Ranking the 8 Most Gut-Wrenching Decisions Teams Must Make Before Opening Day
As we get closer to Opening Day, teams realize they will have to make some tough decisions which could have a significant impact on their season. These decisions are not limited to just who to send down and keep on the major league roster.
This season is unique as teams still have some players available as free agents who could have a big impact on their season, like Kyle Lohse and Jose Valverde. Add in a few more players who are on the trading block and teams will have some tough decisions as we move through the month of March. These are the top eight gut wrenching decisions that teams must make before Opening Day.
8. Do the Rangers Keep Jurickson Profar on the Opening Day Roster?
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The Rangers are in a situation that 29 other MLB teams wish they could be in but it does not make it an easy decision. Elvis Andrus is the current starting shortstop, is only 24 years of age and coming off his second All-Star season. He is considered one of the top shortstops in the game today.
The problem for Texas is that they have one of the top prospects in the game as well in Jurickson Profar at the same position. They want to get him experience at the major league level but there isn't a spot for him right now to get work on a daily basis.
7. What Should the Cardinals Do About Their Shortstop Position?
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It was announced this week that Rafael Furcal will miss the 2013 season due to Tommy John surgery. This could potentially leave a void at shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals depending on how the team feels about Pete Kozma and Ronny Cedeno.
Kozma had the deciding hit in Game 5 of the NLDS last season but only had a batting average of .214 over the entire postseason. The Cardinals will need to decide if Kozma can handle being the everyday starter and if they don't feel like he can, they can decide to look outside the organization.
If St. Louis does not feel comfortable about this, they may want to look at the previous slide.
6. Should Tigers Trade Rick Porcello?
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The Detroit Tigers have six quality starters but only need five and Rick Porcello seems to be the odd man out. The right-handed pitcher has been on the block for the majority of this winter but hasn't been moved yet.
He has been pitching well this spring and scouts have been taking notice. The reason why Porcello has not been moved yet is probably due to the fact that they do not have much depth after Porcello as the article had noted.
The Tigers will need to make a decision if they feel confident going into the season without the right handed pitcher and in return bring in prospects or help to strength another part of their roster.
5. How Do the Yankees Adjust to Injuries?
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The Yankees are hurting right now and it looks like they will be going into Opening Day without Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira who are dealing with injuries. Add in the loss of Nick Swisher and Russell Martin in free agency and this team has lost a lot of firepower this winter.
This has raised the question about whether or not the Yankees should make a move to bring in some offensive firepower to help until Granderson and Tex are able to return. Kevin Davidoff of The New York Post breaks down the predicament the team is in and the options don't look very good.
Right now, Carlos Lee and Scott Rolen are free agent options that could help bridge the gap until Teixeira can come back. However, both those players have struggled at the plate the past few seasons and may not be able to provide much support. It will be interesting to see what route GM Brian Cashman decides to take before Opening Day.
4. Who Makes the Dodgers Rotation?
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With the additions of Zack Grienke and Hyun-jin Ryu this offseason the LA Dodgers have eight legitimate starters this spring fighting for five spots. However outside of Clayton Kershaw and Grienke, every starter has some questions associated with them.
Ryu enters the year as a top prospect and will be interesting to see if he can have the same success that he did in Korea Professional Baseball in the major leagues.
It doesn't matter how he performs though as he is pretty much guaranteed to spend the entire year with the Dodgers as he has a clause in his contract that he can't be sent to the minors without his permission.
After Ryu, the Dodgers have Josh Beckett who has not been the same dominating pitcher he once was with Boston and Ted Lilly who is coming back from shoulder surgery.
I would imagine that after Beckett, Chad Billingsley gets the final spot in the rotation which would leave Lilly, Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang on the outside looking in.
3. Is Detroit Comfortable with Bruce Rondon as Their Closer?
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The Tigers decided to let Jose Valverde walk this winter and were going forward with rookie Bruce Rondon as the team's primary closer. It sounds like the team is having second thoughts about that idea as they are now looking to potentially swing a trade for a closer.
The problem is they may have decided this too late, as the article states making trades during the spring is very tough. If the Tigers are really interested in trading they should call the Cubs as Carlos Marmol has been available for most of the offseason and seems to make the most sense.
Another option would be to resign Jose Valverde who is still available and the Tigers would not have to give up anything to get him, unlike Marmol. However, Detroit seems set against that idea due to how Valverde finished last season.
2. Should the Yankees Sign Robinson Cano to a Long Term Deal Before Opening Day?
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Robinson Cano is a superstar-type player that the Yankees can build their future around but first they have to lock him up to a long term deal. The Bronx Bombers have offered Cano what they called a "significant offer" this spring but no deal has been struck yet.
The problem is that Scott Boras is the agent for the second baseman and he generally has his star clients go to free agency to see what he can get on the open market. This strategy would make sense for other teams but this is the New York Yankees who have never had a problem opening the check book in past years.
It is hard to believe another team would be willing to outbid them and the Yankees would be willing to let their star walk away. If the team was able to make a move before Opening Day it would be one less distraction for this season.
1. Who Should Sign Kyle Lohse?
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It is hard to believe that a pitcher who went 16-3 with a 2.87 ERA last year still does not have a team to play for this close to this season. However this is exactly the case with Kyle Lohse.
It seems teams have been afraid to sign the starting pitcher due to the compensation they would have to give up as well as a high asking price by his agent Scott Boras. Most would think at this point, Lohse might be willing to join a team on a one year deal and try striking it big again in free agency next year.
However, Scott Boras has other plans as he is still asking for a three year deal with a "big" annual salary according to this tweet by Ken Rosenthal. One team that made sense was the Texas Rangers who lost Martin Perez to a broken forearm this week.
The Rangers however decided to go with veteran Derek Lowe, who was signed after Perez's injury, potentially closing the door on Lohse. It will be interesting to see what team decides to take a chance on Lohse as we get closer to Opening Day, making this the most gut-wrenching decision this spring training.