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MLB Off Season Thread  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Sat Mar 26th, 2016 06:47 am
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Three people, including two security guards at Dodger Stadium, have been arrested on suspicion of burglary and charged with conspiracy to commit a crime after allegedly stealing and selling equipment to the public.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Juan Prada and Fernando Sierra, who worked for the Dodgers, allegedly stole items such as jerseys, bats, and hats belonging to L.A. players. The men would then apparently pass the items to Jesse Dagnesses to be sold on eBay.

According to the Times, team lawyer Chad Gunderson uncovered the stolen goods while browsing the popular auction site.

Gunderson later sent an email to the user responsible for selling the goods, who verified the items were acquired from a contact within the stadium.

Gunderson then alerted the team, which followed up with an internal investigation.

The Dodgers used secretly installed security cameras to catch the thieves in the act, leading to the arrests.

All three parties pleaded not guilty to the charges at an arraignment on March 3.

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 Posted: Sat Mar 26th, 2016 06:48 am
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The New York Yankees are unhappy with the amount of money they're currently paying in revenue sharing compared to the crosstown New York Mets, and club president Randy Levine made his opinions on the matter loud and clear in a recent interview.

"What is very burdensome to us - and is unfair - is the amount of money we have to pay in revenue sharing compared, for example, to teams in our market that pay 10 times less than us," Levine explained to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

"Hopefully that is something that will get looked at in the next labor agreement."

Despite a declining attendance at home games, the Yankees still generated the most revenue in baseball ($516 million) last season, while the Mets brought home $313 million, Rosenthal reports, citing Forbes as a source.

The higher overall revenue is responsible for the higher figure paid out by the Yankees in revenue sharing, thanks to the current sharing plan in the collective bargaining agreement.

Levine told Rosenthal "the Yankees paid approximately $90 million in revenue sharing for the 2015 season", as well as a "reported $26 million in luxury tax" for exceeding their payroll threshold, which is something the executive wants changed.

According to Rosenthal, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred expects both the Yankees and Mets to have "no issues" with the next revenue-sharing plan.

"We’ve had extensive internal conversations," Manfred said. "I expect both the Mets and Yankees to be fully supportive of the revenue-sharing proposals we put on the table."

The current CBA is set to expire on Dec. 1, and a new revenue-sharing plan is set to be part of the next agreement.

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 Posted: Sat Mar 26th, 2016 06:48 am
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Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin is not happy with his club's defense, especially after a four-error spring contest against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday.

Melvin described his team's defensive efforts to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle as "putrid," after his club's 11-3 loss.

"We missed three cutoff men," Melvin explained. "It was one thing after another. I have so many minuses on my card. It's really frustrating."

Oakland led the MLB in errors last season with 126 and despite constant morning workouts and extra fielding sessions, the club continues to struggle during the spring, logging 38 errors and 17 in the past eight games.

"We'll continue to work," the manager said. "And it will be addressed. We can't beat ourselves. We might not be a great defensive team, but we can't be a bad defensive team. We have to make the routine plays. Pick it up, throw it to the next guy. That's what we'll continue to work on."

Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien led the majors with 35 errors last season, explaining to Slusser the team's need to continue to work on improving its defense.

"We've had some bad hops, we've had some things not go our way, but we're not going let that get us off track from what we're trying to do this season," he said. "Errors are going to happen. It's part of the game. You don't want it to happen, but if it does, you figure out the cause, fix it in practice and move on."

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 Posted: Sat Mar 26th, 2016 06:49 am
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The Philadelphia Phillies have agreed to a new two-year deal with manager Pete Mackanin covering the 2016 and 2017 seasons, the team announced Friday.

The deal, which replaces the contract Mackanin signed last September, also includes a club option for the 2018 season.

Mackanin was appointed interim manager of the ballclub last June when Ryne Sandberg stepped down. A few months later, he was named full-time manager and had his contract extended into 2016 with a club option for the 2017 campaign.

The 64-year-old skipper has managed parts of three seasons in the majors for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, and Phillies, compiling a 90-104 record.

Mackanin has instituted an unorthodox approach of charging his players 50 cents for every mistake they make this spring.

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 Posted: Sat Mar 26th, 2016 06:52 am
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Legendary Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt is the latest Hall of Famer to chide Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista's controversial bat flip in Game 5 of the American League Division Series last season.

Two weeks after Goose Gossage called Bautista a "disgrace to the game" for the flip, Schmidt had this to say about the home run celebration in an essay published by The Associated Press:

Why do so many players today feel the need to embellish their success with some sort of hand signal to the dugout? What got more attention in last year's postseason than a bat toss by Jose Bautista? Pointing to the sky is child's play compared to that moment in the postseason on national TV. A flagrant disrespect of the opponent like that would have gotten somebody hurt back in the day.

Today more pitchers, like hitters, are letting emotion loose. But where is the line and what or who determines crossing it and the penalty? The players used to settle issues themselves. Cross the line and someone had to pay. Nearly always the players got it right and settled it themselves. Umpires are now the baseball police, which has made the game safer but also softer.

Baseball demands a certain level of dignity toward the opponent. It's part of its charm. Sure, you have to be tough and stand up for yourself, but only when the line is crossed. I've been there, I've charged the mound, I've been in several brawls, they aren't fun.

Be the kind of player you want kids to emulate by playing with dignity and class. Baseball demands it.

Schmidt claims the most emotion he's ever displayed on the field was after he hit his 500th career home run in 1987. He says he was always careful not to disrespect any pitcher.

The three-time National League MVP was an emotional wreck, however, while announcing his retirement from the game.

Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench is another old-school player that has expressed his disgust with bat flips, specifically targeting Bryce Harper's excessive celebrations.

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 Posted: Sun Mar 27th, 2016 08:24 am
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The Milwaukee Brewers' bullpen suffered a big blow Saturday when Will Smith - one of the team's co-closers - was diagnosed with a torn lateral collateral ligament in his right knee that may require corrective surgery, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Even if Smith doesn't have surgery, though, Brewers manager Craig Counsell said he will miss "significant time." Smith, who was expected to share closing duties with Jeremy Jeffress in 2016, was sent for an exam Friday amid swelling in his knee that surfaced after a freak accident following Thursday's outing in a minor-league game.

"I was standing on one leg, trying to take the shoe off and I pulled hard and it stayed on. My knee just went up and popped," said Smith. "It sucks."

After receiving his diagnosis, the 26-year-old arrived Saturday at the club's spring training complex on crutches (with his leg in an immobilizer) for a follow-up exam with team doctor William Raasch, who will determine if surgery is necessary.

"It's disappointing; it sucks," Smith said. "As a competitor you want to play. Sitting out is never fun. But it'll be all right. Everybody tells you there's nothing you can do about it but you still feel like you're letting people down."

One of the more promising left-handed relievers in the majors, Smith enjoyed the finest season of his four-year career in 2015, fashioning a 2.70 ERA with a 34.5 percent strikeout rate in 76 appearances. Since 2014, Smith has logged more appearances than any reliever in baseball except Tony Watson, managing a 3.21 ERA while limiting opponents to a .232 batting average over that span.

"Everybody has come up to me this morning to check on me," added Smith, who has shared a room with Jeffress this spring. "That's what I believe staying connected is. We're real people before we’re baseball players. That means a lot to me."

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 Posted: Sun Mar 27th, 2016 08:25 am
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San Diego Padres pitcher James Shields is throwing his support behind data-driven analysis - so long as it doesn't reveal anything too negative about him.

On Saturday, Shields told Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune that he recently stumbled upon the website Brooks Baseball, an indispensable resource devoted to pitching data and analysis. He was especially impressed to find the velocity table, which showed his average and max fastball speed on an upward trend over his three spring starts.

His response when informed that certain readings aren't completely accurate: "Don’t burst my bubble, dude. I hit 91 last game."

— Dennis Lin (@sdutdennislin) March 27, 2016
The Padres right-hander told reporters that he's up to date now with the "saber-toothed tigers" after diving deep into the depths of the website's comprehensive database.

"Someone dropped a SNIPs (strikes not in play) on me," he said. "I was like, 'What is that?' I went on Brooks Baseball. I get it now."

Shields' quest for knowledge, however, may lead him down a path he'd rather not travel. The 34-year-old posted career-worst numbers in two of the most commonly used sabermetric pitching stats last season: FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) and WAR (wins above replacement).

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 Posted: Sun Mar 27th, 2016 08:26 am
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Trevor Gretzky, son of the National Hockey League's all-time points leader Wayne Gretzky, is without an MLB club.

The Los Angeles Angels released the 23-year-old outfield prospect on Friday, ending a two-year stint with the club. He hit .242/.312/.318 in 78 games with the Single-A Burlington Bees in 2015.

Trevor Gretzky was acquired in a 2014 trade with the Chicago Cubs for the son of current Angels skipper, Mike Scioscia.

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 Posted: Sun Mar 27th, 2016 08:27 am
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GOODYEAR, Ariz. - Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona announced Saturday that reliever Joba Chamberlain has made the team as a non-roster invitee.

Chamberlain signed with the Indians on Dec. 1 as a free agent.

''He accepted the challenge,'' Francona said Saturday. ''He came out in January and been a teammate since Day 1. He has really thrown the ball well this spring. He likes to compete and wants to win. Joba will be a real valuable piece.''

In eight innings this spring, the right hander has given up seven hits and three runs. He walked five and struck out seven and has an ERA of 3.38.

Chamberlain spent last season with Detroit, Toronto and Kansas City. The 30-year-old has a 25-21 career record with a 3.87 ERA. He has seven saves in 365 appearances over nine seasons.

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 Posted: Mon Mar 28th, 2016 05:18 pm
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Jesus Montero's time with the Seattle Mariners could potentially be coming to an end.

The Mariners have placed the first baseman on waivers, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports.

The 26-year-old, who was out of options, can now be claimed by any club in the league.

Montero was competing to be the right-handed complement to Adam Lind for the Mariners in spring camp, but with Korean Dae-Ho Lee reportedly winning the job, there wasn't any room for the former prized prospect on the big-league squad.

In January 2012, Seattle acquired Montero from the New York Yankees in exchange for Michael Pineda in a much talked about four-player deal.

The former catcher was expected to be the backstop of the future for the club, and after a fine start in 2012, when he hit 15 home runs and added 62 RBIs, he's only appeared in 73 games over the last three seasons, amid poor production, injuries, and minor-league demotions.

Montero owns a .253/.295/.398 career slash line with 28 home runs and 104 RBIs across five major-league seasons.

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 Posted: Mon Mar 28th, 2016 05:19 pm
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David Murphy opted out of his minor-league deal with the Boston Red Sox on Sunday, and now the 34-year-old outfielder may have a roster spot waiting for him with one of their division rivals.

Murphy confirmed to reporters prior to Boston's exhibition game against Philadelphia that he'll be exercising the opt-out clause in his contract, and the Red Sox now have 48 hours to decide whether they'll add him to their major-league roster or release him.

"Holding out hope that I end up here," Murphy said, according to MLB.com. "But all the same, like I've mentioned, I'd like a big league job somewhere. Just going to keep getting my work in because Opening Day's coming up quickly."

With Korean outfielder Hyun Soo Kim struggling mightily in his first spring training, the Baltimore Orioles are one of the clubs keeping their eye on Murphy, one source told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Murphy, who managed a .739 OPS with 10 homers in 132 games between the Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Angels last season, is hitting .281/.294/.375 through 13 Grapefruit League contests with Boston.

Originally selected by the Red Sox in the first round of the 2003 draft, Murphy has quietly assembled a respectable career, posting a .765 OPS (103 OPS+) over parts of 10 seasons in the majors. Since 2008, Murphy has been one of the most reliable outfielders in baseball, too, logging more games played than all but 20 outfielders over that span while never appearing in fewer than 108 contests per year.

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 Posted: Mon Mar 28th, 2016 05:21 pm
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Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon has gained notoriety this spring for running a circus-like training camp in Arizona, but Jason Heyward insists Sunday's strange third inning was no stunt.

The Cubs' exhibition game against the Seattle Mariners was delayed for several minutes after a swarm of bees invaded Sloan Park and nearly chased the Gold Glove outfielder over the fence in center.

"I wasn't thinking to get out of there until it just got crazy," Heyward told Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago. "I just tried to get out of the way. I should have went over the fence."

Heyward told reporters postgame he was stung more than 10 times, and fortunately isn't allergic to bees. He later revised the estimated damage on Twitter.

"Got stung at least 20 times smh," Heyward tweeted.

Heyward not only survived the attack, but he exacted a measure of revenge, drilling a two-run homer during the bottom half of the inning and leaving his teammates wondering if there's anything the superstar center fielder can't do.

"That was wild - I've never had a delay like that before," said Cubs right-hander Jason Hammel, who allowed two of Robinson Cano's three homers. "I had no idea. But once I figured out what was going on, you could see from the whole left-field line all the way out to center - they were everywhere. The fact that Heyward isn't swollen beyond belief right now - I don't know how he made it out of that."

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 Posted: Tue Mar 29th, 2016 12:03 am
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The Atlanta Braves have made it clear that there's no room on their roster for outfielder Nick Swisher.

Despite being owed $15 million this season, Swisher was released by the Braves on Monday, the team announced. The club is on the hook for $10 million remaining on his deal, while the Cleveland Indians are tasked with paying the remainder.

Braves general manager John Coppolella shopped the injury-plagued veteran this winter but was unable to find a suitor.

Once a perennial 20-plus homer power threat, Swisher has missed 173 games the past two seasons due to reoccurring knee soreness that resulted in season-ending arthroscopic surgery on both of his knees in 2014.

He began last year on the disabled list and slashed .196/.312/.320 with six home runs and 54 strikeouts in 76 games.

An opportunity for Swisher to get regular at-bats was unlikely, with Ender Inciarte, Nick Markakis, Hector Olivera, and Michael Bourn in the outfield, and Freddie Freeman at first base.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 29th, 2016 12:03 am
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The Philadelphia Phillies added a veteran presence to their outfield by agreeing to a minor-league deal with outfielder Will Venable on Monday, the team announced.

Venable, who opted out of his minor-league deal with the Cleveland Indians over the weekend, has experience in all three outfield positions and played primarily in center last season.

The 33-year-old slashed .244/.320/.350 with six home runs, 13 doubles, and 16 stolen bases in 135 games last season split between the San Diego Padres and Texas Rangers. His best year came in 2013 when he hit .268/.312/.484 and clubbed a career-high 22 homers.

Venable offers the Phillies a left-handed hitting option that could platoon with rookie Tyler Goeddel.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 29th, 2016 12:05 am
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Aaron Sanchez's wish has been granted.

The Toronto Blue Jays announced Monday that the right-hander will start the season in the rotation, with Gavin Floyd moving into the bullpen.

Sanchez has been adamant this spring about his desire to be a starter following a strong sophomore season in which he spent the final three months of the year as a reliever.

"The suspense is finally over," Sanchez told reporters. "It's good news and I'm ready to get the show on the road."


Manager John Gibbons said that Sanchez will be under an undisclosed innings limit, and the team could move him to the bullpen later this season.

"We'll keep an eye on that and there's a good chance he'll be in that rotation the whole year," Gibbons told reporters. "We won't lay out what the actual plan is, but we've got to be smart. You increase it too much, it's probably harmful, and in the end if we need to put him down there in the bullpen, we're that much stronger down there, too."


The 23-year-old opened last season in the rotation, but was bumped back to the bullpen in July after a seven-week stint on the disabled list. While he battled inconsistency as a starter, Sanchez fashioned a 3.55 ERA in 11 starts, and was effective in his last four outings before hurting his shoulder.

Sanchez, who threw a career-high 133 1/3 innings across the majors and minors in 2014, has put together an impressive spring. Through five appearances, he owns a 1.35 ERA and 0.90 WHIP, while striking out 19 in 20 innings.

The Blue Jays also optioned starter Drew Hutchison to Triple-A Buffalo. The right-hander has gone 24-18 with a 4.97 ERA across 62 appearances (60 starts) over the last two seasons. Hutchison started Opening Day for Toronto last season.

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