Tag Archives: Spring Training

Roster Battles: Cruz In, Rosales to Minors, Bush Released

Unless the Pirates make a waiver claim or something changes between now and opening day, Luis Cruz has a spot on the Pirates opening day roster.

…this will be his first time on an Opening Day roster. He made his Major League debut as a September callup last year and impressed with his defensive abilities and versatility.

Diamondbacks reliever, Leo Rosales, was sent to Triple-A today. He had a 3.86 ERA in and nine strikeouts in 11.2 innings over 10 Cactus League games.

The Matt Bush era in Toronto is over before it begins. Hoep the Padres don’t have to give up much for hte PTBNL or cash for that experiment.

“He did have issues when he was with San Diego,” said one Blue Jays official. The Blue Jays would not specify what Bush did to cause his release except to say he ran afoul of the “zero tolerance” terms of his agreement with the American League team.

Wonder who (if anyone) will take a chance on bush now. Josh Hamilton, please reach out to this kid!

If he plays well, David Freese will get a longer look in St. Louis since Troy Glaus will be out longer than originally anticipated.

Finally, yours truly has been quoted in an MLB article containing comments from many overly optimistic Chicago Cubs fans. Enjoy.

Former Wizards I’m Watching Heading into 2009

  • Josh Barfield – Can he make it back? We should see his brother come through Fort Wayne a time or two this summer too.
  • Jack Cassel – Can he make it?
  • David Freese – Out to prove 2008 was no fluke and that he is ready to make the MLB roster. Will the Achilles injury kill his chances at a starting gig?
  • Dale Thayer – He’s made his case. Will start at Triple-A. Is there room for him in the Rays bullpen?
  • Luis Cruz – It’s likely he’ll make the Bucs’ roster. Will he start?
  • Will Venable – An unexpected breakout? Methinks so.
  • Chase Headley – Where’s he gonna play? Will he skyrocket?
  • Kyle Blanks – Will he terrorize triple-A? Will he stay in the Friar’s system? Will he play outfield?
  • George Kottaras – He has the backup job as Boston’s catcher . . . for now.
  • Dirk Hayhurst – From Prospect to Non-Prospect to Major Leaguer to Blue Jays Waiver Wire Claim to Blue Jays release for Matt Bush to Minor League deal. Where does he go from here?
  • David Pauley – Can he win a spot with Baltimore after being traded out of Boston?
  • Nick Hundley – Enters the season as the Padres starting catcher. Sizzle or fizzle?
  • Freddy Guzman Broken bone in hand killed his shot at an Opening Day roster spot in Seattle. Will it kill his shot for the whole season?
  • Michael Cuddyer – The last remaining Twin from the Wizards days as a Minnesota affiliate. Can he return from an injury plagued 2008?
  • Eddie Bonine and Jaun Rincon – Will Detroit give Eddie a place in the rotation and can Rincon win a bullpen gig?
  • Travis Chick – Is it the last shot for this longshot?
  • Jon Link – After a great 2008 in Birmingham, does he stick it out in Triple-A all of 2009 or does he move up to the Majors?
  • Leo Rosales and Luke Carlin – Can these former Wizards win spots with the Diamondbacks?
  • Ray Chang – He was the talk of the early WBC days. Can he make Pittsburgh fans talk as much? I will probably catch him during an Indy roadtrip if he gets assigned to Triple-A.
  • Greg Burke – Heath Bell is the heir to Hoffman as closer in SD. Will Burke be the top set-up man?
  • Kyler Burke – First round draft choice did a disappearing act after being traded to the Cubs for Michael Barret and Fort Wayne native, Rob Bowen. Does he still have a shot to fulfill his promise?
  • Matt LeCroy – Former Wizards and MLB catcher has entered the managing ranks with the Single-A Washington Nationals affiliate, the Hagerstown Suns. Will be fun to follow his progress up the manager ranks a la Randy Ready.
  • Rand Ready – Speaking of Ready, he’s probably on most short lists of managerial candidates for any team who might consider replacing their manager (there’s at least one or two during every season). Will he move up or stay in Portland all season?
  • JJ Furmaniak – He’s back in the mainland in Phillies camp after a year in Japan. Where’s he going to ultimately land to start the season and how will he perform once he gets there?
  • Matt Bush – The oft-injured, highly touted shortstop turned oft-injured, impressive pitcher makes his return from Tommy John surgery. What are the Blue Jays going to do with him?
  • Josh Geer – the fifth spot to join Jake Peavy in the rotation seems to be his to lose. Will his elbow hold up?
  • Cubs Backup 3B Battle: Can Bobby Scales or Luis Rivas win the gig?

And Then There Were Two; Koskie Set to Retire

When Corey Koskie singed with the Cubs not long ago, he became the third former Wizard trying to win the backup thrid base job. His resume might have even given him a slight edge in the competition. However, yesterday, he left Thursday’s game with was was said to be an illness.

That “illness” turned out to be light-headedness and “could be related to the post-concussion symptoms he has battled most of the last two years.”  Reports are now surfacing that Koskie is set to formally retire.

Paul Sullivan, in commenting on the Cubs’ current plans, does not mention either of the other two former wizards, Bobby Scales or Luis Rivas as possible contenters for the role:

At this point, Aaron Miles will assume the role when Mike Fontenot is playing second, and vice versa. Neither has much of a history at third base. Recent pickup Esteban German has played third but is not expected to make the final cut.

Update (3:46PM EST): Koskie Makes it Official

“This is what I love to do — I love being out there, being with the guys, the whole competition,” he said. “There’s no way you can replace it. But at some point you have to look at it realistically and say, ‘Is it really worth sacrificing the rest of your life for a game?'”

Update (9:23PM EST): Koskie’s retirement not a shock

“He’s been through a lot,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Koskie, who played third base for the Twins from 1998-2004. “He took a shot at it. He tried to come back and it just doesn’t feel right. I think it all gets down to quality of life after you finish playing the game, which he realized.”

Related BBIFW Posts:

Spring Training Update from Fort Wayne

Here’s a look at early spring performances from some former Wizards who are in Padres camp this Spring:

  • Kyle Blanks: In 15 games (40 at-bats), he’s hitting .325 with a .429 OBP, 3 home runs and 9 RBIs
  • Will Venable: In 12 games (37 at-bats), he’s hitting .297 with a .333 OBP
  • Drew Macias: In 15 games (36 at-bats), he’s hitting .278 with a  .350 OBP and a home run
  • Chase Headley: In 10 games (30 at-bats), he’s hitting .267 with a .313 OBP, a home run and 8 RBIs
  • Matt Antonelli: In 14 games (25 at-bats), he’s hitting .320 with a .433 OBP
  • Cedric Hunter: In 15 games (22 at-bats), he’s hitting .227 with a .308 OBP
  • Chad Huffman: In 14 games (21 at-bats), he’s hitting .333 with a .517 OBP, 2 home runs and 6 RBIs
  • Nick Hundley: In 8 games (19 at-bats), he’s hitting .316 with a .350 OBP
  • Brett Dowdy:  In 10 games (13 at-bats), he’s hitting .462 with a .500 OBP
  • Mitch Canham: In 10 games (11 at-bats), he’s hitting .273 with a .500 OBP
  • Colt Morton: In 7 games (10 at-bats), he’s hitting .300 with a .417 OBP
  • Greg Burke: In 5 games (5.2 innings pitched), he has a 4.76 ERA with 6 K’s and a walk
  • Mike Ekstron: In 4 games (3.2 innings pitched), he has a 14.73 ERA with 1 K and a walk
  • Cesar Ramos:  In 4 games (5.2 innings pitched), he has a 9.53 ERA with 3 K’3 and 3 walks
  • Nick Schmidt: In 4 games (4 innings pitched), he has an 11.25 ERA with 1 K and 3 walks
  • Josh Geer:  In 3 games (7 innings pitched), he has a 6.43 ERA with 4 K’s and a walks
  • Wade LeBlanc:  In 3 games (6 innings pitched), he has a 10.53 ERA with 6 K’s and 5 walks

In related Wizards and Fort Wayne ties:

Spring Training Report: Estranged Friars

Several former Wizards are now playing in other organizations and many are in spring camps, either seeking a job or putting in their time as incumbants. Here’s a quick look at how some are doing:

Toronto Blue Jays: Dirk Hayhurst, Matt Bush

Hayhurst has started out strong, pitching six innings over five games and giving up no runs on four hits. He has nine strikeouts and have given up no walks. Bush is scheduled to begin pitching in minor league camp.

St. Louis Cardinals: David Freese

Freese was virtually given the third base job but observers (me included) prior to camp starting until word came out that Freese had been injured in an auto accident in January. He was in camp, but held out of action and sent to minor league camp. He recently returned to the big league camp, but displayed obvious favor to his injured Achilles tendon.

Chicago Cubs: Bobby Scales, Luis Rivas, Corey Koskie

Three former Wizards, one spot. And the kicker is that neither might get the gig in light of the Cubs signing of the recently released Esteban German. Scales is hitting .318 in 22 at-bats with seven runs, two hits, two doubles, three walks, and six runs batted in. Scales is also a substitute high school teacher in Georgia during the offseason. Rivas has seen a bit more action and is hitting .250 over 24 at-bats with six hits and two runs a walk and an RBI. Corey Koskie has not yet joined the Cubs in camp, opting to play with Canada in the WBC.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Leo Rosales, Luke Carlin

Carlin signed with the Diamondbacks during the offseason and participated in this year’s WBC. So far this spring, he’s been in five games, collecting five runs on three hits in nine at-bats. Rosales has pitched four total innings over four games. He has given up four hits and three runs while walking one and striking out two. He has a 6.75 earned run average.

 Los Angeles Dodgers: Travis Chick

Travis Chick appeared in 1.2 innings over three games and got pounded before being sent to minors camp. He gave up four hits – two of them home runs – and walked 3 while striking out none.

Cleveland Indians: Jack Cassel, Josh Barfield

Barfield’s story is well documented. He continues to struggle this spring after trying his craft at other positions to add to his chances of returning to the big leagues. In 12 games, he’s had 33 at-bats. In that span, he’s got six hits and one RBI, while drawing one walk and striking out six times. He’s hitting .182 with a .206 OBP. Cassel has struggled a bit as well. In 6.2 innings pitched, he has a 10.20 ERA. Interestingly, Barfield and Cassel were teammates as Wizards in 2002.

Blatimore Orioles: Chad Moeller, David Pauley

The veteran Moeller has had eight at-bats but no hits. He has drawn one walk and scored a run. Pauley, who was traded to the Orioles from the Red Sox during the off-season, has pitched 9.1 innings over four games. He has two wins and eihgt strikeouts, but also sports a gaudey 7.71 earned run average.

Philadelphia Phillies: JJ Furmaniak, Clay Condrey

Furmaniak returns after a year in Japan. On the spring, he’s appeared in six games. He has one hit and one strikeout on six at-bats for a .167 average. Condrey has made three appearances ont he spring and has given up virtually nothing while striking out a hitter or two.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Luis Cruz

Cruz, who made his MLB debut last year, declined an invitation to participate in the WBC so he could focus on battling for a job with the Pirates. On the spring, he has four hits and three RBIs on 19 at-bats in nine games. He has a .211 average and a .250 on-base percentage.

Boston Red Sox: George Kottaras, Paul McAnulty

Both Kottaras and McAnulty have seen a lot of action with the Red Sox this spring. Kottaras is battling for the backup catcher’s gig, while McAnulty is seeking a forth outfielder spot. In eight games, Kottaras has has 11 at-bats where he has collected three hits – including a home run – and drawn a walk. McAnulty is getting a big look, having appeared in 11 games and getting 33 at-bats. He’s hitting .200 with six hits, a home run, 8 RBIs and a walk.

Detroit Tigers: Eddie Bonine

Bonine has looked good in five games with the Tigers. Over eight total innings, (including three scoreless last week) he has a 1.13 ERA and he’s given up just one earned run on four hits and 2 walks. He’s struck out three.

Seattle Mariners: Freddy Guzman

Guzman was in Mariners camp and competing for a job until he broke a bone in his hand. His recovery was first estimated at 4-6 weeks, which puts him a couple weeks away still.

Chicago White Sox: Jon Link

Jon Link has gotten three relief appearances with the White Sox this spring. He has a 3.86 ERA while giving up a run on ffive hits and a walk.

In Other News . . .

  • Former Wizard, Matt Stocco is continuing his baseball career in Italy.
  • BadWax has a bad pic on a bad card of the bad-ass A.J. Pierzynski. To my knowledge, he’s the only former Wizard to give pro wrestling a try.

Note: Stats in this post were pulled at various times between 3/14 and 3/15. Some may be outdated.

Former Wizards Getting Early Spring Work

Many former Fort Wayne Wizards are getting early Spring Training action or have hit the headlines for various teams. Here’s a quick recap:

Luis Cruz (Pirates) sustained a left hip flexor in the first hour of practice today and is expected to miss a week (Pittsburgh Post Gazette).

Leo Rosales (Diamondbacks) earned a save in Arizona’s first Grapefruit League game (Kansas City Star).

David Freese (Cardinals) is experiencing tightness in his Achilles’ tendon, which stems from an injury that occured during a one-car January auto accident. He was on his way to a bowling fundrasier at the time (STLToday).

The incident totaled Freese’s vehicle, which skidded into a ditch and suffered a badly damaged front end. The impact twisted his left foot, which became increasingly sore.

Eddie Bonine’s (Tigers) first pitch of the seventh inning was hit over the right field wall by 22-year-old Jordan Schafer. It put the Braves up 4-3, but Detroit won the game 5-4 (TheLedger.com)

Dale Thayer (Rays) pitched a perfect eight inning against the Yankees (MVN).

Jake Peavy (Padres) pitched an inning and Kyle Blanks (Padres) won it in the tenth with an RBI hit. Chase Headley (Padres) also threw out a runner in the game (MLB.com).

The next day, Chad Huffman (Padres) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the eighth inning to force in a run. Drew Macias (Padres) tied the game in the ninth inning with an RBI double (MLB.com).

Jack Cassel had a rough start to his Indians career, giving up four runs on seven hits in 1 2/3 innings (MLB.com).

Luis Rivas (Cubs) and Bobby Scales (Cubs) are battling for a backup infielder role, presumably as Aramis Ramirez’s bacuck at third. Scales started at third, and Rivas finished. Both played again yesterday.

Padres Non Roster Invitees

Here is a list of non-roster invitees that will be in Padres camp. nearly half of them are former Wizards – noted with an asterisk (*):

Chris Britton
Greg Burke (*)
Matt Buschmann
Kevin Correia
Gabe DeHoyos
Will Inman
Mat Latos (*)
Edwin Moreno
Oneli Perez
Mark Prior
Arturo Lopez
Nick Schmidt (*)

Eliezer Alfonzo
Mitch Canham
Colt Morton (*)

Peter Ciofrone (*)
Chris Burke (*)
Kyle Blanks (*)

Chad Huffman (*)
Cedric Hunter (*)

What’s David Freese’s Chances with Cardinals in 2009?

One storyline I’ll be watching closely in Spring Training and throughout the 2009 is how former Wizard infielder, David Freese, develops and when/if he cracks the St. Louis Cardinals lineup.

He was originally drafted in the ninth round of the 2006 amateur entry draft by San Diego with the 273rd overall pick. He went right to work, hitting .379 with five home runs and 26 runs batted in over 58 at-bats at Eugene before joining the Wizards 53 games in 2006. During that stint, Freese hit .299 with eight home runs and 43 runs batted in and drawing 21 walks in 204 at-bats. The following season, he produced similar numbers over the full season at High-A Lake Elsinore, and even inched his on base percentage up over .400.

Then, in December 2007, the Padres traded Freese to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Jim Edmonds. As Edmonds floundered with the Padres, was released and ultimately put in a solid year with the Chicago Cubs, the Cards put Freese at Triple-A Memphis, where he started turning heads with his outstanding production – especially considering he had never played about A ball before the season began.

In 2008, with the Memphis Redbirds, Freese hit .306 with a .361 OBP. He also clubbed 26 home runs while driving in 91 and walking 39 times over 464 at-bats in 131 games. Not too shabby.

Given that production, the question on many observers’ minds is not whether Freese will play with the parent club in 2009, but it he will be on the Opening Day roster. Obviously, how he performs at Spring Training will have a lot to do with the answer to that, but there are other variables that we must consider. For one, Troy Glaus is already the incumbent third baseman and probably still has a lock on the spot for now – although he is injured and will miss some time to begin the season.

But the second wrinkle is the fact that Freese has some stiff competition. He’s not the only hot prospect at the corner. He’s not even one of two; he’s one of three!

The Cardinals have three third-base prospects in the upper levels of the Minor Leagues: David Freese, Brett Wallace and Allen Craig. They’re all pushing hard, and it’s extremely difficult to envision a 2010 Cardinals club that doesn’t include at least one of them. That’s especially true if it’s the difference between, say, Wallace at the Major League minimum and Glaus at eight figures per year [mlb.com].

Odd are, Freese will get some playing time at another position, maybe first, while the Wallace and Craig may also get tryouts in other spots too. Either way, Glaus’s injury can’t be good news for him with these three breathing down his neck.

In fact, the reason I write this post now is more in response to Glaus’s injury than Freese’s emergence. I think most observers have been quietly monitoring this situation. However, when news of Glaus’s surgery and the fact that he’ll miss 12 weeks came out, Freese’s name started popping up with a much greater frequency than it had been.

A sample of what many are saying shows a mixed opinion on who will get the nod:

  • I think Freese will be a very good MLB third basemen, but he’s not quite my pick. ~ The Bid Dead Sidebar
  • David Freese, 26, might get an extended audition a year early as a result of Glaus’ surgery… ~ OCregister
  • David Freese, who hit well at AAA last season, will be given all the chances to show he can replace Glaus. ~ Reilly Mcshane @ BuzzNewsRoom
  • David Freese has the inside track on the job (for all you, NL-only guys), but top prospect Brett Wallace is the guy to watch ~ Fantasy Ball Junkie
  • David Freese seems like a much better option as he showed great skills in AAA last year with 26 homers, 5 steals and a .306 batting average. ~ Roto Savants

The St. Louis Register seems to be on board with Freese too:

Well, David Freese figures to get the first shot to fill the void. It seems that it’s his turn. Freese isn’t a baby. He’s 26. He’s more mature than other prospects. The Cardinals coveted him when the traded Edmonds to San Diego last winter; they agreed to pay $1 million more of Jimmy Baseball’s salary so they could get Freese instead of another, lesser prospect being dangled by the Padres. And Freese, the hometowner, responded to his move to the Cardinals organization by making the jump from high Class A to Class AAA and batting .306 with 26 homers and 91 RBIs for Memphis. He made only 10 errors at 3B and impressed the Cardinals with his defense. If Freese isn’t given the opportunity to run with this job until Glaus returns, then I must ask: what was the point of the trade?

What more would Mister Freese have to do to earn a shot? If he has an awful spring, then that’s a different matter. But what if he goes to Jupiter and hits well, and fields crisply? He deserves the chance. The Cardinals have made a priority of player development, and they have pitched the concept aggressively to their fan base. If they leave Freese standing on the side now, when there is a clear need for his skill set at the major-league level, then this PR campaign over player development will be exposed for what it is.  Mostly talk. I don’t care where the Cardinals’ farm system is ranked by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus or ESPN. If a player who has put up those kind of numbers in his first AAA season can’t get a shot when the big-league club has an emergency, then the joke is on us.  Which reminds me: I complained at the time, and I will repeat it now: Freese should have been called up to STL last September. The experience would have been valuable to him. Think of the jump-start he would have gotten by playing some games in the bigs late in 2008. Freese has work to do. He must improve his plate discipline and ratchet up his walk rate to have a fighting chance for quick big-league success. I wish him well. 

You might also find this synopsis of one of Freese’s interviews interesting.

What do you think? Will Freese break the starting lineup out of Spring Training? Comment on this post!