The Reds might be making a mistake by not starting Chris Heisey.
When the Reds let Jonny Gomes walk in free agency this past winter, it seemed Chris Heisey might finally get a chance to show that he could stick as the team’s everyday left fielder. The 27-year-old Heisey hit .254/.309/.487 last season, with an impressive 18 home runs in 308 plate appearances. His plate discipline left much to be desired, but his minor-league track record suggested that an uptick in walks and a decrease in strikeouts could be forthcoming.
On January 17, though, the Reds inked Ryan Ludwick to a one-year, $2.5 million deal, threatening the expected increase in Heisey’s playing time. The fit was odd, to say the least. Ludwick—coming off a .237/.310/.363 campaign split between the Padres and Pirates—did not offer much that Heisey wasn’t already providing. Both are right-handed hitters. Both have reverse platoon splits (although Heisey’s may be the product of a small sample size). Both produce the bulk of their value in the batter’s box.
The Marlins have an ace in the hole that could help them scoop the NL East title
When Josh Johnson takes the mound tonight and throws the first stateside pitch of the 2012 regular season, he will be making his third consecutive appearance as the Marlins’ Opening Day starter. The difference is that, for the first time in those three seasons, Johnson’s team projects to be a contender.
The 28-year-old Johnson had his 2011 campaign cut short by a shoulder injury after just nine starts and watched the Marlins sink to a last-place finish in the NL East at 72-90—five games behind the fourth-place Mets and 30 games behind the division-champion Phillies. But the tide has turned, and PECOTA sees a level playing field likely to result in a three-horse race between the Phillies, Marlins, and Braves for the top spot.
While several backstops have been locked up lately, the Diamondbacks might not be so lucky with Miguel Montero.
On Wednesday, I wrote favorably about the Brewers’ five-year extension for catcher Jonathan Lucroy, which essentially assured the team of average-or-better production from the position at a reasonable rate through 2017. The Diamondbacks aren’t so lucky; according to Jon Heyman, their catcher, Miguel Montero, has done his time and is looking forward to a payday next winter.
The 28-year-old Montero has been Arizona’s primary catcher for the past three seasons, though he missed a significant chunk of the 2010 campaign while recovering from knee surgery. Already a solid, 2.8 WARP player in 2009, Montero put forth a career-best 3.8 WARP effort in 2011, and his production was one of the key factors behind the Diamondbacks’ division title.
The Brewers' decision to extend Jonathan Lucroy could have a massive payoff.
An unexpected storyline has emerged over the last few weeks of the offseason, as the Royals and Brewers have agreed to long-term contracts with their catchers. The latter deal, which will pay Jonathan Lucroy either $11 million or $13 million (if he attains Super Two status) over five years and includes a club option for the 2017 season, was made official on Tuesday.
What’s interesting about the deals given to Lucroy and Salvador Perez is that neither projects to be a star-level player. The Rays’ pact with Matt Moore and the Pirates’ hitch with Andrew McCutchen were examples of teams preferring cost certainty—and the chance to strike significant bargains with potentially elite players—at the expense of some additional risk for the club. The Lucroy and Perez extensions carry less financial risk for the Brewers and Royals, respectively, but the upside is also considerably smaller.
Losing Joakim Soria isn't a death blow to the Royals' ninth-inning hopes.
When is losing your closer—not long ago considered one of the best closers in the league—not a big deal? What if you have a possible replacement on your roster whose rookie season was historically good?
Bob Dutton, the Royals beat writer for The Kansas City Star, reported on Friday that Joakim Soria had decided to undergo Tommy John surgery and would miss the entire 2012 season. Soria previously needed a UCL replacement procedure in 2003 while in the low minors with the Dodgers, three years before the Royals plucked him out of the Padres’ farm system in the Rule 5 draft.
The Phillies and Rockies both have gaping holes and could become perfect trade partners.
The Rockies need reliable starting pitchers and have a plethora of infielders. The Phillies are running out of infielders and have a surplus of starting pitchers. Perhaps general managers Dan O’Dowd and Ruben Amaro Jr. should have a chat.
Injuries to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley make the Phillies' chances of maintaining the NL East crown slimmer.
Have you already penciled the Phillies in atop your projected NL East standings? Well, you might want to find an eraser.
Ryan Howard is going to miss the first two months of the season while recovering from the Achilles injury he suffered last October, and it now appears that Chase Utleywill be joining him on the disabled list with recurring knee woes. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels should hold down their end of the fort, but questions about the Phillies’ offense are looming rather large as the season approaches.
With Carlos Quentin booked for surgery, who should the Padres turn to?
The Padres’ marquee big-league addition this offseason was outfielder Carlos Quentin, who was expected to add thump to the offense in his final year before free agency. Some thought the deal with the White Sox on December 31 was odd, considering that San Diego is likely to be a fourth-place team in the NL West this season, Quentin is an iffy defensive outfielder, and his arbitration salary was projected to be in the $6-8 million range (he settled for $7.025 million). But he only cost two middling pitching prospects—Simon Castro and Pedro Hernandez—so general manager Josh Byrnes saw little risk and pulled the trigger.
Unfortunately, among Quentin’s many flaws, proneness to injuries may be the greatest. He has never played more than 131 games in a season, has landed on the disabled list four times since his 2006 debut, and has had surgeries on his elbow, shoulder, and wrist. On Sunday, we learned that his right knee is next in line, and the recovery will likely cost Quentin at least the first month of the season.
While most players don't need to prove themselves in spring training, the pressure is on for Adam Dunn.
For most players, spring training stats are meaningless. As long as they are healthy, their swings or deliveries are in order, and their bodies are conditioned for the 162-game grind, all the March 0-fers and five-run duds will be forgotten come Opening Day.
That’s not the case for Adam Dunn. No one in baseball needed a clean slate after last season more than the 32-year-old Dunn, who hit an awful .159/.292/.277 and was worth –2.7 WARP, making him the absolute worst player in the league. Prior to 2011, Dunn had been remarkably consistent, slugging between 38 and 40 home runs in six consecutive seasons. It was hard to believe that all of his talent could have slipped away so suddenly, but after an impossibly bad 597 OPS in the first half of the season, Dunn somehow managed to drop even further to 519 in the second.
On Monday, Cumberland informed the Padres that he is retiring from baseball. The neurological disorder, known as bilateral vestibulopathy, had taken its toll, and—combined with Cumberland’s history of concussions—proved to be too much to overcome.
Were Mike Matheny's complaints about a rain delay justified?
There are few more frustrating experiences for fans than going to a game, watching four-plus innings of baseball, and then having a rainstorm set in that forces the grounds crew to bring out the tarp. Those rain delays are at least equally loathsome to the players, particularly when they happen amid a rally and dim their team’s momentum.
It’s understandable, then, that first-year Cardinals Mike Matheny was miffed by the fifth-inning hiatus during the game against the Marlins on Saturday. But what really irked Matheny was the MLBPA’s decision to hold a mandatory meeting with the Marlins, even as the showers moved away yielding clear skies and playable conditions.