Posted on: February 6, 2012 2:09 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 4:00 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
There's nothing like the Super Bowl to remind you that spring training is just around the corner. And with pitchers and catchers packing up their bags for Florida and Arizona, we here at Eye on Baseball will look at some of the key positional battles on tap for this spring, starting with the American League West.
Los Angeles Angels
Designated hitter: Mark Trumbo vs. Kendrys Morales vs. Bobby Abreu vs. Vernon Wells
At the end of the 2011 season, it seemed first base could be a battle for the Angels heading into 2012. That position was settled pretty easily with $240 million. The two previous candidates, Trumbo and Morales are now with BAbreu looking for playing time at DH. Add the wild card of Mike Trout possibly pushing either Torii Hunter or Wells into the DH competition and the team has a lot of players for one spot. Sure, the Angels are saying Trumbo can play third, but he's still not all the way back from an ankle injury and he hasn't proven he can handle the day-in, day-out rigors of third base (look at what it did to Kevin Youkilis last season). There's also the chance that Morales won't be healthy. There are so many variables to the Angles lineup that the only thing that seems certain at this point is that Albert Pujols will be at first base, batting third.
Closer: Grant Balfour vs. Brian Fuentes vs. Fautino De Los Santos vs. Joey Devine
One of the many players Billy Beane got rid of this offseason was closer Andrew Bailey, who went to the Red Sox for three players, leaving an opening at closer for 2012. Fuentes recorded 12 saves in Bailey's spot last season, while Balfour picked up two as well. Those two veterans should be seen as the favorites, but De Los Santos and Devine could surprise. De Los Santos struck out 43 batters in 33 1/3 innings last season, while Devine impressed in his first action since Tommy John surgery. Even if the two youngsters don't get the call after spring training, either are just one trade away from getting their shot -- and with the A's current situation, nobody in Oakland should be buying, just renting.
No. 3-5 starters: Blake Beavan vs. Charlie Furbush vs. Hector Noesi vs. Kevin Millwood vs. Hisashi Iwakuma
Felix Hernandez, of course, is the Mariners' No. 1 starter and Jason Vargas figures to be the other Mariner to start in the team's two-game series in Japan. After that, it gets interesting. Seattle signed Iwakuma to a $1.5 million contract in the offseason, so he figures to be in the rotation somewhere. Noesi was acquired along with Jesus Montero in the Michael Pineada trade and should be somehwere in the mix, as well. That leaves the youngsters Furbush (25) and Beavan (23), to go against the veteran Millwood (37). Furbush and Beavan showed flashes during 2011, but are hardly proven products. After stints in the minors for the Red Sox and Yankees, Millwood went 4-3 with a 3.98 ERA in Colorado and should benefit from pitching at Safeco Field.
5th starter: Matt Harrison vs. Alexi Ogando vs. Scott Feldman
Unless the Rangers do sign Roy Oswalt, it appears the first four spots in the Texas rotation are set with Yu Darvish, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz, leaving three pitchers battling for the final spot. Last season the Rangers moved Ogando from the bullpen to the rotation with some success. They're looking to do the same with Feliz this season and possibly sending Ogando back to the bullpen. Ogando was 13-8 with a 3.51 ERA, but seemed to tire down the stretch. Harrison was 14-9 with a 3.39 ERA last season, but still has to battle for his job. And then there's Feldman, who is a long-shot here, but is used to the yo-yoing from the bullpen to the rotation. If the team does sign Oswalt, the three could be stretched out in spring, but return to the bullpen once the season starts.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Tags: AL West, Albert Pujols, Alexi Ogando, Andrew Bailey, Angels, Athletics, Blake Beavan, Bobby Abreu, Brian Fuentes, C. Trent Rosecrans, Charlie Furbush, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Fautino De Los Santos, Felix Hernandez, Grant Balfour, Hector Noesi, Hisashi Iwakuma, Jason Vargas, Jesus Montero, Joey Devine, Kendrys Morales, Kevin Millwood, Mariners, Mark Trumbo, Matt Harrison, Michael Pineada, Mike Trout, Neftaili Feliz, Rangers, Roy Oswalt, Spring Position Battles, spring training, Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells, Yu Darvish
Posted on: November 25, 2011 3:09 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2011 1:38 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no waivers, no minor- or major-league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams.
For years, the Minnesota Twins were the model of how to build a consistent winner in a small market. From 2001-2010, the Twins appeared in the playoffs six times and recorded just one losing season. But the wheels fell off in 2011, with a mixture of bad fortune and bad pitching. The Twins have two former MVPs in their lineup, but it would be tough to find two former MVPs who did less in 2011 than Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. Those two homegrown players were supposed to be cornerstones for the franchise, but their performance last season was more fitting a tombstone. The team's fortunes, for better or worse, will be tied to those two for the next few years.
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Michael Cuddyer, 3B
3. Joe Mauer, 1B
4. Justin Morneau, DH
5. Torii Hunter, RF
6. Jason Kubel, LF
7. Wilson Ramos, C
8. Danny Valencia, 2B
9. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS
1. Matt Garza
2. Nick Blackburn
3. Kevin Slowey
4. Brian Duensing
5. Anthony Swarzak
Closer - Jesse Crain
Set up - LaTroy Hawkins, J.C. Romero, Pat Neshek, Glen Perkins, Grant Balfour, Peter Moylan
Notable Bench Players
A.J. Pierzynski, Ben Revere, Luke Hughes, Trevor Plouffe.
With Ramos and Pierzynski on the roster, there's zero reason for Mauer to get anywhere near catching gear -- unless it's for another commercial. With Mauer freed of pitching duties, he can concentrate on first base and Justin Morneau doesn't have to worry about playing in the field. Even though Morneau is a very good defensive first baseman, keeping him off the field could keep him on the field. Last year he suffered concussion-like symptoms after merely diving for a ball. Limiting his risks for a recurrence of head injuries should be a top priority for the Twins, and the easiest way to do that solves the team's other big problem, getting the most out of their long-term deal with Mauer. While the Twins don't have anyone on this list with a large number of saves on their resume, there are a ton of good relievers.
It's a good thing the team has good relievers, because they're going to need them -- and even more than the seven listed above. The rotation, after Garza, is shaky. That rotation isn't going to get much help from its defense, either. The roster makeup requires several position shuffles, including Cuddyer to third, a position he's played, but is not too keen on playing. The Twins also have to put Nishioka at shortstop. Although he played there some in 2011, the team signed Jamey Carroll to play shortstop every day in 2012 for a reason.
Comparison to real 2011
Well, if you thought it couldn't get much worse in Minnesota than it did in 2011, it may with this lineup and rotation. Minnesota went 63-99 in 2011, and it probably breaks the 100-loss barrier with this squad, but don't expect them to be historically bad, so it'd probably only cost four-to-eight wins in my unscientific research. Either way, it's an ugly summer in Minneapolis.
Up next: Pittsburgh Pirates
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: A.J. Pierzynski, AL Central, Anthony Swarzak, Ben Revere, Brian Duensing, C. Trent Rosecrans, Danny Valencia, Denard Span, Glen Perkins, Grant Balfour, homegrown, J.C. Romero, Jamey Carroll, Jason Kubel, Jesse Crain, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Kevin Slowey, LaTroy Hawkins, Luke Hughes, Matt Garza, Michael Cuddyer, Nick Blackburn, Pat Neshek, Peter Moylan, Torii Hunter, Trevor Plouffe, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Twins, Wilson Ramos
Posted on: May 29, 2011 3:40 pm
Edited on: May 29, 2011 4:03 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
You may have missed it last night, but the A's switched closers again, with Brian Fuentes picking up the save in Oakland's 4-2 victory.
It was Fuentes' first outing since blasting manager Bob Geren following Monday's game. The next day, Geren declared Grant Balfour the closer. However, in his time as the "closer," Balfour made just one appearance, entering Tuesday's game ina non-save situation. Balfour gave up Mark Trumbo's three-run homer, but the A's still won, 4-3.
Geren said he talked to both pitchers after Thursday's game and told them Fuentes would go back to closing -- so maybe he learned from Fuentes' criticism of his communication skills.
According to Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area News Group, Balfour sounded "perplexed" by the situation.
"I was kind of in the closer's role for four days and no chance to close," He said. "It's kind of weird, but whatever. I'm just trying to pitch, whatever it takes to win for the ballclub."
Still, it will be a moot point soon enough. Andrew Bailey returned from the disabled list before Sunday's game. Bailey won't close games right away, but will ultimately return to the role.@cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: May 25, 2011 10:23 am
Edited on: May 25, 2011 10:52 am
By Evan Brunell
SO THE TIME HAS COME FOR A NEW OWNER: OK, so technically a new Mets minority owner, but the move could have lasting implications.
Sources say that former commodities trader Ray Bartoszek and investor Anthony Lanza have been chosen as the preferred bidders for the available stake in the Mets' franchise. The new owners will have a say in the team's finances and path forward, as incumbent owner Fred Wilpon has promised. And if Wilpon is forced to sell the team -- a distinct possibility -- it's likely that Bartoszek and Lanza will emerge as the new owners.
It's unclear how much stake the new owners will receive, but the cost is expected to be around $200 million for up to a 49 percent stake and a deal is extremely close. First, though, negotiations on whether the minority group can purchase a small stake in SportsNet New York has to be ironed out, but could be the necessary final piece for the deal as 49 percent may not be justifiable enough for $200 million given the Mets' debt problems.
Bartoszek previously headed up oil trading for the world's biggest commodity trader, Glencore International, while Lanza is an owner of Carriage House Partners, a private equity firm. (New York Post)
100 PERCENT: Unsurprisingly, Carlos Beltran disagrees with Fred Wilpon's comments that he's 65-to-70 percent. "I'm 100 percent," Beltran said. And he's playing like it. (Newsday)
FIGGINS SLOWLY IMPROVING: Chone Figgins has been a shell of his former self since arriving in Seattle, but skipper Eric Wedge thinks things are getting better. "I feel like he's been a little bit more aggressive,'' Wedge said. "I feel like he's starting to make better contact. More firm." It's still way too early to think about Figgins finally delivering on his contract, but any step forward is positive. (Seattle Times)
STREAK SNAPPED: CC Sabathia hurled a complete game victory Tuesday, coming away with the win. It was his first complete game win since May 8, 2009... and also the first Yankees complete-game winner since. That's the longest streak in AL history for a stretch in-between complete-game wins at 341 games. (New York Daily News)
NEW CLOSER: Until Andrew Bailey returns, Grant Balfour will be the new closer in Oakland, replacing Brian Fuentes after the flap Fuentes created with his comments Tuesday. Too bad no one let Balfour know. (MLB.com)
ODDITY: Here's something interesting: Curtis Granderson has smacked 16 home runs and four triples, an impressive feat so far. But it's been all or nothing, as his four doubles pop out, a rare occurrence. After all, if you hit for power, you'll have your fair share of doubles. Granderson's doubles account for just one-sixth of his extra base hits, and only two other players in history have more extra-base hits than him with a similar 1/6 ratio of doubles: Mark McGwire in 2001 and Wes Covington in 1957. (Baseball Reference)
ONE MORE: Orioles starter Brian Matusz agrees that he needs one more rehab start, so will pitch for Triple-A on Friday. But after that, he's expected to push to return to the staff for a June 1 start, which will mark his season debut. (MASN Sports)
NEW DODGER: Top prospect Rubby De La Rosa received the call to the majors, surprising the Double-A starting pitcher, who will pitch in relief. While the Dodgers contend his future is in the rotation, de la Rosa was needed to shore up a bullpen besieged by injuries and ineffectiveness. De la Rosa has the talent to emerge as closer in L.A., and the team is still in the postseason hunt, so the promotion does make some sense. (Los Angeles Times)
YER OUTTA HERE! Ned Yost isn't going to get tossed from a game anytime soon -- unless he feels one of his players are being disrespected -- but that will change in coming years. "This is the time, with a young club, that you set the tone," Yost said. "I don't want these guys complaining and moaning. An umpire's call is an umpire's call and it doesn't get changed. It's doesn't do anybody any good to whine or cry about it. So, if I'm yelling, moaning and screaming on every call, naturally they're going to follow my lead. So it's important to me, right now, to accept the umpire's calls. ... But disrespect a player one time and I'm gone." Also in the link: Stories about how the Royals are trying to help those affected by the devastating Joplin, Mo. tornado. (MLB.com)
BRING IT IN: Is it time for the Padres to bring in the fences at Petco Park? Petco has become the anti-Coors Field, and even Coors is no longer an offensive haven thanks to the effects of the humidor. There appears to be a growing groundswell to fix Petco, and it would be as simple as moving the fences in. No one advocates making Petco a hitter's park, but moving the fences in would only even the playing field just a bit -- and that's all one needs. (Rob Neyer)
FIRST WIN: Alfredo Simon nailed his first win of the season thanks to an Adam Jones walk-off home run. A relieved Simon was thrilled after the game as it was his first win since last season. He has been dealing with a murder charge in his native country since the winter and still isn't out of the woods yet. (MASN Sports)
NEW GRIP: Dustin Moseley has been a nice piece of the Padres so far this year, but the righty can't sit on his laurels when there's more to be done. He tweaked his changeup, which earned positive results after Monday's game. (MLB.com)
PATROLLING THE OUTFIELD: Josh Hamilton believes he could start playing the outfield immediately but will be held back until this weekend, where he is expected to return to left field. Once he has several games under his belt, it's possible he could start seeing some time in center. (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram)
BACK TO ACTION: Johan Santana finally stepped back on a mound for the first time since last season and threw 25 pitches. Santana is progressing nicely in his return from surgery and could rejoin the Mets in July. If he pitches strong down the stretch, he could be dealt after the year. (ESPN New York)
A NEW LOU: Lou is back in Chicago, and we're talking Montanez. The former Cubs first-round pick 11 years ago took a detour in Baltimore for four years, but wound up back with the Cubs this season in Triple-A. He finally reached the majors with his original club when tapped yesterday to replace Marlon Byrd on the roster. Montanez made the most of it, notching a RBI double in his first Cubs at-bat. (Chicago Sun-Times)
ON HIS WAY BACK: John Lackey pitched in a bullpen session Tuesday and came through with flying colors, setting him up for a rehab game on May 31 and a return to the Red Sox for June 5's start against the Athletics. (Boston Globe)
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: AL Central, AL West, AL West, Alfredo Simon, Athletics, Brian Matusz, Carlos Beltran, CC Sabathia, Chone Figgins, Cubs, Curtis Granderson, Dodgers, Dustin Moseley, Grant Balfour, Johan Santana, John Lackey, Jorge De La Rosa, Josh Hamilton, Lou Montanez, Mariners, Mets, MLB Rumors, Ned Yost, NL Central, NL East, NL West, NL West, Orioles, Padres, Padres, Rangers, Red Sox, Rockies, Royals, Rubby de la Rosa, Trevor Cahill, Yankees
Posted on: January 16, 2011 5:17 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2011 9:58 pm
The A's have continued to bolster their bullpen this offseason, adding former Angels closer Brian Fuentes to a two-year deal, the Associated Press reports.
According to a tweet from FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, the deal is worth $5 million per year, with incentives for finishing games.
On Friday, the A's added Grant Balfour and then re-signed the arbitration-eligible Brad Ziegler. With Balfour, our own Evan Brunell ranked the A's bullpen as the fourth-best in baseball with its only weakness being a "lack of a top left-handed option." With Fuentes, the A's now have that and one of the best bullpens in the game.
Fuentes wasn't the best closer around, but with the Andrew Bailey finishing out games for Oakland, he won't be asked to do that for the A's, leaving him as a setup man, which is likely a better role for him. Left-handers hit just .128/.222/.149 against him last season.
Fuentes, 35, had 23 saves for the Angels last season before an August trade to the Twins for a player to be named (Loek Van Mil). The lefty appeared in nine games for the Twins, earning a save and allowing no runs in nine games. Overall, he was 4-1 with a 2.81 ERA with 24 saves in 48 appearances in 2010, striking out 47 batters in 48 innings while walking 20.
In 2009, Fuentes led the American League with 48 saves. He signed a two-year deal before the '09 season worth $17.5 million.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
Posted on: January 14, 2011 12:29 pm
Thome, who played for Minnesota in 2010, cranked 25 home runs and could reach 600 career blasts provided he hits 11 in 2011.
While that normally wouldn't be a problem for Thome, playing time may factor in his chase for 600. Thome largely served as a platoon DH for the Twins, playing primarily against right-handers. However, Justin Morneau's concussion opened the door to ample playing time which may be in short supply with Morneau returning and Delmon Young proving worthy of additional playing time.
While the 40-year-old can't play full-time these days, he may struggle to see 250 at-bats in 2011. The Rangers were speaking to Thome about a possible deal, but Texas would have been hard-pressed to guarantee Thome more playing time than Minnesota.
In other news, the Athletics are poised to sign Grant Balfour, with only a physical standing in the way as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. ESPN's Buster Olney adds that Balfour will receive $8.1 million over two years, a pretty penny for a reliever but in a market where relievers are getting outrageous deals, it's not too terrible relatively.
Balfour should setup closer Andrew Bailey and could step in for a few saves himself. The Rays will receive Oakland's second-round pick as well as a compensatory first-round pick, giving Tampa 10 picks prior to the second round.
-- Evan Brunell
Posted on: December 29, 2010 2:37 pm
Baltimore is seeking one more right-handed reliever as a setup man and Balfour is a target despite his Type-A status. If the Orioles were to ink Balfour, he would cause the O's to surrender their second-round pick to Tampa Bay.
Baltimore would also like to add a second arm, this time from the left side. Mark Hendrickson and Will Ohman remain possibilities to return to town.
-- Evan Brunell
Posted on: December 21, 2010 10:47 pm
The Mariners are asking for an "impact bat" in exchange for closer David Aardsma, MLB.com's Thomas Harding writes .
Aardsma will be 29 next week. He is arbitration-eligible for the second time this season, making $2.75 million in 2010. Aardsma has 69 saves over the last two seasons since the Red Sox traded him to Seattle in exchange for Fabian Williamson before the 2009 season. Aardsma has a 2.90 ERA since joining the Mariners, striking out 129 batters in 121 innings. Last season he had a 3.44 ERA and struck out 49 in 49 2/3 innings.
The Rockies have been looking for a reliever, but with the Mariners' demand, they're not a fit for the a trade. Aardsma went to high school in the Denver area.
Harding writes the Rockies are interested in Grant Balfour, but he's a Type A free agent and Colorado doesn't want to forfeit a draft pick to sign him. Other possibilities for the Rockies include free agents Jon Rauch, Chad Qualls and Todd Coffey.
Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd told Harding the team would offer a multiyear deal to a reliever, but only under the "right circumstances."
As for Aardsma, shopping him makes a ton of sense. Closers are currently overvalued and a good one is certainly a luxury for a team that figures to be as bad as the Mariners. Seattle would be wise to flip him for offensive help and save some money in the deal. To do so, thought, they'll have to find a taker. That could be easier near the trade deadline.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans