Tagged: Matt Wieters

2009 Award Predictions

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Continuing
with my craze of 2009 picks, I’ll brake down my predictions for the winners
(and two runner-ups) of all the major awards for the upcoming season.  Some awards are flawed like MVP, where some
voters pick the player who had the best overall season and some voters vote
literally for the player most valuable to a (usually successful) team.  I usually sway toward the player with the
best overall season so here it goes:

 

AL MVP

1) Mark Teixeira

            — It almost seems too easy to pick Teixeira as MVP, when
he is the bright new star on the team everyone is picking to go the
distance.  The New Yankee Stadium’s
short porch, identical to its predecessor, will make Teixeira an even more
dangerous power hitter.  If can have a
.632 SLG in the cavern of Turner Field, I can only guess that next season will
be one his greatest.

teixeira.jpg

2) B.J. Upton

            — No one knows for sure how much Upton’s shoulder
affected his power in 2008, but judging from his past slugging numbers, it did
a woozy.  I expect B.J. Upton to bounce
back and have his power explode onto the scene.  I’m guessing a 30/40 season in the works.  If only he was as good of a autograph signer
as he was a baseball player…

3) Grady Sizemore

            — As you may have already known, I’ve tabbed the Indians
as next year’s World Champions, and I fully believe Sizemore will be one of the
main reasons they are going to be so successful.  He could wind up having an identical line as B.J. Upton, but I
think Upton could rack more stolen bases and a better OBP.  But if the Indians go all the way, Sizemore
will without a doubt by vying for MVP.


NL MVP

1) Albert Pujols


Anyone want to argue with me?

pujols.jpg

2) David Wright

            — As of
now, with all of their players healthy, the Mets are better than Philly.  Wright probably will be challenged by Carlos
Beltran and Jose Reyes for votes, but most likely will overcome.  The only question is whether Citi Field will
be better suited for right-handed or left-handed hitters.  Given some smaller, lefty-friendly confines,
Beltran could reach 40 home runs and Reyes could reach 20.

3) Hanley Ramirez

            — I had the
first pick in my fantasy draft this year and I chose Hanley.  Going from leading off to hitting third can
only help his numbers as long as Cameron Maybin can do a good job of getting on
base in the leadoff spot.  The Marlins
are poised to make a run for the NL Wild Card, but even if they falter this
year, Ramirez is almost a lock to have another great season.


AL Cy Young

1) Roy Halladay

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— Besides run support, Halladay has everything in
place to repeat his dominant 2008 performance. 
It really is impressive how effective he’s has been considering he
pitches in the best offensive division in baseball for the for the worst
hitting team in that division.

halladay.jpg

2) Cliff Lee

            — Has
anyone figured yet why Cliff Lee had such a great year?  I don’t think so.  Well, then I have no reason to think Lee can’t repeat his pure
brilliance of 2008.  But of course, the
chances that he actually does recapture his sudden outstanding brilliance of
last season are not that great.  If I
were a betting man, I’d still go with Halladay.

3) John Danks

            — There are
a slew of young pitchers who I predict will take it to the next level in 2009
like Ervin Santana, Zack Greinke, and Jon Lester.  But I think Danks will be the one who really pitches himself into
the elite class of American League pitchers. 
He was rushed into the majors in his rookie season but I have a gut
feeling 2008 is only a little of what Danks can accomplish.

           

NL Cy Young

1) Tim Lincecum


I
didn’t think
Lincecum should have won the Cy Young last year, but I do
think he’ll deserve it this season. 
With Santana having health issues, Webb moving slightly back to normal,
and Sabathia moving to the AL, Lincecum is by far the top favorite for the 09
NL Cy, and I don’t see a reason why he can’t get even better in his second full
season.

lincecum.jpg

2) Cole Hamels

— Everybody knows how good Hamels already is
already but he’s still getting better each season.  I predict 238 innings and a 2.85 ERA for Hamels with a WHIP below
1 (he was only .08 above last year).

3) Chad Billingsley

— You saw what I predicted for Hamels and
Billingsley won’t be far behind if at all. 
Like Hamels, the 24-year old has been getting more effective every
season.  The big difference between
Billingsley and Hamels is that Hamels is entering his fourth season of starting
full-time in the bigs.  Billingsley is
just entering just his second.


AL Rookie of the Year

1) Matt Wieters

— I’m well aware of the possibility that Wieters
has only played half a season in Double A and might spend the first month or so
in Norfolk.  However it’s a sure thing
that Wieters will be in Baltimore by June if he stays healthy.  And if he stays healthy…[whistle]

My
Prediction: .377 OBP, 26 HR, 78 RBI,

wieters.jpg

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2)
Travis Snider

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snider.jpg

— Unlike Matt Wieters and
David Price, Snider has the pleasure of knowing he has a spot in the lineup
come Opening Day.  I’m slightly worried
about how fast the Jays moved Snider through the minors in 2008, but his
numbers held up so I’m excited to see how well Snider can hit.  And needless to say, he needs to swing the
bat well to stay with Toronto since he really can’t do anything else.

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Prediction: .347 OBP,
19 HR, 71 RBI, 1 SB

3) David Price

price.jpg

— It would seem David Price winning the 2009 AL
Rookie of the Year would be oh so fitting after he burst onto the scene down
the stretch and dominated in the playoffs last season.  But then reality sets in and a reasonable
fan realizes Price might spend a good chunk of time in Durham next year due to
the presence of Jeff Niemann.  Plus,
Price was having all of that playoff success as a reliever not a starter, where
he would have to spread all of his strength and energy into six or seven
innings, not one or two.  However, I’ve
obviously seen the first overall pick’s filthy stuff, so a full effective year
in the bigs definitely isn’t out of the question; just not very probable unless
someone in the Rays rotation gets injured.

My
Prediction: 21 GS, 3.60 ERA, 9 W, 4 L


NL Rookie of the Year

1) David Freese

freese.jpg

— Other than Freese, I would like to know the last
time a player completely skipped Double-A and still had an amazing year at the
next level.  Oh wait, I know: Albert Pujols!  Anyway, the 25-year-old Freese had a great
year in Class A Advanced Lakeland before being traded over to St. Louis for Jim
Edmonds (nice going Kevin Towers) and had an even better offensive season in
the PCL.  Troy Glaus will be recovered
from his injury by June at the latest, so Freese may end up either making the
Cards trade away Glaus or get traded away himself.  No matter what happens with Glaus though, I doubt Freese will be
forced back to AAA again.

My
Prediction: .356 OBP 26 HR, 89 RBI, 4 SB

2) Chris Dickerson

— Unless the horrific Reds front office for some
reason doesn’t let Dickerson play everyday, he’ll become the next young Reds
position player to break out.  Imagine a
prototypical athletic outfielder…that can actually hit.

            My Prediction: .362 OBP 15 HR, 69 RBI, 34 SB

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3) Gaby Sanchez

Gobg3CPb.jpg

— Sanchez is a risky pick here because unlike
other ROY candidates like Travis Ishikawa, Colby Rasmus, or Elvis Andrus, he
really needs to have a great spring to secure a major league roster spot.  However, I predict he will not only win the
Marlins first-base job but have a very good rookie year.  The only problem with Gaby Sanchez winning a
spot is that Dallas McPherson or Jorge Cantu will unfairly be sent down or put
on the bench.

                                                    Prediction: .343 OBP, 20 HR, 67 RBI, 5 SB

OK Orioles, You Need to…

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Trade Melvin Mora and
Chris Waters to the Brewers for Alcides Escobar

 

mora.jpg

I really dig this deal for both teams
involved.  It’s no secret that either
Escobar or J.J. Hardy will probably get traded, and the Orioles are a perfect
fit. 

They need a shortstop badly, and
Escobar should be ready for the majors by next year.

 

The Brewers get Melvin Mora (left) who
is coming off a career year, driving in 104 runs, 23 home runs, and a .342
OBP.  He has a no-trade clause in his
contract but I think he’ll wave it to be able to escape a re-building franchise
and a join a playoff team.

 

            The Brewers are desperate for a
third-baseman after the atrocious year Bill
Hall
had.  Plus, the Brewers could
keep J.J. Hardy
as their shortstop of the future.  
Since Mora becomes a free agent after next season, he won’t interfere
with Mat Gamel‘s
progression up the system, as he will likely be the 2010 Brewers starting third
baseman, and Mora will move on to another team.

           

alcidesescobar.jpg

On the other end of the spectrum,
the Orioles get
a shortstop
for the next six years or so, that can deliver a very good OBP,
a fair amount of home runs, a lot of speed, and stellar defense every single
season.


            Unless Mora hits like he did in 2004
(.921 OPS), Mora-for-Escobar will slightly favor the Orioles, so they probably
will need to throw in a pitcher like Brian Bass or Chris Waters.

 

            If I were Doug Melvin,
I’d choose Chris
Waters
as the extra player, just to add depth to the thin rotation
Milwaukee has.  If Milwaukee can’t
resign Ben Sheets or CC Sabathia, then Waters may even may even be competing
for the 5th spot in the 2009 Brewers rotation.  

waters.jpg

There’s not a great chance that Waters will
be win the battle considering he’s competing with Mark DiFelice,
Chris
Capuano
, and Seth McClung.  It’s still very likely the Brewers will send
Capuano to Nashville (AAA) since he missed all off 2008 after having Tommy John surgery. 
DeFelice and McClung could make the team as relievers or as starters,
but both are fully capable of pitching adequately while eating up some innings
in the rotation.

 

            Does this mean the Brewers should
trade Bill Hall?  I don’t think so.  He can serve as a super-utility man.  With Hall being able to play left field,
center field, third base, shortstop, and second base, he should be able to rack
up at least 350 at-bats in a full season. 
Oddly enough, out of all the positions Hall can play, the one he would
probably play the least is third base.  Russell
Branyan
had such a solid season he is probably the one who will be tabbed
to fill in on Melvin Mora’s off days.

 

Trade Aubrey Huff to
the Indians for Scott Lewis, Mike Pontius, and Niuman Romero

 

I
believe the Indians will be good enough next year to make the playoffs, but
they will need to replace Andy Marte at
third base.  I know Aubrey Huff
isn’t the best defensive third baseman but he played 33 games there in 2008,
and has racked up 361 games at the hot corner in his nine-year career.

huff.jpg

In
return for Huff, the Orioles should ask for the blatantly obvious: a starting
pitcher.  Scott Lewis
succeeded at every level he played in; AA, AAA, and ultimately the majors.  These were his minor league stats this year:

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Level      GS     
ERA      W      L     
IP      WHIP 

AA           13      2.33      6       2    
73.1    0.97

AAA         4        2.63      2       2     24       0.96

MLB        
4       2.63      4      
0      24      1.08

scott lewis.jpg

Lewis will fit extremely
well into the Orioles rotation, and could be one of the cornerstones of the
team’s pitching staff. 

 

Scott Lewis is good
player, but obviously it will take at least one more player to acquire
Huff.  Originally I thought the Orioles
should target Jared
Goedert
, because every single Orioles third base prospect had a rough
season, and Goedert was ready to play in AA, so he wouldn’t block any other the
other prospects.  Later I realized that
I was being hypocritical because Goedert, like the rest of the third-base
Orioles prospects, had a very disappointing year after a promising 2007.

 

First off, is Tyler Henson,
who had a good first stint in professional baseball with the Low-A Aberdeen
Iron Birds in 2007:


Level      G      OBP      HR      RBI      SB      SLG      OPS

A-           67    .353       5         31       20      .449     .802

tyler-henson-21.jpg

But then went through
struggles in his first full season with Class A Delmarva:


Level     G      OBP      HR       RBI      SB       SLG      OPS

A         127    .310      11        62        19      .392      .702

Even though Henson had a
rough year, it’s not bad enough for him to repeat the level, so he should
attempt to rebound in High A Frederick.  That being said, with Billy Rowell
(drafted 9th overall in 2006) having another disappointing in
Frederick, Henson will be forcing Rowell (right) to first base. 

rowell.jpg

Rowell’s year was bad enough that
he’ll repeat the Carolina League, but I wouldn’t label him a bust just
yet.  He’s still extremely young (20
years old entering Opening Day 2009). 
However, he hasn’t even come close to what everybody thought he would
do.  He was drafted as a raw power guy;
a guy who wasn’t even expected to have a high OBP, but he’s only hit 19 home
runs in 922 career at-bats.  It may be a
concern that learning how to play first base will effect his hitting, but I
think in the long term it will probably help his offensive production.  Another aspect of this move is that it
potentially has set up Brandon Snyder
to block Billy Rowell.  However, I don’t
think we can look at this switch in those types of terms because Rowell has not
had one good full season yet since signing with the O’s.  Worry about Snyder blocking Rowell when
Rowell finally becomes a good player.

 

And lastly, let’s talk Mike Costanzo.  He had a great season last year at AA
Reading, but since switching organizations (twice), and getting promoted to
AAA, his production has seriously slipped. 
These are his numbers last year at Double-A:

 

Level        G       OBP      HR       RBI      SB       SLG      OPS

AA           137    .368      27        86        2        .490     .858

 

And here are his 2008
numbers at Triple-A Norfolk:

 

Level        G      OBP      HR       RBI       SB       SLG      OPS

AAA         129  .333       11        63         2        .395     .728

costanzo.jpg

Despite Costanzo’s bad
season, if Melvin Mora gets traded he’ll get every chance to be the starting
third baseman in Baltimore.  He’ll have
to produce though, because Oscar
Salazar
(probable starting first baseman) and Scott
Moore
(probable DH) also play the hot corner. 

 

Anyway, back to the Aubrey Huff trade… I decided that
despite the 2008 struggles of Orioles third base prospects not named Tyler
Kolodny
, the O’s shouldn’t pursue Jared Goedert.  Instead they should switch their attention to adding depth the
bullpen and second base (I didn’t forget about Ryan Adams and
his 52 errors
).  The Indians have a
wide array of young relievers like Josh Judy, John Gaub (100
Ks in 64.1 innings), and Vinnie Pestano.  But the one young reliever I believe the
Orioles should first ask from the Indians is Mike Pontius. 

ponntius.jpg

Pontius is only 21 entering next year, and
had a microscopic
0.82 ERA in Class
A Lake County.  Yes, he had 6.26 ERA in
Class A Advanced Kinston, but so what? 
He’ll start back there next year and pitch against players at his same
level (2007 high school draftees in their second full season).

niuman romero.jpg

As for Niuman Romero
(not Newman),
he had a solid year at Class A Advanced Kinston and should be ready for
Double-A Bowie.  I’m not speculating that
the Orioles should or will trade Brian Roberts, but when you think about, there
is not that great a chance the Orioles will finish their rebuilding process by
the time his contract expires.  So, it
obviously makes sense to fill up on depth especially when you only have one
other legit prospect at 2B, Adams who is only in A-ball.

 

All in all this trade
works out great for both teams, and should help the Indians compete for a World
Series next year, as well as add more talented, young players to quicken the
O’s rebuilding process.

 

Trade George Sherill
and Luke Scott to the Mets for Dillon Gee, Junior Guerra, Eric Beaulac, and
Shawn Bowman

 

george-sherrill-is-the-key.jpg

This deal is a no-brainer
for both GMs Andy MacPhail and Omar Minaya. 
The Mets may be hesitant to give up a worthy relief prospect in Junior Guerra,
but he’s at least two years away and the Mets need relief help now.  Sherrill
would be a great addition to the Mets shaky bullpen.  Sure, he may be overrated because of his 31 saves, but he will
pitch better than his 4.73 ERA indicates. 
Although it’s theoretically possible that Sherrill can serve as the Mets
closer, he would be much better suited as a 7th inning set-up
man.  With lefties Scott Schoenweis and
Pedro Feliciano already in New York, Sherrill won’t go back to being a
specialist like he was in Seattle.  
Expect his ERA to go down to around 3.60 with another year of throwing
at least an inning per outing rather than just facing one or two batters like
he did with the Mariners.  It’s possible
he may also pitch better in the less pressurized role of a 7th
inning set-up man.  I don’t think that
Sherrill’s bad stats were completely because of facing a lot right-handed
batters.  He had a 3.68 ERA through
June.  I think it was just the new
workload that ultimately pulled Sherrill’s numbers down.

 

Luke
Scott
can be Mets starting left fielder in 2009, and provide more power and
good on-base skills.  Nick Evans
didn’t hit much in 2009, and is probably better suited too start 2009 in
Buffalo (AAA).  Dan Murphy
hopefully can make a clean transition to second base for 2009.  Murphy’s switch is crucial as this deal only
gets done if the AFL
experiment is successful and the Mets are confident Murphy is ready to take
over for Luis Castillo next year.  This
whole trade seems much better when you realize Luke Scott is essentially
replacing Luis
Castillo
in the Mets lineup.

juniorguerra.jpg

dillongee.jpg

As I wrote earlier, the
Mets probably will feel a little antsy about giving up Junior
Guerra
(left)who’s a top relief prospect, but only him and Dillon Gee (right) are
the big prospects that the Mets could have expected to contribute with the big
club in the next two years. 

 

beaulac.jpg

Beaulac is a
middle of the road prospect who had a nice, but relatively short 2008 season
after signing.  Despite making six
relief appearances this year, Beaulac is obviously better suited as a starter,
seeing how he dominated in college in that role.  He should begin the year in the Class A Advanced Frederick
rotation.  Gee is by far the best
prospect the O’s acquire in this deal. 
He had a sensational year at St. Lucie (A+), posting a 3.25 ERA, and
then posted an even better 1.33 ERA in his four starts with Double-A
Binghamton.  Gee is 23 years old
entering ’09, and was only drafted last year.  It’s still smart to take it easy with Gee and let him pile up at
least 16 starts in Bowie before they could possibly called him up to
Triple-A.  And that leaves the very last
player, Shawn
Bowman
.  Ahh, Shawn Bowman. 

shawnbowman.jpg

If not injuries, he would probably would
have been traded already because he’s not quite on the same level as the Mets
current third baseman.  Although he’s no
David Wright, he’s still shown he’s a talented player, but it all about
staying healthy.  How injury-prone is
he?  Well, 2008 was his fourth year at
the same level (A-Advanced), but it certainly wasn’t completely his fault.  Here are his number of games played from
every season since 2005:

 

2005: 87

2006: 32

2007: 6

2008: 54

 

Yes, every single one of
those seasons was in St. Lucie except for the last, in which he played for
about a month in Double-A Binghamton, and struggled (.626 OPS, 29 games).  The important thing about 2008, for Bowman,
was how well he hit with St. Lucie.  He
had a .369 OBP with 2 home runs and .485 SLG in 97 at-bats.  That should put him on track to be Bowie’s
(AA) starting third baseman in 2009. 

 

So, with all of this talk
about the Orioles farm system, I realized that the Orioles starting pitching
situation is actually pretty impressive.  After all these trades take place, the Orioles minor league
affiliates’ rotations will look like this:

 

(Note: I think the major
league starting rotation consists of Jeremy Guthrie, Daniel Cabrera, Radhames Liz, Garrett Olson,
and Hayden
Penn
)

 

Frederick – A+

frederick_keys.gif

1. Brian Matusz

2. Zachary
Britton

3. Timothy Bascom

4. Eric Beaulac

5. Chris Salberg

6. Luis Noel

 

Bowie – AA

logo_bowiebaysox_15059.jpg

1. Jake Arrieta

2. Dillon Gee

3. Kyle Schmidt

4. Brandon Erbe

5. Chorye Spoone

6. Nathan Nery

 

Norfolk – AAA

norfolk tides.gif

1. Chris
Tillman

2. David
Hernandez

3. Brad Bergesen

4. Jason Berken

5. Zach Clark

 

Yes, I realize that
Frederick and Bowie have rotations of six, but it’s worth cutting down on
starts then to send a pitcher (ex. Luis Noel, Chris Salberg) that has a bright
future as a starting pitcher to the bullpen, just because you have five other
pitchers better than him.  You never
want to have your good depth of talent to derail a player’s career.

 

So, to wrap it all up, the
Orioles get to reduce their salary even more, so they can sign core players
like Nick Markakis, Chris Ray, and maybe even Matt Wieters.  Plus, the extra money can also go to signing
their top draft picks next year.  The
Mets upgrade their bullpen and lineup, the Brewers finally get a true third
baseman, and the Indians get a huge impact bat that may send them over the hump
of the Twins or White Sox. 

 

There is a lot to agree
with and a lot to disagree with in this post, so let me hear it ALL.  Good or bad.

 

On a currently related
issue, did anyone else notice Akinori Iwamura trying to shove the game ending
ball of the NLCS into his back pocket, struggling with sticking it in, and then
just screwing it, and jumping into the celebration pile.  That gave me a little smile… here’s the video.