Mark Townsend

  • MLB Network goes behind the scenes of Hall of Fame election day

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 2 hrs ago

    Your browser does not support iframes. Hall of Fame election day can be an exhilarating or deflating experience for known candidates. On Tuesday night, MLB Network Presents will give us rare access and a unique perspective of the highs, lows, anxieties, anticipation and, for those so honored, the joys that go into those surreal and special moments with the premiere of Hall of Fame Pitchers: Smoltz & Pedro .

    Hosted once again by Bob Costas, the fourth installment of MLB Network's new documentary series will provide an in-depth look at the life-changing phone calls received by John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez, who were both informed of their election into the Baseball Hall of Fame along with Craig Biggio and Randy Johnson back on Jan. 6, as well as the aftermath.

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    Based on the press release, it sounds like the cameras were able to pick up some remarkable footage, especially when Martinez returned home to the Dominican Republic.

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  • Joe Kelly boldly predicts he'll win AL Cy Young in 2015

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 3 hrs ago

    Confidence is a key to success in all of life's endeavors, but there's a different level of confidence that's required to be a successful pitcher in Major League Baseball.

    Good news, Boston Red Sox fans, it appears that starter Joe Kelly has that confidence and then some.

    The 26-year-old right-hander, who was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals last season along with Allen Craig in exchange for John Lackey, went on record at the Red Sox' Winter Weekend event on Friday proclaiming that he'll not only stick in Boston's starting rotation, but will rise to the top of the American League pitching heap in 2015 and win the Cy Young award.

    Yes, that Joe Kelly. He of 17 major league appearances in 2014 with an acceptable 4.20 ERA. The same Joe Kelly's who's career 111 ERA+ in three seasons is also pretty solid, but certainly not indicative of future dominance. That's the guy we're talking about, and he wasn't shy about reiterating his confidence to all members of the Boston media.

    From WEEI.com:

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  • Zack Greinke sounds unimpressed by Dodgers' offseason moves

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 5 hrs ago

    With Andrew Friedman taking over as president of baseball operations and a more sabermetric-based front office in place, the Los Angeles Dodgers have been among the most aggressive teams in MLB this offseason. Aggressive, however, does not necessarily mean effective. There have been plenty of voices out there questioning just how necessary a significant retooling was, and it would appear that current pitcher Zack Greinke is among those voices.

    When asked specifically about the offseason manuevering at Dodgers' Fan Fest on Saturday, Greinke sounded unimpressed at best and underwhelmed to say the least.

    From the Los Angeles Times: 

    "In the playoffs last year, I thought our team was the best team in baseball," Greinke said on Saturday. "Obviously, we didn’t prove it. But I thought we were the best team in baseball. So, to say we're better than that, I don’t know if you could say that."

    Count the latter among Greinke's biggest concerns.

    Maybe he just doesn't like meeting new people.

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  • MLB scout says Tom Brady had bright future in baseball

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 20 hrs ago

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    The baseball past of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has been covered extensively since he led his squad to a Super Bowl victory in 2014. However, when the third-year signal-caller attempts to repeat his impressive feat on Sunday, he'll have to beat another QB with a baseball past, New England Patriots star Tom Brady.

    Yes, the certain football Hall of Famer had some pretty interesting options coming out of Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif. Naturally, he was a star quarterback in high school, which drew the attention of several major college football programs, including the University of Michigan. But he was also a standout baseball player, following in the footsteps of Serra graduates Barry Bonds and Gregg Jeffries.

    Good enough, in fact, that long-time MLB scout John Hughes talked the Montreal Expos into drafting the left-handed hitting catcher in the 18th round of the 1995 draft. Hughes added that had it not been obvious that Brady was going to Michigan to play football, he would have been a fifth round selection with a promising outlook.

    For Brady, though, it all just came naturally.

    Why?

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  • Yasiel Puig sees Cardinals as Dodgers' principal rivals

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 23 hrs ago

    As the Los Angeles Dodgers prepare for what they hope will be the franchise's first World Series championship season since 1988, superstar Yasiel Puig has made it clear which team he feels they must overcome to achieve their ultimate goal.

    One might expect his answer to be the San Francisco Giants. After all, they're the Dodgers oldest rivals dating back to both franchises time in New York. San Francisco has also taken three of the last five World Series crowns, which should make them the envy of the entire league. However, San Francisco hasn't been the biggest hurdle standing in the Dodgers way the past two seasons. The St. Louis Cardinals have been, and that's why they're the team that dominates Puig's thoughts and dreams. 

    From the Los Angeles Times:

    Speaking Friday at City Hall, where Dodgers players met with city leaders and wounded military servicemen, Puig said he dreams constantly about the Cardinals, who eliminated his team from the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.

    "I dream about them every day."

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  • Mariners prospect arrested for role in Australian League brawl

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    The fallout from the recent bench-clearing incident in the Australian Baseball League has gone beyond record-breaking league sanctions and could wind up in a court of law, according to MiLB.com. In the latest development, Seattle Mariners pitching prospect Troy Scott was arrested on Thursday on an assault charge which stemmed from his involvement in the melee.

    The incident in question took place on Jan. 16, when Scott and his Adelaide Bite teammates took on the Melbourne Aces. During the late innings of Adelaide's 8-2 victory, a beanball war broke out between the rivals, with the bad blood finally boiling over in the final half-inning. During the incident, which was broadcast on Australian television, Scott allegedly punched Melbourne designated hitter Kellin Deglan in the face, leaving him with facial injuries that required dental work.

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  • Report: Drone detection system was tested at MLB All-Star game

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    In a story that will do more to startle us than make us feel safer, the New York Times is reporting that the MLB All-Star game in Minneapolis was secretly used as a testing site for a system used to identify drones.

    According to the report, the radar kept an eye on the sky above Target Field and successfully served its purpose for the experiment. That's the good news, which should make us feel a little safer as baseball fans, Americans and, frankly, as mortal human beings. However, the troubling news is there were no measures in place to prevent drones from actually entering the stadium, and the expenses involved kept MLB from using a full blown detection system during the postseason.

    Here's more from the Times report:

    Using finely tuned detection programs brought in by the Department of Homeland Security, “Operation Foul Ball,” as it was known, identified several small, commercial drones flying in the area. Some were similar to the quadcopter that crashed on the White House lawn Monday.

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  • OFAC confirms stance on unblocking Cuban baseball players

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    Yoan Moncada and other Cuban baseball players currently pursuing Major League Baseball contracts officially cleared a major hurdle on Friday night.

    According to Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs, Moncada's agent, David Hastings, along with other Cubans players who requested a “specific license” from the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control, received an e-mail from OFAC confirming they will not grant a specific license to Cuban nationals who are already unblocked via the general license. 

    In other words, anyone who meets the government’s requirements for the general license, which Moncada and other Cuban infielders Hector Olivera and Andy Ibanez already have, is cleared by OFAC to sign with a major league team. Now it's up to MLB to revisit its guidelines and adjust in accordance with the new regulations.

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  • Byron Buxton remains No. 1 on MLB.com's prospect rankings

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    For the second straight season, Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton is the No. 1 ranked prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com's official rankings

    The announcement was made during a live special which aired on MLB Network on Friday night. Chicago Cubs slugger Kris Bryant, who was named baseball's No. 1 prospect by ESPN analyst Keith Law, was ranked No. 2. The top five also featured a trio of shortstops, which goes as follows: Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros, Francisco Lindor of the Cleveland Indians, and another Cubs farmhand, Addison Russell.  

    Despite an injury plagued season that limited him to just 31 games and a disappointing .234/.307/.395 slash line, Buxton was able to hold off the hard charging group in the eyes of MLB.com's staff. Though as senior writer Jim Callis noted, the difference between Buxton and Bryant was barely noticeable. 

    Among the other notable items:

    Mark Appel settles at No. 30

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  • Red Sox take wise gamble on Alexi Ogando

    Mark Townsend at Big League Stew 1 day ago

    The Boston Red Sox search for pitching depth continued on Friday with the signing of former All-Star Alex Ogando. 

    According to Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal, it's a one-year major league deal worth a guaranteed $1.5 million, which is roughly $1 million less than Ogando was projected to earn in arbitration before being non-tendered by the Texas Rangers. 

    And yes, there's a good reason why Ogando was non-tendered just three years removed from his All-Star selection. His past two seasons have been riddled with injuries. In 2013, Ogando was limited to 23 appearances (18 starts) because of nerve damage and inflammation in his shoulder, which later morphed into a biceps issue. In 2014, he worked just 25 relief innings due to a sprained ulnar collateral ligament, which is often a precursor to Tommy John surgery.

    With that recent injury history in mind, there are obvious concerns that Ogando may not be able to hold up for a full season, either as a starter or reliever, but Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington is wise to take the gamble.

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