Author Archive

Ryan Hanigan Will Prove to Be Key Addition for Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays made a big splash on Tuesday as the team added a pair of impact players in Heath Bell and Ryan Hanigan via a three-way trade with Arizona and Cincinnati. 

Though Bell, a three-time All-Star, is the biggest name involved in this deal, Hanigan will prove to be the pivotal name in this transaction. 

Yes, the 33-year-old is coming off a pretty dreadful season offensively as the former Reds catcher batted just .198, which was a career-low by a sizable margin. 

But Hanigan fills a critical void in Tampa Bay as the Rays were clearly looking for an upgrade behind the plate, and the former Rollins College star certainly fits that bill. 

And, after signing a three-year, $10.75 million contract extension earlier this year, Hanigan wasn’t too expensive for the usually conservative Rays.

Until today, the Rays’ best option at catcher was Jose Molina, and though the 38-year-old offers a lot defensively, Hanigan definitely appears to have a much higher ceiling at the plate.

During the last six seasons, Molina’s batted above .250 just once, and given his age, that trend isn’t likely to reverse now.

On the other hand, last season was the first in which Hanigan has failed to eclipse .250 offensively, so assuming 2013 was something of an aberration, he’ll provide a boost for the Rays in that regard.

In addition, even if Joe Maddon opts to use both catchers depending on the opponent, Hanigan‘s presence in the lineup will alleviate at least some of the pressure on James Loney, Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist from the offensive side of the ball. 

The trade brings a much-needed change of scenery for Hanigan, who had effectively been replaced as the Reds’ starting catcher—the club seemed intent on handing the job to Devin Mesoraco, a former first-rounder.

While Mesoraco is far from a proven commodity in the MLB at this stage, the 25-year-old was impressive enough while Hanigan was sidelined twice due to injury in 2013 that the Reds felt comfortable making this deal. 

But Hanigan‘s got the talent to be an impact player for the Rays, who will be looking to build on their postseason appearance this past season, and that’s ultimately why Maddon‘s squad acquired him. 

Just a year ago, Hanigan posted three RBI in four postseason appearances for the Reds, and that’s certainly one reason why Tampa Bay’s confident he’ll bounce back from his injury-plagued 2013 season. 

No, this isn’t the sort of deal that will lift the Rays into the conversation regarding which teams are favored to win the World Series in 2014, but it’s clearly a step in the right direction. 


Read more MLB news on

ALCS Schedule 2013: When and Where to Catch All the Action

Tonight, the 2013 American League Championship Series will kick off at Fenway Park, as the Boston Red Sox get set to host the Detroit Tigers for Game 1. 

For both teams, the road to get here hasn’t been easy, as the Red Sox withstood a gutsy effort from the Tampa Bay Rays while the Tigers staved off elimination by defeating the Oakland A’s on the road in Game 5 of their ALDS showdown. 

Heading into what’s sure to be a very entertaining series, here’s a look at everything you need to know in order to catch the action live. 


ALCS Television Schedule
Game (*If necessary) Matchup Date Time (ET) TV
1 Tigers at Red Sox Saturday, Oct. 12 8:07 p.m. FOX
2 Tigers at Red Sox Sunday, Oct. 13 8:15 p.m. FOX
3 Red Sox at Tigers Tuesday, Oct. 15 4:07 p.m. FOX
4 Red Sox at Tigers Wednesday, Oct. 16 8:07 p.m. FOX
5* Red Sox at Tigers Thursday, Oct. 17 8:07 p.m. FOX
6* Tigers at Red Sox Saturday, Oct. 19 4:37 p.m. (moved to 8:07 p.m. if NLCS does not go to Game 7) FOX
7* Tigers at Red Sox Sunday Oct. 20 8:07 p.m. FOX

CBS Boston


How Boston Wins

First and foremost, for the Red Sox, one of the biggest points of emphasis defensively has to be containing Miguel Cabrera and doing their best to minimize his impact on the series. 

Thus far in this postseason, Cabrera hasn’t exactly been the dominant hitter that he was during the regular season, but as the undisputed best hitter in baseball, everyone knows that this can change in an instant. 

If the Red Sox can manage Cabrera, the next key will be to stay with the Tigers until the later stages of games. As great as Detroit’s starting rotation is, their bullpen is almost equally as suspect at times. 

Furthermore, if the Red Sox continue to get clutch contributions from Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino, Boston will be in good shape to win this series. 


How Detroit Wins

If the Tigers can get more pop offensively, they’ll be in this series, but otherwise, this team will struggle to keep pace with Boston’s array of potent offensive weapons. 

In addition, the pitching matchup on paper clearly favors the Tigers, so if Detroit’s rotation does what’s expected of them, they should be able to silence the Red Sox from the mound. 

The Red Sox are a team that feeds off momentum in huge amounts, so if Detroit can jump out to an early lead, on the road no less, the Tigers could make this a short series. 

If not, one can’t discount the possibility of Boston continuing to build confidence and offensively overpowering the Tigers. 

Detroit’s staff is good enough to win this series on its own, but after a grueling series with Oakland, whether they’re well-rested enough to do so remains to be seen. 



I think Boston continues its inspired ride through the postseason and takes both games at home but drops Game 3 with Justin Verlander on the mound. 

But the Red Sox have heart and proven postseason performers in the form of Ellsbury, Victorino, David Ortiz (two homers in the ALDS) and Dustin Pedroia, and they’ll rally back to take Games 4 and 5 to advance to the World Series for the first time since 2007. 

Boston 4, Detroit 1

Read more MLB news on

AL Wild Card Race: Assessing the Chances of Each Team Still in Contention

With roughly two weeks to go in the 2013 MLB schedule, there are still postseason berths up for grabs in the American League, and a handful of teams are still very much in contention. 

Obviously, the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics have all essentially booked their trips to the playoffs, but beyond that trio, there’s much to be decided in the final days of the regular season. 

At this stage, there are currently six teams still in the mix for one of the two coveted wild-card spots, so emotions will be at an all-time high, especially when postseason hopefuls face off in the coming days. 

Now, heading into the final stretch of the season, here’s a look at each team’s chances at claiming a wild-card berth. 


Tampa Bay

Right now, the Tampa Bay Rays are very much in control of their own destiny, as Joe Maddon’s club has 10 of their remaining 13 games against teams still in contention for a wild-card spot. 

And for the time being, Evan Longoria and company are in the driver’s set in this race, sitting a full 1.5 games up on the Indians, who are the first team out. So if they play solid baseball the rest of the way, they’ll be in. 

Although the Rays won the first of a four-game series against the struggling Rangers on deck, they’ve got a pair of three-game affairs with the Orioles and Yankees to follow, so Tampa won’t exactly waltz into postseason play. 

Chances: Very good. The Rays took two of three against both the Yankees and Orioles during their last series against each team, so if they play that way, Tampa will be headed to the playoffs. 



It’s no secret that the Rangers have basically played their way from being a guarantee to at least be a wild-card team to a couple more losses away from watching the postseason at home, but for now, Texas still sits just a half-game back behind the Rays and currently hold the second berth. 

However, after losing their last seven, and two out of 14 in September, even Ron Washington admits he’s worried about whether he’ll remain with the team beyond this season, per ESPN’s Todd Wills

Yes, the Rangers still technically have as good a shot as anyone of getting a wild-card berth, but unless they take at least one of their next three against Tampa Bay, this is a ship that’s sinking way too fast to be saved. 

Chances: Slim. Sure, statistically, the Rangers’ chances are well above 50 percent, but given how far this team has fallen during the most important stretch of the season, it’ll take a miracle for Washington to turn things around. 



After dropping a demoralizing 7-1 decision to Kansas City, the Indians sit just outside the postseason heading into the final two weeks of their schedule. 

Despite having another two games against the Royals up next, Cleveland’s got it about as easy as they could ask for from there, as they take on Chicago, Minnesota and Houston, who all sit far below .500. 

Basically, if Cleveland just wins the games they’re supposed to, or even takes 8-of-10 against those three mediocre opponents, a wild-card berth will be in their grasps. 

Chances: Very good. If the tribe takes one against KC, and does what they need to against far inferior teams the rest of the way, they’re in. 



The Orioles picked the wrong time to go 4-6, but Chris Davis, Adam Jones and company still sit just two games out of a playoff berth, but the road won’t be easy from here. 

That’s because Baltimore has six games against AL East-leading Boston, as well as another three against the aforementioned Rays, so this team will need to play its best ball of the year to have a fighting chance at keeping up with the competition. 

After being one of the feel-good stories of last season, the O’s didn’t take anyone by surprise this year, and they certainly won’t be doing so the rest of the way. 

Chances: Not great. Baltimore’s losing five of seven to the Yankees over the course of the last three weeks really hurt, so if they’re going to make it to the MLB’s second season two year’s in a row, they’ll really have to earn it the hard way. 


New York Yankees

The Yankees may still be perched 2.5 games out of the final wild-card berth, but they have a very favorable schedule the rest of the way, so they’re looking like the most likely team to challenge Cleveland or Tampa Bay for one of the two spots. 

From here, Joe Girardi’s club has nine of its remaining 12 tilts against sub-.500 teams. So like the Indians, if they take care of business, they’ll be right in the thick of things until the final day of the season. 

Outside of those nine games, the Yankees’ three-game series with the Rays will likely determine whether they get in, but they’ll have to improve upon the .333 winning percentage they’ve put up so far against Tampa Bay so far this season. 

Chances: Just okay. If the Yankees take seven or eight of the remaining nine games against inferior teams, they’ll be in a good spot to knock off the Rays if they can take two of three at home against Tampa Bay at home. 


Kansas City

Like New York, Kansas City is still a couple of wins away from catching up with the leaders, but after putting a beating on the Indians in Game 1 of their three-game series, the Royals will hope to continue that momentum going. 

Following the Cleveland series, the Royals will host the Rangers, so assuming they can ensure Texas continues their losing streak, KC has a chance. 

After that, they’ll have seven games against subpar clubs, so they’ll stand a reasonable shot at getting in if they can weather the storm that is the next five games. 

Chances: Same as the Yankees. They’ve got to win out against the below-average teams and take at least three of their next five against wild-card contenders. 

Read more MLB news on

World Baseball Classic 2013 Schedule: Breaking Down Biggest Pool Play Showdowns

The third edition of the World Baseball Classic is officially under way, as the best in the game will compete for national pride in what’s become the most highly anticipated international baseball event in the world. 

As the two-time defending champions, the Japanese squad is obviously the team to beat, but given how spread out the talent is between the top tier of teams, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Japan fail to make it back to the finals. 

With pool play already having begun, here’s a look at the most critical showdowns between perennial heavyweights during the group stage of the tournament. 

For a full schedule, check out the tournament’s website. 


Japan at Cuba- Wednesday, March 6 at 5:00 a.m. ET 

It’s strange to see Cuba “hosting” this game even though it takes place in Japan, but, nonetheless, the Cubans will get an early opportunity to open some eyes by knocking off the champs.

With more than a dozen Major League Baseball players on their roster, Cuba has enough talent to put up a fight against Japan or, at the least, lock up a spot in the knockout phase of the tournament.

Beating Japan seems a Herculean task no matter where the game, but doing so on Japanese soil appears downright impossible.


USA at Canada- Sunday, March 10 at 4:00 p.m. ET 

In what is a surprisingly good-natured rivalry between Canada and the U.S., the Americans clearly have a big advantage in terms of talent and depth at virtually every position. 

However, with studs like Joey Votto, Jason Bay and Brett Lawrie, the Canadians have just enough talent to squeak through to the next round of the competition—the outcome of this showdown between two North American squads will have a hand in determining whether they make it or not. 


Dominican Republic at Puerto Rico- Sunday March 10 at 7:30 p.m. ET

On a day full of intriguing clashes, this one might be the most interesting. 

That’s because Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic both boast a number of legitimate superstar players—with a spot in the next round of the tournament on the line, the stakes couldn’t be higher. 

Read more MLB news on

2013 MLB Free Agents: Updates on Where Top Prizes Will Land

With MLB free agency well underway in preparation for the 2013 season, the vast majority of the most highly coveted players remain available. 

Though stars such as David Ortiz, Melky Cabrera and Torii Hunter have been signed since the free-agent market opened, there are a host of impact players still up for bidding, and the races for many of them remain wide open. 

More than two weeks into the offseason, here’s a look at where some of the MLB’s top free-agent prizes could land.


Josh Hamilton

As this year’s top offensive free agent, Josh Hamilton has been fielding offers from a variety of teams, including a handful of deep-pocketed, big-market franchises, including the Boston Red Sox. 

This week, NESN’s Mike Cole reported that Boston’s Ben Cherington was very much interested in acquiring the services of the former AL MVP, and that the Red Sox should be in the running to get his signature on a long-term deal. 

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington isn’t afraid to admit the team’s interest in Josh Hamilton, going on XM Radio on Tuesday and saying that the team still has interest in the free-agent outfielder.

While Boston’s interest in Hamilton has increased as the free agency period has worn on, another one of the perceived top contenders in the Hamilton sweepstakes has apparently fallen, according to CBS Sports’ R.J. White

According to’s Jayson Stark, agents who have been in contact with the team say the Phillies may be out on the 31-year-old despite their need to add at least two starting outfielders.’s Jon Heyman reported Monday that the Phillies were believed to have Hamilton as a fallback option as they pursue center fielders Michael Bourn and B.J. Upton.

With the Phillies out, there are a number of potential destinations for the five-time All-Star, but there’s no clear leader in sight. 


Zack Greinke 

From the beginning, it’s looked like the front-runners in the bidding for prized pitcher Zack Greinke would be the two teams based in Los Angeles, the Angels and the Dodgers. 

According to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports, that hasn’t changed. 

Greinke is the Dodgers’ top choice on the free agent market, according to sources, followed closely by Anibal Sanchez. The Dodgers have also shown interest in Hiroki Kuroda, but it’s believed that he is more likely to either stay with the Yankees or return to his native Japan.

The Greinke market could well pit the Dodgers against their Southern California rivals, the Angels, although the Rangers and possibly other teams could also get involved in the bidding. The Angels have made retaining Greinke their top priority, and it’s easy to believe that owner Arte Moreno will do all that he can to keep Greinke away from his local rivals and his division rivals.

Kuroda has re-signed with the Yankees, and at this point, it seems that the most likely destinations for Greinke are the Angels and Dodgers, though the Rangers are very much still in the running for the former Cy Young winner. 

Whether Greinke chooses to remain an Angel or move to their cross-town rival remains to be seen, but this could be the winter’s most heated bidding war going forward. 


Michael Bourn 

Heading into the winter, former Braves outfielder Michael Bourn was widely considered to be among the top position players available, which is why he’s had no shortage of suitors thus far. 

According to ESPN’s David Schoenfield, though there are a handful of perceived front-runners, a couple of other teams could make late pushes to acquire the two-time All-Star. 

Dan mentioned the Phillies as a possibility for Bourn, and that makes a lot of sense. They don’t have a center fielder, Jimmy Rollins is better suited for a spot lower in the order these days (Phillies leadoff hitters had a .318 OBP) and the Phillies obviously have the rotation of a playoff contender. On the other hand, the Phillies already are paying $20 million-plus in 2013 to Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard, $15 million to Chase Utley, and a combined $24 million to Rollins and Jonathan Papelbon, so maybe they’ve hit their limit. On the third hand, they’ve cut nearly $40 million from the 2012 payroll in kicking Joe Blanton, Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino, Placido Polanco and Ty Wigginton to the curb. 

Two other options: the Rangers, if they lose Josh Hamilton; and the Giants, if they don’t re-sign Angel Pagan. 

Sleeper option: the Brewers — who then could peddle Carlos Gomez for some pitching help. The Brewers led the National League in runs scored in 2012 but a Bourn-Norichika Aoki one-two punch at the top would set the table nicely for the big boys and help the pitching staff with a more reliable defender in center field.

With the Phillies out on Hamilton, it appears that they’ll direct all of their efforts towards landing Bourn or B.J. Upton. Considering Philadelphia’s already talented roster, if Bourn wants to win in the short-term, he may be looking for a new address in the city of brotherly love before winter’s end. 

Read more MLB news on

2013 MLB Free Agents: Chasing Zack Greinke Will Cost Texas Josh Hamilton

It’s been coming for a while, but the Texas Rangers appear to be getting used to life without Josh Hamilton, as they’ve turned their attention to the other superstar available on the 2013 free-agent market.

That would be former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke, who is easily the most highly regarded pitcher available this winter. But whether Texas has a realistic shot at landing the soon-to-be former Angels ace remains to be seen.

Despite reports (via claiming the Rangers had offered Hamilton a three-year max-deal, it now appears that that contract proposal was never tabled. 

That’s because Jon Heyman, CBS Sports’ Baseball Insider, says that the Rangers have focused their efforts on reeling in Greinke, regardless of whether that costs the team the All-Star outfielder:

The Rangers have joined the fray for Zack Greinke in another sign that superstar outfielder Josh Hamilton’s days in Texas are numbered.

The incumbent Angels are seen as the favorite for Greinke, but as one GM said here, they are going to get geographic (Dodgers) and divisional (Rangers) competition. The Nationals are one of many others who may make a play for Greinke, and as Angels GM Jerry Dipoto said, ‘I assume all 29 teams have some level of interest.’

Texas has made no offer to Hamilton (no, the Rangers didn’t make a three-year offer, as rumored), and while they’ve held open the possibility of bringing him back, they are concentrating their efforts on Greinke while allowing Hamilton to look elsewhere.

The Rangers’ chances to keep Hamilton may now depend on them 1) losing out on Greinke, and 2) Hamilton finding nothing great elsewhere.

At this point, it seems extremely unlikely that Hamilton will return to Texas, especially given his former team’s apparent indifference, or at least absence of urgency, in getting his signature on a long-term deal.

Hamilton will receive more lucrative offers than what the Rangers appear willing to give him, and unless something drastic happens soon, he’ll be entertaining contract proposals from a variety of suitors.

In addition, with Texas actively pursuing Greinke, Hamilton must realize that he’s no longer the Rangers’ top priority. But it seemed that he’d read the writing on the wall by the end of the 2012 season.

He’s going to get a six-figure contract offer from someone, but it won’t be Texas, and unless they’re low-balling Greinke as well, the Rangers are almost certainly tabling relatively more desirable offers to the All-Star starting pitcher.

Regardless of whether the Rangers do ultimately acquire Greinke, the fact that the team’s management is more concerned with signing him than Hamilton will be the final nail in the coffin for the former AL MVP.

Read more MLB news on

Kyuji Fujikawa: Projecting Where Free-Agent Pitcher Will Land

This winter, Kyuji Fujikawa is the next in an increasingly long list of Japanese-trained pitchers to take their talents to Major League Baseball, and with free agency underway, he’ll be entertaining offers from multiple MLB teams in the coming weeks.

As one of the most highly-regarded closers on the market, the right-hander will have no shortage of suitors, especially after his impressive 2012 season with the Hanshin Tigers, in which he notched 41 saves in 56 games.

What makes him even more attractive than past Japanese MLB pitchers is that because of Fujikawa’s 10-year career in Japan, teams interested in the closer need not negotiate with the pitcher’s team in order to secure his services.

Looking ahead, here are some of the potential landing spots for the 32-year-old four-time NPB All-Star.


Los Angeles Angels

Thus far, the Angels have been one of the most aggressive teams in pursuit of Fujikawa, and according to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, they’re not keeping it a secret

Improving the bullpen is also a priority, and that pursuit could take the Angels to Japan. Dipoto confirmed he’s interested in free-agent closer Kyuji Fujikawa.

Fujikawa, 32, was 3-3 with a 1.24 earned-run average and 41 saves for the Hanshin Tigers last season and would like to play on the West Coast. The right-hander mixes a 93-mph fastball with a split-finger fastball and slider.

“There’s an attraction there for the player and for us,” Dipoto said. “We’ve seen him against major league hitters. There’s no question about his ability. He’s a talented guy.”

The Angels would benefit from adding an experienced closer like Fujikawa to the mix, and as DiGiovanna points out, the pitcher’s preference is reportedly to go to a team on the West coast.

It’s obvious that the Angels are very interested in signing Fujikawa, but whether they’ll outbid others competing for his services remains to be seen.


Los Angeles Dodgers

As usual, the Angels and Dodgers will be competing for a highly-regarded free agent, as the Angels’ crosstown rivals appear to be in contention to land the coveted closer.

In late October, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times broke the news on the Dodgers’ interest in Fujikawa. 

The Dodgers are interested in Japanese free-agent reliever Kyuji Fujikawa, according to people familiar with their thinking.

A right-hander armed with a mid-90s fastball, Fujikawa has been considered the Japanese league’s top closer in recent years. The 32-year-old has posted a 1.26 ERA over his last eight seasons with the Hanshin Tigers.

The Dodgers may not be as openly keen on bringing in the two-time World Baseball Classic participant as the Angels, but that doesn’t mean they won’t offer him a more lucrative contract.


Boston Red Sox

As the Red Sox try to rebuild after last season’s overwhelmingly disappointing performance, it seems that they too are in the running to land the veteran closer.

According to Ricky Doyle of, the Red Sox are looking into the possibility of signing Fujikawa, but are aware that there are at least a handful of teams that are in the mix as well. 

Texas Rangers

The Dallas Morning News‘ Gerry Fraley recently said that the Texas Rangers are actively scouting Fujikawa, and are very interested in discussing a deal with the 32-year-old reliever.

The Texas Rangers are among several teams that have scouted right-handed reliever Kyuji Fujikawa, who is about to receive free agency from Nippon Pro Baseball. Fujikawa, 32, was 2-2 with 24 saves and a 1.32 ERA in 47 2/3 innings this season with Hanshin of the Japan Central League. His top pitches are the fastball and the split-finger fastball

It’s unclear as to how interested the Rangers are in Fujikawa, but at least by the sound of things, they’ll be a front-runner in the bidding for the former Team Japan pitcher.

Read more MLB news on

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