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?
Welcome aboard to your new team, Matt Garza. The Texas Rangers have completed a trade that sends third basemen Mike Olt, right handed starting pitcher Justin Grimm, right handed starting pitcher C.J. Edwards and a player to be named later to the Chicago Cubs for Matt Garza. The deal could turn into 2 PTBNL depending on if the Cubs select Neil Ramirez or not. If they do, he will be the lone “player to be named later”. All of the Cubs PTBNL options are pitchers. Not really knowing who’s on that list, Neil Ramirez would be a nice addition to the Cubs organization which already got richer by dealing a half a season of Matt Garza who will become a free agent after this season.
A deal like this really shows you the depth and confidence the Texas Rangers have in their minor league system. I really enjoy the willingness and how aggressive the Rangers are to compete for the chance at a World Series championship.
The Rangers get:
Matt Garza – The 29 year old soon to be free agent will join a Texas Ranger rotation that should get them to a playoff spot. Seems as if Garza is over his elbow woes and is pitching to a tune of a 3.17 ERA with 62 strikeouts and 20 walks in 71 innings. In 5 starts at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Garza has an ERA of 6.04 and has given up 5 home runs. Albeit a small sample size, those numbers sure stick out.
The Cubs get:
Mike Olt, 3B – No doubt about it, Mike Olt can hit home runs to the moon, but it has already been reported in the past that he’d been dealing with vision issues. He’s been back on the field for AAA Round Rock and hitting .213 with an OBP of .317 and 11 home runs in 63 games this season. He’s got a long way to go to regain his 2012 form in AA but he’s only 24 years old. Baseball America has him as the 22nd best prospect before the year started.
Justin Grimm, SP – The Cubs get a guy they can throw right in their rotation to replace Matt Garza. Still 24 years old and has shown some bright spots in his time with Texas. Overall it’s clear he was no fit at the Rangers ballpark giving up 15 HR’s but a move to Wrigley sure could help. He has a 6.37 ERA in 17 starts, but 7 for wins. Control is there, but he has just been hit a ton. Grimm owns a career 3.07 ERA in the minors and a nice piece for the Cubbies.
C.J. Edwards, SP – Edwards is currently in A ball with the Hickory Crawdads in the South Atlantic division. The 21 year old starter has been brilliant with the Crawdads this season and possibly could be moved up to AA by years end in the Cubs farm system. In 18 starts, Edwards is 8-2 with a cute 1.83 ERA in 93.1 innings along with a disgusting 122 strike outs and only walking 34 batters. Not to mention he’s only given up 62 hits in that time. Probably the best prospect in this deal. Interesting note, C.J. has not given up any homer’s this season. Actually he has given up 0 home runs in his minor league career.
*Possible Player To Be Named Later:
Neil Ramirez, SP – 24 year old Neil is currently at AA Frisco. Neil Ramirez has similar statistics to Edwards, striking out 11 per 9 innings in 95.1 innings with a bit of a higher ERA at 3.68 mainly due to giving up 8 home runs.
Overall, the Chicago Cubs got what they wanted, a nice haul of prospects to may be able to help out at the big league level at some point in their respective careers and the Rangers got themselves a steady pitcher whom they will take aim for the title this year. You never know until down the road but I do like what the Cubs got as they continue to rebuild.
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?
Every team needs a hug once and a while, right? A series of breakups followed the 2012 season for the Texas Rangers which include Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, Mike Adams, and Koji Uehara. While their hitting still remains pretty potent and good, it wont be the quite the same as a few years past. Texas will need to rely more on their pitching this season and to me, their starting pitching is like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall. Okay, it’s not that bad but it has some loose ends. So maybe a late signing of Kyle Lohse wouldn’t be such a bad idea? It’s been reported that Martin Perez had been stuck by a line drive that fractured his left forearm. He wont be able to resume throwing for the next 4 weeks. Here’s how their rotation shakes out.
The obvious number one here is Yu Darvish. Followed by Matt Harrison and Derek Holland who try to repeat past successes. Even though the Rangers lost bullpen arms in Adams and Uehara to free agency, they plan to make Alexi Ogando a number four starter. Alexi has been successful in the past as a starter but really only has two fantastic pitches in his hard fastball and hard slider. He has thrown a changeup in the past, just not that often. Can he harness it this spring? I’d love to see him stick in the pen . Don’t forget Texas still has Colby Lewis who won’t be back until around mid-May recovering from a torn flexor tendon.
Now who will round out their rotation? Now with Perez out, possible in house candidates are Robbie Ross, Justin Grimm, and spring training invitee Kyle McClellan. To me this just isn’t enough. Not if the boys in blue want to keep up with the much improved Los Angeles Angels and the young scrappy Division winning, Oakland Athletics.
Enter Kyle Lohse, who patiently waits by the phone for some team to call. He had a career year last year pitching to the tune of a 16-3 record, a 2.86 ERA, 143 K’s and only walking 38 in 211 innings with the Cardinals. If the Rangers can even sign him to a 1 or 2 year deal, chalk it up as a win. A veteran presence like Kyle’s will boast a thin starting pitching staff. An opportunity like this doesn’t just fall in your lap.
Kyle Lohse will have a better year than Ryan Dempster.
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