The Indians' roster management leaves much to be desired

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Matt and Aaron
mentioned the Ryan Garko trade last night, but I’m still thinking about
one aspect of it this morning, and that’s the fact that the Tribe
called up Andy Marte instead of Matt LaPorta to take Garko’s spot on
the roster. Let’s suss that out a bit, shall we?

Matt LaPorta was the centerpiece of the CC Sabathia trade last year,
and he’s gotten nothing but a courtesy callup so far. For now he’s like
me: Tearing it up, but largely wasting his time, in Columbus, Ohio
while the big old world slowly passes him by. Andy Marte, on the other
hand, has had approximately 1,257 chances to make it work in the Major
Leagues and has failed every time. Yes, he too is raking in Columbus
this year, and yes he stands to be a minor league free agent this
winter, but those 1,257 previous chances still weigh heavy on the mind.
Could he be the next Carlos Pena? Sure. But I think it far more likely
that he’s the AAAA player that he’s shown himself to be for several
years now, and if you have to choose between him and LaPorta, you have
to give LaPorta the shot.

Of course the dumbest thing about all of this is that the Indians didn’t have to choose between Marte and LaPorta. They forced that choice upon themselves by carrying a 14 man pitching staff.

Let me repeat that.

The Indians have five starting pitchers and nine — nine! —
relievers on their 25 man roster. Mark Shapiro, in his infinite wisdom,
has decided that he wants to give his embattled manager the option of
running ten pitchers out in a given game. And that happens so often!

Here’s something that doesn’t happen so often, but happened last
night: Because Garko was traded, Travis Hafner couldn’t play (he gets
mandatory days off to rest his shoulder or whatever it is on him that
doesn’t work so good) and Grady Sizemore was sick, the Indians played
the entire game against the Angels last night with literally no one
available on the bench. If Asdrubal Cabrera went down, Cliff Lee is
probably playing short. And who cares? They’re trading him anyway!

In light of that, and in light of the fact that you have two guys
worthy of a callup to the big leagues, you’d think that the Indians
would maybe think about going from the monumentally stupid 14-man
pitching staff to a merely idiotic 13 or a somewhat excessive 12. But
far be it from me to argue against success.

[cough!] 42-58 [cough!]

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.