MLB In Full Bloom 2/25/2014

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34 – Number of days until Opening Day

Each year, I find starting pitching to be the most challenging aspect of building my fantasy teams. Sure, I could spend an early pick on Clayton Kershaw or another Top 5 starter on the market, but then my offense takes a hit. I usually wind up spending at least my first four or five picks on hitting before I look to my starting rotation. So, what you need to do is try and identify some potentially undervalued starters. Of course, that is not easy, but the depth of starting pitchers is deeper than you think in your league.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Angels and Mike Trout are discussing a seven-year deal that would be in the range of $150-$160 million. The guesstimate breakdown of the deal is $1 million in his pre-arbitration year, $12M, $15M, $20M, $32M, $34M, $36M. This is similar to the Yahoo report on Monday that said the two sides were discussing a six-year deal. Look for a deal to get done before Opening Day.
  • Masahiro Tanaka put on show when he took the mound in a simulated game on Monday in front of more than 75 interested onlookers, fans and media from two countries, Tanaka threw 35 pitches to three infielders. All three hitters were impressed with Tanaka's splitter, which some baseball scouts have said is the best in the game.
  • Matt Harrison (back) is expected to resume throwing this week after an additional MRI on his back showed no issues. Assistant general manager Thad Levine said that the report was about as good as the team could have gotten. Harrison was scratched from two throwing sessions last week after experiencing stiffness in his neck and back. The plan is for Harrison to resume cardio and conditioning on Wednesday and play catch on Thursday.
  • Ervin Santana remains a free agent and is still looking for a four-year deal. It appears the Rockies have checked in on the right-hander. Rockies right-hander Jhoulys Chacin is experiencing shoulder discomfort and headed for tests, so the Colorado front office is scrambling for backup options. Santana has struggled to attract legitimate offers this winter because his free agency is tied to draft pick compensation.
  • Jeff Samardzija and the Cubs continue to struggle to find common ground on a long-term contract and according to multiple sources on Monday, Samardzija could be traded before Opening Day. Samardzija will be arbitration-eligible for the final time next winter and, if no headway is made with a long-term contract, is a good bet to be dealt in July if not before the opener.
  • Mike Minor (shoulder) has battled some shoulder soreness this spring and is behind the Braves' other starters. Minor underwent a painful-sounding procedure on his urethra December 31 and was unable to throw in January, so he was a bit off schedule when he arrived at Braves camp. The Braves medical staff is optimistic that Minor won't have to miss a regular season start.
  • Ozzie Smith and Budweiser have teamed up to try and make Major League Baseball's Opening Day an official holiday. They are trying to get 100,000 signatures to take to President Obama. Opening Day always brings anticipation and excitement for the year. Twenty-Two million people already take the day off so why not make it an official holiday. To get involved, you can go to www.Budweiser.com/opening-day to sign the petition and on March 6th, Ozzie will take it to Washington.

MLB In Full Bloom 2/24/2014

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34 – Number of days until Opening Day

Zack Greinke said what many of us are thinking when it comes to Major League Baseball's season-opening series in Australia. Greinke stated, "I would say there is absolutely zero excitement for it. There just isn't any excitement to it." The Dodgers responded to the uproar that it caused in Australia by explaining that the team, as a whole, is looking forward to the trip. Unlike the Dodgers, I applaud the fact that Greinke spoke his mind because I agree 100%. Major League Baseball swings and misses when it comes to Opening Day each year. Baseball is America's past time. Why are they opening the season on the other side of the world? Opening Day - every year, should include the best rivals going head-to-head - Cardinals/Cubs, Yankees/Red Sox, and Dodgers/Giants. Major League Baseball waters down Opening Day with Opening Night for ESPN Sunday night game of the Week as one Opening Day and then the actual Opening Day. This year, we have two games in Australia followed by Sunday Night Opening Day and then we will get to "real" Opening Day. And, we don't get to watch great match-ups. The NFL does it the right way and Major League Baseball does not for so many reasons. Opening Day should be a holiday and instead it's just another date on the calendar.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Nelson Cruz and the Orioles agreed to a one-year deal over the weekend. The deal was pending a physical which he had on Sunday. He will likely split time between left field and the DH spot this season and should have plenty of RBI chances in the middle of a strong Orioles lineup.
  • Mike Trout and the Angels continue to discuss a long-term contract for the center fielder. It appears the Angels would prefer and extension to be for at least eight years or more. However, it was reported that the two sides were discussing a six-year contract for $150 million. It's no surprise that the Angels would want to buy out more free agency years, but it's also no surprise that Trout would only want six so that he can hit the market sooner. While a deal is expected to get done, it's not expected to be announced until after Opening Day so that the contract won't count against the team's luxury tax threshold for 2014.
  • Chase Headley (calf) will miss at least the next two weeks after sustaining the injury during a rundown drill. Padres manager Bud Black will use this opportunity to look at a handful of different options at third base. Since Headley and the Padres are unlikely to agree on a long-term contract before the start of the season, it is a wise move for the Padres to examine other possibilities.
  • Jhoulys Chacin (shoulder) will be shut down for at least a week. Chacin will undergo an MRI on his pitching shoulder Monday and the Rockies are keeping their fingers crossed that Chacin is just dealing with inflammation. The Rockies can't afford to lose Chacin for a long period of time.
  • Brett Gardner and the Yankees agreed to a four-year contract worth $52 million. Gardner had been slated for free agency after the season, batted .273 with eight homers and 24 stolen bases last year for the Yankees last year. Gardner was involved in trade rumors this offseason when the Yankees were looking for pitching help, but obviously they are committed to keeping the outfielder around for a while.
  • Welington Castillo (knee) said Sunday that he's fully recovered from arthroscopic knee surgery he underwent in September and he intends to stay that way during the 2014 season. Castillo had a strong season in his first as the Cubs full-time starter, slashing .274 with eight homers and 32 RBI in 113 games while playing terrific defense behind the plate.
  • Cole Hamels (shoulder) stated over the weekend that he's made "tremendous progress" with his shoulder injury. Hamels has been nursing some shoulder tendinitis and is still expected to miss his first start or two of the season. We will know more about his timetable after he intensifies his workouts starting on Tuesday.

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