Myworld will continue our once a month review of each of the divisions in the major leagues, focusing on a specific issue. This month we will take a look at players who were surprise additions to the 25 man roster and also talk about the hot button issues facing the team as they finished the first weekend of the season.
New York Yankees (1) 2-3
Hot button issue - The Yankees hope they got some good news with the announcement that Andy Pettite has announced that he would like to unretire. That adds even more depth to a flush starting rotation. They got some bad news when their key acquisition in the Jesus Montero trade, Michael Pineda, had to be placed on the disabled list because of shoulder issues. Brian Cashman faced some extortion issues with a woman he had a relationship with that caused the dissolution of his marriage.
Surprise Roster Additions - They traded for Chris Stewart and chose him to be the backup catcher to Russell Martin on their 25 man roster, rather than Francisco Cervelli. That left Cervelli in tears and feeling betrayed. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman went out of his way to explain the move in an attempt to heal the hurt feelings caused by the demotion. David Phelps is not rated high on the Yankee’s prospect list, but that didn’t prevent him from making the team as a bullpen piece. He had a nice spring (2.08), striking out 14 in 17 plus innings. He has justified that faith by retring all nine batters he has faced in two appearances, striking out five.
Top Prospect Performance - In their first starts both Bryan Mitchell and Jose Campos (acquired in the Jesus Montero trade) tossed six innings of one hit shutout ball. Bryan walked one and struck out six while Campos walked one and struck out three. Both are pitching for the Charleston River Dogs in the South Atlantic League
Significant March Transactions: They signed free agent Andy Pettite who will add significant depth to their starting rotation. He had to first unretire to become a free agent.
Tampa Bay Rays (2) 4-1
Hot Button Issues - Evan Longoria dating Playboy’s January 2010 Jaime Edmondson is about as hot as it gets. They also got some bad publicity when Matt Bush was arrested for a DUI, hitting and then driving over the head of a 72 year old. He is in jail with a large bail amount and the Rays have already indicated that his days as a Ray are done. The Padres had made Bush a first round draft pick in 2005 as a shortstop but got tired of his disappointing play and his drinking ways and eventually released him. It appeared he was going to make a comback with the Rays as a relief pitcher, until this incident. A civil suit against Bush, Brandon Guyer, who loaned his car to Bush who had a suspended license and the Rays is being reviewed by the family of the 72 year old.
Surprise Roster Additions - Josh Lueke, who the Rays acquired from the Seattle Mariners throws a mid-90s fastball. He also has an arrest record for false imprisonment of a female that included a rape charge. They traded John Jaso to acquire him. He didn’t have a stellar spring (5.40), but he did strike out six without walking a batter in eight plus innings. The Ray fans have made less of an issue of the Lueke roster addition than Mariner fans.
Top Prospect Performance - Chris Archer is hoping to bounce back from a disappointing 2011 season. His first start was promising with a 2-hit six inning performance in which he gave up one run and struck out eight.
Significant March Transactions: None
Boston Red Sox (3) 1-5
Hot Button Issue - Theo Epsten has departed and this looks like a franchise in disarray. They hired Bobby Valentine and reports indicate he is clashing with some of the veteran players. They have also alienated manager Terry Francona, who had given them two World Series, something that no manager had been able to do. It appears the franchise has focused more on the hype of Red Sox nation, promoting their past accomplishments while spending little for winning now and in the future. How low can it go before they bounce back.
Surprise Roster Additions - No surprise additions, but the subtraction of Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie left them lacking a shortstop. Also converting Daniel Bard from relief to the starting rotation has put a hole in the bull pen that has cost them this year.
Top Prospect Performance - Jose Vinicio could eventually fill the shortstop role, but he is still a couple years away. He is hitting .385 after his first four games, with one double, triple and homerun with two stolen bases. Catching is a sore spot as well, but Blake Swihart has jumped ahead of Ryan Lavarnway on the depth chart, starting his 2012 season with a .353 average after five games, walking five times and whiffing just once. Wil Middlebrooks could be the third baseman for 2013 if the Red Sox cannot sign Kevin Youkilus. Wil is hitting .364 in six games. At 27 Juan Carlos Linares is a bit old for AA but he is raking with a .407 average in seven games with three doubles and one homerun. The Cuban free agent is hoping to get an opportunity to show what he can do in the major leauges.
Significant March Transactions - As much as they needed pitching the Red Sox still released Carlos Silva. Also Chris Carpenter, who was the agreed to as compensation for the departure of Theo Epstein was found to have an arm injury and is out for the year. It doesn’t seem that the Red Sox have gotten any good April news.
Toronto Blue Jays (4) 4-2
Hot Button Issues - They have been pretty quiet this year.
Surprise Roster Additions - Kyle Drabek was a top prospect but after his performance last year (6.06) making the roster out of spring was a surprise. Dustin McGowan had also made the rotation, but a foot injury has put him on the disabled list. Despite missing a number of seasons due to shoulder injuries the Blue Jays still gave Dustin a two year extension on his contract. Omar Vizquel made the roster as a utility player despite his 45 years of age.
Top Prospect Performance - Justin Nicolino only went three innings in his first start, but he didn’t give up a hit and struck out five of the nine hitters he faced. Adeiny Hechavarria continues to show that his hot spring was not a fluke, hitting .435 in his first five games in AAA. Noah Syndergaard struck out six hitters in his first start that went three innings. He gave up two hits, but did not allow a runner to cross the plate.
Significant March Transactions - None
Baltimore Orioles (5) 3-2
Hot Button Issues - It is kind of like serious jock itch, more embarrassing than troubling. The whole issue of signing a Korean player before he graduated high school got the Koreans upset. The KBO convinced major league baseball to scold the Orioles for their action and the Koreans prohibited the Oriole scouts from attending any sanctioned games in Korea. I wonder if this includes the 18 and under IBAF championships that will occur there in September. This from a general manager that prides himself on his Asian knowledge and for a player who most scouts said was lacking in major league tools for a pitcher.
Surprise Roster Additions - The Orioles signed a number of free agents but as far as making the roster their were no surprises. Rule V selection Ryan Flaherty made the team, but myworld expected that.
Top Prospect Performance - Dylan Bundy has been unhittable. In two starts he has worked six innings, faced the minimum 18 hitters and struck out 12 of the 18 hitters he has faced. Tyler Townsend is leading the Eastern League in homeruns with three. He also has a .375 average with 9 RBIs and six walks and six strikeouts in seven games.
Significant March Transactions - Nonebfd