“Post-Renteria” – 28 Days Later

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–Brian Sabean, GM of the San Francisco Giants,
signed Edgar Renteria on December 3rd 2008, and now, 28 days later, I assess
the damage.  A while back, I wrote
off Sabean as the worst GM in baseball.  Although I’ve switched positions since then, Sabean is showing why he has
always been in my bottom five.

28 days later.jpg

The Mike Jacobs trade was
bad.  Raul Ibanez and A.J. Burnett got
overpaid, and the Kyle Farnsworth signing was just stupid, but the worst deal
made this off-season is undoubtedly the Edgar Renteria
signing.  Forget the fact the Giants
already had a young, worthy shortstop, and forget the fact the Giants are in
rebuilding mode.  Renteria just got flat
overpaid. 

 

His hitting has
deteriorated; he has no range, and is 33 years old.  Why on earth would a GM sign him to a two-year contract worth
$18MM?  Since that’s too much money to
be an “insurance” player in case Manny Burriss
doesn’t perform, Renteria is going to be playing every day.

 

Now, if Brian Sabean had
serious doubts about Manny Burriss being ready to play in the bigs, then I
would have respected his decision to sign a veteran free agent shortstop,
because I hate it when teams rush their prospects (hello J.R. Towles).   I’m not saying Manny Burriss or Ivan Ochoa
aren’t ready, but if the Giants signed a consistent, inexpensive shortstop like
Alex Cintron
or Angel
Berroa
I would not have disagreed. 
But Renteria is way too expensive, and was signed to a multi-year
deal.  Seriously, what is Brian Sabean
thinking?  I hope his plan isn’t to wait
for Renteria to have a comeback year and then trade him away for prospects
because Renteria will never have an OBP higher than .350 ever again, his range
is gone, and his power will only get worse in spacious AT&T Park.

renteria.jpg

I hope Edgar Renteria
realizes how lucky he is.  I struggle to
find a single team that would have given him half the contract he signed for
with San Francisco.

 

burriss.jpg

The only way San Francisco
could screw up their situation more is if they keep Manny Burriss in the majors
as a backup.  Because the only
silver lining in this signing is the chance Manny Burriss would have bombed in
the majors.  This signing gets rid of
that risk.  Perhaps he can develop
better in Triple-A Fresno rather than with the Giants.  But still, Ivan Ochoa could’ve filled in for
Burriss.  Besides, Renteria is signed
until 2011, and it won’t take that long for Burriss to develop.  That is why this deal is so idiotic
.


So now I present to you my list of the ten worst current general managers:

(Only counting time with their current club)

10. Ruben Amaro Jr. – PHI     (He’s really only made one move, but it was bad)

9. J.P. Ricciardi – TOR

8. Dave Dombrowski – DET

7. Ed Wade – HOU

6. Kevin Towers – SD

5. Frank Wren – ATL

4. Brian Sabean – SF

3. Jim Bowden – WASH

2. Walt Jocketty – CIN

1. Dayton Moore – KC

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Mr.
Wateryathnking?

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An Old Trade I Never Analyzed

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This was a blockbuster
trade that I never got to officially analyze, so here we go…

 

(The trade was Matt Holliday
for Carlos
Gonzalez
, Huston
Street
, and Greg Smith)

gonzalez, street, smith.jpg

I don’t know why the
Rockies asked for Carlos Gonzalez because they already had a logjam in the
outfield without him.  I also don’t know
why the Athletics targeted Greg Smith rather than another young A’s pitcher who
doesn’t give up a lot of fly balls, which does not bode well for Coors
Field.  It still made sense for Colorado
to trade Holliday because they got enough talent back for the trade to work,
but I’m not convinced the Rockies were bad enough to give him up.  With Holliday, I suspected the Rockies would
have a reasonable shot to win the NL West because remember, in the land of
losers, the .500 team is king. 

 

holliday.jpg

I guess Dan
O’Dowd
didn’t want to take the risk of keeping Holliday until July where he
would have had half the package the A’s offered for a full season of Holliday’s
services.  The funny thing is that I
assumed the A’s and Rockies would have about the same amount of success next
season.  This is just a trade based off
the GMs’ decisions.  Billy
Beane
decided his team was good enough to win the World Series if they
acquired Holliday (and perhaps another FA), and chose to go all out.  I cannot disagree with him.  The A’s have a ton of young starters, and a
bevy of position players who could break out like Kurt Suzuki, Daric Barton,
Travis Buck,
Ryan Sweeney,
and Aaron
Cunningham
.  The ladder would have
most likely been the starting 2009 left fielder if Holliday was never
acquired.  But with only 20 games in
Triple-A under his belt, Cunningham probably is best suited to take over Holliday’s
spot in 2010.

 

Dan O’Dowd made the choice
to build for the future and basically sacrifice 2009.  I cannot argue with that decision either because the Rockies are
an extremely young team whose best years are in front of them.  2010 and 2011 will most likely go very well
for Colorado due to them having a lush farm system full of high ceiling
prospects.

 

sewell.jpegdemel.jpeg

However, I do question why O’Dowd asked for Carlos Gonzalez from the A’s when he could have
asked for relief help instead.  I’m not
saying the A’s would have given up their top relief prospect in  Andrew
Carignan
, but the Rockies could have improved upon  their poor bullpen depth by asking for a couple of relief prospects like Lance Sewell
(left) and Sam Demel (right). 

 

The Rockies just don’t
need more outfielders.  Brad Hawpe is
a lock in right, Ryan
Spilborghs
should be a lock in center, and Seth Smith is
good to go in right.  Smith killed the
ball in Triple-A the past two years and deserves a chance to play everyday in
Colorado.  At the very least he can be
an inexpensive stopgap in left field until Dexter Fowler
or Eric Young
Jr.
are ready.

 

If Gonzalez is flipped to
another team in return for more prospects, this deal could wind up being an
extremely good one for the Rockies.  But
until that deal is made, I’m not sure Dan O’Dowd did the best job he could have
in trading away the face of the franchise.

 

Bottom Line


This trade makes sense for
both teams, but I’m not convinced Dan O’Dowd chose the right players from
Oakland.  Nor am I completely convinced
the A’s are going to be good enough to make the playoffs next year.

 

Grades


Athletics –            B+

Rockies –             B+

The Giants Infield: A Lovely Mess (Pre-Renteria)

bocock.jpgburriss.jpgfrandsen.jpggillaspie.jpg

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 sandoval.jpgochoa.jpgvelez.jpgrohlinger.jpg


Unless you are an intense
San Francisco baseball fan, or a just a crazy baseball super-fan, then you will
not recognize even half of the players above. 
So here is who they are with the positions that they are capable of
playing adequately in the major leagues in parentheses: (starting with the
upper left, and going clockwise):

 

Brian Bocock
(SS, 2B)

Emmanuel
Burriss
(SS, 2B)

Kevin Frandsen
(3B, 2B)

Conor
Gillaspie
(3B)

Ryan Rohlinger
(3B, 2B)

Eugenio Velez
(LF, 2B)

Ivan Ochoa
(SS, 2B)

Pablo Sandoval
(3B, 1B, C)

 

So what’s the point of
this long list?  The main point is to show the many choices facing the Giants in selecting a starting second baseman, third baseman, and shortstop in
2009.  Another important issue is who
deserves the title of “[insert infield position] of the future.”  So, let’s just go through all of the young
players in the Giants organization who can play the infield.  With all but one of the players capable of
playing multiple positions, it could get a bit confusing…

 

Brian Bocock        Age: 24          Positions: SS, 2B

 

The only reason I talk
about Bocock is because he was the Opening Day shortstop for this team.  And the only reason he got to hold that
honor is 1) Omar Vizquel got injured and 2) the Giants had nobody else.  If everything went according to plan, Bocock
probably would have spent all of last year at San Jose (A+) or Connecticut
(AA).  Unfortunately Bocock was rushed
(a lot) to the bigs and, as you might have guessed, he struggled mightily.  


bocock2.jpg

After Vizquel came back, he was sent
down.  And then, typical of struggling
player, Bocock got injured and missed much of the year.  Bocock only projects to be a utility
infielder and pinch runner.  Although
his 2008 can’t be taken seriously because he was rushed so much, Bocock
doesn’t deserve to be considered as the shortstop or second baseman of the
future for the Giants.

 

Manny Burriss         Age: 24           Positions:
SS, 2B

 

I try not to be biased on
this blog, but Manny is one of my favorite players.  He’s extremely friendly to fans and is the first D.C. public high
school product to be drafted and make it to the majors in 38 years.  All bias aside though, Burriss is the
Giants shortstop of the future. 

burriss1.jpg

Despite
being promoted through the minor leagues at an astonishing rate, he somehow hit
well in the majors this year.  How fast
was Burriss rushed?  He had a .237 OBP
and .417 OPS in Class A Advanced last year (139 AB), and yet the Giants decided
he should skip Double-A.  Then,
they called him to the majors after he only played 14 games in Triple-A
with a .281 OBP.  Does the fact he
struggled in the minors make it a more likely scenario that he will have a
sophomore slump?  Yeah, probably.  But what else can you do?  240 at-bats are enough to show whether or
not a player is ready for The Show. 
Even if Burriss struggles, he has the talent to be considered the
shortstop in San Francisco for a long time.

 

Kevin Frandsen       Age: 26           Positions: 3B, 2B

 

bonds.JPG

Kevin Frandsen (the guy
who hit the BP ball that smacked
Barry Bonds in the head) just needs to stay healthy.  He’s crushed AAA pitching, but never can play consistently in the
majors.  If you pick up all of his big
league games combined, his numbers are not that impressive.  But, considering how he handled the minors,
Frandsen should be given the opportunity to start every day at third base in
2009.  It would be hypocritical for the
Giants to mistreat Frandsen, a true “gamer”, when playing hard everyday for 162
games is part of the Giants marketing theme.  In fact, the Giants front office has
released a whole series of commercials asking players what defines a
gamer.  He also had a .392 OBP in the
Arizona Fall League for what’s it worth. 
(FYI, he was the oldest player there)

 

Connor Gillaspie      Age: 21           Positions: 3B

 

gillaspie2.jpg

Like Bocock, the only
reason Gillaspie is being mentioned in this list is because the Giants rushed
him and he was playing way out of his league (although, to his credit, he had
.429 OBP in 8 games.)  Simply put,
Gillaspie doesn’t stand a chance to be the Giants’ third baseman next year.  However, with a good year in San Jose (A+)
or Connecticut (AA), he is likely to, at some point, move Frandsen into a
super-utility role and earn the honor of the title “third baseman of the
future.”  It will be interesting to see
what Gillaspie does next year on the farm, but he will have to prove he is more
valuable than Kevin Frandsen or Ryan Rohlinger.  Expectations will be high, as he was drafted 37th
overall
this year.

 

Ryan Rohlinger       Age: 25           Positions: 3B, 2B

 

rohlinger2.jpg

Rohlinger could be ready
for the big leagues right now, but the problem is that: 1) he hasn’t proven
himself at AAA, and 2) he’s hardly played second base in his career.  With Burriss starting at short, and Frandsen
at third, Rohlinger will have to adjust to second base if he wants to start
next year for San Francisco.  But since
the Giants have other second base options that have already proven themselves
at Triple-A, I’d let Rohlinger start the season in Fresno to learn second base
and of course see how well he will hit. 
Rohlinger may end up being a utility player next year, but then again,
so could the other second base options like Frandsen, Velez, or Ochoa.  Let’s just say Rohlinger lights it up in
Triple-A Fresno to start the year but Frandsen is doing well in the majors as
well.  In that case Frandsen could move
over to second base (and kick out Velez or Ochoa), and Rohlinger would be able
to play his natural position at third. 
As a general matter, Rohlinger’s future depends a lot on what the
players ahead of him do, since he isn’t quite as advanced as the rest (besides
Gillaspie)

 

Eugenio Velez           Age: 26           Positions: LF, 2B

 

Velez is an interesting
player.  This year in Fresno, he was one
of the best leadoff men in the Pacific Coast League (.881 OPS, 42 games).  But when Velez played for the Giants, he
flat out stunk, even with a good September (.367 OBP).  Playing in San Fran, Velez will always have
someone right behind to take over if he slumps.  He is at the age (26) where he needs to put together a good full
season in the majors or forever be considered a career utility man and pinch
runner.  Personally, my prediction for
Velez would be just that, a utility guy (he plays infield and outfield), and a
super-fast guy off the bench.  Bruce
Bochy should give Velez the starting job at second base next year, but I truly
doubt Velez will be good enough to stop Ivan Ochoa or Ryan Rohlinger from
getting some time at 2B. 

velez2.jpg

Velez will
give S.F. his 50 stolen bases and four home runs a season, but the question is
whether he’s a .310 or .350 on-base guy. 
I’d guess somewhere in the middle, but I’m not sure that is good enough.

 

Ivan Ochoa   Age: 26           Positions: SS, 2B

 

ochoa2.jpg

Ivan Ochoa’s season was
very simple.  He crushed in Triple-A,
and got crushed in the majors. 
Is it worth giving him another shot? 
Of course!  He’s only 26 years
old and it was his rookie season after all. 
But, I wouldn’t expect him to put up anything close to his numbers in
Fresno.  I don’t think playing in the
hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League was the entire reason Ochoa’s power
suddenly flew up, but it’s worth noting that Ochoa’s slugging percentage never
was above .339 before hitting in the PCL. 
He most likely projects to be a back up in the major leagues, but he’s
shown he can slug.  He plays both middle
infield positions, but has spent more time at short on the farm.  A key indicator of Ochoa’s future/career
will be where the Giants send him out of Spring Training next year.  Here are his options:

 

Option 1 (Likely): Giants
utility infielder – The worst-case scenario for his career.  This means Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean see
Ochoa’s future as nothing more than as a utility player.

 

Option 2 (Possible):
Fresno’s starting shortstop – The Giants think highly enough of Ochoa to let
him get regular at-bats and only call him up if he can get significant playing
time.

 

Option 3 (Unlikely):
Giants’ starting second baseman – The Giants really think highly of
Ochoa and are confident he is better than Ryan Rohlinger or Eugenio Velez.  Based on Ochoa’s performance in every level
besides Triple-A, his chances look slim.

 

Pablo Sandoval        Age: 22           Positions: 1B, 3B, C

 

sandoval2.jpg

Sandoval is basically
guaranteed a spot with the Giants next year after crushing in his 35-game stint
there and continuing his hot hitting in the Venezuelan Winter League where he
had a 1.119 OPS in 48 games.  The
question is where he will play next season. 
In order of games played, he is a first baseman, catcher, and third
baseman.  In a perfect world I guess
Sandoval would be a first-baseman, but with the Giants, his best fit is behind
the plate.  Benjie Molina is in the last
year of his contract and needs to be traded right now.  After trading Molina (which is probably
easier said than done), Sandoval could slide in to be the everyday backstop and
attempt to replicate his breakout ’08 season.

 

My Picks for 2009

 

If I was Bruce Bochy,
these would be my picks for who would start at each infield position heading
into next season, and the people that would slide in if the starters are
injured or slump badly:

 

1B: Travis
Ishikawa
(John
Bowker
)

2B: Eugenio Velez (Kevin
Frandsen)

SS: Manny Burriss (Ivan
Ochoa)

3B: Kevin Frandsen (Ryan
Rohlinger)

 

I know I didn’t discuss
Travis Ishikawa or John Bowker in this post, but Bowker should start next year
in AAA, and should only be called up to the majors if he can get regular
at-bats.  His 2007 season in Double-A cannot
be overlooked; he has some nice upside.

 

The Giants have a lot of
variables in the infield at this point, but a lot of uncertainty.  I think Matt Downs
will provide stability at second base by 2010 or ’11.

 

And on a final note, I
have a very bold prediction:  The San
Jose Giants will win the MILBY award (Minor League Baseball of the Year) for
“Team of the Year”.  That award goes to
the most dominant team in all of the minors. 
How could I pick one team out of all of the affiliated teams in
professional baseball?  Well, it’s
pretty simple. 

sanjose.png

The players on schedule
to play for San Jose next year have played on the “Team of the Year” the past
two seasons.  In 2007, the Class A-Short
Season Salem-Keizer Volcanoes won Team of the Year.  Then, most the same players went to play in Augusta, GA for the
Green Jackets.  Guess what?  That team was the 2008 Team of the
Year.  See my logic?  I guess there is this one wave of players
drafted by S.F. in 2007 that just knows how to win.  It can’t hurt that ’08 Augusta manager Andy
Skeels
is moving up to San Jose with his players.  Players like Angel
Villalona
, Madison
Bumgarner
, Shane
Jordan
, Mike
Loree
, and Wendell
Fairley
may all start next year playing in High A.  Just imagine how great that team would be if
the Giants didn’t decide to allow Tim
Alderson
to skip Class A (by the way, smart move Fred
Stanley
).

 

If it isn’t obvious
already, I wrote most of this entry before stupid Brian Sabean signed Edgar Renteria.  But I’m stubborn and couldn’t let all this
writing go to waste.

 

I’m not about to claim I feel as bad as this guy, but I was
pretty ticked when I heard the Renteria news. 
Oh well.

Royals Pains and Trades, Misconceptions, and a Diamond in the Rough

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ryan braun face.jpg

When
the Kansas City Royals released Ryan Braun on
November 17th, I thought of a lot of things: 
“That’s unfair!” “Jeez Dayton,
you have done it again”, and finally “Who will be the brilliant GM who signs
this minor league free agent?”  Since
Braun has been a FA for less than a week, he hasn’t been signed yet, but any GM
should take a look at Braun.  I wouldn’t
say that he would be my pick for the 2009 Comeback Player of the Year (Nelson
Cruz anyone?), but Braun is an obvious guy who could turn out to be a diamond
in the rough.  But hey, this wouldn’t be
the first time I have
seemingly
started blabbing
away
about
an unknown little pitcher.


ryan braun.jpg

Lets
take a look at Braun’s career statistics shall we?  A 1.06 ERA in AAA?  Only Jason
Bulger
can beat that.  The catch is
that he did what he did in 2007, and missed all of 2008 due to undergoing right
elbow surgery.  Maybe he should look
into Dr. Mike
Marshall’s school
.

 

Anyway,
after dominating in Omaha to start 2007, Braun got called up to the Royals and
struggled, displaying a 6.64 ERA in 26 games. 
He was 26 then, but now he’s 28 and it’s time for him to prove to
everyone in baseball that he is not a Four-A player.  I believe Braun will be a good pitcher next year, and I
don’t see any reason why Braun cannot bring a little of his dominance from the
minors to the bigs.  I’m preparing to
applaud the GM who signs Braun.  I may
be at a crossroads though, considering I have bashed so many GMs on this blog
before (ex.
ex.
ex.). 

 

I
really hope I am not jinxing Ryan.  What
if nobody signs him?  I guess he will
just sign with an independent team and I’ll probably just praise the GM of that
team. 

 

Speaking
of independent ball, it makes me sick when people refer to non-affiliated
baseball as “minor league baseball”. 
It’s not minor league baseball!  Minor
league basebal
l is when that team is affiliated with a major league
franchise.  Independent baseball
is a professional league (where players get paid), but is non-affiliated.

 

Another
misconception about independent baseball is that it is at a lower level than
the lowest level of the minor leagues. 
That’s not true at all.  Take Matt LeCroy
for example.  He played in the major
leagues for eight years, and was an important part of the Twins teams between
2002 and 2005.  But last year he played
for the non-affiliated Lancaster Barnstormers. 
Does that mean he isn’t good enough to play rookie ball?  No. 
The Barnstormers pay much better than what a team will offer a free
agent to play in Double-A and if you watch a ‘Stormers game it be at a quality
better than that of AA. 

LancasterBarnstormers.gif

I have to
imagine LeCroy didn’t get any teams that could offer him a roster spot in AAA,
so he signed with Lancaster.   The
Barnstormers of course, are part of the Atlantic League, the premier
independent league in the country. 
Leagues like the United League could be considered lower than rookie
ball but that is a rare case.  Most
independent leagues hold a higher quality of baseball. 

 

And
while we are on the case of misconceptions, it grinds my gears when people
don’t distinguish Low-A ball, A ball, and High-A ball.  Most people are aware that they exist, but
just don’t distinguish them when writing or talking.  The difference between Class-A Short Season, and Class A Advanced
is huge.  Players who are in Class-A
Short Season generally are players that were drafted that same year out of
college.  Players in Class A and High A
are usually in their first or second full professional season. 

 

Man,
how did an entry that started out about Ryan Braun end up being about minor
league class level distinguishers?

 

Well,
while I’m discussing the Royals, I might as well give my take on the Coco Crisp/Ramon Ramirez
trade.  Do you want it simple?  I hate for KC, love it for Boston.  A little more analysis?  Dayton Moore has traded yet another great
and young reliever for another so-so position player that is just barley good
enough to be a starter. 

 

The
Royals’ bullpen will suffer big time, and as result will look like this:

 

Joakim Soria
(CL)

Robinson Tejeda

Ron Mahay (They
need to trade him NOW)

Doug Waechter

Chris
Hayes
(

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gotta
read this
post
)

Devon
Lowery

 

That’s
a really poor ‘pen, and it includes Ron Mahay who should be traded for
prospects in my opinion.  Plus, if you
noticed, those are only six pitchers. 
Who will the seventh be?  I don’t
know; maybe Jimmy
Gobble
(8.81 ERA), Joel
Peralta
(5.98), or possibly Matt
Wright
(5.47 ERA in AAA).  The
vastly over paid Kyle
Farnsworth
will be added in their if he passes his physical.  Maybe the strong 2008 Wilmington bullpen (Hartsock, Swaggerty, De La Vara
{who has been taken in the Rule 5 draft}, Holland, Nicoll) will
hold some answers to the Royals’ bullpen pains.  They just need more relievers. 

 

At
least the Royals have players to trade. 
Personally, if I took over the Royals right now I’d attempt to flip over
Mike Jacobs
and Coco Crisp to another team.  But
seeing how that won’t happen, the Royals probably are looking to trade Jose Guillen,
Mark Teahen,
and at least one of their young first basemen. 
I’ve enamored enough about Kila Ka’aihue
in this
post
, but if the Royals are keeping onto Jacobs then they can’t hold on to
both Ka’aihue and Butler.  One of them has to go.  Oh yeah, and there’s that guy who had 29
homers and a .363 OBP this year (111 G in AAA, 20 G in MLB), Ryan Shealy. 

 

Trading
Teahen and Guillen will be a tough task because there are no perfect fits.  Teahen makes sense for a team that has a
lack of depth at third base and right field.  The Mariners make the most sense, but that doesn’t mean much.  Even if they trade Ichiro and Adrian Beltre, they have Wladimir Balentien and Michael Wilson to join Franklin Gutierrez in the outfield, with Michael Saunders waiting in the wings.  It wouldn’t hurt young third baseman Matt Tuiasosopo to play another year at AAA in which case Teahen could play third base next year for the M’s, but it is obvious Seattle doesn’t need him. 

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teahen.jpg

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New reports are suggesting
that the Cubs are offering Mike Fontenot
and Sean
Marshall
for Teahen.  It’s just in
the rumor phase, but I really like it for both teams.  Fontenot would be more valuable to a club that can let him start
unlike the Cubs.  Marshall has never had
a consistent role with the Cubs even though he has proven he is a reliable,
steady pitcher.  Although I think
Marshall is more valuable as a starter, the Royals would love to have him in
the bullpen.  Their rotation is pretty
set anyways, with Zack Greinke,
Gil Meche, Brian
Bannister
, Kyle
Davies
, and Luke Hochevar.  Although if Bannister and Hochevar bring
their 2008 struggles into next season, they’ll probably find themselves in
Omaha.  I’m not sure Teahen is the type
of player the Cubs need in order to find that next level, but he is a young
affordable who may benefit from escaping a pitcher’s park like Kauffman
Stadium.  However, despite his injuries, Milton Bradley is the best fit for the Cubs, not Mark Teahen.

jose guillen.jpg

As far Jose Guillen, I
have know idea where he could go. 
People are saying the Mets are an option.  That could be true, but you could say any starting OF would be a
good fit for the Mets.  Guillen is not
that great of hitter, as he probably will never hit 30 home runs again, and
struggles to keep his OBP above .300. 
Dayton Moore may find a taker who is willing to give up a mid-level
prospect but Guillen isn’t the player that can turn a team around.  In fact, he has the ability to do the exact
opposite with his attitude and occasional fights with upper management. 


I feel bad for Royals fans, they have had dumb management, a lousy team, but at least they have one of the most underrated ballparks in the country:

What’s a Pitching-Seeking GM To Do?

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Japanese
hurler Junichi
Tazawa
is about to announce he has signed with the Boston Red Sox. 

tazawa1.jpg

Although it’s not the first thing that comes
to mind, the Tazawa signing really shows just how large Daisuke Matsuzaka’s
presence is in Japan.  Tazawa chose the
Red Sox over the Texas Rangers who reportedly offered over one million dollars
more than Boston. 

Jon
Daniels
must be feeling pretty bad. 
He’s been criticized ever since Tom
Hicks
hired him four years ago, for not acquiring enough pitching.  And when Daniels has spent money it has for
the most part a bad investment. 

jon daniels.jpg

Kevin
Millwood
was a bust, although if he can pitch well into July of next year,
the Texas may be able to trade him for some prospects.  Vicente Padilla
hasn’t been that bad, but it still was a bad signing considering what the
Rangers thought Padilla would accomplish with them.  Daniels has also traded away young pitchers
like Armando
Galarraga
, John
Danks
and Chris
Young
(who was packaged with Adrian Gonzalez).    He also of course traded away Edinson
Volquez but that’s another story.  The
“Edinson Volquez or Josh Hamilton” argument will go on for a long time.

I
think Jon Daniels deserves to be criticized because he has made a lot of
obvious bad trades and signings but if you look closely, you’ll figure out
Daniels had a sort of “revelation” in the 2006-2007 offseason.  It seems all of Daniels moves before 2007 season
were bad, but suddenly he figured something out and has gone on to make
splendid deals like trading away Mark Teixeira and Eric Gagne (to the Red Sox).

Now
Daniels has “GM momentum” swinging his way, but he still can’t catch a break
with pitching.  It’s not uncommon for
players to accept a slightly lower salary to play for the team they prefer.  But in most cases it is a veteran player
looking to sign the last contract of their career before retiring.  That is why Tazawa is an outlier. He’s only
22 years old, and yet he is already basing his contract options on
preference.  I wonder how much extra money
Texas would have needed to offer to get Tazawa. 
In the end, the teams have to remember he is just a 22 year old pitcher
who has only spent one year in professional baseball.  

knuckkleballer.jpg

You
have to admit he is unique.  He asked the
teams of the NPB (Japan’s MLB equivalent) not to draft him so he could play for
Nippon Oil of an independent league in Japan (the same league female
side-arming knuckleballer Eri Yoshida plays for).  
Now Tazawa is like any other amateur player from Mexico, Venezuela, or
the Dominican Republic or any other country that is not eligible for the
draft.  I am not sure about the
independent league Tazawa played in, but the reports are that he is at least
ready for Double-A.  I know Theo Epstein
would not pay Tazawa so much ($6 mil) if he wasn’t as ready for the majors
than, lets’ say Michael Bowden. 

For
a 22 year-old to take a lesser contract to play for his preferred team is
gutsy, but then again, this is why he chose to skip the Nippon Baseball
draft.  He wanted to experience the MLB
without having a NBL
team involved
in the deal.  And there
is no better way to experience Major League Baseball than playing on one of
America’s most successful baseball franchises and having the opportunity to
play with his hero Dice-K and fellow countryman Hideki Okajima.  He’ll be able to experience being a part of
Red Sox Nation and soak in all of it’s glory: 

dice-k teletubby.jpg

I
still feel sorry Jon Daniels.  Even if Kaz Fukumori
had turned into the next Takashi Saito
or Kazuhiro
Sasaki
, Texas just didn’t have the extra goods to get Tazawa.  However, there is a silver lining.  Adding Tazawa to the pitching mix makes it
more likely Theo Epstein will be willing to deal prospects like Michael Bowden
or Nick Hagadone
(who is much further down the road) to the Rangers for Gerald Laird
or Jarrod
Saltalamacchia
.  Personally, if I was
the Red Sox I wouldn’t make a deal for a Rangers catcher because they can just
sign Toby Hall
and David Ross.  Boston fans may want a big name they already
know, but a combination of George
Kottaras
, Dusty
Brown
, Toby Hall, and David Ross is a solid, less expensive option.  If Kottatas or Brown can do what they did at
AAA this year, then the Red Sox have two starting-worthy catchers.  If they both struggle then the Red Sox can
turn to a combo of a platoon of David Ross, who had .793 OPS against righties,
and Toby Hall who had a .920 OPS against lefties.  There really is no need to spend a bunch of
money on a catcher when the Red Sox need to use most, if not all of their money
on Mark Teixeira because they are by far the best
and most likely fit for him
.  Plus,
judging from this,
the Red Sox won’t have much extra money to spend this off-season.

Jon
Daniels can console in the fact that he has put together a farm system that has
a bunch of big pitching prospects like Neftali Feliz,
Blave Beavan,
Kasey Kiker,
Michael Main,
and Derek
Holland
. The system also holds some lesser-name prospects like Tommy Hunter,
Kennil Gomez,
Michael
Ballard,
Beau
Jones
, and Doug
Mathis
who could develop into successful big league starters.

That’s
it for now, but I’d like to round out my entry by a little piece of trivia:

Which
player had these statistics in 2008 when you combine his minor league, major
league, and winter league numbers together?

G        AB      OBP       HR      RBI     SB      TB      SLG      OPS                                 149   556     .431        51      151      28     385    .692     1.123

1 game in Rookie Ball 

102 games in Triple-A

31 games in the Majors    

14 games in the Dominican Winter League

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The
answer?  This guy.

TTPs for the Nationals

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Nationals trade Austin Kearns to the Phillies for LHP Moises Melendez

 

There are
a lot of “ifs” in this trade.  This deal
only makes sense if the Phillies fail to re-sign Pat Burrell, and if
Washington eats up most, if not all, of Kearns’ salary for next year (last year of his contract).  Kearns is
owed $8 million next year, about six million more than he is worth.  

austin kearns.jpg

If
the Nationals are willing to pay that six million, then it makes sense for the
Phillies, with their need of right-handed outfielders, to acquire Kearns as
part of the solution to Burrell leaving. 
I am not saying that Kearns is worthy of being the Phillies starting
left fielder.  He’s only as good as
a fourth outfielder, but he is a good guy to provide power off the bench, and be a
back-up in case of injury. 

 

Any
team interested in acquiring Kearns (actually Detroit and Toronto are
the others I can think of) should understand they have all the leverage in the
world.  The Nationals need to get rid of
Kearns no matter how much salary they have to eat, and no matter how bad a
prospect they get.   The Nats have Roger
Bernadina
, Lastings
Milledge
, and Elijah Dukes
set to start with Willie Harris,
Mike Daniel,
and Wily Mo
Pena
behind them.  Kearns doesn’t
deserve to be in AAA, but he has no place with the Nationals. 

 

Like
I said, the Nationals hardly have any leverage even though they have the player
with the bigger name.  Therefore they have to
take it easy on their asking price.  The
important negotiation process will not be what prospect they get, but rather
how much they will pay of Kearns’ salary. 
I think 75% is enough.  Obviously
the more money the Nationals eat, the better prospect they get but they can’t
get carried away.  Moises
Melendez
is not trash.  True, he’s
not a high profile prospect (like Kearns once was) and probably projects as
a middle reliever or lefty specialist, but hey, that’s the type of pitcher the
Nats need more of.  Melendez wasn’t used
as a lefty specialist this year in Class-A Lakewood, but being a left-handed
middle reliever without dominating stuff makes it a likely future
scenario.  Melendez would go to Potomac
(A+), and maybe get a taste of Double-A before the season ends.

No
matter how much salary they he will have to eat, Jim Bowden (who apparently
thinks he a Jedi)
needs to trade Kearns.  End of
story.  I hope Jimmy B can put Kearns’ “glory
years with the Reds behind him, and move on to younger, more talented, less
expensive pastures.  

Rockies trade 1B Joe Koshansky to the Nationals for RHP Saul Rivera

 

It’s
very sad (Saul
is my favorite player), but the truth is, if this deal were made, it would
benefit both teams. 

sauuul.jpg

Saul is extremely
nice to fans, but he’s 31 years old entering next season.  That’s just slightly too old for the
rebuilding Nationals.  Plus, Rivera is a
perfect fit for the Rockies who need bullpen help.  After the Holliday deal, they acquired Street, but he will
probably be flipped over to another team. 
I also doubt they will pick up Matt Herges
option for next year considering his poor season and his age (39).  If you add Rivera to the Colorado ‘pen, it
will most likely look like this:

 

Manny
Corpas
(CL)

Taylor
Buccholz
(SU)

Jason
Grilli
(SU)

Saul
Rivera

Luis
Vizcaino

Ryan
Speier

Steven
Register

 

If
you noticed there were no lefties in the pen. 
That’s because the only left-handed reliever the Rockies have right now
is Glendon
Rusch
, and he had a 5.30 ERA last year as a reliever, and lefties have a
.334 OBP against him in his career.  A
.334 OBP is not bad but to make a team as a lefty specialist, you need to be
better than that.

 

Todd Helton, Garrett Atkins,
and Jeff Baker
block Koshansky
in Colorado, so the Rockies need to trade him. 
He has shown enough talent and put up good enough numbers in the minors
to have legitimate trade value.   There
will be other teams interested like the Giants and Mariners or maybe even the
Yankees.  Ultimately, I think Saul
Rivera will win the Rockies over.

koshanksy.jpg

Yes,
the Nationals have Kory Casto, Nick Johnson,
Dmitri Young,
and Josh
Willingham
.   All that doesn’t mean
much though.  First off, the Nationals
need to trade away Willingham; he just doesn’t fit with the team.  Plus, there is little chance Johnson or
Young can return completely healthy. 
And if they are healthy, GM Jim Bowden should trade them for whatever he
can get, and that won’t be much.  If
they manage to start next season healthy, they better be traded quickly because
it won’t be long before they go back on the DL.

 

            There is almost as little hope as
Johnson and Young both staying healthy as there is a chance Kory Casto can
finally start producing in the bigs.  In
82 career games, he’s had 14 extra base hits and a measly .264 OBP.  It’s worth noting that Casto’s horrendous
MLB stint in 2007 really drowned his career numbers, but even though he
improved greatly in 2008, he still wasn’t all that impressive.  This last spring I had faith in Casto.  I truly thought it was not too late for him
to turn his career around.  But now it’s
time to move on and try something else. 
That means it is time to finally give Koshansky a full-time major league
job.

 

Maybe
Casto can still make the team next year. 
After all, he can play left field and both corner positions.  Who knows, maybe Casto can capture some of his
minor league power and bring it to the bigs. 

 

Acquiring
Koshansky doesn’t mean Washington is lacking future first base options.  Chris
Marrero
has dealt with injuries and slumps since he was drafted in the
first round two years ago but he still has big power potential.  Bill Rhinehart
doesn’t have the same big upside as Marrero but he put together a good 2008 and
should next year in Double-A Harrisburg.

 

Nationals trade 2B Ronnie Belliard to the D-Backs for RHP Josh Ellis

 

Let
me first start off by saying that I don’t think Anderson
Hernandez
will ever develop into an adequate starting major league second
baseman.  But with the way things are
for the Nationals, they need to at least give him a chance.  Despite his AAA .262 OBP he did hit .407
after joining the Nats.  He also seems
to have brought his hot bat to the Dominican Winter League as he holds a 1.055 OPS
there.

 

As
for Belliard,
he is one of the oldest players in the team and needs to be traded this
off-season. 

belliard.jpg

I’ll give Bowden credit for
signing Belliard.  Ronnie was the
starting second baseman for St. Louis when they
won
the World Series in 2006. 
Weirdly enough (well, he only had a .297 OBP with St. Louis), Belliard
wasn’t signed until February 18th to a minor league contract by the Nats.  That was only five days before spring
training started.  Belliard has done
everything Washington could have imagined and more.  The reality is the only way the Belliard signing can truly help
the Nationals is if Bowden trades him for some prospects.  Despite
landing on the DL and missing almost 40% of the season, Belliard’s trade value
absolutely soared this season.  Not only
did he have his best offensive season of his career, but also he increased his
versatility by playing both corner positions as well as his natural position at
second.   The Mets, Brewers, and Dodgers
may hold some interest in Belliard as well, but Arizona appears to be the best
fit for Belliard and the Nats. 

 

Chris Burke
and Augie
Ojeda
didn’t have good enough years to warrant consideration for a
full-time gig at 2B.  Jesus Merchan
had a nice year at Triple-A and holds a good spot to take over Chris Burke’s
spot on next year’s 25-man roster.  That
will allow Burke to gather up some time at Triple-A at bats after his
disappointing 2008.

 

Josh Ellis is
the prospect that makes the most sense for this specific deal.  The two main needs the Nationals have in
their system are middle infielders and relievers.  Since the Arizona system is weak on middle infielders, relief
pitchers are the best way to go.  Ellis
had a 2.40 ERA this year in Visalia (A+) in his first professional season. 

joshellis.jpg

You can see, he pitches sort of like Brian Shouse or Cla Meredith.  Too bad the Diamondbacks are moving their AAA affiliate to Reno
(the Reno Aces) because Ellis could have had a chance to be a sidewinder on the
Tucson Sidewinders.  The Diamondbacks
are stocked with young relievers, so if pitchers like Abe Woody, A.J. Shappi, Kyler Newby, Jeff Dietz,
and Scott
Maine
were offered for Belliard, it would be a fair and beneficial trade
too.

Although it is time for Belliard to leave Washington, he will always be remembered becuase of

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this and this.


In
other baseball news, the iconic Oriole Bird has quit his diet.  He has gone from this:

skinnyoriolesbird.gif

To this (maybe it’s just perspective):
fatoriolebird.png
The diet obviously wasn’t working because ever since
the Bird started the diet in 1998, the team is 98 games below .500.  Ouch. 
They need change.  And that
change should come in the form of the logo and mascot getting a beer belly like
Wild Bill Hagy.  Thumps up to the Orioles front office.  This is their first sign of intelligence since they designed Camden Yards
.

A TTP (Theoretical Trade Proposal)

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TB trades Andy Sonnanstine to NYM; NYM trades SS Reese Havens and CF
Ezequiel Carrera to SF; SF trades Randy Winn, RHP Keiichi Yabu, and LHP Geno
Espineli to TB

 

Got that? 
So this is a three-team deal. 
And yes, the Rays trade away one of their starters in the playoffs Andy
Sonnanstine
.  Still, this trade
makes sense for every team involved. 

randywinn.jpg

The Rays predictably will use their starting pitcher depth to acquire a
bona-fide starter in right field.  In
this case it would be Randy Winn. 


It’s true, the Rays have a lot of players
who play right field.  Eric Hinske, Gabe Gross, Ben Zobrist, Fernando Perez,
and Justin
Ruggiano
all are capable.  But
Hinske and Gross are not exactly the type of guys you want starting every day
on a team that is expected to compete for the championship again next
year.  Zobrist and Perez are bright,
young players but at least at this point are most valuable being on the bench
because of Perez’s ability to play every OF position, and his blazing
speed.  Zobrist also is very versatile
and is a valuable guy off the bench.  He
might even have a reasonable chance to overtake Iwamura
as the Rays starting second baseman.  Ruggiano
has done everything you could ask from him in AAA.  Yet he just can’t seem to bring the same game to the majors.   He had a .911 OPS in 66 AAA games versus
.576 with the Rays.  So, with Winn
coming up, in it can put all of the right field questions to rest while adding
a veteran presence that can fill the #2 spot in the Rays order.  That way Iwamura can move down in the order
where he should be. If Crawford
continues to struggle, Iwamura could easily come back to the top instead of a
guy like Upton having to be taken out of the heart of the order.

Although Winn will obviously make a huge mark on
the Rays, I think Andy Sonnanstine is the biggest impact player involved in
this deal.  Simply put, to have a
Sonnanstine in the Mets rotation would be fantastic for them.  Even if, at his best, Sonnanstine is only as
good as a #3 starter, his ability to eat up innings without eating payroll is a
quality invaluable to the Mets at this point. 
This way the Mets can afford not resigning Oliver Perez.  In my opinion, Jon Niese is
ready to be the Mets’ 5th starter next year.  However, if the Mets do re-sign Perez their
rotation would be dynamite.  Whether or
not Perez comes back, the Mets would have, for the first time in a while, a
young rotation that can last a long time. 
To have a rotation where every pitcher in under control until 2012 is a
huge advantage over the other NL East clubs. 

AndySonnanstine.jpg


Of course since Sonnanstine is that
valuable, New York will have to give up a lot. 
The big sacrifice that the Mets will have to make is their second pick
of the 2008 draft, slugging infielder Reese Havens.   

havens.jpg

Havens (left) was drafted 22nd overall
as a shortstop but is expected to wind up as third or second baseman by the
time he gets to the majors.  Ezequiel
Carrera
, a High-A outfielder, didn’t put up great numbers this year but if
you start thinking about his age (21) and the fact that he completely skipped
A-ball, his .344 OBP, 28 steals, and seven dingers are pretty impressive.  The Giants have a fair amount of outfielders
like Fred Lewis,
Aaron Rowand,
and Nate
Schierholtz
and some nice prospects like Antoan
Richardson
, Ben Copeland,
and Eddy
Martinez-Esteve
.  And yet, with the
decent chance that Rowand and Lewis could get traded in the near future,
Copeland’s and Richardson’s non-overwhelmingness, and Martinez-Esteve’s and
Schierholtz’s sudden lack of power, there is a reason to why the Giants might
want to add another outfield prospect.


espineli.jpg

Now when you think about it, Tampa Bay would be
trading Sonnanstine straight up for Winn, and that obviously wouldn’t favor
them.  But if you add Yabu and Espineli to
the deal, it evens out.  Those two will
add depth to the bullpen.  And although
Espineli (right) probably will find himself spending some time in Durham, he provides a
lefty arm and the credentials of 2.66 in Triple-A last year in the hitter-friendly
Pacific Coast League.  Yabu (below) is pretty old but if he can be effective when he’s 40 (3.57 ERA), how much much worse can he be at 41? 

yabu.jpg

SO, when it’s all said and done, here’s how it
would work out for each team:

 

Rays


Receive                      Give Up

Randy Winn             Andy Sonnanstine

Keiichi Yabu

Geno Espineli

 

Giants

 

Receive                      Give Up

Reese Havens          Randy Winn

Ezequiel Carrera      Keiichi
Yabu

                                    Geno Espineli

 

Mets

 

Receive                      Give Up

Andy Sonnanstine  Reese
Havens

                                    Ezequiel Carrera


So, what do you think?  Fair all around?


I guess since Monday marks the beginning of
baseball’s hardware week, I  will give you my picks for each major award (with the
runner-up in parentheses):

 

Again, these are my picks for who deserves each
award, not my predictions for who will win:

 

Rookie of the Year

AL – Evan Longoria — (Jose Arredondo)

NL – Geovany Soto — (Joey Votto)

 

Cy Young

AL – Cliff Lee — (Roy Halladay)

NL – Johan Santana — (CC Sabathia)

 

MVP

AL – Kevin Youkilis (Mark Teixeira)

NL – Wily Mo Pe, I
mean, Albert Pujols —
(Manny
Ramirez)

 

Manager of the Year

AL – Joe Maddon — (Ron Gardenhire)

NL – Cecil Cooper(Charlie Manuel)