“We’re just anxious to go,” said McClendon. “This is the tough part now, just sitting back waiting to get started.” Source Greg Johns at MLB (Tell me about it; it’s like a kid waiting for Santa instead of Santana.)
“We’re reaching out and are going to bring some players to Spring Training that aren’t big investments, but are veteran players that might have a chance to fill a role and take some pressure off these younger kids,” Zduriencik said. “I don’t think we’re going to jump in and invest where some of these dollars are going. It just doesn’t make sense when you take a 30-, 31-, 32-year old pitcher that wants five or six years and there is some history there of injury or inconsistencies. That’s a pretty big risk, and I think we have to look at this in the big picture.”
Zduriencik would like to add a No. 3 starter to his rotation, but he doesn’t sound enamored with the current asking prices of Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez, the other two premier pitchers on the market. Santana, 31, had a strong year for the Royals last year with a 3.24 ERA in 211 innings, but he was 9-13 with a 5.16 ERA the previous year for the Angels and has been up and down throughout his career. Jimenez, 30, had a big bounce-back year for the Indians last year with a 3.30 ERA in 32 starts, but he posted ERAs of 5.10 and 5.40 the previous two seasons.
The other big free agent still available is outfielder Nelson Cruz, and Zduriencik was asked about the former Rangers outfielder as well. “I’ve had a lot of discussions with Adam Katz, his agent,” Zduriencik said. “There’s an economic factor tied to that, as well as losing your Draft pick. Would I like to have him here? Absolutely. I’d love to have Nelson Cruz in this lineup. But how much do you have to pay him, how many years is it going to be and are you willing to lose another Draft pick? Those are the things you have to factor.” Source Greg Johns at MLB (Just say no Jack, you Cruz you lose.)
Cano’s plans called for some house-hunting Saturday night in Seattle before returning Sunday for the conclusion to FanFest’s two-day run. Then it’s back to the Dominican Republic. “I’ve got to start practice again,” he said. “It’s too close to spring training to be away. I’m already going to miss three or four days of practice.” Source: Bob Dutton at The News Tribune (You have to like a guy who hates not being able to practice.)
Erasmo [Ramirez] lost the feel for his changeup last season. During his first 6 starts, he threw it 20% of the time, about the same as 2012. But if you watched him, you might have noticed it wasn’t the same pitch – less break (PITCHf/x backs this up), less command, and more contact. For his final 7 starts he only threw the change about 12% of the time, replacing it with more breaking balls. To the naked eye, Erasmo simply looked like a pitcher trying to survive, and adjusting, without his usual stuff. The increased 2-seam usage is encouraging as his 4-seamer is pretty flat, but I [think] rediscovering his change will be the key in 2014.
As for [Michael Saunders], he injured his shoulder on April 10, struggled for two months (his average FB distance dropped 12 feet) and then returned to pre-injury form. It’s not uncommon for a hitter to struggle for an extended period of time following a shoulder injury. The bizarre thing, however, is that Saunders lowered his O-Swing% more than any other player in baseball last season, finishing with the 10th lowest O-Swing% among batters with 450 plate appearances. Basically, he turned into Rickie Weeks. It will be interesting to see if he maintains that swing profile or reverts back.
Source: Blog comment by Choo on Fangraphs.
AL West Commentary
The offseason quest to find more pitching, especially in light of Derek Holland‘s injury and recovery timetable of midseason, continues for the Texas Rangers. “That’s our top priority now is to find some pitching depth,” general manager Jon Daniels said at the club’s Fan Fest event at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Saturday. “I mean guys that can help our big league club. We would have been looking for that this time of year anyways before Derek got hurt, but that changes things a little bit.”
There’s still a group of pitchers in need of a team with spring training inching closer. Arms like Ubaldo Jimenez, Jerome Williams, Ervin Santana and Bronson Arroyo, among others, are still on the market. Daniels is expecting the pace of free agency to pick up a bit. “There are still a lot of free agents out there, probably more than typical. This might be the new normal the way the market is going.” Daniels said the club is likely going to stay internal for the second utility spot (Adam Rosales is the primary infield utility guy) and will continue to survey the market for small deals that could improve the club. But the big spending appears over as the Rangers ready for spring training. Source: Richard Durrett at ESPN Dallas/Fort Worth
So they said
“The game is about putting together a championship-caliber team on the field. It’s not about making splashes and headlines in December and January.” Source: Pirates president Frank Coonelly to David Todd at 970 ESPN
“I don’t believe in the phrase, ‘all in,’ ” Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said. “I’ve heard it, and I don’t care for it. We are feeding the beast. That usually comes with very successful teams who have to keep throwing money into an incinerator to keep things going. This is a beast that has been very successful for a number of years now. And we’ve come to the understanding that we’re going to do everything in our power, if we have a chance to get to the World Series, to try to get to the World Series.” Source: Marc Topkin at Tampa Bay Times
“It’s funny, because what I read and what I get when I speak to people in public are different. Maybe people are uncomfortable telling me what they really think, but I feel really great support from our fans. I’m hopeful most of the stuff you get on blogs and the Internet is kind of a loud minority, but who knows? Maybe because I’m the GM, but I’m more bullish about our club than what you read about on the Internet or hear sometimes on the radio.” Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr to Jerry Crasnick at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski asked about Nelson Cruz. Won’t address him specifically but said, “I’d be surprised if we made any major moves.” From: Jason Beck at MLB .com (He’d be surprised? Maybe he’s keeping something from himself.)
Re:Santana; industry insiders say Garza deal means Magic unlikely to get more than 3years/$40 million. Maybe much less. Could put many teams in play. From: Bob Dutton at The News Tribune
The possibility of [David] Price returning seems to be gaining momentum daily. At Thursday’s news conference, Rays manager Joe Maddon had this to say when asked about Price: “Right now, David’s a Ray, and I hope he stays a Ray, quite frankly. Love him, love having him. We keep talking about all of these different components within the clubhouse that make a difference. Who makes more of a difference than he does? With all these wonderful things that we’re doing right now, to have him there to spearhead the starting rotation, what trumps that? I don’t think anything does. In our world, anything could happen. There’s no question about that. But I want to believe that David’s going to be there, and hopefully he’s going to be a Ray for a long time.” “Right now, David’s a Ray, and I hope he stays a Ray, quite frankly. Love him, love having him. We keep talking about all of these different components within the clubhouse that make a difference. Who makes more of a difference than he does? With all these wonderful things that we’re doing right now, to have him there to spearhead the starting rotation, what trumps that? I don’t think anything does. In our world, anything could happen. There’s no question about that. But I want to believe that David’s going to be there, and hopefully he’s going to be a Ray for a long time.” Source: Bill Chastain at MLB.com
According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, Santana has recently been asking for a four-year deal in the $60 million range, but Garza’s four-year, $50 million deal with the Brewers may cause Santana to bring down his asking price. Unlike Garza, Santana will cost a team a draft pick due to his refusal of the Royals‘ qualifying offer at the beginning of the offseason. Source: Chris Cotillo at MLB Daily Dish
Reds general manager Walt Jocketty was asked about the potential of signing free agent Nelson Cruz to boost the offense. “I would say no,” Jocketty replied. “We don’t want to give up the draft pick. I like the way our club is now.” Source: Mark Sheldon at MLB.com
Tom Gorzelanny (shoulder surgery) has yet to begin a throwing program but is targeting Opening Day to be 100 percent. From: Adam McCalvy at MLB.com
By The Numbers
The Phillies had the third-oldest collection of position players in the majors last year (at an average age of 30.0), behind the Yankees and the Dodgers. And they didn’t get any younger with the addition of the 36-year-old Byrd. Of the projected 2014 position-player starters, center fielder Ben Revere, third baseman Cody Asche and Brown are the only ones who weren’t born during the 1970s. Source: Baseball Reference
(“Phillies are old” jokes have been all over the place this winter. My favorite two so far are (1) the one about how they’re going to rename the stadium to Senior Citizens Bank Park; and (2) the one in which the announcement of Billy Joel playing a concert there this summer actually lowers the team’s average age. From: Craig Calcaterra at Hardball Talk)
From 1901-2013, the Red Sox have led the majors with 29,659 doubles. From: The Bill Chuck Files
Teams will receive “significantly less” than $25-27MM from MLB’s national TV contract, at least in 2014, Coonelly says. He mentions that teams may get to that level later in the contract. He also notes that player pensions are a large expense that will come “off the top” of what teams receive. “Some of the TV numbers [for other teams’ TV deals] that I’ve seen reported publicly are way overstated,” Coonelly said. Source: Pirates president Frank Coonelly to David Todd at 970 ESPN (Logically player pensions were already deducted from what teams received on their old deal, so the additional monies from the new deal should flow directly to the teams.)
21st Century Fox announced on Friday that it has agreed to take over majority control in the YES Network, raising its ownership position in the regional sports network to 80 percent. The remaining 20 percent of the network will continue to be held by Yankee Global Enterprises, and the YES Network will become a consolidated entity of 21st Century Fox.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Fox acquired 49 percent of the YES Network in December 2012, and it was reported that Fox paid $584 million for that stake.
“Clearly, 21st Century Fox is a great partner for us as the YES Network fulfills and expands its potential as one of the nation’s premier regional sports networks,” Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. “We are gratified that 21st Century Fox has increased their stake and investment in the network. Yankee Global Enterprises is eager to continue working with 21st Century Fox as we explore ways to take YES to even greater heights.” Fox also announced that Tracy Dolgin, who is president and chief executive officer of the YES Network, will remain in his role leading the network.
“Our investment in the YES Network underscores our commitment to growing our global sports portfolio with offerings that are exceptional and unique,” said James Murdoch, the deputy chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox. “We look forward to expanding our partnership with Yankee Global Enterprises and to working with the network’s management team to build on the YES Network’s success.” Source: Bryan Hoch at MLB.com
Nats GM Mike Rizzo doesn’t expect contract extensions for RHPs Tyler Cliipard and Doug Fister. They are expected to get one-year deals. From: William Ladson at MLB.com