The Jose Dariel Abreu sweepstakes is officially over.
The slugging Cuban first basemen has found a home with the Chicago White Sox to the tune of $68 Million over a 6 year deal. This is the largest contract signed by any international free agent in Major League Baseball history. Trumping the likes of Yu Darvish, Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Cespedes and Aroldis Chapman.
Abreu will turn 27 in January and he has the makings to become an all star caliber first basemen. Some scouts have shown concern with his bat speed transitioning to MLB pitching and ability to play the position at a premium but his ceiling possibly being worth the cost and some. But a guy who is basically averaging a batting average of .400 and from the ’09-’10 season to ’11-’12 season has belted 98 home runs, the White Sox feel that the reward may be worth the risk. I completely agree.
Surprised by the Chicago White Sox decision to ink the slugger? Not at all. With Paul Konerko a free agent and coming off his worst season they have a need at the position. The White Sox have a lack luster farm system and have the desire to turn things around quickly this upcoming season, it comes as no surprise that they were after Abreu.
It has been reported that the Astros, Red Sox, Rangers, Giants and Marlins were all teams in the mix for the Cuban free agent right before he landed with the White Sox. Time will tell what the outcome will be for Jose Dariel Abreu but spring training is already looking quite exciting.
Opening day has arrived! Today is the first full scheduled Major League games, as yesterday the Houston Astros defeat the Texas Rangers 8-2 in their American League Debut at home. I couldn’t be anymore happier for Bo Porter, Jeff Luhnow and the Houston Astros. It was Bo’s first win as a manager and the 4,000th win for the franchise.
Here is a quick list of Opening Day standouts as there are many games still underway.
Justin Maxwell, HOU CF – Justin went 2 for 3 with one walk, 2 triples, 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored for the mighty Astros.
Colin Cowgill, NYM CF/LF – Duuuude, the fan favorite “Reverse Cowgill” fantasy team name does more than humor the fantasy crowd. Colin smacked a grand salami going 2 for 5 with 2 runs scored en route to a Mets win over the Padres.
Bryce Harper, WSH LF – I cant wait to watch Harper highlights this year, I mean seriously though. Right off the bat (pun!), he hits 2 homeruns in his first 2 at bats? He becomes the youngest player in MLB history to do such a feat.
Stephen Strasburg, WSH SP – Doesn’t even give the Marlins a chance going 7 strong innings, giving up 3 hits, 0 walks and 3 K’s. MONEY.
Jackie Bradley JR, BOS LF – I love this kid. Totally bats his way into the starting lineup for the Sox. He may not of got a hit in his debut, but he did walk 3 times. The same amount of times Carl Crawford walked last year for the Red Sox.
Jeff Samardzija, ChC SP – Many predicted big things from the ex wide receiver this year for the Cubbies and he is currently tied for first in all the Majors in wins. He pitched a gem, tossing 8 innings with 1 BB, 2 hits and 9 K’s over the Pirates.
Milwaukee Brewers – The Brew crew topped the Rockies in the first extra inning game this season off a Jonathan Lucroy SAC fly.
There’s a ton more baseball to watch, including the first inter-league matchup ever between the Reds and Angels. Later!
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?
On this day, March 4th of 2008, Brad Hawpe and the Colorado Rockies agreed to a 3-year contract worth $17,425,000. The first 2 years of the deal turned out pretty nice for both parties. The third year of the Triple Hawpe’s Brewed contract, not so much. B-rad hit .255/.343/.432 and 7 HR’s in 88 games with Colorado before ending the year with the Tampa Bay Rays. The following year, attempting to have a bounce back season he signed with the San Diego Padres. Only playing 62 games for the Padres and that was all the big league action Brad Hawpe saw after that.
This article is about five players I think will bounce back in the 2013 season:
Ike Davis, 1B, New York Mets
Ike Davis burst on the scene in 2010 as a rookie with the Mets with a stellar rookie campaign. He reached just over 600 plate appearances with a slash line of .264/.351/.440. Ike hit 19 HR’s, knocked in 71, scored 73 times. Even walking 72 times. Last year he was coming off a injury plagued 2011 season and had some bright spots in 2012. Those being a career high, 32 homeruns and 90 RBI’s. You’re probably thinking, why would be be on this list? He hit a measly .227 with an On Base Percentage of .308 and was bothered by a nagging ankle and trying to fight off the valley fever. Yes, valley fever is a real thing. Coming into this season he’s healthy, more alert and has his energy back. I don’t think he’ll top the homers, but everything else should rise.
Dan Haren, SP, Washington Nationals
I never thought of Dan Haren being on any sort of bounce back or comeback list. I mean, it’s Dan freakin’ Haren. But here it is. Now 32, had his option declined by the Los Angeles Angels and a botched trade to the Chicago Cubs. Haren was snatched up by the ever so loved Washington Nationals for 1 year, $13 Million. Coming off a season dealing with back soreness that had him see some DL time. He simply just gave up too many hits, 190 in 176.2 innings and served up 28 long balls. The ERA a lofty 4.33. The Nats don’t see the back problems striking again, or at least hope so. I think the return to the National League and a change of scenery will do him right.
Brett Gardner, LF, New York Yankees
Brett Gardner missed most of last season with an arthroscopic procedure removing inflamed tissue from his elbow. Limiting him to just 16 games. Though a small sample size, in those 16 games he hit .323 with an On Base Percent of .417. Possible career year? We’ll never know. If it’s one thing he’s good at it’s getting on base (career .355 OBP) and stealing them. Thus a possible position shift to Center this year. I went to a game in 2009 at Yankee Stadium and witnessed him steal 2nd and 3rd back to back. Dude is crazy fast. The Yankees are going to rely this year partly on roadrunner’s ability to stay healthy and utilizing his speed to contend this year. I can see him bouncing back with 40+ steals in 2013.
Vance Worley, SP, Minnesota Twins
Vance stepped into a big role with the Philadelphia Phillies as a starter and he delivered big in 2011. The Vanimal went 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA in 21 starts and 25 total appearances that led him to a 3rd place finish in Rookie of the Year voting. Which is a nice honor. In the 2012 season he was hit with some right elbow problems, leading to 2 trips to the disabled list including missing his last 3 starts to remove bone chips from his elbow. The main difference from the 2012 and 2011 seasons was less strikeouts and giving up more hits. Part of the trade that sent him and Trevor May to the Twins for the speedy outfielder Ben Revere, he is healthy and in Twins camp. He will fill a much needed role in the Twins rotation. Though he never topped 133 innings and making a transition to the American League, he is still only 25 years young and I have faith he can string together a descent comeback. Though he wont get many wins.
Victor Martinez, C/DH, Detroit Tigers
This counts as a bounce back candidate, right? He did miss the entire 2012 season with a torn ACL from a preseason workout. Another weapon is back for the Tigers, who have another possible shot at winning the World Series. Victor will mostly serve as the DH but could see some time giving Prince a rest at 1st, and possibly behind the plate. Jim Leyland claims Martinez is good to go and his knee shouldn’t be a problem going forward. He owns a career line of .303/.370/.470 in 1149 career games. The guy has such a passion for the game, remember when he teared up when he was traded to the Red Sox? A true class act and he’ll probably hit 5th in what might be one of the best lineups MLB has seen. If the knee holds up, expect big things.
There you have it, 5 players that I think will bounce back in this coming 2013 season. No doubt this year will be one for the ages. Thanks for reading Fully Torqued.
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