Day: May 16, 2014

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees

Orioles sign Heath Bell to a minor league deal


Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Orioles have signed reliever Heath Bell to a minor league deal, and MASN’s Roch Kubatko confirms the deal. Yesterday, D.J. Short mentioned that the Orioles were one of the four teams expected to land the right-hander.

Bell, 36, was released by the Rays on Sunday, about a week after he had allowed three runs in an inning of work against the Yankees. Bell had struggled for them all season long, however, posting a 7.27 ERA with a 12/8 K/BB ratio in 17 1/3 innings.

The Orioles have had some issues at the back of the bullpen, as closer Tommy Hunter has a 6.60 ERA and three blown saves despite leading the league in converted saves with 11.

Rays sign Jayson Nix to a minor league deal

Philadelphia Phillies v Toronto Blue Jays
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Jayson Nix is back with the Rays. The Rays traded the utilityman to the Phillies at the end of March for cash considerations, and the Phillies put him to use, playing him at second base, third base, and shortstop. However, he posted a meager .445 OPS in 43 plate appearances and the Phillies outrighted him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Monday. Rather than accept the assignment, Nix elected free agency.

Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Rays have signed Nix to a minor league deal with an opt-out date of July 15. Nix, 31, will report to Triple-A Durham. With Ben Zobrist sidelined with a dislocated thumb, Nix will serve as infield depth behind Logan Forsythe, Sean Rodriguez, and Cole Figueroa.

Is Coors Field creating a competitive disadvantage for the Rockies?

Coors Field

A writer at Purple Row, SB Nation’s Rockies blog, by the name of “RhodeIslandRoxFan” penned a very thought-provoking column yesterday in which he hypothesizes that either the Sabermetric stat wRC+ is flawed when it comes to accounting for the effect of Coors Field, or that the Rockies’ home park is responsible for a very noticeable competitive disadvantage.

For those not familiar, wRC+, or weighted runs created, is a Sabermetric statistic found at FanGraphs. The plus sign, similar to OPS+, indicates that the stat has been normalized such that 100 is average. wRC+ takes the various contributions a player makes — hitting singles, doubles, triples, and home runs; stealing bases; drawing walks — and converts it into one single statistic telling you how many runs a player contributed to his team’s offense.

RhodeIslandRoxFan illustrates the disparity between the Rockies’ home and road wRC+ dating back to 2002, both when FanGraphs’ data begins and when the Rockies introduced the humidor. On average, the Rockies have posted a 99 wRC+ at home and 82 on the road. The 17-point difference is staggering, as the next-biggest gap is nine points, posted by the Diamondbacks, Cardinals, Braves, and Pirates.

While it is tempting to believe that the stat is not accounting for Coors Field properly, RIRF shows that the Rockies’ home wRC+ doesn’t differ terribly from the league average at home on a season-by-season basis. However, the Rockies’ road wRC+ does vary from the league average on the road. RIRF concludes:

The road numbers on the other hand tend to support the idea that the Rockies are operating at a competitive disadvantage to all the other teams in baseball. Like a drug addict not being able to function when they come off a high without a fix, Rockies’ hitters don’t seem to be able to function properly when they come off the high of hitting at Coors Field.

Of course, this is one study and isn’t by any means conclusive and exhaustive, but the author makes a very compelling argument. If you enjoy well-reasoned analysis, check out the full article.

Reds activate Devin Mesoraco from DL, designate Jeff Francis for assignment

San Diego Padres v Cincinnati Reds - Game Two
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C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the Reds have activated catcher Devin Mesoraco from the 15-day disabled list and designated pitcher Jeff Francis for assignment. Nick Christiani, the 26th man added to the roster for Thursday’s double-header against the Padres, was demoted back to Triple-A Louisville.

Mesoraco went on the disabled list on April 26 with a strained left hamstring. It was a big blow for the Reds as Mesoraco started the season on fire, slashing .468/.509/.787 in his first 53 plate appearances. He made three rehab starts with Louisville, logging two singles and a home run in ten plate appearances. Mesoraco is in Friday night’s starting lineup against the Phillies. Brayan Pena, who had been catching in Mesoraco’s absence, will start at first base in place of the injured Joey Votto.

Francis was called up to pitch the second half of Thursday’s double-header. The 33-year-old lefty, now a ten-year major league veteran, allowed three runs on five hits and no walks while striking out four over four innings. Francis had been pitching well with Louisville beforehand, posting a 3.33 ERA with a 45/12 K/BB ratio in 48 2/3 innings.

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Good news for the Reds: Joey Votto has a quadriceps injury, not a knee injury

Division Series - San Francisco Giants v Cincinnati Reds - Game Five

UPDATE: Reds fans can exhale now. Mark Sheldon of reports that an MRI exam showed merely a strained left quadriceps for Votto and for now at least he’s avoided the disabled list. That could sideline him for a while, but it’s obviously much better than the assumed bad news from this morning regarding his left knee.


Ken Rosenthal of reports that Reds first baseman Joey Votto is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on his left knee and is likely to be placed on the disabled list.

That’s the same knee Votto had surgery on in 2012, costing him two months of action, and according to Rosenthal the former MVP is not traveling with the Reds on their current road trip.

Votto was off to a relatively slow start, hitting .257 with six homers in 39 games, but he leads the league with 33 walks and has posted a .410 on-base percentage and .859 OPS.

Votto would join Mat Latos, Tony Cingrani, Jay Bruce, and Devin Mesoraco on the Reds’ disabled list and Cincinnati just got closer Aroldis Chapman back after he missed the first six weeks with facial fractures. All of which helps explain why the Reds are 18-21 after back-to-back 90-win seasons.

Neftali Soto could get an extended opportunity filling in for Votto at first base, but the 25-year-old former third-round draft pick has an underwhelming track record in the minors that includes a modest .410 slugging percentage in 244 games at Triple-A. A shocking number of Reds fans like to complain about Votto’s lack of power and RBIs, but he’s what makes that lineup click and replacing his incredible on-base skills is impossible.