Mining the News (3/27/23)

• Just read/analyze this whole article that is full of lineup information and potential closers.

American League

Angels

Carlos Estévez is not guaranteed to be the closer.

Angels manager Phil Nevin indicated to reporters (including Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register) that the club would not be naming right-hander Carlos Estevez as the closer to open the season, instead opting for a committee approach to open the season. Estevez signed with the Angels earlier this offseason on a two-year deal and was expected to step into the closer role to open the season, but that does not appear to be the plan, at least for the start of the 2023 campaign.

Still, Nevin told reporters that Estevez “is definitely going to get some big outs late in the game most of the year for us,” leaving the door open to the right-hander remaining the conversation to close games for the Angels this season. The Angels have a fairly deep group of pitchers with late inning experience at the back of their bullpen in addition to Estevez that includes Ryan Tepera, Matt Moore, Aaron Loup and Jimmy Herget.

Athletics

Aledmys Díaz will face righties and Nick Allen will face lefties as the team’s shortstop.

It appears one key decision has been made, with the shortstop position described as a platoon between Díaz and Allen.

“I think the way we’re going to start the season, the projection right now is to have Aledmys at short against right-handed pitching and Nick will play at short against left-handed pitching,” Kotsay said.

Orioles

Jorge Mateo played some centerfield but it seems to for an in-season emergency.

In the sixth inning of a home Grapefruit League win over the Yankees, Jorge Mateo moved from shortstop — where he played all 1,257 1/3 of his defensive innings for Baltimore last season — to center field. Then, the 27-year-old started back in center again in Sunday afternoon’s 4-2 win over the Phillies at Ed Smith Stadium.

“The more flexibility you can create with your roster, the better,” Hyde said. “It’s not like Jorgie’s never been out there before, so we just wanted to kind of give him a look, just in case it did happen in the season where we did need some coverage in center field.”

National League

Cubs

Jameson Taillon finally likes how his sweeper is performing.

Taillon believes he found a sweet spot with the sweeper. He felt he was executing it well in bullpens but was struggling to bring that form into games. But he figured out some cues with the pitch heading into his last start.

“I was kind of out in front too much with it,” Taillon said. “So I started thinking about a little closer to my ear and then trying to backdoor it. It’s a weird cue, it’s almost curveball-y. It feels like I’m releasing it back (by my ear) instead of (out front) like my fastball, cutter and changeup. The key is create topspin and it catches the seams.”

Diamondbacks

Drey Jameson will be a multi-inning reliever with the possibility of being used in high-leverage spots.

Jameson, though, was also impressive and earned a spot.

“Knowing where the pitch counts [for starters] is going to be, [it] felt like having a long guy in the ‘pen that could give us some length was of some benefit,” Hazen said. “Look, we felt like he was one of our 13 best pitchers, and at the end of the day, we just made that decision.”

Just because he’s opening the season in the bullpen, don’t rule out the possibility that Jameson will start this year or in the future. The D-backs will look to keep him stretched out early in the season, pitching multiple innings so that he can jump into the rotation if needed.

Jameson has the stuff to be a late-inning reliever, so it could turn out that he pitches so well in that role that he stays in it, like Archie Bradley did in 2017. But that remains to be seen.

“We are mindful of the stuff he brings to the table and what we are looking for in our ‘pen, and he has the stuff to do that,” Hazen said. “He also has the stuff to do that as a starting pitcher.”

Kyle Lewis made the roster because the team faces several lefties to start the season.

The D-backs’ Opening Day roster became clearer Sunday when the team made six roster moves, optioning Pavin Smith and Emmanuel Rivera to Triple-A Reno and reassigning Phillip Evans, P.J. Higgins, Jake Hager and Peter Solomon to Minor League camp.

The D-backs like Smith a lot, and he was their only true backup first baseman. He also had a very nice spring, but Lewis’ performance was too good to ignore.

Another factor is that Arizona will see a number of left-handed starters early in the season, and Lewis allows them to use a right-handed batter in the designated hitter spot.

“He had an incredible spring,” Hazen said. “I think we’re going to get a lot of lefties out of the chute based on how we think the rotations are lining up against us. I think [his] power element is something that we talked about not necessarily having, and he can represent that for us in a lot of ways.”

Giants

Casey Schmitt is making the transition over to shortstop.

Notably, they’ll be watching him play just as much shortstop as third base in Sacramento.

“The fact that Casey Schmitt can play shortstop … is a really, really good development for our organization,” Kapler said. “The fact that we’re already talking about him spending 50 percent of his time at the minor-league level at shortstop is a huge step forward for all of us.”

Bryce Johnson made the team.

They don’t have another viable center fielder behind Mike Yastrzemski, who is having a terrible spring at the plate and must be protected from left-handed starters.

Johnson is not just capable of playing center field. He’s a potential asset out there. And his 12-for-12 showing on the basepaths in exhibition games demonstrated the value he can provide off the bench in a game with rule changes instituted to incentivize range and athleticism.

Johnson isn’t merely on the roster as an extreme role player. He’s “making a push to be a significant part of the roster,” Zaidi said.

“Talent … doesn’t predict performance, necessarily,” Kapler said. “But the talent is undeniable.”

I don’t think the at-bats will be there for him to show value to start the season but if the playing time increases, he’s a great source of steals.

Marlins

• If the team needs a starter, Daniel Castano is likely to get the call.

Miami also needs to determine the order of its rotation following Opening Day starter Alcantara. One thing we do know is Castano, who allowed just one run in 12 2/3 innings this spring, would be the next man up. The Marlins would have to make space for him on the 40-man roster.


“Castano did everything he was supposed to do to warrant a spot in the rotation or in the bullpen,” Schumaker said. “The fact is that we have a lot of really good pitchers right now, and sometimes you have to go down [to the Minors] and get built up in case something happens — and he’s that guy that unfortunately was squeezed out, because we need him to be built up and be in the rotation-type thing if anything happens up here. He’s a really good insurance piece — depth piece — to have, and we’re confident that when he does come up, that he’s going to help us right away.”

In 85 MLB innings, he has a 3.89 ERA, 4.3 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, and a 45% GB%. He won’t be on my priority add list.

Padres

Xander Bogaerts is always dealing with wrist pain.

Xander Bogaerts received a cortisone shot in his left wrist, and isn’t expected to play again until Sunday. As Melvin told Sanders and company, “there’s no concern, [Bogaerts] has one of these a spring,” due to periodic soreness in his wrist. The prized signing of San Diego’s offseason, Bogaerts is in no danger of missing his first Opening Day in a Padres uniform.

Phillies

• The team is looking into Nick Castellanos playing first base

Right fielder Nick Castellanos has been taking ground balls at first base following the season-ending injury to Rhys Hoskins. Thomson said it was Castellanos’ idea and it shows the skipper that “he’s trying to help the team any way he can. … That’s a good sign, and I’m all for it.”

“I’ll talk to him about it and see where he’s at with it,” said Thomson, who added it’s too early to draw any conclusions from it. “There’s more to it than just fielding the ball. There’s positioning, cuts and relays — a whole bunch of stuff that you’d have to cover.”

…or possibly Alec Bohm.

Another first-base option is to slide over third baseman Alec Bohm, a right-handed batter, against lefties. The Phillies could then cover third with versatile platoon players, such as Edmundo Sosa or Josh Harrison.

“I think we’re open to a lot of things at this point,’’ Dombrowski said. “[Hoskins’ injury] just happened last night, so we haven’t even had a chance to talk to our players about some of the scenarios that could exist.’’

Pirates

Johan Oviedo has tabled adding a sinker.

Oviedo came into camp wanting to add a sinker to his pitch mix. However, he shelved the pitch a couple of weeks ago to focus on his four-seamer and changeup. He still expects to use the sinker at some point this season.

“I’m definitely going to need that pitch, especially when I need a groundball,” Oviedo said. “The season is almost here and I need to perform. It’s a long season, so I can’t show (the hitter) everything right away anyway.”

Rockies

Daniel Bard’s fastball velocity is still down but “hopefully” it will head up soon.

In the ninth inning of Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Guardians, Bard hung his second pitch — a 93.6 mph sinker — for a David Fry solo homer before chalking up a strikeout and two grounders.

“A 93 mph fastball — Daniel’s not there yet, but he’s getting there,” Black said. “He threw one 96, which is good, so the velocity is not there, but hopefully in the next week it shows up.”





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 twice, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

8 Comments
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bums
11 months ago

The Rangers’ writer has Grossman in LF hitting 5th. He’s now on the Braves…..

VottomanEmpiremember
11 months ago
Reply to  bums

Well that’s just not true

Paul Sporermember
11 months ago
Reply to  bums

I think you’re looking at old info. He finished 2022 with Atlanta.

chadmember
11 months ago
Reply to  bums

Take it easy on bums guys. He’s referencing the article that Jeff linked on the top and said,” Just read/analyze this whole article that is full of lineup information and potential closers.”

The mlb.com article that Jeff linked is filled with obvious errors/terrible information. Check for yourselves.

bums
11 months ago
Reply to  chad

Thanks chad, but they are justified. I was indeed thinking of last year. That article Jeff linked to is pretty bad, though.