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2016 - 2017 MLB Off-Season  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Fri Mar 24th, 2017 08:16 pm
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lobo316



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Following Team USA's 8-0 victory Wednesday over Puerto Rico at the World Baseball Classic, Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones had some things to say about his opponents, taking exception to the fact they had pre-planned victory shirts and a parade.
During a postgame victory celebrating the Americans' first WBC victory, Jones discussed one motivating factor behind their win.
"Should I tell the truth?" Jones explained. "Well before the game we got a note that there were some championship shirts made; we didn't make them ... and a flight. That didn't sit well with us.
"And a parade. That didn't sit well with us. So, we did what we had to do. (Marcus) Stroman went out there and gave us his all, the players they battled the offense swung the bats and we brought it home for the United States."
Puerto Rican catcher and team captain Yadier Molina had quite the response for his counterpart Thursday while celebrating his team's silver medal in San Juan.
"Adam Jones ... is talking about things he doesn't know about," Molina toldESPN's Marly Rivera. "He really has to get informed because he shouldn't have said those comments, let alone in public and mocking the way (preparations) were made.
"He has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people," Molina added. "Obviously, you wanted to win; he didn't know what this means to (our) people.
Puerto Rican players apparently planned on flying to their home nation to show their gratitude whether they won or lost, which is one of the reasons why Molina was so steamed.
"That's why I'm sending a message to (Jones), saying 'Look at this, right now you're in spring training working out, and we're with our people, with our silver medals," Molina exclaimed. "You're in spring training and you're working ... you have no idea how to celebrate your honors, you don't know what it means."
Puerto Rico generated a ton of attention in the WBC after the team - who dyed their hair blond - stormed to the final with a perfect record before losing to the Americans.

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 Posted: Fri Mar 24th, 2017 08:18 pm
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The New York Yankees could be without shortstop Didi Gregorius until May after the 27-year-old suffered a right shoulder strain while playing for the Netherlands at the World Baseball Classic.

With Gregorius out of action, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports the team seems "a bit dismayed" with how the Netherlands used him during the event.

The Yankees were supposedly under the impression Gregorius would rotate through the infield with Andrelton Simmons and Jonathan Schoop, according to Heyman, and they wonder if he suffered the injury because he mainly played as designated hitter before moving to second base where he felt some pain in his shoulder on March 18.

Gregorius was set to open the regular season as the Yankees' starting shortstop, but in his absence, they're reportedly willing to trade for a 'short-term' solution or go with in-house options such as Tyler Wade, Ronald Torreyes, Ruben Tejada, or Pete Kozma.

Gregorius owns a .270/.311/.409 slash line with 29 home runs and 126 RBIs across two seasons for the Yankees since taking over the position from Derek Jeter.

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 Posted: Fri Mar 24th, 2017 08:19 pm
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The San Francisco Giants' crowded infield picture became slightly clearer when they released veteran infielder Gordon Beckham on Thursday.

Beckham, in camp on a minor-league deal, had requested his release after the Giants told him he wouldn't be making the team, according to Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News.

"He's got value at the major-league level, but we've got options here and we felt we should make the call as soon as possible for his benefit," general manager Bobby Evans told Baggarly. "He's a pro. It's just important when you're dealing with a veteran player to give them all the time you can."

The 30-year-old Beckham first joined the Giants in the last week of the 2016 season, when he was acquired from Atlanta on Sept. 27 of last year following Eduardo Nunez's season-ending hamstring injury. After not recording a hit in three games with the Giants, he returned to compete for a bench spot on a minor-league deal but struggled at the plate this spring, recording just five hits in 26 Cactus League at-bats.

A former eighth overall pick by the Chicago White Sox, Beckham owns a career .240/.303/.370 slash line with 74 home runs, 335 RBIs, and 589 strikeouts in 953 games with the White Sox, Giants, Braves, and Los Angeles Angels.

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 Posted: Sat Mar 25th, 2017 01:24 am
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Tigers' Martinez to miss 3-4 weeks with foot injury
by Jason Wilson 22m ago


The Detroit Tigers will be without one of its top outfielders - and most potent bats - for an extended period of time.

J.D. Martinez was diagnosed with a foot sprain earlier in the week. The injury will sideline him for three-to-four weeks, and he will spend 7-10 days with a cast on his foot, Jason Beck of MLB.com reports.

The announcement comes only two days after Martinez told the Detroit Free Press that he still hoped to play on Opening Day.

Without Martinez, the Tigers are expected to feature an outfield of Justin Upton, Tyler Collins, and Alex Presley to start the season. Mikie Mahtook and Steven Moya are options off the bench, and 24-year-old JaCoby Jones could also be called up.

Martinez is entering the final season of a two-year, $18.5-million deal he inked with the Tigers prior to 2016. He's realized his power potential over three seasons in Detroit, batting a cumulative .299 with 83 home runs and 246 RBIs. He made his only All-Star appearance in 2015, when he hit 38 home runs.

With first baseman Miguel Cabrera already dealing with a back injury, putting his own Opening Day status in doubt, the Tigers are staring at a depleted lineup to start the season.

Last edited on Sat Mar 25th, 2017 01:25 am by lobo316

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 Posted: Sat Mar 25th, 2017 01:27 am
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The Tampa Bay Rays have reportedly agreed to a deal with free-agent catcher Derek Norris, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports.

The deal, which is still pending a physical, is a one-year contract with no options according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

Norris was weighing a couple of offers, but ultimately chose the Rays due to playing time, where he joins a catching corps that currently consists of Curt Casali and Luke Maile. Both of those players have been competing for the starting gig, but the signing of Norris - now the expected starter - likely relegates one to backup duty and the other to the minors. Maile was out-performing Casali with a .355/.394/.781 slash line through 31 spring at-bats.

Norris was released by the Washington Nationals after the team agreed to a one-year, $10.5-million deal with Matt Wieters this offseason. The signing of Wieters - combined with the fact that Jose Lobaton is still under team control for the next season - made Norris the odd man out.

While Norris is criticized for his throwing and receiving abilities, he's been one of the better hitting catchers in the majors over the past four seasons. Omitting his horrendous 2016 campaign, Norris ranked fifth in MLB among qualified catchers by wRC+ from 2013-15. That is some very selective sampling, though, as he struggled to the tune of a .583 OPS over 458 plate appearances last year.

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 Posted: Sat Mar 25th, 2017 01:45 am
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The Arizona Diamondbacks have set their five starters, and Zack Greinke is scheduled to pitch on Opening Day, manager Torey Lovullo told Steve Gilbert of MLB.com.

With Greinke the highest-paid pitcher and the most experienced, he was always the likely candidate to go Opening Day. Over four starts this spring, Greinke has allowed three earned runs on 15 hits and one walk while striking out 11 over 14 1/3 innings. Despite posting favorable spring numbers, Greinke has been dealing with a drop in velocity.

Greinke will take the bump against the San Francisco Giants when the Diamondbacks kick off their season April 2 at Chase Field. The Giants have not officially named their Opening Day starter yet, but, if he's healthy, it will most certainly be Madison Bumgarner. Giants hitters have a .726 OPS against Greinke in 230 at-bats, though the right-hander still boasts a 9-2 record in 14 starts against the NL West rivals.

While the rest of the rotation's order hasn't been set, the Diamondbacks' starting five has been. Joining Greinke will be Taijuan Walker, Robbie Ray, Patrick Corbin, and Shelby Miller.

Greinke had a down year in 2016 after signing his six-year, $206.5-million megadeal. Over 158 2/3 innings, the Cy Young winner posted his worst ERA since his sophomore season in 2005.

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 Posted: Sat Mar 25th, 2017 02:01 am
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The Toronto Blue Jays are a step closer to finalizing their Opening Day roster, and "barring unforeseen circumstances," the team's initial starting rotation is in place, according to Sportsnet's Arash Madani.

Right-hander Marco Estrada is in line to make his first Opening Day start following two successful seasons with the Blue Jays. He has gone 22-17 with a 3.30 ERA over his first two campaigns in Toronto and was named to his first ever All-Star team in 2016. He was unable to play at the time due to injury.

The rest of the rotation will alternate handedness with lefty J.A. Happ, Marcus Stroman, Francisco Liriano, and Aaron Sanchez.

The Blue Jays' pitching staff was a beacon of durability in 2016, featuring only seven different starters throughout the season. Estrada suffered minor injuries, but still managed to start in 29 games. He signed a two-year, $26-million contract before the 2016 season, meaning he will be a free agent at the end of the year.

Perhaps the most impressive part of Estrada's Blue Jays resume has been his playoff performance. Despite a 3-3 record, he has only allowed 10 earned runs in 41 2/3 innings over the last two postseasons.

The Blue Jays open the regular season on the road against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday, April 3. The first game to be held at Rogers Centre will come on Tuesday, April 11 against the Milwaukee Brewers.

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 Posted: Sat Mar 25th, 2017 02:04 am
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With a shot at redemption, Marcus Stroman was electric.

The United States right-hander allowed one hit over six innings to lead his country to an 8-0 win over Puerto Rico in the final of the World Baseball Classic and took home tournament MVP honors for his effort.

It was an impressive bounce-back performance for the 25-year-old, who in his first start against Puerto Rico in the second round, was shelled for four runs off eight hits and one walk in 4 2/3 innings.

Stroman finished the tournament with a 2.35 ERA to go with nine strikeouts and one walk over three starts, and said that he fully intends on participating again in 2021.

"I'll be back in four years to defend the title," Stroman told reporters, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.

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 Posted: Sat Mar 25th, 2017 02:13 am
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Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch announced Friday morning that Dallas Keuchel will start Opening Day.

Hinch met with reporters Friday, prior to the Astros' spring training game at Port St. Lucie, to say: "It's a simple decision for me. But it’s nice that he (Keuchel) went five innings in his last outing and I can officially name him the Opening Day guy." Brian McTaggart of MLB.com tweeted the exchange.

The 29-year-old Keuchel is a year removed from winning the 2015 Cy Young award. He then suffered through some regression and shoulder problems last year, recording a 4.55 ERA and 1.29 WHIP over 168 innings. Still, the left-hander posted favorable underlying numbers, pitching 8 percent better than the league average in terms of FIP while dealing with an abnormally high home run-to-fly ball rate.

The Astros' rotation is pretty deep, but the incumbent Keuchel was likely a lock for the Opening Day job all along. Collin McHugh was probably the only other candidate under consideration, but some "dead arm" during spring has slowed his progress. And while McHugh posted better numbers in terms of innings pitched and ERA last year, Hinch told Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle that he might not be ready for Opening Day.

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 Posted: Sun Mar 26th, 2017 04:21 am
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"Rougie" is staying put.

After reports surfaced earlier Saturday that both sides were in the final stages of an extension, the Texas Rangers and Rougned Odor have reportedly come to an agreement on a six-year, $49.5-million deal that could keep the second baseman with the club through the 2023 season, according to FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman.

Odor's previous deal was set to expire at the end of the 2020 campaign. Under his new reported contract with the Rangers, the 23-year-old will have all three of his arbitration years (2018-20) bought out, as well as delaying free agency for another two seasons, not including the reported option year in 2023, according to Heyman.

The Rangers second baseman has been one of the club's brightest young stars in recent seasons which explains the team's early desire to lock him up long term. Through 150 games in 2016, Odor didn't reach base at a favorable clip, hitting just .271/.296/.502, though he did show off a new penchant for power, mashing 33 home runs and 33 doubles in his third big-league campaign.

In 384 games in the major leagues, Odor is slashing .265/.302/.464 with 58 home runs and 197 RBIs.

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 Posted: Sun Mar 26th, 2017 04:24 am
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An armed gunman that killed one person and hospitalized another Saturday in a shooting in Las Vegas narrowly missed the Chicago Cubs who were staying at the nearby Cosmopolitan Hotel, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.

The shooting, which initially broke out just before 11 a.m. on Las Vegas Boulevard, prompted police to place the hotel under lockdown just as the team's second bus was heading out to face the Cincinnati Reds at Cashman Field, approximately a half-hour drive away.

"I didn't know what was going on until the guys showed up," Albert Almora Jr. told Wittenmyer. "It's pretty crazy."

After learning of situation, hotel staff reportedly evacuated the building and casino before being told to lock down, according to Nick Penzenstadler of USA TODAY. The shooter, meanwhile, barricaded himself inside a bus before ultimately surrendering to police.

"I was going to try and hit the casino (Saturday night)," Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks said, according to Wittenmyer. "I might just lock up in my room tonight."

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 Posted: Sun Mar 26th, 2017 04:25 am
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Juan Lagares' latest injury isn't sitting well with manager Terry Collins.

The New York Mets outfielder, who's struggled with multiple injuries in recent seasons, left Saturday's contest against the Atlanta Braves with a left oblique strain, which his skipper is hopping doesn't linger for the oft-injured center fielder.

"I'm concerned. Those things can be one of those injuries that don't go away for awhile," Collins said Saturday, according to Marc Carig of Newsday. "I'm very concerned."

Lagares appeared to suffer the injury in the third inning while trying to run out a groundball to third base.

In 2016, he missed 47 games with the club as he underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb. He was also hampered by a nagging elbow injury, as well as a strain to his right shoulder in 2015.

The 28-year-old, who was expected to begin the season as the Mets' fourth outfielder, now may not be healthy in time for Opening Day, and with Brandon Nimmo still battling a hamstring issue suffered at the World Baseball Classic, the Mets could be without crucial outfield depth to begin the season.

"I'm frustrated but it's nothing you can control," Lagares told Carig. "I tried to (do) my job, run the bases hard."

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 Posted: Sun Mar 26th, 2017 04:27 am
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The Klu-Bot is ready to power up for 2017.

Former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber was confirmed as the Cleveland Indians' Opening Day starter when the reigning American League champions travel to Arlington to open their pennant defense against the Texas Rangers on April 3.

There had been some thought about turning to another of their talented arms on Opening Day to give the 30-year-old some rest after last year's extended run into October, but a solid spring performance trumped rest and earned Kluber the nod for a third consecutive year.

"There's no doubt in his mind he's pitching Opening Day," manager Terry Francona told Jordan Bastian of MLB.com on Friday. "That's good enough for me."

Kluber has been a workhorse for the Indians of late, surpassing the 200-inning mark in each of the last three seasons. His brilliance in 2016 continued into October, where he put the team on his back and made multiple starts on three days' rest during the Indians' run to the AL pennant, but appeared to finally run out of gas in Game 7 of the World Series.

All told, he threw 249 1/3 total innings in 2016.

With the increased workload and shortened offseason in mind, the team and Kluber worked to develop a plan for spring training that had the 30-year-old slowly ease into his routine, with a late entry into game action. It seems to have worked for Kluber, as he's struck out 22 batters to just five walks in 18 1/3 spring innings despite an inflated ERA of 5.40, while also leaving him on track to start Opening Day.

Kluber is coming off his first All-Star season in 2016 that saw him post a 3.14 ERA, 1.056 WHIP, 227 strikeouts, and an AL-best two shutouts over 215 regular-season innings. He finished third in Cy Young voting, and according to Bastian became only the fourth pitcher in Indians history to pitch over 200 innings and strike out over 200 batters in three straight seasons.

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 Posted: Sun Mar 26th, 2017 04:28 am
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Don't let the perfectly sculpted body fool you, folks: Yoan Moncada's diet is much worse than yours.

In an ESPN profile published Thursday, Moncada's agent revealed to Eli Saslow that his highly touted client has been known to crush as many as 85 Twinkies - those irresistible, cream-filled sponge cakes - in a single week, sometimes downing more than 10 in a single sitting (despite efforts from his former employer, the Boston Red Sox, to counsel him on diet and nutrition).

That may sound impressive, putting away an average of more than a dozen Twinkies daily, but according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, Moncada's appetite for those calorie-dense delights is even more insatiable than that: back in September, sources close to the 21-year-old prospect confirmed that Moncada once ate 225 Twinkies in a seven-day span.

Still, his questionable dietary habits haven't diminished his athleticism, as Moncada - acquired by the Chicago White Sox in the December blockbuster that sent Chris Sale to Boston - is widely considered a plus-plus runner and has stolen 94 bases (in 109 tries) over 187 minor-league games.

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 Posted: Sun Mar 26th, 2017 04:29 am
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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - The Houston Astros demonstrated Friday what the rest of the league knows and the Mets realize themselves, but haven't been able to fix.

Teams can run successfully on the battery of Opening Day pitcher Noah Syndergaard and catcher Travis d'Arnaud - almost seemingly at will.

The Astros were a perfect 4 for 4 in stolen bases at First Data Field in the right-hander's fourth start of the spring: three by Derek Fisher, the other by fellow outfielder Jake Marisnick.

Syndergaard said he felt his delivery times to home plate were good, in the 1.35-second range, while Collins praised him for a couple of sub-1.3s.

"I felt good out there. I felt like my times were where they needed to be," said Syndergaard after his 73-pitch effort. "Sometimes I'm mixing in a slide step as well.

"I feel really confident in controlling the runners, to control the runners and still deliver a quality pitch to home plate."

The numbers say otherwise.

Last season, Syndergaard won most of the head-to-head battles at the plate as the tall right-hander held hitters to a .243 batting average. However, the advantage swung to the other side somewhat when baserunners started taking off during Syndergaard's delivery.

Base stealers were successful in 48 of 57 attempted thefts against Syndergaard in 2016. In his rookie season the year before, he watched 16 runners attempt to swipe the next base and only get nabbed once.

That's 63 of 73, an 86 percent success rate.

Collins said d'Arnaud's arm strength and velocity are where they need to be. However, his delivery needs to quicken to help slow down the running game.

"I like his arm stroke better than last year. I think he's made huge improvements in it. We've just got to get him to speed it up," Collins said of d'Arnaud, who hasn't thrown out a baserunner this spring.

D'Arnaud said he realizes a catcher like Yadier Molina or Buster Posey who can throw out baserunners is a "game changer" and that his throwing is better now than last year.

"My transfers are getting more consistent and I'm more consistent with my throwing accuracy. When I get a good grip and good transfer, my feet are right underneath me," said d'Arnaud, who isn't discouraged by poor results so far.

Collins said backup catcher Rene Rivera, who hasn't had many at-bats this spring while playing for Puerto Rico in the WBC, could be in the lineup on April 3 against Atlanta at Citi Field because of his history with Syndergaard.

"We'll look at all the factors before we write the opening-day lineup. Last year, Noah threw the ball very well to Rene, so there's a good chance and a possibility that Rene will catch in that game," Collins said.

Collins added that d'Arnaud's bat could be the deciding factor. "If he's hitting homers and driving in runs, you'll forget all about (the throwing). If he gets it going offensively, he's going to play in a lot of games."

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