Category:MLB
Posted on: March 5, 2012 12:36 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 12:50 pm
 

Suit against Wilpons clears hurdle

By Dayn Perry

The Wilpon family, owners/saboteurs of the New York Mets, suffered a courtroom setback today, report Terri Thompson and Michael O'Keefe of the New York Daily News:

A federal judge in Manhattan ruled Monday that the contentious and highly public battle between the owners of the New York Mets and the trustee overseeing the Bernard L. Madoff bankruptcy case will proceed to trial, continuing a case marred by leaks and sordid accusations that has jeopardized the ownership of the Mets for more than a year. U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff refused to dismiss the suit, ruling that the trustee, Irving Picard, can proceed to trial on three counts against Fred and Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz and their partners in Sterling Equities and can claim as much as $83.3 million in “fictitious profits” without a trial.

The Wilpons, whose Madoff entanglements have already whittled down the family fortune, are already pawning off ownership stakes in the team, so it goes without saying that they can't afford a such a pricey judgement against them. On the other hand, anything that puts the House of Wilpon on the log flume out of Queens is probably good news for beleaguered Mets fans.

UPDATE: Adam Rubin tweets that this might not be entirely bad news for the Wilpons.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 5, 2012 11:08 am
Edited on: March 5, 2012 11:32 am
 

Andrew Cashner throws rather hard

Andrew CashnerBy Dayn Perry

Andrew Cashner, the 25-year-old right-hander and former Cubs first-rounder who was dealt to the Padres this offseason as part of the Anthony Rizzo swap, may yet fulfill his substantial promise. He was legendarily stingy with the home run coming up through the minors, and he boasts a fairly devastating fastball-slider combo. And then there's this: on Sunday, Cashner had a relaxing, just-stretching-the-legs, easy-breezy sort of outing against the Mariners that consisted of (apologies for the forthcoming all-caps, but it's justified) THROWING 10 FOUR-SEAMERS THAT AVERAGED 102.2 MPH.

Once more for emphasis: Cashner threw 10 pitches in his first official spring outing and averaged comfortably better than 100 mph. He topped out at 103.3, a figure that can safely be called "Aroldissian." I don't normally resort to exclamation marks, but: !.

Velocity, of course, isn't everything and we're talking about a vanishingly small sample of pitches, but if this proves sustainable then Cashner is going to be something to behold in 2012.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 10:21 am
Edited on: March 5, 2012 10:44 am
 

A's future in Oakland uncertain



By Dayn Perry


Bill Madden of the New York Daily News raised eyebrows and hackles when he reported over the weekend that the A’s longed-for move from Oakland to San Jose would not happen. It would not happen, Madden reported, because MLB would choose not to violate the Giants’ nebulous territorial rights to the San Jose area. (Yes, there exists a world in which Oakland across the Bay is not an encroachment but San Jose, an hour or so away via the 101, is.)

An MLB source, of course, denies that any decision has been made with regard to the A’s bold step of moving farther away from the Giants, reports Joe Stiglich of the San Jose Mercury News. If, however, the smoke leads to fire, then one must ask: What will become of the A’s? Will we once again be subjected to half-serious rumors of contraction? Are the Portland/Las Vegas/San Antonio/Charlotte/New Jersey/Mexico City A’s in our future? Will the status remain quo? BizofBaseball’s Maury Brown, via Twitter, sums it up thus:

“A's: chances of contraction? 0. Chances for San Jose? Dwindling. Chances for Oakland? Low. Chance of sale? Rising.”

At which point, one assumes, the dance will continue.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 9:26 am
Edited on: March 5, 2012 9:40 am
 

Red Sox stepping up pursuit of Oswalt?



By Dayn Perry


It’s been assumed for some time that the semi-coveted Roy Oswalt would wait until well into the season to sign and thus ape Roger Clemens’s strategy from 2007, when the Yankees paid him $17.4 million to pitch 99 innings from June onward (and bring Suzyn Waldman to the brink of ecstatic madness).

Now, however, the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reports that the Red Sox could “put on a full-court press” for the 34-year-old right-hander. Cafardo reports that the intensity of said full-court press could be influenced by closer Andrew Bailey’s strained lat and whether or not Daniel Bard, who’s slated for rotation duty this season, is forced back into a relief role as a result. Given Bailey’s injury, Bard’s somewhat limited repertoire and the terminal health concerns of Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz, Boston may need Oswalt more than St. Louis and Texas -- the other two teams for whom he’s reportedly willing to play. Hence the urgency. 

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Category: MLB
Posted on: March 5, 2012 8:02 am
Edited on: March 5, 2012 10:58 am
 

Pirates lock up McCutchen to 6-year, $51.5 M deal

Andrew McCutchen

By C. Trent Rosecrans


The Pirates have locked up center fielder Andrew McCutchen to a six-year, $51.5 million contract, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman confirms.

The 25-year-old McCutchen made his first All-Star team in 2011 and was scheduled to be arbitration eligible after this season. The new deal buys out not only his three arbitration years, but also two free agent seasons and gives the Pirates a club option for another, giving Pittsburgh control over him through the 2018 season.

The deal is similar to the one NL Central rival Jay Bruce (six years, $51 million) signed a year ago with the Reds and the one Justin Upton signed before the 2010 season (six years, $51.25 million) with the Diamondbacks.

It also assures the Pirates will be able to build around the young star. Last season, McCutchen's batting average dropped, but his on-base percentage stayed steady and his home run and RBI totals jumped, as he emerged as one of the young stars of the game. McCutchen hit .259/.364/.456 with 23 homers and 89 RBI in 2011, while stealing 23 bases. Overall, he's hit .276/.365/.458 in three seasons in Pittsburgh, while playing a solid center field.

This is the type of move that helps the Pirates more than most teams. Pittsburgh has lost many of its young, talented players to free agency. This proactive move keeps McCutchen in Pittsburgh and allows Pirate fans a piece of mind that he'll be around in the long term. It also gives McCutchen a big payday before he would otherwise be eligible.

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Posted on: March 4, 2012 10:21 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 10:22 pm
 

Spring primer: Cincinnati Reds



By C. Trent Rosecrans


With Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder leaving the National League Central, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty saw an opportunity to take the division. Jocketty traded two of the team's top prospects to San Diego for Mat Latos and fortified the bullpen with the additions of Ryan Madson and Sean Marshall. With Joey Votto under contract for just the next two years, the Reds see these two years as their best chance to win, and the team is going for it.

Major additions: RHP Mat Latos, RHP Ryan Madson, LHP Sean Marshall, OF Ryan Ludwick
Major departures: RHP Francisco Cordero, RHP Edinson Volquez, C Ramon Hernandez, 1B Yonder Alonso

Probable lineup
1. Brandon Phillips 2B
2. Zack Cozart SS
3. Joey Votto 1B
4. Scott Rolen 3B
5. Jay Bruce RF
6. Ryan Ludwick LF
7. Drew Stubbs CF
8. Ryan Hanigan C

Probable rotation
1. Johnny Cueto
2. Mat Latos
3. Bronson Arroyo
4. Mike Leake
5. Homer Bailey

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Ryan Madson
Set-up: LHP Sean Marshall, RHP Nick Masset, LHP Bill Bray

Important bench players
C Devin Mesoraco, OF Chris Heisey, 3B Juan Francisco

Prospect to watch
The Reds sent Alonso to San Diego in the deal that brought Latos to Cincinnati, making many nervous about the post-Votto era. If Votto doesn't re-sign with the Reds, many saw Alonso as the heir apparent. Now that Alonso's out of the picture, the first baseman of the future is Neftali Soto. The 23-year-old was the team's third-round pick in 2007 and played shortstop, third base and catcher in addition to first base. But the team finally left him at first in 2011. The reason the team kept moving him was that his bat has never been an issue. Last season he hit 30 home runs in just 102 games at Double-A Carolina, missing a month with a broken bone in his left wrist. He doesn't walk much (just 103 walks and 375 strikeouts in five minor-league seasons), but he has plenty of power to all fields, with 10 of his 31 homers (including one in four games at Triple-A) were opposite field shots.

Fantasy sleeper: Homer Bailey
"The Reds have been conservative with Bailey and the team hopes that their caution will pay off this season. If he can stay healthy, Bailey has an excellent chance for a breakout season, as he has made steady improvements in his pitch selection, control and efficiency." -- Al Melchior [Full Reds fantasy preview]

Fantasy bust: Ryan Ludwick
"Some observers have pointed to Ludwick's career line at Great American Ball Park (.276/.321/.600) as a sign of an impending comeback season, and it's true that he has had the misfortune of playing in pitchers' parks for most of his career. However, Ludwick has just 19 plate appearances at GABP over the last two years, a time period during which he has seen an erosion of his power numbers, both at home and on the road." -- Al Melchior [Full Reds fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
Not only does Cueto improve upon his breakout 2011, but Latos is even better than he was in the second half of 2011, giving the Reds a dominant and young top of the rotation. Add to that a healthy Arroyo and see Bailey live up to his immense potential -- and the Reds have one of the best rotations in the National League. The offense continues to put up runs and Cincinnati eases into the postseason past the fading Cardinals and Brewers.

Pessimistic outlook
Injuries and unfulfilled potential lead to the second straight season of disappointment on the Ohio River. Not only does the starting pitching falter, but Stubbs breaks Mark Reynolds' single-season strikeout record, Bruce isn't able to make adjustments and rookies Mesoraco and Cozart play like rookies at the two most important defensive positions on the diamond. Milwaukee and St. Louis once again are the class of the division, while Pittsburgh improves and not only breaks its 19-year streak of losing seasons, but also leapfrogs the Reds for third in the NL Central. Adding insult to injury, Phillips leaves as a free agent and with the team in flux, Votto is sent away for prospects and another rebuilding job is underway.

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Posted on: March 4, 2012 8:29 pm
 

Injury roundup: Howard, Nix, Madson and more

Ryan HowardBy C. Trent Rosecrans

There is no timetable for Ryan Howard's return to the field after he suffered an infection near the site of his Achilles injury, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters on Sunday.

Howard is currently in a walking boot and fighting the infection with antibiotics. Howard will keep the boot on his left leg for the next week to 10 days.

"Once we're comfortable with where the infection is at, we can be more aggressive with his rehab," Amaro said (DelawareOnline.com).

In other injury news from around baseball on Sunday:

• Phillies outfielder Laynce Nix is limited to pinch-hitting and DH roles while he deals with tightness in his hamstring. Nix is expected to be in competition for the Phillies' job in left field, but Philadelphia is being cautious with him. The left-handed Nix is also expected to play some first base in Howard's absence. [DelawareOnline.com]

• New Reds closer Ryan Madson has a "minor" elbow injury and hasn't appeared in either of the Reds' first two spring games.

"He has a little irritation in his arm," manager Dusty Baker said (MLB.com). "The doctor looked at him today. Hopefully he will be all right in the next couple of days."

• David Wright will sit out at least the first two games of the exhibition season with pain in his left ribcage. Wright is still working out with the team, but the team is being cautious.

"We're going to hold him out until he's asymptomatic," general manager Sandy Alderson told reporters. [New York Times]

• Marlins right-hander Anibal Sanchez will rest his shoulder two more days before determining when he can return to the mound.

"I want to make sure everything is fine," Sanchez said (Palm Beach Post). "We're early in spring training, no reason to rush. I want to make sure nothing is bothering me."

He felt soreness in his should after a bullpen on Friday.

• Plenty of injury news from Rays camp -- left-hander Matt Moore threw off the mound for the first time in more than a week on Saturday, and on Sunday said he felt "normal." The left-hander had suffered from a lower abdominal strain and expects to throw again Monday and batting practice on Thursday. He could appear in an exhibition game as early as next weekend. Third baseman Evan Longoria said his bruised right hand should be good enough for him to play Tuesday, if not Monday. First baseman Carlos Pena and DH Luke Scott will take BP on Monday and expect to play as soon as Tuesday, but at least sometime in the coming week. [Tampa Bay Times]

• Giants reliever Dan Runzler will meet with Dr. James Andrews on Monday to get a second opinion on how to treat his strained lat muscle. Runzler's initial diagnosis has him out three-to-four weeks. [San Francisco Chronicle]

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Posted on: March 4, 2012 6:43 pm
 

Rockies' Nicasio takes a big step forward

Juan Nicasio

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Spring outings are rarely anything to get worked up about, much less a performance in an intrasquad game. But the Rockies' intrasquad game on Sunday had one of the best performances we'll see this spring.

Colorado right-hander Juan Nicasio threw two scoreless innings, striking out two and allowing two hits and hitting a batter. He also hit 97 on the radar gun, while consistently throwing 93-95 and threw 27 strikes in his 35 pitches, according to the Denver Post.

What makes all that different than all the other outings around baseball is that Nicasio was making his first start since suffering a broken neck last August after being hit in the head by a line drive.

Rockies manager Jim Tracy said he was encouraged by the way Nicasio, who could win a spot in the team's rotation, handled himself on Sunday.

"We will see more when he throws against another club," Tracy told the newspaper. "But obviously one of the things we were looking for was his reaction as he goes to throw the pitch -- meaning, is he going to finish the pitch? Or is he going to start fielding his position too soon to protect himself? Will you see some recoil or something like that? But there was absolutely none of that."

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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