- The big news was clearly the ESPN report that BioGenesis’ Tony Bosch would cooperate with MLB and that Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez and others could be subject to suspension. But the burden of proof is still on baseball to prove that all these documents and witnesses are legitimate. It doesn’t really matter what anyone outside the investigation and the court system believes, and there will be an incredibly intense and lengthy legal battle to determine the fates of over a dozen players.The Yankees would like nothing more than to have an excuse to void the rest of Rodriguez’s contract, but there’s more gray area in this case than meets the eye. Baseball can levy out the suspensions, and I suspect they will, but the appeal process will take months, if not longer. So don’t expect anything to happen any time soon. Unless you like suspensions that won’t immediately stick.
- One scout on a report I read online said that Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig is already better than A’s slugger Yoenis Cespedes. That’s an overdramatic exaggeration, but Puig has already proven his raw and immediate ability with his bat (two homers on Tuesday night) and with his arm. His arrest in the minor leagues shows that he needs to be watched and disciplined as he acclimates from Cuban to American life, and the Dodgers should look to the Oakland-Cespedes model for guidance.The A’s have former Cuban prospect Ariel Prieto live with Cespedes and help him transition to a big league lifestyle and the Dodgers should follow the same lead. If they do and Puig stays out of trouble, the rest of the National League will really have to watch out.
- I was at Yankee Stadium last night and two things really came to mind after the Yankees’ 4-3 win on Tuesday over the Indians: Mark Teixeira is on his game, and Nick Swisher looks a bit slow. After a wrist injury kept him out for the first two months of the season, Teixeira looks really sharp from both sides of the plate, hitting balls with a lot of authority. And perhaps parenthood is weighing on Swisher more than he would like to admit, but his bat speed isn’t really there right now. Luckily, the Indians have so many guys hitting well that it’s not an enormous concern, but Swisher is really struggling out there.
- I lied, there’s one more takeaway from the Yankees game: Joba Chamberlain does not have a long-term future with the Yankees. His fastball and slider velocity are still where they should be (at 96 and 85 respectively) but his location and crispness in his pitches are off. He would do well on another team, and New York will likely trade him to an NL team in July.
Yankees @ Orioles- First and fourth place in the AL East are separated by four games, as Baltimore looks to rebound from a sweep at the hands of the Rays. CC Sabathia takes the mound against former Yankee Freddy Garcia Monday on ESPN, and Tuesday’s game will be on MLB Network. New York OF Brett Gardner is feeling it on the base-paths now after four steals last week. He’ll be this series’ player to watch.
Athletics @ Rangers- Oakland is back over .500 after its sweep of Kansas City and will now look to gain ground against the AL West-leading Rangers. Yu Darvish pitches for Texas on Tuesday against Dan Straily. Elvis Andrus and Mitch Moreland have been tearing it up for the Rangers over the last week, and are the players to watch.
Diamondbacks @ Rockies- The two surprise clubs in the NL West are separated by one game, and first place in the division could be at stake. Sensational rookie Patrick Corbin goes for Arizona on Monday, while lefties Ian Kennedy and Jhoulys Chacin pitch on Tuesday. Carlos Gonzalez and Paul Goldschmidt were two of the top hitters in baseball last week, and are the players to watch.
Nationals @ Giants- Two of the NL’s most talented teams square off out west, with two tremendous pitching matchups on tap for the series. Stephen Strasburg and Matt Cain pitch on Tuesday, with Gio Gonzalez and Madison Bumgarner going on Wednesday. Adam LaRoche belted four homers last week to go with 10 RBI’s, and is the hitter to watch.
Tigers @ Indians- Coming off his three-homer performance on Sunday, Miguel Cabrera and Detroit are now in second place in the AL Central thanks to Indians. Jason Kipnis and Cleveland have won 17 of 21 going into this crucial two-game series. Ace Justin Verlander takes on former ace Ubaldo Jimenez on Wednesday.
Assorted Scouting Notes
After attending three games in the last seven days (probably too many), here are a few things I’ve noticed from being around the part and (knock on wood) not catching cold yet.
- I really, really like the Diamondbacks a lot. They’re solid at every position (the bullpen may be a tad shaky), there’s no real hole in the lineup now that Cliff Pennington isn’t playing every day, and they’re chock full of really good defenders and contact hitters. Gerardo Parra, Cody Ross, A.J. Pollock, Martin Prado and (eventually) Adam Eaton are all strong defenders and good hitters. I picked them to make the playoffs before the season and I’m even more sure about that prediction after seeing them twice at Yankee Stadium last week.
- Didi Gregorious was incredibly impressive in his first game on Thursday. Besides for his home run and double in his first two at bats, his fielding looked smooth and effortless. He was gliding around the field at shortstop and looked the part as a major league player who will make an impact for a long time.
- Bryce Harper still has improvements to make, but you could see why people refer to him as the LeBron of baseball. He didn’t have an especially good day on Sunday at Citi Field, striking out and mishandling a ball in the outfield, but his first at bat showed patience and poise. He took what Dillon Gee gave him and served a ball out into right field. He’s so good and will only improve. That’s scary.
- Dillon Gee located his pitches well on Sunday and was probably told before the game to just be aggressive and throw strikes. He followed that mantra and led the Mets to a 2-0 win over Washington on Sunday. The bullpen is not going to be able to sustain itself as currently constructed, but they got the job on Sunday.
- It’s rare you get to see two of the worst fielding shortstops in the same game, but that happened with Ian Desmond and Ruben Tejada on Sunday. Desmond made a couple of costly mistakes and is 20th among 26 eligible shortstops in UZR, according to Fangraphs. Tejada is dead last.
- I saw Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes make starts last week for the Yankees and neither are overly impressive. But even without their star players, the Yankees are still using the longball and a really strong bullpen to stay in, and win, games. Robinson Cano looks great after a slow start and Travis Hafner looks reinvigorated by his chance to be a relevant big league player again. But Eduardo Nunez doesn’t look very good at the plate, and the Yanks may need a more permanent replacement for Derek Jeter.
This Week’s Series To Watch
Series Beginning Monday
A’s @ Red Sox- Boston got swept in a doubleheader by Kansas City, but this series at Fenway features two of the three best records in the AL. While Brett Anderson struggles for Oakland, Jon Lester is excelling with the Red Sox (3-0, 1.73 ERA). The two pitchers close out the series on Wednesday.
Cardinals @ Nationals- These two teams should be better than 10-8, which means one of them will be worse (and panicking) after this crucial series. Adam Wainwright (28 K’s, no walks) pitches on Tuesday, while Stephen Strasburg goes on Wednesday.
Braves @ Rockies- These two teams sport the best records in the NL (13-5), with Atlanta coming off losing three straight in Pittsburgh over the weekend. Some of the game’s hottest hitters, Justin Upton, Dexter Fowler and others, will be on display.
Rangers @ Angels- Anaheim just swept Detroit over the weekend to climb back into the AL West. Texas wants to knock the Angels back down in the standings. Alexi Ogando and Jason Vargas are Tuesday’s starters, with Yu Darvish pitching on Wednesday.
Series Beginning Tuesday
Royals @ Tigers- These teams are going in opposite directions; and it’s the Royals who are currently ascending after strong showing against the Red Sox and Braves over the last week. Detroit just dropped three to Anaheim and will send Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez to the mound against Kansas City.
Dodgers @ Mets- Perhaps Matt Kemp could solve his woes at Citi Field, against a Mets team that just took two of three from Washington. Clayton Kershaw opens up the three-game set on Tuesday, while the phenomenon known as Matt Harvey goes on Wednesday.
*Wild Card Teams
AL East- 1) Tampa Bay 2) Toronto* 3) New York 4) Boston 5) Baltimore
AL Central- 1) Detroit 2) Chicago 3) Cleveland 4) Kansas City 5) Minnesota
AL West- 1) Los Angeles 2) Texas* 3) Oakland 4) Seattle 5) Houston
AL Wild Card- Toronto over Texas
Division Series- Toronto over Detroit, Los Angeles over Tampa Bay
League Championship Series- Los Angeles over Toronto
NL East- 1) Washington 2) Atlanta* 3) Philadelphia 4) New York 5) Miami
NL Central- 1) Cincinnati 2) St. Louis 3) Milwaukee 4) Pittsburgh 5) Chicago
NL West- 1) San Francisco 2) Arizona* 3) Los Angeles 4) San Diego 5) Colorado
NL Wild Card- Atlanta over Arizona
NL Division Series- Cincinnati over Atlanta, Washington over San Francisco
League Championship Series- Washington over Cincinnati
World Series- Washington over LA Angels
MVP Awards- Mike Trout, OF, LA Angels & Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta
Cy Young Awards- Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit & Clayton Kershaw, SP, LA Dodgers
Managers of the Year- John Gibbons, Toronto & Kirk Gibson, Arizona
Rookies of the Year- Wil Myers, OF, Tampa Bay & Oscar Tavares, OF, St. Louis
Comeback Players- Victor Martinez, C, Detroit & Brandon McCarthy, SP, Arizona
Surprise Teams- Cleveland & Arizona
Disappointing Teams- Oakland & LA Dodgers
2:40 p.m. Eastern
-Atlanta has agreed to re-sign Reed Johnson.
-Royals-Rays trade talks are currently on hold, says Bob Dutton.
-The Mets like C Travis D’Arnoud from Toronto and Mike Olt from Texas, says Andy Martino. Toronto would prefer to trade J.P. Arencibia in an R.A. Dickey trade.
-The Twins, White Sox, Reds, Marlins and Yankees are in on Jack Hannahan, who could choose a team today.
-Minnesota will listen on offers for Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau if they can get more pitching back.
1:40 p.m. Eastern
-Texas, Arizona and Tampa Bay are still working on a Justin Upton blockbuster, says Ken Rosenthal. Kansas City doesn’t like the Rays’ asking price for James Shields, reports Jeff Passan.
-Miami is interested in Jack Hannahan, says Danny Knobler.
-Philadelphia is looking for a veteran starting pitcher.
-Jason Bay got a $1 million base salary from Seattle.
-Ryan Spilborghs is signing a one-year deal with the Seibu Lions.
1 p.m. Eastern
-Boston inked reliever Koji Uehjara.
-Seattle is not close to a Josh Hamilton deal, says Jon Heyman.
-Cleveland is offering Kevin Youkilis two years to the Yankees’ one, says Joel Sherman.
-The Phillies and Rangers are still working on a Michael Young trade. Texas signed Evan Meek and Randy Wells.
-Kansas City is not in on Anibal Sanchez, who could get five years and more than $70 million. The Royals also asked for Zach Wheeler and Jon Niese for Wil Myers.
-Atlanta would be interested in OF Emilio Bonifacio if Toronto made him available.
-San Diego acquired Wilfredo Boscan from Texas to complete an earlier Cory Burns trade.
12:30 p.m. Eastern
-It’s Ben Revere from the Twins to the Phillies for starting pitcher Vance Worley and very good pitching prospect Trevor May.
-Arizona wants a shortstop under long-term team control, which would rule out Asdrubal Cabrera according to Jim Bowden.
-Seattle has interest in Kevin Youkilis.
12:20 p.m. Eastern
-Vance Worley and a pitching prospect will head to Minnesota in exchange for Ben Revere.
12:12 p.m. Eastern
-Philadelphia has acquired CF Ben Revere from Minnesota, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports.
-There is nothing currently new on the Justin Upton trade front, according to Bob Nightengale. However, Ken Rosenthal says one possible trade would send Upton to Texas, a Rays starter to Arizona and Mike Olt and prospects to the Rays.
-Yankees GM Brian Cashman did not have the authority to make offers at the Winter Meetings until he made one to Kevin Youkilis.
-In addition to the Phillies, the Braves are also talking to the Twins about Ben Revere.
11:30 a.m. Eastern
-Ken Rosenthal reports that there are two possible Justin Upton blockbuster trades. One involved the Rangers, Diamondbacks and Rays. The other is a four-team deal involving the Mariners.
-The Phillies and Twins are discussing a Ben Revere trade, with Vance Worley as a possible name discussed.
-Jason Grilli is down to the Pirates, Cubs and Blue Jays.
-Kansas City is not in on R.A. Dickey, says Andy Martino.
-Gustavo Molina is one of five players Colorado signed to minor league contracts.
11:05 a.m. Eastern
-Andrew Marchand: The Yankees’ offer to Kevin Youkilis is the only one the team made at the Winter Meetings. Mark Reynolds prefers first base and the Yankees are listening to offers on Curtis Granderson, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova.
10:30 a.m. Eastern
-The only thing standing in the way of Michael Young being traded to the Phillies is him waiving his no-trade clause. Jayson Stark says that the Rangers are leaning towards taking Zack Greinke and trading for an OF rather than re-signing Josh Hamilton.
10:15 a.m. Eastern
-Jim Bowden doubts that Zack Greinke or Josh Hamilton will be signed today.
-Here are the results from the major league portion of the Rule V Draft. The Mets may trade its pick of Kyle Lobstein to Detroit, says Jonathan Mayo.
10 a.m. Eastern
-Mariners President Chuck Armstrong told Bob Nightengale that his team is not close to signing Josh Hamilton.
9:40 a.m. Eastern
-The Justin Upton four-team blockbuster is still contingent on many things, see the 7:05 a.m. update for the details. Texas has made a trade offer for R.A. Dickey, among Bob Nightengale’s notes, but the Mets think they can do better.
-The Mariners and Indians are the main suitors for Nick Swisher, says Jon Heyman.
-The Yankees offered Kevin Youkilis one year and $12 million, says Bryan Hoch. Youkilis is deciding between the Yankees and Indians, says Jim Bowden.
-Michael Young hasn’t said he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause, but the Phillies and Rangers are still talking trade.
-Milwaukee will listen on offers for Corey Hart, says Jon Heyman.
-Jason Grilli will soon decide between the Pirates, Giants, Blue Jays and Cubs, according to Peter Gammons.
-Jeff Francis gets a $1.5 million base with the Rockies.
7:05 a.m. Eastern
-Texas now seems like the frontrunners to sign Zack Greinke ahead of the Dodgers and if they do, the Mariners would be the most likely team to land Josh Hamilton. Geoff Baker says a Mariners deal with Hamilton is actually close. Scott Miller says that the prevailing feeling is that Texas will sign Greinke, because he could have signed with the Dodgers already.
-Seattle is now involved in the four-team trade talks with the Rangers, Diamondbacks and Indians to ensure that Texas gets Justin Upton and the M’s sign Hamilton. However, Arizona still wants either Jurickson Profar or Elvis Andrus in an Upton trade and would more likely deal two young pitchers to the Indians for Asdrubal Cabrera. Cleveland prefers Tyler Skaggs in a Cabrera trade, but the Snakes would rather send Trevor Bauer. A four-team deal probably won’t happen, says Ken Rosenthal, but Skaggs and Patrick Corbin would go to the Indians along with Mike Olt, and Seattle is trying to get Derek Holland.
-The Royals are now deciding if they want to trade Wil Myers (plus potentially others) to the Rays for James Shields. Bob Dutton thinks the Royals would give up Myers in a Shields deal. The Rays also signed OF Jason Bourgeois to a minor league deal.
-Once Hamilton’s situation is resolved, other dominoes will fall. Michael Bourn could end up with the Phillies. Nick Swisher could end up with the Rangers, Mariners, Phillies or Indians. Philadelphia is already discussing a Michael Young trade with Texas.
-In addition to Hamilton and Bourn, the Phillies are discussing trading for Ben Revere of the Twins, Curtis Granderson of the Yankees and Dexter Fowler of the Rockies.
-Oakland would likely trade for Jhonny Peralta of the Tigers if they can’t re-sign Stephen Drew. Detroit likes Jemile Weeks in a trade. The A’s still have interest in Hiroyuki Nakajima.
-A total of 11 teams have interest in John Lannan.