February 6, 2011
Nationals Sign Matt Chico, JD Martin, Cla Meredith, Alex Cora, Laynce Nix ,Carlos Maldonado, and Kevin Barker, Option Shairon Martis to Triple-A
This past week the Washington Nationals signed LHP Matt Chico, RHP JD Martin, RHP Cla Meredith, IF Alex Cora, OF Laynce Nix, C Carlos Maldonado, and 1B Kevin Barker to minor league contracts and invited each to spring training. Chico and Martin have spent time over the past few seasons with the Nationals and I am glad that each has returned to the organization, while not occupying a 40-man roster spot. I have long thought that Chico could do well as a LOOGY (left-handed one out guy) out of the bullpen as his motion and stuff might play up a bit better out of the bullpen. To the same end, I have long thought that the Nationals, or some big league team, should try JD Martin out of the bullpen. While his fastball is below average, he does not walk many hitters and induces a fair amount of ground ball outs, perfect for a reliever. Perhaps a shift to the bullpen might allow his fastball to play up as he could cut loose a bit more. The other names should see most of their action this season in Triple-A Syracuse while serving as organizational depth in case of injury at the big league level.
Also, the Nationals announced this week that RHP Shairon Martis, whom was designated for assignment about two weeks ago, has cleared waivers and has been sent outright to Triple-A Syracuse, thus staying with the organization. Martis had a nice run of production in early 2009 with the Nationals but has spent the past season and a half in Triple-A with reasonable success (4.09 ERA in 27 starts in 2010). Martis does not have great stuff so he is unlikely to have sustained success in the big leagues, but he is only 23 years old and I think it is only a positive to keep young arms in the organization. While these are all minor moves, I think GM Mike Rizzo did good work bringing some quality depth into the fold.
Vladimir Guerrero Signs a 1-year $8 million dollar contract with the Baltimore Orioles
The big baseball news of the past few days was that Vladimir Guerrero agreed to a 1-year contract with the Baltimore Orioles for $8 million, some of which is deferred. Here is my guess for the Orioles opening day lineup.
1- Brian Roberts 2B
2- Nick Markakis RF
3- Derrek Lee 1B
4- Vladimir Guerrero DH
5- Luke Scott LF
6- Mark Reynolds 3B
7- Adam Jones CF
8- Matt Wieters C
9- JJ Hardy SS
That is quite a lineup GM Andy MacPhail has assembled this off-season in Baltimore. Besides Brian Roberts, each hitter has the potential to put up 20+ home runs, with some real breakout potential from the bottom of the lineup. After a relatively quiet start to the winter, the Orioles have done quite a job turning over their roster, adding a new 1B Derrek Lee, a new SS JJ Hardy, new 3B Mark Reynolds, new DH Guerrero, new starting pitcher Justin Duchscherer, and a new closer Kevin Gregg, amongst others. I commend GM Andy MacPhail for recognizing the large upgrade that Vladimir Guerrero would be to the club for a reasonable cost and a short term commitment. I find it interesting that the Orioles decided to increase their payroll so much this off-season (going from approximately $73 million in 2010 to approx. $93 million in 2011) as they still do not expect to compete with New York, Boston, or Tampa this season.
But the Orioles will be a tough and pesky team all season with their improved lineup, a solid bullpen comprised of Kevin Gregg, Koji Uehara, and Mike Gonzalez, and a pitching staff that should take a step forward with Jeremy Guthrie anchoring the staff, Justin Duchscherer a solid starter when healthy, and the continued development of youngsters Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta, and Brad Bergesen. While it does not look like 2011 will be the year the Orioles return to past glory, with GM MacPhail in charge, an increasing payroll and developing young talent, they should be much improved in 2011 and in the years upcoming.
Penguins @ Capitals 12:30pm… I know the Penguins have the stronger record this season and should be inspired to play well with the loss of Evgeni Malkin to a terrible knee injury Friday evening, but I really liked the effort from the Caps Friday night against Tampa Bay and I think they might be beginning a hot streak… In a close game, I will go….. Capitals 4 Pittsburgh 3 , otherwise known as Good over Evil.
Green Bay Packers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers @ 6:30pm…. What a great match up! I have been trying all week to think of a Super Bowl that I have been anticipating like this one, and I certainly cannot come up with anything from the past decade. Sure we have had some great Super Bowl games recently, but none that have had two teams so well matched. I think the game will come down to two things: How well can the Steelers compensate for the injury to starting center Maurice Pouncey and thus keeping BJ Raji blocked and out of the backfield; and secondly, who wins the match up when Green Bay goes three and four wide receivers and Pittsburgh brings in their nickel and dime defenses. The Packers have shredded defenses all season because of their superior depth at wide receiver in comparison to other teams third and fourth cornerbacks. When the dust settles, I think the experience advantage that the Steelers have will allow them to make one more big play than Green Bay and send them to victory in Super Bowl . Pittsburgh 23 – Green Bay 20
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