Author: Matthew Pouliot

Mike Trout

Mike Trout is unanimous AL Rookie of the Year winner


There’s plenty of room for debate when it comes to this year’s BBWAA awards, but there was one certainly; despite an historically awesome crop of competitors, Mike Trout would win American League Rookie of the Year honors in a landslide.

The official announcement came Monday, with Trout claiming the top spot on all 28 ballots. Yoenis Cespedes finished second, followed by Yu Darvish in third.

Left out of the mix were pitchers Jarrod Parker (13-8, 3.47  ERA), Wei-Yin Chen (12-11, 4.02 ERA), Tommy Milone (13-10, 3.74 ERA), Ryan Cook 2.09 ERA, 14 Sv), Matt Moore (11-11, 3.81 ERA) and Scott Diamond (12-9, 3.54 ERA), all of whom would have strong threats to finish in the top three most years.

Trout hit .326/.399/.564 with 30 homers and 83 RBI last season despite spending most of the first month in the minors. He finished second in the AL to Miguel Cabrera in both average and OPS. He led the league with 129 runs scored and 49 steals.

It would have been a much more intriguing vote had MLB not restored Trout’s rookie eligibility after it was originally ruled to have expired. Trout spent 38 non-September days on the Angels’ active roster in 2011, which is under the 45-day limit for rookies, but he was credited with an extra 17 days of service time because of a quick recall from the minors following a demotion. MLB correctly decided that the extra service time, while officially part of his record, shouldn’t count against his rookie status.

Next up for Trout is a likely second-place finish to Cabrera in the AL MVP balloting. That announcement got a whole lot more interesting today with the news that the BBWAA will be releasing the individual ballots for each award.


Update: The BBWAA has released the ballots.

Cody Ross would be a waste of money for Orioles

Cody Ross

Based on the strength of a .267/.326/.481 campaign with Boston, free agent Cody Ross is seeking a three-year deal worth at least $6 million and maybe as much as $8 million per season. Word is that the Orioles are one of the teams pursuing him.

They shouldn’t be.

In Nolan Reimold, the Orioles have a right-handed-hitting outfielder with a career line of .261/.338/.455 in 808 major league at-bats.

Ross, the older of the two by nearly three years, has a .262/.324/.460 line in 2,912 at-bats. And he’ll probably make at least five times as much as Reimold next year.

The only reason for the Orioles to consider Ross is if they don’t think Reimold can come back from last year’s neck surgery to fuse together two vertebrae. Reimold, though, has resumed working out and is expected to be ready to go in spring training. If Reimold is back at 100 percent, then Ross isn’t any kind of upgrade for Baltimore. He’d probably be a downgrade.

By signing Ross, the Orioles would simply be paying for certainty. And it’s not worth it, particularly not with a $20 million price tag. Ross isn’t any sort of star. He hammers left-handers, but he’ll probably revert to being below average against right-handers outside of Fenway Park next season (Ross hit .298/.356/.565 in Boston last season and .232/.294/.390 everywhere else). He’s a career .253/.312/.415 hitter against righties.

When it comes to left field, the Orioles either need to go big or stay home. It’s worth weighing the pros and cons of Josh Hamilton and maybe seeing if they have the right pieces to intrigue the Diamondbacks on a Justin Upton trade. But unless they can get a star, they should stick with Reimold and maybe re-sign Nate McLouth as a fallback. If that doesn’t work out, they can trade for another solution come June or July. But even in the worst case, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which they’re going to be really disappointed about missing out on Cody Ross.

Report: The Mets truly are flat broke this time

Mayor Bloomberg Makes Announcement With MLB Commissioner Bud Selig And Mets Owner CEO Fred Wilpon

That’s what Michael Salfino, a writer for the Wall Street Journal and Yahoo! Sports has to say:

As Salfino admits, he’s a writer, not a news-breaker. Still, while it’s entirely possible his source is incorrect, this isn’t a case of a writer making something up for publicity.

That said, I still wouldn’t buy the idea that a David Wright extension can’t happen because the Mets have no money. An extension wouldn’t up Wright’s 2013 salary, and having Wright in the fold would likely make the team more attractive to a buyer should the Wilpons be forced to sell.

But let’s assume the report is true. How stubborn must the Wilpons be? The fans want them gone and they could pretty much solve their personal financial problems by selling, yet they’ve been entirely content to drag the team down with them.

Update: Salfino has since deleted the above tweets, though he didn’t disavow the contents of them. Judging by his followup tweets, he put his status as a Wall Street Journal freelancer in jeopardy with his attempt to break some news.

Rays should trade James Shields to fill holes

James Shields

That the Rays will trade a starter this winter seems like a given. With David Price, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, Jeff Niemann and Chris Archer all under contract, the Rays possess both quality and quantity in the rotation.

What they don’t have are bats and a lot of money, so with holes at first base, catcher, one middle infield spot and one outfield spot, dealing a starter for a hitter or two makes all of the sense in the world.

In terms of return, Moore and Price undoubtedly have the most trade value in the group, with Hellickson not too far behind. That’s why it might be tempting to deal from that trio.

Shields, though, has plenty of value himself. His two club options call for him about $24 million the next two years. That’s pretty expensive for the Rays — in fact, his $10.25 million salary in 2013 will be the highest in club history — but it’s palatable compared to what inferior free agents will command this winter. If Shields were a free agent, he’d probably be in line for $16 million-$18 million per year in a five-year deal.

And I just don’t trust Shields to keep this up. He’s been one of baseball’s best starters the last two years, but he’s also thrown 477 innings between those two seasons. He’s reached 215 innings five of the last six years, missing only when he finished at 203 in 2010.

That durability has given him a ton of value in Tampa Bay, but he’s on the wrong side of 30 now. Dan Haren had a very similar streak to Shields from ages 25-30 before suddenly taking a dive last season. It was probably different back in the 1970s, but in the last 30 years, the list of the pitchers who have been most durable before age 30 doesn’t match up very well with the list of pitchers durable after age 30.

There’s talk about the Rays perhaps dealing Hellickson to Arizona for Justin Upton, and I don’t think that’d be a bad idea at all. But if they’re looking at lesser names to fill the gaps, they might as well save as much money as they can in the process. They still have Price for three more years, and while he’s going to get expensive in a hurry — he could command more than Shields in 2014 — he’ll still have plenty of trade value in a year or two if they want to go that route. Hellickson is four years away from free agency.

If the Rays trade Shields for a young regular, they’ll suddenly free up $10 million they can spend on one of the other holes. It’d be like trading for an extra player. Shields might bring back a Josh Reddick from Oakland, a Travis d’Arnaud from Toronto or a Wil Myers from Kansas City.  Then the Rays could use the salary to sign Mike Napoli to play first and catch or Stephen Drew to start at short. They’d have plenty of options.

David Ross addition gives Red Sox plenty of flexibility

Jarrod Saltalamacchia

The Red Sox are likely keeping an open mind about trading Jarrod Saltalamacchia, their strikeout-prone starting catcher, after adding David Ross on a two-year, $6.2 million contract Saturday.

Ross was briefly a member of the Red Sox back in 2008, going 1-for-8 for the club. He finished that season with Boston after the Reds cut him — Dusty Baker preferred Paul Bako. Paul Bako! — and then opened his four-year tenure with the Braves in 2009.

Ross, who has never started more than 98 games in his career, isn’t likely to become a starting catcher at age 36, but he’ll be a productive part of a job-sharing situation, perhaps in tandem with Saltalamacchia.

And Salty, for what it’s worth, does pair up better with Ross than Boston’s other catching option, Ryan Lavarnway. Saltalamacchia, a switch-hitter, has a career .591 OPS against lefties, compared to a .774 mark against righties. A platoon could work swimmingly for Boston.

Still, if the Red Sox have doubts about Saltalamacchia’s long-term role, it’d be a good idea to trade him and get something in return before he becomes a free agent next winter.  At 27 and still potentially on the upswing of his career, Salty could be considered more attractive to catcher-needy teams than free agents Russell Martin and A.J. Pierzynski. Mike Napoli is out there, too, but it doesn’t look like he’s being viewed as a full-time catcher.

So, the Red Sox have three ways they could play this:

1. Commit to Salty, perhaps signing him to a three-year extension in the $20 million range, and go with a Salty-Ross platoon. Lavarnway would become trade bait in that scenario, though it’s unlikely that he’d fetch as much as Salty.

2. Trade Salty and have Ross and Lavarnway split time. It’d likely be a step back for 2013. Lavarnway is never going to be a great defensive catcher, and he also failed to impress offensively last season, hitting .157/.211/.248 in 153 at-bats. On the other hand, he’s 25 and worthy of a shot, given the way that he has improved defensively.

3. Trade Salty and sign Napoli to create a three-headed, catching-first base monster. The Red Sox need a first baseman anyway. Sign Napoli with the idea that he’ll catch once a week initially and then enhance his role back there if Lavarnway doesn’t work out. Having a flexible first base situation would be nice anyway, since it’d allow David Ortiz to play there in interleague games in NL parks.

I imagine they’ll at least investigate possibility No. 3. It’s too early to make any sort of definitive call, but it doesn’t look like the market for Napoli will be all that strong, and since the Rangers didn’t tender him a $13.3 million offer, he wouldn’t cost the Red Sox a draft pick.