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The Mets have announced that starter Zack Wheeler underwent successful Tommy John surgery today, as Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets. New York will hope that it is all uphill from here for the well-regarded young righty. While the team certainly appears to have ample rotation depth now and in the future, he still figures as a key cog as the organization looks to ramp up into contention.
Here’s the latest from the NL East:
- Ryan Howard‘s previously-reported list of teams to which he cannot block a deal did not seem to provide him with much leverage; rather, as I noted at the time, it seemed to be motivated by other considerations. That is, in fact, the case, as Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports: Howard replaced his formerly NL-heavy slate with American League clubs in an effort to help the Phillies find him a new home. Of course, that has yet to occur, though Howard has shown some promise this spring and could be a worthwhile mid-season addition for the right team.
- While much attention has focused on the potential free agent departure of Nationals starters Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister (among other players), Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post writes that the club believes it has more than adequate pitching talent percolating through its system. Of course, it also seems worth noting that the Nationals could conceivably use those arms not only to fill in the big league rotation and provide depth, but also to acquire replacement pieces elsewhere via trade. GM Mike Rizzo has done just that in the recent past, dealing young pitching to acquire players like Denard Span, Doug Fister, and Jose Lobaton.
Cuban ballplayers coming to the big leagues have never had a higher profile. And with large sums of money being invested in those players, teams have never had more obvious incentives to fully vet them. Nevertheless, tweets ESPN.com’s Buster Olney, different clubs still seem to have widely divergent views about the true talent levels of many players coming over from the neighboring island, creating a true “boom or bust” scenario in some cases.
Here are a few more notes from around the game to start the day:
- One Cuban player who has gone under the radar of late is young second baseman Andy Ibanez. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez notes on Twitter that Ibanez remains unsigned and adds that he could still elect to sign in the next July 2 period.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson says the team “wasn’t complacent” about addressing the club’s shortstop situation over the winter, as Casey Stern of MLB Network Radio tweets. New York “went through seven or eight opportunities,” says Alderson, but of course ultimately decided to go with in-house options Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada.
The Orioles still have multiple roster competitions ongoing, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes. Out-of-options infielder Jimmy Paredes may be hitting his way onto the roster, while option-less outfielder David Lough faces a logjam. Neither player will be easy to keep, but the organization will be loath to part with the pair. Baltimore also has tough decisions in the rotation, the bullpen, and behind the dish (assuming that Matt Wieters is not ready to open the year on the active roster).
Here’s more from Baltimore and the rest of the AL East:
- One Orioles player who is said to possibly be available is lefty Brian Matusz, with the Mets being a rumored destination. But Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets that the clubs have not talked about the players and money that would be involved in a possible deal. Instead, New York has only proceeded to the “scouting stage” on Matusz.
- The Red Sox‘ glut of outfielders has been a story to follow all spring, and as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes, the situation remains about as complicated as might have been expected. Optioning Mookie Betts seems not to be a realistic or desirable possibility at this point, and Rusney Castillo is back in action and looking solid, creating problems — good ones, for the time being. As Cafardo explains, the difficulty at present revolves around questions such as whether Allen Craig can be dealt and whether Shane Victorino can or should open the season on the DL.
- Rays righty Nate Karns has been impressive in camp, MLB.com’s Bill Chastain writes. Picked up from the Nationals in last year’s Jose Lobaton deal, Karns is expected to open the year in the rotation, due in part to the team’s rash of injuries. The 27-year-old still has only 24 innings of big league experience to his credit, but has already burned two option years and will look to take full advantage of the opportunity to prove he can stick as a major league starter.
The Braves will likely be without Mike Minor and Melvin Upton for all of April, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes in an update on the club’s injuries. Minor hasn’t thrown in almost three weeks due to inflammation in his left rotator cuff, while Upton is dealing with inflammation in his left foot and isn’t expected to be out of his protective walking boot for another couple of weeks. Here’s some more news from around the NL East…
- The Mets aren’t likely to pursue Joe Beimel, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin tweets. Though the Mets have a need for a left-handed reliever, they apparently don’t have much interest in the recently-released Beimel.
- The relationship between Mets GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins is one to watch, as there have been a few signs of miscommunication between the front office and the dugout this spring, Newsday’s John Harper writes. Alderson’s recent biography revealed that the GM came close to firing Collins last season, though Harper reports that the two men “had a clear-the-air meeting” to resolve their differences.
- Michael Cuddyer told CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman (Twitter link) that “most interest dried up” for his services in the free agent market after the Rockies made the surprise move of issuing him a qualifying offer. Cuddyer’s final choice came down to the one-year, $15.3MM qualifying offer or his eventual pick, the two-year/$21MM deal he got from the Mets.
- The Phillies don’t have much interest in Red Sox third baseman Garin Cecchini, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes as part of a reader mailbag. The Phils and Sox have been linked for much of the offseason in Cole Hamels rumors and the Phillies have reportedly scouted Cecchini already during their examinations of Boston’s farm system. The Phillies have concerns about Cecchini’s defense, both at third and for a possible conversion to the outfield. Cecchini was ranked as one of the 100 top prospects in the sport prior to the 2014 season and is still ranked by MLB.com as the eighth-best prospect in the Red Sox system, though his stock dipped a bit after only an okay season at Triple-A.
- The Rangers are cited as one of “a number of teams…would be eager to acquire Andrew McKirahan in a trade,” MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes in his look at the Marlins‘ situation. Texas and Miami have recently been connected in trade rumors, with Brad Hand and Mike Dunn cited as possible targets for the Rangers. As Frisaro notes, however, the Marlins might want to keep Hand since he can be a spot starter and could bring a bit of balance to their all-righty rotation. What complicates matters for the Fish is that Hand is out of options and McKirahan is a Rule 5 draft pick who would have to remain on Miami’s 25-man roster all season or else be returned to the Cubs.
In a spring start against the Phillies on Monday, Mike Pelfrey made his final argument for joining the Twins rotation. Unfortunately for the right-hander, a few bad breaks (including Cody Asche‘s two-run smash early in the afternoon) might have punched his ticket for the bullpen. The veteran has been in a strange spot this spring; while Pelfrey was fighting hard to make the starting five, he also knew there was a good chance that he would be asked to pitch out of the bullpen instead. One might see the uncertainty as a potential stumbling block in Pelfrey’s preseason preparation, but he refused to make excuses in a postgame chat with reporters.
“It hasn’t been that big of an issue. It’s all about routine. I’m not saying I can’t do it, I’ve just never done it. I’m a competitor, so I’ll make an adjustment if I need to. At the end of the day, pitching is still pitching,” Pelfrey explained, while adding that he’s “at peace” with what he’s shown over the past few weeks.
Between his seven years with the Mets and his two seasons with the Twins, Pelfrey has made a grand total of four relief appearances. Of course, during his time in New York, the former No. 9 overall pick had fans dreaming that he would blossom into an ace. For all we know, Pelfrey could have been on his way to that status in 2012 before he tore his UCL after three solid outings in April. Later that year, the Mets elected to non-tender Pelfrey rather than wait and see how things would shake out for him after surgery. I asked Pelfrey if he wishes that he had gotten another chance to put it all together in New York.
“I understood the business side of it, when they non-tendered me the GM [Sandy Alderson] actually called me and said that he appreciates everything I did there. I have no problems with that. I get it,” said the 31-year-old. “Then the Twins called and I have some family in Minnesota and I thought, man, this is a good opportunity, and like I said, I came back early [from Tommy John surgery]. Now is probably the best I’ve felt since I’ve been in Minnesota.”
Pelfrey would rather be gearing up every fifth game, but he says he’ll do just fine pitching out of the pen and he’s prepared to do whatever is asked of him to help the Twins win. However, one has to wonder if he could be helping another team in need of a starter instead. A contending club with a hole in its rotation could do a lot worse than adding Pelfrey, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Twins received calls on him once the season starts.
Yankees prospect Jose Pirela has been diagnosed with a concussion following a nasty collision with the center field wall, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports, and Pirela could be sidelined for the rest of Spring Training. The injury could be particularly costly for Pirela as he (and fellow rookie Rob Refsnyder) were competing for not just a roster spot, but perhaps regular time at second base given Stephen Drew‘s struggles. In better news for Pirela, he was discharged from hospital last night and MRIs revealed no damage to his neck or spine.
Here’s the latest from both Big Apple teams…
- Yankees catcher Austin Romine has drawn trade interest from the Phillies and Padres, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Romine is out of options and John Ryan Murphy looks like the favorite to win the Yankees’ backup catcher job, so a trade could be possible. Philadelphia and San Diego are both known to be looking for catching depth. The Yankees already dealt one catcher (Francisco Cervelli) this offseason and if Romine is moved, that would leave top prospect Gary Sanchez and minor league veteran Eddy Rodriguez as their depth options behind Brian McCann and Murphy.
- The Mets are “unlikely” to add a left-handed reliever before Opening Day, a team official tells Mike Puma of the New York Post (Twitter links). The Mets haven’t been particularly interested in many of the available options, and rival teams are asking for a lot in return for their southpaws.
- Bobby Parnell may be back from his Tommy John recovery process sooner than previously thought, a Mets official tells ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. Parnell underwent his surgery in early April 2014 so if he is indeed back “sooner than people expect,” then he might have only a brief stint on the DL to begin the season.
- From that same link, Rubin also projects the 25 players who will make the Mets‘ Opening Day roster.
Here’s the latest from around the AL East…
- The Diamondbacks still have interest in Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro, as Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair writes that the Snakes “have been trailing…Navarro for the better part of a week.” Navarro himself recently said that he believed Arizona and Detroit were interested in acquiring his services, and both teams have room to upgrade behind the plate.
- Matt Wieters will begin the season on the DL as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, and Orioles manager Buck Showalter told reporters (including MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko) that the lack of precedent for catchers recovering from the surgery is why the O’s pursued several backups this offseason. “I think there’s a lot of unknown there. We’re hoping for the best,” Showalter said. “They’ll have something to base the future on when the start trying to analyze this, because he’s been a model blueprint for rehab as far as what he’s done. We followed it to the letter of the law. Matt, if anything, has been above and beyond.”
- Orioles southpaw Brian Matusz has been the subject of trade rumors in recent weeks, most notably in connection to the Mets. MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports that New York indeed still has interest in Matusz but would need the O’s to cover part of Matusz’s $3.2MM salary. Previous reports have suggested the Orioles would be add some cash to make a deal happen, so there could be a bit if the two sides can make the numbers line up.
- Scouts haven’t been impressed with either Carlos Beltran or Stephen Drew this spring, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. Neither of the two Yankees veterans are hitting well, and there is also question about Beltran’s ability to play right field. This is a particularly important Spring Training for Drew, as his loose hold on the second base job could be broken entirely given the presence of Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela.
The dark side of Venezuelan baseball players reaping the riches of their profession is their family members, who decline to move permanently to the United States and remain in Venezuela, become targets of kidnappers. Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News chronicles the kidnapping attempt made on the brother of Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus last year. Fortunately, Andrus provided his brother’s family with armed bodyguards and they thwarted the attempt after being fired upon and struck in their bulletproof vests. “This happens with everybody who has family there,” said Andrus. “It’s easy for them to kidnap people and ask for money. And everybody knows how much money the players make. They can Google it. It’s just not safe. You have to take steps. It was pretty shocking, for sure.”
In other news and notes from baseball’s West divisions:
- The Diamondbacks will not alleviate their outfield surplus by trading Mark Trumbo, reports CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. “We are not moving Trumbo,” GM Dave Stewart said. “Trumbo is a proven bat. Tough to move him for an unknown.” Stewart went even further with the New York Post’s Joel Sherman (Twitter link) telling the scribe he will not trade any of his outfielders because he values the depth.
- The Rockies are to be commended for releasing Jhoulys Chacin because a team must change direction if a player isn’t performing and the right-hander wasn’t, tweets Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post.
- The Angels enter 2015 with the most financial flexibility they have had in four years, but will wait until mid-season to decide if or how to spend that payroll, according to MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez. The Angels’ most likely area of need is second base with Gonzalez naming the Phillies‘ Chase Utley, the Reds‘ Brandon Phillips, the Diamondbacks‘ Aaron Hill, and the Mets‘ Daniel Murphy as possible targets.
- The Dodgers‘ pitching depth is sorely being tested in the wake of the team shutting down Hyun-jin Ryu with shoulder inflammation, notes MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick.
- Andre Ethier tells Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com he isn’t monitoring trade rumors online or with his agent and he isn’t counting the number of scouts in attendance at the Dodgers‘ Spring Training games. Ethier has said he is open to a trade and the club is reportedly willing to eat as much as half of the $56MM remaining on the outfielder’s contract to facilitate a swap, but have yet to find any takers.
- Carlos Quentin asked to see some reps at first base in an attempt to earn more at-bats with the Padres, which could also make him more attractive to other teams, writes MLB.com’s Corey Brock.
- Peter Gammons of DailyGammons.com opines some have been cynical of San Diego’s offseason overhaul, but a healthy and productive Matt Kemp can become the poster person of this new age for the Padres.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Aaron Hill | Andre Ethier | Arizona Diamondbacks | Brandon Phillips | Carlos Quentin | Chase Utley | Cincinnati Reds | Colorado Rockies | Daniel Murphy | Elvis Andrus | Jhoulys Chacin | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Mark Trumbo | Matt Kemp | New York Mets | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | Texas Rangers
Prior to the start of Sunday’s game against the Rays, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told reporters, including MLBTR’s Zach Links, that second baseman Maicer Izturis is progressing slowly from his strained groin injury. “He was told [not to take part in] any activity for ten days, I would definitely think he’ll be out [for Opening Day],” Gibbons said. Izturis was in competition for the starting second base job, which is likely now down to one or more of Devon Travis, Ryan Goins, and Steve Tolleson, as MLB.com’s Gregor Chisolm writes. This year is an important one for the veteran Izturis, who at age 34 is entering the final guaranteed season of his contract with plenty to prove. (Toronto holds a $3MM option over him for next year.)
Here’s more from the east:
- “Numerous teams” have been inquiring about Marlins pitching, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro tweets. We heard talk yesterday that lefties Brad Hand and Andrew McKirahan were drawing interest.
- Infielder/outfielder Jordany Valdespin has come a long way since his oft-contentious stint with the Mets and has a legitimate chance to make the Marlins Opening Day roster, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports. The 27-year-old, who says his attitude turned after being told by his mother it was time to “grow up,” split last year between the bigs and Triple-A with Miami.
- Yankees starter Michael Pineda is drawing rave reviews this spring, as George A. King III of the New York Post writes. Of course, the big question with Pineda is shoulder health. He was effective last year despite working in the low 90s, but this spring is said to be pushing his fastball back toward the mid-90s level that he deployed as a breakout rookie.
Here’s the latest from the league’s eastern divisions.
- Blue Jays infielder Maicer Izturis may miss the start of the season, reports Jim Hawkins for MLB.com. Izturis, who was competing for the open second base job, is sidelined with a pulled groin. The Jays also lost veteran infielder Ramon Santiago to a broken collarbone last weekend. The injuries have improved the outlook for prospect Devon Travis. He was acquired from the Tigers in exchange for outfielder Anthony Gose. Per manager John Gibbons, if Travis earns the job, he won’t be platooned.
- The Orioles may offer to return Rule 5 pick Logan Verrett to the Mets, speculates Joel Sherman of the New York Post. If they do, Verrett could be included in a trade package for lefty reliever Brian Matusz. The Orioles are shopping their excess pitching per Sherman, with Matusz appearing in the most rumors. Several clubs, including the Mets, are hunting for left-handed relief.
- Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown could open the season on the disabled list, writes Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly. Brown has dealt with Achilles tendonitis for the last couple weeks, and he will be rested for one week. Salisbury also notes that Ben Revere and Odubel Herrera are the only outfielders who are a lock to make the major league roster. Grady Sizemore, owed $2MM this season, has not been impressive this spring. Other options include Darin Ruf, Jeff Francoeur, Brian Bogusevic, Jordan Danks, and Russ Canzler.
- The Mets have optioned left-handed pitcher Steven Matz to minor league camp, writes Marc Carig of Newsday. Matz, along with Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, is on the cusp of a major league assignment. Presently, the Mets are expected to use Dillon Gee in place of Zack Wheeler. Should Gee falter, Matz is a candidate to fill his spot in the rotation. I also heard him discussed as a potential relief ace over the offseason.