MLB In Full Bloom 1/6/2014

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39 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

86– Number of days until Opening Day

Things remained quiet over the weekend with free agent signings and trades and until Masahiro Tanaka signs with a team, I think things will continue to be slow. Tanaka is the big fish out there and the lack of activity tells me that there are several, if not all, teams focused on pursing Tanaka. Let's take a look at what did happen over the past few days.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Ben Badler of Baseball American reports that the Seattle Mariners appear to be be the favorites to land Masahiro Tanaka. Badler has his finger on the pulse of all international signings matters, so if he says Seattle is the favorite for Tanaka, everyone would be wise to believe him.The Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, and the Los Angeles Dodgers remain in the mix.
  • The Los Angeles Angels have spent much of the offseason trying to stay under the $189 million threshold and right now they are within $13-$15 million of that threshold. So, they are right on the edge and they could possibly sign Matt Garza or another free agent pitcher. But, the bigger question is should the Angels go over the threshold and pay the luxury tax? They will eventually because if they sign Mike Trout to a long-term deal they are going over anyway. At some point they will sail past $189 million so they might as well go over it now and add the starting pitching they desperately need to compete in 2014.
  • According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports the Los Angeles Dodgers and Don Mattingly are making progress in a contract extension. The two sides have been discussing an extension since the end of last season. The two sides could agree soon.
  • It appears that Nelson Cruz could settle for a one-year contract in an attempt to rebuild his value. Cruz has been seeking a four-year $75 million deal, but there have been nobody willing to give Cruz that contract. It's good to see Cruz struggling to find work after testing positive for PEDs in 2013.
  • Chris Dickerson and the Pittsburgh Pirates agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Dickerson batted just .238  in 109 plate appearances last season for Baltimore. He'll likely have to report to the Pirates' Triple-A club at the start of the 2014 season
  • Ryan Theriot has officially retired from Major League Baseball. He hasn't appeared in the big leagues since he was a member of the San Francisco Giants during the 2012 season. He finishes his eight year career with a .281 BA, 17 homers and 121 stolen bases in 899 games.
  • Aubrey Huff announced his retirement from Major League Baseball. Huff didn't play in 2013 but had left the door open that he may return. He's taken a job as an announcer for the Pac-12 Network. He finishes his MLB career by hitting .278 in 13 seasons with 242 home runs.

MLB In Full Bloom 1/3/2014

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42 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

89– Number of days until Opening Day

All eyes will be focused on Major League Baseball despite the winter storms that are pummeling the east coast as the Hall of Fame will open it's doors once again and welcome in a group of worthy candidates. It's always a week that is met with great anticipation and excitement for baseball purists! I'll give you my Hall of Fame ballot and we'll look at some other news and notes around the league.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes are well underway and it appears the Arizona Diamondbacks could be a surprise team to watch to land the right-hander. Multiple reports have the D'Backs pursing Tanaka as their #1 target since they missed out on Shin-Soo Choo. There are a number of teams involved including the New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Los Angeles Angels as strong possible destinations for Tanaka. We'll know by January 24th where he will pitch.
  • Alex Rodriguez may finally get a decision on his arbitration case next week. It certainly won't be today, but lets hope this report is accurate and we all can move on from this situation. The Hall of Fame Ballot announcement in next Wednesday so it's doubtful Major League Baseball will allow this to get in the way of us celebrating those that played the game the right way. ARod will probably learn his fate maybe late next week at the earliest. Maybe. What we do know is that ARod is spending time on the beach with Torrie Wilson and seems to be doing just fine while he is waiting for his decision.
  • The Hall of Fame (HOF) Inductees will be announced next Wednesday. Unlike last year when nobody got in, this will be a banner your for the HOF. The ballot includes: Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Jack Morris, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling, Frank Thomas, and Alan Trammell. Below are my selections for induction:
  • Greg Maddux will get 100% of the vote- no doubt about it! If Maddux does not receive 100% of the vote, it will be a travesty. Career Summary: 355 wins, at least 15 wins in 17 straight seasons, 3,371 strikeouts, 4 Cy Young Awards, 18 Gold Gloves
  • Tom Glavine is on the HOF ballot for the first time and like Greg Maddux, Glavine will go into the HOF on his first try. Career Summary: 305 wins, 2 Cy Young Awards, World Series MVP
  • Frank Thomas is also on the HOF ballot for the first time and he too will go in on his first try. Career Summary: 521 HR, 1704 RBI, .301 BA, 5x All Star, 4 Silver Sluggers award, 2x American League MVP.
  • Craig Biggio first appeared on the writers' ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013. He led all Hall of Fame vote-getters, but that was still short of the 75% needed for induction. This year, Biggio gets the call! He ranks 21st all time with 3,060 hits. Career Summary: 3060 Hits, 7x All Star, 4 Gold Gloves, 5x Silver Slugger awards.

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