Brandon Wood Rumors
On this date three years ago, the Blue Jays released Frank Thomas. He retired after a brief return engagment with the Athletics, hitting .301/.419/.555 in a career that should garner Hall of Fame consideration. Here's some links for the evening...
- TCU left-hander Matt Purke is out indefinitely with a sore shoulder according to Stefan Stevenson of The Star-Telegram. He will be evaluated by Dr. James Andrews later this week. Purke, who was expected to be one of the top picks in this June's draft, spoke to MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith last month.
- Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic says (on Twitter) that the Diamondbacks don't have interest in, or room on the roster for Brandon Wood.
- Jeremy Bonderman recently visited his former Tigers' teammates during their trip to Seattle, writes MLB.com's Jason Beck. The right-hander told reporters that he feels "great," and that he plans to visit the Tigers in Detroit in a few weeks. That would seem to indicate he isn't close to signing with a team.
- In a piece for ESPN Insider, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus breaks down some factors that are considered when a prospect is promoted to the big leagues or a higher minor league level.
- ESPN The Magazine published a list of the highest paid athletes from 182 countries. A dozen MLB players make the list, but that comes nowhere close to the number of soccer players making big bucks.
The Rangers and Angels are currently tied for first place in the AL West, with 11-6 records. The latest from the division:
- For what seems like the hundredth time, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik explained why he is not looking to trade ace Felix Hernandez. His latest comments came today on the Brock and Salk Show on 710 ESPN Seattle.
- The Rangers made a series of roster moves today, purchasing Brett Tomko's contract, recalling catcher Taylor Teagarden, putting Mason Tobin on the DL, and optioning Michael Kirkman. In the opinion of Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, they're likely to create a 40-man roster spot for Tomko by moving Wilmer Font to the 60-day DL.
- Leonys Martin awaits a work permit before his $15.5MM deal with Texas can be made official, reports Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald (link in Spanish). A source close to the negotiations told Ebro, "Everything should come through in one or two weeks, but the deal is still on, without any problems."
- MLB.com's Lyle Spencer fills us in on Brandon Wood, who was recently designated for assignment by the Angels. Spencer says Wood "is a shortstop in his heart and mind," and likes the Padres and Diamondbacks as fits for him. For a look at other possible matches for Wood, check out my article from earlier today.
Brandon Wood seems like he's been an Angels prospect forever. However, at this point he's 26 years old with 494 career big league plate appearances and a .168/.197/.259 line to his name. The Halos designated him for assignment last night, and a trade or claim seems likely.
Since Wood is out of options, any team giving up a prospect of value for him will have to be able to keep him in the Majors rather than risk exposing him to waivers. Wood can probably play an acceptable shortstop or third base. This scouting report is three years old, but before the '08 season Baseball America said Wood had unexceptional range but could "handle shortstop just fine," and he was "solid if unspectacular at third base." He's never played second base, but he might be passable there as well.
I'd like to see a non-contending team install Wood as the starting shortstop and just let him rip for 500 plate appearances. That plan might be unfair to players who don't have the "advantage" of being out of options. But the Pirates might as well try him over Ronny Cedeno. The Mets could be a fit, if they're thinking of trading Jose Reyes in a few months. Wood could man a middle infield position for the Astros, though they might consider themselves booked between Clint Barmes, Bill Hall, Angel Sanchez, and Jeff Keppinger. Likewise, the Mariners aren't contenders but would have to do some shuffling to get Wood regular at-bats.
Since they sit atop the AL Central at the moment, I won't rule out the Indians and Royals as contenders. But the Tribe might be able to get Wood some third base at-bats until they deem Lonnie Chisenhall ready. Wood could also keep the seat warm at the hot corner for Royals prospect Mike Moustakas.
The Twins, Brewers, and Dodgers were regarded as preseason contenders, but haven't been spectacular in the early going. All three clubs have question marks at shortstop, though Wood is certainly not a clear upgrade. The Marlins are cobbling together a solution at third base, though it's actually going well overall.
In the end, I expect Wood to land with a non-contending team like the Pirates. Like the Royals, the Bucs should still be thinking long-term even though they're technically in contention at the moment. But even in a lower-pressure environment I'm not sure Wood will get regular playing time, given how far his stock has fallen.
The Angels designated Brandon Wood for assignment to create roster space for Erick Aybar, who is coming off of the disabled list, according to Angels TV announcer Victor Rojas (on Twitter). After five years of disappointing performances in the majors, the Angels are finally ready to cut ties with the former first round pick, who is now out of options.
Wood followed up his poor 2010 season (.146/.174/.208 line) with a remarkably similar performance in 14 appearances this season (.154/.154/.231). The one-time top prospect will likely draw interest now that he's available; he has 161 minor league homers to his name, including 43 in 2005.
Eight years ago, Brandon Wood was a first-round pick (23rd overall) by the Angels. Five years ago, Baseball America dubbed him the third-best prospect in the game. He ranked 8th and 16th on that same list the following two seasons. Now, the 26-year-old Wood may be an organizational afterthought. According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, Wood's chances of making the Angels' roster are dim, barring a trade or release of fellow infielder Alberto Callaspo.
Wood hit just .146/.174/.208 last season through 243 plate appearances. He managed just six walks while striking out 71 times -- more than 29% of his plate appearances.
Wood is now out of options, meaning he'd have to pass through waivers unclaimed for the Angels to re-assign him to the minor leagues. Despite his struggles, it's unlikely this would happen, as a rebuilding team (DiGiovanna speculates on Toronto, specifically) would give him a chance based on his track record as an elite prospect.
Despite a strong push over the past week in Spring Training (7-19 with 2 HR, a double, and a triple), Wood remains buried on the team's depth chart. Maicer Izturis and Callaspo are ahead of him at third base, Erick Aybar and Izturis are ahead at short, while the combination Kendrys Morales (who will open the year on the DL), Mark Trumbo, and Howie Kendrick are in front of him on the first base depth chart.
DiGiovanna speculates that a trade of Callaspo to a team in need of infield help, such as the Phillies, would create room for Wood to make the club. We heard last week though that the Phillies payroll is tapped out, and Callaspo is set to earn $2MM this season. A release of Callaspo's non-guaranteed contract would also create room. The Angels, however, would still be responsible for part of his salary and would be risking a somewhat known commodity for Wood's upside, which may never surface.
It seems likely that Wood's time as an Angel may be coming to a close, with either a trade or DFA coming in the near future, giving him a chance at a fresh start in a new organization.
Here's a potpourri of news items as we head into the weekend...
- Chipper Jones talks to MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince about his recovery from knee surgery and his future in baseball. Jones was thinking of retirement last summer before, as Castrovince writes, "he started to hit like Chipper Jones again....And where the knee injury might have been the straw that broke the camel's back in June, in August, it served as a motivating factor to keep going."
- Laynce Nix has the been the subject of trade rumors, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson. Nix has a .251/.293/.445 career slash line against right-handed pitching and the Astros are reportedly in the market for a left-handed bench bat. Nix is currently in the Nationals' Spring Training camp on a minor league contract.
- Star prospect Mike Trout is turning heads at the Angels' Spring Training camp, reports MLB.com's Lyle Spencer.
- The Rockies will look internally to replace the injured Aaron Cook, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Already suffering from shoulder inflammation, Cook will be out until at least May due to a broken finger on his throwing hand.
- Tyler Kepner of the New York Times looks at the Rangers' offseason and how the team had a more-than-adequate "plan B" (Adrian Beltre) in mind when they failed to re-sign Cliff Lee.
- Jake Odorizzi might end up being the most important piece of the trade package the Royals received for Zack Greinke, says MLB.com's Dick Kaegel.
- Mariners manager Eric Wedge has brought a number of former Indians coaches and players with him to Seattle, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
- Brandon Wood has struggled this spring, while Mark Trumbo has had a big camp for the Angels. Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com thinks Trumbo's emergence means that the out-of-options Wood's "days in an Angels uniform appear to be numbered."
- It was almost a year ago that Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland underwent life-threatening brain surgery. Today, MLB.com's Evan Drellich writes that "doctors have already been amazed at the speed of his recovery" as Westmoreland is trying hard to regain both his basic motor skills and his baseball abilities.
We heard a few Orioles-related tidbits earlier today, and now MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli provides another handful. Ghiroli discussed the Orioles' offseason with president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, and MacPhail shared some thoughts on how the O's intend to approach free agency and trades this winter.
- The team's primary goal will be obtaining a middle-of-the-order hitter, with no specific position in mind. MacPhail suggests that adding an impact bat would benefit the rest of the lineup, by taking some pressure off the Orioles' current hitters.
- MacPhail sounds skeptical about acquiring pitching through free agency or trades, calling that approach "fragile and expensive" compared to developing young arms. However, he acknowledged that the club could once again look into acquiring a Kevin Millwood-esque veteran: "You want to have an innings eater because you never know what to expect from the youngsters. So someone like that would certainly be attractive to us."
- When approaching the free agent market for hitters, the Orioles would rather not take a flier on a Garrett Atkins type again. They are hoping to add players who are less risky than Atkins was, though MacPhail concedes that sometimes the way the market develops makes it necessary to take a gamble.
- Ghiroli speculates that, while the O's may not be able to attract the very best free agents like Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford, they will likely look hard at the group of players in the tier or two below: Victor Martinez, Paul Konerko, Derrek Lee, Jon Garland, and Brandon Webb, to name a few.
- Ghiroli predicts that the Orioles will stay in contact with most of their impending free agents, especially Ty Wigginton, Cesar Izturis, and Koji Uehara.
- The O's also made a minor roster move today, adding reliever Jim Hoey to their 40-man roster, reports Ghiroli.
Congratulations to the 2010 World Champion San Francisco Giants! Here are your links as the celebration begins...
- The Mets have not set up interviews for their managerial opening, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (on Twitter).
- Brewers owner Mark Attanasio told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the team is still gathering information about the four finalists for the job. Bobby Valentine appears to be the favorite and Ron Roenicke, Joey Cora and Bob Melvin are also candidates.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos told Chris Toman of The Sports Network that he isn’t opposed to trading prospects for big leaguers.
- Angels GM Tony Reagins told Dan Woike of the Orange County Register that he'll be as patient as possible with Brandon Wood, who has struggled to hit in the majors and is now out of options.
- Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune says it would be "stunning" to see the White Sox offer Bobby Jenks $9MM through arbitration.
A few more links for Friday evening, as the Reds homer for the 17th straight game....
- Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times explains what it means to be "out of options" and takes a look at how it affects Brandon Wood's current situation.
- Several teams have contacted the White Sox about Bobby Jenks, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. Cowley doesn't categorize any of the discussions as serious, but notes that Jenks is "very available." Earlier in the week, we heard that the Phillies were scouting the Sox' struggling closer.
- Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle explains in a tweet why he doesn't want to see the Giants attempt to acquire Prince Fielder.
- Schulman also tweets that although no deal is official yet, Pat Burrell is "leaning heavily" toward becoming a Giant.
- According to the Miami Herald's Fish Bytes blog, it'd make sense for the Marlins to pursue left-handed bullpen help later in the summer if they're still in contention. The piece names Will Ohman and Matt Thornton as possible targets.
- Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that the Indians are being patient with their roster for now, but changes could eventually be made.
- Cuban minor-leaguer Amaury Sanit has been suspended 50 games for violating baseball's drug policy, tweets Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. The right-hander had been pitching for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate.
With Spring Training wrapping up around the country, teams are finalizing their rosters and picking the 25 players they'll start the season with. There's always room for improvement, but some contenders have some very obvious weak spots on their rosters. Here's a look at some of them, which may need to be addressed during the season...
- Angels, third base: Brandon Wood and Maicer Izturis will get the first cracks at replacing Chone Figgins, but if neither is up to par, the Halos might be looking for a fill-in at the hot corner.
- Braves, outfielder: Superstar in training Jason Heyward will start the year in right, but incumbent centerfielder Nate McLouth had a brutal spring (6-for-51), which may push Melky Cabrera into full-time duty.
- Rays, setup man: With J.P. Howell on the shelf due to a bum shoulder, the team has no obvious candidate to hand the ball off to new closer Rafael Soriano. Dan Wheeler and Grant Balfour represent solid options, but if Howell misses more time than expected, the Rays might be looking to add a reliever.
- Twins, closer: This is the most obvious hole of them all. Joe Nathan is out for the season after having elbow surgery, and Jon Rauch will get the first chance to replace him.
- Yankees, left field: The team is breaking camp with Brett Gardner, Randy Winn, and Marcus Thames set to share time in left, but we've already seen a scenario laid out in which they might need help sooner rather than later.
That doesn't include all of the clubs that could very well be looking to add a starting pitcher at some point, like the Mariners, Mets, Phillies, Cubs, and Dodgers. Some other holes aren't so obvious though. Maybe the Red Sox could use another reliever (who couldn't?), or perhaps Seattle will go looking for a big bat that fits into their extreme run prevention plan.
What other areas of need to do you see out there for contenders?