Tag:Brewers
Posted on: December 12, 2011 5:55 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 3:11 pm
 

Diamondbacks sign Takashi Saito

By Matt Snyder

The Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to terms on a one-year, $1.75 million contract with relief pitcher Takashi Saito, reports CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman.

Saito spent the first three seasons of his MLB career in the NL West, serving as the closer for the Dodgers for most of the 2006-08 seasons. He was an All-Star in 2007. He'll turn 42 before next season, but is still productive -- and that's a pretty cheap salary for a pitcher of his caliber.

Saito worked in 30 games last season for the NL Central champion Brewers, putting together a 2.03 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 23 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings. He'll join David Hernandez in setting up for J.J. Putz, giving a very formidable trio at the end of the ballgame for Arizona. Brad Ziegler is no slouch either, and the D-Backs will now have a full season from him, so the bullpen as a whole will be improved.

List of MLB free agents

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Posted on: December 12, 2011 2:42 pm
 

If you need a third baseman, good luck



By Matt Snyder


Say what you will about Aramis Ramirez -- as many fans seem to have an extreme dislike of him for some reason -- but he was the only starting-caliber third baseman available this offseason.

No, Michael Cuddyer doesn't fit as an everyday third baseman. He played 14 games there in 2010 and zero last season. So he's not included in this discussion and it would be a huge reach to try and claim he is.

The best remaining free agent third baseman is Wilson Betemit. He is a pretty good hitter and is versatile, but he hasn't played in more than 97 games since 2007. And there's a reason he's played for six teams in nine seasons -- he's just not an everyday player.

Hot Stove Season
The other free agent third baseman? Yuck. Casey Blake, Eric Chavez, Greg Dobbs, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Omar Vizquel, Bill Hall, Jorge Cantu, Andy LaRoche and Alex Cora.

It's possible the Phillies trade Placido Polanco, as he's been mentioned in some light rumors, but would it really be a great idea to deal for a 35-year-old who had back issues last season? He's definitely in decline and has very little power.

So unless the Mets shock everyone and put David Wright up for sale, it would appear the guy currently atop the depth chart at third base for all 30 teams will remain there until opening day. The Tigers are probably stuck with Brandon Inge -- and maybe they just bring back Betemit and stick with the same situation as late last season. The Rockies will need to use internal options. The Marlins need to convince Hanley Ramirez he's happy at the hot corner. The Angels have to go with Alberto Callaspo or move Mark Trumbo across the diamond like they've discussed. And, yes, the Phillies are probably stuck with Polanco.

Put simply, the third base market this offseason consisted of one important name. And that name is now on a contract given by the Milwaukee Brewers.

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Posted on: December 12, 2011 12:54 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 6:46 pm
 

Brewers land Aramis Ramirez with three-year deal



By Matt Snyder


Brewers fans are in need of good news, and it's possible this will suffice. Slugging third baseman Aramis Ramirez has signed a three-year deal with Milwaukee, pending a physical, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com has confirmed. The news was first reported by ESPN.com. CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has learned the contract will be worth about $36 million.

Considering free agent Prince Fielder is headed elsewhere -- which is cemented with this signing -- and 2011 NL MVP Ryan Braun will likely be serving a 50-game suspension to open the 2012 season, there was a gaping hole in the middle of the prospective opening-day roster for the defending NL Central champs. While Ramirez isn't anywhere close to being as good as Fielder or Braun in the batter's box, he's a bona fide cleanup hitter.

Brewers' offseason
Ramirez, 33, has been with the Cubs since a midseason trade back in 2003, so he's been a member of three NL Central division championship clubs. He hit .306/.361/.510 with 26 homers, 93 RBI and 35 doubles last season, winning a Silver Slugger award. He's a two-time All-Star and has garnered MVP votes in four different seasons. And playing for a contender was important, which Ramirez believes the Brewers are.

"That was one of his criteria," agent Paul Kinzer said, via the Associated Press. "There were about four teams that he liked that were contenders, and Milwaukee was at the top of his list."

The move rounds out the left side of the Brewers' infield, as they signed Alex Gonzalez to play shortstop last week. Casey McGehee will flip across the diamond and play first base, with Mat Gamel also being in the mix there as well.

Ramirez has played his entire 14-year career in the NL Central.

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Posted on: December 11, 2011 6:48 am
Edited on: December 11, 2011 4:16 pm
 

BBWAA won't strip Ryan Braun of MVP

Ryan Braun

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Baseball Writers Association of America will not strip Ryan Braun of his National League Most Valuable Player award if he is suspended for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug, BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O'Connell told the Los Angeles Times.

Ryan Braun

"I got the same question after Ken Caminiti came clean about his steroids usage, and whether we should give the 1996 MVP award instead to (second-place finisher) Mike Piazza," O'Connell told the newspaper. "The answer is no.

"We did not strip Alex Rodriguez of the 2003 MVP when it was learned later he used PEDs while in Texas.

"The voters used the information they had at the time of the election. I don't see how we can change that."

The Dodgers' Matt Kemp finished second in the MVP voting. Braun received 20 of 32 first-place votes, while Kemp had 10. Braun received 388 total points in the voting to Kemp's 332. Braun finished second on all 12 ballots that didn't vote for him as the first-place finisher. Kemp had 16 second-place votes and six third-place votes. Braun's teammate, Prince Fielder finished third with one first-place vote and 229 total points, followed by Arizona's Justin Upton, who had one first-place vote and 214 total points.

Braun has denied he took PEDs and has appealed the positive test.

The BBWAA, not Major League Baseball, awards the MVP and is in charge of its voting.

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Posted on: December 10, 2011 7:55 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2011 4:39 pm
 

Ryan Braun fails MLB drug test

Ryan Braun

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Ryan Braun, the National League MVP, has failed a drug test given to him in October and could face a 50-game suspension if his appeal is denied, ESPN.com's Mark Fainaru-Wada and T.J. Quinn report. CBSSports.com has confirmed Braun tested positive, however a source tells CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler that while the positive test was for a banned substance, it was not for a perfromance-enhancing drug.

Once Braun was informed he had tested positive, he requested a second test and that one came back negative, the source told Knobler.

It should be noted Manny Ramirez and Edinson Volquez did not specifically test positive for a performance-enhancing drug, but for a male fertility drug that can also be used to mask raised testosterone levels.

Major League Baseball has not announced the positive test because Braun is disputing the result. MLB doesn't announce positive tests until all appeals have been heard and denied. Sources tell CBSSports.com that a decision will not come soon.

"It's B.S.," Braun told USA Today's Bob Nightengale

Braun also told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he wanted to hold a press conference on Saturday, but was advised against it.

"I can't wait to get that opportunity," Braun texted Haudricourt. "This is all B.S. I am completely innocent."  

A spokesman for Braun issued this statement through Braun's agent: "There are highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case which will support Ryan's complete innocence and demonstrate there was absolutely no intentional violation of the program. While Ryan has impeccable character and no previous history, unfortunately, because of the process we have to maintain confidentiality and are not able to discuss it any further, but we are confident he will ultimately be exonerated."

Braun was tested during the playoffs and was notified, according to the ESPN report, later in October.

Ryan Braun

The report says Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone, which was later revealed to be synthetic. MLB has asked the World Anti-Doping Agency lab in Montreal to perform a secondary test. 

A report in the New York Daily News quotes a source as saying Braun's testosterone level was "insanely high" and "twice the level of the highest test ever taken.

In April, Braun signed an extension with the Brewers through the 2020 season worth $105 million.

Braun beat the Dodgers' Matt Kemp for MVP last month, finishing with 20 of the 32 first-place votes and 388 overall points to Kemps' 332. Braun's teammate, Prince Fielder, finished third.

Braun would be the first standing MVP to test positive for PEDs, although several others -- Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Miguel Tejada, Jason Giambi, Ken Caminiti and Jose Canseco -- have either admitted steroid use or been implicated in steroid use. Regardless of the outcome of the appeal, Braun's name will always be lumped in with those players, vindicated or not. Whispers and suspicions have kept Jeff Bagwell out of the Hall of Fame and Braun will have a black mark against him in this positive test. Even if exonerated, there will be doubts because Braun plays for the Brewers, the team formerly owned by commissioner Bud Selig.

Several players before him, including Ramirez and Volquez, have claimed fertility drugs triggered a positive test, but both served their suspensions anyway. Rafael Palmeiro blamed his positive test on a "vitamin B12" shot given to him by Tejada. 

If Braun's appeal is unsuccesful, he'd be the 10th player to receive a 50-game ban under the current testing system, joining Ramirez, Volquez, Yusaku Iriki, Guillermo Mota, Jason Grimsley, Juan Salas, Dan Serafini, Eliezer Alfonzo and J.C. Romero

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Posted on: December 10, 2011 2:59 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 3:13 pm
 

Cardinals, Furcal agree to 2-year deal

Rafael Furcal

By C. Trent Rosecrans

While the Angels were welcoming Albert Pujols in a pep rally in Anaheim, the Cardinals have agreed to a two-year, $14 million deal with shortstop Rafael Furcal, pending a physical, CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler confirms.

Furcal joined the Cardinals at the trade deadline along with case in return for minor-league outfielder Alex Castellanos. Furcal helped sure up the Cardinals' defense on their way to a World Series title.

The 34-year-old hit .255/.316/.418 in 50 games during the regular season with the Cardinals after hitting just .197/.272/.248 for the Dodgers in the final year of his three-year, $30 million deal with the Dodgers.

Furcal played in just a total of 87 regular-season games in 2011 and has played in more than 100 games in a season just once in the last four years..

With the Cardinals' keeping Furcal, it appears Jimmy Rollins doesn't have any more leverage with other teams and will most likely return to the Phillies. The Cardinals and Brewers were the other spots with shortstop openings and money to spend, but St. Louis went with Furcal and Milwaukee turning to Alex Gonzalez

Follow all the free agent moves with the CBSSports.com Free Agent Tracker. 

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Posted on: December 9, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 6:41 pm
 

Best free agents left after winter meetings



By C. Trent Rosecrans

The winter meetings are over and some of the biggest names on the free-agent market are off the table, but that doesn't mean the hot stove has died out. So, the day after Albert Pujols and the Angels shocked the baseball world, here's a look at the top five position players and pitchers left on the market:

Postition players

Prince Fielder1. Prince Fielder -- The 27-year-old Fielder is the biggest fish left on the market, averaging more than 38 home runs in his six full seasons in the big leagues and posting a .929 career OPS. Whoever lands Fielder will get a shot to the lineup. The knock is Fielder's weight and the length of a contract.

Possible landing spots: Brewers, Blue Jays, Cubs, Mariners, Marlins

Carlos Beltran2. Carlos Beltran -- Beltran's been a bit of a forgotten name in all the winter meetings talk. Beltran will be 35 in April and just finished a seven-year deal with the Mets. After being limited by injuries in his last two seasons, Beltran had a bounce-back year, hitting .300/.385/.525 with 22 homers and 84 RBI and doing that in two home ballparks not known to be friendly to hitters, Citi Field and AT&T Park. He can still play center field, but is probably better suited on a corner.

Possible landing spots: Cardinals, Nationals, Red Sox, Tigers, Braves, Mariners, Cubs

Aramis Ramirez3. Aramis Ramirez -- Even though he has 14 years in the big leagues under his belt, Ramirez is just 33 and coming off a .306/.361/.510 season with 26 homers and 93 RBI. A two-time All-Star, he's by far the best third baseman on the market -- and it's not even close.

Possible landing spots: Brewers, Phillies, Marlins

Michael Cuddyer4. Michael Cuddyer -- Cuddyer will be 33 in March and can play both the corner outfield and infield spots, offering teams a versatile player. He hit .284/.346/.459 with 20 homers last season and hit 32 homers in 2009 before the Twins moved to spacious Target Field. The Twins have reportedly already offered him a three-year deal, as have the Rockies.

Possible landing spots: Rockies, Twins, Phillies, Giants, Red Sox

Jimmy Rollins5. Jimmy Rollins -- It seems odd to consider the 2007 MVP in anything but a Phillies uniform, but Pujols is now in California, so anything's possible. Rollins' offensive numbers have dropped off since his MVP season, but he still plays a premium position -- and one a couple of teams need to fill. A three-time Gold Glove winner, Rollins turned 33 last month. If he re-signs with the Phillies, it could be his last contract. Rollins is reportedly searching for a five-year contract, a tactic that may scare away every team other than the Phillies.

Possible landing spots: Phillies, Cardinals

Pitchers

Yu Darvish1. Yu Darvish -- The 25-year-old Japanese right-hander will reportedly be posted and has been seen as perhaps the best starter available. There's no shortage of teams that could be interested in Darvish, but the history of recent big-ticket Japanese pitchers could scare off some suitors and keep the posting fee lower than expected. Once his team in Japan, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighers, accept the posting, the winning team still has to negotiate with Darvish. The posting system, though, gives a chance for a surprise team to emerge the winner.

Possible landing spots: Rangers, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees, Nationals, Royals

Hiroki Kuroda2. Hiroki Kuroda -- There's no question of how Kuroda will perform in the big leagues -- he's gone 41-46 with a 3.45 ERA in four seasons with the Dodgers. Kuroda had a 13-16 record in 2011, despite putting up just a 3.07 ERA. He told the team he wouldn't give up his no-trade protection at the trade deadline, but the Dodgers have already found replacements for him in the rotation. He has one offer on the table already from the Hiroshima Carp in Japan, but would make more money in the U.S.

Possible landing spots: Cubs, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Red Sox, Carp

Edwin Jackson3. Edwin Jackson -- The fact that Jackson has already played for six different teams and he's just 28 may raise some flags, but he's also had six teams want him at some point and for good reason. Although Jackson has battled inconsistency, he's still had results at times. He was 12-9 with a 3.79 ERA for the Cardinals and White Sox last season. He's not a No. 1, but he's younger than some of the other second-tier starters on the market, increasing his value.

Possible landing spots: Twins, Rangers, Yankees, Cubs, Royals, Nationals, Pirates, Rockies, Orioles

Ryan Madson4. Ryan Madson -- Even though there were reports the right-hander had agreed to return to the Phillies earlier this offseason, the team turned to Jonathan Papelbon instead. The Red Sox, who along with the Reds, are still searching for a closer could end up signing Madson and seem the best fit. In his firs tseason as the Phillies' closer, Madson recorded 32 saves, going 4-2 with a 2.37 ERA, striking out 62 batters in 60 2/3 innings.

Possible landing spots: Red Sox, Reds, Phillies

Francisco Cordero5. Francisco Cordero -- Like Madson, Cordero seems to be on the outside of the closer game of musical chairs. The Red Sox and Reds are the only team left looking for a closer. The Reds were interested in bringing back Cordero with a discount after declining their $12 million option on the 36-year-old right-hander. Cordero converted 37 saves last season and 150 in four years in Cincinnati.

Possible landing spots: Red Sox, Reds, Twins

Follow all the free agent moves with the CBSSports.com Free Agent Tracker 

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Posted on: December 8, 2011 5:39 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 5:46 pm
 

12 players taken in Rule 5 Draft

By C. Trent Rosecrans
MLB Winter Meetings

You may have missed it -- and for good reasons -- but 12 players were taken in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday, in what usually signals the end of the winter meetings. It was the fewest number of players taken in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 draft since 2005

The Rule 5 Draft allows teams to take eligible players left unprotected on other teams' 40-man roster for $50,000. A player has to stay on a team's active Major League roster for the entire next season or be offered back to the original club for $25,000. Teams can also work out a trade with their old team to keep the player and send him to the minors. There have been some huge names selected in the Rule 5 Draft, including Josh Hamilton, Jose Bautista and Dan Uggla, but more often than not, players don't even make it out of spring training. Chances are one or two of the 12 selected on Thursday will make it on an opening day roster, but it's unlikely any of them will stick, based on previous numbers.

But hey, it happened today and some teams got some guys -- while the Angels added Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. So, who are the 12? Here we go, listed by their new team and their old team in parentheses:

Astros: RHP Rhiner Cruz (Mets) -- A reliever, Cruz when 5-3 with seven saves and a 3.89 ERA at High-A and Double-A.

Twins: RHP Terry Doyle (White Sox) -- Doyle went 8-10 at High-A and Double-A with a 3.07 ERA in 26 starts, striking out 122 and walking 33 in 173 innings.

Mariners: LHP Lucas Luetge (Brewers) -- In his second year in Double-A, he struck out exactly a batter an inning and finsihed with a 3.13 ERA.

Orioles: 2B Ryan Flaherty (Cubs) -- A former first-rounder, the left-handed hitter hit .305/.384/.523 with 14 homers at Double-A, but then struggled at Triple-A, hitting .237/.277/.399 with five home runs.

Yankees: LHP Cesar Cabral (Red Sox) -- Actually picked by the Royals, but traded to the Yankees for cash, Cabral struck out 70 batters in 55 innings, walking 21. He was 3-4 overall in 36 games in relief with a 2.95 ERA at High-A and Double-A.

Cubs: RHP Lendy Castillo (Phillies) -- A former infielder, Castillo started two of his 21 games at Low-A Lakewood in 2011, going 4-2 with a 2.54 ERA, striking out 46 batters in as many innings.

Pirates: SS Gustavo Nunez (Tigers) -- The switch-hitter hit a combined .276/.333/.386 at High-A and Double-A, but struggled at the higher level.

Braves: LHP Robert Fish (Angels) -- Fish throws 95 mph and struck out 44 batters in 33 1/3 innings in Rookie ball and Double-A. Most of his time was spent at Double-A where he was 1-0 with a 3.26 ERA and two saves.

Cardinals: OF Erik Komatsu (Nationals) -- The Nationals acquired the speedy outfielder in the middle of 2011. He hit a combined .277/.367/.382 with seven home runs and 21 stolen bases between two different Double-A teams. 

Red Sox: SS Marwin Gonzalez (Cubs) -- The switch-hitter hit .288/.343/.400 with 30 doubles between Double-A and Triple-A. 

Diamondbacks: RHP Brett Lorin (Pirates) -- The 24-year-old stands 6-foot-7 and went 7-6 with a 2.84 ERA at High-A Bradenton, striking out 7.6 batters per nine innings.

Yankees: RHP Brad Meyers (Nationals) --  The starter pitched at three different levels in 2011, the majority coming at Triple-A, where he was 6-5 with a 3.48 ERA and struck out 74 in 95 2/3 innings.

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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