Tagged: Orioles

What You’ve All Been Waiting For: AL East Preview

1. Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays will reign again as division champs.

Notable Additions: RP Roberto Hernandez (Fausto Carmona), 1B James Loney, RP Juan Carlos Oviedo (Leo Nunez), SS Yunel Escobar, OF Wil Myers, SP Mike Montgomery, SP Jake Odirizzi

Notable Losses: SP James Shields, SP Wade Davis, 1B Carlos Pena, 3B Jeff Keppinger, OF BJ Upton, RP JP Howell

The Rays are locked and loaded for another year to be the David who can stand up to the Goliaths of the Major League Baseball. Continuing to have one of the deeper starting rotations in baseball with David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, and Jeff Niemann as their starting five. The Rays shouldn’t have difficulty getting innings out of this bunch. David Price is just coming off of a Cy Young performance in 2012, and his contract will be up in 2013 which leaves a lot of uncertainty for the cash-strapped Rays. The Rays have discussed both trading Price and extending him, however the later would leave little room for a supporting cast around him and Longoria. That evidence leads me to think the Rays will move Price, but they will need to find a team that will be willing to swallow their step price (no pun intended) for a potential rental pitcher. Moving from the rotation to the bullpen the Rays are decent here as well marksman Fernando Rodney handling the closers role, Joel Peralta setting up, and Jake McGee and Kyle Farnsworth providing relief when extra innings need to be pitched.

As far as the Rays lineup goes, it seems to be balanced all the way around. Power threats remain despite the departure of BJ Upton with the likes of Evan Longoria, Matt Joyce, Ben Zobrist, and Luke Scott. In addition to the guys that can drive the ball, the Rays also have a legitimate base stealer in Desmond Jennings, and guys who can just flat out get on base like James Loney and Yunel Escobar despite his down year with the Blue Jays in 2012. Overall, I feel like the Rays should have enough to win the division in 2013 and they will make a deep playoff run due to the youth and depth of their starting pitching staff.

2. Toronto Blue Jays

The Toronto Marlins’ impact should be felt on the 2013 Jays

Notable Additions: SP Mark Buehrle, SP Josh Johnson, SS Jose Reyes, 2B/3B Emilio Bonifacio, 2B Maicer Izturis, OF Melky Cabrera, SP R.A. Dickey, INF Mark DeRosa, C Henry Blanco, C Josh Thole, Mick Nickeas

Notable Losses: C John Buck, C Travis D’Arnaud, C Jeff Mathis, 2B Kelly Johnson, SS Yunel Escobar, SP Adeiny Hechavarria, SS Mike Aviles, SP Henderson Alvarez, RP Jason Frasor, RP Brandon Lyon, SP Carlos Villanueva

Wow. Just wow is all I have to say regarding this team’s transformation from 2012 to 2013. GM Alex Anthonopolos (AA) went out and got the starting pitching the team lacked in 2012 and got it in a big way. He now has power pitcher Josh Johnson, innings eater and perfectionist Mark Buehrle, and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey in conjunction with the talent the Blue Jays already had in house in Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero. This starting rotation is absolutely phenomenal and I consider it to be one of the top five rotations in the league. The bullpen isn’t too shabby either as they have Casey Janssen closing, Sergio Santos returning in the set up role, and Darren Oliver, Brad Lincoln, and Steve Delabar among other big names to help out in the middle innings. The Jays pitching staff is far from impressive, they are out of this world.

The Jays are no slouch at the plate either with power hitters Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Colby Rasmus heading up the middle of the order. In addition, the Blue Jays will have a lot of stolen base potential with Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio on the same team. Not to mention they have a lot of guys who can just purely rake in Brett Lawrie and Melky Cabrera.* The Jays will be an exciting team to watch in 2013 and will give the Rays a bunch of problems at the top of the AL East, however the reason I do not pick them to win the division despite them being so much better on paper is because the game isn’t played on paper, and I feel like the Blue Jays will just have something that won’t allow them to put it together for a division title. However, I do see them with a playoff berth.

3. Baltimore Orioles

Buck Showalter is hoping to repeat the success he had with the Orioles in 2012

Notable Additions: 3B Danny Valencia, UTIL Russ Canzler, UTIL Alexi Casilla

Notable Losses: 1B Mark Reynolds, SP Joe Saunders

The Orioles really didn’t make a splash in this offseason, however, they are still very much the same team that won a wild card spot last year. The thing about the Orioles is that they are a young team with boppers such as Nolan Reimold, Adam Jones, Manny Machado, and Matt Wieters expected to be around for years to come. As well as guys like JJ Hardy and Brian Roberts continuing to be productive as they age. The Orioles starting rotation however should prove problematic in their chances of pursuing back to back playoff appearances as they lack a truly dominant starting pitcher on their staff. Don’t get me wrong, Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen are solid, but when they square off against guys like Josh Johnson, David Price, and CC Sabathia they will need to be that much better in order to keep their Orioles in the game. I wish I could say their bullpen will provide the starters some relief in 2013, however I don’t think that is the case because with the exception of Jim Johnson, the Orioles bullpen is rather inconsistent and inexperienced, but the same could be said for the White Sox bullpen in 2012 and they did just fine.

4. New York Yankees

May as well just suit these gentlemen up

Notable Additions: 3B Kevin Youkilis, OF Ben Francisco, 1B Juan Rivera, 1B/DH Travis Hafner, 1B Dan Johnson

Notable Losses: C Russell Martin, 3B Eric Chavez, OF Andruw Jones, OF Nick Swisher, OF Raul Ibanez, SP Freddy Garcia, RP Rafael Soriano

Here they are Next Sox GM readers. The great Yankees of New York will finish 4th this year according to this baseball enthusiast and here is why:

They are old. I mean they may as well refer to Yankee stadium as a retirement home because with geezers like Youkilis, Rivera, Jeter, Hafner, and Ichiro Suzuki headlining the team they sure aren’t trying to get younger. The youth movement for them is not speeding up either as their bench also seems to be made up of older major leaguers or career minor leaguers. Brett Gardner is the one bright spot of the team along with Robinson Cano, but they won’t be enough to lift the Yankees above the younger and more talented Orioles, Rays, and Jays. Not to say that being old is bad, but I simply don’t foresee the older Yankees being able to produce all 162 games and/or stay healthy the whole time as well.

They do have a bright spot as far as pitching goes. CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda should continue to do well and Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes will continue to eat innings. Andy Pettitte is the wild card in the equation, he can be decent or he can fall apart. We shall see with him, however I expect the 2013 Yankees starting rotation to keep their team in games in 2013. In addition, I also expect their bullpen to be able to hold leads as the great Mariano Rivera is returning for one more season and the Yankees also still have David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, and Boone Logan to shut the door.

5. Boston Red Sox

Red Sox fans better hope the John Farrell era goes better than the Valentine era

Notable Additions: C David Ross, OF Jonny Gomes, OF Shane Victorino, RP Koji Uehara, SP Ryan Dempster, SS Stephen Drew, C Mike Napoli, UTIL Mike Carp, RP Joel Hanrahan, MGR John Farrell

Notable Losses: 1B James Loney, 3B Danny Valencia, SS Mike Aviles, OF Cody Ross, SP Daisuke Matsuzaka, SP Vicente Padilla

The Red Sox are in shambles.What once was a great team, is now the laughing stock of the AL East. After their momentous collapse in 2011 to the embarrassment that was 2012, to the transition period that will be 2013, the Red Sox need to find their new identity. The thing that gets me most about this team is that they have good players, just not at the right time. They acquired Shane Victorino, Ryan Dempster, and Mike Napoli this offseason, all good players, but they are getting older and not better. Stephen Drew might have problems adjusting to the tougher AL East, and the Red Sox also must rely on Jacoby Ellsbury remaining healthy and Will Middlebrooks having a great sophomore campaign. The Red Sox dont have a bad rotation, however it is inconsistent, Lester and Buchholz will be expected to pitch to their potential all year long and I just don’t see that happening. John Lackey will be returning this season, but will he come back the same old John Lackey from his Angels years or the Red Sox years? Red Sox fans better hope for the former. The bullpen is solid as they have two closers in Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey, the rest of the bullpen is solid with power arm Daniel Bard and hot-head Alfredo Aceves. Thing is the Red Sox simply won’t have the offense, youth, or pitching to keep up with the beasts of the East.

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According to a Rival GM: Baltimore & Philadelphia Interested in Kyle Lohse

This is not actually according to a rival GM, but I needed a witty title for what I would make headlines of posts that don’t involve the White Sox, considering they are not always making news, and some moves that other teams make are great to write about from a GM’s perspective. So here goes the first in the series of “According to a Rival GM.”

With the stove heating up for Shawn Marcum, and the Tigers receiving offers from multiple teams for Rick Porcello, Scott Boras and client Kyle Lohse are relegated to the sidelines. As of right now it is January 14, 2013, and Lohse has still not found a place to play next year. But Lohse should not be worried, he wil pitch somewhere next year, as demand for a a pitcher who can get batters out and keep runners off the base paths. The problem that Lohse faces however is that signing him means that the team that does so must yield a draft pick to do so. And for the double whammy, Lohse’s agent, Scott Boras, is one of the most ruthless negotiators in the business; Boras will not rest until he has squeezed every dollar out of the team that he can. Despite all the factors working against Lohse, I believe that the Baltimore Orioles and the Philadelphia Phillies have both the financial flexibility and the willingness to forfeit a draft pick necessary to sign Kyle Lohse.

The Baltimore Orioles need pitching and badly. They have been linked to several free-agent pitchers this off-season, and the trade market for pitching has always included the Orioles. Lohse could very well be their last chance to upgrade their pitching staff, and make another run at what looks to be another very strong AL East. If Lohse can be the missing piece to the Orioles making a deep playoff run there is no doubt in my mind that they would forfeit the cash & the pick to sign Lohse, however, I could only see them signing him for no more than three years as Lohse is thirty-four, and can start to lose his stuff at any point.

Contract Prediction for Lohse-to-Baltimore: 2 years/$24 million with a club option in 2015 worth $13 million.

Yes, I am calling out the Orioles pitching staff, even though they were the 6th best in the AL last year

The Phillies are also a team I could see attempt a run at Lohse. The Phillies are an aging team, whose championship window is closing with premier players like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Cliff Lee getting up there in years. In the past the Phillies have shown a willingness to part with prospects and draft picks, see the Roy Halladay trade, and Cliff Lee signing. With the signing of a pitcher like Lohse the Phillies could push Kyle Kendrick to the fifth spot in the rotation, knocking out John Lannan, and have a rotation of Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Kyle Lohse, and Kyle Kendrick. However, to get a rotation that stacked will cost money which is something that the Phillies have, especially playing in a big market and having a very supportive fan base. Because of this flexibility the Phillies can more effectively eat bad contracts and move on, so I think they would have more guaranteed years but slightly less cash.

My contract prediction for Lohse-to-Philadelphia: 3 years/$30 million with the contract being front loaded so that Lohse would be easily dealt in his later years of the deal.

Lohse in 2007 when he last pitched for the Phillies

Thanks reading my non-White Sox related post, the Sox have been very quiet lately and I hope they can make a splash soon considering we still have trade chip Gavin Floyd and holes at third base and in the bullpen. Not to mention we still have not acquired the left-handed bat we have been searching for all off-season.

Sox Sign Seven Players to Minor League Contracts

Today the White Sox announced that they have signed seven players to minor league contracts. Catcher Bryan Anderson, third baseman Josh Bell, RHP’s Jeff Gray & Ramon Troncoso, LHP David Purcey, and outfielders Steve Tolleson and Stefan Gatrell are all expected to report to White Sox training camp at Camelback Ranch in one month.

Rick Hahn finally breaks the Sox silence and signs seven ballplayers.

The thinking behind these signings is to buy low on players who still have the potential to do above average, but have performed below average thus far in their career. Troncoso, a former Dodgers reliever had one decent year in his four years with the Dodgers, but never really seemed to settle in at the major league level. Josh Bell, a former Baltimore top prospect, is another player who was expected to be the future of his organization, but instead fizzled out once he reached the major league level.

Troncoso spent four seasons with the Dodgers before signing with the Sox.

While most of these players the Sox have signed have never seen big-league action, they were not signed for that purpose. Yes, bring on the rants, and calls for Rick Hahn’s head, but Hahn is building depth throughout the organization to leave margin for injury or underproduction by a current big-league player, and also giving himself the depth to be able to swing a potential trade. One thing that you learn in the big leagues is that you can never have enough arms and the signing of Gray, Purcey, and Troncoso, who despite not having much experience at the major league level, still have it, and can fill gaps in the Sox bullpen if necessary.

Former Orioles Top Prospect, 3B Josh Bell

My favorite signing of the bunch is that of Josh Bell. The twenty-six year old was last seen with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2012. In his time with the Snakes Bell was able to get fifty-two at-bats but only managed to get nine hits and collect four walks. Bell’s years in Baltimore were not much prettier; you can check them out here. Despite this lack of production, Bell still provides competition for the third base job, which it seems, will go back to Brent Morel, a player who was absolutely miserable for the Sox at third base in 2012. A little competition never hurt anyone, and you never know this competition may bring out the best in one or the other.

Hopefully some of these signings can contribute to the big league roster in 2013. If not, they didn’t cost much anyway. At least not as much as some other players who didn’t pan out in their contracts.

Sori, don’t look so surprised. (See what I did there? I digress.)

Possible Destinations for Gavin Floyd

Gavin Floyd is set to make $9.5 million dollars this upcoming season when the Rich Hahn and the Sox decided to exercise his club option for the 2013 season. Thing is, most speculate that the Sox did not exercise this option for the sake of using Floyd on their 2013 rotation, but instead to trade him. This claim has only been strengthened with the departure of long-time White Sox backstop AJ Pierzynski, and Robin Ventura’s need of a left-handed bat to balance out a right-handed heavy lineup. In this article I will explore trade options that would make since to both the White Sox and their trade partners involved.

That’s our Gavin!

One of the teams that has been linked to Floyd before has been the Boston Red Sox. With their ability to absorb unheard of amounts of salary they could deal any one of their players no matter how uneven the cash flow may be and still be sound financially. That being said the Red Sox are in sore need of starting pitching. Coming off of a second-to-last place finish in the AL East, the Red Sox will want to come back in 2013 with vengeance. With a vicious media and fan base in Boston calling for new players and massive improvement from the year before, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, needs to make a move. He could acquire Floyd from the White Sox by dipping into the Red Sox surplus of left-handed bats. Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is one option as the White Sox current starter Tyler Flowers has proven himself an inconsistent hitter in the limited action he has seen. Saltalamacchia would earn less money than Floyd in 2013, and with Saltalamacchia, as opposed to Flowers, you know what kind of production you are going to get; which is about twenty-five plus home runs, about seventy runs batted in, and around .300 on-base percentage. Unloading Saltalamacchia would clear up the current logjam the Red Sox have at catcher with new addition David Ross and prospect Ryan Lavarnway coming into the mix in 2013.

 

Assuming that manager Robin Ventura and current left-fielder Dayan Viciedo would be comfortable with a move to third base, Hahn and the White Sox could also take chance on soon-to-be thirty year old outfielder Daniel Nava. Nava, is a late bloomer who was able to get ample playing time last year when the Red Sox outfield was littered with injuries. Nava did well collecting walks in about 13% of his at-bats, compiling a .351 on-base percentage, and was a doubles machine. And though Nava is older, he is not free-agency eligible until age thirty-six which I presume is when he would start to decline, and would no longer be of use to the White Sox. Again, Nava would come at a cheaper cost than Floyd but would also provide a left-handed balance to the White Sox lineup.

He looks so happy, how can you pry him away from the Red Sox when he is so happy? Oh well…

Moving on from the boys from Beantown, we still find ourselves in the AL East and move on the Baltimore Orioles, who seemed like they would be the suitor for Gavin Floyd. Well time has gone and Floyd is still a member of the Pale Hose and the Orioles are still searching for depth at starting pitcher. Knowing that Gavin Floyd would probably not be able to bring back a top ten prospect, and not seeing any lefty bats at a position of need in the Orioles top twenty prospects I looked to their major-league outfield, and saw a very intriguing piece. Nate McLouth. McLouth is a reclamation project who came through down the stretch and into the playoffs for the O’s. McClouth can also hit for decent power, and moving into a potent lineup like the White Sox would also give him more chances for RBIs. I like this trade for the Sox as it would be an under the radar acquisition that could payoff big-time, and would allow them to have a more balance offense because McClouth isn’t the same type of hitter as Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, and Dayan Viciedo which is home run first, other hits later.

Heading over to the opposite league, and opposite coast, the Rockies are also a surprise contender to facilitate a trade for Floyd. The Rox are in dire need of veteran pitching with the likes of Drew Pomeranz, Christian Friedrich, and Juan Nicasio most likely taking starting spots in their rotation next year. Luckily for the Rox they also have a surplus of young, controllable lefty bats to offer Rick Hahn and the Sox. The desirable target of any trade involving Floyd would be former Cubs prospect Tyler Colvin who raked in Colorado last year, dropping eighteen bombs, driving in seventy-two runs, and maintaining a .327 on-base percentage. Quite the impressive showing by the for the twenty-seven year old who won’t be free agency eligible until 2017. The only downside would the transition period that almost every hitter going from the National League to the American League goes through. Colvin, according to trends will have a down year, and would need to make major adjustments to his new park which will not carry baseballs as well, and Colvin would need adjust to the tougher pitching and competition of the AL. There is no guarantee Colvin could duplicate those numbers in the AL, but the potential that he could would make this trade worth it.

However there is a chance that Colvin would be too steep of a price for Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd to pay, in that case I would hope the White Sox would ask for budding prospect Charlie Blackmon. Blackmon has seen very limited time in the major leagues, but his initial numbers are very promising as last year he accumulated a .283 batting average and also maintained a .325 on-base percentage in just a little over 100 at-bats. In addition, he showed power hitting two home runs and smashing 8 doubles. With some seasoning Blackmon could be a very good two-hole hitter for the Sox, who desperately need someone who can move current lead-off man Alejandro De Aza around the base paths.

General manager Rick Hahn has options to deal Gavin Floyd. Though he wants to be patient and wait until John Danks is for 100% healthy, the time is now to trade Floyd before he potentially hurts his value anymore. The above options are just a few of the many options that I thought of, others being Floyd for Kubel of the Diamondbacks and Floyd for the Blue Jays’ Maicer Izturis. The key to this season will be how well the White Sox bats can keep up with the juggernauts in Motown, so the Sox must try to make a trade for an impact bat or else this might be another heartbreaking season for our South Siders.