Matthew Pouliot

Delmon Young

The price was right for Delmon Young

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Knowing just how bad defensively Delmon Young is, it’s impossible to wholly endorse the Phillies’ signing today. Still, at some point, he was worth a try. And a one-year, $750,000 deal with $2.75 million in incentives reaches that point.

Of course, Young has now played six full seasons and performed as a quality regular in just one of them. That was 2010, when he hit .298/.333/.493 with 21 homers and 112 RBI for the Twins. For his career, he’s a pedestrian .284/.317/.425 hitter, which, combined with some of the league’s worst outfield defense, has made him a well below average player.

Young, though, does have some offensive upside. And maybe he’ll finally get a clue at the plate now that all 30 teams have essentially agreed he’s one step up from worthless as is. Young is a lifetime .351 hitter when ahead in the count. If he ever learns a little patience at the plate, he’d be dangerous.

And even if he doesn’t, Young will bring a career .336/.356/.488 line in 342 at-bats against National League pitchers with him to Philadelphia. Small sample size that it is, it can hardly be taken as a bad sign.

Given Young’s low base salary and playing-time-related incentives, there will be ample reason to cut him if he struggles early. Still, he’s likely to get at least a month or two in right field before any decisions are made. The addition means John Mayberry Jr., Domonic Brown, Darin Ruf and Laynce Nix will all battle for time in left.

Mike Napoli reveals hip condition: avascular necrosis

mike napoli getty
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That Mike Napoli ended up accepting a one-year, $5 million guarantee from the Red Sox after originally agreeing to a three-year, $39 million contract suggested that something pretty bad was going on with his hip. The details came out today, courtesy of Napoli’s agent: Napoli was diagnosed with avascular necrosis in both of his hips.

Avascular necrosis is pretty much what it sounds like: the death of bone due to a lack of blood supply. According to Wikipedia, it’s most common in the hip, though it can also take place at the shoulder, knee and other joints.

The 31-year-old Napoli has experienced no symptoms as a result of the condition. According to his agent, it was caught at the very early stages, having been revealed in the Red Sox’s original physical. While people with avascular necrosis of the hip often end up needing a total hip replacement, that appears to be many years off in this case, if it ever proves necessary at all.

Bo Jackson’s is the most famous case of avascular necrosis, with his developing after he injured his hip in an NFL game. He later returned to baseball and the major leagues, but he was never the same kind of athlete.

Brett Favre was also diagnosed with avascular necrosis of the hip in 1992. He never required surgery and did OK for himself playing football for a couple of decades.

The Red Sox are planning on Napoli being their everyday first baseman this season after finalizing the contract. Playing the position should definitely be easier on his body than catching. Napoli said he’s on medication to help stave off any symptoms and that he’s really excited for the season to start up.

Scott Boras is trying to drum up interest in Jose Valverde

Jose Valverde
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Now that he’s found a taker for Rafael Soriano on a heavily deferred deal, Scott Boras is trying to get teams interested in ex-Tigers closer Jose Valverde.

Valverde, 34, was 49-for-49 saving games for the Tigers in 2011 and 35-for-40 last season, but the postseason meltdown that saw him give up nine runs in 2 2/3 innings, combined with some declining peripherals from the regular season, has scared away seemingly every team this winter.

Boras knows he can’t use words to sweep away Valverde’s October struggles, but he does cite workload and fatigue as a possible reason for the sudden swoon. Counting the postseason, Valverde appeared in 81 games in 2011 and 75 last season.

“Closers normally have anywhere from 58 to 62 appearances and Valverde’s just had two years where he was used a lot,” Boras told George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press. “It was a very unusual year this year, because he had so many non-save situations. He had like 31 of them, which normally they only have 17 or 18. So, it was a very unusual year.”

Those non-save situations are another thing working against Valverde this winter. He has a history  of struggling without a save on the line, so contenders aren’t looking at him as a potential setup man.

Realistically, Valverde is going to have to settle for a cheap one-year deal with a chance to rebuild his value. If he’s willing to sign for $2 million or so, then maybe the Mets, Astros, Marlins or Twins could give him the chance to close. There’s certainly no reason to give him anything more than that, not with Brian Wilson, Francisco Rodriguez, Matt Capps, Jon Rauch and Francisco Cordero all sitting around waiting for phone calls, too.

Reports: Shortstop Alexander Guerrero defects from Cuba

Alexander Guerrero
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Rafael Rofes Perez writes on his blog, Pasaje Deportivo, that rumors in Cuba have placed former Las Tunas shortstop Alexander Guerrero in the Dominican Republic.

LaOpinionDeportiva.com makes the same claim.

Guerrero, 26, was sitting out the Cuban baseball season, saying he lacked the motivation to play. He expressed disappointment over not being selected for a spot on Cuba’s World Baseball Classic roster.

Guerrero has been one of Cuba’s best players the last few years, hitting .338/.408/.641 in 2009, .343/.414/.583 in 2010 and .310/.400/.599 in 2011. Between the three seasons, he delivered 60 homers in 886 at-bats. One imagines that if the reports are true and he eventually becomes a free agent, he could take over as a starting shortstop or second baseman for an MLB team in short order.

Report: Rockies sign Chris Volstad to minor league contract

Chris Volstad
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The Denver Post’s Troy Renck reports that the Rockies have signed former first-round pick Chris Volstad to a minor league deal that will net him $1.5 million if he makes the team.

It has to be a disappointing outcome for the 26-year-old Volstad, who was originally acquired by the Royals this winter, only to be let go after the team found superior options elsewhere. While he does have a better chance of getting a rotation spot in Colorado than he would anywhere else, he doesn’t even land a major league contract here and he faces an uphill climb trying to rebuild his value in Coors Field.

Volstad debuted with the 2.88 ERA in 84 1/3 innings with the Marlins as a 21-year-old in 2008, but he’s been a disappointment ever since. Only in 2010, when he went 12-9 with a 4.58 ERA, was he close to being an average big-league starter. He went 5-13 with a 4.89 ERA in his last year with the Marlins in 2011 and 3-12 with a 6.31 ERA for the Cubs last season.

The Rockies are currently planning to go with Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa, Juan Nicasio and Jeff Francis as their top four starters, leaving Volstad, Drew Pomeranz, Christian Friedrich and Tyler Chatwood to battle for the fifth spot. According to Renck, the Rockies are still hoping to add one more veteran to the mix.