Mining The News (3/11/20)

The useful news coming out of camps is drying up. Reporters are transitioning to the standard format of regurgitating the boxscore with a few standard (i.e. lame) starting pitcher comments thrown in.

There may be a bit more content coming since I’m not going to New York for Tout Wars and instead it will be online. I will publish something late on Friday. It might be another Mining the News or I might rank the current closer crop.

American League


Chris Bassitt is likely making the rotation.

Puk’s recent shoulder injury likely flips he and Bassitt’s roles to begin the season. The A’s have not announced an Opening Day starter yet, but let’s assume Mike Fiers gets the nod again. You’re looking at a starting five of Fiers, Sean Manaea, Frankie Montas, Jesus Luzardo and Bassitt.

Blue Jays

Shun Yamaguchi has not perfected a grip on the MLB ball and may be headed to the bullpen.

Yamaguchi, who is a contender for Toronto’s fifth rotation spot but might slot in as a reliever when the team breaks camp, has spent every day of Spring Training getting acquainted with the baseballs he will be using in the Majors. But he admits that his education will continue when he travels to the new locations and the varying climates he will experience for the first time.

Yamaguchi’s primary focus has been on his grip, as he continues to search for the spin he had in Japan. Facing the Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Toronto’s 4-2 win on Tuesday, the hurler made progress over his three innings, allowing one run — a Kyle Higashioka homer — on two hits with one walk and two strikeouts.

What I took from the article, is that he’s just not comfortable and probably going to relieve. I think his status could change mid-season once everything clicks. I’m backing off for now, but I’ll keep an eye on him and could pick up shares once the Jays believe he is ready.


Jake Fraley will start in the outfield.

Fraley is the front-runner for a corner-outfield spot, with star prospect Kyle Lewis slated for the other and Mallex Smith in center. Braden Bishop, who played in 27 games last year, is likely to be the fourth outfielder, with veteran Carlos González on the outside looking in.


• No one wants to earn the first base job.

“If Kiner is on the team and keeps on hitting, I don’t want to put him on the bench and say you’re are a bench player,” Woodward said. “Moving Todd over to first and putting Kiner at third is a pretty good option right now. We’ll see, there are a lot of ways this could play out. That’s one.”

Woodward said Guzmán and Bird are having a “heated battle” but it is more like a cold war. Going into Tuesday, Guzmán is 6-for-30 at the plate and Bird is 3-for-24.

Guzmán may make the team based on perceived potential and defensive ability but may need a platoon partner. He hit .249/.335/.455 against right-handers last season, but just .134/.238/.299 against left-handers.

From this angle, it seems like Frazier will get a full-time share with Guzman at two-thirds and Kiner at one-third to start the season.

• With the injury to Willie Calhoun, the left-field job is also up for grabs.

“Not immediately, no,” Daniels said. “It’s always on our mind, are there players available, whether trade or free agent, that can help us. We are going to prepare to go with the best group we can assemble here in camp. Obviously you don’t want to lose anyone, but it’s an opportunity for some other guys get in there a little bit and take a look at them.”


Lewis Thorpe is out of the running for the 5th rotation spot.

That season will begin at Triple-A, back in Rochester’s rotation, and Thorpe’s unexpectedly early departure leaves Jhoulys Chacín, Randy Dobnak and Devin Smeltzer in a three-way battle to be the Twins’ fifth starter.


It was Dobnak’s longest outing of the spring, and he’s now logged 10 innings with a 2.70 ERA across three total starts. To the extent that spring-training game performances matter — he’s been tinkering with different slider grips, as opposed to focusing just on run prevention — Dobnak has fared better than both Chacín (8 IP, 6 ER) and Smeltzer (9 1/3 IP, 9 ER) thus far.

National League


Starling Marte might not leadoff against lefties.

Up until Monday, whenever Starling Marte and Ketel Marte were in the lineup together, Starling had been hitting leadoff, with Ketel second. Against Royals’ lefty Mike Montgomery, Lovullo switched them, saying he’s toying with hitting Ketel Marte first against lefties and Starling Marte first against righties.


• Right now, Billy Hamilton has the inside track for the centerfield job.

Veteran speedster Billy Hamilton went 0-for-3 in Monday’s 11-7 loss to Cleveland, dropping his batting average to .250. Steven Duggar played right field and singled in two at-bats, but he’s hitting .190. Mauricio Dubón, who’s primarily a middle infielder, received his first start in center against the Indians and played three uneventful innings.

Giants manager Gabe Kapler indicated that Hamilton’s six years of big league experience will work in his favor.

“With a guy like Billy, it’s much more about track record than it is anything else,” Kapler said. “Not that we don’t think these Spring Training at-bats are important. But we’ll lean heavily on what Billy’s done in his career and evaluate the work that he’s doing in camp. I think Billy’s six years of experience will show us much more than three weeks in Spring Training.”

Cheap, empty steals.


Jordan Yamamoto seems to be in the lead for the Marlins fifth rotation spot over Elieser Hernández.

Hernández is the only other pitcher outside of the five listed who could upend perhaps Yamamoto for a starting spot. But the Marlins may also look to utilize Hernández out of the bullpen in a long-relief role and keep him ready to start if necessary. Hernández does have options remaining should the Marlins choose to send him to Triple-A to open the season.

• The Marlins outfield is a little messy right now.

Dickerson and Villar are being prepped to be the starters in left and center field, respectively, but Joyce will platoon with one of the corner outfield candidates.

The much-maligned Brinson has shown a more consistent approach and has hit the ball hard consistently this spring, which is encouraging and could prompt the Marlins to at least give him a chance to prove himself on the Opening Day roster.

I’m downgrading Villar. Brinson is on fire. Joyce and Dickerson are righty killers. While Villar has roto value, he’s not some unreplaceable hitting talent. A 500 PA limit on Villar might be the most prudent move.


Sean Doolittle is expected to be the closer over Daniel Hudson.

Doolittle is expected to assume the closer role, with Hudson (as he demonstrated in the World Series) and Harris also able to finish out games.


Jurickson Profar will likely be in a second base timeshare.

No one is winning the second-base job outright this spring. It’s more likely that the Padres carry three second base options — possibly up to four — and they settle the playing-time battle based on in-season performance.

But let’s say Dozier seizes that playing time — or even if he shares it with Greg Garcia. That leaves Profar on the outside looking in. The Padres gave up two mid-tier prospects to land him, so they wouldn’t simply cut ties with him.


• While Shogo Akiyama might not play every day but when he does, he’s likely to leadoff.

“I would say, ‘playing a lot’ and being a big presence on our team, a significant player that’s going to get a lot of playing time,” Bell said. “That’s how we would like for it to play out. With our outfield depth being a strength, I don’t know if any of our guys will have to play every day.”

However, Bell did say that if Akiyama and first baseman Joey Votto are both in the lineup, that he would bat them first and second in the order. Votto has a .421 career on-base percentage.


Kyle Freeland has revamped his delivery.

Freeland continues to look comfortable with his revamped delivery. After struggling in 2019, the southpaw decided to remove the slight pause he had incorporated at the top of his throwing motion the past three years.

We hoped you liked reading Mining The News (3/11/20) by Jeff Zimmerman!

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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 three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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starling leading off is considered a plus, no?- plus to PA ,runs, maybe steals, and a negative to rbis.
are the d-backs a running team? i would imagine if hes leading off they would want him to run which could definitely boost his value