January 30, 2013
Stauffer in with the Others
Signed C-R Kelly Shoppach to a one-year deal. [1/29]
A couple of weeks ago the Mariners traded John Jaso. Now they've added his old running mate to potentially take his spot on the roster. Shoppach—an unabashed Starbucks lover—has long made for a solid, short-side platoon backstop; what, with his .275 multi-year True Average against lefties (compared to his .232 mark against righties). He'll swing and miss a ton and doesn't draw a ton of walks (though he does get hit by a few pitches per year) so his power production is vital. A word to the wise in Seattle: Beware of flying bats.
Signed SS-R Alex Gonzalez to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million with another million available in incentives. [1/29]
Signed by the Brewers last winter to replace Yuniesky Betancourt at shortstop, Gonzalez did that and more during his first 24 games by hitting four home runs and providing better defense. Gonzalez then tore his ACL and missed the remainder of the season. Gonzalez's return to Milwaukee comes with the expectation that he'll be a utility player; he is to serve, in other words, as Jean Segura insurance and Bobby Crosby repellant. Because Gonzalez is such a fine glovesman he's never taken an in-game rep at a position other than shortstop in the majors. Look for the Brewers to give him a crash course on other infield positions come spring training.
Signed RHP Scott Atchison to a minor-league deal worth $750,000 in the majors. [1/29]
Atchison did not reach the majors until age 28. He did not make more than 30 appearances in a season until age 34. Last season, at age 36, he had his finest effort yet, posting a 1.58 ERA in 50-plus innings, all while making about half a million. The Red Sox got great bang for their buck. They returned the favor by non-tendering Atchison this winter; an act that tells you all you need to know about the state of Atchison's disgruntled right elbow. But here's Atchison, nearly 37 years old, carrying on. He's not tempting fate by continuing to pitch but taunting it in a Kevin Garnett-like matter by signing with the Mets. Atchison should give the Mets some solid innings out of the pen. The question is how many before fate strikes back.
Stauffer began last season on the disabled list, a year after serving as the Padres opening day starter. When he returned in mid-May he started one game then bowed out for the season's remainder due to elbow surgery. Stauffer is back ... well, almost back, though his prospective role is unclear. The Padres started 15 pitchers last season, but they've now assembled a large group to sort through. You figure Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard have job security, and Jason Marquis probably does, too. Then there's Eric Stults, Casey Kelly, and Tyson Ross on the 40-man, and Freddy Garcia on a minor-league deal. Oh, and don't forget the three injured pitchers scheduled to return throughout the season: Andrew Cashner, Joe Wieland, and Cory Luebke.
With seven bodies competing for one or two spots, Stauffer's chances appear slim. The one sensible solution not yet mentioned is a return to the bullpen. Stauffer has dealt with a fair share of injuries in the past, and flourished in relief during the 2010 season. True, Stauffer has a deeper arsenal than most relievers do but he needs to spend as much time as possible in the majors this season. That's because he needs 165 days to qualify for regular free agency after the season.
Lopez—all 5-foot-9 of him—provided no reason to remember his short 2009 stint with the Padres, but he's back with an interesting subplot. For the past several seasons Lopez has pitched for a Mexican-based team, which just is owned by Padres investor Alfredo Harp Helú, according to Corey Brock. Could the Diablos Rojos del Mexico become a wellspring of organizational depth*, or is this just a one-off? We'll see.
*The Diablos lost another reliever earlier in the month when Juan Sandoval signed a minor-league deal with the Rays. Sandoval is notable because he lost vision in one eye years ago due to a shooting.