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Cleveland Indians Sign Jason Giambi to Minor League Contract

It’s been a busy offseason for the Cleveland Indians, and even with spring training coming up fast, it seems general manager Chris Antonetti has no intentions of slowing down.

The newest move: signing Jason Giambi.

It was reported Saturday night on the Cleveland Indian’s Twitter account that the team has agreed to sign first baseman/DH Jason Giambi to a minor league deal, with an invite to spring training:

As’s Dan Plesac reported, Giambi’s deal would pay him $750,000 if he makes the team’s major league roster:

Giambi heads to the Tribe with a career 429 home runs and 1,405 RBI. His .926 career OPS ranks 46th all time. This will be his 19th major league season.

The slugger has had major drop-offs in production since 2008, his last season with the New York Yankees in which he hit 32 home runs.

Over the last four seasons, Giambi has split time between the Oakland Athletics and Colorado Rockies. In that time, he’s served predominately as a pinch-hitter or bench player.

In those same four years, he’s averaging less than 80 games and 10 home runs a season.

If Giambi does make the team, he’ll mostly likely become a DH candidate. As it stands, the Indians are lacking any serious contenders outside of Matt LaPorta and prospect Chris McGuiness.

At 42 years old, Giambi would instantly become the oldest member of the 2013 Indians roster. The next closest would be Nick Swisher and Brett Myers, both of whom are 32 years old.

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5 Reasons Ned Yost Is the Manager to Lead the KC Royals to a Winning Season

Since becoming manager, all Ned Yost has done is make the Kansas City Royals better. Whether it’s through certain players, the bullpen or just winning more games, they’ve continuously improved.

In 2012, the Royals found themselves with their best finish in years, sitting pretty at third in the American League Central.

With the future possibly on the line, do the Royals stick with Yost or find someone more suited to take this team to the top?

Trust me on this one: The answer is Yost.

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Boston Red Sox: 5 Third Basemen They Should Aim to Pick Up off Waivers

It’s just been that kind of year.

Nothing has gone right for the Boston Red Sox. Their lone bright spot, rookie Will Middlebrooks, hit .288/.325/.509 with 15 home runs before breaking his wrist. While he’s only been placed on the 15-day DL, there’s a very good chance he misses the rest of the season.

Boston is now in a delicate situation. The Sox need a third baseman, but need to avoid any options that will make the roster too rigid in the future.

Here are a few waiver wire options Boston can explore before the final trade deadline.

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5 Reasons to Still Care About Fantasy Baseball at This Point in the Season

It’s mid-August. You’re in, or near, the bottom of the barrel. Your playoff hopes are completely toast. You just don’t care.

Well, start caring.

Fantasy sports are a thing of pride. But at some point, it becomes too easy to give up—especially this late in the game with your team completely blocked from glory.

Still, it’s never too late to build for next year. Never too late to get in one last victory—no matter how small or pointless it may be.

Believe it or not, there are reasons to be paying attention to fantasy baseball this late in the season.

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Fantasy Baseball 2012: 15 Superstars to Trade for at a Discount

Every year the fantasy draft comes and goes. And, no matter how well you prepare, chances are things aren’t going to go 100 percent the way you hoped.

Things like that are fine when you can fix them with free agency pickups or easy trades.

But what about difficult trades? Such as those for superstars and fantasy studs?

The following is a list of 15 stellar options for fantasy baseball trades. Each of these players has a factor that can be exploited to give you an easy trade, possibly even a trade at a premium.

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MLB Futures Part IV: American League Central: Kansas City Royals

This is the fourth piece in this series. So far, we’ve covered the New York Yankees (5), Seattle Mariners (4) and Boston Red Sox (3). Those earlier pieces can be found on my profile here.

Last season, after some huge trades, the Kansas City Royals entered the 2011 season with a fully loaded arsenal of prospects. Hands down, they had the best farm team in baseball.

Though some players have made their way into the majors, the Royals retain deep pockets of talent. Of all the teams previously covered, their future is the most risky. It is the most reliant on prospects, meaning things could turn out really well, or go down in flames.

I’m banking on the former.   


C- Salvador Perez
1B- Eric Hosmer
2B- Johnny Giavotella
SS- Alcides Escobar
3B- Mike Moustakas
LF- Alex Gordon
CF- Lorenzo Cain
RF- Will Myers
DH- Billy Butler


1. Mike Montgomery
2. Aaron Crow
3. Danny Duffy
4. Jake Odorizzi
5. John Lamb

Closer- Joakim Soria 



The first thing that sticks out to me is the lineup. Hands down, it is stacked. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas have the upside to become the best 3-4 in baseball. But, things don’t end there.

That whole offensive scheme is deep in talent and powerful bats. Already proving their worth are Billy Butler, Alex Gordon and Alcides Escobar. Butler and Gordon possess advanced hit tools. Escobar carries a weak bat, but his speed and golden glove makes up for that.

Then there are the unproven. Cain and Giavotella are potential 5-tool players. There’s Salvador Perez who is one of the most underrated young catchers in the game.

Besides Myers, every player in that lineup has experience at the major league level. That means this offense could be in full swing mid-2012. Already, the pieces are falling into place for the Royals.


Less defined than the offense is the rotation.

Aaron Crow has dominated out of the bullpen for the Royals. However, this year he’ll be making the transition to starting. This season will carry a lot of weight on his confidence.

Another young pitcher who’s made it to the major league level is Danny Duffy. He made 20 starts last season for the Royals. Though they were disappointing starts, at 23 it’s the experience that counts.

A huge setback for the Royals was John Lamb. It was announced last June that he would be having Tommy John surgery. T.J. surgery seems a staple of major league pitchers these days, so it shouldn’t be that big a concern. But, it still means a lost year of development.

Another setback for the 2011 Royals seemed to be the performances of Mike Montgomery and Jake Odorizzi. Both are high upside prospects with bright futures; however, 2011 saw both players struggle at their respective minor league levels.

Minor league players can’t be expected to adapt at every level immediately, so these struggles aren’t that shocking.

Despite 2011 setbacks, this group still carries high upside. They’re no Tampa Bay Rays, but some of these guys have the potential to dominate.

The biggest thing going against the Royals is their inability to produce quality minor league pitchers. Besides Zach Greinke, most of their experiments have failed. How many more most join the ranks of Brian Bannister and Luke Hochevar before the Royals get the formula right?

Despite the potential issues with the rotation, it’s hard to disregard this young group’s talent and upside. The potential of that offense is scary. In a weak hitting AL Central, that gives KC a huge leg up.

The biggest bump in the road is working out the pitching. They’ve got high upside pieces in the system, but making sure they develop to full potential is a tough step.

In the end, the Royals retain one of the deepest and most promising teams in all of baseball.

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Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda: How the Field of Baseball’s Been Altered

Well, the ball has finally dropped.

In a stunning move, the New York Yankees have traded Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to the Seattle Marines for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos.

As a Boston Red Sox fan, crap. As an MLB fan, whoa.

In one evening the field of baseball has been altered. You thought Jose Reyes signing with the Miami Marlins was big? This is bigger. Thought Albert Pujols signing with the Los Angeles Angels was big? This is bigger. The Texas Rangers winning the bid for Yu Darvish? Guess what…this is bigger.

It’s a maelstrom, the perfect baseball storm. It might not seem that way now, but it is.


Seattle Mariners
At face value, it doesn’t seem like this changes the AL West too drastically. Oh, but you would be wrong.

Three names: Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero and Justin Smoak. Three of the most talked about hitting prospects over the last three seasons are all on the same team.

But, they play in Safeco. They’ll never be able to hit there… right?

What if I called those three Ichiro Suzuki, Edgar Martinez and Bret Boone—they also played at Safeco. Your mind has officially been blown.

The scary thing is that’s shortchanging these prospects.


In 2011, Ackley turned in a fantastic rookie season hitting .273/.348/.417 with six home runs and stolen bases in 90 games. His swing is as pure as it gets, and he could be competing for batting titles in the near future.

Smoak has struggled to live up to his top prospect title, but he still has massive potential. The big switch-hitter posted a career high 15 home runs and .719 OPS in 2011. Looking at his splits, he actually posted a higher OPS at home than away.

Now, we get to Jesus Montero. In 2011, we saw the 21-year-old top prospect ascend past Triple-A and play in 18 games for the Yankees. His line: .328/.406/.590 and four home runs. His defense has been called into question, but when you’re likened to Miguel Cabrera, defense doesn’t matter.

Even with the Safeco factor, these three don’t have to hit all the time. They only have to hit half the time. When at home they need the pitchers to do their job, and boy does Seattle have some pitching.

Their rotation is led by Felix Hernandez, one of the best young starters in the game. Behind him are Blake Beaven and Jason Vargas, the former coming into his own in 2011, and the latter headed to trade-bait status.

In the minors, Seattle has three of the top pitching prospects in the league. Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton have ace potential, and all three will be knocking on Safeco’s door over the next two seasons.

In the short term Seattle doesn’t see any huge improvements. Their pitching will take a small hit, while their hitting continues to improve. In the long run, Mariner fans could be seeing a dynasty in the making. The lineup has three huge bats to build around, and the rotation could very easily be the best in the majors. It’s way too early to tell, but the ceiling on this team’s future is massive.



New York Yankees
On the other end of the spectrum are the New York Yankees.

In this deal, the Yankees finally got what they’ve been searching for since 2008. Phil Hughes, a bust; Ian Kennedy, traded; Joba Chamberlain, shunned to the bullpen; Michael Pineda, winning.

Where others have failed, Pineda will succeed. That young No. 2 ace-in-the-making has eluded New York for so long, but Cashman has finally brought in the right guy.

Pineda’s arm is the epitome of electric. In his 2011 rookie season, he went 9-10 with a 3.72 ERA (54th best in the majors), 1.099 WHIP (14th), 9.1 K/9 ( seventh) and 3.15 K/BB (30th).

It’s easy to get lost in the splits of Pineda’s stats. His second half was far worse than his first, and the home stats show an ace, while the away stats show a No. 4 pitcher.

Frankly, I don’t care, and neither should the Yankees. Those trends are fully expected of 22-year-old rookies. Just because it didn’t happen to Jeremy Hellickson doesn’t mean it should be blown out of proportion with Pineda (it’s worth noting sabermetrics, like FIP and xFIP, hate Hellickson, like Pineda).

It’s impossible to not stare in awe at those peripherals. Pineda is going to be a strikeout machine, and he finally gives the Yankees that elusive No. 2 starter.

With CC Sabathia leading the pack, Pineda pitching No. 2 and Ivan Nova at No. 3, the Yankees finally feature a top three that can go toe-to-toe with the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox. With names like Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances in the minors, the Rays are going to have competition for top rotation in the AL East.


It’s taken them a while, but the Yankees have finally nabbed that young pitcher they so desperately need. True, they gave up their best offensive prospect since Robinson Cano, but they don’t call these guys the Bronx Bombers for nothing.


Final Thoughts

In the end, this trade was a win-win for both teams involved. The Mariners finally have three middle-of-the-order bats, and the Yankees finally feature three top-of-the-rotation arms.

As for the MLB, it’s too early to see how things will unfold. On paper, it looks like both teams are destined for greatness; but, this is baseball and things are never that easy.

For now, as a Red Sox fan, I will stand in awe and excitement as we’re one day closer to spring training.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Did Billy Beane Give the Oakland Athletics the Deepest Farm?

Last season everyone was talking about the Kansas City Royals. All you have to do is look at Baseball America’s list of top 10 prospects for 2011 and you’ll know why: That was one deep farm system.

But over the course of 2011, the farm diminished. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Aaron Crow and Lorenzo Cain all saw a lot of time at the major league level. Kansas City still boasts a deep system, but four of their top prospects are moving on (with Hosmer and Moustakas being two of their best).

As we head in to 2012, it is time for another team to take up the mantle of best farm system in Major League Baseball. The Atlanta Braves have a lot of pitching, the Washington Nationals have Bryce Harper, while the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are stacked as always.

However, neither of these teams win the farm system title. Well, not as of yesterday, that is.


Scratching the Surface: Oakland’s Trades

This year’s deepest farm has to go to the Oakland Athletics. It’s about time. It seems like Billy Beane has been turning players over forever.

Earlier this month, the Oakland Athletics traded Trevor Cahill to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Just yesterday they moved Gio Gonzalez to the Washington Nationals. What did they get in return?

For starters, we have to look at the pitching. It’s pretty drool worthy.

For Cahill, Oakland acquired Jarrod Parker. Parker was drafted in the first round of the 2007 draft and shot through the minors, He got one start as a 22-year-old last year with Arizona. Parker received a no-decision in that contest, but pitched 5.2 innings of no run ball.

In return for Gio Gonzalez, the Athletics received Brad Peacock and Tom Milone. Peacock had two starts last season, going 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA. Milone went 1-0 in his five starts in 2011, posting a 3.81 ERA.

So, we’re just scraping the surface here, and already Billy Beane has turned two established starters into three MLB-ready starters—all under 25 years of age. Seriously, just scraping the surface.

Also received in these deals: Collin Cowgill, Ryan Cook, Derek Norris and A.J. Cole.

Cowgill is another MLB-ready prospect. He has great discipline (.383 minor league OBP) and is a power and speed threat. If he bats behind Jemile Weeks, Oakland could have a devastating 1-2 combo at the top of the order.

Ryan Cook projects as a solid major league reliever and could be a closer candidate. He pitched between AA and AAA in 2011, posting a 2.21 ERA, 19 saves and a 9.1 K/9. Like the other four prospects, Cook is ready for the major leagues.

Derek Norris is a catcher with high upside. He opened eyes as a 20-year-old at A ball, when he hit .286/.413/.513 with 23 home runs. Norris has fallen off the map in the last two seasons; he posted a .838 OPS in 2010 (high-A) and a .813 OPS in 2011 (AA). However, he’s stayed patient and the power continues to develop. Once he establishes some consistency, he could be a great major league catcher.

The final guy to talk about is A.J. Cole. Cole was drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 season, and put up solid numbers last year at A ball. The 4.04 ERA wasn’t amazing, but the 10.9 K/9 and 4.50 K/BB certainly were.

Guess what… we’re still only on the surface here. Let’s recap: So far, Oakland has three major league-ready starters, a major league-ready closer, a possible lead off candidate in the outfield, a high-upside catcher and a young power pitcher.

And, we still haven’t even touched on the prospects Oakland already had!


Oakland’s Farm Prospects

Topping Oakland’s farm are prospects such as Grant Green, Chris Carter, Michale Choice, Michael Taylor and Sonny Gray. Let’s start from the bottom up.

Michael Taylor, 25, has dealt with injuries the last couple seasons. However, 2011 was a step in the right direction as he hit .272/.360/.456 at AAA with 16 home runs and 14 stolen bases. Taylor is another lead-off and two-hole candidate who could be a starting outfielder for Oakland in 2012.

Then there’s Chris Carter. Carter’s power is legendary, as evidenced by his 170 home runs in seven minor league seasons. He struggled last year with Oakland, but didn’t get much of a shot (only 44 at bats). His defense stinks, but he makes a great DH candidate with Ryan Howard-esque power.

Sonny Gray was drafted by Oakland in the first round of last year’s draft, and was able to make five AA starts before the end of the season. A product of college baseball, Gray looked polished. He went 1-0 with a 0.45 ERA, 8.1 K/9, and 3.00 K/BB.

Michael Choice was Oakland’s No. 1 pick in 2010 and he looked great in 2011. In a full season at high-A, Choice posted a .918 OPS with 30 home runs. Did I mention he’s only 21?

Finally, we have Grant Green. Green is an athletic 24-year-old who originally projected as a shortstop. Because of poor defensive play, Green moved to the outfield in 2011. The power dipped a bit in 2011, but that can be expected with a move to AA. He still has great upside and athleticism, and could be in Oakland as soon as next year.

And, those are just the names worth writing home about. Oakland still has a lot of lower level talent with high upside.


Beane Has All the Pieces

The Athletics have been really aggressive with their prospects, and a lot of these guys could be seeing AAA/MLB time as soon as next year. What does that mean? Oakland could finally return to relevance as soon as the 2013 season.

For the first time in a long time, Billy Beane finally has all the pieces to field a stellar team. With a potential move to a new stadium, things can only get better for the Oakland Athletics.

Having the MLB’s deepest farm system doesn’t hurt either.

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Boston Red Sox: How Chase Headley Could Save the Offseason

For lack of a better word, the Boston Red Sox’s offseason has been quiet. Scratch that, it has been dead silent. For a team that was so aggressive in 2011, yet so disappointing in September, Red Sox Nation has been waiting for something big.

The Mark Melancon trade was nice, and the Nick Punto signing adds depth, but those moves are tiny chisels in the rock. It is time Ben Cherington pulled out the jackhammer and went to town.

The Boston Red Sox have been inquiring on starting pitchers, specifically Goo Gonzalez. They also looked into Oakland Athletics closer Andrew Bailey but balked at the asking price of top prospect Will Middlebrooks. As they should have.

I do not think it is a secret that Kevin Youkilis is not the long-term solution at third base. Youkilis, or “Youk” as dubbed by fans, made the move to the hot corner in 2011 after Boston acquired Adrian Gonzalez. The 32-year-old has been a visage of consistency for Boston, posting nearly identical slash lines from 2008-2010 (all equating to an OPS above .955). He is also known for his black-hole glove.

But 2011 was not kind to Kevin Youkilis. Injuries have always been a problem, and moving to a more active position like third seemed to be too much. In 2011, Youk hit .258/.373/.459, hitting a mere 17 home runs (two less than 2010 despite playing in 18 more games). His defense also seemed to hit a wall.

The failed transition was an eye-opener for Boston fans. Will Middlebrooks is now looked at in a new light. The 23-year-old prospect combined for a .285/.328/.506 line between AA and AAA last season, slugging 23 home runs. All things considered, he currently stands as the Boston Red Sox’s next third baseman, making Youkilis expendable.

Middlebrooks’ breakout campaign has not gone unnoticed, and teams are interested. But it would be a big gamble for the Boston Red Sox to relinquish a top prospect that can fill a huge void.

Enter Chase Headley.

Chase Headley is currently the third baseman of the San Diego Padres. Drafted in the second round of the 2005 draft, Headley was in the minors for only three years before he received his first cup of coffee with the Padres in 2007 as a 23-year-old.

Headley, now 27, has shown a great propensity for hitting. His baseball acumen has transformed into stellar patience at the plate. Despite a poor showing with the glove in 2011, Headley has good instincts on defense and posted a stellar 16.5 UZR in 2010 (the best by any third baseman that year). The switch-hitter finally came into his own last season, putting together a career best .289/.374/.399 line in an injury-shortened 113 games.

However, like all San Diego Padres hitters, we need to read between the lines.

It is well known that Petco Park is the best pitchers park in baseball—just talk to Adrian Gonzalez. Its effects have certainly been felt on Chase Headley. In his career, he is hitting .229/.319/.336 at Petco, versus .303/.364/.441 away. In 2011, Headley posted an .864 OPS away, .190 points higher than his .674 OPS at home.

If traded to Boston, I do not think Headley would have as successful a move as A-Goon. Their power is not on the same level, and Gonzalez is a more complete player. However, there is no reason to think Headley could not hit .300, get on base at a .400 clip and hit 15-20 home runs. Sounds a lot like Kevin Youkilis numbers, huh?

This biggest thing standing in the way is the asking price. Word on the street is that the Padres are asking for a lot, but as things stand, the biggest suitor so far has been the Detroit Tigers. Boston’s farm runs much deeper, and that gives them a leg up.

San Diego could use help in the corner outfield spots, which makes Josh Reddick the centerpiece of any deal. Boston could also add one of Anthony Ranaudo or Matt Barnes. It seems like Boston is giving up a lot, but this deal adds a lot of flexibility to the team.

With Chase Headley in position to take over third, suddenly both Kevin Youkilis and Will Middlebrooks become expendable. Youk has long been an OBP holy grail to Billy Beane. Boston could easily package a deal around Youkilis and Middlebrooks (and some fringe prospects) for Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey. Or, they could get a third team involved for Youk and forward the prospects of that deal to Oakland.

In just two easy steps, the Boston Red Sox gain a 27-year-old switch-hitting third baseman of the future, a 25-year-old workhorse with ace potential and a solid 27-year-old closer. Suddenly, the team is reinvigorated with youth and one of the best cores in baseball. Even better is that it is all incredibly plausible.

Someone get Ben Cherington on the phone.

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MLB: 15 Winners and Losers This Offseason so Far

On October 28th, 2011, the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series. On October 29th, the offseason officially began.

Here we are 42 days later, and what an exciting 42 days it has been.

In a winter headlined by Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes and C.J. Wilson, everyone figured sparks would fly. Boy, how the sparks have flown. The scary things is, we are not even close to being done yet.

As of today the Winter Meetings are officially over. There was a lot that happened over the week, only adding to the excitement that has happened so far. With a lot of time to go, it seemed fitting to look back and recount the winners and losers to this point in the offseason.

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