Posted tagged ‘Spring Training’

Kameron Loe signs minor league deal with San Francisco Giants

January 14, 2014
(Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports)

(Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports)

Kameron Loe had a rough year bouncing around from city to city last year and is looking for a change as he signed a minor league deal with the San Francisco Giants and hopes to make the team out of camp.

The 32 year old right hander posted a 7.09 ERA with 5.1 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and a 50.5 percent ground-ball rate in 26 2/3 innings for the Mariners, Cubs and Braves last season. His homer-to-flyball ratio was 34.4 percent due to 11 homers given up in 26 2/3 frames. Loe’s career mark is just 13 percent in that category, and the league average was 10.5 percent, suggesting he’s due for some improved luck in that department. Loe has shown he can pitch in the majors, as he posted a 3.61 ERA in 229 1/3 innings from 2008-12 with the Rangers and Brewers.

The Giants pitching has always been their strength in the NL and the bullpen has always been above average each year. The organization knows how to mix pieces together in order to win World Series championships over the past 5 years. Let’s hope Kameron and his sinker can be added to that pen in 2014.

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Seattle Mariners add Kameron Loe to their bullpen

February 17, 2013

Via Seattle Times:

Milwaukee Brewers Photo DayVeteran relief pitcher Kameron Loe has always been the type of guy who gets noticed.

When you’re 6 feet 8 and 245 pounds with a martial arts background and known to keep a boa constrictor as a pet, most people see you coming. And yet, Loe, 31, part of a Milwaukee Brewers bullpen that came within two victories of a World Series berth in 2011, nearly sneaked through the entire winter without getting picked up as a free agent.

That is, until the Mariners, having shored up their starting rotation late last week, jumped at the chance to add needed bullpen experience from the right side. Loe is on a minor-league deal for now, but the Mariners — having freed room by jettisoning Shawn Kelley and his $935,000 salary via trade — won’t hesitate to add Loe to their bullpen if he shows something this spring.

“They just said I’d have an opportunity to pitch,” Loe said Thursday as the Mariners held their second spring workout. “I’d love to have the seventh or eighth inning, or at least help out at the end of a close game.”

The Mariners have Oliver Perez, 31, to work the eighth inning, but he’s left-handed. Josh Kinney, 33, did some setup work from the right side late last season, but he’s appeared in only 93 big-league games since his 2006 debut.

MLB: FEB 28 Spring Training - Rangers v AngelsThe only other right-handers to bridge the gap to closer Tom Wilhelmsen are 100 mph flamethrowers Carter Capps and Stephen Pryor, but both have barely gotten their feet wet in the majors.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge said that once the team addressed its rotation last week by adding Joe Saunders and nonroster invite Jon Garland, focus shifted to the bullpen. It wasn’t a coincidence Seattle’s talks with Loe’s agent got serious right around the time a decision was made to designate Kelley for assignment.

“When a Kameron Loe is still out there, a guy who’s a quality big-league reliever and … you’ve got a chance to get him, I think you need to go ahead and do that,” Wedge said. “Especially with all the youth in our bullpen.”

That youth isn’t necessarily an issue yet, but Wedge said it’s something the team needs to prepare for.

“We’ve got a lot of young pitchers who had a lot of success last year,” he said. “But this is their next go-around under a different set of circumstances. A lot of those guys broke in during the middle of the season. It’s a little bit different the next year when you come in and you have expectations on you.”

Enter Loe, a side-arming sinkerballer who still harbors ideas about becoming a starting pitcher again, something he hasn’t done in the majors since 2007 with the Texas Rangers.

“Eventually, I’d like to get back to being a starter if they see an opening for me,” Loe said. “I either want to be at the beginning of a game or the end of a game.”

Regardless of how he’s used, Loe knows he has to do something about his career-long struggle against left-handed batters, who pounded him for a .307 batting average last year.

His sinker runs away from lefties, so it’s largely ineffective. Loe is instead working on making his change-up more consistent and plans to challenge lefties inside with his fastball more.

“I think that will be the equalizer for me,” he said.

When he doesn’t do it, the results can be disastrous. Loe was lit up for a 10.45 earned-run average his final 13 outings last September as he battled a broken toe and general arm fatigue, leading to the Brewers eventually releasing him.

Kameron+Loe+Milwaukee+Brewers+v+Boston+Red+biBuvy3w-EulFor now, Wedge views Loe strictly as a bullpen guy. He wants to see more of the pitcher known for generating an above-average number of swings and misses with his lower arm slot.

Loe still was trying to be a starter again in 2009 when he left for Japan to play for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. That decision led to Loe parting ways with a longtime “roommate” even more imposing than he was — a 7-foot boa constrictor named Angel. He’d received her for his 19th birthday after a childhood spent collecting snakes, lizards and frogs in California’s Simi Valley.

Angel wound up living with Loe and former Rangers teammate C.J. Wilson at a condominium they shared in Dallas, where they’d bring her a live rat to eat once a week. Loe would even bring Angel into the clubhouse.

But he, reluctantly, had to put her up for adoption when he went to play overseas.

In the end, that Hawks gig lasted just five starts after Loe was shelled and relegated to the Japanese minor leagues. But he got another shot back in the U.S. when the Brewers made him a nonroster invite to camp in 2010.

Loe actually started for two months in Class AAA and compiled a 4-3 record a 3.16 ERA in 10 outings.

“I was going pretty deep into games,” he said.

But the Brewers needed bullpen help and called Loe up. He held opponents to a 2.78 ERA over 56 outings in his first big-league stint in three years.

He’s stayed in the majors as a reliever ever since, picking up some new pets along the way. He found a tarantula in the backyard of his Scottsdale, Ariz., home last October.

“I kept him for 10 days but he wasn’t eating, so I had to let him go,” he said.

For now, it’s just his bulldog, Roxy, living with him and his wife, Nikki, and daughter, Ayla.

Loe says his pets have always been gentle. But the huge mixed martial arts fan looks like he could handle some animals gone wild, spending his spare time practicing Muy Thai kickboxing.

“I just know how quick and how balanced those martial artists are,” he said. “And if I could translate any of that into my pitching, I thought it would be a good idea.”

He’ll need it to translate better than it did in the final month of last season. But if Loe can show the Mariners something this spring, they’ll likely choose to see a lot more.

I think this is a tough move for Kameron considering he will be playing against the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim all the time in that tough division. I think playing in big Safeco Field is going to help him keep the ball in the yard but he needs to develop that change-up a lot more this spring training to garnish more strikeouts and ground balls. He had success in the American League when he was a starter for Texas and he is a proven veteran with over six years of MLB experience, so he should earn a roster spot out of camp. I think he can be a great seventh inning guy in Seattle because they don’t score a lot of runs and rely on their bullpen in one run games. Let’s hope Kameron gets back to 2011 form and comes into camp healthy and ready to compete at a high level…

Good News for Mets fans, David Wright is back on the field and feels good

March 22, 2012

Via Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com:

(Howard Simmons/New York Daily News)

For the first time since getting shut down with an abdominal strain and receiving a cortisone shot, David Wright took batting practice outdoors with teammates Thursday. Wright looked very comfortable, which a scout watching from the stands also observed.

“I thought Wright’s swing was really good,” the scout said. “Quick and compact. Drove ball. Made good sound. I would feel encouraged. That’s the best sound I heard anybody make on either team.”

Said Wright: “I’ve been in the cage for a little bit of time now. Today was the next step in going on the field, because it’s a little more energy. You exert a little more. I felt good and am headed in the right direction. I did a full day with the guys. I need to probably do that for a few more days. At least in my eyes, this was kind of like the first day for me of spring training of going through everything from stretch to the conditioning.”

Wright is even making full throws across the diamond.

“I feel about as good as I’d feel, I guess, picking up a bat for the first time in a few weeks,” Wright said. “Hopefully it gets better from here result-wise. But just being out there and being able to go through a full day and a full round of batting practice and not feeling anything, that’s pretty good.”

This is good news for the Mets. If they want to be the underdogs this season, they are going to need #5 to produce this season. I also like how his confidence is already being raised after the Citi Field renovations are finishing up. I am glad to hear he is back on the field and I think he could be the key to the Mets winning this season. Without Reyes, Wright has to be better than good. He has to be right…

In the words of Terry Collins: “Nice going, Johan!”

March 1, 2012

In Port St. Lucie today, New York Mets ace Johan Santanathrew to live batters for the first time since the fall.

Santana threw a total of 43 pitches to Mets hitters, including David Wright, Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy, during a pair of simulated innings. It was Santana’s first time in a game-like setting since being shut down for winter rest following a simulated game against Mets minor leaguers participating in the fall instructional league in Fort Myers, Fla.

Santana, who did not appear in the majors last season, is trying to return from Sept. 14, 2010 surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder.

He is scheduled to make his first Grapefruit League start Tuesday against the St. Louis Cardinals. Manager Terry Collins plans for Santana to start Opening Day on April 5 against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field.

This is some great progress. Unlike a lot of Mets fans, I expect a lot of things from Johan this year and next year. I think knowing that he has changed his pitching mechanics, it gives you hope that he won’t hurt his elbow as much and he will start focusing on his shoulder for power and consistency. When I hear people in the media say, “touch his shoulder, it’s a rock of muscle!” I know after hearing that from the coaches that Johan will be back and ready to go this Spring. Now I am not saying he will be CY Young Johan, but he will certainly be Johan with a 3.00 ERA and 13 wins. That’s what the Mets need if they want to make a miracle run this season…

SB Nation: Marcum and Greinke the key to Brewers season?

March 3, 2011

My favorite baseball writer, Rob Neyer talks about how this year is vital for the Brewers and two pitchers can make that difference.

Via SB Nation:

After two years of good hitting and lousy pitching, the Brewers have finally addressed their biggest need with two big trades. Will newcomers Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum be enough in 2011?

 This one’s easy.

Yuniesky Betancourt #3 of the Milwaukee Brewers poses for a portrait during Spring Training Media Day on February 24, 2011 at Maryvale Stadium in Maryvale, Arizona. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

The Brewers will open the 2010 season with almost exactly the same lineup as they finished 2009. There’s just one change: at shortstop, Yuniesky Betancourt replaces Alcides Escobar. On most teams, replacing anyone with Yuniesky Betancourt would constitute a downgrade, but in this case Escobar was so awful at the plate last season that Betancourt can scarcely be worse. Granted, the Brewers will take a defensive hit, but overall this is roughly a wash.

So the same Brewers who ranked fourth in the National League in scoring last season are likely to do roughly as well this season.

The problem last season wasn’t scoring runs; it was preventing them. Milwaukee finished 14th in the league with a 4.59 ERA, and their starters were even worse: 4.65 ERA, 15th in the National League. And that after a 2009 that was even worse.

Pitchers Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum of the Milwaukee Brewers listen to pitching coach Rick Kranitz during a spring training practice on February 18, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

For two straight seasons, the Brewers featured excellent hitting but execrable pitching, and of course it cost them dearly as they finished below .500 both years. Clearly, whatever they’ve been doing to build a pitching staff — and a rotation, in particular, just wasn’t working. The Manny Parras and the Doug Davises and the Jeff Suppans and the David Bushes just weren’t getting it done.

Brewers fans have been incredibly patient, and last year nearly three million of them showed up to watch a 77-85 squad. But even Cheeseheads might run out of patience eventually, and Prince Fielder’s impending free agency adds just another temporal imperative. The time is now, and so this winter management pulled the trigger on two big trades.

First, they traded second baseman Brett Lawrie — their one truly hot hitting prospect — straight up to Toronto for starting pitcher Shaun Marcum.

Second, two weeks later they traded a quartet of young players to Kansas City for Zack Greinke (and Yuniesky Betancourt, but that was just because if nobody plays shortstop you give up way too many singles and also it’s really hard to turn most varieties of the double play).

The Big Question, then, is pretty obvious: Are Greinke and Marcum enough to get the Brewers’ run prevention into the middle of the National League pack, and thus push the club into real contention?

In a word, yes.

In this case, the math is exceptionally simple. Last season, David Bush, Manny Parra, Doug Davis and Chris Capuano combined for 64 starts, and in the aggregate performed at almost exactly replacement level.

Absent injuries, Greinke and Marcum will make roughly 64 starts, and we may estimate they’ll be roughly eight to 10 Wins Above Replacement … and thus eight to 10 wins better than the pitchers they’re replacing.

At this point the simplicity breaks down a little. We can’t just add eight or 10 wins to the Brewers’ 77 last season, because the other 23 players on the roster are variables, too. We can’t just assume that if Greinke and Marcum are healthy all season, the Brewers will win 85-87 games.

You know what, though?

If you run the math, that’s almost exactly where the Brewers grade out. And with 85-87 wins going in, a few breaks or a canny trade can push you to 90 and Nirvana.

Greinke and Marcum really are the keys. As they should be, considering how much the Brewers gave up to get them. The farm system is now almost completely devoid of top-tier talent, which means the window might well close after this season.

you know it makes perfect sense because when you have a team of Parra, Bush, Suppan, and Capuano it makes you look like the Cleveland Indians of the American League. They now have three top of the line starters and two very good middle of the rotation guys. This season is going to be the year for the Brewers and their fans or else they will have to wait another few years to become relevant again. Everything is in their favor and right now they need to take advantage of it. The team feels confident that they can win throughout camp this week, but let’s see if a dream becomes a reality…