Tagged: Red Sox

Jose Dariel Abreu lands with White Sox

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

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.

-Tim Williams

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Red Sox eliminate hungry Rays

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. 

Division Series - Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays - Game Four

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.

-Tim Williams

Baltimore Orioles call up Henry Urrutia

Tomorrow marks the start of the second half of the baseball season. Midway through the hot blistering summer, this is where teams prove they are for real and other teams start to fade. The trade deadline is coming up and teams look to scramble around to add any additional pieces they need to succeed.

One division I’m really looking forward to watching in the second half is the AL East. It’s not just a 2 team race anymore. Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, and the Yankees are all within 6 games of each other and all have 51 or more wins. The Blue Jays sit at the bottom with a 45-49 record and 11.5 games back. But heck, with the expectations they had coming into the season and a healthy Jose Reyes now, they could land anywhere in that division.

It appears as if the Yankees may be buying and selling, Red Sox could be buyers, Rays will likely rely within and the Blue Jays are possible buyers. The Orioles have already acquired an arm in Scott Feldman and are making more moves.

One thing for sure is the Baltimore Orioles just called up outfielder Henry Urrutia from Triple A Norfolk.

henry

I don’t know a whole lot about this 26 year old Cuban outfielder but what I do know is that he is hitting. Urrutia was signed last season for under 800,000 dollars and after some visa issues he made his debut this year. Starting 52 games in Double A Bowie and 15 games at Triple A Norfolk. Combing the two, he is hitting a .365/.427/.531 slash line with a .958 OPS. He has 7 homeruns (all at AA), also is drawing walking and playing great defense. He hasn’t committed any errors in the outfield and has 8 assists.

The Orioles figure they have seen enough in Henry Urrutia and decided to solve their DH woes by calling up one of their own. My guess is he’ll see some time at DH and some time in LF and RF as well to give Nate McLouth and Nick Markakis some days off in the field. And why not? It’s worth a shot.

The Orioles are making moves and making them early.

Tim Williams

Back to the Youth

A big part of baseball for me is watching young talented prospects develop and learn the game through the minor leagues. Some develop into some of the best hitters and pitchers, some settle into bench roles or middle relief and others don’t meet expectations or fizzle out. Baseball is grueling, brutal and one of the toughest sports to play. Despite some people thinking it’s like watching grass grow.

Everyone has their favorite little all stars that are prime to brake out and i’m sure many of you lurk the top 100 baseball prospects list year to year like I do. Here’s a list of guys that are having themselves a strong season as they try to make a name in baseball.

Peter O’Brien, C, New York Yankees – Originally drafted by the Rockies in the 3rd round of the 2011 draft. Peter chose not to sign and attend the University of Miami. The following year in the 2012 draft, the Yankees drafted him in the 2nd round, 94th overall and he signed with the bombers. He’s a 6’3 righty catcher with power. He’s down in single A Charleston and tearing the covers off baseballs. He’s hitting a slash line of .333/.404/.640 with 11 homeruns and 41 RBI’s in 51 games. What’s also impressive is that he clubbed 22 doubles in that time.

Max Muncy, 1b, Oakland Athletics – Max was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 41st round of the 2009 draft coming out of high school. He chose not to sign and attend Baylor instead. Then in the 2012 draft, Max was selected in the 5th round by the Oakland A’s. Not an overly large first baseman, being only 6 foot but this kid has some power. There is one thing that sticks out to me from his rookie season last year at single A Burlington and this year at high A Stockton. In roughly about the same amount of games, in 2012 he hit 20 doubles and 4 HR’s. This season he’s translated that swing in a big way, hitting 9 doubles and a whopping 18 HR’s. Couple that with his .303/.422/.539 slash line and 61 RBI’s. But perhaps his best feature is the fact that he has more walks than strikeouts, 47:46 which is huge for a developing young ball player. Keeping my eye on this kid.

Anthony Ranaudo, P, Boston Red Sox – The first rounder from 2010 is making heads turn again. He struggled in 2012 with the Portland Sea Dogs posting a 6.69 ERA and basically walked everybody. This season he’s back at AA Portland and it seems that he’s adjusted quite nice. In 12 starts, Ranaudo posted a 2.12 ERA, only allowed 41 hits in 67 innings with a K:BB of 76:21. Looks like Boston has an ace in the making here and this dude is 6’7″. SIX SEVEN!

Rafael Montero, P, New York Mets – This kid amazes me. I think the Mets really have something in this arm. He hails from the Dominican Republic and signed with the Mets in 2010. What intrigues me is that he’s only walked 43 in 271.2 innings in his minor league career. In AA Binghamton, Montero posted a 2.43 ERA with a WHIP of .915 and a nice 9.7 K per 9. There is a reason why the Mets called him up to AAA Las Vegas and in 2 starts he’s pitched quite well. Don’t expect the Mets to call him to the majors just yet because of his innings but who knows, it’s baseball.

montero-gnats-closeup

-Tim Williams

@ItsTimWilliams

Quick Early Opening Day Highlights

PLAY BALL.

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!

-Tim Williams

@ItsTimWilliams

Youth Movement: Prospects I’m excited to see in 2013

Fresh off a thrilling 2012 season, we are about a few weeks into spring training. Perhaps no ballplayer is as thrilled to be in Arizona or Florida than a young kid looking to better their career and showcase their talents. I love seeing the raw talent that these guys have and to watch them grow and learn right in front of your eyes. Some go on to the bigs and do great things, while some completely fizzle out. That’s what the minors are there for, right? Aside from the few top standouts like Jurickson Profar, Dylan Bundy, Gerrit Cole or Oscar Taveras, here’s some prospects I’m looking forward to see in 2013 leaving me Fully Torqued.

Jackie Bradley, CF – Boston Red Sox picked Bradley in the 1st round 40th pick in the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft out of the University of South Carolina. In his first full season, Jackie topped out at AA Portland. Between high-A and AA, Bradley hit .315/.430/.482 with 42 doubles, 9 HR, 63 RBI’s, 24 steals in 124 games. Importantly is that he can take a walk, 87 last year. He’s not overly powerful but some of those doubles could turn into HR’s. It appears he doesn’t need much more time in the minors and will be with the Red Sox perhaps by the years end. It’s been said that he will be the guy to replace Jacoby Ellsbury after the season.

Archie Bradley, SP – I love this kid. The Arizona Diamondbacks selected Bradley with the 7th overall pick in the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft right out of high school. Big frame on this kid (6’4″/225lbs). He was a quarterback in high school and some say that he probably has the highest ceiling in the Diamondbacks organization. I believe it. He’s a work in progress as he has to adjust to the game a bit more. In 27 starts at single-A last season, Archie went 12-6 and owned a 3.84 ERA with 152 K’s in 136 innings. He needs to work a bit on his control, walking an alarming 84 batters. He keeps the ball in the park though and will likely start at high A ball this season.

Jonathan Singleton, 1B – The Houston Astros nailed in on the head nabbing Singleton from the Phillies in the Hunter Pence trade. In a full year (131 games) at AA Corpus Christi, Jonathan hit .284/.396/.497 with 21 HR’s and 79 RBI’s. He struck out an average of once per game but still walked 88 times. He is no doubt the franchise piece for the Astros for years to come at first base. If he hadn’t been caught with pot and being suspended 50 games, he might of seen the majors sooner. There is no need to rush him and I could see him winning the starting gig as soon as opening day 2014.

singleton

Jedd Gyorko, 2B – Perhaps the most underrated prospect on this small list. He owns a career  .319/.385/.529 line in the minors and after crushing the ball in AAA last season, he doesn’t really have much left to prove. I’m hoping Jedd wins the second base job in San Diego and he sure deserves it. His defense is improving, as he was a third baseman by trade. But we know for now that Chase Headley isn’t going anywhere. Don’t expect him to hit that career minor league slash line he owns, but I can see him flirting around .280 in the majors. He doesn’t walk as much as I’d like but he’s still a fun player to watch.

There’s plenty of great young talent in baseball and this is only 4 of them. Check out MLB.com’s top 100 prospect list for 2013. It’s quite beautiful.  Thanks for reading Fully Torqued.

-Tim Williams

Twitter: @ItsTimWilliams

 

Bouncy Bouncy: Who will have a Bounce Back Year?

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.

The Vanimal.

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.

-Tim Williams

Follow me on the Twitterverse! @ItsTimWilliams