Boof Bonser- MIN- Inj Update- Bonser’s arthroscopic surgery went very poorly. Actually the surgery went well, it’s the results that were poor. Doctors discovered multiple partial tears of his labrum and rotator cuff. They were repaired, but it puts an end to Bonser’s 2009 season before it even began.
Manny Ramirez- LAD- Spring Training- The daily Manny Watch continues. It’s only a matter of time before he signs with the Dodgers and it looks like the time is fast approaching. Dodgers Chairman Frank McCourt is personally getting involved in the negotiations with Scott “Darth Vader” (at least from the management side) Boras. LA GM Ned Colletti skipped the Dodgers’ first official Spring Training game to fly back to California for the bargaining session with McCourt and Boras. That indicates some serious talks. Manager Joe Torre is not concerned with any amount of time Manny misses before the season. "Spring Training is for individuals to get in shape. It's going to be long and boring for these guys. From my experience with him, I know he's not sitting there doing nothing. I don't see it's an issue. I'm comfortable he'll have enough time to be ready," commented Torre. "I guarantee Manny is doing more than Dick [Allen, 70s slugger] did," he said. "In the early 70s, we didn't do things with weights. That was taboo. They do more conditioning now. Jeff Kent hit a home run Opening Day and he didn't play all spring, and I was leaning to starting him on the disabled list, but I left it to him and trusted that." UPDATE: As I was writing this (Wednesday night) word came that LA made a new formal offer to Manny during the session. It definitely looks like this drama is reaching the final stages. Maybe by the time you read this he will have reached an agreement with the Dodgers.
Ken Griffey, Jr.- SEA- Spring Training- The Mariners are going slowly with Griffey. He is going to be their left fielder when the regular season begins and will probably see action there later in the spring. Griffey’s game experience this year is not going to start until next week, when he will be the DH on Wednesday. There is no indication that there are any injury concerns prompting this pace. The Mariners are just being conservative.
Daisuke Matsuzaka- BOS- Spring Training- Dice-K will not be with the Red Sox until after the World Baseball Classic is over. In the meantime he will be training with the Japan team for the international tournament. Dice-K had his first game facing opponents with an exhibition against the Australian squad. He was on a pitch count of 40 and managed to throw 38, giving up 5 hits and 2 runs in 1-2/3 IP. Boston is in contact with the Japanese management and keeping abreast of how he is being used and is consulting with Takanori Maeda, their personal trainer and massage therapist in Japan to monitor Dice-K’s conditioning.
Jeff Francis- COL- Inj- Francis had arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder and, while the damage wasn’t as bad as that found in Boof Bonser, the result is the same. Francis had the labrum repaired and rotator cuff cleaned up, but he is done for 2009. There was hope that the inflammation that plagued him last year would clear up and allow him to rebound, but that’s not happening.
Pedro Martinez- FA- Spring Training- Pedro worked out with the Dominican squad, who he will be pitching for in the World Baseball Classic. His session lasted 43 pitches and it was reported that he threw 43 pitches, with good location and velocity up to the lower 90s. For some the WBC will be a matter of national pride. For Pedro, it will also be a showcase to prove that the 37-year-old still has something left in the tank. There has reportedly been interest from the Dodgers, Indians, and Pirates, but nothing formal. If Pedro has a decent tournament it is probable that he will sign and he will not be harmed by a lack of major league spring training. How much fantasy value he will have still remains to be seen.
Alex Rodriguez- NYY- Spring training- Even without the juice, ARod can hit the ball a long way. That’s just what he did in his first official spring training at bat. (Come to think of it, can any spring training at bat really be called “official?”) The Yankees first game was on the road at the Blue Jays complex in Dunedin, and ARod did not seem to be affected by the heckling he got. This will be an issue that will follow him all season and if he can handle it in the same way as he did against Toronto, he could have a monster year. At the very least, getting razzed by the fans on an almost constant basis will give him an opportunity to prove he is off the stuff by not exhibiting any “roid rage.”
Chris Young- ARI- Hot player- Young’s homers and steals both dropped off last year. Still, he retains the potential to be a 30/30 player. He homered in his first spring game as well as picking up a single. The key will be if Young can cut down on the strikeouts. In 2007, he struck out 141 times in 569 ABs while walking 43 times. Last year, his strikeout rate climbed as he fanned 165 times in 625 ABS, but he added 19 walks, so his walk rate increased. Keep a watch on Young’s K ratio this spring. If he can keep his progress from last year on the BB front while lowering the strikeouts, this could be his breakout year.
Tim Lincecum- SF- Caution- Lincecum only pitched one inning in his spring debut, throwing 18 of the 25 pitches he was going to be limited to. In addition to the game pitches, he warmed up longer than usual during stadium dedication ceremonies, so the Giants didn’t stretch him this early. Lincecum is not injured at this point, but I look at his increase of 50 IP in 2008 over 2007 and that is a red flag for possible problems down the road. Add in an average of over 110 pitches per start last year and the fact that Lincecum does not turn 25 until June and he has Venus de Milo written all over him.
Jason Giambi- OAK- Spring training- Giambi was back with the A’s and is expected to be a team leader for a club that has only one player left (Eric Chavez) who was with them when Giambi left for the Yankees after the 2001 season. Giambi’s debut was not auspicious at 0-for-3, but he is creating quite a stir with the A’s contingent, who still remember him fondly. Interestingly enough, not a single word in the mlb.com article about him yesterday mentioned his steroid controversy. The long term effects of his use will probably have a negative impact on his on field performance and, this, fantasy value, in 2009.
Hank Blalock- TEX- Spring training- Another injury plagued season in 2008 sapped Blalock’s fantasy value. The Rangers are hoping that a move to full time DH will help avoid the health issues that have derailed him for most of the last two seasons. If yesterday’s spring opener was any indication, Blalock can still hit, as he slugged a homer and also banged a triple. In most fantasy leagues, he will still have eligibility at 1B and 3B because of last year’s appearances, but he is unlikely to see much time in the field in 2009. Blalock maintained a slugging percentage over .500 in each of the 2007 and 2008 seasons, even with lots of time out of the lineup. His bat will probably be a plus if he can remain healthy but a lack of versatility diminishes his value in keeper leagues.
Josh Hamilton- TEX- Spring Training- Hamilton celebrated his new contract, signed yesterday, by hitting a homer in the Rangers’ first spring training game. He and the Rangers are also likely to work on a multi-year extension to buy Hamilton out of some of his arbitration years, which start after the 2009 season. The big question about Hamilton is whether his awesome performance in the Home Run Derby affected him the rest of the way, when he only hit 11 homers (only 2 after August 31st.) Other players have had their swings messed up trying to swing for the fences in the derby, but the odds are that Hamilton will still be an elite power hitter in 2009. A healthy Hank Blalock providing him protection in the batting order will reduce the impact of losing Milton Bradley to free agency.
Orioles- BAL- Injury- The Orioles have three pitchers in the mix for their last two rotation spots. They all made an appearance Wednesday, with Brad Hennessey leading the way. In the second inning, his elbow tightened up and he was removed from the game after walking 3 and allowing 2 hits in 1-1/3 IP. The Orioles say that the injury doesn’t appear serious, but he will be reexamined today and the possibility of an MRI looms if there is still inflammation. If Hennessey goes down, that will not necessarily make things easier to decipher in the Baltimore rotation equation. Chris Waters came on after Hennessey and yielded 3 hits and a run in 1-2/3 IP. David Pauley allowed five hits and four earned runs while being able to only record one out after coming on in relief of Waters. That’s not exactly a performance destined to secure a starter slot. The Orioles have some highly regarded prospects in the minors and if the crew they have now doesn’t get it together, they might be tempted to rush someone, which wouldn’t be good in the long term for anybody. For now, consider Hennessey (if healthy) and Pauley the odds on favorites for the back end of the rotation, with Waters needing to force his way in with a vastly superior performance this spring to avoid being optioned out. From a fantasy standpoint, Hennessey (again if healthy) has sleeper potential if he can live up to his first-round draft pick ability.
Matt Wieters- BAL- Spring training- Wieters, the top position player prospect in baseball, began the Grapefruit League season watching the Orioles play the Mets. If you are looking for help out of the gate, he is not going to give it to you. Baltimore’s current plan is to have Wieters start the season at AAA Norfolk and give him at least a month there before bringing him up to the big club. If, however, you have some patience, Wieters could pay some big dividends. His 27 homers in 437 minor league ABs last year was not a fluke. Wieters made a rapid adjustment to hitting with wood bats and also picked up how to hit professional breaking balls as he batted .355 against Class A and AA pitching in his first professional season in 2008. If you don’t need a catcher who hits for average and power, then you can ignore Wieters. If you live on this planet, though, he is a blue chip prospect, but one that will only pay off later this year.
Chris Volstad- FLA- Spring training- Volstad makes his first start of the spring today, against the Mets. The Marlins will be playing at the Mets Grapefruit League home of Port St. Lucie instead of their own stadium in Jupiter, practically Volstad’s back yard. It shouldn’t matter much, but big things are expected from the hometown boy, especially after an impressive 2.88 ERA I half a season with the Marlins in 2008. Will he be able to deliver? Florida has handled his usage well, increasing his IP from 152 in 2006 to 169 in 2007 to 175 last year. Despite being only 22, Volstad’s injury risk is relatively low. Where he needs some major improvement is in the strikeout and walk ratio departments. For a big (6’7”) pitcher, he only struck out 107 batters between AA and the majors last year. He also allowed 66 walks. Those are the kinds of numbers that can catch up to you. Watch Volstad’s performance this spring and see if his command of the strike zone has improved.
Florida- Spring training- The Marlins 2009 lineup, or at least key parts of it, was unveiled in yesterday’s Grapefruit league opener. A major shift was moving Hanley Ramirez from leadoff to the #3 spot in the order and Cameron Maybin being installed in the spot vacated by Ramirez. Maybin is a highly touted prospect who had a brief time at the major league level last year. He will probably provide what Hanley did in the leadoff spot, steals and homers, but not at the same levels Ramirez did, at least not yet. The changes for Ramirez will mainly show up in his RBI and Steals totals, with the former increasing and the latter decreasing. While Ramirez is still a 30/30 candidate (but not a lock on the /30 part), his days of totaling 50 steals are probably over.