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Author Archives: Aaron Shinsano
25 year-old first baseman Joe Koshansky played for the same University of Virginia team as Ryan Zimmerman and Mark Reynolds. Like Reynolds he was drafted in 2004, falling (to the surprise of some) to the sixth round (pick 190).
He’s moved steadily through the Rockies system and in 2005 was named Baseball America’s Rockies Minor League Player of the Year after hitting .291/.373/.603 with 36 home runs in 453 A ball at bats. He’s maintained similar averages at Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Colorado Springs, although his power has steadily declined. On top of that, Koshansky plays at the highest elevation of any pro park in the country.
He’s also a bit of a stikeout artist — once every four plate appearances through his minor league career. In this sense he’s the antithesis of Todd Helton, the guy currently occupying first for the Rockies. Unless Helton (signed through 2011 for a mountain of money) goes into severe mid-30s decline or is injured Koshansky is officially blocked at first.
Koshansky has said he’s open to moving to a corner outfield position, but with Brad Hawpe having signed an extension, and ongoing talks to sign Matt Holliday long term, a switch to the outfield is even less likely than getting past Helton. For the time being he’s stuck in Colorado Springs where he’s currently leading the team in both HRs and total bases to go along with a .441 OBP.
Time to cast this line out and see who’s biting. With Franklin Morales off to a terrible start and Mark Redman being Mark Redman, one would think the Rockies might be on the lookout for a starter come July. Flipping Koshansky could be the ticket. The Rox were able to snag a couple of live arms back in ’06 when they traded Ryan Shealy to KC.
Aaron Shinsano writes for East Windup Chronicle.
One of the key components of the Adam LaRoche to Pittsburgh deal in early 2007 was shortstop Brent Lillibridge, who came over to the Braves along with Mike Gonzalez. Lillibridge, who had a decent shot of making the Braves as a utility player this spring, was one of the team’s final cuts and will start the year in Richmond.
Lillibridge’s instincts have always drawn raves and he’s matured quickly. Many would argue he’s Major League ready now. But for the foreseeable future he’s blocked by Yunel Escobar, himself a newly appointed starter. Lillibridge managed a .400 OBP during two Class-A stops in 2006. In 2007 he hit 10 homers in 87 games at Triple-A Richmond and projects as a 15-20 HR guy in the bigs. He’s got good, but not blazing speed. Yet in 309 minor league games he’s swiped 105 bases, including 28 with an 85% success rate in Richmond. It’s the instincts, man.
However, with Escobar’s fantastic close to the 2007 season there was little doubt who the Braves starting shortstop would be going into 2008. Lillibridge had a shot to make the team as a utility player, and in early March was even given a surprise start at third by manager Bobby Cox despite not having played the position since the 2004 Cape Cod summer league. "He can play, man," said Cox after the game when questioned about the move. Lillibridge also saw time at second and in center (where he spent two seasons in college) during the spring.
The reason he didn’t head north with the team this year was partly because he hit just .224 this spring (and led the team with 18 whiffs), but also because the team would like to get him regular at bats, something that wouldn’t happen if he’d made the team as a bench player. At the very least a late season callup seems in order, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he’d get some starts in center should Mark Kotsay‘s back flare up.
You get the feeling Cox would like to find a place for Lillibridge. His name often surfaces in trade talks, but that probably has more to do with other GMs coveting him than any willingness to deal on the part of the Braves. Still, it’s fun to think about what an "intangibles" kind of player like Lillibridge might fetch. He could end up being a key piece to the Braves getting a top player for the stretch run.
As expected the Rangers DFA’d outfielder Nelson Cruz and pitcher Robinson Tejeda over the weekend. Tejeda is a casualty of the Rangers’ Friday deal for Dustin Nippert, and has been undergoing a thus far unsuccessful transition to the bullpen. He went 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA during the spring, but did manage to run a streak of four scoreless appearances prior to giving up a game-ending RBI triple to Felix Pie last week.
Cruz’s release was expected. There was some light talk of him possibly being moved to Tampa last week, but that evaporated when the Rays acquired former Angels prospect Nathan Haynes. Ironically, according to Lone Star Ball, Haynes was once offered to Texas along with Casey Kotchman in a proposed deal for Mark Teixeira. Sands through the hourglass…
Control problems have always plagued Tejeda (67/60 K/BB in 2007), but he’s got a live fastball that touches the upper 90s and a decent change to compliment it. Plus he owns Orlando Cabrera (1 for 10 lifetime). It seems likely someone might give the 6′ 3" Dominican another shot.
The Rocky Mountain News is reporting Marcus Giles was informed he won’t make the club despite his solid spring. Giles wasn’t on the list of players being sent to the minors (a list which included Victor Zambrano), but the speculation is that he will be released and given a chance to hook on with another team. The Dodgers would seem like an obvious fit, but it’s likely several teams will be in the running.
Giles hit .321/.457/.536 over 13 games, with four doubles and nine runs scored. He was also 3 for 3 in steal attempts. However, the likely starter at second Jayson Nix was equal to the task, hitting .286/.459/.643 with three HRs.
The team also announced it plans to use Kip Wells out of the bullpen to start 2008. That seemingly leaves Franklin Morales (6.48 ERA in 16.2 innings), Mark Redman (7.23 ERA in 18.2 innings) and Josh Towers (7.20 ERA in 15 innings) in competition for the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation.
Some nuggets from today…
- The Braves look to be the market for a bat off the bench and according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution it’s not likely to be a minor name. O’Brien asked Wren if the Braves "had money to add a player of significant salary to their payroll," throwing out an accompanying figure of $3-4MM, to which Wren said yes "without hesitation." Let’s use this to set the stage for what should be an interesting late spring Reed Johnson sweepstakes.
- Evan Grant of the The Dallas Morning News believes that Jason Botts 2 for 5 performance on Saturday versus the Mariners has locked up a roster spot for the young DH/1B. Speculation is that Kevin Mench, who can be optioned, would be sent to the minors and that Nelson Cruz could be designated for assignment.
- MLB.com speculates the ugly spring put up by Aaron Fultz may have played a part in the team’s decision to claim Craig Breslow off waivers from the Red Sox. Fultz has put up an 11.88 ERA in just over eight innings and last week he gave up four runs on five hits during a performance against Double-A Akron in an intrasquad game last week.
At the end of his most recent column Ken Rosenthal posits a nightmare scenario for the Angles, going back to 2001 when the Mariners cracked out to a 20-4 start to seize the AL West crown before May Day. With John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar on the shelf for at least 4-6 weeks, should the Angels be concerned going into 2008? Is a move to pick up an extra starter in order?
The team is looking at filling 14-16 starts. With a surplus of outfielders the Angels are certainly in position to make a move. They could opt for a back of rotation innings eater like the Brewers Chris Capuano or the Reds’ Matt Belisle. Or, the team could really make a splash and dive head first into the Joe Blanton sweepstakes. David Bush might fill out the rotation nicely, through April and beyond.
Another possibility is a move toward the scrap heap, which got a slight upgrade this past week with the addition of Horacio Ramirez. Think Horacio might like a shot at the April 11 contest up at Safeco? How about reuniting brothers Jeff and Jared Weaver for one last sentimental run? And then there’s always the possibility of getting Southern Cali comfort David Wells off the couch for a month or two of solid work.
The LA Times sees General Manager Tony Reagins looking in-house to try and bridge the gap. Lefty Joe Saunders and righty Ervin Santana become your No. 3 and 4 starters, and Dustin Moseley, who made eight starts for the team in 2007, becomes your No. 5. Pencil in young gun Nick Adenhart for an outside shot at getting some innings, if not as a starter possibly as a long-reliever.
While talking to reporters Saturday, Rockies General manager Dan O’Dowd tried to make it clear he has no plans to trade infielder Clint Barmes. His name recently surfaced in rumors with the Angels and Orioles.
However, according to the Denver Post, O’Dowd’s reaction was decidedly less definitive regarding the possibility of dealing reserve outfielder Cory Sullivan. Why? It’s likely due to the torrid spring of Scott Podsednik, who on Saturday made a "full tilt, horizontal to the ground, fully extended" diving catch (this according to manager Clint Hurdle) to rob Rangers’ DH Jason Botts of an hit.
This spring Podsednik leads the Rockies in steals, swiping six in seven attempts. He’s also getting on base at a .529 clip. Can Pods make a return to his 2005 form and make the Rockies? One would think he’d at least help fill the speed void left by the departure of Kaz Matsui.
During 2007 Pirates prospect Steve Pearce hit a combined .333 with 31 home runs, 40 doubles, 113 RBI, and a .622 slugging percentage. The soon-to-be 25 year-old was named both Offensive Player of the Year by MiLB.com and the Topps Minor League Player of the Year. He ranks #43 on Kevin Goldstein’s Top 100 Prospects list for 2008 and received a callup last September. Yet, as of Monday he was reportedly sweating it when the team announced several cuts.
Pearce had played first base since he was drafted, but with the Pirates looking to locking up Adam LaRoche long term the team rerouted him to the outfield. The Pirates flirted with the transition late last year, giving Pearce 10 games in right prior to his call-up. Once in Pittsburgh he started 17 games in right field and only two at first. He hit .294/.342/.397 over 68 plate appearances; his bat appears nearly Major League ready.
Jason Bay and Xavier Nady await, each simmering on the hot stove. It’s a poorly guarded secret the Pirates would love to ditch Nady, but a recent chat with the Mets didn’t go anywhere. Bay was also the subject of several trade talks during the offseason and would likely come closer to fetching the young pitching prospects GM Neal Huntington craves (his short list is unlikely to include Scott Schoeneweis).
This all puts Huntington in a fairly comfortable position. He can afford to send Pearce back to Indy to get a few more reps at the new position while he waits for the right deal. But with Pearce’s bat looking to be big league ready, how long are Pirates fans willing to wait?
With yesterday’s signing of Brad Hawpe the Rockies have now locked up five young players through at least 2010 over the past 14 months. Impressive. The Denver Post says Garrett Atkins would be "the next logical candidate" for a deal, but that his situation continues to be complicated by Ian Stewart, who the Rockies are attempting to move over to second to avoid a logjam.
Naturally Matt Holliday‘s name came up in light of the Hawpe signing, but owner Dick Monfort tried to keep that at bay, calling the situation "a different animal, not related to these contracts."
This spring training is Stewart’s third with the team. He started and played four innings at second today, but didn’t have anything hit his way. He’s battling Jeff Baker, Omar Quintanilla, Jayson Nix, Clint Barmes, and Marcus Giles for the starting job in what should be one of the more interesting position battles this spring. Nix may have the edge, but the team would love for Stewart to help them avoid the Atkins question altogether by making a smooth transition.
As early as April 2007 the Padres and Mike Cameron had seemed destined to go their separate ways, but the flames were rekindled down the stretch and the flirtation continued well into December to the point that a re-signing seemed likely.
Of course Cameron ran off to Milwaukee, but the two parties remain embroiled in a he said/they said with little reconciliation in sight. Tom Krasovic has the latest chapter in which Cameron shoots down the rumor he took a discount in signing with the Brewers, saying "I’m not stupid," and claiming the Padres punched his ticket when Jim Edmonds was brought to town via trade.
General Manager Kevin Towers claims Cameron’s side was looking for 2-years/$10MM, so the Padres never even made an offer. “Why make an offer if they said they’re not going to take less than $10 million?" Towers said.