Call this a deep thought. And it’s even one I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, so it’s a recycled deep thought. But given how the heat around Yasiel Puig is rising, I feel like it’s still timely.
Puig, the Dodgers’ young Cuban import, has been hitting the friggin’ cover off the ball this spring. He’s hitting .527/.509/.855 through 16 Cactus League games this spring, and despite the fact that the Dodgers’ outfield would appear to be set with Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, Puig is still on the big league roster so he may very well break camp with the team.
For a couple of weeks we’ve been hearing comparisons of Puig to other established stars like Vladimir Guerrero and physical beasts like Bo Jackson. Today Buster Olney has a big writeup on him which talks about some of that. There will be more in the coming days.
I also predict a bright future for Puig because he is so damn strong and big and fast and, at this point in his career, defensively versatile. Seeing him rake in the multiple Dodgers games I witnessed in Arizona in late February and early March was easily the highlight of my spring training trip, and the biggest baseball-related takeaway. He was quite impressive. But I also remember seeing him swing at fastballs in his eyes a lot and seeing him do is worst damage late in games against marginal pitching talent or when guys were behind in counts and had runners on base and just needed to get something over.
Which, hey, to be an awesome hitter you have to hit slop too. But I also feel like major league pitching has something pretty harsh in store for him at first. Specifically, lots of stuff out of the strike zone which he has to show he won’t offer at all the time. The kind of stuff you simply don’t see a ton of in spring training, at least not early. Puig may very well have his own adjustments in store too. He may anticipate that no one will give him good stuff to hit, he may exceed expectations and make a giant splash once the bell rings. But I’m a bit skeptical right now.
I’m not hating on him. Just saying that, if Puig is to be a big star, as I feel he could be, it could take a while, that’s all. He’s green.
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.
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.
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.
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.