MLB In Full Bloom 2/3//2014

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

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

12– Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

56 – Number of days until Opening Day

Super Bowl 48 is over and we're still waiting for the Denver Broncos to show up. Seriously, congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks! It was a phenomenal performance by Seahawks and they are well deserved champions! OK - that is enough football talk for this baseball blog. Time to get focused back on baseball as the Diamondbacks will be the team to have pitchers and catchers report Friday! The Dodgers will follow just a couple days after the D'Backs and then we're off and running towards Opening Day 2014. This week could provide alot of headlines as there are still several free agents that are looking for new homes. Three that stand out to me are Stephen Drew, Nelson Cruz, A.J. Burnett, and Bronson Arroyo

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Matt Kemp (ankle) said Saturday that he might not be ready to play on Opening Day. Kemp does not want to rush himself back and risk re-injury, so he's not ready to commit to playing in the team's opening series in Australia, March 22-23 against the Diamondbacks. His shoulder is said to be pain-free, but Kemp still has not run outdoors since undergoing a major operation on his left ankle three months ago. Several questions surround Kemp as fantasy owners prepare for their draft. Continue to monitor Kemp's status and don't get stuck in a bidding war for this guy.
  • Yasmani Grandal (knee) could "possibly" be ready for Opening Day, according to Padres GM Josh Byrnes. Grandal, who underwent reconstructive ACL surgery back on Aug. 6, says he will be ready for Opening Day, but it seems the team isn't quite as certain. Rehab for an injury such as Grandal's typically takes around nine-to-12 months.
  • A.J. Ellis and the Dodgers avoided arbitration and agreed to a one-year contract over the weekend. Ellis is often a forgotten one among the star-studded Dodgers lineup, but he's still been a dependable option at the catcher spot in NL-only and deeper mixed leagues the past two seasons. He'll serve as the Dodgers primary catcher in 2014.
  • A.J. Burnett has made the decision to pitch in 2014 and the three teams that he is interested in pitching for are the Orioles, Phillies, and the Pirates. The Blue Jays and Rays also showed some interest, but it's looking like a three team race. Look for a decision to be made sometime this week.
  • Bronson Arroyo has been looking for a three-year deal and it appears that the Dodgers won't be that team willing to give it to him. According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Dodgers are "very interested" in Arroyo, but don't want to give him a third year. At the very least, Arroyo would like a two-year deal with a vesting option which seems to be a reasonable request  given his durability, but it's also likely what has kept him from catching on with someone to this point. If he is willing to drop that request for a third year, I think he will sign with a team quickly. 
  • Jason Hammel and the Cubs agreed on a one-year contract last Friday. Hammel posted a disappointing 4.97 ERA last season, but could be a sneaky addition if he can rebound to his 2012 form when had a 3.43 ERA while striking out nearly a batter per inning. The Cubs have now added five free agents this offseason and only spent $14.3 million.
  • Yasiel Puig apologized to Dodger fans on Saturday at the Dodger FanFest. Puig was asked by host Alanna Rizzo what he wanted to say to the fans about his recent run-in with a Florida state trooper. Puig stated that it was his fault and he is no longer to drive fast or slow. He now has a driver and he went on to apologize to those in attendance. A reckless driving charge against Puig was dropped by the Florida state attorney's office last week, but he still received a ticket for driving 110 mph in a 70 mph zone.

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.

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