Pitchers and catchers are reporting to their respective camps and there are a descent amount of free agents still left unsigned. One of those being named Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo is entering his 15th major league season and at the age of 36 (37 at the end of February) he is no stranger to the mound. The guy even has a world series ring. A no brainier starting rotation option for many teams looking to upgrade. He’s been linked to many teams this off-season such as the Twins, Orioles, Dodgers and Diamondbacks.
Bronson Arroyo would be a perfect marriage with the Arizona Diamondbacks. A team that has upgraded with some power in the outfield and have bolstered their back end of the bullpen this off-season. The Diamondbacks appear serious about making a run for the postseason in 2014. In a division with a loaded Los Angeles Dodgers and the 2010/2012 champion Giants, a starting pitching upgrade would improve the dbacks chances of shaking up the division and provide veteran leadership for their young starters.
Currently the Diamondback rotation shakes out like this..
1. Patrick Corbin
2. Trevor Cahill
3. Wade Miley
4. Brandon McCarthy
5. Randall Delgado/Archie Bradley
Spots 1-4 are a lock, but Arizona has room to sign Arroyo if they feel the need and Kevin Towers has made it clear he will do whatever it takes to improve the club. Bradley will most likely head to AAA Reno and shifting Delgado into the bullpen or sending him back to Reno to start the year is possible. Since 2005, Arroyo has pitched under 200 innings once (199 IP in 2011) and holds a career 4.19 ERA making him a reliable and stable starting pitcher. A 2 year deal will likely do it and it would be wise to not let him slip away to a rival team.
In what was an unconventional playoff game, the Boston Red Sox eliminated the Tampa Bay Rays by a final score of 3-1 in Tampa. Boston joins the Los Angeles Dodgers as 2 of the 4 teams to make it to the next round of the postseason. For Boston this is the first time they made it to the ALCS since 2008 and for the Dodgers its the first time they have moved on to the NLCS since 2009.
What makes this Red Sox victory so unconventional? Perhaps the fact that Rays skipper Joe Maddon used 9 pitchers in this game, setting a postseason record for most pitchers used in one game. This was no extra inning game either, this was your regular 9 inning affair. It was known that Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson would get a short leash. Hellickson threw a perfect 1st inning but in the 2nd he gave up a hit and walked 2 men with no outs leading to his exit. From there Maddon had put together an interesting carousel of pitchers including starter Matt Moore.
Boston starter Jake Peavy went 5 2/3 innings giving up 5 hits, 1 earned run and striking out 3. He did his job and the bullpen did theirs, including a wonderful performance by Craig Breslow who many Red Sox players say he was the game MVP for keeping the Sox in a close game having been down by 1. Red Sox turned in a small rally in the 7th and get the go ahead run off a wild pitch from Joel Peralta. Tazawa and Sox closer Uehara threw brilliantly as they have done all year to seal a spot in the ALCS for the Boston Red Sox.
There are a few notable things in this series. Boston took 8 walks and gave up zero in game 4 of the ALDS. The bullpen was excellent. Shane Victorino was hit 4 times tying a postseason record. Jacoby Ellsbury went 9 for 18 including 4 stolen bases and David Ortiz went 5 for 13 and clubbed 2 home runs. All the means to fend off a hungry Tampa Bay Rays ball club.
The Boston Red Sox will meet the winner of Fridays game 5 winner between the Oakland Athletics and Detroit Tigers.
The St. Louis Cardinals held off the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 2-1 victory in Pittsburgh in large part to Michael Wacha’s near no-hitter and Matt Holliday’s 2 run blast. This is Wacha’s first postseason start and this 6’6″ rookie is making quite a name for himself in Major League Baseball. Wacha was a first round pick (19th overall) out of Texas A&M in the 2012 draft. A pick which the Cardinals received from the Los Angeles Angels for the signing of Albert Pujols.
Wacha, 22, made 11 appearances in 2012, making it all the way to AA Springfield. 2 of his 11 appearances were starts and his 2012 statistics looked a little like this..
2012: 21 innings pitched, 4 walks, 2 earned runs and a whopping 40 strikeouts with an ERA of 0.86.
This gave plenty of reason for Cardinal fans to be excited about their young arm and he continued his success this season at AAA Memphis in 15 starts posting an ERA of 2.65, 73 K’s and 19 walks in 85 innings.
St. Louis had brought Wacha up a few times this season and he made 15 appearances, 9 for starts for the red birds and just keeps dealing. He’s averaging a K per inning and his ERA sat at a nice 2.78 by the years end. His 15th MLB appearance was probably the most notable of his career almost no hitting the Washington Nationals… Up until today, facing elimination against the Pirates and at PNC Park, he picked up where he left off. Wacha carried a no-hitter into the 8th inning up until third baseman Pedro Alvarez hit a pitch into the seats, bringing Pittsburgh a run closer to tying the game. Ultimately the Pirates fell short in what was quite a pitchers duel between Wacha and Charlie Morton.
The series will go to a very exciting game 5 which will be played in St. Louis on Wednesday 10/9. The winner will play either the Dodgers or Braves in the NLCS.
Oh the Philadelphia Phillies. It was announced earlier today that Phillies first basemen Ryan Howard will undergo surgery after being diagnosed with a meniscus tear in his left knee. Not exactly what General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr and the fans want to hear a week before the a week prior to the All Star break.
The Phillies have much improved this season compared to the season prior, entering today 3 games under .500 with a 43-46 record and 7.5 games behind the first place Braves. Mainly with help due to the health of their line up, break out season of Dominic Brown and Ben Revere getting on base and stealing bases after his crawling start. At the 2012 All Star break, the Phillies were 37-50 and 14 games back from first place, 2013 being a clear step up from the 2012 season. With the All Star break fast approaching and the trade deadline at the end of the month, Amaro Jr has some big decisions to make.
With Howard now needing knee surgery that will put him out at least 6-8 weeks, we’re looking at a late August or early September return. It really wouldn’t be a huge shock to me if he was out the whole year. It Looks as if they will be calling up Darin Ruf from AAA Lehigh Valley who owns a .266/.344/.408 slash line along with 7 homeruns in 82 games this year. Not a lot of Simpsons for a guy who has big power potential as he showed last year in the minors and is also striking out more than once a game.
If I’m Amaro Jr (which I am not), I would seriously consider calling this season a wash. I know, the Phillies are hanging in there but realistically do you think they can compete with with the Nationals/Braves, the tight NL West and the successful Pirates/Reds/Cardinals out of the NL Central all fighting for the 2 Wild Card spots? The competition is looking quite fierce.
The Phillies don’t exactly have the depth and let’s be honest here, their system isn’t that great after shipping some talent to try and win it all again post 2009. There’s been interest in Toronto bringing in Chase Utley as well as the Kansas City Royals and the Dodgers all interested as well. Possibly unloading guys like Cliff Lee, Carlos Ruiz and Michael Young may be a good idea as well.
The Phillies have pieces like Brown, Revere and Hamels to build off of next year and getting some fresh prospects certainly would be an improvement to their organization. They sure don’t have enough pieces to get what they need at the deadline. If they don’t make some moves, I feel that they will run into the same problem again next season. It’s not an awful thing to think about building for next year. I just don’t think the Philadelphia Phillies have it in 2013.