Tag:Matt Snyder
Posted on: March 7, 2012 1:53 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 3:59 pm
 

Orioles haven't ruled out signing Johnny Damon

By Matt Snyder

Free agent designated hitter (well, I guess he could play outfield, too, but that's probably a stretch) Johnny Damon is still looking for work. And the Orioles have not ruled out signing the 38-year-old, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has learned. Of course, Heyman also reports nothing is imminent.

It's a bit surprising Damon hasn't been signed by now. He hit .261/.326/.418 with 16 homers, 29 doubles and seven triples last season. Of course, previous Heyman reports have indicated Damon's asking price has been too high. If he's desperate enough to accept a meager fee like, say, $3 million just to hit for a full season, there might be more suitors.

The lingering storyline with Damon is his pursuit of 3,000 hits. He currently has gathered 2,723 in his career. For the past three seasons, he's averaged 151 hits, so he needs two more full seasons and then he probably gets there. It can't be a secret what that number might mean. The only players to ever have 3,000 hits are either: 1. In the Hall of Fame; 2. headed there (Craig Biggio, Derek Jeter); 3. Being held out (Pete Rose due to his ban and Rafael Palmeiro due to his failed drug test). So if Damon reached 3,000, it's reasonable to believe he'd have a shot at enshrinement. If not, he's not getting in.

As for the Orioles, they don't necessarily have a hole at DH, but Damon would be an upgrade. As things currently stand, some combination of Mark Reynolds, Chris Davis and Wilson Betemit are likely to fill 1B, 3B and the DH. Nolan Reimold -- if Endy Chavez plays left field -- could also be an option.

If the Orioles do sign Damon, hopefully they'll flip him to Toronto eventually. It would be a shame to come so close to the AL East grand slam without completing it.

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 1:37 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 4:01 pm
 

Jeter weighs in on Peyton Manning leaving Indy



By Matt Snyder


In case you haven't heard -- and over here at Eye on Baseball we'll forgive you if you missed it -- long-time Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is parting ways with the only professional franchise he's ever known. [Head over to Eye on Football for full coverage]

Anyway, Manning has lots of things in common with Derek Jeter of the Yankees. In addition to having been the face of each's particular sport for a long period of time, and evidently being clones in how they watch NBA games (see above, from a 2006 Miami Heat game), the two became poster children for spending a long career with the same team. Jeter's still locked up with the Yankees for the next few years, but no more for Manning. And Jeter has weighed in:

"It's just weird. You know, it always seems like some guys should be with one team their entire career," he said of Manning's departure from Indy. (via Sweeny Murti of WFAN)

Jeter does have a good perspective on this. He's entering his 18th season with the Yankees. Jorge Posada retired this offseason after 17 years in pinstripes and Mariano Rivera is beginning his 18th campaign for the Yankees. Such a trio staying together on one team these days is very rare. It probably could only happen on the Yankees and in baseball, considering the lack of a salary cap, but it's still pretty cool those three stuck together for all those years.

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 1:01 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 1:03 pm
 

A's release statement about relocation talks



By Matt Snyder


Earlier this week, some talk surfaced that the A's would not be able to move to San Jose due to a territorial rights issue. The reports were summed up quite nicely by my new colleague Dayn Perry in this blog entry.

Wednesday, the Oakland Athletics released the following statement:
“Recent articles claiming that Major League Baseball has decided that the A’s cannot share the two-team Bay Area market were denied by baseball Commissioner Bud Selig last weekend.

Currently the Giants and A's share the two-team Bay Area market in terms of television, radio, sponsors and fans. Last year, the Giants opened a specialty store in the middle of the A's market (Walnut Creek). At the time, Lew Wolff commented that he was ‘fine with the Giants store and wished there was an A's store in San Francisco.’

Of the four two-team markets in MLB, only the Giants and A's do not share the exact same geographic boundaries. MLB-recorded minutes clearly indicate that the Giants were granted Santa Clara, subject to relocating to the city of Santa Clara. The granting of Santa Clara to the Giants was by agreement with the A’s late owner Walter Haas, who approved the request without compensation. The Giants were unable to obtain a vote to move and the return of Santa Clara to its original status was not formally accomplished.

We are not seeking a move that seeks to alter or in any manner disturb MLB territorial rights. We simply seek an approval to create a new venue that our organization and MLB fully recognizes is needed to eliminate our dependence on revenue sharing, to offer our fans and players a modern ballpark, to move over 35 miles further away from the Giants’ great venue and to establish an exciting competition between the Giants and A's.

We are hopeful that the Commissioner, the committee appointed by the Commissioner, and a vote of the MLB ownership, will enable us to join the fine array of modern and fun baseball parks that are now commonplace in Major League Baseball.”
Without coming out and specifically mentioning San Jose, the A's seem to have come out guns blazing here. They even bolded the part where they talk about moving more than 35 miles further away from the Giants, compared to where they now play. It's the lawyer way of saying, "you seriously won't let me move further away from a team because of their territorial rights?"

The A's also make great points on some of the concessions they've granted the Giants over the years. The entire release seems to be an impassioned plea to let the club move to San Jose, without coming out and saying it specifically.

It will be interesting to see how this develops, because in matters like these, we can never be sure common sense will prevail.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 10:01 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 3:44 pm
 

Spring primer: Cleveland Indians



By Matt Snyder


The Cleveland Indians were the feel good story in baseball for the 2011 season ... as of May 23, when the Tribe was 30-15 with a seven-game lead in the AL Central. They were still tied for first as late as July 21, but just couldn't keep up with the red-hot Tigers in the second half, finishing 15 games out in the end. With a full season with some good, young talent and experience added to the starting rotation, the Tribe is hoping that they don't run out of gas this time around. Unfortunately, bad luck has already struck this spring with an injury to closer Chris Perez and center fielder Grady Sizemore already sustaining a major injury.

Major additions: Casey Kotchman, 1B, OF Aaron Cunningham, RHP Derek Lowe, RHP Kevin Slowey
Major departures: DH Jim Thome, OF Kosuke Fukudome

Probable lineup
1. Michael Brantley, CF
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
3. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
4. Carlos Santana, C
5. Travis Hafner, DH
6. Casey Kotchman, 1B
7. Jason Kipnis, 2B
8. Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
9. Shelley Duncan, LF

Probable rotation
1. Ubaldo Jimenez
2. Justin Masterson
3. Josh Tomlin
4. Derek Lowe
5. Kevin Slowey

The status for Roberto Hernandez Heredia (the artist formerly known as Fausto Carmona, that is) is completely up in the air right now. He will at least miss all of spring training.

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Chris Perez
Set-up: Vinnie Pestano, Tony Sipp, Joe Smith

Important bench players

C Lou Marson, 1B/OF Matt LaPorta, OF Aaron Cunningham, IF Jason Donald, IF Jack Hannahan

Prospect to watch
The Indians were chock full of these last season, but Kipnis and Chisenhall made the leap while Alex White and Drew Pomeranz were traded to the Rockies for Jimenez. Instead, we're scraping for guys with huge upside but not close to the majors (like 18-year-old shortstop Francisco Lindor) or those who have already spent time in the majors (Cord Phelps, Zach McAllister). I'll go with Nick Hagadone here. He did get 11 innings of work for the Indians last season but he's still techinically a prospect. He also has the ability to be a high-strikeout addition the Bullpen Mafia. He struck out 77 in 71 minor-league innings and 11 in his 11 big-league innings last season.

Fantasy sleeper: Jason Kipnis
"Granted, Kipnis' first couple weeks on the job were a little too good to be true. He hit six homers in the span of 11 days before his deal with the devil ran out, landing him on the 15-day DL with a hamstring injury. But just because he's not really a 40-homer threat doesn't mean the whole thing was a sham. He also had five steals during his time in the majors, demonstrating a combination of power and speed normally associated with the best of the best second basemen, such as Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler. And the attributes he was most known for in the minors -- his .300-plus batting average and high walk rate -- weren't even on display during his 136 at-bat trial." - Scott White [Full Indians team fantasy preview]


Fantasy bust: Asdrubal Cabrera
"OK, so Cabrera was the surprise of 2011, emerging off the waiver wire to contribute 25 homers and 94 RBI at the weakest position in Fantasy. It was fun, sure. But the danger for Fantasy owners is when that once-in-a-lifetime season becomes the new expectation. Not only were Cabrera's 25 homers a complete departure from his established track record, but they came with an elevated fly ball rate that began to wreak havoc on his batting average in the second half, when he presumably became homer-conscious. He hit only .244 after the All-Star break, and his .411 slugging percentage during that stretch was actually lower than the one he put together during a six-homer 2009. If he continues to force the issue, he could turn out like Aaron Hill. Then again, if he reverts to being more of a line-drive hitter, he'll have to settle for fewer homers.
" - Scott White [Full Indians team fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
Do Clevelanders do optimism? If not, they should. Everyone needs to think happy thoughts on occasion. Let's try to do so here. Ubaldo Jimenez rounds back in ace form and Derek Lowe keeps things together for one last year, giving the Tribe a pretty damn good pitching staff, top to bottom. Hafner and Sizemore (eventually) stay healthy and party like it's 2006 while Choo returns to form and the young guns blossom faster than expected. Or, as Lou Brown once said, "the veterans are playing back to form and the [young players] are developing faster than I thought ... " If that all happens, the Indians can win one of the wild cards and even have a shot at the mighty Tigers.

Pessimistic outlook
The division is divided into two parts. The Tigers and everyone else. Too much has to go right for the Indians to even come close to the Tigers, and the gap has widened from the 15-game gap that we saw at the end of last season. Also, the wild card is already plenty crowded with only two division winners coming from this group: Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, Rangers and Angels.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 8:57 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 9:24 pm
 

Injury roundup: Marcum, Longoria, Posey and more

By Matt Snyder

Brewers starting pitcher Shaun Marcum still has a stiff shoulder. For more, check out Danny Knobler's blog on the subject, as he's on site.

As for the rest, here's Wednesday's injury wrap:

• A's first baseman Daric Barton has been shut down for three days after requiring a second cortisone shot in his surgically-repaired shoulder. Per MLB.com, the chances of Barton making the opening-day roster are "slimming by the day."

Mets ace Johan Santana is all set for his Tuesday start against the Cardinals (ESPN New York).

• Also in Mets news, third baseman David Wright missed Monday's game with his lingering ribcage stiffness. He previously said he'd be playing if these were regular-season games but was expected to suit up and give it a go Monday. Meanwhile, Ike Davis -- who the Mets believe has Valley Fever -- is scheduled to play both Monday and Tuesday for three innings (MLB.com).

Marlins ace Josh Johnson had a 41-pitch, "pain-free" start Monday. He's moving forward slowly, but the Marlins project him atop their rotation. (MLB.com)

Rays third baseman Evan Longoria was hit in the hand with a pitch last week. He was fortunate to avoid any breaks, but is still suffering from the bruise and swelling. His batting practice session was cut short Monday and he'll wait a few more days before trying again (Rays Report).

• Just one week after dislocating his kneecap, Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman is going to be in the lineup for his club's spring game Tuesday (AJC.com via Twitter).

Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez "likely will play" in an exhibition game later this week, but here's the big news: Buster Posey "could join him." Getting Posey into game action this early in the spring as he looks to return from a broken leg would obviously be huge. He has already been cleared to hit in a game and will likely be used as a DH at first (same with Sanchez). "We don't need setbacks. We just don't want to risk anything," said manager Bruce Bochy.

Monday night's game is on TV, but Bochy still won't risk going with Posey. "I know they [fans] want to see him. We do, too, but it's not worth the risk."

Also in Giants news, Brian Wilson will face hitters Wednesday and is scheduled to pitch in a game March 11. They are also hoping Ryan Vogelsong can throw off a mound Thursday. (All info courtesy of Knobler, who was in camp)

• New Reds closer Ryan Madson has been shut down for a few days with irritation in his throwing elbow, but he'll resume throwing Tuesday. He called it a "normal" and said it's happened to him the "past couple of years." (MLB.com)

Yankees infielder Eduardo Nunez was hit in the right hand with a pitch Monday. His X-rays were negative and -- like Longoria -- has a bruised hand. (MLB.com)

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 6:42 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 6:46 pm
 

Marlins home run sculpture a vision obstruction?



By Matt Snyder


There may be a problem with the sculpture in left-center field at the new Marlins ballpark, and not just because it's an eyesore for many people. It may, in fact, be placed too close to center field and be a distraction to left-handed hitters when facing right-handed pitchers. Some left-handed hitters on the Marlins reportedly think it will be.

“If it is an issue, it can no longer be there,” said Marlins utility player Greg Dobbs (MiamiHerald.com). “I won’t be the only left-handed hitter saying something. If other teams have a problem with it, they’re definitely going to voice their concern to the league.”

Marlins new ballpark
Catcher John Buck squatted behind the plate to get a look recently, and he thinks it's close.

“It’s kind of my job to scope those things out,’’ Buck said (MiamiHerald.com). “It might be close. It might be all right. I don’t know. We’ll see. I think for left-handed batters it might be trouble.”

A lot more will be known Tuesday night, after the Marlins square off against the University of Miami in the stadium. For the time being, though, club president David Samson says MLB officials investigated the park last Thursday and found no "issue whatsoever." (MiamiHerald.com) Meanwhile, the batter's eye in center field is being painted black instead of the green color you can see in the above photo, so that's one thing they've already had to change.

If the home run celebration sculpture does pose an issue, it will be very interesting to see what the Marlins choose to do with it. At that size, it can't be easy to move, and it reportedly cost over $2 million to construct.

Hat-tip: Big League Stew

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 5:45 pm
 

Video: Troy Tulowitzki pranks 'fan cave' finalist

By Matt Snyder

Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki really had poor Shaun Kippins going. A finalist in the competition to be named to the MLB Fan Cave for the 2012 season, Kippins was interviewing Tulowitzki when he appeared to anger the All-Star shorstop. It was all a prank, and judging from Kippins' reaction at the end, it worked.

Check out the video below:



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Posted on: March 3, 2012 8:43 pm
 

Spring primer: Toronto Blue Jays



By Matt Snyder

The 2011 Blue Jays were 81-81, despite blowing an AL-worst 25 saves. So the task heading into the offseason for general manager Alex Anthopolous was pretty clear: Improve the bullpen. And he did, in trading for Sergio Santos and signing Francisco Cordero, among other upgrades. If the Blue Jays can knock off 10-15 of those blown saves and basically play similarly in every other aspect, they'll have a great shot at one of the two wild card spots. And the good news for the Jays is that they appear a bit better in other aspects than last season, like getting a full season from Brett Lawrie, to name one example.

Major additions: RHP Sergio Santos, RHP Francisco Cordero, LHP Darren Oliver, RHP Jason Frasor, OF Ben Francisco, IF Omar Vizquel
Major departures: C Jose Molina, RHP Frank Francisco, RHP Jon Rauch

Probable lineup
1. Yunel Escobar, SS
2. Kelly Johnson, 2B
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Adam Lind, 1B
5. Edwin Encarnacion, DH
6. Brett Lawrie, 3B
7. Colby Rasmus, CF
8. Eric Thames, LF
9. J.P. Arencibia, C

Probable rotation
1. Ricky Romero
2. Brandon Morrow
3. Henderson Alvarez
4. Brett Cecil
5. Dustin McGowan

Kyle Drabek is also in the mix.

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Sergio Santos
Set-up: Francisco Cordero, Casey Janssen

Important bench players

OF Rajai Davis, OF Ben Francisco, OF Travis Snider, C Jeff Mathis, IF Omar Vizquel

Prospect to watch
Catcher Travis d'Arnaud, one of the players who came over in the Roy Halladay trade, just turned 23 years old and is considered a top 20 prospect in all of baseball. He hit .311/.371/.542 with 21 homers in 114 Double-A games last season. And while Arencibia hit 23 bombs last season, he also had a paltry .219 batting average and .282 on-base percentage. He struck out 133 times while only walking 36. So it's entirely possible he struggles mightily and is replaced by d'Arnaud at some point this season. Or maybe the Jays trade one of them? We'll see, but keep your eye on d'Arnaud's progress. Many believe he's special.

Fantasy sleeper: Henderson Alvarez
"Alvarez wasn't considered a high-profile prospect at this time last year, so understandably, his 10 starts during a late-season trial weren't enough to put him on most Fantasy owners' radars. But consider just how impressive those 10 starts were. Better yet, consider how impressive his final eight were. He pitched at least six innings in each, posting a 3.06 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. He also issued only six walks during that stretch. Six. In 53 innings. And this isn't some soft-tosser who took the league by surprise simply by throwing strikes, a la Zach Duke in 2005. Alvarez throws in the mid-90s. He has top-of-the-rotation stuff to go along with a good feel for the strike zone and has already tasted success in the heavy-hitting AL East." - Scott White [Full Blue Jays fantasy team preview]

Fantasy bust: J.P. Arencibia
"Arencibia was one of five catchers to hit 20-plus homers last year, and he did it as a rookie. But before visions of Mike Piazza start dancing in your heads, keep in mind he was especially old for a rookie, turning 25 before the start of the season. He's 26 now, which means he's already in the thick of his prime, which means what you see with him might be exactly what you get. And it's even worse than it looks. Arencibia hit only .219 in 2011, which is discouraging enough, but when you consider he got worse over the course of the season, hitting .199 over the final four months, you have to wonder if his excessive strikeout rate makes him a sitting duck against major-league pitching." - Scott White [Full Blue Jays fantasy team preview]

Optimistic outlook
Morrow has a huge breakout campaign, giving the Jays a potent 1-2 punch in the rotation. Alvarez blossoms into a good No. 3 while Drabek realizes his potential and has a huge second half. Lawrie enters stardom early and Rasmus reaches his potential, making the offense even more potent than before. Plus, the new back-end of the bullpen is dominant. That gets the Blue Jays into the 90s in victories and they win a wild card.

Pessimistic outlook
The Jays just didn't do enough to close the gap, as they still aren't good enough to finish ahead of any of the following, at the very least: Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, Rangers or Angels. Instead, they're more on the same footing as the Royals and Indians. Thus, it's another fourth-place finish for the Blue Jays, who haven't made the playoffs since 1993.

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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