The Baltimore Orioles are going all in this year. Just a couple days after the Orioles ink starter Ubaldo Jimenez for 4 years and $50 Million, Baltimore announces they signed Nelson Cruz on a one year deal for $8 Million pending a physical. You can make a case whether this was good or not for the Orioles, but I think it makes a statement saying that they are ready to make a run this season.
Nelson Cruz declined a 1 year, $14.1 million dollar qualifying offer from the Texas Rangers and it didn’t quite pay off for the 33 year old. I’m no fan of a player who gets busted with any kind of PED and realistically I don’t know what to expect from Cruz in 2014. He’s a career .268 hitter and has 5 straight seasons of 22+ homeruns including a career high of 33 in 2009. Since his new home ball park is Camden Yards and not Globe Life Park in Arlington who knows what his output can be but I can see around 25 HR’s this season.
The one negative to this deal is that the Orioles are going to give up a draft pick in compensation for Cruz, right around 55th overall. I’m one to value a draft pick but to get a corner outfielder who can probably give you 20+ bombs and has post season experience, I say it’s worth the risk. Even more so if I’m only spending 8 million for 1 year in this market.
The notable part of this deal is the dollar value the Orioles are saving on this deal. For example, Chris Young is a career .235 hitter and has 13 less career HR’s than Cruz had signed with the Mets for $7.25 and one year. The Phillies signed 36 year old outfielder Marlon Byrd to a 2 year, $16 Million deal. I’d rather have Cruz than either of these two players, as I’m sure many would.
It goes to show if you’re patient, you can wind up with a great offseason deal without breaking the bank. After all it’s all about putting up wins, isn’t it?
There’s a few weeks until opening day when the Texas Rangers are set to face the Houston Astros. Having said that, we are still underway in the 2013 spring training season. For this article I’ll look at a couple players of the Pittsburgh Pirates and how they’re coming along this March as they look to finish above a .500 record. Something they haven’t accomplished in 20 years.
Perhaps my favorite player in camp this year and set to take over left field for the Pirates is Starling Marte. I got to see him a few times last season when AAA Indianapolis came to town. Starling is such an outstanding athlete and looks to showcase an impressive skill set in the majors. He got a taste of MLB pitching last season playing in 47 games. He’s a guy with plus speed, above average fielding and has some pop in his bat. He’ll need to polish it up a bit and try to cut down on the whiffs and be more consistent at the plate. But that comes with experience at this level. It’s reported that he has been working on tightening his game this offseason and this spring it looks to be paying off. Starling Marte is hitting .407 with 3 triples and 7 runs scored. Flashing a bit of speed with 3 stolen bases.
Gaby Sanchez, acquired last season from the Miami Marlins is off to a nice start. It’ll be crucial for him to regain his all-star form if the Pirates want to finish above .500 or make the playoffs. In 12 games this spring, Gaby is hitting .320 with 3 solo home runs and an even 2:2 BB/K ratio. Can he keep it up this season?
It looks like Pedro Alvarez has found his hammering power stroke last year hitting 30 HR’s last season. He’s now 26 years old and it seems pretty clear that he wont hit for average or take an ample amount of walks. But he’s got that thunder in his bat and can still work to improve his plate discipline. He’s hitting a measly .088 going 2 for 25 with 2 RBI’s in 10 games this spring.
Newly signed Russell Martin looks to take a major role with Pittsburgh. The Pirates wanted to find a seasoned vet to anchor their pitching staff. Looks like they found a pretty descent guy. Although daddy might have some achy knees this season catching the wild A.J Burnett and Francisco Liriano. Martin is hitting .176 with an OBP of .364 in 7 games. Pirates are probably taking it easy on him early on.
Mark Melancon looks to bounce back after a dreadful season with the Boston Red Sox. He’ll add to the bullpen and if he performs well, he may see some save chances if Jason Grilli struggles. He in fact does have some closer experience with the Astros. In 6 games he’s worked a 1.50 ERA, giving up a hit per inning and 1 ER off a home run. I think a move back to the National League was the best thing he could do. Nice fit with Pittsburgh.
Lefty Starter Wandy Rodriguez has tossed 5 innings and held batters to a .211 batting average. A fly by under the radar guy has a chance to turn in a good season and he’s having his best spring training yet so far.
Not that these numbers really matter as players look to get into the flow before the regular season and work on personal things to improve themselves. But it is always nice to check in on your favorite player or team. I do however think Pittsburgh will improve this year and will make it over the .500 hump for the first time in 2 decades. You’d think the baseball gods would throw them a bone, right?