Tracy Ringolsby- Tigers look best, Indians close in AL Centr

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Tracy Ringolsby- Tigers look best, Indians close in AL Centr

Post  RedMagma on Thu Jan 24, 2008 3:29 pm

Tracy Ringolsby- Tigers look best, Indians close in AL Central

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/7709154
The Central Division has become the most competitive division in the American League. Only Kansas City has failed to advance to the postseason in the last three years. Detroit has claimed a wild-card berth. The White Sox (2005), Twins (2006) and Indians (2007) all won division titles.

A look at what's been going on with the five divisional members this off-season:


Chicago White Sox

What has changed: The White Sox unloaded Scott Podsednik and signed Alexei Ramirez with plans for him to take over in center field. A 2B/OF on the Cuban National Team, he hit .335 in his Cuban career.

Battle Front: Josh Fields has a shot to claim the third base job, which will open the way for a trade of Joe Crede, once he proves during the spring that he has rebounded from last season's back surgery.

Story line: White Sox have cleaned out pitching depth, which is strange in a time where pitching is considered the key to success.

Strength: Closer Bobby Jenks has added support with the signing of RHPs Scott Linebrink and Octavio Dotel.

Weakness: The team is old and slow, even by American League standards.

Sleeper: RHP Gavin Floyd was given up on by Philadelphia, but White Sox got glimpses of why he was a No. 1 draft pick out of high school in his first year with the organization last season.

Off-season deals: Signed Cuban defector 2B/CF Alexei Ramirez to four-year contract. Acquired OF/1B Nick Swisher from Oakland for prospects; SS Orlando Cabrera from Angels for RHP Jon Garland, and OF Carlos Quentin from Arizona for 1B Chris Carter. Signed free agent RHP Octavio Dotel and RHP Scott Linebrink. Lost free agent OFs Darin Erstad and Scott Podsednik.

Summary: White Sox have done nothing to regain magical touch that earned them a world championship three years ago.

Fausto Carmona won 19 games and posted a 3.06 ERA in 215 innings. ( / Getty Images)

Cleveland Indians

What has changed: OF Kenny Lofton was acquired in July to take over in left field, but didn't re-sign with the Indians, so the hope is Jason Michaels will reclaim the job.

Battle Front: LHPs Aaron Laffey, Cliff Lee and Jeremy Sowers will get a shot at the fifth starter job.

Story line: Indians are looking to show AL that a pitching-oriented team can win a pennant.

Strength: Rotation and bullpen are among AL elite. C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona, both 19-game winners in 2007, are foundation for rotation that also includes two 15-game winners — Jake Westbrook and Paul Byrd. Joe Borowski may not be a prototype closer but he led AL with 45 saves and Rafael Betancourt (1.47 ERA, six unintentional walks and .183 average allowed) is a premier setup man.

Weakness: Indians have corner outfielders who have bottom of the lineup run production abilities.

Sleeper: Alex Marte has become an afterthought but he still has the ability that made him one of game's key prospects. Forced into a utility role by Casey Blake claiming third base, could Marte land a corner outfield job?

Off-season deals: Signed free-agent RHP Masahide Kobayashi. Acquired INF Jamey Carroll from Colorado for future considerations. Lost free agent OF Kenny Lofton.

Summary: Indians took a conservative route in the ultra-competitive AL Central, failing to add a major contributor during the off-season.

Pudge Rodriguez hit .281 with 11 homers and 63 RBI in 2007. ( / Getty Images)

Detroit Tigers

What has changed: Tigers reworked their lineup with trades for 3B Miguel Cabrera, SS Edgar Renteria and LF Jacque Jones.

Battle Front: Roster is pretty well set with the off-season additions, which also included LH starter Dontrelle Willis.

Story line: Tigers got a taste of World Series two years ago and know their window of opportunity is slim so they gutted farm system to beef up big-league roster during the past year.

Strength: Age could take a toll but on paper, lineup is explosive. If everyone is healthy bottom three spots figure to belong to Edgar Renteria, Jacque Jones and Pudge Rodriguez.

Weakness: Pitching staff has health concerns, and the focus is on finding a replacement for Joel Zumaya, who will miss at least half the season following shoulder surgery, and struggles of Fernando Rodney, leaving little support for aging and erratic closer Todd Jones.

Sleeper: The Tigers are awake. Either the guys they are counting on come through or Tigers fall flat. There's no young phenom waiting for a chance.

Off-season deals: Acquired SS Edgar Renteria from Atlanta for two prospects, LF Jacques Jones from Cubs for INF Omar Infante, and 3B Miguel Cabrera and LHP Dontrelle Willis from Marlins for package of prospects that included LHP Andrew Miller and CF Cameron Maybin, their top two prospects. Lost free agent 1B Sean Casey.

Summary: Tigers are putting a lot of faith in veteran roster that has injury-marred history.

Kansas City Royals

What has changed: Mike Sweeney, the long-time face of the franchise whose final years were marred by injuries that limited playing time of the highest paid player in franchise history, has moved on. Prospect Billy Butler, who is lost defensively, gets the DH job.

Battle Front: RHP Luke Hochevar, No. 1 pick in 2006 draft, gets shot at one of two open spots in rotation, but he has to earn it and will be challenged by veterans including Brett Tomko and Hideo Nomo, along with holdovers Luke Hudson, Kyle Davis, Jorge De La Rosa, John Bale and Leo Nunez.

Story line: Royals had money to spend, but garage sales aren't where true bargains turn up.

Strength: Royals do have a youthful core with 3B Alex Gordon, DH Billy Butler, OF Mark Teahen, and RHPs Zack Greinke, Brian Bannister and Joakim Soria.

Weakness: Overall talent doesn't matchup to rest of AL Central.

Sleeper: 1B Ryan Shealy struggled when Royals tried a major overhaul of his hitting mechanics last spring. Now he can regroup, get back to his old style and provide Royals a bonus in their lineup.

Off-season deals: Signed free agent RHPs Yasuhiko Yabuta, Hideo Nomo and Brett Tomko, LHP Ron Mahay, OF Jose Guillen and C Miguel Olivo. Lost free agent DH Mike Sweeney, OF Emil Brown and RHP David Riske. Acquired INF Alberto Callaspo from Arizona for RHP Billy Buckner.

Summary: Royals may be headed in right direction but in talent-laden AL Central they still have a lengthy journey to get to the top. They will have to work to end streak of four consecutive last-place finishes.

Johan Santana was just 15-13 last season despite a 3.33 ERA and averaging more than a strikeout per inning. ( / Getty Images)

Minnesota Twins

What has changed: SS Adam Everett, one of the most consistent defensive infielders in baseball, will get a real test on the ersatz grass of the Metrodome, where he is being asked to fill what has been a troublesome position for the Twins.

Battle Front: With the loss of Torii Hunter, the clubhouse force in addition to an All-Star caliber center fielder, the Twins will have spring auditions to fill his spot on the field. There's no proven center fielder. Depth chart has Craig Monroe and Jason Pridie listed in center.

Story line: Twins appear to be in a major rebuilding which will be emphasized if they do deal LHP Johan Santana and closer Joe Nathan.

Strength: Bullpen is solid as long as Nathan remains, and there are some quality young arms for the rotation, particularly if LH Francisco Liriano has fully recovered from November 2006 reconstructive elbow surgery. Others include Scott Baker, Boof Bonser, Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins, Nick Blackburn and Brian Duensing.

Weakness: Even if the Twins keep Santana to open the season, the ongoing speculation of his being traded will only add to the feeling that team management is looking at the future, not 2008, for success. Players pick up on that.

Sleeper: 3B Mike Lamb has pop in his bat, and will be in a no-pressure situation with expectations being down in Minnesota, which will allow him to relax and rejuvenate his career.

Off-season deals: Acquired OFs Delmon Young and Jason Pridie and INF Brendan Harris from Tampa Bay for INF Jason Bartlett and RHPs Matt Garza and Eduardo Morland, and OF Craig Monroe from Cubs for future considerations. Signed free agent 3B Mike Lamb and SS Adam Everett. Lost free agent OF Torii Hunter and RHP Carlos Silva.

Summary: There's a new ballpark on the horizon and a winning season might have to wait until 2010 too.

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Re: Tracy Ringolsby- Tigers look best, Indians close in AL Centr

Post  RedMagma on Thu Jan 24, 2008 3:36 pm

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Re: Tracy Ringolsby- Tigers look best, Indians close in AL Centr

Post  RedMagma on Thu Jan 24, 2008 3:47 pm

i can't stand them either especially russo and that's what the guy basically told them.he really got into how they rip into new york sports teams particularly russo and he's right.russo either doesn't know how much he gets on new york sports fans or he doesn't care but i'm glad someone said something to him.he was very rude and arrogant to callers this week during the super bowl ticket contest and i felt like calling in just to tell him off about it too.I don't get it.

ESPN Radio is right there for everyone to listen to. If you hate these 2 so much, turn them off. Judging by the ratings, not many of you are doing that.

Personally i find the 2 bozo's highly entertaining. Im able to listen at work, so i usually have them on from 1 to 4 then i switch over to Kay, who pretends to not be a fan of the yankees anymore but can't stop talking about them.

If you listen to boston radio, or most other sports radio all you get is a homer love fest. I kind of like the fact that there is a naysayers voice in this town. Thats really what sports talk is all about, the argument, the i told you so's, the my team is better than yours, and thats why their show is as popular as it has ever been. The NY team hate, particularly the yankee hate is 100% a schtick and people shoul realize that by now.

There is plenty of NY love going on on 1050 ESPN for the local teams. If you're looking for more pure sports talk and less fluff and show, go there. For pure entertainment value, no one does it better than Mike and MD, IMO.

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Re: Tracy Ringolsby- Tigers look best, Indians close in AL Centr

Post  RedMagma on Thu Jan 24, 2008 3:51 pm


http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/john_donovan/01/24/donovan.holes/index.html


• The lower half of the Yankees' rotation: I'll give you Chien-Ming Wang. And I'd tend to give you Andy Pettitte, if he hadn't had all that offseason drama. But should Yankees' fans be convinced about Mike Mussina, who lost his rotation spot last year? Plus, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain are unproven in taking on a full big-league season. We'll see.

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Re: Tracy Ringolsby- Tigers look best, Indians close in AL Centr

Post  RedMagma on Thu Jan 24, 2008 3:54 pm

Baseball America is coming out with their 2008 Farm Rankings. I was able to dig up the top 10 list...

BA's Top 10 Organizational Rankings:
1. Tampa Bay
2. Boston
3. Cincinnati
4. Texas
5. New York Yankees
6. Los Angeles Dodgers
7. Colorado
8. Atlanta
9. Washington
10. Los Angeles Angels


Yanks movement from that past couple years =

05 - #24
06 - #17
07 - #8
08 - #5

Not bad at all.

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Re: Tracy Ringolsby- Tigers look best, Indians close in AL Centr

Post  RedMagma on Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:00 pm

GM says Dolphins all ears when it comes to No. 1 draft pick
http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/draft08/news/story?id=3212077
MOBILE, Ala. -- Let the bidding for the No. 1 pick begin.

"We're open for business," new Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland, on hand to watch practices for the Senior Bowl, told the NFL Network on Wednesday.

Kiper: To Deal, Or Not?

The Dolphins need help on defense and Bill Parcells is a defensive-minded coach, so Mel Kiper says it stands to reason that tackle Glenn Dorsey would be the logical pick. Story Insider

Ireland, whose quote appeared in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, has been working at a breakneck pace since Bill Parcells hired him away from the Cowboys three weeks ago.

In the time after Ireland became GM, the Dolphins fired Cam Cameron and most of his staff, hired Tony Sparano as coach and started to assemble a staff of assistant coaches.

"Have I been able to breathe yet? Uh, a little bit," Ireland said Wednesday after watching a Senior Bowl workout. "I'm just glad to be watching some football players."

Then there's the matter of whether the Dolphins plan to keep the top selection in April's draft or trade it. Based on its just-completed 1-15 season, Miami has a plethora of needs.

"Rome wasn't built in a day, and this won't be built in a day either," Ireland said, according to the Sun-Sentinel. "The No. 1 pick is no different from the 22nd pick. You've got to make the right selection. You just can't miss on it.

"We're going to do everything in our power to make the right choices, whether it be to take the pick or move down. We'll listen to all offers."

Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN.com's NFL draft expert, is not alone in forecasting LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey as the top pick to the Dolphins. Ireland declined to discuss specific players or positions of special interest to the Dolphins, but he said he and Parcells, who last month became executive vice president of football operations, have reviewed their observations from the Senior Bowl workouts about 30 minutes each day. Parcells watched the workouts on cable TV.

Sparano also didn't make the trip to Mobile, instead remaining in South Florida to focus on hiring a coaching staff. Ireland said he's comfortable with the way he'll divide responsibility with Sparano and Parcells.

"The situation that we're in is that Bill does oversee everything," Ireland said. "But yet I am the GM and we have a head coach, so there is going to be a triangle of communication involved here.

"I can't say that Bill will have the final say on everything, because we communicate so well. That's why Tony's in the position that he's in and that's why Bill brought me here [to Mobile] -- because we'll communicate and make decisions together."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Re: Tracy Ringolsby- Tigers look best, Indians close in AL Centr

Post  RedMagma on Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:06 pm

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Additional players the Jets talked with at SENIOR BOWL
« Mangini Attends North Team Practice | Main

01:31AM - Jets Eye A Few At Senior Bowl
Thursday, January 24th, 2008 by Gary Grund


Scott Wright at the NFLDraftCountdown has noted that the Jets have been checking out a couple of prospects at the Senior Bowl. I will give a quick recap for each player just to get a few notes on them.

RB - Dantrell Savage - Oklahoma St.
Projected: Mid-Round Pick
Notes: Very similar in terms of size with Jets RB Leon Washington. Projects to be a situational or third-down back as well as a return man in the NFL.

RB - Matt Forte - Tulane
Projected: Mid-Round Pick
Notes: Rushed for 2,127 yards on 361 attempts with 23 touchdowns for the Tulane Green Wave in his senior season.

TE - Martin Rucker - Missouri
Projected: 2nd or 3rd Rounder
Notes: Brother to Carolina Panthers defensive end Mike Rucker. Basically a “wideout in a tight end’s body.”

OT - Mike McGlynn - Pittsburgh
Projected: 4th or 5th Rounder
Notes: Started for four years for the Pittsburgh Panthers at right tackle. Also served as the team’s long snapper on field goals and extra points.

OT - Gosder Cherilus - Boston College
Projected: 2nd Rounder
Notes: Started 37 consecutive games at right tackle but he moved to the left side as a senior. Had a run in with the law being charged with assault and battery in July of 2007 in connection with a bar fight.

NT - Ahtyba Rubin - Iowa St.
Projected: 4th or 5th Rounder
Notes: Potential sleeper, able to two-gap and hold up strong. Massive big body, but in good shape. Could quietly move into the 3rd round.

CB - DeJuan Tribble - Boston College
Projected: Mid-Round Pick
Notes: Projects to be at best a nickel or dime cornerback. He was involved with Gosder Cherilus in the July 2007 bar fight, charged with assault & battery.

CB - Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie - Tennessee St.
Projected: Mid-Round Pick
Notes: The brother of Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who led the NFL with 10 interceptions this season. Projects to be one of the best sleeper prospects in the draft. He is also an excellent kick returner.

Thanks to many different draft sites for the information including NFL Draft Scout, NFLDraftCountdown and the Great Blue North Draft Report.

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Re: Tracy Ringolsby- Tigers look best, Indians close in AL Centr

Post  RedMagma on Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:15 pm

USC players once again dominating the practice scene

By Scouts Inc.
(Archive)
Insider

Updated: January 22, 2008, 7:17 PM ET

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MOBILE, Ala. -- More information is circulating regarding the absence of several top prospects from the 2008 Senior Bowl. Officials knew in advance that projected first-rounders such as Michigan OT Jake Long, Virginia DE Chris Long and South Florida CB Mike Jenkins would not be in attendance. We also hear from several reliable sources that Louisville QB Brian Brohm gave officials fair warning that he would not be making the trip to Mobile, but they asked him to delay his announcement, fearing that other top prospects -- namely quarterbacks Andre' Woodson (Kentucky) and Chad Henne (Michigan) -- also would bail. As such, it should be noted that Brohm handled the situation maturely and did not leave game officials hanging in the balance.

Brohm does have a minor ankle injury, which is his public reasoning for not participating in this week's events. While scouts do believe the injury to be legitimate, several we've spoken to feel there were other factors involved in his decision -- BC's Matt Ryan bailing out and a rain-filled forecast, to name two. Regardless of what scouts believe, it's unfortunate that Brohm isn't here this week. The overall quarterback play is weak, and he could have distinguished himself as the clear-cut top prospect of the group -- slightly ahead of Woodson and Henne, and significantly ahead of others.

Notre Dame TE John Carlson and Auburn DE/OLB Quentin Groves both have legitimate excuses for being absent. Carlson contracted a bacterial infection while training with Brohm and others in Southern California. He lost approximately 15 pounds and is focusing on regaining his strength for the combine and on individual workouts between now and April's draft. Groves battled two lingering toe injuries during his senior season and since has developed turf toe. Instead of risking further injury, he is electing to sit out the Senior Bowl in hopes of being fully recovered for next month's combine.

As for news on the field, teams practiced for the first time in full pads Tuesday. The North squad kicked things off in the morning, while the South's practiced in the afternoon.

Around the North practice
• USC's Keith Rivers clearly is the most complete linebacker prospect on the North roster. In addition to showing great instincts and quickness, Rivers plays with a mean streak. He takes on blockers and fights hard to get through traffic. He looks to be in excellent physical shape, and his range versus both the run and the pass is impressive.

• Jordon Dizon (Colorado) doesn't look the part of an NFL linebacker, but somehow, he winds up around the ball on nearly every play. His feet are outstanding, and he covers a lot of real estate in zone. He has an uncanny knack for avoiding blockers without taking himself out of the play. His lack of size and power will prevent him from playing in the middle at the next level, but he has a chance to make an impact on the weak side in a smaller-type scheme such as those run by the Colts and Broncos.

• Justin Forsett (California) and Chauncey Washington (USC) had the best showings of the North running backs. Forsett runs hard and has shown an extra gear when he breaks through the line of scrimmage. Washington did an excellent job of catching the ball out of the backfield during seven-on-seven and team sessions. He also showed a second gear when he broke into the open field. He has some durability issues and off-the-field baggage, but he still stands to gain from this experience if he builds on the momentum from Tuesday.

• None of the other running backs were overly impressive. Chris Johnson (East Carolina) failed to stand out, despite his exceptional speed. Dantrell Savage (Oklahoma State) didn't show the burst, elusiveness or power to create anything on his own.

• The tight ends on the North roster are an interesting group to study. Michigan State's Kellen Davis is the guy you want leading the team off the bus, but he is the least productive of the three between the lines. He's a bit stiff as a route runner, and his effort, leverage and technique as a blocker are far too inconsistent. Martin Rucker (Missouri) is right down the middle. He looks the part in pads and is a reliable short-to-intermediate receiver, but his game seems to come up short in terms of explosiveness. Fred Davis (USC) is the least impressive physically, but he clearly is the best pass-catcher and all-around athlete of the group. We still want to see more of him as an inline blocker this week, but there is no question he has first-round receiving skills.

• It has become apparent in just two practices that Purdue WR Dorien Bryant is the most polished receiver here. With good quickness off the line, Bryant shows the ability to break down a corner's cushion right out of the gate. Bryant also attacks defenders with proper position that creates leverage, giving him the ability to get solid separation out of his breaks. One of Bryant's highlights Tuesday came during the one-on-one period. Showing sound technique getting off the line against press man, he was able to swim and get to the outside. Displaying great body control, he instantly stopped on a fade thrown behind him and attacked the ball, coming down with the reception. Adding to his résumé, Bryant also looked very effective as a return man during the special teams period.

• Bryant wasn't the only North receiver to impress scouts Tuesday. California's Lavelle Hawkins continues to turn heads with his consistency. He runs smooth, crisp routes, knows how to separate from man coverage and does an excellent job of plucking the ball on the run. He shined during the one-on-one periods, beating defenders all three times he lined up. He used quick feet to beat the jam at the line and also displayed the top-end speed to beat Boston College CB DeJuan Tribble down the sideline for a deep reception. One of his more impressive plays came during the team period. After slipping out of his break, Hawkins was able to recover and do a nice job of going down low to make the reception on a curl route.

• Oklahoma State WR Adarius Bowman is off to a slow start. Taking too long to get out of his breaks, Bowman has failed to create solid separation, but he makes up for it by using his bigger frame to shield defenders from the ball. Unfortunately, Bowman also has given scouts some concern with the consistency of his hands. He has not looked natural catching the ball, often times appearing to fight it. This has resulted in multiple drops throughout the first two days of practice. He will need to turn things around in a hurry and finish the week strong to make up for the slow start.
ll angles for ESPN.com.

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