April 2, 2012 by Matt Musico
Cabrera Cleared to play; expected to be ready Opening Day
After fracturing a bone under his right eye almost two weeks ago while fielding a ground ball at third base, Miguel Cabrera has been cleared to get back on the field with the Tigers. Rumors were flying that Detroit’s third baseman and best hitter might not be able to take the field on Opening Day April 5th, but team doctors cleared the 2011 AL batting champion to begin getting ready for the season. This was great news for the organization; it was such great news that manager Jim Leyland broke his normal, mundane persona when he heard the good news. The Tigers are favored to repeat as AL Central champions, especially with the acquisition of Prince Fielder, but Cabrera is a vital part of this lineup. Having him run on the field with the team this week is a huge boost; these lofty expectations are a tough cross to bear, and it is important for Detroit to get off to a good start. The best way to do that is to have their most feared hitter in the lineup.
Mike Aviles wins Red Sox SS starting spot
Middletown, New York native Mike Aviles has won the starting shortstop job coming out of Boston Red Sox camp, but not without a little controversy. Jose Iglesias, Boston’s 22-year-old shortstop prospect, was battling Aviles throughout camp to try and hang on with the Major League club, but even though his defense is Major League ready, some within the organization felt that he needed to be sent down to work on a few things, mainly his approach at the plate. Stories broke last week about this decision because it was rumored that manager Bobby Valentine preferred Iglesias to Aviles, but GM Ben Cherington ended up winning the disagreement, with the young shortstop being optioned to Triple-A. How is the relationship between the first-year manager and first-year general manager? Who knows. Rumors are out there that the relationship is already on the rocks, yet both deny it. How could these small disagreements become a distant memory? As the late Raiders owner, Al Davis, would say, “Just win, baby.”
Magic Johnson’s group buys Dodgers for $2 billion
Officially called Guggenheim Baseball Management LLC, which is a group that includes Mark Walter, Magic Johnson, Peter Guber, Stan Kasten, Bobby Patton, and Todd Boehly, struck a deal with Frank McCourt for the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers for a record-breaking $2.15 billion. That’s a whole lot of money. This deal still needs to get approved by a bankruptcy judge this month, which it is expected to, but it’s the highest price for any professional team in sports history. The Dolphins were sold for $1.1 billion in 2009 and the Manchester United soccer club was sold for $1.47 billion back in 2005. This mega-deal is great news not only for the Dodgers, but other big market teams that could end up being on the market in the future (cough, Mets, cough). As for Los Angeles, the mess that is Frank McCourt is finally nearing its end, and the new ownership displayed their dedication to returning this franchise to respectable standards by this offer. With the bidding process being over, GM Ned Colletti said he was thrilled to work with the new ownership group. I would be too with all this money throwing around! Just in time for Matt Cain and Cole Hamels to hit the free agent market next winter.
Yoenis Cespedes shows he can hit a breaking ball
Is he Major League ready? Should he start the year in the minors? How long should he stay in the minors before he gets called up since he’s making so much money? All of those questions about Yoenis Cespedes seem to be answered after the Opening Series in Japan was split between the Athletics and Mariners. He went 2-6 with two RBI in the two-game series last week, but it was his go-ahead home run in the second game that caught everyone’s attention. He took a breaking ball out to the deepest part of the Tokyo Dome to give the A’s the lift they needed to get themselves into the win column for the first time in 2012. I know it’s early, but the swing that he made on that pitch has convinced me that he’s right where he is supposed to be. He doesn’t need any more seasoning in the minors; he’ll be learning on the fly in the Major Leagues this year. Once Manny Ramirez comes back, he will be a great mentor for the rookie. Even though Ramirez can act like an idiot at times, he’s one of the better hitters in this era.
Royals sign Alex Gordon to four-year deal
After having a great 2011 (.303/.376/.502) and winning his first Gold Glove for his stellar defense in left field, Kansas City signed young superstar, Alex Gordon, to a four-year deal that guarantees him $37.5 million, with an option for a fifth year that could raise the value of the deal to $50 million. Gordon wanted to stay with the organization, but didn’t want to deal with contract negotiations after the team broke camp. So, they were able to strike a deal with the left fielder three days before they were due to leave Surprise, Arizona. This was just the latest in long-term deals agreed upon with some of Kansas City’s young stars, such as catcher Salvdor Perez and shortstop Alcides Escobar. With Gordon’s deal done, GM Dayton Moore will look to start negotiating with other young stars they want to keep in KC for the long-term, such as Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas.
Other things that happened in the MLB this week: Michael Pineda hits the DL with shoulder tendonitis, Livan Hernandez gets cut by the Astros and immediately gets picked up by the Braves, Johan Santana was officially announced the Opening Day starter for the Mets, Chris Carpenter is officially headed for the DL, and new Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey may be following suit with an injured thumb.
What was your biggest MLB story of the week?