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Tag:Marlins
Posted on: December 5, 2011 12:46 am
 

Brewers finally show some optimism about Fielder

DALLAS -- Could Prince be the one who stays?

Remember, the assumption all along was that Albert Pujols was the guy who wasn't going anywhere, the guy who was destined to re-sign with the Cardinals. And perhaps he still will.

Prince Fielder was the guy on his way out the door, the guy who was going to get big offers that the Brewers were not going to match. And perhaps that's still true.

But Sunday, even as Pujols' future was in a little more doubt, with reports that the Marlins plan to strongly pursue him after signing Jose Reyes, there was a hint of optimism from Brewers people about their chances at keeping Fielder.

None of them were out and out predicting that Fielder will stay. They acknowledged that a huge offer elsewhere could be too much for them to match.

But the same guys who have been saying for months that it was the longest of longshots were now insisting it could happen, for two reasons.

One, the early market for Fielder doesn't seem to have exploded. Teams are interested, including the Mariners, the Nationals and possibly the Rangers or Cubs. But the indications so far have been that the market may not go crazy.

Second, Brewers people never discount the competitiveness and aggressiveness of owner Mark Attanasio. And Attanasio seems to be indicating that he wants to make a real effort to keep his star first baseman.

None of that means that Fielder will be back in Milwaukee. But for the first time in quite a while, it actually seems possible.


Posted on: December 2, 2011 7:17 am
Edited on: December 2, 2011 7:28 am
 

Spending on Bell shows Marlins are serious

If they're not serious, they're crazy.

I'll go with serious.

You don't spend $9 million a year on a closer if you're not serious about trying to win. And the Marlins just gave Heath Bell $27 million for the next three years.

If it's their only big move of the winter, it makes no sense. But if it's their only big move of the winter, that would be a shock.

As CBSSports.com colleague Scott Miller wrote Thursday, the Marlins are optimistic about signing Jose Reyes, one of the biggest free agents out there. They're aiming high on the starting pitching market, as well, with Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson both having admired the new ballpark in Miami.

Already, they've done what Marlins teams in recent years haven't, by committing significant money to the back of the bullpen. Sources confirmed to CBSSports.com that Bell agreed to a deal late Thursday night, and that it will pay him $9 million a year.

For a closer, that's serious money.

You know the only closers who are signed for $9 million or more next year?

Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Papelbon, Jose Valverde . . . and Heath Bell.

The stat guys can argue about whether any closer is worth that much. I'll only tell you that Bell is the one and only closer in baseball with 40 saves each of the last three years, and that he has done it with an outstanding 90.4 percent conversion rate.

Having a good closer guarantees you nothing. Bell's Padres lost 91 games in 2011, even as he had another fine year.

But teams serious about winning understand that they'd better have an outstanding closer, even if it means committing big money (it doesn't always, as the Braves proved with rookie Craig Kimbrel).

At this point, we've got to count the new Marlins as serious.

And if they follow it up by signing Reyes and a starting pitcher, we'll count them as very, very serious.

Oh, and as for the Padres, the team Bell hoped to stay with?

There's no way they could justify spending $9 million a year on a closer. But this works out for them, too. They'll get two draft picks, a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds, and the ninth pick in the second round.

In the past, that second pick would have come from the Marlins, but under a clause in the new basic agreement between the players and owners, Bell's signing didn't cost the Marlins a draft pick.

Signing Reyes would cost them a pick, but that's fine. They can afford it -- just as they could afford $27 million for a closer.

Category: MLB
Posted on: November 17, 2011 2:55 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 2:58 pm
 

No Marlins signings, but it's a 'new environment'

MILWAUKEE -- They're still the new Marlins. The offers are still out there.

The stadium is still new.

And the fact that none of those big offers have yet been accepted?

Hey, none of those big-name free agents has yet signed anywhere else, either.

"I don't feel pressure to do anything -- ever," Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said as he left baseball's owners meetings Thursday. "But it's a new environment."

In this new environment, the Marlins can bid on Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes and others, and even get them to Miami on recruiting visits. They're still considered a longshot on signing Pujols, but may even be the favorite at this point for Reyes.

One complication with signing Reyes would be that incumbent shortstop Hanley Ramirez would need to move to third base. The Miami Herald reported this week that Ramirez isn't thrilled with the idea, but Loria insisted it won't be a problem.

"He's a wonderful team guy," Loria said.

Remember, new Marlins, new environment.

In Loria's mind, new environment and new stadium are related.

Asked Thursday if it was a big step that big-name free agents have visited the Marlins, he was quick with his answer.

"I think all you have to do is go to Miami and look at the ballpark, and you wouldn't ask that," he said.

As for whether he thinks the Marlins will sign Reyes, Pujols or any of the others, Loria simply said: "I don't know, we'll wait and see."




Posted on: November 10, 2011 5:39 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2011 6:40 pm
 

Cespedes could top Chapman's $30 million contract

Aroldis Chapman's big contract surprised some people as much as his 105 mph fastball.

Get prepared to be surprised again.

Cuban outfielder Yoennis Cespedes, currently working out for teams in the Dominican Republic, will likely match or even top the six-year, $30.5 million contract that the Reds gave Chapman two winters ago, two veteran scouts who follow the international market predicted Thursday.

"I'd take him over Chapman," one of the scouts said.

Cespedes defected from Cuba over the summer. He has yet to be declared a free agent, but that's expected to happen soon. Scouts familiar with the market say it's hard to pick a favorite to sign him, but the Yankees and Marlins are both known to have strong interest, and the Red Sox, Rangers, Cubs and possibly even the Pirates and A's could be heavily involved, as well.

Cespedes was one of the stars of the Cuban national team, and scouts drooled over him when he played in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

They still do now.

"He's a five-tool guy, built like an NFL running back," one scout said. "He has tremendous raw power, with all the tools to be a 30-30 guy in the big leagues. His mother pitched on the Cuban national softball team, so he has athleticism in the family."

Asked for a comparable player who has played in the big leagues, the scout first suggested Bo Jackson, then back away, but only slightly. If you want to judge for yourself, there's a YouTube video that has already made the rounds.

The question, as with all international players, is how quickly Cespedes can adjust to American culture and to American baseball. He's already 26 years old (five years older than Chapman was when he signed), so it's not as if he is some young prospect.

Chapman, even with the 105 mph fastball, has yet to live up to expectations.

Then again, if Cespedes is a 30-30 guy in the big leagues, he's worth Chapman money and even more.

And he'll probably get it.



Posted on: October 28, 2011 4:51 pm
 

In Game 7, home team has edge (or not)

ST. LOUIS -- You've no doubt heard by now that no road team has won a World Series Game 7 in 32 years.

The Cardinals won at home in 1982, the Royals did it in 1985, the Mets in 1986, the Twins in both 1987 and 1991, the Marlins in 1997, the Diamondbacks in 2001 and the Angels in 2002.

It's tough to win the decisive game on the road . . . except when it isn't.

There were three decisive Game 5's in the Division Series this month. Two of the three were won by the road team (Cardinals over Phillies, Tigers over Yankees).

The Rangers won a decisive Game 5 last year at Tampa Bay.

The Cardinals won Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series on the road.

In fact, over the last 10 years, there have been 18 decisive games in the postseason (Game 5 in the Division Series, Game 7 in the LCS or World Series), and the visiting team has won 11 of them.

After Game 5 three weeks ago at Yankee Stadium, Tigers manager Jim Leyland made the argument that it can actually be an advantage to be on the road, because there's more pressure on the home team (certainly true in the cases of the Yankees and Phillies), and because there are more distractions at home.

Oh, and about those eight straight road-team wins in Game 7 of the World Series?

Go back through eight more Game 7's, and it basically evens out. From 1965-79, the road team won seven out of eight Game 7's.


Posted on: October 1, 2011 2:18 pm
 

On Fister, Dombrowski refused to accept 'no'

NEW YORK -- The first time Dave Dombrowski asked about Doug Fister, Jack Zduriencik said no, he's not available.

And the second time, and the third time, and . . .

How many times was it, Dave, a dozen?

"At least," Dombrowski said.

Twenty? Twenty-five?

"Probably," Dombrowski said. "Over a three-week period, we called a couple of times a day. Sometimes three times."

Zduriencik, the Mariners general manager, kept saying no. Dombrowski, the Tigers general manager, refused to take no for an answer.

"He opened the door at times, and then he would close it," Dombrowski said. "As long as it was open a little, we kept trying."

Eventually, on the day before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the Tigers got Fister and David Pauley in exchange for four young players.

Fister went 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA, so you could say that Dombrowski's persistence is the reason the Tigers are in the playoffs. With Friday night's rain, Fister will in effect start two games in the Division Series against the Yankees, so you could say that he is the Tigers' best chance for advancing.

Fister will pick up for Justin Verlander when Game 1 resumes in the middle of the second inning Saturday night. If the series goes the five-game distance, Fister is now on schedule to start the deciding game.

And all because when Zduriencik said no, Dombrowski kept trying. And trying.

One Tigers person said he had never seen Dombrowski so determined to get a deal done. Dombrowski said he could only compare it to his pursuit of Mike Lowell in the summer and fall of 1995, when Lowell was with the Yankees and Dombrowski was running the Marlins.

"I worked on that one for six months," he said.

The Tigers identified Fister early, deciding that the combination of his ability and his contract status (he can't be a free agent until after 2015) made him the right fit. The Tigers looked at every pitcher who was or might be available (they made a try for James Shields, but Rays GM Andrew Friedman gave them a firmer "no" than Zduriencik did), but for most of the month, Fister was their top target.

In fact Tigers people insist, they preferred Fister to Ubaldo Jimenez, even if the price for the two had been the same (which it wasn't).

Their first offer for Fister, sources say, included none of the four players who were eventually in the deal (Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, Francisco Martinez and Chance Ruffin). No one can remember how many other permutations were offered before Zduriencik agreed.

What does seem certain is that the Tigers were the one team that wasn't scared off when Zduriencik said no. Plenty of teams needed pitching, but no one else tried nearly as hard for Fister.

In the end, the Tigers thought they gave up a lot. They view Martinez as a future star at third base, think Ruffin has a chance to pitch very well in the big leagues and view Wells as a potential starting outfielder.

"I guess I'm old school," Dombrowski said. "You don't try to 'win' a trade."

And, apparently, you don't take no for an answer.
Posted on: September 14, 2011 3:42 pm
 

Interleague inequities continue in 2012

Interleague play in 2012 will give us plenty of Tigers-Pirates Marlins-Red Sox and Yankees-Braves.

But it won't bring the Braves to Kansas City.

The Royals have ex-Braves as general manager (Dayton Moore), manager (Ned Yost), and players (including Jeff Francoeur). The Braves have a club president (John Schuerholz) who first made his name as the Royals GM, and checks the schedule every year looking for a trip back to Kansas City.

In 15 years of interleague play, the Braves have never been there.

Make that 16, because they're not going there in 2012, either. But they will play home-and-home series with the Yankees.

Baseball announced its 2012 schedule Wednesday morning, and there will soon be complaints all around about bad road trips, or too many home games early, or not enough home games late.

But the biggest problems, as always, come from the interleague schedule.

It's not fair. It makes little sense. And it doesn't come close to serving one of its main, originally announced purposes, because it doesn't bring every team to every city.

No Braves in Kansas City, for the 16th straight year. No Padres in Toronto, for the 16th straight year. No Rangers in St. Louis, for the 16th straight year. No Twins in Atlanta, for the 16th straight year.

Through 2011, there were nine interleague matchups that had never happened. Not one of those nine is on the 2012 schedule.

But the Tigers and Pirates will play six times, as will the Marlins and Red Sox.

It's fine that interleague play gives us games between natural rivals, which remain popular. But for people outside the two-team markets, interleague play was sold as a way to see every team from the other league, at least once every six years.

Now it's 16 years and counting for nine matchups that still haven't happened.

And it's another year of teams in the same division playing unequal interleague schedules.

The Braves play 12 of their 18 interleague games against the best three teams in the American League East (Yankees, Red Sox, Rays). The rival Phillies don't play the Yankees at all, so they play just six of 15 games against the AL East Big 3.

Yes, that's right. The Braves and Phillies don't even play the same number of interleague games. With 14 teams in the AL and 16 in the NL -- no realignment yet -- the only way to make it work is for 12 of the 16 NL teams to play five interleague series, while the other four play six.

I understand, the schedule is ridiculously complicated, mostly because there are 14 teams in one league and 16 in the other. I realize that baseball allows its television partners (ESPN, Fox) to dictate some interleague matchups.

I'll even admit that the 2012 schedule seems a little more logical, with (for the most part) East meeting East, Central meeting Central and West meeting West.

But couldn't they bring the Braves to Kansas City? Just once?
Posted on: September 11, 2011 10:10 pm
 

3 to Watch: The Let's panic! edition

In the September without pennant races, something strange is developing.

Pennant races.

Real, live pennant races. The kind of races that get you excited, if your team is doing the chasing, or make you nervous, if your team is trying to hold on.

The kind of races that make you . . .

"Hell yeah, you've got to panic," David Ortiz told reporters Sunday, after his Red Sox were swept by the Rays to shrink their wild-card lead to just 3 1/2 games (with the Rays coming to Boston this week for four games).

Panic!

They know the feeling in Texas, where the Rangers once led the Angels by seven games, but were just 1 1/2 games up as of Sunday morning (and back to 2 1/2 games as of Sunday night).

They're starting to feel it in Atlanta, where the Braves once led the wild card by nine games, then ended a bad week with just a 4 1/2-game lead over the Cardinals.

And yes, they know it in Boston, where they panicked at 0-6, and at 2-10. Yeah, they're going to panic, now that one more week like the last one would see them looking up at the Rays in the standings.

Eight days ago, the computers at coolstandings.com said the Sox were 99.6 percent sure to make the playoffs. Now, after seven losses in eight games (including three straight to the Rays), those same (panicking) computers dropped it to 88.2 percent.

Frank Wren knows the feeling. The Braves general manager said he was watching those computer readings a year ago, watching them drop from 95.8 percent to 60.1 percent.

The Braves did make the playoffs, although their spot wasn't guaranteed until the Giants beat the Padres on the final day of the season, three hours after the Braves played their last scheduled game.

It made for a fantastic final weekend, even if it also made for a lot of nervous moments for Wren and for Braves fans.

For baseball's sake, the best thing that can happen now is that the Red Sox-Rays race goes to the final weekend, that the Rangers-Angels race comes down to the two teams' three-game series in Anaheim the final three days of the season, and maybe even that the Cardinals get close enough for the Braves to shout, "Panic!"

Too much to hope for?

Maybe so, but on Labor Day, even one pennant race seemed too much to hope for.

This was the September without pennant races . . . until it wasn't.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Since June 29, the Angels are 16-0 when they've started Jered Weaver or Dan Haren in a home game. That's nice, but it doesn't exactly help them this week, with neither Weaver nor Haren starting in a three-game series -- on the road -- in Oakland. The Angels begin a 10-game trip to Oakland, Baltimore and Toronto with Angels at A's, Monday night (10:05 ET) at the Coliseum, with Joel Pineiro on the mound. The last time the Angels were in Oakland, they lost three of four, allowing the Rangers to increase their AL West lead from 1 1/2 games to four games.

2. Should the Braves be worried that they have rookies starting all three games of the series that ends with Marlins at Braves, Wednesday afternoon (12:05 ET) at Turner Field? Not necessarily. The Braves have lost eight of their last 11, but all three wins in that stretch were started by rookies, including one by Randall Delgado, who starts Wednesday against the Marlins.

3. The Cardinals don't have any games remaining against the Braves (or against the Brewers, who they trail by six games in the NL Central). The Rangers and Angels don't meet until the final three games of the season, by which point we'll either have tons of drama or none of it. But the Rays are in Boston this week, for four games beginning with Rays at Red Sox, Thursday night (7:05 ET) at Fenway Park. Unless Tampa Bay stumbles badly in three games before that in Baltimore (and even then, only if the Red Sox beat the Blue Jays at home), this weekend should be interesting. The Rays have Jeremy Hellickson, James Shields, Jeff Niemann and David Price set to go in the series. The Red Sox haven't even announced their starter for Thursday yet, and still don't know whether Josh Beckett will pitch in the series. One last thing to think about (for now) on Rays-Red Sox: If this race goes to the final six days of the season, the Yankees could have a big impact on it, with three games at home against the Sox followed by three at Tampa Bay. Imagine if the Red Sox need the Yankees to beat the Rays for them! Panic!
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com