With the start of the New Year and spring training about a month away, a few teams are making some additions to their teams. The Texas Rangers have been relatively quiet this offseason mainly due to the impending sale of the team (which is taking too long). Their major news was the trading of ace Kevin Millwood to shed salary, early in the offseason. However, last week they added designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero. The Rangers know Guerrero well as he played the last six seasons with their rival LA Angels. When healthy, Guerrero is a great middle-of-the-order hitter who virtually swings at everything within a foot around home plate. He hit over .300 every year for the Angels except last season (100 games and a .295 average). I’m not sure the move makes sense as outfielder Josh Hamilton may be relegated to the DH role if he continues to run into the outfield wall and spend time on the disabled list.
The Oakland A’s just traded for third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff from the San Diego Padres (and minor league infielder Eric Sogard) for Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham. Kouzmanoff played great defense for the Padres as he should have won the Gold Glove with just three errors in 2009. The A’s needed a corner infielder and got their man in Kouzmanoff. He hit .255 with 18 homeruns and a career-high 88 RBIs in 141 games. The Padres get Hairston back, who is very excited to be retuning to San Diego. The A’s also re-signed Jack Cust, who was their only power threat in 2009. Update: The Padres not only reunited outfielder Scott Hairston with his former teammates, but they reunited him with his older brother Jerry. The Padres reached a one-year deal Monday with utilityman Jerry Hairston, Jr.
Are the Pittsburgh Pirates trying to contend in 2010? They signed outfielder Ryan Church and reliever Brendan Donnelly, who was great in his 2009 comeback with the Florida Marlins. They also signed relievers DJ Carrasco, who was so vital for the Chicago White Sox, lefty Javier Lopez, and right-hander Brian Bass. The reliever signings sure up a bullpen that lost closer Matt Capps to free agency. However the Church signing crowds the young outfield. Andrew McCutchen will man centerfield (at least until the Pirates trade him to a contending team) and Lastings Milledge figures to keep leftfield warm for top prospect Jose Tabata (if Tabata does not win the job in spring training). If Church is to play right field, where does that leave Garrett Jones? Jones slugged 21 homeruns in his 2009 rookie campaign, which garnered him ROY votes.
The Arizona Diamondbacks were hoping to not have to have outfielder Conor Jackson or possibly third baseman Mark Reynolds continue to play first base. This past week they signed free agent Adam LaRoche. The Diamondbacks are hoping he figures out how to hit in the first half. They also signed second baseman Kelly Johnson, who struggled to stay consistent in Atlanta.
The SF Giants, who were rumored to want LaRoche, instead filled their first base hole by signing Aubrey Huff. Huff has all played but a half season of his career in the American League, where he could also DH. It will be interesting to see if he can handle playing first base every day. He also struggled offensively in 2009 with the Baltimore Orioles after having a career year there in 2008 (.241 combined in 150 games with 15 homeruns and 85 RBIs). If he struggles, Giants manager Bruce Bochy will be moving Mark DeRosa and Pablo Sandoval around the field.
The Houston Astros added depth to their starting rotation by adding Brett Myers. Myers has been dominant on occasion while he was with the Philadelphia Phillies as both a starter and reliever. Myers was limited in 2009 by hip and arm injuries, but figures to be healthy and dominant again in 2010. Myers is expected to fill into the rotation behind Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez.