April 2013

NL Notes: Cashner, Rizzo, Phillies, Thome, Wheeler

Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner feels that the January 2012 trade that sent him to San Diego (with Kyung-Min Na) for Anthony Rizzo and Zach Cates was good for him and for Rizzo, Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. "I think it was a trade that certainly worked out well for both players involved," Cashner says. "The pitcher got to move to a pitcher’s ballpark. The hitter got to move to a hitter’s ballpark."

Rizzo, meanwhile, feels there wasn't a place for him in San Diego. "As soon as they traded for Yonder Alonso, I don’t think I was in the Padres’ plans," he says. "I can understand it. Yonder was probably better suited to Petco Park than I was." Rizzo had a strong season with the Cubs in 2012, while Cashner has struck out 19 batters in his first 19 1/3 innings in 2013 while showing off mid-90s velocity. Here are more notes from around the National League.

  • The Phillies face "major questions," Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci writes. Pitchers Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay will cost the team $64.5MM in 2013, but it's questionable whether the rest of the roster can support them, Verducci argues. Big expenditures on those three pitchers, plus star veterans Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, meant the Phillies had to build a cheap outfield, says Verducci. The biggest problem in the outfield so far this season, however, is that Domonic Brown and Ben Revere have struggled. Those players aren't highly-paid, but they also aren't on the roster merely because they're cheap. Revere posted 3.1 wins above replacement in 2012, and Brown was a highly-regarded prospect. "We have a lot of guys in the outfield who have never done it over a full season and are starting to get older, as far as being considered young players," a Phillies employee says.
  • Jim Thome, who played for the Phillies and Orioles in 2012, is hoping to return to baseball later this season, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. "He still thinks he can play," says Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. "He misses the game. Baseball is his identity. That’s all he’s done for 20-some years or so. He's kind of having a hard time adjusting."
  • Before a strong start today against Reno, top Mets prospect Zack Wheeler was struggling to adjust at Triple-A Las Vegas, John Harper of the New York Daily News writes. Mets fans are waiting for Wheeler to join the big-league rotation. "Obviously I want to be up there, but you can’t think about it because it will distract you, take your mind off what you’re trying to do down here," Wheeler says. Wheeler currently has a 4.80 ERA. Las Vegas is one of the toughest places to pitch in the minor leagues, however, and the fact that he's allowed a few too many runs there might not mean Wheeler isn't ready for the Majors, especially with 10.8 K/9 so far this year.

Minor Moves: Teahen, Laffey, Wells, Patterson

We'll keep track of today's minor moves here.

  • The Reds acquired infielder/outfielder Mark Teahen from the Diamondbacks for cash or a player to be named later, according to the D'Backs.  Teahen, 31, was hitting .209/.321/.254 in 81 Triple-A plate appearances after struggling offensively in the Washington organization at that level last year.  He was drafted in the first round by the A's in 2002 and spent five seasons with the Royals, hitting 18 home runs in '06.
  • The Dodgers have signed pitcher Aaron Laffey to a minor-league deal, Chris Cotillo of CLNS Radio reports. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes has confirmed the signing. Laffey has been designated for assignment by the Mets and Blue Jays so far this season, and he elected free agency yesterday instead of accepting an outright assignment from the Jays. Laffey has appeared in five big-league games so far this year.
  • Rangers minor-leaguer Randy Wells has retired, FOX Sports Southwest's Anthony Andro reports (on Twitter). Wells, 30, finished sixth in NL Rookie of the Year balloting in 2009, when he was with the Cubs. He appeared in 98 big-league games, mostly with Chicago, posting a 4.08 ERA, 5.9 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9. He made five starts in 2013 for the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock.
  • The Mariners have signed outfielder Corey Patterson to a minor-league deal, MLB.com's Greg Johns reports (on Twitter). Patterson will report to extended spring training. Patterson, 33, hit .251/.285/.410 for the Brewers' Triple-A team in Nashville in 2012. He has played for the Cubs, Orioles, Reds, Nationals, Brewers, Blue Jays and Cardinals.

Diamondbacks Sign Juan Rivera

The Diamondbacks have signed veteran 1B/OF Juan Rivera to a minor-league contract, MLB.com's Tyler Emerick reports. Rivera will spend the next week to ten days in extended spring training, and will likely play in the minor leagues after that, Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com tweets.

Rivera, 34, spent spring training with the Yankees, who released him in March. He hit .244/.286/.375 in 312 at bats for the Dodgers in 2012. In his career, Rivera has hit .274/.323/.443 with the Yankees, Expos, Angels, Blue Jays and Dodgers.

AL Notes: Astros, Draft, Andino, Nelson

The Astros haven't yet decided who they're taking with the first overall pick in the 2013 Draft, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com reports. Possible candidates for the top pick include college pitchers Mark Appel, Jonathan Gray and Sean Manaea; college hitter Kris Bryant; and high school outfielders Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows. "I think it's important to keep scouting them until the very end," says Astros scouting director Mike Elias. "We're making sure we're keeping the field as open as we can. We are not going to make that decision when there's no reason to, six weeks before the Draft." The Astros' draft signing bonus pool, which stands at $11.7MM this year, could play into their decision about who to draft. In 2012, the Astros took Carlos Correa first overall and signed him for significantly less than his bonus pool allotment, allowing them to take high-upside talents like Lance McCullers Jr. later in the draft. Here are more notes from around the American League.

Orioles Designate Luis Exposito For Assignment

The Orioles have designated catcher Luis Exposito for assignment in order to make room on their 40-man roster for catcher Chris Snyder, MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli reports. The Orioles acquired Snyder from the Angels on Sunday, and it appeared likely that Snyder, rather than Exposito, would be the backup to Matt Wieters while Taylor Teagarden was out with a thumb injury.

Exposito, 26, made his big-league debut with the Orioles in 2012, playing in nine games. He hit .218/.259/.273 for Triple-A Norfolk this year, after hitting .268/.326/.420 there in 2012.

AL West Notes: Astros, Hamilton, Mariners

GM Jeff Luhnow and the Astros have some unusual methods, but don't believe everything you hear, says Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. There's no truth to the rumor that the Astros won't allow their minor-league hitters to swing at 3-2 pitches, for example. The Astros are using a piggyback system at all their minor-league levels, planning to use two starting pitchers, one after the other, in each game. The Astros feel that system allows them to distribute innings to their best pitchers, and to protect their health. But that system appears to be breaking down at the Triple-A level, since some Triple-A pitchers have already been promoted to the majors and another, John Ely, went down with Tommy John surgery. "Basically, the argument for having eight instead of five (at Triple A) is dissipating quickly," says Luhnow. Here are more notes from the AL West.

  • Josh Hamilton's aggressive approach at the plate is clouding his future and could make his contract with the Angels a very bad one, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs argues. Cameron says that Hamilton needs to make adjustments and stop chasing bad pitches, because right now, "Hamilton is just a hack who has terrible at-bats and makes a lot of outs." Currently, Hamilton is hitting .202/.246/.298 while swinging at 45% of pitches outside the strike zone.
  • The Mariners dodged a bullet when the Angels signed Hamilton, Cameron argues at USS Mariner. The Mariners reportedly offered Hamilton four years and $100MM, with two vesting options that would have brought the total value of the contract to $150MM. But Hamilton signed with the Angels for $125MM guaranteed instead.

Marlins Promote Marcell Ozuna

The Marlins have promoted 22-year-old right fielder Marcell Ozuna, who will make his big league debut tonight against Jeremy Hefner and the Mets.  Ozuna, who was already on the team's 40-man roster, replaces slugger Giancarlo Stanton.  Stanton hit the DL with a Grade 2 hamstring strain and will be out a few weeks in the best case scenario, tweets Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald among others.

Ozuna ranked 75th on Baseball America's top 100 prospects list, but failed to place on Keith Law's list for ESPN or the MLB.com list.  Prior to the season, BA wrote that Ozuna "oozes tools, particularly with his plus-plus raw power and a cannon arm."  He opened the season on the DL with a broken left wrist but showed no ill effects in ten Double-A games.  If Ozuna manages to stick in the Majors permanently, a tall order, he'll accumulate 153 days of big league service this year and qualify for arbitration as a Super Two player after the 2015 season.  He'd be under team control through 2019.

Rays Designate Shelley Duncan For Assignment

The Rays designated DH/first baseman Shelley Duncan for assignment, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter).  The move was made in order to create roster space for Luke Scott.

Duncan, 33, struggled in 64 plate appearances for the Rays after signing a minor league deal in January and making the team out of Spring Training given Scott's injury.  He's shown pop at times in the Majors, slugging .430 with 33 home runs in 770 plate appearances over 2010-12.  A right-handed hitter, Duncan hasn't shown a significant platoon split in his career with the Yankees, Indians, and Rays.

Shelley is the brother of former Cardinals outfielder Chris Duncan, and the son of legendary Cards pitching coach Dave Duncan.  Shelley's 43 career home runs rank 14th among those born in Arizona; he's a dozen behind his brother but 105 behind all-time leader Ian Kinsler.

MLBTR Chat Transcript

Click below to read the transcript of today's chat with Tim Dierkes.


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Pirates Designate Jonathan Sanchez For Assignment

The Pirates announced that they have designated pitcher Jonathan Sanchez for assignment.  The move will open up a roster spot for right-hander Bryan Morris.

Sanchez, 30, signed a minor league deal with the Pirates in February.  He was an Article XX(B) signing and hooked on with the big league roster thanks to injuries in the Bucs' rotation.  

On the year, Sanchez owns a 11.85 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 5.3 BB/9 through four starts and one relief appearance.  The left-hander's contract called for him to earn $1.375MM this season and Pittsburgh will be on the hook if they cannot find a taker in the next ten days.