Results tagged ‘ Mark Teixeira ’
In exchange, the Angels received two low-level prospects in outfielder Exicardo Cayones and lefty Kramer Sneed – but that was little more than a formality.
The real prize is the money they’ll save.
The Yankees are picking up $13.9 million of the $42 million owed to Wells over the final two seasons of his contract. It’s more than expected for a guy who has posted a .222/.258/.409 slash line in 208 games the last two seasons and was the fifth outfielder in the Angels’ depth chart – behind Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton, Peter Bourjos and designated hitter Mark Trumbo.
But there’s a caveat for both teams.
Prior to the trade, the Angels’ payroll was at about $160 million, but their Competitive Balance Tax payroll – which takes into account the average annual value of all 40-man roster salaries, plus benefits and performance bonuses at the end of the season – was $178 million, the threshold at which first-time offenders are taxed 17.5 percent by Major League Baseball.
For Wells, the Yankees will pay $11.5 million of the $21 million owed to Wells in 2013 and $2.4 million of the $21 million he’s owed in 2014. New York is paying more on the front end because World Baseball Classic officials are paying for Mark Teixeira’s contract while he’s on the disabled list – about $6 million if he returns by mid-May – and because their goal is to get under the CBT threshold in 2014, not 2013.
Wells suited up for the Yankees for their Tuesday night game against the Astros in Tampa, Fla, batting sixth, playing left field and wearing No. 56 (his customary No. 10 belongs to Phil Rizzuto and has already been retired).
“I got goosebumps driving down the road a couple hours after they told me about the trade,” Wells said. “I started thinking about the roll call. I won’t be the guy that gets picked on by the bleachers this time, even though I enjoyed it. Now it’s going to be a little bit different hearing my name and being in pinstripes. It gives me chills now.”
Wells figures to get plenty of playing time in New York, at least early on. Curtis Granderson is not expected to play until early May because of a fractured right forearm and Juan Rivera, considered a leading candidate for the right-handed outfield job, might be the regular first baseman with Teixeira out with a strained right forearm.
The Angels, meanwhile, are left with a thinner bench. But also some much-needed wiggle room.
Asked if he received any advice from former manager Mike Scioscia, Wells responded: “He said, ‘You’re in a good place right now from a baseball standpoint.’ I think he noticed the changes that I made. He said, ‘Just keep doing the things you’ve been doing the past three weeks and have fun with it.’ I told him, ‘That’s fine, I’m just going to try to [Mike] Napoli you guys when I play you.’ I don’t know if you all saw Napoli’s numbers against the Angels, but they were pretty ugly. I’ll just try to do the same thing.”
Thanks to Bryan Hoch for passing along the Wells quotes.
The Angels and Yankees are in talks regarding a deal that would send Vernon Wells to the Bronx, an industry source confirmed to MLB.com on Sunday.
How much money is exchanged in the deal and who the Angels get back — if anyone — is still unknown. The Angels have not made any official announcements. Deals like this, with money changing hands and approval needed by MLB, usually have several hurdles to overcome. Last spring, the Angels and Indians talked extensively about a deal for Bobby Abreu that ultimately fell through.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported that the deal “could be done today.”
Wells has a full no trade clause and is owed $42 million over the next two seasons, but he comes into the season as the fifth outfielder in the depth chart — behind Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos, Josh Hamilton and designated hitter Mark Trumbo.
The 34-year-old outfielder, who has the day off on Sunday, has enjoyed a nice spring, batting .361 (13-for-36) with four homers and 11 RBIs. The Yankees have Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson slated to start the season on the disabled list.
If the deal does go through, it would relieve some of the pressure off Bourjos, who came in as the everyday center fielder but had some pressure to succeed early with Wells on the bench.
The Angels dangled Wells in the offseason, but weren’t able to find anyone willing to take on much of any of his contract in a trade.
Wells, who plans to retire after the 2014 season, has been very accepting of his role all spring, saying he understands he comes in as a reserve and just wants to fight for playing time.
“I put myself in this position,” Wells said early in spring. “Obviously, some guys played well last year. You have the most exciting player in the game in Mike Trout; Trumbo, who’s one of the most powerful guys in this league when it comes to hitting a baseball; you sign Josh Hamilton; and you have Peter. Peter deserves a chance. What he had to go through last year was far more difficult than what anybody had to go through, sitting and watching that entire time. There’s a lot of things at play. I understand that.”
With the Blue Jays from 2002-10, Wells posted a .279/.330/.478 slash line, won two Gold Gloves and made three All-Star teams. But he hasn’t been able to duplicate that success since coming to Anaheim, in a January 2011 deal that saw the Angels send Juan Rivera, Mike Napoli and $81 million of the $86 million owed to Wells.
Wells hit 25 homers in 2011, but posted the lowest batting average (.218) and on-base percentage (.248) in the Majors. He batted .244 with six homers in the first two months of 2012, then missed the next two months with thumb surgery and, with Trout producing, hardly played the rest of the way.
I wrote recently about the Angels’ own prestigious “Big Three” of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton — how they could potentially hold up historically and in this era.
But how do they hold up in 2013? There’s little debate that the Angels now have the most talented and celebrated lineup trio in baseball, giving them arguably the game’s most potent offense. But I was a little stunned that their 2012 stats didn’t show it.
In fact, when combining each of their OPS from 2012, the Angels’ trio ranked third, behind those of the Tigers and Reds. Below is the top 15, based on combined OPS of the top three current players in each lineup (minimum is 400 plate appearances) …
- Tigers (Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Austin Jackson): 2.795
- Reds (Joey Votto, Ryan Ludwick, Jay Bruce): 2.759
- Angels (Trout, Pujols, Hamilton): 2.752
- Brewers (Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Corey Hart): 2.729
- Red Sox (David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli*): 2.635
- Blue Jays (Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera): 2.627
- Cardinals (Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Yadier Molina): 2.627
- Rangers (Adrian Beltre, David Murphy, A.J. Pierzynski): 2.607
- Rockies (Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, Tyler Colvin): 2.602
- Pirates (Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Pedro Alvarez): 2.569
- D-backs (Aaron Hill, Paul Goldschmidt, Jason Kubel): 2.565
- Yankees (Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira): 2.547
- Twins (Josh Willingham, Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit): 2.532
- Giants (Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Belt): 2.527
- Dodgers (Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez): 2.524
* Napoli’s deal still hasn’t been finalized.
** A special thanks to all of you for making this blog the 10th-most popular among MLB.com beat writers in 2012. You’re the whipped cream on my sundae.
Pitching: LH C.J. Wilson (9-5, 2.43 ERA)
Pitching: RH Hiroki Kuroda (8-7, 3.50 ERA)
Some pregame notes …
- Dan Haren (lower back stiffness) had an encouraging bullpen session back in Anaheim on Thursday. Mike Scioscia said he “came out of it well.” He’ll throw another one in Inland Empire on Saturday and then they’ll see if he’s ready for a rehab appearance. As for whether he can come back around the time he’s eligible to, on Thursday, Scioscia said: “We’re going to take it one step at a time, but we’re very encouraged with the way he threw his ‘pen, and we’re just going to evaluate him one step at a time. We’ll have more information as he gets through his bullpen tomorrow, to see when he’s ready for a rehab and when he comes out of that, how close he is.”
- The Angels signed 38 of their 40 Draft choices and spent way below their spending pool — to be expected, since they didn’t have a pick in the first two rounds.
- Trout (surprise!) won the Heart & Hustle Award for the Angels.
- Chris Iannetta (right forearm strain) has been throwing to about 150 feet and is scheduled to throw to bases early next week in Detroit. Shortly after that, he can progress towards a rehab assignment — if all goes well.
- Jerome Williams, who will start on Saturday, feels good and was encouraged by completing six innings in his recent rehab start for Triple-A Salt Lake on July 6.
- Vernon Wells (thumb surgery) has been taking batting practice on the field. Scioscia said he’ll need about a week of that and then should be ready for a rehab assignment shortly thereafter.
Some Angels.com links …
- Angels not counting on major moves at Deadline
- With Trout on board, sky’s the limit
- Angels set rotation schedule
- Preview, on the series opener against the Yankees
Some AL West links …
- Healthy staff key for Texas as Deadline nears
- Ryan Cook fans two during ‘dream’ All-Star Game
- Lineup stability key for Mariners
Ray Allen ‘excited’ to join Heat. (Me too.)
Pitching: RH Blake Beavan (3-4, 4.72 ERA)
Pitching: RH Garrett Richards (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Some pregame notes …
- Bobby Wilson was placed on the 7-day concussion DL today, after getting hit by a foul tip there on Monday night, and Conger was called up. Wilson was still feeling a bit woozy and felt the club was just being cautious because he suffered a concussion earlier in the year in Minnesota, and during a home-plate collision with Mark Teixeira in 2010. Wilson expects to be back after the seven days are up, but you never know with these things.
- The Angels drafted 13 players on Day 2, with 12 of them being collegiate guys. Here’s a look at all of them.
- Iconic Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda suffered a mild heart attack today, but is said to be resting comfortably and could be released Wednesday. Here’s what Mike Scioscia said: “Naturally we’re concerned any time you get news like that, but I think all the reports are that he’s resting comfortably and hopefully this will be a little blip in the radar, and he’ll get back out here, relax, and get out to ballgames.”
- Conger was called up and inserted right into the lineup. Some of it had to do with a familiarity with Richards, but mostly because of his left-handed bat. “Hank, he feels good, he caught enough down there to get back where he needs to be,” Scioscia said. “With Bobby out, we’re going to need someone to share the load with John and Hank’s ready for it.”
- The Angels limited Richards’ repertoire to just the fastball, changeup and slider when he came up to the big leagues down the stretch last year. But Scioscia feels he’s come far enough with his curveball to be able to use all four pitches tonight.
- LaTroy Hawkins (pinkie) has been transferred from Class A to Triple-A. Plan is for him to pitch today and Thursday and join the Angels in Colorado on Friday.
- Jered Weaver (lower back), who continues to long toss, probably won’t need to go on a rehab assignment. Chris Iannetta (wrist) will, though.
- Howie Kendrick (.251/.280/.367) is out of the lineup today. Pretty much a mental day. “Obviously he’s not swinging the bat to his potential,” Scioscia said. “I think he’s caught in between a little bit. At times he’s out in front, at times he’s missing some fastballs he should hit. Howie’s just a terrific hitter in the box, and right now he’s searching for some things and we need him.”
Pitching: LH Andy Pettitte (2-1, 2.53 ERA)
Pitching: RH Dan Haren (2-5, 3.76 ERA)
Some postgame notes …
- So, Jered Weaver will be going on the disabled list with a lower back strain. My guess is he misses a little less than a month, but just a guess at this point. Garrett Richards is up. He’ll be available out of the bullpen these last couple of games. With the off day, the earliest he’ll pitch is Sunday (though Haren may be available for that) and the latest he’ll pitch is Tuesday (since Jerome Williams would be required to go on three days’ rest by that point).
- Hunter, as evidenced by the starting lineup, was activated from the restricted list, with infielder Andrew Romine being sent back down to Triple-A Salt Lake. Mike Scioscia obviously feels comfortable that Hunter is ready to go.
- As for how the outfield situation will play out moving forward? Scioscia said it’ll fluctuate, but I’m thinking the most common lineup you’ll see will have Hunter in right, Trout in center and Trumbo in left, with Bourjos and Kole Calhoun backing up.
- Kendrys Morales (5-for-9 with a homer and five RBIs the last couple games) is fine; just sitting because there’s a lefty starting. Scioscia said he’ll be back out there on Wednesday.
Some Angels links from Memorial Day …
- Trumbo, Angels walk off for seventh straight win
- Notebook, on Weaver leaving his start early, Hunter returning, Memorial Day festivities and some injury updates
- Halos, Haren try to make it eight straight
Some AL West links …
- The Rangers have signed Roy Oswalt (might he have been an option for the Angels if they hadn’t?)
- The A’s are taking their time with Manny Ramirez
- The Mariners are weighing their options with Ichiro Suzuki
And the Heat pulled out Game 1 of the ECF’s against the Celtics, in a game they really had control of for most of the night.
Oh, and don’t forget to follow Penn State grad and new MLB.com associate reporter Joe McIntyre on Twitter. He’ll be helping me out this summer.
SP: RH Ervin Santana (0-1, 7.94 ERA)
SP: RH Hiroki Kuroda (0-1, 6.35 ERA)
Some notes from this morning …
- Scott Downs (right ankle) will be avoiding a trip to the DL — at least for now. No structural or ligament damage in the ankle, but he’s day to day and my guess is he won’t pitch this weekend. He definitely won’t pitch today.
- RHP David Carpenter was called up in order to add some depth to the bullpen, with utility man Alexi Amarista being sent down. LHP Brad Mills was here in case Downs had to go on the DL, and he’ll stick around for the weekend just in case he has a setback.
- Jerry Dipoto said he’ll continue to search “under every rock” for bullpen help, but added: “There’s not a surplus of available, high-quality Major League relievers. We have a variety of arms in our ‘pens that we feel comfortable in. We have find the right roles for those guys.”
- Mike Scioscia, on Trumbo’s confidence at third base: “He’s a pretty tough kid, but there’s always confidence levels in every player that you have to monitor. I think on the defensive side, Mark is confident he can make the plays, but to translate into him relaxing and using his athleticism, I think it’s going to take a couple of plays on the field that he makes and says, ‘Hey, I’m here.’”
- Pujols addressed the NY media via a morning press conference. Asked about whether he’s thinking too much at the plate, Pujols said: ” “We’re human. I’m human. Sometimes that’s going to happen no matter how good you prepare yourself. Sometimes, we want to press a little bit and try to do too much.
Some Angels links from Thursday …
- Angels let six-run lead vs. Twins slip away
- X-rays negative on Downs’ ankle
- Pujols “all business” about his trip to NY
- Early struggles not a concern for Pujols
- Jerome Williams officially named fifth starter
- Santana set to take ball in Yanks home opener
Some AL West links …
- Rangers manager Ron Washington not worried about Joe Nathan
- Mariners can’t pull off comeback vs. Texas
- Thriving Josh Reddick buying into new way of hitting
And the Heat suffered another heart-breaking road loss — this one to the Bulls in OT.
Among the highlights, Moreno said the Angels never did a background check on Albert Pujols‘ listed age (32) — and wouldn’t.
“We would never go there,” Moreno told GQ. “He’s been in the United States since he was 16. Somebody starts checking on your age, you start wondering, ‘Do we really want to have a relationship like this?’”
Asked about Pujols holding up through the tenure of his 10-year, $240 million contract, Moreno said: “We don’t look at one player, we look at 25 on the roster or nine on the field, and you just say: If he plays within these averages for our team, his averages are so much higher than anyone else’s that is playing right now. If you do have some erosion — let’s call it seven to 10 years of solid production, not superstar production — look what it still does for a franchise.”
As for the thought of him making $30 million as a 41-year-old ballplayer?
“Someone else asked me this, and I said, ‘I’ll tell you something: If he’s healthy enough and he’s playing for us, then I’m gonna just say, ‘Merry Christmas to all baseball fans,’ because we get to see one of the best players of our generation coming to bat,” Moreno responded.
Asked what allowed the Angels to commit so much to Pujols after not being able to reel in the likes of Carl Crawford and Mark Teixeira for less money, Moreno explained: “We’d just signed an 18-plus-year [TV deal, reportedly for $1.5 billion], through ’30, we have no debt, and we have a payroll that gives us all the flexibility to make the decisions we want to make. Still, I don’t think in a perfect world we really thought Albert was going to be available. They just won a championship in St. Louis, he had been there 11 years, and you think they’re gonna make a deal.”
Moreno was also asked about the less-successful 2010 offseason, when the Angels basically swapped a much-improved Mike Napoli for a diminished Vernon Wells. The Angels’ owner said his baseball people moved Napoli partly because they “felt Napoli’s arm was not gonna hold up for a season.”
“He was arbitration eligible, and the number he was asking for and what our people felt the value was,” Moreno added. “… Napoli caught less games for Texas than he caught for us the year before. I think [Rangers manager Ron] Washington did a great job [with] him. With Vernon, we felt that if he hits his average of 25 home runs, 80 to 90-plus RBIs, bats .260 to .280, you end up with a good player for four years at $16-plus million a year, [and] you’re not having to pay [a free agent for] a longer period of time. The book’s not closed on Vernon, you know. But that was the thought process.”
Here’s an interesting question: If you’re the Yankees, do you want to win the American League East?
With the Yankees coming off three straight wins and currently leading their division by a half-game over the Red Sox, I found myself doing something managers and players shouldn’t (and wouldn’t) ever do: Thinking about playoff matchups with an entire month of the regular season left.
Barring a late charge by the White Sox, Indians and Angels, the playoff picture looks pretty set right now, with the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers and Rangers making up the slate. What we don’t know is who will face who in the two five-game AL Division Series, which comes down to matchups more than anything else.
As of right now, the winner of the AL East would face the Tigers and the winner of the AL Wild Card would face the Rangers. Of course, Detroit and Texas can flip-flop, since only a couple of games separate the two. But that brings me to an interesting question: If you’re the Yankees, do you prefer to face the Tigers or the Rangers?
The Rangers are a better all-around team, with a fierce offense, a loaded bullpen and a solid rotation. But with the Tigers, you have to face Cy Young favorite Justin Verlander twice — and we all know how big an impact a staff ace can have on a short series.
Here’s a look at how those matchups played out in the regular season …
Season series: Tigers, 4-3 (1-2 at Yankee Stadium, 3-1 at Comerica Park)
Key Yankees pitchers: CC Sabathia (0-1, 4.15 ERA in 2 GS); Freddy Garcia (0-1, 5.14 ERA in 1 GS); Bartolo Colon (5.73 ERA in 2 G, 1 GS); Phil Hughes (11.25 ERA, 1 GS); A.J. Burnett (1-1, 3.75 ERA, 2 GS); Mariano Rivera (0 ER, 2 1/3 IP); Rafael Soriano (0 ER, 1 IP); David Robertson (0 ER, 2 IP); Boone Logan (1 ER, 1 2/3 IP)
Key Tigers pitchers: Justin Verlander (4.50 ERA, 2 GS); Rick Porcello (1-0, 2.57 ERA, 1 GS); Max Scherzer (2-0, 4.15 ERA, 2 GS); Brad Penny (1-1, 6.97 ERA, 2 GS); Jose Valverde (2 ER, 4 2/3 IP); Phil Coke (2 ER, 2 1/3 IP); Joaquin Benoit (0 ER, 2 IP); Daniel Schlereth (1 ER, 4 IP)
Key Yankees hitters: Robinson Cano (.200 BA, 1 HR, 2 RBI); Curtis Granderson (.160 BA, 1 HR, 1 RBI); Alex Rodriguez (.320 BA, 1 HR, 2 RBI); Derek Jeter (.261 BA, 1 RBI, 2 BB); Mark Teixeira (.280 BA, 4 HR, 8 RBI); Brett Gardner (.273 BA, 1 RBI, 4 BB)
Key Tigers hitters: Miguel Cabrera (.417 BA, 2 HR, 8 RBI); Austin Jackson (.167 BA, 1 HR, 2 RBI); Alex Avila (.263 BA, 2 HR, 3 RBI); Victor Martinez (.263 BA, 1 HR, 2 RBI); Jhonny Peralta (.261 BA, 2 RBI, 2 SO); Brennan Boesch (.474 BA, 4 HR, 7 RBI)
Worth noting: The fact the Tigers and Yankees got all their regular-season games against each other out of the way in early May makes it difficult to give these numbers much weight. The Yankees beat up on sub-par pitching, which is what they’ll get every time Verlander doesn’t toe the rubber against them (minus Verlander, Tigers starters are 38-39 with a 4.84 ERA). Verlander is 4-3 with a 3.97 ERA in his career against the Yankees. But the way he’s going right now, two starts in a series for him essentially means two wins for the Tigers, no matter what other factors revolve around him.
Season series: Yankees, 7-2 (5-1 at Yankee Stadium, 2-1 at Rangers Ballpark)
Key Yankees pitchers: CC Sabathia (2-0, 5.12 ERA in 2 GS); Freddy Garcia (1-0, 0.00 ERA in 1 GS); Bartolo Colon (10.38 ERA in 1 GS); Mariano Rivera (0 ER, 5 IP); Rafael Soriano (2 ER, 3 2/3 IP); David Robertson (0 ER, 3 1/3 IP); Boone Logan (2 ER, 2 IP)
Key Rangers pitchers: CJ Wilson (2.25 ERA in 1 GS); Alexi Ogando (0-1, 12.38 ERA in 2 GS); Matt Harrison (1-1, 1.93 ERA in 2 GS); Derek Holland (0-2, 8.62 ERA in 3 GS); Neftali Feliz (4 ER, 3 IP); Darren Oliver (0 ER, 4 1/3 IP)
Key Yankees hitters: Robinson Cano (.270 BA, 4 HR, 10 RBI); Brett Gardner (.381 BA, 2 RBI, 1 BB); Curtis Granderson (.438 BA, 6 HR, 13 RBI); Mark Teixeira (.263 BA, 4 HR, 12 RBI); Alex Rodriguez (.208 BA, 3 RBI, 6 BB); Derek Jeter (.385 BA, 2 HR, 3 RBI)
Key Rangers hitters: Elvis Andrus (.263 BA, 2 RBI, 2 BB); Adrian Beltre (.265 BA, 1 HR, 7 RBI); Ian Kinsler (.111, 1 HR, 4 RBI); Michael Young (.400 BA, 1 HR, 4 RBI); Nelson Cruz (.059 BA, 3 BB, 9 SO); Josh Hamilton (.231 BA, 1 RBI, 2 BB)
Worth noting: The Rangers may be the better all-around team, and they may have beaten them in last year’s ALCS, but the Yankees have absolutely dominated the series this year, and their hitters have mashed their good-but-not-great pitching. The Yankees are one of the most difficult teams in baseball to pitch against, because they’re loaded with firepower and because they’re one of the best at working the count and taking pitches. Last year, the Rangers were able to beat them with a clear-cut ace in Cliff Lee leading their staff. This year, the Rangers’ rotation has been very good, but there is no Lee or Verlander in there, which means the Yankees can beat everybody in their rotation.
If you’re New York, do you prefer that matchup, even if it means playing three out of five on the road? Or do you go up against an inferior Tigers team with a superior ace?
That’s the question.
NOT FLORIDA — I won’t make it down to Florida for Spring Training until early March, but I’m sure the Grapefruit League will be fine without me. A lot happened this offseason, and there’s a lot to watch this spring, especially among the upper-echelon guys. So, I thought I’d put together an easy-to-follow guide. Print it out, fold it up and put it in the back pocket of your Bermuda shorts as you weave through camps this spring. Here goes nothin’ Coming back from injury Star players whose 2010 seasons ended on the shelf * Chipper Jones (Lake Buena Vista, Fla.): * Stephen Strasburg (Viera, Fla.): * Jason Bay and Johan Santana (Port St. Lucie, * Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby * Jake Peavy (Glendale, Ariz.): * Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan (Fort Myers, * Brandon Webb (Surprise, Ariz.): * Grady Sizemore (Goodyear, Ariz.): * Kendry Morales (Tempe, Ariz.): New in town Notable offseason pickups and their new homes * Dan Uggla (Lake Buena Vista, Fla.): * Lee (Clearwater, Fla.): OK, so Lee (pictured left) is not really new. But * Jayson Werth (Viera, Fla.): One of * Rafael Soriano (Tampa, Fla.): * Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez (Fort * Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez (Port * Vladimir Guerrero (Sarasota, Fla.): * Adam Dunn (Glendale, Ariz.): The * Victor Martinez (Lakeland, Fla.): * Lance Berkman (Jupiter, Fla.): * Zack Greinke (Phoenix, Ariz.): The * Matt Garza (Mesa, Ariz.): Garza * Miguel Tejada (Scottsdale, Ariz.): * Adrian Beltre (Surprise, Ariz.): * Vernon Wells (Tempe, Ariz.): It Back to elite status? Elite players who had a down year — by their standards — in 2010 * Hanley Ramirez (Jupiter, Fla.): By his * Carlos Pena (Mesa, Ariz.): Pena * Justin Upton (Scottsdale, Ariz.): * Matt Kemp and Jonathan Broxton (Phoenix, * Sandoval (Scottsdale, Ariz.): Can * Chone Figgins (Peoria, Ariz.): Maybe there was just something in the water in Seattle last year that caused everyone to struggle at the plate. Nonetheless, Figgins had a rather unimpressive showing in his first year with his new team, sporting career-lows in batting average (.259) and on-base percentage (.340). Now, he’s dealing with trade rumors. * Jose Reyes (Port St. Lucie, Fla.): An assortment of injuries limited Reyes the last few years and greatly diminished his production. Now, he says he’s feeling good, and he’s entering his walk year. Big year for the speedy shortstop. * Derrek Lee (Sarasota, Fla.): Lee hit .310 and averaged 26 homers and 84 RBIs from 2005-09. But a bad back limited him to a .260 batting average, 19 homers and 80 RBIs in 2010. Now, he’s in Baltimore on a one-year, $7.25 million contract. * Phillies’ middle infield (Clearwater, Fla.): Chase Utley (.275 with 16 homers and 65 RBIs) and Jimmy Rollins (.320 on-base percentage and eight homers in 88 games) are coming off down years. They’ll need to step up now that Werth is gone. * Red Sox starters (Fort Myers, Fla.): Mainly, the two veterans — Josh Beckett and John Lackey. Regardless of all the moves the Red Sox made on offense and in the bullpen, starting pitching always wins out (see: 2010 Giants). So, the success of this 2011 team will ultimately begin and end with the effectiveness of that staff. Beckett (6-6, 5.78 ERA) and Lackey (14-11, 4.40 ERA) need to be better. * Yankees infield (Tampa, Fla.): Well, at least three-quarters of it. All eyes are on Derek Jeter, who’s 36, coming off his worst year and recently signed to a three-year, $51 million contract with a fourth-year option. Rightfully so. But Alex Rodriguez (career-low .270 batting average) and Mark Teixeira (career-low .256 batting average) need to be more efficient to help make up for a shaky rotation in the Bronx. – Alden Gonzalez ** Check out my take on why greed shouldn’t be to blamed in the situations of Albert Pujols and Young. *** And check in next week, for a look at the most important Spring Training position battles. **** Photo credit above: The Associated Press
It looked like Chipper’s career would be over when the 38-year-old tore his ACL
in August, but now he’s aiming
to be ready for Opening Day. If he’s healthy and contributing — even if it’s not at an
All-Star level — the Braves are title contenders.
Strasburg’s meteoric rise came to a screeching halt with the dreaded Tommy John
surgery in August. He won’t be ready until September, but he has already been tossing a ball, and Tommy John has a pretty good
track record with regards to comebacks.
Fla.): Bay’s rough first season in Queens was put out of its misery
when a concussion ended his season in late July, and now the right-handed power
hitter must prove he could succeed within the spacious dimensions of Citi Field. Santana’s
season was cut short last year because of left shoulder surgery and he isn’t
expected back until midseason, though he has
begun throwing at his Fort Myers, Fla., home. The Mets need Santana to return to full health, since he’s still owed at least $77.5 million over the next four
Ellsbury (Fort Myers, Fla.): The healthy returns of Youkilis
(thumb), Pedroia (foot) and Ellsbury (ribs) will be key if the Red Sox are
going to cash in on widespread expectations of an American League crown
(including from me). Youkilis and Pedroia both say they’re feeling good,
and Ellsbury is expected to be ready to go from the jump. But can they continue
to produce at the same level?
Injuries have limited Peavy to 33 starts the last two years, and shoulder
surgery knocked him out in early July last year. Peavy (pictured above) is pushing
to be ready by Opening Day, but the White Sox will be cautious — because they know that
even with all the success they’ve had this offseason, Peavy may still be the key in
Fla.): Even without their biggest run producer and closer — and
thanks to the services of Jim Thome
and key bullpen additions — the Twins were the first team to clinch a playoff
spot last year. This year, the comebacks of Morneau (concussion) and Nathan (Tommy John surgery) will be vital
for success in an improved AL Central.
Nobody is expecting him to fill the void of Cliff Lee, but it’d be nice if Webb could retain some of what made
him one of baseball’s best pitchers two years ago and help shore up a pretty
questionable Rangers rotation. Webb, coming off shoulder surgery, has made
exactly one Major League start since the end of the ’08 season.
This is a big year for Sizemore, who was one of baseball’s best center fielders
from 2005-08 but has been derailed by injuries the last two seasons. An Opening
Day return still seems possible. But can he return to form after knee surgery?
That offensive spark the Angels sought this offseason could be fixed by the
healthy return of Morales, whose season ended in late May after an awkward
landing at home plate caused a serious leg injury. He is expecting
a full recovery.
Love Dan, but I feel like the Braves will regret that five-year, $62 million
extension down the road (and I know I’m not alone). Still, he’s the
right-handed power hitter they sought this offseason, and he helps make them a force.
he’s back in Philly (or, for now, Clearwater). And thanks to him taking less
money — though nobody’s bringing out the violin for a $120 million player –
the Phillies have arguably the best rotation foursome in baseball history.
the most scrutinized contracts of the offseason was the seven-year, $126
million one signed by Werth. Now, he’ll try to prove he’s worthy of being one
of the highest-paid players. It’ll be interesting to see if he can without the benefits
Philly brought him — a star-studded lineup loaded with lefty sluggers and a
hitter-friendly park (though Nats Park isn’t bad for hitters, either).
Soriano was a great closer for the Rays last year, and now he’s a $35 million
setup man. That’s pricey, but the Yankees have the eighth and ninth locked down
Myers, Fla.): Nobody had a more successful offseason than the Red
Sox, which added Crawford (seven years, $142 million) and Gonzalez (extension
pending) and now have one of the game’s best offenses. Fenway Park should prove
very friendly for both.
Charlotte, Fla.): I don’t know about Manny and Johnny making the
Rays elite again, but they’ll surely make things entertaining in St. Pete. And
they were cheap (Damon at $5.25 million, Ramirez at $2 million).
Quietly, the Orioles look to have one of baseball’s best offenses. The addition
of Guerrero – signed to a one-year, $8 million deal – as the designated hitter is just one of many reasons why.
White Sox needed a big lefty bat for the middle of the order, and they got one
in Dunn — signed to a four-year, $56 million deal. Dunn should thrive in U.S.
Cellular Field, especially while hitting in such a dangerous lineup.
V-Mart, a switch-hitting catcher who can also play first base and DH, was a
nice pickup for the Tigers at four years and $50 million. They should be in the
hunt in the AL Central all year.
Berkman was an interesting signing for the Cardinals, especially at $8 million
guaranteed. If he reverts to pre-2010 form, it’s a bargain. If he doesn’t, it’s
a mistake signing at a time when the club can’t really afford any (see: Albert Pujols extension).
Brewers, thanks to the acquisition of Greinke, now boast one of the deepest and
best rotations in baseball. The best part about it is they didn’t really give
away any premier prospects in the process.
may not be an ace, but he’s a solid pitcher who’s been very consistent the
last few years. He gives the Cubs significant depth in their rotation.
The defending champions will have a 36-year-old manning shortstop. Tejada gives
them a bit more punch than Edgar
Renteria and Juan Uribe
– maybe — but a left side of the infield with Tejada and Pablo Sandoval will be, ahem,
interesting to watch.
The Beltre signing — for five years at $80 million — gives the Rangers an
instant upgrade at third base (at least defensively). But does it make them a better team overall? Not
if it ends up costing them Michael
was seen as a desperation move in many circles, and it surely is costly. But if
Wells — still owed $86 million the next four years — can repeat his 2010 performance, the Angels can stay in
the hunt in the AL West.
standards, Ramirez’s 2010 — .300 batting average, 21 homers, 76 RBIs, 32
stolen bases and one public bout with his manager — was a down one for the
star shortstop. Could Hanley (pictured
right) return to being the National League’s best shortstop, or has Troy Tulowitzki permanently taken that
crown from him?
has averaged 36 homers and 102 RBIs over the last four seasons, but last year’s
.196 batting average was an embarrassment. Perhaps being reunited with his old
hitting coach, Rudy Jaramillo,
in Chicago can make a difference.
Is this the year Upton finally proves he’s a franchise-type player? Last year,
when he hit .273 with 16 homers and 79 RBIs, he wasn’t, and it led to new general
manager Kevin Towers listening to offers for his right fielder.
But Upton has all the tools, and he says he’s ready
to have a big year.
Ariz.): Broxton’s 4.04 ERA in 2010 was by far his highest in five full seasons in the Majors, and Kemp’s .249 batting average was a big
shock. Perhaps a new skipper could do the trick?
he return to being the “Big Panda” of 2009, the one who hit .330 with
25 homers and 90 RBIs? The Giants will need him to in hopes of repeating. And it
seems he feels
the same way.
NOT FLORIDA — I won’t make it down to Florida for Spring Training until early March, but I’m sure the Grapefruit League will be fine without me. A lot happened this offseason, and there’s a lot to watch this spring, especially among the upper-echelon guys. So, I thought I’d put together an easy-to-follow guide. Print it out, fold it up and put it in the back pocket of your Bermuda shorts as you weave through camps this spring.
Here goes nothin’
Coming back from injury
Star players whose 2010 seasons ended on the shelf
* Chipper Jones (Lake Buena Vista, Fla.):
* Stephen Strasburg (Viera, Fla.):
* Jason Bay and Johan Santana (Port St. Lucie,
* Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby
* Jake Peavy (Glendale, Ariz.):
* Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan (Fort Myers,
* Brandon Webb (Surprise, Ariz.):
* Grady Sizemore (Goodyear, Ariz.):
* Kendry Morales (Tempe, Ariz.):
New in town
Notable offseason pickups and their new homes
* Dan Uggla (Lake Buena Vista, Fla.):
* Lee (Clearwater, Fla.): OK, so Lee (pictured left) is not really new. But
* Jayson Werth (Viera, Fla.): One of
* Rafael Soriano (Tampa, Fla.):
* Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez (Fort
* Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez (Port
* Vladimir Guerrero (Sarasota, Fla.):
* Adam Dunn (Glendale, Ariz.): The
* Victor Martinez (Lakeland, Fla.):
* Lance Berkman (Jupiter, Fla.):
* Zack Greinke (Phoenix, Ariz.): The
* Matt Garza (Mesa, Ariz.): Garza
* Miguel Tejada (Scottsdale, Ariz.):
* Adrian Beltre (Surprise, Ariz.):
* Vernon Wells (Tempe, Ariz.): It
Back to elite status?
Elite players who had a down year — by their standards — in 2010
* Hanley Ramirez (Jupiter, Fla.): By his
* Carlos Pena (Mesa, Ariz.): Pena
* Justin Upton (Scottsdale, Ariz.):
* Matt Kemp and Jonathan Broxton (Phoenix,
* Sandoval (Scottsdale, Ariz.): Can
* Chone Figgins (Peoria, Ariz.): Maybe there was just something in the water in Seattle last year that caused everyone to struggle at the plate. Nonetheless, Figgins had a rather unimpressive showing in his first year with his new team, sporting career-lows in batting average (.259) and on-base percentage (.340). Now, he’s dealing with trade rumors.
* Jose Reyes (Port St. Lucie, Fla.): An assortment of injuries limited Reyes the last few years and greatly diminished his production. Now, he says he’s feeling good, and he’s entering his walk year. Big year for the speedy shortstop.
* Derrek Lee (Sarasota, Fla.): Lee hit .310 and averaged 26 homers and 84 RBIs from 2005-09. But a bad back limited him to a .260 batting average, 19 homers and 80 RBIs in 2010. Now, he’s in Baltimore on a one-year, $7.25 million contract.
* Phillies’ middle infield (Clearwater, Fla.): Chase Utley (.275 with 16 homers and 65 RBIs) and Jimmy Rollins (.320 on-base percentage and eight homers in 88 games) are coming off down years. They’ll need to step up now that Werth is gone.
* Red Sox starters (Fort Myers, Fla.): Mainly, the two veterans — Josh Beckett and John Lackey. Regardless of all the moves the Red Sox made on offense and in the bullpen, starting pitching always wins out (see: 2010 Giants). So, the success of this 2011 team will ultimately begin and end with the effectiveness of that staff. Beckett (6-6, 5.78 ERA) and Lackey (14-11, 4.40 ERA) need to be better.
* Yankees infield (Tampa, Fla.): Well, at least three-quarters of it. All eyes are on Derek Jeter, who’s 36, coming off his worst year and recently signed to a three-year, $51 million contract with a fourth-year option. Rightfully so. But Alex Rodriguez (career-low .270 batting average) and Mark Teixeira (career-low .256 batting average) need to be more efficient to help make up for a shaky rotation in the Bronx.
– Alden Gonzalez
** Check out my take on why greed shouldn’t be to blamed in the situations of Albert Pujols and Young.
*** And check in next week, for a look at the most important Spring Training position battles.
**** Photo credit above: The Associated Press