Joe Wieland Rumors
With all the bad news on pitching injuries in recent days, it was refreshing to hear at least some positive reports. Earlier today, we learned that Jon Niese of the Mets is not in need of surgery. And later this evening, Padres GM Josh Byrnes said that an MRI on Joe Wieland's right elbow did not reveal UCL damage, as Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union Tribune reports. Wieland will still be monitored and assessed closely over the coming days, particularly as he is still working back from Tommy John surgery, but will hopefully remain on track to re-start his career and give the club some depth over the coming season.
- One injury situation that seems headed in the wrong direction is that of Pirates backup catcher Chris Stewart, who suffered a knee injury. Surgery is "probable," the club said today, as Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets. Stewart is set to visit Dr. James Andrews before deciding on a course of action.
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney weighed in on the possible opening in Pittsburgh (Twitter links), noting that the team probably prefers to give Tony Sanchez another year of seasoning in Triple-A before promoting him. That could, Olney suggests, leave the club interested in adding a player like Miguel Olivo or one of the Yankees' surplus backstops. (As Olney notes, the Pirates' own surplus of relief arms might make for a good match with New York.)
- The Nationals will start the year with lefty Ross Detwiler working from the pen, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson. While Tanner Roark, Taylor Jordan, and Chris Young battle it out for the fifth and final rotation slot, Detwiler will slide in alongside Jerry Blevins as a southpaw relief option. "He provides something special out of the bullpen," said manager Matt Williams. "... We just feel we are a better team with him coming out of our bullpen. He is a power lefty, mid-90s lefty. It doesn't mean he won't start in the future ... ."
- For the Mets, several starting positions still appear to be in flux. At first base, the long-anticipated showdown between Lucas Duda and Ike Davis has not gone anywhere with both still not cleared to run or play defense, writes Anthony Rieber of Newsday. If neither is ready, Josh Satin could take the Opening Day gig by default. Elsewhere, Wilmer Flores is surely a longshot to start at shortstop, but nevertheless he'll get another look there tomorrow, reports ESPN.com's Adam Rubin. While the move comes as Ruben Tejada continues to struggle at the plate and in the field, manager Terry Collins said that the decision is unrelated.
- Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton says he is pleased with how things are going in Miami, but nevertheless "need[s] a season" to assess his long-term future with the club, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. "There's a good vibe here," said Stanton, "and I'd say so if it wasn't."
The Padres have already taken a hit to their starting pitching depth after losing Cory Luebke to a second Tommy John surgery, and now right-hander Joe Wieland could suffer the same fate. Wieland is scheduled to have an MRI on his sore right elbow today, and Yahoo's Jeff Passan tweeted late last night that there's "significant concern" throughout the organization, with a re-torn UCL being the worst-case scenario. Wieland, like Luebke, spent the 2013 season recovering from 2012 Tommy John surgery. A second Tommy John surgery has become a familiar refrain around MLB of late; Daniel Hudson underwent his second Tommy John last summer, and there's a strong likelihood that Braves hurlers Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy will do so as well. D'Backs lefty Patrick Corbin could be headed for his first Tommy John surgery as well.
Here are a couple of other NL-West-related items...
- The Dodgers are currently on the lookout for bench help, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, who questions how the club could spent $225MM on payroll but enter the season with such a weak group of reserve players. Rival evaluators in Spring Training consider the Dodgers' bench to be the weakest in the division, says Rosenthal.
- Within that piece, Rosenthal reports that the Dodgers indicated to Mark Ellis early in the offseason that another two-year deal was a possibility. However, Ellis eventually grew weary of the Dodgers' indecisiveness, as they offered a one-year deal after signing Alexander Guerrero. Rosenthal adds that one potential scenario last summer was for the Dodgers to flip Zach Lee to the Angels for Howie Kendrick, then move Ellis to Kansas City for Luke Hochevar, but ownership nixed the Kendrick-for-Lee swap.
- Troy Renck of the Denver Post writes that while the Rockies initially thought right-hander Jordan Lyles would need some time in the minors when they acquired him in the Dexter Fowler trade, Lyles is forcing his way into immediate rotation consideration. He's competing with Franklin Morales for the fifth starter's role, and Lyles could benefit from the fact that Morales has bullpen experience. Manager Walt Weiss told Renck that Lyles is viewed strictly as a starter, so Morales could end up in relief with Lyles in the starting five.
Trade deadlines come and go every year, and in looking back we tend to remember the blockbuster deals. Few will forget last year's Hanley Ramirez deal or 2011's Ubaldo Jimenez trade (even if both teams involved would probably like to). Sometimes though, the smaller deals wind up yielding plentiful returns as well.
Such is the case with the Mike Adams trade of 2011. The last-place Padres shipped their ace setup man to the Rangers for minor league right-hander Joe Wieland (21 years old at the time) and left-hander Robbie Erlin (20 at the time). Here's a look at each of the players involved in this one...
The Major League Side
- Mike Adams: The Padres initially landed Adams from the Indians in exchange for Brian Sikorski -- a right-hander who threw 19 2/3 innings for Cleveland in a fourth-place season (whoops). Adams broke out in San Diego, posting a 1.66 ERA, 10.0 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 217 innings over parts of four seasons. It was more of the same in Texas following the swap, as Adams totaled 78 innings of 2.88 ERA, 8.1 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 for the Rangers. Adams was controlled through 2012 at just $2.54MM, so GM Jon Daniels was able to secure a dominant relief arm for a year and a half. He proved to be a bullpen workhorse in the postseason, appearing in 11 of the Rangers' 17 games with a 3.24 ERA. Adams hit the open market this offseason, and not surprisingly he wasn't issued a qualifying offer. He signed a two-year, $12MM with the Phillies, ending his time in the Lone Star state.
The Minor League Side
- Joe Wieland: A fourth-round pick in the 2008 draft, Wieland ranked as the Rangers' No. 22 prospect prior to the 2011 season, per Baseball America. His stock has soared since that ranking. Wieland reached the big leagues last year and ranks as the No. 8 prospect in San Diego according to BA and No. 7 per MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. Wieland's minor league numbers are impressive: a 3.29 ERA, 8.4 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 438 innings. His 2012 season was cut short by Tommy John surgery, but Wieland posted a 4.55 ERA, 7.8 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in five starts. BA praises Wieland's plus command and four solid pitches. He sits 90-91 mph with his fastball and can run it up to 94 when needed. Mayo notes that all four of Wieland's pitches should be average or better, and both outlets agree that he's a mid-rotation starter if he realizes his potential. His surgery took place last July, so he should pitch again sometime in 2013.
- Robbie Erlin: Erlin was the bigger prospect at the time of the trade, but BA and Mayo both agree that Wieland has leapfrogged him. BA has him 10th among Padres prospects while Mayo ranks him ninth. Erlin missed about three months of the 2012 season with elbow tendinitis, but was dominant in the 52 1/3 innings he did pitch at Double-A; the 2009 third-rounder posted a 2.92 ERA, 12.4 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. Erlin was impressive in the Arizona Fall League following his injury, finishing second the league with 31 strikeouts in 24 innings. He's undersized (5'11", 190 pounds) and lacks overpowering stuff, with BA noting that his fastball tops out at 92 mph. Mayo commends Erlin's approach of attacking hitters, adding that his pitchability and competitive nature allow his average offerings to play up. Erlin profiles as a No. 4 starter who will benefit from Petco Park, according to BA, and Mayo feels that he's on the brink of the big leagues.
Adams proved to be a durable, highly effective late-inning arm for the Rangers, while the Padres have attained a pair of mid-rotation arms if Erlin and Wieland can overcome their respective arm injuries. Wieland's improvements have helped to make this look like a very strong return for San Diego. Time will tell if Wieland and/or Erlin can stick as big league starters, but I'd have to imagine that San Diego would be thrilled with the trade if even one of the two could be a part of the rotation for the next few years.
Baseball America's 2013 Prospect Handbook was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.