB Trade Rumors), but Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that Cabrera refuted the report, calling it a "misunderstanding."

"This is my last season," Cabrera said, according to El Universal. "Something I’ve seen in professional ball since I signed, and something that has made an impression on me, is when a manager calls a player to his office to release him. That, for me, is the saddest thing I’ve seen outside of the death of a beloved family member. It’s something indescribable, although it’s normal in this job. I’ve always said my retirement would be under my own terms, and this is a great opportunity for me. I’m leaving without them telling me, ‘We don’t want to see you anymore around here.’"

While the information on not wanting to be released is accurate, it's clear Cabrera hasn't decided if he is playing past this season but also isn't interested in hanging around to be released.

Cabrera was on the free-agent market for a long time before only recently inking a deal to play with the Indians and serve as starting second baseman. He previously was the Reds shortstop in 2010, hitting .263/.303/.354. He might be able to hang on the entire year in Cleveland, but putting up similar numbers could put Cabrera in the position he fears: being told he is released.

Cabrera hopes to reach 2,000 hits and 500 doubles before he walks of his own volition. He is 52 hits away from 2,000 and thus should have no trouble cracking that barrier. His 130 hits in 537 plate appearances last season, so should crack 52 hits sometime in late May provided he puts up similar numbers and doesn't miss time with injury, as he did last August when he appeared in just two games.

As for the doubles, O-Cab is at 443, so needs 57. He's never cracked 50 in his career (his high of 47 came in 2003) and has not gone any higher than 36 since 2006's 45, so Cabrera will have to play at least two more years for that honor. Cabrera believes his move to second base will extend his career by two to three years. That's certainly possible, as adding another position to his resume will help, but he's likely to finish his career out as a bench player.

UPDATE: CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler reports that Cabrera clarified his comments, saying he would be OK with not playing next year, but he might play again in 2012. "Especially if we win the World Series this year, then I've got to come back."

Something tells me the Indians won't be winning the World Series.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb  on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Category: MLB
Posted on: February 17, 2011 9:57 am
Edited on: February 17, 2011 2:06 pm
 

Morning Pepper: Al-booo-ert?

Albert Pujols

There's a lot left to be said about the Albert Pujols negotiations, but the question I've had is what exactly is the fan reaction going to be to him this season? Could the great Pujols actually be booed at home?

Now, if it were any other city other than St. Louis, I don't think I'd wonder this -- I'd expect this. However, St. Louis is America's great baseball city. Not only does the town pride itself on its baseball knowledge, but also the way it treats the Cardinals as a whole and as individuals. Go to Busch Stadium and you'll observe a baseball crowd that loves baseball. And Albert was their king.

Now, though, could it get nasty that he's had a chance to prove his undying love and devotion and decided instead to possibly shop around?

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch asked fans if Pujols would still be a Cardinal in 2012 , AS of 8:30 a.m., 35 percent said he would be, 32 percent said no, and 33 percent answered "I know [sic] longer care]." To no longer care about Albert Pujols in Cardinal red in St. Louis is akin to being an atheist at Vatican City.

Here are some of the comments from the newspaper's website:
Pujols comments


There are also less dignified responses (from a comment section of a website? I know, shocking) calling Pujols out because of his background and also his outspoken Christianity, as well as those making the apple-oranges comments about our current economic state and a baseball player's salary (if you haven't noticed, they're not connected.) In fairness, there were also messages in support of Pujols and the Cardinals and some reasoned debate, but in a crowd of 43,975, that's not always who is heard.

So, when opening day rolls around in St. Louis on March 31 against the Padres and the third Cardinal batter comes to the plate, what will the reaction be? Could a St. Louis icon be booed in St. Louis? We'll see (or hear).

MUST READ: Former Phillies manager Dallas Green talked to reporters yesterday about the loss of his granddaughter, Christina Taylor Green. Here's the report from the Seattle Times ' Larry Stone .

If this didn't get you, you have no heart -- "John called her princess, and I did, too. She was our angel."

NOW ABOUT THOSE OTHER FOUR SPOTS: Wednesday, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly named Clayton Kershaw his opening-day starter. Vicente Padilla started Los Angels' opener last season. Kershaw will face Tim Lincecum in the opener -- not a bad matchup. (Los Angeles Times )

YEAH, HOW COULD THAT GO WRONG?: Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd is standing by his decision to work with BALCO found Victor Conte.

"Instead of me being dumb and just keep trying different things, I went to reach out to somebody so I didn't test positive," Byrd told reporters, including the Chicago Sun-Times .

Yeah. Good idea.

NO, A REALLY GOOD IDEA: If you have an iPad, check out this awesome-looking iPad app called Pennant . Seriously, while watching the video, I grabbed my iPad and plunked down my $4.99. If you're the type who can get lost in retrosheet.org, this looks great.

TRIBUTE TO TANNER: The Pirates will find ways to honor former manager Chuck Tanner, but they haven't exactly figured it out yet, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review . The team will honor him on opening day and the team is likely to wear a patch. The Reds and Tigers will wear a patch honoring former manager Sparky Anderson this season.

UNCLE ORLANDO: Orlando Cabrera, one of the most entertaining interviews in baseball, officially joined the Indians on Wednesday. The long-time shortstop looks to be the everyday second baseman, joining with "nephew" Asdrubal Cabrera in Cleveland. (MLB.com )

THE MORE YOU KNOW: Baseball America 's always-entertaining minor league transactions .

PLEASE NO: One of my favorite people I've ever met in baseball was the late Ernie Harwell. I was lucky enough to interview him once and will always treasure that.

However, I don't think it's an easy way to make a buck -- Mitch Albom, sportswriter-turned-sap producer, is going forward with a play based on Harwell's life . I'll keep my own memories of Harwell, thanks.

SORIANO'S TRAINING: The Onion on Alfonso Soriano:

Onion SportsDome


EVEN IF ALBERT LEAVES: Buck up St. Louis, you'll always have beer .

And if that doesn't help, how about Adrianne Palicki as Wonder Woman ? I'd lie just to get lassoed for the truth.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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



Posted on: February 13, 2011 4:33 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2011 3:14 pm
 

Reports from reportings

Heath Bell With pitchers and catchers from nine teams reporting today, there's been plenty of news to report.

Here's a look around the league at some interesting tidbits:

• Padres closer Heath Bell, right, said he's surprised -- but happy -- he's still in San Diego. His agents are hoping for a multi-year deal with the team this spring. (MLB.com )

• Jered Weaver said he had "no hard feelings" toward the Angels after losing his arbitration case last week, but there are currently no talks about a long-term deal right now. (Los Angeles Times )

• Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton says he's glad he didn't get traded last season and wants to stay with the Diamondbacks long-term. (Arizona Republic )

• Here's a really good read, as Atlanta Journal-Constitution Braves beat writer David O'Brien goes on a motorcycle ride with new Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez, and the two talk motorcycles and managing following the ride on Super Bowl Sunday. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution )

• Padres manager Bud Black says in a Q&A that the team is more balanced this season than it was in 2010. (San Diego Union-Tribune )

• New Padres first baseman Brad Hawpe took a glove from former Rockies teammate Todd Helton to use at first base. (San Diego Union-Tribune )

• Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher had surgery to remove a cancerous nodule on his thyroid gland last Thursday. Butcher attended some of the team's meetings on Sunday and expects to be back full-time this week. (Orange County Register )

• Mariners closer David Aardsma hopes to be off crutches on Wednesday and maybe throwing a week or a week-and-a-half later. The Mariners closer hopes to return in April. (Seattle Times )

* The Mariners may be looking to add Chad Durbin to their bullpen. (FOXSports.com )

• The Indians see Orlando Cabrera as a "super utility" type, playing all around the infield. (Cleveland Plain Dealer )

• The Cubs and closer Carlos Marmol are expected to avoid arbitration and may announce a deal on Monday, the day before a hearing was scheduled. The Cubs offered $4.1 million and Marmol asked for $5.65 million. It's possible the two have reached a long-term deal. (MLB.com )

• Fans celebrate the 50th anniversary of Strat-O-Matic. (MLB.com )

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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


Posted on: February 10, 2011 2:54 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2011 7:13 pm
 

Indians get Orlando Cabrera

Orlando Cabrera
You know when the Indians signing Orlando Cabrera would have been a real impact move? In 2007. The Indians were a playoff team, and Cabrera batted a career-high .301 at age 33 for the Angels.

Fast-forward four years, and the fortunes of team and player are much different. Suffice it to say nobody sees Cabrera, signed Thursday (according to Jon Heyman of SI.com) to his sixth team since that 2007 season, as the piece that puts the 2011 Indians over the top. Instead he's a 36-year-old journeyman added to a team from which little is expected this season.

That's not to be too hard on Cabrera. He can still play some, though his numbers last year for the Reds -- a .263/.303/.354 and an OPS+ of 78 as the starting shortstop -- are not a great sign for the future. The on-base and slugging numbers were the worst of his career, and he's lost a step defensively as well.

So what's his role with the Indians? That's not clear at the moment. Cabrera was said to be looking for a starting gig, but why would the Indians, who are trying to develop young players, let him block 25-year-old shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera? The younger Cabrera batted .308 in 2009 and looked good again last year despite losing two months to a broken arm. Perhaps the plan is to move Asdrubal Cabrera back to second, the position he played primarily early in his career, and let Luis Valbuena ride the bench.

Fun fact about Orlando Cabrera: He's made the playoffs each of the past four years with four different teams (in reverse order: Reds, Twins, White Sox, Angels). In the unlikely event that streak continues, the Indians would be very happy with this signing.

UPDATE: Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says the Indians are committed to Asdrubal Cabrera at short and Orlando will compete for the second base job.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: November 24, 2010 6:39 pm
 

Reds might keep Rhodes, lose Cabrera


Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told the Cincinnai Enquirer he's hopeful the team can bring back reliever Arthur Rhodes, but was more doubtful about the odds of retaining shortstop Orlando Cabrera.

Cincinnati offered neither player arbitration. Rhodes made $2 million in 2010 and had a big season, while Cabrera made $2.27 million.

"In both cases, we’re interested," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "But as a small-market club, you can’t risk offering them arbitration. They might accept and end up getting a lot more money.

“I talked to Arthur’s agent last night. I’m still hopeful of the getting something done. With Cabrera, there still might be a role. But I think he’s looking for more playing time than we can offer. But we left it open.”

If Cabrera does not return, Paul Janish would be the Reds' full-time starter.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: November 23, 2010 4:36 pm
Edited on: November 23, 2010 7:57 pm
 

Cashman: Yankees' offer to Jeter is fair

Derek Jeter The Yankees are certainly doing their part in the chicken game with free agent shortstop Derek Jeter.

The team has reportedly offered Jeter a three-year deal worth $45 million. On Thursday, general manager Brian Cashman told ESPNNewYork.com's Wallace Matthews that he feels the offer is "fair and appropriate."

"We understand his contributions to the franchise and our offer has taken them into account," Cashman told Matthews. "We've encouraged him to test the market and see if there's something he would prefer other than this. If he can, fine. That's the way it works."

Brian Cashman It's not surprising Cashman thinks this -- but to actually say it is quite interesting.

There are certainly teams looking for shortstops, and even with declining production, Jeter would be the best available shortstop, although not many teams looking for a shortstop could add a $15 million shortstop.

The Giants, Cardinals, Reds, Orioles and Padres are among the teams looking for a shortstop. The Giants and Orioles, who just made a big bid for Victor Martinez, are likely the only teams in that group that could afford Jeter.

Instead, teams could fill with the likes of Juan Uribe or Orlando Cabrera.

The bottom line is Jeter is worth more to the Yankees than he is any other team, and it appease the team has decided $15 million is as much as he's worth.

According to Cashman, Jeter and agent Casey Close have asked for more than three years and more money. Jeter made $21 million last season.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

UPDATE : SI.com's Jon Heyman reports the Yankees aren't done upping their offer to Jeter. "If they haven't bumped it up already, they do intend to," he writes.

So why all the contentious negotiations?

The Yankees are one of the most successful franchises in the game, but their hard line against Jeter and Mariano Rivera is baffling when they're willing to do whatever it takes to keep Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada and get A.J. Burnett.

Actually, that's probably the lesson right there.

UPDATE : Now Heyman is backtracking , and the Yankees' offer may not rise.

Meanwhile, Cashman is putting the onus on Jeter in the negotation process.

"He should be nothing but a New York Yankee," he tells the New Jersey Star-Ledger . "He chooses not to be."

-- Evan Brunell

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