The Roster Report – March 24, 2012

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The Roster Report – March 24, 2012

Posted on 24 March 2012 by Bryan Grosnick

Hey there, hardball fans. The first games of the season are less than a week away, and plenty of teams are making final decisions about the last roster spots up for grabs. In this week’s Roster Report, we’re focusing on two late-spring changes to two contending teams on the West Coast. One team is moving a veteran to the outfield to make room for a power-hitting first baseman, while another team is putting a vet on the bench to make room for their own slugging 1B.

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Aubrey Huff has been playing left field recently for the San Francisco Giants.

With Aubrey Huff getting in extra playing time in the outfield, it looks like more and more of a possibility that Huff could log extended time in the outfield this season. The move from first base to left field would probably open up time for Brandon Belt at first. Belt is a tremendous prospect, with most projection systems positing that he’ll hit for at least .350 wOBA already, in his age-24 season. It wouldn’t be unreasonable for Belt to post 20 or more homers and a .350 OBP while playing good defense at first base. Keeping him out of the lineup last season was a travesty, and the Giants lineup is starved for a powerful run producer of Belt’s caliber.

Aubrey Huff, despite his mammoth 2010, is no longer the type of hitter Brandon Belt is. In full-time action last season, Huff managed only an 84 wRC+. To put that in perspective, Huff was about 16% worse than a league-average hitter. But not only that, Huff’s a bad fielder. In the outfield, Huff has never had any sustained success with the leather. Don’t get me wrong, Huff probably isn’t an epic disaster in the field a la Raul Ibanez, but he’s not good. To put things in perspective, last season when Huff played out there, someone drew a chalk outline in the outfield. But a player who doesn’t hit very well, and is going to be average at best in the field, probably shouldn’t be an everyday player. If it wasn’t for Huff’s sizable contract (and loyalty from the 2010 World Series run), it seems unlikely that he’d be a regular starter.

This moves poor Nate Schierholz back into a reserve role, as Melky Cabrera would move over to right field. Historically, Nate’s been an above-average fielder in right, and last season, Schierholz finally put together an above-average season with the bat as well. A triple slash line of .278/.326/.430 is nothing to sneeze at, though it won’t win any MVP awards. In truth, Schierholz is a better player than Huff at this stage in his career, so playing Huff over Schierholz in the outfield isn’t maximizing the team’s assets. However, instead of looking at things from that perspective, if Huff needs to be in the lineup, one could view this as replacing Schierholz with Belt. And Brandon Belt is far too good of a player to be resigned to the San Francisco bench.

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Kendrys Morales will (probably) be the Opening Day DH for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

After almost two years off the playing field, Kendrys Morales appears to be healthy and ready to play for the Angels. You might remember that Morales injured his ankle in a freak home-run-celebration accident back in 2010, and he’s been trying to get himself back on the field ever since. Most of the reports out of Spring Training indicate that Morales is ready to go, and he’s been seeing the ball well in Spring Training thus far, actually seeing game action yesterday. All things point to Morales opening camp with the big league club, and that’s good news, given that Kendrys has proven himself to be a solid hitter in his 1240 big league plate appearances. Morales has power, having hit 55 home runs in his limited big-league action, including 34 HR in a solid 2009 campaign. He’s substantially better than league average as a hitter, and sports a career wRC+ of 114, which puts him solidly above league-average.

Morales would be replacing Bobby Abreu as the everyday DH for the Angels. Abreu, who’s reportedly unhappy about losing out on everyday playing time, wasn’t particularly good in 2011. Though Abreu still draws a mean walk, he’s no longer a threat to hit for lots of power. Abreu still steals bases (21 in 2011), but is a net negative baserunner. And yes, he’s a horrible fielder. According to UZR, Abreu hasn’t been an above-average fielder since 2003, and he’s been downright awful in most seasons.

Abreu is in the twilight of his career, and Morales is still in the prime of his own. If Kendrys is ready to play, he’s an upgrade over every other option in house for the Angels. Whether it is Abreu, Mark Trumbo, Alberto Callaspo, or Maicer Izturis, Morales still remains the best DH option that the Angels have. As long as he’s healthy, he’s proven he can hit.

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The Roster Report – March 17, 2012

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The Roster Report – March 17, 2012

Posted on 17 March 2012 by Bryan Grosnick

Hey there, hardball fans! Spring Training is in full swing, and unfortunately, that means that it’s time for the injury bug to bite. Plenty of teams are adjusting on the fly as players go down with injuries both major and minor. This week’s edition of the Roster Report will focus on a couple of recent injuries that are opening up roster spaces across the league, especially one young player with a career just starting out. On the other end of the spectrum, an old friend returns to his old stomping grounds in an unexpected twist. All this and more in this edition of the Roster Report.

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The New York Yankees sign SP Andy Pettitte to a $2.5MM minor-league deal.

Yeah, I’m not sure anyone saw this one coming. Fresh off the heels of adding two solid starters (Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda) this off-season, the Yankees have gone ahead and added yet another starter. Surprisingly, Andy Pettitte has emerged from his retirement to pitch again for the Yankees, and one should imagine that the team wouldn’t ink Pettitte unless they planned to use him in the rotation. I’m sure the Bronx faithful are happy to see their old favorite back in the House That YES Built, and once he’s ready to pitch, he’ll slot right in for regular work every fifth day.

So why would the Yankees be in the market for another arm? Word on the street blogosphere is that the Yankees are worried about Michael Pineda‘s Spring Training velocity. If Pineda is ineffective, or needs additional work in the minor leagues, the Yankees will have a pretty serious hole in their rotation. But don’t the Bombers already have Freddy Garcia waiting to take the last slot in the rotation if that were the case? The truth of the matter is, you can never have too much starting pitching depth. Considering how many times pitchers get banged up and have to miss time, there’s no reason not to add another starter. And Pettitte wasn’t too shabby in his last go-round with the Yankees, posting a 3.28 ERA and a 3.85 FIP. Garcia should be able to slide into a relief or swingman role if he’s not already in one when Pettitte comes back. As for Pineda, if he’s healthy and there’s no space in the rotation for Pettitte, Phil Hughes could probably move into the relief role where he had such success.

In the end, there’s very little downside to this deal for a team like the Yankees. Two and a half million dollars for a player likely to be an average-or-better starter, even for part of a season, is a good deal. If the Yankees have too many starters, well, that’s a problem most teams would like to have. I’d bet the Red Sox wish they could get a player of Pettitte’s caliber at that price.

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Kansas City Royals C Salvador Perez is out for 3-4 months with a knee injury.

Fresh off the heels of an awesome new five-year contract, 21-year-old Royals catcher Salvador Perez is out. It appears that Perez will need surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee, and could miss anywhere from 12 to 14 weeks. A knee injury has to be especially rough on a catcher, but Perez was ready to prove his contract (and 2011 performance) were no fluke. Pena’s .331 average in limited action last season is an oft-sourced statistic, but he has the potential to play at an above-average level beyond just a decent batting average. With the injury and rehab time, one shouldn’t expect Perez to get too much development time, and this could turn out to be a lost year for the young backstop.

Brayan Pena is now the full-time catcher for the Royals, which is not good at all. Pena is below-average hitter, according to his career wRC+ of 71. No matter how good defensively Pena is, it won’t make up for his bad bat. There aren’t too many catchers available on the open market, though I hear Ivan Rodriguez could use a job. Pudge hasn’t been too effective recently, but would provide veteran leadership on a young Royals squad. The Royals have dreams of contending soon, and they’ll need every bit of help they can get to beat out the Tigers. There’s not a player in house that’s capable of taking on more responsibility behind the plate with Perez out, so adding a player through trade or free agency should now be a priority. Maybe Jorge Posada‘s ready to follow Pettitte’s lead and will be the next guy to come out of retirement?

Quick Hits

  • New York Mets third baseman David Wright has a minor abdominal tear, and while he says that he’ll be ready for Opening Day, never trust a DL estimate from the Mets. If Wright isn’t ready to go to start the season, one would probably expect Justin Turner to get most of the spots in Wright’s place. As for who might make the team on a temporary basis, I’d expect Josh Satin (or Zach Lutz) to get the call if Wright looks to miss extended time, but don’t overlook C/3B Lucas May either. May looked solid defensively in the Tigers-Mets Spring Training game, and he’s proved to be a reasonable hitter at the minor league level.
  • Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins has some left knee inflamation, so he may miss some time but should be ready by April. If Stanton had to miss time, the Marlins are actually in pretty decent shape with Bryan Petersen. Not only is Petersen the star of an online webseries, but he’s also an underrated player. Petersen hits well (.334 wOBA) and showed solid defensive chops (5.6 UZR) in the outfield last season. But Stanton is one of the most exciting young hitters in baseball, and if he misses any time, the Marlins will suffer.

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The Roster Report – March 10, 2012

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The Roster Report – March 10, 2012

Posted on 10 March 2012 by Bryan Grosnick

Hey there, hardball fans. In this edition of the Roster Report, we’ll cover a couple of those exciting Spring Training position battles. We’ll keep things on the West Coast, with positional battles in the Bay Area and over by Puget Sound. One battle is due to the fact that there just plain aren’t any good players available, and another is due to an unsurprising injury.

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The San Francisco Giants Middle Infield

I thought for sure that the Giants would take the opportunity over the offseason to make a move and address the team’s biggest weakness: a lack of talent in the middle of the diamond. Instead, the Giants reloaded with veteran retreads in an attempt to patch their hole, and now project to have very poor production from the middle of the infield. Ostensibly, the starters for this team are veteran 2B Freddy Sanchez and rookie SS Brandon Crawford, but one has to expect that backups Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot will see plenty of time in the middle as well. And that’s not a good thing.

We’ll start with Crawford, who certainly has his good points. He’s a solid defensive shortstop, and has done well from both a scouting and an analytical standpoint.  In about 500 innings at short in 2011, Crawford managed to be worth about three runs with the leather, according to FanGraphs. That’s not half bad. Unfortunately, the glove (and arm…and range…and decent baserunning skill) is all Crawford has going for him. His bat is a work in progress, but even when that work is finished, it may not be any good. Brandon flashes virtually no power, makes fairly weak contact, and his burgeoning on-base skill can’t make up for his offensive failings. With a 60 wRC+ last season in limited action, he projects to be sub-par with the bat, and could be a real drain on an already soft Giant lineup. You have to play terrific D to hit as bad as Crawford does and stay a starter.

At second base is the veteran Freddy Sanchez. Sanchez is easily the best middle infielder on the Giants, capable of mixing above-average defense at the pivot with a bat that’s roughly league-average. At second base, that combination will certainly play. The Giants would have to be thrilled with a repeat of his 2010 performance, in which he was worth a full 2.5 FanGraphs WAR. But alas, Sanchez has become terribly injury-prone, and he’s on the downward slope of his career. Freddy only managed 111 games in both 2009 and 2010, then a meager 60 games in 2011. A late-season shoulder surgery should be recovered enough to have him start the season off the DL, but it remains to be seen if it affects his offensive output. Since Sanchez doesn’t hit for power or draw walks, his offense is tied to his ability to put balls in play, and if that skill fades, it will be a long season at second for the Giants.

The Giants are going to party like it is 2008 (and they’re the Cubs) with the combo of  Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot in the middle infield. I can already predict how this is going to work: Theriot will get the first call at short when Crawford fails to hit, and Fontenot will get the first call at second when Sanchez needs an injury breather. The trouble is, neither player is a plus defender, and both posted similar wRC+ scores in 2011. Theriot managed an 84 wRC+, while Fontenot managed an 87 wRC+. Unfortunately, both those scores put them as below-average hitters. Neither player hits for any power, or provides substantive walk totals. Do you see a pattern forming here? They may hit better than Crawford, but not by enough to offset their defensive shortcomings.

I wouldn’t get too worked up though, if I were a Giants fan. I personally believe that the team’s long term answer at second base is already on the team’s roster! If you want to try and hazard a guess at who I’m thinking of, take a minute. I’ll wait.

That’s right. Buster Posey. I had the opportunity to watch him play while I attended FSU, and I can attest that he has the footwork and defensive chops (he played shortstop for the ‘Noles…as well as every other position on the team) to make the Biggio-transition if the need presents itself. And from a realistic standpoint, I truly believe that it will. I think we all want Posey to stay behind the dish for as long as possible, but his bat is just too talented to risk the near-constant wear and tear that inevitably leads to injury. Posey’s bat would certainly play better in a position like second or third base rather than first, which should be locked up for the foreseeable future by Brandon Belt anyways.

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The Seattle Mariners Outfield

Before Spring Training began, the Mariner outfield looked pretty much set. Since Jesus Montero projects to get many of the at-bats at DH, the Mariners looked to run out a glove-friendly outfield of Ichiro Suzuki (RF), Franklin Gutierrez (CF), and Mike Carp (LF). Alas, Gutierrez proved his reputation as an injury-prone player, and wound up with a torn pectoral muscle. With Gutierrez looking to miss about a month (if not more), the Mariners are looking for a new defensive anchor in the outfield.

Given that the Mariners aren’t poised to be top contenders this season, it seems unlikely that they’d look for an outside option. The team has several interesting, if not earth-shattering options to fill in at center until “Death to Flying Things” returns. Those options, in no particular order, are Casper Wells, Trayvon Robinson, Michael Saunders, and Chone Figgins. Robinson had a terrific stat line at Triple-A last season hitting 26 homers, but he makes precious little contact. His numbers were likely inflated by the positive run environment in the PCL, and he looks more like a Triple-A hitter or occasional bench bat. His defense probably isn’t good enough to keep him in a regular CF role anyways. Chone Figgins…is Chone Figgins. I’m not even sure why his name has come up as a potential CF option, given that he hasn’t played the position since 2006, and wasn’t particularly good there anyways when he did play in center. Figgins’s bat has completely disappeared (.218 wOBA in 2011) since coming to Seattle, and there’s virtually no way he’d be a positive upgrade over any other player with the lumber.

That leaves Casper Wells and Michael Saunders as the two most likely options in center. Both players play solid defense, and they are both young(ish) and have shown promise in the minor leagues. Each player strikes out too much (28.3% K-rate for Saunders, 26.5% for Wells), but shows flashes of power, and each could play passable center field given the opportunity. In fact, the biggest difference between the two players is their handedness: Saunders hits lefty while Wells hits righty. Given that both players are likely to make the team (as utility outfielders, if nothing else), the best bet for the Mariners might be to take the platoon advantage and alternate the two young players. By mixing and matching, they may be taking ABs away from the young hitters, but they’ll also be maximizing their advantage in each game. Given that neither Saunders or Wells is a real blue-chip prospect, the idea of playing each guy against their best opponent could be a strategy that pays dividends in the short-term. And if either player gets hot and cements himself as a starter, all the better.

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The Roster Report – March 3, 2012

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The Roster Report – March 3, 2012

Posted on 03 March 2012 by Bryan Grosnick

Hey there, hardball fans. Welcome to the first Roster Report of March. Spring Training has sprung on us, and players are showing up and getting ready for the 2012 season. With the beginning of Spring Training comes the inevitable swath of injuries throughout the league, and this column focuses on some of the most important injuries that have cropped up over the last few days. Two Central Division squads will be missing big-name (and big-money) players for the start of the season – one due to a freak injury, the other due to an injury that was anything but unexpected.

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Cleveland Indians CF Grady Sizemore will miss 8-12 weeks due to back surgery.

It was almost a given that Grady Sizemore would miss time in 2012, but even the Indians probably didn’t expect it to happen so soon. The superstar outfielder had a micro discectomy, and this back surgery will cause him to miss most of Spring Training, as well as the start to the season. With an extensive rehab process needed before Grady can get back on the field, and his existing history of injury, I’d say mid-May is the earliest we’d see Sizemore take the field for Cleveland. This is not the way the Indians wanted to spend the $5MM contract they signed Sizemore to before the season started.

With Grady missing from center field, it is safe to assume that Michael Brantley will take over in the middle of the outfield. Brantley posted respectable, if not stupendous, numbers in 2011. He amassed nearly 500 plate appearances, hit .266/.318/.384, and stole 13 bases. There’s still potential for his power, speed, and OBP numbers to improve a bit, and Brantley’s defense in center is solid enough to play everyday there. Brantley probably would have been the everyday left-fielder with Sizemore healthy, but now he’s more likely to hit near the top of the order, depending on the choices the Indians make with the newly-open left field position.

There’s no absolute clear left fielder in Cleveland with Brantley moving to center. The Indians have a host of guys in camp looking for a spot, including Russ Canzler, Matt LaPorta, Shelley Duncan, Aaron Cunningham, Ezequiel Carrera, Ryan Spilborghs, and Trevor Crowe. Spilborghs looks to have very, very little left in the tank after a terrible 2011, and Thomas Neal was very unimpressive in 2011 as well, except he was bad in Triple-A. Carrera makes a fine pinch-runner, but doesn’t project to have the bat to play every day. And Matt LaPorta may just be out of luck and time to prove himself as something greater than a Triple-A hitter. In fact, Canzler, LaPorta, and Cunningham all have a similar knock. All three have played well in the minors, but haven’t seen their production translate at the ML level yet. All three are also right-handed, which makes them pretty interchangeable as an option in left. I’d actually expect that Cunningham’s versatility will keep him in the mix in Cleveland, but as a fourth-outfielder capable of spelling Brantley, Choo, or whomever gets the LF job. Canzler is able to back up all four corner spots, but LaPorta has more upside if his bat ever starts working in the bigs, but both could wind up in Columbus to begin the year.

That leaves two options for the LF job: Shelley Duncan and Trevor Crowe. Duncan, like the three candidates I just covered, bats right-handed. But unlike those three, Duncan actually put up pretty decent numbers in limited action last season. Duncan hit 11 HR in 247 plate appearances last year, and was good for a 118 wRC+. That will play, especially given how badly he treated right-handed pitchers, torching them for a .390 wOBA. If he could keep up that level of hitting against same-handed pitchers, that would make for a worthwhile everyday left fielder. But that performance was outside of his usual abilities, he typically hits lefties better than righties. If Duncan needed a platoon partner, the Indians might want to leverage one of the only backup outfielders on the roster who can hit left-handed in Trevor Crowe. Crowe’s a switch-hitting outfielder with some speed, and he has a tendency to perform better when hitting left-handed in the majors. If Crowe can put up league-average numbers against opposite-handed pitchers, he might be as good a caddy as anyone if the Indians want to get the platoon advantage.

Ultimately, I see this as Shelley Duncan’s position to lose, unless LaPorta, Canzler, or one of the other candidates has a ridiculous Spring Training. Duncan has enough power to be a worthwhile (if very, very late round) fantasy pickup, as his power is legit. In a full season, he’s the type of player who could put up 20+ HR. But we’ll certainly have to see how Spring Training plays out before we know anything definite. And even once Sizemore comes back from this particular injury, don’t expect the position shuffle to end. Given injury histories for fellow Indians Shin-Soo Choo and Travis Hafner, there could be a lot of moving a shaking before the season is over in Cleveland.

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Pittsburgh Pirates SP A.J. Burnett will miss 8-12 weeks due to facial surgery.

Freak injuries like the one to A.J. Burnett’s face during bunting practice are never a good thing. And as someone projected to be the Opening Day starter for an improving Pittsburgh team, this one has to particularly sting. Now that A.J. will be having surgery on his face due to a fractured orbital bone around his eye, the Pirates are back to where they were a month ago: a rotation filled with young guys who don’t have a whole lot to offer. While Burnett isn’t an elite starter, he would have provided heft to a rotation full of end-of-the-bench starters.

With A.J. out, both Jeff Karstens and Charlie Morton should be guaranteed their spots in the rotation to start. Neither player is particularly noteworthy, but hey, it’s a slow week so we’ll break them down anyways! Charlie Morton got a little bit of press by admitting he tried to copy Roy Halladay‘s delivery and style note-for-note before the 2011 season, and then started off having quite a bit of success with the copycat style. Pretty soon, though, things came back to normal. By the end of the season, the Pirates might have been better served by running the other baseball-playing Charlie Morton out there every fifth day. You know, the one who’s been dead for nearly a century. The current Morton is great at not giving up home runs (0.31 HR/9 in 2011), but his Roy Halladay impersonation doesn’t include the requisite strikeouts to make him a top-level starter. He’s a replacement-level guy, or maybe a little better if he can continue to keep the ball in the yard at such a low rate.

Jeff Karstens, like Burnett, is another former Yankee who’s been exiled to Pittsburgh. Karstens had a good season if you use ERA as measure (3.38 ERA in 2011), but the advanced metrics tell a different story. His FIP was a full run higher at 4.29, which isn’t awful, but belied a very low BABIP of .275. Karsten relies on his command, reducing walks, and getting guys out on balls in play, so luck plays a big part in his success. The Pirates won’t get killed running him out there every fifth day, but chances are that they’ll wish they had Burnett back sooner rather than later.

Before the injury, A.J. Burnett was a pretty solid fantasy option in the later rounds of a draft or in deep leagues. Now, he’s more of a wait-and-see guy. The only reason this injury should affect his game is the missed Spring Training time to get ready; remember that this isn’t an arm injury that could mess with his velocity or control. Hopefully, Burnett will have a speedy recovery and be back soon, but until he does, you might be better off drafting someone else and waiting for A.J. on the waiver wire.

Quick Hits

  • The Cleveland Indians already have another injury issue worth watching. Closer Chris Perez is dealing with an oblique strain and will probably miss the first few weeks of the season. Yeah, Perez is the closer, but he was pretty bad in 2011. A live arm in previous seasons, Perez saw his strikeout rate (2010: 8.71 K/9, 2011: 5.88 K/9) crater all of a sudden, with no change to his walk rate (3.92 BB/9) at all. He managed a 3.32 ERA and 36 saves, but that masked a SIERA of 4.65 and xFIP of 5.01. That’s hardly closer quality. Picking up the slack in the meantime will be Vinnie Pestano, who emerged in his rookie season as the best reliever in the Cleveland ‘pen. Pestano struck out a mountain of guys (84, to be exact) and could well be more effective in a ninth-inning role than Perez ever was. Since we don’t know if Pestano will snatch the job away on a permanent basis, don’t go crazy drafting Pestano in fantasy yet. But I trust that Manny Acta and punk-rock pitching coach Scott Radinsky will eventually turn the ninth over to Pestano. And don’t be too surprised in Tony Sipp sees a few holds chances with Pestano closing.

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The Roster Report – February 29, 2012

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The Roster Report – February 29, 2012

Posted on 29 February 2012 by Bryan Grosnick

Hey there, hardball fans. Welcome to another edition of the Roster Report. With most of the off-season roster movement finished, it’s time to take a long look at a few recent decisions (and an injury) that will affect roster composition for a few squads. If you’re the fan of the Athletics, the Astros, or the Yankees, you may want to keep reading.

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The Houston Astros name SP/RP Brett Myers closer.

Rather unexpectedly, the Astros announced yesterday that Brett Myers will be moving back to the bullpen, and should open the 2012 season as the closer for the Astros. This adjusts expectations both for the bullpen and the rotation, as Myers had been a fixture in the Houston starting rotation since coming over from the Phillies in 2010. Myers hasn’t been particularly good recently, posting a 4.46/4.26/3.75 ERA/FIP/xFIP triple-slash line. Myers has always performed worse than his xFIP has indicated, but in 2011 he was especially snakebitten by runners on base. Myers has a tough time striking out hitters, so it seems his main strength lies in his ability to throw 200 innings a year. That doesn’t exactly help him in the ‘pen.

Now, instead of Myers holding down a role in the rotation, spots will go to Wandy Rodriguez, Bud Norris, J.A. Happ, and Jordan Lyles. The fifth spot could perhaps go to newly-acquired young pitchers Kyle Weiland and Brett Olberholtzer. Instead, initial reports say that it is more likely that a veteran, either Livan Hernandez or Zach Duke, will fill the fifth starter role. To me, this is a huge mistake. The Astros need to find young talent where they can, and there’s little to no chance that Hernandez or Duke will be a tradeable asset or a valuable piece of the team going forward. This move could likely do nothing to either improve the rotation today or develop young talent, which would be a mistake.

I had previously expected hard-throwing righty David Carpenter to win the closing job in Houston for the coming season, but swapping Myers into that role probably won’t affect the won-loss record of the team. Moving Myers to the closer spot may make him more attractive as a trade candidate, but teams haven’t been falling all over themselves to acquire Myers and his  But if the ‘Stros could pass off David Carpenter as a real closer, he’d have some real trade value himself. Pitchers like former Astro Mark Melancon (and Andrew Bailey…and Sergio Santos…and Sean Marshall) have brought back good young pieces in trade. These are things that If Myers becomes a closer, then he obviously comes up to fantasy baseball relevance as a low-tier closer.

If the move opens up space for a young pitcher in the rotation, then this is probably a solid move for a team looking to develop young talent. And if this move convinces another franchise that it’s worth it to trade for Brett Myers, well that’s probably a good deal in and of itself. But if they’re moving on from Myers to fit Hernandez or Duke in the rotation, then they’re just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

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Oakland Athletics 3B Scott Sizemore is out for the 2012 season with a torn ACL.

You know, the Oakland Athletics need another position battle. Unfortunately, incumbent third baseman Scott Sizemore suffered an ACL injury that will keep him out for the entire upcoming season. This injury makes something completely obvious: the Athletics have precious little infield depth. Either Eric Sogard or Adam Rosales could step in and fill in at third, but neither player has skills that really profile at the hot corner. Both players have even less bat than Sizemore (who’s a good, but not-yet-great with the stick), so it would behoove them to find someone who is not currently on the 25-man roster as a replacement.

Initial word out of Oakland is that catcher Josh Donaldson will get first crack at the starting gig with Sizemore out. Donaldson probably isn’t a good enough hitter to be a major league catcher (95 wRC+ in Triple-A), so I’d be surprised if he will stick at third. In all honesty, the A’s probably need to go out and add another player. Trade candidates are out there that include players like Juan Francisco, Daniel Murphy, or Alberto Callaspo. I’d expect the Athletics to target low-cost, high-control players who could stick with the team for several seasons in trade. There’s been no rumor to the effect, but I wonder if there’s any chance the A’s would look into moving former SS and current CF prospect Grant Green to the hot corner. But as it stands now, the Athletics have a huge hole that needs to be filled pronto.

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The New York Yankees sign RP David Aardsma to a one-year, $500K deal.

David Aardsma may be most famous for being the MLB player who is listed first alphabetically by last name. But now, he’s going to be a late-inning pitcher for the Bronx Bombers once he recovers from Tommy John surgery. Aardsma was quite effective as a closer for the Mariners in 2009 and 2010, saving 69 games over those two seasons. The journeyman reliever sports a career 4.20 ERA and 4.24 FIP, but he has outperformed both these numbers over the last two seasons, showing that the could still be in his pitching prime. The only open question is whether or not he will be able to recover from his TJ surgery and perform at the level which he is accustomed.

If he comes back strong at the end of this year, expect the Yankees to pick up an option for 2013 at $500K. Could Aardsma then be the next man up if Mariano Rivera were to retire at the end of the season? Probably not…that’s probably David Robertson‘s slot to lose. I also don’t imagine Aardsma will have much of a fantasy impact this season…though he could have a little value in holds leagues as a late waiver pickup. But first, we’ve got to see that he’s able to recover from his injury.

Quick Hits

  • Word is coming out from Mets camp that former Cy Young-winner Johan Santana may actually be ready to pitch by Opening Day. Santana would solidify a Met rotation without top-end talent, and would probably be the #1 starter by default. If he is able to go, expect the Met rotation to shake out with some combination of Santana, R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, Mike Pelfrey, and Dillon Gee. If Santana can’t step into the rotation right away, expect journeyman-poet Miguel Batista to hold down the last spot in the rotation until he’s ready.
  • The Angels have been talking all winter about shoring up their bullpen (or even bringing in a closer to displace Jordan Walden), but now they’ve added another arm to their ‘pen in Jason Isringhausen. Izzy, formerly of the Mets, Athletics, Cardinals, and Rays, picked up a few saves (including his 300th) in Flushing last season, but he’s probably not a guy to rely on in the ninth. Instead, he’ll provide veteran presence and a few strikeouts (8.43 K/9 in 2011) as a setup arm in Anaheim – at least as long as his right arm holds up.
  • A wave of catchers retired over the last week or so. Three very solid veterans of different stripes called it quits: Jorge Posada, Jason Varitek, and Bengie Molina all are officially calling it quits for 2012. Posada is probably headed for the Hall of Fame as one of the most potent offensive catchers of the last thirty years. Jason Varitek will never have to buy a beer in Boston, and should see his number retired, but doesn’t have the offensive chops to find a home in Cooperstown. And Molina, despite being an effective backstop for a decade, never had a transcendent season but was a long-time starter. All three of these players might be joined by another great catcher, Ivan Rodriguez, if he doesn’t hook on soon.

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