Saturday, December 10, 2011

Report: Ryan Braun faces 50-game suspension for PEDs

Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun has tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, according to a report by ESPN's Outside the Lines.

Per the report, the failed test has not been announced since Braun is appealing the result through arbitration.
Braun's spokeman released the following statement (via ESPN): "There are highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case which will support Ryan's complete innocence and demonstrate there was absolutely no intentional violation of the program. While Ryan has impeccable character and no previous history, unfortunately, because of the process we have to maintain confidentiality and are not able to discuss it any further, but we are confident he will ultimately be exonerated.
Per the report, Braun failed an initial test and MLB had the World Anti-Doping Agency lab in Montreal conduct a second test, which revealed the testosterone was not produced naturally within Braun's body.

In the offseason, Braun signed a five-year extension worth roughly $105 million. Braun, who was named the 2011 N.L. MVP, hit a career-high .332 with 33 home runs, 111 runs batted in and scored 109 runs.

Braun also stole a career-high 33 bases and was one of four players to finish with 30-30 seasons. The other three were Matt Kemp, Ian Kinsler and Jacoby Ellsbury.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Angels, Jered Weaver agree to five-year deal worth $85 million

Per Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times, it is believed that the Angels and ace Jered Weaver have agreed to a five-year deal that is worth $85 million. Bolch notes that Weaver's agent Scott Boras would not confirm that news over the phone.

That said, the Angels have scheduled a news conference for tomorrow afternoon.

Despite his poor performance on August 13th (eight earned runs), Weaver has a 2.10 ERA and is 14-6 on the season. He leads the A.L. in ERA and is second in all of baseball behind Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto (1.89).

Weaver's ERA has declined every year since 2008: 4.33 to 3.75 (2009) to 3.01 (2010) to 2.10 (2011).

Last year, Weaver led all of baseball in strikeouts (233). This year, Weaver has struck out 158 batters in 188.1 innings pitched.

Giants place Brian Wilson on the DL

The San Francisco Giants have placed closer Brian Wilson on the 15-day disabled list (DL).

Since he last pitched on August 15th, Wilson is eligible to come off the DL on August 31st.

"We put him on the DL so we did not have the urge to push him," [Giants manager Bruce] Bochy said, per Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. "Or to have Willie go out there when he's not right. He wanted to try to get through it. Long term, it's the best thing for his career."

While Wilson is out, it appears that Jeremy Affeldt is most likely going to get the ball in the ninth.

On the season, Affeldt is 1-2 with three saves, 12 holds and 49 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings pitched. His ERA is 2.63 and WHIP is 1.15.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rockies trade Ubaldo Jimenez to Indians for four prospects including Drew Pomeranz

The Colorado Rockies have traded starter Ubaldo Jimenez to the Cleveland Indians for four prospects: pitchers Drew Pomeranz, Alex White and Joe Gardner and first baseman Matt McBride.

All three pitchers rank in the top six of the Indians prospects by with Pomeranz, the fifth overall pick in 2010, ranked second behind third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall.

Technically, Pomeranz can't be traded until August 15th.

Jimenez, who was rocked last night (four walks and four earned runs in one inning), has a reasonable salary over the next couple of seasons: $2.8 million (2011), $4.2 million (2012) and $5.7 million (2013). There is a club option for $14 million in 2014, but Jimenez can void that due to the trade.

But ESPN's Keith Law thinks that the Indians made a bad move for two reasons. First, the Indians have struggled (23-36) since their surprising start (30-15), which came against relatively easier competition. Second, it's unclear which Ubaldo Jimenez the Indians will get.

Last year, Jimenez was 15-1 with a 2.20 ERA heading into the All-Star Break. Since then, Jimenez has a 10-16 record with an ERA of 4.19.

"He's been a little beat up this year," closer Chris Perez said of Jimenez (via Paul Hoynsie of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer), "but Colorado isn't the easiest place to pitch. His road numbers are much better and he's on a club-friendly contract.

"I think we gave up a lot of talent, but you have to give talent to get talent. Pomeranz has a lot of talent, but at the same time he's never pitched up here. In five years we might be kicking ourselves."

As of last night's game, the Indians are 53-51 and 1.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers (56-51).

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Alex Rodriguez to have knee surgery Monday, out 4-6 weeks

New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez will have surgery on Monday to repair his torn meniscus, per Peter Botte of the NY Daily News.

Rodriguez will miss the next 4-to-6 weeks while recovering from the surgery.

Although he considered playing through the injury, which initially occurred on June 19th, it makes more sense to get it taken care of now.

"Absolutely. That's what I would say, if you're going to have the surgery, let's get it done as soon as possible so some of the off-days you're having are during the (All-Star) break," [manager Joe] Girardi said. "If he decided not to have the surgery, we've seen how it's kind of affected him up to this point."

This means Rodriguez will have landed on the disabled list in four consecutive seasons.

A-Rod hasn't hit a home run in his past 85 at-bats, which is the longest drought of his career.

On the season, Rodriguez is hitting .295 with 13 home runs and 52 runs batted in.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Derek Jeter homers for 3,000th hit

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter homered for his 3,000th career (regular-season) hit off Rays starting pitcher David Price.

Jeter, who is the 28th player to reach the milestone, became only the second player to homer for his 3,000th hit. As noted by SI's Joe Posnanski, Wade Boggs was the other player.

In addition, Jeter becomes the first player in franchise history to reach the milestone while collecting all 3,000 hits as a Yankee.

Here are the other 27 players to have reached the milestone in Major League Baseball history:

1. Pete Rose (4,256)
2. Ty Cobb (4,189)
3. Hank Aaron (3,771)
4. Stan Musial (3,630)
5. Tris Speaker (3,514)
6. Cap Anson (3,435)
7. Honus Wagner (3,420)
8. Carl Yastrzemski (3,419)
9. Paul Molitor (3,319)
10. Eddie Collins (3,315)
11. Willie Mays (3,283)
12. Eddie Murray (3,255)
13. Nap Lajoie (3,242)
14. Cal Ripken (3,184)
15. George Brett (3,154)
16. Paul Waner (3,152)
17. Robin Yount (3,142)
18. Tony Gwynn (3,141)
19. Dave Winfield (3,110)
20. Craig Biggio (3,060)
21. Rickey Henderson (3,055)
22. Rod Carew (3,053)
23. Lou Brock (3,023)
24. Rafael Palmeiro (3,020)
25. Wade Boggs (3,010)
26. Al Kaline (3,007)
27. Roberto Clemente (3,000)

The next closest active player to reach 3,000 hits is Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who has 2,842 hits as of yesterday.

When it's all said and done, how high will Jeter finish on this list (vote on our poll here)?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ryan Braun's MRI shows inflammation but no structural damage

Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun missed a fourth consecutive game on Wednesday. And although he won't play in the series opener against the Reds on Thursday, he could return as early as Friday, per's Adam McCalvey.

Braun had an MRI today and the results showed inflammation in a tendon behind the knee -- but no structural damage.

"I think it was the best-case result," Braun said, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "They said the only thing that could have been better was if it was more in the muscle. It's kind of more hamstring than calf. It's in a tendon behind my knee that's in between the calf and the hamstring. It doesn't get as much blood flow as a muscle does.

"I'm not in pain or anything like that. It's just that, unfortunately, I'm not able to do baseball activities. The goal is to minimize the time missed. It's more beneficial to miss a little time now than a long time down the road."

If Braun doesn't play this weekend, he said he won't play in the All-Star Game next week.

On the season, Braun is hitting .320 with 16 home runs, 62 runs batted in and 19 stolen bases. Along with Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, Braun is one of two players in baseball that is hitting at least .300 with 15-plus homers and 15-plus steals.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

C.C. Sabathia becomes first pitcher this season to win ten games

Yankees starter C.C. Sabathia became the first pitcher in baseball to win ten games this season.

In today's 8-3 win over the Rockies, Sabathia allowed only one run, which came in the eighth inning, and struck out nine batters in eight innings.

I wish I could say it meant something, but it don’t,” he said with a shrug and a sly smile, per the Associated Press. “We’re here to win championships. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

Today's win means the Yankees have moved into a tie with the Red Sox for the best record (44-31) in the American League. Only the Phillies have a better record (48-29) in all of baseball.

Although Sabathia won two of his past three starts, today's performance was the first solid outing he had over his last four starts. Before today's game, he allowed 14 earned runs in 20 2/3 innings (6.24 ERA) in that three-game span.

On the season, Sabathia is 10-4 with an ERA of 3.25 and 93 strikeouts.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cliff Lee has allowed only one earned run in 33 innings in June

Against the Pujols-less Cardinals, Phillies starter Cliff Lee threw a six-hit shutout last night.

It was the second straight shutout for Lee and his eighth career shutout (all since 2008).

“There’s total gratification,” Lee said. “Every time I want to throw the whole game, there’s no doubt about it. I think I could have gone the 10th and the 11th, too.”

Lee has allowed only one run in 33 innings over four starts in the month of June. For the month, he is 4-0 with an ERA of 0.27 and 29 strikeouts.

Per ESPN's Stats and Info, only four Phillies pitchers have an ERA under 1.00 for a month with five starts since World World II. The last to do so was Jim Bunning in August 1967 (0.87 ERA).

Lee should get his fifth start next week when the Phillies host the Red Sox from June 28-30.

On the season, Lee is the top seven in the National League in all Triple Crown categories: eight wins (tied for fifth), 2.87 ERA (seventh) and 114 strikeouts (third).

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Red Sox place Carl Crawford on 15-day DL

The Boston Red Sox have placed left fielder Carl Crawford on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring, per ESPN Boston.

"I think the medical people thought at best it was going to be 10 to 14 days [recovery time],'' [manager Terry] Francona said of Crawford, who was diagnosed with a Grade 1 strain, the least severe. "I called him and talked to him this morning, he gets it.”

To take Crawford's roster spot, the Red Sox have recalled outfielder Josh Reddick from Triple-A.

This will be the second stint with the Red Sox this season for Reddick, who had five hits in 13 at-bats and four runs batted in during his first stint.

After getting off to a horrible start (.155, one home run and six RBIs in April), Crawford was hitting .295 with five homers and 25 RBIs in May and June.

On the season, Crawford is hitting .243 with six home runs, 31 RBIs and eight stolen bases.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Braves place Martin Prado on 15-day DL

The Braves have placed left fielder Martin Prado on the 15-day disabled list with a staph infection in his right calf, per David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Prado had a surgical procedure on Friday to clean out the infection.

They sliced him, and he’s got to heal from the inside out,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “They pumped him with antibiotics. ... I think it was caused by a [bruise], from a slide.”

As O'Brien notes, the team's entire Opening Day outfield is now on the DL as Prado joins Jason Heyward (shoulder) and Nate McLouth (oblique).

On the season, Prado is hitting .277 and leads the team in home runs (eight) and runs batted in (33).

Friday, June 10, 2011

Matt Kemp out of lineup due to tight hamstring

Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp was scratched from tonight's game due to a tight left hamstring, per Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.

Hernandez also tweeted the team removed him from the lineup "as a precaution" so it doesn't seem to be serious.

In his previous nine games, Kemp had 16 hits (seven multi-hit games), six home runs and 17 runs batted in.

On the season, he is top five in the National League in the triple-crown categories: average (.329, fifth), home runs (18, first) and runs batted in (53, second).

Monday, June 6, 2011

Marlins place Hanley Ramirez on disabled list

For the first time in his major league career, Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez has been placed on the 15-day disabled list (DL) with a back strain.

The move is retroactive to May 30th, which means Ramirez will be eligible to come off the DL on June 14th when the Marlins open up a four-game series against the Phillies.

"I think I feel better today, way better than yesterday and the day before," Ramirez said (via the Miami Herald). "Today is the first day where I feel like everything is coming along. My lower back is getting looser and my hip is better."

So, how soon will he be back on the field?

While Ramirez hopes it's as soon as possible, Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said, "Nobody knows, not even him."

The Marlins called up left-hander Brad Hand, who was 7-1 with an ERA of 3.53 in Double-A this year. Hand will start Tuesday's game.

Ramirez has struggled -- .210 batting average, four home runs, 17 runs batted in and 11 stolen bases in 48 games this season.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

David Wright to miss another three weeks

Mets third baseman David Wright went on the disabled list on May 16th due to a stress fracture in his back that occurred on April 19th.

Tonight the Mets announced that Wright will miss another three weeks after Wright was examined by team doctors Friday, per Andy McCullough of the Newark Star-Ledger.

“I think we were all hopeful, and perhaps they were as well,” [general manager Sandy] Alderson said. “But I think at this point, perhaps realism has ruled the day. We can’t argue with the fact that, look, this is typically how long it takes bones to heal.”

According to McCullough, it typically takes six weeks for a fracture of this type to heal, but the six-week period should be based on when Wright stopped playing instead of when the injury occurred.

In 39 games this season, Wright is hitting only .226 with six home runs and 18 runs batted in.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Matt Holliday, Kyle McClellan headed to DL

The St. Louis Cardinals are about to lose outfielder Matt Holliday and starting pitcher Kyle McClellan to the disabled list, per's Matthew Leach.

Holliday strained his left quadriceps on May 18th and aggravated the injury on May 22nd.

"We were aggressive," [general manager John ] Mozeliak said. "We tried. And he still wasn't getting to the point where we're comfortable with just letting him continue to go through this same pattern. So now we'll give him a few days, try to calm it down, and we're very optimistic that after 15 days, he'll be ready to go.

"Nothing's changed, and frankly it looks like it's getting better, but it's still something he feels. And rather than push it as we sit here on June 1, it just doesn't make a lot of sense. Conservative treatment we will now try, after we tried to be aggressive. It's still something that he notices, and it's just not going away."

On the season, Holliday is hitting .342 with six home runs and 31 runs batted in.

McClellan, who has a strained hip flexor, had his worst outing of the season on Monday when he allowed seven runs in four innings.

On the season, McClellan has a 6-2 record with an ERA of 3.86 and 34 strikeouts in 67 2/3 innings.

"It's definitely the right thing to do," McClellan said. "The way I've [had it] explained it's kind of like a pulled hamstring -- if you don't give it enough time, it's going to keep occurring. There's two different things -- there's the strain and there's the swelling. So you have to pretty much right now let the swelling go down and then try to strengthen everything around the strain."

To take McClellan's roster spot, the Cardinals will call right-handed pitcher Lance Lynn, who was a supplemental first-round pick in 2008, from Triple-A.

Despite pitching on Sunday against Omaha, Lynn will get the start on Thursday against San Francisco.

Hanley Ramirez misses third straight game, DL decision to come Friday

Earlier in the week, Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez described his back pain as the "worse pain I've ever had in my life, in my career."

Today he missed his third consecutive game.

Per Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post, the Marlins will decide whether or not to place Ramirez on the disabled list on Friday.

The Marlins have Thursday off and then begin a four-game series against the Brewers on Friday.

We can’t keep going with only one shortstop,” manager Edwin Rodriguez said today (via Capozzi). “Pretty soon we have to make a decision.”

Ramirez is hitting only .210 and has four home runs, 17 runs batted in and 11 stolen bases.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Joakim Soria out, Aaron Crow in, as Royals closer

Entering the 2011 season, Joakim Soria posted a sub-2.50 ERA in all four of his seasons as a major league reliever. And his career mark going into 2011 was a miniscule 2.01.

Things haven't gone so well for Soria in 2011.

In his 23rd appearance of the season today, Soria blew another save opportunity, his third in a row and fifth on the season, and in the process relinquished his role as the team's closer.

Not only is Soria's fifth blown save the most he's ever had in a season, but his ERA is 6.55 or more than three times what his career ERA was before this season.

I went to his office and told him it’s the right time to do it,” Soria said, per Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. “I don’t want to be (the reason for) this losing streak. The team is playing really well, and they need a man who can go after (the other team). Right now, that’s not (me).”

With Soria out, Aaron Crow will get the majority of save opportunities although he blew a save opportunity in his last appearance as well.

Crow has two blown saves this year but also has an ERA of 1.33, a WHIP of 1.04 and he's holding hitters to a .196 batting average.

Although Crow is only owned in 24 percent of Yahoo! leagues as of tonight, that number will skyrocket soon.

Twins place Francisco Liriano on the 15-day DL

Per Phil Mackey of, the Minnesota Twins have placed starter Francisco Liriano on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder inflammation.

After a horrible start to the season (1-4 record and 9.13 ERA in April), Liriano pitched well in three of his four starts in May.

Liriano, who was scratched from his start on Saturday, posted a 2-1 record with an ERA of 2.52 in his four starts in the month of May.

The move is retroactive to May 23rd since Liriano last pitched on the 22nd and the team has recalled righthander Anthony Salama from Triple-A.

Through May 29 games, the Twins have the highest ERA (4.77) while scoring the fewest runs (175) in all of baseball.

Not only do the Twins have the worst record (17-35) in the majors, but every team in the American League has at least six more wins than the Twins.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Adam Dunn now 0-32 vs. LHPs this season

What do Adam Dunn and I have in common?

Neither one of us has a hit against a left-handed pitcher this season. To my credit, Dunn has 14 more strikeouts versus southpaws than I have.

With today's pinch-hit strikeout, Dunn is now 0-for-32 with one run scored, one run batted in, five walks and 14 strikeouts against lefties this season.

On the season, Dunn is hitting only .191 (he's hitting .242 vs. RHPs) with only five home runs in 152 at-bats.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Matt Holliday aggravated quad injury in today's game

Against the Astros on Wednesday, Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday suffered a quad injury that caused him to miss Thursday's game.

Holliday, who was used as the team's designated hitter against the Royals this weekend, aggravated the injury and left today's game in the fifth inning after beating out a potential double-play ball.

Per Matthew Leach of, the Cardinals said the move to take Holliday out of the game was "precautionary."

The Cardinals begin a three-game series in San Diego tomorrow.

On the season, Holliday is hitting .349 with six home runs, 31 runs batted in and 31 runs scored although he is only 3-for-26 (.115) in his past eight games played.

Phillies to activate Chase Utley on Monday

Although the Phillies have the best record in the National League, their offense has struggled recently. Today's shutout loss against the Rangers marked the ninth consecutive game in which the Phillies have scored three runs or less.

But help is on the way.

When the Phillies begin a four-game series against the Reds on Monday, second baseman Chase Utley will be activated from the disabled list and make his season debut.

When it comes to playing time, however, Utley will be eased back into action slowly.

We might do one on, one off for a while, or two on, one off,” [manager Charlie] Manuel said, per Jim McCormick of Philadelphia Sports Daily. “I think that Utley and I will communicate, I think he will let me know.”

To make room for Utley, the Phillies have optioned Pete Orr to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Jose Bautista hits two more homers, ahead of last year's pace

Not many, if any, expected Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista to repeat his baseball-leading and breakout performance of 54 home runs in 2010.

In fact, here's what I wrote about Bautista in March in fantasy baseball outfielder rankings: "Although there's virtually no chance that he duplicates his 54-homer performance from 2010, Bautista could hit 35 or so homers with 100 runs batted in. Even better, he also has position eligibility at third base."

Although we are only 45 games into the season, it appears that I could be (very) wrong.

Despite missing eight games this season, Bautista belted his 17th and 18th home runs through 37 games played.

That means, Bautista is on pace for 64.8 home runs if he continues to hit 18 per every 45 games. Of course, it seems highly improbable that he'll maintain anything close to that pace.

But, then again, Bautista has hit 82 home runs since September 2009.

With 18 home runs in 132 at-bats, he's hitting a home run per 7.33 at-bats. Last year, he hit one in every 10.54 at-bats, on average.

Marlins place Josh Johnson on DL, retroactive to May 17th

With the exception of a five-run outing on Cinco de Mayo, Marlins starter Josh Johnson has allowed only one or no runs in six of his last seven starts, the last of which was against the Mets on May 16th.

In that start, Johnson left after the fifth inning due to a forearm bruise caused by a Carlos Beltran groundball, but he had allowed only one run.

Instead of starting tomorrow as scheduled, it's going to be a while before Johnson gets his next start.

Per Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post, the Marlins have placed Johnson on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. Since he hasn't started since the 16th, the move is retroactive to May 17th.

The Marlins called up Jay Buente, who will take Johnson's roster spot and start tomorrow's game against Tampa.

In 60 1/3 innings this season, Johnson has struck out 56 batters while allowing only 39 hits. He has a 3-1 record with an ERA of 1.64, which is tied for the lead in the National League.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Nelson Cruz heads to the 15-day disabled list

Two-thirds of the Texas Rangers' starting outfield is now on the disabled list.

Joining teammate Josh Hamilton, who broke his arm sliding into home earlier in the season, Nelson Cruz was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a strained quad.

Since Cruz last played on Tuesday, the move is retroactive to Wednesday. Naturally, Cruz was disappointed by the move.

"It's not good, not fun. I want to play,'' Cruz said (via Sports Illustrated). "The safe thing is to rest.''

Cruz, who landed on the DL three times and played only 108 games in 2010, is htting .219 with seven home runs, 18 runs batted in and one stolen base on the season.

Texas has recalled Craig Gentry from Triple-A to take Cruz's roster spot.

Justin Verlander no-hits the Blue Jays

Earlier in the week, Minnesota's Francisco Liriano threw the first no-hitter of the 2011 season.

Today, Detroit's Justin Verlander threw the second no-hitter of the season as well as the second of his career.

It was the seventh no-hitter in franchise history and the last Tiger to throw a no-no before Verlander was Jack Morris in 1984.

Nearly perfect, Verlander allowed only one walk, which came to J.P. Arencibia in the eighth inning. Despite entering today's game with 51 strikeouts in 48 innings pitched, Verlander tied his season low of four strikeouts today.

The low walk and strikeout totals allowed Verlander to complete the game in only 108 pitches.

Verlander improved to 3-3 on the season and lowered his ERA to 3.16. In all eight of his starts this season, Verlander has allowed three earned runs or less.

B.J. Upton suspended for two games

Earlier in the week, Tampa Bay outfielder B.J. Upton was ejected for arguing a called strike three on a pitch that looked to be a ball.

"I just kind of lost it a little bit," said Upton after the game, per's Spencer Fordin. "I guess you could say ... I just didn't feel like that pitch in that particular moment was a strike. ... I'm a pretty laid back guy, I think. Obviously, you could tell I didn't like the call. ... It is what it is. It's done with now."

Well, it wasn't exactly over.

Upton was suspended for two games by Major League Baseball. Although he appealed, he will serve the suspension in Cleveland next week.

In his last ten games including today's win over the Orioles, Upton is hitting .244 with three home runs, ten runs batted in and three stolen bases.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Nelson Cruz out of Thursday's lineup, too

Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz left Tuesday's game against the Mariners with tightness in his quad.

"I feel good right now," Cruz said Tuesday, per ESPN's Richard Durrett. "We'll wait until tomorrow and see. Hopefully, it should be just one day."

It's not "just one day" as Cruz is out of Thursday's lineup as well.

Cruz, who hit a home run in each of the team's first four games of the year, has struggled since April 10th.

In the first eight games, Cruz hit .360 with five home runs and ten runs batted in. Since then, Cruz is hitting only .175 (14 for 80) with two home runs and eight runs batted in.

Considering he had hoped he would have returned for tonight's game, it doesn't appear that Cruz will be out any or much longer.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Francisco Liriano hurls no-hitter vs. White Sox

There was quite a bit of pressure of Twins starter Francisco Liriano entering last night's start against the White Sox.

Before last night's game, Liriano posted a record of 1-4 with an ERA of 9.13 and 18 walks in 23 2/3 innings pitched and the team had the fewest wins (nine) in all of baseball.

Liriano's spot in the rotation was on the line as manager Ron Gardenhire had said last week, "That's kind of why we're working on [Kevin] Slowey, getting him stretched out, in case we decide after this next start whether we're going to do something or not."

And, boy, did he deliver by throwing the franchise's first no-hitter since 1999 and the fifth in team history.

"I'm pretty excited," Liriano said, per Rhett Bollinger of "I can't explain myself right now. I'm very happy, very excited. I had a rough start to the season, so it's very exciting."

Liriano was helped out by some nice plays in the field and he walked six batters, but his no-no should help restore his confidence, as pitching coach Rick Anderson notes.

"I'm excited as can be about the no-hitter, but I'm even more excited the confidence is there," Anderson said. "I can't wait for the next start. And that's what he needed -- confidence. Hopefully, this is a confidence thing, and it's something we all need to get our strut and our swagger back. I think we all needed that. And that's a big step."

Friday, April 29, 2011

Francisco Liriano may only have one more chance (start) to keep spot in rotation

Things haven't gone well for Twins starter Francisco Liriano (and his fantasy owners) this year.

And depending on how his next scheduled start on Tuesday goes, it could get worse, much worse.

"There's times when he looks totally dominant and he'll go an inning or two like that, but then he just kind of starts misfiring, and I think once we get ahead he just kind of backs away a little bit. So, if it's a confidence thing, then we've got to really work hard to get it there, but if not, we're going to have to make a decision and see where we go from there," manager Ron Gardenhire said, per Tom Pelissero of

"That's kind of why we're working on [Kevin] Slowey, getting him stretched out, in case we decide after this next start whether we're going to do something or not."

Slowey, who eligible to return from the disabled list, will make one more rehab start to help get him ready to take over Liriano's spot in the rotation, if necessary.

In his five starts, Liriano is 1-4 with an ERA of 9.13 and 18 walks in 23 2/3 innings pitched.

Derek Lowe arrested Thursday night for DUI

At roughly 10 p.m. last night, Braves starting pitcher Derek Lowe was arrested for driving under the influence.

In addition to the DUI charge, Lowe was charged with reckless driving and making an improper lane change.

"Obviously we are concerned and disappointed about the events involving Derek Lowe overnight," the Braves said in a statement (via's Mark Bowman). "We are currently gathering information and plan to address this matter later today."

Lowe, who is scheduled to start on Sunday, has a 2-3 record with an ERA of 3.21 and 32 strikeouts in 33 2/3 innings pitched. With the exception of his April 20th start, Lowe has allowed two or fewer runs in all of his games so far this season.

Seven straight multi-hit games for Lance Berkman

Of course, Lance Berkman does not have a realistic shot at the triple crown.

But heading into the last two days of April, Berkman is second in the National League in all three triple-crown categories: batting average (.410), home runs (eight) and runs batted in (22).

Berkman trails teammate Matt Holliday in batting average (.433) and Brewers Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder in home runs (nine) and runs batted in (23), respectively.

In last night's game, Berkman had four hits, two of which were home runs, and five runs batted in. That extended his streak of multi-hit games to seven consecutive games.

During that seven-game span, Berkman is hitting .607 (17 for 28).

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pujols leaves game with tight hamstring

Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols left last night's game against the Reds with tightness in his hamstring after trying to run out a grounder in the seventh inning.

The Cardinals have Monday off as they travel to Houston to begin a three-game series with the Astros on Tuesday.

Will he be able to play?

"I think it all depends on how I wake up tomorrow," Pujols said, per Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "The tests were pretty good. They don't think it's too bad. When I wake up tomorrow, I can sense a little more about how I feel. Hopefully it's not as bad as I feel right now. I'll be glad we have a day off tomorrow.

"I'll show up here early tomorrow, get treatment and we'll go from there. Right now, if I told you I was going to be playing Tuesday, I don't want to say yes and not be there. ... Hopefully, in my prayers, I feel good, have a good day off tomorrow, travel, and on Tuesday I'll be ready to go."

Pujols got off to a slow start and was hitting only .150 through April 11th's win over Arizona. In his past 12 games, however, Pujols has 16 hits in 48 at-bats (.333 average) with six home runs and 13 runs batted in.

Jose Contreras to DL, Ryan Madson to close

Phillies closer Brad Lidge started the season on the disabled list and isn't expected back until June, at the earliest. In addition, J.C. Romero is on the DL with a strained calf and isn't eligible to return until May 4th.

Add another Phillies relief pitcher to the disabled list: Jose Contreras.

Per the Philadelphia Daily News, Contreras has been placed on the 15-day DL with flexor pronator strain. From Sunday to Thursday, Contreras made four appearances in five days and felt some tenderness in his elbow.

"He had been pitching quite a bit," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "A little tender. He did a little better yesterday, and then today he felt some more soreness ... I think it was just the work that he's done. He didn't indicate it was one pitch, just over time, especially after his outing on Thursday."

To take Contreras' roster spot, the Phillies called up Michael Stutes from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

That means that Ryan Madson will assume closing responsibilities. Madson is 2-0 with two saves, ten strikeouts and a 1.00 ERA in nine appearances this season.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

James Shields hurls four-hit shutout, second straight complete game

Facing the Toronto Blue Jays today, Tampa Bay starter James Shields hurled a four-hit shutout while striking out seven batters.

Shields has now thrown back-to-back complete games after allowing only one run and four hits versus the White Sox on April 19th.

With the exception of his second start of the season, Shields has pitched seven-plus innings and allowed two or fewer runs in his other four starts.

On the season, Shields has improved his record to 2-1 and has lowered his ERA and WHIP to 2.35 and 0.97, respectively.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Neftali Feliz to 15-day DL, Rangers to use closer-by-committee approach

It seems that there have been a greater number of injuries to key players this April than there has been in the first month in recent memory.

Players such as Tampa's Evan Longoria, Washington's Ryan Zimmerman and Minnesota's Joe Mauer are just a few of the elite players that have landed on the disabled list (DL). Two players (Matt Holliday and Adam Dunn) even had emergency appendectomies.

And after already losing outfielder Josh Hamilton for six-to-eight weeks, the Rangers have placed their closer, Neftali Feliz, on the 15-day DL with shoulder inflammation.

The move is retroactive to Thursday, which means Feliz will be eligible to return on May 6th when the Rangers begin a three-game series at home against the Yankees.

"If this was somebody older, who had dealt with this before, we might just give him a few days off," [general manager Jon] Daniels said, per Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. "But we want to be extra cautious."

Right-hander Cody Eppley from Triple-A Round Rock will take his spot on the active roster.

Last season, Feliz set the rookie record for saves (40) in a season and won the A.L. Rookie of the Year award. This year, Feliz has converted all five of his save opportunities and has a 1.08 ERA.

As far as the interim closer while Feliz is out, it's going to be a closer-by-committee approach. Per Anthony Andro of Fort Worth Star-Telegram, manager Ron Washington said, "We've got no bona fide closer right now."

Friday, April 22, 2011

X-rays on Kevin Youkilis came back negative

After fouling a ball of off his shin, Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis left yesterday's game in the second inning.

Per the Boston Herald, the X-rays came back negative, which rules out a fracture. However, manager Terry Francona describes Youkilis as being "pretty sore."

Youkilis, who is off to a slow start this season, is hitting only .214 with three home runs and eight runs batted in through 18 games.

That said, he's had two multi-hit games in his past four games played and 14 at-bats.

The Red Sox, who won only two of their first 12 games, have won five of their past six games.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tigers place Victor Martinez on the disabled list

The Detroit Tigers have placed catcher/designated hitter on the 15-day disabled list (DL), per John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press.

Martinez, who strained his right groin in Saturday's game, aggravated the injury in Monday's win over the Mariners.

The Tigers called up catcher Omir Santos from Triple-A to take V-Mart's roster spot.

In his past three games, Martinez has five hits in ten at-bats. On the season, Martinez is hitting .250 with two home runs and nine runs batted in.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mike Leake arrested for stealing $60 worth of t-shirts

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Mike Leake was arrested for allegedly stealing six t-shirts from Macy's earlier this afternoon.

The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum jail sentence of 180 days.

As expected, both the organization and Leake issued statements that they won't comment on the charges directly.

Per a report in the Cincinnati Enquirer, police documents indicate that security cameras show that Leake removed the security tags and walked out of the store without paying for them.

If security cameras show that Leake removed the security tags, however, it doesn't appear that he can (plausibly) claim that he didn't know he had the merchandise on him when leaving the store.

Leake, the team's first-round pick in 2009, was the 21st player since the start of the draft to appear in a major league game without appearing in a single minor league game. He finished with an 8-4 record last year and 2-0 in three starts this season.

Ryan Franklin blows another save, is a change coming?

It hasn't been a good start to the season for (current) Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin.

As Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sums up in his column, here's what Franklin has done so far this year:
"Four blown saves in five opportunities. An 11.57 ERA. Eight hits, two walks and three homers in 4 2/3 innings. And hitters have a .364 batting average against Franklin. It's ugly."
Ugly is right.

With Franklin's four blown saves, the Cardinals could easily be 12-4 instead of 8-8 this season as Miklasz points out.

Like many, Miklasz suggests that Mitchell Boggs should replace Franklin as the team's closer.

Boggs, who's owned in only seven percent of Yahoo! leagues, has allowed only two earned runs while striking out 12 batters in nine innings this season.

Will manager Tony La Russa make the choice that seems to be the only choice to make? Or will he remain loyal to Franklin, to a fault?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Matt Capps in, Joe Nathan out, as Twins closer, for now

The Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays are currently in the sixth inning and the Twins have a two-run lead, 4-2.

If there's a save opportunity in the ninth inning, it will be Matt Capps -- not Joe Nathan -- on the mound to close out the game for the Twins, per Kelsie Smith of the Pioneer Press.

With last night's blown save, Nathan has done so in back-t0-back save opportunities and his ERA has increased to 8.44. In those two games, he has allowed four earned runs, three hits and three walks with no strikeouts in 1 1/3 innings.

Nathan said last night, "Coming back from Tommy John isn't easy. It's a tough process and to do it now while I'm closing games out, I think that's a tough gig when you're healthy."

Capps hasn't been much better recently.

In his past two appearances (1 1/3 innings), Capps has allowed three earned runs. And on April 14th, both Capps and Nathan blew save opportunities.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Alex Rodriguez left game in 6th inning, status for Sunday unclear

In today's win over the Rangers, Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez left the game in the sixth inning due to lower back and oblique stiffness.

And it's unclear whether he'll be able to play Sunday or not.

We’ll see how I wake up,” Rodriguez said, per Zach Berman of the Newark Star-Ledger. “I don’t have a crystal ball, but hopefully I wake up much better and the weather helps.”

“I’ll listen to him, I’ll listen to our doctors and our trainers about him and if he’s stiff tomorrow, he probably won’t play,” manager Joe Girardi said. “But if he comes in tomorrow and says he’s ready to go, I’ll talk to the trainers and the doctors and see what they think.”

With the Yankees being off on Monday, it may make sense to rest him Sunday and play it safe.

Off to a great start, Rodriguez has hit safely in all 12 games and is currently hitting .385 with four home runs and nine runs batted in.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Yankees place Phil Hughes on DL, Bartolo Colon to take spot in rotation

The New York Yankees have placed pitcher Phil Hughes on the 15-day disabled list with a "dead" arm, per Marc Craig of the Newark Star-Ledger.

Through three starts, Hughes is averaging only 89.3 miles per hour on his fastball (via He averaged 93.8 and 92.6 mph in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

"It's difficult to go through," Hughes said (via Craig). "I didn't really anticipate this happening."

In his three starts, Hughes has pitched a total of 10.1 innings and the deepest he's gone was 4 1/3 innings. He's allowed five-plus earned runs in all of his starts and has only struck out three batters this season.

The Yankees have called up pitcher Lance Pendleton from Triple-A and Bartolo Colon will move into the rotation.

Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox finalize seven-year contract extension

It's official.

The Red Sox and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez have completed a seven-year contract extension worth $154 million, per Ian Browne of

The extension, which is the second-largest in team history, keeps Gonzalez, who was due to enter free agency after the 2011 season, in Boston through the 2018 season.

As Browne points out, there were two main reasons for waiting to announce the deal. First, it allowed the Red Sox to make sure there were no lingering effects from his off-season shoulder surgery. Second, the Red Sox saved $6.2 million in luxury tax by announcing the deal after the season started.

Gonzalez is off to a slow start -- .268 with one homer and seven runs batted in over 11 games.

With playing half of his games a park much more hitter-friendly than his previous home (Petco Park), however, Gonzalez should be in store for huge numbers year in and year out.

Here are his career splits:
  • Home: .263, 199 runs, 61 homers (140 extra-base hits), 216 RBIs in 431 games
  • Away: .303, 294 runs, 108 homers (226 extra-base hits), 316 RBIs in 438 games
Over the five-year period (2006-2010) he spent in San Diego, Gonzalez ranks sixth in baseball in home runs (161), eighth in runs batted in (501) and fifth in total bases (1,529).

Twins place Joe Mauer on 15-day disabled list

The Minnesota Twins have placed catcher Joe Mauer on the 15-day disabled list (DL) due to "bilateral leg weakness," per La Velle Neal of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Obviously, it's bad news that Mauer has landed on the DL, but the moderately good news is that his knee, on which he had surgery in December, appears to be fine.

"He is definitely very, very sore over the last few days -- his shoulder, his elbow -- and we think it's his legs just not strong enough underneath him and he says he feels terrible," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "His knee is actually feeling OK but he's compensating for the weakness in his upper leg ... that's causing a lot of other problems."

Mauer, who came down with a bout of the flu last night, is scheduled to go to Baltimore today to visit with the same specialist that treated his sacroiliac joint in 2009.

To take Mauer's roster spot, the Twins have recalled catcher Steve Holm from Triple-A Rochester.

From a fantasy perspective, a couple of waiver-wire possibilities include Toronto's J.P. Arencibia (owned in 49.5 percent of ESPN leagues), Philadelphia's Carlos Ruiz (27.9 percent), San Diego's Nick Hundley (22.0 percent) and Detroit's Alex Avila (7.4 percent).

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ryan Zimmerman to go on the 15-day disabled list

The Washington Nationals will place third baseman Ryan Zimmerman on the 15-day disabled list (DL), per Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.

Zimmerman, who strained his oblique on Saturday, sat out of Sunday's game and would be eligible to return as early as April 24th.

However, Kilgore notes that the Nationals "hope" that Zimmerman will be able to return in three weeks.

With Zimmerman out, Alex Cora, who started Saturday, and Jerry Hairston will split time at third base. Meanwhile, Jayson Werth is expected to move into Zimmerman's third spot within the batting order.

In the three seasons from 2008 to 2010, Zimmerman missed a combined total of 81 games.

With two of the top three fantasy third basemen (Zimmerman and Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria) on the DL, one player to consider adding is Detroit's Jhonny Peralta, who's eligible at third base and shortstop.

Through nine games, Peralta is hitting .379, but he's a career .264 hitter that hit above .276 only once.

That said, Peralta, who is owned in only 30 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 46 percent of ESPN leagues, has driven in 80-plus runs in each of the past three seasons.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Clay Buchholz, Red Sox agree to four-year extension

The Boston Red Sox and starting pitcher Clay Buchholz have agreed on a four-year extension worth roughly $30 million.

Buchholz will earn $550,000 this year, the extension covers 2012 through 2015 and the Red Sox have club options for two additional years (2016 and 2017).

That was just something that was important to the club,” Sox general manager Theo Epstein said, per Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. “Obviously, we think very highly of Clay or we wouldn’t be doing this deal. With Clay being just 26 years old, the contract guarantees the salaries through the age of 30, and having two club option years helps us. We expect Clay to be pitching very well at that point and can still be here in his age 31, age 32 seasons. Just gives the club a little more flexibility in exchange for the security that we’re providing through the deal. It seems to make sense.”

Before the deal, Buchholz would have been eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.

Despite his rough start (0-2, 7.20 ERA) this year, Buchholz finished with a 17-7 record and the American League's second-best ERA (2.33) in 2010.

Jered Weaver strikes out 15, now 3-0 on season

Last year, Angels ace Jered Weaver finished with an ERA of 3.01 and led the American League in strikeouts (233) while making his first-ever All-Star appearance.

Through three starts in the young season, however, Weaver has been even more dominant than he was last year.

In today's win over the Blue Jays, Weaver allowed just one run while striking out 15 batters in 7 2/3 innings.

Over his three starts, Weaver has three wins, lowered his ERA to 0.87 and has struck out 27 batters in 20 2/3 innings pitched (11.76 K/9).

Ryan Zimmerman to miss a few games with abdominal strain

Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who has an abdominal strain, is not in today's lineup and will likely miss a few additional days, per's William Ladson.

With three consecutive games with two hits per game, Zimmerman has raised his average on the season to a team-leading .357.

Alex Cora is starting today's game at third base and hitting eighth in the lineup, per Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.

The Nationals play the Mets today, have tomorrow off and then begin a three-game series against the Marlins on Tuesday.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Hanley Ramirez is day-to-day

Considering Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez needed assistance to get off the field in yesterday's game, it certainly could have been worse.

Bill Hall's attempt to break up a double play resulted in a left leg bruise for Ramirez, who is considered day-to-day, per Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.

Through seven games, Ramirez is hitting only .207 with no home runs and one stolen base.

There's no official word yet on his status for tonight's game against the Astros.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Adam Dunn unlikely to play (or pinch hit) this weekend

Disappointed that he didn't play Thursday, White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn hoped to play against the Rays on Friday.

Instead it's highly likely that Dunn, who had an emergency appendectomy on Wednesday, won't play on Saturday or Sunday, either, and maybe beyond.

And if manager Ozzie Guillen needs a pinch-hitter, it's probably not going to be Dunn.

"Hopefully we don't have to. I'd rather lose a game than lose a guy for another month," Guillen said, per Dave Van Dyke of the Chicago Tribune. "If I have to pinch-hit Adam Dunn with the game on the line, I'd rather lose the game than have him hurt himself and lose him for we don't know how long."

Mark Teahan, who's batting eighth, started at designated hitter for the White Sox.

Manny Ramirez retires due to drug 'issue'

After failing a second drug test, Rays designated hitter Manny Ramirez has decided to retire rather than appeal or face a 100-game suspension as a repeat offender.

Ramirez would have been the first player suspended 100 games.

Instead of notifying the Rays directly, Ramirez, who wasn't with the team today, notified the league, who issued the following statement (via's Alden Gonzalez):

"Major League Baseball recently notified Manny Ramirez of an issue under Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment program. Rather than continue with the process under the program, Ramirez has informed MLB that he is retiring as an active player. If Ramirez seeks reinstatement in the future, the process under the drug program will be completed. MLB will not have any further comment on this matter."

To take the roster spot vacated by Ramirez, the Rays have called up first baseman Casey Kotchman.

On the season, Ramirez was off to a rough start (like most of the Rays, who scored a league-worse eight runs in their first six games): one hit in 17 at-bats.

But as ESPN's Stats & Info blog points out via Twitter, Ramirez is one of only five players in Major League history to have hit .300-plus and 550-plus home runs for his career. The other four are Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez.

Is Manny a Hall of Famer? Let the debate start now ...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Adam Dunn hopes to play Friday

Despite having an emergency appendectomy Wednesday morning and expectations that he'd miss five games, Adam Dunn was hopeful that he'd be able to play in the home opener for the White Sox.

"I'm really disappointed that I'm not playing in this game today," Dunn said, per Scott Merkin of "I know it probably doesn't mean a lot, just another game to a lot of people, but home openers are really special -- especially when it's your first one. I definitely wanted to be out there and it's not going to work."

Dunn also said, "... I feel like when I swing, my belly button is going to go shooting at the pitcher. That's a bad visual. Seriously. That's what it feels like."

With a 13-strikeout performance from Edwin Jackson today, the White Sox beat the Rays, who are now 0-6 on the season. Although they didn't need Dunn tonight, he is hopeful that he'll be able to play on Friday.

Since 2004, Dunn has hit 38-plus home runs every year and has driven in 100-plus runs every year except 2006 (92 runs batted in).

Through four games this season, Dunn has one home run and five runs batted in.

Edwin Jackson: 2-0 and 20 K's in two starts this year

With today's victory over the Rays, White Sox starter Edwin Jackson allowed only one run while striking out 13 batters as he improved to 2-0 on the season.

The Rays have lost all six of their games and scored a league-low eight runs to start the season.

Jackson, who is owned in 58 percent of Yahoo! leagues, has struck out 20 batters in only 14 innings and has an ERA of 1.93 in his two starts.

In his 13 starts since being traded from Arizona to Chicago, Jackson has struck out 97 batters in 89 innings.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ubaldo Jimenez to go on DL

Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez got off to an incredible start in 2010. The same cannot be said about his start to the 2011 season.

The Rockies will place Jimenez on the 15-day disabled list (DL) due to a thumb injury, retroactive to April 2nd, which means he'll be eligible to come off the DL on April 17th.

"It's never good to go on the DL," Jimenez said, per Troy Renck of the Denver Post. "But I need to be able to help the team. It's getting better, but I still feel pain when I grip the ball."

Right-handed pitcher Greg Reynolds, who has been recalled from Triple-A, will take his roster spot.

In his one start this season, Jimenez allowed five earned runs and only struck out one batter in six innings.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Jose Bautista out until Friday due to family matter

Tonight the Toronto Blue Jays were without right fielder Jose Bautista, who was excused due to a family matter.

"He has been excused from the club to attend to a family matter," [manager John] Farrell said, per Gregor Chisolm of "We do expect him back to rejoin the club when we open up in L.A. If for some unforeseen reason that were to change, hopefully he gets back to us sooner, but he is dealing with a family matter at this point."

With Bautista out tonight, Jayson Nix started at third base with Edwin Encarnacion moving to designated hitter. Juan Rivera was in right field.

Encarnacion, who has already made three errors this season, is expected to be "back at third base," according to Farrell.

Jordan Walden takes over as Angels' closer

Many people refuse to use high draft picks on closers in their fantasy baseball drafts.

Their primary belief is that many of the closers on opening day won't be the same guys closing for their teams by the end of the season, regardless of whether the loss of the role is due to injury, trade or poor performance. In other words , saves can be easily acquired by an astute owner that keeps a close eye on the league's waiver wire.

Less than one week into the 2011 season, we have Exhibit A in support of their argument: Fernando Rodney, now the Angels' former closer.

Rodney has been replaced by Jordan Walden as the team's closer and the move may or may not be temporary, according to manager Mike Scioscia.

"If it lasts all season and Jordan takes off and runs with it, fine," Scioscia said, per's Lyle Spencer. "If it's Fernando, that's fine, too. We don't have to answer that today."

Appearing in three games so far this year, Walden, who is owned in roughly 30 percent (and rising) of Yahoo! leagues, has allowed no runs and struck out five in 2 1/3 innings.

Nelson Cruz hits home run in fourth straight game

Heading into tonight's game against the Mariners, Ranger teammates Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz each had a three-game homer streak to start the season.

Although Kinsler did not hit a home run tonight, Cruz did.

That means that Cruz joins Willie Mays and Mark McGwire as the only players in baseball history to begin a season with a home run in each of the first four games.

Last year, Cruz started hot as well as he hit a home run in four of his first five games to start the season.

Of course, the end of the season is more important than the start of the season for Cruz, who has missed a combined 88 games in the past two seasons.

Over the past two seasons, however, Cruz still managed to belt 55 home runs and steal 37 bases, which would be a 162-game pace of 37-25 as I noted in my fantasy outfielder rankings.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Matt Holliday hopes to stay off the DL

Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday, who had an emergency appendectomy this past Friday, hopes to stay off the disabled list (DL), but a decision will be made by Tuesday, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"I told them I would like to not go on the DL," Holliday said Monday afternoon. "I can play in 15 days, if they can do without me for a few games."

Despite playing with stomach discomfort, Holliday had three hits including a home run when the Cardinals opened their season on Thursday.

But he decided to get his stomach checked for "piece of mind" on Friday, an off day and had the appendectomy the same day.

"I've been having some pain in my stomach for awhile," Holliday said. "I think this is a fairly in-line procedure. It was a little more than a regular stomach ache. Sometimes you never know. ... We had an off day and for peace of mind I wanted to get the tests."

The team begins a ten-game (in ten days) road trip on Friday against the Giants, Diamondbacks and Dodgers.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Evan Longoria lands on 15-day DL

Earlier today, we noted that Rays third baseman Evan Longoria did not expect to miss more than a week due to his strained oblique.

He was wrong.

The Rays have placed Longoria on the 15-day disabled list and infielder Felipe Lopez will join the Rays from Triple-A Durham, per Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times.

"It's just unfortunate," [manager Joe] Maddon said. "We're having a hard time scoring runs out of the chute. He's probably our best run producer and now we don't have him. We're just going to have to make some adjustments and keep playing.''

In today's game against the Orioles, Ben Zobrist is hitting in Longoria's No. 3 spot and Sean Rodriguez is playing third base, as expected.

Carl Crawford dropped from 3rd to 7th in lineup today

Two games (and losses) into the season, the Boston Red Sox are making a notable adjustment to their lineup.

Left fielder Carl Crawford, who's 0-for-7 through two games, is moving from third to seventh in today's lineup for their game against the Rangers.

"Looking at him, he's obviously trying too hard," [Red Sox manager Terry] Francona said, per "As soon as he gets on base and creates havoc, he'll loosen up and the real Carl comes out."

Meanwhile, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who's 5-for-9 so far, and third baseman Kevin Youkilis will move up to the third and fourth spots in the batting order, respectively.

Of course, this is a temporary move. But too soon?

Evan Longoria to miss a week (or more?)

If you were fortunate enough to land the consensus top third baseman in fantasy baseball, that was the good news.

The bad news is he's expected to miss a week and there's a chance he'll land on the disabled list (DL).

Rays third baseman Evan Longoria left Saturday night's game with a sore left oblique and he will be evaluated further on Sunday.

That said, Longoria doesn't expect to miss more than a week.

"It doesn't feel like something that's going to keep me off the field for a long time," Longoria said, per Tony Fabrizio of The Tampa Tribune. "I've never had an oblique (injury), so I don't know what a real serious one is supposed to (feel like)."

Manager Joe Maddon has not ruled out Longoria landing on the disabled list by saying "we have to get him evaluated and then make a determination."

With Longoria out, Sean Rodriguez will start at third base.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fantasy Baseball: 2011 Starting Pitcher Rankings

How early should you draft starting pitchers in fantasy baseball?

The answer you get to that question will probably vary quite a bit from person to person, but there is a fairly consistent strategy I've used in drafting my teams. Typically, I will look to add one elite pitcher, a top-five (or so) starter, within the first five rounds. After I draft my "ace," I will look to find one or two solid values in the 10-12 round range (or so) and then a few guys with lots of upside late in the draft.

Here are my top 40 starting pitchers for fantasy baseball in 2011:

1. Roy Halladay, Phillies: In the past three seasons, Halladay has posted sub-3.00 ERAs, struck out 200-plus batters and thrown nine complete games each season. During that span, Halladay has won 58 games, which doesn't include a post-season no-hitter in his first ever post-season start last year.

2. Tim Lincecum, Giants: Through four seasons, Lincecum has struck out 907 batters in 811 innings pitched. That's a career K/9 rate of 10.07. Lincecum, who's averaged 252.3 strikeouts per year over the past three seasons, is 248 away from tying Tom Seaver's record for most strikeouts in a pitcher's first five years during the modern era.

3. Felix Hernandez, Mariners: "King" Felix, who is more like a 2(a) in these rankings, won the A.L. Cy Young last year despite finishing with a 13-12 record due to poor run support. Hernandez struck out 232 batters and posted a 2.27 ERA in 249.2 innings last year.

4. Cliff Lee, Phillies: In 2010, Lee walked a total of 18 batters in 212.1 innings pitched, which was a league-best 0.76 walks per nine innings. Not surprisingly, Lee, who struck out 185 batters, led baseball in K/BB ratio (10.28) last year as well. In fact, Halladay, his new teammate, finished second in the category (7.30) while Jered Weaver finished third (4.31).

5. Jon Lester, Red Sox: Similar to Lincecum and Hernandez, Lester and Yankees' ace C.C. Sabathia are 5 and 5(a) in these rankings. In the past three seasons, Lester has posted an ERA under 3.50 each year while compiling a record of 50-23 during that span. In addition, he has struck out 450 batters in 411.1 innings over the past two seasons.

6. C.C. Sabathia, Yankees: By limiting the Cap'n Crunch this off-season, Sabathia was able to shed 25 pounds. Regardless, Sabathia has a 40-15 record in his two seasons in the Bronx with ERAs of 3.37 and 3.18, respectively.

7. Justin Verlander, Tigers: With the exception of 2008 (11-17 and 4.84 ERA), Verlander has won 17-plus games with a sub-4.00 ERA every year since 2006. He has 488 strikeouts in the past two seasons and posted a career-best ERA of 3.37 in 2010.

8. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: Kershaw, who just turned 23 years old earlier this month, has finished with a sub-3.00 ERA for two consecutive seasons in addition to setting career highs in wins (13) and strikeouts (212) last year. The sky's the limit for the former high school teammate of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.

9. Tommy Hanson, Braves: Hanson, who is only 24 years old, has put up solid back-to-back seasons. In his first full season, Hanson struggled a bit in the first half last year, but he finished strong (2.51 ERA after the All-Star break).

10. Chris Carpenter, Cardinals: While 2007 and 2008 were wiped out due to injury, Carpenter has finished with an ERA under 3.50 in his other five seasons with the Cardinals. In the past two seasons, Carpenter has compiled a record of 33-13 and finished with ERAs of 2.24 and 3.22, respectively.

11. Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies: In his first 14 starts last year, Jimenez allowed more than two earned runs only once (three earned runs vs. the Blue Jays on June 11th). Before the All-Star break, Jimenez won 15 of his 18 starts and posted an ERA of only 2.20. After the break, he finished with a record of 4-7 and 3.80 ERA. That said, he made year-over-year improvements in strikeouts, wins and ERA in the past two seasons.

12. Josh Johnson, Marlins: Johnson led all of baseball in home runs allowed per nine innings with a ratio of 0.34. Johnson only started 28 games, however, because he was shut down for the last month of the 2010 season. That said, he posted career bests in ERA (2.30), K/9 (9.11) and BB/9 (2.35).

13. Cole Hamels, Phillies: Hamels bounced back nicely in 2010 by posting a career high in strikeouts (211) and a career low in ERA (3.06). And he was even better after the All-Star break (2.23 ERA and 9.68 K/9) and in the post-season (1.20 ERA and 10.20 K/9).

14. Dan Haren, Angels: Haren actually had better splits after he was traded to the American League last year. In 14 starts with the Angels, Haren finished with an ERA of 2.87 and a WHIP of 1.16 (versus 4.60 and 1.35, respectively, with the Diamondbacks). That said, his K/9 rate dropped from 9.00 in Arizona to 7.18 with Los Angeles.

15. Francisco Liriano, Twins: Last year, Liriano bounced back with career highs in wins (14) and strikeouts (201). While switching to Target Field may not be a welcome move for the team's hitters, it helped Liriano set a career low in HR/9 of 0.42, which was the fourth lowest in baseball.

16. Jered Weaver, Angels: Last year, Weaver finished sixth in baseball in K/9 ratio (a career-high 9.35) among qualified leaders. Weaver also set career bests in innings (224.1), strikeouts (233), BB/9 ratio (2.17) and HR/9 ratio (0.92).

17. Yovani Gallardo, Brewers: Gallardo, who turned 25 in February, has recorded 200-plus strikeouts and sub-4.00 ERAs in back-to-back seasons.

18. Roy Oswalt, Phillies: After Oswalt was acquired from the Astros, he was 7-1 with an ERA of 1.74 and WHIP of 0.90. While his peripherals were good before the trade (3.42 ERA and 1.11 WHIP), Oswalt was only 6-12 in 20 starts with Houston.

19. Matt Cain, Giants: Who was the "dark horse" candidate for N.L. Cy Young by Yahoo!'s Steve Henson? Considering where I'm asking this question, you surely know the answer (whether you or I agree with Henson or not). Despite having a career ERA of 3.45, however, Cain has an all-time record of 57-62 and has yet to win more than 14 games or strike out more than 186 batters in a season. In other words, I can see Cain finishing with about 15 wins, 180 strikeouts and and ERA of 3.25 (but no Cy Young).

20. Zack Greinke, Brewers: The good news is Greinke should have much better run support when he pitches in 2011 in addition to getting the opportunity to pitch to pitchers (and boost his strikeout rate). That said, we will have to wait to see that as Greinke, who will begin the season on the disabled list, might be out for all of April.

21. David Price, Rays
22. Mat Latos, Padres
23. Max Scherzer, Tigers
24. Brett Anderson, A's
25. Chad Billingsley, Dodgers
26. Wandy Rodriguez, Astros
27. Jonathan Sanchez, Giants
28. Matt Garza, Cubs
29. Tim Hudson, Braves
30. Shaun Marcum, Brewers
31. Brandon Morrow, Blue Jays
32. Gio Gonzalez, A's
33. Ted Lilly, Dodgers
34. Madison Bumgarner, Giants
35. Clay Buchholz, Red Sox
36. Brett Myers, Astros
37. Jeremy Hellickson, Rays
38. Ricky Nolasco, Marlins
39. Daniel Hudson, Diamondbacks
40. John Danks, White Sox

Feel free to send fantasy baseball questions to me via Twitter at @EDSBaseball or post them in our fantasy baseball forum.

See our fantasy rankings for everyday players: C - 1B - 2B - SS - 3B - OF

Fantasy Baseball: 2011 Outfielder Rankings

Our top three fantasy outfielders in 2011 are the same top three fantasy outfielders that most other sites have in their top three. However, I've seen all three in the top spot at a relatively even split. In an ideal world, I'd like to get my No. 1 outfielder as the third outfielder off the board.

Here are our top 50 outfielders in fantasy baseball for 2011:

1. Ryan Braun, Brewers: Although Braun hit a career-low 25 home runs in 2010, he has 90-plus runs, 97-plus runs batted in and 14-plus steals every year. Plus, he has hit .300-plus in three out of four seasons.

2. Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies: What a breakout season it was for Gonzalez! Despite missing 15 games, he finished with a line of .336-111-34-117-26. As solid as he was across the board, CarGo played much better at Coors Field (.380, 26 homers, 76 RBIs) than on the road (.289, eight homers, 41 RBIs) in 2010.

3. Carl Crawford, Red Sox: Crawford set career highs in runs scored (110), home runs (19) and runs batted in (90) last year in Tampa. In the past five years, Crawford has hit over .300 four times. And with the exception of his 109-game season in 2008, Crawford has stolen 46-plus bases every year since 2003.

4. Matt Holliday, Cardinals: Excluding his .290 batting average in his rookie season (.290), Holliday's full-year batting averages have been .300-plus every year. While he's unlikely to ever steal 28 bases again (as he did in 2008), Holliday will help in all counting numbers to the tune of roughly 95-100 runs, 100-110 runs batted in, 25-30 homers and 10-15 steals.

5. Matt Kemp, Dodgers: Other than a small year-over-year increase in home runs (26 to 28), Kemp's numbers declined across the board in 2010 from 2009. After three straight seasons hitting .290-plus, his average plummeted to .249. In addition, he saw year-over-year declines in runs scored (97 to 82), runs batted in (101 to 89) and stolen bases (34 to 19).

6. Josh Hamilton, Rangers: When projecting Hamilton's fantasy value, the first thing you need to take into consideration is the number of games you expect him to play. Even so, he can be highly productive when he misses plenty of games as he proved last year by being named the A.L. MVP despite missing almost 30 games.

7. Shin-Soo Choo, Indians: In 2010, three players hit .300-plus, hit 20-plus home runs and stole 20-plus bases: Florida's Hanley Ramirez, Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez and Choo. For Choo, he's done so in back-to-back seasons (his only two where he has played 100-plus games).

8. Nelson Cruz, Rangers: Over the past two seasons, Cruz has missed 88 games but he still managed to hit 55 home runs and steal 37 bases during that span. That's a 162-game pace of 37 home runs and 25 steals.

9. Justin Upton, Diamondbacks: Upton, the number one overall draft pick in 2005, is still only 23 years old and undoubtedly has plenty of upside. Over the past two years, Upton have averaged 21.5 home runs and 19 steals despite averaging only 135.5 games. With good health, Upton should easily reach 20-20 with the potential for 30-25.

10. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: Like Justin Upton, McCutchen was a high first-round pick in 2005 and has plenty of upside. As a 23-year-old, McCutchen finished with a line of .286-94-16-56-33. Since he'll start the season batting third in the Pirates' lineup, McCutchen should see his RBIs increase by a significant amount over last year's 56.

11. Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners: Since Ichiro won't help you in home runs and runs batted in, his value is tied to how well he performs in the batting average and steals categories. Over the past four seasons, he's had two seasons with .350-plus batting averages and two seasons with 40-plus steals. Only if he could do both in the same season (which he hasn't since 2001 and likely won't) ...

12. Jayson Werth, Nationals: Werth will play half of his games in Washington instead of Philadelphia, which is a bit of a concern, in 2011. That said, I can see a season of .275-100-25-100-15 (or close to it) for Werth.

13. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays: Although there's virtually no chance that he duplicates his 54-homer performance from 2010, Bautista could hit 35 or so homers with 100 runs batted in. Even better, he also has position eligibility at third base.

14. Jason Heyward, Braves: Heyward, who will turn 22 years old in August, hit .301 after the All-Star break in his rookie season last year. This spring, Heyward has been hitting the ball well (.356 average over 18 games). I see a line of .290-90-25-90-10 for Heyward in 2011.

15. Hunter Pence, Astros: Pence set career highs in runs scored (93), runs batted in (91) and stolen bases (18) in addition to tying his existing career high in home runs (25) in 2010. With a solid average (career .287 hitter), Pence should help in all categories at a very fair price.

16. Alex Rios, White Sox: There were 38 outfielders that hit 20-plus home runs in 2010. There were 15 outfielders that stole 30-plus bases in 2010. There were only two that did both -- Rios and Cincinnati's Drew Stubbs. The worry about Rios is his inconsistency and 15 (of his 21) home runs and 23 (of his 34) stolen bases came before the All-Star break.

17. Andre Ethier, Dodgers: Ethier got off to a hot start (.392 average, 11 homers and 38 runs batted in through 33 games) before fracturing his right pinky finger, which he feels bothered him after he came back too soon from the injury. He still managed to finish the season with a .292 average, 23 home runs and 82 runs batted in despite missing 23 games.

18. Mike Stanton, Marlins: Between Double-A and the Marlins, Stanton hit 43 home runs and 111 runs batted in combined. Stanton has big-time power and could come close to hitting 40 homers in his first full season in the big leagues. (Take our poll on how many home runs Stanton will hit in 2011.)

19. Jay Bruce, Reds: Bruce, who will turn 24 in April, hit .281 -- .338 from August to October -- with 25 home runs last season. As's John Schlegel points out, Bruce has hit more home runs (68) than any other player his age and he ranks 41st all-time for most home runs in his first three seasons.

20. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox: As the Red Sox leadoff hitter, Ellsbury should hit for a good average and rack up a ton of steals and runs. If you're a glass-half-empty kind-of guy, he won't do much to help in the power categories.

21. B.J. Upton, Rays: In the past two seasons, Upton has hit .241 or less. On a positive note, however, Upton has stolen 40-plus bases for three consecutive seasons. In addition, he hit 18 home runs last year while setting a career high in doubles (38). Had a couple of those doubles been homers, he would have been the only 20-40 outfielder last season.

22. Delmon Young, Twins: Young, baseball's top overall draft pick in 2003, hit nearly .300 (.298, to be exact) while setting career highs in home runs (21) and runs batted in (112) last year.

23. Chris Young, Diamondbacks: Young set career highs in runs scored (94), runs batted in (91), stolen bases (28) and batting average (.257) while belting 27 home runs. Provided the composition of your team will help you withstand the negative impact Young will have on your team's batting average, Young will help you all other categories.

24. Shane Victorino, Phillies: From 2006 to 2009, Victorino hit .281 or better every season. Although his batting average slipped to .259 in 2010, it was also the only season since 2006 in which his BABIP was below .300. Expect a bounce-back in average for the Flyin' Hawaiian, who has averaged 92 runs, 14 homers and 33 steals over the past four seasons.

25. Drew Stubbs, Reds: While Stubbs won't help any in batting average, Stubbs was one of only two outfielders to hit 20-plus home runs and steal 30-plus bases in 2010, as noted above.

26. Colby Rasmus, Cardinals
27. Corey Hart, Brewers
28. Curtis Granderson, Yankees
29. Nick Markakis, Orioles
30. Carlos Lee, Astros
31. Torii Hunter, Angels
32. Bobby Abreu, Angels
33. Adam Jones, Orioles
34. Michael Bourn, Astros
35. Ben Zobrist, Rays
36. Juan Pierre, White Sox
37. Carlos Quentin, White Sox
38. Vernon Wells, Angels
39. Brett Gardner, Yankees
40. Nick Swisher, Yankees
41. Aubrey Huff, Giants
42. Grady Sizemore, Indians
43. Jason Bay, Mets
44. Rajai Davis, Blue Jays
45. Michael Cuddyer, Twins
46. Carlos Beltran, Mets
47. Chris Coghlan, Marlins
48. Denard Span, Twins
49. Manny Ramirez, Rays
50. Tyler Colvin, Cubs

Feel free to send fantasy baseball questions to me via Twitter at @EDSBaseball or post them in our fantasy baseball forum.

See our fantasy rankings for infielders: C - 1B - 2B - SS - 3B

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fantasy Baseball: 2011 Third Basemen Rankings

Third base isn't exceptionally deep, but a couple of solid options (Boston's Kevin Youkilis and Seattle's Chone Figgins) will earn eligibility at the position in April.

Here are our top 15 fantasy third basemen for 2011:

1. Evan Longoria, Rays: Everywhere you look, Longoria will likely be the top-ranked fantasy third baseman and you'll likely need a top-five to have the chance to draft him. As the third-overall pick in the 2006 draft, Longoria is still only 25 years old with plenty of upside. In other words, a season of .294-100-33-113-15, which are his career highs, (or better) is certainly possible in 2011. (And hopefully there won't be any more stolen AK-47 stories this year.)

2. David Wright, Mets: After a disappointing 2009 season, Wright was shy of a 30-20 season by exactly one home run and one stolen base. By hitting a career-low .283 last year, Wright ended a streak of five consecutive seasons of hitting .300-plus. In other words, if things fall into place, Wright has as good of a chance as any third basemen to finish with a line of .300-100-30-100-20.

3. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals: Zimmerman missed 20 games last season, but he set career highs in home runs (33), runs scored (110) and runs batted in (106) while playing 157 games in 2009. Although he won't steal many bases, he will provide a boost in all of the other four categories.

4. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: A year older? Who isn't, right? Granted, A-Rod is nowhere near the all-around fantasy stud he once was and he hasn't played more than 138 games in any of the past three seasons. That said, Rodriguez has posted 30-plus homers and 100-plus runs batted in every season since 1998 including in the past three seasons. In my opinion, he's sliding to a point where he could out to be a bargain in most drafts.

5. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox: Although he's not yet eligible at third base, he will be at some point in April depending on your league's eligibility requirements. Here's what I wrote about Youkilis in our first base rankings, where he's No. 7: "Over the past five seasons, Youkilis has not played more than 147 games in any year. Provided he stays healthy for a full season, Youkilis could/should put up around or more than 100 runs, 100 runs batted in, 30 homers while hitting .300."

6. Adrian Beltre, Rangers: Beltre, who turns 32 years old in April, is now entering his 14th season in the big leagues. Only twice in his 13 years has he hit over .300 with 28-plus home runs and 100-plus runs batted in. Coincidentally, both of those seasons happened before getting a big contract. While he has the skills to do it a third time in his career in 2011, I'd like to see back-to-back strong seasons from Beltre before I'm a buyer at these prices.

7. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays: Bautista led all of baseball in home runs last year with 54, which is nearly equal to his home run output from 2004 to 2009 (59 home runs total). While a repeat performance is highly unlikely, there's a good chance that he can follow up last year's league-leading performance with 35-40 homers in 2011.

8. Casey McGehee, Brewers: Only two other third basemen -- Longoria and A-Rod -- have more runs batted in than McGehee (149) since July 1, 2010. While he won't steal bases, like most third basemen won't, McGehee will help in the other four statistical categories in standard 5x5 categories at a very reasonable cost.

9. Aramis Ramirez, Cubs: Last year, Ramirez hit only .241, which was lowest batting average since 2002. From 2004 to 2009, Ramirez hit .289 or higher every season including .300-plus in four out of six seasons. Although Ramirez only played 124 games last year, he drove in 100-plus runs in all five seasons in which he has played 125-plus games since 2003. Provided he can stay healthy, a bounce-back season seems reasonable.

10. Pablo Sandoval, Giants: Sandoval broke out in 2009 -- hitting .330 with 25 home runs and 90 runs batted in. Although he had a disappointing season in 2010, Sandoval is only 24 years old, lost a substantial amount of weight in the off-season and shortened his swing. Based on his average draft position of 127 from Mock Draft Central, Sandoval seems to offer more reward than risk this season.

11. Pedro Alvarez, Pirates: There's no doubt that Alvarez has tremendous upside and potential. Although Alvarez struck out in 34.3 percent of his major league at bats last year, he combined for 29 home runs and 117 runs batted in between Triple-A and the big leagues.

12. Martin Prado, Braves: Prado, who played mostly second base and some third base last year, is moving to left field for the Braves and soon will be eligible at three fantasy positions. In a career-high 140 games last season, Prado hit .307 and 15 home runs with 100 runs scored.

13. Michael Young, Rangers: Young, who is a career .300 hitter, hit 20 home runs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 2004 and 2005 seasons. While he may or may not hit 20-plus homers in three straight seasons for the first time in his career, Young is one of the more consistent hitters in the game.

14. Mark Reynolds, Orioles: The good news? Reynolds is the only player in baseball to hit 100-plus home runs and steal 40-plus bases during the past three seasons. The bad news? He's hit .234 during that span while striking out an average of 213 times per season.

15. Ian Stewart, Rockies: Stewart isn't going to win a batting title any time soon and missed about a quarter of the 2010 season. But with good health, Stewart has the power to hit 25-30 home runs in an offense that features two of baseball's elite hitters: Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki.

Feel free to send fantasy baseball questions to me via Twitter at @EDSBaseball or post them in our fantasy baseball forum.

See our other fantasy rankings for infielders: C - 1B - 2B - SS