Tag:Braves
Posted on: February 25, 2012 12:55 pm
 

Hanson expects to be ready

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Tommy Hanson understands now that concussions are serious, but he's feeling fortunate that his wssn't worse.


The Braves pitcher said Saturday that he believs he is now "back to normal," five days after he suffered a mild concussion in an automobile accident. Hanson won't throw again until Monday or Tuesday, buthesaid he doesn't expect any problem being ready for opening day.


"It'll only be a week off," Hanson said. "And I was throwing 50-pitch bullpens before I came down here."


Hanson was hurt in a one-car accident when he blew a tire on the way to the Braves' first official workout of the spring. He said that when doctors gave him tests, they found his reaction time had slowed, showing that he had suffered a conussion.


At that point, Hanson said he beganto understand how concussions have become a significant issue in sports.


"I didn't realize concussions are as serious as they are until I got one," he said.


Now he seems to be recovering well.


"I'm not worried about it," he said. "I feel like I'm back to normal."           
Category: MLB
Posted on: February 24, 2012 5:53 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 5:54 pm
 

Is baseball's drug program still credible?

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- If Ryan Braun has work to do rebuilding his image, so does Major League Baseball.

If you don't believe that, then listen to what Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said Friday when I asked him if he worries about the integrity of baseball's drug program.

"I do now," Jones said.

That's a problem.

If the fallout of the Braun case is that players don't trust the drug program to be fair, then the program itself loses all the credibility it needs.

Baseball and the players union obviously understand that, and it was no surprise that both the commissioner's office and the union issued statements late Friday afternoon defending the program.

"Our program is not 'fatally flawed,'" MLB said in its statement, countering a charge that Braun made in his press conference earlier Friday in Arizona.

"Our Joint Drug Program stands as strong, as accurate and as reliable as any in sport, both before and after the Braun decision," the union said.

The union couldn't resist taking a shot at management, saying that the arbitrator's decision in Braun's favor was "deserving of respect by both bargaining parties."

But the bigger issue here isn't who liked the decision or who didn't. The bigger issue isn't whether the decision hinged on a "technicality."

It's whether players still trust the system.

Braun is a part of it, because of the respect players around the game have for him. Support for him seemed to be near-universal in the Braves clubhouse on Friday, and the belief seemed to be that at least in this case, the system had holes.

"It's fishy," catcher Brian McCann said. "The guy who [collected the sample] doesn't need to be doing it anymore. It's terrible.

"It should never ever, ever happen."

Jones and other Braves players suggested that they would have been more comfortable if the urine sample had been held by someone who didn't know which player it came from, eliminating any chance that a collector with a grudge against one player could try to take action.

But most of all, they expressed strong support for Braun.

"I believe Ryan, because I know him," Jones said. "I believe him. He's not a guy you look at and say he's on something. I sincerely believe he didn't take anything."

But Jones also understands the uphill battle that Braun now faces to save his reputation.

"Yes, there's always going to be doubt, and that's what's unfair," he said. "Once your name is associated [with steroids], you might as well wear a scarlet letter."

The problem for baseball is that its drug program is now associated with the Ryan Braun case.

And even if this really is "the highest quality drug testing program of any professional sports organization in the world," as MLB claimed in its Friday statement, it's a program that is now very much on the stand, and very much on the defensive.

MLB defended the sample collector, calling him "extremely experienced" and saying he "acted in a professional and appropriate manner."

The players aren't convinced, and that's a problem that baseball needs to address.

No drug program is of any use if it lacks credibility. Right now, the credibility of this program is at stake.

Posted on: February 14, 2012 11:38 am
 

If Jurrjens is healthy, Braves could trade him

One more name to watch in trade talks this spring: Jair Jurrjens.

He was a popular name on the market when the winter began. The Braves didn't trade him, in part because they couldn't convince potential trade partners that he's healthy and can stay healthy.

Perhaps he can prove that this spring. If so, the Braves could well try to move him again, according to sources.

As I pointed out in this column, big spring training trades have become a rarity in modern baseball. But Jurrjens isn't terribly expensive ($5.5 million this year), and when he's been healthy, he's been very good. His ERA in the first half of the 2011 season was 1.87, second to Jered Weaver among major-league starters.

Why would the Braves trade him? Skeptics would say that they don't believe he can stay healthy, but they would counter that they have a crowded rotation, even with Tim Hudson likely to miss the first few starts of the year after offseason back surgery. The Braves are convinced that Tommy Hanson's shoulder is fine (and say that Hanson is in much better shape), and they're excited about youngsters Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran.

And Jurrjens is due to be a free agent after the 2013 season, always a consideration for the cost-conscious Braves.

Even if Jurrjens looks healthy this spring -- and the Braves say he does -- it may be hard to convince teams that he is worth the risk. While the Red Sox could use a starter (and Jurrjens would fit into their price range), they're known to have had serious doubts about the right-hander's health.

Jurrjens missed the end of the 2011 season with a knee injury. The Braves say he recovered so well that he would have started a playoff game if not for their September collapse. But after making 65 starts in his first two years with the Braves, Jurrjens has been able to make just 43 starts over the last two seasons.

Is he healthy now? Again, the Braves say yes.

If he can prove it this spring, maybe another team will believe it enough to deal for him.


Category: MLB
Posted on: February 3, 2012 4:26 pm
 

More kids to watch: Moore, Montero, Arenado

Heading to spring training 2010, Stephen Strasburg was the big new name, the guy everyone had to see . . .

Until people started talking about Jason Heyward, too. And Aroldis Chapman.

It was still the spring of Strasburg, but it really became the spring of the phenom.

This spring could be the same.

The early focus is again on the Nationals, who seem determined to give Bryce Harper a real shot at making the opening day roster (which they didn't do with Strasburg in 2010).

But there are tons of other names, tons of other young players with some shot at opening the year in the big leagues, and an even better shot at opening eyes this spring.

An early look at a few names to watch, besides Harper, who colleague Jon Heyman wrote about separately:

Matt Moore, 22, Rays. The situation has changed only a little bit since Moore got everyone so excited last September and October. Moore signed a long-term contract in December, which seemingly lessens the financial incentive for the small-budget Rays to have him begin 2012 in the minor leagues. But the Rays haven't yet traded any of their other starting pitchers, so there's not yet an open spot in the rotation. The decision on what to do with Moore will be closely watched.

Jesus Montero, 22, Mariners. He can hit, but can he catch? And can he hit enough to make a difference for the Mariners? Those questions will get better answers during the season than during the spring, but as the key player going to Seattle in the big Michael Pineda trade, Montero will be watched and discussed.

Jacob Turner, 20, Tigers. The Tigers tried for Gio Gonzalez and they tried for Roy Oswalt, but they still don't have a fifth starter. Turner is the most exciting name among many candidates. He's probably less likely to end up with the job than some of the others, but on a team that has no problem with promoting young talent (Justin Verlander, Joel Zumaya, Rick Porcello), he will get a chance.

Trevor Bauer, 21, Diamondbacks; Danny Hultzen, 22, Mariners; Sonny Gray, 22, A's. Who will be the first pitcher from the 2011 draft to make it to the big leagues? Bauer, Hultzen and Gray all go to spring training with some chance, and whether they make it or not, all three will likely excite people every time they're scheduled to pitch.

Nolan Arenado, 20, Rockies. Arenado won a lot of fans among scouts who covered the Arizona Fall League, with one saying: "He's Edgar Martinez at the plate, with the best hitting approach I've ever seen from a young player." The signing of Casey Blake no doubt lessens Arenado's chance to make the team this spring (for now, he's ticketed for Double-A), but if he hits in spring training the way he did in the fall, the Rockies will at least begin talking about it.

Julio Teheran, 21, Braves; Randall Delgado, 21, Braves. The Braves got a look at Teheran and Delgado last year, but with health concerns about Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson, the look this spring may be more significant.

Posted on: February 3, 2012 1:58 pm
 

Harper would join short list of 19-year-olds

As CBSSports.com colleague Jon Heyman wrote, the Nationals plan to give 19-year-old Bryce Harper a real chance to make their team out of spring training.

In fact, one Nationals official told me he believes that Harper should make it, and that even though he is still learning, "he can help you win while he learns."

Besides, it's not unheard of for a 19-year-old to play in the big leagues. Mike Trout did it for 14 games with the Angels last summer. Both Uptons (B.J. and Justin) did it.

Alex Rodriguez played in the big leagues when he was still 18 years old.

But according to research through baseball-reference.com, Harper would be the first 19-year-old to break camp with a team since Felix Hernandez with the 2006 Mariners, and the first position player to do it since Andruw Jones with the 1997 Braves.

Harper will be 19 years, 172 days old when the Nationals open their season on April 5 in Chicago. King Felix (19.118 when he debuted in August 2005) was the last big leaguer that young, and Adrian Beltre (19.078 when he debuted in June 1998) was the last position player that young.

A look the 19-year-olds who have played in the big leagues since 2000:

-- Trout played 14 games with the Angels last July, hitting just .163 with a .492 OPS.

-- Justin Upton was 23 days shy of his 20th birthday when the Diamondbacks called him up in 2007.

-- Hernandez came to the big leagues to stay at age 19.

-- B.J. Upton was 18 days shy of his 20th birthday when he debuted with the Rays in August 2004.

-- Jose Reyes debuted with the Mets the day before he turned 20 in June 2003.

-- Wilson Betemit came up with the Braves as a 19-year-old in September 2001.
Posted on: January 17, 2012 12:54 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 2:23 pm
 

Hamels avoids arbitration, Lincecum doesn't

Cole Hamels signed a new contract Tuesday. Tim Lincecum didn't.

Hamels will get $15 million plus performance bonuses from the Phillies. Lincecum will exchange arbitration numbers with the Giants.

And none of that changes the big picture, because neither Hamels nor Lincecum has a new long-term contract yet.

As of now, Hamels is still eligible for free agency after the 2012 season. Lincecum is eligible after 2013.

And both can (and certainly will) continue to discuss long-term deals that will keep them off the market.

Hamels, who made $9.5 million in 2011, agreed to 2012 contract just before the deadline for arbitration-eligible players to exchange contract figures with their teams. Lincecum will go through the arbitration process, although he and the Giants can continue to work on a deal while awaiting a hearing.

According to CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman, Hamels' new deal also would pay him $100,000 if he's named the Most Valuable Player, $250,000 if he wins the Cy Young Award, $100,000 for World Series MVP and $50,000 each for LCS MVP, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger or an All-Star appearance.

Tuesday was a deadline day for some teams that have a policy of not continuing negotiations after arbitration numbers are exchanged.






Posted on: December 23, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 5:41 pm
 

Yankees, Red Sox may not bid high on Cespedes

While the market for Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is unpredictable, the word this week is that neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox plan to be heavily involved.

The two baseball superpowers have both followed Cespedes carefully, and some in the Yankee front office want him badly. But the decision this week, according to sources, was that Cespedes is too raw a talent to justify the price, and may not be suited to playing in a big market, anyway. While the Yankees are not out on Cespedes, the plan as of now is to treat him the way they treated Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, making a modest bid that is unlikely to be successful.

The Red Sox are said to have similar concerns.

People familiar with the international market say that there is also a divide on Cespedes in the Marlins' front office, and that it's not a given that the team will go after him hard. Also, Cespedes has told people that he plans to make his permanent home in the Dominican Republic, rather than in Miami, and may prefer to go to a team other than the Marlins.

The interest in Cespedes remains strong, and the market could change by the time he becomes a free agent, which should happen in January. The Cubs, Tigers, Nationals, White Sox and Rays, among other teams, are still expected to pursue him.

Because of the strong interest, the belief is that Cespedes will still get as much as $40 million, even if the Yankees and Red Sox hold back from heavy bidding. One possible issue is that Cespedes' agents apparently want him to go straight to the major leagues, while many if not most scouts believe that he should spend time in the minor leagues first.

The Cubs, Nationals, Braves and Red Sox, among others, are also said to be interested in Jorge Soler, a 19-year-old Cuban who is also expected to become a free agent this winter. Soler is further from the big leagues, but talented enough that some predict it could take $15 million to sign him.

Because of new limits on bonuses that will go into effect next winter, teams may feel free to bid higher on Cespedes and/or Soler this winter.



Posted on: December 7, 2011 3:47 am
 

Latest on Rangers, and other meetings notes

DALLAS -- More baseball talk from the second full day at the winter meetings:

-- The hometown Rangers have watched the Marlins dominate the first two days of the meetings, and they spent Tuesday night meeting with the representative for pitcher C.J. Wilson, who they very likely will not re-sign. But the Rangers have been active on many other fronts, according to sources. They're in on free-agent pitcher Mark Buehrle, and potentially in on free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder. Also, despite already signing closer Joe Nathan, the Rangers have considered a run at A's closer Andrew Bailey, who is available in trade.

-- The Phillies have decided against pursuing free-agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez, and will instead keep Placido Polanco at third and fully concentrate their efforts on retaining shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Ramirez still has interest from the Brewers and Angels, and the Brewers could be the best fit (assuming they don't re-sign Fielder).

-- While much of the day Tuesday was dominated by the Albert Pujols chase, agent Scott Boras has decided to let the Fielder market develop more slowly. Interested teams include the Cubs, Rangers, Mariners, Orioles and possibly the Nationals, plus the Brewers.

-- The Reds have continued to pursue starting pitching. They've been probably the most aggressive team after Jair Jurrjens of the Braves, and have also continued a dialogue with the Rays that began last July.

-- While the Marlins pursued Pujols, they also continued to look at starting pitching. The Marlins have tried for both of the top two free-agent starters (Wilson and Buehrle), and have also made trade inquiries on Gio Gonzalez of the A's and Wandy Rodriguez of the Astros, among others.

-- The Cardinals have been so focused on trying to retain Pujols that they have yet to have a full-group meeting on what path they would pursue if he leaves. Some think they could pursue Rollins or Ryan Madson, and others believe that they could jump in on Buehrle.


 
 
 
 
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