Around the League: MLB Spring Update

Posted: March 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

ImageWith spring training winding down and the dawn of a new season just five days away, MLB teams are beginning to finalize their 25-man rosters. Hoards of minor league free agents and promising prospects are getting the call into the manager’s office, waiting to hear what fate awaits them. For some, it will be one last shot at a cup of coffee in the bigs. For others, it could be the culmination of decades of hard word, preparation, and determination, as their dreams of playing professional baseball at the highest level finally comes to fruition:

LHP Scott Kazmir, Cleveland Indians – Fifth starter

The former Rays’ ace (pictured above) has won the fifth starter’s role with the Cleveland Indians. Manager Terry Francona apparently saw enough out of the 29-year old this spring to warrant the southpaw being kept over others such as Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was cut the other day. Kazmir (1-0, 3.46 in 4 spring games) has not pitched since allowing five earned runs on five hits in 1.2 innings in his first and only start of 2011. The year prior, the former Mets’ prospect struggled to the tune of 9-15, 5.94.

OF Aaron Hicks, Minnesota Twins – Starting center fielder

It’s official. The Twins have announced that intriguing prospect Aaron Hicks will be their starting center fielder in 2013. After dealing Ben Revere and Denard Span, the Twins had to have hoped that Hicks would catch on this spring and earn a spot on the roster. The 2008 first round pick (14th) is fast, strong, and heralded. In 129 games with New Britain (AA) last season, the 23-year old hit .286-13-61 with 21 doubles and 11 triples. This spring, he flashed some of that raw power, with 4 home runs in 60 AB.

LHP Jonathan Sanchez, Pittsburgh Pirates – Fifth starter

Once an All-Star caliber starter with a no-hitter to his resume, Sanchez’s career has taken a sharp downward trend since the Giants’ World Series title in 2010. Last year, the southpaw struggled (1-9, 8.07) in 64.2 innings between the Royals and Rockies. His 1.11 K/BB ratio this spring suggests that Sanchez is still having command problems. But, that did not stop Clint Hurdle from naming him as his team’s #5 starter heading into the season.

LHP Pedro Feliciano, New York Mets – Accepts MiLB assignment

Pedro Feliciano returned to the Mets this season after a brutally disappointing two-year stint in the Bronx with the Yankees. After the lefty led the league in appearances from 2008-10, he signed a lucrative contract with the Yankees. Unfortunately, all those innings caught up to him, as Feliciano never threw a pitch with his new team. The southpaw went 0-0, 2.08 (4.1 IP, 4 H, ER, BB, 3 K) this spring. He accepted a minor league assignment, and with that decision, earned a $100 thousand retention bonus.

LHP Erik Bedard, Houston Astros – Made MLB rotation

The exact position for Bedard in Houston’s rotation is currently unknown. But, it has been reported that the former Mariner will make the team’s opening day roster. After a disappointing 2012 with Pittsburgh (7-14, 5.01), Bedard heads to the worst team in baseball the last two seasons to rebuild his reputation. The 34-year old was once considered a top-of-the-rotation arm. But, those days are behind him. He will add rotation depth to a Houston staff that desperately needs innings. Kazmir was strong in 6 innings this spring (1-0, 0.00, 2 BB, 9 K).

OF Wilkin Ramirez, Minnesota Twins – Made 25-man roster

It appears that OF Wilkin Ramirez has forced his way onto the Twins’ opening day roster. With the departures of Ben Revere and Denard Span in the offseason, Minnesota had a couple of openings in their outfield. Ramirez, 27, earned one of them by raking this spring (.425-0-3). His triple slash line of .425/.465/.600 made it nearly impossible to ignore his production. Last year, Ramirez spent the season in Rochester (AAA), hitting .276-15-54 in 98 games.

OF Rick Ankiel, Houston Astros – Starting right fielder

The former pitcher, who played with Washington the last two years, has earned the starting right field spot with the Astros after a brilliant spring performance (.425-3-6 in 18 G). Houston obviously does not have a ton of MLB ready talent, and Ankiel could certainly boost his stock this season by acting as a veteran leader with a very young Astros’ squad.

INF Jeff Baker, Texas Rangers – Made 25-man roster

Twins manager Ron Washington informed Baker on Monday that he has won a roster spot to begin the season. The former Chicago Cubs utility man, who spent time with Detroit and Atlanta as well last season, will be a valuable right handed bat off the bench for the Rangers. This spring, the 32-year old hit .423-1-7 in 52 AB.

1B/DH Jason Giambi, Cleveland Indians – Made 25-man roster

The big 42-year old slugger is still going strong after learning that he will be placed on the Indians’ 25-man roster to begin the year. However, it is believed that he will be placed on the 15-day disabled list, so fans of Cleveland will have to wait a few weeks to see the “Giambino” taking hacks at Progressive Field. Giambi hit just one home run last year in 89 AB, the fewest of any season in his career. Over the last three seasons in Colorado, the veteran had an OPS of .814. His spring numbers were highlighted by three home runs in just 13 games.

RHP Kameron Loe, Seattle Mariners – Made 25-man roster

The former Milwaukee Brewers reliever, who has gone 13-17, 3.67 the last three years in Wisconsin, was officially added to the 25-man roster. At 6’8, Loe is one of the tallest players in the league, and his spring stats certainly “towered” over the competition at 1-0, 1,80 (10 IP, 11 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 15 K). To make room, the team placed Josh Kinney on the 60-day DL.

RHP LaTroy Hawkins, New York Mets – Made 25-man roster

40-year old RHP LaTroy Hawkins, a pitcher in the majors since 1995, has one more go left in him. The New York Mets announced on Monday that Hawkins will make the opening day roster after tossing 5.2 scoreless innings during the spring. Last season, the veteran went 2-3, 3.64 for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He is expected to pitch in a setup role for the Mets.

OF Xavier Nady and LHP George Sherrill, Kansas City Royals – Released

The news was not so good for this pair of veterans looking to catch on with the improved Kansas City Royals. Nady, 34, struggled in 2012 with the Nationals and Giants. His spring stats were decent (.320/.346/.400). But, the Royals felt comfortable enough with their outfield depth. Sherrill, who turns 36 next month, missed most of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Once an All-Star with Baltimore, Sherrill did not appear in a spring game due to the injury.

RHP Chris Young, Washington Nationals – Opts out of contract

Veteran starter Chris Young, who stands among the tallest players in baseball history at 6-10, has decided to opt out of his contract with the Nationals in pursuit of a major league job elsewhere. The 33-year old went 4-9, 4.15 with the Mets last season. An All-Star in 2007, Young has always had injury problems and struggled a bit with command during the spring.

Other Notes

– Pirates 3B Brandon Inge has been told that he will make the team. But, the former All-Star may land on the DL after being hit by a pitch earlier this week.
– The Indians are hoping that they can work out a trade with the Rangers to keep Rule 5 draft pick Chris McGuinness in Ohio. The 24-year old has struggled at the dish this spring (.195-0-1). But, Terry Francona loves his upside and would like to see him earn some more time with Columbus (AAA).
– The Twins were approached by representatives for free agents SS Yuniesky Betancourt and RHP Freddy Garcia (released by Padres). However, the team is reportedly not interested in either player.
– Think everything is bad for the Yankees? Think again. Due to Mark Teixeira sustaining his injury during the World Baseball Classic, the team will be paid $7-8 million by the event in salary relief.


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