January 15, 2014
The Youngian Thing
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.
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.
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.
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.
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):
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.
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.
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.
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.