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.

MLB In Full Bloom 2/21/2014

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37 – Number of days until Opening Day

Forecasting postseason award winners every year is a difficult task. Attempting to determine who is going to win the Rookie of the Year is even harder. Anyone who thinks they can predict will win the award in either league will certainly have several players to choose from this year. My three favorites in the American League are Masahiro Tanaka, Taijuan Walker, and Jose Abreu. In the National League, I like Billy Hamilton, Travis D'Arnaud and Alexander Guerrero. Next week, I will break down each player, but let's put a wrap on this week!

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Andrelton Simmons and the Braves agreed to a seven-year deal on Thursday. The Braves have locked up the core of their core players that they drafted by wrapping up Freddie Freeman, Julio Teheran, Craig Kimbrel and now Simmons long-term all in just over two weeks. They also extended Jayson Heyward for two-years, but the other four players will be with the Braves as they open their new ballpark in Cobb County in 2017. It certainly makes sense that the Braves want to keep Simmons as he's already one of the top defensive shortstops in the game and is just 24 years old and he hit 17 home runs. 
  • Yasiel Puig was held out of baseball activities Thursday after hitting a ball off his leg on Wednesday. Puig is expected back in workouts again on Friday, so this is not a reason for concern. Puig batted .319 with 19 homers and 11 stolen bases last season for the Dodgers. He should be a fantasy monster in 2014.
  • Chris Capuano and the Red Sox agreed to one-year deal on Thursday. The left-hander will provide the Red Sox depth after Ryan Dempster announced that he will not pitch in 2014. Capuano could certainly compete with Felix Doubrant for the final spot in the Red Sox rotation, but the more realistic outcome will have Capuano in a long relief role.
  • Ryan Braun arrived at spring training Thursday an is still trying to shake the stigma of a 65-game PED suspension that ended his 2013 season. Braun continued to express remorse and a desire to leave the entire episode in the past. Braun will move to right field next season after being the Brewers left fielder since 2008. Braun was routinely selected among the top five picks in 2013 fantasy drafts, he let down his owners and fans. He'll get a fresh start in 2014, at least from a fantasy prospective, but questions linger regarding how much of his top-end production from past seasons were artificially enhanced. Expect Braun to slide a bit in your drafts.
  • Mark Teixeira (wrist) isn't likely to play in Grapefruit League games until March 3, at the earliest. The Yankees' Grapefruit League schedule begins on February 26 so he is about a week to ten days behind as he continues to rehab his right wrist. Teixeira has been hitting off a batting tee and taking batting practice off coaches.
  • Matt Harrison (back) has been throwing for two months in the offseason with no issues with his back. On the first day of full squad workouts, Harrison was a non-participant as he felt stiffness in his back that prevented him from throwing batting practice.
  • Jesus Montero arrived at Mariners camp 40 pounds over the weight to start training camp. Mariners GM, Jack Zduriencik now has "no expectations" for the first baseman. Montero's future was already looking bleak before this spring, as he's struggled since joining the M's. He moved off of catcher and last year got popped with a 50-game suspension for his involvement with the Biogenesis scandal. He'll begin the season in the minors and obviously has a lot of ground to make up before he becomes relevant again for the M's and fantasy owners. 

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