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January 15, 2014

Transaction Analysis

The Youngian Thing

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed DH-R Delmon Young to a minor-league deal. [1/13]

If we assume the Orioles were never going to sign Kendrys Morales or Nelson Cruz, and that Nolan Reimold hasn't found a cure for all that ails him, then signing Young makes a lot of sense. The former first overall pick is best used as a platoon DH, which is just how the Rays deployed him last September. Young improved on his walk and strikeout rates, and showed more pop than usual during his brief return to St. Petersburg. Whether he can sustain those numbers over an entire season is to be seen, but the cost is low enough that the Orioles can take the gamble.

HOUSTON ASTROS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed SS-S Cesar Izturis to a minor-league deal. [1/13]

Izturis last posted an OPS+ better than 70 in 2004, the season following Bo Porter's retirement. He's not around for his bat, folks, but that's an impressive decade of bad hitting. Maicer's big brother has remain employed due to his glove and, in recent years, his leadership qualities. Those are the traits Houston is after here. Izturis won't play often, barring injury or tanking, yet he can serve as the utility infielder while helping Jonathan Villar adjust to playing everyday in the majors.

NEW YORK YANKEES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed INF-R Scott Sizemore to a minor-league deal. [1/13]

Now that the Yankees know Alex Rodriguez won't be heading north with the team come late March, they can focus on tending to and finding players who will. Sizemore has become popular for the wrong reason, as he's torn his ACL in consecutive seasons. Once a well-regarded prospect, he hasn't stayed on the field for long enough to prove whether his 2011 uptick with the Athletics was real or a fluke. The Yankees lack sure things on the infield—injury-prone Brian Roberts is penciled in as the starter at second base—leaving Sizemore with a good shot to reach the majors if he can remain healthy. From a human interest perspective, it's hard not to root for him.

SEATTLE MARINERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed C-R John Buck to a one-year deal worth $1 million. [1/14]

Meet Mike Zunino's backup. Buck had an outstanding April last season, homering nine times in 87 at-bats, but struggled over the rest of the year. Despite impressive raw strength, which allows him to leave the park from pole to pole, he's been a below-average hitter throughout his career. Most reserve catchers without good offensive numbers are presumed excellent defenders, but that's not the case here. While Buck's caught stealing rates tend to fall in line with the league-average, his receiving skills are questionable at best. Even so, it's hard to quibble with this deal.

TAMPA BAY RAYS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed INF-R Jayson Nix to a minor-league deal. [1/9]

During any given season, Joe Maddon employs a few platoons at a time. He has two in place already, one at DH and the other behind the plate, and should install a third before Opening Day. Nix wasn't the Rays' first or second choice for the role—those were Mark Ellis and Jamey Carroll—but his recent numbers against left-handed pitchers aren't too far off from those guys (albeit in a smaller sample):

Player

Versus LHP (11-13)

Versus RHP (11-13)

Carroll

.309/.373/.395

.248/.319/.285

Ellis

.291/.338/.436

.245/.304/.319

Nix

.262/.346/.393

.199/.259/.298

There are reasons to dislike Nix's game—for instance, his strikeout rate is befit a player with more power than Nix offers—and it's easy to see the Rays upgrading before the season starts. If not, Nix can be tolerated as someone who starts at second base once or twice a week for chump change.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Claimed LHP Santos Rodriguez off waivers from the White Sox. [1/10]

Rodriguez is the quintessential waiver claim. He's a big, hard-throwing southpaw whose big-league future—should he have one—lies in relief. As untidy as his mechanics are, they understate his control problems. This isn't a pitcher who had trouble adjusting to the upper minors, this is a pitcher who hasn't walked fewer than four batters per nine innings in any professional season, and who issued 41 free passes last year in 47 innings. Arizona's attempt to fix Rodriguez is understandable—the promise is undeniable—but chances are he'll be another team's project in six months' time.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed SS-R Ronny Cedeno to a minor-league deal. [1/13]

Cedeno is the younger, National League version of Izturis—and, it should be noted for coincidence's sake, he opened last season with the Astros. Though not praised for his bat, over the past two seasons Cedeno has pieced together two impressive offensive stretches. Unfortunately, those tears 1) came within small samples and 2) bookend a wicked slump, so he hasn't put it all together and probably never will. Cedeno should battle with Freddy Galvis and Reid Brignac, among others, for a roster spot.

WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed INF-R Jamey Carroll to a minor-league deal. [1/9]

Say this about Mike Rizzo: he's prepared if Danny Espinosa has another rough season. Carroll is the third infielder with more than a year of major league service time who Rizzo has signed this offseason, joining Will Rhymes and Mike Fontenot. Like the other two, he's not equipped with enough arm to man the left side of the infield for long, but he still has his uses. In the past, Carroll has hit for a good average and on-base percentage against lefties, and he's earned a grinder reputation for reasons beyond his small stature and Scrappy Doo appearance. The downsides are numerous, and Carroll, who turns 40 in a month, could be done. But the Nationals will have options if Espinosa and Carroll can't get it done.

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

6 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Lindemann
(852)

Jamey Carroll was an original Nat, back in 2005. Also, some significant subpopulation of the ladies just loved him. You could hear squeals every time he came up to bat. So the signing has resonance for the Nats fanbase beyond the general need for a backup UT in case Danny can't find his bat again.

Jan 15, 2014 06:03 AM
rating: 2
 
BrewersTT

Someone should study the correlation between good looks on the roster and tickets purchased by women. Could be an underappreciated tactic for increasing the payroll.

Jan 17, 2014 09:59 AM
rating: 1
 
DeathSpeculum

I feel like this is the year meathook jr breaks out. get ready Baltimore.

Jan 15, 2014 08:06 AM
rating: 0
 
DetroitDale

If that improvement in the K and bb ratios holds you could be right. His willingness to swing at everything frustrated me more than his weight and off field issues while he was in Motown

Jan 19, 2014 08:39 AM
rating: 0
 
Johnson Magic

Sure Young presents a nice platoon DH option for the O's, but at what cost to Chemistry?

Jan 15, 2014 08:26 AM
rating: 0
 
Plucky

That the Phillies are signing someone who was so bad he got cut from the 2013 Astros says a lot about where they are. Yea, yea yea, minor league deal... but still

Jan 15, 2014 20:32 PM
rating: 2
 
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