Mining the News (3/16/22)

American League

Angels

Mike Trout will now be playing centerfield and Brandon Marsh doesn’t have a position after a conflicting report earlier in the week.

The Angels considered starting Brandon Marsh in center but ultimately decided to keep Trout there after he indicated that’s where he’d like to play and he’s in good health. Notably, Marsh also has to earn his spot on the roster this spring and there remains the possibility Marsh could be traded for pitching.

Guardians

• The starters will be throwing around 65 pitches on Opening Day.

Add it all up and Francona believes pitchers will likely only get built up to about 65 pitches, on average, by the time Opening Day arrives April 7 in Kansas City.

For now, the Guardians will spend the next three weeks stretching out relievers to help ease the burden on the starters.

Chris Antonetti said. “So, the more pitchers that are capable of pitching multiple innings, the better. Pitchers that have a history of starting demonstrated a track record of kind of holding more innings, so we could look at some of those guys who have been historically starters as relief options.”

I wonder if teams are going to plan on several tandem starters early on to help save the traditional bullpen arms for the other starters.

Orioles

Rougned Odor will be a second baseman and not play third.

Upon his signing, Odor slid directly to the top of the O’s depth chart at second base. And there’s no overbearing competition at his flank; Jahmai Jones and Richie Martin could incite a conversation with strong camps, as could No. 13 prospect Terrin Vavra. But someone like Shed Long Jr., whom Baltimore signed to a Minor League deal this offseason, is fighting against the reality of a full 40-man roster with other needs ahead of him — as well as rehab from right leg surgery in October.

Odor does have some experience at third base, though it only came across 33 games for the Yankees last season after DJ LeMahieu was injured. How was that experience?

“Uncomfortable,” Odor said.

It seems like Kelvin Gutierrez will get the first shot at the third base job.

Rangers

Eli White reworked his swing.

“Donnie (Ecker, new hitting coach) said it was Eli White, without a doubt,” Woodward relayed. “He’s always been kind of an east-to-west (swinger), shoulders kind of coming around. And he’s working north to south now with that bat angle. I saw (the batting practice pitcher) put it on the inside corner on him, and he hit one almost off the batting cages out there in left-center. The only way you can do that is with the proper path. So that was really encouraging. … Hopefully it sticks, because that was probably the most impressive part of the day.”

It’s not unusual for a player to overhaul their swing during the offseason. What is unusual is to do it successfully in an offseason in which a player isn’t allowed to talk to his hitting coaches. In fact, the new tandem of hitting coaches Ecker and Tim Hyers had just one short Zoom meeting with White before baseball’s lockout forced them into radio silence for three-plus months.

Tigers

Casey Mize plans on revamping his arsenal by mainly throwing his splitter more.

[Mize] buckled Javier Báez with a breaking ball. He says he plans to work in his curveball, which opponents hit .129 against in 2021, more often this season. He will likely cut back on using his sinker, maybe working it in occasionally to right-handers but eliminating it completely against lefties (left-handed batters hit .327 against the sinker last season).

And central to everything is the splitter.

Last season that splitter oddly disappeared. Consider, then, the fact Mize posted a 3.71 ERA largely without his most important weapon. Mize threw his splitter only 13.2 percent of the time.

“I would just throw a couple in a game that I didn’t like early on and abandon it, which is something I had never done in the past,” Mize said. “I told myself, ‘Keep throwing this pitch because it’s so good for you.’ But I did that a few games in a row, where I threw a couple in the first two innings that I didn’t like and didn’t throw it (again). … I think the decrease in volume led to a decrease in feel.”

Mize didn’t miss many bats with any of his pitches but at least a couple generated some groundballs.

Casey Mize’s Pitches
Pitch SwStr% GB% Usage
Four-seam 11% 33% 30%
Slider 11% 45% 28%
Sinker 5% 53% 22%
Splitter 10% 70% 13%
Curve 9% 33% 7%

National League

Brewers

Devin Williams is adding a slider/cutter.

Would he describe the pitch as more cutter or more slider?

“It depends,” Williams said. “Sometimes it’s a cutter, sometimes it’s a slider.”

The Brewers will let Williams tinker with the pitch during Spring Training and then make a collective decision at the end of Spring Training. A full camp is a bonus in itself; last year, Williams was limited after ending 2020 with a right shoulder injury.

• For now, Tyrone Taylor will not be getting full-time at-bats.

Brewers officials could not yet publicly discuss their agreement with veteran outfielder Andrew McCutchen on Tuesday morning because the deal was still pending a physical exam, but Counsell did answer a question about one player potentially impacted by the acquisition: Tyrone Taylor. Said Counsell: “Tyrone’s role is going to be dependent on other guys. That’s probably where we’re going to sit here. The way you’d expect a season to go, that’s going to mean a lot of at-bats.”

Cardinals

Alex Reyes is delusional.

Reyes said he attempted to build up his arm stamina throughout the offseason by playing catch on a regular basis. However, Reyes said he has yet to throw off a pitching mound — something that he wanted to avoid because of the soreness in his throwing shoulder.

“I played catch pretty much most of the offseason,” Reyes said. “But, like I said, it was just kind of like soreness staying in there a little bit. But hopefully I’ll have worked through here in the next few days.”

So for the entire offseason, Reyes has dealt with shoulder soreness, but magically he’ll be fine in a day or two. I don’t buy it one bit.

Cubs

Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson could start the season in a piggyback starter situation.

Last season, the trio of Alzolay, Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson gained MLB experience both out of the rotation and in the bullpen. As camp opens, Steele and Thompson will be in the mix for one of the rotation jobs.

That said, Steele and Thompson also found success as multi-inning relievers for the Cubs last year. Given the shorter spring schedule, pitching coach Tommy Hottovy noted that there could be “piggyback” outings, if starters are not stretched out all the way. Steele and Thompson could fit that mold as hybrid options come Opening Day.

• The Cubs will not go with one person as the designated hitter.

The way manager David Ross sees things going, the Cubs will have a revolving door in the designated hitter role this season. Ross will want to mix and match players in that slot based on matchups, rest or other factors.

“It gives us some more flexibility, right?” Ross said. “I’m sure that’ll be an ever-changing spot of who’s swinging the bat well and who needs rest.”

Ross noted that outfielder Ian Happ, who is working his way back from a right elbow issue, could be used as a DH early in the season. Catchers Willson Contreras and Yan Gomes could also see time at DH this season to have them both in the lineup when it makes sense.

Marlins

Brian Anderson could spend time in the outfield.

With the addition of utility player Joey Wendle, Brian Anderson may see some looks in left field — a position he hasn’t played in his professional career. Anderson, who was an NL Gold Glove finalist at third base in 2020, last appeared in the outfield in 2019 — with 55 games in right. Mattingly compared Anderson to free agent Kris Bryant when it comes to being an athlete with defensive versatility.

“I’m always open to it,” said Anderson, who will continue to get his infield work in before taking fly balls. “I haven’t done it in a couple of years. But the last couple of times that I did it, it helped me out and helped the team out. That’s my job now, especially getting a guy like Wendle that can play multiple positions.

Mets

Carlos Carrasco pitched with a bone fragment in his elbow for seven years.

“Everything’s really good right now,” Carrasco said afterward, noting that he had pitched with the bone fragment for the past seven seasons. “It was the time to take it out. That’s what I did, and I’m glad I did, because I feel better.”

At least it’s gone now.

Jeff McNeil will be the Mets starting second baseman.

“I don’t think it will be split. Mac will get the majority [of playing time] there,” he said. Asked about Canó’s role, Showalter replied “I think Robbie knows he’s not going to play second base for us as much as he wants to. But we hope he’s not a pure DH either. There’s the potential for him to play some first base if needed. I wouldn’t put him in the outfield.”

Padres

Ha-Seong Kim 김하성 will get the first shot as Fernando Tatis Jr.’s replacement.

In Tatis’ absence, the Padres plan to give Ha-Seong Kim the bulk of the reps at shortstop, and he’s penciled in as their Opening Day starter. An excellent defender, Kim has question marks surrounding his bat after a debut season that saw him hit .202/.270/.352.

The Padres are optimistic about the strides Kim has made adjusting to velocity from year one to year two — a focal point during the offseason. But if the offensive struggles persist, Jake Cronenworth could slide from second to short on occasion. Or, perhaps the most intriguing option, top Padres prospect CJ Abrams could earn his big league breakthrough if he performs this spring.

Phillies

Didi Gregorius had surgery to remove multiple bone spurs in his elbow that prevented him from hitting or throwing last season.

“They just tried to figure out what it was,” he said. “I had to play like that because I told them I didn’t want to miss any games. I wasn’t my best. … I couldn’t swing. I couldn’t extend. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t throw, so my throws were going all over the place. And swinging, if I can’t extend it, I couldn’t hit any pitch. The only pitches I was hitting were mostly pitches away. I even backed off the plate so I could kind of get extended. I was going through a lot last year, but that’s behind my back.”

Gregorius said he is healthy now. He is ready to compete, even if it means playing third base.

• The Phillies bullpen is not going to start the season with any defined roles.

The manager has interchangeable parts for late-inning situations. That is helpful, especially since Girardi has strict rules for his relievers’ workloads.

“You look towards the first couple of weeks of the season, you’re going to expect more innings out of your bullpen,” Girardi said. “So you’re going to probably need to interchange more than you normally would.”

Reds

Kyle Farmer will be the Reds shortstop … until he is traded away.

Right now, Farmer is the man, Bell said.

“Kyle, everything he did last year offensively, defensively, what he means to our team — I don’t even think that is a question,” Bell said. “He’s coming in as the shortstop.”

• The Reds have several outfield and DH options.

Before the trade, Bell had projected Winker in left, Nick Senzel in center and Tyler Naquin in right. Senzel and Naquin both finished the year injured, but the good news is that Bell said Senzel was in camp and looked good.

“I’m very confident that it’s going to be a big year for Nick and he’s healthy,” Bell said. “He is here. He looks good. He’s ready to go. A good mindset.”

The team also has Aristides Aquino, Shogo Akiyama, TJ Friedl, Max Schrock, and now Jake Fraley, who was acquired in the Winker deal. A lineup with Naquin at DH and Senzel, Aquino, and Fraley patrolling the outfield is a possibility.

Here are the group’s splits and projections.

Reds OF & DH Options
Name Career OPS vs LHP Career OPS vs RHP Projected OPS (DC)
Aristides Aquino .792 .780 .763
Tyler Naquin .633 .804 .753
Jake Fraley .475 .726 .744
Nick Senzel .773 .681 .744
Shogo Akiyama .594 .594 .705
Max Schrock .891 .735 .700

Senzel, Naquin, Fraley, and Aquino look like nice bets for regular playing time.

Rockies

Sam Hilliard lost 20 pounds over the offseason because of a stomach virus.

“My body feels good after doing all my training in Fort Worth, but when I went to the Dominican [Winter League] I actually got a stomach virus and lost about 20 pounds,” Hilliard said. “I had to hurry and gain a bunch of that weight on, but I’m working with the dieticians and strength coaches.”





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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psychobunny
3 months ago

What does Bell have against Barrero? Seems like a better option than both Farmer and some of the OF/DH options.

blakesoxmember
3 months ago
Reply to  psychobunny

Looks like he was up for about 33 days last year, so tack on the usual 16 day manipulation and he’ll probably be ready right around the end of May/early June.

dl80member
3 months ago
Reply to  blakesox

He was also up in 2020, though. He already has 129 days, so 43 more days gets him a year of service. So unless they are going to keep him down until September, there is no point trying to gain an extra year.