Tagged: Mets

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:

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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
.

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.

“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” of the Baltimore  Orioles

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The Good


good,bad,ugly.jpg

Unless you are a big fan
of the game, it was very easy to miss the minor move the Baltimore Orioles made
on Tuesday morning.  
Lou Montanez, a
Double-A outfielder, was called up to the Show (Anaheim, actually).  Montanez was it tearing up in Bowie (AA),
and was among the league leaders in many offensive categories:

 

In 116 games:

10th in
.OBP    (.385)

1st in HR            (26)

1st in RBI            (97)

1st in .SLG            (.601)

1st in .OPS            (.986)

1st in TB            (271)

 

More like the leader
in many offensive categories, but he fails to be the absolute best in getting
on base.  No matter, Montanez(pictured) really
earned this call-up.  He earned it way
more than
Chris Waters did, anyhow. 

montanez.jpeg

Who
would have thought Waters was so bad in AAA, with the way he pitched on
Tuesday?  Wow. 

 

Getting back to Montanez,
if you were really into baseball in 2000, you may recognize the name.  Lou was
drafted third overall by the Cubs
that year, but struggled with the organization throughout his whole
career.  He could get on base pretty
well, but the power never came, and that was his main asset because he wasn’t
very fast.   Finally, somehow, Montanez
found his power this year, his second year in the Baltimore system.  

 

Montanez wasn’t in the
starting lineup Tuesday, but I hope he’s a starter in Baltimore rest of the
year.  I really hope the Orioles don’t
act like the rest of this season means anything. 
Dave Trembley needs to realize that Jay Payton playing everyday over
Montanez would be complete idiocy. 
Montanez needs to play everyday. 
There’s no way around that fact. 
Trembley might be right if he said that Payton playing everyday would
mean the O’s could win three or four more games.  But how many games the Orioles win this year doesn’t matter.  Montanez could play a part in the Orioles
future.  Payton doesn’t. 

 

I hate it when a team that
is completely out of the playoff race, still is focused on winning that
year.  All the decisions made the rest
of that season should be made to benefit the future.  Mark Shapiro is a master of making those decisions. 
Ed Wade not so much.  The decision of who should start in center
for the Orioles is a perfect test on how smart management is.  I have confidence the Orioles will make the
right move and play Montanez, but if the same thing happened in Cincinnati,
Montanez would be on the bench.  Out all
of all the teams, I believe the Reds have the worst management.   I stand by my statement that Brian Sabean
is the worst GM in baseball, but the combination of manager Dusty Baker, GM
Walt Jocketty, and owner Bob Castelinni is extremely bad, just in the way they
all handle the club.

 

In other good news for the
Orioles, their High A club, the Frederick Keys no hit the Salem Avalanche. 
Brandon Erbe (7IP), Ryan Ouellette (1IP), and Freddy Deza (1IP) combined on the feat Tuesday.   I’m not going to pretend this news has that much meaning, but it
serves as a metaphor on how the Orioles are a bad team, but are intelligently
rebuilding.  The Astros are just as bad
of a team as the O’s, but decided against rebuilding.  Nice move Ed Wade.  Now
your farm system is stinking up a cloud.

 

The Bad

 

You’ve got to feel bad for
Hayden Penn(pictured) I mean his 2005 and 2006
call-ups were disastrous, but he was 20 and 21 years old then. 

penn.jpg

Now he’s a much better pitcher, and was
having a pretty fair season at AAA, but missed his first call-up because of
appendicitis.  Then, was scheduled to
get called up again, but suffered a freak injury when a sliver of broken bat
hit his leg.  So, in his place Chris
Waters made the start, and well, Waters will probably stay in Baltimore, to say
the least.  A 5.70 ERA in AAA? 
Then he gives up one hit in eight innings against the Angels?  Whatever works I
guess.  Penn must be frustrated at this
point.  I would be.   Plus, Penn has 2.28 ERA in his last four
starts. 

 

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for sarfate.jpg

I originally was inclined
to suggest that the Orioles should move
Dennis Sarfate (pictured) from the rotation
back to the bullpen. I thought the
switch was stupid because Sarfate had never started in the majors before, and I
really liked his future in the bullpen. 
But after I looked at his career statistics, I decided the O’s were not
that stupid.  When you’re a team like the
Orioles, you can afford to experiment. 
Sarfate put up good enough numbers as a starter in the minors, that I
think it’s worth a shot giving him a chance to come into the rotation for the
rest of the season.  Of course, we’ll
see how he does in his new role, but I believe a starter with 4.60 ERA is as
valuable as reliever with a 3.60 ERA.

 

The Ugly

 

We are now at “ugly”, so I
will start off by talking about the Orioles’ worst move this season.  The worst move was the move that was never
made.  Nobody was traded at the deadline!  Sherrill was not traded, Millar wasn’t
traded, Payton wasn’t traded, Bradford wasn’t traded, and Mora wasn’t
traded!  I understand that most of these
players (except Sherrill) were past their prime and getting overpaid, but all
that means is the Orioles can’t get as many or less coveted prospects.  If you read my previous entry “Sherrill Must
Go”, then you know why I felt the Orioles should get rid of Sherrill.  But Bradford, Mora, Millar and Payton also
should have been dealt for prospects. 
None of these players have any meaning for the Orioles in the future. 

 

Because of almacphail.jpgl these
player’s salaries, the prospects involved in the deal would not be
top-notc
h.  The deal would be simple,
though.  The more the Orioles pay of the
remaining money owed to the traded player, the better prospects Baltimore
acquires. For example, if Kevin Millar was traded to the Mets, and the Oriole
s
paid 70% of the money remaining on Millar’s contract, the O’s could acquire an
average AA level prospect like Shawn Bowman. 
But if the Orioles only paid 30% of the money, they would get a prospect
more like Jose Bierd, who’s in A bal
l.

 

Lastly, my biggest
question to Andy and Dave…why is Juan Castro with the club?  I mean you have an 36-year-old lifelong
utility infielder that has a .158 .OBP this year on your horrible rebuilding
team?  Look, I’m all for buying cheap
free agents and plugging them in holes so you don’t have to rush your prospects
to the bigs.  In you’re a rebuilding
team the last thing you want to do is rush your prospects.  But this is a different case.  

juancastro.jpg

In AAA Norfolk, Freddie
Bynum, Brandon Fahey, and Eider Torres all are being blocked in the majors by
whom?  Juan Castro?!  I would like to see Andy MacPhail speak with
Fahey, Bynum, and Torres, look them in the eye, and explain why Juan Castro is
better than all three of them.  I assure
you, calling up any of the three would not be labeled under “rushing
prospects”.  Any one of these players
could be with the Orioles as a utility men for the next five to six years.  We are not talking about Matt Wieters, but
these guys still play a part in the future. 
It’s stupid to let them play yet another year at AAA.  I have confidence that Bynum, Fahey, and
Torres will all be able to have their .OPS be higher than Castro’s .340.

 

I wrote about as many
different things concerning the Orioles, as the number of times Jerry Manuel
has walked to the mound in the 8th an 9th innings this
week.  Oh dear god, Jerry, just pick one
guy to close.  My pick would be Joe
Smith.  If Kunz can show he’s ready, I’d
turn to him because he’s the only real closer the Mets have.

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Oh, never mind about that
Chad Bradford comment.  He just got
traded to the Rays.  Great deal for both
clubs.  The Orioles acquired the always
valuable PTBNL.

bradford.jpg

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Oh by the way, milb.com is
having a poll on the best bubble photo. 
Here your choices:

Matt
Dominguez

West
Michigan Whitecaps Bullpen

Dustin
Martin

Vote on the milb.com
homepage in the lower right hand corner.  I voted Dustin Martin, but they are all so funny.

The Worst General Manager in Baseball

Often I ask myself “Who is the worst GM in baseball”  Well, in my mind, it is a pretty easy answer.  The worst GM in baseball currently is Brian Sabean.   The Giants are just in a horrible situation with a bunch of veterans making big money, and a drained out farm system.  Basically, the only youth on the Giants is Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Manny Burriss, Brian Wilson, and Fred Lewis.  There’s a lot of talent in there, but as a whole, the Giants franchise is a mess.  It all is Sabean’s fault becasue he signed so many old veterans to huge contracts like Omar Vizquel, Edgar Alfonzo, Ryan Klesko, Aaron Rowand and so on and so on.  The Giants at one point had an all 40+ outfield.  Steve Finley, Barry Bonds, and Moises Alou.  So after Finley and Alou left, guess who replaces them?  More veterans: Dave Roberts and Randy Winn.  Then once Roberts left, Sabean signs Rowand to an outrageous contract spanning five years.  Rowand will be 36 years old at the end of the contract.
sabean1.jpg
Sabean continuously lost top draft picks for signing signing free agents.  Because of Sabean, the Giants didn’t even have a pick in the first round in 2004 or 2005.  Here are the Giants top draft picks since Sabean was named GM along with the overall number they were drafted at.  Yes, that 132 next to Ben Copeland’s name is not a typo.  The first player drafted by Giants was the 132nd overall in the fourth round.  Was signing Michael Tucker as a free agent worth giving up a first round draft pick?
sabean2.jpg

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1997: Jason Grilli – 4

1998: Tony Torcato – 19

1999: Kurt Ainsworth – 24

2000: Boof Bonser – 21

2001: Brad Hennessey – 21

2002: Matt Cain – 25

2003: David Aardsma – 22

2004: Eddy Martinez-Esteve – 70

2005: Ben Copeland – 132

2006: Tim Lincecum – 10

2007: Madison Bumgarner – 10

2008: Buster Posey – 5

Most people know about how Sabean traded away Francisco Liriano, Boof Bonser, and Joe Nathan to acquire A.J. Pierzynski.  No other trade could be as bad as that, but here are some more awful trades made by Sabean.  Click on their names to see their stats, but more importantly, to see how little of Sabean’s acquisitions made an impact in San Francisco.

  • July 31st 1997 – Sent Livan Hernandez and Edwards Guzman to the Expos for Jim Brower and Matt Blank – Brower was a valuable piece of the Giants bullpen in 03 and 04, but you don’t trade a middle reliever for a top of the rotation starter in his prime.
  • July 29th 2001Sent Alan Embree to White Sox for Derek Hasselhoff– You can understand the Giants wanting to get rid of Embree in 2001, but boy did it turn out horribly for the Giants.  
  • December 17th 2002 – Sent Russ Ortiz to the Braves for Damian Moss and Merkin Valdez – Ortiz won 36 games in his two years with Braves, while Moss did nothing for the Giants.  Valdez could be a good reliever for the Giants but I doubt he will ever win 21 games.
  • November 14th 2003 –  Sent Francisco Liriano, Boof Bonser, and Joe Nathan to the Twins for A.J. Pierzynski – Oh boy, Oh Boy.  Sabean will never get over this, and another bad part about this move is, not only did the Giants get ripped off in talent but they also got ripped off in money.  Pierzynski enjoyed the worst year in his career in his only year in SF.  He made 3 and a half million that year too.
  • July 22nd 2006 – Sent Jeremy Accardo to the Blue Jays for Shea Hillenbrand and Vinnie Chulk – Chulk was an OK middle man for the Giants but Jeremy Accardo is a future closer, and destined to be better then Brian Wilson.

Although Sabean is the worst general manager currently in baseball, I have to say the worst general manager that I have lived through is Jim Duquette.  Duquette always said the right things: “We need to get younger”, “we take advantage of the newest statistical breakthroughs like VORP, and RCPG”.  Duquette seems like he’s smart, but he never makes any good decisions, and also signs a whole lot of veterans as free agents.  Duquette was the Mets general manager in 2004, and the Orioles’s GM in 2005 and 2006.   Well, most of the Mets nowadays is comprised of players that Omar Minaya acquired or signed.  Duquette made a large impact on the Orioles, and well, look at the Orioles now.  MacPhail has done a pretty good job since replacing Duquette, but it will take a *long* time to get the Orioles to the Red Sox or Rays level.
jimduquette.jpg
He was the assistant GM for Steve Phillips from 1998 to when Phillips was fired.  Shortly after Phillips left, Duquette criticized Phillips for the job he did.  Frankly, I’ll agree with anybody who criticizes Steve Phillips, but Jim, YOU were his assistant so you can’t be talking.  Duquette made many bad deals when he was with the Mets and Orioles. Here are some …..

  • October 3rd 2003 – Announced Marcos Scutaro had been claimed off waivers by the A’s – I’m not saying Marco Scutaro can make a wild card card team a pennant team, but with all the second base questions for the Mets the past couple years it would have been nice to have Marcos.  What did Jim and the Mets get?  Nothing.
  • June 17th 2004 – Sent Jeremy Griffiths and Dave Weathers to the Astros for Richard Hidalgo – Hidalgo did nothing but make money, while Weathers became the reliever the Mets needed so badly the past three years.
  • July 30th 2004 – Sent Scott Kazmir and Joselo Diaz to the Devil Rays for Victor Zambrano and Bartolome FortunatoYou can’t call yourself a baseball fan if you need me to tell you how bad this trade was.  Imagine the top of the Mets rotation being Johan, Kazmir, and Maine.  Heck, the Devil Rays even got the better of the two extra players.  To make Duquette even stupider this is a direct quote from Jim after he had made the trade and signed Kris Benson as a free agent:

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    “We’re getting younger and transforming our
    roster that a year ago or two years ago was one of the oldest in
    baseball.  Both of these
    pitchers are 29 years old, they still have a lot of mileage ahead of them,
    pitching-wise.”  So to make a team younger, you trade away prospects?

  • August 27th 2004 – Sent Dan Wheeler to the Astros for Adam SeussWheeler and Weathers would be huge in a shaky Mets bullpen, but at least we got Adam Seuss.  Yay.

Now it’s time for the deals Duquette made after Peter Angelos hired him to run the Orioles.  That Angelos is a smart one.  That must be why Orioles fan are staging protests outside Camden Yards.

  • December 13th 2005 – Orioles Sign Ramon Hernandez to a $27.5 million contract over four years – Hernandez’s contract is probably already labeled a failure no matter how good he does in the last year of his contract.  Hernandez is impossible to trade at this point and never really helped the O’s
  • January 9th 2006 – Sent Nate Spears and Carlos Perez to the Cubs for Corey PattersonI wouldn’t blame you if you don’t recognize the names of the players the Cubs got for Patterson, but you may soon.  Patterson has been atrocious for the Orioles and now the Reds, and has still not been able to shake the habit of trying to hit a home run every time.
  • January 22nd 2006 – Sent John Maine and Jorge Julio to the Mets for Kris BensonFor some reason, Duquette loves Benson, and is taken him everywhere he goes.  Although I don’t like Maine as a person, he’s pretty good when it comes to throwing a baseball.
  • June 25th 2006 – Signed Russ Ortiz to a one year deal – The numbers don’t lie, the numbers don’t lie.
  • November 27th 2006 – Signed Danys Baez to 3-Year Contract worth over $18 million – This deal was doomed from the start, Baez was never that great, and was injury prone.  The worst part is that the Orioles are still forced to pay him for another year.

Duquette has also been extremely unsuccessful in drafts.  He has only had the opportunity to pick in 2004, 2005, and 2006, but he screwed up on every first pick in those years. Here are his drafts picks:

2004: Phil Humber3rd Overall 2008 Stats
philhumber.jpg
Level        G        GS        ERA        W        L        IP        H        BB        SO
AAA          22       15         5.92         4         7        79        95       37         54
Other Players Duquette Could Have Drafted:
Homer Bailey
Philip Hughes
Stephen Drew
Josh Fields
Glen Perkins
Huston Street
Yovani Gallardo
Hunter Pence
Dustin Pedroia

2005: Brandon Snyder – 13th Overall – 2008 Stats
brandonsnyder.jpg
Level     G     AB     H     .OBP     HR     RBI     SB     BB     SO     .SLG
A+         74    274    83     .334        7      46        2       12      49      .478
Other Players Duquette Could Have Drafted:
Chris Volstad
Jacoby Ellsbury
Clay Buccholz
Matt Garza
Colby Rasmus
Micahel Bowden
Yunel Escobar
Micah Owings
Steven Pearce

2006: Billy Rowell – 9th Overall – 2008 Stats
billyrowell.jpg
Level     G     AB     H     .OBP     HR     RBI     SB     BB     SO     .SLG
A+         70    236    53     .292       3       33        0       22      65      .347
Other Players Duquette Could Have Drafted:
Tim Lincecum
Max Scherzer
Travis Snider
Ian Kennedy
Joba Chamberlain
Joe Smith
Justin Masterson
Colton Willems
Chris Perez

A sign of a bad GM is a guy that is unwilling to rebuild.  A GM’s goal shouldn’t be to get to .500 and spend money and prospects to do it.  A GM’s goal should be to win the World Series and create a dynasty to last for years.  To create a dynasty, a GM must build from within and end up having a great and large group of talented core players.  If you look at any dynasty in baseball history, 70’s Pirates, late 90’s Yankees, 70’s Reds, early millennium M’s, they all had a large group of players just entering their primes.  Those teams had those players throughout the whole prime of their careers. 

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All teams that have had streaks of losing
seasons have had GM’s that were unwilling to rebuild.  I’m not talking about bad teams like the Astros or Padres right now.  I’m talking about teams like the Orioles, Pirates, and Reds.  Somewhere along the way, these teams have had bad GM’s that chose not to rebuild and that is the reason why not any of these teams have made the playoffs in 14 seasons.
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Well, mlb.com, you should not let people think Jim Duquette is a good guy to inform you on key information.  Assuming that mlb.com is filmed in New York City though, Duquette should be careful walking around Queens or Brooklyn.  I sense St. Petersburg would be a good place for Duquette to retire.

I found this awesome video on YouTube.  Check it out.