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Archive for February 27th, 2012

The Cincinnati Reds have locked up left handed reliever Sean Marshall for $16.5 million over three years beginning in 2013. This coming season, Marshall will earn $3.1 million as the final part of the two year deal he signed with the Chicago Cubs to cover his remaining years of arbitration eligibility.

The contract is especially noteworthy not only because it includes $1 million bonuses for both games started and games finished, but also because of this:

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Spring Dispatches – Monday

Picture day! Hooray. Not a single other thing matters more than staged photos, often taken in the strangest places. These posed photos might have the glamorous look of a junior high Jostens volume shoot but, as you can see after the jump, not everything is as it seems in the world of image manipulation.

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When the Yankees acquired Michael Pineda, it came at a serious price. Shipping out one of the best hitting prospects in baseball isn’t easy but the Bronx Bombers needed pitching. Pitchers like Michael Pineda don’t come around too often, a giant frame with a high 90s fastball and devastating slider.

Pineda is far from a finished project, relying almost exclusively on two pitches, his fastball & slider. The Yankees are working with the big righty to increase his changeup usage this spring, giving him another weapon against left-handed hitters.

The Yankees want Pineda to be more like Henderson Alvarez, in a way. Use the changeup to keep hitters off-balance. Blue Jays hope and dream that Alvarez might follow Pineda’s path to stud status. Could it actually happen?

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2011 Record: 79-83, 3rd AL Central
2011 Prediction:
86-76, 2nd AL Central

Impact Player: SS Alexei Ramirez
Impact Pitcher:
LHP Jon Danks
Best Reliever:
LHP Matt Thornton
Top Prospect:
RHP Addison Reed

Last Year

The White Sox entered last season with a very deep rotation and a capable lineup and looked to be sure-fire contenders in the weak AL Central. They were coming of an 88-win season in 2010 and had added one of the most prolific sluggers in the game in Adam Dunn to be their new DH and occasional first baseman. A weakened and injury-riddled Twins team and an oddly-constructed Tigers team appeared to be the only real test for them in 2011, but they just never got it going.

Dunn finished with one of the worst slash lines in Major League history, going .159/.292/.277 with only 11 home runs. He was coming off seven straight seasons where he hit at least 38 home runs, a feat accomplished by only two other players in history: Rafael Palmeiro and Babe Ruth. Centerfielder Alex Rios and Dunn were ahead of only Orlando Cabrera in all of baseball in wRC+.

The White Sox ended up finishing with just 79 wins, marking the third time in five years that they had lost more games than they won. GM Kenny Williams continued his schizophrenic approach to roster construction when he announced that he was going to embark on a rebuild. He sent closer Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays for prospect Nestor Molina and then vehemently stated he was not rebuilding (despite the optics). Then he traded middle reliever Jason Frasor back to Toronto for two more prospects on the same weekend that he sent rightfielder Carlos Quentin to San Diego. The weird offseason got weirder when he told everyone he was shopping number one pitcher John Danks, only to sign him to a five-year contract extension. So are the White Sox rebuilding? Your guess is as good as mine.

The one thing we do know about the White Sox is that they have perhaps the worst farm system ever. If they are rebuilding, it could be a long, arduous process.

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Bobby V. Puts Tito In His Place

Earlier today, we brought you news of Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine’s edict banning alcohol in Boston’s club house. Former manager Terry Francona responded to his replacement’s new policy by suggesting that it was likely done for the benefit of optics rather than anything else.

I don’t think it’s a surprise that they put this in effect, or the fact they announced it. It’s probably more of a PR move just because, you know, the Red Sox (took) such a beating at the end of the year.

It’s probably never a good idea to give your opinion on anything related to someone replacing you at your old position. While Francona, who will replace Valentine on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts, wasn’t being bitter or contentious with his comments, they will unavoidably end up being read as such.

But just in case rational reactions might have beaten the odds and triumphed over knee jerking, Valentine was happy to provide the following sound byte to Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe among other reporters on the Red Sox beat.

It’s unconfirmed at this time, but it’s likely safe to assume that after saying this, Valentine dropped a microphone he was holding and casually walked away with a slight strut to his regular stroll.

I mustache Lance Berkman a question about his faux facial hair.

Yep. I’ve got nothing more. I just put this post up so I could use that pun, but if you want the details, Berkman wore a fake mustache for two thirds of the Cardinals’ first full workout on Friday.

#SpringTrainingNews

And you thought I’d have a tough time finding excuses to keep using that photo.

As I’m sure you’re all well aware, a tradition exists in baseball, and other North American pro sports, wherein a veteran player joining a new team must compensate the younger player whose jersey number he would like to retain from the time he spent with his previous team. Usually, such compensation consists of a nice watch or a cheque.

After signing a free agent contract with the Atlanta Braves ahead of the 1999 season, outfielder Brian Jordan gave Fredi Gonzalez, who was a mere coach at the time, a souped up Harley Davidson for his number 33. And when Frank Thomas joined the Toronto Blue Jays before the 2007 season, he commissioned a portrait of Lyle Overbay to thank him for giving up the number 35.

With A.J. Burnett recently joining the Pittsburgh Pirates, Daniel McCutchen and his number 34 jersey had a chance to capitalize on the tradition. The right handed reliever wisely avoided a piece of vanity jewelry and asked Burnett to start a College America 529 plan for his yet to be born daughter who is due in May.

When a veteran comes in and takes a number, some of the guys usually get something. I know he has kids. He asked me what I wanted, I brought that up. Eighteen years from now, we’ll see what the market is.

No. You’re a slow news day.