Here in the states is that special day that holds so very dear to me. Today is Groundhog day. It’s ironic in a sense that the fellers from Punxsutawney try to wake up Punxsutawney Phil (the groundhog. That’s what they call him) much like we Jays fans have been trying to wake up the Jay’s front office: prodding, yelling, make disturbing phone calls. The usual. So to celebrate this festive day of nonsensical weather forecasting, I decided to make this edition of boring week of AL East coverage in honour of Phil, the groundhog. LET’S DO THIS!
NEW YORK YANKEES: Damn it feels good to be a Yankee? Newly acquired Masahiro Tanaka is getting an assist from NY Senator Chuck Schumer. There is some concern whether or not Tanaka will make it in time to report to Spring Training due to visa troubles. It could take up to one month to obtain a visa and with pitchers and catchers reporting to the Tampa complex on Feb.14, that could be a problem. Schumer is quoted as saying “My office works tirelessly to help constituents every day, but it’s not everyday… you get a call from the New York Yankees.” What a guy.
There’s currently an open infield bench role for the Yankees and guess who’s shown up on their radar? Former Blue Jays player Emilio Bonifacio, that’s who! One could only hope for this to happen as Bonifacio has been a disappointment with the glove (and bat, but mostly glove) while playing in the AL. But something funny happens when you throw on the pinstripes and who knows—Boni will most likely turn into Roberto Alomar. Damn it feels good to be Yankee… Excuse me while I go clean the vomit out of my mouth.
Over at the Bleacher Report, Kenny DeJohn predicts the Yankees 5-man rotation. DeJohn unfortunately led off with the wrong Asian. Hiroki Kuroda was so 2008. Though it’s not difficult to figure out what the Yanks rotation will look like, what will be of compelling interest is the appearance of C.C. Sabathia. Will he look more rotund this spring, or will he continue to wither away? Since Big Boy C.C. was better, here’s to hoping for more withering!
BOSTON RED SOX: The second most worstest possible thing that could have happened, happened this week at NESN. The Red Sox reported that Jenny Dell will no longer be the in-game reporter. This is the most tragic news since Heidi Watney said she was leaving NESN for the west coast. If there was one thing I looked forward to while watching Red Sox games (don’t hate the writer, hate my parents for bringing me here), it was seeing those two ladies on my big screen–ok, the bar’s big screen– day after day for the last five years. Aaron Somers has the juicy gossip reasoning here.
The Red Sox signed Rich Hill to a minor league deal. This would be a great addition if the lefty could stay healthy. Unfortunately, that doesn’t ever happen. The Massachusetts native would be a stellar addition if good health did happen for Hill. All alliteration aside, Hill had one of the best curveballs in the game prior to all of the arm troubles.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports the Miami Marlins have been heavily inquiring about the services of 3B Will Middlebrooks. The small upside to this rumour is it may put Jenny Dell back on the air. The bigger upside is that Middlebrooks didn’t kill many teams last season, but he did kill the Blue Jays. Middlebrooks torched the Blue Jays to the tune of .288/.333/.627, four HRs (all at Rogers Centre), and 6 RBIs while going .227/.271/.425, 17 HRs, and 49 RBIs overall in 2013. With the Jays’ luck, his dWAR was probably something stellar too, compared to the -0.5, -4.3 UZR, and -8 DRS he had at 3B. He’s all yours Miami. Move him to 1B while you’re at it.
BALTIMORE ORIOLES: Aside from the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Orioles are currently favourites to land A.J. Burnett—At least until the Orioles’ medical personnel give him a physical. The Maryland resident has made it clear he would like to be close to home, making the chances of a Blue Jays reunion highly unlikely.
The Baltimore Sun is reporting that Orioles GM Dan Duquette has 1B Chris Davis a contract extension, but apparently that’s news to Davis. When told, Davis jokingly said, “Really, did he say anything else?” After being told no, Davis continued with “Dang, let me get up to speed on that.” I don’t think anybody is surprised by this. SEE: Grant Balfour and Tyler Colvin.
Former #1 Orioles prospect, Dylan Bundy was supposed to throw from 90 feet last Monday. It was to be the next step in his recovery process from Tommy John surgery, but the session was cancelled due to inclement weather. He will try again this week. Bundy has made it a goal to have a bullpen session by the end of March.
TAMPA BAY RAYS: After nearly a week in limbo, RP Pedro Figueroa was put on waivers and claimed by the Texas Rangers. The move was made after Tampa Bay signed new closer Grant Balfour.
Jim Bowden has said that Rays GM Andrew Friedman is one of two star GMs this offseason (Billy Beane was the other for the Oakland Athletics). It’s a distinction that, while I believe to be true, shouldn’t be designated by a former GM like Bowden. If you compared Bowden’s track record and placed it next to Friedman’s, Bowden wouldn’t be able to carry Friedman’s jock. If that’s a brutally honest review, to make Bowden feel better, not many GMs CAN carry Friendman’s jock.
Over at Rant Sports came a list of 5 Rays not expected to make it through Spring Training. It wasn’t much of a read, but going into David Miller’s list, I figured the list would be obvious. It wasn’t! The first player being utility player Jayson Nix caught me completely off guard. While not the greatest with the stick, he has positive UZRs at five out of the six different positions he can play, the best coming at 2B. Maddon loves versatility and a poor bat is nothing new in Tampa Bay. Another surprise was seeing Jose Molina on this list. However, with the acquisition earlier this offseason of Ryan Hanigan, it’s possible. Some may even say #1 prospect Hak-Ju Lee is a bit of a surprise, but not I. Lee missed practically the entire 2013 season after a collision at second base blew out his knee. AAA Durham will be a good start for the SS/2B, not to mention the Rays also tend to wait until after June to bring up top young players. Doing this gives the club an additional year of player control.