Author Archives: Brad Johnson

West Notes: Rockies, Rosario, Heaney, Tropeano

An overhaul of the Rockies pitching process could pay dividends, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The club brought in Steve Foster and Darren Holmes to serve as the pitching and bullpen coaches, and the new organizational hierarchy is expected to provide better leadership and creativity. Additionally, the club has moved Wilin Rosario to the third catcher role. The addition of Nick Hundley over the offseason should help the staff perform at a higher level. Rosenthal notes that Rosario is viewed as a poor defensive catcher who allowed too many passed balls, rarely caught base stealers, struggled with game calling, and worked too slowly behind the plate. Of course, these changes don’t solve the long standing issue of pitching in a massive, elevated stadium.  That’s up to the new front office.

  • Speaking of the Rockies front office, GM Jeff Bridich is excited about the new internal structure, writes Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Bridich hears the criticism that the new group is too tied to the old guard. He is quick to point out that this is a developing front office team. The decision to bring in Hundley was the opening gambit for Bridich. The move should help the entire pitching staff.
  • The Angels plan to open the season with four starting pitchers, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times. That means offseason acquisitions Nick Tropeano and Andrew Heaney will open the year in Triple-A. The Angels don’t need a fifth starter until April 14, so they’ll roster an additional reliever for Opening Day. Garrett Richards is working his way back from injury. He probably won’t be ready for the April 14 start, but he could be back before much longer.

East Notes: Herrera, Lough, Rays

Here’s the latest from the East coast:


Central Notes: Garcia, Marcum, Brewers, Ramirez

After visiting with a team physician, Cardinals pitcher Jaime Garcia has been diagnosed with arm fatigue, writes Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. Garcia is still trying to work his way back from surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. He was on track to earn the fifth slot in the rotation, but will now miss the opening week. As Langosch noted, former Cardinal Chris Carpenter failed in his return bid from the surgery, although he was older at the time. One of Carlos Martinez or Marco Gonzales will likely replace Garcia.

  • Indians pitcher Shaun Marcum will report to Triple-A to start the season, tweets Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He’s currently still in big league camp and was informed last Tuesday that he would not make the Opening Day roster. He last appeared in the majors in 2013 with the Mets. He made 14 appearances and 12 starts with a 5.29 ERA.
  • Brewers GM Doug Melvin does not anticipate adding any players from outside of the organization for the Opening Day roster, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Rather, all roster decisions will pertain to players already in the system.
  • The Brewers and Aramis Ramirez will meet to discuss how he’ll be used this season, reports Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Leg injuries plagued Ramirez last year, so the thought is that frequent rest could improve his durability. The current plan is to sit him once a week with other off days built in as needed. Of course, no plan will be immutable. Ramirez and the Brewers will respond to how he feels and matchups.

 



Rangers Release Ryan Ludwick

The Rangers have released Ryan Ludwick from his minor league contract, tweets Rangers EVP of Communications John Blake. He was informed earlier this week that he would not make the Opening Day roster.

The 36-year-old outfielder scuffled over the last two seasons with the Reds. In 400 plate appearances, he hit .244/.308/.375 with nine home runs. Ludwick got a late start to his major league career, finally breaking out with the Cardinals in his age 29 season. His last successful season came in 2012, when he blasted 26 home runs with a .275/.346/.531 line. He hit just .200/.188/.300 in 30 plate appearances this spring.


Brewers Release Chris Perez

The Brewers have released reliever Chris Perez, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Perez was in camp on a minor league deal. He was granted his release rather than re-assigned so he can look for another big league opportunity (also Twitter).

Perez, 29, pitched 46 innings for the Dodgers in 2014. He posted a 4.27 ERA with 7.58 K/9 and 4.86 BB/9. The former Indians closer has locked down 133 career saves, but he began to struggle with command and control in 2013. His stuff has remained largely intact, including a 94 mph fastball. He pitched to a 2.70 ERA this spring with five strikeouts and three walks in 10 innings.


Nationals Notes: Uggla, Janssen, Injuries, Strasburg, Zimmermann

Second baseman Dan Uggla has done enough to make the Opening Day roster, but it’s unclear how he’ll be used, writes Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider. After a couple dismal seasons, Uggla is in camp as a NRI. He’s hit a solid .278/.422/.500 after undergoing a new vision treatment over the offseason.

His lack of defensive versatility makes him difficult to roster. The club intends to use Yunel Escobar  at second base with Danny Espinosa as a utility infielder. Uggla has an opt out, so he’s unlikely to remain with the organization if he’s assigned to the minors. Per Uggla, he wouldn’t feel comfortable in a reserve role. Once Anthony Rendon returns from injury, it’s hard to imagine the Nationals finding a place to keep Uggla.

  • Reliever Casey Janssen will undergo a MRI on his sore pitching shoulder, reports James Wagner of the Washington Post. Manager Matt Williams described the injury as “generally it’s in his lat…it’s not something that’s normal soreness for him.” That’s worrisome because he missed time with a lat injury late last season. He’s also dealt with other shoulder injuries in the past. Janssen signed a one-year, $3.5MM over the winter and is expected to serve as the eighth inning reliever for the Nationals.
  • GM Mike Rizzo won’t be tinkering with the roster much in the coming days. When asked if he could add players before the opener, he told reporters, including Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider (on Twitter), “We’re satisfied.  We like the team we have.” The injury bug has bitten multiple Nats player, including Denard Span and Rendon.
  • The Nationals may allow star pitchers Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg to walk via free agency, writes Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post. The reason has nothing to do with their performance. Both pitchers received Tommy John surgery in the past. Per Boswell, the “life expectancy” for the reconstructed elbow is eight years. Jeff Zimmerman of FanGraphs estimates that risk of re-injury increases sharply after just 400 to 600 innings. In either event, the injury history may partially explain the club’s willingness to add Max Scherzer over the offseason.

Quick Hits: Concussions, Red Sox, Rays, Richard, Tomas

It may seem obvious, but a study has now shown that concussions diminish offensive performance, reports Nicholas Bakalar of the New York Times. The study appeared in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. A total of 66 position players were included in it. The group hit .249/.315/.393 in the two weeks prior to injury and .227/.287/.347. Some of the players involved never went on the disabled list. Based on the Times article, it’s unclear if more detailed analysis was performed. For example, missing time for any reason would hypothetically reduce performance some unknown amount. So it’s probably incorrect to attribute the entire decline to concussions alone.

Here’s more from around baseball:

  • ESPN’s Buster Olney has “real concerns about the Red Sox,” reports Nik Beimler on WEEI.com. Olney identified problems with four of the five members of the rotation. Rick Porcello was the one guy who didn’t draw a negative comment. While Cole Hamels is often connected to the Sox, Olney thinks they should wait on any trades. “I think there will be a lot of opportunities to trade for pitching during the course of summer.” Even with inconsistent pitching, the club could still hit enough to reach the postseason.
  • The Rays may need to play roster roulette while they wait for Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly, and Alex Colome to recover, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The rotation will affect the number of NRIs the club can add. Presently, Bobby Wilson, Jake Elmore, Brandon Gomes, and Everett Teaford are battling for one or two spots (pending a trade of David DeJesus). Teaford may have a temporary advantage since he can provide long relief or a spot start.
  • Pirates pitcher Clayton Richard can opt out of his contract at the end of spring training, tweets Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Per Richard, he can opt out if not on the 40-man roster. He’s the latest in a long string of reclamation projects for the Pirates. His last successful season came in 2012 when he allowed a 3.99 ERA with 4.40 K/9 and 1.73 BB/9 in 218 innings.
  • Based upon interviews of rival scouts and executives, nobody believes Diamondbacks third baseman Yasmany Tomas can remain in the infield, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Most cited his thick body type, although they also said he doesn’t have the hands for the position. If Tomas moves to the outfield, it will create a roster crunch for Arizona. The current plan is to share playing time in left field between David Peralta, Ender Inciarte, and Cody Ross. Of course, the club could option Tomas to the minors too.

White Sox Notes: Williams, Penny, Robertson

White Sox Executive Vice President Kenny Williams was included in the Blue Jays executive search, recalls Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune. However, he’s happy with his current post. While he misses trade talks and the other daily duties of a GM, he now has more flexibility in his schedule. Williams has the final say in personnel decisions, but he doesn’t have to manage the day-to-day operations. That duty falls to GM Rick Hahn.

Here’s more from Chicago’s south side:

  • NRI Brad Penny will earn $100K if he is assigned to Triple-A, tweets Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago. Penny, 36,  appeared in eight games for the Marlins last season, including four starts. His last full season was in 2009. He has a 4.29 ERA, 5.95 K/9, and 2.89 BB/9 in 1,925 career innings.
  • The Sox have a history of building cheap bullpens under the current leadership, but they reversed course for the 2015 season, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. The club didn’t have a good bullpen plan entering last season, and it showed in the results. Per manager Robin Ventura, “when you’re not confident in the seventh, eighth and ninth, it just deflates your team. If you blow it late, and if they don’t feel that they can win consistently, it just sucks the life out of them.” The new look relief corps, which includes David Robertson and Zach Duke, should do a much better job maintaining late game leads. The White Sox blew 21 saves last season.
  • Chicago liked that Robertson succeeded with the Yankees after Mariano Rivera‘s retirement, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. His ability to thrive on the biggest stage helped the club to make a pricey multi-year commitment to Robertson. The Yankees were also interested in re-signing him, but didn’t want to go as high as the Sox. Instead, New York was able to sign Andrew Miller for slightly less and net a compensation draft pick.

East Notes: Izturis, Travis, Matusz, Brown, Matz

Here’s the latest from the league’s eastern divisions.


NL East Notes: Hand, McKirahan, Hand, Olivera, Heyward

Confirming an earlier report, the Marlins are discussing Brad Hand with the Rangers, reports Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Hand is not a lock to make the club out of spring training, but the club is also motivated by a need to replenish some minor league depth. The Marlins included minor leaguers in trades for Dee Gordon, Dan Haren, Mat Latos, and Martin Prado.

  • A “host” of clubs have inquired about Rule 5 pick Andrew McKirahan, per Spencer. The Marlins selected the southpaw reliever from the Cubs. The Marlins don’t have a spot for McKirahan, so they’ll attempt to trade him. It’s expected that another club would claim McKirahan if he were exposed to waivers.
  • Miami is shopping left-handed relievers, but they’re not interested in trading Mike Dunn, tweets Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Dunn is the most established left-handed reliever on the Marlins staff. Last year, the situational lefty pitched to a 3.16 ERA with 10.58 K/9 and 3.47 BB/9.
  • Verifying an earlier report, the Braves will not go to six years for Hector Olivera, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. We heard earlier last week that Olivera was seeking a sixth year.
  • The Braves played against Jason Heyward and the Cardinals for the first time since trading him, observed Paul Hagen of MLB.com. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez hears that Heyward has already made an impact in the Cardinals locker room. While trading Heyward was painful for Braves, they acquired a couple important, long term building blocks in Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins.