Braves Sign Spezio, Orioles Sign Cintron

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Braves and infielder Scott Spezio have agreed to a minor league deal, according to MLB.com. Spezio, who was released by the Cardinals for alcohol related problems, will report to Triple-A within the next week or so. It was important to the Braves that he was in shape to play, but also that he had made steps to put his troubled past behind him: "We had a good feeling after the meeting that he had taken responsibility for what had happened over this last year," Wren said. "He has been in a [substance-abuse] program, and I think there has been a change in personality and attitude. He was sincerely sorry with everything that has happened, and I think he's committed to making amends and making a change." I think this is a good signing for the Braves who add a veteran hitter who can play several positions. Nothing has been guaranteed to him, so let's if he can really make it back.

Back in Febuary, Alex Cintron was in negotiations with both the Orioles and the Cubs, but chose the Cubs hoping he would make the team. It is not hard to understand why, but he would be the starting Oriole shortstop if he signed with them. Instead, he was released by the Cubs and quickly signed with the Orioles. Cintron had a pretty solid spring, but was beat out by Ronny Cedeno for the 25th spot. He is expected to start in Triple-A but should be up in no time, assuming that Fahey or Hernandez struggle.

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Today's Game Headlines

TJ Pena spoils Tigers power lineup debut: Royals shortstop Tony Pena Jr. hit a game winning single to beat the Tigers in the tenth, 5-4.

Notable box score line: Placido Polanco went 0-6.

Franklin Gutierrez proves he's ready: Although the Indians gave up some runs late, they proved that their offense can survive the AL Central.

Notable box score line: Alexei Ramirez went 0-4 with three strikeouts.

Rays open with win in new uniforms: James Shields was phenomenal in seven innings, and the offense did their part to take the win.

Notable box score line: Ace Jeremy Guthrie: 5.1 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 8.44 ERA

Webb spoils Baker debut: Brandon Webb kept the Reds quiet in his season debut, pitching six strong innings.

Notable box score line: Chris Young went 1-4 with a homerun, but three strikeouts. Sound familiar?

Fukudome taking control in debut, but bullpen falls: The Cubs were all smiles despite a tough loss to the Brewers. Yes, Kerry Wood and Bob Howry did not pitch well, but Carlos Marmol and Fukudome have the Cubs fans very excited.

Notable box score line: Kosuke Fukudome went 3-3 with a walk, single, double, and game tying three run homerun in the ninth.

Another late rally for Nationals: The Nationals scored five runs in the top of the ninth to beat the Phillies 11-6.

Notable box score line: Tom Gordon roughed up: 0.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 135.00 ERA.

Johan begins Mets career with a win: David Wright and Carlos Beltran stepped up to help Johan Santana get his first win as a Met.

Notable box score line: David Wright went 2-4 with 3 RBI.

The Dodgers are Giants in Opener: The Dodgers worked the Giants for 11 hits and five runs as Joe Torre picks up his first Dodger "W".

Notable box score line: Barry Zito: 5 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 K, 7.20 ERA.

More updates coming soon...

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Red Sox Upset With Drew, Trade Coming?

According to the Boston Globe, Red Sox manager Terry Francona is frustrated with J.D. Drew and is urging the Red Sox to make a trade. I do not think it will be trading J.D. Drew, but rather trading for someone who is available. The Red Sox have been linked to Matt Murton and are exactly interested in bringing him back. The Red Sox traded him to the Cubs in the 2004 blockbuster deal that involved Nomar Garciaparra and Orlando Cabrera. Murton was upset by his demotion to Triple-A, but is likely to get a call up if he does well. Personally, I think they will trade him within the next week or so, but we'll see. Murton would make for a solid platoon for the Red Sox, but he probably wouldn't be ready to start in the AL. Other options include Kendry Morales, Reggie Willits, and Xavier Nady, among others. A more likely scenario will be to play Coco Crisp in right field, so they do not have to give up a prospect like Jed Lowrie.

The Red Sox signed Japanese pitcher Terumasa Matsuo to a minor league deal and assigned him to the extended Spring Training in Fort Meyers, Florda. Matsuo, 26, has gone 26-5 over the past two seasons with a 1.77 ERA. "We have followed his progress over the last two years and have been really impressed with his ability to pitch," said Jon Deeble, who serves as Pacific Rim coordinator for the Red Sox. "He has shown us the ability to throw the ball past the bat as evident of his high strikeout numbers and his ability to throw four pitches for strikes. He is a hard working kid who really loves to pitch. We look forward to having him pitch in a Red Sox uniform this upcoming season."

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Will Anyone Take Gibbons?

The Orioles released Jay Gibbons yesterday, and many wonder if he has played in his last game. "I completely understand that this is a business, and with the direction that this team is moving, it was pretty obvious that my playing time would be pretty much nonexistent," said Gibbons, who added he wants to return to the big leagues as soon as possible. "I think this was the best move for both parties." Gibbons has been on the decline in the past couple of years, but still has pretty good power. However, being linked to steroids over the winter might give teams a reason to not sign him. Gibbons is a career .260 hitter with 121 homeruns in seven seasons with the Orioles. Even if he didn't do steroids, I do not see a team coming in and offering him a MLB contract. The Giants would like a first baseman who can play some outfield, but why would they add the aging Gibbons? I think other options, although they are unlikely, would be the Indians, Pirates, or Mets.

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Phillies To Release Helms?

According to the Delco Times, the Phillies will likely release Wes Helms if they cannot find a suitor for him by next weekend. If Brad Lidge can come back by next weekend, then they will probably release Helms. There is just no one else on the team that could be sent down. They would send down Dobbs, but he is a lefty. I think the main reason the Dodgers or Giants have not made a move is because they realize that the Phillies only have eleven pitchers, and would like twelve as they move forward in the season. Helms' best year came in 2006 when he hit .329 with 10 HR in 140 games with the Marlins. I think the Dodgers will add him if he is released, mostly because he can play third for them this season, but also because he would be a good guy for their bench.

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Dodgers Scouting Ellis For 2009?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

According to sources, the Dodgers are already looking for a second baseman for 2009. I am a little hesitant to believe this because the Dodgers have several young options in the infield, but maybe they are looking for someone more established. I have heard they are scouting scouting Mark Ellis, along with Joe Blanton of the Athletics, but talks about Blanton ended weeks ago. Ellis would be an upgrade over Kent, and it makes sense for him to stay on the West coast. Ellis had a career year last year, but he may slow down again. Still, a lineup with Ellis in it would be a lot better next year when some of the prospects are more experienced:

C Russell Martin
1B James Loney
2B Mark Ellis
3B Andy LaRoche
SS Chin-Lung Hu (assuming Furcal walks)
LF Andre Ethier
CF Andruw Jones
RF Matt Kemp

Wow. Assuming those prospects continue to perform, that lineup puts them right in contention with the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Padres. And don't forget about a rotation that should include Clayton Kershaw. I think the one thing holding them back this year is that there young guys do not have much experience and some of their older guys are starting to fade. I have them finishing fourth, but I could be way off.

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Travel Day!

Hey everyone,

I'm heading back to Chicago today. Took up the sun in Florida for the week. Here is what is making news early this morning.

Sheets gone next season?: It is starting to settle in that Ben Sheets probably won't be a Brewer in 2009. I disagree, however. It is a great team and they will go far in 2009.

Dodgers still looking....: The Dodgers continue to look for help and are looking at Eric Hinske and Wes Helms.

Rockies looking for pitching?: After trading Ramon Ramirez to the Royals, Jorge De La Rosa is drawing interest from the Rockies.

Matt Murton to be traded today or tomorrow: Expect Matt Murton to be traded today, at the latest, tomorrow.

Juan Pierre wants out: Juan Pierre is openly upset about his situation in LA, and wants out. Maybe the Rockies would be interested in bringing him back?

Hope everyone had a good break as well,

Eli

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Astros Put Williams On Waivers

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Astros put Woody Williams on unconditional release waivers Saturday, and will likely pay him 6.5 million dollars-his entire salary. Williams was 8-15 with a 5.27 ERA last season and had an 11.32 ERA in spring training this year. Players like Lance Berkman question the decision: "Possibly a bit premature," he said. "The game is completely different in the regular season than it is in spring training, especially from a guy like Woody who has been around the block a few times." Once he clears waivers he can be picked up by another team, but I think he will just retire. In fifteen major league seasons, Williams has spent time with the Blue Jays, Cardinals, Padres, and Astros going 132-116 with a 4.19 ERA.

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Will The Pirates Trade Burnett?

The Pirates will keep Rule 5 pick Evan Meek on the 25-man roster over pitcher Sean Burnett, and Burnett is openly furious. I don't blame him. In ten innings this Spring, he has an ERA of 0.90 and a K/BB of 8/2. Evan Meek has not been bad either, but I guess they thought has more upside than Burnett. In his only season in the MLB in 2004, Burnett is 5-5 with a 5.02 ERA. You can say he was rushed to the MLB, but he has obviously made adjustments to make it back. The Pirates are not a very good team and are playing in a division that is getting better, so we might not see Burnett play at his full potential, but he could still help the team in a reduced role. I do not think teams are that desperate for pitching that they would come in and trade for Burnett, so I think he will stay in Pittsburgh. However, if he comes up in May or June and plays well, the Pirates might be able to trade him for a solid player by the deadline.

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Should You Take Schumaker?

Cardinals outfielder Skip Schumaker got the starting nod, and is having a great spring. Since 2005, Schumaker has hit .294 with 3 HR and an OBP of .331. However, in seven minor league seasons he has hit .290 with 25 HR and an OBP of .354. Scouts are saying he is swinging at the right pitches, and is showing that he can handle the leadoff spot. Is he worth drafting in your fantasy draft? Probably not, but if your outfielder goes down, he might be solid pickup for the time being. I think he will get pitched to in the leadoff spot, but his run totals might not be as high as you hope. He has good speed, but I doubt teams really pitch to Albert Pujols because he has no protection, especially in the later innings. Schumaker reminds me a little bit of Randy Winn, assuming he can make it through a full season. I think he will be a lot better bet in 2009, when he has a full season under his belt, but I think he will start to tire out by August or September.

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Interview with Mike Flanagan

Yesterday, I went to the Orioles game in Fort Lauderdale. They played the Mets, but the main reason I went was to meet up with a former interviewee of MLB Rumors, Rocky Cherry, and interview long time Oriole and Executive Vice President Mike Flanagan. I got to talk with Rocky for a good ten minutes, and then I got to check out the Orioles offices. Flanagan won 1979 Cy Young award with the Orioles and now plays a big role in the Orioles decision making. I want to thank Mike for taking the time out of his busy day to do the interview with me, I really appreciate it. I also want to thank Scott Shapiro for setting the interview up for me, I really appreciate it.

ELI: When did you first realize you might be drafted?

MIKE: Well, I was drafted twice. I was first drafted by Pat Gillick of the Astros out of high school, but I had a bad elbow at the time so I went to the University of Massachusetts. When the next draft came around for me I was pretty confident I was going to be drafted and I went in the seventh round.

ELI: You won the AL Cy Young in 1979, looking back on it, what was working for you that year?

MIKE: A pitcher name Scott McGregor helped me early on. I was mostly a two pitch pitcher early on in my career and you cannot survive as a starter with two pitches. I tried all sorts of grips to develop a change, but McGregor had a great change-up and helped me find one. It made all the difference. I had pitched four hundred innings against everyone without a change, so the next time I pitched, no one had seen it, and that made all the difference.

ELI: You played alongside Jim Palmer, what was that like early on in your career?

MIKE: I came up with Jim Palmer, and looking back on it, I was fortunate to play with him. It is not always the case that pitchers give out tips, but Palmer helped me a lot with psychology of it, and finding strengths and weaknesses.

ELI: What was Earl Weaver like as a manager?

MIKE: I don't know if he have enough time to talk about it. [Laughs] Every game was a war. Every night he managed, it was a war. Even in Spring Training or Fantasy Camp - he was a high intensity manager.

ELI: While you were playing, did you ever think you would hold a Front Office position after you retired? What positions did you hold before you got to where you are now?

MIKE: I thought about it. I was a broadcaster twice, and their pitching coach. Being a broadcaster was a nice avenue to getting here. You stay in touch with the game by talking to scouts, players and coaches.

ELI: This past year, you traded Steve Trachsel to the Cubs for Rocky Cherry and Scott Moore. Was the negotiation process to bring him back easy, was there any hard feelings?

MIKE: Well, we talked to Trachsel when it happened, so it was not difficult to get a deal done. Either way, most veterans understand.

ELI: Several trades were made this offseason, did the players take longer to gel in Spring Training than normal?

MIKE: No. I think players understand that there is an opportunity here. Rosters are usually set coming into Spring Training, but I don't know of one major leaguer that doesn't want an opportunity.

ELI: You drafted Matt Wieters last year, how did he handle his first big league camp?

MIKE: Extremely well. He is a strong catcher and a switch hitter. We do not have much catching depth in our minor league system, so to add a switch hitter gives us the depth we need.

ELI: Is there one pitcher in camp that really turned heads this year?

MIKE: Chris Tillman. He came over in the Bedard trade. He is a big guy, and showed a lot of poise.

ELI: Daniel Cabrera has a hard fastball. Is there anything you told him to work on this spring?

MIKE: We had him work on a change-up. Daniel is a big guy, he just needs to slow things down.

ELI: There is a saying, "When you have a passion for your work, you never work a day in your life," do you feel that way?

MIKE: Absolutely. If you are concerned about your job and hours, this isn't the job for you. You are on call twenty-four hours a day, twelve months out of the year.

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Rays Get Haynes, Trade Unlikely

The Rays claimed Nathan Haynes from the Angels yesterday giving them an outfielder to platoon with Gomes. This really isn't a surprise. Haynes was the weakest in the Angels talented outfield, and he understood the situation: "I'll just try to show what I can do, and hope that somebody out there sees that I can help them," Haynes said on Wednesday. "I know I can play at this level. It's just a matter of getting the opportunity." Haynes is very fast, and hit .267 in 40 games last season. The Rays were recently shopping several pitchers in hoping of finding a solid outfielder, but I think they will settle for Haynes. Haynes will compliment Gomes, a righty, in right field to start the season.

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Rangers Acquire Nippert

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Diamondbacks have traded pitcher Dustin Nippert to the Rangers for minor leaguer Jose Marte. Nippert was once regarded as the top pitching prospect in the Diamondbacks farm system, but has struggled thus far. In three seasons, he is 2-3 with a 6.43 ERA, but has shown signs of improvement over the past three seasons. He is 6'8 and has a couple solid pitches, but he needs a better number two pitch to compliment his fastball, in my opinion. The Rangers have not said what his role will be just yet, but I'm sure he will be a spot starter.

As for Marte, 24, he struggled in Single-A and I really do not see much upside in him. However, he has got a strong fastball, so if he can get some of his other pitches together, maybe he will make it.

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Rays Desperate For Outfield Help

The Rays unfortunately have to look for an outfielder after learning that Rocco Baldelli might be forced to retire. They added Cliff Floyd, who is likely to be their DH, but want someone to platoon with Johnny Gomes in right field. The Mariners, Dodgers, and Angels are teams that have extra outfielders, but several other teams are looking for young pitchers that might be willing to sacrifice an outfielder. The Rays have reportedly put out Jason Hammel and Edwin Jackson, but I doubt that could land Andre Ethier or Juan Pierre, but maybe they could get someone like Mike Morse of the Mariners. The Mariners have a lot of solid young pitchers and I think they could sacrifice one for someone like Reggie Willits. I think another solid option is Matt Murton, who was recently optioned to Triple-A. GM Andrew Friedman said he would aggressively pursue a trade, and I see something happening soon after the start of the season.

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Anthony Reyes Likely Gone

Cardinals pitcher Anthony Reyes, who struggled last season going 2-14 with a 6.04 ERA, is off to another rocky start in Spring Training. Although he is pitching well in game situations, his relationship with pitching coach Dave Duncan has put himself on the outs with other pitchers and management. According to one NL scout, the Cardinals have let several teams know he is available and that has led to the increased number of scouts watching him. The Diamondbacks have been scouting several pitchers and might be looking at someone like Reyes to start the season in the rotation with Johnson heading to the DL. The Padres have been linked to several pitchers on the market but I do not see them making a last minute trade before the start of the season. It is likely that Reyes will remain at Triple-A, and if he does well, maybe they will find a taker.

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Fantasy: Stay Away!

As you prepare for your final drafts this weekend, here are five players to stay away from:

1) Dan Haren, Diamondbacks
- Haren is an excellent pitcher and I think he will make a successful transition, but he is moving to a hitters park, after pitching in a pitchers park, and his 4.11 ERA should be a low from Haren in 2008. He will have run support, but expect more losses than in previous years.

2008 Projection: 14-8 W-L, 4.42 ERA, 186 K

2) Dontrelle Willis, Tigers
- He is coming off a career worst 5.17 ERA in the NL and is moving to the powerful AL Central. Yes, he will have a lot of run support which should get him wins, but expect his ERA will be high and you might see a dip in his strikeouts.

2008 Projection: 13-11 W-L, 4.98 ERA, 158 K

3) Barry Zito, Giants
- Are you surprised here? His fastball has dropped about three mph and he is not as deceptive as he was. He had a 10.31 ERA and just four strikeouts in Spring Training, so maybe he will change when the season starts, but this seems to be the beginning of the end for Zito.

2008 Projection: 10-15 W-L, 4.74 ERA, 143 K

4) Aaron Rowand, Giants
- He is moving from a hitters park to pitchers park, and is moving from a great lineup to a horrendous lineup. He will not have any protection and will likely return to 2006 form. He was coming off a career year last year, but still saw dips in OPS, so do not look for an amazing year from Rowand.

2008 Projection: .272 AVG, 16 HR, 71 RBI

5) Kyle Kendrick, Phillies
- Wasn't all that overpowering in the minors, many scouts suggest his success came from teams not being familiar with him. Many people are looking at him as a lesser Cole Hamels, but he is looking like a number four starter, if that at all. We'll see, but I think we are in for a disappointing 2008 from Kendrick.

2008 Projection: 10-11 W-L, 4.74 ERA, 97 K


Honorable Mention: Kaz Matsui (Astros)

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Murton Would Help Any Team

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Recent reports out of Chicago suggest that Ronny Cedeno and Mike Fontenot will get to the final two roster sports, meaning outfielder Matt Murton is heading to Triple-A. Most of you know I believe Murton will be a big time player, assuming he can play everyday at the MLB level. In 195 games between 2005 and 2006, he hit .309 with 20 HR with a .375 OBP. He hit .281 with 8 HR in 94 games last season, but he should be an everyday player somewhere in 2008. There are rumors flying around that the Red Sox and Padres are the two teams most interested, and for Murton's sake, I hope a trade happens soon.

For those of you that do not know, the Cubs home schedule favors day games. There are several night games that go into day games, causing some players to become worn down by mid-May or June. Murton hit .295 during night games, but again struggled during day games. He hit very well on the road, an impressive .322, and I think he would be a very successful outfielder on a different team.

I have been calculating some projections of Murton on different teams in everyday roles, and they come out nicely. I believe he has the potential to hit .285-.295 range consistently, with 20-25 homeruns. Someone that you could compare him to is Larry Walker, before he went to Colorado. Murton's strength's are that he is very patient, has a great swing that finds the gaps, and above average speed. What would it cost a team like the Padres for Murton? Matt Antonelli or Wade LeBlanc?

Matt Murton's Cubs Projection:
.284 AVG, 23 HR, 69 RBI

Matt Murton's Padres Projection:
.307 AVG, 18 HR, 76 RBI

Matt Murton's Red Sox Projection:
.294 AVG, 20 HR, 68 RBI

Maybe this convinces you that he is a solid all around player, maybe it doesn't. Nevertheless, the Cubs are making a mistake by keeping him in Triple-A and it is hurting his chances to be an everyday player.

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National League Award Predictions

The National League is still the inferior league, but I think the race for all four playoff spots is going to be very close.

National League MVP: Ryan Braun, Brewers
Darkhorse: Adrain Gonzalez, Padres

National League Cy Young: Johan Santana, Mets
Darkhorse: Carlos Zambrano, Cubs

National League Rookie of the Year: Geovanny Soto, Cubs
Darkhorse: Hiroki Kuroda, Dodgers

National League Comeback Player of the Year: Nick Johnson, Nationals
Darkhorse: Corey Patterson, Reds

Let's hear your predictions in the comment box below.

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Indians Interested In Garcia?

According to Jon Heyman, the Indians are showing some interest in Freddy Garcia. The Indians are likely to wait, but will probably sign him soon if rehab is going well. Come June, when he is healthy, I think a lot of teams will be interested in his services. However, he had a very serious injury, and it is not one of those injuries where it hurts, then you have surgery, and then you are all better. Personally, I would not have him pitch in the MLB till the All-Star Break. He has to get his arm strength back, face live hitters again, and get back into MLB playing shape. I do not doubt Garcia can come back, but I think we won't see him pitching regularly until 2009. If you had to compare this to one pitcher, it would have to be Mark Mulder. Mulder's 2006 season was cut short and he barely made it back in 2007, before he was shutdown again. My advice to the team that signs him is to be patient with him because otherwise, it is a wasted signing.

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Seanez Looking For Work

Relief pitcher Rudy Seanez has been released by Dodgers, but is still looking for work. However, he said if he does not find work by Sunday, he would retire. Seanez went 6-3 with a 3.79 ERA last season in 73 games and could probably do well in a late inning role with another team. With that said, I see the Tigers as a good fit. They need a late inning reliever and adding someone like Seanez, with experience in both leagues, might help the bullpen early on. Another good fit would be the Phillies, who are eager for another reliver. Both teams I see as good fits for Seanez, who would also be on a team competing for the playoffs. There are several other teams looking for bullpen help, but teams that probably won't be in playoff contention. The Astros, Orioles, and Cardinals are all looking for depth, and I think Seanez, although thirty-nine, would help all of them.

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Escobar Likely Out For Season

Angels pitcher Kelvim Escobar may be forced to opt for surgery after learning that he has a tear in his shoulder. Although the Angels plan to put him on a strength training program to see if it is not that bad, but there is growing concern among baseball executives that shoulders are very shaky, and that he might be better off having the surgery. Losing Escobar, a nineteen game winner, would really hurt the Angels this season. Escobar, however, is not just thinking about his season, but the rest of his career: “It could be my career. I'm not going to lie to you guys,” said Escobar, 31, who is in the second year of a three-year, $28.5 million contract with the Angels. “I'm concerned. I don't even know if I'm going to pitch again. … Retirement has gotten into my head, too. It's hard to be doing the rehab. You get frustrated. You want to get out there and play. The Angels have a lot of depth and I do not think they will have too many problems, but the Mariners are going to give them a run for their money.

The LA Times is looking at possible candidates for the Angels rotation, and have tossed out names like Kameron Loe, Jon Lieber, Aaron Laffey, or Joe Blanton, to name a few. The Angels are not ones to trade away their minor league depth, so I doubt they will make a trade. However, come July and the Mariners and Angels are fighting for the division lead, a trade could come.

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MLB Rumors In The News, Again!

The Chicago Sun-Times article by Neil Hayes put MLB Rumors on the map, and I recently got a call from the Pioneer Press of the Greater Chicagoland Area asking me for an interview. It is great to flip the table and to answer some questions, something that has only happened recently. Here is the link to the article....


Eli

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American League Award Predictions

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The American League got a whole better this past offseason, and I think the race for each playoff spot will be close.

American League MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
Darkhorse: Torii Hunter, Angels


American Legaue Cy Young: Justin Verlander, Tigers
Darkhorse: Dustin McGowan, Blue Jays


American League Rookie of the Year: Evan Longoria, Rays
Darkhorse: Alexei Ramirez, White Sox


American League Comeback Player of the Year: Rich Harden, Athletics
Darkhorse: Ervin Santana, Angels

Let's hear your predictions in the comment box below....

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Royals' DeJesus Here To Stay

After finishing the year in unspectacular fashion, Royals outfielder David DeJesus was the subject of several trade talks. According to sources, the Braves and Royals came very close to cutting a deal before the Braves acquired Mark Kotsay. They talked to several other teams as well, but decided to work in a few extra days off and additional workouts to improve his durability this season. DeJesus was mentioned in trade talks earlier this spring, but Royals executives confirmed today that he is not going anywhere. He is having a good spring, and had a good track record before this year. Not including 2007, he is a career .290 hitter and averaged eight homeruns. One problem I think he had was he played in 38 more games than the season before and I think he was just worn down. I think he can return to hit around .280, especially because he is now used to a complete season. The Royals locked him up long term and I think Royals fans will start to realize that this was a good deal for them.

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2008 National League Standings Projections

National League East

1. Atlanta Braves: 92-70 W-L

2. New York Mets: 88-74 W-L

3. Philadelphia Phillies: 84-78 W-L

4. Washington Nationals: 69-93 W-L

5. Florida Marlins: 64-98 W-L

Rationale: The Phillies pitching will need to put out a better showing if they want to repeat in the division. But after losing Brad Lidge, the bullpen is not as good. If they can put together a strong bullpen, maybe they will be in the race. The Mets have nagging injuries that will hurt them, despite adding Johan Santana. As for the Braves, they have a strong lineup and a deep rotation. If one of their veteran relievers fall, they have a young impressive pitcher to step up.Yunel Escobar is a breakout candidate and Mark Teixeira all year will definitely help.

National League Central

1. Chicago Cubs: 89-73 W-L

2. Milwaukee Brewers: 87-75

3. Cincinnati Reds: 83-79 W-L

4. Houston Astros: 73-89 W-L

5. St. Louis Cardinals: 70-92 W-L

6. Pittsburgh Pirates: 63-99 W-L

Rationale: I see the Cubs and Brewers fighting it out all year again, but the Cubs coming out on top. They have a lot of crucial games that they will be playing and I see the veteran Cubs being able to hold out in late September rather than some of their rookies. Not only that, but they do not have Gallardo early on and I think that will hurt them too. Yes, it is only two or three starts, but the games early on always come back to haunt you.

National League West

1. Arizona Diamondbacks: 94-68 W-L

2. San Diego Padres: 90-72 W-L

3. Colorado Rockies: 88-74 W-L

4. Los Angeles Dodgers: 86-76 W-L

5. San Francisco Giants: 58-104 W-L

Rationale: The Diamondbacks are a very impressive team and got better with the addition of Dan Haren. A full year from Justin Upton, and improved years from Drew and Young make me think this team is a serious contender for the World Series. The Padres have assembled a good team and their younger players should improve on what they have. Kouzmanoff is a breakout canidate and so is Adrain Gonzalez. Michael Barrett will be entering a new year and is ready to return to his old form. The Rockies are great team, but I do not think we will be seeing them in Rocktober.

NOTE: THIS IS A PROJECTION, SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

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Phillies Working On Trade?

The Phillies are making the finishing touches to their roster and are trying to add a reliever, while trading Wes Helms. Helms, who hit .246 with 5 HR, is out of a platoon job with Greg Dobbs with the signing of Pedro Feliz. The Phillies have shopped him all spring, but have yet to find a team interested. However, the Phillies have lowered their asking price, mostly because they do not want three third baseman on their roster. I have been told by an NL source that the Phillies have an offer out to the Reds for Mike Stanton. Stanton went 1-3 with a 5.93 ERA in 69 games last season, but is 68-63 with a 3.97 ERA in eighteen major league seasons. The Reds really don't need Helms, though. I think the Giants, who need a third baseman, are a better fit. The Phillies could acquire the veteran Steve Kline, who would definitely help their bullpen. I'm sure the Phillies want a deal to happen soon, but I don't see anything happening before Opening Day.

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Mailbag: Importance of Spring....

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

This is our second mailbag of the spring asking question about what else-baseball. If you are interested in participating in the Mailbag, email me at mlbrumors@gmail.com.

Q: This is not a fantasy question, but which position is the most important in your mind. I mean, which one wins ball games?

Tim R., Boston, MA

ELI: The bullpen. The bullpen wins games and keeps you in ball games that you are losing. A perfect example is in today's Opening Day in Japan. The Red Sox were down late but had solid relievers come in and limit the deficit. That allowed for Red Sox hitters to figure out their pitchers and ironically, come back against the teams best pitcher. The Athletics had the lead but were unable to keep it because of their poor bullpen. Yes, relievers are rusty coming out of Spring Training because they do not play much, but this is a fine example of how important bullpens are.

Q: Erik Bedard is having a rough spring, is this what us Mariners fans should expect from him this season?

Danny M. Portland, Oregon

ELI: It is funny you say that because he is my case study for this season to see how important spring is. I do not think you should expect it from him because there is a lot on his mind. He is getting use to a new catcher, a new team, and new opponents. He has played in Florida his whole career in Spring Training and has not faced most of the players over in Arizona. I'm not trying to make excuses, but when you are facing an ace and you are trying to make the team, you are going to be swinging at the first pitch because you know Bedard is going to be trying to get ahead in the count.

Q: Is Kosuke Fukudome a bust? He is having a terrible spring.

Justin D, Evanston, Ill.

ELI: He too, like Bedard, is getting use to a new setting. He is obviously trying to make a good first impression, and I think Cubs fans appreciate his effort. You cannot say he is a bust yet, but he is a little suprising. He is striking out a lot and you do not like to see that in Spring Training, but what can you do? Remember, he is coming off surgery, and coming into a new league, so I wouldn't get my hopes up just yet. I think he will help, but give him time to come into form.

Q: Who are your two sleeper teams to make the playoffs and go to the World Series?

Jamie E. Dayton, OH

ELI: In the American, my sleeper is the Mariners. I do not think too many teams really have a good chance right now. The Blue Jays have great pitching, but are playing in a really tough division. Because the Angels are hurt right now, I think the Mariners can get ahead. I think people are going to be looking back at the end of the season and say, "Wow, Carlos Silva was a great pickup." As for the NL, I think the Braves have a great chance to win the division. The Phillies will need an even better showing from their pitching, which is unlikely, and the Mets need their players to get and stay healthy, which is also unlikely. The Braves have depth and a healthy lineup.

If you are interested in participating in the mailbag, email me at mlbrumors@gmail.com.

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Vargas to Cardinals?

The Milwaukee Brewers today released pitcher Carlos Vargas, despite posting a 3.86 ERA in five starts. They lost both Gallardo and Capuano, and to see them release Vargas, who has put up two double-digit win seasons up in a row, is surprising. He is a solid back end of the rotation starter, and should be picked up relatively soon. I have asked around yet to who might be interested, but the Cardinals jump out as a team that would snag him. Todd Wellemeyer is their number five starter at the moment and Vargas would be an upgrade over him. The Mets always seem to go bargain hunting and could also come in and give him a shot. Bringing him in would also allow them to go trade Jorge Sosa. I don't think he should be used as a reliever because he does walk a lot, but he would make for a decent number five starter.

Just a little south of Milwaukee, the Cubs are making news. They signed outfielder Reed Johnson, putting an end to the Coco Crisp and Marlon Byrd rumors. With this signing, I think it could lead to a Matt Murton trade. Johnson and Murton are pretty similar players, but Johnson is a better fielder. It is a good move nonetheless.

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Reed Drawing Interest

Once top prospect Jeremy Reed is unlikely to make the team, and is drawing interest from several teams around the league. Reed is batting .318 in 22 at-bats this Spring, but is a career .252 hitter in 239 games. He has fairly fast and can play all three positions, so he is valuable to teams looking for a reserve outfielder. The Padres, who recently lost Jim Edmonds for an extended amount of time, are interested in adding Reed. The Padres looked to Reggie Willits earlier in Spring Training but the Angels were not interested. The Padres do have other options though in their system. They could go young and offer the spots to Jody Gerut, Matt Antonelli, or Chase Headley. The Rays are also interested, mostly because he would serve as a platoon with Jonny Gomes. It probably would not take much to get Reed, but I doubt it will come through trade. Reed really isn't needed by the Mariners anymore. They have a lot of outfield depth and they do not want to block a young player while Reed is in the minors. They could release Reed this week if no team shows serious interest.

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2008 American League Standings Projections

American League East

1. Boston Red Sox: 95-67 W-L

2. New York Yankees: 92-70 W-L

3. Toronto Blue Jays: 88-74 W-L

4. Tampa Bay Rays: 73-89 W-L

5. Baltimore Orioles: 57-105 W-L

Rationale: The Blue Jays and Rays are really going to surprise us this year, and I think they will be in the race all season. The RedSox are solid up and down and should be able to take the division, but it won't be as easy as everyone thinks.

American League Central

1. Cleveland Indians: 93-69 W-L

2. Detroit Tigers: 91-71 W-L

3. Minnesota Twins: 80-82 W-L

4. Chicago White Sox: 79-83 W-L

5. Kansas City Royals: 74-88 W-L

Rationale: Yes, the Tigers improved their offense to give themselves one of the best offenses in the game, but they failed to improve their bullpen. The bullpen is the most important part of the game and to be lacking early on will only hurt them. If they can get some bullpen help early, I think they are the favorite. The Twins and Sox are pretty equal, but they could turn out to be better than expected. The Royals definitely helped themselves this offseason, but need to focus on their starting pitching in the next offseason to really make a serious run.

American League West Standings

1. Seattle Mariners: 93-69 W-L

2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: 89-73 W-L

3. Texas Rangers: 77-85 W-L

4. Oakland Athletics: 74-88 W-L

Rationale: I think the injuries to the Angels early on will hurt them, putting the Mariners ahead early. Many have been critical of the Carlos Silva signing, but his double-digit wins might send the Mariners to the playoffs. Not to mention that they also have ErikBedard . As for the Rangers and A's, the A's have a lot of question marks and the Rangers pitching is weak. It is going to be close between them, as you can see.

NOTE: THIS IS A PROJECTION, SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

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Yates to be Traded?

The Braves have several players who are out of options, but are planning to hold on to all of them, except Tyler Yates. Braves pitchers Blayne Boyer, Chris Resop and Royce Ring are also out of options, but are likely to remain with the team. At the beginning of camp, Yates was considered to have a bullpen spot, but after posting a 10.29 ERA, the Braves will shop him. I believe they will look for another solid bench player, but it is hard to see what they could get for him. I assume they will talk to Detroit to see if they want to take a chance on him, but I am sure they will talk to every team in need of an extra arm before they put him through waivers. If I were the Tigers, I would take a chance on him. He went 2-3 last year with a 5.15 ERA and K/BB ratio of 69/31. He pitched in 75 games last season, so if a team like the Tigers limited Yates to the amount of games he pitches in, they might see more success. One reason why the Tigers might not go and get him is because he is very similar to Jason Grilli, another middle reliever. They are looking for a late inning reliever and have yet to make any major headway with any team.

UPDATE: Traded to Pirates for Todd Redmond.

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Blue Jays To Extend Rios

According to FOXSports.com, the Blue Jays and Alex Rios are closing in on a six year extension worth about 65 million dollars. The deal, which will begin in 2009, will cover his first four years of free agency. The Blue Jays are known for giving their players opt-out clauses in their contracts, along with a no-trade clause, and I expect them to do that with Rios. This is a solid deal for the Blue Jays, mostly because Rios is really coming into form in the MLB. He struggled in his second year, like most hitters, but turned it around in 2006 and made his first All-Star appearance. His power numbers increased in 2007 and he made his second All-Star appearance. With some of the injuries effecting the Yankees and Red Sox, it is very possible the Blue Jays could sneak in and grab a spot in the division, assuming that Rios and Wells put up solid numbers again.

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Giants Woes Get Worse

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Giants first lost Omar Vizquel for an extended amount of time and turned to Kevin Frandsen and Brian Bocock to take over his duties. However, the Giants lost Kevin Frandsen today for the rest of the season, leaving someone who has never played about Single-A with the job. Frandsen, who ruptured his Achilles tendon today, was expected to be the Opening Day shortstop. He has potential to be a solid utility player, but doesn't pan out to be an everyday player. I think the Giants need to make a trade now. "Fire Sabean" websites are starting up everyday because restless fans are frustrated with Front Office decisions. If they want to move Aurilia to short, they could trade for Wes Helms. Or if they want a shortstop, they could trade for Felipe Lopez. Unfortunately, the Giants really do not much to offer in their minor league system. They have some solid young pitchers, so if they trade Matt Cain for a solid hitter they would be taking a step in the right direction.

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Rays' Price Out Till June

Rays pitcher David Price, the top pick in the 2007 draft, is going to be out for at least six weeks with a muscle strain in his left elbow. The main reason the Rays plan to take their time with Price is because he has yet to make his professional debut, so he will have to strengthen his arm once healthy to get it up to speed. "The good news is that obviously it's nothing significant,'' executive VP Andrew Friedman said. "We had that sense pretty soon after it happened but it's always good to get confirmation. Hearing the report the biggest delay is just going to be in terms of building him back up not necessarily getting him healthy.'' The Rays planned to start him at Vero Beach, but it is likely he will stay in extended Spring Training until he gets healthy.

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2008 Yankees Projections

DH Hideki Matsui
.293 AVG, 27 HR, 112 RBI
C Jorge Posada
.288 AVG, 16 HR, 81 RBI
1B Jason Giambi
.249 AVG, 21 HR, 73 RBI
2B Robinson Cano
.322 AVG, 18 HR, 100 RBI
3B Alex Rodriguez
.303 AVG, 48 HR, 148 RBI
SS Derek Jeter
.327 AVG, 13 HR, 77 RBI
LF Johnny Damon
.278 AVG, 14 HR, 63 RBI
CF Melky Cabrera
.286 AVG, 12 HR, 68 RBI
RF Bobby Abreu
.280 AVG, 17 HR, 104 RBI

SP Chien-Ming Wang
17-6 W-L, 3.87 ERA, 91 K
SP Andy Pettitte
14-8 W-L, 3.91 ERA, 137 K
SP Phil Hughes
15-7 W-L, 3.65 ERA, 110 K
SP Mike Mussina
10-13 W-L, 4.93 ERA, 114 K
SP Ian Kennedy
10-8 W-L, 4.32 ERA, 92 K

NOTE: THIS IS A PROJECTION, SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

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Rosenthal: Roberts to Cubs Off

According to Ken Rosenthal siting major league sources, the Cubs and Orioles have decided to table discussions concerning Brian Roberts. Finally, players on each side can relax and focus on the game. I'm sure this comes as a relief to Mark DeRosa, who would have been out of a starting job with the trade. This hopefully will be the last time I ever have to say Brian Roberts and the Cubs in the same sentence, at least till the trade deadline. I think the Cubs should use Alfonso Soriano in the leadoff spot, followed by Theriot, but Piniella is looking at it differently. As for the Orioles, I think they will go out and get Felipe Lopez to be there everyday shortstop.

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Mets, Tigers Talking Trade

The Tigers have approached several teams about acquiring a reliever, but are returning to the Mets to discuss a deal. According to one high ranking official, the Mets have at least three different trade proposals out, all that would bring Marcus Thames back in return. I assume that one trade involved Scott Shoenweis and a prospect, one involves Jorge Sosa and a prospect, and the final one could just be Aaron Heilman. The Mets plan to keep Steve Register on the roster, so it is possible the Mets will indeed trade one of their relievers. However, several teams already understand the importance of depth and I think the Mets would be smart to hold on to their relievers, because someone could easily go down on their roster. Someone I think the Tigers should try and snag is Ambiorix Burgos. He is young with experience, and should be good down the road. However, he has had some injury problems.

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2008 Top 100 Prospects: 91-100

91. Bryan Anderson, Cardinals
- Just twenty-one, Anderson proved he could hit the ball for average and power. He is the future behind the plate for the Cardinals.

92. Joe Savery, Phillies
- Although he is a good hitter, he thinks he can make as a pitcher. He did well in his first seven games in the pros, but we need to see more from him.

93. Kyle Blanks, Padres
- Although he is older than most Double-A players with potential, he hit for a lot of power and average in Single-A and could see time at the MLB level this season.

94. Taylor Teagarden, Rangers
- He has battled injuries, but still has the potential to be a solid player.

95. Scott Elbert, Dodgers
- This left handed reliever probably won't make the team until 2009 or 2010, but has a pretty good minor league track record. I think he will likely be "the lefty" in the Dodgers pen for the years to come.

96. Neftali Feliz, Rangers
- I think his career will be as a closer, mostly because his above average change up compliments his 99 mph fastball very nicely. Oh yeah, he is only nineteen. The main reason he is not higher is because of his K/BB.

97. Hector Gomez, Rockies
- He has drawn comparisons to Michael Young, but I see him more as a Khalil Greene.

98. Drew Stubbs, Reds
- Won't be up till 2010, but he will hit for a high average. He has time, and I think the power will come.

99. Aaron Poreda, White Sox
- A strong fastball with good movement gets him in the top 100, but his secondary pitchers are not great, yet.

100. Andrew Brackman, Yankees
- 6'10 pitcher with a hard fastball, but arm problems early on put his career in question.

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Lopez to Astros?

The Nationals are actively trying to trade infielder Felipe Lopez. Lopez, who hit .245 with 9 HR last season, is pretty quick on the base paths and can play second, third, and short. According to one NL scout, the Nationals approached the Astros, among other teams, about Lopez and the Astros are willing to listen. I wasn't told about the other teams but it has been reported that the Cardinals, Cubs, Orioles, and Giants are interested. One reason why the Astros might be interested is because Kaz Matsui is out, and Miguel Tejada might be faced with problems that might force him to leave the team. Furthermore, the Astros and Dodgers are talking about a Mark Loretta trade, and acquiring Lopez would fill the void. It is believed the Astros are asking for at least two players, a reliever and a young prospect. I doubt that he goes to the Astros but it would not surprise me if the Orioles swoop in and make a move.

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2008 White Sox Projections

DH Jim Thome
.263 AVG, 26 HR, 83 RBI
C A.J. Pierzynski
.261 AVG, 14 HR, 62 RBI
1B Paul Konerko
.284 AVG, 28 HR, 99 RBI
2B Alexei Ramirez
.280 AVG, 6 HR, 42 RBI
3B Joe Crede
.255 AVG, 19 HR, 58 RBI
SS Orlando Cabrera
.273 AVG, 8 HR, 75 RBI
LF Carlos Quentin
.259 AVG, 14 HR, 63 RBI
CF Nick Swisher
.270 AVG, 32 HR, 84 RBI
RF Jermaine Dye
.277 AVG, 30 HR, 86 RBI

3B Josh Fields
.266 AVG, 26 HR, 79 RBI

SP Mark Buehrle
12-8 W-L, 4.22 ERA, 132 K
SP Javier Vazquez
13-10 W-L, 4.26 ERA, 178 K
SP Jose Contreras
11-12 W-L, 4.67 ERA, 96 K
SP Jon Danks
12-8 W-L, 4.75 ERA, 124 K
SP Gavin Floyd
7-9 W-L, 5.04 ERA, 92 K

NOTE: THIS IS A PROJECTION, SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

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Inge Not Going Anywhere

Now that Curtis Granderson is out for the first half of April, it makes it more likely that Brandon Inge is not going anywhere. Inge is not having the best Spring but is very versatile. The Tigers have said that Inge will be the Opening Day center fielder now that Granderson is down, and then he will be moved back to a bench role when he returns. However, because he is so versatile, it makes me think the Tigers will rotate him around at catcher, second base, and the outfield, to get him about 300 or 400 at-bats. Yes, it is still likely that he will be traded at the deadline, but for now, he is platooning with the Tigers. Teams that have shown interest in Inge is the Athletics, Dodgers, Cubs, Rangers, and Blue Jays.

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Capuano Out For Year?

Just last week, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Chris Capuano was involved in trade talks. Now, it appears he will be out for the season. Capuano is seeking a second opinion on his elbow after one doctor detected a tear. If there is indeed a tear, it would require Tommy John surgery. "There's a very small chance that you could elect to rehab it," assistant general manager Gord Ash said. "It does happen but I would say it's the exception." Capuano looked like he was entering his prime last season, but twelve straight win less outings and twenty-two consecutive losing efforts. He won eighteen games in 2005 and was an All-Star in 2006, but wasn't the same after going 5-0 in 2007. Pitching depth is definitely paying off for the Brewers right now who have lost Gallardo for the first couple weeks and now Capuano. The rotation likely will be:

SP Ben Sheets
SP Jeff Suppan
SP Manny Parra
SP Carlos Villanueva
SP Dave Bush


When Gallardo comes back, I'm sure he will take Parra's spot, but a lot will depend on who is doing well.

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Cubs Eying Johnson

The Cubs are having trouble finding a trade partner and are now looking at Reed Johnson as the candidate to platoon with Reed Johnson. Johnson still has to clear waivers, so the Cubs won't make a move till then. Personally, I think the Cubs would be better off going with Ronny Cedeno or Eric Patterson platooning in center, but that is only because I have faith in some of the young Cubs players. However, Johnson is a .281 career hitter and has averaged 10 homeruns from 2003-2006. I think he could be solid pickup for the Cubs, but it would further push Matt Murton out of a job. Cubs GM Jim Hendry is determined to make a move, and it will probably come mid week with the signing of Johnson.

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Rangers, Not Astros, To Sign Patterson

Although it was believed that John Patterson would join the Astros, the Rangers have jumped in and are closing in on a deal. Patterson, who lives in Texas, will start the year in Triple-A, but will probably get a call up if someone struggles or goes down. "It's no-risk for a guy who has had success in the big leagues," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "We want to bring him in, get him healthy and send him [to Triple-A]." Patterson was struggling to reach 85 on his fastball, and Nationals just became impatient. Allowing him to pitch in Triple-A and get him arm strength up should benefit the Rangers, to some extent.

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Interview with Marc Kroon

Last week, I came across the website of former MLB pitcher Marc Kroon. He has been pitching in Japan since 2005. I follow the Japanese league to some extent to know of the success of Kroon. He recently signed a deal with the Yomuiri Giants, leaving the BayStars. He was drafted in the second round of the 1991 draft by the Mets, and saw time with the Padres, Reds, and Rockies. Kroon has grown into a household name in Japan, and is now gearing up for a Championship run with the Giants. I want to thank him again for doing this interview for me, I really appreciate it. I also want to thank Mr. McCurdy for being the middle man in this process.

ELI: Did you have a favorite team growing up? Favorite Player?

MARC: My favorite team was the N.Y. Mets and my favorite player was Dwight Gooden.

ELI: What was it like getting drafted by the Mets? Did you talk with any other teams?

MARC: Well, since I was born and raised in N.Y. City it was like a dream come true for me to get drafted by the Mets. While I was in high school, almost every team has a scout at everyone of my games. I was excited the Mets choose me.

ELI: What was it like getting traded from the Mets to the Padres?

MARC: It was sad because the Mets being my favorite team, I wanted to make it to the Major Leagues with them. It was a dream of mine when I was a kid.

ELI: You retired briefly after the 2000 season. What did you do?

MARC: Well, I retired because I had Tommy John surgery and my arm never recovered. The doctors told me that I would never pitch again. I just spent time with my wife and kids. I started my own business giving children pitching lessons. It was great and I had fun doing it. When I retire, I will continue that business.

ELI: After the 2004 season, you were contacted by Japan to come play there. What were your main reasons for going?

MARC: Well, I had been playing many years in America. I was always going from the Major Leagues back to Triple-A. I got tired of it. I wanted to experience something different. So I decided to sign a one year contract with the Yokohama BayStars. I pitched well. 26 saves with a 2.70 ERA. I broke the speed record too. The old record was 158 km (98 mph). I threw 161 km (100.6 mph). The next year, I signed a two year contract. After this season, I signed a one year contract with the Yomuiri Giants.

ELI: You were very successful in your first year in Japan. Is there anyone you can credit for your success?

MARC: My wife and kids for letting come over here while they are at home. They have given me a great deal of support. I also credit the BayStars manager for giving me the opportunity to be the teams closer. Also, the fans have been great to me and have given me nothing but support since day one. I feel very comfortable here in Japan. The fans are the reason why I started my Homepage, www.kroon161.com.

ELI: Some say baseball language is pretty uniform. Was that the case when you had to communicate with players and coaches?

MARC: At first, it was difficult. But they use baseball words such as balls and strikes, outs, hits, fly ball, and strikeout. Now, I can understand all of the rest of the baseball words even if it is in Japanese because I have been here for four years. I have studied the Japanese language so I can communicate with my teammates. You would be surprised that there are many Japanese players that can speak some English.

ELI: Off the field, what is it like living in Japan?

MARC: At first, it was very difficult mainly because I do not eat any Japanese food. My first year I would ride around and check out different places. But for the past three years it has been difficult to walk outside because I have become too famous. The people love their baseball and I stand out here being 6'2. I spend a lot of time in my house reading, playing Nintendo Wii and Playstation 3.

ELI: Having played in both leagues, what would you say is the biggest difference between them?

MARC: The biggest difference I think is the speed of the game. Major leaguers are stronger and faster. But the league here is still very good. It is not an easy league by far. There are many talented Japanese players, as you saw in the World Baseball Classic.

ELI: This past offseason, you signed with the Giants. How is the free agency process different in Japan than in the States?

MARC: Well, every team is different here. Not every team gives there foreign players free agency. If you are a Japanese player, you have to play nine years before you can become a free agent.

ELI: The latest player to come over from Japan is Kosuke Fukudome. What type of the player was he and do you think he will be successful in the MLB?

MARC: I think he was the best player in Japan before he left. He hit a grand slam off me three years ago. The first grand slam I had ever given up. I wish him the best. He also is a very nice person.

ELI: You are going to be thirty-five in a week or so, do you have any goals for yourself while you are still playing baseball?

MARC: I know I am getting old. Well, I want to win a Championship before I retire. Right now, I have 84 saves career saves. I need 37 more to have the all time foreign saves record. And if I get 33 saves I would have the single-season record for the Giants.

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Two Reasons Not To Draft Albert Pujols

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I have been thinking this over a lot lately and have finally decided that Albert Pujols is someone you should pass on in your fantasy drafts. Here are two reasons why:

1. The injury.
- Albert Pujols is going to be going from three to five innings to nine innings everyday, with at least three at bats rather than five. There is going to be a lot more stress on his elbow that could lead to season ending surgery. One collision at first or one inside pitch and he is done. However, he is still hitting the ball very well and will be a force, to some extent.

2. Pitching coaches are not dumb.
- Albert Pujols is going to lead the league in walks. There is no one in the lineup offering protection for him. Is Rick Ankiel going to be that guy, probably not. Is Troy Glaus going to step up and be a power hitter again? Hah, no. If I was pitching against the Cardinals, I would throw everything away, away, and away to Pujols. Let him take first base, because nine times out of ten he won't come around to score.

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Giles to Dodgers?

According to the Denver Post, the Rockies are trying to sell the idea of taking on Marcus Giles to the Dodgers. Jayson Nix has won over the second base job and has people very excited about the future middle infield tandem of Tulowitzki and Nix. Giles has had a good spring and has reestablished some of his trade value, but does not have room on the Rockies roster. He is not very versatile, but the Dodgers could use a second baseman to platoon with Kent. And although they have Tony Abreu, he is already filling a spot at third because Garciaparra and LaRoche are down. I recently put in a call to someone close to the Dodgers, and talks are supposedly a lot farther along than people think. I think a deal like this will go down this week, because both teams needs to make decisions about their roster soon.

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MLB Rumors In The News!

MLB Rumors has grown over the past several months, thanks mostly to you readers, and it caught the attention of several sports writers. I recently was contacted by the Chicago Sun-Times to do an interview about the blog. Here is the link to the article and here is what it said about me:

Then there's Eli Greenspan, a 17-year-old high school junior from Glencoe, whose blog, Eli's MLB Rumors, has drawn praise from Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane, among others. As of March 15, the site had drawn 1.6 million visitors and prompted Nike, PetSmart, Cingular and Circuit City to become advertisers.

''Now that I've made connections and people are calling me and asking me about players, I'm even more interested in building a team,'' said Greenspan, who has yet to begin applying to colleges. ''My goal, even though this might sound idealistic, is to be a general manager in 10 years.''


(Chicago Sun-Times)

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Tigers After Street?

The Tigers are more desperate for a relief pitcher that many thought, and now they are going after Huston Street. The Tigers have depth in their bullpen, but mostly middle relief pitchers, not late inning pitchers. I think there is a big difference in the role, and I think it is hard to adjust from one to the other. According to sources, they have contacted half a dozen teams about relief pitchers, and not much has been made of it. This seems like the perfect situation for the A's to make a move. They could acquire several top prospects and give Joey Devine the closer spot. The Tigers could send Brandon Inge and a big chunk of his salary, along with Jeff Gerbe, Scott Sizemore, and Cale Iorg.

In this trade they acquire a third baseman to play while Chavez is out, a solid pitcher who could break the rotation in 2009, a second baseman which would allow them to unload Mark Ellis, and a solid athlete in Iorg who could take over at short. This is a pretty big price to pay, but it speculation on my part. I think the A's could go after Gerbe and Iorg for sure, but then might have to settle for a low level prospect. I didn't realize how serious the Tigers were and I think it is likely that a trade will be made this week. Other teams they could look to are the Blue Jays, Dodgers, and Angels.

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Reaction Time: Trades and Signings

STORY: David Wells, 45, is still looking for a job.

REACTION: This doesn't surprise me, really. Wells went 9-9 with a 5.43 ERA last season, but might have to prove himself at Triple-A before getting a call up. The Cardinals showed interest before going with Lohse, and the Dodgers said they were not interested in bringing him back. You could say the Red Sox might consider having him back because their pitching is weak, but I think want more proven pitching. Maybe Wells would go to the independent leagues, but I doubt it. Sadly, I think he is done.

STORY: Mets not interested in Reed Johnson.

REACTION: The Mets are so busy trying to acquire Xavier Nady that Reed Johnson is out of the picture. Not only that, but they have several minor leaguers like Angel Pagan that would probably do a better job than Johnson.

STORY: Michael Wuertz drawing more interest.

REACTION: First, the Tigers contacted the Cubs about Michael Wuertz. Now, the Phillies have talked about going after Michael Wuertz. The Phillies and Tigers have gone after several of the same relievers and both are confident they will get a deal done. I doubt the Cubs trade Wuertz, but it is possible we could see the Phillies trade Wes Helms for Jon Meloan of the Dodgers.

STORY: Astros and Patterson closing on deal.

REACTION: The Astros and John Patterson are still talking a deal, and both sides feel a deal is close. It is obvious that Patterson wants to play close to home, and that should work in the Astros favor.

STORY: Josh Fields heading to Triple-A.

REACTION: Too bad for the White Sox, who were banking on trading Crede to clear the way for Fields. This will only lead to the Sox eventually dumping him when Fields is successful in Triple-A.

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ESPN: Cabrera, Tigers Agree to Deal

Saturday, March 22, 2008

According to ESPN.com, the Tigers and Miguel Cabrera are closing in on a eight year deal worth 153.5 million dollars. "Miguel just signed a big contract," said the source. "The contract will be completed when Miguel takes a physical on Monday." This is an excellent deal for the Tigers who lock up Cabrera while he is entering his prime. Cabrera, who lost at least twenty pounds this off season, still hit 34 homeruns last season. Playing in the lineup he is in now, he should have a higher average and more homeruns. I have been going back in forth in my mind about the division winner in the AL Central, but with Cabrera not having to worry about his contract, I could see him having a huge year and carrying the Tigers into the playoffs. Obviously, we won't know till the end of the season, but I really like this deal for the Tigers.

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Royals Making Moves?

The Kansas City Star is reporting that the Royals are talking a deal with the Dodgers that would send Esteban German to the Dodgers for Jonathan Meloan and Miguel Pinango. Now, this may just be a rumor, but it would be a pretty good deal for the Royals. Meloan, 23, won't make the Dodgers out of camp but could probably pitch at the MLB level with the Royals. He has good stuff, and he showed it this spring. German has only been a starter for the past two years and hasn't been all that impressive. If this deal is true, it shows how desperate the Dodgers really are. I think the Dodgers are going to be a good team this year, one reason is definitely because of Joe Torre. I am a little hesitant to say they will win the division, but there pitching could surprise us. They are up against a lot. The Rockies are finally confident with themselves, the Diamondbacks are starting to mature, the Padres always have the right pieces to make a serious run. It should be a great race trade or no trade.

The Star is also reporting that the Royals have agreed to send Angel Berroa and half of his 4.75 million dollar salary (2.37) to the Nationals for pitcher Zech Zinicola. Sending the former rookie of the year shortstop to the Nationals doesn't make much sense to me. They already have a crowded infield and are struggling to make a trade. Zinicola is not a bad prospect and might turn out to be a decent reliever, but needs more time in the minors to find his spot. I think the Royals would be winners in both trades if they go down, but would probably have little impact on the team.

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2008 Top 100 Prospects: 81-90

81. Eric Hurley, Rangers
- He has been around the minors some but keeps getting better. I don't see him becoming very successful in the MLB, but could turn out to be a successful bottom end of the rotation starter.

82. Nolan Reimold, Orioles
- Showed great power in the minors that transforms well in the MLB. He doesn't have a spot currently but I think they will make room.

83. Sean Gallagher, Cubs
- Solid pitcher in the Cubs organization, but has yet to show it at the MLB level. He can pitch deep into games and keeps his ERA down. He needs some time to mature, but should be a solid MLB pitcher soon.

84. Troy Patton, Orioles
- Top prospect in the Astros farm system before he was traded. He is down for the season, which I think hurts his potential. Still, he should be a good pitcher come 2009 or 2010.

85. Tim Alderson, Giants
- He very well could be the next big pitcher to come up for the Giants. Made a successful jump from high school to the minors, and is already progressing in Spring Training.

86. Michael Bowden, Red Sox
- He has been a Red Sox prospect for so long that people think he is starting to fade. However, he is a very good pitcher that will probably be one of the bottom two starters in the next couple years.

87. Collin Balester, Nationals
- Excellent stuff, but doesn't have great control. He should help the Nationas pitching staff though.

88. Jeff Niemann, Rays
- His big physique will make him a successful pitcher in the MLB. Yes, he is twenty-five, but he should make for a solid late inning pitcher once he improves on his command. We will see more of him in 2008.

89. Gorkys Hernandez, Braves
- He probably won't be up till 2010, but he has the potential to be an All-Star.

90. Edwar Ramirez, Yankees
- He struggled in his first season but his stuff is nasty. He has an incredible slider and a nasty changeup. GM Brian Cashman said his name came up a lot in trade talks but they couldn't let go of him. Should be a solid reliever for them in the future.

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Javy Lopez Retires

Long time Braves catcher Javy Lopez has decided to retire after learning he would not make the Opening Day roster. Lopez wasn't all that impressive hitting wise, but he was still in the running with the other three catchers: "We just think [Lopez] needs more time," Cox said. "He caught and received the ball really well. He blocked really good. Throwing, he needs more time back there." In fifteen major league seasons, Lopez hit .287 with 260 homeruns. His best year came in 2003 with 43 homeruns, but he fell after that year after joining the Orioles and than was ultimately released by the Red Sox. He is remembered for successfully handling some of the best pitchers in baseball during the nineties and his success in the playoffs.

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News and Notes: Twins, Nathan Close To Deal

The Twins and Joe Nathan are closing in on a four year deal worth 11-12 million dollars annually, according to Buster Olney. Nathan went 4-2 with a 1.88 ERA and 37 saves last season, bringing his career ERA down to three. This is a big investment for the Twins, but it is worth it. They do not have much of anything right now, and signing him shows their commitment for the future. Yes, they have Pat Neshek who could have taken over at the role, but Nathan is an All-Star closer who could definitely lure a big name player to the Twins. They are in the final stages of the deal and it's expected a deal will be done before Opening Day. On paper, this team could surprise people. There offense is pretty good and if their pitching does not collapse, I bet they are fighting for third place.

Cubs after Lopez?: The Cubs are reportedly scouting Felipe Lopez of the Nationals. This doesn't make sense to me. Why would they need a middle infielder? Are they planning on DeRosa in center with Pie? I think Lou Piniella is a good manager, but I think he picks favorites too soon, and will not be putting the best team on the field.

Dodgers are still looking at Loretta:
It seems everyday someone else will say the Dodgers are looking at Mark Loretta. It is true, but nothing has changed on that front. However, there is word that they are talking to the Phillies about Wes Helms.

Edinson Volquez turning heads: This kid is looking like the ace of the future for the Reds. He has unbelievable stuff, and scouts are saying he has one of the best changeups in he league.

Reyes on the block?: Cardinals pitcher Anthony Reyes has lost his spot in the rotation to Brad Thompson and is reportedly being shopped. The Marlins were reportedly scouting him early on, but nothing was made of it.

Next Dice-K?: Young pitcher Yu Darvish is considered to be the next Matsuzaka. Reporters from Japan that I have talked to say he is exciting to watch, and is only in his early twenties. The Ham Fighters might post him in hopes of landing the record breaking 51 million that was posted for Matsuzaka, but it might be closer to 20-30 because he is not as experienced. However, there is already word that the Red Sox would make a move if he is posted.

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2008 Twins Projections

Friday, March 21, 2008

DH Jason Kubel
.278 AVG, 16 HR, 67 RBI
C Joe Mauer
.318 AVG, 11 HR, 64 RBI
1B Justin Morneau
.282 AVG, 33 HR, 114 RBI
2B Brendan Harris
.266 AVG, 10 HR, 57 RBI
3B Mike Lamb
.284 AVG, 11 HR, 50 RBI
SS Adam Everett
.244 AVG, 1 HR, 32 RBI
LF Delmon Young
.295 AVG, 15 HR, 88 RBI
CF Carlos Gomez
.258 AVG, 7 HR, 41 RBI
RF Michael Cuddyer
.267 AVG, 18 HR, 77 RBI

SP Scott Baker
11-10 W-L, 4.52 ERA, 128 K
SP Boof Bonser
9-13 W-L, 4.83 ERA, 144 K
SP Livan Hernandez
10-14 W-L, 5.23 ERA, 94 K
SP Francisco Liriano
14-8 W-L, 3.67 ERA, 157 K
SP Kevin Slowey
10-9 W-L, 4.08 ERA, 116 K

NOTE: THIS IS A PROJECTION, SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

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The Best Prank, Ever

This happened over at the Phillies camp involving everyone except Kyle Kendrick. From Ruben Amaro to Brett Myers, everyone was involved.

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