Tag:Hunter Pence
Posted on: June 7, 2011 10:31 am
Edited on: June 7, 2011 11:25 am
 

Looking back at second-round picks

Joey Votto

By C. Trent Rosecrans


While the first-round of the MLB Draft is gaining more attention in the last couple of years, the later rounds are where most of the work is done. 

The second round starts today at 11 a.m. ET, so here's a look at some of the best second-round picks in recent memory.

Angels: In 1999, the Angels took John Lackey out of Grayson County Community College with the 68th overall pick in the draft. In 1995, they took Jarrod Washburn with the first pick of the second round.

Astros: Perhaps the team's best player right now, outfielder Hunter Pence, was the 64th overall pick in 2004. 

MLB Draft

Athletics: The A's took Vista, Calif., high schooler Trevor Cahill with the 66th overall pick in 2006. Two years before that they took Kurt Suzuki in the second round and in 2003 they took Andre Ethier in the second round. They traded him for Milton Bradley and Antonio Perez in 2005.

Blue Jays: Right-hander Dave Bush in 2002 is probably the team's best second-round pick since taking Derek Bell in 1987.

Brian McCannBraves: Current first baseman Freddie Freeman was selected with the 78th overall pick in 2007, but the best pick was easily 2002's No. 64 overall pick, a local high school catcher named Brian McCann.

Brewers: The Brewers took Yovani Gallardo with the fifth pick of the second round in 2004.

Cardinals: In 2001, the team took Dan Haren with the 72nd overall pick. More recently, Jon Jay was taken in the second round of the 2006 draft.

Cubs: You have to go back pretty far -- unless you go with Bobby Hill -- to find much success with the Cubs' second-round pick, but if you go as far back as 1984, they took Greg Maddux with the third pick of the second round and he turned out OK. Also among their second-round picks is former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter (1996).

Diamondbacks: A's starter Brett Anderson was Arizona's second-rounder in 2006. He was part of the big trade that send Dan Haren to the Diamondbacks.

Dodgers: The Dodgers got future closer Jonathan Broxton with the 60th overall pick in 2002.

Giants: Of recent vintage, the Giants have taken Nate Schierholtz in 2003 and Fred Lewis in 2002, but the most interesting second-round pick by San Francisco was in 1982. That year they took the son of a team legend with the 11th pick of the second round (39th overall), but Barry Bonds went to Arizona State instead.

Indians: Jason Kipnis is one of the team's top prospects, taken in the second round in 2009. In 1995, the Indians took first baseman Sean Casey out of Richmond with the 53rd overall pick.

Mariners: Recently-demoted Orioles starter Chris Tillman was taken in the second round of the 2006 draft. Keep an eye on 2009 second-rounder Rich Poythress, who had 31 homers in Class A last season.

Mike StantonMarlins: It wasn't until the 12th pick of the second round -- and 76th overall -- for someone to pick up Mike Stanton in 2007. 

Mets: There's some slim pickins for the Mets recently, but few Mets fans would trade their second-rounder of 1977, Mookie Wilson. (Seriously, this one was tough, the only players the Mets have picked in the last 15 years who have made the majors were Kevin Mulvey, Neal Musser, Pat Strange and Tyler Walker -- maybe that explains some things.)

Nationals (Expos): Jordan Zimmermann was the team's second-rounder in 2007. Current Reds All-Star second baseman Brandon Phillips was taken by the Expos with the sixth pick of the second round in 1999.

Orioles: Nolan Reimold was taken 61st overall in 2005, but if you want to go back a few years, the team took Cal Ripken with the 22nd pick of the second round in the 1978 draft. Ripken was the third of four picks the Orioles had in the second round that year.

Padres: San Diego took Chase Hedley in 2005.

Phillies: Jimmy Rollins was the team's second-rounder in 1996, going 46th overall.

Pirates: Last year's pick was Stetson Allie, who many expected to go in the first round. Lefty Tom Gorzelanny was taken in the second round in 2003 and catcher Ryan Doumit was taken 59th overall in 1999.

Rangers: The only player taken by the Rangers in the second round of the last decade to make the majors is Jason Bourgeois.

Rays: The Rays famously took Josh Hamilton No. 1 overall in 1999, but their second-round pick that year was pretty good too -- Carl Crawford.

Red Sox: How about Justin Masterson (2006), Dustin Pedroia (2004) and Jon Lester (2002)?

Reds: NL MVP Joey Votto (2002) was the third pick of the second round (44th overall) and Travis Wood was taken in the second round of the 2005 draft. Keep an eye on 2009 pick Billy Hamilton, who already has 45 stolen bases this season for Class A Dayton.

Rockies: For recent vintage, Seth Smith (2004) is the pick, but you can go back a few years and pick Aaron Cook (1997).

George BrettRoyals: For all the prospects the Royals have stockpiled in the last couple of years, strangely not too many are second-rounders. Outfielder Brett Eibner (2010) was the only member of the Royals' Top 10 by Baseball America taken in the second round. You have to go back to Carlos Beltran (1995), Jon Lieber (1992), Bob Hamelin (1988), Mark Gubicza (1981), Darryl Motley (1978) and Dennis Leonard (1972) to find serious big-leaguers. Oh, and also a kid out of El Segundo, Calif., in 1971 named George Brett. He was pretty good, too.

Tigers: The Tigers took Brandon Inge with the 14th pick of the 1998 draft as a catcher out of Virginia Commonwealth. In 1976, Alan Trammell was the second pick of the round.

Twins: A nice run of arms earlier in the decade with Kevin Slowey (2005), Anthony Swarzak (2004), Scott Baker (2003) and Jesse Crain (2002). Frank Viola was the team's second-rounder in 1981.

White Sox: A's outfielder Ryan Sweeney (2003) is the team's best second-rounder since Bob Wickman (1990) -- not counting Jeff Weaver, who went back to school after he was picked in 1997 and was taken by the Tigers a year later.

Yankees: In the last 20 years, only two Yankees second-rounders have made the big leagues, Shelley Duncan (2001) and Randy Keisler (1998). Catching prospect Austin Romine was the team's second-rounder in 2007. In 1982, the team did take a shortstop from McAdory High School in Bessemer, Ala., who went on to play football at Auburn instead. His name is Bo Jackson. That was the year after the team took Stanford outfielder John Elway.

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Posted on: June 2, 2011 5:38 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 7:22 pm
 

On Deck: Cy Young candidates battle

On Deck

By Evan Brunell
ShieldsHernandezBEST MATCHUP: "King" Felix Hernandez, last season's CY Young Award winner, takes the mound Thursday night against James Shields, who could very well walk away with this year's Cy Young. Shields has been excellent all season in a regression to the mean from his unlucky 2010 season. The Ray is now 5-2 with a 2.15 ERA and has a plum matchup against a decrepit offense. But Hernandez is obviously no slouch and has kept up his status as one of (if not the) game's best pitchers with a 3.19 ERA. Seattle is one game over .500 thanks to the work of the pitching staff. The Mariners are looking to avoid dropping three games behind the first-place Yankees and two games behind the Red Sox on a day when both New York and Boston are off. Rays at Mariners, 10:10 p.m. ET

RAngersIndiansFIRST PLACE BATTLE: The Indians and Rangers are both in first place, and the four-game series that's beginning between the two could have division implications. The Tigers have been playing well as of late and could be sniffing at Cleveland's heels if the Indians lose the series. Beginning Friday, the Tigers will face the White Sox, who are coming off a sweep of the Red Sox and looking to get back into the race themselves. Conversely, the Mariners are only 1 1/2 games behind the Rangers, with the Angels two back and Oakland three. That's a slim margin of error for Texas. Even a series split could have ramifications depending on the play of the other teams involved. David Bush will make a spot start for Texas -- his third of the year -- while Carlos Carrasco aims to keep his ERA under 5.00 after finally dropping it to 4.97 last time out against the Rays. Rangers at Indians, 7:05 p.m. ET

PenceLOSING RECORDS: Bud Norris and Tim Stauffer both have losing records for the Astros and Padres, respectively, but that's because their teams have each lost over 30 games. Norris and Stauffer have actually been among their team's best pitchers, with Norris' breakout year checking in with a 3.76 ERA, 73 punchouts in 67 innings and just 25 walks. Despite a 3.60 ERA, Stauffer only recently earned his first victory of the year. With the series in San Diego, it's crucial for Hunter Pence (pictured) to keep swinging the way he has for Houston. His bat propelled the Astros to their first road sweep of the year, which they completed Wednesday with a victory over the Cubs. In the midst of a 13-game hitting streak, Pence's average has jumped almost 40 points to .317, but he has a career .117 mark at Petco Park. Astros at Padres, 10:05 p.m. ET

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





Posted on: April 24, 2011 7:11 pm
Edited on: April 24, 2011 7:40 pm
 

Hawk steals show in Milwaukee

Miller Park Hawk
By C. Trent Rosecrans

Randy Wolf allowed just four hits over eight innings, but a hawk stole the show at Miller Park on Sunday.

With the roof closed at Miller Park, a hawk hunted another bird and was the center of attention for much of the Brewers' 4-1 victory. The hawk attacked the other bird in center field in the top of the third and then hung out around Astros right fielder Hunter Pence in the bottom half of the inning.

"Whatever that was, a pigeon, it looked scared. It looked at me like, why is the roof closed? I can't get out of here," Wolf told reporters, according to the Associated Press. 

Wolf said the bird also "buzzed my tower" during his third victory over the season. Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said he thought the bird was going to attack.

Astros second baseman Bill Hall was close to the bird in its third inning.

"He was on the outfield grass, hanging out. Wasn't a lot of action [in his direction] during the time he was out there," Hall said. "I don't know when he got up and flew away. Obviously, he was having a good time out there."

It was apparently a good thing neither Hall nor Pence approached the hawk.

"It's really unlikely for a bird like that to get aggressive, unless somebody was coming after him, trying to pick him up or getting to close to his nest," Heather Neldner, a zookeeper in the Milwaukee County Zoo's aviary, told MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. "If he's just sitting there, minding his own business, it's unlikely that he would go after a random person."

And like any celebrity, the Miller Park Hawk had his own Twitter account created during the game -- @MillerParkHawk. The hawk, of course, is following Pence, @HunterPence9, on the social networking site.

After the game, Brewers pitcher LaTroy Hawkins noted on Twitter it was indeed a hawk, and write "At least one Hawk was seen Today!" And, of course, it should be noted Hawkins was the favorite Brewer of the hawk, according to @MillerParkHawk.

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Posted on: March 29, 2011 5:56 pm
Edited on: March 29, 2011 9:35 pm
 

Five teams to improve, five to decline in 2011

By Matt Snyder

Finally, spring training is concluding. Now we have a day or two before your favorite team begins play. In the meantime, I'm here to bring you the top five teams to decline and the top five to improve upon their 2010 performances. In return, you accuse me of bias and call me names. It's fun for everyone, really. One thing to keep in mind is that improving or declining by more than 10 games is pretty drastic. On some of these, I'm looking at something like a seven-game swing.

TOP FIVE TEAMS TO IMPROVE

1. Boston Red Sox. Well, let's see ... Last season Kevin Youkilis only played 102 games, Dustin Pedroia saw action in 75 and Jacoby Ellsbury just 18. Josh Beckett was either injured or ineffective all season. Meanwhile the Red Sox added Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to a team that won 89 games, despite all those injury woes -- and some underachieving from people like John Lackey. Easiest call on the board here, and even Yankees fans would have to concede this team is loaded.

2. Oakland A's. The pitching staff is stellar, even including the bullpen. The starting rotation is already really good and only getting better. The A's won 81 with one of the worst offenses in baseball last season. A full season of Coco Crisp, Kurt Suzuki bouncing back and the additions of Hideki Matsui and Josh Willingham don't exactly sound like adding Gonzalez and Crawford, but small improvements will do wonders for the pitching staff. Slugger Chris Carter is waiting in the wings, too, and don't be surprised if Billy Beane adds a bat at the deadline.

3. Colorado Rockies. Troy Tulowitzki needs to stay healthy and Dexter Fowler needs to get closer to his ceiling. I'm going out on a limb that both happen, along with steps forward from Chris Iannetta and Ian Stewart. Watch Jhoulys Chacin's development in the starting rotation, too. He's got big potential.

4. Milwaukee Brewers. This is contingent upon the big names staying healthy and Zack Greinke getting healthy as soon as possible, because this team is paper-thin. But the top line is very impressive. Plus, the division is not very good at all. The Brewers are going to score runs, get good starting pitching (again, assuming the health thing) and have a good back-end of the bullpen. If they can overcome defense and depth deficiencies, they'll win the Central.

5. Florida Marlins. Call it a bit of a gut call, but I really like the Marlins. The rotation really has great potential with Javier Vazquez returning to a pitcher's park in the NL East (he's apparently too intimidated by being a Yankee) and Ricky Nolasco having the ability to be a true No. 2 if he can ever stay consistent. Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad have -- again, this word -- potential to be solid at the end, with stud Josh Johnson leading the five-some. I love the outfield potential of Logan Morrison, Chris Coghlan and Mike Stanton, so long as all three can stay healthy. Hanley Ramirez is primed to have a big season, too.

TOP FIVE TEAMS TO DECLINE

1. San Diego Padres. Removing Gonzalez from the middle of the batting order changes the complexion of everything. And Mat Latos is already hurt, which does nothing to alleviate the concern of the huge workload increase he's experienced over the past two seasons. Most of all, the Padres just seem outmanned by the Giants and Rockies. Winning close to 90 games seems outlandish. Of course, many people said that last year, too.

2. Houston Astros. They overachieved in a big way last season according to run differential (the 'Stros allowed 118 more runs than they scored) and aren't any better. Other than Hunter Pence, the position players are either getting old (Carlos Lee), still unproven (Brett Wallace) or just not that good (Jason Michaels, Bill Hall, Michael Bourn). I'm not a huge fan of the rotation, but it's going to have to carry the team. Good luck with that.

3. Tampa Bay Rays. This is difficult. It's hard to not love the Rays for being so good at sticking with the Yankees and Red Sox in the mighty AL East on that paltry payroll. The loss of Crawford hurts. Carlos Pena wasn't overly productive -- though he was much better than his batting average said -- last season, but his presence helps everyone else see better pitches. That goes away with Dan Johnson at first. The loss of Matt Garza isn't a big deal, so long as Jeremy Hellickson does his thing and James Shields returns to form. The bullpen is worse, though. Look, I'd pick the Rays to win the NL Central if they were in it, but the Yankees aren't any worse and the Red Sox are way better. The Orioles should be better as well. I think the Rays win in the ballpark of 86 games, but that's 10 worse than last year and good for third place.

4. Toronto Blue Jays. They're still building and are moving in the right direction, but winning 85 games again in that division is a very tall order. Any offensive bounce-back from the likes of Aaron Hill and Adam Lind is negated by Jose Bautista's return to this planet.

5. St. Louis Cardinals. If anyone can pull this off, it's Dave Duncan, but losing Adam Wainwright was a death blow. Chris Carpenter is old and injury-prone. Jaime Garcia is due a massive regression. Kyle Lohse was awful last year and Jake Westbrook doesn't have good stuff. Kyle McClellan could very well prove a solid No. 5 starter, but he hasn't exceeded 75 2/3 innings the past three seasons in the bullpen. Can he really double that and remain effective? The outfield defense won't do the staff any favors, either. The Pujols/Holliday/Rasmus combo -- and even Lance Berkman in a best-case scenario -- is very solid, but there's only going to be so much they can do on some nights. I feel like mid-to-high 70s in wins, but Duncan and Tony La Russa find ways to make people wrong often.

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Posted on: February 25, 2011 4:45 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2011 5:07 pm
 

Imagining an MLB Combine

Michael Bourn

While our Eye on Football brethren are in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine not getting to watch guys run and jump, it got me to thinking how much fun an MLB Combine might be.

Among the drills the NFL draft hopefuls do that would be applicable to baseball are the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical leap and the Wonderlic Test. So who would be the best baseball players to participate? That's where the fun begins.

40-yard dash: Maybe for baseball, it'd be more fun to line the guys up and have them go 90 feet.

Favorite: Michael Bourn, Astros. A Sports Illustrated poll of players during spring training had Crawford picked as the fastest player in the majors, but the less-heralded Bourn finished second. Bourn has won two straight Gold Gloves in center, and much of it is because he can seemingly cover the entire outfield. In a division blessed with fast center fielders (Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen and Cincinnati's Drew Stubbs), Bourn covers more ground than anyone. Oh, and he's led the National League in stolen bases each of the last two seasons.

Others: Brett Gardner, Austin Jackson, Luis Durango, Juan Pierre, Jose Reyes, Andrew McCutchen, Chone Figgins, Ichiro Suzuki, Emilio Bonifacio, Carlos Gomez, Carl Crawford

Adam DunnBench press: At the combine, players bench press 225 pounds as many times as possible, testing not only strength, but endurance. For baseball, maybe the best test would be a home-run derby-like format, but adding the distances of balls hit.

Favorite: Adam Dunn, White Sox. According to HitTrackerOnline.com, Jose Bautista had more "no-doubt" home runs than Dunn (19 to 16), but Dunn's homers averaged nearly 10 feet more, with an average "true distance" of 411.1 feet. Mark Reynolds' 32 homers averaged 415.6 feet, so he's certainly in the discussion. Dunn's been consistently hitting long home runs, so he gets the nod.

Others: Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, Mark Reynolds, Wily Mo Pena, Mike Stanton, Travis Hafner, Russell Branyan, Jose Bautista

Dexter FowlerVertical leap: While it's not something that you associate with baseball, it's a good test of athleticism, but is also practical at the wall as players just to rob home runs.

Favorite: Dexter Fowler, Rockies. At 6-foot-5, Fowler was recruited as a basketball player in high school, but he showed his leaping ability in an unusual place in the 2009 NLDS. In the eighth inning of Game 4, Fowler was on first when Todd Helton hit a grounder to Chase Utley. Fowler was running toward Utley and hurdled him. Utley then threw errantly to Jimmy Rollins and Fowler was safe. (You can see the play here.)

Others: Carl Crawford, Torii Hunter, Shane Victorino, Mike Cameron, Hunter Pence

Craig BreslowWonderlic test: A 12-minute, 50-question test used for testing applicants for learning and problem-solving. Harvard's Pat McInally is the only confirmed 50 score at the combine, while another Harvard alum, Ryan Fitzpatrick, scored either a 48 or 49 in nine minutes. So, it makes sense to look to the Ivy League for our baseball picks.

Favorite: Craig Breslow, Athletics. Breslow graduated from Yale with a degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry. Seriously. The Sporting News called him the smartest player in sports, while the Wall Street Journal suggested he may be the smartest man in the world. Not only that, batters hit just .194/.272/.348 against him last season, with lefties hitting .181/.245/.340 against him.

Others: Ross Ohlendorf, Chris Young, Fernando Perez, Mark DeRosa

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 
Posted on: February 19, 2011 3:24 pm
 

Pence wins arbitration case

Hunter Pence Hunter Pence won his arbitration case against the Astros, the Houston Chronicle's Zachary Levine tweets .

Pence will make $6.9 million this season. The Astros had offered $5.15 million.

Pence, who will turn 28 in April, hit .282/.325/.461 with 25 home runs and 91 RBI last season.

His victory also gives the players a 2-1 victory in the arbitration season. Pence and the Pirates' Ross Ohlendorf won their cases, while the Angels beat Jered Weaver in their case.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: February 18, 2011 9:53 am
 

Morning Pepper: Cabrera concern

Miguel Cabrera
Some things are more important than baseball. Miguel Cabrera's life is one of those things.

For the second time in his career, Cabrera's alcohol abuse has become a public issue. The first was at the end of a season, this time it's at the beginning.

Cabrera underwent counseling after the 2009 season and his incident with his wife at their home. He rebounded with the greatest season of his young career in 2010, but then came Wednesday's arrest for DUI in Florida.

Now is the time for the Tigers to worry about Cabrera, not the 2011 season. Cabrera needs professional help right now, and if he needs to miss all of spring training or even part of the regular season, so be it.

The team is apparently doing due diligence in Cabrera's fate, which is not only the right thing to do for the person, it's also the best thing to do as a business. Cabrera is 27 and has the prime years of his career ahead of him. He's also signed through 2015 (at $20 million or more per season from now throughout he end of the contract), so his problem is the Tigers' problem.

It's a sad tale, and hopefully has a happy ending. That ending doesn't necessarily have to do with baseball, but Cabrera's well-being and the rest of his life.

WORST SHAPE OF HIS LIFE?: Even thought he cliches about "best shape of his life" spring training stories have become cliche, but no need to wear that meme out with Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez.

Alvarez "clearly looks bulkier," the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 's Rob Biertempfel writes . Clint Hurdle says he's just "big-boned."

MEET THE BENCH: Cubs manager Mike Quade said he'll consider pulling left fielder Alfonso Soriano late in games. (Chicago Tribune )

SAFETY FIRST: Carlos Santana will play some first base this spring, hoping to keep his bat in the lineup and give his legs a break from catching.

Santana said he played third and the outfield in the Dodgers system and expects the move to be relatively easy.

The Indians did the same thing with Victor Martinez before they traded him to Bosoton. (Cleveland Plain Dealer )

ROSTER MOVE: In one of the more striking roster moves of the season, the Orioles have placed Alfredo Simon on the restricted list to make room on their roster for Vladimir Guerrero, whose signing became official today.

Simon is in jail in the Dominican Republic as the prime suspect in a fatal shooting. (Baltimore Sun )

ARBITRATION DATE: Astros outfielder Hunter Pence is headed to an arbitration hearing today in Phoenix.

Pence will make either $6.9 million if he wins his case, $5.15 million if he loses it. I wouldn't mind losing like that.

OPENING A'S: Oakland manager Bob Geren won't make a decision about his opening-day starter until later in spring training. It's likely between Trevor Cahill, Dallas Braden and Brett Anderson. (San Francisco Chronicle )

LEAGUE LEADERS: The Mariners may not lead the league in much, but their bullpen could lead the league in tattoos.

Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times talks to relievers Brandon League and Justin Miller about their tattoos.

Baker also has a story about the ol' days when players had to have off-season jobs.

MUST READ: Sean Kirst of the Syracuse Post-Standard writes about Jacob Francis   the first African-American umpire. Francis umpired an exhibition game between the Syracuse Stars and the Proivdence Grays in 1885. He may have also been a neighbor of Moses Fleetwood Walker.

TODAY IN HISTORY: Feb. 18, 1944, the Reds signed 15-year old Joe Nuxhall to a major-league contract. Nuxhall was in uniform on opening day, but didn't appear in a game until June 10, 1944. Eight years later, he'd start his big-league career in earnest, pitching until 1966.

TODAY'S TIMEWASTER: Seamheads.com has this amazing ballpark database. Go there only if you don't have plans for the next hour.

BROWSER SWITCH?: I tried out Google's Chrome browser, but didn't have much luck with it, so I stuck with Firefox. However, the newest feature may get me to switch -- a personal blacklist can remove sites from Google search results .

BAD NEWS: Giordano's filed for bankruptcy .

GOOD NEWS: Radiohead's releasing the digital version of its new album a day early , so if, like me, you've already ordered it, you should get it today.

VAN LENNON: A Jump-Imagine mashup for your enjoyment.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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



Posted on: February 16, 2011 9:52 am
Edited on: February 16, 2011 10:03 am
 

Morning Pepper: Albertageddon is here

Albert Pujols
* Happy Albertageddon Day! The deadline for Pujols to sign an extension or report to spring training with extension talks tabled for the year is noon today. Sources tell CBSSports.com senior writer Scott Miller there's not much chance this thing gets done. The Cardinals may or may not have made Pujols an eight-year offer, depending on who you believe.

* There are only three arbitration-eligible players left: Jose Bautista, Rickie Weeks and Hunter Pence. The Twins and Delmon Young have settled on a one-year, $5.375 million deal, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. That was a little below the midpoint between the two sides' arbitration filings. Bautista and Weeks have been reported as being in serious talks about multi-year deals, with Bautista's arbitration hearing having been delayed.

* The Nationals have designated for assignment right-hander Luis Atilano, who started 16 games for them last season. They needed roster room after Adam LaRoche's contract was finally made official.

* Frank McCourt tells the Los Angeles Times that fans shouldn't worry about his financial troubles. So feel free to let that go and worry about other things. Like the bullpen.

* Also in the Times, the story of how Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal helped get his Dominican hometown its first firetruck.

* Jeff Wilpon tells reporters that selling controlling interest in the Mets is "not on the table."

* Right-hander John Maine still doesn't have a job, but could end up in Philly.

* A Mets beat writer pretty much cheated in fulfilling a promise to cover spring training in a Speedo if Cliff Lee ended up in Philadelphia.

-- David Andriesen

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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