Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Camp News and Notes

* BMac
According to Evan Grant, McCarthy is switching to a sinker and a cutter, which left the impression that he is ditching his slow, straight 4-seam. McCarthy began working on a sinker during his AAA stint last year. So, I guess this really completes his transformation into a completely different pitcher than he was with the ChiSox, where he was a 4-seam, curveball, change guy, with his changeup being a really effective pitch while his CB wasn't far behind. And now? After his horrible injury history, he now has a revamped more traditional delivery, will work off a cutter/sinker, and features a slider, a less effective curveball and changeup. Wow.

Let the confusion and misinformation about Juaquin Arias continue anew, as it had in 2008 and 2009. JD has said that Arias' shoulder strength is almost back to normal based on reports from winter ball. Here is JD on Arias via Durrett: 'Daniels said Arias' arm "has improved from where it had been the past couple of years." But Daniels added that Arias had a "7 arm on a 2-8 grade" and isn't sure it's at that point.' "He’s in a better position now to be considreed for this job than he’s been the last two years," Daniels said. He said that in 2008 and 2009 as well.

Evan Grant suggests that Arias' shoulder is 100% while he also had an "impressive" stint in winter ball. He did not, though did mostly play shortstop and as a "natural" shortstop, that is kinda damning you with faint praise I guess. Including the playoffs, in 51 games, he batted .259/.298/.320/.618. This followed his year in AAA (after an impressive offensive year in 2008) in which he put up this line: 266/295/335/630. I'm not expecting anything more this year than his 2009 #s suggest, and this, coupled with a gimpy shoulder, means I don't expect much from him. However, that might be just enough to make the team as a utility guy, who generally, neither play or produce much. Even if he makes the roster, I would expect a trade to be made rather than sticking with the gimp should Andrus miss a lot of time to injury.

Jeff Wilson suggests he is fully healthy after "reconstructive" surgery on his throwing shoulder in 2007. He did not. AFter injuring his shoulder playing CF during a 2006 winter ball stint, he had the shoulder scoped in 2007 but no structural damage was found, and, presumably, no repairs were made/necessary. I assume his shoulder is still a problem because he did not/has not diligently followed his strenth/rehab/maintenance routine as prescribed by the club. Just a guess there, but, I think this is the more parsimonious explanation for what has happened to him over the last 3 years.

Here is Arias on Arias via Durrett: It's my time." He said he's 100 percent and the shoulder feels great (he admitted he was about 75 percent last spring). We'll see how he performs in the coming weeks. Finally, TR Sullivan seems to navigate a middle ground: "Arias could be the right guy. The Rangers still need to see how strong his shoulder is after three years of physical issues. They know his arm is not as strong as it was before a 2007 Spring Training injury but they are hoping it could be adequate for their purposes."

I am ready for telenovela on Arias' life as a TX Ranger to end with the signing of utility guy who can play all of the infield spots. This would mean, hopefully, that forgotten man Brandon Boggs could make the roster as a SH LF/CF to hit for all of the LHH OF on the roster. I'm sure that Boggs used to be able to play CF through AA but I'm not sure TX believes in him there. I think that will ultimately be the deciding factor for him making the 25 this spring.

# Boggs
Should be cleared for all baseball activities by 3/5 - a/o today, he is only prohibited by the club to slide into bases.

# Endy Chavez
Should be ready for minor league play around mid-May and has an opt out of 7/1. I've been reading reports that he only has a torn ACL but I also read a previous report that said he also tore the MCL along with the requisite cartilage damage for ligament tears. This would go a long way to explain his long 12-months of rehab when a typical ACL tear has a shorter recovery time of 6-9 months.

# Tanner Scheppers
Jason Grey first reported during the AFL that Tanners supposedly had a cutter. This week that report was confirmed; he began working on it in the fall league. What we didn't know was that he is also working on a 2-seamer. There was also a report that he had seen a lot of improvement on his changeup but I think that this improvement began prior to the draft. Schepp reported that he worked very hard to improve his changeup between the 08 and 09 drafts and had made significant progress on it through his stint in the Independent league.

# Justin Smoak
Coming into preseason, I felt that Smoak would have a breakout camp, though, with Davis and Vlad on the 40, he likely wouldn't make the 25 man. It seemed that his dominant WBC performance (9hr, 23 rbi, 12 games, 12bb/9so)finally marked a point where he found the balance between his patience and power. In addition, in a recent interview, he said he made a lot of progress batting RH as many of the starters he faced were Lefties. So, if he can parlay that power/patience comfort zone along with more consistency as a RHH, he just might have a huge spring.

# Salty - Tea
Evan Grant suggested that the Ranger's opened up the catching competition because they were disatisfied with Salty's makeup. Sounds like the typical ST muckracking that one should ignore. What seems clear though at this stage in his career, if he struggles the first couple of months, then I hope TX goes with a strict platoon in order to get what might become above-average production from the duo. Salty vs RHP and Tea vs LHP might get you an OPS of about .800 and I would take that in a second. In fact I would take that arrangement to start the season. So, yeah, while it is not too late to give up on Salty as a FT SH catcher his inconsistency has no place on a playoff caliber team this year, when placing his development over wins could cost the team in the end. So, I say, just go with a strict platoon, and be done with it.

# Omar Beltre
Tx officials say that Beltre will be stretched out this spring. It would be an interesting decision to keep Beltre as a starter in the minors, even though he has started the last 10 years of his career. He will be 28.6 as of opening day, has some injury concerns, and has never pitched more than 96 innings (2006) in any season. In fact, he has only averaged about 60ip/year in all of his other seasons (excluding 2009 when he only pitched 11 innings due to injuries). I would simply groom him as a bullpen arm in hopes that he might take to it and be available to help the bullpen if necessary post-trade deadline.

# Innings
Moscoso pitched a career high # of innings this year (AAA, AA, ML, VZ/CS), 157. Mendoza was simply abused this off-season, pitching 90 innings in the Mexican league, and accumulating an amazing 203 innings in 2009. I wonder how much he will have left in the tank this spring, not that it will matter, as he will likely be traded when the 40 man roster is set. Poveda pitched 163 innings (MiL, VZ). Mike Ballard pitched 186 innings in 2009 after 34 in the PWL.

# Minors Rotations
The # of starting pitcher prospects in the TX system borders on the ridiculous. Beginning in AAA and looking far afield to rookie ball, there are at least 7 or more legitimate mid-rotation prospects at each level. In Low A and the 2 short season clubs there are as many as 10 on each club. Quite a few of these will be in extended to begin the season, and others will have to start out in the bullpen. I thought the depth that TX had last year was absurd and would be difficult for the club to manage but this year will be even more of a challenge. Ck out my projected roster for the kind of maneuvering that will be required and just how many bodies might end up in extended. With the increase in talent throughout the system, there might end up being quite a few decent org guys/fringy prospects released in March as another way to manage the #s.

# Tuesday Night Update
Jeff Wilson had this weird quote about Harrison this PM, weird on a couple levels: "He's back using his quick wind-up, which produced his best results of 2009, and he hit the glove repeatedly during 10 minutes of live batting practice. "


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