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Tag:A.J. Burnett
Posted on: May 19, 2011 12:11 am
Edited on: May 19, 2011 1:35 am
 

Umpire too quick to eject Gonzalez

Chris Dickerson

By C. Trent Rosecrans


This is not to diminish what happened to Chris Dickerson -- it was scary and I surely hope Dickerson is OK -- but the story to me is how home plate umpire Dan Bellino overreacted and tossed pitcher Mike Gonzalez.

Gonzalez had just given up the lead on a two-run double by Robinson Cano and then a 93 mph fastball got away from Gonzalez and hit Dickerson in what appeared to be the helmet. The ball reportedly cracked the helmet and was taken to a Baltimore hospital to be examined.

Dickerson had a welt on his left temple and was replaced by pinch runner A.J. Burnett, but the Orioles had to get another pitcher up and use Jeremy Guthrie -- Thursday's scheduled starter -- to clean up the mess. He allowed a sacrifice fly and then got two more outs to end the inning with the Yankees leading 4-1 in the 15th inning.

There was no reason to toss Gonzalez. The former Pirates closer was held out of the game until the 15th inning for a reason -- he's been horrible this season, allowing 19 hits in 12 2/3 innings and has an ERA of 8.53. Gonzalez later told reporters he'd tried to throw the ball low and away and it got away from him. With a runner on third in an extra-inning game and no outs, there was no reason for him to try to throw at Dickerson, who just came up from the minor leagues on Tuesday. Bellino just saw a batter on the ground and perhaps a scary injury and tossed the pitcher without giving proper thought.

"It was kind of shocking," Gonzalez told the New York Times. "I hit him, and obviously I get thrown out. I was more worried about how he was doing down there. You see a player go down like that, obviously in the head area, I really wasn't sure if he threw me out. First of all, I didn't understand why, and second of all, Dickerson's down there on the ground. That's the last thing you want to see."

Gonzalez said he didn't argue because he didn't think that would be right with Dickerson on the ground -- a classy move on his part.

Bellino wouldn't talk to the Times reporter, but crew chief Brian Gorman said Bellino tossed Gonzalez because he thought it was intentional -- a conclussion with no supporting evidence other than the body. 

Orioles manager Buck Showalter was not happy, according to MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko: "First of all, you take a deep breath. Regardless of what decision that umpire makes, a young umpire just starting out in the major leagues, you've got a guy laying on the ground and you don't know how seriously he's hurt, and I have a lot of concerns for that. I'm not going to go out there and vehemently argue while a guy's laying on the ground, potentially a real tough situation physically."

In the interesting subplot that seems to come up in these extra-long games, the Yankees were forced to shuffle their lineup more to make up for the loss of Dickerson. Eduardo Nunez moved from shortstop to right field and Derek Jeter to abandoned the designated hitter to play shortstop. 

Meanwhile, Showalter said he may start Brad Bergesen to start Thursday night against the Yankees. Baltimore was rained out on Tuesday, giving Showalter some flexibility with his rotation.

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Posted on: April 25, 2011 8:51 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 9:11 pm
 

No-hitter alert: Humber through 6

By C. Trent Rosecrans

UPDATE: Alex Rodriguez's grounder up the middle with one out in the seventh broke up Humber's no-hit bid. After getting Curtis Granderson to ground out to start the inning, Humber walked Mark Teixeira before giving up the single to Rodriguez. Humber struck out Robinson Cano and then got Nick Swisher to ground out to end the inning and preserve Chicago's 1-0 lead after seven innings.

------

Philip HumberIn our most surprising no-hitter watch so far this season, White Sox right-hander Philip Humber has held the Yankees without a hit through six innings in New York.

Humber, a first-round pick out of Rice in 2004 that has played for the Mets, is making his fourth start of the season and sixth of his career. Humber, who was part of the Johan Santana in 2008, pitched for the Royals last season and was claimed off waivers by the Athletics in December, only to be waived by Oakland in January when he was claimed by Chicago.

Humber hit a batter and walked one, while striking out four.

Yankees starter A.J. Burnett has been almost as good, allowing a run on two hits. The White Sox lead 1-0 in the seventh.

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Posted on: March 29, 2011 5:20 pm
Edited on: March 29, 2011 9:58 pm
 

Five players to improve, five to decline for 2011

By Matt Snyder

Well, it's almost opening day, which means it's time for all us writers to put ourselves out there and make some predictions. In the end, every season is unpredictable and we're bound to be wrong on several of these. That doesn't make it any less fun. It's supposed to be fun, remember?

In this entry, we'll take a look at five players sure to improve upon what we saw in 2011 and five that are going to regress.

Five players who will improve upon 2010

A.J. Burnett, Yankees. He was pretty brutal last season, but it's a new one. Opening day is time for rebirth and we have to turn the page. His xFIP and strand rates from last season both show us he wasn't nearly as bad as his 5.26 ERA showed. His stuff wasn't sharp at all, either, as his lowest K-rate since 2001 illustrates. There are many instances where spring stats don't mean anything (like CC Sabathia, to name a different Yankees hurler), but for someone needing to turn the page like Burnett, it's important to throw well. He did this spring, putting together a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings. More importantly he struck out 11 and walked zero.

Derek Holland, Rangers. The youngster hasn't fared well in the majors thus far, but he's still only 24. He has lock-down dominated the minor leagues since being drafted in 2006. Last season in Triple-A he was 6-2 with a 1.87 ERA. He's 23-9 with a 2.47 ERA in his minor-league career with an outstanding 3.68 strikeouts for every walk. It's time to start showing this potential at the MLB level, and I believe 2011 will be the first step toward doing so.

Matt Kemp, Dodgers. He's refocused after a step backward in 2010. Which is weird to say, considering he had a 107 OPS+ and 28 bombs as a 25 year old -- but it really was a step back from his 2009 season, in which he won both a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove. He's having a solid spring and seems to be happier under Don Mattingly. Expect to see improvements in nearly every category -- except games played, since he appeared in all 162 last year.

James Shields, Rays. The traditional stat categories looked awful for Shields in 2010 -- 13-15, 5.18 -- but he really wasn't that bad. His strikeout rate was the highest of his career, balls in play were hits far too often (.341, as compared to a .308 career mark) and his xFIP was 3.72. If you don't like all the sabermetrics stuff, that's OK, but all of it says he's going to have a huge regression to the mean this year. In layman's terms, expect more 2008 (14-8, 3.56) than 2010.

Justin Upton, Diamondbacks. He appeared headed for superstardom in 2009, but took a step back in 2010. Still, like Kemp, he's awfully young (23) and his OPS+ was still good (111). This season, expect Upton's walk rate to continue to rise, as such he'll run more. Also, his power took a significant dip last season and he wasn't fully healthy. He is now, so look for a big step forward in '11.

Five players who will decline from 2010

Jose Bautista, Blue Jays. I once worked with a guy who liked to say, "just because it's obvious doesn't mean it's not true." Just to clear the air, I don't think Bautista cheated nor do I think last season was anything other than a continuation of his last month in 2009, which resulted from a new swing. I do not, however, think he's ever going to hit more than 40 homers in a season again. He hit 54 last year. Even if he comes through with another big season, he's going to see a huge regression. Think about it, if he hits 35 bombs, that's a whopping 35 percent less than last year.

Mat Latos, Padres. His shoulder issue right now is concerning, as are the giant leaps in workload the past two seasons. Plus, he began to falter down the stretch last year anyway -- going 0-5 with a 8.18 ERA and 2.00 WHIP in his last five starts. And his team is now worse. Basically, I hope you let someone else draft him in Fantasy.

Josh Hamilton, Rangers. Led the majors in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS. Won the MVP. Are those things going to happen again? Technically speaking, it's pretty easy to say he's going to regress even if he has a solid season. If you wanna dig deeper, OK, his BABIP was a stupid .390, his isolated power flew off the charts and his ability to stay on the field must be questioned -- he couldn't even do that last season.

Buster Posey, Giants. His numbers were pretty insane last year in a short time. He struck out at a much lower rate than he ever did in the minors and didn't lose any of his power. There's a reason the "sophomore slump" term has hung around for a while, and it's not because guys automatically just play worse in their second year. It's because advance scouts, pitchers and pitching coaches have a large sample of at-bats to study and can start to find small holes in a swing. Some guys are immune. If Posey is, I'll be wrong in this pick -- and I'm fine with that. He's a very likeable guy.

Jayson Werth, Nationals. I do like that Ryan Zimmerman is his protection, but he's still going to a worse team in a worse lineup in a less homer-friendly ballpark. And now instead of playing behind Halladay/Lee/Oswalt/Hamels/Blanton he has to face them. Then, instead of facing the Nationals' pitching staff 19 times a season he's playing behind them. And he just got a huge, almost inexplicable, contract. It's hard to see him getting better.

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Posted on: March 20, 2011 1:53 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:48 am
 

Pepper: Collins to dial down intensity

Collins

By Evan Brunell

TIME TO LOOSEN UP: Terry Collins is well aware of his reputation as a no-nonsense manager whose intensity lost the respect of his players when he helmed the Astros and Angels.

However, to hear Collins tell it, he realizes where he went wrong and wants to make changes.

 

"I’ve thought about it a lot," he said. "I took it way too serious. Even though I enjoyed it, I didn’t enjoy it. It was all about the winning, winning, winning, instead of enjoying being around these guys and watching them play, enjoying the experience and the challenge of competing. That’s what I love to do.

"There was that thing that I had to prove something. I still want to prove that we’re good enough, but I don’t think it’s the same type of attitude I had in the past. And with that comes the fact that these guys are human beings, and they need communication."

Collins plans to have the Mets play aggressively, as his Angels did -- which still continues to this day under manager Mike Scioscia. He also places a premium on players aspiring to be great and staying focused, which sounds a lot like the old Collins, but the skipper knows that.

"Hopefully, the energy -- or whatever people want to say, the intenseness that I have -- may work here," Collins said. (New York Times)

 

IZZY COULD SET UP: Jason Isringhausen was once one of the Mets' most heralded pitching prospects before injuries completely wrecked his early years. He was later moved to Oakland and became a closer, famous for his time in St. Louis. Now, after missing most of the last two years, Izzy appears poised to set up closer Francisco Rodriguez back in New York. (New York Post)

IT'LL BE PUDGE: After a brief skirmish among Nationals reporters as to the state of the catching, it appears Ivan Rodriguez will certainly start Opening Day for Washington -- but Wilson Ramos figures to get the bulk of work behind the plate in short order. (Washington Post)

NO MORE GUYS: Five Guys is a weakness of Evan's, and it will no longer taunt him in Nationals Park, as the burger chain has opted not to renew its lease despite being one of the more popular options for customers. (Eater.com)

SILVA'S SPOT IN DANGER: Carlos Silva has had a beyond-awful spring training and although he's slated to take the bump once more next Wednesday, that may not happen. Manager Mike Quade and GM Jim Hendry are expected to sit down and make some touch decisions prior to then. It's entirely feasible that Silva will be put out of the running for the No. 5 starter's spot at that time. (Chicago Sun-Times)

GOOD NEWS FOR BREW CREW: Milwaukee already has enough problems figuring out who will replace Zack Greinke in the rotation, so bad news regarding Shaun Marcum is not ideal. However, the righty believes while he may have to skip a start in spring training, he will be on track for the regular season. (MLB.com)

THE NATURAL: Ken Griffey, Jr.'s talent on the field sometimes evoked comparisons to the immortal Ray Hobbs, but who knew that Griffey had untapped potential? Griffey stopped by the Mariners' broadcast booth for five innings Friday and drew rave reviews. (MLB.com)

BENGIE WANTS TO PLAY: Don't call Bengie Molina retired, brother Jose of the Blue Jays says. Rather, Molina isn't interested in playing unless any contract he signs "shows him sufficient respect." Is it just me, or is an offer to extend your career and haul in at least another half-million plenty of respect to give? (FOX Sports)

INCREMENTAL PROGRESS: The Yankees haven't made formal who the Nos. 4 and 5 starters will be (bank on Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia) but now we know who is following CC Sabathia on the mound: A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes, respectively. (New York Post)

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Posted on: March 7, 2011 8:17 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2011 8:45 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/7: Encouraging outings

By Matt Snyder

As we all know -- yet can't emphasize enough -- spring training performances at this point aren't indicative of what we're likely to see during the regular season. That being said, you can pick and choose based upon circumstances which players did something relatively significant, and three starting pitchers in particular took the hill Monday and likely made their respective teams feel pretty happy.

3 UP

1. Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies. The Rockies' ace had his start pushed back a few days due to an infection in his thumb, but he took the hill Monday and showed he was just fine. He worked three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and one walk. It's safe to say there's no reason to worry about him at all the rest of the spring -- assuming he doesn't suffer a different injury.

2. John Lackey, Red Sox. He was a major bust last season, putting up his worst ERA since 2004 and the worst WHIP of his career. Last week, Lackey said he was "tired" of talking about last season. The best way to quiet the critics is to come out and have a good 2011. He's building himself a nice foundation in the spring. He threw four shutout innings Monday, allowing just one hit and no walks.

3. A.J. Burnett, Yankees. After an incredibly disappointing 2010 season, Burnett seems on track to put the negative behind him. He threw three perfect innings Monday, keeping his spring ERA at 0.00. A big season from Burnett would be paramount to the Yankees' success this season.

3 DOWN

1. Mike Leake and Homer Bailey, Reds. The defending NL Central champs have a pretty strong group of guys vying for the last two rotation spots, and neither of the two listed here did much for himself Monday. Bailey started and went 2 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and four earned runs. On the plus side, he did strikeout three while walking none. Leake went three innings, but coughed up nine hits and four earned runs. Travis Wood is the third starter in the mix, and he looked good last time out.

2. Blake DeWitt, Cubs. The second baseman was hitless in three at-bats. Normally that wouldn't be too awful, but his team pounded out 18 hits and 14 runs. He's now just 3 for 18 this spring. To rub salt in the wound, his replacement -- Scott Moore -- hit a grand slam in his first at-bat after taking over for DeWitt.

3. Luis Castillo, Mets. The veteran is in a four-way battle for the job of starting second baseman. After going hitless in three at-bats, he's now 2 for 13 this spring (.154). This coming after new manager Terry Collins has made it known he wants some offense from second. Needless to say, things aren't looking great right now for Castillo.

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Posted on: March 6, 2011 10:09 am
Edited on: March 6, 2011 11:35 am
 

Pepper: Phillie concern

Domonic Brown

By C. Trent Rosecrans

After nothing but (deserved) rave reviews this offseason, reality is hitting the Philadelphia Phillies.

Still the favorite in the National League East, the same problem that kept them in a division race last season is popping up again -- injuries.

Chase Utley is already getting cortisone shots and, as our own Danny Knobler wrote it perfectly, if the Phillies are concerned -- and they're saying they're concerned -- it's not a good sign.

And now Domonic Brown is out with a broken hamate bone in his hand. Although Brown was struggling this spring -- hitless in 15 at-bats -- and was likely headed to Triple-A, he was still part of the team's plans for 2011.

The hamate injury is a tricky one -- he'll likely be able to play this season, but he won't be the same. Last year when I was around the Reds a bit, I talked to two players who were in different stages of the same injury. One, Yonder Alonso, suffered the injury in 2009, the other, Chris Dickerson, had the surgery during last season.

Dickerson was able to return and even played with the Reds and Brewers after the surgery. Alonso had the surgery in June of 2009 and was back that season, as well. However, the injury saps power. Alonso told me several times that the ball just didn't jump off his bat the same, what would be a double in the past wasn't getting past outfielders, and what was a homer in the past just died in the outfield. As doctors told him, about a year fate the surgery, his power was back. 

Brown can return this season, but don't expect him to be the same player he has shown to be in the minor leagues and that he'll be in the future.

The Phillies are counting on Ben Francisco and Ross Gload to fill in for Jayson Werth until Brown is ready. Now they'll be counting on those two longer.

Pitching won't be a problem for Philadelphia, and it wasn't the problem last year. When the team got in trouble, it was injuries and offense. With uncertainly to the health of Utley and then general uncertainty with Jimmy Rollins, there's cause for concern in Philly.

That said, they're still the favorites, but maybe not quite the prohibitive favorites they were before.

STAYING PAT: The Yankees appear to be happy with the starters they have in camp -- CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Sergio Mitre and Ivan Nova.

Brian Cashman tells the Boston Globe the team is unlikely to trade for a starter before opening day.

"Can't rule it out, but it's highly unlikely," Cashman said. "Normally anything of quality doesn't become available until after the June draft. That's why you try and get as much as you can get accomplished in winter."

HOT DOG RUN: Apparently because the team mom forgot the orange slices, after his stint in Saturday's game, Boston's Dustin Pedroia ducked out of the Red Sox clubhouse to the concession stand for three hot dogs.

"They probably didn't think he was a player," Red Sox manager Terry Francona told reporters, including the Providence Journal. "Did you see that outfit he had on? He looks like he's going into second grade."

NATS OPTIMISM: A scout tells Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman (via Twitter) that Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann is "back." He's throwing 94-95 mph with a "superb" slider. Said the scout, "if they had [Stephen] Strasburg, they'd be dangerous."

The Nats don't, but Zimmermann offers hope for 2012, as he had Tommy John surgery in August of 2009, a year before Strasburg. 

AMBASSADOR GRIFFEY: Ken Griffey Jr.'s new job with the Mariners is to be an ambassador of sort, but before he does that, he served the same role for the U.S. State Department in the Philippines. 

Griffey just returned from working with coaches and youth players in the Philippines. 

USA Today's Paul White caught up with him last week before his trip. Griffey still refuses to talk about his exit from the game, but he'll likely be seen around the Mariners some this season. His new job requires about a month's worth of work with the team, doing a little bit of everything.

More importantly, he's being a dad. His daughter Taryn recently led Orlando's Dr. Phillips High School to the Florida girls basketball championship. Taryn Griffey, a freshman point guard, had 21 points in the championship game.

His son, Trey, is a junior safety and wide receiver who is being recruited, as well.

PIAZZA NOT BUYING Mets: Mike Piazza tells the New York Post he's interested in buying part of a baseball team "someday" but not now.

"I think everything is timing," Piazza said. "It's an interesting time in the game. There's a lot of change going on … but as far as anything on the forefront, there's nothing. Let's just say I talked to some people that are interested in getting into the game … It doesn't cost anything to talk. At least not yet."

NO PANIC FOR Braves: Atlanta's 23-year-old Craig Kimbrel has the inside track to replace Billy Wagner as the Braves' closer, but he's not been very good so far this spring. He's struggled with his command and has allowed four runs and six hits in three appearances this spring.

"If there is a trend like this later in the spring, then you start worrying about it," manager Fredi Gonzalez tells MLB.com. "But not right now."

CAIN FEELS BETTER: Giants pitcher Matt Cain played catch for about eight minutes on Saturday and felt no pain in his right elbow.

Cain was scratched from his last start and won't make his scheduled start on Tuesday, either. (MLB.com)

PIONEER LAID TO REST: About 500 people reportedly attended the funeral of Wally Yonamine in Hawaii on Saturday, according to Sanspo (via YakyuBaka.com). A memorial service will also be held in Tokyo later this month.

Yonamine, the first American to play professional baseball in Japan, died earlier this week at 85. The New York Times had a good obituary earlier this week, and a column in the Honolulu Star Advertiser shed light on how Yonamine dealt with death threats and other pressures when he started playing in Japan.

However, Yonamine became a star in Japan and was elected to the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994. He was also the first Asian-American to play in the NFL.

NOT THAT IT'S GONNA HAPPEN: But contraction isn't going to happen.

Union chief Michael Weiner tells the St. Petersburg Times that the union will fight any attempt to contract teams.

"Having been in bargaining in baseball since the late 80s, anything is fathomable, so we don't either take anything for granted or rule anything out," Weiner said. "All I would says is if that changes, if contraction becomes a goal of the owners in this negotiation, the tenor of the talks would change quickly and dramatically."

Bud Selig tells the Los Angeles Times it's not a goal for the owners, and it's certainly not a fight they want to take up.

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Posted on: March 5, 2011 7:28 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2011 7:38 pm
 

Getting to know the Yankees

By Matt Snyder

TEAM MVP

You could create an argument for Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano or Mariano Rivera. Die-hard fans of the Bronx Bombers might want to make the argument for their beloved Derek Jeter. You could even face the taunts of the general public and say Alex Rodriguez. But with the still-developing Phil Hughes, the ever-fickle A.J. Burnett and two -- yet to be named -- mediocre-at-best pitchers comprising the starting rotation, CC Sabathia is the most important cog on the Yankees this season. In two seasons for the Yanks, the big man has gone 40-15 with a 3.27 ERA and nearly 400 strikeouts, garnering two top-five finishes in Cy Young voting. He's eaten 467 2/3 innings during the regular season and was the workhorse en route to a 2009 World Series championship. Even if everything else goes awry with the staff, the Yankees have a reliable ace every fifth day -- assuming he stays healthy. If he doesn't, God help them.

PLAYER ORACLE - Bath Ruth to Derek Jeter (c'mon, had to be done)

Babe Ruth played with Ben Chapman on the 1930 New York Yankees

Ben Chapman played with Early Wynn on the 1941 Washington Senators

Early Wynn played with Tommy John on the 1963 Cleveland Indians

Tommy John played with Roberto Kelly on the 1988 New York Yankees

Roberto Kelly played with Derek Jeter on the 2000 New York Yankees

POP CULTURE

There is so much to choose from here. You've got "The Pride of the Yankees" to "Damn Yankees" to "The Babe" to "The Scout." And many more. Plus, the Yankees more often than not end up being the antagonistic team in baseball movies ("Major League" and "For Love of the Game" come to mind). And that's only movies. The Yankees have been a pop culture fixture for about a century. In fact, there aren't many -- if any -- teams in pro sports more represented in popular culture.

So it was a tough task to just pick one, but I have a soft spot for "The Babe Ruth Story," which was done decades before John Goodman was suiting up as the Sultan of Swat.

And, of course, there is no more single -- possibly real, but possibly not -- sports story more glorified, repeated and legendary than the "called shot" at Wrigley Field.

So here is the clip -- a cheesefest, mind you -- where the Babe throws back a head of lettuce to the Cubs' heckling dugout, calls his shot, hits a home run and saves a young boy's life. All in the span of two minutes and 45 seconds. Yes, all that. Told you it was a cheesefest.



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Posted on: March 3, 2011 9:54 am
Edited on: March 3, 2011 12:30 pm
 

Pepper: Perez's last chance?

Posted by C. Trent Rosecrans
Oliver Perez

For most established big leaguers, it's beyond idiotic to put much stock in many spring training results -- nobody's a star or scrub based solely on a game in the first week of March -- but Oliver Perez isn't the typical case.

The Mets pitcher has been hanging on to his roster spot by a three-year, $36-million thread for a while. In the last year of his ridiculous contract, the left-hander may be released if he "does not show significant improvement over Sunday's two-inning, four-run disappointment" today against the Cardinals, the New York Daily News' Andy Martino writes, citing two "major league sources familiar with the Mets' thinking."

Sunday, Perez was throwing an 84 mph fastball and struggled with his command. He was initially slated as a reliever for today's game, but he will instead start.

Manager Terry Collins said, "I'm quite sure he'll have another try after [Thursday]." But Martino says that may not be the case.

Since signing his big deal (any guess who his agent is?), Perez has gone 3-9 with a 6.81 ERA in 31 games. He made 14 starts in 2009 and seven last season before being put in the bullpen. He didn't pitch at all in June, and pitched just two games in August -- on the first day of the month and the next-to-last day of the month, and just one day in September.

There was talk the Mets would release him after the season, but they gave him one last try -- and that very last try could come today.

SPEAKING OF ALBATROSS CONTRACTS: Bruce Bochy told reporters Wednesday that Barry Zito's spot in the Giants' rotation is secure, despite a San Francisco Chronicle column citing a "source close to the team" as saying his job isn't safe.

General manager Brian Sabean also denied the story was a plant.

"Absolutely, unequivocally not," Sabean told Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. "We have too much respect for players, and more so, I have a great relationship with Barry Zito. If things had gotten to that point, I would have talked to him directly, firsthand."

Zito walked five of the 13 batters he faced in his spring opener on Monday.

A.J. Burnett DOESN'T SUCK? So says, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal.

In fact, Rosenthal points out the much-maligned Yankees' career numbers are pretty darn close to those of Boston's Josh Beckett, another former Marlin. The numbers Rosenthal uses are indeed close -- Burnett is 110-100 with a 3.99 ERA and an opponents' OPS of .701 in his career, while Beckett is 112-74, with a 3.96 ERA and .708 opponents' OPS.

The secret for Burnett to be successful, Rosenthal writes, is for Burnett to believe he can be successful. The Yankees certainly hope that's true.

WHO ISN'T? Speaking of disappointing Red Sox pitchers… John Lackey is "just tired" of talking about his 2010 season, he tells WEEI.com's Rob Bradford.

If I got $18 million to put up a 4.40 ERA. In his first season since coming over from the Angels, Lackey made 33 starts and put up a 14-11 record.

IT'S THE MONEY, STUPID: It's going to be difficult for either Dustin Ackley or Michael Pineda break camp with the Mariners, even if they earn a spot in spring, Larry Stone of the Seattle Times writes, because of the possible Super 2 status.

The Mariners may have to guess when to bring up their talented rookies in hope of not allowing them to reach arbitration eligibility early. To be safe, now most teams wait until June to bring up a heralded prospect. Remember Buster Posey? He was called up to stay last year on May 29.

Recently teams have guessed on when the Super 2 cutoff date would occur and lost on Tim Lincecum (2007) and Jay Bruce (2008) falling before the cutoff date. Teams worried about payroll, like the Mariners, are unlikely to take a gamble.

Ramon HernandezCITIZEN CATCHER: Congratulations to Reds catcher Ramon Hernandez, who took a couple of days off from Cincinnati's camp to go to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to take his United State citizenship test. Hernandez passed the test on Tuesday and will be sworn in at a later date.

"I already live here and I have my life here," Hernandez, a native of Venezuela, told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. "My kids are U.S. citizens and my wife is a U.S. citizen. I'm the only one left. I feel like I've got to do it because I live here."

Hernandez celebrated with a double against the White Sox on Wednesday.

A PITCHER'S BEST FRIEND: A physicist writes an article on Baseball Prospectus stating that if the Diamondbacks used a humidor at Chase Field, they'd see a 37 percent drop in home runs. (Hat tip to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic)

THOSE AREN'T PILLOWS: The Planes, Trains and Automobiles worthy story of Mike Napoli's journey from the Angels to the Blue Jays to the Rangers from the Orange County Register's Bill Plunkett

SOMEONE IS INTERESTED IN THE METS: A group that includes Rays minority owner Randy Frankel and Entourage creator Doug Ellin, is interested in buying a share of the Mets, the New York Times reports.

Frankel would have to sell his share of the Rays, if approved.

THE DOCTOR IS AN IN-PATIENT: While the NFL seems to have someone on every Dancing With the Stars incarnation, MLB will be represented on Celebrity Rehab by former Mets ace Dwight Gooden.

Gooden, 46, will join Lindsay Lohan's dad and the kid from Baywatch on Dr. Drew's show, TMZ.com reports.

MMMM… GRAVY: A flow chart telling you which Major League Baseball team you should root for.

ANIMAL STYLE: For those non-Californians heading out to spring training in Arizona, here's a little help when it comes to the culinary hotspot that is In-N-Out. You've heard of the secret menu? Here's a look at every "secret" item on the menu.

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