By Aaron Rife,
Hot Stove Update
One month into the “Hot Stove” MLB offseason and there’s been a lot to talk about. With Winter Meetings just around the corner, let’s catch everyone up on what has happened so far each day with a different division.
Los Angeles Angels: Mike Scioscia can’t seem to find a catcher he likes. Last year he traded Mike Napoli to give Jeff Mathis the starting nod; that was an obvious loss. Now he’s trying out Chris Iannetta who’s perpetually on the verge of a breakout year. They’ve been linked to Aramis Ramirez to give them a power hitting 3B but they’ve also said they’re not spending a ton of money this offseason. They have some expendable players with Kendrys Morales coming back that they could try and trade Vernon Wells or Bobby Abreu for spare parts to free up some cash. They also need a starting pitcher. They currently have Jerome Simpson and Brad Mills in the rotation. Will this be the year Mike Trout gets some full-time ABs? The Angels are saddles with a lot of old players with big contracts right now. They have a lot of work but have already made two deals so they’re at least trying.
• Key FA Losses: Joel Pinero (SP), Fernando Rodney (RP), Russell Branyan (1B/3B)
• Traded Tyler Chatwood (SP) to Rockies for Chris Iannetta (C)
• Traded Jeff Mathis (C) to Blue Jays for Brad Mills (SP)
Oakland A’s: How long is Billy Beane going to keep people mesmerized by “moneyball”? They’ve had five straight years of a .500 record or worse and an abysmal offense coming back in 2012. Their bread and butter in the past and now has been the pitching staff. Going in to the winter meetings they’re getting a lot of interest in Andrew Bailey and Gio Gonzalez. If they’re following form, they’ll both be gone by the start of the season. They really need outfield help as currently they have unheralded rookies slotted into CF and RF. Their only returning bright spot on offense is Jemile Weeks. He should be manning 2B for the foreseeable future. The rest of the roster is filled with former prospects that have been cast aside by other clubs. Moneyball may have been revolutionary and worked when no one else was doing it, but now that everyone knows and uses advanced metrics it’s getting harder and harder to find those Scott Hatterberg type “diamonds in the rough”.
• Key FA Losses: Coco Crisp (OF), Hideki Matsui (DH), David Dejesus (OF), Josh Willingham (OF)
Seattle Mariners: Seattle: Where power hitters go to die. Remember when Colorado had a hard time getting starters to come and play in Coors Field? I think that is currently happening in Seattle. The flip-side of that is that they might be able to turn around some pitching careers. If you’re an aging pitcher or one coming off of an injury, would you want to play in a bandbox like Texas or play in an enormous field like Safeco? This would be a great spot for Paul Maholm to end up or, if they want to spend a little more money, Roy Oswalt on a one/two year deal. It’s going to be hard to convince a power hitting FA to come to Seattle so they’d have to trade for one or develop one that they already have. Mike Carp, Casper Wells, and Carlos Peguero all showed some promising power; however, none will hit over .260.
• Traded Josh Lueke (P) and future considerations to the Rays for John Jaso (C)
• Key FA Losses: David Aardsma (RP), Adam Kennedy (INF), Wily Mo Pena (DH)
Texas Rangers: One out away from being World Series champs. The big change so far was signing Joe Nathan to close and moving Neftali Feliz to the starting rotation. The Rangers have already proven that they can do this successfully. C.J. Wilson had 52 saves in 5 years before they turned him in to a starter and now he’s the prize SP free agent on the market. Feliz has always wanted to be a starter anyways so the desire is there and we’ve already seen the skills. Their WS matchup also brought out their bench weakness. Granted in the AL you don’t use bench hitters as often as in the NL but I see them adding a veteran presence so they don’t have Esteban German coming up in any key at bat. They could also solidify their CF by signing a high risk player like CoCo Crisp. He’ll eventually be hurt but while he’s playing he’ll be good. He could possibly mentor Julio Borbon as well. One this is for sure, they’re not resigning C.J. Wilson; they’ll let someone else overpay for him and be fine. One thing they don’t need is pitching.
• Signed Joe Nathan (RP) to a 2-year deal
• Exercised team options on Colby Lewis (SP) and Yoshinori Tateyama (RP)
• Key FA Losses: C.J. Wilson (SP), Brandon Webb (SP), Endy Chavez (OF), Darren Oliver (RP)