MLB In Full Bloom 1/31/2014

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7 – Number of days until the Diamondbacks pitchers and catchers report

9 – Number of days until the Dodgers pitchers and catchers report

15 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

59 – Number of days until Opening Day

The last day of January has arrived and so has Super Bowl weekend. For the most part, it was a quiet week for the baseball hot stove. There was the announcement that Major League Baseball approved a version of a protective cap for pitchers, Michael Young and Lance Berkman both said good-bye to the game, and David Ortiz provided some headlines that it may be time to move on if the Red Sox were not willing to give him a long-term contract. Next week could very easily be a busier week in the hot stove as the Diamondbacks will be the first team to have their pitchers and catchers report. The Dodgers pitchers and catchers will report just a couple days after that and before we know it, all camps will be open. Hang in their baseball purists, the Super Bowl is Sunday and then we can punt the NFL for a long time!

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • B.J. Upton's first season was a complete disaster with the Braves. He batted just .184 with 9 HR and 26 RBI. That is not what the Braves had in mind when they signed the talented outfielder to a five-year contract for $75 million. Upton has been working hard this offseason and Braves hitting coach Greg Walker said that Upton's swing is looking better this offseason. Walker went on to say that Upton's swing looks more simple with a lot less moving parts. Upton obviously has the physical talent to turn things around. Whether he will do so remains to be seen, and a positive offseason report from his hitting coach doesn't carry a ton of weight. Upton will be one of the crucial players to keep an eye on during spring training. If he struggles, there's no guarantee that he'll head into the season as a starter.
  • Bruce Chen and the Kansas City Royals agreed to a one-year contract. This will be Chen's 6th season with the Royals and while rather unspectacular, the 36-year-old is versatile, and his signing likely won't take the Royals out of the running for another arm, such as Ervin Santana or Bronson Arroyo.
  • Nelson Cruz has been on the Mariners radar all offseason and according to Jim Bowden of SiriusXM said on MLB Network Radio on Thursday that the Mariners "may make an offer to Nelson Cruz as early as today." Bowden went on to say that the Orioles could be in on Cruz, and the Rangers can't be ruled out if he winds up having to take a one-year, "pillow" contract. This is certainly not what Cruz had in mind when the offseason began and he was asking for a four-year $75 million contract. Oh well.....
  • Daniel Descalso and the Cardinals avoided arbitration and agreed to a one-year contract. Descalso will continue function as a utility infielder for St. Louis in 2014. He has very little to no fantasy value without regular ABs.
  • Doug Fister was traded by the Tigers to the Nationals this offseason and he thinks that the tide has turned and that the Nats have the best rotation in baseball and not the Tigers. Fister went 14-9 with a 3.69 ERA last season for the Tigers, will be joining a rotation that include Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Jordan Zimmerman. Fister may be right in his prediction, but it's not surprising that he is stirring the pot with the Tigers.
  • Hall of Fame announcer Bob Uecker has been announcing Brewers games for over four decades, but he announced that he will cut back on travel with the team. Uecker is 80 years old, and like Vin Scully did a few years back, it makes sense that Uecker wants to slow down his travel schedule.
  • David Wright arrived at the Mets' spring training complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida on Thursday. Mets camp doesn't open for another two weeks, but Wright always arrives before the spring training starting date and he's there extra early this year to host a Super Bowl Sunday charity event for a St. Lucie Mets employee affected by cancer.

MLB In Full Bloom 1/30/2014

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8 – Number of days until the Diamondbacks pitchers and catchers report

10 – Number of days until the Dodgers pitchers and catchers report

16 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

60 – Number of days until Opening Day

The Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers and catcher report to spring training in just ten days to Camelback Ranch and position players will surely not be far behind. On Wednesday, an interesting development surfaced regarding who will start at second base on March 22nd in Australia. The Dodgers are trying to convince Michael Young to hold off on retirement and be the team's second baseman this year. The Dodgers signed Cuban defector Alexander Guerrero to a four-year $28 million contract in October and seemed confident that he would be their second baseman in 2014. Guerrero is known for his power at the plate and the Dodgers were hoping he would be in the Opening Day lineup. Now, the Dodgers are so concerned about Guerrero's ability to play second base that they are trying to convince Young not to retire, but instead return as the team's stopgap second baseman. Either way, it seems that Guerrero will have to earn his playing time with a strong spring. If not, he could find himself in the minor leagues to start the season.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • David Ortiz said in an interview on Wednesday that he is just looking for a one-year extension. Earlier in the week, Ortiz made waves by saying he was looking for another long-term deal from the Red Sox and he went as far as to say that it could be “time to move on,”. Now, Ortiz seems to have backtracked significantly since making that statement and reports are that his representatives and the Red Sox are talking on a one-year extension that would keep the 38-year old DH in Boston through 2015.
  • Lance Berkman announced that he will retire after 15 MLB seasons. This announcement does not come as a surprise as Berkman's body simply broke down the past couple years and it was a surprise to me that he came back last year. He had a terrific career with over 1905 hits, 366 career home runs, 1234 RBIs, and one of the best switch hitters of all time. He will be sorely missed.
  • Justin Ruggiano and the Cubs avoided arbitration and agreed to a one-year contract on Wednesday. The Cubs outfield options are pretty thin this year and Ruggiano seems to have as good a chance as anyone else to earn a starting spot this year. With regular at-bats, Ruggiano could be a decent late-round target in fantasy drafts, given that he hit 18 homers and stole 15 bases for the Marlins last season.
  • Manny Machado (knee) could be cleared to resume baseball activities in the next few days. Machado will have a check-up on his knee later this week, and it is expected that he will be given the green light to resume baseball activities if doctors are satisfied with his progress. Either way, Machado's recovery appears to be far ahead of schedule, and it's possible he could be ready for Opening Day.
  • Bronson Arroyo told ESPN's Jayson Stark on Wednesday that he has yet to receive an official offer. It's hard to understand why Arroyo is still out on the free agent market. Yes, he is turning 37 years old in February, but look at the track record. He has never been on the disabled list - period! He is durable, consistent, and he is out there. So, it's easy to understand why Arroyo is unhappy that he hasn't received any offers while Matt Garza just received a 4-year $50 contract from the Brewers and he has serious questions about his health and yet Arroyo is not getting respect.
  • Scott Baker and the Mariners agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Baker missed all of 2012 following Tommy John surgery and made just three late-season starts with the Cubs last season, so he ultimately had to settle for a minor league deal. It's a good gamble for the Mariners.
  • Ramon Santiago and the Reds agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training on Wednesday. He batted just .224 in 80 games last season for the Tigers, but Santiago can play all over the infield.
  • Chipper Jones retired from baseball, but he is still helping out a teammate. With thousands of motorists trapped on Atlanta's frozen interstates by a deep freeze that had engulfed much of the Southeast, Jones got on his four-wheeler and rescued Freddie Freeman after he spent 11 hours in his car. The two made it home safely and Freeman hugged Jones the entire way home.

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