The long national nightmare is over: Kyle Lohse has found a team.
Lohse and agent Scott Boras waited until a week before Opening Day, but it has finally paid off with a three-year, $33 million deal from the Brewers. The right-hander will make $4 million in 2013 and $11 million in 2014 and 2015, with $7 million in deferments to be paid out from 2016-18. He can also earn an addition $1 million in incentives.
Even though Lohse has obviously yet to make an appearance during spring training, he’s thrown up to 90 pitches during simulated games on his own, so he's nearly on schedule. He will begin the season on the active roster and is expected to make his Brewers’ debut sometime during the second week of the season.
Lohse’s last two seasons in St. Louis were by far the best of his career, as the 34-year-old won 30 games while posting a 3.11 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. Obviously some regression is a given, especially since he’ll be going to a homer-friendly park and he’s been relatively lucky with his home run rate the last two years. But, Lohse has superb control and is among the best in the game at throwing first-pitch strikes, allowing him to have success despite a lack of great stuff. He’s worth a late-round selection in mixed leagues.
The Brewers have yet to announce who will be bumped from the rotation following the Lohse signing, but it will likely be Willy Peralta. Peralta holds plenty of upside, but the 23-year-old might be best off getting a bit more seasoning at Triple-A. Michael Fiers and Chris Narveson should round out the club’s rotation.
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Miller Nails Down Rotation Spot
The Cardinals decided against bringing back Lohse following the injury to Chris Carpenter because they felt confident in the young arms they already had in camp. One of those arms belongs to Shelby Miller, who was named the club’s No. 5 starter Monday following 4 1/3 innings of one-run ball against the Twins. Joe Kelly will head to the bullpen.
“We told (Kelly) he should be very proud of himself the way (he and Miller) competed,” manager Mike Matheny told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It wasn’t anything that he did or did not do. It’s what makes our team better. Right now, I think our team is better with Shelby in that fifth starting spot.”
Miller has been one of the better pitching prospects in the game for a couple years now and offers ample upside as a late-round option in fantasy leagues. After getting off to a slow start at Triple-A last season, the righty finished with a 2.88 ERA and 70/7 K/BB ratio over his final 10 starts before putting up a 1.32 ERA and 16/4 K/BB ratio in 13 2/3 late-season innings for the Cards. There will surely be hiccups along the way for the 22-year-old, but there’s no doubt he’s an intriguing talent.
From Indy League To Indians Rotation
Another fifth starter job was officially won Monday, with the Indians giving Scott Kazmir the nod over Carlos Carrasco.
It’s been quite a turnaround for the former American League strikeout king. Kazmir has appeared in just one major league game since the beginning of 2011 and spent a good chunk of last season pitching for the independent league Sugar Land Skeeters, putting up an ugly 5.34 ERA over 14 starts.
However, the left-hander arrived at Indians camp a new man, or, a man that somewhat resembled his old self. His velocity has been back in the low-90s, and he’s posted a 3.46 ERA while striking out a batter per inning during his four Cactus League appearances.
"The way I've progressed over the last couple of years, and the way I've progressed in spring training, it's only going to get better," Kazmir said in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "It's exciting to feel that way and be that confident, but I truly believe that."
It would be tough to trust Kazmir with a mixed league roster spot at this point, but he’s worthy of an AL-only selection and should be tracked in mixed formats.
Hiro Headed To Minors?
Hiroyuki Nakajima won the A’s and the media over with his smile and wit during his introductory press conference back in December. Unfortunately, he’s failed to win the club over with his play during spring training.
Nakajima was out of the A’s Cactus League lineup Monday and isn’t expected to play Tuesday, either. It’s the latest sign that he’s fallen out of favor after batting just .150 in his first 47 spring plate appearances. The Japanese import hasn’t had a hit in eight games and has tallied just one knock that’s gone for extra bases.
The disappointing performance, according to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, means the A’s are “seriously considering” sticking Nakajima at Triple-A Sacramento to begin the season. Even in a base-case scenario, he’ll initially be used in a backup role with the big league club.
"You can tell he has the ability to do it both defensively and offensively," manager Bob Melvin said of Nakajima on MLB.com. "I think his track record in Japan shows that, and there's a reason we signed him and brought him here. We just haven't seen him get comfortable yet."
With Nakajima out of the picture for a starting job (at least for now), the A’s will use Jed Lowrie at shortstop and probably Scott Sizemore at second base. Sizemore got off to a slow start this spring but had four hits Monday to raise his average to .244. Adam Rosales and Eric Sogard are also in the mix for playing time at second.
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