Tag:Matt Snyder
Posted on: February 15, 2012 3:37 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 6:30 pm
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Valentine: Crawford will miss 'a few weeks'

By Matt Snyder

Red Sox left fielder Carl Crawford is expected to miss "a few weeks" of the regular season, says manager Bobby Valentine (via Pete Abraham). Crawford is recovering from minor surgery on his left wrist, an arthroscopic procedure he had back in the middle of January. Abraham also reports that Crawford can currently do everything except hit -- obviously he could run, but this also means he can use his left hand in the field.

The beginning of Crawford's Red Sox career couldn't have gone much worse. After signing a seven-year, $142 million contract, the four-time All-Star had the worst season of his career. He hit .255/.289/.405 with just 65 runs and 18 steals. Now it appears he'll miss a few weeks before being able to join his teammates in 2012, as they wish to erase the disaster that was the 2011 finish.

With Crawford out -- as we pointed out in the AL East position battles -- expect Cody Ross and Ryan Sweeney to man the corner outfield spots, flanking center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. Darnell McDonald will then serve as the fourth outfielder.

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Posted on: February 15, 2012 2:34 pm
Edited on: February 15, 2012 3:17 pm
 

Nine ways to improve Major League Baseball

By Matt Snyder

We're just a few days until all 30 teams will have had pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Just like any true baseball fan, I'm giddy with excitement.

Just like with anything, the major-league level sport could use some improvements. While MLB was tied with college football for the second-most popular sport in a Harris Interactive poll, the demographics show that baseball is in danger of drastically losing popularity, as the study showed most baseball fans are older than 50. Now, obviously that gives a solid 20-year window before doomsday really hits, but baseball still needs to be cognizant that growing the younger audience is key for long-term growth.

That means baseball needs to be a little more Blackberry/iPhone and a little less rotary phone. Remember, not all change is bad. At one point in time, it was a home run when the ball bounced over the fence. I wonder what the "purists" thought when they changed it to a ground-rule double? If you wanna call me names and claim I'm not a purist, below you'll find several targets. But make no mistake about it, I'm trying to find ways to make the game more exciting for the next generation. In this century, things move faster and people have less time to pay attention. Adapt or die, as "Billy Beane" said in "Moneyball."

So here are nine things I'd change about baseball in order to make it better suited for the next generation. Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments section and make this an interactive discussion.

1. Put in a pitch clock. I'm dead serious -- put it up like basketball has a shot clock. Not only is it, you know, a freaking rule that pitchers have to throw a pitch within 12 seconds of getting the ball, but this would add some drama for many younger fans. The best reason, obviously, is that the umpires would actually be forced to enforce the rule that they so often just ignore. The rulebook (Rule 8.04) states "The 12-second timing starts when the pitcher is in possession of the ball and the batter is in the box, alert to the pitcher. The timing stops when the pitcher releases the ball."

Has anyone ever watched Josh Beckett (pictured right, surely finding a way to avoid throwing a pitch within the first 20 seconds he has the baseball) pitch? I bet he's had outings where he never once threw a pitch within 12 seconds. It makes me feel like I'm watching Steve Traschel all over again ... well, except that Beckett's actually good. I'm not blaming Beckett. The umpires let him do it and he's not alone at all (Vicente Padilla also comes to mind). Just using him as an example.

2. Get someone with some common sense to rework the blackout rules. I've covered this before, so just click through and see how amazingly stupid it is. Bud Selig needs to hire someone to do something about it. Hell, I'll throw my hat in the ring and volunteer.

3. More Saturday day games. Sunday is fine, because everyone plays a day game with the exception of the ESPN Sunday Night Game. And I understand weekday games needing to be at night. But on Saturday, we usually get about three afternoon games and the rest are at night. This is the best time for families to get their kids to the game and many families don't like to have their kids out at the ballpark late Saturday night for many reasons. Why not just start the Saturday games at 1:00 p.m. local time? Especially when school is in session. I also wouldn't mind seeing Game 3 of the World Series falling on a Saturday afternoon. It's not like Saturday night is prime for TV ratings.

4. Expand replay to everything but balls and strikes. Why does someone like Ron Kulpa or Jim Joyce have to be burdened with an honest missed call for the rest of his life? The Joe Wests of the world are in the minority here, as most of the umpires are honest, hard-working guys who just want to get the call right. As the fast motion and without the benefit of multiple camera angles, calls are going to get missed. The insane thing is we have the technology to show they were wrong within seconds, yet don't allow the umpires to use it. Why not just have a centralized review office at the MLB headquarters where one replay official watches every game? You don't need to give the managers challenges or have the entire umpiring crew go underneath the stadium for 15 minutes. Let's just use some common sense and start getting every call correct. It's very possible.

5. Make the DH universal. I've written about this before and the reasons are very simple. First of all, it's insane that a professional sports organization has a different set of rules for two leagues, especially when the leagues play each other during the regular season and decide a champion by facing each other in the World Series. So you either have to take the DH away from the AL or add it to the NL.

And here's where the purists freak out and start calling me names, since I say add it to the NL. I wouldn't be averse to taking it away from the AL, just as long as the same rules are applied to both leagues. But adding to NL makes more sense here. The first reason is that the players union would obviously never allow the DH to go away, as it would cost jobs to veteran players. The second reason is it's better for offense, and we're trying to get kids to watch the games, remember? Plus, pitchers suck at hitting. We're supposed to be watching pro athletes at their best ... also realize teams don't have to use a DH. So if the Marlins want to bat Carlos Zambrano, for example, more power to them. Just don't come with this "baseball is meant to be played both in the field and at bat" junk. Pitching is a specialization. You don't make a quarterback play defense in football anymore.

6. Out with penny-pinching owners. Among the many complaints I'm waiting on in the comments section is that I didn't mention a salary cap. Here's the deal: With baseball's system, players are under team control for six years. That's a lot longer than other sport. And with the revenue sharing system, many small-market clubs are making hefty profits. Take 2010 (Forbes.com hasn't released the 2011 numbers yet). Did you know three teams lost money that season? The Red Sox, Mets and Tigers. Large markets. Guess who had the highest operating income? The Padres, who made almost $40 million. And after the season they traded superstar first baseman Adrian Gonzalez for prospects because they couldn't "afford" to sign him long term.

The problem with the difference in payrolls is mostly on these tight-fisted owners from the old boys club of owners. Just over a week ago, Joe Sheehan of SI.com wrote an excellent article about how owners like the Royals' David Glass, Athletics' Lew Wolff, Pirates' Robert Nutting and Blue Jays' Rogers Corporation are pocketing millions upon millions while crying that they can't afford high-priced talent (though I'd probably cut the Jays out there, to be fair).

The money is there, so it should be spent on improving the on-field product, not the bottom line of a billionaire. The fans of these teams and others deserve better. There should be more George Steinbrenners -- who would rather lose money while the team wins than vice versa -- not less.

7. Shorten spring training. The always-entertaining Brandon McCarthy, A's starting pitcher, wrote the following about spring training last week for SI.com's Hot Clicks: "It's so, so, so LONG: It's six weeks of practice and pretend games. It just never seems to end. It's like our version of Oregon Trail. By the time camp ends, someone's died of Dysentery, there's a bunch of new kids that have been born, and your feet are killing you."

He's right. How many fake games do you need? Cut out two weeks and ...

8. Start/end the season earlier. The reasoning is two-pronged. The first prong is that baseball in cold weather isn't near as enjoyable as baseball in warm weather. With the World Series creeping up on November, there are just too many chances for weather issues during the most important games of the year (remember Game 5 of the Phillies-Rays series). If spring training was shortened, the season could begin the third week of March. Yes, weather is bad for the first several weeks of the season in many parts of the country, but the scheduling is easier then. There are enough warm-weather and retractable-roof teams to cover the first month. The games aren't nearly as important as the playoff games and in the playoffs you don't get to choose the venue (how about a Minnesota vs. Chicago World Series in the first week of November? Shivers everywhere). So you'd start the playoffs the third week of September and the World Series would be over in the middle of October. The second prong is you cut away time in competition with the NFL. Sorry, the NFL is a monster and there's no changing that in the near future, so don't compete with it anymore than necessary. Two less weeks of facing off against the NFL would be great for the sport of baseball.

9. Blackball Jose Canseco. Oh wait, I guess he claims that already happened. Whatever, just please go away, Jose. Take Lenny Dykstra with you. #4TRUTH. Yes, I realize this doesn't have to do with MLB, but I just can't stand these guys. The game is much better without having them around it.

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Posted on: February 15, 2012 1:57 pm
 

Report: Gwynn's surgery a success

By Matt Snyder

Hall of Famer and baseball legend Tony Gwynn underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his right cheek Tuesday night, and it was successful, reports ESPN.com.

The source ESPN.com used for the story is Gwynn's wife, Alicia, who told the outlet that the surgery didn't end until 1 a.m. PT, meaning the Hall of Famer was under the knife for 14 hours. But the good news is that just 7 1/2 hours later, Gwynn was reportedly in great spirits and drinking water.

"All is well -- it doesn't seem like last time,'' Alicia Gwynn said (ESPN.com). "It turned out great. He looks good, he looks normal. His eyelids are a little swollen, but they got all the cancer. They say they got it all. His face looks good. They did an amazing job.''

Also, it sounds like the doctors got all of the cancer:

"He's a little drowsy now, and we'll be talking to the doctors again, but, yes, the biopsies were clear," she said (ESPN.com). "The doctors and staff were amazing. They had nurses contacting me every hour while he was in surgery. And now Tony's talking already.''

Gwynn, 51, is the current head baseball coach at San Diego State. He used smokeless tobacco inside his right cheek for a period of at least 30 years and has admitted he was addicted. He hasn't used since his 2010 surgery.

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Posted on: February 15, 2012 1:05 pm
 

Edgardo Alfonzo: Mets' 'legend?'

By Matt Snyder

The New York Mets announced Wednesday that, in honor of the franchise's 50th anniversary, they will have five different bobblehead giveaways this summer at Citi Field. Each bobblehead will be of a Mets legend, one from each decade of the franchise's existence. The first 25,000 fans for each game will get their bobblehead.

Tom Seaver will represent the '60s, with the giveaway being on April 22. Rusty Staub represents the '70s on May 26. Keith Hernandez is the '80s guy on June 17 while Mike Piazza is the representative for the 2000s on August 25.

You'll note I left out the 1990s. It's Edgardo Alfonzo (July 21). I was left scratching my head a bit about this. Yes, Alfonzo was a good player -- in fact, he was an All-Star in 2000 and had great years in 1999 and 2002. But he's the Mets' "legend" for the 1990s whole decade? Really?

Alfonzo played five seasons for the Mets in the '90s, putting together a .290/.356/.429 line, good for a 106 OPS-plus. He hit 62 homers (an average of 15 per 162 games) while averaging 73 runs and 68 RBI per season. He was versatile defensively. All-around, a good player, but certainly not a legend.

Now, please don't misconstrue this as a huge complaint. I don't care who the Mets give away as a bobblehead and I'm not a Mets fan. I'm just wondering if Mets fans think of the '90s and the first player that comes to mind is Alfonzo. I combed through a few of the rosters, because I don't think I should make any kind of statement without having an alternative option, and I came up with a pretty good name: John Franco. He was the closer for nearly the entire decade. He racked up 276 saves in his Mets' career, 268 of which came in the 90s, when he had a 2.81 ERA.

Anyway, it's not a big deal, but I'm curious, Mets fans: Would you rather have a Franco or Alfonzo bobblehead?

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Posted on: February 15, 2012 12:14 pm
 

Only a 'demigod' can 'outshine' Coco Crisp in CF

By Matt Snyder

Cespedes to A's
One of the better quote machines in Major League Baseball is A's outfielder Coco Crisp, and we've got an absolute beauty to pass along on this Wednesday afternoon.

The only background you need here is that the A's just signed Cuban import Yoenis Cespedes and it's possible Cespedes profiles as a big-league center fielder. Crisp is the incumbent in center.

Coco, take it away (via Susan Slusser at SFGate.com):

"I'm going to make all the plays," Crisp said. "If someone feels there's someone better than me, it's hard for me to believe. Unless he's a demigod come down from the heavens, no one is going to outshine me in center field."

Yes, the only way to be better in center field than Coco Crisp is to be half-man, half-god. Coco then laid down the gauntlet for his new teammate (again, via Susan Slusser at SFGate.com): "I'm excited to play alongside Cespedes - no matter what side that may be."

The funny thing is, Crisp is a very good defensive center fielder. As usual, though, his quotes far exceed any talent he has on the baseball field.

Hat-tip: Hardball Talk

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Posted on: February 15, 2012 11:17 am
 

Guillen: Hanley not '100 percent' OK with move

By Matt Snyder

While it made the offense much stronger, the signing of star shortstop Jose Reyes caused some drama for the newly-named Miami Marlins this winter. That's because, as we all know, the Marlins already had a star shortstop: Hanley Ramirez. The signing of Reyes pushed Ramirez to third base, though there were rumors floating around the Winter Meetings that Ramirez had demanded a trade. Those turned out to be false, but evidently he still isn't exactly happy about the move.

Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen point blank, almost emphatically, said, "no," when asked if Ramirez was "100 percent on board" with the move to third base. He didn't even hesitate, also saying that Ramirez was upset with having to change positions. Guillen did say, however, he expects Ramirez to be 100 percent OK with the move by the time they play St. Louis (opening day of the regular season) and that everyone should "just let it be."

Here's the entire video of Guillen discussing the situation, shot by Miami Herald writer Clark Spencer:



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Posted on: February 15, 2012 10:38 am
Edited on: February 15, 2012 11:06 am
 

Britton heads to camp with shoulder soreness

By Matt Snyder

Spring training hasn't started yet, and we're here to pass along some potentially bad news to Orioles fans already. Left-handed starting pitcher Zach Britton -- who figured to be the staff ace -- heads to camp "limited in his activities" due to a sore left shoulder, reports MLB.com. This is the same shoulder problem that landed him on the disabled list last August.

"We are currently monitoring Zach Britton," general manager Dan Duquette said in a statement released by the club. "He has already reported to spring training and is scheduled to begin his throwing progression this Friday."

Now, let's not overreact. Opening day is a long way away. Camp hasn't even started yet -- though it does in a matter of days. It's entirely possible Britton strengthens his throwing shoulder through the spring and is ready to take the ball opening day for the Orioles.

It's just that hearing about a starting pitcher in the middle of February having a sore shoulder hardly breeds confidence in his ability to head up the rotation this season. It's even more troubling that this is an injury that has lingered for six months, encompassing the entire offseason. I'll say this, he won't be finding his way onto my fantasy baseball team.

Britton, 24, went 11-11 with a 4.61 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in his rookie year for the Orioles. He definitely wore down as the season went on, possibly a product of his sore shoulder, possibly just because he was a rookie. He was 5-2 with a 2.14 ERA after nine starts, for example, then he closed the season with a 5.85 ERA in September.

Still, Britton appeared to be the Orioles' best pitcher heading into the spring, and now this news puts a bit of a black cloud over pitchers and catchers reporting. The good news, as I outlined in the AL East position battles, is the Orioles have almost a dozen starting pitching options (no exaggeration). So there's that.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: February 13, 2012 7:02 pm
 

Blue Jays give Janssen 2-year extension

By Matt Snyder

The Blue Jays have granted relief pitcher Casey Janssen a two-year contract extension worth $5.9 million, the club announced Monday evening. Janssen was set to head to arbitration, so this contract helps avoid that inconvenience. The bigger news, though, is that while Janssen wasn't a free agent, he was set to be one after this season. Now he won't head to free agency until after the 2013 season, though there's also a $4 million option for the 2014 season.

Janssen, 30, was 6-0 with a 2.26 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 53 strikeouts in 55 2/3 innings last season. He's spent his entire career with the Blue Jays after being drafted and signed in 2004. In five big-league seasons, Janssen has a 3.81 ERA and 1.33 WHIP.

The Blue Jays added closer Sergio Santos, setup man Francisco Cordero and left-handed specialist Darren Oliver this offseason, so the Janssen extension is just another example of how Toronto general manager Alex Anthopolous has focused on the bullpen. In 2011, the 81-81 Blue Jays blew 25 saves -- tied for the most in the AL -- so getting that issue fixed was obviously of utmost importance.

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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