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2016 - 2017 MLB Off-Season  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Fri Feb 24th, 2017 02:05 am
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lobo316



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Kansas City Royals outfielder Brandon Moss takes serious issue with commissioner Rob Manfred's attempts to try to speed up the game.

The league and the players association have been at odds over several proposed rule changes in recent weeks, but the two sides did work together to approve one new rule for the upcoming season: Managers will be allowed to signal an intentional walk from the dugout, rather than making the pitcher throw four balls in order to issue a free pass.

While the change is generally considered minor, it's a big deal to Moss, a veteran entering his 11th major-league season.

"That's the worst," Moss told Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports. "What if it's Game 7 of the World Series, tie game in the bottom of the ninth? Someone hits a one-out triple, and Miguel Cabrera comes up to the plate. That pitcher should have to throw four pitches to Miguel Cabrera, whether they're intentional balls or not. That's a nerve-racking situation, and now it's gone.

"What is this, high school baseball?"

At 33 and with two years left on his current deal with Kansas City, Moss knows he's on the back nine of his career, but says he's grateful for that considering the way he sees the game shifting.

"I'm just very glad I will not be playing this game in 10 years. It won't be recognizable," Moss said. "It's going in a direction where it's not the same game. Every year they keep trying to think of some stupid new rule. It's getting old. Real old."

Upon receiving criticism earlier this week, Manfred continued to advocate for change.

"I believe it's a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change," Manfred told reporters, according to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times.

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 Posted: Fri Feb 24th, 2017 02:05 am
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The Steinbrenner family has been adamant about having no intentions of selling the New York Yankees, but that doesn't mean a little piece isn't for sale.

Former governor of Massachusetts and Republican nominee for the 2012 United States presidential election Mitt Romney is reportedly interested in buying a part of the Yankees, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports.

Romney, who claims to be a Boston Red Sox fan, and his family are looking to purchase "one or two points," with each point expected to cost $25 million-$30 million, Heyman reports. The Romneys were also believed to have once offered $1.4 billion to buy the Miami Marlins.

The Steinbrenners have owned the Yankees since 1973 and the family said it has no intentions of ever selling the team.

"We're all in," George Steinbrenner's daughter and Yankees general partner Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal said in January. "I hope we own the team for eternity. You never know what life will bring, but we're in it for the long haul."

The Yankees were recently valued at $3.5 billion by Forbes.

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 Posted: Fri Feb 24th, 2017 02:07 am
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Jonathan Villar wasn't ready to lock himself down just yet.

The Milwaukee Brewers reportedly offered their shortstop a contract extension worth somewhere in the range of $20 million, though according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the 25-year-old is said to have "passed for now."

Villar had a breakout campaign with the Brewers in 2016 in which his 62 steals ranked as the highest mark in MLB. The infielder, who arrived in Milwaukee in a trade from the Houston Astros during the 2015 offseason, slashed .285/.369/.457 and hit 19 home runs in 156 games with Milwaukee last season.

Though Heyman doesn't note how many years the Brewers offered Villar, the infielder is currently under contract through the 2020 season.

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 Posted: Fri Feb 24th, 2017 02:08 am
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The Chicago White Sox are taking No. 56 out of circulation.

The White Sox will honor Mark Buehrle by retiring their former ace's jersey number in a pregame ceremony June 24, the team announced Thursday.

Buehrle played 12 seasons with the South Siders. His most iconic moment with the club may have come July 23, 2009, when the left-hander retired all 27 Tampa Bay Rays batters for the first and only perfect game of his career.

It was just the second of three perfect games thrown by a White Sox pitcher in history - Charlie Robertson first accomplished the historic feat in 1922 while Philip Humber also threw one in 2012.

Chicago drafted Buehrle in the 38th round in 1998, and he went on to become a five-time All-Star. He pitched to a 3.83 ERA in 390 games with the White Sox. After one season with the Miami Marlins, he was acquired by Toronto in a November 2012 trade, and played with the Blue Jays for the final three seasons of his career.

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 Posted: Fri Feb 24th, 2017 02:09 am
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Joe Girardi wants to take a page out of the NFL's playbook.

After Major League Baseball and the Players Association agreed to eliminate the required four pitches for an intentional walk Wednesday, Girardi chimed in with another option to help speed up games: headphones.

"I'm a big proponent of trying to introduce some type of communication through headphones. Like they do in the NFL," Girardi said, according to USA TODAY Sports' Steve Gardner. "I think you could speed the game up that way in certain instances."

Commissioner Rob Manfred has been adamant about finding a way to hasten the pace of play in games this offseason. Though the MLB boss was able to push through the intentional walk change, he has bemoaned the union's "lack of cooperation" in instituting more rule changes.

Girardi, though, argues his idea could benefit both players and the league, as it could eliminate lengthy mound visits, as well as the laborious process of giving complicated signs.

"You'd put earpieces in certain people," he said, according to Gardner. "You could put it, realistically, in your hitters' helmets and you could say what you wanted and then it's not a sign from me, a sign to the third base coach, and then a sign to the player."

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 Posted: Fri Feb 24th, 2017 02:11 am
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Let Justin Verlander rake.

After Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer tweeted Thursday to ask what changes people want to see in baseball, Verlander responded by sharing his dissatisfaction with designated hitters in the American League.

.@ChrisArcher22 I'd like to see the AL and NL have the same rules. Same for everyone. I vote NL rules. #pitcherswhorake #noDHplease 🙏🏻

— Justin Verlander (@JustinVerlander) February 23, 2017
The Detroit Tigers hurler observed that games in the National League, where pitchers hit for themselves, tend to be shorter, a fact that surely won't go unnoticed by commissioner Rob Manfred in his efforts to speed up the sport.

.@ChrisArcher22 and NL games are usually faster. Best of both worlds. #winwin https://t.co/NEBTsbLcrt

— Justin Verlander (@JustinVerlander) February 23, 2017

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 Posted: Sat Feb 25th, 2017 05:10 am
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The Baltimore Orioles open the regular season at Camden Yards on April 3 against the Toronto Blue Jays, and if the team's vice president John Angelos has his way, it won't include a first pitch from President Donald Trump.

Speaking earlier in the week on the "B-more Opinionated" podcast, Angelos said Trump would need to apologize before being invited to perform the ceremony at Camden Yards.

I know the administration has taken on some criticism for its controversial positions concerning things that are considered to be problematic from a race, ethnicity, religious, gender, disability community ... people in those communities have been spoken about very negatively by a candidate, now the president.

My personal opinion, I think it’s incumbent upon any individual who leads a country to step away from those type of statements, to apologize for those statements and turn the page and then to move forward in embracing their community. Until that happens, it wouldn’t be my preference to have the president come throw a pitch.

...

Everybody wants to see whoever is in the office of the president do extremely well. The first step to doing extremely well, is for this person who is in the office, to retract all these outrageous things that have been said and simply apologize. You don’t say those things about women, you don’t say those things about different ethnic groups ... and if you do say them, you need to be big enough to apologize.

(Transcript courtesy: CBS Baltimore)

The Orioles are celebrating their ballpark's 25th anniversary in 2017. Back in 1992 before the club played the first-ever game at Camden Yards, President George H.W. Bush thew out the first pitch.

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 Posted: Sun Feb 26th, 2017 05:29 am
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Michael Bourn's spring training isn't off to a solid start, as the Baltimore Orioles outfielder will miss the next four weeks due to a broken ring finger on his right hand, according to the Baltimore Sun's Peter Schmuck.

Bourn suffered the injury Friday after workouts as he was throwing a football around with teammates, MASN's Roch Kubatko adds.

The setback could have implications for the 34-year-old's immediate future with the club.

After signing a minor-league pact with the Orioles on Monday, a clause in his contract states Bourn can opt out of the deal if he is not on Baltimore's 40-man roster by March 27.

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 Posted: Mon Feb 27th, 2017 06:09 am
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Much has been made of former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow's transition to baseball, but one of the game's most dynamic hitters believes the 29-year-old has what it takes.

Washington Nationals second baseman and National League MVP candidate Daniel Murphy trains with Tebow every day to help him on his path to becoming a major-league regular, and he believes the former Heisman winner can accomplish his dream, crediting his offensive ability.

"This isn't like a joke, this isn't a publicity stunt. This is serious," Murphy said in an interview with Marty Smith of ESPN.com. "They're giving (Tebow) a job, and when they give you a job it's at-bats that someone else is not getting."

When asked why he thinks Tebow can be successful, his answer was simple:

"Power pays," Murphy said. "Power arms, power bats pays. You're never out of a ball game when you have power. That's why it's so unique so when somebody gets on base on a walk, a base hit and then somebody goes deep now that's three, Three pointer right there, so power allows you to stay in the game for a long time and it's so unique to find."

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 Posted: Mon Feb 27th, 2017 06:10 am
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TAMPA, Fla. - The head of the baseball players' union says "that page has been turned" in the spat regarding New York Yankees President Randy Levine and what he said about reliever Dellin Betances' agents.

Levine had called Betances a victim of "over-the-top demands based on very little sense of reality" by his representatives at an arbitration hearing on Feb 18. The Yankees beat Betances in the case, and he will be paid $3 million rather than his $5 million request.

"Dellin is focused in on the season, we're focused in on the season and look forward to have him continue to do what he's always done, which has been a tremendous contributor to his club and winning on the field," union chief Tony Clark said Sunday.

Clark talked with Yankees players as part of his annual visit to spring training camps in Florida and Arizona.

Levine, one day after the decision was announced, said he felt bad that Betances "was used that way by his agents."

Clark said he has not talked with Levine about the matter.

Betances figures to be primarily a setup man again following Aroldis Chapman's return to the Yankees. New York gave Chapman an $86 million, five-year contract, a record for a relief pitcher.

Betances struck out 126, leading big league relievers for the third straight year, and went 3-6 with a 3.08 ERA and 12 saves in 17 chances.

The right-hander threw a simulated game Sunday and is set to make the first of two likely appearances Wednesday night with the Yankees before departing March 5 to join the Dominican Republic for the World Baseball Classic.

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 Posted: Mon Feb 27th, 2017 09:09 pm
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After throwing 37 pitches in a simulated game Sunday, 2016 American League Cy Young winner Rick Porcello touched on his decision not to pitch in the World Baseball Classic, pointing specifically to how it would interfere with his groundwork for 2017.

"I mean, I wouldn't be ready to compete in a game in the WBC," Porcello said, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. "I feel really good right now, but that's just a different type of pitching. Our responsibilities, at least me, my responsibility is with the Red Sox and being sure that I'm ready to go here. I think that that at least in my head would take away from some of the preparation I want to go through.

"If I want to work slow and focus on my fastball command for an extended period of time, you're not necessarily going to be able to do that when you're competing in a game and I've got Miguel Cabrera at the plate with second and third and one out. I'm not going to just serve up some fastballs to him. There are definitely some guys that are capable of doing it. Right now, at this stage for me, I couldn't really fathom pitching in a competitive game like that. Not that I'm going through the motions in spring training games, but it's different."

While no official decision has been made, Porcello looks to be on track to start Opening Day for the Boston Red Sox, who will start their season at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 3.

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 Posted: Mon Feb 27th, 2017 09:10 pm
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The Cleveland Indians will be without their starting second baseman while he nurses a minor shoulder injury.

Jason Kipnis, who was scratched from Sunday's game against the Chicago Cubs, received a precautionary MRI and cortisone shot for his shoulder and will be shut down for the next four to five days, manager Terry Francona confirmed.

"If it was during the season, we wouldn't do anything," Francona said, according to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. "There's just so much time to get ready that, to just kind of put a band-aid on it now just didn't seem to make sense. When they went and got it imaged, it's considered a cuff strain, which I think in the grand scheme of things is about the least you're ever going to find when you go do that."

Kipnis was expected to serve as the team's designated hitter but suffered a strain to his rotator cuff during drills Saturday. The 29-year-old has dealt with shoulder problems in the past, so the Indians' cautious approach with their starting infielder seems prudent.

"I think from time to time he does feel it," Francona said. "I would probably say eight out of the 10 guys that are throwing, as they get their arms loose, you feel something. You throw through stuff and you get through the aches and pains of getting back. But then, when there's some history there, you just try to use good judgement."

While the injury isn't expect to sideline Kipnis for an extended period of time, his absence is still noteworthy. He appeared in a career-high 156 games last year for the Tribe and, as usual, was a key contributor. He combined to hit .275/.343/.469 with a career-best 23 home runs. He's also provided the team with 8.7 WAR since 2015.

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 Posted: Mon Feb 27th, 2017 09:11 pm
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Once again, it's Tebow time.

Get ready for some excitement, New York Mets fans, as Tim Tebow will make his debut spring training appearance Monday. The 29-year-old will be part of the Mets' STEP camp, which is reserved for the organization's most anticipated prospects, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.

"This game's about our fans," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "It will always be about our fans. And this guy, he's a special person. He's a tremendous athlete. He's got a huge name in the sports world. And he's in our organization trying to be a baseball player. I'm certainly not going to take anything away from that. I salute him for what he's trying to do. It's not going to be easy. It's going to be very difficult."

Tebow's transition to the majors has been a hot topic since he first performed for scouts, earning a minor-league deal with the Mets. His Arizona Fall League debut started with a bang, as the 29-year-old hit a home run on the first pitch he saw. However, he finished 2016 batting .194 with 20 strikeouts in 62 plate appearances.

While it's unlikely Tebow will make it to the majors, Collins made note of his demeanor and determination as an athlete.

"I don't know him," Collins said. "I've never met him. But I know he's a tremendous competitor, and I know he's a winner, and that's going to mean a lot in that big clubhouse full of young kids over there."

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 Posted: Tue Feb 28th, 2017 02:08 am
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Josh Hamilton's comeback attempt suffered a heartbreaking blow Monday when the 35-year-old - vying for a spot on the Texas Rangers' Opening Day roster - underwent surgery to repair torn cartilage in his uncooperative left knee, which has now been operated on four times in the last 18 months.

Hamilton, who missed all of 2016 after undergoing reconstructive surgery on the same knee, will require six weeks of rehab before he can resume running, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, and would then need another four-to-six weeks in the minors before being considered for a spot on the active roster.

In camp on a minor-league deal, Hamilton's knee flared up during running drills last week, and Dr. Walt Lowe determined surgery was the best course of action after the former MVP's knee didn't respond to a platelet-rich plasma injection.

"It is disappointing for Josh," manager Jeff Banister told The Associated Press last week. "I feel for him. He came into camp feeling good. I'm sure that for him, this is a challenge."

Set to earn $28.41 million in 2017 in the final season of a five-year deal he signed with the Los Angeles Angels following the 2012 campaign, Hamilton - who has now undergone 11 knee surgeries in his career - is expected to return to Arizona later this week to begin rehabilitating.

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 Posted: Tue Feb 28th, 2017 02:09 am
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More significant changes appear to be on the horizon for Major League Baseball, as the league - eager to more consistently enforce Rule 8.02 and eliminate the need for pitchers to illegally doctor the baseball - has commissioned Rawlings to produce a stickier ball with natural tack on the leather, sources told Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

"We think we're close now," Mike Thompson, an executive vice president at Rawlings, said. "We’re just waiting for MLB to give us the go-ahead on when they want it."

These stickier and brighter baseballs, which don't require the slathering of Lena Blackburne Rubbing Mud every game ball has been subjected to for decades, were used for two days' worth of games in the Arizona Fall League, and though some pitchers found them discomfiting, the reactions were mostly benign.

"You pick it up," said Michael Kopech, the newly acquired Chicago White Sox prospect, "and you thought somebody forgot to do their job."

"I really didn't notice a difference," added Kansas City Royals prospect Josh Staumont. "But at the same time, it’s the last thing you’re trying to focus on. Personally, I don’t have much of an issue with it, so long as we've got enough time to get introduced to it."

These new baseballs wouldn't be introduced at the major-league level until 2018 at the earliest, however, as Rawlings is still playing with several different ideas, especially amid feedback from AFL guinea pigs who noted the extra grip wears off too quickly.

"It requires a lot of R&D and time and testing to land where we want to be," Thompson said. "We’ve got several formulations that are being tanned into the leather, and there’s another process where we’re spraying it on the leather. We’re trying to see which gives us the best outcome."

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