* Justin Upton talks heated up in the GM meetings, with conculded yesterday. The team we heard the most were the Boston Red Sox, but according to Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman, the Arizona Diamondbacks are looking for Daniel Bard and Jacoby Ellsbury. The Red Sox are unlikely to part with those two, when they can sign Jayson Werth for just money.
Other teams interested are the Yankees, Rockies, Padres, Dodgers and Rays.
* Derek Jeter was reportedly offered a 3 year $42 mm contract by the Yankees. If I were him, I would jump on that. But according to sources, Jeter is looking for at least a four year deal, and maybe up to six.
* The Tigers began talks with Adam Dunn yesterday, and even thought reports origanlly indicated they were deep into talks, they were just preliminary. The Tigers are also known to be targeting Adrian Beltre, Victor Martinez and Manny Rameriz. It is possible they could sign Martinez and Dunn
The Rockies are interested in both Upton and Gavin Floyd and Kevin Millwood
Jonathan Papelbon is unlikely to be traded
Rangers, White Sox, Blue Jays, Red Sox and Rays interested in Miguel Olivo
Orioles interested in De La Rosa
Josh Willingham getting trade interest
We have now looked at Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Arizona. Now, it is Baltimore.
The Orioles finished with the second worst record in the American League this year. There are not many positives to look at in Baltimore. But maybe there are. The only reason they don’t have the worst record in the AL is their play in the second half. After Buck Showalter took over managing duties, the Orioles soared. An up and coming young team, the Orioles may be in a better position in years to come.
As I wrote yesterday, the problem with these bad teams is always pitching. The Orioles have Jeremy Guthrie, their ace. Guthrie finished the year with a 3.83 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.16. Guthrie is a very solid pitcher, probably a #3 on a lot of other staffs. The Orioles have another solid starting pitcher in Kevin Millwood, but he just blew up this year. With a 5.10 ERA, a whole run higher than his career average, Millwood went a baffling 4-16 in Baltimore. And this is were the rotation starts to get ugly.
Brian Matusz was the top ranked prospect in all of baseball going into the season. He finished the season with a 4.30 ERA, and he had to work for that. He improved drastically after the all-star break, with a 3.83 second half ERA. Another young pitcher in this Orioles staff is Chris Tillman. Tillman, 22 years old, posted a 5.87 ERA in 11 starts. He also allowed 11 home runs. Tillman is a good young pitcher, but you have to wonder if Baltimore may have brought him up too early.
The Orioles have three other young pitchers to work with. Brad Bergerson seems to be the most promising. He did put up an ERA of 4.98, but he seems to show some of the best stuff on the Orioles staff. He did allow 26 home runs, indicating maybe a problem keeping the ball low. Bergerson did have two compete games, and pitched some real gems in the first half of the season.
The other two young pitchers are Jake Arrieta and Rick VandenHurk. VandenHurk was acquired from Florida for Will Ohman. VandenHurk was mostly in the bullpen, but has started a few times in Baltimore and Florida. He has not shown much in the ERA department, with a career low 4.30 and a career average of 5.06. In Arrieta’s case, he is another top prospect of the Orioles’ system. He started 18 games this season, with a 4.66 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP. A fifth round pick in 2007, Arrieta started the year out in Norfolk and was recalled twice. He may start the season with Baltimore, but they have to be ready for the growing pains.
The Orioles bullpen is an interesting thing. They looked to have improved it in the offseason by acquiring Miguel Gonzalez and Will Ohman. But Gonzalez was hurt most the year, and when he was healthy he was not the closer they were looking for, He had a 4.01 ERA and two blown saves and just one save. Ohman was traded off for VandenHurk. The rest of the bullpen was a mess as well. Alfredo Simon posted a 4.93 Earned Run Average, and David Hernandez and Matt Albers weren’t much better. Jim Johnson put in a solid season, but their real bright spot was Koji Uehera. Uehera was going to be a starting pitcher, but after an injury he was moved to the bullpen. With the lack of a closer with Gonzalez out, Uehera seamlessly stepped into the closer’s role. He had a WHIP of 0.95, and allowed only five walks.
I never really thought the Orioles offense was bad. They had some good hitters, like Luke Scott, Nick Markakis, and Matt Wieters. The Orioles infield looked good at the start of the season, with Wieters, Brian Roberts, Miguel Tejada, Ty Wigginton, and Ceasar Izturis. Roberts was hurt most the year, and Tejada was traded to San Diego midseason. Wigginton had a very good year, but is a free agent. In fact, so are infielders Izturis and Julio Lugo. So the only part of their infield set next season is Roberts, Josh Bell at third base, and Wieters. Who will man shortstop and first?
It is possible the Orioles will sign Izturis. But probably not Wigginton. After a good season like that, some team will be willing to overpay for him. If Wigginton does not stay, they could have prospect Brandon Snyder start. Or they could sign a low-risk free agent, like a Mark Kotsay or Xavier Nady.
They have a pretty good outfield, the Orioles. Markakis is a rock out there, who this season hit .297 with 12 home runs and 60 RBIs in 160 games. The normal Markakis power was not there, but you can understand the lack of RBIs, being in that lineup. Adam Jones, an up and coming young player acquired from Seattle, had another good year, hitting .284 with 19 home runs and 69 RBIs. By the end of the season, Felix Pie was starting in left field. He hit .274 with five home runs and fifty one RBIs. Pie may not be the starter there forever, and the Orioles still have Nolan Reimold. Reimold did not do good in his time in the majors this year, hitting just .207. But Reimold, a second round pick, is still just 26 and still a major part of the Orioles plans.
I made my before-Spring Training predictions, here are my Opening Day Season predictions. Plus, check out the player to watch feature which gives you a player to watch on each team during the reaguler season.
AL East Player to watch:
Boston Red Sox (Jacoby Ellsbury)
New York Yankees (Marcus Thames)
Tampa Bay Rays (Ben Zobrist)
Baltimore Orioles (Nolan Reimold)
Toronto Blue Jays (Adam Lind)
Minnesota Twins (Orlando Hudson)
Chicago White Sox (Jake Peavy)
Kansas City Royals (Rick Ankeil)
Detroit Tigers (Austin Jackson)
Cleveland Indians (Micheal Brantly)
Seattle Mariners (Chone Figgins)
Anaheim Angels (Kendry Morales)
Texas Rangers (Neftali Feliz)
Oakland Athletics (Brett Anderson)
Philadelphia Phillies (Jayson Werth)
Atlanta Braves (Jason Heyward)
Florida Marlins (Mike Stanton)
Washington Nationals (Nyjer Morgan)
New York Mets (Kiko Calero)
St.Louis Cardinals (Colby Rasmus)
Chicago Cubs (Randy Wells)
Cincinatti Reds (Aroldis Chapman)
Milwakee Brewers (Alcades Escobar)
Houston Astros (Hunter Pence)
Pittsburgh Pirates (Garrett Jones)
Colorado Rockies (Jason Hammel)
Los Angeles Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw)
San Fransisco Giants (Madison Bumgarner)
Arizona D-backs (Justin Upton)
San Diego Padres (Clayton Richard)
1. Evan Longoria
2. Joe Mauer
3. Kendry Morales
1. Albert Pujols
2. Chase Utley
3. Ryan Braun
AL Cy Young
1. Jon Lester
2. Cliff Lee
3. Zack Greinke
NL Cy Young
1. Roy Halladay
2. Chris Carpenter
3. Tim Lincecum
1. Brain Matusz
2. Austin Jackson
3. Desmond Jennings
1. Jason Heyward
2. Mike Stanton
3. Madison Bumgarner
1. Don Wakamtsu
2. Ron Gardenhire
3. Joe Maddon
1. Bobby Cox
2. Tony LaRusa
3. Freddi Gonzalez
AL Comeback Player
NL Comeback Player
Those are my predicitions. My Internationl League predictions will be sometime next week.
Sorry I have not wrote in a while, it’s been a busy week. I’ll catch you up with everything.
Red Sox: I was at Red Sox games on Monday, Wednesday, and Today. Monday they played the Tampa Bay Rays. Boof Bonser pitched, and got pretty roughed up. The minor leaguers came back, and Ray Chang hit a three run homer. I got an autograph from Terry Francona. Wednesday the Red Sox played the Pirates, and the Red Sox won. I got a ball from Jorge Jimmenez, my second of the spring, the other being from Victor Martinez. Today I saw John Lackey pitch vs the Orioles. He looked pretty sharp. I got an autograph from Dave Trembly.
Mike Lowell fowled a ball off his knee and left the game Friday. I expect this gives the Red Sox an excuse to put him on the DL. If that’s the case, expect Josh Reddick to make the roster.
Bruins: The Bruins won Tuesday night in Atlanta, a huge win. They laid an egg Thursday vs Tampa Bay, and won 5-0 vs Calgary today. Bergeron, Chara, Seidenberg, krejci and Recchi scored today. The Bruins hold a 4 point cushion for the playoffs and move to seventh place with the Flyers losing. The Thrashers play Carolina tonight.
Marc Savard spoke with the media today for the first time since being injured from a hit by Matt Cooke. He said that Cooke has tried to talk to him, but he does not want to talk to Cooke. I am hearing that Savard could return with a deep playoff run by the Bruins.
Vladimir Sobotka returned to game action today while Andrew Ference, just signed to a three year contract (for whatever reason) sat out with yet another injury.
Celtics: The Celtics lost to the Utah Jazz on Monday, while beating the Nuggets Wednesday and the Knigs last night to clinch the Atlantic divison. The Hawks lost to the 76ers, so the Celtics rank ahead of them by one game.
Kendrick Perkins missed last night’s game with a knee injury, and is expected to miss tomorrows vs San Antonio.
Blazers: The Boston Blazers play the last place Philadelphia Wings tonight. If Toronto loses to the Titans tonight, the Blazers with a win could move into second place all alone.
The Mailbag will be Monday. I am in Ft.Myers tomorrow. I will be in Port Charlotte Tuesday, and Sarasota again Wednesday to end my Red Sox spring schedule. I will be in Clearwater Thursday to see the Phillies and the Pirates.
Thought #1: Who is the Rays closer? Dan Wheeler? Good luck.
Thought #2: Evan Longoria is so good it’s unbelievable.
Thought #3: The Rays window is closing. They will probally lose Carlos Pena and Carl Crwford after the season. But who knows, maybe Beckham and Jennings could step in.
Thought #4: I am very exited to see Wade Davis pitch a full season. Should be interesting to see how he handles the AL East.
Thought #5: Tropicana field is in a terrible location. It really is.
Thought #6: In the infamous Dan Johnson game at Fenway Park in September of 2008, guess who sat next to me? Dick Vitale. He’s like this huge Rays fan. I just about exploded when Jason bay hit that homer off Wheeler, and then Dan (who?) Johnson homered off Papelbon in the ninth. I still hate thinking about it.
Thought #7: Rays will finish in a tight race for third with Baltimore this year. Mark it down.
Thought #8: Dan Johnson. Ugghh.
Thought #9: Those cowbells give me a headache. What are the point in those? To intimadate other fans? Annoying.
Thought #10: I cant’ hear you, I ahve cowbells ringing in my ears.
Over the last three days, I have been to
three different Spring Training games in three different
ballparks. I was in Ft. Myers to see Red Sox-Twins, than at
City of Palms Park, also in Ft. Myers for Red Sox-Orioles. I
capped it off today with Red Sox-Astros. The Red Sox won the
first game, with Ryne Miller getting the start over Josh
Beckett, who was ill. Miller got rocked pretty hard. But, he
is just a single-A player. Aaron Bates, my player to watch
this spring, (Last year it was Jeff Bailey) doubled and
scored in the game. I pick a player every spring to watch,
this year it’s Bates and Josh Reddick. Reddick homered in the
home game vs the Orioles. Tim Wakefield pitched that game,
and was pretty shaky. David Ortiz also homered. Mike Lowell
made his spring debut, to an aplauding crowd. Rumor says that
Marlins scouts where in the crowd to watch the newly
converted first baseman. Today in Kissimee, the Red Sox lost
3-0 to the Astors and Roy Oswalt. Jon Lester pitched for
Boston, and looked good. The only negitive of his outing was
a run scoring on a wild pitch. Bates came up as the tying rin
in the ninth vs Wesley Wright, but grounded out to shortstop.
My next game is in Bradenton on Friday to see the Red Sox
play the Pirates.
The Total Bases weekly Mailbag will be answered on Saturday instead of Sunday this week. I will be in Ft. Myers Sunday and Monday to see the Red Sox play the Twins and Orioles, and will not be able to answer questions. Get in your questions here if you have not already about the Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics, Pats, Pawsox, or their sports. Thank You!
– Total Bases