This Week in the National League

Spring 2006 is Here!

Players are starting to stroll into their havens for the next six weeks. Yes, pitchers and catchers are finally reporting to camp. Spring Training has arrived. Who will show up early? Who will show up late? Who really cares? It might not feel like it across the country, but Spring is here!

 

But even with Spring Training upon us, the front offices around the National League haven't exactly been sitting still, happy with how their rosters look heading into camp. There's been plenty of movement the past couple weeks. As the locker rooms in Arizona and Florida begin to crowd, here's the latest and greatest news from around the league:

 

Arizona Diamondbacks - The Diamondbacks added free agent utility outfielder Jeff DaVanon to their roster. He provided an occasional spark for the Angels in 2003 and 2004, but was dismal batting .231 with 2 home runs and 15 RBI in 225 at-bats last season. Still, he adds some depth to the D'Backs bench heading into 2006.

 

Atlanta Braves - There isn't much brewing in Atlanta. After 14 straight divisional championships, this very different ball club will have a lot of eyes on it throughout Spring Training.

 

Chicago Cubs - Keeping his record perfect with the Chicago Cubs, General Manager Jim Hendry avoided arbitration by agreeing to terms with Carlos Zambrano, the team's most consistent pitcher and inning workhorse the past two years. The club also signed former Cardinals pitcher Jason Simontacchi to a minor league contract. Simontacchi missed all of 2005 and most of 2004 dealing with a shoulder injury, and is yet another low-risk gamble by Hendry on a once-solid pitcher that is attempting a comeback.

 

Cincinnati Reds - Former Texas and Minnesota front office man Wayne Krivsky was named the Reds new General Manager and brings 30 years of experience to the club. Cincinnati also made yet another flurry of deals over the course of the past two weeks. The Reds avoided arbitration with Adam Dunn and agreed to a two-year deal worth $18.5 million. They also went on to add relief and spot starting pitcher Mike Gosling to the roster having picked him up on waivers from Arizona. Krivsky then went on to sign free agent first baseman Scott Hatteberg. With Sean Casey donning the black and gold in Pittsburgh, the Reds plan on moving Dunn to first base. As a result, Hatteberg probably won't see as much action as he did in Oakland, that is unless the Reds get plagued with injuries once again.

 

Colorado Rockies - The Rockies signed Josh Fogg to a one-year contract. Fogg who won at least 10 games in each season from 2002-2004, had a rough year in 2005 with the Pirates going 6-11. His lifetime 4.74 ERA leaves some doubt that he'll be able to revert back to his winning ways in Colorado. They also added infielder Jamey Carroll to the roster after making a deal with an infielder-heavy Nationals team.

 

Florida Marlins - There wasn't any player movement in South Florida, but the Marlins did make some news. San Antonio, Texas, Portland, Oregon, and Norfolk, Virginia rounded out the three cities the Marlins have recently been visiting as they continue hunting for a future home and place where fans will come to see them play. New manager Joe Girardi also snagged a few headlines issuing a ban on facial hair. With so many young pups on that depleted roster he shouldn't get too many complaints.

 

Houston Astros - Morgan Ensberg and the Astros avoided arbitration agreeing to a one-year contract worth $3.8 million. Coming off a career year with 36 home runs and 101 RBI, Ensberg will have to prove 2005 wasn't a fluke if he wants a mega-contract next season. After a sub par playoff performance when the pressure was on, he figures to be one of the top candidates to disappoint in 2006.

 

Los Angeles Dodgers - No big news for the Dodgers, but it should be noted that free agent pitcher and former Dodger Jeff Weaver jumped ship from the National League and crossed town to join the Angels.

 

Milwaukee Brewers - Center fielder Brady Clark agreed to a two-year contract with the Brewers and looks to build on a career year in 2005 when he netted 599 at-bats while hitting .306 with 13 home runs and 53 RBI. The Brewers also re-signed starting pitcher Tomo Ohka, avoiding arbitration. Ohka had an impressive 2005 campaign, as well. After joining the Brewers in June with a 4-3 record in Washington, Ohka went on to start 20 games for the Brewers posting a 7-6 record, including one complete game shutout.

 

New York Mets - There's no city bigger than New York to play baseball in and get attention. So it should come as no surprise that Jose Lima signed a minor league contract with the Mets. You can almost be guaranteed you'll see Lima Time pitching for the Mets at some point in 2006. Cardinal fans just hope they don't have to see it and relive that 2004 Division Series loss to the Dodgers.

 

Philadelphia Phillies - The Phillies added Alex S. Gonzalez to their roster joining Abraham Nunez in the club's pool of utility infielders. This undoubtedly places extra pressure on third baseman David Bell to produce and live up to his big contract.

 

Pittsburgh Pirates - All's quiet in Pittsburgh. The city has been a little busy celebrating that little thing they call a Super Bowl Championship. Maybe they should start asking Ben Roethlisberger if he can pitch?

 

Saint Louis Cardinals – Like a conservative world conqueror in the game of Risk, General Manager Walt Jocketty is still flying under the radar, limiting his player movement and keeping everyone guessing.

 

San Diego Padres - No news in San Diego. The club is still reeling after picking up Mike Piazza and preparing to host the World Baseball Classic. Question: if they go to extra innings in the championship game, will Commissioner Bud Selig call the final game a tie?

 

San Francisco Giants - There wasn't any notable player movement in San Francisco. The club did announce, though, that their stadium will be renamed to AT&T Park this coming March.

 

Washington Nationals - The Nats went out and signed free agent first baseman and catcher Matthew LeCroy to a one-year contract. LeCroy gives the Nationals more options and another bat with some pop on the bench. The club also went to an arbitration hearing with the recently acquired Alfonso Soriano. Though Soriano lost the case, he still landed a $10 million contract, setting a new record for arbitration hearings. And in most recent news, Sammy Sosa turned down the Nationals' latest offer and appears to be retiring after an incredible career but disappointing final two years – more on this one from me later.

 

Got questions or comments? Sound off to pete@petekhazen.com

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