Miguel Cabrera

The best and worst from MLB lineups in 2013

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This is a quick look at the very best and worst each major league lineup spot has to offer this year. Posted along with each line is the player most responsible. We’ll start out with the good before moving on to the bad.

1. Reds: .292/.442/.517, 9 HR, 37 R, 20 RBI, 5 SB (Shin-Soo Choo)
2. Brewers: .348/.394/.572, 9 HR, 33 R, 23 RBI, 14 SB (Jean Segura)
3. Tigers: .385/.460/.690, 14 HR, 39 R, 55 RBI, 1 SB (Miguel Cabrera)
4. Rockies: .346/.396/.622, 12 HR, 32 R, 50 RBI, 3 SB (Troy Tulowitzki)
5. Orioles: .314/.397/.686, 16 HR, 31 R, 45 RBI, 0 SB (Chris Davis)
6. Mets: .247/.361/.494, 10 HR, 23 R, 20 RBI, 1 SB (Lucas Duda)
7. Rangers: .274/.346/.500, 10 HR, 25 R, 18 RBI, 1 SB (A.J. Pierzynski)
8. Braves: .321/.384/.497, 6 HR, 16 R, 27 RBI, 2 SB (Ramiro Pena)
9. Tigers: .291/.315/.451, 4 HR, 26 R, 23 RBI, 1 SB (Omar Infante)

– I decided to go strictly by OPS here. Taking ballparks into account, Rays cleanup hitters (Evan Longoria) have been better than Colorado’s.

– The Rangers’ 7 hole is a true group effort. One might guess that Mitch Moreland was most responsible, but he’s actually struggled in his seven starts there, posting a .579 OPS. Jeff Baker has an 1.134 OPS in 17 AB there, Pierzynski is at 1.053 in 33 AB, Geovany Soto is at .845 in 31 AB and David Murphy has a .794 OPS in 56 AB.

– Incredibly, Braves No. 8 hitters have been better than any other team’s No. 6 or No. 7 hitters. And they’ve managed an .881 OPS while the Braves’ No. 1 and No. 2 hitters have come in at .665 and .551, respectively. Again, it’s been a group effort: six different players have put in at least five starts there.

Here’s are the worsts of the bunch:

1. Twins: .200/.242/.246, 1 HR, 24 R, 12 RBI, 4 SB (Aaron Hicks)
2. Marlins: .225/.267/.272, 1 HR, 15 R, 9 RBI, 4 SB (Placido Polanco)
3. Athletics: .204/.293/.342, 6 HR, 27 R, 26 RBI, 3 SB (Josh Reddick)
4. Mets: .192/.255/.337, 6 HR, 19 R, 20 RBI, 0 SB (Ike Davis)
5. Twins: .198/.271/.281, 1 HR, 17 R, 16 RBI, 1 SB (Ryan Doumit)
6. Rays: .199/.283/.313, 4 HR, 15 R, 22 RBI, 1 SB (Yunel Escobar)
7. Dodgers: .163/.246/.213, 1 HR, 11 R, 15 RBI, 1 SB (Luis Cruz)
8. Mets: .177/.233/.280, 3 HR, 14 R, 19 RBI, 1 SB (Ruben Tejada)
9. Mariners: .168/.235/.206, 1 HR, 10 R, 11 RBI, 3 SB (Brendan Ryan)

– I excluded NL teams from the No. 9 spot. The Mariners are actually 23rd in the majors, so eight NL teams are beating them in OPS from the nine hole. The Phillies (.571) and Cubs (.567) are tops there among NL teams, and those two are also beating the White Sox and Orioles from the AL. The Pirates are the true No. 30 team for OPS from the ninth spot; they’re hitting .113/.173/.127.

– Braves No. 2 hitters are batting just .171, but at least that’s come with 12 extra-base hits and 20 walks, giving them 11 points of OPS on the Marlins. Astros, White Sox and Nationals No. 2 hitters have all been similarly dreadful, with OPSs in the mid-500s.

– Of course, the Marlins are near the bottom in a lot of spots here. Only from the sixth hole, where Rob Brantly has been pretty good, do they even rate average. They’re getting sub-.600 OPS from the first, second, fifth, seventh and ninth spots in the order.

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.