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Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:32 am
Edited on: December 14, 2011 7:00 am
 

Rockies, Cards, Jays among those in on Beltran


The market for Carlos Beltran is heating up, with at least five clubs and possibly more seriously talking with the free agent outfielder. Among them, according to sources: The Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals and, as CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported earlier Tuesday, the Colorado Rockies.

At least two other unidentified clubs are said to be engaged in talks with Beltran, with most of the clubs talking multi-year deals.

The Blue Jays' emergence as one of the clubs is noteworthy in that Toronto is in rebuilding mode and general manager Alex Anthopoulos has made several moves this offseason already, notably acquiring outfielder Ben Francisco from the Phillies, closer Sergio Santos from the White Sox and catcher Jeff Mathis from the Angels. The Jays are set with Colby Rasmus in center field and slugger Jose Bautista, who finished third in this year's AL MVP voting, in right field.

Colorado has been surprisingly aggressive in the free agent market this winter and made a hard run at Michael Cuddyer, who late Tuesday night appeared to be closing in on ex-Twin status with Minnesota close to a deal with Josh Willingham. Willingham's deal, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Joe Christensen, is reported to be worth three years and $21 million. While the Rockies also talked with Willingham, multiple sources say that both Cuddyer and Beltran ranked higher on Colorado's wish list than him.

Beltran, 34, makes sense for the Cardinals, who are reeling in the aftermath of losing three-time MVP Albert Pujols to the Los Angeles Angels last week. Most likely, Lance Berkman will move to the infield and play first base for the Cardinals and, given their current scenario, Allen Craig and Matt Holliday would play the corner outfield spots and Jon Jay would play center field.

In that arrangement, however, the Cardinals wouldn't have much depth and the middle of their lineup might be thin.

Beltran batted .300 with 22 homers, 84 RBI and a .385 on-base percentage in 142 games last summer for the Mets and Giants. He has had serious knee issues in his past but came back in 2011 to produce an All-Star season.

It is not yet clear which other clubs are in on Beltran. The Giants earlier this winter all but declared themselves out of the running because they expect to cap their payroll at $130 million in 2012. General manager Brian Sabean talked like they would stay in touch with Beltran but would not extend a large offer.

Posted on: December 10, 2011 9:04 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 11:39 pm
 

No messing around with baseball's testing

Teeth? You bet. Let's talk about teeth for a moment.

Ryan Braun testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, revealed by ESPN.com in a Saturday night bombshell and confirmed by CBSSports.com, is rough news for Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers and for major league baseball.

As Braun protests and the dispute is appealed, though, what we know right now is this:

Anybody questioning the bite of baseball's anti-steroid rules should question no more.

Never before, to our knowledge, has a standing Most Valuable Player award winner failed a PED test.

Quick reaction in the heat of the moment? Here goes:

1. Easy as snap judgments are, we need to momentarily hit the pause button until this appeal is heard and a decision is rendered.

2. If it is upheld, then just as Braun's stature will be diminished, baseball's should be elevated.

No player that we know of has ever had an appeal overturned. However, that doesn't mean it hasn't happened behind closed doors.

That a current MVP is busted for PED's and facing a 50-game suspension to start the 2012 season is further evidence that we're way past the Steroid Era. While it is naïve to believe the game is clean and nobody's doing that stuff anymore, at the same time, the fact that testing can work is exhibited by Braun's collaring.

If the failed test is upheld, there will be a lasting stain on Braun and an increasing strain on Milwaukee. Already, the Brewers are expecting to lose Prince Fielder this winter in free agency. That happens, and they lose Braun for the first 50 games of 2011, they are in deep trouble.

Braun cannot talk about his situation until after the appeals process is finished.

Right now, the baseball world awaits his explanation.

"I really hope Braunie's initial test is not upheld," tweeted Jimmy Rollins, the 2007 NL MVP, on Saturday night.

If it is, what I really want to hear is the next conversation between Braun and the Dodgers' Matt Kemp, who finished second in last summer's NL MVP voting.

Recall, anyone?
Posted on: December 10, 2011 7:33 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 7:34 pm
 

What do Moreno & Magic Johnson have in common?

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Magic Johnson wants to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers?

As the Angels and Albert Pujols threaten to eclipse the Dodgers in what is shaping up as an epic battle for baseball supremacy in Southern California, beleaguered Dodgers fans can only wonder what if.

In a story last weekend, Magic joked to the Los Angeles Times that if he owned the Dodgers, he would be knocking on Albert Pujols' door "at 12:01 a.m. on the first day of free agency."

Hmmm. ...
Posted on: December 10, 2011 7:18 pm
 

Deidre Pujols: "Broken-hearted and delighted"

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Deidre Pujols, Albert's wife, spoke eloquently and passionately Saturday about the slugger's decision to forsake his longtime St. Louis home and sign a 10-year, $254 million deal with the Angels.

The couple's future had been up in the air since Pujols declined the Cardinals' nine-year, $195 million offer on the eve of spring training and declared that he would enter free agency this winter.

"You cannot prepare yourself" for something like this, Deidre Pujols said. "We did the same thing 12 years ago when Albert was drafted. You can try to not listen to what people say, and you can try and prepare in the moment. But you cannot prepare for when the moment comes.

"There are so many adjectives to describe the feeling. Broken-hearted and delighted, all at the same time."

Yes, she said, the process has been difficult for her, too.

"Listen, St. Louis, we made it our home," she said. "We have a lot of time invested in the community. You can't just get up and leave it like that.

"Now, it's more like we have an additional place to be [and call home]. We realize there is a lot of hurt. We're experiencing the same thing. That wasn't our intention in our decision.

"We're never going to stop loving St. Louis, and loving the people. I don't want Albert to be a possession. He was a human being. I can't tell you deeper than that. He's a man."
Posted on: December 10, 2011 7:08 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 7:08 pm
 

Angels like Pujols savvy baserunning, too

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Albert Pujols is not known as a speedster. You will not find him among the league leaders in stolen bases.

But do not look for the Angels to change their aggressive, National League-style approach with Pujols nestled in the middle of their lineup. While the Angels ranked fifth in the American League in stolen bases, it's not just thefts that fuels their approach. They are as aggressive going first-to-third as any team in the game.

"He's a great baserunner," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Saturday at Angel Stadium. "He beat us in St. Louis by stealing third base in a game a few years ago.

"We'll still play a well-rounded game with Albert."

While Pujols has never stolen more than 16 bases in a season -- he swiped only nine last year -- he is intelligent and aggressive on the bases. He has led the National League in runs scored five times since 2003, most recently in 2010.

"He's not going to run the bases with Peter Bourjos or Erick Aybar," Scioscia said of two of his swiftest players. "But look at the number of runs he's scored. That's going to fit right in with what we do."

So, too, will Pujols' devastating bat.

"You need that core in the middle of your lineup," Scioscia said. "And that's what we've been missing the last few years."
Posted on: December 8, 2011 6:45 pm
 

Angels' lineup will change "100%" with Pujols

Shortly after the Angels won a bidding war against the Miami Marlins and secured free agent left-hander C.J. Wilson in the early morning hours Thursday, the pitcher spoke with the general manager of his old team, the Texas Rangers, in a farewell conversation.

"Is there any way," Texas GM Jon Daniels joked, "that I can convince you to go to the Marlins?"

And that was before Albert Pujols committed to the Angels.

Yes, the landscape changed rapidly in the AL West this week and, as things go on paper in the winter-time, the Angels positioned themselves as the potential division favorites heading into 2012.

That's as of today, and who knows what happens tomorrow. The ultra-aggressive Rangers surely will answer the Angels moves -- Prince Fielder? -- and the earth could yet shift again before spring training.

"It's crazy," Wilson said. "With Albert going, there's a big swing on the balance of power in the West.

"I thought I would make a difference, but he makes a huge difference. Nobody saw that coming."

Indeed.

"I'm shocked about Anaheim swooping into it," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.

As if it wasn't stunning enough that the Angels hauled in Pujols (10 years, $254 million), Wilson (five years, $77.5 million) and reliever LaTroy Hawkins (one year, $3 million) during the final 12 hours of the winter meetings, the suits in the organization say they will not look to trade anyone.

Mark Trumbo, who played first last year and will be replaced by Pujols? He's taking ground balls at third base, a position of weakness.

Kendrys Morales, who played first two years ago? Unlike last year, the Angels are proceeding with caution after a second ankle surgery caused him to miss all of 2011.

Veterans outfielders Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu and Vernon Wells and young speedsters Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout also will fit in, somewhere, somehow.

"You have the opportunity from an offensive perspective to plug one of the great hitters of all time into the middle of your lineup," Angels GM Jerry Dipoto said. "And we feel like you can never have too much depth.

"As it pertains to Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales, we still have the benefit of playing in the American League, where we have first base at-bats, we have DH at-bats, corner outfielders at-bats.

"And we've discussed as we've gone through and into this season to date, Mark Trumbo is particularly athletic for his size. The power leads you to believe first base, but he's got a little bit of history at third base and in the outfield. We know those DH bats are there.

"We are still unaware of exactly the timetable for Kendrys Morales. But if we have all three healthy and clicking on all cylinders, we're going to be in a really good position."

One of Dipoto's most important early goals is to improve an Angels' lineup that was 11th in the American League in on-base percentage last year. Pujols' career .420 OBP ranks second in the majors among active players.

"One-hundred percent he'll change our lineup," Hunter said. "The way pitchers approach us, he's one guy who can change the whole lineup. You put Pujols in any lineup, any lineup, and it will be better."

The Angels could not have stunned the baseball industry more. Word of Pujols' signing broke just before 9 a.m. local time, just as executives from every club were gathering for the annual Rule V draft.

Even inside their organization, there was a sense of disbelief.

"This is crazy," Hunter said. "I'm so excited right now it's unbelievable. I'm just happy we have this chance. We've got a legitimate chance."

Hunter was working out at the Dallas branch of the Athletes' Performance Institute with pitchers LaTroy Hawkins (who signed with the Angels on Wednesday night, less than 24 hours ahead of Pujols and C.J. Wilson), Joel Hanrahan (Pirates closer), Jamey Wright (Mariners) and several young prospects when he learned the news.

"Everyone went crazy when it came up on the phone," Hunter said. "I am trippin' right now."
Posted on: December 8, 2011 6:42 pm
 

Angels lineup will change "100%" with Pujols

Shortly after the Angels won a bidding war against the Miami Marlins and secured free agent left-hander C.J. Wilson in the early morning hours Thursday, the pitcher spoke with the general manager of his old team, the Texas Rangers, in a farewell conversation.

"Is there any way," Texas GM Jon Daniels joked, "that I can convince you to go to the Marlins?"

And that was before Albert Pujols committed to the Angels.

Yes, the landscape changed rapidly in the AL West this week and, as things go on paper in the winter-time, the Angels positioned themselves as the potential division favorites heading into 2012.

That's as of today, and who knows what happens tomorrow. The ultra-aggressive Rangers surely will answer the Angels moves -- Prince Fielder? -- and the earth could yet shift again before spring training.

"It's crazy," Wilson said. "With Albert going, there's a big swing on the balance of power in the West.

"I thought I would make a difference, but he makes a huge difference. Nobody saw that coming."

Indeed.

"I'm shocked about Anaheim swooping into it," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.

As if it wasn't stunning enough that the Angels hauled in Pujols (10 years, $254 million), Wilson (five years, $77.5 million) and reliever LaTroy Hawkins (one year, $3 million) during the final 12 hours of the winter meetings, the suits in the organization say they will not look to trade anyone.

Mark Trumbo, who played first last year and will be replaced by Pujols? He's taking ground balls at third base, a position of weakness.

Kendrys Morales, who played first two years ago? Unlike last year, the Angels are proceeding with caution after a second ankle surgery caused him to miss all of 2011.

Veterans outfielders Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu and Vernon Wells and young speedsters Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout also will fit in, somewhere, somehow.

"You have the opportunity from an offensive perspective to plug one of the great hitters of all time into the middle of your lineup," Angels GM Jerry Dipoto said. "And we feel like you can never have too much depth.

"As it pertains to Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales, we still have the benefit of playing in the American League, where we have first base at-bats, we have DH at-bats, corner outfielders at-bats.

"And we've discussed as we've gone through and into this season to date, Mark Trumbo is particularly athletic for his size. The power leads you to believe first base, but he's got a little bit of history at third base and in the outfield. We know those DH bats are there.

"We are still unaware of exactly the timetable for Kendrys Morales. But if we have all three healthy and clicking on all cylinders, we're going to be in a really good position."

One of Dipoto's most important early goals is to improve an Angels' lineup that was 11th in the American League in on-base percentage last year. Pujols' career .420 OBP ranks second in the majors among active players.

"One-hundred percent he'll change our lineup," Hunter said. "The way pitchers approach us, he's one guy who can change the whole lineup. You put Pujols in any lineup, any lineup, and it will be better."

The Angels could not have stunned the baseball industry more. Word of Pujols' signing broke just before 9 a.m. local time, just as executives from every club were gathering for the annual Rule V draft.

Even inside their organization, there was a sense of disbelief.

"This is crazy," Hunter said. "I'm so excited right now it's unbelievable. I'm just happy we have this chance. We've got a legitimate chance."

Hunter was working out at the Dallas branch of the Athletes' Performance Institute with pitchers LaTroy Hawkins (who signed with the Angels on Wednesday night, less than 24 hours ahead of Pujols and C.J. Wilson), Joel Hanrahan (Pirates closer), Jamey Wright (Mariners) and several young prospects when he learned the news.

"Everyone went crazy when it came up on the phone," Hunter said. "I am trippin' right now."
Posted on: December 8, 2011 10:19 am
Edited on: December 8, 2011 1:16 pm
 

Pujols stuns baseball, signs with Angels

DALLAS -- Albert Pujols agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday morning in a decision that has absolutely shocked the baseball world.

Less than 24 hours after the Angels jumped into the Pujols sweepstakes, they landed the St. Louis icon with a 10-year, $254 million deal. The deal includes a full no-trade clause and will tie Pujols to the Angels through the age of 41.

It is the third-largest contract in baseball history, trailing only Alex Rodriguez's two deals, for $275 million (2008-2017) and $252 million (2001-2010).

The staggering deal is for some $70 million more than owner Arte Moreno paid for the Angels. In April, 2003, he purchased them for $180 million from the Walt Disney Co.

Pujols, coming off of his second World Series championship with the Cardinals, was a St. Louis icon. The Cardinals picked him in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and are the only franchise for whom he's ever played. In 11 seasons with the Cardinals, Pujols batted .328 with 445 home runs and 1,329 RBI.

He has won three National League MVP awards, two Gold Gloves, six Silver Sluggers and is a nine-time All Star.

The Cardinals knew this day could possibly come but worked to avoid it. They negotiated with Pujols last winter but faced a deadline set by the slugger when spring training opened. He did not want to be distracted once the season started, so he terminated negotiations upon reporting to camp in Jupiter, Fla., last February.

St. Louis presented Pujols with a new offer on Tuesday, a reported 10-year offer for $220 million. The Miami Marlins were pushing hard to sign Pujols this week but talks between them and Pujols' camp ended on Wednesday. The Cubs earlier this week became involved, but they were only interested on a shorter-term deal, for four or five years.

The Angels moved into the talks full bore on Wednesday, with owner Arte Moreno personally speaking with Pujols. Even as late as Wednesday afternoon, first-year Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto worked to deflect attention away from the Angels as they made their stealth bid.

"Our net is spread wide," Dipoto said when asked about Pujols, but that's not necessarily where our focus is."

By Thursday, stunningly, shockingly, impressively ... that net had caught the biggest prize on the free agent market.

It was a dramatic reversal of the Angels recent misfortunes on the free agent market. In recent years, they've swung and missed at CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and, perhaps most frustratingly for them, Carl Crawford last winter. All indications were that Crawford wanted to play in the West, but the Red Sox moved in and blew the Angels out of the water with a seven-year, $142 million deal.

Having missed the playoffs for two consecutive seasons, the Angels have had a growing sense of frustration. They're betting that Pujols, who has two World Series rings since the Angels' last -- and only -- World Series win in 2002, can help them not only return to October baseball, but win another World Series crown.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com