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MLB Off Season Thread  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Mon Mar 14th, 2016 05:21 pm
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lobo316
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Vladimir Guerrero will become eligible to be voted into baseball's Hall of Fame for the first time in 2017, but if the slugger does receive enough votes to be inducted at some point, he isn't sure what hat he'll wear into Cooperstown.

Because his mind doesn't seem made up, Guerrero reached out on social media on Sunday night for some help from his fans.

In case I have the honor of being selected to Cooperstown, which cap will you like me to use in the plaque?.

— Vladimir Guerrero (@VladGuerrero27) March 14, 2016
The 41-year-old former slugger has previously mentioned his affinity for entering wearing the cap of either team, so the choice doesn't seem clear just yet.

Guerrero was signed as an amateur free agent by the Montreal Expos in 1993 and spent the first eight seasons of his career with the club, hitting .323/.390/.588 with 234 home runs and 702 RBIs in the process.

After leaving Montreal for Anaheim as a free agent, Guerrero went on to spend six years with the Angels, slashing .319/.381/.546 with 173 home runs and 616 RBIs while also winning an MVP award with the club in 2004.

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 Posted: Mon Mar 14th, 2016 05:23 pm
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lobo316
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Matt Carpenter cares not for your fancy shifts.

The St. Louis Cardinals third baseman and leadoff hitter claimed Sunday that he plans to bunt to the empty side of the field should any opponents try and stop him with an extreme pull shift this season.

"If they're there with less than two strikes, then I'll bunt," Carpenter told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "They can do it with two strikes, but if they're going to have to be there every time until I get two strikes. I'll literally do it every single time."

Carpenter, who paced the NL with 44 doubles last year, is one of baseball's better contact hitters. If going by the book, however, teams would be wise to shift on the lefty: last season he pulled the majority of his ground balls into what would be an extreme shift.

The Cardinals couldn't recall how often teams have employed a shift on Carpenter. Manager Mike Matheny told Goold he's seen it more than usual during his at-bats, while the man himself only remembered one instance from 2014.

While laying down a bunt to the open field will undoubtedly cause controversy (as it's done in the past), Carpenter is adamant that he'll simply be taking what his opponents give him.

"You want to avoid them doing it (shifting) anyway so that they take hits away (from you)," he said.

"I'll try it (bunting) and if I foul it off, I’ll do it again. ... I have no problem doing it."

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 Posted: Tue Mar 15th, 2016 08:55 pm
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Ruben Tejada's tenure with the New York Mets could reportedly come to an end soon.

The Mets have placed the 26-year-old on waivers, Adam Rubin of ESPN reports, which should help the team avoid paying a large portion of the infielder's $3-million salary.

Rubin writes that cutting Tejada 15 days before Opening Day will save the Mets from paying five-sixths of his salary, thus being responsible for only $500,000.

After adding middle infielders Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker in the offseason, while also having the versatile Wilmer Flores available off the bench, there wasn't much room for Tejada to earn playing time.

Tejada - who had his leg broken on a slide from Chase Utley in last season's National League Division Series - has been healthy in spring, hitting .278/.316/.611 with one home run and five RBIs in 18 at-bats.

Over the course of six big-league seasons with the Mets, Tejada owns a slash line of .255/.330/.323 with 10 home runs and 148 RBIs.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 15th, 2016 08:57 pm
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lobo316
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After a 20-year hiatus, R.B.I. Baseball is making a return to store shelves.

The legendary baseball video game's 2016 edition will be sold in-store in both the United States and Canada starting on April 5, according to Forbes' Maury Brown. While hard copies will only be sold for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the game will still be available via digital download for multiple platforms.

Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts will grace the American cover, while Toronto Blue Jays ace Marcus Stroman was given the honor for stores in Canada.

Honored. #HDMH pic.twitter.com/xYCqhSuZQs

— Marcus Stroman (@MStrooo6) March 15, 2016
Long considered a sports video-game classic, the original R.B.I. Baseball for Nintendo systems was discontinued after 1995. MLB Advanced Media gave the series a reprieve via digital download in 2014, to the delight of many in the gaming world.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 15th, 2016 08:57 pm
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Curt Schilling admits he has zero relationship with the Boston Red Sox despite winning a pair of World Series titles with the organization.

"There's a lot of reasons why," Schilling told Kirk Minihane of WEEI.

The 49-year-old went 53-29 over a four-year span in Boston, posting a 6-1 record across eight postseason appearances including an ALCS win against the New York Yankees that featured his infamous bloody sock.

While the marriage between the two sides began well, things turned ugly in the spring of 2008. Schilling agreed to a one-year, $8.5-million deal with the Red Sox prior to that season, but says he suffered a bicep tendon injury before spring training.

Schilling said the Red Sox initially refused to allow him to undergo surgery, and believed he lied to them about the injury when he signed the contract. He said ownership even tried to get their money back.

"I thought I had a very close relationship with all three (John Henry, Tom Werner, and Larry Lucchino), absolutely," Schilling said regarding his relationship with ownership prior to the injury. "That meeting we had when we got together with the player rep, they said things in that meeting that made me realize that they never gave a shit about me.

He added: "The thought that they might think I was lying bowled me over, because I was taking pain meds all through this time. From '04 to when I retired, whenever I needed it. I knew why, because I wanted to pitch, and they wanted me to pitch. But when I was done, they were done.

"I think eventually what it was, was I don't think they really cared anymore about me because they knew I was almost done."

Schilling would never pitch again and officially retired in March of 2009. He was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2012.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 15th, 2016 09:00 pm
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Bartolo Colon may have earned himself a new nickname for the 2016 campaign after showcasing his hitting chops on Monday.

"Big Sexy" went yard in spring batting practice, taking out a tree branch in the process, which led to an unnamed teammate labeling him as "The Lumberjack."

"They should call him The Lumberjack. Dude takes out trees with baseballs." - One Met on Bartolo Colon

— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) March 14, 2016
Although video of Colon's feat wasn't available, his long ball was confirmed by hitting coach Kevin Long.

Because I didn’t trust my own eyes, I asked Kevin Long if Bartolo Colon indeed homered off him in BP. The hitting coach confirms it’s true.

— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) March 14, 2016
While Colon has never hit a home run in his major-league career, he did record a career-high eight hits for the New York Mets last season, and did so in his typical gleeful fashion.

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 Posted: Wed Mar 16th, 2016 06:02 pm
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Just when it looked like the fiery words of Goose Gossage had been extinguished, the Hall of Famer decided to go on another tirade.

After blasting Jose Bautista and "baseball nerds" last week, the former big-league reliever was asked to calm things down by the New York Yankees, but Tuesday, the 64-year-old couldn't help himself, this time directing his comments towards a superstar from another sport.

"They can say all they want to about ‘old school’ and the game has passed me by," Gossage explained to Kevin Kernan of the New York Post. "Let me tell you something: The game has not passed me by.

"It’s a shame, it breaks my heart to see the direction this game is going. What, do we want a bunch of Cam Newtons running around?"

Newton and the Carolina Panthers brought a certain bit of flair to the NFL this past season, "dabbing" their way to a 15-1 regular season and a Super Bowl appearance, which may be what Gossage is referring to.

After firing a shot at Newton, Gossage once again turned to the analytics side of the game, which he still isn't very enthused about.

"This is the revenge of the nerds, and they are going to get the last laugh - I know that," Gossage said. "These guys played rotisserie baseball at Harvard or wherever they played it and they were successful, so they think that’s all there is to it. That’s just a little f---ing part of the game.

"Let me tell you, you can’t control this game no matter how hard you try. We gave up a long time ago of trying to figure this s--t out. It has a mind of its own, it has a character of its own. And they are taking that character out of the game."

Gossage played his last game in 1994, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008 after a 22-year career highlighted by 310 saves.

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 Posted: Wed Mar 16th, 2016 09:21 pm
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lobo316
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Though an MRI revealed no structural damage in his shoulder, right-hander Lance McCullers won't be in the Houston Astros' rotation when the regular season begins, manager A.J. Hinch confirmed Wednesday.

"I can rip the Band-Aid off here: he's not going to make the (start of the) season," Hinch told Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle. "He should be doing some things - throwing bullpens and things like that prior to the season - but Opening Day, he won't be an active player."

McCullers, who tossed a career-high 157 2/3 innings between Houston and Double-A Corpus Christi last year, assured reporters Monday that "everything's fine," but the 22-year-old has yet to pitch in a game this spring, and he won't be able to build up his arm strength before the season begins, Hinch said.

"There's just not going to be enough time to build him up for the role which we anticipate him doing," said Hinch. "I told him that this morning, so he can be assured that he's not trying to hit a deadline."

With McCullers set to begin the campaign on the disabled list, the Astros will likely round out their rotation with Collin McHugh, Mike Fiers, Scott Feldman, and newcomer Doug Fister behind reigning AL Cy Young award winner Dallas Keuchel, at least through the season's nascent stages.

Last year, after being promoted to Houston in May, McCullers crafted a 3.22 ERA (125 ERA+) with a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 22 starts for the Astros to finish first among AL rookie pitchers in WAR (2.8).

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 Posted: Wed Mar 16th, 2016 09:53 pm
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lobo316 wrote: Just when it looked like the fiery words of Goose Gossage had been extinguished, the Hall of Famer decided to go on another tirade.

After blasting Jose Bautista and "baseball nerds" last week, the former big-league reliever was asked to calm things down by the New York Yankees, but Tuesday, the 64-year-old couldn't help himself, this time directing his comments towards a superstar from another sport.

"They can say all they want to about ‘old school’ and the game has passed me by," Gossage explained to Kevin Kernan of the New York Post. "Let me tell you something: The game has not passed me by.

"It’s a shame, it breaks my heart to see the direction this game is going. What, do we want a bunch of Cam Newtons running around?"

Newton and the Carolina Panthers brought a certain bit of flair to the NFL this past season, "dabbing" their way to a 15-1 regular season and a Super Bowl appearance, which may be what Gossage is referring to.

After firing a shot at Newton, Gossage once again turned to the analytics side of the game, which he still isn't very enthused about.

"This is the revenge of the nerds, and they are going to get the last laugh - I know that," Gossage said. "These guys played rotisserie baseball at Harvard or wherever they played it and they were successful, so they think that’s all there is to it. That’s just a little f---ing part of the game.

"Let me tell you, you can’t control this game no matter how hard you try. We gave up a long time ago of trying to figure this s--t out. It has a mind of its own, it has a character of its own. And they are taking that character out of the game."

Gossage played his last game in 1994, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008 after a 22-year career highlighted by 310 saves.

Gossage contradicts himself though.  Does he want characters or not?  Because I agree that the character has been taken out of the game, but then you have to concede that the guys Gossage played with in the '70s were certainly a lot more disrespectful and unprofessional than the guys today. 

Last edited on Wed Mar 16th, 2016 09:53 pm by srossi



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 Posted: Wed Mar 16th, 2016 10:19 pm
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After watching San Francisco Giants right-hander Johnny Cueto take a line drive off his forehead Monday night, an MLB official said the league "would certainly reach out" to the 30-year-old about wearing the protective "half-cap" they recently rolled out.

Described as a hat-helmet hybrid by Patrick Houlihan, the league's vice president and deputy general counsel for labor relations, the "half-cap" has generated positive feedback thus far - 20 pitchers have been experimenting with them this spring - though it hasn't been used in a game yet.

"We feel like we've had a successful rollout," Houlihan told ESPN's William Weinbaum. "Any pitcher is free to have the product made specifically for him, and we've had some new requests for the product."

Even with a new design, getting pitchers to embrace protective headgear could remain a challenge, especially after Alex Torres was mocked in 2014 when he sported the clunky isoBlox cap while pitching for the San Diego Padres (and became the first pitcher to wear protective headgear in an MLB game).

Even some pitchers who have actually been injured by line drives to the face area seem reluctant to wear them. Archie Bradley, who was hit in the face by a Carlos Gonzalez liner last year, suggested he's not all that keen about sporting a protective cap.

"You know what you're signing up for. It's a hazard. It's a risk," Bradley told MLB.com's Bill Slane. "At the end of the day, you know what you're getting yourself into. You put yourself 60 feet, 6 inches away (from the batter), it's just part of it."

Last week, Cueto said some pitchers will resist any headgear that looks awkward, but he may be more willing to experiment with the "half-cap" after suffering a contusion from the Billy Burns line drive that careened into the right side of his forehead during Monday's Cactus League game.

"It's a good idea that MLB is trying to protect the pitchers," Cueto said. "One of us could get hit and get killed. But there's going to be some pitchers that aren't going to want to use them, because they look like they're a bobblehead."

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 Posted: Wed Mar 16th, 2016 10:21 pm
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Somebody test him.




Chien-Ming Wang hasn't thrown a pitch in the majors since 2013, but the 35-year-old is turning heads with the Kansas City Royals this spring.

Wang has allowed just one run over six innings while striking out five in his bid to crack the reigning World Series champs' major-league roster. The most impressive element of the veteran right-hander's performance, though, has been a significant uptick in velocity.

After his fastball ranged between 88-89 mph last year in the minor leagues, Wang's been throwing the pitch from 94-95 mph early on.

"This whole spring training, I feel better than last season," Wang told Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com. "I will try to do whatever I can to help (this team)."

Wang has bounced around plenty since last stepping foot on a major-league mound. Over the past two years, he was signed and released by the Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox, Atlanta Braves, and Seattle Mariners before agreeing to a minor-league deal with the Royals in January.

Last season in Triple-A, Wang went 6-11 with a 5.88 ERA and 1.69 WHIP in 130 innings.

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 Posted: Wed Mar 16th, 2016 10:22 pm
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The Miami Marlins lost a grievance they filed with Major League Baseball, which objected to the salary the Washington Nationals were paying executive Dan Jennings, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, citing major-league sources.

Miami filed a grievance over Jennings' $100,000 salary with the Nationals because they believe his pay is well below one usually given to executives in his position, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported Sunday.

However, Jennings is actually making $115,000 on his one-year contract with Washington in his role as special assistant to general manager Mike Rizzo, and he's being paid accordingly for the role where he primarily serves as a scout in Florida and Alabama, according to Rosenthal.

Jennings - who joined the Nationals' front office in January - is supposed to be paid by Miami the difference between what was to be his 2016 salary of $1.5 million with the Marlins and his current salary with the Nationals, which is why the club is so upset over the matter.

The 55-year-old Jennings is famously known for stepping out of the Marlins' front office and onto the team's bench after the club fired manager Mike Redmond in May 2015.

Jennings earned a 55-69 record in his stint as Marlins manager.

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 Posted: Thu Mar 17th, 2016 05:20 pm
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Xander Bogaerts has only hit 20 home runs in 318 games in the big leagues, but the 23-year-old could find himself batting cleanup for the Boston Red Sox in 2016.

Despite his low long-ball count - Bogaerts hit seven homers in 2015 - Red Sox skipper John Farrell has been experimenting with the idea during spring training, and could carry it into the 2016 season to avoid having a right-handed heavy top of the order.

"If the No. 1 criteria of the four-hole hitter was how many home runs did you hit, Xander isn't that type of hitter," manager Farrell told Ian Browne of MLB.com. "Within our lineup, you're always looking to get your higher on-base, higher-average guys higher in the order. He's clearly one of those. Second to that is, how do you best break up a complete run of right-handers?"

While Bogaerts' numbers don't resemble those of a lineup's prototypical fourth batter, the infielder did bat an impressive .320/.355/.421 last season. And although he isn't known for going yard, his 81 RBIs in 2015 ranked second on the Red Sox only to slugger David Ortiz, who, Farrell adds, isn't being used properly when forced to bat leadoff in the second inning.

"I like the fact that David comes up in the first inning, and I prefer him to hit in the first inning rather than we go one-two-three and he's leading off the second inning," Farrell said, according to Browne. "I recognize that happens one time in a game. We can really dig into the merits of a lineup. Hitters are going to tell you where they hit in the lineup by how they perform. There's a lot to that."

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 Posted: Fri Mar 18th, 2016 04:33 pm
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Right-hander Rafael Soriano, who signed a minor-league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays earlier this spring, has decided to retire from baseball, James Wagner of The Washington Post reports.

The 36-year-old reliever reached agreement with the Blue Jays on Feb. 28., but hadn't arrived at camp due to a visa issue.

Soriano made just six appearances for the Chicago Cubs last season, posting a 6.35 ERA across 5 2/3 innings of work before he was released in September.

The once formidable major-league closer earned 207 saves during his 14-year career, which included stints with the Cubs, Seattle Mariners, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bays Rays, New York Yankees, and Washington Nationals. He was an All-Star in 2010 during his lose season in Tampa Bay, where he notched a league-leading 45 saves and authored a 1.73 ERA.

Signed by the Mariners as an amateur free agent in 1996, the native of the Dominican Republic earned close to $62 million during his career, according to Baseball Reference.

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 Posted: Fri Mar 18th, 2016 04:34 pm
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CLEARWATER, Fla. - Ryan Howard chatted with Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski behind the batting cage while Maikel Franco took big cuts inside the batter's box.

Sluggers past, present and future together in red pinstripes.

Don't put Howard in the old category just yet.

The 36-year-old former NL MVP still has plenty of pop in that long, left-handed swing. Howard hit a double and homer off lefty Matt Moore in Philadelphia's 6-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday.

They were two big hits for a guy who wants to play every day. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin has said he plans to platoon Howard at first base with right-handed hitting Darin Ruf.

''I know what I need to do in order for that not to be a situation,'' Howard said. ''I have to do what I've been working on, trust what I've been working on and hopefully force them to find ways to get me and Ruf in the same lineup against lefties.''

Howard hit .130 (13 for 100) with three homers and 40 strikeouts against lefties in 2015. He has a .219 career average against southpaws with 681 strikeouts in 1,738 at-bats.

"The Big Piece" wants to make the decision tough on his manager. He ripped a liner down the right-field line off Moore his first time up and sent a towering drive into the seats in right his next at-bat.

''I think he's rising to the challenge,'' Mackanin said. ''We'll continue to get a look at that for the rest of the spring.''

Howard is entering the final season of a five-year, $125 million contract. The Phillies will almost certainly exercise the $10 million buyout clause for 2017 if Howard isn't traded before the end of the year.

The slugger averaged 50 homers and 143 RBIs from 2006-09. But he hasn't been the same since he ruptured his Achilles making the final out against St. Louis in Game 5 of the 2011 NL Division Series.

He hit .223 with 23 homers and 85 RBIs in 2014 and .229 with 23 homers and 77 RBIs last season.

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