MLB In Full Bloom 2/12//2014

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3– Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

47 – Number of days until Opening Day

This edition of MLB In Full Bloom quickly became the relievers version today with so much news about bullpen pitchers in the news. Guys that may not get many headlines are fantasy produces and they do get the headlines on this blog!

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Mike Trout and the Angels have three weeks or so left before the renewel date of his contract. Last year, we saw one of the most surprising contracts in a long time after Trout was the runner-up MVP in 2012. The Angels renewed his contract for $510,000, which was only $20,000 above league minimum. The Angels have the right to take a hard ball stance in 2014 as well. The Angels have themselves in a bind and they may have missed their window with Trout after he has put back--to-back terrific seasons. He is feeling good about himself and he is going to go play again on a one-year. The Angels should have locked up Trout a year ago, but they took a hard stance with him and now it could certainly cost them long-term.
  • Kenley Jansen and the Dodgers avoided arbitration and agreed to a one-year contract on Tuesday. Jansen blew batters away last season, and he's certainly in the top tier of fantasy closers entering the season, but the Dodgers have Brian Wilson, Chris Perez and Brandon League to fall back on in case Jansen struggles this year.
  • Jason Motte (elbow) will begin spring training behind the team's other relievers, but the Cardinals believe that it's possible he'll be ready for the start of the regular season since he won't need as much time to build up stamina. Motte had Tommy John surgery in May 2013 and the normal rehab time is a year. With Trevor Rosenthal cemented in as the Cardinals closer, Motte will be in a set-up role in the Cardinals bullpen once he returns.
  • LaTroy Hawkins is not necessarily the team's "everyday" closer according to Rockies owner Dick Monfort. Rockies manager Walt Weiss could play the match-ups in the late innings, using Rex Brothers in the ninth when the opposition has left-handed hitters coming up. Brothers is simply a better pitcher and could be the Rockies closer this season.
  • Jose Valverde and the Mets agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Valverde had a difficult 2013 season when he was the owner of a 5.59 ERA in just 20 appearances with the Tigers. Valverde is just looking to keep his career going at this point. He will provide bullpen depth for the Mets, but has very little fantasy value at this point in his career.
  • Justin Verlander (abdomen) threw 20 pitches off a mound Monday. Verlander said his return to elevated ground, following core muscle repair surgery last month, went very well and that he feels good. If everything goes as expected, Verlander hopes to be ready to start the year.
  • Roy Oswalt has decided to retire after 13 seasons rather than pursue another chance at the major leagues. A three-time All-Star, Oswalt went 0-6 with a 8.63 ERA in nine games (six starts) with Colorado last season. The right-hander won 10-plus games in each of his first eight seasons, and will walk away from the game with a 163-102 career record and a 3.36 career ERA.
  • Jamie Moyer has accepted a job with Comcast broadcasting Phillies games. Moyer has never officially retired from baseball, but it seems safe to say Moyer's playing days are behind him. Now 51, the left-hander pitched in the majors until age 49, with his career spanning 25 seasons. He'll enter the broadcast booth with former teammate Matt Stairs.

MLB In Full Bloom 2/11//2014

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4– Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

48 – Number of days until Opening Day

For much of the country, it's hard to imagine baseball being played in your hometown city these days with the winter weather that much of the country is experiencing. The southeast is preparing for a second storm this week and the midwest and northeast is buried in snow and freezing temperatures. Having said that baseball is just 48 days away so lets hope spring time is around the corner!

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Josh Beckett (thoracic outlet surgery) threw a 30-pitch bullpen session Monday with no issues. Beckett underwent this surgery last July and has entered camp with no limitations. Monday's bullpen session was Beckett's first since he reported for spring training. Beckett is competing for the fifth spot in the Dodgers rotation against Paul Maholm.
  • Michael Brantley and the Indians agreed to a four-year, $25 million extension on Monday that includes a fifth year team option. Brantley had a career-best 611 plate appearances in a breakout season in 2013. He finished with career highs in homers (10), RBI (73), runs (66) and steals (17). Brantley is not a super star player, but he's solid in all aspects of the game.
  • Michael Pineda said Monday that he is coming into spring training at "100 percent." Pineda hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2011 due to shoulder issues, but he's feeling good now and will battle it out with David Phelps and Adam Warren for the final spot in the Yankees' rotation. Pineda certainly has the best upside of this group if he can show that he's got his velocity back.
  • Tommy Hanson and the Rangers agreed to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. Hanson will be battling for a spot in the Rangers starting rotation this spring in camp. He struggled with forearm issues and the sudden death of his brother last year. Hanson is just 27 years old and certainly has a good chance to claim the fifth spot in the starting rotation.
  • Brad Ziegler may be a candidate for the closer's role with the Diamondbacks this year. J.J. Putz will be Addison Reed's stiffest competition for the closer's job, while both Ziegler and David Hernandez will very likely open the season in middle-relief or setup roles. Ziegler isn't much of a strikeout pitcher and is not a prototypical closer, but he did well with the role last season when injuries forced him into the ninth inning.
  • Brandon Lyon and the Angels agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training on Monday. Lyon was released by the Mets last July after posting a 4.93 ERA in 37 relief appearances. He will struggle to make the Angels bullpen, which is not saying much in 2014.
  • Albert Pujols (foot) dropped his defamation lawsuit against former Cardinals first baseman Jack Clark on Monday after Clark released a public apology. Pujols has accepted the apology, and has dropped the lawsuit. He can now get back to focusing on baseball, as he is coming into 2014 healthy and looking to rebound from an injury-plagued 2013 season.
  • Tracy McGrady is trying out as a pitcher for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League. McGrady threw a 20 minute bullpen session to stand in hitters for the first time on Monday and those hitters left impressed with McGrady. His length and long arms on the mound certainly caught the attention of the stand in hitters as his fastball was clocked at 87 miles per hour. McGrady could face live hitters next week.

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