Just a few Monday night notes and links

Posted by: Chad Jennings – Posted in Misc on Dec 16, 2013

• An article out of Japan say Rakuten is leaning toward making Masahiro Tanaka available this winter. I don’t read Japanese, but Dylan Hernandez does, so I’m trusting his translation. He notes that the article in question does not quote the Rakuten president, but basically reporting suggests Tanaka will be posting. “Take it for what it’s worth,” Hernandez notes.

• Over the weekend, none other than Alex Rodriguez tweeted out a link to this Miami Herald story about the shady movement of evidence in the Biogenesis case. Hard to say whether any of it will impact Major League Baseball’s decision. Nothing about the case is clean and pretty.

• At the New York Post, Joel Sherman looks at some of the Yankees possibilities at second base, and he mentions that the team goes cheap, newly acquired Dean Anna could factor into the mix. Over at ESPN New York, Andrew Marchand also mentioned Anna as a possible platoon solution. The Yankees are running out of high-end possibilities, but the first thing I heard about Anna was that he should be considered a utility man more than a future regular. That said, second base is his best position, and the Yankees might be positioning themselves into a position where they give him a shot out of necessity.

• Speaking of second base, the Royals officially announced their Omar Infante signing. Kansas City also needed a second baseman, and with Infante, the Royals seem to have finished off their everyday lineup. The Yankees have, you know, not done that yet.

Advertisements

Yankees 2B options dwindling daily

Sports

By Dan Martin

December 16, 2013 | 12:13am

Cross Mark Ellis off the list of available second basemen.

With the Yankees looking to find a replacement for Robinson Cano, two of the only everyday options at the position on the market signed elsewhere in recent days, with Omar Infante going to Kansas City and then on Sunday, Ellis agreeing to a one-year deal with the Cardinals.

And since the Yankees have so far been resistant to the idea of trading Brett Gardner even after the arrival of Jacoby Ellsbury in center field, there is a chance Kelly Johnson could be their best option at second.

The Yankees remain interested in bringing back Mark Reynolds, who could play third — even if Alex Rodriguez is around — and spell Mark Teixeira at first base.

Reynolds signed with the Yankees after falling apart at the plate in Cleveland last season. He rebounded well, with an OPS of .755 after getting to The Bronx.

With Rodriguez’s uncertain future as he and the Yankees wait for a ruling on his appeal of the 211-game suspension levied by Major League Baseball, management knows it needs help there.

When the season ended, Reynolds expressed a desire to stay with the Yankees, although he also said he wanted a full-time role, something that wouldn’t necessarily be guaranteed with the Yankees.

He has hit more than 20 homers each season since 2008 and although the Yankees have added power with the acquisitions of Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, they’re still looking for the home runs lost with the departure of Cano.

General manager Brian Cashman has said he would prefer to act quickly to fill holes, but acknowledged last week that might not be possible and added the Yankees may have to wait until players are released during spring training or even until the trade deadline to get the kind of players he wants.

But with needs at second, third and in the bullpen — where they still lack an experienced closer — the Yankees still have plenty of work to do.

There is always the untitled dumpster where the Yankees seem to go, lately.  Cheapskate Hal gave us the rhetoric at the McCANN conference, that the Yankees would go all out to fill their holes.  Instead, they will look at Eduardo Nunez and other stiffs or dive into the garbage.  EDB

Brain Injuries Are Now Baseball’s Worry Too

A retired MLB player, who committed suicide a year ago, is  diagnosed with CTE, a disease linked to head trauma

<img src=”http://timekeepingscore.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/ap090722037976.jpg?w=480&h=320&crop=1″ alt=”Kansas City Royals' Ryan Freel during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, July 21, 2009, in Kansas City, Mo.” title=”Kansas City Royals' Ryan Freel during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, July 21, 2009, in Kansas City, Mo.”/>Kansas City Royals' Ryan Freel during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, July 21, 2009, in Kansas City, Mo.

Charlie Riedel / APKansas City Royals’ Ryan Freel during the ninth  inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, July 21, 2009, in  Kansas City, Mo.

The brain doesn’t know what hits it. All it feels is the damage.

Helmet-to-helmet hits in football can help cause chronic traumatic  encephalopathy (CTE), the degenerative brain disease that has plagued so many  players in that game. But CTE isn’t just a football disease. We don’t think of  baseball as a contact sport, or one prone to causing concussions. But beans to  the head, and collisions with the outfield wall, do happen. And they can have a  life-altering effect.

Ryan Freel, an eight-year major league veteran who retired in 2010 and  committed suicide last December, became the first major league baseball player  to be diagnosed with CTE, according to researchers at the Boston University  School of Medicine. Freel had estimated he suffered ten concussions during his  major league career. He had a reputation for playing all-out. “He was really  known for running through walls,” says Dr Robert Stern, co-founder of the Center  for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at BU. Near the end of his life, Freel  had started to experience classic symptoms of CTE like depression, lack of  impulse control and struggles with substance abuse.

Freel had a history of head trauma that predated his major league career. At  age 2, he ran into a moving car. At 4, he again hit his head after jumping off a  bed. In high school, he also lost consciousness after a hit playing football,  says Stern. “The big question we can’t answer,” says Stern, “is if baseball  caused the CTE. The message is that any activity, that might involve many hits  to the head, can result in long-term consequences.” Stern points out that CTE  victims include a woman who suffered domestic abuse, military servicemen and an  individual with a headbanging disorder.

Baseball is making a major rule change for safety: collisions at home plate  will be disallowed. “Is baseball a contact sport?” says Stern, a professor of  neurology and neurosurgery at BU’s School of Medicine. “No, it’s not in the same  league as rugby or football. But athletes should be aware: there is potential  for collisions and hits to the head. I don’t think this should be viewed as  alarming. I’m not saying baseball is as bad as football.”

 

D-BACKS LAND REED IN DEAL WITH WHITE SOX

 

mlbf_31270817_th_13

 

PHOENIX — While talking with the White Sox last week during negotiations of the three-team deal with the Angels that brought Mark Trumbo to Arizona, the name of D-backs prospect Mark Davidson was brought up by the White Sox.

After that deal was completed, the White Sox brought up a name that piqued the interest of Arizona general manager Kevin Towers.

“They said, ‘If we were to talk about our closer Addison Reed, would you have interest?'” Towers said. “I didn’t even think he would be available, to be honest, we weren’t really focused on the back end of our bullpen and we didn’t see, in my eyes, any direct match with them.”

But the more Towers looked at his team, the more he began to see that Davidson was expendable.

After all, Martin Prado is under a long-term contract, and with the acquisition of Trumbo to play left field, the D-backs certainly were not going to play Prado in left, so the D-backs decided they could part with Davidson.

Reed is under club control for the next four seasons, which was another factor for Towers.

“It was going to be difficult for us to probably get the at-bats for Davidson that we think he needs,” Towers said. “For us to get a young, controllable back-end-of-the-bullpen arm that’s had the type of success that he’s had…”

Reed, who turns 25 later this month, was the closer for the White Sox the past two seasons, saving 29 games in 2012 and 40 last season. A third-round pick by the White Sox in 2010 First-Year Player Draft, Reed was 5-4 with a 3.79 ERA last season.

Reed will have a chance to compete for the closer’s role with J.J. Putz and Brad Ziegler this spring.

“I kind of told [manager Kirk Gibson] about it, but haven’t had a chance to talk to any of our pitchers about it, we haven’t had Addison in uniform yet, but I would have to say he’s going to get every opportunity, along with some of the guys that were here last year,” Towers said. “And we’ll go with the best guy when Spring Training ends and we start the season. If that is Addison Reed, he’ll be our closer.”

It’s a job that Reed covets.

“I’m going into Spring Training and I’m going to try and do everything I can to prove to them that the ninth inning belongs to me and I’m the guy for that job,” Reed said. “Closing is the only thing I’ve ever dreamed of, the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do, so I’m going to try and make their decision as tough as possible, [as far as putting] me in any role other than the ninth inning. I’m not taking it for granted, I’m not thinking the ninth inning is a lock and my job. Right now, I’m trying to prepare as best I can for Spring Training, and hopefully win that job.”

The bullpen was a sore spot for the D-backs last year as the unit led the league in blown saves.

Putz was the team’s closer in 2011 and 2012, as well as the first part of 2013, but injuries limited him, and Ziegler took over the role in the second half.

The fact that Reed was available surprised Towers, and it also caught Reed off-guard.

“I was drafted by the White Sox, came up in their system and been with them two years,” Reed said. “I had just gotten done working out [today], came home and had two missed calls from a Chicago area code, and that’s never happened before, so I kind of thought something might be happening. Definitely initial reaction was probably shock, but after it kind of all sank in, I couldn’t be more happy. I’m playing in Arizona, it’s sunny all the time and it’s going to be fun, I’m looking forward to starting out in Arizona.”

Reed had been looking at houses and contemplating a move from Southern California to the Phoenix area over the past couple of months and said the trade now makes him certain to do so.

Phillies’ interest in LHP Eric O’Flaherty goes nowhere

Phillies’ interest in LHP Eric  O’Flaherty goes nowhere

Eric O´Flaherty would be helpful in any bullpen. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Eric O’Flaherty would be helpful in any bullpen. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

 

Justin Klugh, Philly.com Sports

  Posted: Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 1:59 PM  

The Phillies were checking on free agent lefty Eric O’Flaherty, of the Braves’ 2011 unholy  back of the bullpen trinity.

The 28-year-old O’Flaherty has appeared in 373 games in his career with the  Mariners and Braves, and accumulated a mere 2.85 ERA, 143 ERA+, and 1.243 WHIP,  along with 6.0 WAR. 3.3 of that WAR was in 2011 alone, leading to a pay increase  from $895,000 to over $2 million. Last season, he missed time with a torn UCL in  his throwing elbow, but since 2012, he has thrown in 84 games witha 2.12  ERA.

Even coming off an injury, he would be a valuable commodity, being  left-handed and also throwing a nasty sinker that hits in the low 90s. Also in  the quiet fray were the Nationals and Dodgers, but it seems as though O’Flaherty  will re-up with the Braves, keeping their young, dominant bullpen  nice and young and dominant for at least another year.

As of now, the Phillies’ left-handed relievers on the 40-man roster are  Antonio Bastardo, Jake Diekman, Jeremy Horst, and Joe Savery. Still on the free  agent market are J.P. Howell, Boone Logan, Matt Thornton, Clayton Richard, and  several others.

He might be worth a look, genius Cashman.

MLB, NPB reach agreement on posting system

MLB, NPB reach agreement on posting system

MLB.com | 12/16/2013 4:21 P.M.

The Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball (MLB) announced today that it has agreed to terms with Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) on revised protocols for the posting system shared by the leagues. MLB’s Executive Council approved the new agreement today.

The following points comprise the protocols of the new system:

  • If an NPB Club wishes to make one of its players available to Major League Clubs, the NPB shall notify the Office of the Commissioner of the NPB player’s potential availability and the “release fee” that a Major League Club must pay to the NPB Club in order to secure the NPB player’s release. The NPB Club may not set the release fee at an amount higher than $20 million and the fee cannot be changed once it has been set by the NPB Club.
  • The Office of the Commissioner shall then “post” the NPB player’s availability by notifying all Major League Clubs of the NPB player’s availability and the release fee sought by the NPB Club.
  • All “postings” of NPB players must be made between November 1st and February 1st.
  • Beginning the day after the player is posted, and concluding 30 days later, any Major League club willing to pay the release fee set by the NPB Club may then negotiate with the player in an attempt to reach an agreement on a contract.
  • If a Major League Club is able to reach an agreement on a contract with the posted NPB player, the Major League Club must pay the NPB Club the designated release fee, which will occur in installments, the timing of which depends on the size of the release fee.
  • If the posted NPB player fails to reach an agreement with a Major League Club, the release fee is not owed, the NPB player remains under reserve to his NPB Club, and the player may not be posted again until the following November 1.
  • The term of the new posting agreement is three years, continuing from year-to-year thereafter until either the Office of the Commissioner or the NPB gives notice of its intent to terminate the agreement one hundred and eighty days prior to the anniversary of the commencement of the agreement.

MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred said: “We are pleased to have amicably reached an agreement that addresses various issues raised by all parties. Major League Baseball values its longstanding professional relationship with Nippon Professional Baseball, and we look forward to continuing the growth of the great game we share in the years to come.”

Derek Jeter Has A ‘No Phone’ Policy At His House

Derek Jeter Has A ‘No Phone’ Policy At His House

Monday, December 16, 2013 8:59 pm
Written by: ThePostGame Staff

 

In this day and age, a photo from someone’s phone can drastically alter the public perception of an athlete. Johnny Manziel, Greg Oden and many more stars have learned this lesson the hard way.

In light of the ease with which photos can be taken and shared on mobile devices, New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter has enacted an unusual but understandable policy at his Tampa mansion.

Jeter, famously private about his personal life, has a “no phones” rule at the enormous estate that is sometimes referred to as St. Jetersburg.

 

Via the New York Post’s Page Six:

Derek Jeter has a strict “no camera or phones” rule when it comes to his sprawling Florida mansion.

We’re told the famously private Yankee has a basket in the foyer of his 30,875-square-foot, multimillion dollar Davis Island home, dubbed by locals “St. Jetersburg.” All guests are expected to plunk down their camera phones before entering his castle.

“He points and says, ‘Phones go there,’ so no one can take pictures inside his house,” says a source.

While this may seem a bit strict, it is a good move by Jeter. Not only does this help him maintain some privacy, it is far more likely that a negative story would emerge from a cell phone photo or video than a positive one. This way Jeter has some control over what comes out of his camp.

It was in Tampa, perhaps even at St. Jetersburg, that Jeter and Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner negotiated a one-year, $12 million contract that will allow the future Hall of Famer to stay in the Bronx for the 2014 season. Jeter played in only 17 games in 2013 as he recovered from surgery on the ankle he dislocated in the 2012 AL Championship Series.

The Week Ahead: More deals to be done

Plenty of dominoes still to fall in the form of signings, trades after Winter Meetings

By Doug Miller / MLB.com | 12/16/2013 8:00 A.M. ET

 

Price’s complete-game victory00:02:31
9/30/13: David Price pitches the Rays into the postseason with a complete-game gem, holding the Rangers to two runs while striking out four

The Winter Meetings let out. Christmas and the New Year crept closer. The big moves were celebrated, with Robinson Cano toasting Seattle, Jacoby Ellsbury sizing up his new pinstripes, two burly guys (Mike Napoli in Boston and Bartolo Colon with the Mets) getting burlier (two-year deals) and enough lesser maneuvers (Joba Chamberlain, John Axford, Roberto Hernandez, Clint Barmes, Michael Morse, Nate McLouth, etc.) to stuff plenty of sanitary stockings.

And that was just last week.

Now, as the calendar turns to another Monday and the last week of 2013 in which regular business hours will be in full operation all the way to Friday, it might not be a bad idea to think that a lot more can happen in the world of Major League Baseball.

The first order of business might involve the Seattle Mariners, whose next move seems to be highly anticipated by the rest of baseball. Having signed Cano to a 10-year, $240 million contract and added outfield/first baseman types Corey Hart and Logan Morrison, Seattle is sending strong signals that it is trying to build a winner now.

To do that, the Mariners will have to make more moves, and possibly big ones. That’s why they’ve been linked to trade talks involving Tampa Bay ace David Price and Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp, as well as numerous free agents, including Nelson Cruz.

“I’d still like to add to some areas of the ballclub,” Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said after introducing Hart and Morrison to the Seattle media. “I had conversations this morning. I’ve been very specific on what we’d like to do. I’d love to be able to get another pitcher, we’ll look for bullpen help and maybe the possibility of a backup catcher.”

Will it happen this week? Well, judging from the pace of transactions over the last two weeks, it very well could, and not just for the Mariners.

The Yankees are expected to do more, although trading outfielder Brett Gardner apparently will not be part of their plans moving forward, if the comments of team president Randy Levine to ESPN Radio on Sunday are any indication. They need a second baseman to replace the departed Cano, and that player will likely not be Omar Infante, who has reportedly agreed to a four-year deal with Kansas City.

“We have a clearer picture of certain things,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman said after the Winter Meetings ended. “I have my likes and certainly I have my dislikes in terms of the opportunities in front of us. We’re still churning through it.”

There’s a lot to churn through, still.

Big names are out there to be signed, such as outfielders Cruz and Shin-Soo Choo, starting pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Ervin Santana, shortstop Stephen Drew and designated hitter/first baseman Kendrys Morales. Others include catchers Kurt Suzuki and John Buck, first basemen Carlos Pena, Mark Reynolds and Kevin Youkilis, middle infielders Alexi Casilla, Brian Roberts, Jamey Carroll, and outfielders Raul Ibanez, Juan Pierre, Delmon Young and Franklin Gutierrez.

Veteran starters Bronson Arroyo, Jason Hammel, Scott Baker, Paul Maholm, A.J. Burnett, Joe Saunders, Jake Westbrook, Chris Capuano, Gavin Floyd and Barry Zito are still out there. So are relievers Chris Perez, Jose Veras, Joaquin Benoit, Grant Balfour, Andrew Bailey, Joel Hanrahan, Jesse Crain, Francisco Rodriguez, Fernando Rodney, Kevin Gregg and Rafael Betancourt.

What about Masahiro Tanaka? Will we get some answers about the Japanese star’s situation this week?

The latest news isn’t much different from the earlier news: that Tanaka’s club in Japan, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, have not yet decided whether to post the pitcher, who went 24-0 in the 2013 regular season in Nippon Professional Baseball, Japan’s top league. Some reports have indicated they are unlikely to do so.

Tanaka’s decision — or lack thereof — could help get the top of the market for starting pitching moving again. Who knows? It might even happen this week.

NFL in 90: Michael Bennett’s ravishing Rick Rude dance, Jamaal Charles’ historic day

NFL in 90: Michael Bennett’s ravishing Rick Rude dance, Jamaal Charles’ historic day

Kevin Kaduk

By Kevin Kaduk                                 5 hours ago                             Shutdown Corner
Rude_635x250_1387217919

                                        

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 274 pounds, you might not expect Michael Bennett to come fully equipped with a wide variety of sleek dance moves. However, the Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman put his talent on full display Sunday afternoon after pressuring Eli Manning in his team’s 23-0 win over the New York Giants. Yup, that’s the signature swirl of the late wrestler “Ravishing” Rick Rude. Almost makes you kind of wish Bennett had the face of Eli Manning’s wife printed on his pants, just to borrow a page from Rude’s famous feud with Jake “The Snake” Roberts.

We cover Bennett’s moves plus more in this week’s edition of “NFL in :90.”

Correction: We stated in the video that the Colts clinched the AFC South title this week with just nine wins. They actually clinched it last week with just eight victories

Will Prince Fielder Have a Breakout Season for the Texas Rangers in 2014?

Yahoo Contributor Network

By                                  1 hour ago

COMMENTARY | The Ian Kinsler for Prince Fielder swap between the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers on Nov. 20 has generated plenty of buzz among the fan-bases of both teams.

Fielder has been widely criticized in the last two years for not living up to his $214 million contract he signed with Detroit before the 2012 season. Many Tigers fans believe he is already in decline at age 29.

Ranger fans do not care about the past or about those criticisms as long as Fielder plays well for their team, which is exactly what he will do. The five-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger winner is primed for a breakout season in 2014, which will be his 10th in the major leagues, as he suits up to play first base for the Texas Rangers.

Here is why:

* Fresh start. History is filled with players who did not perform well with certain teams but suddenly turned it around once they were traded. One that immediately comes to mind is Manny Ramirez when he went from the Red Sox to the Dodgers a few years ago. Fielder even chose a new number, 84, to signify a new start in Texas (he previously wore 28 for his entire career). Fielder chose 84 because it’s the year he was born.

* Leaving Detroit. Escaping the spacious Comerica Park should benefit Fielder’s offensive numbers. Not to mention he will be leaving all his critics in Detroit behind. He will also be getting out from under the shadow of his dad, who was a a famous slugger for the Tigers in the early 1990s.

* The short porch. Rangers Ballpark in Arlington has long been known as a hitters’ park. Fielder’s left-handed power swing is perfect for the short porch in right field at Rangers’ Ballpark, where lefty hitters such as Rafael Palmeiro and Josh Hamilton have feasted over the years. It is 325 feet from home plate to the right field foul pole, giving Fielder a chance to significantly add to his career total of 285 homers in the next seven years he will play for the Rangers.

* Protection. Fielder is going to bat third in the Rangers’ lineup with third baseman Adrian Beltre batting cleanup behind him. Pitchers are going to be reluctant to walk Fielder with Beltre on deck; hence, Fielder will likely see more pitches to hit. If they try to pitch around him, Fielder has an excellent eye at the plate and will take a walk.

* Added motivation. Fielder heard all the criticisms the last two years. Tigers fans were especially vocal about his poor postseason performances, particularly in the 2012 World Series when the Tigers were swept by the Giants. In his first season in Texas, he will be eager to hush his naysayers and will be especially fired up when the Rangers visit Detroit.