December 4th, 2014

Pre Winter Meetings Thoughts

It’s always difficult to write a hot stove article or blog because things can change the moment a prediction is made in writing. I was reading a piece today that predicted where players would go. Of the free agents already signed, the site was wrong on each. But at least the reasoning for their choices was sound. But baseball players and baseball teams can change direction quickly.

Here are some of my thoughts as we head to San Diego for the annual gathering of both Minor League and Major League baseball folks at the Winter Meetings.

The Indians are said to be kicking the tires on trading for Oakland’s Brandon Moss. Moss is a left-handed hitter. The Indians are loaded with lefty bats that include Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis, Lonnie Chisenhall, Michael Bourn and David Murphy. However, Moss could be a legitimate home run threat that would improve the lineup. He can play both 1B and the OF as well as serve as a DH. Much may depend upon the future of switch-hitting Nick Swisher.

If the Tigers were to go “all in” for Andrew Miller (and I believe he will sign with the Yankees) they would improve their club tremendously. Miller has exactly what the Tigers need. A late game, shut down lefty.

I think adding Miller to the Yankees makes great sense. He would be facing mostly right-handed hitters in the late innings, avoiding the short right field porch lefties hit with regularity. It makes great sense for him to pitch for the Yankees.

I believe the relationship established by Theo Epstein in Jon Lester’s Red Sox days give the Cubs a great chance to sign the lefty. I believe a trust has been established between the two. I also believe Lester may like the challenge of helping the Cubs finally get over the top. Lester sets the starting pitching market.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Chase Headley headed to the Giants to fill the void left when the Panda decided to buy his bamboo in Boston.

Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario could be on the move. I get it. He still has trouble blocking balls in the dirt and he just isn’t making enough progress behind the plate. And his offense tailed off last season. But if he’s traded, some club will get a guy with home run power and a good batting average as a catcher.

I’m still trying to figure out how the Orioles make up for the loss of Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis? Is Chris Davis the Chris Davis of Texas, the Chris Davis of two years ago or the Chris Davis of last year? Will Manny Machado be healthy? I think he will be. And I also think Matt Wieters will have a big year and contribute greatly to the offense. Melky Cabrera fits in Baltimore for me.

What are the Phillies thinking? Who knows. But they have to get younger. They have to improve their farm system and organizational depth. They have to get what they can for the veterans that have any market value remaining. And that means that may have to swallow hard and start eating some “dead” contract money. If they pay down much of Ryan Howard’s contract, they may yield some prospects. He has value at the right price for certain teams.

The Dodgers concept of adding depth makes perfect sense. It allows them to deal from a position of strength. Bringing in Chris Heisey gives them another option to place in front of teams in need of outfielders.

I was hoping the Indians would get Chris Denorfia. I’ve always liked his game. Gets his uniform dirty, gets big hits and knows how the game is played. Haven’t heard much on that front lately.

The risk/reward for the Dbacks bringing Chad Billingsley on board tilts heavily to the reward side. If the price is right for Arizona, they could add an option with big league experience to their pitching depth. If he has recovered from injuries, there is little to lose. The Dbacks need pitching.

Yes, Mark Trumbo has value to almost every American League club. Guys that can hit home runs don’t grow on trees. He can hit home runs. Like every transaction-the key will be the price paid. An American League team with pitching depth could find a very nice Christmas present in Trumbo. I’m more worried about his feet than his defense. He can play a bit at 1B and be a designated hitter. But keeping him healthy is an issue.

I haven’t heard a word about Sergio Romo. He’s another guy the Tigers should be talking about. Will he leave the Giants? Who knows?

I heard the Marlins are also interested in Brandon Moss. Watch out for that team. I said last year that I liked their future. I’m a huge Christian Yellich fan. I look for a big, big year from him.

Look for the Padres to play in the international market.

We don’t hear about James Shields on the free agent front. I guess until Lester and Max Scherzer settle somewhere, the Shields’ of the world have to wait. Somebody should come in now and strike. Why wait? Teams want to see pecking order dollars. Scherzer, Lester and then a drop off in money. That’s where Shields will probably fit.

Have I missed it, or is catcher Ryan Lavarnway still out there? Long swing, true. But he can certainly be an upgrade as a back-up catcher for lots of teams.

Robbie Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager. Not bad. To me, Seager is a very underrated player and I think this will be his blossom year. Especially with both Cruz and Cano hanging around in the lineup.

Latos or Leake for Cespedes? Could happen. The Red Sox have Castillo, Cespedes, Craig, Betts, Nava, Victorino, Ramirez, Bryce Brentz and Jackie Bradley as quality outfielders. Ya think a few of them may depart? Jackie Bradley we hardly knew you.
I still think if Cespedes is dealt, Mookie Betts starts in the outfield with Castillo and Ramirez. Have I missed any of them? That’s quite a list.

If you are coming to Phoenix for Spring Training you owe yourself one favor. Drive on the 101 heading east at sunrise. The sun coming up over the McDowell Mountains is just magnificent. Just thought I’d share that.

Just my opinion. The White Sox have made great strides this off season. I think they should keep Alexi Ramirez and keep building with him in the middle of the diamond.
But I think the Dodgers or Mets will make compelling offers for Ramirez.

I credit the Blue Jays for making some very good moves so far. Adding Russell Martin, Michael Saunders and especially Josh Donaldson to an already wonderful lineup that includes Bautista, Reyes and Encarnacion puts them right at the top of the pack in the AL East. They may be able to slug their way to victories with adequate quality as opposed to outstanding quality pitching. But watch out if they get one more starter and/or a relief arm.

Thank you for reading my prospect profiles on MLBPipeline.com. Follow me on twitter @BerniePleskoff every day from the Winter Meetings for the latest and most up to date news possible.

That’s it. I’m done.