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Baseball America's Matt Eddy's latest piece is a fascinating look back at the history of platoon usage in Major League Baseball and the increasing role of specialized relievers in Major League bullpens. Last season, more pure left-handed relievers (i.e. lefties who made zero starts) appeared in a season than any year in Major League history. Eddy's piece is rife with tables and charts to provide the breakdown on the numbers behind left-on-left matchups as opposed to right-on-right matchups (not surprisingly, the former leans more heavily in the pitcher's favor) and is well worth the read. Here are some more links from around the league for some late-night Thursday reading…
- The Cardinals optioned top prospect Oscar Taveras to Triple-A today, putting an early end to a Spring Training that didn't allow him to fully showcase his talents, writes MLB.com's Jen Langosch. Taveras received just six plate appearances in a pair of games after sitting out the first week due to what Langosch calls "hesitancy to fully trust his surgically repaired right ankle." He also left his second and final Spring Training game with a minor hamstring injury.
- Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley is well ahead of schedule in his rehab from Tommy John surgery and could be ready to pitch in the Majors as soon as late April, reports ESPNLosAngeles.com's Mark Saxon. Billingsley will face live hitters next week and begin a minor league rehab assignment on April 3. Billingsley's return further crowds the competition for the team's fifth starter. Josh Beckett or Paul Maholm figures to occupy that role to open the season.
- Right-hander Todd Coffey has drawn interest from as many as nine to 10 teams and expects to sign right around Opening Day, according to MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo (Twitter links). Coffey is currently throwing 91 to 92 mph in bullpen sessions, he adds. Coffey last pitched in the Majors for the Dodgers in 2012.
- Cotillo also tweets that free agent catcher Kelly Shoppach is looking to play in 2014 "if the right situation/opportunity presents itself." The 33-year-old isn't close to a deal at this time. He slashed just .199/.288/.339 in 127 PAs between the Mariners and Indians last season.
- Lastly, Cotillo tweets that former AL Rookie of the Year Angel Berroa, now 34, is seeking a minor league deal to return to affiliated baseball. Berroa spent 2012 playing independent ball and was in the Mexican League last season, where he slashed .293/.362/.462 in 460 trips to the plate.
The Indians have signed catcher Kelly Shoppach to a minor league contract and assignmed him to Triple-A Columbus, the team announced via press release.
Shoppach signed a one-year, $1.5MM contract with the Mariners this offseason and appeared in 35 games, hitting .196/.293/.346 over 125 plate appearances. Shoppach was pressed into everyday duty once Jesus Montero was demoted but ultimately wound up being released. Since that time he's bounced around, signing minor league deals with the Nationals and Pirates. He opted out of his deal with the Nats and was release by Pittsburgh after seven games.
The 33-year-old Shoppach spent the 2006-09 seasons with the Indians, hitting .245/.331/.456 with 43 homers in 301 games. He's struggled at all levels this season but has always been a threat against left-handed pitching, hitting southpaws at a .261/.355/.501 clip throughout his career.
Shoppach, 33, didn't appear in a major league game for the Pirates after being signed to a minor league deal earlier this month. Pittsburgh was the catcher's third team this year, as he began the season with the Mariners but was released in June after hitting .196/.293/.346 in 35 games. He then signed a minor league contract with the Nationals in early July, but opted out of the deal without reappearing in the big leagues.
Shoppach has a career .224/.312/.413 line in parts of nine major league seasons. Though he's never made good on the promise of his 2008 season with the Indians, when he hit .261/.348/.517 with 21 homers, he may still be an effective option against lefties, as he's slashed .261/.355/.501 against them for his career.
The Pirates have signed catcher Kelly Shoppach to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Indianapolis, the team announced via press release. The 33-year-old Shoppach recently opted out of a minor league pact with the Nationals that he had signed after being released by the Mariners earlier in the year.
Shoppach hit .196/.293/.346 with three homers in 35 games for the Mariners and was leaned upon heavily with the demotion of Jesus Montero. It's not surprising that Shoppach, who has a drastic platoon split, struggled when pressed into everyday action. He's batted just .204/.289/.367 against right-handed pitching in his career but owns a healthy .261/.355/.501 batting line against southpaws. He did struggle against lefties this season, but those struggles came in a small sample size of 30 plate appearances.
Shoppach originally signed a one-year, $1.5MM contract with the Mariners this offseason, of which Seattle still must pay the majority. He drew interest after opting out of his deal with the Nats, reportedly receiving an offer from the Cardinals.
5:55pm: Unable to work out a trade for a catcher, the Cardinals have made an offer to free agent Kelly Shoppach, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (on Twitter). Shoppach opted out of his minor league deal with the Nationals earlier today.
2:52pm: The two sides have been unable to agree on a price, and the Cardinals' pursuit has slowed, tweets Rosenthal.
1:59pm: The Cardinals are in discussions with the Cubs to acquire Navarro, a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
12:08pm: The Cardinals are looking for catching with starter Yadier Molina likely to hit the DL with a knee injury, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, contrary to previous info he received. The Cardinals are concerned that Molina could miss a significant stretch of time to heal up, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The Cardinals are gauging their options and how they can proceed once they know how long Molina will be sidelined for, Goold writes. The Cardinals have spent the past few weeks exploring deals for starting pitchers, relievers, and shortstops, but they have yet to explore deals for catchers. The catching market could include the Phillies' Carlos Ruiz and the Cubs' Dioner Navarro and Goold points that Miguel Olivo is a free agent after walking away from the Marlins.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Catcher Kelly Shoppach has exercised his opt-out clause with the Nationals and is now a free agent, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The LSW Baseball client signed a minor league deal with the Nats in early July.
Prior to signing with Washington, the 33-year-old hit just .196/.293/.346 in 125 plate appearances for the Mariners. In parts of nine seasons with the Indians, Rays, Red Sox, Mets and Mariners, Shoppach has a .224/.314/.413 slash line.
The Nationals announced on Twitter that they have signed Kelly Shoppach to a minor league contract. Shoppach, who was designated for assignment and ultimately released by the Mariners, will report to Triple-A Syracuse.
Shoppach, 33, hit just .196/.293/.346 in 125 plate appearances for the Mariners this season. However, he's a .224/.314/.413 career hitter in parts of nine seasons with the Indians, Rays, Red Sox, Mets and Mariners. He's particularly effective against left-handed pitching, having hammered southpaws to the tune of a .266/.355/.501 triple slash line throughout his career.
THURSDAY: The Mariners have released Shoppach, MLB.com's Greg Johns tweets. Shoppach is now on release waivers, and teams have until Saturday to decide whether to claim him.
Blanco, 41, is joining his 11th different Major League team. The veteran hit just .184/.262/.263 in 15 games (43 plate appearances) for the Blue Jays this season before being designated for assignment and ultimately released on Tuesday. He's seen time with the Cubs, D-backs, Braves, Brewers, Twins, Mets, Rockies, Dodgers, Padres and Blue Jays previously. Blanco owns a career batting line of .226/.291/.366.
Shoppach, 33, hit .196/.293/.346 with three homers in 35 games for the Mariners this season. He's been leaned upon heavily since the demotion of Jesus Montero, but rookie Mike Zunino figures to get the lion's share of playing time from this point forward. In his career, the right-handed-hitting Shoppach has hit .261/.355/.501 in 641 plate appearances against left-handed pitching.
Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.
The Mariners announced that they have signed free agent catcher Kelly Shoppach to a one-year, Major League contract. The LSW Baseball client will earn $1.5MM in base salary and up to $500K in incentives.
Shoppach split the 2012 season between the Red Sox and Mets, appearing in 76 total games. The right-handed hitter posted a .233/.309/.425 batting line with eight home runs. In eight big league seasons, Shoppach has a .267/.358/.510 batting line against left-handed pitching. He earned $1.135MM last year and wasn't linked to any teams this offseason.
Even in the middle of the World Series, baseball people continue to talk about embattled Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. News on Cabrera and other notes from today’s column..
- Sherman spoke with a group of baseball executives about where Cabrera will sign and the Mets and Phillies both came up regularly. The Mets could look to Cabrera as corner outfield insurance against Jason Bay and Lucas Duda if he is affordable. Such a move would make even more sense if they are unable to retain Scott Hairston.
- The majority of the execs see Cabrera winding up with a one-year deal in the $2-$5MM range to audition himself. One exec could see him getting $10-$12MM while another said he could possibly get one year at $8-10MM.
- The Mets are unlikely to obtain catcher Kelly Shoppach and they are instead eyeing free agent Miguel Olivo. When the Mets were combing the trade market for catchers this summer, the Mets had Olivo as a secondary candidate to the Rockies‘ Ramon Hernandez before ultimately trading for Shoppach. The Mariners announced on Wednesday that they would not pick up Olivo’s $3MM option for 2013.
- Yankees officials never saw Cabrera as a negative influence on Robinson Cano the way that people outside of the organization did, but he doesn’t look to be a great fit regardless. The Yankees might not be able to offer the certainty of playing time that Cabrera will need to rebuild his value.