mvn
Posted March 28th, 2009 by mvn
Tags: Baseball, Texas Rangers
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MLB Rumor Mill: Jones Missing the Cut

Just 17 days remain until Opening Day, and teams are now starting to decide who will make their Major League rosters.  Position battles are in full-swing — some of them are much clearer than others — and injuries are causing some clubs to scramble.  Read on for the latest updates from the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues.

Andruw Jones won’t make Rangers

According to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, the Rangers will opt to use Marlon Byrd as their fourth-outfielder to start the season, leaving Andruw Jones — who signed a minor league deal with the team — without a job.  Texas will go with a starting outfield of David Murphy in left, Josh Hamilton in center, and Nelson Cruz in right.  There was some speculation about whether Jones would decide to report to Triple-A, but it appears that he will, after telling Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he likes the Rangers’ system and works well with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo.

Kottaras Over Bard

Two years ago, the Red Sox tried Josh Bard as Tim Wakefield’s caddy and wound up scrambling to recover Doug Mirabelli from the Padres.  Two years later, it appears that Bard — a 6-for-14 hitter this Spring — still can’t handle the knuckler.  So, the Red Sox have cut their offseason addition, and will instead go with 25 year-old George Kottaras as their backup catcher this season, per Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald.  Kottaras is decent defensively, and has more offensive potential than Bard, but the move is risky, because he also has just five career big league at-bats. 

Pedro to Houston?

Earlier in the week, John Perrotto of Baseball Prospectus reported that the Astros were close to a deal with Pedro Martinez.  However, later reports from the Houston Chronicle disputed that claim, with GM Ed Wade assuring reporters that he hadn’t even discussed a contract with the 37 year-old righty.  Houston’s starting rotation could certainly use some help, but because the Astros are unlikely to contend for a playoff spot in 2009, it may not make sense for them to give in to Pedro’s relatively lofty contract demands.

Tampa’s Closer Situation

The Rays added Jason Isringhausen this offseason, as insurance for the fragile and aging Troy Percival, and it now appears that the two will share the closer duties, at least in the beginning of the regular season.  Manager Joe Maddon can also turn to righties Grant Balfour and Dan Wheeler in the ninth inning, creating a committee of sorts, but Joe Smith of the St. Petersburg Times believes it will just be the two veterans for now.  This is a situation that fantasy players are surely keeping their eyes on, as Tampa Bay’s closer could be a valuable commodity given the number of save opportunities likely to come his way.

Come back next Thursday for the latest updates from Spring Training.    

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