Results tagged ‘ Sonny Gray ’
It may be a brand new year, but it’s proving to be the same old Athletics.
A team known in recent history for their offseason trades and signings that leave them with a completely different looking ball club from one year to the next, the A’s have once again used the offseason to this point to make a lot of moves (some good, some bad) to change up the overall structure of their team.
The most recent case coming on Saturday with the trading away of John Jaso and a couple of top prospects, in Daniel Robertson and Boog Powell, to the Rays in exchange for Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar, who will both help what has the potential to be a good A’s team in 2015.
Despite losing John Jaso, who was a solid player for the Athletics in 2014, as well as Robertson and Powell, the A’s got back a fairly good package in return.
After an extended period of trade rumors surrounding Ben Zobrist, a transaction for him finally occurred, sending Zobrist off to the A’s. Two years removed from back-to-back 20 homer seasons, Zobrist hit a mere 10 bombs in 2014, but is still more than capable of impacting any team he’s on, as he has over the course of his All-Star career with the Rays.
Other moves the A’s have made so far to go along with the Zobrist and Escobar trade that could turn out to have major impacts began with the pickup of Billy Butler on a three-year, thirty million dollar contract. The Athletics then proceeded to swap their All-Star third baseman, Josh Donaldson, for fellow hot corner defender, Brett Lawrie, from the Blue Jays.
While the Butler deal was applauded by many, the Donaldson move was one that left many people scratching their heads. However, they weren’t done there.
Following the initial offseason additions of Butler and Lawrie, the Athletics kicked off the 2014 Winter Meetings, trading slugger Brandon Moss to the Indians, and almost immediately after departed ways with Jeff Samardzija for a few potential valuable but unproven players from the White Sox.
Even though there are some things the Athletics have done that I don’t agree with, for the most part I like where the A’s are headed.
Losing Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox via a trade for Jon Lester, and knowing they wouldn’t likely retain Lester upon the end of the season, the moves the A’s are making should help them in their attempt to make up for those losses.
Even after losing Lester, the Athletics’ rotation will still be decent, with Sonny Gray leading the way, along with Jarrod Parker who is set to return to health, and their lineup always seems to find a way to produce runs. Having finished with a win-loss record above .500 for each of the past three seasons, things are seemingly lining up to make it four.
Due to the Dodgers’ and Diamondbacks’ opening-series that’s set to take place on March 22nd and 23rd in Australia, Spring Training action is beginning a bit earlier than usual this year. The Diamondbacks have their pitchers and catchers reporting today, with the Dodgers’ pitchers and catchers reporting on Saturday. Therefore, for the first time since the Red Sox won the 2013 World Series over three months ago, baseball is finally back.
But while the Dodgers and Diamondbacks are getting started this week, the remainder of the teams won’t begin reporting until next week, anywhere from the 11th to the 17th: The Indians report date is set for Tuesday; the Cardinals and Mariners will begin on Wednesday; the Braves, Orioles, Phillies, Pirates, Nationals, Angels and Padres report Thursday; the Tigers, Yankees, Rays, Cubs, Reds, Royals and Athletics arrive on Friday; the Red Sox, Astros, Mets, White Sox, Rockies, Brewers and Giants on Saturday; the Marlins, Twins and Rangers report on Sunday; and the Blue Jays begin on Monday. (The rest of the players for all the teams will report anywhere from 3 to 7 days after their respective pitchers and catchers.)
Once all of the pitchers and catchers have reported to Spring Training on February 17th, there will be a mere 33 days until the 2014 Major League Baseball season gets underway in Australia. I, for one, can’t wait.
But I’m not quite ready to jump ahead to the start of the regular season just yet, as I still have a lot I want to talk about in the coming weeks. Therefore, for the time being, I’d like to take a minute to discuss something I love to do this time of year (besides watch Spring Training games on TV.) Every Spring Training, for the past two or three years, I’ve sent out a handful of through the mail (TTM) autograph requests to different players around the league. This year, I’m going to be sending out a dozen, or so, TTM’s, with the best player being Clayton Kershaw.
While that might seem like a long shot — and it very well may be — Kershaw, surprisingly, has been known to sign through the mail over the past few years; the only downside being that it takes over a year for him to return it to you.
Though his recent record breaking contract, and second Cy Young award, may lead to him getting even more fan mail, causing a subsequent stop of him signing for fans that write to him, Kershaw is good enough for me to take a chance on. Even if I don’t get anything back, at least I tried.
Other MLB players I’m sending to include Taijuan Walker (who made his MLB debut in 2013), David Robertson, Kolten Wong, Cody Asche, Mike Napoli and Jake Marisnick. All of these players have been known to be decent TTM signers, with Walker and Robertson being nearly automatic over the past couple years. Asche told me that he tries to sign everything that gets sent his way, so I’m fairly confident I’ll get that one back at least.
I’m also sending to several Minor League players who were invited to Major League Spring Training this year — some for the first time ever. Those players include Archie Bradley, Kyle Zimmer, Mark Appel, Kris Bryant and Albert Almora. All five of these players will be in the majors at some point over the next few years, with Bradley likely making his big league debut this season. Bradley, Zimmer and Appel have all told me that they sign TTM, so I feel like I’ll get those back. Almora has been hit and miss recently, and I doubt Bryant will, but I’m sending to both of them anyway, because you never know.
Last year I sent off eleven autograph requests to Spring Training and received back six of them, from Jason Motte, Danny Hultzen, Stephen Romero, Sonny Gray, Tyler Skaggs and Casey Kelly. That’s pretty good as far as TTM’s go. If I get back five or six of the dozen I’m sending off this year — which is what I expect to receive — I’ll be happy.
I’m planning to post a blog entry every time I receive back a couple autographs from the players I’m sending TTM requests to during Spring Training, just as I did last year. Hopefully it won’t be all that terribly long before I start getting them back (maybe a few weeks?). So be sure to check back for that over the course of the next couple months.
There are numerous top prospects set to make an impact in the major leagues this season, as I wrote about a few months ago, but for this particular post, I’m only focusing on the players who are ready right now to get a callup to the big leauges; but are yet to, for one reason or another. Keep in mind, as you’re reading through my list, the players (in no particular order) I’ve included are yet to play a single game in the majors:
The first player I feel is major league ready is Wil Myers. I’ve done a few blog posts on him in the past, about how I felt Myers has been ready for awhile, and I really don’t see the point of leaving him down in the minors. Batting .304, with a homer and 12 RBI’s, so far this season, Myers is one of those players who I could see thriving at the next level. The Rays need to give him a shot, in my opinion.
Bruce Rondon is off to another great start, so far this season. Through seven innings pitched, Rondon hasn’t allowed any runs, while limiting the offense to a .179 batting average. Having been clocked at over 100 miles per hour in the past, combined with the closer role for the Tigers still a weak point, I’d say it’s time for Rondon to be called up, and just see how he performs.
A guy who’s not on everyone’s radar, but has the ability to make a big impact in the major leagues is Donnie Joseph. Limiting the opposing batters to a .125 average, including a 1.35 ERA and 12 strikeouts, through 6.2 innings pitched, so far this season, Joseph is ready, in my mind, to show off his stellar stuff in the majors, with the Kansas City Royals.
Though I’m not quite jumping onboard with the thoughts of others that Mark Montgomery will be the next Mariano Rivera for the Yankees, I do agree with many of them, that Montgomery is going to be a star at the major league level. Though he’s still young, at age 22, having only pitched in just over 100 innings, his career 1.61 ERA goes to show just how good Montgomery really is, and in my mind, how ready he is.
Mike Zunino is the last player on my list of players ready for the major leagues, but as the saying goes, he’s certainly not least. If anything, Zunino is near the top of the list, having hit 5 home runs and batted in 21, in just 13 games so far this season. These stats fall in line with his 13 homers and 43 RBI’s in just 44 games last season, and lead me to believe that he’s ready to face big league pitching.
Some honorable mentions, of player who are getting close to being major league ready, but aren’t quite, include: Bryce Brentz, Kyle Gibson, George Springer, Sonny Gray, Nick Franklin, Jarred Cosart, Michael Choice, Christian Bethancourt, Zack Wheeler, Wilmer Flores, Danny Hultzen and Nolan Arenado.
All are showing tons of major league potential, and the majority of those players should see time in the major leagues at some point in the second half of this season. The remaining few will get their first glimpse of the majors in the early part of 2014.
Around a month ago, I blogged about the through the mail (TTM) autograph requests I was planning to send off to players during Spring Training. At the end of the post, I stated that I was going to be publishing a blog post every time I received back a couple autographs. Having received two more TTM autograph requests since my last update, I’ve now gotten back half of the requests I sent out, so I figured I’d post another update:
CASEY KELLY–PADRES ORGANIZATION
Casey Kelly is currently ranked as the number 69 prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB.com. He would probably be higher had it of not been for an elbow injury he endured for most of last season. An injury that limited Kelly to just 14 games pitched; 6 of which came in the majors. In the 6 games pitched at the big league level, Kelly went 2-3, with a 6.21 ERA, but showed signs of his readiness to be a major league pitcher. If Kelly doesn’t begin the season with the Padres, it would be a real shame. He has the ability to be an impact player for an improving Padres team.
JASON MOTTE–ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Although the ink from the autograph smudged off a bit in the mail, I’m very happy to add Jason Motte’s autograph to my collection. Topping out at 100, and regularly hitting the upper 90’s, Motte’s overpowering fastball is what makes him one of the best closers in the game. Last season, Motte saved a total of 42 games for the Cardinals, recording 86 strikeouts in 72 innings pitched, on a 2.75 ERA. This season should see Motte posting more of the same type of stats as last year.
I still have autograph requests out for Mariano Rivera, Adam Jones, Tyler Skaggs, A.J. Pierzynski and Justin Masterson, so hopefully they’ll come back soon, so I can write about them; though there’s no guarantee they’ll come back at all.
A few weeks ago, I blogged about the through the mail (TTM) autograph requests I was planning to send off to players during Spring Training. At the end of the post, I stated that I was going to be publishing a blog post every time I received back a few autographs, and now that I’ve successfully gotten back some of the requests I sent, I figured I’d go ahead and type this entry up.
Of the ten total TTM’s I sent off, I’ve received three of them back, with them being from:
STEFEN ROMERO–MARINERS ORGANIZATION
Stefen Romero’s 2012 season was truly remarkable. Batting .352 with 23 home runs and 101 RBI’s, including 34 doubles, between A+ and AA, Romero showed his ability to produce stats far above what’s generally expected from a 12th round draft pick. If he can keep on producing the same type of numbers in the coming season, it shouldn’t be too long before he’s helping out the big league club, up in Seattle.
DANNY HULTZEN–MARINERS ORGANIZATION
Danny Hultzen is currently ranked as the number 18 overall prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB.com. Though a promotion from AA to AAA, mid-season, resulted in a bit of a struggle for Hultzen, overall, he had a decent 2012 season, posting a 9-7 record, with a 3.05 ERA. If Hultzen can find his groove again this season it wouldn’t be that big of a surprise if he receives a call up from the Mariners towards the end of the year.
SONNY GRAY–ATHLETICS ORGANIZATION
Though he had a rocky 2012 season–going 6-9 with a 4.26 ERA–many are still thinking that Sonny Gray will eventually pan out to become the front line starter he’s projected to become. I have to agree, and certainly hope so. Gray ended the 2012 season with AAA, and as with Hultzen, if he can get his pitching consistency back under control, Gray could earn a job pitching for the Oakland A’s at some point this season.
I still have autograph requests out for Mariano Rivera, Adam Jones, Casey Kelly, Tyler Skaggs, Jason Motte, A.J. Pierzynski and Justin Masterson, so hopefully they’ll come back soon, so I can write about them; though there’s no guarantee they’ll come back at all.
I wanted to post this short entry just to let you know what to expect in the coming days. (In terms of future blog entries.)
I’m going to a Minor League ballgame Saturday night featuring the Durham Bulls taking on the Charlotte Knights. I’ll post the entry from the game on Sunday. Should be interesting. Stars on the team include Matt Moore, Dirk Hayhurst, recently added Reid Brignac, etc. I’ve been talking to Dirk recently on twitter, trying to plan out where I should go to get him to autograph my copy of his book “The Bullpen Gospels.” (A great book by the way. Pick up a copy.) I’m also going to call out to other players to see if they will sign, so come back to see if I succeeded.
I’ve sent off questions to A’s prospect, Sonny Gray, and hope to recieve the answers back within the next day or so. So come back around Tuesday, to read my Q and A entry on him.
Other than that, I’m not sure. I’ll blog about whatever seems important in baseball at the moment.
If you have any thoughts on what you think I should blog about, leave a comment and let me know.