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On to some notes from the AL Central …
- Royals GM Dayton Moore discussed his team-building philosophies with MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. He cited a focus on defense and “usable speed” among position players. When asked about his remarkable hit rate on last year’s crop of free agents, Moore credited the organization’s culture: “I think it goes back to the type of the culture our coaches and our players are able to present to make it possible to be successful. It’s Ned [Yost] and his staff and the other players have created a culture in the clubhouse that makes it comfortable for new players to come in and play well and do well in. That allows them to do what they can do. Those players all have had success in the past, but will blossom, so to speak, in the right environment.” There’s plenty more of interest if you follow the link to the interview.
- White Sox righty Matt Albers did about everything he could to set up his free agent case down the stretch, as MLB.com’s Scott Merkin writes. The 32-year-old put up 22 1/3 scoreless frames over his last twenty appearances despite failing to crack 90 mph in average fastball velocity. He credits a new offspeed offering for the success: “I started throwing a different kind of changeup last year, and I think it has just been able to help me with left-handed hitters and being more consistent with my slider and the location of my fastball,” Albers said. “As long as I’m keeping it down and have them hitting it in the ground, hopefully guys make the plays behind you. It’s pretty much a simple approach, but I’m able to execute that.”
- There are plenty of questions facing the White Sox this winter, but ESPNChicago.com’s Doug Padilla says none is more important than shortstop. The club has to decide on its $10MM option over Alexei Ramirez, which could still make sense despite his poor season and advancing age. Otherwise, the club could look to use Tyler Saladino as a bridge to prospect Tim Anderson or it could enter a free agent market featuring Ian Desmond and several less promising options.
- Indians closer Cody Allen says he’s very open to an extension after a big year, as MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. “I would absolutely love to,” he said in regards to talking over a multi-year deal. “I think anybody in this clubhouse would love to. We have a great staff here, a great group of guys, and the city of Cleveland has treated me very well. I would love to play here for a very, very long time. If that opportunity presents itself, I’d definitely be open to it.” Allen’s 2.99 ERA is not quite indicative of the quality season he put up, which featured 12.9 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 and sterling marks from many ERA estimators. MLBTR’s arbitration projections, courtesy of Matt Swartz, project Allen to reach a $3.5MM salary in his first year of eligibility — based largely, of course, on his save tallies.
- The Indians have many sure things but also many moving pieces on their future roster, as Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer explores. It’s likely that the club will part with Ryan Raburn (rather than exercising his $3MM option and keeping him) despite his strong batting line, with plans to utilize Chris Johnson (whose salary is largely unmovable) as a right-handed-hitting corner man. He could share time with Lonnie Chisenhall in right field, says Pluto. Likewise, it’s unlikely that Mike Aviles will be re-signed, as Jose Ramirez can fill his up-the-middle infield utility role.