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 6, 2011 3:01 am
Edited on: December 6, 2011 3:23 am

Latest on Jurrjens and Prado, and other notes

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

-- The Braves' duo of Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado continue to be as sought after as any players on the slow-developing trade market. Sources say that 8-10 teams have shown real interest in Jurrjens, while "half the teams in baseball" have talked to the Braves about Prado, most with the idea of playing him at second base. The Braves continue to say that they don't need to move either player, and will only do so if the return helps make them more competitive in 2012 (as opposed to dealing for long-term prospects). The Braves have assured teams that Jurrjens is fully healthy, and that his velocity returned to the mid 90s when he resumed throwing in instructional league.

-- Royals executive J.J. Picollo became the latest to interview with the Astros for their vacant general manager position. The Astros' interest in Picollo and in the Rockies' Bill Geivett would seem to indicate that they want to hire someone with a strong background in scouting and player development. Picollo is Kansas City's assistant GM for scouting and player development, and he previously ran the Braves' minor-league system.

-- The Angels spent Monday night talking to Bob Garber, who represents free-agent pitcher C.J. Wilson. The Angels' interest in Wilson is serious, and has been since last month's general managers meetings in Milwaukee.

-- The Dodgers were considered to have a good day Monday, signing infielder Jerry Hairston and starter Aaron Harang to two-year deals. Rival executives suggest that Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti needs to do whatever he can to try to give his chance a team to play well early in 2012, in hopes of convincing whoever the new owner is that he should keep his job.

-- The A's continue to explore trading closer Andrew Bailey, and are expected to talk to the Red Sox on Tuesday. The Red Sox have not yet been aggressive in pursuit of Bailey.

-- The Tigers are not believed to have shown any significant interest in any of the big names on the free-agent market, and seem content to make smaller improvements to a team that won 95 games in 2011. If the Tigers make a big-money signing this winter, it seems a lot more likely to be Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes than Mark Buehrle, Aramis Ramirez, Coco Crisp or other big names that have been speculated about. It's still not clear how soon Cespedes will be declared a free agent, because of delays in paperwork needed to establish residency in the Dominican Republic. One possibility is that Cespedes could try to establish residency in Mexico, instead.

-- While the White Sox are open to listening to trade proposals for any of John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Carlos Quentin and Gordon Beckham, some club officials insist that they are not "rebuilding," even though general manager Ken Williams used that exact word last month. The Sox insist that they while they are trying to get younger, they would only trade their valuable chips if they get players who are ready to contribute at the big-league level immediately.

-- The Pirates continue to show no interest in trading center fielder Andrew McCutchen, even though early talks on a possible long-term contract showed that the two sides were "not even in the same ballpark," according to sources. McCutchen isn't eligible for free agency for another four years, so the Pirates aren't yet under time pressure to sign him or trade him.

-- The Giants have talked to the representatives for Tim Lincecum, but there doesn't appear to be much progress towards getting Lincecum signed to a long-term contract. Lincecum has two years to go before free agency.

-- A day after some Brewers people expressed a slight hint of optimism at their chances of retaining free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder, others insisted the chances remain very bleak. The Brewers do have real interest in Aramis Ramirez, and have been in contact with every free-agent shortstop.

-- The Rays are open to trading Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis in their quest to improve their offense, but have told teams that they would only listen to overwhelming offers for James Shields. The Rays would also like to trade Reid Brignac, would still like to upgrade their catching, and are once again willing to talk about dealing B.J. Upton.

Posted on: November 22, 2011 4:19 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2011 4:23 pm

Kemp shoots for 2012 MVP ... and 50-50

Matt Kemp fell one home run short of 40-40, and he fell just short of winning the Most Valuable Player award in the National League.

His solution?

"50-50," Kemp said on a conference call Tuesday. "I'm going to go 50-50. You all created a monster."

No player in baseball history has ever had 50 home runs and 50 steals in the same season. Alex Rodriguez came the closest, with 42 home runs and 46 steals with the Mariners in 1998. Only three other players have had a 40-40 season: Jose Canseco with the 1988 A's, Barry Bonds with the 1996 Giants and Alfonso Soriano with the 2006 Nationals.

"Anything can happen," Kemp said. "I'm going to set my limits high. Yes, I'm serious. I know you're thinking I'm crazy, but I'm going to take it to another level."

Kemp said finishing second in the MVP vote would serve as motivation, but he didn't criticize voters for selecting Braun, and said that he felt Braun was a deserving winner. Braun received 20 of the 32 first-place votes, with Kemp getting 10 and Prince Fielder and Justin Upton splitting the other two.

"I'm happy for Braun," Kemp said. "He's one of my favorite players. He's a great player."

Then, referring to his new eight-year, $160 million contract with the Dodgers, Kemp added: "I've got eight more years in LA to try to win one."

Kemp led the National League in home runs and RBI, and finished third in the batting race behind Jose Reyes and Braun. But Kemp's Dodgers were a non-factor in the pennant race, at 82-79, while Braun's Brewers won the NL Central.

"I respect the decision," Kemp said. "I just have to have an even better season next year, and make the playoffs, so I can make the decision easier for them."

And 50-50 wouldn't hurt.

Category: MLB
Posted on: November 14, 2011 5:01 pm

With Kemp deal, post-McCourt Dodgers have arrived

MILWAUKEE -- So this is what the Dodgers will look like without Frank McCourt.

This is what the Dodgers should look like.

The McCourt Dodgers were a team with a lower payroll than the Twins. The McCourt Dodgers were known for the people who stayed away, the people (fans and players) who left.

The post-McCourt Dodgers will be a big-market team again.

The post-McCourt Dodgers will be the Dodgers again.

We suspected that already. We have more proof of it now, and it doesn't matter that it was McCourt who appeared with Matt Kemp on Monday, after the 27-year-old star outfielder agreed to one of the biggest contracts in baseball history.

McCourt is on the way out, and this contract is just another reminder that he'll soon be gone.

The Dodgers could sign Kemp for $160 million because anyone who would even think about owning the Dodgers could easily afford a contract like that. The Dodgers could sign Kemp for $160 million because it makes sense for a team like this to keep a player like this.

Baseball understands that it makes no sense to keep teams working through bankruptcy (and through court-supervised ownership changes) to continue operating at a high level. It's why the Rangers were able to trade for Cliff Lee in 2010, even as their sale was in progress.

And it's why the Dodgers were able to commit to Kemp, even though Frank McCourt hasn't yet officially left the building.

It never made sense that the Dodgers would have trouble keeping star players they wanted to keep.

It still doesn't make sense that the Mets aren't able to bid seriously on Jose Reyes, and that they could well lose Reyes to the formerly low-budget Marlins.

Someday, the Mets will rejoin the ranks of the big-market clubs.

The Dodgers just did.

They signed a guy who will finish in the top two or three in Most Valuable Player voting when the award is announced next week. He might even win it.

They signed a guy who would have been a free agent after the 2012 season, which is why he had to be signed this winter (and why the Dodgers couldn't wait until a new owner took over).

It's the biggest contract the Ddogers have ever given out, the biggest contract any National League team has ever given out. Five years from now, we may be saying it's a bad contract -- but we could be saying that about any long-term deal.

That's the risk of doing business, the risk of playing with baseball's big boys.

It's a risk that teams like the Dodgers have no choice but to take, but it's also a risk that teams like the Dodgers can afford to take.

Under Frank McCourt, the Dodgers became a franchise that gave away any big-market advantage it had. They were a team that preferred to give away prospects rather than to spend a few extra bucks in a trade.

They were a team that wasn't in on the big free agents, and was no certainty to even keep its own free agents.

They weren't what they should be. They will be again.

The change won't be complete until the new owner walks in the door, and McCourt finally walks away.

But change is coming, and Monday was a sign of what the Dodgers will look like when it does.

Category: MLB
Posted on: September 23, 2011 2:35 pm

Angels outdraw Dodgers, and Frank, this is on you

I'm sure Frank McCourt will find some way to blame this on Bud Selig.

Or on Jamie. Or a lawyer.

Sorry, Frank. This one's on you, because it sure sounds like the people have spoken.

The Dodgers finished their home season Thursday with an announced crowd of 37,560. They finished their 81-game home season with a total announced attendance of 2,935,139.

Forget that those who have been to Dodger Stadium say the real crowds don't come close to matching the announced crowds. In this case, even the announced crowds are embarrassingly bad.

It looks like the Dodgers will finish six in the National League in attendance.

You know the last time they finished that low? 2000.

You know the last time before that? 1918.

It gets worse.

Until this year, the Dodgers have outdrawn the Angels every season since the Angels joined the American League. This year, for the first time, the Angels will outdraw the Dodgers.

The Giants will outdraw the Dodgers, too. That happened in the first four years after the Giants moved to AT&T Park (2000-03), but it didn't ever happen before (since the teams moved West), and it hadn't ever happened since.

The Brewers, in baseball's smallest market, will also outdraw the Dodgers (who play in baseball's second largest market).

The fans in Milwaukee deserve plenty of credit.

And Frank McCourt deserves plenty of blame.

Category: MLB
Posted on: September 18, 2011 8:56 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2011 10:21 pm

3 to Watch: The doubleheader edition

BOSTON -- The Yankees don't have enough pitching. The Red Sox don't have enough pitching.

The low-budget Rays? They have enough pitching.

Crazy, isn't it?

If the Yankees or Red Sox had Matt Moore, you can be sure he'd be starting a game this week, with both teams faced with doubleheaders and cramped schedules.

The Rays have Matt Moore, the top pitching prospect who has scouts buzzing almost Strasburg-style. And while manager Joe Maddon talks about possibly starting him sometime in these final 10 days of the season, he's not yet listed among the Rays' probables.

While the Red Sox go into a doubleheader Monday with Kyle Weiland and John Lackey as their scheduled starters, and while the Yankees hope that Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia aren't running out of gas (or, in Colon's case, stem cells), the Rays have the most solid rotation this side of Philadelphia.

Yes, part of it was drafting high all those years when they were bad (the same way the Yankees got Derek Jeter). David Price was the first player picked in 2007, and Jeff Niemann was the fourth player picked three years earlier.

But the Rays took Wade Davis in the third round, got rookie of the year candidate Jeremy Hellickson in the fourth round and found Moore, the latest phenom, in the eighth round.

Maybe they just make better decisions, or do a better job developing pitchers.

They do it so well that they could afford to trade Matt Garza last winter, and could deal Niemann or Davis -- or even Shields -- this winter. Shields would be the toughest to let go (far tougher than Garza), but he would also bring by far the most back to a team that needs offense and has little money to pay for it.

First, though, the great rotation has brought the Rays back into the wild-card race, and gives them a chance of winning it.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. When the Red Sox were rained out on May 17 against the Orioles and rescheduled it as part of a doubleheader this week, they probably figured it would be simply an annoyance as they prepared for the playoffs. Instead, it's a major headache for a Red Sox team struggling desperately to hold onto a wild-card ticket to the playoffs. And this doubleheader, Orioles at Red Sox, Monday afternoon (1:05 ET) and night (7:10 ET) at Fenway Park, doesn't help. The worst part: The Red Sox are stuck starting rookie Kyle Weiland, who has yet to win and has made it past the fourth inning in just one of his four big-league starts. In the other game, they'll go with John Lackey, has the worst ERA of any regular big-league starter.

2. The Giants have won eight in a row, to put off elimination and put a little heat on the first-place Diamondbacks. The Giants are still five games out, but they go to Phoenix this weekend for three games with the D-Backs, so the race isn't over yet. But the Giants, who can't afford to lose, face Clayton Kershaw in Giants at Dodgers, Tuesday night (10:10 ET) at Dodger Stadium. In five starts against the Giants this year, Kershaw is 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA. He'll be going for his 20th win, so he'll be even more motivated. But his opponent, Tim Lincecum, will be pitching to keep the Giants' season alive.

3. While the Red Sox go with Weiland and Lackey in their doubleheader, the Rays will start Shields and Hellickson in Rays at Yankees, Wednesday afternoon (1:05) and night (7:05) at Yankee Stadium. Shields leads the majors with 11 complete games, which makes him perfect for a doubleheader. Wednesday should be interesting for the Yankees, too, if not nearly as crucial. Ace CC Sabathia, who is just 3-3 with a 4.56 ERA in his last eight starts, goes against Shields, while inconsistent Phil Hughes faces Hellickson.

Posted on: September 16, 2011 1:15 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2011 2:38 pm

Up 3, 13 to play

BOSTON -- Teams don't blow nine-game leads in September. It just doesn't happen.

Teams do blow three-game leads with 13 games to play. That does happen.

That has happened.

In fact, it's not hard to find teams that have led by four games, or even five games, with 13 games to play, and still missed the playoffs.

The 1951 Dodgers (four games) did it, although it took maybe the most famous home run of all time.

The 1964 Phillies (5 1/2 games) did it, although it took a collapse that tarnished Gene Mauch's legacy for the rest of his life.

The 1995 Angels, the 2009 Tigers and the 2007 Padres (all three games) did it, too. So did the 1934 Giants (3 1/2 games), the 1962 Dodgers (four games) , the 1965 Giants (3 1/2 games) and the 1938 Pirates (3 1/2 games).

The point isn't that the Red Sox are going to miss the playoffs. Most likely, they won't.

The point is that they've moved from "It can't happen because it's never happened," to "It could happen, but it would still be historic."

And yes, the same goes for the Rangers (up 3 1/2 games on the Angels in the American League West), and even the Braves (up 4 1/2 games on the Cardinals for the National League wild card).

Oh, and Mets fans, your 2007 team doesn't make the list. While they were up seven games on the Phillies with 17 games left, the lead was already down to 2 1/2 games by the time the Mets had played their 149th game (and had 13 remaining).

The 1978 Red Sox aren't on the list, either. They led the Yankees by seven games entering September, but led by 2 1/2 with 13 games left.
Posted on: September 4, 2011 9:42 pm

3 to Watch: The return of Strasburg edition

Stephen Strasburg returns to the major leagues Tuesday night, and as interesting as it will be to see how he pitches, it'll be even more interesting to see if the buzz is back.

Can he make us care, the way he did last year? Can he make us ask every day, "Is Strasburg pitching tonight?"

It's different, I know. He's been out for a year after Tommy John surgery. It's September, not June. He's only going to make four starts at a time when we're more focused on pennant races (if there are any) or football. He's going to be on a pitch limit even stricter than the one the Nationals held him to last year (and will be limited to four innings and 60 pitches in his debut, according to the Washington Post).

"I'm not going to win a Cy Young in four starts," Strasburg told reporters, according to MLB.com.

He didn't win a Cy Young last year. He was 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA in 12 starts, before hurting his elbow in August.

But we were fascinated by him, more than we've been fascinated by any player coming through the minor leagues. We couldn't wait for him to get to the majors, and when he got there, we couldn't wait for his every start.

His debut, with 14 strikeouts in seven innings, was one of the biggest events of the entire season.

It won't be like that Tuesday. It can't be like that Tuesday.

According to the Nationals, there are still tickets available, although they say it should be a bigger crowd than they'd normally have for a September Tuesday against the Dodgers.

There is some anticipation. Strasburg's rehabilitation starts in the minor leagues made national news, and in those six starts he struck out 29 while walking just four.

In his last start, according to the Washington Times, Strasburg topped out at 99 mph on the radar gun.

He threw 99 last June, on his 94th and final pitch of a magical night.

I'm not saying that Tuesday will be as magical, or that it even could be. But I'll be back in Washington to see it, and more than that to feel it.

Will the buzz be back?

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Strasburg underwent surgery on Sept. 3, 2010. He returns to the big leagues on Sept. 6, 2011, in Dodgers at Nationals, Tuesday night (7:05 ET) at Nationals Park. That's a fairly normal progression; Strasburg's teammate Jordan Zimmermann returned one year and seven days after he had Tommy John surgery. Zimmermann returned on the same day that Bryce Harper had his introductory press conference and Strasburg underwent an arthogram that showed he would need Tommy John surgery, too.

2. On Aug. 15, the Rangers had a four-game lead in the American League West, and that night they began a 23-game stretch in which they played every game against a team that (as of Sunday morning) had a record of .500 or better. The Rangers ended the weekend with a 3 1/2-game lead over the Angels, and they'll end that tough stretch with Rangers at Rays, Thursday afternoon (1:10 ET) at Tropicana Field. After that game, the Rangers will have 18 games left on their schedule, and only six of those 18 (three at home against the Indians, three in Anaheim against the Angels) will be against teams with winning records. So if the Angels want to catch up, this week (when they play three home games against the Mariners) could be crucial. It's an interesting pitching matchup for the Rangers Wednesday, with Derek Holland (seven shutout innings last Friday against the Red Sox) facing David Price (who threw eight shutout innings the last time he faced the Red Sox).

3. Last year, both the Phillies and the Braves made the playoffs, but when the teams met in two September series, it was obvious that the Braves were no match. They meet again this week, in a series that ends with Braves at Phillies, Wednesday night (7:05 ET) at Citizens Bank Park. Once again, the Phillies have basically wrapped up the division title (which will be their fifth straight), and this time the Braves are far ahead in the wild-card race. This time, at least going in, the Braves seem a more competitive match for the Phils. But with Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens both battling injuries, the Braves might need to rely more than they'd like on rookie Brandon Beachy, who starts Wednesday against Roy Oswalt (who the Phillies will be watching carefully).

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com