Mining the News (1/17/23)

American League

Angels

• Jo Adell and Mickey Moniak are likely to start the season in the minors even though they’ve both been working hard.

“Those jobs are solidified,” Minasian said, implying that Adell and Moniak are likely to begin the season in the minors. “Those are obviously young players who are very talented that haven’t necessarily turned the corner yet that have been putting in a significant amount of work this offseason to do that,” Minasian said. “They’re both young. I think we forget about how young these two players are.”

• Griffin Canning and Chris Rodriguez should be healthy to start the season.

Minasian also provided some health updates on some other Angels, including Griffin Canning and Chris Rodriguez. Both of those pitchers missed the 2022 season entirely, with Rodriguez rehabbing from November 2021 shoulder surgery and Canning fighting lingering back issues. Both players have now begun throwing off a mound. “If both those guys are healthy entering spring training, they’ll be exciting to watch,” Minasian said. “Right now they are on schedule to be with us in spring training and we’ll see where they’re at.”

Don’t lose track of this pair. Both threw hard (maybe not now) and struck out a decent number of strikeouts (~9 K/9) while progressing through the minors. Canning will get a few more strikeouts with an elite slider (19% SwStr%) while Rodriguez will try to keep the ground balls coming (55% GB%).

Both should start in the minors but if they get promoted, prepare to roster them.

Red Sox

• The team is looking to add someone to compliment Christian Arroyo.

Without using Wendle’s name, Bloom last week laid out the case for getting Wendle or a player like him.

“If you want to make sure we give Christian some runway, but also somebody to complement him, I can see a left-handed hitter fitting well in that aspect,” Bloom said. “We do want to make sure we have a balanced lineup so we’re not vulnerable to one side or the other.”

Tigers

• Manager A.J. Hinch thinks both Nick Maton and Matt Vierling will move around the diamond.

Maton and Vierling talked with Hinch and Harris after the trade and learned they will have every opportunity to become everyday players for the Tigers in 2023. Because of their versatility, Hinch can plug them in around the field to maximize the lineup. Harris said both players will be factors in filling Detroit’s third-base opening, and both players are open to playing anywhere.

While GM Scott Harris is specific about Maton playing third base.

When president of baseball operations Scott Harris was assessing Maton over the weekend, this comment seemed conspicuous: “He has plenty of arm to make plays deep in the hole, which makes us feel like he’s going to be comfortable at third and everywhere else.”

Twins

• Luis Arraez and Alex Kirilloff will split time at first base.

Arraez and Kirilloff can split time at first base and designated hitter, with Arraez also playing some second base and Kirilloff being a corner outfield option.

• Byron Buxton says he is 100%.

When we spoke the other day, Buxton indicated his knee is 100 percent. Even though he was slowed the entire 2022 season by his knee, Buxton yet again showed how much of a difference-maker he can be, blasting a career-high 28 home runs in 382 plate appearances.

• Alex Kirilloff might be behind others when Spring Training starts.

Falvey said last week that Kiriloff has been letting go when he swings, describing it as “really good news.” But, the Twins have also tried to slowly build up Kirilloff’s wrist this offseason, which means he’s likely going to be behind everyone else when he arrives in camp because he isn’t getting the same volume of live swings.

• Kyle Farmer could play some outfield.

Derek Falvey did say that Farmer is a viable outfield option who could help fill Garlick’s role.

Yankees

• With Frankie Montas out, Domingo Germán and Clarke Schmidt will battle for the fifth rotation spot.

Montas’ injury could create a spring competition between Domingo Germán and Clarke Schmidt for the No. 5 spot.

National League

Braves

• Ian Anderson and Mike Soroka will battle for the fifth rotation spot.

I just love the fact that right now, Ian Anderson, who was a lock for a rotation in the past — No. 2 starter for the postseason in ’20 — he’s competing now for the fifth spot. And Soroka, who was in the Cy Young conversation, is competing for the fifth spot. They both have (minor-league) options. That’s a good place to be from a rotation depth standpoint.

Cardinals

• The chances are looking good that Jordan Walker will start the season in the majors.

One of those “others” is 6-foot-5, 220-pound outfielder Jordan Walker, the top prospect in the Cardinals’ system and the No. 6-ranked up-and-comer in baseball, per MLB Pipeline. Walker, who dominated at Double-A Springfield last season and thrived in the Arizona Fall League, will be given every shot at winning the Opening Day job in right field in Spring Training. Mentally mature beyond his 20 years of age and physically imposing, Walker seemingly has “can’t miss” written all over him as a prospect.

“When you talk about combining the physical impression with the performance impression, it’s an exciting combination to have,” Mozeliak said of Walker. “You never want to put ceilings on players, and we certainly won’t do that here, but it’s easy to dream with the kind of potential that this young man has.”

Cubs

• Matt Mervis will start the season in AAA.

• Cody Bellinger will bat in the third to fifth spot with Seiya Suzuki batting first or second.

Ross is pretty much eliminating Suzuki and Bellinger as options, which makes sense. If Bellinger is at his best, he probably fits anywhere from third to fifth in the lineup. Ross has expressed that Suzuki fits really well as a modern No. 2 hitter, but sometimes it matters what a player’s mentality is in that spot. Suzuki may end up batting third because he has more of an old-school mindset as to what a No. 2 hitter is supposed to be — contact, move runners over, don’t look to slug, etc. — and that’s hard to change.

• Kyle Hendricks will probably not be ready by Opening Day.

“I’m pushing,” Hendricks said. “I’m going to try and take full advantage of my program, but we’re really not putting a day on it. So if it comes sometime in April or May, I really want to be there and be 100 percent for these guys. I know we’re going to be there at the end of the season. But, obviously, yeah, I want to get the most starts. I want to have a full year under my belt. We’re going to take the throwing program as it’s laid out in front of me and attack every day. I should get off the mound here in the next few weeks, I would think, sometime at the end of February or in March. Once I get there, that’ll set me up to see where I’m going to project. Again, the focus is at the end of the year, being as strong as I can.”

• Jed Hoyer thinks Nick Madrigal can play third base.

Hoyer opened some eyes when he shared the plan for Nick Madrigal, who seemed like the odd man out when Dansby Swanson was signed which meant Nico Hoerner would shift to Madrigal’s natural spot at second.

“Certainly guys get hurt, guys need days off,” Hoyer said. “I think he’ll play some third base as well. We want to have a really versatile infield. So we expect he’ll work over there and take reps. It’s not the way you think of a stereotypical third baseman, power, slugger. But he’s a really good hitter, a really good player and he can definitely do it.”

• Adbert Alzolay could be used in high-leverage spots.

It will likely be in a multi-inning role at times, but Alzolay’s talent level is certainly that of a pitcher who could handle high-leverage innings. Ross won’t have to rely on just Alzolay to get multiple innings out of the bullpen. He’ll likely have Keegan Thompson in that role to start the season and maybe even Adrian Sampson 샘슨 if he doesn’t earn the fifth spot in the rotation or have a minor-league option used.

There is a mention of Alzolay struggling against lefties. So far in his career, he has a 23% K-BB% against lefties and a 13% K-BB% against righties.

Diamondbacks

• Evan Longoria will not play every day.

Both Longoria and general manager Mike Hazen acknowledged that Longoria is not going to play every day. For his part, Longoria understands that, at 37, he will be at his best if they figure out a schedule that will get the most productivity out of him.

Also, his thumb is fully healthy.

Longoria said the thumb that he injured the last weekend of the season is fully healthy and he’s been swinging the bat. It will not be an issue going forward.

Dodgers

• Miguel Rojas’s surgically repaired wrist still needs work done.

Rojas will require another clean-up procedure this winter but is expected to be ready for the start of spring training, with Rojas telling AM 570 on Wednesday, “There’s still a couple things I need to figure out with the wrist, but I’m going to be ready for spring training if everything goes well.”

Once healthy, he could end up in a platoon with Gavin Lux.

His success against left-handed pitching could allow him to get more starts at shortstop to spell the left-handed hitting Lux, who had a career-best year in 2022 while serving as the club’s everyday second baseman.

Giants

• Camilo Doval is the team’s closer.

Zaidi lauded Jackson’s reverse splits and envisioned him in a key setup role along with Taylor Rogers. Camilo Doval remains the team’s primary closer, Zaidi said.

Nationals

Dominic Smith is penciled in as the everyday first baseman.

After being tabbed for multiple positions each season in the bigs, Smith is excited by the Nationals’ interest in him playing first base on an everyday basis. The Nats could move Joey Meneses, who started the final 20 games of last season at first base, to the vacant designated hitter spot. Along with Smith, the club also added outfielder Corey Dickerson (per a source, club has not confirmed) as another left-handed-hitting option.

Phillies

• Dave Dombrowski is considering having Andrew Painter in the rotation to start the season.

So, it might be Painter’s job to win. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has a history of pushing his best young pitchers, and there are some within the Phillies organization who are convinced Dombrowski is sold on this idea. Still, in the spring, Painter has to prove he belongs this soon. His fastball carried him through the minors last season and it has elite characteristics. But big-league hitters can mash fastballs. There is work to do on his secondary pitches. It could come down to this: If Painter has only so many innings in 2023, the Phillies might deem it a waste to spend any of them in the minors.

Rockies

• Kris Bryant says he is healthy.

Despite being limited to 42 games due to a lower back strain and left foot plantar fasciitis, Rockies’ outfielder Kris Bryant has proclaimed himself 100% ready for baseball, reports Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post. Saunders adds that Bryant does not anticipate any restrictions when he reports to Salt River Fields for Spring Training. Manager Bud Black added to Bryant’s confident statement, saying that Bryant is “encouraged that he’ll be exactly where he needs to be a month from now.”

When discussing his injury, Bryant told reporters that he believes that he might have contributed to his plantar fasciitis while recovering from his back injury, compensating for his decreased power by overworking his lower body. Nevertheless, Bryant added that he is working with Scott Pensivy, a Las Vegas-based physical therapist who has previously worked with NBA players and Bryant himself, to correct the issue and reduce future setbacks. Bryant added that he’s had “no hiccups and no setbacks” and that he’s, “completely moved in the right direction.”





Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR once, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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ccovillemember
8 days ago

Given where the Cubs organization is at the moment I can not understand how they didn’t just give Mervis the job and see what he could do. The man will be 25 this year. What the hell kind of progression is A>AAA>A+>AA>AAA.

Bill
8 days ago
Reply to  ccoville

Agreed, Hosmer is a waste of skin at this stage of his career. His glove is now actually worse than his bat!

montrealmember
7 days ago
Reply to  ccoville

Absolutely agree. Stupid planning by the Cubs.