Tag:Omar Infante
Posted on: March 1, 2012 10:33 pm
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Spring primer: Miami Marlins



By Matt Snyder


All of a sudden, in just one offseason, the Miami Marlins have undergone a complete makeover. They have a new name, logo and stadium. New, more colorful uniforms are part of the deal as well. Still, that's all window-dressing if the on-field product resembles the 72-90 one from 2011. And it doesn't. Not only did the Marlins bring in three highly-coveted and high-priced free agents, but they traded for fiery Carlos Zambrano and brought in one of the most outspoken -- and, at times, effective -- managers in baseball. How Ozzie Guillen's new-look troops fare in the 2012 season remains to be seen, but two things are certain: More people will be in attendance to find out and it's not going to be boring.

Major additions: SS Jose Reyes, LHP Mark Buehrle, RHP Carlos Zambrano, RHP Heath Bell, LHP Wade LeBlanc
Major departures: RHP Javier Vazquez, C John Baker, RHP Burke Badenhop, RHP Chris Volstad

Probable lineup
1. Jose Reyes, SS
2. Emilio Bonifacio, CF
3. Hanley Ramirez, 3B
4. Giancarlo Stanton, RF (a.k.a. Mike Stanton)
5. Logan Morrison, LF
6. Gaby Sanchez, 1B
7. John Buck, C
8. Omar Infante, 2B

Probable rotation
1. Josh Johnson
2. Mark Buehrle
3. Anibal Sanchez
4. Ricky Nolasco
5. Carlos Zambrano

Wade LeBlanc is the injury replacement.

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Heath Bell
Set-up: Edward Mujica, Mike Dunn

Important bench players

C Brett Hayes, IF Greg Dobbs, OF Scott Cousins, OF Bryan Petersen

Prospect to watch
For this year, there really aren't many guys on the radar ready to jump in and immediately help. Third base prospect Matt Dominguez is in Triple-A, but he's now blocked by one of the team leaders in Hanley Ramirez. All the other highly-ranked Marlins prospects are in the lower-levels of the minors. So we'll go with Dominguez here for this reason: Should he have a big first three months in Triple-A while the Marlins are in the thick of the pennant race, he makes for good trade bait at the deadline. Maybe they could use him to upgrade the bridge to Heath Bell or even as part of a package to landing a really good center fielder.

Fantasy breakout: Logan Morrison
"Morrison's track record suggests both his walk rate and BABIP should rebound, and in fact, his .268 BABIP from a year ago looks like the result of some horrendously bad luck. He is a strong bet to improve on his OBP and, at worst, maintain the home run power he displayed in 2011. Add in some improvement and subtract out his minor league demotion and DL time from last season, and Morrison suddenly profiles as a No. 3 mixed league OF." - Al Melchior [Full Marlins team fantasy preview]

Fantasy bounce-back: Hanley Ramirez
"Ramirez had a miserable first half last season, and just when he started to get untracked, he suffered a shoulder injury that led to season-ending surgery. As the season progressed, Ramirez adjusted and started hitting more line drives and flyballs, and his batting average and power numbers rose accordingly. Even though his overall stats were pale compared to his norms, a good sign for Ramirez was that his home run per flyball rate was not much lower than usual." - Al Melchior [Full Marlins team fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
Everyone behaves, Ramirez and Johnson stay healthy and have big seasons while the youngsters (Stanton, Morrison) develop into stars. Especially now that there are two wild cards, the Marlins have a great shot at the playoffs with this group. And once you get there, anything can happen, so I'd say an optimistic outlook has them winning the third World Series in franchise history. If you look at the upside in the offense and rotation in particular, it's hard to argue against a best-case scenario being a championship. Then again ...

Pessimistic outlook
Utter disaster. The club doesn't respond to Guillen, Johnson injures his arm again, Zambrano melts down, Morrison quibbles with management over Twitter, Ramirez starts slow and demands a trade due to wanting to play shortstop again ... you get it. I can't think of another club with such high-peak and low-valley potential entering the 2012 season. This group of personalities could be the new Bronx Zoo champion or a catastrophic mix on the field that finishes last. Almost literally, anything could happen. As I said in the intro, it certainly won't be boring. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

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Posted on: December 14, 2011 10:38 am
Edited on: December 15, 2011 7:15 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Detroit Tigers



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

For today's installment of the Homegrown series, I can't stop thinking about a certain trade. Earlier this week, I was reminded of the deal anyway. In a pretty minor move, the Rays traded for relief pitcher Burke Badenhop. That's worth discussing here because he was the last standing of six players Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski sent to the Marlins for Miguel Cabrera (and Dontrelle Willis, for that matter). To acquire one of the biggest superstars in baseball -- and a now-washed up pitcher -- Dombrowski dealt Badenhop, Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Eulogio De La Cruz, Dallas Trahern and Mike Rabelo. Upon Badenhop being dealt, the Marlins now have nothing left to show for the 28-year-old Cabrera. Trahern is stuck in Double-A and appears unlikely to help the big-league club, either.

So, yeah, this homegrown club is missing a huge bat in the middle of the order. But this is also an opportunity to praise Dombrowski for one hell of a trade.

Lineup

1. Omar Infante, SS
2. Matt Joyce, RF
3. Curtis Granderson, CF
4. Brennan Boesch, 1B
5. Alex Avila, C
6. Cody Ross, DH
7. Jack Hannahan, 3B
8. Cameron Maybin, LF
9. Ramon Santiago, 2B

Starting Rotation

1. Justin Verlander
2. Jair Jurrjens
3. Rick Porcello
4. Guillermo Moscoso
5. Charlie Furbush

Bullpen

Closer - Francisco Cordero
Set up - Fernando Rodney, Joel Zumaya, Jason Frasor, Burke Badenhop, Ryan Perry
Long - Andrew Miller

Notable Bench Players

Will Rhymes, Ryan Raburn, Scott Sizemore, Danny Worth, Brandon Inge, Andy Dirks, Don Kelly, Casper Wells, Andres Torres

What's Good?

That guy sitting atop the starting rotation is pretty decent, no? Getting 34 or so starts out of Justin Verlander gives this ballclub a great chance to win plenty of low-scoring games. Jurrjens is a fine number two as well. I love Avila behind the plate and Maybin in left field would be a defensive force -- most metrics showed Maybin as a far superior defender in center to Granderson this past season, but I went with the logic that Granderson would stay in center as the star of the team. If he wanted to pull a Cal Ripken and move, OK, the defense gets even better. Finally, the bench depth is pretty good, as there are several guys capable of providing good spot starts.

What's Not?

While it's definitely not awful, that batting order leaves a lot to be desired. Joyce is really good and Granderson is great. Otherwise? I'll channel my inner Larry David and just say "eh." There would be an awful lot of pressure on Boesch and Avila in those run producing spots, that's for sure. Also, while it's not horrible, that bullpen bridge to Cordero isn't exactly one that eases the mind. Can you imagine how many cigarettes Jim Leyland would have to choke down to stomach a night with Badenhop, Frasor and Rodney tasked with putting up zeroes? They can do it, but they'll just about give you a heart attack in the process.

Comparison to real 2011

I'll go out on a limb here (please note sarcasm) and say winning 95 games and cruising to the AL Central title is about as realistic with this group as this exercise. A winning record might be possible, as this team feels just mediocre. The likes of Verlander, Granderson, Avila, Joyce and Jurrjens keep them away from "suck" territory. I'd go high-70s in wins with a ceiling of 83 victories.

Next: Houston Astros

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Posted on: December 5, 2011 12:10 am
Edited on: December 5, 2011 12:39 am
 

Reyes rounds out an impressive Marlins lineup

Jose Reyes Hanley Ramierez

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The winter meetings haven't officially started and the Marlins already seem to have locked up the Hot Stove League title with the signings of Jose Reyes and Heath Bell -- and they could add more.

So what does this mean to the product on the field come April? Well, the rotation may still need some tinkering, but the lineup -- assuming everyone is healthy -- appears stout.

With Reyes, let's look at the new-look Miami Marlins lineup:

Jose Reyes1. Jose Reyes, SS

When healthy, Reyes is the best leadoff hitter in the game, and one of the few real difference-makers in the top spot of the lineup. Reyes has a career .341 OBP and 370 stolen bases -- good for eighth among active players, with only one of the other players ahead of him on the list in his 20s, like the 28-year-old Reyes. Reyes is coming off his first career batting title, hitting .337/.384/.493 in 2011 and also led the league in triples (16) for the fourth time in his career. The knock on Reyes, though, is his ability to stay on the field. After playing in at least 153 games from 2005-2008, he played in just 36 games in 2009, 133 in 2010 and 126 last season. But when healthy, few in the game are as good as he is.

Omar Infante2. Omar Infante, 2B

While Infante didn't return to his All-Star form from a year before in 2011, he's a steady second baseman, if not exactly Dan Uggla. Infante hit .276/.315/.382 and led the league with 17 sacrifices if you're into that kind of thing. He has a career .318 OBP, but had a .353 OBP from 2008-2010 with the Braves. He's a solid No. 2 batter, especially sandwiched between Reyes and Hanley Ramirez.

Hanley Ramirez3. Hanley Ramirez, 3B

Ramirez will have to move to third to make room for Reyes, something he's been reluctant to do -- but it's probably best for him and the Marlins. At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, he's physically more of a third baseman than a shortstop and the team's defense should benefit from the switch. The Marlins had been in the market for a third baseman and all of a sudden they have one with a .306/.380/.506 career split with 134 home runs in six seasons -- and will be just 28 when the season starts. With Reyes and Ramirez, the Marlins now have batting champs from two of the last three seasons in their lineup.

Mike Stanton4. Mike Stanton, RF

Perhaps the most exciting young player in the game, Stanton hit 34 home runs last season in his first full season, while hitting an impressive .262/.356/.537 overall. In an era where there seems to be fewer young power hitters, Stanton has it in spades. He's also proven to be an outstanding defensive outfielder and is under team control for several more years.

Logan Morrison5. Logan Morrison, LF

Morrison, 24 had a disappointing sophomore season, even finding himself sent to Triple-A in August. Even with the trip to the minors, he put up a .247/.330/.468 line with 23 home runs and 72 RBI. That's not ideal, but it's not bad for a 23-year-old in his second season in the majors, especially one that put up a .283/.390/.447 line as a rookie. He was also much better in the first half, hitting .267/.343/.489. The talent is there and he should get better.

Gaby Sanchez6. Gaby Sanchez, 1B

Sanchez was lost in the monster National League rookie class of 2010, but still put together a solid rookie season and pretty much equaled it in his second season, hitting .266/.352/.427 with 19 home runs in 2011. Sanchez is 28, the same age as Reyes and Ramirez, but with much less experience.

Emilio Bonifacio7. Emilio Bonifacio, CF

A switch-hitter, the speedy Bonifacio played all three outfield spots, as well as second, shortstop and third last season for the Marlins, but the team's biggest need now is center field, and he can stick there now that he doesn't need to fill in at any point for Ramirez at short. Bonifacio put up a .296/.360/.393 line last season and stole 40 bases. The team also has former Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan, who started 64 games in center last season, but struggled, hitting just .230/.296/.368 and is expected to start next season in Triple-A.

John Buck8. John Buck, C

The oldest player in this lineup, Buck is just 31. While not an offensive superstar, he's a solid catcher and did put up a .316 OBP last season and hit 16 home runs. He also hit 20 homers in 2010 for the Blue Jays.

That's a pretty good lineup, and also a young one -- only Buck and Infante will be 30 or older at the start of next season. That said, the Marlins may not be done. Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports Miami is expected to make "an aggressive run" at Albert Pujols. As good as the Marlins' lineup looks now, that could push it into a different stratosphere. Even without Pujols, that thing in center field could get a workout at the Marlins' new park.

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Posted on: September 27, 2011 10:43 am
 

Pepper: McKeon praises Ozzie; Moneyball ripped



By Evan Brunell

Ozzie: The dominant story Monday night and today is obviously Ozzie Guillen, who was released from his contract after Monday night's game.

It looks as if Guillen is headed to the Marlins to become their skipper, and that's just fine with outgoing manager Jack McKeon, who plans to retire (again) from managing. Guillen served under McKeon back in 2003, so the octogenarian has familiarity with the former White Sox infielder.

"I like Ozzie," McKeon told MLB.com. "I think he's a very, very intelligent manager. I think he was a very smart player. I think he'll do well. He's done well. I think he's a good man. I like him. He's a good baseball man."

McKeon continued, praising Guillen's ability to interact with players.

"I liked the way he was able to control the players, especially the Latin players," McKeon said. "He wasn't afraid to jump on them and encourage them, but also try to help him. He wasn't worried about being their friend. He'd tell it like it is. And that's Ozzie. That's what reminds me of another guy [Jack McKeon]. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't."

In a separate story, the Chicago Tribune wonders whether Guillen moving to the Marlins could open up a Carlos Zambrano deal to Florida. Zambrano and Guillen are close friends, and the Marlins are looking to jack up payroll and raise fan interest heading into a new stadium and a new identity. It's certainly feasible -- the Marlins will have money to spend and a desire to upgrade the pitching.

Ripping Moneyball:
Honestly, I'd rather not even waste time giving Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone publicity for this, but here goes: the two White Sox announcers ripped Moneyball despite not having read the book or seen the movie to CSNChicago.com. Credibility: out the window.

Hey, it's totally OK to rip things you disagree with. But to rip something with zero knowledge is ludicrous. (And no, being familiar with the "concept" of it or hearsay does not count.) Billy Beane isn't a perfect GM and he's made his share of mistakes, but that doesn't nullify the basic idea of Moneyball, which continues to be sadly unnoticed these days instead of the popular narrative of "Moneyball is about poor teams who love statistics and OBP and hate everything else!" Why are we still doing this in this day and age?

Oh, and according to Harrelson, playing like a kid is way better than putting up good statistics.

"You take Mark Buehrle, he has never lost his childlike qualities. That’s one reason he can go out there and throw an 86 miles-per-hour fastball and still compete and win."

Uh-huh. Or maybe Buerhle is really good at commanding the ball and inducing weak contact.

Nahhh.

Ted Williams movie? Could a movie be made about Ted Williams? Given the wealth of content of the Hall of Famer's life, a movie about Williams would be entertaining. John Underwood, who was a friend of Williams and wrote for years at Sports Illustrated, is developing a treatment he hopes can turn into something. With the success of Moneyball at the box office and Broadway wrapping up a play about Vince Lombardi, the time might be right. (Washington Times)

No charges: Juan Carlos Oviedo, a.k.a. Leo Nunez, will not face charges in the Dominican Republic for falsifying his identity. Given Oviedo came forward with the admission and cooperated with officials, he is getting a free pass. Only time will tell, though, if MLB will allow Oviedo back for 2012. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Moved
: Phil Hughes admits he isn't pleased with pitching out of the bullpen for the Yankees. The righty has struggled through a difficult year for the Yankees, with a recent back issue prompting the move to the 'pen. Even if Hughes would understandably prefer to start and although it depletes the Yanks' thin rotation, Hughes has a chance to make a major impact in the bullpen in October. In 2009, he was a lockdown reliever setting up Mariano Rivera. (MLB.com)

Signed: Omar Infante has agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Marlins, worth $8 million. In his first year with the Marlins after coming over from Atlanta in the Dan Uggla deal, he hit .279/.317/.385 in 574 plate appearances. (MLB.com)

Returning: The Reds want to bring closer Francisco Cordero back, and he's pleased to hear that. There is a $12 million option on the closer's remaining deal, and it's not clear whether or not Cincy will pick the option up. A return for Cordero isn't surprising following a solid season in which he notched 35 saves. (MLB.com)

Back to Washington: If Jonny Gomes has his way, he'll be back with the Nationals after coming over from Cincinnati in a trade. Gomes hasn't quite impressed, but could be a strong bat off the bench for Washington next season. Gomes for his part says he would probably accept arbitration if the Nats offered it and believes the team will be "friggin' good." (Washington Post)

Where's Coco?
Coco Crisp wouldn't mind returning to the Athletics, but Oakland's free-agent machinations will depend on the outcome of the A's prospects of building a new stadium in San Jose. The A's will have competition if they want to bring Crisp back -- two sources say that San Francisco is expected to make a run at Crisp. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Looking ahead: Joe Mauer can't wait to put 2011 behind him, as the year represented a disappointment for both the club and Mauer, struggling with injuries and poor play. "You always want to do well when you put the uniform on," Mauer told MLB.com. "For me, my biggest goal is just to come back and be healthy. It's been a frustrating year. I haven't been healthy. Hopefully, we can do that as a whole. I'm talking about myself, but this whole room, we've kind of got the same thing going [with injuries]. My No. 1 goal is to just get healthy and just get ready for next year."

Lost season: Peter Moylan, a reliever for the Braves, missed months with a back injury. Finally back, Moylan got lousy news once more as he'll need surgery for a torn rotator cuff and labrum, which will be his third major surgery in four years. Moylan will miss about six months worth of time, so may not be ready for Opening Day. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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Posted on: September 19, 2011 11:56 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2011 12:26 am
 

Picking the National League's best defenders



By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Gold Gloves are one of baseball's toughest awards to decide -- and sometimes toughest to understand. Unlike many of the game's other awards, the Gold Gloves are voted on by managers and coaches, and every year it seems there's a winner or two that seems to win the award more with their bat than their glove.

Not only do some players seem to win it with something other than their glove, sometimes the award can be a lot like the Supreme Court, once you get elected, you're not going to lose your seat.

That said, it's a difficult award to vote for. There are better fielding statistics coming out every year, yet most are still in their infancy and can tell you only so much. Good defense, sometimes can be a lot like the definition Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart gave for pornograpy in Jacobelis v. Ohio in 1964: "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embrued within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it." 

With that in mind, perhaps the voters for the Gold Gloves should be the scouts, but instead I'll try my hand at picking out the best defensive players in the National League.

Catcher: Yadier Molina, Cardinals

As tough as it is to use numbers to evaluate fielders, it's even tougher with catchers. At least the numbers with other fielders have some meaning, with catchers there's so much more to what they do defensively that it's hard not to go on reputation -- and nobody has a better reputation than Molina.

Others considered: Carlos Ruiz, Phillies; Brian McCann, Braves.

First base: Joey Votto, Reds

When Votto was coming up, people knew he could hit -- that was hard to ignore -- but his reputation at first base was nowhere near as good. Even as a rookie, he often struggled, especially on throws to a pitcher covering first. Since then, he's improved every year and this year he has proven himself to be the best defensive first baseman in the league. Votto, last year's MVP, covers more ground at first than any other first baseman in the league, which means it can be tough to get a hit if you hit it on the ground to the right side of the Reds infield, beacuse of the next guy on the list.

Others considered: Albert Pujols, Cardinals. Todd Helton, Rockies.

Brandon PhillipsSecond base: Brandon Phillips, Reds

A two-time Gold Glover, Phillips should be in line for his third. There may be no other player in baseball with as long of a highlight-reel as Phillips, who seemingly makes another amazing play every night.

Others considered: Chase Utley, Phillies, Omar Infante, Marlins, Neil Walker, Pirates

Third base: Pablo Sandoval, Giants

There are players with better defensive reputations than the Kung Fu Panda, but nobody's had a better year. The advanced stats don't tell you everything yet, but they're still pretty good. Sandoval leads qualified National League third basemen in UZR (12.3), UZR/150 (21.2) and plus-minus (20). 

Others considered: Placido Polanco, Phillies; Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals.

Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

The Rockies may know a little something about drafting defensive shortstops -- they picked two of the best in the league, Tulowitzki and the Astros' Clint Barmes. Finally healthy, Barmes was outstanding defensively for the Astros, while Tulowitzki seems like the second coming of Cal Ripken. 

Others considered: Alex Gonzalez, Braves; Jose Reyes, Mets; Clint Barmes, Astros.

Left field: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies

The voting has changed this year to award Gold Gloves to each of the three outfield positions instead of three generic outfielder awards that usually went to center fielders. Carlos Gonzalez is tough to categorize, but considering he's played more games in left than any other spot, he's the easy choice here. He's started 60 games in left, 34 in right and 28 in center. He's played all three well, which isn't easy at spacious Coors Field, committing only one error on the season.

Others considered: Matt Holliday, Cardinals. Gerardo Parra, Diamondbacks. Tony Gwynn, Dodgers.

Shane VictorinoCenter field: Shane Victorino, Phillies

This is one stacked category, with several deserving players. Under the old rules it would be easy, you'd have three center fielders and give them the three Gold Gloves. Under the new rules, it's a tougher choice. Victorino has had an MVP-type year, and no small part of that has been patrolling center field for the Phillies. The Flyin' Hawaiian is as good as anyone out there and his error-less season gives him the edge.

Others considered: Chris Young, Diamondbacks; Carlos Gomez, Brewers; Cameron Maybin, Padres; Rick Ankiel, Nationals; Andrew McCutchen, Pirates.

Right field: Mike Stanton, Marlins

He may be known best for the moon shots off his bat, but Stanton is a surprisingly good defensive outfielder. Stanton has the combination of athleticism and arm strength to be the best defensive right fielder in the game.

Others considered: Jay Bruce, Reds; Carlos Beltran, Giants; Jason Heyward, Braves.

Pitcher: R.A. Dickey, Mets

A knuckleball pitcher needs to field his position well -- there are plenty of bad hits coming back to the mound off poor contact. Dickey has been very good fielding his position and helped his team with his glove.

Others considered: Jake Westbrook, Cardinals; Bronson Arroyo, Reds; Hiroki Kuroda, Dodgers; Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers; Derek Lowe, Braves.

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Posted on: September 19, 2011 10:35 pm
Edited on: September 19, 2011 11:10 pm
 

Playoff race: Braves' heartbreaker tightens race

Omar Infante

By C. Trent Rosecrans

After just having beaten Roy Halladay and the Phillies, the Cardinals were likely in their clubhouse watching a Chipper Jones misplayed ball lead to an Omar Infante two-run, game-winning homer and pulling St. Louis to within 2.5 games of the Braves in the National League wild-card race.

If the Cardinals can come back to overtake the Braves, they've certainly earned it this weekend, taking three of four in Philadelphia, beating both Cole Hamels and Halladay in the process.

Atlanta saw an error by Infante give them a lead in the seventh inning, but then Jones' inability to field Emilio Bonifacio's chopper that Jones lost in the lights set up Infante's walk-off homer off of Braves closer Craig Kimbrel.

St. Louis' remaining schedule is nowhere near as daunting and the way the Cardinals are pitching, it could come down to the last series of the season, when St. Louis is playing the team with baseball's worst record and Atlanta is hosting the team with baseball's best record. 

There may only be a little more than a week left in the season, but it's hard to see this not going down to the wire.

Atlanta Braves
87-67
Remaining schedule: 2 @ FLA, 3 @ WAS, 3 vs. PHI
Coolstandings.com chances of winning Wild Card: 78.2 percent

St. Louis Cardinals
84-69, 2.5 GB
Remaining schedule: 3 vs. NYM, 3 vs. CHC, 3 @ HOU
Coolstandings.com chances of winning Wild Card: 17.7 percent

San Francisco Giants
83-70, 3.5 GB
Remaining schedule: 3 @ LAD, 3 @ ARI, 3 vs. COL
Coolstandings.com chances of winning Wild Card: 3.4 percent

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Posted on: September 9, 2011 9:21 pm
Edited on: September 9, 2011 9:23 pm
 

Presley's gaffe gives Infante another homer

By Matt Snyder

The Marlins are absolutely having their way with the Pirates Friday night, as the score was 13-2 through five innings. Marlins second baseman Omar Infante has two home runs and five RBI, but he got some help on the three-run shot from Pirates left fielder Alex Presley. Presley should have made the catch, but instead the ball bounced off his mitt and over the wall.

See the video below, courtesy of MLB.com.



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Posted on: July 21, 2011 4:43 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 5:07 pm
 

Trade Deadline Primer: NL East

By Eye on Baseball team

Leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the National League East has an actual race -- as well as a team with a bloated payroll and no hope -- which leads to a great chance of some pretty interesting trades to and from the division. Here's a look at the five teams in the NL Eeast:

Philadelphia Phillies

Status: Buyers

Needs: Bullpen, RH bat

Notes: Manager Charlie Manuel said he'd love a right-handed bat (Philadelphia Daily News), probably in the outfield, but this is the Phillies and expect the team to focus on pitching -- at least that's what history tells us. And because their rotation is pretty good (you may have heard about some of these guys), they focus on relievers, likely ending a streak of five years of adding a starter midseason. The team is likely one of the many suitors for Padres closer Heath Bell, although some suggest the Phillies prefer Mike Adams. Padres owner Jeff Moorad has reportedly told Adams he won't be traded. However, according to Tom Krasovic of Inside the Padres, the Phillies are willing to give up Class A first baseman/left fielder Jonathan Singleton in return for Adams.

Another bullpen trade partner could be the Orioles, CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler said. The Phillies could be interested in Jim Johnson or Koji Uehara.

MLB Trade Deadline

As for the right-handed bats, the Phillies are in on the same folks everyone's chasing -- Ryan Ludwick, Carlos Beltran, Hunter Pence and maybe Jeff Francouer. The biggest hurdle of all for the Phillies is money, as in they've already spent it and they're worried about the luxury tax. The team has just between $2 and $3 million to spend and avoid the luxury tax.

According to Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com, the Phillies and Royals have already exchanged names in a possible Melky Cabrera trade. Cabrera is a cheaper, younger switch hitter for those who fall short in the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes.

Now, if they're going big and bold, Buster Olney of ESPN.com, tweeted the Phillies could go for Pence, centering the deal around right-hander Vance Worley.

Atlanta Braves

Status: Bargain shoppers

Needs: Right-handed bat

Notes: The Braves need a right-handed bat like Roy Halladay needs air conditioning. Atlanta looks like the front-runner for the National League wild card, but don't have much money to spend. The biggest issue right now for Atlanta is its inability to hit left-handed pitchers. Braves hitters are hitting just .211/.285/.337 against lefties, with Jason Heyward, Nate McLouth and Jordan Schafer all below the Mendoza line against southpaws. That's why Jon Paul Morosi's report of the Reds' Jonny Gomes drawing the interest of the Braves makes sense, Gomes kills lefties to the tune of a .340/.446/.547 slash line this season and .281/..377/.510 in his career. There's also the regular names such as Ludwick and Beltran.

To make room for more payroll, the team could trade right-hander Derek Lowe, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien wrote. The Tigers could be interested in Lowe, but would have to take up the rest of the $20 million he's owed through 2012.

New York Mets

Status: One-stop shopping

Needs: Young talent under team control; pitching

Notes: Outfielder Carlos Beltran is the top position player on the market, but his future is clouded by the number of teams that could use an upgrade in the outfield and the fact that he's not for sale, he's for rent. Whatever team gets him won't even get compensation picks if he leaves as a free agent after the season.

The Mets would reportedly rather pay Beltran's salary and get a good young player or top prospect in return. They could unload him to a team willing to pay the roughly $8 million left on his contract, but then they wouldn't get much in return. The Mets would prefer big-league ready pitching talent. New York seems confident it can re-sign Jose Reyes, meaning they're not ready to throw in the towel and go full-on rebuilding anytime soon. 

Beltran, however, does have a no-trade clause. According to Tim Brown of Yahoo!, Sandy Alderson gave Beltran a short list of teams interested -- the Phillies, Red Sox, Braves, Giants, Brewers and maybe the Yankees -- and Beltran hasn't ruled any of them out.

It's pretty certain now that the Mets won't deal Reyes, but it appears they may be holding on to Jason Isringhausen, too, Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman tweets.

Washington Nationals

Status: Listening to all offers

Needs: Leadoff man/center fielder of the future

Notes: The Nationals have pieces to deal -- from catcher Ivan Rodriguez to relievers Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, Todd Coffey and Sean Burnett, plus starters Jason Marquis, Livan Hernandez and Tom Gorzelanny. In short, they're open for business, with GM Mike Rizzo saying no player is "untouchable" -- but then following that up with "we're not going to touch our core." That means, "after a while, they don't ask for [Danny] Espinosa," Rizzo told the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore. Ryan Zimmerman is also likely untouchable, as well as catcher Wilson Ramos.

One name to watch is shortstop Ian Desmond, but that would take quite the return for the team to move the 25-year-old.

More likely to go are some of the team's relievers. The Nats are deep in the bullpen and it's a position that's always in demand. The top tier would be Clippard or even Storen, but that would require Washington receiving a leadoff-hitting center fielder in return, someone like B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, Colby Rasmus or Denard Span, FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal writes.

Florida Marlins

Status: Sellers

Needs: Third baseman, starting pitchers

Notes: The Marlins have starting pitchers that would interest many teams, but they may not part with them. Next year they rename themselves the Miami Marlins when they move into a new stadium and ownership would like a competitive team on the field when that happens.

Ricky Nolasco is the top starter to be had, but Knobler says they'd have to get a younger, cheaper starter in return for the 28-year-old right-hander.

The one the team may part with is Javier Vazquez, but it's not really their decision. Vazquez has a full no-trade clause and isn't in any hurry to leave South Florida. There are few places he'd accept a trade.

Sure to be gone is closer Leo Nunez. The Phillies are interested in Nunez. The other teams desperate for bullpen help -- like the Cardinals and Rangers -- are likely to at least inquire what it may take to get him.

Randy Choate has been verbal this week about his problems with current manager Jack McKeon and could get shipped off for not being a good soldier.

Also on the block are free-agents-to-be Greg Dobbs and Omar Infante. Infante's value is a lot less than it was a year ago.

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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