A blog consisting of interviews, research and opinions on baseball's past, present, and future.
Top 100 Baseball Blog
Monday, January 7, 2013
Baseball Notes for January 7, 2013
now less than two months until pitchers and catchers report for spring
training. We’ve finally gotten to the point of the offseason where teams are
starting to scramble to fill the final holes on their rosters. Because the
majority of the big-name free agents have already signed, the depths of the
available player pool are starting to be plumbed. This makes the weeks leading
up to spring training some of the most interesting to watch for diehard
Texas Rangers added another bat to their lineup by agreeing to a one-year contract with free-agent
first baseman Lance Berkman. The switch-hitter will be 37 before the start of
the season and played in only 32 games last year with the St. Louis Cardinals
because of injuries.
will be paid $10 million, with a chance to earn an additional $1 million in
incentives. If he can stay healthy, it will probably end up being a good deal
for the Rangers. Berkman is the definition of a professional hitter. He takes a
lot of walks and his .953 career OPS is 21st all-time in major
league history. Having spent the majority of his career playing for the Houston
Astros, he is used to playing in the summer heat of Texas and could thrive in
the hitter-friendly confines of Arlington.
is slow and lumbering on defense, but Texas can hide and preserve him
physically by giving him the majority of his at-bats as a DH. He can
occasionally spell Mitch Moreland at first, but will be most effective if the
Rangers take and hide his glove.
Rivera, the greatest closer in the history of baseball, announced he is 95 percent back in his recovery
from a knee injury that robbed him of most of the 2012 season. Although he is
43, there is little reason to bet against him making a full recovery and having
a fantastic farewell season in 2013. Instead of declining, he has aged like
fine wine, posting a combined 1.72 ERA since the start of the 2008 season. You
don’t have to be a Yankees fan to root for Rivera; just a fan of baseball and
that left-handed pitchers have nine lives (at least), the Chicago Cubs agreed
to a minor league contract with
Dontrelle Willis. Since going 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA in 2005 with the Florida
Marlins, it’s all been downhill for Willis. Suffering from control problems and
an anxiety disorder, he has pitched for five different organizations since the
start of the 2010 season. He appeared in just four minor league games in 2012
with the Baltimore Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate, posting an 0-3 record and 8.53
he has seemingly been around forever, Willis will only be 31 when he has his
next birthday later this week. With Chicago being in rebuilding mode, there is
little risk in taking a chance on the southpaw and seeing if he has anything
left. As another player who is well-liked and respected around baseball, it
would be great to see the affable Willis get his career back on track.
Los Angeles Dodgers continue to spend like drunken sailors, reeling in left-handed
reliever J.P. Howell on a one-year deal for $2.85 million
plus incentives. Howell had been with the Tampa Bay Rays since 2006 and alternated
between struggling with injuries and being an effective piece in their bullpen.
He had a 3.04 ERA and held left-handed hitters to a .200 batting average in 55
appearances last season. Although he has been nearly as effective against
righties in his career, it’s likely that he will serve as a lefty specialist
with the Dodgers.
signing represents another move by Los Angeles that seems driven more by their
limitless resources than an actual pursuit of chemistry. Their roster is
populated by many highly paid (many would say overpaid) players who have a lot
of baggage. Carl Crawford, Kenley Jansen, Hanley Ramirez and Josh Beckett are
among those who have previous injury or behavioral issues that have the
potential to derail a team. The 2013 Dodgers’
roster seems more like a Frankenstein creation that one that was put together
with deliberation and care. It will be interesting to see if that approach is a
Francisco Giants reliever Sergio Romo was cited for a recent disturbance at a Las Vegas
airport after authorities say he refused to provide TSA agents with a proper id,
which developed into an argument. The slight right-hander has been one of the
most important bullpen pieces for the Giants in recent seasons, going 20-9 with
a 2.20 ERA in 276 games since he began his major league career in 2008.
is no stranger to bucking authority, as the t-shirt he wore in last year’s
World Series celebratory parade, decrying recent immigration laws, got a lot of
attention. However strange it may sound, it’s refreshing to see an MLB player
getting in trouble for exercising their rights instead of being involved in
crimes connected to drugs, alcohol or violence. While no distractions are good
distractions, Romo is not the kind of person who is going to be a negative
influence on a team.
Boston Red Sox were recently reported to have worked out two players who many
may think are past their primes.
Bobby Abreu did some drills in front of team
officials in Venezuela, including taking grounders at first base; a position he
has never played before professionally. The 17-year major league veteran has
been in steady decline for several seasons, culminating in last year’s
punchless .242 batting average with the Los Angeles Angels and Dodgers. It’s
hard to imagine the Red Sox view Abreu as anything more than depth value to
bring into spring training on a minor league contract. So far, there has been
no indication that they will attempt to sign him.
has also scouted veteran right-handed
starting pitcher Javier Vazquez in the Puerto Rican Winter League. The
36-year-old Vazquez is 165-160 with a 4.22 ERA in a 14-year major league
career. He last pitched in the majors in 2011 with the Florida Marlins, going
13-11 with a 3.69 ERA and 162 strikeouts.
Winter League general manager is former Boston super-sub Alex Cora, who
indicated Vazquez is still impressive, hitting the low-90s with his fastball.
In the past, Vazquez hasn’t been nearly as good pitching in the AL, if you
compare his 4.65 ERA to his NL mark of 3.99. The Red Sox have not been reported
to have made any official offer and their scouting at this point is simply
doing due diligence on any possible option that could help improve their team.