Interesting to see who emerges as the new president in Seattle. Joe Garagiola Jr., Andy MacPhail, Pat Gillick, Jeremy Kapstein, and Mark Shapiro come to mind. Source :Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe
Seattle signing of Robinson Cano all but assures that Dustin Ackley will remain an outfielder as long as he’s a Mariner. But where will he play in the outfield — left or center — and where will newcomers Corey Hart and Logan Morrison play whenever they’re asked to patrol the outfield? One expert recently weighed in on this. Greg Johns, who covers the M’s for MLB.com, answered his fan mail earlier this week and provided a good rundown of the approach Seattle could take.
“My hunch is Ackley will be targeted more for left field this spring, with Saunders and Franklin Gutierrez handling center-field duties and Gutierrez, Abraham Almonte and newcomers Corey Hart and Logan Morrison competing for time in right,” he wrote. “Then again, a lot of things can happen between now and April, and new skipper Lloyd McClendon has all spring to sort things out on the field, so all the speculation now is strictly guesswork.”
Former infielder Stefen Romero is a 25-year-old with pop who has yet to break into the big leagues, but after a solid season at Triple-A Tacoma last season he could emerge as another potential left field option. Source:Joe Kaiser at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]
AL West Commentary
The well-rounded club put together by Oakland’s general manager will win its first World Series in 25 years. The A’s, who have won just one postseason series in eight tries under Beane’s leadership, have either above-average players or capable platoons at every position, plus a dynamic young rotation and the makings of the game’s best bullpen. They’ll defeat the Nationals — who will do in 2014 what they were supposed to do in ’13 by reaching the Fall Classic — and return the championship trophy to the Bay Area for the third time in five seasons. Source: Joe Lemire at Sports Illustrated
In 2016, Fielder, Choo, Andrus, Harrison, Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Adrian Beltre will cost the Rangers a combined $104.1 million. In 2017, Beltre comes off the books, but the other six (assuming Holland’s option is picked up) plus Perez will cost the team $94.1 million, not counting that year’s arbitration settlement for Jurickson Profar. After that Darvish becomes a free agent and Holland, Harrison and Perez all have options, creating an opportunity for Texas to tear things down before the 2018 season and start over, or to reinvest in that core group.
With the Rangers having reloaded and the A’s likely improved as well, the Angels don’t have a clear path to their first playoff berth since 2009, but if they can add a healthy Albert Pujols and a bounce-back year from Josh Hamilton to the potential upgrades in the rotation, they could make things very interesting in the AL West in 2014. Source: Cliff Corcoran at Sports Illustrated
So they said
“I just figure we’re entertainers,” Nyjer Morgan said in a 2011 interview with ESPN. “We’re on one of the biggest stages. Trust me, if I was batting .202, I wouldn’t be doing the [expletive] I’m doing.”
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
Just like GMZ does when building his bullpen the Orioles have been assembling a large cast of hopefuls for their left field job. A new left fielder became necessary when Nate McLouth left to sign a two-year contract with the Nationals. Four days before he agreed with the Nats, the Orioles re-signed two possibilities for left field: Steve Pearce and Nolan Reimold. Both Pearce and Reimold are right-handed hitters, unlike McLouth, and both had 2013 seasons interrupted by injuries. The Orioles already had Henry Urrutia on the 40-man roster. Urrutia, who is a left-handed hitter, is a long shot to play there and is currently a leading candidate to be the designated hitter. Urrutia showed a decent bat, but no power and plate discipline in his time with the Orioles last summer.
The team hopes that his time in the Arizona Fall League will help. If Reimold is healthy, he could be part of a productive duo in left, but he hasn’t been 100 percent since 2011. The left-handed hitting component of a possible platoon is David Lough, who was acquired from Kansas City for Danny Valencia. Lough’s acquisition was overlooked because it occurred in the midst of the Grant Balfour mess. Lough batted .286 in 96 games with the Royals. He doesn’t have a great on-base percentage, but has some speed. Besides Lough, the Orioles have acquired three other left-handed hitting outfielders recently: Julio Borbon, Xavier Paul and Quintin Berry. They’ve also added a right-handed hitting outfielder, Francisco Peguero. Peguero was signed as a free agent last month. He didn’t have a chance to play much with San Francisco, just 35 games over the last two years. He did hit .315 in Triple-A last year, and both Peguero and Lough are on the 40-man roster. Borbon, Paul and Berry are not. Berry was signed on Friday as a minor league free agent. A former high school teammate of Adam Jones, Berry has worked with Jones in the offseason to help him steal bases. In 29 attempts over two big league seasons and postseasons, Barry has yet to be thrown out. Berry, who is 29, is with his eighth big league organization. The O’s must believe if they throw enough players up against the left field wall one of them will stick. Source: Rich Dubroff at CSN Baltimore
Teams continue to check in on Joel Hanrahan, who is throwing off a mound, ahead of schedule. Expected to throw for teams in spring training. Tim Dierkes at MLB Trade Rumors
Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers — GM Ned Colletti reports that Kemp is coming along well in his rehab from ankle surgery and a shoulder ailment. “His upper body is strong, he’s jogging and getting comfortable with his lower half,” Colletti said. Kemp could still be trade bait as he starts to show what he can do in spring training. Said one scout familiar with Kemp, “I think he’s going to be a guy who will be OK this year, but you’ll get the best of Kemp the following year as he’s recovered completely from the ankle.” Source: Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe
Tony Plush is looking to return to the major leagues. Outfielder Nyjer Morgan, who attracted a following and agitated opponents through his fast-talking, high-energy alter ego “Tony Plush,” is pursuing jobs in Major League Baseball along with a possible return to Japan after spending the 2013 season with the Yokohama DeNa BayStars, his agent said Saturday. Morgan, 33, is a .280 career hitter with 117 stolen bases in parts of six seasons with Pittsburgh, Washington and Milwaukee. His most productive season came in 2009, when he hit .307 with 42 steals for the Pirates and Nationals.
Morgan hit .294 with 11 home runs in 108 games with Yokohama in Japan’s Central League in 2013, but recently switched agents and is now represented by Team One and Millennium Sports. Source: Jerry Crasnick at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]
Baseball Best Practice
“The current [Qualifying Offer] system will be in place for two more off-seasons before the labor agreement expires. Going forward, any number of fixes could make sense. One idea: Guarantee that free agents would receive a qualifying offer only once. Acceptance then would become far more palatable — a player could take the big one-year salary, then be unrestricted the following offseason.
Another possibility: Alter or remove the pool money from the equation. Teams then would be more inclined to sign free agents who received qualifying offers; they still would lose a pick, but not the accompanying pool money, enabling them to retain financial flexibility in the draft. A third alternative: Prevent teams from making qualifying offers to players beyond a certain age — say, 32. Teams generally do not hesitate to sacrifice picks for players in their primes. Older players such as Lohse are far more likely to be affected.” Source: Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports
Plymouth’s Jerry Applefield was a successful hedge-fund manager, became a Boston University economics professor, and then started a lifelong mission more than 30 years ago to improve fundamentals on baseball teams. Applefield’s system of instruction applies to underachieving major league teams. He feels he can add 20 wins per season to a poor-performing team based on the research and numbers he’s devised. It’s a common-sense approach to fundamentals and preparation — the simplest things — that baseball teams just don’t do. One thing Applefield preaches is runners tagging up from first base on a deep fly ball. But that’s just one of the “simple” adjustments Applefield would make. There’s plenty more. Teams should listen to his presentation. It’s fascinating. Source: Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe
By The Numbers
Sandy Koufax was a three-time Cy Young Award winner; two-time World Series MVP, 1963 NL MVP, he threw four no-hitters including one perfect game and was a seven-time All-Star. In 1972, Koufax was the youngest player (36-years old) to be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Source:Vincent Lombardi Jr at Outside Pitch
TV Cash Cows: The Phillies were the latest Major League Baseball team to sell their lucrative TV rights for billions. Their deal with Comcast SportsNet is commensurate with other recent agreements. Source:FanGraphs
Note: 34 percent of Annual Rights Fees have to be paid to MLB as shared income, which is distributed evenly among all teams.
Don’t be surprised if the Diamondbacks trade right-hander J.J. Putz following their addition of former White Sox closer Addison Reed. Putz is signed for $7 million in 2014, and the D-backs most likely would be required to accept a comparable salary in return.
Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, earning $6.5 million, could be one possibility, though it is not known whether Yankees ownership would part with Suzuki or how he would adjust to a backup role.
Putz also could be part of a trade for a starter such as the Brewers’ Yovani Gallardo if the D-backs fall short in other pursuits. Source:Ken RosenthalatFox Sports
Mike Carp, 1B/LF, Red Sox — The Brewers need a low-cost first baseman and Carp appears to be a good fit. Whether the Red Sox would deal him remains to be seen as they enjoyed his off-the-bench contributions last season. Carp deserves a chance to play every day and won’t get that opportunity with the Red Sox unless there’s an injury to Mike Napoli. Source:Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe