Posted on: January 10, 2012 6:11 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 10:54 am

Reds, Madson talks "heating up"

Talks between closer Ryan Madson and the Reds are in the serious stage, according to people involved in the discussions. One person went so far as to say they are "heating up.''

The Reds are simultaneously talking to their incumbent closer Francisco Cordero, as well. They are seen as likely to sign one or the other.

The Rangers, Marlins and Angels are among teams that have considered Madson in recent days. He had a big year closing for the Phillies after taking over for Brad Lidge.

Madson was close to a deal with the Phillies earlier this winter. The Phillies are believed to have checked in again recently but that was seen as a long shot. The Phillies are more likely to sign Brad Lidge or Kerry Wood.

Category: MLB
Tags: Reds, Ryan Madson
Posted on: January 10, 2012 2:51 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 10:54 am

Selig now seen as likely to stay past this year

Bud Selig is likely to remain as commissioner beyond his current contract, which was set to expire at year's end. ESPN reported he will receive an extension of at least two years at the baseball owners meeting in Phoenix next week, and there clearly is a movement on the part of ownership people to make that happen.

Selig had been maintaining publicly that he'd step down after the year as planned,, but the people closest to him all along said it's no different than in the past, that Selig loves his job too much to leave. Selig is also seen as the best person to deal with the major issues of the day, including the TV contract, the Mets, stadium issues and other items on the horizon. Selig's great strength is pulling together 30 disparate successful people with varying agendas to form a consensus.

Category: MLB
Tags: Bud Selig
Posted on: January 9, 2012 4:33 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 8:46 pm

Larkin deserves it; a hope Morris gets call next

One of the best things about this year's Hall of Fame result beyond the election of terrific talent and better person Barry Larkin is that ace righthander Jack Morris, author of a great decade, unbelievable game and superb career, took a substantial leap from 53 percent of the vote all the way up to 67 percent, leaving him close to the cusp of the 75 percent needed for election.

Only one player has ever reached so much as 50 percent and still never gotten into the Hall of Fame (Gil Hodges, who got as high as 63 percent), so it looks good for Morris. But his ultimate election remains no certainty, as he only has two years remaining on the ballot, and a group of huge names joining it the next two years, including Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio and Curt Schilling next year, and Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine the year after that.

Morris' detractors generally point to one unextraordinary number, and while it's an important number, it should not define his career. His lifetime ERA of 3.90 would be the highest of any pitcher in the Hall of Fame, and his ERA plus of 105 is barely above average. But Morris pitched deep into his games and deep into his middle age, trampling his lifetime ERA. Morris is known by teammates to have pitched to the score, which enabled him to win more games than anyone else in the '80s and 254 games overall. (The leading winners in the seven preceding decades are all in the Hall.) In seven seasons, he received Cy Young votes. So he had plenty of great years.

Morris was a bulldog who refused to leave games. He completed 175 of them, and that doesn't even count Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, in which he turned in one of the greatest pitching performances in baseball history to help his hometown Twins beat the Braves 1-0 and win the Series. Morris was considered a great pitcher during his career, not someone who was defined by less meaningful games that dragged his ERA up beyond a representative number.

Numbers shouldn't be the be all and end all of Hall of Fame arguments. But here's an interesting one, courtesy of Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated. Thirteen pitchers since 1901 have had at least 10 seasons with both 15 wins and 235 innings, and the other 12 are in Cooperstown. Here's the list: Warren Spahn 16, Grover Alexander and Walter Johnson 15, Gaylord Perry, Eddie Plank and Christy Mathewson 13, Steve Carlton and Tom Seaver 12, Morris 11 and Bert Blyleven, Don Sutton, Phil Niekro and Lefty Grove 10.

Beyond that, Morris was tha ace of three World Series winners, and started Game 1 of six postseason series. He also started 14 Opening Days, joining obvious Hall of Famers Carlton, Randy Johnson, Walter Johnson, Young and Seaver as the vaunted sextet to accomplish that feat. His detractors will claim he was aided by circumstance or luck. But Morris made his own luck. The guys who played with him understand his greatness, even if the back of his baseball card doesn't quite do him justice.

Posted on: January 9, 2012 11:19 am
Edited on: January 24, 2012 8:44 pm

Rangers' Darvish bid is about $52M; work to do

The Texas Rangers are offering about "Dice K money'' to star Japanese righthander Yu Darvish, sources told, and there's no evidence a deal is at hand.

The expression "Dice K money'' would mean the offer is someone in the range of $52 million, although it isn't known whether the Rangers' proposal is for exactly that amount or exactly six years, as Daisuke Matsuzaka received from the Red Sox (it may be for five). In any case, it seems clear Texas wants to use Matsuzaka's $52-million deal as a barometer for a deal, while Darvish's side apparently hopes to successfully argue that he's the better pitcher and thus deserves a higher contract. Ultimately, the Rangers may go a bit higher than Matsuzaka's contract, but the plan seems to be to keep it within shouting distance, particularly with $51.7 million committed to the posting fee, money that goes to the Nippon-Ham Fighters.

Everyone has assumed there'd be a deal by the Jan. 18 deadline, and there would still seem to be too many reasons for the sides to come together. But at the moment, the evidece suggests they are not on the precipice of a deal for the pitcher who went 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA and led the Pacific League with 276 strikeouts while pitching for the Fighters.

The Rangers are concentrating completely on Darvish at the moment, and if a deal is struck, their chances to make a real run at star free agent slugger Prince Fielder would be diminished. However, in the event no agreement can be reached, the chances they'd pursue Fielder would probably significantly increase. They have checked in on free agent reliever Ryan Madson and there was a report they did the same with free agent starter Hiroki Kuroda, as well, although there's no evidence those contacts are related to any concern about the Darvish talks.

The Rangers' winning bid to negotiate with Darvish was precisely $51,703,411, with the 34 and 11 tributes to the uniform numbers of Rangers president Nolan Ryan and Darvish himself. The Red Sox won the right to Matsuzaka with a bid of $51,111,111. So there is a parallel in those numbers, anyway.

Category: MLB
Posted on: January 7, 2012 4:26 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 8:47 pm

Orioles, Yankees considering Edwin Jackson

The Yankees and Orioles are among teams considering free agent pitcher Edwin Jackson, who's still looking for a home despite having youth and durability on his side.

The Yankees are telling folks they don't want to do more than a one- or two-year deal for free agents, as they seem to be serious about their intention to push their payroll down below the luxury tax threshhold in 2014, thereby reducing their tax from 50 percent to 17 percent and allowing them to resume their free-spending ways after '14. They seem pretty serious about that stance, so unless Jackson would continue a shorter deal, he would seem to have to look elsewhere. The Yankees could look at Hiroki Kuroda ad Roy Oswalt, but there's a question about whther Kuroda wants to play aywhere but Los Angeles in the states and the Yankees don't seem as interested in Oswalt at the moment.

New Orioles GM Dan Duquette seems to save saved some money for late i the winter and is talking to several pitchers and some outfield and leadoff candidates. Jackson, 27, is the best young free agent starter remaining. He fits the Orioles better than Oswalt or Kuroda because those two pitchers are considerably older.

Jackson is said to be seeking $15-to-17 million annually while Kuroda and Oswalt are thought to be looking for $13-to-14 million.

Jackson's selling point is his age (28 now) and ability to take the ball. He is one of only three pitchers 27 or younger who's started more tha 30 games each of the past five years, with the others being Matt Cain and Felix Hernandez. Even if you push it to pitchers under 30 who've done that, James Shields and Justin Verlander are the only two added to that short list. What works against Jackson is a career 60-60 record and 4.46 ERA, though a rookie year in Tampa when he was 5-15 with a 5.76 ERA skews those lifetime marks.

Posted on: January 7, 2012 3:48 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 8:48 pm

Retiring Posada is solid Cooperstown candidate

Jorge Posada, who plans to announce his retirement from baseball as a career Yankee, has better Hall of Fame credentials than you think.

Of the 15 catchers already in Cooperstown, nine have a higher batting average than Posada's .273.

But of those 15 catchers, only six have more RBI than Posada's 1,065. Only four have more home runs than Posada's 275. And only two (Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey) have more than Posada's five winning World Series rings.

Berra is the only one of the 15 who tops Posada in all four categories. Berra is actually the only one who bests Posada in all three individual categories, as well, as Johnny Bench, Gary Carter and Carlton Fisk all had lower career batting averages (Fisk was .269, Bench .267 and Carter .262).

Posada was a better hitter than you remember. His .374 on-base percentage is excellent, and so is his .474 slugging percentage. Those figures are especially excellent for a catcher. The value of an offensive catcher is huge. Posada is one of the best-hitting catchers ever. The numbers show that.

And as far as is decision to retire, that's a good one, too. has confirmed the report of Sweeny Murti of WFAN that Posada's retirement plans are in the works. Murti suggested the official word would be coming down within two weeks.

Posada could have probably hung on as a lefty DH for some team, but that's a pretty limited role. No matter what his agents may say now, they did mention the possibility of Posada playing for the Mets to Mets people (maybe they agents don't want to admit it, but they did). In any case, this is the best result. Posada, 40, leaves almost all good memories with the Yankees. Hanging on for another year wouldn't have been worth it. Beyond that, his batting average might have fallen below Fisk's.

Category: MLB
Posted on: January 7, 2012 1:20 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 8:49 pm

Braun will press multiple issues and test itself

Ryan Braun will be coming to the Baseball Writers dinner Jan. 21 to pick up his National League MVP award. At least that’s what we hear. His position is that he did nothing wrong, and thus, has nothing to hide.

We hope that’s right. And maybe it is. Everyone should be presumed innocent. And in this case, we’re talking about a player who has been seen for a while as one of the brightest lights in the game, both on and off the field. Additionally, it shouldn’t even be known yet that he failed a test for a banned substance.

The Brewers star is the first major league player to have his confidentiality breached. So maybe he becomes the first to win a hearing and save himself the 50 games suspension (although, that part won’t be easy).

Braun certainly has expressed a lot of belief in his own innocence in the brief comments he’s made publicly, including one in which he said, “It’s BS.’’ It’s too bad that’s about all we’ve heard from Braun, as he is one of the most articulate players in the game. We will assume that he’s probably saving his best material for the hearing.

But what will he say then? Word around the game is that he will press “multiple issues,’’ including the testing process itself. That’s good. Because to win the case, he has to point out a flaw in the system.

One thing he is expected to point to is the test claim of a bizarrely high spike in testosterone, which was apparently something like three times what’s been seen before; it will likely to be argued that it must therefore be caused by testing error. Braun obviously passed all the tests before this one, and he passed a subsequent test he ordered upon learning about the failed one a couple weeks after taking the original sometime in early October when his Brewers team was just embarking on the playoffs.

No one has done it at the major league level yet, but one minor leaguer won enough benefit of doubt in a hearing to win his case. (We don’t know who that is because his confidentiality wasn’t breached.) Braun will try to become the first at a hearing that ix expected to be just after that BBWAA dinner, Jan. 23 or 24, according to Lance Allen of WTMJ-4 in Milwaukee.

It sounds like Braun may try a number of avenues here, including the possibility that a medication to combat a private medical issue is to blame, as TMZ initially reported. But while that argument could win some points with the public, that isn’t going to win the day, or the hearing.

Baseball deserves credit for giving players a chance at a hearing (unlike the NFL). But it’s still considered a “strict liability’’ situation, which means it’s up to Braun to prove he’s been somehow wronged. He’s enlisted top people (both for p.r. and legal help), and that’s a good thing because everyone deserves their day in court. Braun should get his.    


Category: MLB
Posted on: January 7, 2012 12:34 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 6:35 am

Rangers look at Madson but he fits Angels, others

The Texas Rangers have checked in on Ryan Madson, who's still a free agent closer. He doesn't appear to be a perfect fit, but the Rangers front office has proven to be one of the most creative and surprising in baseball over the past several years. So who knows?

The Rangers have their hand in a lot of things (currently their most pressing thing is signing star Japanese starter Yu Darvish). They did previously think about trading for Andrew Bailey, the closer traded from the A's to the Red Sox, and that's at least a sign they are considering improving a very solid bullpen.

The Rangers already have Joe Nathan, Mike Adams and if you want to count Neftali Feliz, who's moving to the rotation, well, they have him, too. Nathan was signed to be the closer after a nice second half in 2011 following his retur from Tommy John surgery, and he surely expects to be the closer. Would Madson come as a setup man? Would they ask Nathan to work in the eighth inning? While Nathan has a vast experience edge, Madson would appear to be the better choice of the two to close, as he saved 32 of 34 chances last year for the Phillies with 62 strikeouts in 60 2/3 innings.

Maybe this is just the Rangers doing their due diligence. Or maybe it's them trying to keep an eye on the rival Angels, who already have made the biggest moves of all this spring by landing big-time free agents Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, the former Rangers ace. The Rangers landed Adrian Beltre late last winter when they already had Michael Young for third base. They find a way.

Several teams have checked in on Madson. Some of them, no doubt, are just looking for a bargain on one of the better closers in the game last year. Even the Phillies are said to hcve checked back in, weeks after a potential deal with Madson blew up (GM Ruben Amaro declined to comment on that). But there's just about zero chance of a reunion there.

There's probably still a better chance Madson winds up with the Angels, who are also considering a run at him, or perhaps the Reds, who are still in the market for a closer. The Angels have publicly downplayed their chances to sign Madson. But behind the scenes, some of their people have talked about how beneficial it would be to have a veteran back-end presence to go with talanted sophomore Jordan Walden. They should have a lot of save chances. So maybe they do make a run at Madson. And maybe they perk up a bit if they think Texas might land him.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or