Posted on: March 6, 2012 5:38 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 5:38 pm

Angels' Hunter: 'I want a ring'

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Jim Thome went to the Phillies to try to win a World Series. Raul Ibanez went to the Yankees to try to win a World Series.

Torii Hunter understands.

Hunter's five-year deal with the Angels is up at the end of this year, and he repeated Tuesday that his top priority is to get a deal done that would keep him in Anaheim. But if he needs to move . . .

"Right now, I'm focused on winning," Hunter said. "Money? I've made money. I want a ring.

"Money has nothing to do with any decision I would make. I want a ring."

Hunter made $90 million on his current deal with the Angels. He has been to the postseason six times with the Twins and Angels, but has yet to play in a World Series.

Category: MLB
Posted on: March 6, 2012 5:25 pm

Will the Angels trade Bobby Abreu?

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto says he fully expects Bobby Abreu to be with the team through the spring and into the season.

"Absolutely," Dipoto said Tuesday.

Some baseball people who talk to the Angels aren't so sure, believing that there's a real chance that the Angels will work hard to trade Abreu between now and opening day. It would take the Angels eating a good part of Abreu's $9 million salary, but the thought is that they may be willing to do it.

The Angels certainly have been open to dealing Abreu, who turns 38 next week. They spoke to the Yankees about an Abreu for A.J. Burnett deal before Burnett was traded to the Pirates, but Burnett had the right to veto a trade and wasn't interested in going to the West Coast.

For now, the Angels' position is that they have room for Abreu, and that he can help them. Manager Mike Scioscia told reporters last week that he had assured Abreu he will play more than once or twice a week.

"He's going to get at-bats," Dipoto said.

Abreu, who has been sick and has been held out of the lineup the last couple of days, isn't saying that he wants out.

"I'm here right now," he said. "I'm here with my boys."

Those teammates would like to see him stay.

"Why would I want that?" Torii Hunter said, when it was suggested that Abreu could be traded. "Bobby's good, man. He's helpful to the other hitters, too. I know he wants to play, but he's valuable to our club, playing or not."

Category: MLB
Posted on: February 3, 2012 1:58 pm

Harper would join short list of 19-year-olds

As CBSSports.com colleague Jon Heyman wrote, the Nationals plan to give 19-year-old Bryce Harper a real chance to make their team out of spring training.

In fact, one Nationals official told me he believes that Harper should make it, and that even though he is still learning, "he can help you win while he learns."

Besides, it's not unheard of for a 19-year-old to play in the big leagues. Mike Trout did it for 14 games with the Angels last summer. Both Uptons (B.J. and Justin) did it.

Alex Rodriguez played in the big leagues when he was still 18 years old.

But according to research through baseball-reference.com, Harper would be the first 19-year-old to break camp with a team since Felix Hernandez with the 2006 Mariners, and the first position player to do it since Andruw Jones with the 1997 Braves.

Harper will be 19 years, 172 days old when the Nationals open their season on April 5 in Chicago. King Felix (19.118 when he debuted in August 2005) was the last big leaguer that young, and Adrian Beltre (19.078 when he debuted in June 1998) was the last position player that young.

A look the 19-year-olds who have played in the big leagues since 2000:

-- Trout played 14 games with the Angels last July, hitting just .163 with a .492 OPS.

-- Justin Upton was 23 days shy of his 20th birthday when the Diamondbacks called him up in 2007.

-- Hernandez came to the big leagues to stay at age 19.

-- B.J. Upton was 18 days shy of his 20th birthday when he debuted with the Rays in August 2004.

-- Jose Reyes debuted with the Mets the day before he turned 20 in June 2003.

-- Wilson Betemit came up with the Braves as a 19-year-old in September 2001.
Posted on: January 31, 2012 5:22 pm

Sparky in Japan? It almost happened

Sparky Anderson won in Cincinnati, and he won in Detroit.

Probably would have won in Japan, too.

We'll never know, but what we do know now is that he thought about giving it a try. In a soon-to-be-published book about his 32-year friendship with Anderson, Dan Ewald reveals that the Hanshin Tigers offered to make Sparky their manager soon after he left the Detroit Tigers at the end of the 1995 season.

Ewald, the former Tigers PR man, writes that he and Sparky discussed the offer for three full days before Anderson decided to turn it down.

Or rather, as Ewald writes, Anderson decided to have Ewald turn it down.

"You're gonna tell 'em how deeply I appreciate their offer," Ewald quotes Anderson as saying. "You're gonna tell 'em how much of an honor it is. But at this time, I just can't make such a commitment. Tell 'em I'll always be grateful for the consideration they gave me."

Ewald said he then asked Sparky why he had to be the one to call Japan.

"You gotta tell 'em," Sparky told him. "I don't speak no Japanese."

Not that Ewald spoke Japanese, either. But that was Sparky.

Anderson died in November 2010, but his voice comes through clearly in Ewald's book (due out May 8, from St. Martin's Press). It's not a biography, and it's not about baseball.

It's more a story of a friendship, with one of the friends just happening to be one of the best-known managers in baseball history.

The near-move to Japan is probably the biggest new piece of information about Anderson, but Ewald also details the reasons behind Anderson's 1989 leave of absence from the Tigers (his daughter was pregnant, and her husband had left her), and details Anderson's conversations with the Angels about becoming their manager in 1997.

The Angels nearly hired Anderson that fall, and Ewald writes that the plan was for Anderson to manage for two years with Joe Maddon as his bench coach, and for Maddon to then take over. Angels president Tony Taveras nixed the move, and the Angels hired Terry Collins instead.

I covered Anderson for the last six years of his Tigers career, and there was plenty in the book that made me smile. There are great nuggets, like the one about Sparky celebrating his election to the Hall of Fame with burgers and fries from In-N-Out.

Ewald builds the book around three days he spent at Anderson's California home just 10 days before Sparky died. They look back at their time together, from Detroit to the Hall of Fame.

And, almost, to Japan.
Posted on: December 6, 2011 2:27 am
Edited on: December 6, 2011 2:28 am

Phillies' preference is still to keep Rollins

DALLAS -- You may have heard that the Phillies talked to free-agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez.

It's true.

You may have heard that the Phillies' talks with Jimmy Rollins hit some obstacles.

Also true.

But here's another thing that remains as true as before: The Phillies' overwhelming desire is to have Rollins back as their shortstop.

And their show of interest in Ramirez could well be part of this.

By reaching out to Ramirez, several baseball officials suggested Monday, the Phils could be showing Rollins that they do have a suitable backup plan, and thus trying to prod him to accept a deal.

So far, Rollins has been asking the Phillies for five years, with the team preferring a three-year deal (with some sources suggesting that general manager Ruben Amaro would agree to go to four years).

It's unclear what the market for Rollins is outside Philadelphia. The Brewers have met with Dan Lozano, Rollins' agent, but people familiar with their plans say that even a three-year deal may be beyond what they would do. The Nationals are considered by some to be a possibility, but Rollins does not seem to be their primary (or even secondary) focus at this point. Perhaps the Cardinals could become involved if Albert Pujols signs elsewhere, but it's hard to count on that.

People who know Rollins aren't sure how the talented but also very proud shortstop will react to all this.

Some suggest that he could view the shorter offer from the Phillies as a sign of disrespect, and respond by telling Lozano he wants to go elsewhere. Others say it's hard to believe he would leave the Phillies spotlight to go to a team like the Brewers.

"Jimmy wants to get paid," said one official who knows him. "But Jimmy likes the big stage, too."

In the end, most in baseball seem to believe that Rollins will re-sign with the only team he has known.

If not, perhaps the Phillies will come hard after Ramirez, who they have so far shown just lukewarm interest in, sources say. Ramirez has also drawn interest from the Brewers and Angels, and one person who knows him say his strong desire is to find a team with the best chance to win.

If the Phillies signed Ramirez to replace Rollins, they would go with young Freddy Galvis at shortstop, and trade incumbent third baseman Placido Polanco (which would require eating some of the remaining $7.25 million on his contract).

Would the Phillies do that?

It's possible they would. It's certain that their first choice would be to simply re-sign Jimmy Rollins.

Posted on: November 30, 2011 7:03 pm
Edited on: November 30, 2011 8:56 pm

Rockies sign Hernandez, trade Iannetta to Angels

The Rockies have traded catcher Chris Iannetta to the Angels in exchange for pitcher Tyler Chatwood, and Colorado has signed free-agent Ramon Hernandez to replace Iannetta.

The teams announced the trade Wednesday night, and Rockies later announced that Hernandez had agreed to terms, pending a physical. Foxsports.com reported that Hernandez will get $6.5 million on a two-year contract.

The 35-year-old Hernandez hit .282 with 12 home runs in 91 games last year with the Reds. Iannetta, 28, hit 14 home runs in 112 games for the Rockies with a .238 batting average but a .370 on-base percentage.

The Rockies have been looking to add starting pitchers this winter.

Posted on: November 15, 2011 1:16 am
Edited on: November 15, 2011 1:18 am

Angels among 8-9 teams interested in C.J. Wilson

MILWAUKEE -- The most popular pitcher at the general managers' meetings is in Japan.

Not from Japan. In Japan, on vacation.

C.J. Wilson is headed home Friday, on his 31st birthday. He won't have a new contract and a 2012 team by then, but based on the early interest, he'll have plenty of choices and a chance to make plenty of money.

In fact, early indications are that Wilson could well command a six-year contract.

Agent Bob Garber, who shuttled from meeting to meeting on Monday, wouldn't comment on that, but did say that there are 8-9 teams interested in Wilson, and that he hopes to narrow the group to the four or five most interested teams before more serious negotiations begin.

Garber had dinner Monday with new Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto, who did little to hide his interest in stealing Wilson away from the rival Rangers.

"Obviously, we have interest," Dipoto said. "I hope C.J. feels the same way. We'll find out."

The Angels would seem to be set at the top of their rotation, with Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. But as Dipoto said, "I don't know that you can ever have enough pitching."

Wilson grew up in Southern California, but Garber said his ultimate decision on where to sign will "really have nothing to do with location."

Wilson hasn't at all ruled out a return to the Rangers, and Garber said the idea of chasing a third straight trip to the World Series has appeal. The Rangers haven't ruled out re-signing Wilson, either, but with the level of interest elsewhere, it seems unlikely that he'll remain in Texas.

Wilson has had two strong seasons as a starter, going past 200 innings each year and finishing with a combined 31-15 record. He had a poor October this year, going 0-3 with a 5.79 ERA in six starts, but that doesn't seem to have hurt his market appeal.

The Washington Post reported Monday that the Nationals have interest in Wilson, as well as in Roy Oswalt, another Garber client. Garber spent some time with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo Monday evening.

Posted on: October 28, 2011 4:51 pm

In Game 7, home team has edge (or not)

ST. LOUIS -- You've no doubt heard by now that no road team has won a World Series Game 7 in 32 years.

The Cardinals won at home in 1982, the Royals did it in 1985, the Mets in 1986, the Twins in both 1987 and 1991, the Marlins in 1997, the Diamondbacks in 2001 and the Angels in 2002.

It's tough to win the decisive game on the road . . . except when it isn't.

There were three decisive Game 5's in the Division Series this month. Two of the three were won by the road team (Cardinals over Phillies, Tigers over Yankees).

The Rangers won a decisive Game 5 last year at Tampa Bay.

The Cardinals won Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series on the road.

In fact, over the last 10 years, there have been 18 decisive games in the postseason (Game 5 in the Division Series, Game 7 in the LCS or World Series), and the visiting team has won 11 of them.

After Game 5 three weeks ago at Yankee Stadium, Tigers manager Jim Leyland made the argument that it can actually be an advantage to be on the road, because there's more pressure on the home team (certainly true in the cases of the Yankees and Phillies), and because there are more distractions at home.

Oh, and about those eight straight road-team wins in Game 7 of the World Series?

Go back through eight more Game 7's, and it basically evens out. From 1965-79, the road team won seven out of eight Game 7's.

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