Monday, March 24, 2008

Boatload of Updates

With the start of the season just hours away, here are some updates on position battles, demotions to the minors, and performance appraisals.

1. Manager Lou Pinella has named Kerry Wood the closer for the Cubs. Wood beat out Carlos Marmol and Bob Howry for the job.

2. John Smoltz has tightness in his shoulder and may begin the season on the DL.

3. Mike Hampton has worked his way back from several injury-plagued seasons and appears to be set to start the season as part of Atlanta's rotation. Hampton has looked sharp this spring, compiling a 1.98 ERA in 13 2/3 innings pitched.

4. Cameron Maybin, expected by many to begin the season as the Marlins starting centerfielder, may end up being demoted to triple A. He is hitting an infinitesimal .188 this spring.

5. Brandon Lyon, the Diamondbacks' closer, is having a miserable spring and may lose his job to Chad Qualls or Tony Pena. In 6 2/3 innings pitched Lyon has only one strikeout and has given up 12 runs and 16 hits.

6. Fantasy Baseball owners expecting to get a bunch of steals from Lastings Milledge or Felipe Lopez should think again. According to manager Manny Acta, stolen base attempts lead to too many unnecessary outs. After taking over for Frank Robinson, one of Acta's first acts (pardon the pun) was to significantly reduced the number of stolen bases attempts. Expect more of the same this season.

7. John Maine has looked awesome this spring. He now has thrown 25 1/3 innings, accumulating 28 strikeouts and a 1.78 ERA.

8. Carlos Gomez, obtained in the Johan Santana trade from the Mets, has won the starting centerfield job. But many scouts believe Gomez could use more seasoning in the minors. Expect Gomez to have a relatively low batting average, but rack up the stolen bases.

9. Evan Longoria, widely assumed to be the opening day third basemen for the Rays, has been sent down to triple A. Apparently, Longoria's demotion was less to do with performance issues and more to do with the Rays being able to retain rights to him for an additional year.

10. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, a favorite sleeper candidate for many Roto players, thinks his demotion to triple A is imminent. Salty was quoted as saying that he will be sent down if the Rangers hold onto Gerald Laird.

11. Francisco Liriano is back and lookin' good! In his last outing he tossed a no-hitter for five innings against the Orioles, and struck out five.

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