Did Bruce Bochy step over the line in having an opponent's scout removed from a team practice?
There was not a whole lot of bad blood between the Giants and Angels coming out of the 2002 World Series, and a decade later, the wounds inflicted on this then-12-year-old fan have mostly healed. The sight of a rally monkey still makes me cringe, but there is no longer any internal debate as to which Los Angeles-area franchise I find less tolerable.
Will Colby Rasmus continue to be dogged by off-field issues?
In two-plus years as the general manager of the Blue Jays, Alex Anthopoulos has shown a penchant for buying low on other teams’ undervalued players. He did it with Yunel Escobar, who delivered a 3.7 WARP season last year. He did it with Brett Lawrie, who emerged as one of baseball’s top prospects, and then batted a remarkable .293/.373/.580 in 171 plate appearances in 2011. Most recently, he did it with Colby Rasmus and Kelly Johnson last summer, though the returns on those two investments are thus far unclear.
Once viewed as a potential star center fielder, the 25-year-old Rasmus has a much greater role to play in the Jays’ future than Johnson. Rasmus was a 2.3 WARP player—mostly thanks to a .276/.361/.498 triple-slash, because his fielding was 18.8 runs below average—in 2010, and he was expected to blossom into one of the National League’s best players.
The Andrew McCutchen extension might help heal those still smarting over the post-Bonds era in Pittsburgh.
From 1986 through 1992, the Pirates enjoyed the services of a five-tool outfielder on his way to becoming one of the game’s all-time greats. But with two All-Star Game appearances and two MVP awards already in hand, the then-28-year-old Barry Bonds left Pittsburgh to sign a record contract worth $43.75 million over six years with the Giants.
Jonah Keriwrote last June about the parallels between the early years of Bonds’ career and those of Andrew McCutchen. Since Bonds chased the money in San Francisco in the midst of his athletic prime—one that ultimately lasted longer than anyone might have expected back in 1992—the Pirates have struggled to find a player with the potential to impact a game in as many ways as the young Bonds could. McCutchen brings a combination of power and speed, coupled with discipline and instincts, which parallel Bonds’ talents better than anyone who donned the black and gold in the 17 seasons between them.
We also learned on Thursday that shortstop Stephen Drew is still recovering from the gruesome ankle injury he suffered on July 20. Doctors initially told Drew that it would take a full year to regain flexibility and strength in the ankle, which means that playing on Opening Day would put the 28-year-old nearly four months ahead of schedule. Both Drew and manager Kirk Gibson were noncommittal when asked if he would be ready by April 6, but one thing is nearly certain—he will not be 100 percent.
We shouldn't jump to conclusions about the Astros' decision to move Brett Myers to the bullpen.
By most accounts, owner Jim Crane and general manager Jeff Luhnow have had a strong first offseason with the Astros, putting in place the foundation on which a Houston contender can eventually be built.
Just a week into his tenure, Luhnow sent closer Mark Melancon to the Red Sox for Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland. The move drew praise from the baseball community, as the Astros gained a potential everyday infielder and cost-controlled starter in exchange for a reliever. Melancon has great stuff and is under team control for five more years, but he held limited value to the rebuilding Astros, and Luhnow took advantage of a team in need.
Will the White Sox look to cut their losses by trading Jake Peavy this year?
White Sox general manager Kenny Williams has developed a penchant over the years for making daring, out-of-nowhere trades. His deal with Kevin Towers to bring in Jake Peavy at the 2009 trade deadline—after Peavy nixed a similar deal that May—epitomized his willingness to leave no stone unturned.
From Chicago’s perspective, the move was risky for several reasons.
Ryan Braun won't have to serve a suspension, but has he been served with something more difficult to deal with?
Ken Rosenthal called the reversal of Ryan Braun’s performance-enhancing drug suspension on Thursday “a triumph of due process.” Jeff Passan called it a “blow to Selig’s testing program.” It could be both, but what happened on December 12 made those two interpretations mutually exclusive.
Whether Braun was exonerated only because of an error by the test collector, or his lawyers simply found the technicality an easier case to argue, is irrelevant. Whether Major League Baseball agrees or—as its response by executive vice president for labor relations Rob Manfred stated—“vehemently disagrees” with the arbitrator’s decision does not matter, either.
On Tuesday, Roenicke confirmed that he intends to have right fielder Corey Hart work out at first base this spring. If Hart is capable of handling occasional starts at Fielder’s old position, his newfound versatility would allow Roenicke to tweak the lineup from day to day, optimizing matchups both offensively and in the field.
The Giants have a lot of misplaced faith in the depth of their starting rotation.
Barry Zito is going through deliveries like frat houses go through 30-racks of beer. The latest version is supposed to add drop and drive to his delivery, giving him more momentum toward the plate, and perhaps putting some extra gas on his mediocre fastball.
Unfortunately for the Giants, their $126 million man is not an old dog up to new tricks. Zito has been using this trick—claiming he has altered his mechanics—for five years, giving fans futile hope that he might finally reinvent himself. It has not worked to date, and it probably will not work in 2012.
One of the most underrated players of his generation, Mike Cameron, has decided to hang up the spikes.
The Nationals’ pitchers and catchers reported to Viera, Florida, for spring training on Sunday, but the biggest story from the team’s camp was the announcement that Mike Cameron had decided to retire. Cameron signed a minor-league deal with the Nats on December 19 and seemed to have a solid chance of earning a job as a platoon outfielder. Now 39 years old and coming off a .203/.285/.359 campaign, though, it is hard to fault Cameron for choosing to hang up his spikes.
If you made a list of the best recent players who never hit .300 in a season, you would not get too far without mentioning Cameron. If you made a list of the best recent position players who struck out in nearly a quarter of their career plate appearances, Cameron would rank near the top as well.
To be sure, the Tigers caught themselves in a bit of a bind with Inge as soon as they signed Prince Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million deal. Inge is owed $5.5 million for the 2012 season—pricey for a bench player, and even pricier for someone who hit .196/.265/.283 in 303 plate appearances last year. The converted catcher was once a very useful player, but Inge will turn 35 in May, and a significant portion of his value was tied to his defense at the hot corner. Now Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski are determined to take that away, too.
Milo Hamilton's impending retirement reminds us to savor early-generation broadcasters.
The upcoming season will mark the 50th year of Major League Baseball in Houston. For more than half of those seasons, Astros fans have heard a familiar voice in the broadcast booth—the voice of Milo Hamilton, who announced on Wednesday that the 2012 campaign would be his last in the booth.
Hamilton came to Houston in 1986, and took over for Gene Elston as the team’s lead radio announcer in 1987. Since then, he has become as synonymous with Astros baseball as Craig Biggio, bringing to life moments like Mike Scott’s no-hitter to clinch the NL West division in 1986 and Biggio’s 3000th career hit in 2007.