Texas added some depth today, signing first baseman/corner outfielder Conor Jackson and left-handed reliever Joe Beimel to minor-league contracts with invitations to spring training.
Jackson’s career was derailed by valley fever in 2009. At the time he was a 27-year-old former first-round pick with a .287 career batting average and .810 OPS in 454 games, but in three seasons since then he’s hit just .224 with a .635 OPS in 204 games.
He made $3.3 million last year while playing for the A’s and Red Sox, but will have to compete for a spot as a right-handed bench bat.
Beimel is 35 years old and coming off his worst season since 2004, but he posted a sub-4.00 ERA every year from 2005-2010 and could be useful as a left-handed specialist or middle reliever. Texas has plenty of bullpen depth overall, but not much in the way of veteran southpaws.
Houston made one unexpected change to the roster for the ALDS, leaving off veteran reliever Chad Qualls.
Qualls warmed up but never appeared in the Wild Card game win over the Yankees and during the regular season the 36-year-old right-hander logged 49 innings with a 4.38 ERA and 46/9 K/BB ratio. Qualls was on the Astros’ last playoff team in 2005.
Utility man Jonathan Villar has been bumped off the roster in favor of outfielder Preston Tucker, as the Astros opted for a good left-handed bat off the bench versus the Royals rather than Villar’s speed.
It’s been a tough season for the mythology of Jonny Gomes‘ veteran clubhouse savior reputation.
First he signed with the rebuilding Braves and performed poorly while Atlanta fell apart after a surprisingly decent start. Then he was traded to the Royals, for whom he played just 12 games and hit .167. And now Kansas City has left Gomes off the ALDS roster.
It makes sense, though. Gomes’ only real use to the Royals would be as a pinch-hitter versus left-handed pitching, but manager Ned Yost rarely pinch-hits and will no doubt be more willing to use 25th man Terrance Gore as a pinch-runner in the late innings.
Beyond that, not many surprises on the Royals’ roster for their series against the Astros. They went with 11 pitchers, which means both Chris Young and Kris Medlen are on the roster. Jeremy Guthrie is not.