Tagged: Cubs

Rotation Picks

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I started the last entry
with my preseason playoff picks, but now it is time for something a little more
hardcore.

 

Below are
my picks, not predictions, for each big league team’s 2009 starting
rotation. 

 

Toronto
  1. Roy Halladay
  2. Jesse Litsch
  3. David Purcey

  4. Casey Janssen
  1. Bryan Bullington

 

Baltimore
  1. Jeremy Guthrie
  2. Koji Uehara
  3. Rich Hill
  4. Radhames Liz
  5. David Pauley

 

Tampa Bay
  1. Scott Kazmir
  2. James Shields
  3. Matt Garza
  4. Andy Sonnanstine
  5. Jeff Neimann

 

Boston
  1. Josh Beckett
  2. Jon Lester
  3. Daisuke Matsuzaka
  4. Tim Wakefield
  5. Clay Buchholz

 

New York
  1. CC Sabathia
  2. Chien-Ming Wang
  3. A.J. Burnett
  4. Andy Pettitte
  5. Joba Chamberlain

 

Cleveland
  1. Cliff Lee
  2. Fausto Carmona
  3. Anthony Reyes
  4. Aaron Laffey
  5. Jeremy Sowers

 

Kansas City
  1. Zack Greinke
  2. Gil Meche
  3. Kyle Davies
  4. Luke Hochevar
  5. Brian Bannister

 

Detroit
  1. Jeremy Bonderman
  2. Justin Verlander
  3. Armando Galarraga
  4. Edwin Jackson
  5. Chris Lambert

 

Minnesota

  1. Scott Baker
  2. Kevin Slowey
  3. Francisco Liriano
  4. Kevin Blackburn
  5. Glen Perkins

 

Chicago

  1. Mark Buehrle
  2. John Danks
  3. Gavin Floyd
  4. Jose Contreras
  5. Clayton Richard

 

Los Angeles
  1. John Lackey
  2. Ervin Santana
  3. Joe Saunders
  4. Jered Weaver
  5. Anthony Ortega


Oakland
  1. Justin Duchscherer
  2. Dana Eveland
  3. Dallas Braden
  4. Sean Gallagher
  5. Gio Gonzalez

 

Seattle
  1. Felix Hernandez
  2. Eric Bedard
  3. Jarrod Washburn
  4. Garrett Olson
  5. Ryan Rowland-Smith

 

Texas
  1. Kevin Millwood
  2. Vicente Padilla
  3. Brandon McCarthy
  4. Matt Harrison
  5. Doug Mathis

 

Atlanta
  1. Derek Lowe
  2. Jair Jurrjens
  3. Javier Vasquez
  4. Kenshin Kawakami
  5. Jo-Jo Reyes

 

Florida
  1. Josh Johnson
  2. Ricky Nolasco
  3. Chris Volstad
  4. Anibal Sanchez
  5. Andrew Miller

 

New York
  1. Johan Santana
  2. John Maine
  3. Mike Pelfrey
  4. Oliver Perez
  5. Tim Redding

 

Philadelphia
  1. Cole Hamels
  2. Brett Myers
  3. Jamie Moyer
  4. Joe Blanton
  5. J.A. Happ

 

Washington
  1. John Lannan
  2. Scott Olsen
  3. Shawn Hill
  4. Collin Balester
  5. Shairon Martis

 

Houston
  1. Roy Oswalt
  2. Wandy Rodriguez
  3. Mike Hampton
  4. Brian Moehler
  5. Brandon Backe

 

Milwaukee
  1. Yovani Gallardo
  2. Dave Bush
  3. Braden Looper
  4. Manny Parra
  5. Jeff Suppan

 

St. Louis
  1. Adam Wainwright
  2. Kyle Lohse
  3. Chris Carpenter
  4. Todd Wellemeyer
  5. Mitchell Boggs

 

Chicago
  1. Carlos Zambrano
  2. Ryan Dempster
  3. Rich Harden
  4. Ted Lilly
  5. Sean Marshall

 

Pittsburgh
  1. Paul Maholm
  2. Ian Snell
  3. Tom Gorzelanny
  4. Zach Duke
  5. Jeff Karstens

 

Cincinnati
  1. Edinson Volquez
  2. Aaron Harang
  3. Johnny Cueto
  4. Bronson Arroyo
  5. Homer Bailey

 

Arizona
  1. Brandon Webb
  2. Danny Haren
  3. Doug Davis
  4. Max Scherzer
  5. Jon Garland

 

Los Angeles
  1. Chad Billingsley
  2. Hiroki Kuroda
  3. Clayton Kershaw
  4. Randy Wolf
  5. James McDonald

 

San Francisco
  1. Tim Lincecum
  2. Matt Cain
  3. Barry Zito
  4. Randy Johnson
  5. Jonathan Sanchez

 

San Diego
  1. Jake Peavy
  2. Chris Young
  3. Josh Geer
  4. Cha Seung Baek
  5. Chad Reineke

 

Colorado
  1. Aaron Cook
  2. Ubaldo Jimenez
  3. Jason Marquis
  4. Greg Smith
  5. Jason Hirsh

 

cashman_brian031217_getty.jpg

After making these lists
and seeing this
thread, I’ve been inspired to decide which rotation I think is the best.  As I’ve said earlier, I think Cleveland has
the best starting pitching depth, but as far as the most effective starting
five goes, I’ll have to take the Yankees. 
No one in the MLB can match Sabathia, Wang, Burnett, Pettitte, and
Chamberlain.  Plus New York has a bunch
of depth with Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Alfredo Aceves, Humberto Sanchez, Kei
Igawa all in Triple-A presumably.  The
best National League rotation is, in my opinion, the Chicago Cubs.  Of course, that all depends on how healthy
Rich Harden can stay.

wade.jpg

And as for the worst…I’d
pick the Astros.  Sure, the Jays or
Pirates may have worse team pitching statistics in 2009, but Houston has
absolutely no depth and a weak collection of pitching prospects (and position
prospects for that matter).

 

As always, let me know
what you think.  In my next entry I’ll
continue my pre-season predictions/picks with giving my personal predictions
for all the major awards.

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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:

The Nationals Report – Part 2

 Jim Bowden has a weird mind.  First of all, it’s obvious that he was the former GM of the Red because well, half of all the players he acquires are former Reds.  Austin Kearns, Wily Mo Pena, Aaron Boone, Felipe Lopez, Ryan Wagner are all former Reds and now in Washington. 
bowden1.jpg
     One thing, I have noticed about Jim Bowden is that he plays favorites.  I usually don’t like saying things like that but I’m not stupid.  I know that Brandon Watson, Ryan Church, and Chris Schroder didn’t get the same treatment as Felipe Lopez, Wily Mo Pena and Jesus Colome.   Brandon Watson was named the starter in spring training of 2006.  After nine games, he was sent down.  Not only did the Nationals ultimately let him go, but then preceded to come back to Nationals and have the longest hit streak in the history of the International League(AAA), and what to the Nats do?  The Nats call him up for four days, and after hitting .275 and having the best game of his life he gets demoted.  Well of course, his self-confidence shattered, he struggled the rest of the year in AAA.  He must have thought “what do I have to do?  I broke a hit streak record that lasted 83 years, I have the best game of my life, where I basically won the game for them and then after four games, I’m back in Columbus and guys like Nook Logan, Preston Wilson and Marlon Byrd are playing in the majors?!”  Seriously, Watson was in his prime right then and there, and Nook Logan is starting for the Nationals?  Just n case you are wondering, Watson is currently in the Phillies organization repeating Triple-A for the fourth time.  In his first season he hit .293.   As of now, he’s hitting .300.  That’s fair.

     Ryan Church is the next player, Bowden had a grudge against.   For the three years Church was with Washington, Bowden consistently acquired so-so outfielders and they would play ahead of Church.  Byrd, Logan, Kearns(who’s good), Pena, and Marlon Anderson, Marlon Anderson.  It truly was ridiculous.   I mean of course, more people know about Church because of the trade and the good season this year, but Church was good in Washington as well, but for some reason, he was never the bona fide starter.  church.jpgThe thing with Church was that he could play everywhere in the outfield, at a high level.  In 2005, Church was 26, and played in 106 games.  He had .353 .OBP and hit 9 homers in 268 AB’s.   In 2006, at 27, he was informed that he would start the season in the minors, and that Marlon Byrd, and Marlon Anderson had made the team.  Well, he got the call back up, but only played in 71 games. He didn’t start, but still hit 10 homers in 196 at bats.  That translates to about 30 homers a season.  Oh yeah, he had .366 OBP in 06.  In 2007, it looked like it was finally Church’s year.  He was 28, in his prime but well, in the Nationals mind, he still wasn’t as good as Kory Casto, who had never played a game above AA, and had only played left field that Spring Training.  After 16 games of horribility, Casto was in AAA, and guess what?   Church was starting!   Yes, it was true.   I kid you not.  But hold on, this is a dream isn’t it. Surely, the Nationals are not going to let Church play almost an entire season.  Then the trading deadline came strolling along, and well……no deal!   Church was still starting, and I started thinking “Is this to good to be true?” 

    It was.  On August 17th, after the trading deadline, Bowden announced he acquired Wily Mo Pena.  And yes, Pena would be the starting left fielder, an yes, Logan (0 HR .310 OBP) would remain the starter in center.  Outrageous. 

    The third player, Bowden seems to have a grudge against who is still in the organization,  is Chris Schroder.  Schroder made his ML debut in 2006 at the age of 28.   For the most part he struggled.  schroder.jpgI happened to attend the best game of his career at that point.  He went 2.0 innings and struck out every batter.  But overall, he wasn’t very good, a 6.35 ERA backs that point up.  But they really did the right thing by calling him up because he was mowing down hitters at AAA, and was considered a valuable strikeout pitcher.   Something that the Nationals needed at that point.   He had a 1.52 ERA in AAA, so there was an urge to see what he could do in the majors.  Going into 2007, Schroder started in AAA, but after recording a 1.62 ERA there he was back in the majors.  After that call-up, Schroder became one of the best relievers on the team, with a 3.18 ERA in 37 appearances.   Schroder made the club out of spring training as expected.  But after only two games, with the Nationals, they sent him down.  Why?  I have no idea.  Here is how he did in those two games…..

                      IP           H        ER        BB         SO
4/4 @STL       1             1         0           0            0
4/7 vs. FLA     1.2          1         1           1            1

   So a guy, who had a 3.17 ERA in 37 games last year gets called down after those two games?   Weeiirrdd.  So after having an ERA below 2, in Columbus , Schroder finally gets called back up.  I’m thinking – “OK, that was really weird but he’s back up now.”.  After ONE game, ONE, he goes back down.  What did he do that game?  1 and a third innings, 1 hit, one walk, NO RUNS.  What?!?!.   In case, you’re wondering some of the guys that are getting called up when Schroder gets called down, here they are – Brian Sanches, Charlie Manning, Steven Shell, and Ray King.  OK, so Manning is left handed, so there is a reason, but King was an ineffective as a lefty specialist, and Sanches, well, I don’t even know what Bowden was thinking.  Shell was good, but why not Schroder?   I just don’t get it.   So when Schroder was called up again, I didn’t know what to think.  Nine days after his last appearance, Schroder came in against the Phillies, and didn’t that well.  HE gave up two runs in one inning, but when I heard he was getting called down again, it was obvious Bowden has something against him. 

     If Luis Ayala (I love Luis, I’m just proving a point), if Ayala had done the exact same thing as Schroder, he would still be up. In fact, Ayala has been much worse than Schroder
did, but he’s in Washington, and Schroder is in Columbus.  Ayala has  5.40 ERA, but since Bowden likes him, Ayala shouldn’t worry.  Jesus Colome has been even worse, with a 5.71 ERA, but Colome has been in the majors the whole season.  It’s unfair.  Schroder is younger than Colome, too. 

   Perhaps the player, Bowden loves the most is Wily Mo Pena.  These are Pena’s numbers:
        G        AB        H        .OBP        HR        RBI        SB        BB        SO
        62       186       39       .249           2          10          0          10         47
   
    The only way to describe those stats is horrible.  Horrid, ugly, pitiful, BAD.    Pena has .222 OBP the past ten games with only on RBI.  Yeesh.  Why is Mike Daniel not starting left field for the Nationals?  In AA Harrisburg, these are his numbers:
        G        AB        H        .OBP        HR        RBI        SB        BB        SO     
        84       311       91       .369          8           38          13        34         75
wilymopena.jpg
    But, as I said before, Pena shouldn’t worry that much because as long as Bowden is the GM of the Nats, he’ll have far more time and opportunities to “prove himself”.  I don’t know, Pena been playing in the majors for seven years.  It seems silly to still try to let somebody “prove himself, who’s been playing that long.  Yes, I’m aware about Pena’s age.  He’s 26, which is not necessarily, the cutoff point for breakout years, but seriously, Pena is a home run hitter who has only hit 2 home runs.  Oh yes, and a .245 OBP. 

   Bowden plays favorites.  It’s obvious.  He likes Austin Kearns, Wily Mo Pena, Felipe Lopez, Ryan Wagner, Luis Ayala, and Jesus Colome.  img1460mikedanielsfuox0.jpgHe has grudges against Chris Schroder, Ryan Church and Brandon Watson.  If Bowden could just be honest with himself, Mike Daniel (pictured right in the snazzy pink jersey) would be starting left field for the Nats, and Wily Mo Pena would be a Clipper.  Jesus Colome would be released or sent down, and Chris Schroder would be the seventh inning set-up man.  Felipe Lopez would be traded for some low-level prospects.  Perhaps, the Orioles, or Dodgers would be possible future destinations. 
 
   Well, I’ll be talking about the Giants next time, I’m pretty sure…..     Oh, and with two big trades just occurring.  I’ll quickly run through them.  The Sabathia trade, I say makes very good sense for both teams.  I think the Brewers are good enough to make the playoffs, and LaPorta will be very good.  I’m guessing the PTBNL will be Taylor Green, who will challenge Wes Hodges for the title of “Indians 3B of the future”

   The Harden deal, looks to be better for the Cubs, but I’m always cautious to question Billy Beane (he has messed up before[Tim Hudson deal].  I think the best player the A’s acquired
from the Cubs is actually Eric Patterson. He’s seriously underrated.  But where will he play?  He’s blocked by Mark Ellis, Travis Buck and Carlos Gonzalez. ??????    I’ll leave you with two theoretical trades:  Jack Wilson to the Dodgers for Ivan DeJesus Jr, Felipe Lopez to Orioles for Sean Gleason.

Them Pirates…..

    Dave Littlefield, former GM of the pitiful Pirates, is widely held responsible for the woe that is currently the Pirates.  Rajai Davis to the Giants for Matt(I’ll make you forget the overatedness of Jason Giambi when you see my salary) Morris?  Yeah that trade was bad.  Drafting Brian Bullington first overall instead of B.J. Upton, Scott Kazmir, Cole Hamels, or Jeff Franceour.  Even worse.  But hey, the Pirates aren’t completely screwed (see Giants).  In fact the Pirates actually have a nice problem in their outfield situation. 
   
    From a quick glance the Pirates outfield looks set for a while.  With Bay(29) in left, McLouth(26) in center, and Nady(29) in right, the Bucs look like their outfield is the one component of their team which they don’t need to focus on.  But in fact the outfield situation is probably the area of the Pirates Neil Huntington (GM of Pirates) needs to focus on the most.  The Pirates have Andrew McCutchen and Steven Pearce in AAA. 
   
    The case with Andrew McCutchen(pictured left)is simple, next year he will be the starting center fielder in Pittsburgh.  3zARcaIW.jpgSteven Pearce is a bit more difficult to predict because he has the ability to play left field, right field, and first base.  Obviously, all three of those positions are already occupied well in Pittsburgh by Jason Bay, Xavier Nady, and Adam LaRoche respectively.  Let me first start off by saying, although it doesn’t mean absolutely anything, the Adam LaRoche for Mike Gonzalez trade was horrible.  Adam LaRoche.jpgMike Gonzalez was, if not the best, one of the best closers in baseball, and why Bobby Cox put Bob Wickman in the closer spot over Gonzalez is another story.  Adam LaRoche for a top-notch closer?  Perhaps the Pirates could trade away LaRoche for a shortstop or third baseman. 
   
    In fact if I was GM, I would have traded Freddy Sanchez to the Rockies during the off season and gotten Ian Stewart(Third baseman) and Taylor Buchholz(reliever).  But that’s not going to happen, because #1. Freddy Sanchez.jpgFreddy Sanchez is horrible this year(.262 OBP, ugh) and #2. Buchholz has been dominant this year, even better than I thought he was going to be. In case you’re wondering, yes, I did, in my mind, set up this trade during the off season.  I’m not making it up right now because Sanchez is sucking and Buchholz is awesome.  Anyway let’s stop talking about if I was GM and start talking about what Neil Huntington should do. 
   
    I can’t lie to myself, Steven Pearce has been a huge disappointment in Indianapolis(AAA).  His numbers aren’t that bad, but (as I’m sure Steven knows) he really needs to play like he did last year in order for Huntington to consider either trading him or Bay, McLouth or Nady away.  Steven Pearce.jpgPearce had a good September call up last year, and really just blasted his way through every level of the Pirates from A+ to The Show.  A .321 OBP and nine home runs through 71 games in Triple A is not going to cut it.  You wonder why?  Not only was Steven Pearce good in Indianapolis last season, but he was good in Majors, and the only reason he didn’t start in the majors this year is, unfortunately for him, the outfield is the strongest component of the Bucs.  

    Nate McLouth in a perfect world is a right fielder.  A starting right fielder?  For now, I say yes but that could change.  The high OBP isn’t as surprising as the power numbers
 to me.  Nate McLouth.jpgHis OBP has been increasing every year as he becomes a more polished player.  The power perplexes me, and that isn’t a good thing.  Usually when something is perplexing to many people it isn’t a good sign for the future.  Or could it be as simple as playing everyday, Nate’s swing has developed and that is the reason why the once 14-homers-a-season guy has turned into a 32-homers-a-season guy. 

    If the Pirates should have Andrew McCutchen in center and Nate McLouth in right, then that leaves the question of who do you trade?  Jason Bay or Xavier Nady?  It would have been a no brainer a couple of years ago, but both are 29 years old and Bay maybe has more of an upside but Bay’s been playing worse every year since 2005.  Nady since becoming a full fledged starter since being traded for Oliver Perez, has been getting considerably better.  A GM’s gut may still tell him to take Bay, but let’s just compare stats since 2004.

Jason bay.jpg

Jason Bay    Age:29      2008 Salary: $6 million
                          G       AB        H       HR   RBI      BB      SO     SB   CS  OBP     SLG

2004 PIT 120 411 116 26 82 41 129 4 6 .358 .550
2005 PIT 162 599 183 32 101 95 142 21 1 .402 .559
2006 PIT 159 570 163 35 109 102 156 11 2 .396 .532
2007 PIT 145 538 133 21 84 59 141 4 1 .327 .418
2008 PIT 74 269 76 15 40 49 60 6 0 .393 .524

5teURu24.jpg

Xavier Nady   Age:29      2008 Salary: $3,350,000

Year   Team       G      AB      H      HR      RBI      BB   SO   SB   CS   .OBP   .SLG
2004   SD          34     77       19      3         9         5      13    0      0     .321     .416
2005   SD          124   326      99     13       43        22    67    2      1     .301     .439
2006   NYM-PIT 130   468     131     17       63        30    85    3      3     .337     .453
2007   PIT         125   431     120     20       72        23   101   3      1     .330      .476 
2008   PIT          66    245      77      10      49         21   43     1      0     .376     .510

     Salary is another interesting factor in this discussion.  There is no clear cut answer on who’s the better player, so you may just take the guy who makes over $2 million less.  If I’m the GM of another team looking to make a deal with Pittsburgh, I would rather acquire Nady, even if I thought Bay was the slightly better player, which I do. 

    Another issue the Pirates need to address is why they are not trading away Jack Wilson(30) or Freddy Sanchez(30).  Would you be surprised if I told you that Freddy Sanchez is older than Jack Wilson?  Sanchez, in fact, is eight days older than Jack Wilson.  Sanchez has created the illusion of being younger than he is, by having a breakout year (2006) at the age of 28, which is basically the prime of your career.  But, since most people had not heard of him, it gave the impression that he was an up-and-coming ballplayer.  I understand the reasoning of them not planning on trading away Adam LaRoche, because he is still a young position player and would be good fit for that team if played the way he did in 2006.   On the other hand both Wilson and Sanchez are getting past their prime, but still could be considered starting players.  One would say that since third base, shortstop, and second base are weakest positions throughout the Pirates organization, you can’t trade away the starters at your major league level, but do you seriously care when you’re in the Pirates situation?  You’re not winning with Jack Wilson or Freddy Sanchez so trade them away before Sanchez proves he’s a bust and before teams start seeing Jack Wilson as a poor man’s old Omar Vizquel.  Wilson could create interests with numerous teams like the Rays(Jason Bartlett is not a starter), Orioles(neither is Alex Cintron), or Cardinals(we’ll see how good Brendan Ryan really is). Jack Wilson.jpgSome teams are seeing Jack Wilson as a great utility guy and other teams are thinking of him as a starting shortstop. In any case, I think it would be intriguing to let Josh Wilson be the starting shortstop if Jack Wilson somehow moves.  Josh was a guy thought to be a true hitter coming up with the Rockies, but has been blocked by others everywhere he has gone and has struggled in a utility position.  In AAA so far he has a .358 .OBP with four dingers in 68 games. 

    Before the season started, Sanchez’s value would have been much higher, but come on Sanchez’s season has been horrendous and I am not really sure how much the Pirates could get for him, but Sanchez needs to be traded at this year’s deadline, period.  Teams like the White Sox, Cubs, or Indians could trade away some good middle infield prospect away.  Just throwing out some feasible trades in my mind.  Freddy Sanchez to the Cubs for Michael Wuertz, Ronny Cedeno and/or Marquez Smith.  Freddy Sanchez to the Indians for Jensen Lewis, and Wes Hodges(the Indians probably won’t let Hodges get away, so perhaps the Pirates could get Jared Goedert and Josh Rodriguez instead).

    Well, I’m finally done venting, and frankly after using three days to write this post, I’m sick of the Pirates.  I’m done writing about them, unless of course they actually do trade somebody in which case I will analyze it right here on District Boy.  When people say that I’m only thirteen and am spending so much time on studying baseball and I’m obsessed with it, I think this is what they mean(spending three days writing about a team that I don’t care the least about, yet do it anyway because, well…………

    I think I’ll cover the Giants next entry.  (Warning – If you are a fan of Brian Sabean stay away from this blog for at least a week)

Who Will Replace Zambrano?

 I don’t want to give the impression that all I will discuss in this blog is the starting rotations of well-known clubs but usually I am inspired to do research about subjects based on current news.  So in this case, the news that the Cubs placed Carlos Zambrano on the disabled list.  Initally, before the season started I thought the Cubs rotation should be Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Jason Marquis, Rich Hill, and Sean Marshall and have Sean Gallagher in AAA, with Jon Leiber and Ryan Dempster being in the bullpen.  Well, with Ryan Dempster being the Cubs best starter the whole season and Sean Gallagher doing a solid job in the rotation through ten starts, Rich Hill and Sean Marshall have both been starting in Des Moines, Iowa with the AAA farm club.  Initially when I heard the news about Rich Hill getting sent down I was stunned.  My view of Rich Hill in 2005 was a shaky, young-left hander.  In 2006 he was an OK starter for the Cubs, but in 2007 he was as good as a #2 starter and a part of the Cubs rotation for years to come.  Hill was entering the prime of his career this season, but after only 5 starts in Chicago he was sent down to Triple A.  fS6kisYq.jpgHill was not even that bad in his starts (1-0, 4.12 ERA) but somehow in AAA, Hill hasn’t find his groove so far.  Get ready for ugliness, here are Rich Hill’s Triple A numbers this year in seven starts – 2 wins, 4 losses, and a 5.88 ERA.  Marshall currently is also starting in Iowa and has been much better – 1-1 with a 3.41 ERA in seven starts as well.  The Cubs are one of the best teams in the majors, so one would think that bringing Rich Hill up over Sean Marshall would be too risky for a team on a roll, even if they did just get swept by the Rays.  The possiblility of Rich Hill turning it around after he gets the trust of Jim Hendry and Lou Piniella is there, but Sean Marshall really needs a chance to start in the majors.  He’s turning 26  and has always been the guy “called down to make room for _____ coming off the DL, or “to make room on the roster after the transaction, the Cubs sent down Sean Marshall”  Marshall has been sent to the bullpen numerous times with the Cubs, even though it seems to me that Marshall is much better suited as a starter.  lRwTBEEA.jpgHe has exceptional stamina and the key to his success his mixing his speeds, and deception.  That type of pitcher is better suited to be a starter.  I have to say,  as much as it surprised me to see Rich Hill get sent down, I have to call Sean Marshall up if I’m the Cubs.  I’m not even going to mention the fact that the Cubs have Jon Lieber who could start theoretically.  Theoretically being the key word.  Leiber hasn’t been a solid starter for three years and he is 38 years old.  Don’t change something that’s not broken, yes Cubs, that means keep Jon Lieber in the ‘pen, and hope he can keep up the groove he’s in at this point (3.06 ERA this year, 1.78 ERA in his last ten appearances).