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Michael Wacha Rumors
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak was the latest guest on The GM’s Office, Jim Bowden’s video blog over at ESPN.com. Here are the highlights from their conversation, though the entire seven-minute interview is well worth your time…
- Mozeliak feels that it’s “clearly a seller’s market” based on the returns that the few sellers are getting in trades. For now, the Cards are still trying to identify areas in which they can improve and how (or if) they can obtain those solutions in a tough market.
- Asked about David Price, Mozeliak declined to mention specific names that they’ve considered, but he added, “We’re certainly not in this for the short term. I think one of the good things about the St. Louis Cardinals is the ability to have sustained success, and we want to continue that.”
- “I think that is true,” said Mozeliak when asked if starting pitching would be his top need. Both Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez have had some inconsistencies, he notes. “…looking at the next two months, if we could find a way to sort of bridge that gap between now and the time we may get [Michael] Wacha back, I think we want to try to do that.”
- Mozeliak said the stress fracture in Wacha’s scapula is unique, and there isn’t a lot of history or data to help gauge his progress. The injury is currently healing, but the Cardinals are dedicating their time and energy to determining what led to the injury — be it his mechanics, something in the weight room or another cause.
- Whether or not the team is comfortable with Tony Cruz and George Kottaras is a “fair question,” and the Cardinals plan to take as much of the remaining week as possible to make that determination. “One thing we’ve always said is we’d like to see what Tony Cruz is capable of doing on a day in and day out basis,” said Mozeliak. “But having said that, we also want to give ourselves the best chance to win.” The Cardinals will at least monitor the market for catching help, he adds.
- Manager Mike Matheny has had a tough time trying to balance playing time for Allen Craig, a proven veteran in a down year, and Oscar Taveras, a top prospect who has started slow in the Majors, says Mozeliak. The need to win now complicates the scenario, and sending Taveras down to Triple-A in a week or so is an option.
The Cardinals are down not one but two pitchers, Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia, after losing them both to shoulder injuries, MLB.com’s Jen Langosch writes. Wacha has what GM John Mozeliak called a “stress reaction,” and will miss several weeks. “He has been dealing with a little bit of shoulder irritation going back [four to five starts],” said Mozeliak. “Up to this point, we always thought it was manageable.” Garcia could not complete his regular bullpen session Sunday. The Cardinals are placing both pitchers on the disabled list, and they will announce corresponding moves on Monday. Here are more notes from throughout the big leagues.
- Grady Sizemore is likely to decide on a new team early this week, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets. Sizemore became a free agent Friday after the Red Sox designated him for assignment. In his first big-league action since 2011, Sizemore hit .216/.288/.324 in 205 plate appearances in Boston.
- The Blue Jays and Giants have had interest in Daniel Murphy, but the most likely outcome is that the Mets keep him, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes. In a “mediocre” NL East division, Martino writes, the Mets do not seem to view themselves as sellers. That doesn’t mean the Mets won’t deal Murphy, of course — GM Sandy Alderson sent Marlon Byrd to the Pirates last year soon after indicating the Mets wouldn’t deal him, so his actions can be hard to predict.
- The Yankees need a starting pitcher, but they probably won’t be able to get top trade possibilities like David Price or Jeff Samardzija, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. The Rays won’t want to trade Price to a divisional opponent. For Samardzija, the Cubs want a highly-rated young pitcher who’s close to being ready for the big leagues, and the Yankees don’t have that type of player. That means the Yankees could get someone like John Danks of the White Sox, Jason Hammel of the Cubs or Ian Kennedy of the Padres.
- As the trade deadline approaches, the Dodgers‘ greatest need is in their bullpen, but that doesn’t mean they can’t count on improvements from relievers they already have, ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon writes. Kenley Jansen, in particular, has been working on his mechanics, and he pitched very well on Saturday and Sunday. In any case, Saxon notes that the Dodgers likely won’t let guaranteed contracts for relievers they already have (presumbably, players like Brian Wilson and Chris Perez, who have struggled) prevent them from adding talent on the trade market.
- The Tigers‘ bullpen has an unexpected look recently, with the additions of minor league veterans Pat McCoy, Chad Smith and Blaine Hardy. Hardy, 27, has pitched well in four appearances so far even though he hadn’t pitched in the big leagues before last week. “You’ve got to stick with it, and that’s exactly what I tried to do. Just keep playing, hopefully get the opportunity, and here I am,” the lefty told MLive.com’s Chris Iott. The Royals drafted Hardy in the 22nd round out of college, then released him during spring training in 2013. He pitched three scoreless innings against them in his first two big-league appearances last week.
Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal limited the Red Sox to just four hits and two runs in the Cardinals' 4-2 win in Game Two of the World Series. Their success is the latest example of the Cards' peerless farm system and ability to develop pitching, which is the topic of these news links…
- Wacha lasted until the 19th pick in the 2012 draft, a selection that looks like a steal for the Cards right now. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo talks to some scouts and executives from those first 18 teams about why they passed on Wacha and how he fell so relatively far in the draft.
- Beyond finding draft steals, the Cardinals' ability to turn those low draft picks into star players is what wows executives and scouts around baseball, Peter Gammons writes. MLB.com's Adam McCalvy talks to several past and current members of the St. Louis organization about how they evaluate and develop their talent.
- Cardinals chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt Jr. boosted payroll and authorized expensive player acquisitions in his first few years of owning the team in order to revive fan interest and quickly get into contention, MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch writes. In 2003, however, DeWitt refocused the franchise towards emphasizing player development, spending on the draft and international scouting, thus starting the Cardinals' current run of success.
- With as many as 10 potential starting options for the rotation next year, some rival executives wonder if the Cardinals could package some young arms in a deal for Max Scherzer, CBS Sports' Danny Knobler reports. Scherzer, who was born in St. Louis, has been rumored to be a possible trade candidate since the Tigers are unsure if they'll be able to sign him to a long-term extension. As Knobler wonders, however, "why would the Cardinals need to do that?" given that they're already set for pitching, not to mention that Scherzer will be a free agent next winter.
- Some think that if any Cardinal pitcher is traded, Lance Lynn could be "the odd man out," Knobler writes.
The Mets were focused on position players in the 2012 draft, which is why they took shortstop Gavin Cecchini with the draft's 12th overall selection and didn't take Michael Wacha, the New York Post's Mike Puma writes. Paul DePodesta, the Mets' VP of player development and amateur scouting, tells Puma that "we really liked Wacha, and he was high up on our board," but the team felt it had enough minor league pitching depth already and needed help around the diamond. Wacha, of course, ended up going to the Cardinals with the 19th overall pick and has already emerged as a star during St. Louis' postseason run.
Here's some more from around the NL East…
- "The Braves certainly will entertain shopping" Dan Uggla, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reports, and he looks at the chances of Uggla re-joining the Marlins as part of a reader mailbag. Frisaro suggests the Braves would move Uggla if a team agrees to pay $6MM of the $26MM owed to Uggla through the 2015 season, and if the trade partner pays more, Atlanta could add a prospect. I'd suggest that the Braves would have to sweeten the pot to move Uggla, who turns 34 in March, is a defensive liability at second base and has only hit .201/.330/.374 over the last two seasons. The Braves have been linked to a possible deal of Uggla and a prospect to the Reds for Brandon Phillips.
- The Braves have "been lucky of late" to remain competitive despite overspending on Uggla and B.J. Upton, Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Bradley warns that the team can't afford any more of these overpriced deals, and suggests that re-signing Brian McCann would create another payroll albatross in a few years' time.
- The Phillies' chances of re-signing Carlos Ruiz, their limited payroll and a suggestion about a David Price trade are all addressed in a Phillies-centric reader mailbag from MLB.com's Todd Zolecki.
- That limited Phillies budget could make it hard to upgrade their rotation since there won't be many bargains to be found on the pitching market this winter, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News writes.
- Matt Williams "seems to be the best available choice" to be the Nationals' next manager, and though Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post notes some of the risks involved in the impending hiring, he feels it could be a bold move for the team.
The Cardinals' selection of Albert Pujols (13th round, 1999) is the best draft pick in MLB history, says Dan Szymborski of ESPN (Insider-only). Szymborski uses a non-linear model to assess the WAR value of each draft pick, then compares actual picks to their expected value over nine years to create a list of the top 100 picks in draft history. Szymborski notes that the fact that Pujols was so good from the very beginning of his career made him particularly valuable as a draft pick, since the Cards didn't have to wait for a few years after his debut for him to become a superstar. Here are more notes on the Redbirds.
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak isn't certain how long Michael Wacha, who will make his big-league debut on Thursday, will be with the team, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (on Sulia). Also, Mozeliak wants to make sure the Cardinals protect Wacha's health. "We are going to be very cognizant of pitch counts and innings," Mozeliak says. "When we think about total innings we want to make sure we’re careful of his usage. If there are times when we can protect him, we will do so." Wacha, 21, has thrown 52 2/3 innings in nine minor-league starts so far this year.
- Oscar Taveras of the Cardinals tops Keith Law of ESPN's new list of baseball's top 25 prospects (Insider-only). Wacha is also present at No. 24, and Law notes that Wacha's breaking ball has improved. Jurickson Profar of the Rangers' recent promotion removed him from the list. The Twins, with Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, are the only team with two players in the top ten; the Pirates, with Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon and Gregory Polanco, are the only team with three players in the top 25. Be sure to check out the full list.
The Cardinals announced today they will promote righty Michael Wacha to start Thursday against the Royals, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports and others. The Cards had scratched Wacha from his Monday start in anticipation of the possibility of having him start Thursday in place of the injured John Gast. The Cardinals will need a 40-man roster spot for Wacha, but that can be opened easily by transferring Jaime Garcia to the 60-day DL.
Wacha, 21, was drafted 19th overall by the Cardinals last year out of Texas A&M, a pick the team received from the Angels as part of the compensation for the loss of Albert Pujols. Wacha made nine starts at Triple-A this year, posting a 2.05 ERA, 5.8 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, and 0.85 HR/9 in 52 2/3 innings. He'll be the fourth member of the 2012 draft class to reach the bigs, after Paco Rodriguez of the Dodgers, Kevin Gausman of the Orioles, and Michael Roth of the Angels. Prior to the season, Wacha ranked 76th on Baseball America's top 100 prospects list and the same on MLB.com's, failing to rank on Keith Law's list for ESPN. Law, however, elevated Wacha to #24 on a top 25 prospects list released today.
Baseball America ranked Wacha sixth among Cardinals prospects, as he was part of what they considered the best farm system in baseball given the presence of Oscar Taveras, Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal, and Kolten Wong. BA wrote that Wacha had the best changeup in the 2012 draft, adding, "It's easy to project him as a mid-rotation starter, and he could turn into something more if he finds a reliable breaking ball." He may have since found it, as Law wrote today, "Multiple scouts have told me they've seen an above-average breaking ball from Wacha this year, which was the main concern about him coming out of Texas A&M last June."
Will there be room in the Cardinals' rotation for Wacha beyond Thursday? Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, and Miller are holding down the first three spots, Garcia is out for the season, Chris Carpenter had a setback, and Jake Westbrook's elbow is improving. Tyler Lyons is in the rotation mix, Martinez could be at some point, and Gast could be as well when he's healthy.
If he stays up all year, Wacha will accumulate 123 days of big league service, making Super Two arbitration eligibility possible after the 2015 season. It's unknown whether that amount of service will put him within the top 22% of the two-to-three class at that point. Super Two players go to arbitration four times instead of the usual three, thus earning extra money.
The Cardinals will need another starter on Thursday to replace John Gast, and that could be Michael Wacha, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch suggests. Wacha, who would be making his big-league debut, was scratched from his start Sunday, which the Cardinals now say is due to his innings count so far this year. Wacha ranked No. 76 in both MLB.com's and Baseball America's preseason top prospects lists, and he has pitched well so far in 2013 at Triple-A Memphis (albeit with a low strikeout rate), posting a 2.05 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9. Cards GM John Mozeliak says that the team will likely decide on Tuesday who will make Thursday's start. Here are more notes from around the majors.
- It's unclear what will happen to infielder Munenori Kawasaki of the Blue Jays once Jose Reyes returns, but Jays manager John Gibbons would like Kawasaki to stick around, Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reports. "When the time comes, we'd definitely like to keep him, that's for sure. But we don't know when Reyes is coming back, either." Kawasaki has become a fan favorite, and he has played decently, hitting .247/.345/.320. But Chisholm notes that the Jays already have Maicer Izturis, Emilio Bonifacio and Mark DeRosa.
- It's a bad day for the Mariners' rebuilding efforts, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes. The Mariners promoted prospect Nick Franklin but demoted former No. 2 overall draft pick Dustin Ackley in the process. That move followed the demotion of Jesus Montero. Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders haven't hit particularly well, and Brandon Maurer has struggled. "Right now, the Mariners are being carried by a bunch of veterans on one-year deals who were supposed to be here to round out that young core and help stabilize the environment through which young guys were going to take their games to the next level," says Baker, noting that Kyle Seager is the only starting player who has accomplished that.
- Ron Gardenhire feels Carlos Gomez of the Brewers "learned a lot" from his time with the Twins, MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports. Gomez played with the Twins for two years before heading to Milwaukee in exchange for J.J. Hardy after the 2009 season. The Twins tried to help Gomez calm down as a player, McCalvy writes. "I thought he learned a lot with us," Gardenhire says. "Gomez was a lot of fun. I think everybody knew it from the time he was with the Mets, how much talent he had, if he could ever harness it and calm himself down enough."
- It's questionable whether the Angels and Dodgers have spent their money well, but it's important that they're spending, says Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. "You can't win on scouting and player development alone. That is a foundation, with free agency a necessary supplement. Spending does not guarantee winning, but spending absolutely correlates with winning," says Shaikin. Still, Shaikin notes that the Angels' core of homegrown players includes Mike Trout, Jered Weaver, and Howie Kendrick; the Dodgers' includes Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw. Shaikin quotes Dodgers president Stan Kasten, who reiterates that his team's long-term plan is to build through its farm system, just as the Braves did when Kasten worked there.
- The Cubs aren't quite ready to declare themselves sellers, but it sounds like they're getting there, ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers reports. GM Jed Hoyer says that teams begin to assess their trading options "50-60 games within the deadline." Hoyer adds, "You always hold out hope you can string things together and make a run. It’s really hard in this division, I’ll say that. You have three teams playing really well." In a recent poll, MLBTR readers thought the Cubs' Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano were among the players most likely to be traded.
Memorial Day weekend is the time when fans begin to zero in on what's happening in baseball, so Joel Sherman of the New York Post provides his analysis of the 2013 season. Sherman sees Cliff Lee, Matt Garza, Jose Bautista, Alex Rios, and Justin Morneau as the top five trade possibilities. Shin-Soo Choo was Sherman's choice as the best acquisition of 2013 with the combination of Justin Upton and Chris Johnson, Vernon Wells, Nick Swisher, and Mark Melancon rounding out the top five. Sherman also identifies the season's top storylines, prospects, and injuries to date. Let's focus on the news and notes coming from the National League:
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney writes the Mets make the most sense of the possible trade suitors for Andre Ethier (subscription required). According to Olney, the Dodgers will only deal Ethier if they decide he can no longer be an effective player for them and are willing to absorb a large portion of the approximately $80MM due the outfielder over the next five years.
- Don Mattingly has all the hallmarks of a manager in quicksand and is conjuring up images of Clint Hurdle during his final days as manager of the Rockies, opines Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post. Hurdle vowed to exercise more authority by creating new rules and benched Troy Tulowitzki for violating one of those rules. Hurdle was fired one week later. Mattingly benched Matt Kemp for today's game calling it a "baseball decision" and not a disciplinary reaction to Kemp expressing his displeasure at being removed in a double-switch the night before, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.
- The Cardinals are looking to replace yet another starter and top pitching prospect Michael Wacha could get the call, according to MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch. Wacha is scheduled to start for Triple-A Memphis tomorrow afternoon, the same day GM John Mozeliak will meet with manager Mike Matheny and the coaching staff to determine who will fill the vacancy in the rotation. Nearly 40% of MLBTR's readers, when asked by Steve Adams this past Wednesday, predicted Wacha will be the next 2012 first-rounder to reach the Majors.
- Angel Pagan gave the Giants a dramatic victory last night with a walk-off inside-the-park home run. Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets the Mets made two mistakes in their December 2011 trade of Pagan to the Giants for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez: an inclination to non-tender a valuable player and, rather than non-tender, using that money on Torres and Ramirez.
The Orioles made headlines last night by announcing the promotion of Kevin Gausman to the Majors. Gausman, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 draft, reached Double-A as a 22-year-old and posted a 3.11 ERA with a 49-to-5 K/BB ratio in 46 1/3 innings there. With that promotion, Gausman becomes the first member of last year's first round to make it to the Majors. Among 2012 first-rounders, only four other players have even reached the Double-A level to this point.
Mike Zunino, selected by the Mariners at No. 3 overall, has reached Triple-A, but the catcher is hitting just .220/.290/.496 through 33 games in Tacoma. Given the Mariners' need for offense, however, he could be a hot streak away. Promoting him would allow the Mariners to use Jesus Montero at DH, but that only adds to a roster crunch of corner OF/1B/DH types in Seattle.
Right-hander Michael Wacha, the No. 19 overall selection by the Cardinals, has also reached Triple-A. He's posted a 2.05 ERA, 5.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 through 52 2/3 innings for the Memphis Redbirds to open the season, and the Cardinals have some injury problems in their rotation with Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook on the shelf. For now, they've gone with John Gast and Tyler Lyons over Wacha.
Marcus Stroman's 50-game suspension for a positive stimulant has finished, and the Blue Jays right-hander made a strong debut at Double-A with five scoreless innings in a start. Many pegged the Duke product to be the quickest first rounder to reach the Majors last year, and Baseball America's Ben Badler wrote Sunday that it "shouldn't take him long" before he's big league ready.
James Ramsey, the Cardinals' other selection (No. 23), is the only other player from the first round to reach Double-A or higher thus far. As an outfielder, he has an uphill battle to reach the Major Leagues given the presence of Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Carlos Beltran and top prospect Oscar Taveras within the Cardinals organization. He's a huge long shot, but he's advanced further than most college players from the first round already.
Let's open this up to a poll…