Hey there, hardball fans! Spring Training is here, so get pumped! Get ready for a month of what our colleague Dennis calls “microfanning.” A great example of microfanning is the recently-built tumblr Bad Spring Training Twitpics and all the terrible, blurry, useless pics therein. But don’t miss out on the great nuggets of info that come through during ST…how about you just trust us to filter out some of the useless information for you? The latest minor moves (no Roy Oswalt again!!) are here for your perusal in this most recent Roster Report.
The New York Yankees sign LF/DH Raul Ibanez to a one-year, $1.1MM contract.
When a big new free agent signs with the Yankees, there’s usually lots of buzz and fanfare. The big new Bomber acquisition for the 2012 season has come, and it’s a 39-year old coming off the worst season of his career. Raul Ibanez has agreed to join the Yankees, and he’ll probably be the left-handed hitting half of a DH platoon, partnering with Andruw Jones. The New York faithful hopes Raul hits closer to his 2010 self (109 wRC+) than his 2011 self (90 wRC+), but he probably won’t get more than 300 AB regardless.
Honestly, I’m not too sure this is a great deal for the Yankees. Maybe I’m just feeling the recency bias, but Raul was just an average hitter even on the good side of his platoon split last season (.322 wOBA against righties). Given that he offers little upside and negative defensive value, I feel that the Yankees could have done better by waiting for a Spring Training cut or trade opportunity like Brandon Allen, Kila Ka’aihue, Juan Francisco, or Clete Thomas. In Ibanez, the Yankees are paying for name value and past production…something that they’ve done quite a bit in the past. Granted, a million dollars is very different from the contracts they’d handed out to aging superstars in the past, but it is money that did not need to be spent. If he would’ve taken the contract, Johnny Damon probably could provide better offense than the equally aged Ibanez.
At best, Ibanez is going to be a platoon DH, and players like that have little to no fantasy value. In AL-only leagues, he may be worth a late-round flyer, but I’d rather have his platoon partner, Andruw Jones. Jones is likely to be a better hitter with more power potential, but neither player is worth rostering in most leagues. Expect Russell Martin, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez to get a fair share of DH plate appearances as well as Ibanez.
The Oakland Athletics sign LF/DH Manny Ramirez to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
With that out of the way, I literally cannot believe the Athletics have added another outfielder / designated hitter type, especially after also adding Yoenis Cespedes (and Seth Smith and Jonny Gomes and Collin Cowgill and Josh Reddick). I’m so glad I spent all that time breaking down The Hydra, and then re-breaking things down after the Cespedes signing. Manny will be Manny in Oakland, at least after he serves a 50-game suspension for PED use.
So is Manny a good signing? Sure, in a vacuum. In 2010, the third-worst season of his career, Manny was still a way-above-average hitter with a .382 wOBA. Quite honestly, Manny Ramirez can hit. He can hit in any park, in any situation, and he could probably hit falling out of an airplane. If he’s healthy, I fully expect him to ruthlessly conquer the DH spot in the Athletic lineup, and put up decent numbers in the process. But he’s going to take plate appearances away from guys like Josh Reddick and Collin Cowgill and Chris Carter. Maybe the A’s aren’t the best fit for Manny, but they’re the most willing fit, and none of the players Manny is displacing is a sure thing. This may just be crazy enough to work.
Fantasy-wise, don’t draft Manny. Please. He could be a solid waiver-wire pickup two weeks before he’s ready to come off his suspension. But the power is diminishing, and he’ll probably be of minimal value in anything that’s not an OBP league. If you play an OBP league…well, he could be more than just an ok play.
The Boston Red Sox receive RP Chris Carpenter as compensation for the signing of GM Theo Epstein.
This probably is not the Chris Carpenter that the Red Sox would like to see, given their rotation uncertainty. But as a compensation pick for losing a year of GM Theo Epstein, the Sox could do a lot worse than Chris Carpenter. Carpenter is a live arm, capable of hitting triple-digits in short stints, but he’s struggled at times with his command. He’s also consistently ranked among the top 15 Chicago Cubs prospects in a number of lists over the past few seasons. At best, he could be a high-leverage reliever and the next coming of Daniel Bard. At worst, he’ll walk five guys per nine innings and never make it past Triple-A.
In two years, Carpenter might be a nice piece to the Boston bullpen, or he could be missing in action. But there’s no point in drafting him in your fantasy league this year. Even in dynasty leagues, CC might be a bit too far off to waste a draft pick on.
- One of the most underrated players of the last two decades, Mike Cameron, has announced his retirement from baseball. This comes on the heels of signing to compete for the starting center field job for the Nationals, but the Nats still have depth on hand in Roger Bernadina, Rick Ankiel, and (maybe) Jayson Werth. Cameron will forever be known as a linchpin in the Ken Griffey Jr. trade to Cincinnati, but he was a tremendous player in his own right. Depending on your WAR flavor of choice, Cameron was worth between 45 and 55 wins above replacement over his 17-year career. He played stellar defense, he hit for power, and he stole bases. Mike Cameron was a heck of a ballplayer, and had a terrific run in the majors.
- The Cleveland Indians agreed to sign former Twin, National, and Ranger Cristian Guzman to a minor league deal in the hopes that he can back up Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis this season. Guzman is (believe it or not) a two-time All-Star, but missed 2011 due to a shoulder injury. If that injury is healed, Guzman may be able to retain his old form…but Guzman has a history of sub-par hitting and average-to-poor defense. In his earlier years he was quick on the basepaths, but these days he’s a high-contact, low-power hitter at best. If he plays like it’s 2009, then Guzman could be a decent big league piece, but if not, he’s probably out of work.
- The Yankees weren’t done adding hitters after signing Ibanez, as they also brought back 3B/1B Eric Chavez on a one-year deal. The deal, which is estimated at $900K, hinged on the Yankees dumping some of A.J. Burnett’s salary in recent days. As such, Chavez should be the primary backup to both Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. Though Chavez’s bat is a far cry from his All-Star seasons in Oakland (he only posted a .263/.320/.356 slash line in 2011), he’s still a solid defensive player and veteran presence in the Bronx.
- The last (and least) of the recent Yankee signings is relief pitcher Clay Rapada. Rapada has been inked to a minor league deal, which is probably for the best, considering he’s never been very good at the major league level. In 16.1 major league innings last year, Clay posted a 6.06 ERA and a 4.49 FIP for the Orioles. Unlike Ibanez and Chavez, Rapada is likely not to have any effect at all on the Yankees’ playoff chances, and probably will be the last man in the bullpen at best.