The Biggest Busts for All 30 MLB Teams at Spring Training's Midway Point

Doug MeadCorrespondent IMarch 13, 2013

The Biggest Busts for All 30 MLB Teams at Spring Training's Midway Point

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    On Tuesday, I published a piece detailing the breakout stars for each MLB team at the midway point of spring training.

    This particular presentation will be the exact opposite.

    Thus far, each team has seen players both excel and disappoint during spring training. The disappointments range from veterans just having a hard time getting started to youngsters who have fallen way short of the mark with their performances.

    Here is a look at the biggest bust for each MLB team as spring training reaches its halfway point.

     

    Note: All spring training statistics courtesy of MLB.com and are for games completed as of Monday, March 11.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Randall Delgado

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    The Arizona Diamondbacks have an old-fashioned duel going on for the fifth and final spot in their starting rotation. Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin and Randall Delgado are battling it out for the role as the No. 5 starter.

    Delgado, who came over in the trade involving Justin Upton, has fallen way short of the mark thus far. He has posted an ugly 15.00 ERA in his two outings, giving him earned runs on nine hits in three innings. Opposing hitters are batting .500 against Delgado thus far.

    To be fair, Delgado's last outing was cut short when a rainstorm cut short his outing against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday. He threw 36 pitches in 1.2 innings, giving up two singles and a walk in the third inning to load the bases. He bore down, however, striking out Luis Jimenez and Kaleb Cowart before the game was called due to the driving rain.

    None of the three candidates have done much to distance themselves from the pack. Corbin has posted a 6.00 ERA in his three outings, and Skaggs has struggled with a 12.79 ERA in his three appearances.

    Delgado will need to bear down hard over the next two-plus weeks if he hopes to get a leg up on the competition.

Atlanta Braves: Sean Gilmartin

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    Heading into spring training, the Atlanta Braves, with Randall Delgado no longer in the picture, had two youngsters vying for the fifth spot in the starting rotation.

    Julio Teheran and Sean Gilmartin are ranked Nos. 1 and 5 respectively at the top of the Braves' top prospect list by Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com.

    Teheran has been impressive thus far, but Gilmartin has faltered.

    Teheran has given up just two runs on four hits in his nine spring innings, striking out 12 and allowing just a .133 batting average against him.

    Gilmartin has posted a 6.75 ERA in his three outings, giving up 12 hits in eight innings and allowing opposing hitters to bat .353 against him.

    Advantage: Teheran.

Baltimore Orioles: Jair Jurrjens

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    In his bid to win a spot in the Baltimore Orioles starting rotation, former Atlanta Braves pitcher Jair Jurrjens hasn't done much to impress manager Buck Showalter thus far.

    Jurrjens, signed to a minor league deal to compete for the final spot in the rotation, has not looked sharp early on for the Orioles. In his three spring outings thus far, Jurrjens has given up six earned runs on nine hits in 5.2 innings, walking six and striking out two with an ugly 2.65 WHIP.

    He is now far removed from the terrific first half he posted in 2011 for the Braves that earned him an All-Star nod. Now, he's fighting for his future.

Boston Red Sox: Joel Hanrahan

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    The Boston Red Sox looked to bolster their bullpen this offseason by trading for Pittsburgh Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan.

    So far, however, Hanrahan hasn't looked anything like a savior.

    He has gotten off to a rough start, giving up six earned runs on nine hits in four innings, walking four with six strikeouts. Opposing batters are hitting .375 off Hanrahan, and his 3.25 WHIP certainly isn't pretty.

    Sometimes it takes a while for players to feel comfortable in their new surroundings. The Red Sox are hoping that's the case with Hanrahan.

Chicago Cubs: Scott Feldman

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    Starting pitcher Scott Feldman posted a breakout season in 2009 with the Texas Rangers, winning 17 games in 31 starts with a 4.08 ERA.

    It's been a struggle since, however. Feldman was 6-11 with a 5.09 ERA last year, and the Rangers declined to pursue him as a free agent.

    Signing a one-year, $6 million deal with the Chicago Cubs, he is part of a reconstructed starting rotation, along with new additions Edwin Jackson, Carlos Villanueva and Scott Baker.

    Feldman's struggles seem to be continuing. In three spring outings, he has allowed seven runs on 12 hits in just seven innings.

    If Feldman pitches in similar fashion during the regular season, he may not even last the year in his new home.

Chicago White Sox: Trayce Thompson

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    As the second-highest ranked hitting prospect in the Chicago White Sox farm system, Trayce Thompson gives his team promise for the future.

    But the No. 2 prospect has yet to wow anyone so far in spring training.

    Thompson, who hit .253 with 25 home runs and 96 RBI last season across three minor league levels, has put up a goose egg thus far in spring training. He is 0-for-14, failing to make an impression and being sent to minor league camp by the White Sox on Monday.

Cincinnati Reds: Billy Hamilton

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    Speedy prospect Billy Hamilton was moved to the outfield last year in the hopes that he would make his way to the majors in a more expedient fashion.

    With Zack Cozart firmly planted as the starting shortstop, the move made sense. Hamilton's baserunning abilities certainly give the Reds a reason to want him in their lineup somewhere.

    Hamilton's 155 stolen bases last season set a single-season record. He also appeared to be progressing as a hitter, with a .311 average and .410 on-base percentage. The 113 strikeouts were lower than the previous season as well.

    But this spring, Hamilton has looked completely out of sorts, hitting just .111 (2-for-18) with eight strikeouts in 20 plate appearances. And he has received a strong rebuke from manager Dusty Baker.

    With Shin-Soo Choo patrolling center field this season, the Reds can certainly take their time with Hamilton. It seems clear at this point that he's not quite ready for the jump to the majors.

Cleveland Indians: Chris McGuiness

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    As a Rule 5 draftee, Cleveland Indians first baseman Chris McGuiness has to make the 25-man roster to avoid being sent back to the Texas Rangers.

    He hasn't done much yet to warrant placement on the Indians' roster.

    A first baseman by trade, McGuiness is getting some work in the outfield to help his chances of sticking. But what he's done with the bat thus far isn't helping. McGuiness is hitting just .120 (3-for-25) with seven strikeouts so far in Cactus League play.

    With Nick Swisher, Mark Reynolds and Carlos Santana in camp and capable of playing of first base, McGuiness' chances of sticking as a reserve were likely slim anyway. They're even slimmer now with the way he's been hitting, or not hitting.

Colorado Rockies: Miguel Batista

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    Miguel Batista has seen a little bit of everything during his 18-year career. The 42-year-old pitcher is now bidding to join his 12th team since his debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates back in 1992.

    Batista has started, worked in long and middle relief and everything in between. He even saved 31 games for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2005.

    His role for the Colorado Rockies would likely be more of the same.

    That is, if he can get hitters out.

    Batista hasn't yet done a good job of that in Cactus League play, allowing three earned runs on nine hits in just three innings of work. He's allowed six unearned runs as well, and opposing batters are hitting .474 off Batista.

    Batista is clearly nearing the end of his career. Whether or not that ending comes here in spring training has yet to be determined.

Detroit Tigers: Doug Fister

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    Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Doug Fister fought through two trips to the disabled list last season, posting a 10-10 record and 3.45 ERA in 26 starts. He was outstanding in the postseason, with a 1.40 ERA in three starts, as well.

    This spring, however, Fister has struggled in finding a feel for his pitches.

    After giving up four runs in 3.1 innings against the Toronto Blue Jays last Saturday, Fister's spring ERA stands at 11.57, giving up nine runs on 11 hits in seven innings of work.

    He acknowledged his issues after the game (via George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press):

    For me, today was trying to get a feel, trying to work on the cutter, trying to work on the curveball. Felt like I had some control with the sinker for a while. Still need to focus on that. That's going to be one of the focuses for next outing.

    Fister will be an integral part of the starting rotation for the Tigers, along with Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez.

    The Tigers are hoping he finds that feel soon.

Houston Astros: Jordan Lyles

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    Before the start of spring training, Jordan Lyles was thought to be a lock to be one of the starters for the Houston Astros.

    Now, not so much.

    Lyles has been absolutely horrible thus far in Grapefruit League play. In three outings, he has a whopping 25.20 ERA, giving up 14 earned runs on 20 hits through five innings.

    Lyles told Brian McTaggart of MLB.com that he wasn't terribly concerned about his poor start:

    Today they just hit balls where guys weren’t, they balls hard, they hit balls soft. The credit goes to them. It has nothing to do with me really. When it comes right down to it, I need to make better pitches. But I’m not throwing all my pitches right now. The scoreboard doesn’t look good but that’s not the main focus right now.

    Considering the Astros have a young and inexperienced rotation, as well as the fact that first-year manager Bo Porter is evaluating anything and everything, maybe Lyles should be focusing just a bit more.

Kansas City Royals: None

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    Thus far, the Kansas City Royals have the best exhibition record in baseball. While it's completely meaningless, things have been seamless in spring training to this point.

    Manager Ned Yost has to like what he sees thus far. Bruce Chen and Luke Hochevar struggled somewhat early on, but both have impressed lately in the fight for the fifth and final rotation spot.

    The regular lineup has also been productive, with each regular position player currently hitting above .290.

    So far, so good.

Los Angeles Angels: Chad Cordero

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    It would be difficult for anyone not to root for Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Chad Cordero.

    Cordero has thrown only 15 innings since 2008, enduring shoulder surgery that saw his mid-90s fastball barley crack 85 mph on the radar.

    Then, the unthinkable happened.

    Cordero's 11-week-old daughter, Tehya, died of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) in December 2010. His world came crashing down upon him.

    Now, less than two years later, Cordero is attempting his comeback with the Angels. He led the majors with 47 saves pitching for the Washington Nationals in 2005. Those days are long gone, and Cordero is valiantly trying to earn a bullpen slot.

    His journey back may not be with the Angels, however. Cordero has struggled, giving up eight runs on eight hits in 3.2 innings for a 19.64 ERA. Opposing batters are hitting .444 off of him as well.

    Cordero deserves to be rooted for—he's a terrific young man with deep family roots and is considered an excellent clubhouse presence.

    It's possible that the Angels believe in him enough to allow him to continue his comeback by working at the Triple-A level.

    I, for one, will continue rooting him on.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano

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    In the battle for the fifth and final spot in the starting rotation for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang are battling neck-and-neck.

    In mediocrity, that is.

    Neither has done anything to distance himself from the other. Both are sporting ERAs of 10.80 heading into action on Tuesday.

    With Zack Greinke's recent elbow woes, along with concern about Chad Billingsley's elbow, the Dodgers' need for quality depth is as important as ever.

    It would be nice to see someone step up.

Miami Marlins: Chris Hatcher

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    In his bid to win a coveted spot in the Miami Marlins bullpen, Chris Hatcher isn't doing himself any favors.

    Hatcher has appeared in five games thus far, allowing seven runs on 14 hits in five innings of work. Hitters are having no trouble figuring him out, with a healthy .538 average against him.

    The Marlins have a full audition going on, and Hatcher has come up with stage fright so far.

Milwaukee Brewers: Taylor Green

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    Milwaukee Brewers utility infielder Taylor Green acquitted himself well for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic. While Canada failed to get past the first round, Green batted .286 in their three games.

    Now, however, he has some ground to make up with the Brewers.

    Green is fighting for the second infield utility spot on the roster with Jeff Bianchi, Bobby Crosby and Donnie Murphy. Before he left for the WBC, he was hitting just .158 with six strikeouts in 19 at-bats.

    While he'll likely cherish his experience playing for his home country, Green will have to work hard to impress his bosses enough to warrant a roster spot in the next two-plus weeks.

Minnesota Twins: Joe Benson

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    In 2011, it looked like Minnesota Twins prospect Joe Benson was headed in the right direction.

    After hitting .285 with 16 home runs and 67 RBI at Double-A Trenton, Benson was called up by the Twins for the final month of the season. He didn't embarrass himself at all, hitting .239 in 21 games.

    But last year, he suffered through a slump and two surgeries, limiting him to just 76 games and a .202 average overall.

    Benson is back in camp this spring, hoping to compete with Darin Mastroianni and Aaron Hicks for playing time in center field.

    Benson is healthy, but the bat is rusty. He is hitting just .114 (4-for-35) with 12 strikeouts.

    Sounds like a journey back to Triple-A might be in order.

New York Mets: Mike Baxter

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    On June 1 of last year, New York Mets outfielder Mike Baxter was hitting .323 and off to a terrific season. He then sacrificed his body for the sake of a no-hitter.

    Baxter made a game-saving catch in the top of the seventh inning against the St. Louis Cardinals, helping to preserve the no-hitter by Johan Santana. Unfortunately, he broke his collarbone on the play.

    He was on the disabled list for nearly two months, finally returning on July 30. But Baxter wasn't the same, ending the season with a .263 average, three home runs and 17 RBI.

    Now, Baxter is attempting to become the starting right fielder for the Mets, and he is still struggling.

    He is hitting .130 (3-for-23) with eight strikeouts thus far. For an outfield that had all kinds of question marks heading into spring training, Baxter isn't helping to ease those concerns.

New York Yankees: Dan Johnson

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    In camp as a non-roster invitee, first baseman Dan Johnson's chances of making the New York Yankees suddenly became a whole lot brighter with the wrist injury suffered by Mark Teixeira.

    But Johnson's bat has yet to show up.

    He will continue getting looks at first base as spring training rolls on, but thus far, he hasn't exactly convinced the Yankees he's the temporary solution. Johnson is hitting .056 thus far.

    No wonder Yankees GM Brian Cashman is calling Derrek Lee.

Oakland Athletics: Josh Donaldson

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    Josh Donaldson earned the starting third base job for the Oakland A's with his play last season. But he may have a tough time hanging on to that job if he continues slumping this spring.

    Donaldson did hit two home runs against the Seattle Mariners last Friday before the rains came, so his breakout that day won't show up in the stats.

    The at-bats that are on the books aren't pretty. Donaldson is hitting just .080 (2-for-25) in early Cactus League play.

Philadelphia Phillies: Darin Ruf

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    Darin Ruf may not necessarily be a bust this spring for the Philadelphia Phillies, but he's not a boom either.

    Competing for the starting nod in left field, Ruf is currently hitting .188 with no homers and six RBI. He's also misplayed a few balls on defense as well.

    With Delmon Young likely starting the season on the disabled list, the opportunity to start is there for Ruf. But he has yet to seize that chance.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Pedro Alvarez

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    Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez joined the 30-home run club last season. But this spring, that power has been absent.

    In fact, his offense altogether has been AWOL.

    Alvarez is hitting .091 after nine spring games. While it's not likely he will lose his job this spring, the Pirates are expecting him to to produce, and they'd like that production to come from the cleanup spot eventually.

    He just has to prove that the 2012 season was the norm and not the exception.

San Diego Padres: Freddy Garcia

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    Freddy Garcia was invited to San Diego Padres camp as a non-roster invitee with the hope that he could crack the starting rotation and help provide veteran leadership.

    Garcia, a 152-game winner over his 14-year career, won't be cracking anything if he continues pitching poorly.

    In three outings this spring, he has given up 10 earned runs on 12 hits in 6.2 innings. He's given up a team-leading three home runs and has allowed a .375 BAA.

    Garcia's audition has left audiences shaking their heads in disappointment.

San Francisco Giants: Ramon Ramirez

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    In the battle for the final bullpen spot for the San Francisco Giants, Ramon Ramirez has the advantage of familiarity on his side.

    But familiarity will only get him so far.

    Ramirez is fighting with Chad Gaudin, Shane Loux, Dan Runzler and Scott Proctor, among others, for that final spot. He posted an outstanding 2.07 ERA for the Giants in 2010 and 2011 before a subpar season for the New York Mets last year.

    Ramirez has yet to find his groove this spring, allowing six runs on eight hits in his four innings of work.

    There's still a bit over two weeks before manager Bruce Bochy makes his final decision, but Ramirez needs to step it up. His familiar face won't be enough.

Seattle Mariners: Hector Noesi

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    Last Friday was a dark day in Arizona, with driving rains and ominous storm clouds casting a pall over the normally sun-drenched state.

    It was a dark day for Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Hector Noesi as well.

    Although the game was called off by rain and doesn't count in the standings, Noesi was horrible, working two innings and giving up six earned runs on five hits, three of them home runs.

    Noesi's spring line looks bad enough: a 14.73 ERA with opposing batters hitting .500 against him.

    Throw in Friday's effort and his ERA would be 19.05.

    He can likely kiss his chances to land a starting role goodbye.

St. Louis Cardinals: Edward Mujica

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    The St. Louis Cardinals bullpen appears to be strong once again, especially with addition of another lefty, Randy Choate, to complement Marc Rzepczynski.

    Should the Cardinals be worried about the struggles of righty reliever Edward Mujica?

    Mujica gave up another five runs to the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday in one inning of work, boosting his spring ERA to 15.00.

    Opposing batters are hitting .452 off of him, and he has yet to resemble anything close to the pitcher that posted a 1.03 ERA in 29 appearances last year following his trade from the Miami Marlins.

    Spring training is a time for pitchers to work out all their kinks. The Cardinals are hoping that Mujica's kinks will get worked out quickly.

Tampa Bay Rays: Mike Montgomery

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    If any organization can "fix" a pitcher, it's most likely the Tampa Bay Rays.

    Armed with a bevy of youngsters who continue to excel, the Rays have done an outstanding job of developing their own talent.

    So when they entered into a deal with the Kansas City Royals to acquire hitting prospect Wil Myers and pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi, they also took a chance on the former top pitching prospect for the Royals, Mike Montgomery.

    Montgomery struggled mightily over his last two seasons in the minors, posting a 5.69 ERA during that time with a 1.58 WHIP.

    This spring, the struggles continued for Montgomery as he posted a 12.00 ERA in three outings.

    He was sent to minor league camp by the Rays on Monday. However, manager Joe Maddon told Roger Mooney of TBO.com that he believes that Montgomery can be fixed—he just needed the right direction.

    "Once that happens, when you get the buy-in, then it really has a chance to work," Maddon said.

    Considering the Rays' history of success with young pitching, it would be foolhardy to bet against Montgomery.

Texas Rangers: Mike Olt

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    With the Texas Rangers losing Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Mike Napoli, they're looking for the lost production to be provided by several sources.

    A.J. Pierzynski and Lance Berkman were signed to help, but the Rangers were also relying on internal candidates, including prospect third baseman Mike Olt.

    Olt, however, has been largely silent this spring.

    He is hitting just .125 (3-for-24) with one home run and 10 strikeouts. Rangers manager Ron Washington has used him in the outfield as well in an effort to give him more flexibility and a chance to help the team in multiple ways.

    With two weeks left, Olt will continue getting looks. Whether it's enough time for him to figure out his hitting mechanics remains to be seen.

Toronto Blue Jays: Ricky Romero

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    On Saturday, Toronto Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero was scheduled to work three innings against the Detroit Tigers.

    His control wouldn't let him get there.

    Romero's outing ended after he gave up up a run on three walks and three hits in two-plus innings.

    It's the walks that are disconcerting—Romero led the majors last year with 105 free passes. It was that lack of command that led to a 9-14 record and 5.77 ERA.

    It's that same command issue that's getting Romero into trouble once again.

Washington Nationals: Jordan Zimmermann

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    It was reported after Washington Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann's last start that he was experiencing "dead arm" issues.

    The Nationals certainly hope that's all it is.

    Zimmermann was rocked by the Minnesota Twins last Friday, giving up eight runs on nine hits in three innings. The outing boosted his spring ERA up to 11.00.

    Dead arm is considered common at this time of year, when pitchers have worked two or three outings. But it's safe to assume that the Nationals will monitor Zimmermann nonetheless—he underwent Tommy John surgery just three-plus years ago.

     

    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.