Spring Training Thoughts: Braun, Machado, Kemp, and Others

Doug Pensinger

Ray Guilfoyle discusses some news and notes from spring training.

Now that we have completed all of our offseason rankings - rankings for Mixed, AL-only, NL-only and Head to Head Points leagues, I will start a semi-regular Spring Training Thoughts series where I will offer my thoughts on the goings-on in spring training, including position battles, injuries, and things that enter my brain throughout the day.

Before I get to that, I want to let you know that I will be publishing my Top 200 Rankings on Monday morning.

If you are looking for more than a Top 200 list, make sure you head on over to Bret Sayre's blog-Dynasty Guru-as he published his Top 500 Dynasty League Rankings on Thursday. While there, there is a downloadable spreadsheet of his rankings.

Now on to the spring training thoughts:

Yesterday, we learned, via an Eric Stephen tweet, that Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp may be eased into spring training action:

Kemp was quoted earlier this offseason as saying that his focus is to be ready for the start of the regular season, and not spring training. Kemp is being drafted as if he is completely healthy, but I will be honest and tell you, as a huge Kemp supporter, that I have concerns about his power output this season. We could see his power come along slowly this season, and possibly not returning to old form until the second half of the season.

Well, it appears MLB is getting closer to linking Brewer's outfielder Ryan Braun to PEDs, as ESPN published an article which showed Braun's name on a completely different Biogenesis document. The document showed that Braun owed Anthony Bosch $1,,500 for something. It is not clear at this point what that something is, or at least we haven't been told what it is. I love Braun and will rank him pretty highly in my Top 200 rankings, but his name has been linked to PEDs too many times for him to be clean. Just my opinion, and it doesn't mean I am right. I hope I am wrong, actually.

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said on Friday that outfielder Gerardo Parra could work his way into the starting lineup on Opening Day with a strong spring training, and if young outfielder Adam Eaton struggles. Parra doesn't offer the fantasy value that Eaton does, but he won't hurt you in batting average and should steal double digit bases again this season.

I have no idea what Orioles manager Buck Showalter is thinking. He stated on Friday that Manny Machado will play third base exclusively this spring, and will not back up shortstop J.J. Hardy should he get injured. I was hoping to see Machado play some shortstop in 2013, but it appears the team sees Machado as a third baseman now. I don't pretend to understand some of the decisions this organization makes.

Eric Young Jr. Alert!! New manager Walt Weiss stated yesterday that he sees Eric Young Jr. in a super utility role in 2013, playing some second base, third base and outfield. If he can accumulate 400+ at bats this season, Young could be a very cheap source of 30 or more stolen bases. Weiss also stated that he wants the team to be more aggressive on the base paths this season, so this should increase the value of Carlos Gonzalez a bit as well.

For those of you thinking about drafting Tigers closer Bruce Rondon, here is catcher Alex Avila discussing Rondon after catching his bullpen this week, via Buster Olney's Saturday morning blog:

This is what Avila has seen in Rondon: His arm angle is about three-quarters, rather than over the top, which means that the right-hander is probably going to be very daunting for right-handed hitters. Some guys who throw really hard launch themselves at the hitters, like Joel Zumaya -- but Rondon has a nice and easy delivery, Avila said, with the ball hidden behind him. This means that the hitters will see nothing but this very relaxed Sunday-stroll-in-the-park motion -- until the ball is suddenly bearing down on them, like a charging buffalo. The motion is deceptive, and a little unnerving.

Rondon has a refined changeup, Avila says, which is probably his second-best pitch; the breaking ball is a little further behind. And this is big: Rondon is capable of working to both sides of the plate, which is not something you usually see in hard-throwing relievers.

It remains to be seen whether Rondon can close at the big league level, but we will get a taste of it in spring training in a few short weeks.

Yesterday, we learned that Padres outfield prospect Rymer Liriano will miss the 2013 season due to Tommy John surgery. This from Bill Center at the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Liriano injured his right elbow Dec. 27 while playing long toss during a workout at the Padres academy in his native Dominican Republic.

"It happened on one throw," Liriano said Friday at the Padres spring training camp. "I was throwing a lot, but I felt it after one throw. They did an MRI."

Losing a year of experience and learning is not good for a young hitting prospect, so this delays his call to the big leagues by 2 years, in my opinion.

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