MLB In Full Bloom 12/4/2013

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70 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

117 – Number of days until Opening Day

The Winter Meetings begin in Orlando next week, but several teams are not waiting to get to Disney World to start rebuilding their teams. Besides the New York Yankees, the obvious theme from this offseason so far has been the low payroll teams that are spending money to this point. The Oakland Athletics have been the most active team as they just made four moves in the last 30 hours, the Houston Astros and the Minnesota Twins have been adding payroll and the Kansas Royals are in the mix to land Carlos Beltran. These are teams that traditionally don't spend money that are spending money this year. It has been alot of fun to this point and we are just getting started!

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Jacoby Ellsbury and the New York Yankees agreed to a 7-year $153 million deal on Tuesday. It's the third biggest contract given to an outfielder in the history of the game. Ellsbury is a unique player when you combine his offense, defense, and his baserunning. He is a leadoff hitter and a center fielder and it makes sense for the Yankees to sign him. It may not make sense in three years, but for an old Yankees team with a depleted minor league system, Yankees GM Brian Cashman had to make this move. Ellsbury has a history of injuries, but most of the injuries are a result of collisions.
  • Luke Gregerson was traded to the Athletics by the San Diego Padres for Seth Smith. By adding Gregerson and Jim Johnson to the roster, the Athletics have an extremely deep bullpen. These two pitchers join Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook, and Jerry Blevins. The A's will have the ability to shorten games and if Johnson struggles like he did in Baltimore to close games, they have the ability to plug in somebody else at closer. This is potentially the best bullpen in baseball. As for Smith, he was so good for the Athletics as he provided so many big hits as a platoon guy. Look for him to provide the Padres with the same type of production.
  • Craig Gentry and Josh Lindblom were traded by the Texas Rangers to the Oakland Athletics for top prospect Michael Choice and Chris Bostick. Its clear that the A's certainly see an opportunity to win in 2014. The Texas Rangers are in transition, who knows if the Los Angeles Angels will be able to get the pitching they need and the Seattle Mariners are a desperate team. Billy Bean, A's General Manager, has done a great job plugging players into his template and the A's look to be the favorites to win the American League West next year. As for the Rangers, they get a former first rounder in Choice who could be in the mix for a starting left field job in 2014.
  • Dexter Fowler was traded to Houston Astros by the Colorado Rockies for Jordan Lyles and Brandon Barnes. I like this deal for both teams. Lyles has an electric arm and he is young. He is a former #1 pick and he only has three years experience with a ton of upside. Barnes is a highlight player who will do well in Coors Field. Fowler is a quality center fielder that will help a rebuilding Astros team.
  • The Tampa Bay Rays pulled off a three team trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cincinnati Reds that landed the Rays Heath Bell and Ryan Hanigan. Cincinnati received left-handed starter David Holmberg from the D-backs, while Arizona received right-handed pitcher Justin Choate and a player to be named or cash considerations from Tampa Bay. Bell is coming off a horrendous 2012 and needs to figure this out. He was not liked by teammates in Arizona last year and he needs to find a way to be effective again in a relief role. The positive for him is that he is going to Tampa Bay for players miraculously find ways to resurrect their careers.
  • Justin Morneau and the Colorado Rockies agreed to two-year deal for$13 million. Morneau isn't nearly the same player he was during his MVP season back in 2009 and is coming off a year where he batted .259 with 17 homers and 77 RBI in 152 games. The good news is that he should have a shot to rebound a bit while playing his home games at Coors Field.
  • Paul Konerko will be returning to the Chicago White Sox in 2014 on a one-year deal. Some may find this to be a surprising since the White Sox signed Jose Abreau and they still have Adam Dunn. It appears Konerko is willing to accept a smaller role with the team.

MLB In Full Bloom 12/3/2013

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71 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

118 – Number of days until Opening Day

It was a busy day on the Hot Stove on Monday and there was another move early this morning that saw a big name come off the free agent board. Let's not waste any time and get right into the greatness that is the MLB Hot Stove!

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • A.J. Pierzynski and the Boston Red Sox agreed to a one-year deal today. This is the perfect fit for the Red Sox because they need a place holder until their two very good catching prospects are ready. There were discussions over the weekend that linked Pierzynski to the Minnesota Twins on a two-year deal, but the opportunity to win a championship in Boston swayed Pierzynski. David Ross will back up Pierzynski and the two are a perfect complement to one another. This is a good fit for the Red Sox and Pierzynski.
  • Doug Fister was traded to the Washington Nationals by the Detroit Tigers in a four player deal on Monday. The Tigers get infielder Steve Lombardozzi and a couple young southpaws in Ian Krol and Robbie Ray. Both left handers are bullpen guys that the Tigers desperately needed. This move tells me that Max Scherzer is not going any where, however it's not going to be easy to sign him because it will most likely take a little north of $200 million to get a deal done.
  • Jim Johnson was traded to the Oakland Athletics by the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Jemile Weeks and a player to be named. The Orioles could not afford Johnson's annual $10 million salary, so the smaller market Athletics jumps in and spends some money. The Athletics have some other possible closers, but I think Johnson close games for them. I like the move because the A's give up very little for a guy that has led the league in saves the past couple years.
  • Scott Kazmir and the Oakland Athletics agreed on a two-year deal worth $22 million. It's a big sum of money for a small market team like Oakland, but it's actually pretty good value in this current free agent market. Kazmir posted a 4.04 ERA in 158 innings this past season for the Cleveland Indians. He should do well in the confines of the Athletics' O.co Coliseum.
  • Chris Stewart and the Pittsburgh Pirates avoided arbitration and agreed to a one-year deal on Monday. Stewart was acquired from the Yankees earlier in the day and will likely enter the 2014 campaign as Russell Martin's backup.
  • Ross Ohlendorf and the Washington Nationals agreed to a one-year deal on Monday to avoid an arbitration hearing. Ohlendorf will enter spring training with the opportunity to compete for the fifth spot in the Nationals rotation.
  • Willie Bloomquist and the Seattle Mariners agreed to a two-year deal on Monday. This is a move that does not make sense to me because he moved to the American League. When are you going to use him? In the National League, this is a guy that can play all over the diamond as he can play shortstop, third base, and the outfield. In Seattle when is he going to play? There are injuries, he is a rare player that can play centerfield and shortstop, but the price tag of almost $3 million a year seems high.

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