Posted on: November 18, 2010 12:09 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2010 12:15 pm

Choo a win away from exemption

Shin-Soo Choo is playing like a man with a lot on the line, because he is.

The Indians outfielder homered as South Korea beat host China 4-3 in 10 innings Thursday to davance to the gold medal game in the Asian Games. South Korea will face Taiwan on Friday for the championship.

All South Korean men are obligated to serve a two-year stint in the military, but a gold medal in the Asian Games would earn Choo an exemption. If South Korea loses Friday, Choo would have to decide whether to pause his burgeoning major-league career or apply for U.S. citizenship.

Apparently Choo is highly motivated -- in four games, he's 6-for-10 with three homers, five walks and nine RBI.

-- David Andriesen

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Category: MLB
Posted on: November 16, 2010 6:29 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2010 8:08 pm

Cardinals ink Westbrook

Th Cardinals, who traded for right-hander Jake Westbrook at the trade deadline, liked what they saw enough to sign him to a two-year contract Tuesday. The deal has a mutual option for a third year.

Westbrook went 4-4 with a 3.48 ERA in 12 starts after coming to St. Louis in a three-team trade with his old team, Cleveland, and the Padres. Westbrook, who missed the 2009 season after Tommy John surgery, went 10-11 overall in 2010 with a 4.22 ERA. He made $11 million in the final year of a three-year deal.

Financial terms weren't immediately available.

"Having Jake signed is a great start to our off-season," general manager John Mozeliak said in a release issued by the club.  "We witnessed first-hand last season what a terrific competitor he is and how well he fits in with our pitching staff."

The Cardinals now have a solidified five-man rotation of (in some order) Westbrook, Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse and Jaime Garcia.

-- David Andriesen

UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com (via Twitter ) reports the deal is worth $16.5 million over two years.

UPDATE: Westbrook will earn $8 million in 2011 and $8.5 million in 2012, with a mutal option worth $8.5 million in 2013, Matthew Leach of MLB.com reports . If the Cardinals decline his 2013 option, they'll owe Westbrook another $1 million. He also has a no-trade clause.

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Posted on: November 15, 2010 11:14 am

Choo off to good start in Asian Games

Shin-Soo Choo There's more riding on the outcome of the Asian Games than just national pride, for the Indians it could decide the fate of their best player, Shin-Soo Choo.

Choo, playing for the South Korean team, could earn an exemption from mandatory military service if the team wins a gold medal at the games. All able-bodied South Korean men are required to serve two years in the military by the end of their 30th year. Choo turned 28 in July and is coming off the best season of his Major League career.

Choo seems to be playing as if his future depends on the Asian Games, writes MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince . In a 6-1 victory over Taiwan on Saturday, Choo hit two two-run home runs, while he added a two-run double against Hong Kong in a 15-0 lead. South Korea has another preliminary-round game Tuesday against Pakistan. The semifinal is Thursday and the gold-medal game is Friday in Guangzhou, China.

If South Korea doesn't win the gold, Choo could apply to become a U.S. citizen.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: November 12, 2010 10:16 am

Indians can't afford Westbrook, but call anyway

Jake Westbrook The Indians have talked to free-agent right-hander Jake Westbrook about returning to Cleveland, the Plain Dealer 's Paul Hoynes writes .

However, a return to Cleveland seems unlikely, as new Indians general manager Chris Antonetti has been given the charge of cutting payroll from $61.5 million at the start of 2010 to somewhere between $40-$50 million.

The Indians are committed to $26.6 million to three players for 2011 -- Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore and Fausto Carmona and have six players eligible for arbitration -- Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jensen Lewis, Chris Perez, Rafael Perez and Joe Smith.

If the Indians tender contracts to all six, well, it'll be interesting if they have enough money to fill out the rest of their roster, much less sign a free agent pitcher who is looking for a two-year deal. Westbrook has reportedly turned down a one-year offer from the Cardinals.

The Denver Post 's Troy Renck says the Rockies are interested in Westbrook, as well.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: November 11, 2010 12:52 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2010 11:10 am

MLB Facts & Rumors American League MVP

The major baseball awards will be announced next week, and the staff at MLB Facts and Rumors is making our choices this week. Today, David, Evan and Trent name their American League Most Valuable Player selections. As with the BBWAA awards, a first-place vote is worth 14 points, second place nine, third place eight and so forth, with 10th place getting one point.

The American League MVP would have been easy if the season ended int he first week of September, but that's when Josh Hamilton crashed into a wall and broke a few ribs, sidelining him for nearly a month. Was that enough to give Detroit's Miguel Cabrera the MVP? Or was Jose Bautista's 54-homer season good enough to win the honor?


Josh Hamilton David Andriesen
1. Josh Hamilton, Rangers
2. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
3. Adrian Beltre, Red Sox
4. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
5. Robinson Cano, Yankees
6. Evan Longoria, Rays
7. Paul Konerko, White Sox
8. Carl Crawford, Rays
9. Shin-Soo Choo, Indians
10. Joe Mauer, Twins

Hamilton led all of baseball in batting average and WAR (wins above replacement), while playing center field and dealing with nagging injuries. Yes, he only played 133 regular-season games, but Joe Mauer won last year with 135. Cabrera was scary good, finishing in the top
three in every Triple Crown category, but Hamilton played better with more on the line.

Evan Brunell
1. JoshHamilton, Rangers
2. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
3. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
4. Adrian Beltre, Red Sox
5. Robinson Cano, Yankees
6. Evan Longoria, Rays
7. Shin-Soo Choo, Indians
8. Carl Crawford, Rays
9. Paul Konerko, White Sox
10. Daric Barton, Athletics

Hamilton had a sublime season, leading baseball in batting average (.359) and slugging percentage (.633). In counting stats, his 30 HR and 100 RBI don't exactly blow anyone off the map, but don't forget he missed most of September.

C. Trent Rosecrans
1.  Josh Hamilton, Rangers
2. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
3. Evan Longoria, Rays
4. Robinson Cano, Yankees
5. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
6. Felix Hernandez, Mariners
7. Adrian Beltre, Red Sox
8. Shin-Soo Choo, Indians
9. Joe Mauer, Twins
10. Paul Konerko, White Sox

Hamilton missed most of September, but it didn't really mean anything to his team, because he was so good until that point that the Rangers had a cushion. There were other players with really good years, Cabrera and Cano among them, but they were still behind what Hamilton's amazing season. I think Longoria sometimes gets overlooked, but he doesn't deserve the nod over Hamilton. I do find it interesting that I'm the only one with a pitcher listed.

MLB Facts and Rumors American League Most Valuable Player
As good a season as Cabrera had, it's a runaway for Hamilton, who was unanimous in our small poll, followed by Miguel Cabrera and Jose Bautista. That said, expect Cabrera and maybe even Cano to garner first-place votes when the BBWAA announces its winners on Nov. 23, but Hamilton will still likely win by a comfortable margin.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: November 10, 2010 11:07 pm

Nix may play third for Indians

Nix The Indians may be grooming Jayson Nix to play third base, but nobody knows.

"It remains to be seen," Nix said in a recent interview per MLB.com . "Nobody can say right now what the situation is going to be like next year."

Nix, claimed off waivers from the White Sox in June, finally may be living up to his first-round billing by hitting 13 home runs in 306 plate appearances. His batting average is just .234, but at age 28, you don't just ignore that kind of power outburst from a former first-round pick.

That said, Nix, needs to increase his versality beyond second base and really focus on third. Nix had just 28 games experience at the position before 2010, but was asked to appear in 40 games and did not impress. If he can change that, Nix could find himself with a starting spot since the Indians have an open spot at the hot corner. Will they fill it internally (Nix) or through a signing or trade?

If it's the latter, Nix would likely be a infield backup while the starter would be on short years so as to not block Lonnie Chisenhall.

"The game deserves your very best effort, physically, mentally and emotionally," Nix said. "When you're here, the game and everybody playing it deserves that kind of respect and effort. Playing the game right is something I take a lot of pride in. No matter the situation or the score, no matter the time of year or anything, whether it's here in the big league season or going to winter ball, the game requires that."

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
Posted on: November 5, 2010 9:58 am

Indians outright Marte

As reported by Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer, the Indians have outrighted infielder Andy Marte to Triple-A Columbus, paving the way for his departure from an organization where he was once seen as a can't-miss prospect.

Marte (trivia bit -- after playing just 25 major-league games in 2005, he was traded straight up for World Series MVP Edgar Renteria) can now elect free agency. Marte, 27, played 80 games for the Indians last season, batting .229/.228/.382 with 19 RBI. He split time between first and third, and even pitched a perfect inning in a blowout loss to the Yankees on July 29.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: November 4, 2010 4:19 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:32 pm

Bruce, O'Day among Super Twos

Brad Ziegler, the right-handed sidearmed reliever, is the lucky winner of the Super Two cutoff date this year with two years, 122 days of service time, according to the list sent to agents by the MLB Players Association. Super Two qualify for salary arbitration early.

The cutoff this season is lower than it has been in recent years, perhaps indicating that teams are getting more and more careful about how soon they bring up players in attempts to put off arbitration as long as possible.

Leading the list is Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria, who has already been signed to a long-term deal, a deal that's looking better and better by the day for the Rays.

Here's the list:

Jay Bruce Player 2009 Club Total Service
Evan Longoria Tampa Bay 2.170
Jim Johnson Baltimore 2.165
Felipe Paulino Houston 2.163
Josh Fields Kansas City 2.159
Kyle Kendrick Philadelphia 2.159
Sean White Seattle 2.156
Ian Stewart Colorado 2.154
Dana Eveland* Pittsburgh 2.152
Luke Hochevar Kansas City 2.151
Armando Galarraga Detroit 2.148
Burke Badenhop Florida 2.143
Ross Ohlendorf Pittsburgh 2.139
Chris Perez Cleveland 2.136
Alberto Gonzalez Washington 2.135
Jensen Lewis Cleveland 2.133
Darren O'Day Texas 2.128
Jay Bruce Cincinnati 2.125
Chase Headley San Diego 2.123
Travis Buck Oakland 2.123
Brad Ziegler Oakland 2.122

It appears that this is the best news for Bruce, O'Day and Perez, who will likely get the biggest bumps in salary from 2010 to 2011.

Of all those players, Bruce (pictured) may have had the best season, hitting .281/.353/.493 with 25 home runs. Perez recorded 23 saves and had a 1.71 ERA as the closer for the Indians once Kerry Wood was sent to the Yankees. O'Day was a valuable member of the Rangers' bullpen, appearing in 72 regular-season games and 11 postseason games. During the Regular season, he had a 2.03 ERA.

All three of those players made $440,000 or less last season.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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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