Archive for September, 2016

Jed Hoyer, Jason McLeod Agree to New Contracts with Cubs: Details, Reaction

After locking up president Theo Epstein, the Chicago Cubs are keeping the rest of their dynamic front-office trio together with extensions for general manager Jed Hoyer and vice president Jason McLeod.  

According to the Cubs’ official Twitter account, Hoyer and McLeod each received five-year extensions through 2021. 

The trio of Epstein, Hoyer and McLeod joined the Cubs in October 2011 after previously working together with the Boston Red Sox from 2003 to 2009. 

As part of the team’s announcement on Friday, Epstein praised the work of Hoyer and McLeod to help make the Cubs into what they are, per Carrie Muskat of

Jed and Jason are simply the best at what they do and have played fundamentally important leadership roles in helping the Cubs build a healthy and thriving organization. We feel honored to have the stability and support that we enjoy throughout baseball operations and look forward to many years of working together in Chicago.

Epstein received his own five-year extension from the Cubs on Wednesday. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported it could be in excess of $50 million. 

Since this new front-office regime has taken over in Chicago, the Cubs have become the model franchise in Major League Baseball. They have hit big with draft picks such as Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber as well as shrewd trades that landed Jake Arrieta, Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Hendricks. 

Those personnel moves, along with the development of players who were previously in the system such as Javier Baez and Willson Contreras, have led the Cubs to their first regular season with at least 100 wins since 1935. 

Given the volume of young talent already on the Cubs roster, as well as the franchise’s knack for drafting and developing in the minors, the success of the last two years is only the beginning of what Epstein, Hoyer and McLeod are capable of when they are working together. 

Read more MLB news on

2017 MLB Free Agents: Updated Rumors, Predictions on Top Stars Available

While the top teams in the league are focused on the postseason, the rest of Major League Baseball is looking toward the future for players who can turn around fortunes next year.

Unlike the past few years, the 2017 free-agent class lacks many high-profile names who are going to steal headlines for the next few months. Yoenis Cespedes would be the top player available if he chooses to opt out of his current contract, but there is no guarantee of that. Beyond that, the players looking to cash in all have some sort of question marks.

With this in mind, here is a look at some of the biggest stars set to become free agents at the end of the 2016 season.


Wilson Ramos, C

This will be one of the biggest storylines in free agency.

Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was in the midst of his best year as a professional, hitting .307 with 22 home runs and 80 RBI, all of which were career highs.

Mike Axisa of predicted a multiyear deal with a $12 million annual salary this offseason, with the Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, Houston Astros, New York Mets and Atlanta Braves all considered possibilities.

According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Ramos had reportedly declined a three-year, $30 million contract earlier this month.

However, everything changed when the catcher went down with a torn ACL.

While there will certainly be interest for the talented player on the open market, the price is going to significantly drop as teams take the risk that Ramos never reaches his previous form.

The 29-year-old player recently discussed his time with the Nationals and the possibility of returning next season, per Castillo:

I feel happy, very proud of the opportunities they’ve given me. My career grew in this organization and I would like to stay here for a lot of years. Unfortunately, this happened with my knee and it’s very difficult at my position to be in the National League, but I’d really like to be here for a lot of years. I hope to get out of the operation fine and get back very strong to stay here with this team.

Moving to the American League would provide Ramos a chance to spend time as a designated hitter, something unavailable with the Nationals (with the exception of a few interleague games each year).

This will limit the opportunities for the catcher, although it will give him a chance to extend his career as long as possible. The AL teams will then dictate the market once the extent of the injury is revealed.

Predicted destination: Chicago White Sox


Ian Desmond, OF

Free agency came at the wrong time for Ian Desmond a year ago. After three straight Silver Slugger awards as one of the premier offensive shortstops in the game, he struggled throughout 2015 and ended the season with a .233 batting average.

He ended up with a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers, although it was a chance for him to re-establish himself as a top offensive player.

Desmond has done just that in 2016, converting to an outfielder and hitting .284 with the fourth 20 home run-20 stolen base season of his career.

Although he was hitting even better in the first half of the season to earn a spot on the All-Star team, Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post noted he leveled out to his normal solid season:

These are still quality numbers and ones that will be valuable on the open market this offseason. One team that will likely have interest is the Philadelphia Phillies, who need to upgrade their offense dramatically if they want to improve for next season.

Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball listed Desmond along with Martin Prado as targets for the Phillies, with the team looking for “veterans experienced enough to positively influence their ultra-young team but young enough where they could be there when the Phillies contend.”

With Prado recently signing a three-year extension with the Miami Marlins, Desmond represents the best option to fit this category.

The 31-year-old hitter has plenty of experience in the NL East and should be a quality addition right out of the gate for Philadelphia.

Predicted destination: Philadelphia Phillies


Matt Wieters, C

Although Matt Wieters was once considered a savior for the Orioles, his time with the organization appears to be running out.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe provided the latest buzz from Baltimore:

All signs point to the Orioles cutting ties with the backstop. Wieters accepted a qualifying offer last offseason but the Orioles won’t be as generous this time. … There will be a lot of catching available in free agency and the Orioles may opt for someone cheaper than the switch-hitting Wieters. The Braves and Rays could be good fits for Wieters.

Wieters was named an All-Star this season for the fourth time in his career, although his numbers don’t generate a whole lot of excitement. He’s an above-average defensive catcher, but he isn’t worth the nearly $16 million qualifying offer he accepted to remain with the Orioles this season.

On the plus side, he has remained relatively healthy this season. He has already appeared in 121 games after being limited to just 101 in the last two years combined due to Tommy John surgery.

There should be plenty of interested teams looking for a solid defensive catcher with some pop.

Unfortunately, the Orioles will have too many other needs to fill before giving Wieters the type of long-term deal he will want.

Predicted destination: Atlanta Braves


Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

Read more MLB news on

Cubs vs. Pirates Ends in First MLB Tie Since 2005

With weather wreaking havoc in Pennsylvania on Thursday night, the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates had their game called in the middle of the sixth inning with a 1-1 score for Major League Baseball’s first tie game in 11 years.

MLB‘s last tie game prior to Thursday was on June 30, 2005, when a game between the Houston Astros and Cincinnati Reds was called after seven innings due to weather with the score tied at two.

Per’s Adam Berry, the tie game will not be reflected in the standings for the Cubs and Pirates, and it won’t be completed before the regular season ends since it holds no bearing on standings for the playoffs or draft.

After the game was called, Pirates pitcher Ivan Nova, who was on the mound when the weather delay started, said he had never seen a tie in baseball.

“Never seen that before,” Nova said, per Berry. “I was hoping at least we could keep playing until we scored a run and we win, that’s it. It’s the first time I’ve seen that happen.”

Baseball Tonight tweeted out the last time the Pirates and Cubs had games that ended in a tie:

Player stats will be counted toward their season numbers.

The Pirates are fighting to finish the season over .500 and playing the role of spoiler. They will travel to St. Louis for a three-game series against the Cardinals, who trail the San Francisco Giants by one game for the second wild-card spot.

The Cubs have already clinched the National League Central title and home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. Their first postseason game will be played at Wrigley Field on October 7.

Read more MLB news on

Selecting Every MLB Team’s 2016 Regular-Season MVP

The upcoming postseason may be the main focus of the baseball world right now, but as the regular season winds down, the debate over who should win each of the league’s major awards generally starts to heat up.

Kris Bryant looks like the front-runner to win NL MVP honors, while the AL race is still wide-open with Boston Red Sox teammates Mookie Betts and David Ortiz perhaps the co-favorites heading into the final week.

The following won’t focus on each league as a whole, though, but instead on who deserves team MVP honors for all 30 MLB franchises.

Position players generally tend to get the nod over pitchers when it comes to the league award, with Clayton Kershaw being a rare exception in 2014, but more than a few pitchers walked away with team honors.

The idea here was to find the player who has meant the most to the success of his respective team here in 2016.

Sometimes that was the player who led his team in WAR, but by no means was WAR the deciding factor in naming each team’s MVP.

Along with a focus on each team’s winner, a full ballot of the top five players was selected for each team to provide a few honorable mentions deserving of recognition as well. 

Begin Slideshow

B/R MLB 300: Ranking the Top 25 Center Fielders of 2016

Having concluded its tour around the infield at third base, the B/R MLB 300 now heads to the outfield. First up are the top center fielders of the 2016 Major League Baseball season.

There’s no shortage of talent in center field, so we’re sticking with our usual allotment of 25 players. Our scoring system acknowledges that center field is an important defensive position while also recognizing that center fielders are also well-rounded offensive players:

  • Hitting: 25 points
  • Power: 25 points
  • Baserunning: 20 points
  • Defense: 30 points

Before we move on, here’s a reminder that this year’s B/R MLB 300 is different from past versions in a key way. Rather than use the events of 2016 to project for 2017, the focus is strictly on 2016. Think of these rankings as year-end report cards.

For more on how the scoring and ranking work, read ahead.

Begin Slideshow

Resurgent Ubaldo Jimenez Emerging as Secret Weapon in Orioles’ October Hunt

Unlikely heroes rise in the postseason.

With the Baltimore Orioles fighting for their playoff lives, right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez is getting an early start.

Jimenez twirled 6.2 scoreless frames Thursday in the Orioles’ 4-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays, allowing one hit with three walks and five strikeouts.

The win moved the O’s (87-72) into a tie with Toronto for the American League‘s top wild-card spot and 1.5 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers, the closest WC competition.

The Orioles finish the season with three games in the Bronx against the dangerous New York Yankees. The Jays get three on the road against the division-winning and possibly complacent Boston Red Sox, while the Tigers take on the cellar-dwelling Atlanta Braves.

Baltimore’s work isn’t finished, in other words. There’s a scenario where the club sits at home for most of October.

If the Orioles do flutter into the playoffs, however, Jimenez’s resurgence will be an unexpected boon—and a serious secret weapon.

His overall numbers aren’t pretty. The 32-year-old owns an 8-12 record and 5.44 ERA through 142.1 innings. He hasn’t posted a sub-4.00 ERA since 2013.

Lately, though, Jimenez has resembled the pitcher who once upon a time made the All-Star team and finished in the top five in Cy Young Award balloting with the Colorado Rockies in 2010.

Since the All-Star break, Jimenez owns a 2.82 ERA, tops among Baltimore starters. 

He threw into the sixth inning or later in each of his last seven starts and mixed in a complete game Sept. 5 against the Tampa Bay Rays.

A formerly good but recently blah hurler on a mini hot streak wouldn’t grab headlines on most contenders. The Orioles, though, are so hard up for starting pitching that Jimenez’s roll counts as a revelation.

Baltimore starters own the third-worst ERA (4.77) in the AL and are easily the worst among postseason hopefuls in both leagues.

Chris Tillman has been a mixed bag since returning from the disabled list. Kevin Gausman has yielded 17 hits and nine earned runs in his last two decisions, both losses. Dylan Bundy, Yovani Gallardo and Wade Miley are all covered with warts.

There isn’t a clearor even murkyace in the bunch. 

It’s asking a lot to expect Jimenez to become that ace. A promising half and handful of superlative starts don’t erase years of mediocrity.

But Jimenez, as Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun noted, has “found the command of his sinker and been able to effectively utilize his breaking ball off that.”  

He’s harnessing his stuff, even as his velocity remains consistent with the past couple of seasons. And he’s concurrently gaining swagger. 

“When things are going good, you feel confidence,” Jimenez said, per Encina. “You don’t have to get on the mound and wonder what is going to happen. Even before you get on the mound, you know you’re going to be able to compete and you feel good mentally, physically, everything is good.”

The O’s reportedly tinkered with Jimenez’s delivery in mid-August, and the stats suggest it helped, as’s Jayson Stark noted:

The Orioles can hit. They rank third in the AL in OPS (.760) and pace baseball with 247 home runs. The bullpen is an asset, fronted by the three-headed hydra of Mychal Givens, Brad Brach and Zach Britton.

But it’s tough, if not impossible, to make a deep run without at least a couple of reliable starters. A few months ago, the idea that Jimenez could fill that role would have seemed absurd.

Now, as the autumn leaves turn and the lights get brighter, he’s doing a credible impression of an unlikely hero.

Which is exactly what Baltimore needs.


All statistics and standings current as of Thursday and courtesy of and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

Read more MLB news on

Joey Votto Injury: Updates on Reds Star’s Face and Return

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto was forced to come out of Thursday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals with a facial laceration. 

Continue for updates.

Votto Hit in Face by Throw

Thursday, Sept. 29

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer‘s C. Trent Rosecrans, Votto appeared to get hit by a throw from Cardinals left fielder Tommy Pham that opened up a cut on his chin. 

“He has a big cut and a gash and I think took seven stitches to close on his chin,” Reds manager Bryan Price said after the game, per Mark Sheldon of

Votto has been one of the best hitters in baseball this season, overcoming a slow start to be among the league leaders in a variety of offensive categories. His .433 on-base percentage leads the National League.

His performance is especially impressive, given he was flirting with a .200 batting average in late May.

When he is playing well, the four-time All-Star and one-time NL MVP remains one of the best hitters in baseball.

Lance McAlister of ESPN Radio 1530 summed it up well:

He has also generally avoided injury, missing only a handful of games this season, most recently due to a neck issue that forced him to miss one game at the start of September.

This latest injury could potentially cause him to miss more time, although it won’t have much of an impact on the Reds. The NL Central squad has been one of the worst teams in the majors this season and was virtually out of the playoff race by the start of June.

Considering Votto is signed through 2024, the important thing for everyone is keeping him healthy for the long term.

Read more MLB news on

Michael Brantley Injury: Updates on Indians OF’s Recovery from Shoulder Surgery

Cleveland Indians outfielder Michael Brantley missed nearly the entire 2016 season due to a shoulder injury, and that ailment could cost him time in 2017 as well. 

Continue for updates.

Brantley May Not Be Ready for 2017

Thursday, Sept. 29

According to Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball, a source indicated that Brantley could miss significant time in 2017 after undergoing surgery on his shoulder that reportedly involved “re-anchor[ing] the muscle to the bone.”

Brantley missed the start of 2016 due to the injury, and after appearing in 11 games, he went back on the shelf and underwent season-ending biceps tenodesis surgery in August.

Despite reports of a longer recovery, Indians president Chris Antonetti told Heyman the following: “Nothing new on Michael. He underwent biceps tenodesis surgery with an expected recovery time of four months.”

The 29-year-old star hit just .231 with no home runs and seven RBI in 11 games this year following the two best seasons of his career.

Brantley was an All-Star for the first time, won his first Silver Slugger Award and finished third in American League MVP voting by virtue of his .327 batting average, 20 home runs, 97 RBI and 23 stolen bases two years ago.

He followed that up with another superb campaign in 2015, hitting .310 with 15 homers, 84 RBI and 15 swipes.

Brantley entered 2016 on the disabled list after suffering a shoulder injury, however, and missed a few weeks before returning to action near the end of April. He went back on the 15-day DL after just 11 contests because of further issues with his shoulder.

After that, Indians manager Terry Francona placed some blame on himself for rushing Brantley back into the lineup, according to Zack Meisel of “I’m kind of kicking myself a little bit. I think we might have gone a little too far, too much, too fast. I didn’t want to do that, and I think we probably did.”

Despite being without Brantley for nearly the entire season, the Tribe reached the playoffs for the first time since 2013 on the strength of a dominant starting rotation.

Cleveland has also received stellar play from other outfielders such as Tyler Naquin, Rajai Davis and Lonnie Chisenhall.

The return of Brantley next season promises to give the Indians a huge offensive boost regardless of when it happens, but until it does, they need Naquin to keep up his high level of play, since he is the closest thing they have to a five-tool outfielder aside from Brantley.


Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

Read more MLB news on

John Farrell Is 1st Red Sox Manager Since Joe Morgan to Win 2 Division Titles

Fact: The Red Sox clinched the AL East on Wednesday night, winning their second division title in four years under John Farrell. Farrell becomes the first manager since Joe Morgan (1988, 1990) to win two division titles with the Red Sox. 

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Fact of the day, presented by Coors Light.

Source: B/R Insights

Read more MLB news on

MLB Playoff Picture 2016: Latest Postseason Bracket and World Series Odds

All six MLB divisions are settled. 

That doesn’t diminish the chaos in store for the season’s final four days, though.

Every division is wrapped up, but all four wild-card spots have yet to be determined. Don’t be surprised if bonus baseball is needed to settle a tiebreaker on Monday.

Excluding the Chicago Cubs, who have clinched home-field advantage throughout the National League stage, the other division champions can all alter their positions to secure more home cooking.

As examined below, a grueling season has left some teams hobbling into October. They might not have anything left in the tank when it matters most.


Playoff Brackets


World Series Odds


Injury Bug Spreading

The Washington Nationals finally lived up to their promise this season. A year after the World Series favorites missed the playoffs, they stormed past the New York Mets to reclaim the NL East. Their 92 wins and plus-148 run differential both trail only the Cubs in the NL.

There’s one problem, though: They suddenly have a lack of healthy players.

Daniel Murphy, who has followed last postseason’s power barrage with an NL-best .596 slugging percentage, hasn’t started since Sept. 17 because of a mild buttocks sprain. Bryce Harper has missed the last three games with an injured thumb after reportedly playing through a shoulder injury, according to Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated.

Per’s Jamal Collier, general manager Mike Rizzo said ace Stephen Strasburg (elbow) is unlikely to pitch in the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“I think it would be kind of pushing it,” Rizzo said. “I think that’s fair to say. Again, I haven’t seen him after he did his throwing program today, but just the calendar, it’s unlikely that he’d contribute in that first series.”

The most serious of them all, though, is catcher Wilson Ramos, whose season is over because of a torn ACL. He was hitting .307/.354/.396 with the highest weighted runs created plus (124) of any catcher with at least 300 plate appearances, per FanGraphs.’s Buster Olney emphasized that Ramos’ absence will particularly hurt during the NLDS:

The Dodgers won’t take pity on their upcoming opponents. They have overcome their share of bad luck during a season in which they tied an MLB record by placing 27 players on the disabled list. Yet with Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill healthy, they’re closing the season strong.

Washington’s divisional foe can relate to its woes. A year after riding a stacked rotation to the World Series, the Mets are fighting for a wild-card bid without Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz. If they need to use Bartolo Colon and Noah Syndergaard over the weekend, Robert Gsellman or Seth Lugo would have to start the Wild Card Game.

Per’s Anthony DiComo, the Mets may rearrange their rotation to avoid such a scenario:

Tying the San Francisco Giants or St. Louis Cardinals for the second spot would negate those efforts. Nevertheless, they have capitalized on a favorable schedule by scoring 64 runs in their last seven games against the Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins. They’ll close the season with a three-game series at Philadelphia.

Like the Mets, starting pitching was supposed to mark the Cleveland Indians’ strength. The superb trio of Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar led them to their first American League Central title since 2007, but the team might not have any of them for the postseason.

Having last pitched Sept. 9, Salazar is attempting to return in time for the playoffs. But the 26-year-old right-hander would have to shake off considerable rust after accruing a 7.44 second-half ERA.

“His health is the first priority,” manager Terry Francona said, per’s Zack Meisel. “He’s not rushing into anything. This is not a speed-up program.”

Carrasco is done for the year because of a broken hand. After he left his last start early, Kluber‘s status is also in question. The Associated Press’ Tom Withers presented a timetable, which could rule the ace out for the American League Division Series’ first two games.

The Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers and whichever team survives the wild-card ruckus are all stacked offensively. Countering with Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin will diminish Cleveland’s chances of winning its first World Series since 1948.

Read more MLB news on

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress