Results tagged ‘ Justin Masterson ’
The ideal chip for the Angels’ next, seemingly inevitable trade for a starting pitcher is Kendrys Morales.
It’s hard to deny that. Morales is coming into his final season before free agency and — given his representation (Scott Boras) and his desire to be more than a full-time DH — will leave after 2013.
Trading him now would give the Angels an outfield foursome of Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton, Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo (with Vernon Wells‘ contract probably still lingering). Trout, Bourjos and Trumbo are still in their pre-arbitration years and all four are under club control until at least 2016. Trout (probably left field), Bourjos (center) and Hamilton (right) would make up one of the game’s best outfields — offensively and defensively — and would give the Angels somewhat of a revolving door at DH. Trumbo would get the most reps there, but his versatility would allow Hamilton and Albert Pujols, who need to stay on the field to maximize their nine-figure contracts, can start there, too, when needed.
But what kind of starting pitcher can Morales bring back?
The Angels will seemingly be selling pretty high on the 29-year-old switch-hitter. He’s coming off his first healthy season since 2009, batting .273 with 22 homers, 73 RBIs and a .787 OPS. Morales, who missed almost two full seasons with a couple of ankle surgeries, even proved he can still handle first base. Then there’s the belief that he’ll be even better in 2013, with the motivation of an expiring contract and a full season under his belt. That’s a pretty good package for a guy who will make about $4 million next year, and teams desperate for power — particularly from the left side of the plate — would no doubt love to have him.
Still, though, his market is limited, because you’d be hard-pressed to find a National League club willing to gamble on him as their everyday first baseman and because we’re at a point in the offseason when most teams no longer have big holes to fill. Of course, the Angels would love to move Wells, but I can’t imagine them getting back any significant starter for him, even if they eat the vast majority of the $42 million owed to him the next two years. They’ll also keep listening on Bourjos and Trumbo, and may pull the trigger if blown away by a top-tier, cost-controlled starter. But as Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com wrote on Twitter recently, the priority is to deal Morales for an innings-eater.
Who can they get?
Here are three potential (and purely speculative) AL fits …
Rays: I know, it’s the first place everyone goes. But Tampa Bay always seems like an ideal match because they’re (still) rich in starters and could always use offense. Right now the Rays have James Loney at first base, with somewhat of a platoon at DH with the right-handed-hitting Ryan Roberts and the left-handed-hitting Sam Fuld. Morales would give them a big upgrade, and someone who can protect Evan Longoria. But he wouldn’t get the Angels Jeremy Hellickson or Matt Moore, or probably even Alex Cobb. Maybe Jeff Niemann, who’s under club control for two more years and would cost about $3 million in arbitration in 2013? The Rays did pick up some flexibility for the rotation by signing Roberto Hernandez on Tuesday.
Orioles: They still seek a middle-of-the-order bat, have a spot open at DH and seemingly have some pitching they can afford to part ways with. Righties Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman, and lefties Zach Britton and Brian Matusz are all young with upside, but with the exception of Tillman, they all struggled last year. Would the O’s be willing to part ways with the 24-year-old Tillman, one of few bright spots in an eclectic starting staff that ranked ninth in the AL in ERA last year? And given his past inconsistencies, can the Angels do better?
Indians: They’re trying to woo free-agent outfielder Nick Swisher, but could always use more offense, and Morales could split time at DH and first base with the right-handed-hitting Mark Reynolds. What about Justin Masterson, who had a rough 2012 season but has topped 200 innings the last two years and is signed for two more years? Well, he isn’t an ace, but he’s listed as Cleveland’s No. 1 pitcher, so they’d probably be very hesitant to give him up for K-Mo. Here’s another intriguing name: Ubaldo Jimenez. He’s been a shell of himself the last couple years, but he’s been relatively healthy, will make $5.75 million in 2013 and has an $8 million option for 2014. Perhaps working with his old catcher, Chris Iannetta, can get him back on track.
The important thing to ask yourself is whether any of these guys would be an upgrade over the 24-year-old Garrett Richards, who has yet to start a full season in the Majors but has a lot of upside. Adding another starter would likely push Richards to Triple-A, with Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton making up the rest of the staff, and Jerome Williams likely returning to the long-relief role. The Angels’ front office will have some important decisions to make before Spring Training (and perhaps they’ll linger beyond that). Do they hold onto Bourjos and Trumbo, keeping their position-player roster deep but not improving the rotation a whole lot? Or do they trade one of those two — or both, or more — to land the impact starter they could still use?
The Angels just dropped two of three to the Mariners, have lost eight of their last 11 and enter the week with an eight-game deficit in the AL West — their largest since May 22. They need to get back on track, and they need to do it now, against an Indians team that just suffered a 14-1 loss and is 9-21 in the second half. C.J. Wilson, however, hasn’t won since June 26 — a span of eight starts …
Pitching: RH Justin Masterson (8-10, 4.68 ERA)
Pitching: LH Wilson (9-8, 3.34 ERA)
- On July 7, Mike Scioscia made Trumbo his primary cleanup hitter. But he’s posted a .213/.278/.360 slash line since, and Morales has started to surge lately. So, on Monday, he flip-flopped them again. Asked if Trumbo may have been putting too much pressure on himself as the guy protecting Pujols, Scioscia said: “I think Mark’s always very focused, I think he’s always very – he has a sense of urgency when it comes to production. Maybe he was taking too much on. I don’t know if that’s the whole story. I think at times you’re going to go through the ebs and flows of a season, you’re going to maybe have your ups and downs, and right now it’s a little bit of a down turn.”
- Scott Downs (strained left shoulder) is slated for another bullpen session tomorrow, and Scioscia said it “might roll into a simulated game.” That would make him awfully close for a return.
- Jordan Walden (neck and right bicep) will make his second rehab appearance for Triple-A Salt Lake. Will this be his last? “We’re going to see,” Scioscia said. “The last one was good, but showed he needed more work. This one, we’re going to evaluate the same way and see where he is.”
- Iannetta is catching Wilson for the first time since he underwent wrist surgery in mid-May. The Angels’ skipper said it wasn’t to change anything up because C.J. has been struggling with Bobby Wilson behind the plate lately; simply becuase Iannetta is his everyday guy and he’ll be catching more regularly now.
- Aybar, since coming off the DL: .458/.480/.625. Same Aybar as the one from ’09? “Yes. Swing is much more along the lines of what he was doing in ’09 than he was the last couple of years.”
Leading up to Opening Day, I’ll roll out an All-Star team for each of the six divisions in baseball — that includes a manager, a starting nine (with a DH also for the National League), three starters and two relievers. One catch: Each team must have at least one representative, and the skipper doesn’t count. Feel free to submit your own lineups below. I’d love to see how yours differ.
Day 4: AL Central
Plenty of great first-base talent here. So great that Eric Hosmer is out and another first baseman (Miggy) is at third.
Manager: Jim Leyland, DET
Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B (CLE)
Alex Gordon, LF (KCR)
Miguel Cabrera, 3B (DET)
Prince Fielder, DH (DET)
Paul Konerko, 1B (CWS)
Joe Mauer, C (MIN)
Alexei Ramirez, SS (CWS)
Shin-Soo Choo, RF (CLE)
Austin Jackson, CF (DET)
Justin Verlander, DET
Doug Fister, DET
Justin Masterson, CLE
Jose Valverde, DET
Chris Perez, CLE
I just wanted to share something one of my editors shared with me recently, which expresses just how silly the “quality start” stat is.
The minimum requirement for a quality start is six innings and three earned runs, which comes out to a 4.50 ERA. Not very good (or, quality). In fact, it’s not even the league average. Not even close.
This year — “Year of the Pitcher II,” I should preface — the Major League average in ERA is 3.89. Last year, it was 4.07. And in 2001 — when Barry Bonds broke the home-run record and offensive production was at its peak — it was 4.41.
Now, of course, there is something to be said about pitching into the sixth and giving up less than three runs in each start, and the leaders in quality starts this year are all legit aces — Justin Verlander (24), Jered Weaver (23), Roy Halladay, Dan Haren, Matt Cain, Cole Hamels, James Shields and Justin Masterson (tied with 20).
But it’s definitely not an end-all be-all by any means.