Monthly Archives: February 2014

Grady Sizemore returns to fitness and Red Sox

Grady SizemoreBoston Red Sox welcome back outfielder Grady Sizemore, the player who helped them secure the World Series in 2011. With him back in their roster, the Red Sox are optimistic about their chances of making another deep playoffs run, and the spring schedule started on the right foot. Manager John Farrell has high expectations from his players, but for the time being he is fairly satisfied with their performance.

The pitchers were particularly sharp and threw a lot of strikes, which made it much easier for the offensive players to do their part. They ran the bases well and even though the two games played so far didn’t last more than 14 innings, they can serve as an accurate indicator for what will happen once spring training concludes. The regular season is going to be highly competitive this season and that’s why it is refreshing for Boston to have Sizemore back even though he is now 31 years old.

He played for consecutive years in Cleveland and won two Gold Gloves before relocating to Boston, but unfortunately for him, injuries kept him off the pitch. 2009 was a very difficult year for Sizemore who undergone several surgeries and he wasn’t fully recovered until late 2013. He takes it one step at a time and these trading games are an excellent way to return on the pitch, not to mention that the opponents he is facing are not extremely tough ones.

Other Boston players were also happy to kick-start their campaign with a couple of friendly games, but both Dusty Pedroia and David Ortiz had some difficulties. They failed to hit some pitches thrown at them by players who grew up watching them play big games, which was a bit surprising for Red Sox fans but thrilling for those throwing the pitches. Even though the baseball professionals didn’t play their a-game it would be unfair to say that they didn’t take the game seriously and their opponents deserve all the credit.

Manager John Farrell wasn’t upset at all by the fact that two of his best players struck out against obviously inferior opponents, although he hopes that this won’t happen anytime soon. Overall, the Red Sox look in good shape to take on a brand-new challenge and with Grady Sizemore returning to fitness, they start with the first chance of winning the division.

Fresh start for Ubaldo Jimenez in 2014

We’ve got almost 2 months left before the regular season begins, yet spring training can provide us with a great deal of useful information about the teams competing in 2014. Many of them have already signed the important concepts and all they need to do is to fine tune their starting rotation, based on the results recorded in February and March. Seattle, Baltimore, Cleveland and Toronto are still fighting for one last player, as all of them contemplate the opportunity of signing Ubaldo Jimenez.

The starting pitcher is hardly an avatar of consistency, but over the last couple of years he greatly improved his performance and 2013 was simply impressive. He returned to form after forgettable pitching in 2011 and 2012 and as a result everyone expected him to find a team with ease without making too many compromises. Unfortunately for Jimenez things took a turn for the worse and the competition is incredible these days, with pitchers such as Matt Garza and Ervin Santana being in the spotlight.

Not many teams are willing to surrender their draft picks and as a result Jimenez is still looking for a club to call home in 2014. Seattle is at the top of the list for the simple reason that the West Coast club spent a lot of money on players during season break to strengthen its rotation. Robinson Cano, Corey Hart, Logan Morrison and Fernando Rodney have all joined the Mariners but only time will tell whether they will continue the spending frenzy with this starting pitcher.

Baltimore Orioles are hardly a team with high expectations and over the last decade they rarely factored in the race for a playoff spot. It is incredibly difficult for them to compete with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, but in 2014 they seem to be willing to spend a bit more. They’ve purchased a couple of players that should improve their offensive performance, but they struggle heavily in 2013 with their starting pitchers and this is a section that needs to be strengthened.

Cleveland Indians are not credited with a great chance of signing Jimenez, even though they would definitely need his services. They’ve traded plenty of players over the last couple of months, with important ones leaving the club only to be replaced by some with tremendous potential. Overall, it looks like they only barely improved their team and with their current roster they have only theoretical chances of making the playoffs. As a result, spending a lot of money just to have Ubaldo in their courtyard is unlikely, as they simply can’t afford this kind of investment.

Toronto has the best chance of becoming Jimenez’s new home, as they are in dire need of starting pitchers, with only Dickey and Buehrle being truly reliable right now. They’re also willing to give up the draft pick, but they have their eyes locked on Ervin Santana while Jimenez represents the alternative. A decision needs to be made soon and if Santana signs with a different team, the Blue Jays will become the overwhelming favorites to acquire Ubaldo.