Baseball is back! Here at Big League Stew, we'll take a quick dash around the league each morning in an attempt to keep you updated on all the springtime story lines.
• Funnyman left-hander Derek Holland is about to sign a contract extension with the Texas Rangers that would last through the 2016 season, reporter Evan Grant writes in the Dallas Morning News. Such a deal would eat up a year of free agency.
General manager Jon Daniels declined to comment.
Holland, 25, was 16-5 last year but was the team's best pitcher down the stretch. He won 12 of his final 13 decisions (including the postseason), during which time he compiled a 2.89 ERA and allowed opponents a .234 average.
The Rangers have been competing with a Dallas TV station for Holland's services. They would use him as a meteorologist.
• Monday was a great day in the recent financial history of Mets ownership, which let it be known that loans of $25 million had been repaid to Major League Baseball and $40 million to Bank of America. The Mets also closed on the sales of 12 limited partnerships at $20 million apiece. (Did you get your piece of the Mets?) Earlier in the day, the Mets settled a civil lawsuit for $162 million regarding their liability in the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme. Now, if there's enough money left over for Sandy Alderson to play with, maybe the Mets can move forward again.
• Status: released.
The Seattle Mariners cut left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo, who was an All-Star with the Dodgers in 2010. Kuo allowed 13 runs, giving up five home runs, in six spring appearances. Quo had a 1.20 ERA in 2010, but since has struggled with back problems and an anxiety disorder. He turns 31 years old in July.
• Tony La Russa has written a book with Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch detailing how the St. Louis Cardinals roared back from 10 1/2 games out of the playoff picture to winning the World Series in 2011. "One Last Strike: Fifty Years in Baseball, Ten and a Half Games Back, and One Final Championship Season'' is scheduled to be published this fall.
• The Minnesota Twins have sent infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka to Class AAA Rochester. He was a coveted shortstop in Japan, a Gold Glove winner there, when the Twins signed him to a three-year, $9.25 million contract before the 2011 season. He was batting .240 in nine games this spring after hitting .226/.278/.249 in 240 plate appearances in 2011. He had five extra-base hits in 2011. Five!
Former Twins GM Bill Smith didn't lose his job for any one reason, but Nishioka's failure is near the top of the list. Phil Mackey of ESPN Twin Cities writes that the entire organization should take responsibility. Nishioka still has hope he can play here:
"It's definitely tough to swallow, but it's not like it's getting baseball taken away from me,'' Nishioka told reporters through translator Ryo Shinkawa at the Twins spring training complex. "I came from Japan for a challenge at this in this country. So I'm just going to not give up and look for the opportunity to get back up here.''
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