The Championship Series begin

October 14, 2012

> All of the Division Series have come to a close. And, considering it was the first time in history that all of the necessary DS games were played- each series went to five games for 20 games total- I don’t think any of them was a bad series.

> The Giants came all the way back from an 0-2 deficit in their series against the Reds and won three straight to reach the NLCS. Their offense was non-existent during the first two games. But, after a Scott Rolen error in the 10th inning of Game 3 gave them a gift win, the offense exploded in Games 4 and 5. The highlights were Pablo Sandoval’s two-run homer in the seventh inning of Game 4 and Buster Posey’s grand slam in Game 5 that pretty much sealed the series.

> The Tigers nearly allowed the other Bay Area team- the Athletics- to come back from an 0-2 deficit against them, but Justin Verlander was having none of that. He threw a four-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts to abruptly end the A’s miracle season and send the Tigers to the ALCS.

> The Yankees’ offense only showed up for one inning during the entire series with the Orioles, but CC Sabathia didn’t need much yesterday. He threw a complete game to also end a dream season for the O’s. The big story was that Alex Rodriguez- the highest-paid player in baseball- was benched in Game 5 of the series, but Raul Ibanez’s .444 ALDS average picked up the slack.

> Despite the fact they were down 6-0 early, the Cardinals did exactly what they did in the 2011 World Series. Down 7-5 going into the ninth inning, they ambushed Nationals closer Drew Storen with four two-out runs. With the bases loaded, Daniel Descalso hit a hard ground ball up the middle that deflected off of shortstop Ian Desmond’s glove- I leave it up to you as to whether or not Desmond should have had the ball- and boom, tie game. Then Pete Kozma, some rookie shortstop that no non-Cards fan had heard of until late September, hit the go-ahead two-run single to sink the Nats.

Hate to say it, but this season might once again by written in the stars for the Cardinals. (Yes, that pun was definitely intended.)

MY TAKE

> PLEASE quit calling the Cardinals a “cinderella story.” Yes, they won in dramatic fashion last night, but that doesn’t put them in that category. A cinderella story is a team that, at the beginning of the year, is expected to finish near last in their division, then go on to have a miracle season. This year, that was the Orioles and Athletics (you could argue the Nationals, but I don’t think anyone expected them to be terrible this year).

Sure, the Cards lost Albert Pujols, Tony La Russa, and Dave Duncan. But there was still way too much talent on that team coming into 2012 for them not to contend.

So I guess if you expected the Cardinals to finish in dead last and lose 100 games coming into this season, then sure, they’re a cinderella team to you. But there’s clearly a problem if you expected that.

> There aren’t series MVPs handed out in the Division Series, only for the Championship and World Series. But, if they did exist in the DS, these would be my MVPs for each series:

Giants: Sandoval

Cardinals: Kozma

Yankees: Ibanez

Tigers: Verlander

I actually had a tough time picking for the Giants, but Sandoval was the only Giants hitter to hit over .300 for the series. And I couldn’t give it to a pitcher, since the starters especially underperformed in this series. The rest of MVPs were rather easy, however.

THE NEWS

> Shaun Marcum doesn’t expect to pitch for the Brewers next year.

> Following outright assignments, relievers Vinnie Chulk and Tim Dillard each elected free agency.

> The Brewers also outrighted Cody Scarpetta and Eric Farris to Triple-A Nashville, but neither has the right to elect free agency.

> News has surfaced regarding Francisco Rodriguez and his arrest for domestic violence sometime in September. The incident took place in Wales, a suburban city about 45 minutes to an hour away from Milwaukee.

But apparently K-Rod has a history of things like this that I wasn’t aware of. In late 2010, he had to take anger management classes after “an altercation” with one of his relatives at Citi Field during his days with the Mets.

It seems he’s doing everything he can to make sure he can’t find a deal anywhere else for 2013. His horrible 2012 campaign made it bad enough, but you can bet teams that see this on his resume won’t be impressed.

> Other than that, there hasn’t been much to report about the Brewers lately, so let’s get on to the minor moves around baseball the past week:

White Sox: Outrighted Ray Olmedo, who elected free agency.
Blue Jays: Outrighted Jesse Litsch, Aaron Laffey, Bobby Korecky, Robert Coello, and Scott Richmond, all of whom elected free agency.
Pirates: Outrighted Doug Slaten, who elected free agency.
Padres: Outrighted Ross Ohlendorf, who elected free agency.
Rays: Outrighted Brooks Conrad, who elected free agency.
Indians: Outrighted Shelley Duncan and Luke Carlin, both of whom elected free agency.
Red Sox: Outrighted Jason Repko and Guillermo Quiroz, both of whom elected free agency.
Diamondbacks: Re-signed Brent Clevlen.
Giants: Outrighted Shane Loux and Justin Christian to Triple-A.

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Braun gets two hits in NL’s third straight win

July 11, 2012

> Welcome to the new and improved Breaking Wisconsin (at least for now). More on the new setup later, but for now let’s get straight to the All-Star Game.

> The National League defeated the American League, 8-0, for the third consecutive year. Personally, I thought some of the NL’s starters shouldn’t have gotten the nod, as did many others. But, it was some of those starters in particular who may have won the game for the NL.

Justin Verlander was starting for the AL, and I’m sure everyone thought he would have a tidy six-up, six-down two innings. But he did exactly the opposite. After striking out Carlos Gonzalez to start the game, he gave up a single to Melky Cabrera. Then, Ryan Braun represented the Brewers with an opposite field RBI double off JV to give the NL an early 1-0 lead. Verlander struck out Joey Votto the next batter, but struggled with his control after that, giving up back-to-back walks to Carlos Beltran and Buster Posey to load the bases. Pablo Sandoval then made him pay with a bases-clearing triple (yes, Sandoval hit a triple). Dan Uggla followed that up with an RBI single, but got a little help from some sheepish defense by Prince Fielder. Corey Hart would have made the play.

The NL added three more runs in the fourth against Matt Harrison. Matt Holliday hit an RBI single off him, then Cabrera put the icing on the cake with a two-run home run to extend the lead to 8-0. The biggest deficit ever recovered from in ASG history was five runs, and that didn’t change tonight.

The NL pitching staff was stellar, as shown by the nine goose eggs in the AL box score. Matt Cain started, and he threw two solid innings to begin the game. From there, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Clayton Kershaw, R.A. Dickey, and Cole Hamels each threw scoreless innings. Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman combined for an eighth inning that was filled with high-90’s and low-100’s fastballs, and Wade Miley, Joel Hanrahan, and Jonathan Papelbon each got an out in a scoreless ninth inning. The only NL pitchers who didn’t make an appearance were Huston Street, the Padres’ only representative, and Lance Lynn. But who knows- maybe Tony La Russa called to the bullpen for Lynn, but got someone else this time.

Other than Verlander and Harrison, the AL pitching staff didn’t give up a run, either. Joe Nathan, David Price, Jered Weaver, Chris Sale, Ryan Cook, Jim Johnson, and Fernando Rodney each threw scoreless innings. The only AL player not to enter the game was position player Adam Dunn, but he would have probably just struck out to end the game.

> As I sort of expected, Cabrera took home the ASG MVP award this year after going 2-for-3 with two RBIs. I was gunning for Braun to win it- he also had a triple to go along with his RBI double- but Cabrera was definitely worthy as well.

> Here was a cool moment in the game. Chipper Jones got into the ASG thanks to an injury to Giancarlo Stanton. Chipper announced at the beginning of the year that this will be his last year before he retires, so everyone wanted him to get into the game somehow, and that opportunity presented itself.

Not only that, though- Chipper got a hit in his only at-bat. He hit a weak tapper to the right side, and second baseman Ian Kinsler may or may not have let the ball sneak through for a hit. That was probably the case, because Chipper was laughing his head off by the time he got to first base. Still, though, that was a cool moment.

> That’s about all I’ve got about the game.I could go on forever about all of the different storylines that were going on, but I think I covered the main points.

> You’ve probably noticed by now that I’ve given BW a new theme. I’ve been pondering that idea for a while, actually going all the way back to near the time I started the blog. The old theme was supposed to be temporary, and this one is also probably going to end up not being around very long. But I haven’t found a theme I like for the long-term yet.

Anyway, you guys probably don’t care much about themes, but, to go along with quality writing, there needs to be a catchy theme to grab the eye of the reader.

> And that’s about it. Tomorrow I’ll try and put up an article with my ratings of all of the players on the Brewers’ roster up to this point in the season. But for now, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Fielder inks monster deal with Detroit

January 24, 2012

> If you told me you saw this coming, I’d call you a liar.

At long last, Prince Fielder has signed a deal with a team. Was it the Nationals, like everyone expected? No. The Orioles? No. The Dodgers? No. The Rangers? No. The Mariners? No.

Then, who?

None other than the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers came flying out of nowhere in the running and inked Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million deal. That comes out to about $23.8 million per year- not much less than what Albert Pujols is making with the Angels.

But I’m happy Fielder at least signed with a team that we know is going to contend in 2012. Had he signed with a team like the Orioles, Dodgers, Mariners, etc., I would have been pretty mad, because we’d have known that it was all about the money. But, after holding out this long without a deal and finally signing with the Tigers, that shows that it was about the chance to contend.

You may be wondering why the Tigers offered Fielder this deal with an All-Star first baseman- Miguel Cabrera- already in place. It was announced last week that DH/catcher Victor Martinez will miss the whole season due to an ACL tear that he got while hitting a home run last season, ironically enough. The recovery time will force him to miss all of 2012. But I credit the Tigers for working quickly and finding a replacement for him right away.

Anyway, I guess this is it. Good-bye, Fielder. It was a good run, and we’re going to miss you here in Milwaukee. It was a great six seasons with the Crew, and I wish you the best of luck over the next nine years in Detroit.

> Tony La Russa will be managing the 2012 NL All-Star team. Guess that dink isn’t completely out of baseball yet.

> And that’s about it. I’ll update later with a link to my first post on Reviewing the Brew, which should be coming sometime tonight. But for now, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.

UPDATE- I just finished my first post on RtB. I’m not allowed to re-post it anywhere else, but here’s the link to it.


Astros rotation should flop again

January 19, 2012

Note- This is the first of a new series I’m doing where I’ll be reviewing all of the rotations in the NL Central for 2012. If you’re looking for news, then scroll down- it’ll posted afterwards.

> We all know that the Astros just plain sucked in 2011. They were an MLB-worst 56-106, and finished a whopping 40 games out of first place to the Brewers in the NL Central.

While it didn’t help that they traded away their only position players who were worth something- Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn- at the All-Star Break, their pitching was one of the primary causes for their awful season. The starting rotation was nothing special, but their bullpen was worse. Every time their starter had tossed a solid outing and Brad Mills handed it off to the bullpen, you just knew they were going to blow it some way or another.

Anyway, I’m going to review their starting rotation now, and put them in order of how I think the rotation should go in 2012, along with their 2011 stats.

#1 starter- Bud Norris- 6-11, 3.77 ERA

Norris, in my opinion, is an elite pitcher just waiting to break out. He goes unnoticed because he’s on the Astros, but this kid has one of the nastiest sliders in the MLB. Since he’s a right-handed pitcher, that slider is near impossible for righties to hit, but it makes Norris vulnerable against lefties.

I consider him a strikeout pitcher. In 2011, he struck out 176 batters in 186 innings, with an 8.7 K/9 ratio. That was slightly down from his 9.3 K/9 in 2010, but his overall numbers were much better than 2010. But, he can’t let that strikeout rate drop anymore.

Anyway, Norris now has two full MLB seasons under his belt, which should set him up for nice year next year. But, his win-loss record might not show it, because I have a feeling he’s not going to get any run support.

#2 starter- Wandy Rodriguez- 11-11, 3.49 ERA

In 2011, Rodriguez was probably the Astros’ most consistent starter. Again, his record doesn’t show it (but no Astros’ starter record shows anything other than lack of run support), though. But, he’s already 33, and it’s rumored that the Astros might be shopping him to get rid of his large contract, so he may not be around too much longer.

I guess I haven’t seen Rodriguez pitch enough to determine what kind of pitcher he is, but, judging by the amount of home runs he gives up (25 in 2011), I’d assume he’s a fly-ball pitcher. But, he’s K/9 rate isn’t bad, as it was 7.8 in 2011. His K/9 rate has steadily fell over the past few years, though, which could show a possible decline.

Overall, I think Rodriguez still has a few good years left in him. They probably won’t all be with the Astros, though.

#3 starter- Brett Myers- 7-14, 4.46 ERA

After I did my best to praise the first two starters, I might not be able to do so with the next two. Myers had a great year in 2010, going 14-8 with a 3.14 ERA, and earning him the #1 spot in the rotation. But, he followed it up with an awful 2011, as seen by the basic numbers. He also became nearly a complete off-speed pitcher, with more than 50% of his pitches being change ups and curveballs, rather than fastballs.

Myers gives up enough home runs, as he gave up 31 in 2011. He’s pretty much a fly-ball pitcher, and his K/9 is just 6.7. He also gives up a lot of hits, giving up 9.4 per nine innings.

So I don’t think Myers has much left in him. But he’s on the trade block as well, so he may not be on the Astros for much longer either.

#4 starter- J.A. Happ- 6-15, 5.35 ERA

Happ just had a flat-out bad season. I used to think he had talent, but, after last year, I don’t know anymore. There was a stretch of eight starts in which he gave up at least four runs in each of them, which explains his high ERA. And, even when he did have solid starts, guess what he didn’t get? That’s right- run support.

Happ’s  K/9 in 2011 was 7.7, and he gave up 21 home runs. I guess I don’t really know what kind of pitcher he is, but, whatever kind he is, he needs to get better at it.

I think Happ will bounce back in 2012, but not by much.

#5 starter- Jordan Lyles- 2-8, 5.36 ERA

Lyles was called up during the year to give him a taste of the big leagues, and I think he has potential. He has an extremely relaxed pitching motion, which usually means good things for a pitcher. I still haven’t seen enough of him, but I’m guessing he’ll break the rotation next year.

And that’s my review of all of them. There are a few more Astros starters who could break the rotation, like Kyle Weiland, but I think these are the five who have the best shot.

Overall, I think the Astros rotation will, like the rest of the team, once again flop in 2012. Aside from Norris, I don’t see much coming from them next season.

Anyway, come back tomorrow for another review- I’m thinking I’ll do the Cubs.

> Today, I heard that earlier this week Tony La Russa said at some lunch circuit thing that he did tell Jason Motte to intentionally hit Ryan Braun in the wild game in August.

That’s so typical of him, though. He lied and flipped out at the reporters after that game. So, after he retires, he comes out and tells the truth when he’s untouchable.

Needless to say I’m happy that prick retired. I’ve had it with his crap; I don’t care if he’s a HOF manager- he certainly doesn’t have the personality of one.

> And that’s about it. Sorry for calling TLR a “prick,” I don’t usually use language like that on BW. But trust me, I could have called him something much worse…

Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Recap of all major awards

November 23, 2011

> Yesterday, the NL MVP was handed out. This marked the last major award of the offseason. And I’m proud to say that, for the first time ever, I got all of my predictions right. Not that I agreed with all of them, but they were probably the most logical choice fore each award.

> Anyway, here are the top finishers for each award (courtesy of Baseball Reference):

AL MVP

1. Justin Verlander, Tigers

2. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox

3. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays

4. Curtis Granderson, Yankees

5. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

6. Robinson Cano, Yankees

7. Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox

8. Michael Young, Rangers

9. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox

10. Evan Longoria, Rays

NL MVP

1. Ryan Braun, Brewers

2. Matt Kemp, Dodgers

3. Prince Fielder, Brewers

4. Justin Upton, Diamondbacks

5. Albert Pujols, Cardinals

6. Joey Votto, Reds

7. Lance Berkman, Cardinals

8. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

9. Roy Halladay, Phillies

10. Ryan Howard Phillies

AL Cy Young Award

1. Justin Verlander, Tigers

2. Jered Weaver, Angels

3. James Shields, Rays

4. CC Sabathia, Yankees

5. Jose Valverde, Tigers

6. C.J. Wilson, Rangers

7. Dan Haren, Angels

8. Mariano Rivera, Yankees

9. Josh Beckett, Red Sox

10. Ricky Romero, Blue Jays

NL Cy Young Award

1. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

2. Roy Halladay, Phillies

3. Cliff Lee, Phillies

4. Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks

5. Cole Hamels, Phillies

6. Tim Lincecum, Giants

7. Yovani Gallardo, Brewers

8. Matt Cain, Giants

9. John Axford, Brewers

9. Craig Kimbrel, Braves

AL Rookie of the Year

1. Jeremy Hellickson, Rays

2. Mark Trumbo, Angels

3. Eric Hosmer, Royals

4. Ivan Nova, Yankees

5. Michael Pineda, Mariners

6. Dustin Ackley, Mariners

7. Desmond Jennings, Rays

7. Jordan Walden, Angels

NL Rookie of the Year

1. Craig Kimbrel, Braves

2. Freddie Freeman, Braves

3. Vance Worley, Phillies

4. Wilson Ramos, Nationals

5. Josh Collmenter, Diamondbacks

6. Danny Espinosa, Nationals

7. Darwin Barney, Cubs

7. Kenley Jansen, Dodgers

AL Manager of the Year

1. Joe Maddon, Rays

2. Jim Leyland, Tigers

3. Ron Washington, Rangers

4. Manny Acta, Indians

5. Joe Girardi, Yankees

6. Mike Scioscia, Angels

NL Manager of the Year

1. Kirk Gibson, Diamondbacks

2. Ron Roenicke, Brewers

3. Tony La Russa, Cardinals

4. Charlie Manuel, Phillies

5. Fredi Gonzalez, Braves

6. Bruce Bochy, Giants

6. Clint Hurdle, Pirates

8. Terry Collins, Mets

8. Don Mattingly, Dodgers

> Most of them seemed deserving enough. Although I was surprised to see Longoria even on the AL MVP ballot.

> Anyway, onto some Brewers news. They’ve offered arbitration to free agents Prince Fielder and Francisco Rodriguez. Assuming both decline it (which they probably both will), the Brewers will get four premium picks in next year’s First-Year Player Draft.

> Which brings me to my next point. I didn’t pay much attention to the small print of the labor agreement reached between MLB and the players’ union because I was celebrating Braun’s MVP award, but apparently this new agreement is creating a salary cap on how much teams can pay players to sign with them after being drafted. This will probably effect how some teams draft for the next five years, especially teams that rely on the draft in order to contend, such as the Rays.

But hey, it’s what we’ve grown to expect from Bud Selig.

> The biggest news of today was the Indians bringing back the injury-prone Grady Sizemore on a one-year deal worth around $5 million. I guess they aren’t giving up on the center fielder yet, despite the fact he’s had five different surgeries over the past three years, and has averaged below 100 games played per season during that span.

> Bruce Chen has decided to go back to the Royals for the third straight year, but this time signed a two-year deal. Chen really came out of nowhere as a solid pitcher for the Royals in 2010, and had an even better 2011. But I’m surprised Chen’s “chencision” was to return to the Royals instead of play for a contending team. (In case you haven’t noticed, I occasionally use @TrippingOlney jokes on here.)

> Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts. I’ll update again if any other big news comes out tonight.


Matheny to be Cards’ new manager…

November 14, 2011

> I’m definitely going to have at least a little respect for the Cardinals’ new manager in 2012, and possibly years after.

> Former Brewers and Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny has been named the Cardinals’ new manager, replacing Tony La Russa, who retired right after the Cards’ 11th World Series title. This was a somewhat interesting choice, considering Matheny has not Major League managing experience- or even Minor League managing experience. But, he’s one of the most respected guys in the game. He still has my respect, at least, and hopefully I don’t lose that too soon. I don’t want to see this guy pulling any TLR-like shenanigans.

During his Major League career as a catcher, Matheny hit .239 with the Brewers (five years), Cardinals (five years), Giants (two years), and Blue Jays (one year), playing from 1994-2006. He was one of the better defensive catchers during that time, winning four Gold Gloves in his career.

Anyway, the three previous Cards managers- La Russa, Joe Torre, and Whitey Herzog- all had previous Major League managing experience, along with playoff experience. That’s why I find it interesting that they’d just hand the reins over to Matheny, who doesn’t even have Minor League managing experience.

> Anyway, with the biggest news of the day out of the way, let’s get to the Hot Stove news…

> So this Cuban outfielder has literally come out of nowhere over the last few weeks. His name is Yoenis Cespedes, and apparently he’s supposed to be one of the best players in history to emerge from Cuba. The 26-year old is considered a true five-tool player, and many teams are interested in him. The Cubs are going to hold a private workout with him this week, and the other teams interested in Cespedes are the Red Sox, Phillies, Indians, Blue Jays, Pirates, Rangers, Tigers, Nationals, Athletics, Marlins, and Yankees. It doesn’t surprise me that the Brewers aren’t part of that list, since they’re outfield should be set for the next couple of years with Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, and the Nyjer Morgan/Carlos Gomez platoon.

But back to Cespedes- he shouldn’t have any problems finding a Major League team to sign with. Apparently, his contract is expected to be similar to that of Aroldis Chapman’s $30 million deal that he signed with the Reds in 2010.

> The Diamondbacks re-signed second baseman Aaron Hill to a two-year deal, reportedly worth $11 million. He hit over .300 after being acquired from the Blue Jays at the Trade Deadline. Hill had a monster season with the Jays in 2009, hitting 36 homers and considered a MVP candidate, but hasn’t been able to maintain that type of power since.

> Here’s a Brewers-related topic. Tom Haudricourt, a writer for MJS, brought up the fact that, since Prince Fielder rejected the Brewers’ five-year, $100 million offer back in Spring Training, the Brewers’ financial situation has changed a lot. Here’s a list of a few deals and extensions the Brewers are currently in the middle of:

Yovani Gallardo: Signed through 2014 on a five-year, $30.1 million deal

Corey Hart: Signed through 2013 on a three-year, $26.5 million deal

Ryan Braun: Signed through 2020 on two extensions- eight-year, $45 million deal, and five-year, $105 million deal

Randy Wolf: Signed through 2012 on a three-year, $29.5 million deal

Rickie Weeks: Signed through 2014 on a four-year, $38.5 million deal

And those are pretty much the main deals the Brewers are in the middle of. That’s a lot of money invested in core players, and the Brewers also want to extend starters Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum (or at least one of them) on top of it. That doesn’t leave very much room for Fielder, but he probably wouldn’t have signed anyway.

My only problem is the likelihood of the Brewers just handing the job to Mat Gamel. He has a little Major League experience. When he first came up a few years back, I thought he was going to be the next Braun- a young hitter who could hit for average. But, he was the hampered with injuries and inconsistency when given the chance at the Major League level. Gamel hit .310 in the Minors this year, but went just 3-for-26 during a short stint in the Majors in the middle of the season.

> Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got for now. Feel free to leave your thoughts, if you have any.


Looking back at the first week of 2011’s offseason

November 7, 2011

> The first week of the 2011 MLB offseason was rather quiet, with none of the top free agents reaching agreements with new teams (or the ones they were already with). But I guess that wasn’t expected. Anyway, despite this, there were a lot of minor moves, with some more significant than others, and later in this article I’ll try to go through every move made. But, before that, there is one Brewers-related piece of news that I should probably share.

> Dale Sveum is going to be interviewed for the Cubs’ managerial vacancy tomorrow. Ugh.

Over the past few days, Sveum has been considered the front-runner to become the new Red Sox manager, but nothing has been confirmed. And now he’s going to have a chance to become the Cubs’ manager, a team he has seen up close and personally for quite a few years now as the Brewers’ hitting coach.

So the reason I said “ugh” earlier is because, no matter who it is, I find it painful to see someone from a team I like leave for a team I hate. For instance, I was crushed a few years back when Brett Favre left the Packers for the Jets, and eventually the Vikings- a team I despise. (That is, until I figured out what a loser Favre was under the surface, but you still get the point.) Anyway, I’d be happy for Sveum no matter where he goes (if he does end up managing), but let me say I’d be much happier if he went to the Red Sox instead of the Cubs.

> But, with that aside, let’s get to all the moves that occurred during this first week of the Hot Stove. I guess I didn’t realize how much I didn’t cover on BreakingWI, but here’s my chance to redeem myself.

> Frank McCourt agreed with MLB to sell the Dodgers, and hopefully put this divorce-bankruptcy crap behind him and the franchise. The Dodgers suffered that for far too long, and hopefully whoever ends up being the team can right that ship.

> The long expected CC Sabathia opt-out never actually happened, as the Yankees managed to retain him by adding an extra year, worth $25 million, to his already-remaining for years on the seven-year deal he signed back in 2008 (after he left the Brewers). So much for that… I was looking forward to him sticking it up the Yankees’… Er, maybe I shouldn’t go there.

> The Indians acquired 15-year veteran starting pitcher Derek Lowe from the Braves. Lowe has definitely been on a decline in recent years, but the Indians hope his veteran presence can anchor their very young rotation.

> The Phillies successfully signed designated hitter Jim Thome to a one-year deal worth $1.225 million. Oh, wait, they’re a National League team… Apparently they expect him to play a little first base and be a power lefty off the bench, but I can’t see this deal working out very well.

> Cards manager Tony La Russa decided to retire after 33 seasons as a Major League manager. He definitely went out on top, that’s for sure…

> Davey Johnson is going to be the Nationals’ manager in 2012 as well, after picking up where Jim Riggleman left off midway through the 2011 season.

> The Giants exercised their option on lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt, and also signed fellow lefty reliever Javier Lopez to a two-year deal.

> The Dodgers re-signed Juan Rivera to a one-year deal worth $4.5 million after acquiring him from the Blue Jays halfway through the 2011 season.

> The Cubs exercised their half of the option on third baseman Aramis Ramirez, but Ramirez declined his half, thus becoming a free agent.

> The Nationals re-signed starter Chien-Ming Wang to a one-year deal, following three seasons full of injuries- two of which he didn’t even pitch at all. But, before that, he was a dominant starting pitcher for the Yankees.

> The Diamondbacks made a few signings on and off the field, as they locked up shortstop John McDonald with a two-year, $3 million deal, along with a one-year deal worth $1.2 million for catcher Henry Blanco. They also extended GM Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson, both of whom completely turned around what looked to be another disappointing season coming in.

> The Brewers declined their $17.5 million option on Francisco Rodriguez, which was inherited from the Mets. They also declined a $6 million option on shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt (HOORAY!).

> The Mets pretty much came out and said that they’re not going to be able to retain shortstop Jose Reyes. Not that I’m surprised, but it’s sort of odd that they’d come out and say it like that.

> The Braves have announced that they would trade starter Jair Jurrjens and outfielder/second baseman Martin Prado, if given a good enough deal. Right now, the Royals look like the best destination, at least for Jurrjens.

> The Giants are willing to trade starter Jonathan Sanchez. Not sure who would want that walk-machine, unless they really need starting pitching.

> The Cardinals declined their options  on shortstop Rafael Furcal and reliever Octavio Dotel. That was surprising to some (including me).

> The Red Sox picked up their $6 million option on shortstop Marco Scutaro.

> The Nationals appear to be in the running for starter Roy Oswalt, whose option was declined by the Phillies prior to the World Series.

> It sounds like the Phillies are literally dying for Michael Cuddyer, which means they’ll probably have him. But that would pretty much nullify the Thome deal, because Cuddyer could play a similar role, but is so much more versatile.

> The Diamondbacks declined options on starter Zach Duke, second baseman Aaron Hill, and shortstop Willie Bloomquist, but are probably open to re-signing Hill and Bloomquist.

> The Blue Jays picked up their option on outfielder Edwin Encarnacion, but declined their option on reliever Jon Rauch.

> The Royals picked up their $6 million option on closer Joakim Soria, who is coming off a horrible 2011. But, prior to that, he was one of the top closers in the game.

> The Reds picked up their option on second baseman Brandon Phillips, but declined the option on closer Francisco Cordero.

> The Padres declined options on starter Aaron Harang, reliever Chad Qualls, and first baseman Brad Hawpe. I thought it was interesting that they didn’t pick up Harang’s option, because he actually quietly put up a good season.

> The Rays exercised their option  on starter James Shields and closer Kyle Farnsworth, while declining both of those pitchers’ batterymate, Kelly Shoppach.

> Mariners closer David Aardsma, who did not pitch at all in 2011 due to an injury from 2010, has elected free agency. Whichever team that signs him will probably have to wait until at least June for his services in the Majors, however, as he’s still recovering from the injury.

> The White Sox picked up their option on reliever Jason Frasor, who they acquired from the Blue Jays at the Trade Deadline.

> The Indians exercised their option on starter Fausto Carmona, but declined the option on the injury-plagued center fielder Grady Sizemore.

> The Pirates declined options on catcher Ryan Doumit, shortstop Ronny Cedeno, catcher Chris Snyder, and starter Paul Maholm. I thought they should have kept Maholm at least, because he’s good- just doesn’t get run support. But they can do whatever the want to keep themselves from having their first winning season since 1992, for all I care…

> The Rockies declined their option on starter Aaron Cook. That was definitely expected, as he’s been injury-plagued and ineffective over the past two years.

> Lastly, the Rangers exercised their option on Japanese reliever Yoshinori Tateyama.

Well, that took awhile, but thanks for reading. Feel free to leave thoughts on these moves, if you have any.