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2016 MLB thread. THE CUBS HAVE BROKEN THE CURSE! Chicago Cubs are your 2016 World Series champions. - Page 177

post #5281 of 77294
MFresh, ST has not been kind to Atlanta's starting rotation. Trust me, I love the young guys (Teheran, Delgado, and Minor), as I already mentioned. But Hudson isn't expected back until early-May. Both Hanson and Jurrjens had injury concerns of their own second-half of last season. I've expected more out of Beachy thus far in ST. You better hope Fredi doesn't run Kimbrel and Venters to the ground like he did last year, more so Venters than Kimbrel. Offensively, I could play better SS than Pastornicky right now. I don't care for scouts that say Andrelton Simmons isn't ready for the majors (glove work is there, bat may not be), can't he do better than Pastornicky at this point (at the plate)? Like you said, there will be even more pressure piled on Uggla, Heyward, and Prado now that Chipper is out. There's no one in that lineup that truly scares me. I've got the NL East going Philly (largely depending on the recovery of Utley and Howard), Miami, Nats, Braves, and Mets. 

OKB, Lawrie is a bona fide star. I know the fans in Toronto already love him, he's going to have a monster season along with Hosmer in KC. Toronto and any other club not named Texas was never legitimately in the running for Yu Darvish IMO. Rangers were the front-runners from day one. I'm tracking Henderson Alvarez very carefully this season. Like d'Arnaud's future as well. Farrell needs to somehow get Rasmus on track and tap into the kid's full potential. Jays are a SP or two away from seriously competing like the Rays in the AL East. Romero and Morrow are good money. After that is anyone's guess (unpredictable) with Cecil, Alvarez, and McGowan. Santos and Cordero combine for a formidable duo out of the pen. What's up with Drabek by the way? I would consider 85-86 wins a success for Toronto this season, a step in the right direction.

JD and ComeUp, I agree with Dusty's decision to start with Marshall as the closer Opening Day. Let Chapman setup and keep Bailey as the #5 starter. 
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post #5282 of 77294
MFresh, ST has not been kind to Atlanta's starting rotation. Trust me, I love the young guys (Teheran, Delgado, and Minor), as I already mentioned. But Hudson isn't expected back until early-May. Both Hanson and Jurrjens had injury concerns of their own second-half of last season. I've expected more out of Beachy thus far in ST. You better hope Fredi doesn't run Kimbrel and Venters to the ground like he did last year, more so Venters than Kimbrel. Offensively, I could play better SS than Pastornicky right now. I don't care for scouts that say Andrelton Simmons isn't ready for the majors (glove work is there, bat may not be), can't he do better than Pastornicky at this point (at the plate)? Like you said, there will be even more pressure piled on Uggla, Heyward, and Prado now that Chipper is out. There's no one in that lineup that truly scares me. I've got the NL East going Philly (largely depending on the recovery of Utley and Howard), Miami, Nats, Braves, and Mets. 

OKB, Lawrie is a bona fide star. I know the fans in Toronto already love him, he's going to have a monster season along with Hosmer in KC. Toronto and any other club not named Texas was never legitimately in the running for Yu Darvish IMO. Rangers were the front-runners from day one. I'm tracking Henderson Alvarez very carefully this season. Like d'Arnaud's future as well. Farrell needs to somehow get Rasmus on track and tap into the kid's full potential. Jays are a SP or two away from seriously competing like the Rays in the AL East. Romero and Morrow are good money. After that is anyone's guess (unpredictable) with Cecil, Alvarez, and McGowan. Santos and Cordero combine for a formidable duo out of the pen. What's up with Drabek by the way? I would consider 85-86 wins a success for Toronto this season, a step in the right direction.

JD and ComeUp, I agree with Dusty's decision to start with Marshall as the closer Opening Day. Let Chapman setup and keep Bailey as the #5 starter. 
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post #5283 of 77294
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChampCruThik

Tough break for Madson. He was due for a monster season on that one-year contract. Chapman could be lethal as a closer, but he needs to take the Verlander approach and dial down the heat for control/pitch accuracy. Do you Reds fans really think Dusty will give Aroldis the chance from Opening Day to close? I would think Marshall is another option that Dusty might prefer based on trust and experience. Weren't you guys considering the possibility of experimenting with Chapman as a starter as well? Let's see how Bard and Sale pan out making the transition. Supposedly Cherington and Bobby V. are already at odds over Bard's best place with the club. Cherington wants him as a starter and Valentine wants him in the pen. Also disagreeing over Lanaway and Iglesias.

I still feel it's Cincy's division to lose if Latos and Cueto can hold up the front-end of the rotation. St. Louis and Milwaukee are still legitimate threats though especially with Braun's suspension overturned and Madson's unfortunate TJ injury/surgery. 

I'll post my final division standings/predictions before the Oakland/Seattle opener. 

Atlanta fans should be very concerned over their offensive output. Heyward should redeem himself this year but it doesn't help that Chipper is dwindling away with injuries. Lots of great potential with Delgado, Minor, and Teheran. 


I'd rather stick Chapman in the rotation and go from there.  Marshall has the stuff to close and they gotta stop jerking that kid around.  Dusty is the wrong manager to have for a team with some young talent.

IDK why Bard and Sale would be in the rotations TBH.  Bard was never that great as a starter because of the control issues in A Ball and Sale doesn't get righties out consistently.  I feel like those two are disasters waiting to happen.  But the Sox have no SP depth so I get the move.
  
post #5284 of 77294
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChampCruThik

Tough break for Madson. He was due for a monster season on that one-year contract. Chapman could be lethal as a closer, but he needs to take the Verlander approach and dial down the heat for control/pitch accuracy. Do you Reds fans really think Dusty will give Aroldis the chance from Opening Day to close? I would think Marshall is another option that Dusty might prefer based on trust and experience. Weren't you guys considering the possibility of experimenting with Chapman as a starter as well? Let's see how Bard and Sale pan out making the transition. Supposedly Cherington and Bobby V. are already at odds over Bard's best place with the club. Cherington wants him as a starter and Valentine wants him in the pen. Also disagreeing over Lanaway and Iglesias.

I still feel it's Cincy's division to lose if Latos and Cueto can hold up the front-end of the rotation. St. Louis and Milwaukee are still legitimate threats though especially with Braun's suspension overturned and Madson's unfortunate TJ injury/surgery. 

I'll post my final division standings/predictions before the Oakland/Seattle opener. 

Atlanta fans should be very concerned over their offensive output. Heyward should redeem himself this year but it doesn't help that Chipper is dwindling away with injuries. Lots of great potential with Delgado, Minor, and Teheran. 


I'd rather stick Chapman in the rotation and go from there.  Marshall has the stuff to close and they gotta stop jerking that kid around.  Dusty is the wrong manager to have for a team with some young talent.

IDK why Bard and Sale would be in the rotations TBH.  Bard was never that great as a starter because of the control issues in A Ball and Sale doesn't get righties out consistently.  I feel like those two are disasters waiting to happen.  But the Sox have no SP depth so I get the move.
  
post #5285 of 77294
Absolutely right about Dusty often failing to maximize opportunities for his young talent. Two-fold problem I have with Champman in the rotation is I can't foresee Bailey working out well in the bullpen and does Aroldis have enough mixture/diversity in his pitches to be a successful starter over the course of an entire season? It's going to be close in the NL Central with the Reds, Cards, and Brewers at the top. Cincy's hopes loom largely on Votto's bat and Latos/Cueto holding up the front end of the rotation. Carpenter's slight setback hurts St. Louis marginally and we're not sure about Matheny as an unproven manager. Aramis and Hart really have a huge hole in production to fill with Prince in Detroit now. I've got it: Milwaukee, STL, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Houston. Going to be a rough year for Cubs fans, but have faith in Theo. 
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post #5286 of 77294
Absolutely right about Dusty often failing to maximize opportunities for his young talent. Two-fold problem I have with Champman in the rotation is I can't foresee Bailey working out well in the bullpen and does Aroldis have enough mixture/diversity in his pitches to be a successful starter over the course of an entire season? It's going to be close in the NL Central with the Reds, Cards, and Brewers at the top. Cincy's hopes loom largely on Votto's bat and Latos/Cueto holding up the front end of the rotation. Carpenter's slight setback hurts St. Louis marginally and we're not sure about Matheny as an unproven manager. Aramis and Hart really have a huge hole in production to fill with Prince in Detroit now. I've got it: Milwaukee, STL, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Houston. Going to be a rough year for Cubs fans, but have faith in Theo. 
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post #5287 of 77294
Pro, Cherington is adamant about Bard remaining a starter. I suppose Bobby V. has very limited options after Beckett, Lester, and Bucholz with really only Doubront and Aceves available outside of Bard. I feel the Sox really dropped the ball missing out on Edwin Jackson, to Washington's benefit. Innings eater much like Kuroda will do for the NYY. I touched on in this during our draft, Sox will finish third behind the Yanks and the Rays. SP is far too valuable for serious contention. 

AL Central is kind of a crap-shoot after Detroit. KC, Cleveland, Chicago, and Minnesota could really finish in any order. To go along with your Sale point, "(Sale) could be really good, but still throws like a reliever. It's a good arm, and it's left-handed, but goes on adrenaline instead of establishing all three of his pitches." From SI's baseball preview courtesy of a rival scout. I like the Addison Reed kid a lot. Could be the closer by year's end. Interesting to witness Ventura's first gig as a manager. Funny that Kenny toyed with the idea of a player-manager role for Konerko. Adam Dunn will bounce back this season. 
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post #5288 of 77294
Pro, Cherington is adamant about Bard remaining a starter. I suppose Bobby V. has very limited options after Beckett, Lester, and Bucholz with really only Doubront and Aceves available outside of Bard. I feel the Sox really dropped the ball missing out on Edwin Jackson, to Washington's benefit. Innings eater much like Kuroda will do for the NYY. I touched on in this during our draft, Sox will finish third behind the Yanks and the Rays. SP is far too valuable for serious contention. 

AL Central is kind of a crap-shoot after Detroit. KC, Cleveland, Chicago, and Minnesota could really finish in any order. To go along with your Sale point, "(Sale) could be really good, but still throws like a reliever. It's a good arm, and it's left-handed, but goes on adrenaline instead of establishing all three of his pitches." From SI's baseball preview courtesy of a rival scout. I like the Addison Reed kid a lot. Could be the closer by year's end. Interesting to witness Ventura's first gig as a manager. Funny that Kenny toyed with the idea of a player-manager role for Konerko. Adam Dunn will bounce back this season. 
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post #5289 of 77294
Thread Starter 
I think Jackson has the potential to have a good year this year, that park is built towards fly ball pitchers so I think he'll be good out there.

I think Cleveland might give Detroit more of a fight than people think.

I'll fix those articles today or maybe just repost them.
post #5290 of 77294
Thread Starter 
I think Jackson has the potential to have a good year this year, that park is built towards fly ball pitchers so I think he'll be good out there.

I think Cleveland might give Detroit more of a fight than people think.

I'll fix those articles today or maybe just repost them.
post #5291 of 77294
Thread Starter 

The sophmore curse.

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

Every year the dreaded sophomore curse rears its ugly head. Not even star shorstop Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies was immune from its influence. His sophomore season was the only time in his five-year career that he dipped below 5.6 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) – and it was a big dip to 0.9 WAR.

With the 2012 Major League Baseball season about to begin there is understandably a lot of excitement over some of the 2011 rookies who appear poised for a true breakout year. Let’s try and sift through some of the names and see who might be in for a big year and who might be in for a big… disappointment.

Value Heading Up

Henderson Alvarez, RHP, Toronto: I have to admit that I thought Toronto was crazy for calling up Alvarez when they did in 2011 but he did not implode as expected. The 21-year-old hurler made a successful jump to the Majors with just 88.0 innings of experience above A-ball thanks to a fastball that can tickle the upper 90s while inducing a plethora of ground balls. Alvarez survived his first tour of duty in The Show with basically a two-pitch mix (fastball/changeup) and he’s working hard to improve his slider. If he can get the third pitch working, while also improve upon his command within the strike zone, Alvarez could see a big jump in his strikeout rate.

Greg Holland, RHP, Kansas City: Holland’s name was on this list even before the severity of Joakim Soria‘s injury came to light. With the Royals’ incumbent closer out for the season due to his second Tommy John surgery the stopper gig could very likely fall into Holland’s lap, although he will receive competition from Aaron Crow and Jonathan Broxton. Holland deserves to be the top high leverage reliever in the Royals ‘pen after an outstanding rookie season in 2011 that saw him hold opposing hitters to a .174 batting average while also posting a strikeout rate of 11.10 K/9. His repertoire is absolutely nasty.

Kenley Jansen, RHP, Los Angeles NL: Jansen features some of the nastiest stuff in the Majors so it’s hard to believe that he hasn’t been handed the mantle of closer for the Dodgers. For now, though, the club will go with Javy Guerra as the ninth inning guy but beyond that there is not much standing in Jansen’s way to eventually claim the closer title. The hitter-turned-pitcher dominated opponents in 2011 by posting an eye-popping strikeout rate of 16.10 K/9 thanks to a mid-to-high-90s fastball and cutter. His walk rate of 4.16 BB/9 shows that he still has some work to do but he could be down right scary if he develops even average control.

Juan Nicasio, RHP, Colorado: The mere fact that Nicasio is back on the mound is reason enough to celebrate. The right-hander suffered a fracture in his neck after being struck by a line drive last season and there was some doubt at the time over whether or not he would be able to resume his career. Nicasio has been throwing very well this spring and could be a key contributor in the Rockies’ new-look rotation in 2012. The right-hander has an intriguing mix of mid-90s velocity and above-average control.

Mark Trumbo, 3B/1B, Los Angeles AL: You’d think the acquisition of the National League’s most consistently dangerous hitter – who just happens to play Trumbo’s position – would put a crimp in the sophomore’s value. However, Trumbo has made huge strides in his defensive work at third base and could see significant time at the hot corner in 2012, while also backing up first base and spending time as the designated hitter. Trumbo slugged 29 home runs (.223 ISO) in his rookie season with Los Angeles and could produce even more power if he learns how be more selective (4.4 BB%).

Value Heading Down

Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston: The diminutive Altuve was another good story in 2011 as he hit like a mad man in the low minors and even showed unexpected pop given his 5’5

post #5292 of 77294
Thread Starter 

The sophmore curse.

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

Every year the dreaded sophomore curse rears its ugly head. Not even star shorstop Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies was immune from its influence. His sophomore season was the only time in his five-year career that he dipped below 5.6 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) – and it was a big dip to 0.9 WAR.

With the 2012 Major League Baseball season about to begin there is understandably a lot of excitement over some of the 2011 rookies who appear poised for a true breakout year. Let’s try and sift through some of the names and see who might be in for a big year and who might be in for a big… disappointment.

Value Heading Up

Henderson Alvarez, RHP, Toronto: I have to admit that I thought Toronto was crazy for calling up Alvarez when they did in 2011 but he did not implode as expected. The 21-year-old hurler made a successful jump to the Majors with just 88.0 innings of experience above A-ball thanks to a fastball that can tickle the upper 90s while inducing a plethora of ground balls. Alvarez survived his first tour of duty in The Show with basically a two-pitch mix (fastball/changeup) and he’s working hard to improve his slider. If he can get the third pitch working, while also improve upon his command within the strike zone, Alvarez could see a big jump in his strikeout rate.

Greg Holland, RHP, Kansas City: Holland’s name was on this list even before the severity of Joakim Soria‘s injury came to light. With the Royals’ incumbent closer out for the season due to his second Tommy John surgery the stopper gig could very likely fall into Holland’s lap, although he will receive competition from Aaron Crow and Jonathan Broxton. Holland deserves to be the top high leverage reliever in the Royals ‘pen after an outstanding rookie season in 2011 that saw him hold opposing hitters to a .174 batting average while also posting a strikeout rate of 11.10 K/9. His repertoire is absolutely nasty.

Kenley Jansen, RHP, Los Angeles NL: Jansen features some of the nastiest stuff in the Majors so it’s hard to believe that he hasn’t been handed the mantle of closer for the Dodgers. For now, though, the club will go with Javy Guerra as the ninth inning guy but beyond that there is not much standing in Jansen’s way to eventually claim the closer title. The hitter-turned-pitcher dominated opponents in 2011 by posting an eye-popping strikeout rate of 16.10 K/9 thanks to a mid-to-high-90s fastball and cutter. His walk rate of 4.16 BB/9 shows that he still has some work to do but he could be down right scary if he develops even average control.

Juan Nicasio, RHP, Colorado: The mere fact that Nicasio is back on the mound is reason enough to celebrate. The right-hander suffered a fracture in his neck after being struck by a line drive last season and there was some doubt at the time over whether or not he would be able to resume his career. Nicasio has been throwing very well this spring and could be a key contributor in the Rockies’ new-look rotation in 2012. The right-hander has an intriguing mix of mid-90s velocity and above-average control.

Mark Trumbo, 3B/1B, Los Angeles AL: You’d think the acquisition of the National League’s most consistently dangerous hitter – who just happens to play Trumbo’s position – would put a crimp in the sophomore’s value. However, Trumbo has made huge strides in his defensive work at third base and could see significant time at the hot corner in 2012, while also backing up first base and spending time as the designated hitter. Trumbo slugged 29 home runs (.223 ISO) in his rookie season with Los Angeles and could produce even more power if he learns how be more selective (4.4 BB%).

Value Heading Down

Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston: The diminutive Altuve was another good story in 2011 as he hit like a mad man in the low minors and even showed unexpected pop given his 5’5

post #5293 of 77294
Thread Starter 

Greg Holland: KC's closer of the future.

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

On the heels of news that Joakim Soria will need Tommy John surgery, the Royals’ bullpen is a state of flux. Luckily, unlike most bullpens around the majors, the Royals have excellent options to fill the role. Jonathan Broxton may be the frontrunner for the job, given his history as a stud with the Dodgers. But the closer of the future is already in the Royals’ bullpen, and even if he doesn’t become the closer of the present, Greg Holland is already making hitters take notice.

Holland combines a blazing fastball (95 MPH average velocity) with that vicious slider with excellent results. In 78.2 major league innings, Holland has struck out 97 batters against just 27 walks. Last season, it was 74 strikeouts to 19 walks. He induced more ground balls than fly balls. Only Jonathan Papelbon earned more swings and misses than Holland’s 16.6% ERA, FIP, xFIP, SIERA, tERA — all under 2.70, all except xFIP under 2.30. Hell, he even picked up five wins.

It would be understandable if the Royals went to Jonathan Broxton over Holland in the closer’s role to start the season. Ostensibly, the Royals see Broxton as a reclamation project they can use to build trade value over the course of the season, and there’s not a better place for a reliever to do that than as the closer. And let’s not forget, when Broxton’s on, he’s every bit as good as what Holland showed last year. From 2007-2009 Broxton recorded 301 strikeouts to just 81 walks in 227 innings, posting an ERA- of 68 as he earned the closership in Los Angeles.

Still, Broxton is on a one-year deal, and his time in Kansas City is nothing more than a transition phase — to a playoff team if he succeeds or to retirement (forced or otherwise) if injury problems and ineffectiveness continue to bite. Greg Holland’s time in the Kansas City bullpen spotlight is coming, and current circumstances suggest it will be sooner rather than later.



Matt Bush arrested for DUI.

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Spoiler [+]

Matt Bush screwed up. Again. According to Roger Mooney, the former first overall draft pick was arrested Thursday night for DUI. As if that weren’t bad enough, Bush is also responsible for a hit and run in which he seriously injured a 72-year-old motorist and fled the scene before he was picked up by law enforcement.

Bush had already been trying to rehabilitate his image following a night club brawl in 2004 and an alleged assault in 2009. After washing out with the San Diego Padres, Bush, now 26-years-old, was attempting to comeback as a reliever with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Considering the severity of this incident, it doesn’t seem appropriate to bring up Bush’s baseball history. Unfortunately, it’s part of the reason he was still in the game. Bush did not produce as a hitter in the minors and this comeback was a last chance to prove himself in the majors. Due to his live right arm, the Rays decided to take a chance on Bush despite his past legal issues. While an organization is always going to be tempted by talent, character is also a factor in which players deserve contracts. That’s not to say the Rays completely ignored Bush’s past, but they also knew the risks involved in bringing a player with his history into the organization.

In the end, though, talent often wins out, and people you wouldn’t want marrying into your family continue to get chances as long as teams think they can help them win baseball games. Milton Bradley was known for his off the field issues, but played on eight different teams due to his baseball skills. Elijah Dukes was a more serious case, but still received multiple chances based on his potential. Delmon Young once threw a bat at an umpire, but the Rays stuck by him due to his prospect status – at least, until they realized he was not very good and traded him to Minnesota. More recently, Alex White was arrested for an “extreme DUI

post #5294 of 77294
Thread Starter 

Greg Holland: KC's closer of the future.

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

On the heels of news that Joakim Soria will need Tommy John surgery, the Royals’ bullpen is a state of flux. Luckily, unlike most bullpens around the majors, the Royals have excellent options to fill the role. Jonathan Broxton may be the frontrunner for the job, given his history as a stud with the Dodgers. But the closer of the future is already in the Royals’ bullpen, and even if he doesn’t become the closer of the present, Greg Holland is already making hitters take notice.

Holland combines a blazing fastball (95 MPH average velocity) with that vicious slider with excellent results. In 78.2 major league innings, Holland has struck out 97 batters against just 27 walks. Last season, it was 74 strikeouts to 19 walks. He induced more ground balls than fly balls. Only Jonathan Papelbon earned more swings and misses than Holland’s 16.6% ERA, FIP, xFIP, SIERA, tERA — all under 2.70, all except xFIP under 2.30. Hell, he even picked up five wins.

It would be understandable if the Royals went to Jonathan Broxton over Holland in the closer’s role to start the season. Ostensibly, the Royals see Broxton as a reclamation project they can use to build trade value over the course of the season, and there’s not a better place for a reliever to do that than as the closer. And let’s not forget, when Broxton’s on, he’s every bit as good as what Holland showed last year. From 2007-2009 Broxton recorded 301 strikeouts to just 81 walks in 227 innings, posting an ERA- of 68 as he earned the closership in Los Angeles.

Still, Broxton is on a one-year deal, and his time in Kansas City is nothing more than a transition phase — to a playoff team if he succeeds or to retirement (forced or otherwise) if injury problems and ineffectiveness continue to bite. Greg Holland’s time in the Kansas City bullpen spotlight is coming, and current circumstances suggest it will be sooner rather than later.



Matt Bush arrested for DUI.

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

Matt Bush screwed up. Again. According to Roger Mooney, the former first overall draft pick was arrested Thursday night for DUI. As if that weren’t bad enough, Bush is also responsible for a hit and run in which he seriously injured a 72-year-old motorist and fled the scene before he was picked up by law enforcement.

Bush had already been trying to rehabilitate his image following a night club brawl in 2004 and an alleged assault in 2009. After washing out with the San Diego Padres, Bush, now 26-years-old, was attempting to comeback as a reliever with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Considering the severity of this incident, it doesn’t seem appropriate to bring up Bush’s baseball history. Unfortunately, it’s part of the reason he was still in the game. Bush did not produce as a hitter in the minors and this comeback was a last chance to prove himself in the majors. Due to his live right arm, the Rays decided to take a chance on Bush despite his past legal issues. While an organization is always going to be tempted by talent, character is also a factor in which players deserve contracts. That’s not to say the Rays completely ignored Bush’s past, but they also knew the risks involved in bringing a player with his history into the organization.

In the end, though, talent often wins out, and people you wouldn’t want marrying into your family continue to get chances as long as teams think they can help them win baseball games. Milton Bradley was known for his off the field issues, but played on eight different teams due to his baseball skills. Elijah Dukes was a more serious case, but still received multiple chances based on his potential. Delmon Young once threw a bat at an umpire, but the Rays stuck by him due to his prospect status – at least, until they realized he was not very good and traded him to Minnesota. More recently, Alex White was arrested for an “extreme DUI

post #5295 of 77294
Thread Starter 
Who's #1...in 2017?

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As part of ESPN's Top 500 Players project, I've been asked to predict who the top 10 players will be five years from now, heading into the 2017 season. It's just for fun, although I based the names on my own scouting and on some basic looks at their pro performances to date.

This list skews young. Adrian Beltre ranked 20th in FanGraphs' version of wins above replacement at age 32 last year; no one with a seasonal age over 30 ranked ahead of him. In 2010, Beltre was joined in the top 20 by two members of the San Francisco Giants with fluky numbers who both collapsed in 2011 (Aubrey Huff and Andres Torres), along with 17 players at 30 or younger.

I think Troy Tulowitzki and Matt Kemp will still be valuable players in 2017, but they will both be on the wrong side of 30 by then, and the odds are they'll be supplanted at the top of the list by younger players. Position players peak in their late 20s, and while we see the occasional outlier, you aren't likely to see many guys in their mid-30s atop a rational ranking of hitters by value.

Without further ado, here's how I see the top 10 breaking down five years from now.

1. Justin Upton, RF, Arizona Diamondbacks
Age
: 24

ari.gif

I'd argue Upton is the most talented high school product to enter pro ball in the last decade when considering the player he was on draft day, the player he has become (so far) in the majors, and the player he's likely to be once he reaches his peak. Even now, entering his age-24 season, he's among the top dozen or so position players in the game, and led all 25-and-under position players last year in FanGraphs' WAR. He can hit, get on base, hit for power (I still think there's a 40-homer season or two in that bat), field and throw, and I would be shocked if he didn't win, or at least deserve, an MVP award before the decade is out.

2. Andrew McCutchen, CF, Pittsburgh Pirates
Age
: 25

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McCutchen wanted the Justin Upton contract, and after months of demurring the Pirates finally gave it to him, a move I doubt they will regret for one second of the six years (that's just over 189.3 million seconds) on the deal. McCutchen is an above-average defender in center and a plus runner who works the count well and generates tremendous bat speed with his wrists, resulting in easy power that will reach 30 home runs in the next year or two. You build a championship lineup around a player like McCutchen, and Pirates fans should be very glad he's not going anywhere any time soon.

3. Matt Wieters, C, Baltimore Orioles
Age
: 25

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The Orioles may not be headed in the right direction, but Wieters certainly is, having improved his defense substantially over the past two years while starting to put the lie to whispers about his bat being just "slider speed." The switch-hitting catcher was destroyed by right-handed pitching last year (.662 OPS against righties), but his platoon splits earlier in his career weren't so severe and he has always had similar swings and a good approach from both sides of the plate. At some point in the next two years he'll take another big step forward on offense and become a legitimate MVP candidate for many of the next half-dozen seasons.

4. Giancarlo Stanton, RF, Miami Marlins
Age
: 22

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Stanton hit 34 home runs last year at age 21, turning 22 in November, while getting on base at a strong clip (.356 OBP) and providing above-average defense. Only six players aged 21 or younger have hit more home runs than Stanton did; the first three (Eddie Matthews, Mel Ott and Frank Robinson) are in the Hall of Fame, the next two (Albert Pujols and A-Rod) are headed there, and the last (Hal Trosky) hit .313/.379/.551 before migraines forced him to retire during his age-28 season. Even if Stanton has less improvement ahead of him than the typical 21-year-old -- it's not as if Stanton needs to grow into his power -- he's already close to the top tier of position players, and his plate discipline keeps getting better.

5. Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City Royals
Age
: 22

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I think Hosmer's about to break out into the top 10-15 offensive players in the game, with an approach well beyond his years and power that, while not Stanton-esque, should result in 30 bombs in 2012 or 2013 at worst. He's a smart, diligent player who has shown improvements even when challenged with quick promotions up the ladder. And if he ends up moving to right field, a position I have always believed he could handle due to his athleticism and plus arm, he's even more likely to justify this placement.

6. Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays
Age
: 26

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Longoria is the oldest position player on this list, but as a plus defender at a skill position, he strikes me as a good bet to hold much of his value into his early 30s, much like Beltre, a plus defender at the same position, has been able to do. Longoria's biggest challenge will be staying healthy, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the baserunning value he showed in 2009-10 fade or disappear over the next five years, but his power, patience and glove all should make him a perennial MVP candidate.

7. Mike Trout, CF, Los Angeles Angels
Age
: 20

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He's ready for the majors now, and better than at least one of the Angels' incumbent outfielders, although a spring training illness probably ended any chance he had to unseat Vernon Wells or Torii Hunter this March. Trout's long-term outlook hasn't changed: He's a plus defender in center (assuming Peter Bourjos ends up traded) who gets on base, changes innings with his explosive speed, and should hit for a high average with plenty of doubles and 20-plus homers. He's absurdly talented and just needs an opportunity in the big leagues.

8. Starlin Castro, SS, Chicago Cubs
Age
: 22

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We know Castro is an extremely gifted hitter with the potential to win the batting-average title (please, it doesn't make a player the "batting champion" any more than frying an egg makes you Top Chef) and the potential for a 50 doubles/20 homers peak. And we know he'd probably be a solid-average defender at third or at second if he had to move off short, which, while not a lock, is at least a possibility after a year and a half of below-average defense. As long as he stays in the infield, his bat is going to keep him in the upper echelon of big leaguers, and while he's not any kind of a runner, he's athletic enough that he might become a fringe-average (or better) defender at short, at which point he'll supplant Derek Jeter as the "player whose glove is most overrated because of his bat."

9. Bryce Harper, RF/CF, Washington Nationals
Age
: 19

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If Harper plays center in the majors -- he's athletic enough to do it but lacks experience -- he probably belongs higher on this list, because solid defensive center fielders who drop 40 bombs with good OBPs are pretty unusual birds. Harper has the arm to shut down the running game from right, but he could turn into Jim Edmonds in center, and by 2017 he should have more than 2,000 major league at-bats under his belt to allow him to make some needed adjustments against better off-speed stuff. He's on the list no matter what position he plays, but I'm excited about the possibility that he'll end up manning center at least for most of his 20s.

10. David Price, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays
Age
: 26

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Injury rates and short peaks mean that a reasonable list of the most valuable players (assuming we're looking over more than one season) should skew toward bats over arms, which is why I'm including just one pitcher here, and not even the best young pitcher in the majors right now (that's Clayton Kershaw) in recognition of the fact that the best arms today typically aren't the best in five years.

It could be Kershaw, or King Felix, or Madison Bumgarner, or perhaps a 32-year-old Cole Hamels (who has that plus-plus changeup he could probably ride to age 40) on this list instead. Perhaps it'll be Price's teammate Matt Moore, the best pitching prospect in baseball, or a then-24-year-old Dylan Bundy. But I'll come in down the middle with Price, formerly the top pitching prospect in baseball, who has shown gradual improvements over three years in the majors and still has the size, durability, intelligence and repertoire that made him so promising coming out of Vanderbilt. I believe there's a Cy Young Award in his future, and I trust the Rays' track record of keeping pitchers healthy to let Price reach that ceiling.



A shift in the spring trade market.

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

There is always some degree of trade conversation occurring at any time of year. Put two scouts in the same room and they'll swap information about their respective teams, like who might be available and what their team could be looking for in return.

But many club officials report that they've heard less trade talk this spring than they can ever remember. Oh, sure, it seems like a bunch of teams are looking for catching, like the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Philadelphia Phillies, and there are discussions about fringy players who can't be sent back to the minors without being passed through waivers. A big trade can always come together quickly.

However, there is relatively little aggressiveness in the market, officials say, and there are some theories as to why this is the case.

As club officials have increasingly focused on player value in the last decade -- you could call these executives "The Spawn of Moneyball" -- the perceived difference between young players and journeyman (and more expensive) veterans has shrunk.

Last year, the Detroit Tigers paid $3 million to Brad Penny to be their No. 5 starter, and in 31 starts, Penny pitched 181.2 innings, posted a 5.30 ERA and walked 62 and struck out 74. Opposing hitters batted .306 against him, with an OPS of .844, the second-worst in the majors among qualified starters.

The Tigers have four established starters in Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello. They have a good bullpen. They have a strong and powerful lineup.

And they have had a large contingent of minor league starters competing for Penny's old No. 5 spot, from Andrew Oliver to Adam Wilk to Drew Smyly to Duane Below to Jacob Turner (who was shut down because of tendinitis). The Tigers have been linked to just about every available veteran -- via free agency or trade -- including Roy Oswalt and Washington's John Lannan.

Oswalt has been asking for an eight-figure contract this winter, and the Nationals aren't about to give away Lannan, who will open the season in the Washington rotation in the aftermath of the injury to Chien-Ming Wang. The type of question that teams in Detroit's position are facing is this: Is there really enough of a difference between an Oliver or Wilk and a Lannan to justify giving up assets? Is there really that much difference between paying someone like Penny $3 million and giving the ball to a young pitcher like Smyly?

"I think teams value their young players more, and they value the older guys less," one GM said. "The lower middle class [of players] has taken a hit this winter."

Said another club official: "I think that teams [looking at trade options] figure, 'He's not that much better than our Triple-A guy."

Oswalt has reportedly been offered deals in the $2.5-5 million range, much less than the $10 million or so he has asked for, because there is risk in signing him given his history of back trouble. Teams like the St. Louis Cardinals are focused on internal solutions, like Lance Lynn, rather than spending money or making trades.

I emailed a bunch of evaluators and asked why they think the trade market is so slow this spring. Here are some of the responses:

Talent evaluator No. 1: "The game is becoming all about pitching, and the attrition of pitching during the season. For someone to give up a useable bullpen piece or a bottom-of-the-rotation guy, you will have to pay a premium -- as most all teams will need those guys themselves. Young arms coming up from your system might be better than what you can acquire; they don't cost you anything [in a trade] and they are cheap."

Talent evaluator No. 2: "Perhaps it's the growing value of younger players over the past few years. Clubs are more reluctant to give up on a waiver claim or a giveaway deal for a back-of-the-roster veteran filler. Clubs seem to value athleticism and defensive versatility over service time these days, much more so than they used to (when veterans somehow remained productive into and through their mid to late 30s), so maybe those younger out-of-options guys are getting more opportunities with their own clubs rather than being run through waivers or moved. That, and the fact that these [young] players are generally cheap helps, as well."

Talent evaluator No. 3: "Like all clubs, we are in a financial holding pattern this time of year. But the players we are discussing are the out-of-option players, and those are the type of players who are being offered back. So it looks like anything that will occur will be of the smaller type deals. We don't have anything hot at the moment."

Lannan was named the fifth starter for the Washington Nationals.

Notables

Ruben Amaro defended his handling of the Chase Utley situation.

A couple of things:

1. Amaro has not been forthcoming in the past on other issues, so he's not in a great position to defend himself here. That's the long-term cost of strategic deception.

2. The Philadelphia Phillies are not required to give all information regarding a player, and when the player -- Utley, in this case -- specifically asks them to not release information, they are required by law to honor his wishes.

David Murphy writes that fans deserve the truth about Utley's health.

• The Seattle Mariners are getting ready to get cranked up. A Japanese pitcher with the Mariners got pounded in an exhibition. The Oakland Athletics are not fan favorites in Japan, writes Susan Slusser.

• Bobby Valentine says there is no power struggle going on. He compared his relationship with Ben Cherington to his prior GM-manager relationship with the Rangers' Tom Grieve.

Joba Chamberlain is expected to meet with reporters today, and he will tell them that when he was hurt last week, there was no major blood loss, as has been reported. And unless something unforeseen happens in his rehabilitation, his career won't be in jeopardy.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. The Toronto Blue Jays showed some faith in Dustin McGowan, writes Mike Rutsey, by signing him to a multiyear deal. McGowan is hoping his latest injury isn't serious.

2. The New York Yankees released Don Mattingly's son.

3. Fausto Carmona/Roberto Hernandez's contract has been officially restructured.

4. The Milwaukee Brewers signed their catcher to a multiyear deal.

5. John Danks is getting the ball on Opening Day.

6. With the Cleveland Indians scrambling for right-handed balance in their lineup, they took a look at Vladimir Guerrero.

7. Roster decisions hinge on more than performance, writes Bob Dutton.

8. It looks like Edward Mujica is going to be the eighth-inning guy, writes Manny Navarro.

9. Brad Hawpe faces an uncertain future.

10. The San Francisco Giants need Brian Wilson to be healthy.

Dings and dents

1. David Wright is back on the field.

2. Miguel Cabrera continues to say he feels great.

3. Brian Roberts will begin the year on the disabled list.

4. Dan Shaughnessy caught up with John Lackey.

5. Chris Carpenter waits and wonders.

6. Logan Morrison tweaked his knee.

7. Chipper Jones had surgery.

8. Bud Norris is dealing with some arm stiffness.

9. The Giants' Eric Surkamp has been shut down.

10. Kyle Blanks could open the season on the disabled list.

The fight for jobs

1. Mike Aviles is making his case to be Boston's every-day shortstop. There's basically no chance that Jose Iglesias will be the every-day shortstop at this stage in his career.

2. There are multiple relievers battling for spots in the Pittsburgh bullpen.

3. Dusty Baker hasn't picked a replacement for Ryan Madson.

4. The Los Angeles Dodgers are counting on shortstop Dee Gordon.

5. Jamey Wright has made the Dodgers, and John Grabow has not.

6. Tyler Colvin is doing his best to stick with the Colorado Rockies.

Monday's games

1. Joe Blanton had a bad day.

2. Erik Bedard looked great.

3. Phil Hughes threw great in a minor league game Monday, and he continues to look as good as he did in 2010 when he made the All-Star team. It would be a shocker if he wasn't part of the team's rotation.

4. Brandon Inge's batting average is down to .159, but he feels great.

5. Tommy Hunter threw effectively.

6. Scott Baker got back on the mound but didn't look good.

7. Ian Kennedy looks ready to go.

8. Randy Choate returned to the mound.

9. Jeff Niemann was solid.

10. Pablo Sandoval mashed a walk-off homer.

11. The battle for the No. 5 spot in the Angels' rotation is heating up.



Sanchez showing positive growth.

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

I spent Friday on the back fields at the Philadelphia Phillies' complex in Clearwater, Florida, for a matchup of two top pitching prospects as well as a few other prospects of note.

The Blue Jays' high-A roster started right-hander Aaron Sanchez, who was 92-96 with good life and very little effort, mostly working in the 94-96 range, showing good feel for a changeup but less for his slider. Sanchez has always produced easy velocity but his arm action is a little smoother now than it was in high school and his slot is slightly higher; he's also put on 10-15 pounds of good weight. I've always been a fan -- he's got great makeup and the delivery and body are what they're supposed to look like, but now that he's sitting in the mid-90s it's hard to offer any reasons for skepticism beyond the usual caveats on young pitchers.

• Phillies left-hander Jesse Biddle, the second-best pitching prospect in their system after Trevor May, wasn't quite as sharp on Friday, working 86-90 mph with very good downhill plane to get groundballs, but never working to the inside half against right-handed hitters. His changeup had solid fading action and he trusted the pitch, going to it repeatedly rather than forcing the curveball against those righties; he didn't have a changeup in high school, so the development of that pitch is a positive. But the velocity is a solid grade away from where it needs to be on Opening Day.

• The best reliever the Phillies ran out there was Lisalberto Bonilla, sitting 92-93 for two innings with a hard breaking ball at 79-83 and a fringy changeup that you can pick up a little early but that has some fade to it in case the hitter doesn't see it out of his hand. There's effort involved here, and his arm is stiff coming around from a slot at or just under three-quarters; he also doesn't land cleanly, coming down with his foot crooked and then turning it as his arm comes around. The latter is a minor thing that could be cleaned up and might help him command the ball better to both sides.

The effort makes me think he's more reliever than starter, but the three pitches he showed mean he should at least get the chance to stay in the rotation.

• The Jays ran out three relievers worth discussing. Right-hander John Stilson had a chance to go in the first round last year before hurting his shoulder; the Jays took him later and paid him enough to get him into pro ball where he could rehab with their doctors. (He did not have surgery.) In one inning he was 91-94, straight but firm, with a hard-tumbling changeup at 79-83 that dropped almost like a splitter, showing one hard downer curveball at 81. There's effort in the delivery, and stress on the shoulder, and the command wasn't good, but if that's how he looks right out of the chute he could move quickly through the low minors this year.

• Lefty Tyler Ybarra has thrown just 66 innings, all in short-season ball, across three years in the Jays' system due to injuries and personal problems, but he's an intriguing inventory arm, 88-92 with tail and quick arm acceleration. He overthrew both his changeup (too firm) and slider (guiding it toward the zone), and like Bonilla he doesn't land cleanly on his front foot. He's a lefty with arm strength and a delivery that could work in a rotation, but it's mostly untapped potential now.

• Hawaiian-born righty Dustin Antolin was the closer in Lansing last year at age 21 with adequate results; he was 90-92 on Friday with an average to a tick above-average cutter at 85-87 and a changeup at 82-84 that was too straight; Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr clobbered one for a big home run. Antolin's delivery is all reliever and his body isn't loose enough to start anyway.

More notes: Altherr crushed that changeup from Antolin, and he's got a very live body (although his run times were pretty ordinary). He's still fairly crude at the plate, with a very wide stance and no stride, so he can't transfer his weight easily and has to commit very early, before he can really recognize the pitch ... Mitch Walding signed too late with the Phillies to play last year; he showed good bat speed, but nearly bars his lead arm and drags the bat through the zone with a swing that's too flat for power right now ... Maikel Franco showed the most promise at the plate, with very quick hands and the ability to stay inside the ball well, and the size and hip rotation to grow into moderate power down the road ... Blue Jays third baseman Kellen Sweeney played just nine games last year due to a wrist injury, so he's understandably rusty, but I don't like how he overstrides and lunges at the ball when he should be playing a contact game with a smaller body and quick hands. He also leaves his front foot open, so as he's lunging for the ball on the outer half his front side is pulling his body in the other direction. He's 20 with just 80 pro at bats, so I'm not writing him off, but I see a lot of work to be done for a guy who's struggled just to get reps in live games.



Drabek takes a step forward.

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

The Blue Jays didn't send many projected big league regulars to Kissimmee, Fla., on Thursday, but they sent a strong group of prospects to play the Astros' JV … excuse me, that actually is the varsity roster. Oh, dear.

Dustin McGowan's comeback from multiple shoulder injuries, which followed 2004 Tommy John surgery and a subsequent comeback, should get him some big league time, but he's a shadow of what he used to be. On the plus side, he did show above-average velocity once he got going, and his arm is relatively easy for a guy who's had work done on his shoulder.

McGowan started very poorly, walking the first batter and missing his targets by a decent margin while pitching at 90-91. By pitch eight or nine he was bumping 92 and up, and sat mostly 92-93 for his three-inning stint, touching 94 a few times but showing little life on the pitch; his primary off-speed pitch was a soft-breaking slider that you can see pretty early out of his hand. By the end of his third inning, he found some more velocity, hitting 95 and 96 on my gun for his final batter, but he'll need to show he can pitch there to remain a starter, or that he can ramp up to that level faster to be an effective reliever. He'll be a great story if he finds a big league role, but I don't see him ever recovering the electric stuff he showed back in 2006-07.

• On the other hand, Kyle Drabek, coming back from a lost year of excessive wildness in which he walked more guys than he struck out, looked solid with a new, more controlled delivery and increased use of a two-seamer with sharp sinking action.

He was meticulous on the mound, making a line with his feet (one foot in front of the other, as if he was measuring the distance) and marking a landing spot that he hit on nearly every pitch in his three innings of work. He was 90-94 with good life, with a hard curveball at 82-84 and a cutter at 87-88 that looked just like the fastball out of his hand, allowing him to use it in changeup counts. He started to overthrow briefly but corrected himself and was consistent even when two misplays put men on first and second with no one out. It's just one outing but matches up with what I'd heard about him previously this spring, and the fact he threw so many strikes, and didn't miss wildly or hit the backstop, is a big positive.

Travis d'Arnaud (No. 6 on my top 100 prospects list) didn't have a great day at the plate other than a walk in the first, but did throw a seed to second base to nail Brian Bixler, and he showed off his hands in catching two guys working at major league average or better velocity. Travis Snider did pull a hard line drive down the first-base line for a double, a ball he wouldn't have gotten to last year with his hands set up higher than they are now, but punched out twice against Zach Duke on big, sloppy curveballs.

• Anthony Gose (No. 59 on my top 100) showed off his ability to change an inning with his speed, reaching on a bunt single and on a misplay by the shortstop that was ruled a hit. (The official scorer apparently felt like giving out hits as gifts on Thursday, as Eric Thames reached twice on botched plays in the outfield.) The Jays had taken the bunt for a hit away from Gose last year to get him to concentrate on the swing changes they'd implemented the previous offseason, but are now encouraging him to use it to get himself on base more, and he showed it could be a real weapon for him by pushing an unfieldable bunt down the first-base line -- even the perfect play would have been too late.

• Jake Marisnick homered in the ninth without completely squaring the ball up, getting slightly under it but showing enough raw strength to push it far enough to clear the fence and to keep it fair long enough to make it count. Of course, it was off a homer-prone pitcher in lefty Fernando Abad, but with Marisnick ticketed for high Class A it was at least a challenging matchup.

• I'd like to propose a new unit of measurement for running speed: a caballo, which is equal to 0.9 molinas.



Rumors.

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

Byrd to Nats or Braves?

1:01PM ET
Marlon Byrd | Cubs | Interested: Braves?
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There are indications that the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves have some level of interest in Chicago Cubs centerfielder Marlon Byrd, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times.

Last week, Phil Rogers said the Texas Rangers, who are not entirely happy with their internal options in center, would be a nice fit for Byrd, too.

The Cubs, Wittenmyer notes, would like some relief pitching and could ask for such a return in exchange for Byrd.

- Jason A. Churchill

Roberts' debut by May?

12:51PM ET
Brian Roberts | Orioles
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UPDATE: Roberts was told he will be placed on the 15-day disabled list, rather than the 60-day version, reports MLB.com's Britt Ghiroli. Such a move suggests the team believes Roberts could be ready to play before the end of May.

...

UPDATE: Roberts hit from both sides of the plate and took infield Tuesday, but there still is no word on when he plays in a game. It doesn't seem he'll be ready for Opening Day, but his progress is significant toward returning early in 2012.

...

UPDATE: Roberts is not necessarily going to take live BP from an O's pitcher anytime soon, or at all, reports MLB.com's Britt Ghiroli. Roberts' pace appears to have slowed some and being ready for Opening Day seems farfetched at this stage.

Roberts has no idea when he will get into a game situation, adds Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun.

...

If he was healthy, Brian Roberts would be the surefire starting second baseman for the Baltimore Orioles. He's an all-star talent who can hit, run, field and even hit for some power. His injuries and recent concussions, however, have prevented him from being on the field of late, and the club's second base situation isn't as clear as a result.

Roberts is making progress this month at the club's spring training complex in Florida, hitting off a tee and playing long toss. There still may be a chance he opens the season on the active roster, and the veteran will be in uniform for the first full-squad workout Friday, according to Peter Schmuck of The Baltimore Sun. That's a good sign, even if it's unknown just how much he'll be able to participate in the drills.

Roberts, however, has no timetable for when he;ll first appear in a spring game, despite feeling good during workouts.

Robert Andino is likely the frontrunner to start at second on Opening Day if Roberts can't go. Meanwhile, general manager Dan Duquette says the team is in wait-and-see mode on the veteran second sacker.

Ryan Adams, Matt Antonelli and Rule 5 pick Ryan Flaherty could also all get looks in spring training.

- Jason A. Churchill

Elbow issues for Surkamp?

10:50AM ET
San Francisco Giants
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Eric Surkamp's outside chance of making the San Francisco Giants' Opening Day roster as a long reliever are now gone. The lefthander had an MRI on his elbow Monday and will be shut down for at least a week.

Surkamp was 3-1 with a 4.41 ERA in five spring outings spanning 16 1/3 innings, but the job of fifth starter is ticketed for Ryan Vogelsong, who made his Cactus League debut Monday.

MLB.com's Owen Perkins notes the Giants won't need a fifth starter until April 15, given an early off-day in the schedule, so Vogelsong likely will start the season on the disabled list and come back on Tax Day.

- Doug Mittler

Hawpe's uncertain future

10:28AM ET
Brad Hawpe | Rangers
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Brad Hawpe could be pocketing an extra $100,000 in the next few weeks, but it will amount to a consolation prize.

The 32-year-old Hawpe, who is still building up arm strength following Tommy John elbow surgery, is not expected to earn an Opening Day roster spot with the Texas Rangers, reports Drew Davison of the Star-Telegram.

The Rangers could use an extra outfielder, but Hawpe is limited to first base duties for now due to the elbow issues. His minor league contract doesn't include a formal out clause, which means the Rangers can assign him to Triple-A without his consent. The team would be obligated to pay Hawpe a $100,000 retention bonus, a stipulation negotiated in the newest CBA.

Hawpe is balking at the idea, so perhaps he will be asking for his outright release.

- Doug Mittler

Joba: career not in jeopardy

10:01AM ET
Joba Chamberlain | Yankees
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UPDATE: Chamberlain is expected to meet with reporters Tuesday to set the record straight about his ankle injury. According to ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney, Chamberlain will say that his career is not in jeopardy.

--

Joba Chamberlain had been making progress in his return from Tommy John surgery last season. However, the right-hander whose career has been marked by ups and downs had another down on Thursday -- and now his career might be in jeopardy.

The latest incident, oddly enough, has nothing to do with Chamberlain's arm or even baseball at all. Rather, he suffered what's being called an open dislocation of his right ankle while playing on a trampoline.

Chamberlain, who was at a children's center with his son that featured athletic activities, including trampolines, underwent surgery Thursday night.

According to a Yankees source cited in this New York Daily News piece, Chamberlain lost a potentially life-threatening amount of blood.

It's likely Chamberlain, who was expected to return midseason, will now miss all of 2012, and there seems to be at least the possibility that his career could be in the balance. GM Brian Cashman called the loss of Chamberlain massive.

- Jason Catania

Podsednik or Pierre?

9:51AM ET
Scott Podsednik | Phillies
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Earlier this month, Juan Pierre appeared to be the frontrunner to land a roster spot as a backup outfielder in Philadelphia. But that is no longer a slam dunk thanks to a strong Grapefruit League performance by Scott Podsednik, who is hitting .333 in 45 at-bats.

Ken Rosenthal tweeted Tuesday morning that it could come down to which outfielder gives advance consent to a possible demotion. Rosenthal hears Podsednik is willing, while the intentions of Pierre are unknown.

Pierre, hitting .295 this spring, has an earlier opt-out date, so the Phils could send him down first, essentially postponing the decision.

- Doug Mittler

Hughes a lock in NYY rotation?

9:34AM ET
Phil Hughes | Yankees
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Manager Joe Girardi arrived in camp promising an open competition for the final three spots in the New York Yankees' rotation, even before Andy Pettitte entered the mix by coming out of retirement. One of those spots has been claimed by Phil Hughes, says Mark Feinsand of the Daily News.

While nothing is official, a source tells Feinsand "it would be a shock" if Hughes wasn't one of the Yankees' five starters when the season opened. Hughes, an 18-game winner in 2010, has posted a 2.03 ERA in his first four spring starts, with his fastball reaching 94 mph on a few occasions Monday.

The 25-year-old Hughes is competing Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and Freddy Garcia for the final rotation spots. While Garcia was solid in his last start, Feinsand says the righthander remains the favorite to open the season in the bullpen.

- Doug Mittler

Impact of Duke's release in Houston

9:14AM ET
Houston Astros
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The Houston Astros parted ways with Zach Duke Tuesday morning, releasing the veteran lefthander two days after he was lit up for 10 runs in a Grapefruit League start.

The release of Duke, who was on a minor league deal, narrows the race for the rotation to six for five spots, with Jordan Lyles and Kyle Weiland the beneficiaries, says Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle. Livan Hernandez is the other candidate for a spot at the back end of the rotation.

Duke was also being considered for a lefty role in the bullpen. Wesley Wright and Fernando Abad are now the only lefty relievers in the picture with Sergio Escalona headed for elbow surgery.

The Astros also released veteran DH Jack Cust, who was hitless in his first 24 spring at-bats.

- Doug Mittler

Closer by committee in Cincinnati?

8:49AM ET
Cincinnati Reds
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There have been plenty of questions directed at Dusty Baker as to who will be the Cincinnati Reds closer, but the manager isn't providing any concrete answers. "It might have to be that famous by committee, which I hate. Hopefully, someone will emerge," Baker tells John Fay of the Enquirer.

Ryan Madson, who signed a one-year, $8.5 million deal in January, is out for the season and scheduled for Tommy John surgery next week.

The morning-line favorite appears to be Sean Marshall, but Baker said the club wants to stay away from pitching him three days in a row. Bill Bray, Nick Masset and Aroldis Chapman also are candidates to pitch the ninth inning. At some point, the Reds would like to use Chapman as a starter, but the Madson injury could change that thinking.

The club could also explore trade such as former closer Kevin Gregg, who is reportedly being shopped by the Orioles. There also is Brian Fuentes, who lost out to Grant Balfour in the race for the closer's job in Oakland.

- Doug Mittler

Hart back on Wednesday?

8:25AM ET
Corey Hart | Brewers
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UPDATE: Hart could begin playing in minor league games as soon as Wednesday. By keeping Hart out of Cactus League play, the Brewers could backdate him on the disabled list, meaning he could open on the 15-day DL but only miss the first five games.

--

UPDATE: Hart is not likely to start the season on the active roster, which opens the door for Carlos Gomez, Calbe Gindl or Norichika Aoki, one of which was not going to make the team if Hart was healthy. Gomez and Aoki have guaranteed contracts, therefore the inside track, but Gindl could also make the club if the Brewers want a fifth outfielder while Hart is on the shelf.

...

The odds of Corey Hart being ready for Opening Day or missing just a handful of regular season games improved when the Milwaukee Brewers' right fielder had successful arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

The original diagnosis was that Hart would return within 3-4 weeks. There was concern that the surgery could have revealed additional damage, but that was not the case, and Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports Saturday that Hart is "way ahead of schedule."

Hart now believes he will be physically capable of going by Opening Day, but the club isn't so sure that is possible. "What it comes down to is, if he stays on this pace, physically, he will be ready to go Opening Day," manager Ron Roenicke said. "But, baseball-wise, I don't know if he will be (ready). We're trying to figure about how many games that we think he's going to need."

The Brewers' extra outfielders in camp include Carlos Gomez, Calbe Gindl and Norichika Aoki, and it's likely two of them make the roster and share time in Hart's place for a week or two.

- Jason A. Churchill

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Eric Karabell

Hart still a good value

"Hart clearly slipped in fantasy drafts due to the concern of him starting the season on the DL, which is a bit silly. Most players don't play more than 150 games anyway. Hart himself has averaged a mere 130 games the past three seasons, but he's been productive, hitting 57 home runs the past two seasons. Don't expect stolen bases, especially after knee surgery, but if you can still get Hart after the 11thround, consider yourself fortunate."


Fifth-starter race in Anaheim

8:15AM ET
Los Angeles Angels
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We spend plenty of time speculating on who ends up as a team's fifth starter, a decision that may be forgotten by Memorial Day. As Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com reminds us, Scott Kazmir broke camp last year as the Los Angeles Angels' fifth starter, and we know how that turned out.

Saxon adds there is plenty of interest in Halos' camp as to who gets the job this spring given the high expectations for 2012. At this stage, it looks like an even race between Garrett Richards and Jerome Williams.

Richards allowed four earned runs in 5 1/3 innings Monday against the Rockies and was plagued by some sloppy defense. Williams, who has been plagued by a strained hamstring, made his spring debut Monday and threw three scoreless innings in a Triple-A game against the Oakland A's.

Williams brings more experience (77 career starts), but the Angels might be willing to see how Richards, a 2009 first-round pick, handles the step-up in class.

- Doug Mittler

Setup role for Mujica?

7:45AM ET
Edward Mujica | Marlins
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Edward Mujica appears to have emerged as the favorite to win the Miami Marlins' setup job, reports Brentley Romine of the Sun-Sentinel.

Mujica has a 1.80 ERA in five Grapefruit League innings with six strikeouts and no walks.

Lefty Mike Dunn and right-hander Ryan Webb are among the other candidates for the setup role behind Heath Bell. The Marlins had initially hoped that the role would be filled by Juan Carlos Oviedo (i.e. Leo Nunez), who remains on the restricted list in the Dominican Republic.

- Doug Mittler

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Eric Karabell

How much is Mujica worth?

"It's actually pretty important that Mujica appears to be next in line for saves in Miami, because closer Heath Bell comes with question marks. Bell's 2011 season showed regression, notably in strikeouts, and more could be coming as he leaves spacious Petco Park. Mujica is also a former San Diego Padre and he really allows way too many home runs but if Bell falters, saves could be coming his way. Spend a buck on Mujica in NL-only leagues."


Guerrero works out for Tribe

7:32AM ET
Vladimir Guerrero | Orioles
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With the calendar working against him, Vladimir Guerrero worked out for Cleveland Indians' scouts at the club's academy in the Dominican Republic, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportesLosAngeles.com

Cleveland seems an unlikely fit for Guerrero given the Tribe already has a DH in Travis Hafner, The Indians do have an opening in left field, but Guerrero has not appeared in the outfield in any games since the 2010 season. The nine-time All-Star batted .290 with 13 homers and 65 RBIs last season with the Baltimore Orioles.

Fernando Cuza, Guerrero's agent, recently said his client would consider playing in Japan if he couldn't find a spot with a major league team.

- Doug Mittler

Young back with the Mets

7:12AM ET
Chris Young | Mets
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The New York Mets took a flier on Chris Young last season and the righthander produced some early dividends with a 1.88 ERA in four starts. But injury problems again resurfaced and Young was out for the year following shoulder surgery.

GM Sandy Alderson confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com that Young will be rejoining the organization on a minor league deal.

Young is still a few months away from returning from his shoulder issues, so the Mets likely hope he can serve as an innings-eater in the second half. By that time, the Mets could also be calling up pitching prospects such as Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia and possibly looking to deal Mike Pelfrey, assuming he has restored some of his value.

- Doug Mittler

Lucroy, Brewers reach long-term deal

6:52AM ET
Jonathan Lucroy | Brewers
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Which catcher could be next?

UPDATE: Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel reports the Brewers have reached agreement on a five-year deal with Lucroy for more than $11 million. The deal will be announced Tuesday.

--

The Milwaukee Brewers have apparently been looking around baseball, both at the big-league level and in the minors, and have notices the sore lack of quality catching, and are looking to extend the contract of Jonathan Lucroy, who could get pricey over the next few years via arbitration.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com tweets Monday that the two sides are close to a deal that would keep Lucroy under contract for five more years.

Lucroy has a shot to be a super two qualifier, which would grant him arbitration eligibility a year earlier than typical, but a multi-year deal eliminates that issue. A five-year pact, however, only buys out Lucroy's arbitration years and takes him right up to free agency, suggesting perhaps there is an option year or two included. Stay tuned on the details.

The chart above right is a list of starting catchers without a multi-year contract beyond 2012, not counting those that will become free agents after this season, that could be next in line.

The top catching prospects in baseball include Toronto's Travis d'Arnaud, Cincinnati's Devin Mesoraco, Jesus Montero in Seattle -- who is likely to end up at DH -- Gary Sanchez of the New York Yankees, Yasmani Grandal in San Diego, Norris (Oakland) and Atlanta's Christian Bethancourt. All of the above are likely within a year or two of the majors and could impact any extensions or new contracts of the current starting catchers in their organizations.

- Jason A. Churchill

Potential suitors for Snider

6:41AM ET
Travis Snider | Blue Jays
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I'm jumping ahead a step or two here, I admit, but if the Toronto Blue Jays have soured enough on Snider to field calls on his trade availability, I imagine several clubs will at least check in on the cost.

Snider is just 24 and ESPN Insider's Keith Law wrote a few weeks back that the former first-round pick still has a chance to develop into the player the Jays thought they were getting when they chose him as the No. 14 overall selection in 2006. Which clubs could be interested? I tossed together a list of teams that may have interest in acquiring another outfielder this spring -- see list above, right -- or could see Snider as a potential long-term upgrade.

The A's have a slew of new outfield additions, but Snider may have the higher ceiling of all but Yoenis Cespedes. The Braves are thought to prefer a right-handed bat to better balance their lineup, but could see Snider as a good value. The Astros need all the talent they can get at any position and the Dodgers, who are using Juan Rivera in left field, could use Snider's left-handed bat to balance their own lineup a little more.

Snider is from the Seattle area but the Mariners don't appear to be a fit for the local product. The Yankees might be a fit, though the Jays may prefer to avoid making such a deal with a division rival.

It's worth noting that Snider will be arbitration eligible for the first time after the 2012 season, but is set to earn just above the minimum during his time in the majors this season.

- Jason A. Churchill

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Eric Karabell

Any value in Snider?

"Remember when Snider was going to be a fantasy star? Well, it can still happen, and it can still happen in Toronto. Eric Thames is a nice sleeper for the Blue Jays, currently going undrafted in most leagues and for the deeper formats, 89th among outfielders, but that's a mistake. Thames doesn't possess Snider's upside, but he has 20-plus home run power. Snider's demotion also reminds fantasy owners that Rajai Davis still exists; he'll likely platoon with Thames and it won't take much playing time for Davis to steal 25 bases. If choosing a Toronto outfielder in fantasy, it's likely Snider and Thames have bright futures, but Davis will bring the most value in 2012 for the steals."


post #5296 of 77294
I'd flip Hosmer with Wieters. Not as high on Wieters as everyone in Baltimore seems to be. 
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post #5297 of 77294
I'd flip Hosmer with Wieters. Not as high on Wieters as everyone in Baltimore seems to be. 
REAL MADRID - EAGLES - SIXERS - BRUINS
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post #5298 of 77294
M's at 3am PST. I wanna watch, but don't think I can make that commitment.
VIKINGS | TIMBERWOLVES | TWINS | MARINERS | HUSKIES | SHARKS
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post #5299 of 77294
M's at 3am PST. I wanna watch, but don't think I can make that commitment.
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post #5300 of 77294
I'm pretty certain that MLB Network is replaying later that evening.
post #5301 of 77294
I'm pretty certain that MLB Network is replaying later that evening.
post #5302 of 77294
That ruins the fun though! if I already know the outcome it's not nearly as enjoyable.
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post #5303 of 77294
That ruins the fun though! if I already know the outcome it's not nearly as enjoyable.
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post #5304 of 77294
Quote:
Originally Posted by 651akathePaul

That ruins the fun though! if I already know the outcome it's not nearly as enjoyable.



How hard would it be to not look at the score of the game?

and its spring training...........is it really that big of a deal?
post #5305 of 77294
Quote:
Originally Posted by 651akathePaul

That ruins the fun though! if I already know the outcome it's not nearly as enjoyable.



How hard would it be to not look at the score of the game?

and its spring training...........is it really that big of a deal?
post #5306 of 77294
It's not spring training.
post #5307 of 77294
It's not spring training.
post #5308 of 77294
Well, he said M`s at 3 a.m. as if its tomorrow morning...............he didnt say what date it was.

But its still not hard to keep from finding out the score until you watch it.
post #5309 of 77294
Well, he said M`s at 3 a.m. as if its tomorrow morning...............he didnt say what date it was.

But its still not hard to keep from finding out the score until you watch it.
post #5310 of 77294
Aroldis Chapman. pimp.gif Looking good.
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