Posted on: February 8, 2012 4:11 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Gearing up for spring training, we're headed east -- -but not too far east, just east from west, or in other words, to the Central, starting in the American League and what positional battles will be fought in the American League Central this spring, continuing the spring position battles series.
Chicago White Sox
Closer: Matt Thornton vs. Jesse Crain vs. Addison Reed
With Sergio Santos in Toronto and Chris Sale headed to the rotation, the White Sox are once again looking for a closer. Thornton saved three games last season and Crain one, but both are more or less keeping the seat warm for Reed, the team's top (and perhaps only) prospect. Thornton, an All-Star in 2010, won the closer battle last season before blowing his first four save opportunities to start the season and he was ultimately replaced by Santos. Crain pitched well last season, but it's Reed that has a chance to be special.
Fifth starter: Kevin Slowey vs. David Huff vs. Jeanmar Gomez vs. Zach McAllister
Ubaldo Jimenez is the team's opening-day starter followed by Justin Masterson, Derek Lowe and Josh Tomlin. The fifth spot is probably Slowey's to lose. The 27-year-old right-hander was twice traded this offseason, first to Colorado and then to Cleveland. While he struggled last season (0-8 with a 6.67 ERA in eight starts and 14 games), he's a proven back-of-the-rotation starter with a 39-29 record and 4.66 ERA. He's also familiar with the AL Central. Gomez made 10 starts for the Indians last season, as did Huff, the only lefty of the group. McAllister made four starts and wasn't overly impressive.
Third base: Miguel Cabrera vs. third base
When the Tigers signed Prince Fielder, the stated plan was that Cabrera will move to third, leaving the DH spot for Victor Martinez -- who isn't playing this year. The Tigers, it appears, are trying to keep Cabrera from getting too big to play third in preparation for 2013 when they'll really have a logjam at the position with Fielder, Cabrera, Martinez and Delmon Young. For now, it seems like wishful thinking that Cabrera can play a passable third base. But if he can, it helps the team out -- especially defensively in the outfield with Young not trying to figure out what to do with that that thing on his left hand.
Kansas City Royals
Second base: Johnny Giavotella vs. Chris Getz vs. Yuniesky Betancourt
What you've heard is true -- there's a ton of talent in Kansas City. In fact, the lineup is nearly set, except for second base and center field. Center should be manned by Lorenzo Cain, who doesn't have a realistic competitor for the spot, but second could be a question. Giavotella came up in 2011 to middling results - .247/.273/.376 with two homers and five stolen bases in 187 plate appearances, but he has a chance to take the position if he can play at the level he established in the minors, where he was a .305/.375/.437 hitter since being taken in the second round of the 2008 draft. While just 5-foot-8, he has shown the ability to make contract (striking out no more than 67 times in any of his minor league seasons) and walk nearly as much as he strikes out (192 minor-league walks to 212 strikeouts). He's not the best defender, but he's adequate. Getz is nobody's idea of a long-term answer. He hit .255/.313/.287 last season, but plays good defense. And then there's Betancourt, who was signed not add depth. The former Royals shortstop will not and should not be pressuring light-hitting Alcides Escobar, but he could add some pop to the infield at second.
Disabled list: Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau vs. the disabled list
No two players may be as essential to their team's success as Mauer and Morneau. The two made a combined $37 million last season -- more than the entire Royals team. And, by the way, Kansas City finished eight games ahead of the Twins in the AL Central. The Twins just barely avoided being a $100-million, 100-loss team, but it took a 1-0 victory over the Royals on the last season to do it. Mauer played in 82 games, while Morneau played in just 69, with the two combining to hit seven home runs between them. Morneau's never seemed to fully recover from the concussion he suffered in July of 2010 and Mauer's had a variety of injuries, missing games with a leg injury, as well as lower back stiffness, a bruised shoulder, neck stiffness and pneumonia. Both players will play first base and DH some to try to keep them healthy, but questions will continue until either plays a productive 130-game-or-so season.
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Tags: Addison Reed, AL Central, ALcides Escobar, C. Trent Rosecrans, Chris Getz, Chris Sale, David Huff, Delmon Young, Derek Lowe, Indians, Jeanmar Gomez, Jesse Crain, Joe Mauer, Johnny Giavotella, Josh Tomlin, Justin Morneau, Kevin Slowey, Lorenzo Cain, Matt Thornton, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Royals, Sergio Santos, spring position battles, Tigers, Twins, Ubaldo Jimenez, Victor Martinez, White Sox, Yuniesky Betancourt, Zach McAllister
Posted on: December 10, 2011 12:05 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.
If there's an opposite of the Oakland A's and Billy Beane's Moneyball, it's Kenny Williams and the White Sox. The White Sox have not drafted well and searched to fill holes through free agency, spending money and taking big chances in trades. While Williams' way makes him the butt of some jokes and nobody's making a movie about him anytime soon, he does have something Beane doesn't have -- a World Series trophy.
1. Alexei Ramirez, SS
2. Gordon Beckham, 2B
3. Michael Morse, 1B
4. Chris Young, CF
5. Carlos Lee, DH
6. Magglio Ordonez, RF
7. Ryan Sweeney, LF
8. Brent Morel, 3B
9. Chris Stewart, C
1. Mark Buehrle
2. Gio Gonzalez
3. Daniel Hudson
4. Brandon McCarthy
5. Clayton Richard
Closer - Jon Rauch
Set up - Matt Guerrier, Chris Sale, Addison Reed, Boone Logan, John Ely
Long - Lucas Harrell
Notable Bench Players
Not surprisingly, when looking at the state of the organization (and the state of that lineup), the White Sox are thin on bench players, with Dayan Viciedo making a push for the starting lineup as well as Chris Getz on the infield and Mike Cameron in the outfield.
There's no Adam Dunn, for starters. The rotation is good, especially at the top with Buehrle and Gonzalez. The rest of the rotation is good enough, as well. While Rauch isn't the top closer around, the rest of the bullpen is talented.
The lineup isn't going to strike fear into too many pitching staffs, even though there are nice pieces. The corner outfielder and DH are all on the down side of their career. There's also not much depth on the roster among position players.
Comparison to real 2011
The White Sox finished 79-83 in 2011, thanks to poor seasons from Dunn, Morel, Beckham and Alex Rios. The rotation is likely a little better in real life than this team, while the bullpen is better here than in real life, evening out. The lineup may not put up a lot of runs, but the White Sox didn't, either. The real team has an impact bat in Paul Konerko and a good complimentary piece in Carlos Quentin. This lineup doesn't have those kinds of weapons, so I'm not so sure our hypothetical team could match the 79 wins the White Sox finished with in 2011.
Next: Baltimore Orioles
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Tags: Adam Dunn, Addison Reed, AL Central, Alexi Ramirez, Boone Logan, Brandon McCarthy, Brent Morel, C. Trent Rosecrans, Carlos Lee, Chris Getz, Chris Sale, Chris Stewart, Chris Young, Clayton Richard, Daniel Hudson, Dayan Viciedo, Gio Gonzalez, Gordon Beckham, Homegrown, John Ely, Jon Rauch, Kenny Williams, Lucas Harrell, Magglio Ordonez, Mark Buehrle, Matt Guerrier, Michael Morse, Mike Cameron, Ryan Sweeney, White Sox
Posted on: November 11, 2011 4:53 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2011 2:01 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans and Matt Snyder
It appears the first domino in closer market has fallen (at least, we're pretty sure this time), but that leaves Heath Bell and Ryan Madson as the top relievers still available. But who needs a closer? Here's a look at the closing situation for all 30 teams.
Baltimore Orioles: Kevin Gregg is still under contract -- much to the chagrin of new general manager Dan Duquette's chagrin. Gregg will make $5.8 million in 2012, not exactly ideal for a guy with a WHIP of 1.642 last season and an ERA of 4.37 while picking up 22 saves. Jim Johnson recorded nine saves and threw just 91 innings, but doesn't exactly miss a ton of bats. The Orioles could move Johnson to the rotation.
Red Sox: Well, obviously Papelbon is gone. Papelbon was the Red Sox closer for the last six years, recording the final out of the 2007 World Series among other memories. Still, As untouchable as he was in his first four years as the closer (1.74 ERA and 0.917 WHIP from 2006-2009), he had a 3.43 ERA and 1.104 WHIP over the last two seasons. Daniel Bard is unhittable at times, but struggled in the last two months of the season (which certainly wasn't uncommon among Red Sox), posting a 6.95 ERA in 21 games in August and September.
Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays let the Yankees overpay for Rafael Soriano and then picked up Kyle Farnsworth off the discard pile, signing him to a two-year, $6 million deal. In retrospect, it was genius -- Farnsworth had 25 saves with a 2.18 ERA in 2011 and the Rays will keep him another year and let someone else overpay him for 2013.
Toronto Blue Jays: Frank Francisco was the team's closer for much of 2011, but he's a free agent and the team could be looking to spend some money on a closer.
Chicago White Sox: Right-hander Sergio Santos converted 30 of 36 save opportunities, liming batters to just a .181/.282/.314 slash line and he should be in line to keep his job in 2012. If he falters, Addison Reed has a chance to take over.
Minnesota Twins: The Twins declined their $12.5 million option on incumbent Joe Nathan, but have expressed interest in bringing him back. Although his overall numbers -- 4.84 ERA, 1.164 WHIP, 14 saves -- weren't too impressive, he did convert all 11 of his saves in the second half of the season. Left-hander Glen Perkins had two saves in 2011 and struck out 65 batters in 61 2/3 innings. If the team doesn't sign a free agent -- or trade for someone -- Perkins would have the best shot.
Los Angeles Angels: Jordan Walden recorded 32 saves as a rookie and made the All-Star team. He did blow 10 saves last season, so it wouldn't be a complete shock if the team looked for an upgrade, but it's not expected, especially with tight purse strings this winter. The team could bring in a veteran for cheap that could close if Walden falters.
Texas Rangers: The Rangers could be a wild card in the free agent closer market if they decided to move Neftali Feliz to the rotation. The Rangers tried that last spring but decided to keep Feliz in the bullpen. If they bring in a big-name, that would mean they believe Feliz can make the move. If not, there's still a chance of Mike Adams taking over for Feliz. Or they could bring in a low-cost veteran to have in reserve in case Feliz does work in the rotation.
Miami Marlins: While the artist formerly known as Leo Nunez gets his name issue sorted out, the Marlins have a gaping hole at closer. The current members of their bullpen combined for four saves last season. Do the Marlins try to go with an internal option like Edward Mujica or make a splash on the free agent market (as they've been connected to several huge names already)?
New York Mets: If they stay internally, which is entirely possible, it looks like Bobby Parnell. But he wasn't awesome by any stretch when given save chances last season. The Mets have spent big on a free agent closer before (K-Rod), so would they be gunshy in doing so again? It's possible. But it's also possible they try to land someone like Ryan Madson.
Philadelphia Phillies: Papelbon.
Washington Nationals: Drew Storen closed 43 of 48 games in 2011, his first full season in the majors. One would think that would be enough to earn him at least another year on the job, but Storen's name keeps popping up in trade rumors and the Nationals have been reportedly interested in Madson. The Nats have plenty of money, so if they wanted to ink a big-name closer and deal Storen as part of a package for a center fielder (Denard Span, perhaps?), they would be able to do so.
Chicago Cubs: It's probably going to be Carlos Marmol again, but he better get himself in gear. Not only did he blow 10 saves, but his once-astronomical strikeout rate lowered a bit in 2011 and control continues to be a serious problem. With new brass at the helm, 2011 will likely be his last chance to get things fixed.
Cincinnati Reds: Cordero had a great four-year run with the Reds, amassing 150 saves with a 2.96 ERA, but he's a free agent now. Fireballer Aroldis Chapman is ticketed for the starting rotation and Nick Masset seems to be awfully inconsistent. The Reds don't have the money to spend in free agency, so would they make a trade for, say, Huston Street or Andrew Bailey? Seems unlikely. Either Chapman doesn't make it as a starter and sticks as closer or someone internally (23-year-old Brad Boxberger?) gets a shot. This one is totally up in the air.
St. Louis Cardinals: Jason Motte was never officially named closer by the stubborn Tony La Russa, but he did more than enough down the stretch and in the playoffs to earn the job for 2012, closing nine of 10 saves during the Cardinals' late run and five more in the postseason.
Colorado Rockies: Street is reportedly on the trading block. If he's is dealt, look for Rafael Betancourt to take over. He collected eight saves with a 2.89 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning in 2011.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Rookie Javy Guerra came on to save 21 games in 23 chances with a 2.31 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings in 2011. That's enough to have nailed down the job for the 2011 season, one would think.
San Diego Padres: Bell is a free agent, but the Padres may just offer him arbitration, and he actually might accept it. If he does stay, the choice is obvious. If Bell leaves, there's a decent internal option in Chad Qualls. Qualls, 33, has 51 career saves. As far as free agency, if the Padres want to pay for a closer, they'll be paying for Bell.
San Francisco: The Beard.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: 2012 free agency, 2012 MLB Free Agency, 2012 MLB Free Agents, 2012 MLB Hot Stove, Addison Reed, AL Central, AL East, AL West, Andrew Bailey, Andrew Bailey, Angels, Aroldis Chapman, Astros, Athletics, Bobby Parnell, Brad Boxberger, Brain Wilson, Brandon League, Braves, BRewers, C. Trent Rosecrans, Cardinals, Carlos Marmol, Casey Janssen, Chad Qualls, Chris PErez, Chris Perez, Craig Kimbrel, Cubs, Daniel Bard, Denard Span, Dodgers, Edward Mujica, Francisco Cordero, Francisco Rodriguez, Frank Francisco, free agency, free agent tracker, Giants, Glen Perkins, Heath Bell, Houston Street, Indians, Jason Motte, Javy Guerra, Jays, Jim Johnson, Joakim Soria, Joe Nathan, Joel Hanrahan, John Axford, Jon Rauch, Jonathan Broxton, Jonathan Papelbon, Jordan Walden, Jose Valverde, Kevin Gregg, Kyle Farnsworth, Leo Nunez, Mariano Rivera, Mariners, Mark Melacon, Marlins, Matt Snyder, Mets, Miek Adams, MLB Free Agency, MLB Free Agents, MLB Hot Stove, Nationals, Neftali Feliz, NL Central, NL East, NL West, Orioles, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Rafael Betancourt, Rangers, Rays, Red Sox, Reds, Rockies, Royals, Ryan Madson, Scott Downs, Sergio Santos, Storen, Tigers, Twins, White Sox, Yankees
Posted on: July 27, 2011 6:19 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2011 11:40 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
The trade deadline has increasingly become about prospects. A team selling needs to buy its future, and nothing screams future like prospects. Gone are the days that a fan base doesn't even blink at trading a young John Smoltz for Doyle Alexander -- even the buyers value their prospects more than ever now. No team wants to make the mistake the Braves made in 2007 when they sent Neftali Feliz and Elvis Andrus to Texas for a rental like Mark Teixeira.
Wheeler, 21, is 7-5 with a 3.99 ERA at high Class A San Jose this season. Wheeler was the Giants' first pick (sixth overall) in the 2009 draft out of a Georgia high school. Baseball America had him rated as the Giants' second-best prospect coming into the season behind Brandon Belt.
Here are some other prospects that may play a large role in whether a deal gets done or not by Sunday.
1. Yonder Alonso, Reds: The Reds raised eyebrows when they drafted Alonso in the first round in 2008 because of Joey Votto -- and that was before Votto had an MVP under his belt. Alonso has been playing left field in the minors, but is truly a first baseman and will have more value there than anywhere.
The Reds called Alonso up to the big leagues on Tuesday, but he may not want to rent a place in Cincinnati quite yet. Alonso has been mentioned as a potential replacement for Todd Helton at first base for the Rockies if the Rockies pull the trigger on an Ubaldo Jimenez trade.
Alonso was hitting .296/.374/.486 with 12 homers and 56 RBI in 91 games at Triple-A before his call-up. In his first big-league at-bat of the season on Tuesday, Alonso doubled as a pinch hitter. Alonso picked up six hits in 22 games at the end of last season, but appeared mostly as a pinch-hitter with the Reds chasing the pennant and having an MVP in the lineup.
2. Robbie Erlin, Rangers: The left-hander is 5-2 with a 4.32 ERA at Double-A Frisco this season after dominating high Class A in his first nine starts of the season.
Erlin doesn't have overpowering stuff, but is extremely polished for a 20-year old. The Rangers drafted Erlin in the third round in 2009 and gave him over slot money to sign.
Baseball Prospectus' Jason Parks noted that Erlin may not be the best fit for Rangers Ballpark because of his flyball tendancies. He also noted the team's first-rounder in 2011, Kevin Matthews, is similar to Erlin. Erlin's stuff projects much better to a National League team, Parks noted, especially a team like San Diego in a pitcher's park that can help out a flyball pitcher (see Harang, Aaron). And it just so happens, the Padres have exactly what the Rangers need -- bullpen help.
3. Jesus Montero, Yankees: Montero's name isn't quite as hot this year as he was last season when the Yankees were hot in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes and later in talks for Joakim Soria. But make no mistake about it, every team the Yankees call will bring up Montero quickly.
There are questions about where Montero will play in the future -- if he's a catcher, first baseman or DH -- but there are no questions about his bat. Montero, in his second year at Triple-A, has shown a drop in his slugging, but a .291/.350/.444 line with 10 homers and 47 RBI in 80 games is nothing to sneeze at, especially if he can catch.
The Phillies are reluctant to deal top prospect Domonic Brown, but are open to offers for Singleton because of the Howard factor. Just 19, Singleton is hitting .284/.386/.413 with nine home runs and 47 RBI for high Class A Clearwater. Last season he was the youngest regular in the South Atlantic League and had the third-highest on-base percentage (.393) and fourth-best slugging percentage (.479).
5. Addison Reed, White Sox: Here's an interesting one -- the White Sox are still hanging around the race and with a victory over the Tigers on Wednesday, Chicago is just 3 1/2 games out of first place in the division and 1 1/2 games behind Cleveland for second. The White Sox also upgraded their bullpen on Wednesday, adding Jason Frasor as well as minor leaguer Zach Stewart. Stewart made three starts for the Blue Jays, but has been used both as a starter and a reliever during his professional career.
Reed, a right-handed reliever, throws in the mid-90s and has a very good slider, projecting as a solid reliever and maybe future closer. However, minor-league relievers aren't as highly valued as any other position, meaning the White Sox may not get much for him straight up, but he would be a valuable add-in.
Reed, 22, was a closer for San Diego State behind Stephen Strasburg and has struck out 87 batters in 59 innings this season, pitching in four levels. He's currently at Triple-A Charlotte, where he's made one appearance.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.