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2016 MLB thread. Baseball is upon us! Royals are the champs - Page 221

post #6601 of 73444
Thread Starter 
laugh.gif we won't fix him CP. I'd say they do need to go after someone, though. We've seen far too many dominant 8th inning guys fall on their face when they move to close. I'd swipe Hanrahan.
post #6602 of 73444
Imagine if the Yanks had a Jansen or Reed in-waiting. RIP to the AL East for years if that was the case. Papelbon will take over the closer mantle from Mo as best in the game.
post #6603 of 73444
Robertson to close, bring Hughes to the pen too setup too. I don't trust soriano
post #6604 of 73444
Thread Starter 
What Mariano Rivera must decide.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

The visitors bullpen in Fenway Park is built into the front of the stands in right-center field, and Mariano Rivera has been booed there each time he has arrived for work, he said recently. But through the years, there has been a shift in the relationship. After those initial obligatory boos, he said, he receives a lot of sincere affection from the Boston fans. He likes them, he said, and they seem to like him.

Mariano RiveraAP Photo/Elise AmendolaRivera's legacy is secure, even with rivals; how he finishes will be his choice.

And why not? What's not to like about Mariano Rivera?

He is the best ever at what he has done, serving as the Yankees' one-man cavalry, galloping in to save the lead, almost as predictable as a sunrise.

He has 650 saves, including 42 in the postseason; if you add the career postseason saves for the No. 2- and No. 3-ranked relievers of all time, Brad Lidge (18) and Dennis Eckersley (15), they don't come close to matching Rivera.

Watching Rivera throw his cut fastball has been like seeing Michael Jordan cut into the lane and dunk, or Jerry Rice sprint past defenders to separate himself. We didn't get to sit in while U2 created their songs or when Picasso painted, but for the past 17 years, we've been able to watch Rivera step into crises over and over and over, throwing the same pitch over and over and over even when hitters knew which pitch was coming, and almost always Rivera has come out the other side shaking hands and high-fiving teammates.

But when he lost, such as in the 2001 World Series, he carried himself as he did in success. He walked off the field, head down, with an even stride, his expression no different than when he has shattered bats with his cutter. He has been humble in his greatest moments, dignified in his worst moments, respecting teammates, opposing players, fans, all with dignity.

So there is sadness throughout the sport today, because nobody in the game wants bad things to happen to good people no matter what uniform they wear.

The most appropriate ending for Rivera would have been to finish his career throwing a cut fastball at the end of a defeat or victory. Instead, the last moment of his playing career might have been riding in the back of a groundskeeper's four-wheeler as he was hauled away for an MRI, seemingly smiling to alleviate the concern of teammates -- while knowing how serious the injury might be.

Rivera might be just as conflicted in his internal debate whether to continue his career. He has talked about retirement in years past, but when he all but said two and a half months ago that this would be his last season, Rivera seemed at peace with his plan, whatever it was; he said he knew what he was going to do but just didn't want to tell reporters yet.

Now the circumstances have changed. His 2012 season now ends in the first week of May, in all likelihood, and Rivera has to decide whether he can find a similar peace in that conclusion or whether he wants something different.

The most misunderstood part of Rivera, masked by his outward demeanor, is how competitive he is. The challenge of attempting a comeback won't bother him, and he would attack his rehabilitation in the way that he has pitched to hitters. If he decides that he doesn't want the last chapter of his career to be about lying on the dirt of the warning track in Kansas City, he would undoubtedly go through his rehabilitation with confidence of success. That is how his mind is built.

But it may be that Rivera prefers something different in his life now. He suffered through an offseason illness that affected his voice, and there were a few scary days when Rivera wondered whether he had cancer. Rivera came through that experience perfectly fine, but the episode seemed to underscore the fragility of life for him. He's pitched in 1,147 games in his career, thrown 141 innings -- almost two full seasons' worth -- in October, and closed out regular seasons and playoffs and the World Series. He doesn't really care about numbers and records, he reiterated a couple of weeks ago, and in any event, the numbers he's posted are likely out of reach for anyone who follows.

The only real question is whether he prefers to leave the game standing upright, walking off a field rather than being carried. But whatever he decides will not alter his standing in the history of the game, or the respect he has engendered in his career, from opposing players, from fans from the Bronx to Seattle to Fenway.


Rivera spoke with reporters after the game.

From ESPN Stats & Information, some Rivera numbers:

Rivera in the regular season
Appearances: 1,051<<
ERA: 2.21<<
Saves: 608<<
Blown saves: 73<<
Strikeouts: 1,119
Walks: 277
Opp BA: .210

>> Leads active pitchers (min. 1,000 IP)

Rivera in the postseason
Appearances: 96<<
ERA: 0.70<<
Saves: 42<<
Blown saves: 5
Strikeouts: 110
Walks: 21
Opp BA: .174

>> Best all time (min. 30 IP)

Most saves, MLB history
Mariano Rivera: 608
Trevor Hoffman: 601
Lee Smith: 478
John Franco: 424
Billy Wagner: 422

Most career saves all with one team
Mariano Rivera (Yankees): 608
Jeff Montgomery (Royals): 304
Bobby Thigpen (White Sox): 201
Danny Graves (Reds): 182

Most 30-save seasons
Mariano Rivera: 14
Trevor Hoffman: 14
Lee Smith: 10
Billy Wagner: 9

Most consecutive 20-save seasons
Mariano Rivera: 15
Lee Smith: 13
Jeff Reardon: 11

Most postseason saves, all time
Mariano Rivera: 42
Brad Lidge: 18
Dennis Eckersley: 15

Lowest ERA, live ball era (since 1920)
Mariano Rivera: 2.21
Hoyt Wilhelm: 2.52
@@%@@% Ford: 2.75
Dan Quisenberry: 2.76
Sandy Koufax: 2.76
(minimum 1,000 IP)

Lowest WHIP, all time
Addie Joss: 0.97
Mariano Rivera: 1.00
Ed Walsh: 1.00
Monte Ward: 1.04
Pedro Martinez: 1.05
(min. 1,000 IP)

• By the way: The notion that Rivera's injury resulted from recklessness on the part of the pitcher, manager Joe Girardi or the team is just silly. For many years, Rivera was regarded by some scouts as the American League's best center fielder because of how he covered ground while shagging fly balls in batting practice. For two decades, this is how Rivera has augmented his conditioning. He has never done stupid stuff in this regimen, slamming himself into fences or diving headlong. He just took an awkward step and suffered a freak injury.

• The Yankees have suitable replacements for Rivera in David Robertson or Rafael Soriano, but the Rivera injury does serious damage to what was probably the best part of New York's team. There is a ripple effect no matter what, because Girardi must replace the seventh- or eighth-inning work left behind by Soriano or Robertson, weakening a bullpen corps that has essentially been cut in half by injuries to Rivera and Joba Chamberlain in the past six weeks.

There was a moment early in Thursday's game when Girardi walked up to the railing where Robinson Cano and bench coach Tony Pena were standing, and put his arms around both men and spoke, his words heartfelt; when he finished, he slapped each on the back. That's when you realized with near certainty that Girardi and the Yankees knew that Rivera's season was probably finished, and the Yankees had started to steel themselves for a summer without him.

Rivera's career may be over, writes David Waldstein. The Yankees are bracing for life without Rivera.

Rivera doesn't second-guess his decision to shag fly balls.

Robertson isn't ready to address the question of whether he will be the Yankees' closer.

• A day after Jered Weaver threw a no-hitter, he was still pumped up. From ESPN Stats & Info, some perspective on Weaver's no-hitter: Weaver is the fifth pitcher in MLB history to throw a no-hitter the year after he finished runner-up in the Cy Young vote: Pitchers to throw a no-hitter year after being Cy Young runner-up TEAM 2012 Jered Weaver Angels 1997 Kevin Brown Marlins 1990 Dave Stewart Athletics 1974 Nolan Ryan Angels 1961 Warren Spahn Braves


• Think it's rare for a pitcher to issue just one walk in a no-hitter? Think again. When Weaver did it Wednesday, it was the 47th time a pitcher has walked one batter in a no-hitter. And 15 times a pitcher has actually walked no batters and NOT gotten the perfect game.

• Although plate umpire Mark Carlson had never called a no-hitter, he was at second base for Ubaldo Jimenez's no-hitter on April 17, 2010. The more interesting note, however, belongs to first-base arbiter Ed Hickox, who has now umpired four no-hitters -- one at each position; he was at home for Matt Garza in 2010; at first for Weaver; at second for Clay Buchholz in 2007; at third for Jim Abbott back in 1993.

1. There have been 11 no-hitters since the start of the 2010 season (including postseason). There were eight no-hitters thrown from 2005 to 2009.

2. This is the Angels' second no-hitter in as many seasons (Ervin Santana last season). Since 1961, the Angels' first year, no other MLB team has more no-hitters (10). The Astros and Dodgers also have thrown 10 in that span.

3. It was the first complete game no-hitter at home for the Angels since Nolan Ryan in 1975.

4. The past four pitchers to throw no-hitters have been 27 to 29 years old.

5. The last time the Twins were no-hit was when David Wells threw a perfect game on May 17, 1998, at Yankee Stadium.

Thursday's games

1. Bryce Harper did it again.

2. The Jays and Brandon Morrow shut down the Angels, Ken Fidlin writes. From ESPN Stats & Info, how Morrow beat the Angels:

A. He threw 75 strikes out of 102 pitches (73.5 percent), the highest percentage in a start in his career. He also allowed no walks for the second straight start.
B. He threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of 28 hitters (75.0 percent), the third-highest percentage in a start in his career. Morrow went to a career-high 11 0-2 counts in the game; his previous best was nine (done twice).
C. He threw 75 fastballs, his most in a start this season, and Angels hitters were 1-for-18 in at-bats ending with the pitch.
D. Angels hitters were 2-for-10 with six strikeouts in at-bats ending with the slider (Mike Trout was 2-for-2). The six strikeouts with the pitch are tied for his second-most in a start over the past four seasons.
E. Angels left-handed hitters were 0-for-7 against Morrow with no walks, the first start in his career in which he did not allow a lefty to reach base.
F. Angels hitters were 0-for-6 with runners on base, including 0-for-3 with two strikeouts with runners in scoring position.

Pujols clinging to long ball myth.

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If you've paid any attention to the 2012 season, you know that Albert Pujols has yet to hit a home run. The three-time MVP, fresh off the first homerless month of his career, is hitting just .208/.252/.287 with career-worst walk and strikeout rates. Jered Weaver's no-hitter Wednesday temporarily deflected some attention away from Pujols' struggles. But while Weaver mowed down the Minnesota Twins, Pujols' homerless streak reached 107 plate appearances, ensuring that scrutiny of his every swing will only intensify once the no-hitter hubbub dies down.

Pujols averaged 39 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals during the past five seasons. After factoring in some age-related decline and the difficulty of hitting home runs from the right side in Angel Stadium, PECOTA projected him to hit 33 in 2012. The probability that a 33-home run hitter would go homerless in 107 plate appearances by chance alone is just 0.3 percent. Either Pujols has been extremely unlucky, he's declined more quickly than PECOTA expected, or he's pressing at the plate.

Privately, Pujols is probably feeling some pressure. Publicly, though, he claims to be unconcerned: "I don't think about that, man. It could be tomorrow, maybe the next day, a month from now, I don't know. My job is to get myself ready to play and take my swing. Home runs, when they come, they come in bunches."

At this point, Pujols would probably settle for hitting homers in dribs and drabs, let alone bunches. According to his comments, though, when he does start hitting homers, they'll add up in a hurry. But can he be believed?

The belief that home runs are hit in bunches -- in other words, that they're hit in flurries followed by droughts, rather than at regular intervals -- isn't unique to the struggling Los Angeles Angels star. When Bryan LaHair went homerless this spring, Chicago Cubs manager Dave Sveum said, "People forget that home runs come in bunches." Since then, they have for LaHair, who's hit six in the regular season, if not for the Cubs, who've collectively hit fewer home runs than Matt Kemp.

But the history of "home runs in bunches" goes back well beyond LaHair. Writers and players alike have been referring to the idea at least since the middle of last century. In 1958, Willie Mays said, "When I hit home runs, I get them in bunches and then no more for a time."

Is there anything to this, or is "home runs are hit in bunches" another baseball myth that deserves to be busted? Google "clutch hitting," "pitching to the score," or a host of other time-honored baseball beliefs, and you'll find countless studies that have tried and failed to find any statistical evidence supporting them. The contention that homers are hit in bunches seems to have escaped investigation so far, but it's just as easy to check.

Using a statistical concept called binomial distribution, we determined the theoretical rates of zero-, one-, two-, three- and four-homer games for the average major league batter. By comparing those predicted rates to how often those games actually occurred, we could see whether there was anything to the idea that home runs are hit in bunches. If players actually alternate between home run hot streaks and dry spells, their long balls would be bunched together, and we would see higher rates of two- and zero-homer games and lower rates of one-homer games than predicted.

In small samples, of course, some players do have more two-homer games than predicted. In 78 games last season, Mike Cameron hit nine home runs, six of which came in three two-homer bunches. Those three two-homer games were about 2.6 more than the model would have predicted. Cameron was one of five players to have at least two more two-homer games than he "should" have in 2011:

In larger samples, though, we don't see correspondingly large differences. See the following table:

It's possible that Guerrero's homers had some slight tendency to be "bunched," but even in his case, it's likely that the difference was due to chance.

So what's the verdict when we look at home run distributions for all players? The table below shows the predicted and observed percentages of games in which an average major league batter hit each number of home runs from 1994-2011.

The model predicted that the average player would go homerless in 89.29 percent of his games, hit one homer in 9.99 percent of his games, and hit two homers in 0.68 percent of his games.

The predicted and observed results are almost identical, and the slight differences aren't significant.

Now look at the table below to see what those percentages look like for Pujols' career. As one would expect, both the theoretical model and the in-game results show that he's been much more likely to go deep than the typical player, but he hasn't had more multi-homer games than expected.

So why do Pujols and so many other players mistakenly believe that they're hitting home runs in bunches? A cognitive bias called the "availability heuristic" might be to blame. According to Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, the psychologists who coined the term, the availability heuristic is our "tendency to make a judgment about the frequency of an event based on how easy it is to recall similar instances."

The easier it is to summon instances of an event to our minds, the more often we believe that event to occur. For hitters, few events are more memorable than a multi-home-run game or a long stretch without hitting a homer, so it's not surprising that those events seem to them to happen more often than they do.

Home runs aren't really hit in bunches, but it's probably in the Angels' best interests not to burst Albert's bubble. There could be some psychological benefit to believing in bunches. In the midst of a home run barrage last May, Mark Teixeira explained his success by saying, "Home runs come in bunches, and right now I'm just in one of those streaks where I'm hitting them out of the park a lot." After ending the longest homerless stretch of his career in July 2009, Teixeira used the same reasoning to explain his struggles: "I'm a streaky home run hitter. They come in bunches, and after hitting a bunch in a row, it took a while to get another one."

Teixeira's all-purpose explanation suggests that while hitting homers in bunches isn't fact, it is a useful fiction. One of the most important qualities for a hitter to have is confidence, and the "bunches" belief provides a confidence boost for any occasion. A player who has homered recently can go to the plate believing he's mid-bunch and about to hit another. A player who hasn't homered in ages can console himself with the thought that a bunch of long balls could be a game away.

What Albert Pujols could really use right now is a homer. But some confidence can't hurt.


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Moving on without Mo

10:59AM ET
New York Yankees

So what now?

That's the question on every Yankees player's, coach's and fan's mind in the wake of the likely season-ending injury to closer Mariano Rivera.

Rivera suffered a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee while shagging fly balls before Thursday night's game against the Royals in Kansas City.

The Yankees organization may have been mentally preparing for moving on without Rivera following this season after the all-time saves leader hinted that he might call it quits after 2012. But there was no definitive plan in place for having to worry about replacing Rivera this season.

So what is the club's most likely move? Well, manager Joe Girardi told's Wallace Matthews that he's leaning toward using David Robertson as closer with Rafael Soriano handling the 8th inning role.

The other thing to consider here is that the Yanks bullpen, once a strength, is now going to be stretched thin. There's no Rivera, and Joba Chamberlain is likely to miss all season after his gruesome ankle injury in March. That puts a lot more pressure on Robertson, Soriano and the rest of the healthy arms to perform, knowing there's no safety net.

- Jason Catania

Marmol losing gig?

10:17AM ET
Carlos Marmol | Cubs

To hear Cubs manager Dale Sveum tell it, Carlos Marmol is in danger of losing his job as closer.

"I've definitely thought of it now," Sveum told the Chicago Tribune, regarding removing Marmol from the ninth-inning role.

This comes after Marmol was the primary person responsible for the Cubs' coughing up a three-run lead in the ninth inning against the Reds Thursday. The righty gave up a hit and walked three without recording an out, then he handed the ball off to Rafael Dolis, who proceeded to allow the tying run to score on a double-play grounder, earning him the blown save. Dolis would later pick up the loss in the 10th inning, in part because of his own throwing error.

Marmol's ERA sits at 6.23, and even worse, he's surrendered 12 walks in 8.2 innings. On top of that, he has as many blown saves (2) as actual saves. No wonder Sveum is having second thoughts about his closer.

Sveum mentioned that the only two options to replace Marmol, if it happens, would be the right-handed Dolis and lefty James Russell. Perhaps temporarily letting those two handle the ninth based on matchups would help Marmol get his stuff in order.

- Jason Catania

Abreu's role with Dodgers

9:52AM ET
Bobby Abreu | Angels

A week after being released by the Los Angeles Angels, Bobby Abreu has foun a new home -- in the same city.'s Jon Morosi writes that Abreu is close to signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers.'s Jon Heyman tweets Friday that the agreement is in place.

Abreu is likely to be a part of the seemingly-endless laundry list of left fielders the Dodgers have employed so far this year. Each of Juan Rivera, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Tony Gwynn Jr. has had a hand in holding down left field. So why not add Abreu to the mix?

- Jason Catania

Eric Karabell

Abreu a fantasy value?

"As bad as most people would assume Abreu is, the fact is he managed to steal 21 bases last season, and for those in OBP leagues Abreu does take walks. The power appears to be gone and it's not coming back at Dodger Stadium, but Abreu boasted a .353 OBP last season, nearly 100 points better than current leadoff man Dee Gordon. Those fantasy owners in NL-only formats should spend a few bucks on Abreu."

Pettitte's final rehab outing?

9:49AM ET
Andy Pettitte | Yankees

With Michael Pineda lost for the season, the return of Andy Pettitte to the New York Yankees' rotation has suddenly become more of a necessity than a luxury.

The left-hander will make what could be his final rehab start Sunday for the Yanks Triple-A affiliate against the Red Sox's affiliate.

So far, Pettitte, who decided in spring training to end his year-long retirement, has made four rehab outings across different levels of the minors. He's worked primarily on getting himself stretched out and threw 95 pitches during his last start. Assuming he approaches 100 pitches again Sunday, he could be ready to return to the Yankees as soon as next week.

Pineda recently underwent surgery Tuesday to repair a labrum tear in his right shoulder and will be out for the rest of the season. Add in the poor performances to date from Freddy Garcia, who was demoted to the bullpen in favor of rookie David Phelps, and Phil Hughes, who may lose his job to Pettitte, and the veteran left-hander now has to be counted on to bolster the rotation.

- Jason Catania

Berkman returning this weekend?

9:20AM ET
Lance Berkman | Cardinals

St. Cardinals first baseman Lance Berkman hit the disabled list two weeks ago with a strained left calf, but he's getting close to returning.

Berkman took some swings in the cage for the second straight day on Wednesday. On Thursday, he indicated he could be back by the end of the weekend.

The Cards are using Matt Carpenter and Allen Craig, just back from the DL himself, at first in Berkman's absence, but barring any setbacks the veteran should be back next week.

Carpenter could be the odd-man out for a roster spot, despite knocking nine extra-base hits and 14 RBIs so far. With Craig back, it's likely that either Carpenter, Shane Robinson or Tyler Greene could be sent down when Berkman is ready.

- Jason A. Churchill and Jason Catania

Replacing Panda

9:11AM ET
Pablo Sandoval | Giants

The bad news got worse Thursday for the San Francisco Giants.

After Pablo Sandoval left Wednesday night's game with an injury to his left hand and/or wrist, it's been confirmed that Sandoval will have surgery to repair a broken hamate bone in his left hand -- one year and one day after having the same procedure on his right hand.

The switch-hitting Sandoval is expected to miss four to six weeks.

Sandoval missed 41 games during the 2011 season with the injury, and the Giants offense struggled in his absence. Three possible fill-ins include Ryan Theriot, Emmanuel Burriss and Joaquin Arias.

San Francisco, however, has called for 24-year-old Conor Gillaspie, the club's first-rounder from 2008, and he is in the lineup Thursday batting second and starting at third base. He's was hitting .362 at Triple-A Fresno and has limited big-league experience.

Perhaps the best offensive prospect on the Triple-A roster is Charlie Culberson, a second baseman by trade.

- Jason Catania and Jason A. Churchill

The Rockies rotation

9:01AM ET
Colorado Rockies

It's been an odd beginning to the 2012 season for the Colorado Rockies rotation.

Arguably the club's top pitcher heading into the year, Jhoulys Chacin, was sent to Triple-A Thursday because he's currently sporting a 7.30 ERA.

Then there's the recent injury to righty Jeremy Guthrie, who may be ready to start by next Tuesday after hurting his shoulder while falling off his bicycle last week.

Or to put it another way, the two most secure starters at the moment happen to be a 49-year-old soft-tossing lefty and a guy whose career -- and life -- was threatened after he was hit by a come backer and fractured a vertebra last season. You know them as Jamie Moyer and Juan Nicasio. Aside from those two, the team is using rookie left-hander Drew Pomeranz and righty Guillermo Moscoso.

While Chacin, Guthrie and Josh Outman (another injured starter) work their way back, what are the club's plans for filling out the five-man?

Troy Renck of the Denver Post explains in the report linked above that some options include Alex White, Tyler Chatwood and possibly prospect Christian Friedrich, all of whom are pitching at Triple-A. Chatwood, though, left his last outing with triceps tightness, which makes White the leading candidate to take Chacin's place next Tuesday, if Guthrie isn't back by then.

- Jason Catania

Impact of Harper to three-hole

8:57AM ET
Bryce Harper | Nationals

By now you know Bryce Harper -- 19-year-old phenom outfielder, No. 1 overall pick in 2010 -- was promoted to the majors and made his debut Friday night against the Dodgers. The question remains: Is Harper up for good?

Harper took the roster spot of Ryan Zimmerman, who was finally placed on the DL after missing a week's worth of games with inflammation in his shoulder.

The precocious prospect, who doesn't turn 20 until October, is the youngest player currently playing Major League Baseball, but will he spend the rest of 2012 with the big league club or return to Triple-A for further development?

Harper has certainly looked capable of handling himself in the majors so far. He made his first real splash with the bat Wednesday, and his defense has been pretty good, as's Jayson Stark writes. And it's a promising sign for Harper's status going forward that after just four games, the lefty hitter was bumped up to No. 3 in the lineup and responded with a tiebreaking double to help the Nats win Thursday.'s Ken Rosenthal writes that Harper should be here to stay.

Was bringing up Harper so soon a good move by the Nationals? Or are they rushing baseball's top prospect? ESPN Insider Keith Law gives his take:

- Jason Catania

Keith Law

Promoting Harper a big risk

"This looks to me like a panic move, a reaction to modest attendance figures for the Nats despite their hot start this year, rather than a well thought-out developmental plan, as we've seen the club employ for most of its other prospects. Contrast their adamant statements about keeping Stephen Strasburg on an innings limit in his first full year back from Tommy John surgery with this seemingly unplanned promotion before Harper can even reach 90 at-bats in Triple-A."

Veterans on their way out?

5:53PM ET
MLB non-contenders

With May here and most clubs having played about 25 games -- just under 20 percent of the season -- some clubs that have fallen off the pace for a postseason spot may begin to consider pulling the plug on some players in favor of younger talents, or simply different options. One example of this occurred earlier this week when the Los Angeles Angels released Bobby Abreu. Let's take a look at some scenarios, including some role change possibilities.

Chone Figgins, UT -- Seattle Mariners
For obvious reasons, Figgins may not be long for the Mariners regular lineup, despite his ability to manage in left field, center field and third base. After a hot start to the season, Figgins is again struggling and the M's have younger options, including Alex Liddi, Casper Wells, Mike Carp and Kyle Seager, with Vinnie Catricala in Triple-A Tacoma for later this summer.

It's difficult to imagine the veteran Figgins in Seattle beyond June, and he could gradually lose playing between now and the all-star break, even if he isn't traded or designated for assignment.

The Mariners owe him about $15 million through next season, which is a major factor, but at some point production will win out and Figgins isn't producing. Once Franklin Gutierrez returns, which could occur in late May or June, Figgins' days in Seattle may be over.

Luis Mendoza, RHP -- Kansas City Royals
Mendoza has struggled in the rotation and despite some questions surrounding how ready he might be, it's probably getting to be the time where the Royals need to summon lefty Mike Montgomery and roll with him for a few months and allow him to develop. Jonathan Sanchez and Luke Hochevar have also struggled immensely, and 2013 and beyond -- the years the club was expected to start making some serious noise -- now looks bleak. Montgomery could lend some confidence.

Another option is to move Aaron Crow back to the rotation, which may be in the Royals' plans, anyway.

Gaby Sanchez, 1B -- Miami Marlins
Sanchez entered play Thursday batting .200/.235/.325 in 23 games and while it's highly unlikely he's sent back to Triple-A -- he's earning $8 million this season -- he could start seeing the bench more often. It's just been a month, but the Marlins are fishing, no pun intended, for any spark to their season. Sanchez could be replaced at first base by Logan Morrison but that leaves a hole in left field. Chris Coghlan is struggling himself and here are no clear answers in Triple-A New Orleans.

The Marlins could check the trade market for some help if Sanchez doesn't start to hit soon. In the meantime, Greg Dobbs could start to get more time at first.

Ian Stewart, 3B and/or Darwin Barney, 2B -- Chicago Cubs
Both Stewart and Barney are scuffling mightily at the plate and for Stewart he may not have long left to show he can hit big league pitching. Barney is likely remaining on the roster even if he loses his starting gig, but Adrian Cardenas is performing well at Triple-A Iowa. Unfortunately for the Cubs, and fortunately for Stewart and Barney, Josh Vitters, a third baseman, is not hitting, despite the friendly confines of his home ballpark.

- Jason A. Churchill

Drew's ETA

3:32PM ET
Stephen Drew | Diamondbacks

Stephen Drew is slated to play three innings in a rehab assignment Thursday, manager Kirk Gibson said after Wednesday's game.

Drew, nursing his ankle back to health, could conceivably be back in a couple of weeks, but the club has been playing it safe with their shortstop thus far and may continue to do so. That would push any possible return back to the latter days of May.

Once the all-star does get back to the active roster John McDonald or Cody Ransom may be the roster casualty necessary to make room for Drew's activation.

- Jason A. Churchill

1B Options for Brewers

3:29PM ET
Milwaukee Brewers

First base is already a bit of a problem for the Milwaukee Brewers, just a month into life without Prince Fielder. Mat Gamel wasn't hitting and has told teammates he needs surgery on his knee. Travis Ishikawa, a journeyman of sorts, is expected to get the bulk of the playing in Gamel's absence.

The Brew Crew entered play Wednesday 11-13 and 4 1/2 games back of first place in the National League Central. They aren't struggling to score runs as much as they are scuffling to prevent them, suggesting GM Doug Melvin might seek starting pitching before a first base bat on the trade market.

Brooks Conrad has begun playing first base in Triple-A Nashville and could become an option, at least in a platoon role, at some point soon. Another option in the minors could be Taylor Green, who saw some time with the Brewers last September. If Milwaukee chooses to move someone from the 25-man roster, perhaps Corey Hart could see some time at first, but if the Brewers expect to contend until the end Melvin may need to shore up the position with a proven veteran.

Among those that could become an option include Daric Barton of the Oakland Athletics, Mark Reynolds of the Baltimore Orioles and Edwin Encarnacion of the Toronto Blue Jays, who can also play some outfield and third base in a pinch.

Wednesday, ESPN Insider's Jim Bowden wrote that Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau could a trade target this summer. Whether or not Milwaukee is a fit is unclear, but if he performs between now and the trade deadline, he'll profile as a significant upgrade on the Brewers' roster.

- Jason A. Churchill

Eric Karabell

Milwaukee has some choices

"There is also talk that free-agent Derrek Lee, who played for the Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates in the past two seasons alone could get a call. Lee is past his prime but still hit 19 home runs in both 2010 and 2011. If Lee signed, I would not call him a must-add in 10- or 12-team standard leagues, but don't dismiss him either. Lee hit .349 with five home runs last September for the Bucs. I'd spend a few bucks on Lee in an NL-only format, knowing the Brewers and perhaps Los Angeles Dodgers(James Loney is slugging .347) become interested. What the Brewers do have is other options, one that has been discussed and another I haven't heard. As for the obvious one, Corey Hart, the right fielder off to a tremendous start despite undergoing March knee surgery that was supposed to hamper him in April, has been taking grounders at first base."

If Suzuki hits the DL

2:54PM ET
Kurt Suzuki | Athletics

Oakland Athletics catcher Kurt Suzuki entered Thursday scheduled for an X-ray on his left hand and if the results force him to the disabled list, the club will likely call on a catcher from the minor leagues.

Anthony Recker is also on the 40-man roster but prospect Derek Norris is the starter at Triple-A Sacramento and is off to a solid start at the plate.

There isn't much on the free agent market, suggesting the A's will have to stay in house.

ESPN Insider's Keith Law ranked Norris on his pre-season Top 100 Prospects list:

- Jason A. Churchill

Keith Law

No. 93: Derek Norris, C

"Norris can catch, throw, hit for power and take a walk. But for two years now he hasn't hit for average in the minors, remaining on the prospect radar primarily because he plays a position at which the bar is so low that any offense at all is welcome. Behind the plate, his hands aren't the softest but they're playable, and he has a plus arm, consistently under 1.9 seconds from home to second. Pitchers in the Arizona Fall League liked throwing to him, and he has always controlled the running game. He has worked on lessening a hip glide that left him vulnerable to breaking balls moving away from him, showing progress in that department in Arizona. The trade to Oakland gives him a better path to the majors, and I think he'll hit enough -- at least .250 or so -- to let his other skills play and make him at least a solid-average big league catcher, if not more."

Update on Kalish

2:34PM ET
Ryan Kalish | Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox, who are dealing with massive outfield problems due to injuries to Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury, could get some help soon in the form of Ryan Kalish.

General manager Ben Cherington provided injury updates Wednesday, and said "Kalish is hitting on a field, throwing out to 120 (feet) so he's coming along well. No decision on (when he'll be ready) ... but he's coming along and he's hitting on a field. So we'll let him do that for a little while and get him some live BP and then get him into game action down there."

Kalish could start a rehab relatively soon and be ready for activation later this month or in early June, depending on whether or not he has any setbacks. Once that occurs, the Red Sox will have another option in left and right field.

- Jason A. Churchill

Fister's rehab and ETA

2:08PM ET
Doug Fister | Tigers

UPDATE: Fister pitched four innings for Triple-A Toledo Wednesday with no issues with the side injury reported, writes George Sipple.

Fister could start Monday or Tuesday in Seattle. If he goes Monday on regular rest, Justin Verlander would be pushed back to Tuesday.


Detroit Tigers right-hander Doug Fister threw a bullpen session Saturday and will head to Triple-A Toledo to make at least one rehab start, tweets Lynn Henning of the Detroit News.

Fister, sidelined by an oblique injury, is almost certain to replace Duane Below in the rotation once he's ready. Below replaced Adam Wilk, who was torched at home last week and struggled in two of his three starts before being shipped back to the minors.

The Tigers are getting a nice boost from rookie southpaw Drew Smyly early on, so perhaps they will feel like they can take their time getting Fister back, though it doesn't appear he's going to need much more than one or two rehab outings.

- Jason A. Churchill

Miami's Bell getting rung

1:37PM ET
Heath Bell | Marlins

Heath Bell was at it again last night. And by that, we mean, coughing up a late-inning lead.

Bell didn't actually get the blown save -- he already has three of those, though -- because he left with the Marlins up by one after surrendering a run on three hits and leaving two men on...all while failing to record a single out.

Righty Steve Cishek came in, and despite limiting the damage of what could have been an uglier inning, he "earned" the blown save by surrendering the lead. Still, Cishek worked a second inning and eventually got the win.

Is it time to worry about Bell's job? Um, yes. After his latest meltdown, the free agent -- who landed a three-year, $27 million deal in the offseason -- now owns an ERA of 11.74 and has allowed (count 'em) 21 base runners in just 7.2 innings of work. What's more, his K:BB ratio is a backward 5:8.

Juan C. Rodriguez of the Orland Sun Sentinel speculated via Twitter that either Cishek or Edward Mujica could be candidates to take over ninth-inning duties, should the Marlins opt to get Bell straightened out in another role.

- Jason Catania

Eric Karabell

Who's next in line?

"Fantasy owners might flock to Cishek as the Bell replacement, but it's more likely that Mujica gets the call. He had, after all, pitched earlier in Wednesday's game, and he has twice as many saves as Cishek on the season, signaling eighth-inning use. Cishek is having the better season so far, though. Ultimately the Marlins need to remove Bell from the role so he can work out his issues, but he's actually a decent buy-low option in fantasy leagues. Bell was supposed to regress, but not this much."

The Rays without Longoria

1:00PM ET
Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays will have to play without their best hitter for quite a while.

Third baseman Evan Longoria likely will miss 6-8 weeks with a hamstring injury, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Longoria had an MRI Tuesday that confirmed the injury and timeframe for return.

The players most likely to get the most action at the hot corner in place of Longoria are Jeff Keppinger and Elliot Johnson. Will Rhymes was also brought up from Triple-A to help add some infield depth.

Remember, the Rays lost Longoria last year for about a month early on, too. They managed to go 15-11 without their star, so it's not as if the club, currently 16-8 and in first place in the AL East, can't tread water at the very least until Longoria is back.

- Jason A. Churchill and Jason Catania

Eric Karabell

Life without Longoria

"I blogged about the Rays Wednesday and noted there's really nothing on the Rays that can help fantasy owners filling in at third base, but it's time to take a closer look at Longoria, who will miss significant playing time for the second consecutive season. Longoria is a terrific player, but it's hard to nominate him as a top-25 player in 2013 with his durability issues. Perhaps both Longoria and Ryan Zimmerman will see their respective careers held back like similarly skilled Scott Rolen."

Rangers outfield depth

12:47PM ET
Texas Rangers

Texas Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin will miss the next 6-8 weeks with a torn thumb ligament, tweets Evan Grant. The injury hurts the Rangers' depth, and such depth may be needed during the course of the season.

With Josh Hamilton injury prone -- and he's sat out the past three days with a sore back -- and Nelson Cruz having his own history of injuries, the Rangers need all the depth they can get. Martin was hitting .347/.423/.520 for Triple-A Round Rock in 23 games, including eight doubles and three home runs.

Candidates to take Martin's spot on the Express roster include veteran Brad Hawpe and Engel Beltre, who is on the 40-man roster. As for who is next in line to come up and help the Rangers if they need an outfielder, Julio Borbon may be that player.

- Jason A. Churchill

De La Rosa update

10:33AM ET
Jorge De La Rosa | Rockies

The Colorado Rockies may get a boost to their starting rotation by June.

Jorge De La Rosa, who is on the recovery track from Tommy John surgery, pitched his first minor-league rehab outing Wednesday for Single-A Modesto. The lefty threw three scoreless innings, allowing two hits and one walk while whiffing four.

De La Rosa had been throwing all of his pitches, breaking ball and change up included, during simulated games and bullpen sessions over the past month.

Presuming all goes according to plan, the lefty could be back with the Rockies before the All-Star break, and perhaps even sooner.

It's a bit early to worry about who will be bumped from the rotation when De La Rosa is ready to return, but the Denver Post's Troy Renck mentioned that one candidate to be demoted could be Jhoulys Chacin, who has pitched very poorly in the early going. The right-hander, though, still has some time to try to turn things around.

- Jason Catania

Zimmerman pushed back

10:24AM ET
Ryan Zimmerman | Nationals

The Washington Nationals finally put Ryan Zimmerman on the DL last week after he'd missed several games with a shoulder injury -- and they could be getting him back by early next week.

Because Zimmerman, who's out with inflammation in his right shoulder, hasn't played since April 20, his DL time can be retroactive to that date, meaning his 15 days are up this weekend. But will he be ready to play against the Phillies this Sunday?

After some speculation that Zimmerman could return in time for Sunday Night Baseball, the Nats have indicated that the more likely scenario has Zimmerman coming back Tuesday. The team seems to be taking the conservative route with its new $100 million man.

Zimmerman felt great after playing catch Tuesday, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, and he plans to hit off a tee Friday. Without any setbacks or re-aggravation of his injury, the third baseman says he'll be ready to go whenever the club says he can get back on the field.

The player and club were able to breathe a sigh of relief when last week's MRI revealed no structural damage.

As for who gets the boot to make room for Zimmerman? While there's always the chance the Nats choose to return Bryce Harper to Triple-A -- looking less likely when he keeps doing things like this -- the most likely candidates would seem to be one of Chad Tracy or Tyler Moore, a rookie who was just called up.

- Jason Catania

What to expect from Middlebrooks

10:19AM ET
Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox have called up third base prospect Will Middlebrooks from Triple-A Pawtucket to take the roster spot of Kevin Youkilis, and the great Rob Bradford of tweets that the rookie is in the starting lineup for Wednesday's game.

Youkilis is out with a lower back injury, and Boston finally put him on the disabled list after he'd missed four straight games. As such, his DL stint is backdated, meaning he can return by May 14. He indicated to's Ian Browne that he's confident he'll be ready to go by then.

Middlebrooks, who batted eighth and went 2-for-3 with a walk, was eating International League pitching alive at the time of his promotion. While it was just three weeks of games, his offensive profile seems to have changed a bit. He entered the season a very aggressive hitter, not drawing many walks, but mashing line drives all over the ballpark. The right-handed hitter has good power to right-center field and was getting more loft in his swing early this season, as evidenced by his nine home runs in 24 games.

There is certainly going to be an adjustment period for him in the big leagues, but he could take advantage of the Green Monster in left field. Expecting Middlebrooks to hit for average right away is asking too much, and he'll likely log his share of strikeouts. He handles third base with the glove and possesses a plus arm, so the Red Sox may be getting better defensively at the position.

The 23-year-old may eventually earn a spot in the middle of the order, but is likely to bat somewhere in the bottom third for now, as he's unlikely to hit for high average but his power should ultimately be worthy of such a role. If he batted .260 with a league-average on-base mark, it's a good first taste for Middlebrooks.

In the long run, we might be talking about a .275/.350/.500 triple-slash that includes 30 doubles and 25 long balls.

ESPN Insider Eric Karabell discusses Middlebrook's fantasy value:

- Jason A. Churchill

Eric Karabell

Enjoy Middlebrooks while you can

"Speaking of debuts, the Boston Red Sox introduced rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks, and he singled, doubled and walked in four plate appearances Wednesday. Middlebrooks will likely play regularly with Kevin Youkilis on the DL, but don't be surprised if his big league stay is short, or lasts until Youkilis returns. Enjoy the next 10 games or so, though."

Phils getting Lee back

9:51AM ET
Cliff Lee | Phillies

Cliff Lee spent the last part of April on the disabled list with a strained left side, but he's on his way back.

The southpaw, who injured himself while pitching in the 10th inning against the San Francisco Giants two weeks ago, threw a pain-free bullpen session Wednesday, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The plan is to have Lee throw one more bullpen Saturday and then make his start next week.

In Lee's stead, righty Kyle Kendrick, who has gone 0-2 with 9 earned runs over 9 innings while filling in twice so far, will make his (hopefully, for the Phillies) final start in place of Lee this Friday against Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals. When Lee returns, Kendrick is likely to go back to being the team's long man.

- Jason Catania

post #6605 of 73444
Thread Starter 

Translating Farm System Rankings into Wins.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

Knowledgeable baseball fans clamor for rankings of farm systems every offseason. Experts’ opinions are highly coveted, as fans eagerly await information on where their team’s prospects rank. This year, Baseball America ranked the Rangers atop its list, with the Royals just behind them. On the other hand, The White Sox’ and Indians’ farm systems were ranked at the bottom.

This year’s rankings saw big spenders like the Phillies, Dodgers and Tigers in the bottom-third in baseball, while the top-third included some teams with the lightest payrolls — like Rays, A’s and Padres. Obviously fans want their teams to be big spenders on veterans — and big farmers of young talent — but which is more important? What does a good ranking mean in the win and loss columns, and how much can payroll explain that performance?

Team building is at the heart of baseball analysis. And analysts like those here at FanGraphs try to deduce what teams should do to get themselves into the playoffs. Recently, I wrote about a couple of important team-building concepts at The Hardball Times. Specifically, I separated all WAR into either “Non-Market WAR

post #6606 of 73444
I have to admit, Harper's better than I expected.  Granted he's not hitting Bonds-type homers yet, but after a season or two I can see him as the Nationals' version of Ryan Braun...
SF Giants, SF 49ers, SA Spurs...
SF Giants, SF 49ers, SA Spurs...
post #6607 of 73444
Robertson doesn't sound confident in himself at all. I know stepping in for Mo must be dauting, but come on. laugh.gif
post #6608 of 73444
Thread Starter 
Like I said before, some guys are more suited/comfortable for eighth inning work. Maybe that might be him. Soriano's had success, I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up as the man.
post #6609 of 73444
It's an unfair position for Robertson to be in. He's been as great an eight inning guy as Venters and Clippard. High K-rate. No matter what he does as a closer, he won't replace or match Mo's elite production.
post #6610 of 73444
Thread Starter 
Gotta figure they move Hughes back there soon as well. KLaw brought up an interesting point of bringing up Adam Warren from AAA to shore up the pen.
post #6611 of 73444
Robertson seemed fine pitching the 9th against KC Friday night; struck out the side. pimp.gif

Non-save situation, but still a good outing.

Joe Girardi and his binder indicated that both Robertson and Soriano will get opportunities to close out games.
Team Otaku | Team AM FAM | Team Yankees
Team New York Knicks #18
Team Otaku | Team AM FAM | Team Yankees
Team New York Knicks #18
post #6612 of 73444
Johnny Cueto needs to start being mentioned as one of the best starters in baseball. 
post #6613 of 73444
From the LoHud Yankees blog: (roll.gif at Rivera telling the reporters they should all have ACL surgery so they can experience it together)

Team Otaku | Team AM FAM | Team Yankees
Team New York Knicks #18
Team Otaku | Team AM FAM | Team Yankees
Team New York Knicks #18
post #6614 of 73444
Saw this on Yahoo about a Reds SS prospect smiley: eek

Billy Hamilton has reached on eight infield singles. He has been thrown out by infielders 14 times. When Billy Hamilton hits the ball on the ground to an infielder, and the infielder fields the ball cleanly, Billy Hamilton is hitting .364.

Billy Hamilton scored the walk-off run on April 20 on a sacrifice fly. To the second baseman.

smiley: eeksmiley: pimpsmiley: laugh

post #6615 of 73444
Love that guy. Stealing 100 bases in a season anywhere is just beautiful. He's on pace to top it, too.

If the Indians had any one kind of player in their system, I wish it was an elite speed guy that has a chance to play every day in the bigs. Still hope they at least find a way to bring in B.J. Upton this time.
post #6616 of 73444
I can't wait to see Hamilton in the bigs. He's going to have to play left or center field, though. A lot of fans were wanting him promoted to Triple A this past week when Paul Janish broke his wrist but I think the plan is to start him at Triple A next season. 
post #6617 of 73444
Thread Starter 
Why would Chicago move Sale to closer? He's been great so far in the rotation and they have two guys in Reed and Thornton who they should try first.
post #6618 of 73444
I honestly can't tell if the Orioles are for real or not, they usually always start the season off hot but cool down after 10 games. I like the team so I hope they continue the success, but I despise Peter Angelos.
post #6619 of 73444
I'd like to give Buck the benefit of the doubt, but can't consider Baltimore legit through 162 in that division. Don't trust the rotation. JD, I traded Cueto away for Bucholz and Masterson in fantasy. Not one of my brightest moments.
post #6620 of 73444
Things are going well for us, but I highly doubt this O's team is serious. The roster just isn't one of a contender. As always, I'll enjoy the early season glory while it lasts. Especially if it includes a Boston beat-down. 

post #6621 of 73444
Tough break for Luebke. Likely needs TJ surgery right after signing that extension through 2017 in Petco.
post #6622 of 73444

smiley: sicksmiley: sicksmiley: sicksmiley: sicksmiley: sick
post #6623 of 73444
post #6624 of 73444
Cards have dropped 3 in a row now and 2 of those to the lowly Astros. Wainwright and the bats need to show up today.

One again...Lord Stanley Resides In The Windy City.


One again...Lord Stanley Resides In The Windy City.

post #6625 of 73444
Originally Posted by Proshares

Why would Chicago move Sale to closer? He's been great so far in the rotation and they have two guys in Reed and Thornton who they should try first.

Having elbow pain and they want to be careful with him. Velocity was down a good amount last start too, around 90-93. I go to his alma mater so we get info on him. I would say he will get back in the rotation eventually again this season, especially if the Sox can stay in contention after the All-Star break.
post #6626 of 73444
Originally Posted by FIRST B0RN

Cards have dropped 3 in a row now and 2 of those to the lowly Astros. Wainwright and the bats need to show up today.

The Astros aren't that lowly so far! They'll probably end up with 90-100 losses but they have been playing decent baseball so far. 
post #6627 of 73444
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by CincoSeisDos


smiley: laugh
post #6628 of 73444
From what I've heard, Sale is very unhappy about Ventura's decision to remove him from the rotation.
post #6629 of 73444
Thread Starter 
Bout time Pujols.
post #6630 of 73444
FINALLY Albert pimp.gif
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