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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Do The Phillies Have The Best Pitching Staff In Baseball?

By David

The Phillies made a multitude of changes to their starting rotation this off season, but not enough to win best pitching staff in baseball. Still, Philadelphia does have the best pitching staff in the NL East and in my estimation they are the team to beat in that division.

During the off season, Phili traded for right-hander Freddy Garcia and the Venezuelan native comes to the city of brotherly love with an abundance of talent. Last year he won 17 games, but posted a disappointing 4.53 ERA. His ERA increased by over half a run from the previous season. One of the positive attributes of Garcia's game is that he's a work horse. The 30-year old has pitched 444 innings during the past two seasons. In acquiring Garcia, Philadelphia is looking upon him to be their ace and that will be a lot of pressure for him to handle.

Righty Brett Myers will be entering his sixth season with the Phils and the team is looking upon him for a breakout season after giving him a large contract extension. Myers agreed to a three-year, $25.75 million extension during the off season. He won 13 games in 05' and 12 games last season. This needs to be the year when he wins 15-16 games and has an ERA under 4.

Cole Hamels is the gem of the Phillies pitching staff and at 23, he will be an intrical part of the teams success for years to come. He is regarded as one of the best young left-handers in the game and if he can demonstrate his talent this season, Philadelphia could make it to the playoffs for the first time since 93'.

Adam Eaton signed a three-year, $24.5 million contract during the off season. After a disappointing 2006 campaign with Texas where he only won 7 games and had an ERA above five, there will be many question marks surrounding Eaton. He has never won more than 11 games in a season or have an ERA under 4. Pitching at Citizens Bank Park won't aid his cause either.

Left-hander Jamie Moyer is the veteran of the staff at 44, but despite his age he can still help the Phillies win. More importantly, he can help out youngsters Brett Myers and Cole Hamels become better pitchers. Lastly, Jon Lieber is officially slatted in as the sixth starter on the team but management would love to trade him before the season starts.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Do The Dodgers Have The Best Pitching Staff In Baseball?

By David

Right off the bat the answer to this is no. The Dodgers do not have the best pitching staff in baseball, but they are the class of the NL West. Still, L.A. has a formidable staff and one that can compete with the best in baseball.

Anchoring the staff is the newly acquired Jason Schmidt who signed a three year, $47 million contract during the off season. He will be entering his 13th season in baseball and recently enjoyed great success during his six seasons with the rival Giants. He won 78 games in San Fran and only posted an ERA higher than 3.59 once. In terms of durability, Schmidt has pitched at least 172 innings the past five seasons and during that span he has compiled 14 complete games and 9 shutouts. The right-hander will fit in nicely to an already strong rotation.

Righty Derek Lowe is coming off of a 16 win year in which he posted a stellar 3.63 ERA. Lowe will be the opening day starter for the Dodgers this season. The trust that manager Grady Little has installed in Lowe displays how important he is to the team. Over the past two seasons he has racked up 420 innings of work.

Brad Penny will most likely be the number three starter this season and like Lowe, he amassed 16 wins last year. I'm not a big fan of Penny, but if he's on his game the Dodgers will be in great shape. He didn't do much during his first two seasons in L.A., but he demonstrated last season that he can still pitch well.

The back end of the rotation might end up being the Achilles heel for the Dodgers or it might end up being a strong point. Is left-hander Randy Wolf healthy and will Chad Billingsley have his break out season? Randy only started 12 games last season and has won a total of 15 games the past three years. That is less than the total amount of games[16] that he won in 2003 as a member of the Phillies.

Wolf, an 8-year veteran, is a resident of Calabasas, California and is hoping that a return home can resolve his pitching woes. If his elbow is healthy he can have a bounce back season and make a difference in the NL West.

Maybe the biggest wild card for the Dodgers rotation is 22-year old Chad Billingsley. He is one of the bright young stars on the roster and can turn out to be the ace of the staff in years to come. Currently, L.A. needs him to continue where he left off from last season as he won seven games with a 3.80 ERA in 18 games.

If the back end of the rotation can perform the Dodgers can compete with the best that the NL has to offer. If not, they will manage to win a mediocre NL West and lose in the first round of the playoffs. One of the positive attributes of their pitching staff is that they have veterans in the bullpen who can step in and be starters. Those players are Elmer Dessens, Brett Tomko and Mark Hendrickson.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

My Experience from Marlins Spring Training

By David

Today epitomized what Florida weather is like. The skies were clear, there was an abundance of sun and the highs reached the low 80's. It was the quintessential day to watch baseball and what better team is there to see workout than the young and energetic Marlins?

Young and energetic might be an understatement when describing the Fish because as they were stretching they are laughing, cracking jobs, high fiving each other and having a grand old time. To the contrary, Cardinals camp is conducted in a professional business like manner and you could never tell that these two teams share the same stadium.

I was fortunate to meet one of my buddies from school while watching Florida practice and we proceeded to spend the next few hours talking, comparing autographs and going from field t0 field in search of new autographs.

Taylor had told me that up at Nationals camp it is very easy to receive autographs and he happened to receive the signature of Barry Larkin. Likewise, Dodgers camp up in Vero Beach is a great place to snag autographs of veterans and many up and coming players.

He went onto say that it was simple to acquire the autographs of Nomar, Jeff Kent, Jason Schmidt, Luis Gonzalez and many of the bright young stars on L.A's roster. That was a nice thing t0 hear as next year I look forward to visiting these camps.

While at Marlins camp, I acquired the autograph of slugger Miguel Cabrera. Miggy is a very nice young man and on numerous occasions while walking from field to field he would stop to sign. He even took a picture with my friend. It was a great experience to watch the great Dontrelle Willis pitch off of a mound. Finally, I was only feet away from electric left-hander and you could see why he's regarded as one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.

Unfortunately, shortstop Hanley Ramirez was not as receptive as the other players and he refused to sign. I even walked along side of him from one practice field to another, and while he talked to us he did not sign. I was surprised, but I still discovered that he was an overall nice guy.

Lastly, I was bummed out that I did not receive the autograph of Hall of Famer Tony Perez. While I was walking along side Ramirez I could have been meeting the great Tony Perez. Luckily there is always next year, and I can't wait to go back to Roger Dean Stadium next February to watch the Marlins and World Champion Cardinals workout.

Do The Tigers Have The Best Starting Pitching In Baseball?

By David

After guiding their team to a World Series berth, what will the Tigers starting pitchers do for an encore? Will their young pitchers continue to improve and can Kenny Rogers still lead the staff at 42 years young?

After leading the league in ERA [4.00] last season I believe that there will be a slight drop in performance for the starter's, but that fall will only be marginal. Still, one of the main things going for Detroit is age. Four out of their five starters are 29 or younger. Currently, the AL Champion Tigers have the second best starting rotation in all of baseball.

42-year old Kenny Rogers continues to shock the baseball world as he improves with age. Since turning 39, Rogers has won 49 games. This is more wins than he had in his first five seasons in Texas combined. If Rogers can win another 15 games this year the Tigers will be in excellent shape.

Justin Verlander, last years Rookie of the Year, is a star in the making and will pitch better than he did last season. Likewise, right-hander Jeremy Bonderman continues to improve season after season. He has won at least 14 games the last two years and struck out over 200 batters for the first time in his career last season. The 24-year old is also coming off of a very impressive postseason.

Lefty Nate Robertson is coming off of his best season in the majors. He posted 13 wins and had a stellar 3.84 ERA. He is a pitcher who possess great talent and fits in nicely in the Tigers starting rotation.

Mike Maroth will be slatted in as Detroit's fifth starter this season. The Orlando native is coming off of a disappointing 2006 campaign where he suffered from elbow pain. He only won five games last year and will be counted on heavily in the back end of the rotation. If he can remain healthy the Tigers will be able to capitalize on their 2006 success.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tigers, Red Sox's, Dodgers, Phillies and Marlins - Best Starting Pitching In Baseball?

By David

The Tigers, Red Sox's, Dodgers, Phillies and Marlins all have potent starting rotations, but who has the best? Is it the young arms of the Tigers or Marlins, depth of the Red Sox's and Dodgers, or the revamped staff of the Phillies?Each day this week I will make a case for every team and then evaluate who's starter's are number one.

The Red Sox's possess baseball's best starting rotation, but at any time that can change. Boston comes into this season with six starter's, four potential aces, two new guys in the rotation and a plethora of expectations.

Boston spent $103.1 million on right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka and he is expected to wow the baseball world with the array of pitches that he throws. If he pitches even close to expectations, the Boston fans will be in for something special.

After having an outstanding season as Boston's closer, Jonathan Papelbon will join the starting rotation. The key for him this year is to remain healthy because he suffered from a tired shoulder towards the end of last season. Still, if Boston can't find a closer Papelbon will be back to doing what he did last season. Granted, he posted a ridiculous o.92 ERA last year and converted on 35 save opportunities.

Josh Beckett, 26, is coming off of a 16 win season, but he won those games by posting a 5.01 ERA, surrendering 74 walks and giving up the second most home runs [36]. Beckett will be in his second season as a member of the Red Sox's and the team is hoping that he is now adjusted to AL hitters and is ready for a strong season.

Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield has been a staple in Boston's starting rotation since 1995 and has started at least 15 games every season. There is still the uncertainty of where he might fit in when John Lester returns to the rotation. Will Papelbon then become the closer if the job is still open or will Wakefield be shifted to the bullpen? Still, Tim throws a devastating knuckleball that is extremely hard for batters to hit.

Lefty Jon Lester is the wild card in the Red Sox's rotation. He suffered from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma last season, but his cancer is luckily in remission. In 15 games last year, Lester won 7 games, but did post a 4.76 ERA. One of the main things going for him is that he's the lone left-hander on the staff and it would be a sure fire thing that manager Terry Francona will find room for him somehow.

Curt Schilling is the ace of the Red Sox's pitching staff, but at 40 years of age how much left does the future Hall of Famer have? He will be entering his fourth season as a member of the Red Sox's and he is gunning for his second World Series ring with the team. Despite winning 15 games last year, Schilling surrendered 28 home runs and 220 hits in 204 innings of work. He should probably win another 15-16 games this season and if he does he would pass the likes of Vida Blue and Don Drysdale on the all-time list.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Getting To Meet ESPN's Tim Kurkjian at Cardinals Spring Training

By David

As I was minding my own business watching the Cardinals workout I happened to see ESPN's own Tim Kurkjian walking by. Tim is both a reporter for Baseball Tonight and a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Most importantly as I learned, he is a great person.

I was shocked to see one of the people that I love watching on ESPN at the same spring training camp that I was at. I quickly sprinted over and screamed out his name. He abruptly stopped and we struck up a conversation for the next five minutes.

After receiving Tim's autograph, I began to pick his brain about the upcoming season. He told me that he predicted a Mets vs. Yankees World Series, that the Brewers and Indians will be the two surprise teams if they can remain healthy, that Arizona's shortstop Stephen Drew will have a strong season, that it will be immensely difficult for the Cubs to go from 96 losses to 96 wins and much more.

Tim went on to say that he doesn't believe San Diego can duplicate the success they had last year and that the Dodgers are the class of the NL West. Tim concurred with me that the Phillies are vastly improved from last season and just like the Padres, Minnesota will not enjoy the same success that they did last year.

Lastly, I asked Tim if there was a player who would surprise the baseball world like Ryan Howard did last season and he replied that there will be many great players who do well, but no one can have the MVP season that Howard did.

It was a great honor to meet a recognizable and distinguished sports journalist like Tim Kurkjian and I hope to meet more people as I continue my journey through spring training.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Cabrera gets just what he wants- MiamiHerald.com

This is a well written article because it explains the process of arbitration and goes into detail about what the ramifications of this ruling could mean for the long-term future of Miguel Cabrera in a Marlins uniform.

Miguel Cabrera was awarded a $7.4 million salary in arbitration
from the Marlins, who offered $6.7 million.

JUPITER - Miguel Cabrera 1, Marlins 0.
Well, actually it was a little more. Cabrera was awarded $7.4 million by winning his arbitration hearing with the Marlins, who wanted to pay the National League's second-leading hitter from last season $6.7 million in 2007.

It was the third-highest amount awarded in an arbitration case. Outfielder Alfonso Soriano lost his arbitration hearing last year against the Nationals and settled for $10 million, and Braves center fielder Andruw Jones was awarded $8.2 million in 2001.

A panel of three arbitrators listened to both sides Friday in Arizona and handed down their decision Saturday afternoon. Cabrera would have been the Marlins' highest-paid player regardless of the decision. Pitcher Dontrelle Willis' $6.45 million salary this season is second-highest.

The bigger question is how much did it really cost the Marlins? The Marlins were not only upset with Cabrera when he failed to show up at the team's FanFest last Saturday, but Marlins president David Samson was vocal about it.

Many teams try to avoid arbitration by offering multiyear deals because of the fear of bad blood between player and management. During Dave Dombrowski's tenure as the Marlins' general manager and president, the team had only one arbitration hearing in 10 years -- Charles Johnson in 1998. They had two arbitration cases this year.

That backfired on the Marlins in 2001, when several players were given multiyear deals that proved to be too expensive for the production on the field.

Cabrera, 23, has three years and 101 days of big-league experience and will be eligible for free agency after the 2009 season. It is uncertain if he will have a future with the Marlins at that point. Management hopes there are no lingering effects from the arbitration hearing, which came less than a week after the FanFest incident.

''The FanFest is old news,'' Marlins general manager Larry Beinfest said.
``It's mutually exclusive from this [arbitration].

``I don't believe there's any bad blood at all. We're respectful of the process. I have a good relationship with Miggy.''

Pitchers and catchers were scheduled to report Saturday, and many of the Marlins' position players showed up early. Beinfest said he expects Cabrera to report to spring training on time for the team's first full-squad workout Wednesday.

Beinfest said Cabrera would ``be here on Monday, get a physical on Tuesday and be ready Wednesday.''

Cabrera received got the highest signing bonus for a 16-year-old undrafted free agent in 1999 when the Marlins gave him a then-record $1.8 million bonus. He reached the big leagues in 2003 and has been one of the best bargains.

Because ownership controls salaries during the first three years of a player's career, Cabrera made only $472,000 last year while batting .339, with 26 home runs and 114 RBI. This was his first year of arbitration eligibility, and he became the first player to win a hearing this year. Owners had been 4-0.

In arbitration, each side presents a number and there is no compromise -- just a winner and a loser.

''The arbitrators decided his way, and that's the way the process works,'' Beinfest said. ``We had budgeted either for a loss or a win. Miguel is a great player. He's up in the elite-type players. He's one of the elite first-time players ever.

``We're respectful to the process and welcome him into camp. . . . We move on.''

Saturday, February 17, 2007

My Experience from Cardinals Spring Training

By David

2007 is the first year that I can say I attended spring training for a World Series Champion. The St.Louis Cardinals are the team, and on Saturday I made my way over to the Cardinals side of Roger Dean Stadium after meeting a plethora of Marlins players.

Unfortunately, it was noon time and practice was winding down. I figured that it would be to late to take the trolley over and I might as well stand by the teams parking lot in the hopes of acquiring a few autographs.

I stood there patiently with 5-6 other fans who were awaiting the arrival of the players. 12:15, 12:30 and 12:45 ticked by without any Redbird leaving the parking lot. Finally, Albert Pujols approached us in his Cadillac, but instead of stopping he quickly drove away.

It wasn't a surprise that baseball's best player didn't stop because he has gained the reputation from many autograph seekers to be selfish and to ignore fans. The one thing that ticked me off the most was that there was four, yes four measly fans standing there waiting for his autograph. It might have taken him a minute at the most to roll down his window and sign four baseballs. That impression of Pujols will stay with me until I see his behavior reform.

Luckily, the majority of players stopped for the fans. The first person to sign was outfielder Skip Schumaker and following him were Yadier Molina, Anthony Reyes, Josh Kinney, Josh Hancock, Ricardo Rincon, Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Eli Marrero and pitching coach Dave Duncan.

Unfortunately, Dave's son Chris sped away in his Cadillac, and following him in that process were Aaron Miles and Mark Mulder. Manager Tony La Russa was busy and did not sign, but he has gained the reputation for being a very nice person.

Many of the Cards players including Josh Hancock, Josh Kinney, Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter were especially nice. Carpenter receives the award for nicest Cardinal, but Wainwright is not far behind.

He came off as being a very kind young man and a player who will go the extra mile to do something nice for a fan. Carpenter, the ace of the Cardinals staff, was one of the last people to leave, but not only did he sign my baseball, he took a picture with me.

I was very surprised that the best pitcher in the National League could be so approachable and it seemed like he was just another player on the team. I hope that his teammate Albert Pujols could learn a few lessons from him in the hospitable category.

I can't wait to attend Cardinals spring training later this week as the rest of the position players will be there.

My Experience from Marlins Spring Training

By David

I returned from Jupiter, Florida two hours ago and while ArtiGras was taking place just a few blocks away, I was attending Cardinals and Marlins Spring Training at Roger Dean Stadium.

I arrived at approximately 10:30 A.M. to see many Marlins Pitchers begin to file in. Today was the day for pitchers and catchers to report, but many players including Dontrelle Willis have been at the complex for a few days.

I had attended Cardinals Spring Training last season but never have I had the opportunity to check out the Fish. Temperatures might have been in the low 50's, but the sun was beaming down and I was ready to snag a few autographs.

To my surprise, I received a plethora of signatures and through this experience I began to learn how amiable many of the players are. The first person to sign was starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez, but that was followed by Josh Johnson, Mike Jacobs, Dan Uggla, Miguel Olivo, Dontrelle Willis, Renyel Pinto, Reggie Abercrombie, Eric Reed, Joe Borchard, Josh Willingham and manager Fredi Gonzalez all coming over graciously to sign for the 10-15 fans who were stationed with me.

The ace of the pitching staff Dontrelle Willis greatly shocked me because he stood there for a good 15-20 minutes signing for any fan who wanted to meet him. You would think when you're such a high profile pitcher you wouldn't be so nice, but that wasn't the case with Willis. He receives the award for nicest Marlin.

It was a fantastic experience from Marlins camp and I look forward to going back later in the week to meet more players.

My Experience from Baltimore Orioles Spring Training

By David

As I took Tri-Rail[South Florida's train system] down to Ft.Lauderdale yesterday I was filled with anticipation. This would be my first visit to O's camp and even though only pitchers and catchers were there I knew it would be a terrific experience.

Unfortunately, it was a gloomy day with highs only in the mid 50's and off and on showers. As I entered Ft.Lauderdale Stadium I was greeted by a kind elderly man who handed me a team roster, pocket schedule and pamphlet about ticket information.

The stadium was pretty empty with about 20-30 fans watching the team work out. Starting pitchers Daniel Cabrera and Adam Loewen got their work in and then it was time for several relief pitchers including closer Chris Ray to work out. After they were done pitching, the players grabbed bats and worked on bunting.

At O's camp, the fans are very close to the players and this permits for easy access to receive autographs. Chris Ray, Ramon Hernandez and Paul Bako were nice enough to come over, but it would be later in the day when I acquired the bulk of my autographs.

I discovered that the key to snagging autographs is to wait patiently by the players parking lot, and as they exit the majority of them will role down their windows to sign for the fans. I happened to be one of 7-8 eager fans who were standing and waiting for the players to come out.

In the 60-90 minutes that I was out there, I was able to receive the signatures of John Parrish, Jamie Walker, Daniel Cabrera, Erik Bedard, Ramon Hernandez[for the second time], first base coach Sam Mejias, third base coach Juan Samuel, manager Sam Perlozzo and pitching coach Leo Mazzone.

Unfortunately, the only players who were outright rude were relievers Danys Baez and Chad Bradford who sped away without stopping to sign a few baseballs. I was also able to see pitcher Steve Trachsel step onto the field for the first time as a Baltimore Oriole.

The majority of the players were very nice, but Paul Bako receives the award for nicest Oriole because he stood there signing autographs for a good 10 minutes.

I look forward to going back to O's camp next week when the entire roster will be present.

Friday, February 16, 2007

MLB Commissioner "Bud" Selig's Speech At Fox Sports Baseball Lunch - Part One and Part Two

This is a video I develped and edited after attending this event. It's divded into two parts of the full speech of MLB Commissioner Alan H. "Bud" Selig, before the San Francisco Bay Area media at the Fox Sports Net Bay Area Annual Baseball Season Kickoff Luncheon on Thursday, February 8th, 2007.

The Commissioner gave a wide ranging talk starting on the success of major league baseball in attendance, and reporting that baseball has 22 new stadiums, but is interested in seeing teams like the Oakland A's get new facilities, soon.

I recommend turning the sound way up, because The Commissioner has the habit of turning his head away from the mic as he talks, thus making it hard to understand what he's saying at first listen.

In Part 2, we hear the Commissioner explain that in 10 years, we will not recognize baseball because it would have spread internationally. He points with pride to the success of the World Baseball Classic as a picture of the sport's future, even though he was initially nervous that it would not do well.

Then the Commissioner revisits the steroids subject, assuring that the game is just fine and that Barry Bonds will be treated just like any other record-breaking player, should he shatter the home run record.

Finally, the second video also covers most of the question-and-answer session that followed, feauring a very long question asked by KNBR radio's Ralph Barberi and notable because his agression in asking the question and his follow-up questions which pissed off a number of patrons. (I'm sorry, but there's no other way to put it.)

Ralph's concern was if baseball would let a player into the Hall of Fame that had tested positive for steroids, or was believed to have used them. But the question came as more of a long speech, followed by two other questions he asked without the aid of a mic. The Comissioner's eventual response was that who gets in to the Hall of Fame was the decision of the Baseball Writers Asssociation and not him.

The video contains some titles to help you understand what the Commissioner is saying. Use this video set as a guide to determine the consistency of his answers as the baseball season wears on.

Here's Part One:

Part Two:

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Report: Time Warner sells Braves- MLB.com

MLB must approve purchase by Liberty Media Corp.
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com

ATLANTA -- After a year of negotiations, it appears Liberty Media Corp. has agreed to terms on a deal to purchase the Braves from Time Warner Inc.

By Monday night, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had both reported that they received confirmation of the deal.

When first reporting the transaction, The Wall Street Journal indicated that Time Warner would transfer the Braves, a selection of craft magazines and $1 billion in cash to Liberty Media in exchange for 60 million shares of Time Warner stock.

Major League Baseball must approve the transaction before it can become official.

"This is a very complicated deal that will take baseball some time to review and consider," Braves chairman and team president Terry McGuirk said in an interview Monday night with the Journal-Constitution. "Until we hear back from baseball, there is nothing further to do."

As negotiations went on for nearly an entire year, some got the feeling that the transaction wouldn't be completed. But in mid-January, one top Braves official indicated that a deal was imminent.

Because of a new federal tax law, Liberty Media wants to complete the deal by the middle of May. According to a Braves source, not doing so could cost Liberty hundreds of millions of dollars.

Bob DuPuy, MLB's president and chief operating officer, said on Tuesday that the deal hasn't even gone to the ownership committee yet, which must vet and approve the transaction before it is submitted for a final vote of the collective owners. The next quarterly owners meeting isn't until May.

"This is just the first step," DuPuy said.

According to the Journal-Constitution report, inclusion of an operating asset -- the Braves -- in the deal can make the transaction tax-free. This would allow Liberty to save hundreds of millions of dollars in capital gains tax on the appreciation of its Time Warner stock.

McGuirk and other Braves officials have indicated that this purchase won't cause major changes in the management structure.

"My enthusiasm for this deal is the transparent way in which it will affect current Braves management," McGuirk told the Journal-Constitution. "The expectation is that the entire structure of management will stay in place. [General manager] John Schuerholz and [manager] Bobby Cox and everyone else who operates the Atlanta Braves will operate no differently, and that'll be the magic in this deal."

Several sources have indicated that Major League Baseball won't approve the deal unless there is assurance that McGuirk will continue to run the club in the same capacity. According to The Wall Street Journal report, Liberty Media's decision to transfer 60 million shares would drop their stake in Time Warner from 4 percent to approximately 2.6 percent.

Time Warner announced its intentions to sell the Braves in December 2005. Within two months, it became apparent that Liberty Media had definite interest in obtaining ownership.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. MLB.com national reporter Barry M. Bloom contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Crushing blow to the Orioles: Kris Benson out indefinitely with torn rotator cuff

By David

Just when you though Baltimore had enough pitching problems they suffered an immense blow to their starting rotation. It was reported today by FoxSports.com and the Associated Press that righty Kris Benson is expected to miss the entire season with a torn rotator cuff.

Benson suffered from tendinitis in his pitching elbow last season, but he still managed to go 11-12 with a 4.82 E.R.A. Benson has been in the league for seven years and has spent time with the Pirates, Mets and Orioles. There was a tremendous amount of expectations for him this year as he was supposed to be an intricate part of the O's rotation.

Now Baltimore will have to count on left-hander Erik Bedard to lead the staff. Bedard, 27, had a strong 2006 campaign as he went 15-11 with a 3.76 E.R.A. The Orioles will most likely look to 22-year old Hayden Penn to fill the spot of Benson. Luckily for the O's, they have one of the best pitching coaches all-time in Leo Mazzone to help them out.

I look forward to going to Orioles spring training next week in Ft.Lauderdale and seeing players such as Miguel Tejada, Melvin Mora and Ramon Hernandez.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The end of an era in the Bronx

By David

Bernie Williams, a staple in the Yankees lineup since 1991, will not be headed to Spring Training this season with New York. As a result of a congested outfield, there is no room on the Yankees roster for the 16-year veteran.

The best that New York could offer him was a non-guaranteed Minor League contract, but Bernie was not enticed by the proposal. Williams has only played for the Yankees during his illustrious big league career, but it seems that he will be moving onto another organization.

The five time all-star told reporters ''I think if they wanted me, they probably would have signed me already.'' That estimation is probably true, but it's still difficult to imagine Bernie not wearing pinstripes.

Last season there was speculation that he might not sign with the Yankees, but he made the team and produced exceptionally well. In 131 games, he batted .281 with 12 home runs and 61 RBI's. The leadership that he brought to the clubhouse will be greatly missed. Bernie was the type of player who was popular with the fans, did not cause trouble and went out and performed every night. He was the quintessential teammate to have. Now, another team will greatly benefit from his services.

Even if he struggled during the regular season, it was a guaranteed fact that he would come through in the playoffs. Williams will leave the Yankees as ''baseball's all-time leader in postseason home runs [22] and RBI [80].''

Bernie also ranks very high on the Yankees all-time leaders list. He is fifth in games played, third in at bats, fifth in runs, fourth in hits, second in doubles, sixth in home runs and sixth in RBI.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Bauer passes away at 84- MLB.com

Former Yankee was part of seven World Series title winners
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com

NEW YORK -- Hank Bauer, a key component of seven New York Yankees World Series championship clubs, died Friday after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 84.

Bauer played 14 seasons in the Major Leagues from 1948-61, his first 12 with the Yankees. A three-time All-Star outfielder, he batted .277 with 164 home runs and 703 RBIs in 1,544 games, and helped the Yankees to nine American League pennants.

"Hank Bauer is an emblem of a generation that helped shape the landscape of our country," Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner said in a statement.

"He was a natural leader and a teammate in every sense of the word, and his contributions went well beyond the baseball field. His service to the Yankees, his country, and his family shows why I have been so privileged to call him a friend."

A strong runner and fielder with a powerful arm, Bauer became an accomplished Major League manager after his playing career. He earned Manager of the Year honors at the helm of the Baltimore Orioles in 1964 and 1966, including one World Series title.

Bauer was traded to the Kansas City Athletics as part of a deal that brought Roger Maris to the
Yankees prior to the 1960 season. While Bauer's association with the club ended, his friendships with many Yankees teammates endured for decades.

"I am truly heartbroken," Yogi Berra said. "Hank was a wonderful teammate and friend for so long. Nobody was more dedicated and proud to be a Yankee, he gave you everything he had."

Bauer guided the Kansas City Athletics in 1962 and 1963, then moved on to spend five years with the Orioles before finishing his managerial career with Oakland in 1969. In eight seasons as a big-league manager, Bauer compiled a record of 594-534.

The youngest of nine children, Bauer was born to a blue-collar background in East St. Louis, Ill., and went on to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps. Battling malaria in the South Pacific, Bauer earned 11 campaign ribbons, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts in 32 months of combat.

His gruff military background translated to his playing career, which delivered him to the Yankees for a 1948 debut.

As a tough presence in the clubhouse, Bauer is said to have chastised a young Mickey Mantle for not running out a ground ball, yelling, "Don't fool with my money" -- a reference to the regularity with which Bauer cashed Yankees World Series checks.

Indeed, many of Bauer's most memorable moments with the Yankees came in October. Bauer contributed a game-saving catch to rob the Giants' Sal Yvars in the 1951 Fall Classic, and set a World Series record with a 17-game hitting streak from 1956-58.

"Maybe I bore down a lot more in the Series," Bauer told the Kansas City Star. "I had my luck. I had my good days and bad ones. I played for the right organization."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bronson Arroyo receives a two-year contract extension from the Reds

By David

After an impressive 2006 campaign, Bronson Arroyo was given a two-year contract extension, worth $25 million. He will remain a Red through the 2010 season and there is a team option for the following year.

After being acquired via a trade with Boston, the 29-year old right-hander had the best year of his career. He went 14-11 last season with a 3.29 E.R.A. Arroyo also lead the league with 240.2 innings pitched.

Arroyo's contract extension comes two days after teammate Aaron Harang signed a four-year deal with the team. Arroyo and Harang create a formidable one-two duo that will be able to compete with just about any teams offense. By locking up both players through at least the 2010 season, owner Bob Castellini is telling Cincinnati fans that he is committed to winning.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Yankees surpass 3M ticket sales mark- MLB.com

The Yankees continue to prove why they are the elite franchise in MLB. Ticket prices might be extremely expensive, but the aggregate demand for tickets increases every season.

Club one month ahead of sales schedule from a year ago
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com

NEW YORK -- Games at Yankee Stadium are in greater demand than ever, as the organization has already surpassed the three-million-tickets-sold mark for the 2007 season.

Club chief operating officer Lonn Trost said Friday that the Yankees shattered their previous record for reaching the three-million milestone, set last March 2.

"It's kind of amazing," Trost said. "We're a month ahead of last year. Hopefully, the fans like the product we're putting on the field, and the fun they have coming here.

"It's a great place to watch a game. There are 162 games left, and you've got to be here to see it before we move into an even greater stadium."

A variety of ticket plans and options in all price ranges are available, including purchasing online at yankees.com.

Of the three million tickets sold, Trost noted that the Yankees have already sold in excess of 33,100 season tickets. In 2006, the Yankees completed the season with 33,682 season-ticket holders.

"We're really doing well, but we still have loads of great tickets to sell," Trost said.

While nearly every game at Yankee Stadium has already sold more than 30,000 seats, Trost said even premier games against the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets are still available to fans who want to experience the next-to-last season at the current facility.

Fans who arrive in the Bronx for the Yankees' home opener on April 2 against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays will also be able to check out the progress on the new facility, being constructed just to the north of the Yankees' current home between 161st and 164th streets, and between Jerome and River avenues.

Trost reported that concrete is being poured at the new stadium site, and in some locations, workers are already up to the second deck in poured concrete. Within 60 days, the structural steel phase of the project is expected to begin, and progress is on schedule.

"Anybody who comes to the stadium starting Opening Day will see an unbelievable sight when they see how much has been built already of the new stadium," Trost said.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Kerans, Washington avoid arbitration and agree to a new long-term contract

By David

The Nationals and OF Austin Kearns agreed on a three-year contract extension, worth $16.5 million. There is a club option for the 2010 season that would pay the 26-year old $10 million.

Kearns was acquired via a trade back in July with the Reds and in 63 games with the Nats he batted .250 and belted 8 home runs. In 4.5 seasons in Cincinnati, Kearns never lived up to their high expectations. He is a player with a good amount of power, but he has yet to hit more than 24 home runs or drive in 86 rbi's in a full season. Maybe he needed a change of scenario, but wherever he goes there will always be a great amount of pressure put on his shoulders to perform.

Team president Stan Kasten said ''we are eager to invest in long-term building blocks'' and Kearns will definitely be part of the long-term project that Washington has in mind. When you look at the Nationals roster, they have a plethora of young players.

Their infield consists of the reigning NL Rookie of the year Ryan Zimmerman, shortstop Cristian Guzman who has not played in the big leagues since 2005, second basemen Felipe Lopez who came over from the Reds with Kearns and first basemen Nick Johnson who in my estimation is turning into one of the best first basemen in the NL. Catcher Brian Schneider won't scare you offensively, but he calls a good game from behind the plate.

The real conflict for the Nationals is their starting pitching. This will be the major reason why the Nats don't reach the playoffs this season. Their ace John Patterson is a solid young pitcher, but he only played in eight games last season. Fourth and fifth starters Michael O'Connor and Shawn Hill combined to pitch in 27 games last season. Both men combined only won four games.

Jerome Williams and Tim Redding, who can be called the veterans of the staff because they have 11 years of big league service between them, are not that impressive either. Redding didn't pitch last year and Williams did not muster up a win last season. Redding has also not won a game since 2004 when he pitched for the Astros.

It's a serious problem to have such a shaky starting rotation when you are hoping to compete in the NL East. It's unfortunate because they have one of the best closers in baseball in Chad Cordero. It will be another long season for the Washington Nationals, but many young players will gain valuable playing experience.

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