Tag: Cesar Izturis

Reds Spring Training Stock Watch: Which Players Are on Fire and Slumping?

The Cincinnati Reds lost a few players to the World Baseball Classic, but some of the remaining have been on fire while others can’t wait for spring to end.

Cincinnati came into the spring as the favorites to win the NL Central, and the team doesn’t have many available spots left on the 25-man roster. 

With that said, the few position battles going on have been put under the microscope. The backup catcher spot is starting to work itself out, but the battle for the utility role has only brought out the best in each candidate.

The Reds had a couple of games get rained out, but they did get to go up against Canada last week.

Less than three weeks remain until Opening Day, so let’s check out who is hot and who is not.


*All stats are courtesy of Reds.com

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Baltimore Orioles: Which Free Agents Should They Keep?

General Manager Andy MacPhail has made it public that he will be aggressive in trying to sign players in an attempt to improve an Orioles team that actually impressed people over the final two months of the season.

That being said, very little is being said about the players that were on the roster last season that are currently free agents and whether or not to sign them.

Here is the list of the seven major free agents the Orioles will be at risk to lose and whether or not they should be in Baltimore next season.

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Baltimore Orioles “Offseason” Updates

Yes, I know, the World Series isn’t even half-way over, so the term “offseason” is a bit premature.

That said, a lot has happened in the Charm City since the season ended. Let’s start at the top.


Buck Showalter and the Coaching Carousel

At one time, it looked like the Orioles might retain all the coaches that finished the season with Showalter. That clearly isn’t the case anymore. The first domino to fall was former hitting coach Terry Crowley, who was moved to another position within the organization.

Then the news broke a few days ago that the O’s were looking at Jim Presley, a former infielder with the Mariners, Braves and Padres. “Hound Dog” Presley served as hitting coach for the Marlins for the past five years before being ousted along with manager Fredi Gonzalez. Hitters who blossomed under Presley’s tutelage include Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, and Jorge Cantu.

The Mark Connor emerged as the leading candidate to replace pitching coach Rick Kranitz. And although Kranitz hasn’t officially been ousted, the relationship that Showalter has with Connor, that dates back to their days in Arizona, makes the move look fairly imminent.

Then it was announced that Rick Adair, formerly of the Seattle Mariners, but also the Tigers, Indians, Braves, and Blue Jays, would become the Orioles bullpen coach. Adair replaces Alan Dunn, who has held that same position since 2007.

And the word on the street (and web) is that Showalter is a huge fan of former Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu, and is luring him to Baltimore to become the bench coach, forcing Jeff Datz out of a job. Wakamatsu and Show go way back to their days in the AL West, and Buck has always been a big supporter of him, even as he was being forced out of Seattle this past season.

As is stands, the only member of the coaching staff that is set to return in his role is first base coach John Shelby. Third base coach Gary Allenson hasn’t yet been offered any sort of extension to stay on, but has been told that he will be offered his old position (manager of the Triple-A Norfolk Tides) if Showalter decides to go another direction at third base.


Hiroyuki Nakajima: Will He or Won’t He?

The Orioles have been widely rumored to be in the running for Nakajima’s services should be be posted and allowed to come play in the States. 

The 28-year-old shortstop is widely regarded as one of the most talented players in Japan, and hit .309 with 22 home runs and 92 RBI in 2009. He also stole 20 bases, giving him back-to-back 20-plus steal seasons. This season he hit .314 with 20 homers. Since breaking in with the Seibu Lions in 2002, Nakajima has posted five .300-plus seasons, three 20-plus homer seasons and has driven in at least 63 runs in each season.

Many believed that Seibu would allow him to post and make the jump to MLB, but two days ago, the Lions announced that they were refusing to allow him that privilege.

And just when you thought it was over, and the Orioles would either have to settle for another year of Cesar Izturis (which isn’t the worst thing), word broke today that Nakajima was going to meet again with Seibu to try to convince them to let him try his hand in the U.S.


Arizona Fall League Update

Just in case you hadn’t been paying attention to the Orioles playing in the AFL this year, you might be surprised to know that the squad made up of Nationals, Giants, Rockies, Diamondbacks and Orioles is currently sitting in first-place, with a two-game lead.

Representing the Orioles, second-baseman Ryan Adams has been a revelation. Against very talented pitching the 23-year-old has more than held his own, hitting .289, busting out of an 0-for-6 slump with a two-double, three-RBI effort last-night. Adams ranks sixth in the circuit with 11 RBI and was named co-AFL player of the week.

Also playing in the AFL are shortstop Greg Miclat, who is hitting an impressive .297, and Xavier Avery, who has been much less impressive, hitting a mere .200 in 35 at-bats. To his credit, he does have five stolen bases in five attempts.

And another player who is receiving much less playing time is catcher Caleb Joseph, who’s hitting .368 in only 19 at-bats.

On the mound in Arizona, the Orioles have Pat Egan, who has a 4.05 ERA and four strikeouts in 6.2 innings of work, Oliver Drake, who has posted a 5.79 ERA over three outings, Kam Mickolio who has an impressive seven strikeouts in only 5.2 innings, and Wynn Pelzer, who has a 5:7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in five innings.

Another player who had been schedule to get some at-bats was Tyler Townsend, who made four plate appearances before heading back to Baltimore. He will miss the rest of the AFL season to have surgery to remove a cyst in his hand.


Possible Free Agent Compensation

Each season when free agents depart a given team they are given a final ranking, and those players who are deemed worthy of an “A” or “B” rank leave their team with an extra draft choice in either the first or second supplemental round of the first-year player draft.

This season the O’s have two “B” candidates: Kevin Millwood and Koji Uehara. The team is widely expected to bring back Uehara, who pitched brilliantly down the stretch, but in letting Millwood walk, the team would pick up an extra pick after the second round.


Free Agency Updates

Not much to share here. The O’s are eying a couple of free agents, most notably former Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez, former White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, and former Brave Derrek Lee.

It doesn’t look like the O’s will do much to spruce up their young rotation unless they can make the perfect move.

Shortstop, first base, third base and left field are all areas of concern for the Orioles, or at least areas where they could do better than Izturis, Brandon Snyder/Michael Aubrey/Rhyne Hughes, Josh Bell and Felix Pie.

Another interesting option is Phillies’ Jayson Werth. A one-time Oriole prospect, Werth flourished upon his move to Philadelphia and is one of the top free-agent outfielders available. Not only would he fill a need in left field, but it would give the Orioles a much-needed power presence.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

LA Angels vs. Baltimore Orioles: Milwood Shuts Out Listless Halos

Baltimore Orioles pitcher Kevin Millwood has suffered through a nightmarish season, yet he still takes the ball every fifth day and gives his best effort. On Saturday night, against the Los Angeles Angels, Millwood’s best effort turned into into his best start of the season.

Millwood scattered six hits over eight innings, and No. 9 hitter Josh Bell slammed a two-run homer, giving the Orioles a 5-0 victory over the suddenly punchless Angels.

Millwood (3-14), who earned his first victory in over two months, could have easily finished the game, having only thrown 110 pitches. Instead, at the request of O’s manager Buck Showalter, he gave way to Jimmy Johnson, who pitched a scoreless ninth. Johnson, who last pitched on April 30, was activated from the 60-day disabled list on Friday night after being sidelined due to inflammation in his right elbow.

“I know Kevin probably as well as anybody here, and I feel so good for him because I know how much he cares,” Showalter said.

“I think he could have finished that game. I mean, 110 pitches doesn’t come into play on a cool night. But it was a perfect spot for J.J. to get broken in a little bit, and I appreciate the professionalism of Kevin after I explained to him what we were trying to do.”

Millwood worked out of jams in both the fifth and seventh innings, when the Angels put runners on the corners. In the fifth, Milwood induced a double-play grounder to end it, and in the seventh, after Mike Napoli doubled and moved to third on an Erick Aybar single, Millwood retired both Bobby Wilson and Peter Bourjos on pop-ups to escape the threat.

Angels’ starter Scott Kazmir (8-12) was able to match Millwood through the first four innings, however in the fifth, after giving up an infield single to Cesar Izturis, Josh Bell smacked his third major league homer to break the scoreless tie.

The victory was the O’s fifth straight against the Angels this season, and they’ll have a chance to sweep the season series on Sunday afternoon, something neither team has done against each other in 50 years.

For the Angels, they can only scratch their heads and wonder.

You can follow Doug on Twitter, @desertdesperado.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Getting To Know You…Manny Machado, The Orioles New Shortstop

So I just spent the past three months obsessing over Jameson Taillon, and in an effort to get myself over Big-J (that’s my nickname for him :), I’ve decided to immerse myself in Manny Machado.

First things first. Machado goes by the nickname “A-Rod light” among certain scouts.

And if that sounds like a lofty title, one unworthy of a 17-year old, well you haven’t been paying attention to young Manny, who looks, talks, and even positions himself at the plate like a baby A-Rod.

Machado burst onto the draft scene in early 2009. 

He used the momentum from a fantastic junior season to catapult himself into consideration for the summer showcase series. He eventually helped lead the 18-under USA team to a gold medal in the Pan-Am Junior Championships in Venezuela.

Defensively, there is tons to love about Machado, starting with the fact that he looks, right now, like he’ll be able to stay at shortstop long-term. He has a great arm, solid footwork and outstanding range. Simply put, he can make all the plays.

At the plate, he’s a solid hitter. He projects as a future .300 hitter (very exciting) with some decent pop. Right now his game isn’t real big on power, but scouts see the frame conducive to some down the road.

His baseball makeup seems to be off the charts as well. He eats, drinks and sleeps baseball, and it’s no wonder his idol is none other than A-Rod himself, right down the the number 3 uniform he started donning this season.

Clearly, the O’s need some help at shortstop. They added some depth in second-round pick Mychal Givens last year, and he’s still getting his feet wet at low-A Delmarva.

Given Machado’s advanced defense, I wonder if they’ll try to move Givens off short, or do they play both at the same position at the same level. Thank goodness for the DH in minor league baseball.

There was a reason Machado was considered a top-five talent in this year’s draft, and I just need to get over the fact that Taillon won’t be anchoring any rotation within 100 miles of Camden Yards.

Machado will do just fine. 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

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