Monday, January 30, 2012
Rounding The Bases – Week Ending 1/29/12
Sorry for this article being a day late baseball fans! Sometimes when you travel to visit family it’s next to impossible to keep up with a blog. You know how that is! Anyway, here are a few of the smaller but tastier bits of baseball news and activity over the past week:
Justin Morneau has told the media he is healthy and right on target for the beginning of spring training. Without Morneau and teammate Joe Mauer being healthy the Minnesota Twins do not have much of a chance competing in the American League West Division. Morneau has battled a variety of injuries the past two years and only played 150 games over that span. He admitted that he still has some recurring headaches from his severe concussion, which is something you DON’T want to hear if you are a Twins fan!
The Cleveland Indians have not abandoned Roberto Hernandez Heredia (Fausto Carmona) and are actively trying to help him with his false identity/age issues in his native Dominican Republic. They have, how ever, placed him on the restricted list, which basically means he doesn’t get paid but the Indians still have his rights. It is not known how far the judicial process will pursue him there and when/if he will be allowed to play in the United States again. The Indians have made it clear that the 31 year old would be welcomed back to pitch this year.
Tim Lincecum avoided arbitration by reaching a two year deal with the San Francisco Giants for a reported $40.5 mil total. This will cover his last two arbitration years and Lincecum will be a free agent after the 2013 season. The 27 year old, two time Cy Young winner, has avoided signing a long term contract and seems destined to test free agency in a couple of years.
Russell Martin and the New York Yankees avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one year deal worth $7.5 mil. The deal also includes performance bonuses. The 28 year old catcher played great defense and surprised the Yankees organization with great game calling. His offensive numbers may have slipped very badly the second half of the season but the Yankees would be happy if he just duplicates his season in 2012.
Robert Andino and the Baltimore Orioles greed to a one year deal, worth $1.3 mil, avoiding arbitration. The versatile 27 year old infielder played games at 2nd, short, 3rd, and even leftfield last season. As often happens, the team and the player just evenly split the difference between their two submitted figures.
Brandon Morrow signed a three year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays to avoid arbitration. The deal is worth a reported $21 million and also includes a team option for 2015. The 27 year old righty fireballer is your prototypical starter who strikes out a ton of batters but can’t always find the strike zone when needed. Morrow was 7th in the AL last year for K’s. His 2011 season: 30 GS, 179.1 IP, 203 K, 11-11 record, 1.29 WHIP, 4.72 ERA, .237 Avg against.
Hunter Pence (OF) – Philadelphia Phillies – 1 yr/$10.4 mil
Cuban Player News:
Yoenis Cespedes, the Cuban outfielder, has just established legal residency in the Dominican Republic. This was the first step needed for Cespedes to become a free agent and sign with a major league team. Once the MLB goes over the paperwork they will confirm his free agency and the bidding can begin. There is a wide variance in opinions about his being major league ready, at least as a hitter. The 26 year old’s speed, arm and outfield defense are all supposedly well above average.
Old Man River:
Soon to be 45 year old Omar Vizquel signed a one year minor league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays that includes an invite to spring training. Vizquel will compete for a utility infielder role and if he makes the team, it would be his 24th major league season! He has been a playing “coach” for the past several years mentoring young shortstops along the way (Elvis Andrus and Alexei Ramirez for examples). Last year he played in 58 games for the Chicago White Sox while making appearances at all 4 infield positions.
Free Agent Signings:
Cody Ross signed a one year deal with the Boston Red Sox for $3 mil. The deal includes bonus incentives based on plate appearances. The right handed pull hitter should be a nice fit at Fenway, and will probably be part of a right field platoon with Ryan Sweeney. The 31 year old Ross is also extra insurance if leftfielder Carl Crawford isn’t ready to start the season after having wrist surgery. Ross had a poor offensive season in 2011, and is only a career .261 hitter, but with some pop in his bat. He is hoping to come to spring training and convince manager Bobby Valentine that he deserves the right field spot fulltime.
Francisco Cordero signed a 1 year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays for a reported $4.5 mil. The 36 year old closer was the odd man out in this off-season and settled for a deal where he could find one. Cordero was 7th in the NL last year with 37 saves while closing for the Cincinnati Reds. He also had a 1.02 WHIP and a 2.45 ERA, both figures were much better than his career figures of 1.33 WHIP and 3.17 ERA. The Reds didn’t think Cordero, at his age, could reproduce such a good season again and instead signed Ryan Madson to close for them.
Wilson Betemit, the well-traveled infielder, signed a two year contract with the Baltimore Orioles worth a reported $3.25 mil total. There is a third year option that becomes guaranteed if he reaches 700 plate appearances the next two seasons. The 30 year old is well traveled, to say the least, as Baltimore will be his seventh organization in his tenth season! Last year Betemit hit .285 in 323 at bats while playing games at second base, first base, and third base.
Kevin Millwood has agreed to a minor league contract with the Seattle Mariners that includes an invite to spring training. Millwood will earn a cool $1 million if he makes the team along with possible performance bonuses. The 37 year old pitcher has a career record of 163-140, 1.32 WHIP and 4.10 ERA.
Juan Pierre agreed to a minor league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. The 34 year old outfielder also is invited to spring training to try and make the team. The details of the contract have not been disclosed as of yet. Pierre’s speed and defense have been declining the past couple of years, but the Phillies are only looking to strengthen their bench, not start Pierre.
American League Here We Come:
The Houston Astros organization is slated to change leagues after the 2012 season. But it turns out just switching leagues isn’t the only thing they are considering changing. The new owner Jim Crane announced that they are considering also changing the team name and it’s uniforms to coincide with the switch. This would not be the first time the Houston organization changed its name. The original team name was the Colt 45’s when the organization was established in 1962. The team changed names in 1965 when they moved into the infamous Astrodome Ballpark.
2012 All-Star Game:
Tony LaRussa, who recently retired, announced he would manage the National League all-stars in the All-Star game. The two managers from the World Series are the ones who normally manage the two sides during the All-Star game, but with LaRussa retiring after the World Series it wasn’t certain he would be the one to manage the NL side. LaRussa will be only the second retired manager to manage in the All-Star game, the first being HOF manager John McGraw way back in 1933.
Los Angeles Dodgers For Sale:
There are officially ten groups that have passed the hurdle and are going to be allowed to bid on the purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Former Dodger Greats Orel Hershiser and Steve Garvey headed one group that was already cut out of the process. MLB has been tightlipped (to say the least) about most of the process and the information received is usually leaked out several days after the fact. I’m, personally, still holding out hope that a solid baseball man fronts the winning group.
Labor Agreement News:
One of the points with the new labor agreement is the adding of an additional playoff round. It has not been made official yet, but commissioner Bud Selig is making a huge push to have that start this season instead of in 2013. I would hope that announcement is made before the start of the season! A few teams would make different decisions based on that information.
Now that Prince Fielder has signed, many teams and their rosters are starting to take shape. Spring training is right around the corner… see you guys for next week’s edition of ROUNDING THE BASES!