Tagged: Spring Training

Nelson Cruz, The Oriole.

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

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?

-Tim Williams

Diamondbacks pursuing Bronson Arroyo?

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.

arroyo

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.

-Tim Williams

@ItsTimWilliams

Spring Fever: Pittsburgh Pirates

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.

Marte

Gaby Sanchezacquired 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.

Wandy

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?

-Tim Williams

@ItsTimWilliams

Five Guys (no burger, no fries) I’m excited to watch in 2013

Can you smell that? No, not the 5 Guys. It’s March 1st and a new baseball season has dawned upon us. A few days into spring training games and baseball has left us already drooling for more. An incredible offseason of free agency (a few surprises too) and trades has me anticipating this 2013 season.  Here is a list of 5 major leaguers that I’m excited to watch in 2013.

Brett Anderson, SP Oakland Athletics

When Brett debuted in 2009, just 21 years young, he proved he could hang with the big boys. Going 11-11 in 30 starts and posting a 4.06 ERA with a 7.7 K per 9 he showed spots of brilliance and a young man’s career had blossomed before our eyes. A few injuries and fast forward to the tail end of the 2012 season where he came back from the three words no fan wants to hear, Tommy John Surgery. Brettdude hurled 6 starts at the end of last season to the tune of a 2.57 ERA and reminded everyone that he’s only 24 and can dominate. Now 25, getting the opening day nod and is a guy I’m excited to watch in 2013.

Aroldis Chapman, SP/RP Cincinnati Reds

No surprise here, Aroldis is without a doubt one of the best electric young lefties in the game. The big mystery is how Dusty Baker handles his transition back to a starter. This is nothing he hasn’t done before since he was a starter in Cuba and blew through minor league batters as a starter. Limit the free passes, keep his velocity down (yes, down) along with figuring out his out pitch whether it be the Changeup or Splitter. No doubt when he pitches I’ll be glued to my laptop. What an incredible year he had last year.  He is for sure a guy I’m excited to watch in 2013.

Kyle Seager, 3B, Seattle Mariners 

This guy intrigues me. Manning the hot corner for the Mariners last season and his first full season in the majors, he managed to knock 20 bombs, 35 2B’s, Knocked in 86 and even swiped 13 bags. Yes, the 110 strikeouts led to a lower batting average, but still. He was a bright spot for the Mariners season last year and just 25 years young. A career slash line of .328/.401/.474 in the minors suggests that he can improve in the majors. With the fences being moved in at Safeco there’s a safe bet he can improve his home run total. Besides, he couldn’t swing the bat any worse there. He’s defiantly a guy I’m excited to watch in 2013.

Matt Moore, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

What’s up Matt Moore? Remember that incredible post season you had in 2011 after only logging in 3 appearances in the season for your first taste in the majors? You left me with my tongue hanging out of my mouth, drooling to see what you would do in your first full season in the bigs. And you know what? You delivered. What seemed like a quiet season for Matt, being overshadowed by the man himself…David Price. Mattdude tossed 31 starts which led to a 3.81 ERA, 8.9 K/9 and 11 wins. If he can keep his walks down (81 last season) and keep the ball in the park a bit moore (get it?) he will no doubt have a stellar sophomore year. He’ll be one major factor for the Rays to make the playoffs this year. I excited to watch Moore in 2013.

Brett Lawrie, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays

Brett got his shot last year starting for the Jays at 3rd. I honestly thought many people had too high of expectations for the kid. But he whittled a pretty good season. This dude can play, and play hard. Perhaps he should turn the temper down a bit, but that’s just who he is. He’s got a lot of heart and really sacrifices his body to make every play. At the same time, that’s what landed him some DL time. Although that play where he flipped over the dugout railing and nailed his leg was quite bad ass. No doubt Brett is an exciting player to watch in 2013 and let’s be real, isn’t the entire Blue Jay’s team? The pressure is off him and no doubt in my mind that he will succeed.

Those are just 5 of the guy’s i’m keeping an eye on, in what should be an incredible baseball season. Thanks for reading my first real blog post!

-Tim Williams

Follow me on Twitter! @ItsTimWilliams