MLB In Full Bloom 2/19/2014

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39 – Number of days until Opening Day

There is no doubt that Derek Jeter is the star of the day as he announced his retirement early today in Tampa Bay at George Steinbrenner Field. This is a big national story and we saw a big media turnout for it. Jeter answered questions as to why he announced it now and what the final year will be like for him in 2014. Jeter's career accomplishments are nothing less than impressive. He is a 13-time All Star, 1996 AL Rookie of the Year, 5 Silver Sluggers, 5 Gold Gloves, a 5-time World Champion, and he was the 2000 World Series MVP. Jeter will certainly get a phone call to enter the Hall of Fame in 2019.

MLB News & Notes

  • Stephen Drew remains a free agent , but according to Jim Bowden of ESPN.com & MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM reported on Tuesday that four teams are currently "in" on Drew. The Red Sox and Mets have been linked to the infielder for weeks, but who are the other two teams. According to Bowden, the Astros, Twins, Yankees, and Blue Jays have all been in contact with Drew's agent. We should see resolution soon.
  • Justin Masterson and the Indians avoided arbitration and agreed to a one-year deal on Tuesday. The two sides basically settled in the middle of their two numbers as the two sides were able to hammer out a last-minute agreement. He's entering his contract year and will certainly be one of the top pitching free agents in 2015.
  • Brandon Belt and the Giants avoided arbitration and agreed to a one-year deal on Tuesday. The two sides were set for the arbitration hearing this morning and had actually already flown to Florida for it. However, the two sides came to a last-minute deal. Belt batted .289 with 17 home runs and 67 RBIs in 150 games last season and fantasy owners should expect the same type of production this year.
  • Jurickson Profar (shoulder) is still experiencing discomfort and will not throw for another week. On Monday, it was reported that Profar was cleared to resume a throwing program, but he's been shut back down due to renewed discomfort. In addition, Profar will be restricted from swinging a bat for the time being. Rangers GM Jon Daniels went on to say Tuesday that Profar being ready for Opening Day is in jeopardy if there are any other setbacks.
  • Justin Verlander (abdomen) threw a 54-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday. Verlander continues to be right on track in his rehab following core muscle surgery, as this was his fourth session since having the procedure. There were concerns that Verlander would not be ready for Opening Day, but that notion is fading as the 30-year old right-hander continues to make positive progress.
  • Yasmani Grandal has developed a new batting stance. Grandal, who is working his way back from ACL surgery, has replaced his leg kick with a toe tap and has lowered the starting point of his hands down to his midsection. The goal for this change was to help Grandal not put so much pressure on his knee. Grandal remains optimistic about being ready for Opening Day and hopes that the new batting stance will get his career back on track.
  • Drew Pomeranz (leg) threw his first bullpen session on Tuesday and impressed A's manager Bob Melvin with his velocity. Pomeranz has been a bit behind this spring due to issues surrounding an infection caused by an ingrown hair in his leg, but it appears his first step to getting back on track was successful. Pomeranz, who was selected fifth overall by Cleveland in the 2010 Draft, was a highly touted prospect when he was traded to Colorado for Ubaldo Jimenez in July 2011. The change of scenery could certainly help him in 2014.

MLB In Full Bloom 2/18/2014

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40 – Number of days until Opening Day

Fantasy baseball is something that involves a lot of emotion. Unlike fantasy football, there are few casual fantasy baseball players. When you spend so much time monitoring your teams it is natural to get frustrated when they do not perform. Fantasy baseball players get angry when players do not perform at the level we expected. Last year, B.J. Upton was that player for me. However, despite Upton's incredibly disappointing season with the Braves, I still won my NL-Only league for the first time. We don't know who will disappoint us this year, but it is certain that there will be players that don't live up to expectations.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Ubaldo Jimenez and the Orioles agreed to a four-year deal on Monday pending a physical. Pending a physical takes on added importance, given the Orioles' reputation for being particularly picky. The team already nixed deals with pitcher Grant Balfour and outfielder Tyler Colvin this offseason, though Colvin may still sign with Baltimore. The deal with Jimenez is reported to be worth $48-$50 million which is a bargain in this market. Jimenez held a 3.30 ERA in 182 2/3 innings for the Indians last season.
  • Ryan Dempster announced Sunday that he will not pitch in 2014 or perhaps forever. Dempster said that neck issues which have become tougher to deal with factored into this decision. Dempster has also said he wanted to spend more time with his family, but he hasn't ruled out the possibility of returning in 2015.
  • Manny Machado (knee) has been cleared to perform all drills other than running the bases and sliding. Machado won't be cleared to run the bases until mid-March. If everything goes according to plan, the young infielder should still have time to get ready for Opening Day.
  • Carlos Gonzalez possibly will stay in left field according to Rockies manager Walt Weiss. The Rockies would like to move CarGo to center, and that remains the plan for now, but Weiss has reserved the right to change his mind. One thing is for sure that Cargo will not be moving around once the season starts.
  • Mark Mulder (Achilles) announced that he will undergo left Achilles surgery on February 25. Mulder's attempt at a comeback in 2014 ended Saturday, when he ruptured his Achilles while doing a side-to-side warmup drill. There is no word yet on exactly how long his rehab will take, but Mulder said recently he has not ruled out attempting to pitch again in 2015. This is a tough setback for Mulder who had worked hard to get to this point. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Mulder was throwing the ball like he did in his prime.
  • Matt Garza received a four-year $52 million offer from the Angels, but true to owner Arte Moreno‘s negotiating style — the offer was only good for short amount of time. Six weeks later Garza accepted a similar offer from the Brewers so the question is why did not not take the Angels offer. Simple - he was on vacation and did not want to deal with it. Garza went on to say that he was given a certain number of hours to take it or leave it. So, he left it since he and his wife were enjoying their vacation.
  • Clayton Kershaw could pitch in three of the Dodgers first six games due to the unusual schedule necessitated by the Dodgers' season-opening trip to Australia. However, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly seems reluctant to have Kershaw carry that heavy of a work load early in the season. There is no need for Mattingly to push Kershaw and add in the travel to Australia and it is too much.
  • Barry Zito plans to take some time off but is not retiring according to CBS Sports Jon Heyman. Zito, 35, doesn't plan to pitch this season, but he has no plans right now to hang up his cleats. Zito finished his Giants' career with a whimper last season, posting a 5.74 ERA across 133 1/3 innings last year. He'll still be young enough next year that if there is a team that is interested in him.

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