Posted on: March 2, 2012 6:31 pm
 

Fielding Bible projections for 2012 released



By Matt Snyder


Highly-respected defensive analysts John Dewan and Ben Jedlovec have released their Fielding Bible projections for the 2012 Major League Baseball season, with the Tampa Bay Rays being projected as the best defense in the majors and the Miami Marlins proejected to have the worst.

The system used in the Fielding Bible is "defensive runs saved," which doesn't only factor in errors, it also uses range and player placement to determine how many runs a defense either saves pitchers or costs them. Clubs with a positive score are said to have defensively saved pitchers runs while those with a negative score have cost their pitching stuff some runs.

Last season, the Rays were the best in the majors with a +85 score. That's quite a feat, saving 85 runs for your pitching staff. On the flip side, the Marlins checked in with a -75, which is flat-out atrocious.

This season, the projections have the Rays saving 42 runs and the Marlins at a -30.

The top five projected defenses for 2012, in order, in the projections: Rays, Mariners, Reds, Rangers and Angels.

The bottom five, listed from 26-30: Orioles, Cubs, Mets, Twins and Marlins.

The Phillies made the highest leap from last year's score to this year's projection, going from a -59 ('11 score) to +6. Losing Raul Ibanez from left field helps, as does having a full season of Hunter Pence and someone other than Ryan Howard manning first base for a few months, the press release for the Fielding Bible noted.

Other teams with projections showing a big improvement from last season were the Mariners, Rangers, Yankees and A's (though the A's are still projected in the negative).

The clubs expected to take the biggest hit defensively are the Astros (going from 12th ranked to 25th) and Dodgers (11th to 24th). Losing Pence and Michael Bourn for the first half of the season has to be a major part of the Astros slide. The Tigers -- with Miguel Cabrera shifting to third base -- Brewers, Padres and Rockies are also projected to fall down the Fielding Bible standings.

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Posted on: March 2, 2012 3:56 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 9:32 pm
 

2012 MLB top prospects



By Matt Snyder


We at CBSSports.com don't have a scouting guru, but prospect rankings are incredibly popular among fans these days, so we aren't about to neglect covering the preseason rankings. So this post will contain the consensus top 60 prospects from the baseball world. I've gone through and averaged out the rankings from the five major outlets that do them.

Why 60? Well, the outlets usually rank 100 (Baseball Prospectus does 101), but after around 50 there's nothing close to a consensus. It's a muddled mess of disagreement. There were 147 players mentioned between the five top 100 (or 101) lists and once you get north of a certain handful of can't-miss prospects, the rankings are all over the place. Even in the top 60 below, you've got someone like Wily Peralta from the Brewers' system. He was ranked 39th by ESPN.com and 94th by Baseball Prospectus. Hak-Ju Lee of the Rays was ranked 12th, 20th, 44th, 46th and 67th, respectively, by the five outlets.

One thing they do agree upon? The top three prospects in baseball are Matt Moore, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. Of course, they don't agree on the order.

The five rankings sets we used:

- Baseball Prospectus (Kevin Goldstein)
- ESPN.com (Keith Law)
- MLB.com (Jonathan Mayo)
- Baseball America (staff vote)
- Scout.com on FoxSports.com (Frankie Piliere)

So here are the consensus top 60 prospects in baseball, according to these five published outlets. Notes of other things that might interest will follow the chart.

Prospect Position Organization Average rank
Best rank
Worst rank
1. Matt Moore
LHP Rays 1.6 1 3
2. Bryce Harper
OF Nationals 2 1 3
3. Mike Trout
OF Angels 2.4 1 3
4. Jurickson Profar
SS Rangers 6.4 4 7
5. Shelby Miller
RHP Cardinals 6.8 5 10
6. Julio Teheran
RHP Braves 7.2 4 18
7. Manny Machado
SS Orioles 7.4 4 11
8. Jesus Montero
C Mariners 7.8 5 12
9. Gerrit Cole
RHP Pirates 10.4 9 12
10. Dylan Bundy
RHP Orioles 13.4 6 30
11. Jameson Taillon
RHP Pirates 13.6 8 16
12. Devin Mesoraco
C Reds 15 8 25
13. Trevor Bauer
RHP Diamondbacks 17.2 9 21
14. Jacob Turner
RHP Tigers 18.4 11 29
15. Wil Myers
OF Royals 19.2 13 28
16. Manny Banuelos
LHP Yankees 20.8 9 30
17. Miguel Sano
3B Twins 21 12 28
18. Travis d'Arnaud
C Blue Jays 21.4 6 43
19. Tyler Skaggs
LHP Diamondbacks 21.4 13 26
20. Danny Hultzen
LHP Mariners 23.2 13 36
21. Bubba Starling
OF Royals 25 15 41
22. Nolan Arenado
3B Rockies 25.8 18 42
23. Carlos Martinez
RHP Cardinals 26 19 32
24. Archie Bradley
RHP Diamondbacks 28 19 38
25. Anthony Rendon
3B Nationals 29.2 17 56
26. Drew Pomeranz
LHP Rockies 29.6 14 45
27. Taijuan Walker
RHP Mariners 30.6 14 77
28. Jarrod Parker
RHP A's 31.6 23 52
29. Zack Wheeler
RHP Mets 34.8 27 53
30. Arodys Vizcaino
RHP Braves 35 14 64
31. Francisco Lindor
SS Indians 36.2 17 60
32. Hak-Ju Lee
SS Rays 37.8 12 67
33. Matt Harvey RHP Mets 41.6 26 54
34. Martin Perez
LHP Rangers 44.4 20 UR
35. Michael Choice
OF A's 45 16 80
36. Gary Brown
OF Giants 45.8 18 68
37. Christian Yelich
OF Marlins 46.6 34 75
38. Brett Jackson
OF Cubs 46.8 32 89
39. Jonathan Singleton
1B Astros 47.6 34 75
40. Billy Hamilton
SS Reds 47.8 23 70
41. Mike Montgomery
LHP Royals 48.6 23 UR
42. Jean Segura
SS Angels 49 22 69
43. Anthony Rizzo
1B Cubs 49 36 77
44. Jake Marisnick OF Blue Jays 50 29 67
45. Jarred Cosart
RHP Astros 52.8 25 78
46. Mike Olt
3B Rangers 54 43 75
47. Anthony Gose
OF Blue Jays 54 39 70
48. Xander Bogaerts
SS Red Sox 54.2 33 76
49. Nick Castellanos
3B Tigers 55 37 73
50. Zach Lee RHP Dodgers 55.8 41 72
51. Dellin Betances
RHP Yankees 56 28 83
52. Gary Sanchez
C Yankees 56.2 42 81
53. Wily Peralta
RHP Brewers 56.8 39 94
54. Randall Delgado RHP Braves 56.8 42 98
55. George Springer
OF Astros 57.4 33 84
56. Jake Odorizzi
RHP Royals 57.8 47 71
57. Oscar Taveras
OF Cardinals 58.2 24 UR
58. Rymer Liriano
OF Padres 60.6 40 100
59. James Paxton
LHP Mariners 62.4 51 77
60. A.J. Cole
RHP A's 63.2 33 88

• If a player went unranked by any outlet, he received a value of 105 in the calculated average. More than one of those would easily be enough to knock a guy from the ranks, so everyone above with a "UR" next to his name in the "worst rank" category above was ranked by four of the five outlets.

• Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish was ranked fourth by Baseball America and ignored by all other outlets. I've got to believe the four outlets that didn't rank the Japanese phenom don't consider him a prospect. Which is weird, because most define "prospect" as someone who still has "rookie" eligibility. Darvish still does, but they have the right to rank whomever they wish.

Athletics' outfielder Yoenis Cespedes was ranked 20th by Goldstein and 14th by Baseball America while the other three outlets declined to rank him. My response to this would be similar to that of Darvish.

• Goldstein mentioned that he'd rank Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler 39th, so I actually plugged him in and bumped everyone else down one spot. After all, I fully expect Soler to be signed sometime this season. Still, Soler didn't make the top 60 above because no one else ranked him.

Nick Franklin (SS, Mariners) would have easily made the top 60 here, but Goldstein left him unranked.

Will Middlebrooks (3B, Red Sox) would have easily made the top 60 here, but Law left him unranked.

• The following players were ranked somewhere by all five outlets but didn't make the cut for the average top 60, listed in order of best average ranking: Yasmani Grandal (C, Padres), Casey Kelly (RHP, Padres), Trevor May (RHP, Phillies), Yonder Alonso (1B, Padres), Sonny Gray (RHP, A's), Starling Marte (OF, Pirates), Josh Bell (OF, Pirates), Javier Baez (SS, Cubs), Mason Williams (OF, Yankees), Jedd Gyorko (3B, Padres) and Addison Reed (RHP, White Sox).

• For the complete lists of each, please note I linked to them in the introduction above. Just click on it and go (of course, ESPN.com and Baseball Prospectus are pay sites, so you can't see those for free). Those guys all focus on scouting throughout the year as their primary job, so they know more than you and I on this front.

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Posted on: March 2, 2012 3:13 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 11:17 pm
 

Royals reliever sentenced to community service

Jeremy Jeffress

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Royals reliever Jeremy Jeffress was sentenced to 20 hours of community service and was required to attend a domestic-violence counseling class for a disorderly conduct charge on Jan. 4, the pitcher confirmed to the Kansas City Star.

Two other charges -- for assault and criminal damage, were dismissed on Jan. 24 in Surprise Municipal Court.

"There was an argument between myself and my girlfriend," Jeffress told the newspaper, "and I lost my temper, but I never put my hads on her. My mom and dad raised me to never do something like that.

"A call was placed to the authorities due to property damage and, in the state of Arizona, once the police are called, you have to go in for a booking."

The Royals said any discipline would be handled privately.

Jeffress, 24, was a piece of the trade that sent Zack Greinke to Milwaukee in December of 2009. He was the Brewers' first-round pick in 2006, 16th overall. He was suspended 50 games in 2007 for testing positive for a "drug of abuse," believed to be marijuana. That was his second positive test. He received a 100-game suspension in 2009 for another failed test. If he tests positive another time, he would receive a lifetime ban.

The right-hander has triple-digit velocity, but mixed results so far in his career. Jeffress appeared in 14 games for the Royals last season, going 1-1 with a 4.70 ERA, striking out 13 batters and walking 11 in 15 1/3 innings. He also appeared in 10 games in 2010 for the Brewers. He was 3-6 with a 5.50 ERA in 25 games at Double-A and Triple-A, last season. He struck out 44 batters and walked 40 in 55 2/3 innings.

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Posted on: March 2, 2012 2:24 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 3:16 pm
 

MLB makes expanded playoffs official

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Major League Baseball will officially expand the playoffs to 10 teams starting this season, it announced on Friday.

MLB Playoff expansion
The announcement has been expected for a couple of days, if not weeks. The new format will add another wild card team, with the two wild cards to play each other in one game with the winner moving on to face a division winner.

However, there is one catch that ramrodding the legislation in for 2012 created. Because of the set day for the end of the season and the start of the World Series, for this season only, the division series will begin at the home of lower seeded teams and the first two games will be played there, followed by a possible three home games for the team with "homefield advantage."

For 2013 and beyond, the division series will return to the 2-2-1 format that has been used.

"The enthusiasm for the 10-team structure among our clubs, fans and partners has been overwhelming," commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "This change increases the rewards of a division championship and allows two additional markets to experience playoff baseball each year, all while maintaining the most exclusive postseason in professional sports."

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Posted on: March 2, 2012 12:45 pm
 

Harper to start Nationals' Grapefruit opener

Bryce Harper

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Where Bryce Harper will be on opening day is up in the air, but he will at least start for the Nationals in the team's Grapefruit League opener against the Astros on Saturday, according to the Washington Times.

Harper, 19, will start in right field and hit seventh for the Nationals in Kissimmee, Fla. on Saturday against former Nationals right-hander Livan Hernandez. It should be noted, several veterans aren't scheduled to make the trip -- including Jayson Werth. Werth, who had missed several days of workouts with back spasms, is expected to be OK for the start of exhibition games, according to the Washington Times.

The Nationals play an exhibition against Georgetown on Friday, with Harper playing right field and hitting third.

Harper is rated by many as the top prospect in baseball. He hit .297/.392/.501 between Class A and Double-A last season, with 14 of his 17 minor-league homers coming at the Class A level. Harper hit .318/.423/.554 with Class A Hagerstown and .256/.329/.395 with Double-A Harrisburg.

Manager Davey Johnson has stated publicly that he'd like to see Harper get a chance to start the season at the major-league level. It appears he'll get a chance at showing his wares during spring training.

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Posted on: March 2, 2012 12:08 pm
 

Indians pick Masterson for opening day duty

Justin Masterson

By C. Trent Rosecrans


In somewhat of a surprise, the Indians have named right-hander Justin Masterson on opening day against the Blue Jays on April 5, instead of Ubaldo Jimenez, manager Manny Acta told reporters on Friday.

"It wasn't a tough call at all," Acta told reporters, including Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer. "Everyone knew this guy was our horse last year and Ubaldo wasn't on top of his game. Justin wasn't our opening-day starter last year and he eded up being our No. 1. That's just one date. After the season starts rolling over, everyone is No. 1 on their day."

Jimenez will be the second pitcher in the rotation, while the last three spots will be occupied by Josh Tomlin, Derek Lowe and another pitcher, with that order to be determined later in camp. Kevin Slowey, Jon Garland, David Huff, Jeanmar Gomez and Zach McAllister are battling for the fifth spot in the team's rotation.

The Indians acquired Jimenez from the Rockies at the trade deadline last year, but he didn't quite live up to expectations. After finishing third in the Cy Young voting in 2010, he went 10-13 with a 4.68 ERA overall in 2011, and 4-4 witha  5.10 ERA in 11 starts for the Indians.

Masterson, on the other hand, was 12-10 with a 3.21 ERA in 33 starts and 34 appearances for the Indians last season.

Last year Fausto Carmona (or, Roberto Hernandez) started the season for Cleveland, allowing 10 earned runs in three innings in a loss to the White Sox. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that was the most runs ever allowed by a starting pitcher who threw no more than three innings in his team's first game of the season.

"I hope I can do a little better than what Rob did last year," Masterson told reporters (again, via the Plain Dealer.) "It's an honor to be out there. I want to set the tone for the team, the game and for the season."

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Posted on: March 2, 2012 11:39 am
 

Former top pick arrested on drug charges

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The sad story of Brien Taylor took another turn on Thursday, as the former top overall pick was arrested on charges of cocaine trafficking, according to the Daily News in Jacksonville, N.C.

Taylor was the No. 1 pick in the 1991 draft by the Yankees and with agent Scott Boras, signed a $1.55 million contract, a record at the time.

Two years later, Taylor suffered a torn labrum in his throwing arm while defending his brother in a fight and was never the same. He was released by the Yankees after the 1998 season and then pitched in the minor-league systems of the Mariners and Indians before retiring in 2000. The left-hander was the second No. 1 overall pick to never play in the big leagues. The first was Steve Chilcott in 1966.

According to the Daily News, the 40-year-old Taylor was arrested after local police had purchased a "large quantity of cocaine and crack cocaine" from Taylor over the course of several months. He's charged with two counts each of trafficking in cocaine by possession, trafficking in cocaine by sell, trafficking in cocaine by deliver, trafficking in cocaine by manufacture, trafficking in cocaine by transport and felony maintaining a vehicle. He is also charged with one count each of possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver cocaine and sell and deliver cocaine. He was placed in the Carteret County Jail under a $275,000 bond.

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Posted on: March 2, 2012 11:09 am
Edited on: March 2, 2012 1:59 pm
 

Pirates' A.J. Burnett out 8-12 weeks

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett will miss 8-12 weeks after suffering a broken orbital bone near his right eye, the team announced on Friday.

Burnett had surgery on Friday morning in Pittsburgh.

"A.J. will work through the three-step return to pitch progression," general manager Neal Huntington told reporters, including the Associated Press. "The initial step will be to heal from the surgery. Secondly, we will recondition his arm and body to where he was prior to the injury. Lastly, we will put A.J. through the same progression as he would have gone through here in spring training. The very rough timetable to complete this process and have A.J. prepared to compete without restrictions at the Major League level is 8-12 weeks."

Burnett will re-join the team before the end of spring training, but he won't break camp with the team.

With Burnett out, another new Pirate, Erik Bedard, seems ready to take over Burnett's spot as Pittsburgh's opening-day starter.

Burnett suffered the injury on Wednesday when he was working on bunting and he fouled off a ball that hit him in the face.



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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