it's Time To Start Thinking About Baseball

It's been a fantastic off season so far. While there still may be more action, it's time to start thinking about baseball.

New White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has stated his preference for building his club from within. He plans on using the draft and his farm system to stock his big league roster, rather than buying expensive free agents or trading away prospects. This winter, he has added Jeff Keppinger to help with a glaring hole at 3B. Ultimately, the prospects will have to come through for the club to remain competitive in a quickly changing American League Central.

The biggest loser of the off season? For me, it's Giancarlo Stanton. Will he ever see a quality pitch to hit? If I were facing him, he'd have to chase pitches out of the strike zone. I wouldn't care if I walked him. I think he'll end up chasing those pitches to try and get his numbers. He and his fantasy owners may lose in the process.

Shin-Soo Choo will likely feel the pressure of both his Cincinnati Reds front office and from his celebrated agent as he plays in his "walk year" for the Reds. Choo is a sensitive guy. He takes things to heart. He wants to succeed. He has to just be himself and realize he's on a fantastic team, playing in a fantastic park with some outstanding hitting around him to help. I look for a big year from him-especially in that park.

Kudos for the Minnesota Twins for addressing their most glaring of several weaknesses. They now have a completely revamped starting rotation that will feature Vance Worley and Scott Diamond at the top. Gone are Jason Marquis and Carl Pavano along with Francisco Liriano. The Twins may be able to avoid getting into the bullpen in the 5th inning-a factor that destroyed them.

However, the Twins strengthened their club at the expense of outfielders with speed. Especially glaring will be the stolen bases and defense that will depart with Denard Span and Ben Revere. Now they will have to rely on converted 1B Chris Parmelee and Darin Mastroianni (who does have some speed) to play the outfield.

The value of the addition of Torii Hunter to the Tigers can not be over stated or under estimated. We all moaned last year when they didn't have any real protection in the lineup for Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera. Now they have Hunter and the return of Victor Martinez. In addition, Anibal Sanchez will be around the entire year. The left field job belongs to Andy Dirks until he gets in Jim Leyland's dog house. An awesome team.

I don't think the Angels will start the season with their existing bullpen. They now have an amazing lineup with speed and power. They have a fantastic defense. Their starting pitching is thin in my opinion. I still think they'll flirt with the idea of bringing in Rafael Soriano. Look, when you've spent that kind of money already and you have a gazillion dollars coming in from television, why not finish your team? I'm just sayin.

The Dodgers still have pitching to deal. Chris Capuano could fetch a pretty good infielder or even a catcher. I think they'll do more before the season begins.

I was really pleased with the way Nick Swisher handled his introductory press conference in Cleveland. I believe his joy and enthusiasm to be genuine and I think he wants to be there. I credit Terry Francona with making him feel wanted and orchestrating a tremendous recruiting effort. Swisher will help. But the Tribe still needs pitching. Badly. And no, I don't think Chris Myers is the answer. I'm hoping he will eat innings and keep teams out of the bullpen early. Other than that, we're talking Derek Lowe II.

Surprises this off season? One is the New York Yankees and former catcher Joe Girardi being satisfied with a catching corps of Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart and Austin Romine. I think they'll really miss Russell Martin.

When will the business with the trading of Justin Upton end? When he's traded. If he lasts that long, I don't see how they will keep him after this contract expires. How would you like your bosses constantly indicating they are waiting for a good offer and then they'll get rid of you? I don't get the psychology of the entire matter. Way, way too public. You want to trade him? Fine. Don't shop him publicly at every opportunity.

The Boston Red Sox are in limbo with the Mike Napoli situation. Again, why was that announced well before it became official? A bad hip? Hips are crucial to hitting mechanics. Yikes. I still think they'll get it done, hip or not. If not him, who?

I think the ball will be flying off the Green Monster when Ryan Dempster pitches in Boston.

If Jose Bautista is healthy? Oh my goodness. Encarnacion, Reyes, Melky and on and on. They haven't played any games yet, but I really do like the Blue Jays.

And I really do think the Rays will greatly miss James Shields. And no-I don't see how the Rays start the season without Wil Myers in the outfield. But they're the Rays. They've done it many, many times before. But, hey guys-you just gave up James Shields.

But you know what? It's really hard to criticize the Rays front office. They know what they're doing with their limited resources. I have changed my mind 3 times already on what I think they'll do with Myers.

I may have a couple more off season blogs prior to the beginning of Spring Training. I hope you'll stop by and give them a read. Remember-Spring Training games start in late February this year because of the World Baseball Classic. During Spring Training my regular column, Bernie On The Scene will return to I will be sharing my scouting thoughts during those spring columns.

Hope you will follow me on twice a week in the Voices section. Also on twitter @BerniePleskoff.


By: lvtdude
On: 1/4/2013 12:30:00 PM
Great stuff, Bernie. At first I was a bit bummed that Myers got shipped to the Rays, since I thought they would give him the Delmon Young treatment. However, once the waiting is over, I think I'll be happy he is hitting in Yankee Stadium, Fenway, etc. Nothing wrong with hitting in the AL East. Conversely, I am scared to death that Stanton could be traded to the Mariners. The only thing worse would be heading to the NL West. I heard mention of a possibility he goes to Texas, and that would be very exciting. But, I have to hold out hope that Dave Dombrowski has one more deal to make with his former club, and brings Stanton to Detroit. Can you imagine??? We both thought I was crazy when I mentioned Prince Fielder as a Tiger, so here's to hoping I'm similarly crazy about Giancarlo the Tiger.
By: Bernie Pleskoff
On: 1/4/2013 1:21:00 PM
lvtdude- Thanks. Nothing surprises me anymore after watching Russ Canzler be claimed by Cleveland twice and then being DFA'd and being claimed by the Yankees. Indians claimed him knowing someone had to come off the roster for Myers. So-that said-don't be surprised if Stanton goes somewhere. It could happen. This is just a crazy off-season. But those Tigers are some vicious cats, believe me.---Bernie
By: lvtdude
On: 1/4/2013 7:45:00 PM
I wouldn't rule out the Tigers getting someone to play left field. I find it hard to believe that with all the outfielders available, either in free agency or via trade, they don't have their eye on one. Bourn would be a great guy to hit leadoff, and man the outfield with Jackson and Hunter. I could also see the Tigers trading Castellanos, Porcello and one or two of Dirks, Garcia and Berry to acquire Upton or Stanton. They have some depth, and I'd be surprised if Ilitch and Dombrowski didn't have one more trade in their bag of tricks.
By: Bernie Pleskoff
On: 1/4/2013 9:51:00 PM
lvtdude- It surprises me they haven't looked at one of the closers rather than go with a rookie or one of their setup guys. Still a long way from the first pitch of the season. I think they like their outfield with Dirks.---Bernie
By: jj0501
On: 1/5/2013 5:18:00 AM
Great comments on Upton, you nailed it. You are just damaging your own merchandise if you're trading him ; you are just messing with his mind if you are keeping him. Can I get your thoughts on Profar & Olt ? Are they
ready to be every day MLB players on a first division team or would 200 AB's in AAA help the process ?
By: Bernie Pleskoff
On: 1/5/2013 7:33:00 AM
jj0501- Thank you. Regarding Profar, yes he would benefit by more time in development. The only way he plays regularly (and that' s the key) is if Kinsler moves to the outfield or first base. I don't think the club will trade or move Andrus. So, if he can't play every day he should not be on the big league club. For me the best solution would be to move Andrus to CF and slip Profar in at SS. They won't do that. With regard to Olt-his chances are 0 of playing 3B. If they want him to get at-bats at 1B along with Moreland, he sticks. I doubt it. I think he needs more seasoning. Shouldn't be on the big club to DH at his age. But-the Rangers still need to make up some offense they lost with Napoli and Hamilton. If they can't replace that, Olt has a better chance to stick. And that would be a mistake. They both need more at-bats in the Minor Leagues.---Bernie
By: lvtdude
On: 1/6/2013 2:19:00 AM
I think the Tigers are confident that they can win the division as is, and if they find their relievers can't close out games, feel they can go out and get a closer. Soriano could be the guy, but he is expensive. In my perfect world, the Tigers trade for Upton and David Hernandez and give Hernandez a shot at closing. I think Hernandez could do for the Tigers what Frieri did for the Angels in 2011.
By: Bernie Pleskoff
On: 1/6/2013 7:51:00 AM
lvtdude- And who do the Dbacks get in any deal with the Tigers for Upton and Hernandez. Don't say Castellanos. He won't do. Anyone else?---Bernie
By: lvtdude
On: 1/6/2013 2:02:00 PM
Castellanos, Avisail Garcia, Porcello, Rondon, Albuquerque, Suarez...they'd have to back up the Brinks truck, I'm sure.
By: Bernie Pleskoff
On: 1/7/2013 11:56:00 AM
lvtdude- Sorry-they need only a Major League ready 3B and a quality starter to start the package of 4 to 5 players they seek for Upton. Castellanos is not Major League ready. Far from it. The Tigers just don't match up. Perhaps for Kubel with Porcello. But not for Upton.---Bernie
By: jj0501
On: 1/7/2013 8:26:00 PM
Baltimore had two SP's last year in Hammel & Tillman with increased velocity of more than 2 mph. How does that happen to mature players ? Good coaching ? A quick swag if you can on Seattle : who takes up all the innings Vargas piched last year between Ramirez, Beaven, & Noesi ? Thanks !
By: Bernie Pleskoff
On: 1/8/2013 1:47:00 AM
jj0501- Velocity can increase with improved overall arm strength, better finish (less wasted motion) on the pitch or a total change of mechanical release points. Velocity can fluctuate in game, overnight or over time. When scouting I was more concerned with in game velocity changes than any other reading. I have a hunch the Vargas innings will eventually go to Danny Hultzen at some point during the season. Just a hunch.---Bernie
By: jj0501
On: 1/10/2013 8:19:00 AM
What do you think about Erasmo Ramirez ? I'm in Mariners territory and am probably too close to the forest. Is his September success likely repeatable ? What is his ceiling, a #4 SP ?
By: Bernie Pleskoff
On: 1/10/2013 1:37:00 PM
jj0501- I think he has a chance to be in their rotation. I've liked what I've seen with the exception of the inconsistency. Probably a 5 for me at this time with the upside of a high 4.---Bernie
By: negan50
On: 1/19/2013 3:43:00 PM
I'm surprised Choo and Indians didn't get together considering the money they gave to Swisher. Do you think Choo would have been happy with that offer?

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