Spring Training camps are up and running, but there are still offseason moves being made. Below is the only spot that needs clarity for the Nationals, as well as other players hoping to break onto the team.
Left Handed Specialist: Bill Bray (0-0, 5.19 ERA, 2.31 WHIP) vs Will Ohman (0-2, 6.41 ERA, 1.05 WHIP)
Luckily, the biggest question in the bullpen is the second lefty. Zach Duke is already the long man, so Bill Bray and Will Ohman will have to battle for the second spot. Both have significant major league experience, but both struggled last year. Bray made 19 appearances for the Nationals in 2006 as a rookie, going 1-1 with a 3.91 ERA. He has since pitched for Cincinnati, and has done fine, holding a career ERA of 3.74. As recently as 2011, he was 5-3 with a 2.98 ERA in 79 appearances, but in 2012, he pitched in only 14 games, battling through back and hip issues to a 5.19 ERA. He says he is healthy and ready to regain his old form. Ohman, who is almost six years his elder, has made 483 major league appearances. He has always been great at getting lefties out, but he battled through 32 appearances last year to a 6.41 ERA. I would prefer Bray over Ohman, but the two do need a chance in Spring Training to match up.
Other layers hoping to make impressions: Chris Marrero (1B), Micah Owings (1B), Will Rhymes (2B), Carlos Rivero (3B), Corey Brown (OF), Eury Perez (OF), Chris Snyder (C), Ross Ohlendorf (RHP), Yunesky Maya (RHP), Chris Young (RHP), Ryan Perry (RHP), Henry Rodriguez (RHP), Jeremy Accardo (RHP), Fernando Abad (LHP).
In the first official Spring Training game, the Tigers beat the Braves 2-0 behind an RBI triple from Jeff Kobernus.
In the Nats' first official Spring Training game, they lost to the Mets 5-3 on a Ruben Tejada home run. Chris Snydre homered for the Nats.
Broadcaster Joe Garagiola retired after 57 years of work.
Free Agent Signings
Nationals signed Chris Young (4-9, 4.15 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 2013 age: 34) to a minor league deal.
Marlins signed Casey Kotchman (12 HR, 55 RBI, .229 AVG, 3 SB, 2013 age: 30) to a minor league deal.
Twins signed Rafael Perez (1-0, 3.52 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 2013 age: 31) to a minor league deal.
The Chris Young signing gives the Nationals more depth in the rotation. With Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Ross Detwiler, and Dan Haren scheduled to be the starting five, Young most likely won't make the rotation if everyone is healthy. However, behind Haren, the Nationals have very few players that could be "spot starters", who rush to make a start when a pitcher goes down injured. Last year, this was John Lannan. Before signing Young, candidates to be spot starters were Christian Garcia, Yunesky Maya, Tanner Roark, Ross Ohlendorf, Zach Duke, and Ryan Perry. While that is a lot of names, none really stand out. Garcia is a 27 year old reliever, Maya has never accumulated his talent, Roark has less than 150 innings above AA, Ohlendorf posted a 7.77 ERA for the Padres last year, Duke is the long reliever, and Perry has made just 13 minor league starts, all at AA. Chris Young brings experience to the role. Over his nine year major league career, he is 53-43 with a 3.79 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. Standing 6'10", Young is the second tallest player in Nationals history, behind only Jon Rauch, who is 6'11" (and tied with Randy Johnson if you include the Expos). His best season came in 2006, when he was 11-5 with a 3.46 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP for the Padres. He was also great in 2007, when he went 9-8 with a 3.12 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 30 starts. Injuries limited him to eight starts from 2010-2011, but he still went 3-0 with a 1.43 ERA in 44 innings of work. Last year, in 20 starts for the Mets, he was 4-9 with a 4.15 ERA. Over his career, he has been recognize for his ability to keep opponents' batting averages low. In '06 and '07, he led the National League in batting average against back to back times at .206 and .192, respectively. Over that two year period where he made eight starts, opponents hit just .145. For his career, he holds a .225 BAA.
Cubs traded Tony Campana (0 HR, 5 RBI, .264 AVG, 30 SB, 2013 age: 26) to the Diamondbacks for minor leaguers Erick Leal (6-2, 2.44 ERA, 0.99 WHIP at DSL, 2013 age: 18) and Jesus Castillo (2-4, 5.40 ERA, 1.59 WHIP at DSL, 2013 age: 17).
Mariners traded Mike Carp (5 HR, 20 RBI, .213 AVG, 1 SB, 2013 age: 26-27) to the Red Sox for a player to be named later.
The Diamondbacks acquired something they've been missing: pure speed. Tony Campana offers that. The 5'8", 165 pound lefty is 54/59 (91.5%) on stolen base attempts in his career, having been caught just five times. In 95 games in 2011, his rookie year, he stole 24 bases. Last year, he came back and stole 30 bases in 89 games. His offensive numbers aren't there, however, as he has just ten extra-base hits (nine doubles, one home run), 11 RBI, and a .262 average in 184 major league games.
On the flip side, Chicago got two teenage arms. Erick Leal, who turns 18 on St. Patrick's Day, had a great DSL season in his 17 year old year. In 14 games (12 starts), he was 6-2 with a 2.44 ERA, striking out 70 batters in 70 innings. Opponents also hit .221 off of him. It is likely that he will start in the Arizona League in 2013. Jesus Castillo, who is one of four Jesus Castillos in the minors, is slightly younger, and will not turn 18 until August. Last year, pitching the whole season at 16 years old, he was 2-4 with a 5.40 ERA in 14 games (eight starts).
Teams followed in this update: Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Colorado Rockies
If your team is not included, please leave a comment.
HR: home runs. RBI: runs batted in. AVG: batting average. SB: stolen bases. ERA: earned run average. WHIP: walks/hits per innings pitched. K's: strikeouts. WPCT: winning percentage