2013 MLB Season Preview: 10 Players Who Need a Change of Scenery
Hope springs eternal ... well, maybe not for these 10 MLB players
They say that hope spring eternal in baseball, but for some MLB players, that just simply isn't the case.
Well, at least not with their current teams anyway.
Without fail, each spring will yield a fair share of players who simply find themselves at the wrong place at the wrong time. Whether it's a youngster who is being blocked, a veteran who is a victim of the numbers game on the depth charts, or just someone whose time with their respective team is simply up, there are always individuals who could use that much-needed change of scenery to take the next step in their careers.
No, it doesn't always work out, but recent seasons have seen some notable successes, from Chris Davis going from Quad-A to the playoffs with the Baltimore Orioles, to Aaron Hill transforming from Mr. Infield Fly to the All-Star who hit for the cycle twice.
A major part of a GM's job is to identify these types of players, and determine whether a change of locations and organizational mantras can get them to perform at the optimum level. This off-season has seen some moves which could be described as such, with arguably the highest-profile swap being the Justin Upton trade that was essentially years in the works.
So, who are the players in 2013 still waiting for a similar move?
We've already seem some pretty good redemption stories in Spring Training (why hello again, Scott Kazmir), but there are still plenty of folks who are being held back by their situations in one way or another.
Here then, are 10 of the players most in need of a change of scenery in the major leagues headed into the 2013 season.
Detroit Tigers — Rick Porcello
Rick Porcello and his ground ball arsenal has been a victim of the Detroit Tigers' sub-par infield defense since he made the team's rotation out of Spring Training as a 20-year old.
That said, his talent level and upside remain quite high; that's probably the reason why the team has looked into trading him this spring, and why the asking price for the 24-year old is as hefty as it's been rumored.
New York Yankees — Phil Hughes
This may sound a little exaggerated, but I think Phil Hughes might have been an All-Star by now if he wasn't on the New York Yankees.
Fly balls and Yankee Stadium doesn't mix, and nobody knows that better than Yankees fans and Hughes. The righty has a .260 BAA and .781 OPSA at home; on the road? try .239 and .680.
Sure, it's probably not going to happen this year, not with the Yankees being particularly pitching-needy in 2013, but just look at what happened to fellow Yankees alumni Ian Kennedy when he left town.
The 26-year old can be a star yet, but it won't happen until he hits free agency.
Atlanta Braves — Dan Uggla
The $39 million owed to Dan Uggla is going to prevent the Atlanta Braves from giving him a change of scenery, but considering that he was brought in to be a middle-of-the-order bat, only to wind up hitting .220 last year with career-low power numbers and finding himself benched in September?
Yeah, I'd say Uggla's time in Atlanta is just about up.
Chicago Cubs — Alfonso Soriano
The Chicago Cubs have been trying to part ways with their albatross contract for years, and the 37-year old even hit 32 home runs in 2012 to help facilitate it.
There are no buyers yet, but finally moving Alfonso Soriano to a different team in 2013 would be a significant step forward for the rebuilding franchise — and probably for the player as well (assuming he wants to win).
Washington Nationals — Drew Storen
This one is contentious even by my standards. I mean, on one hand, Drew Storen might be in the perfect situation: he's on a championship contender, and is a young piece of a core that could find themselves in the playoffs for years to come.
On the other hand, he's also a 25-year old elite closer who saw his job get swept from underneath him in the off-season after he'd suffered a heartbreaking blown save in the 2012 playoffs.
Storen could still be that for another team, and with him being under team control through 2016, his trade value may never be higher than it is now. I can't necessarily say that a change of scenery would help Storen get to the top of the baseball world, but a new team should at least help his earning potential going forward.
Toronto Blue Jays — Adam Lind
Fans of The Toronto Blue Jays have had to watch almost three full years (he was good at times) of Adam Lind taking the field as one of the worst-hitting first baseman in the league.
Though he's unlikely to have any real value on the market, it's been — and still is time for the two to part ways, even if he ends up pulling off an Aaron Hill with a new team.
Then again, he does have an 1.008 OPS through 40 spring at-bats, and the team could use him in an effective platoo...no, not falling for that again — not for a fourth year.
Cleveland Indians — Ubaldo Jimenez
The Cleveland Indians don't quite want to admit it (they did pick up his option, then guaranteed him a rotation spot and a clean slate, after all), but Ubaldo Jimenez isn't guy they thought they got from what you could probably now call a lose-lose trade with the Colorado Rockies.
That will have been evident to anyone who watched him pitch at all over the last two seasons. The former fireballer still hasn't adjusted to his drop in velocity, and a return back to the NL might just be the thing he needs to get his flagging career back on track.
San Diego Padres - Kyle Blanks
Even with players like Chase Headley and Carlos Quentin on the team, the oft-injured Kyle Blanks might just have the most power in his bat among his San Diego Padres teammates. Yet, he finds himself blocked in left field (Quentin) and first base (Yonder Alonso) despite a .353/.444/.588 triple-slash and three homers over 51 spring at-bats.
There are plenty of teams who could use the kind of power he possesses, and the Padres could likely get a pretty good return if health is no longer an issue. It's time to free the Kyle Blanks.
Minnesota Twins - Justin Morneau
Justin Morneau has paid his dues with the Minnesota Twins through his 10-year career, and it's very apparent that the Twins are not going to get the impending free agent anywhere close to winning a World Series in 2013. On the flip side, Morneau won't be the piece that the team can build a future around either.
This doesn't have to be a nasty break-up so much as an amicable goodbye. It's time for Morneau to go ... home to Canada with the Toronto Blue Jays, I assume.
Miami Marlins — Giancarlo Stanton
Yes, Giancarlo Stanton is a young star and the leader on a team of high-upside prospects who can eventually grow into a core for a championship contender. Unfortunately, that team is the Miami Marlins, who are owned and run by Jeff Loria, whose long and much-publicized history of crookery from his Montreal Expos days is something I could probably write another 1000 words about.
For the sake of brevity, I'll just say this: Stanton would have to be crazy to trust his boss, which is to say he's probably going to bolt as soon as he can (2017 or prior).
While we're at it, you can go ahead and throw Logan Morrison and Ricky Nolasco on this list too.