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New York Yankees: Who Got Cut, Who’s Injured and Where Will Yankees Finish?

Minor Cuts Mean Little To New York Yankees Pennant Hopes

The Yankees are starting to finalize their roster right now.

The catcher spot has been the most interesting. Along with outfielder Justin Maxwell and infielder Doug Bernier, they sent Jesus Montero down to triple A and sent Austin Romine to Double A.

But the more high-profile moves: cutting Ronnie Belliard and sending former Cubs phenom Mark Prior all the way down to single A.

As far as the normal bumps and bruises caused by spring training, three players, Curtis Granderson is still sidelined by an oblique strain and there is a chance he will start out the season on the disabled list, but it don’t seem like long-term problems.

The club’s offseason moves were fodder for the press this winter, as were the non-moves (not signing Cliff Lee) and with more likely to come this summer, Mike Vaccario of the New York Post expects the Yanks to land in  the postseason.

“Even the biggest self-hating Yankees fan has to have a hard time picking a team other than the Bombers to cop the AL wild card. And that’s before they make their annual moves in July, one of which likely will bring a quality starter to The Bronx.”

I tend to agree: the Yankees lineup is probably too powerful to be shut out of the playoffs, the bullpen is improved, and even if they didn’t land Lee and Andy Petite retired, they will get quality starts from C.C. Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and maybe Freddy Garcia.

But if they think they are going to walk all over the AL East teams outside of Boston, they are in for a major shock. Baltimore and Toronto are no longer door mats and the Rays will surprise them, by pushing them  for the Wild Card into September.

For more on the MLB season, see Fantasy Baseball Rankings 2011: The Top 10 Rookies

MLB Rosters 2011: Who Got Cut, Who’s Injured and Where Will Your Team Finish?

By signing Cliff Lee last fall, the Philadelphia Phillies became the National League’s favorite to win a third pennant in four seasons.

With their awesome staff, a stacked lineup and a great closer, they looked almost unbeatable. But the spring hasn’t been kind to the Phils. The injury bug has caused some concern heading into the 2011 season.

Brad Lidge is out for at least three-to-six weeks with a rotator cuff sprain, while Chase Utley, Placido Polanco and Domonic Brown have been hampered by injuries, as well.

But Philadelphia isn’t the only team to see their roster face some doubts this past week. Inside we’ll take a look at what changes have hit, those on the horizon and how that will effect the club’s outlook for 2011.

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Duke Snider: Remembering the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Legendary Outfielder

Duke Snider Was a True Dodger Legend

Duke Snider, the famous Dodger center fielder, passed away yesterday at the age of 84. 

Known throughout the 1950s as “The Duke of Flatbush” (Flatbush was the section of Brooklyn in which the Dodgers’ home park, Ebbets Field, was located), Snider was one of the greatest players in team history.

Here’s a quick look back at the man who hit four home runs in the 1955 World Series, the only championship in Brooklyn Dodgers history. 

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MLB Trade Rumors: Every Team’s Least Movable Contract

MLB Trade Rumors Aren’t Dying Down Yet

MLB trade rumors will keep going strong right up until the start of the new season.

Each team—although some have more than others—has at least one contract on their roster that is virtually impossible to unload.

Whether it was an investment that went wrong, picking up a contract from another club, or a player just aging less than gracefully, each of these players are stuck with their current team.

While money and longevity are factors in our selection; recent performances, age, and health are just as vital. And although players recently signed or traded for—say Adrian Beltre—might be making loads of money, the chances of their new team wanting to move them is unlikely. 

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Albert Pujols: 10 Teams That Would Give Him the Money He Wants As a Free Agent

Albert Pujols Would Have Plenty of Suitors This Offseason

Albert Pujols seems destined for free agency now that his pre-spring training deadline has passed. 

And even though Phat Albert is 31, few teams should hesitate to give him an enormously long and enormously rich contract. 

Now the sticking point with the Cardinals seems to be that he wants 10 years and it doesn’t seem likely that ANY team would shell out another A-rod-like deal.

But after negotiations, he and a team other than the Cardinals should be able to hammer out a deal. 

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MLB Rumors: Bartolo Colon, Wandy Rodriguez and the Latest MLB Buzz

MLB Rumors are still circulating even though the free agency boom has somewhat passed and spring training isn’t that far down the road.

At this point in the season there aren’t any (current) superstars out on the open market. But there are players who can make a contribution….or at least fill a roster spot.

And trade rumors and contract extensions are a 365-day-a-year affair.

Here is some of the news swirling through the Hot Stove right now. 

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MLB Power Rankings: The 15 Most Hated Teams in Baseball History

Power ranking the most hated teams in baseball history is not easy to do. What makes baseball fans and non-baseball fans across the country hate a team depends on many factors?

Hometown fans love a team no matter what happens or what dirtbag is on the roster…..for the most part.

But we’re trying to think bigger here. Outside of that one particular city, the following 15 teams have plenty of reason to be hated.

No we’re not saying all 25 players, the manager, the coaches, the owner and the guy who sells the hot dogs in the stands were hated or bad people. But for one reason or another, there was a reason they deserved the ire of sports fans. 

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MLB Hot Stove: Updating the Hottest Buzz For All 30 Teams

MLB Hot Stove has slowed a bit since the free agency boom has passed. The long shadow cast by the college football season, the NFL stretch run/playoffs, and the NHL and NBA seasons has also contributed. 

But along several fronts there are many changes ahead for teams and the whispers regarding many of those teams and their players are growing louder. Here is some buzz:

New York Yankees: Although New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said last month that there is “not a clear role for him here,” Johnny Damon and his agent Scott Boras have been actively pursuing a return to the Yankees. As a utility player and outfielder, he would have an impact, although not nearly as much as Rafael Soriano would. 

Boston Red Sox: After making two of the biggest offseason acquisitions in Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, the Red Sox are not necessarily interested in moving another piece.

Outfielder Mike Cameron, who only appeared in 48 games last season, does not want to be traded, according to his agent, despite the addition of Crawford: “Mike wants to be with this club and feels like he will have a significant role with this club….Mike thinks that this can be a very good team and that he has a chance to be a big part of it and that they have a chance to win a championship.”

Tampa Bay Rays: The mass exodus in Tampa continues as the Rays have dealt starter Fernando Perez, a minor leaguer, and Matt Garza (15-10, 3.91 ERA) to the Cubs today in exchange for Chris Archer, Brandon Guyer, Robinson Chirinos, Hak-Ju Lee and Sam Fuld. And although James Shields seems safe for now, the longer time passes, the longer Rafael Soriano seems headed elsewhere. 

Toronto Blue Jays: After bringing in Octavio Dotel to replace Kevin Gregg, the Blue Jays might not be done.

With veteran bats Jim Thome and Vladamir Guererro, still out there, the Jays might try and supplement an already powerful lineup. If they have any hopes of competing with the Red Sox and Yankees, they might have to outslug them. 

Baltimore Orioles: Signing Kevin Gregg, Derrek Lee and trading for Mark Reynolds has added even more momentum to the Orioles offseason: their 34-23 finish was also a big boost as well. But another starter would help even more. With the talk over Kenshin Kawakami having died down, they will probably have to look elsewhere.

Cleveland Indians: The Indians have dealt away two Cy Young winners in the past four seasons. Now they are trying to bring an old face back. 2005 Cy Young winner and Indians starter from 1997 to 2002 Bartolo Colon is aiming to make a comeback at age 37. He missed all of 2010 with an elbow injury, but has reportedly been courted by the Yankees and Rangers as well. 

Chicago White Sox: Now that Bobby Jenks has left town for the Red Sox, the White Sox are going to have to find a closer. That naturally leads to suspicions of Tampa Bay closer Rafael Soriano’s fitting in on the South Side. According to some reports, that is still possible. 

Minnesota Twins: Carl Pavano and Jim Thome remain unsigned but both men could be returning to Minneapolis very soon. According to Ken Rosenthal, the 17-game winner who turns 35 tomorrow is also being courted by the Brewers. 

Detroit Tigers: Brad Penny is on the radar for the Tigers front office. The 32 year old, who only made nine starts last season for the St. Louis Cardinals, is looking for a one-year deal. The club seems to be less than certain that Armando Galarraga is a lock to earn the fifth spot in the rotation next year and are pursuing Penny as another option. 

Kansas City Royals: After dealing away their best starter in years, 2009 Cy Young winner Zack Greinke, the Royals are being asked about their best closer in years. Joakim Soria, who in four years has a 2.01 ERA and 132 saves, could be the next man to leave Kansas City, but according to Ken Rosenthal, Dayton Moore is not going to deal away the 26 year old. 

Oakland A’s: After losing out on their semi-intense bid for Adrian Beltre the A’s don’t seem to be pursuing many other alternatives this year, especially since they brought in Josh Willingham and are headed for arbitration with Dallas Braden and Craig Breslow. 

Anaheim Angels: After seeing Carl Crawford and most recently Adrian Beltre sign elsewhere, the Angles haven’t given up on enhancing their lineup during the 2011 offseason. Reports have the team possibly pursuing Scott Podsednik and Johnny Damon. But Vlad Guererro could be a viable return option as well. 

Seattle Mariners: is reporting that the Mariners and Brendan Ryan are working on a deal to avoid arbitration. Seattle acquired the 28 year old infiedler from the St. Louis Cardinals last month, but they have not yet been able to reach a deal. It remains to be seen if he will compete for the second base or shortstop job. 

Texas Rangers: Now that Adrian Beltre has been brought in by the Rangers, Michael Young is likely to move to the designated hitter spot. The domino effect of that move leaves Vladamir Guererro the odd man out in Texas. He’ll have suitors elsewhere, but for now, the Rangers lineup seems set. 

New York Mets: Considering that his team plays in New York and both Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran continue to fill trade block rumors, new general manager Sandy Alderson has kept a low profile since coming on the staff back in December.  Perhaps he’s been too busy pursuing pitcher Chris Young, the Padres free agent who has only logged 96 innings in the past two seasons. 

Atlanta Braves: As hard as he’s tried, general manager Frank Wren still hasn’t been able to deal starter/long-reliever Kenshin Kawakami. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Braves owe Kawakami $6.7 million next year and with their rotation set they don’t want to keep his contract. But reports have a deal to the Orioles—which was in the works in December—no longer a possibility. 

Philadelphia Phillies: The only move left for the Phillies is possibly finding a place for Joe Blanton. They probably aren’t going to re-sign Chad Durbin now that J.C. Romero is back for another year. 

Florida Marlins: Ricky Nolasco has been locked up and Javier Vazquez signed late last year to fill out the rotation, but they haven’t added a bat yet to replace Dan Uggla’s 33 home runs. Maybe one of the aging veterans—Jim Thome, Vladamir Guererro, or Manny Ramirez—could provide a short term solution. 

Washington Nationals: After committing a lot of money to outfielder Jayson Werth and first baseman Adam LaRoche, the Nationals have reportedly tightened their purse strings and will not pursue free agent starter Carl Pavavno, whose agent Tom O’Connell said “I’m not in any active talks with the Nationals.”

Chicago Cubs: The Cubs completed a huge deal today, pulling Matt Garza away from the Tampa Bay Rays. But his acquisition probably doesn’t make it any easier to deal away Carlos Zambrano. The $18 million salary Big Z is due in 2011 severely hampers his trade value. 

St. Louis Cardinals: As much as signing a free agent or trading for a quality player is important to the Cardinals 2011 team, re-signing Albert Pujols to a long term deal before he hits the free agent market is much more important. According to reports, the ongoing negotiations are “positive.” The deadline is starting to near, however, Pujols says he does not want to negotiate one spring training and the regular season start.

Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates have made a few surprise moves in the free agent market: Matt Diaz, Lyle Overbay, and Kevin Correia. According to reports, there could be one more on the way: trading for Kenshin Kawakami. But negotiations to pull the pitcher out of Atlanta have slowed considerably since December. 

Milwaukee Brewers: Adding Zack Greinke would seem to solidify Prince Fielders spot on the 2011 team through the trade deadline. They do seem more and more likely, however, to miss out on signing free agent Carl Pavano. 

Houston Astros: All offseason Jeff Keppinger has been rumored to be on the trade blocks. But because the infielder will undergo surgery this month on an injured toe, that probably will not happen anytime soon. What team will want to acquire him, knowing that he will not be available on opening day?

Cincinnati Reds: Watching the Cubs and Brewers acquire excellent starters this offseason doesn’t seem to have deterred the Reds.  Instead of trying to match that move in hopes of defending their surprise NL Central crown, they have added to their bench, signing 2010 World Series hero Edgar Renteria to a one-year deal.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Justin Upton, once the source of several trade rumors at the end of the 2010 season, doesn’t seem to be headed anywhere. The D-backs have already lost a team leader in Brandon Webb and power bats in Adam LaRoche and Mark Reynolds. Not surprisingly, moving Upton doesn’t make much sense. 

Los Angeles Dodgers: James Loney remains a trade option, but as the arbitration process moves forward, maybe less so. Chad Billingsley is also headed for arbitration and his spot on the 2011 roster might be more important: the big righty was 11-10 last season and had a respectable 3.57 ERA. 

San Diego Padres: After trading away their best position player, Adrian Gonzalez, the Padres are hoping to keep their excellent closer Heath Bell. Bell, who was second in the majors with 47 saves last year, has stated his desire for a long-term deal as well. Bell told the San Diego Union-Tribune, that it would be “my dream” to sign with the club and avoid free agency after the 2011 season.

Colorado Rockies: Giving Jorge De La Rosa, Troy Tulowitzki, and Carlos Gonzalez long term deals this offseason may have sapped all of the attention of the general manger Dan O’Dowd. While the rest of the NL West pursues changes to their team, the Rockies are more interested in preserving theirs.

San Francisco Giants: Not re-signing Edgar Renteria—and letting him go to the Reds—isn’t exactly a sign of change in San Francisco. Miguel Tejada is more than an adequate replacement. Other than that, the re-signing of Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell, is enough to keep the stability in place. 

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MLB Trade Rumors: Power Ranking the Teams Most Likely to Pull Off a Deal

MLB trade rumors are swirling following some of the big moves the past few weeks.

The Adrian Gonzalez deal was a game-changer for the Boston Red Sox. And now that Cliff Lee has somewhat unexpectedly signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, there are going to be serious repercussions for the team’s who missed out on landing an ace starter.

So who out there is most likely to make a deal?

Inside we’ll power rank the top 20 teams most likely to trade, either to improve their team for next season, avoid impending free agency or prepare for the future.

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Bob Feller: Legendary MLB Pitcher Dies After Long Health Battle

Bob Feller, one of the greatest pitchers in major league history and a true icon in Cleveland sports, has passed away.

The 92-year-old was diagnosed with leukemia in August and underwent several additional health problems before moving to a hospice and passing away last night.

“Bob Feller is gone. We cannot be surprised,” said Indians owner Larry Dolan. “Yet, it seems improbable. Bob has been such an integral part of our fabric, so much more than an ex-ballplayer, so much more than any Cleveland Indians player. He is Cleveland, Ohio.

“To say he will be missed is such an understatement. In fact, more to the point, he will not be missed because he will always be with us.”

Here is a brief tribute to the fabled right-hander.

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