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:
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.
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.
1) Albert Pujols
Anyone want to argue with me?
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
— 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.
2) Cliff Lee
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
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
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]
Prediction: .377 OBP, 26 HR, 78 RBI,
— 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.
Prediction: .347 OBP,
19 HR, 71 RBI, 1 SB
3) David Price
— 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.
Prediction: 21 GS, 3.60 ERA, 9 W, 4 L
NL Rookie of the Year
1) David Freese
— 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.
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
3) Gaby Sanchez
— 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
About four months ago I
entry focused entirely about the stupidity of the Cincinnati Reds front
office. San Francisco, Atlanta, Kansas
City, and Washington have all challenged that title since, but the combo of
Baker, general manager Walt Jocketty, and owner Bob
Castellini has proved to be tough to overcome.
As Baker continues to
completely ignore any factual information given to him, and Bob Castellini (nice button)
continues to oversee a baseball system pounding itself into the ground, Walt
Jocketty is still signing incompetent players to ridiculous contracts, and
trading away top prospects at the time when they are most needed.
The past two Reds
transactions may be Jocketty’s worst yet.
Let’s start it off with this trade, and on the next entry I’ll wrap up
the other horrific transaction made by Jocketty.
The Reds trade away Ryan Freel, Brandon Waring,
Turner to BAL for Ramon
Wow. Where do we begin? This is just a mess of a trade for Cincinnati. Now before I start getting into the players
involved, one must realize that the Reds also received $2 million from the
But that’s only the case because
Ramon Hernandez’s salary is ridiculously high at $8.5 million. I still think $6.5 million is way too
much to pay for Hernandez. However, in
the end, money can be recovered one way or another, but losing top prospects
cannot (especially when you have such a poorly managed front office, as the
Reds do). I cannot assess Walt
Jocketty’s scouting department very accurately yet, since he has only been at
the GM helm for a little less than nine months. But judging from his time with St. Louis, he didn’t have a very
good eye for scouts. Basically,
Jocketty is slowly but surely using the talent [gulp] Jim Bowden, [gulp] Dan
O’Brien, and Wayne Krivsky (not bad enough for a gulp) found and/or drafted,
and Walt is trading them away for his own “preferred” players.
The Ramon Hernandez trade
is a perfect example of that. You can’t
blame Jocketty for not having drafted the prospects currently in Cincinnati’s
farm clubs, but he is single-handedly destroying what little pieces of talent
the Reds had left to begin with in the minors.
Justin Turner and Brandon
Waring may not be Grade-A prospects, but both have a bright future, judging
from their minor league statistics, especially Waring. Just by taking a quick look at his 2007
statistics in Low-A, you can see Waring’s massive slugging potential.
Heck, including college, he hit 57 home runs
in 2007…in 489 at-bats! Not that it has
that much meaning, but The Baseball Cube’s scouting report on Waring has
his power ranked at 100 (of out 100).
However, Waring’s output
fell drastically in 2008 (20 HR), and predictably, so did his OBP
(.346). I don’t know what caused the
drop in power, but the cold hard fact is that his slugging percentage fell 147
points, and that is probably why the Reds were willing to give him up (not to
say they were right to do so).
Waring may never get back
to the serious upside he showed with rookie-ball Billings, but a .340 OBP with
twenty dingers a season is still pretty solid.
Turner looks like he may wind up being Brian Roberts’ replacement in
2010 (when Roberts’ contract runs out).
Maybe a more realistic expectation for Turner may be a poor man’s Chuck
Knoblauch (which is not as bad as it sounds) or that of a Ryan Freel-type,
without the ability to play outfield. Of course, one of Ryan Freel’s main assets is his immense
versatility (2B, 3B, LF, CF, RF).
I’m not exactly sure where
Freel fits in with the O’s next year.
The O’s have a logjam of outfielders already (Scott, Jones, Markakis,
Pie and Montanez), and capable infielders as well.
Baltimore’s only major hole is at SS, which is the one position
Freel doesn’t play. General
manger Andy MacPhail should trade Melvin Mora, Brian Roberts, and Luke
Scott this off-season. But seeing the
slim chances of that happening, the 33-year-old probably will just be a
super-utility guy. I understand that
Ryan Freel is a name more recognizable than Brandon Waring or Justin Turner,
but I frowned whenever I saw an article refer to it as “Ramon Hernandez for
Ryan Freel, and two other prospects”.
If nothing else, the Reds forced Baltimore to take Freel, because
of the four million dollars he is owed next year.
This was DISASTROUS
for Cincinnati, and I was just stunned that Baltimore could get anything for
Ramon Hernandez, let alone two good prospects from an equally awful team such
as the Reds. Bottom, bottom Line: Andy
MacPhail is either a genius, or Old Jock’ had lost his meds. Yeeaahh, most likely the
Reds – D-
Orioles – A
OK, so in a future post
I’ll go over the other transaction that cements my claim that Cincinnati has
the worst management in the game. And
if you are a disgruntled Reds fan, or just simply depressed by the sheer
incompetent nature of the organization, I have the thing for you!
Nationals trade Austin Kearns to the Phillies for LHP Moises Melendez
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.
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.
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
Milledge, and Elijah Dukes
set to start with Willie Harris,
and Wily Mo
Pena behind them. Kearns doesn’t
deserve to be in AAA, but he has no place with the Nationals.
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.
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
Rockies trade 1B Joe Koshansky to the Nationals for RHP Saul Rivera
very sad (Saul
is my favorite player), but the truth is, if this deal were made, it would
benefit both teams.
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:
you noticed there were no lefties in the pen.
That’s because the only left-handed reliever the Rockies have right now
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
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.
the Nationals have Kory Casto, Nick Johnson,
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
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.
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
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
he is one of the oldest players in the team and needs to be traded this
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.
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
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.
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,
Maine were offered for Belliard, it would be a fair and beneficial trade
Although it is time for Belliard to leave Washington, he will always be remembered becuase of
other baseball news, the iconic Oriole Bird has quit his diet. He has gone from this:
To this (maybe it’s just perspective):
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.
Trade Melvin Mora and
Chris Waters to the Brewers for Alcides Escobar
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
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.
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
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.
There’s not a great chance that Waters will
be win the battle considering he’s competing with Mark DiFelice,
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
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.
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:
ERA W L
AA 13 2.33 6 2
AAA 4 2.63 2 2 24 0.96
4 2.63 4
0 24 1.08
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
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’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
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.
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).
As for Niuman Romero
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
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.
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
Castillo in the Mets lineup.
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 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
Bowman. Ahh, Shawn Bowman.
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:
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:
Frederick – A+
1. Brian Matusz
4. Eric Beaulac
6. Luis Noel
Bowie – AA
1. Jake Arrieta
2. Dillon Gee
3. Kyle Schmidt
4. Brandon Erbe
6. Nathan Nery
Norfolk – AAA
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.
OK, here’s another post about a minor transaction
most people completely looked over.
Even I looked over it at first, but one thing led to another (I started
with researching the Orioles starting rotation) and I started extensive
research on one specific player: Kurt Birkins.
Who? You should know if you have
been an Orioles fan for over two years.
He was an “average” left hander that made appearances from the bullpen
in 2006 and 2007.
Well, to make this story short: the Orioles placed
him on waivers this off-season and the Rays picked him up. Birkins was in AAA this year, playing with
the Durham Bulls, before he was flat out released. What did he do in AAA?
Two wins, three losses and a 7.52 ERA in 36 games, all but one in
relief. And that’s the
problem. No, not his high ERA, I’m
talking about the fact he was exclusively used a reliever.
In the game of baseball, managers and pitching
coaches have the tough job of deciding if a pitcher should be a starter of reliever. There is a very thin line between the two,
but usually by the time a player reaches AA, the organization knows what the
future of that pitcher will be as. If
you solely look at the ERA of pitchers, you would assume that almost every
pitcher is better suited for the bullpen.
It really does make sense.
Relievers put all of their strength into one or two innings, while
starters have to split their energy up into six innings or more.
It makes sense that if a pitcher is moved from the
rotation to the bullpen, his ERA will go down, unless that pitcher is of the
type that gets better the more times they see a certain hitter, although
usually, the case is the opposite for the pitcher. Therefore it is difficult to judge whether a pitcher is more
valuable in the pen or rotation.
However, all of this discussion doesn’t apply to
Birkins. That’s what makes him so
unusual. He is one of the few pitchers
that pitches extremely better as a starter then a reliever. Two years ago, Fausto Carmona
was a fine example, although some of his struggles may have come from the fact
that he was used as the team’s closer.
Obviously, Carmona is a starter now, but for some
reason, Birkins is still considered a reliever. Maybe it’s because he is short.
Maybe it’s because he is a left-hander.
For whatever the reason, the only organizations Birkins has ever been
with have treated him as a reliever when he gets to the high levels.
Orioles drafted Birkins in 2000 in the 33rd
round. All the way through AAA,
they used him as a starter. But when he
got called up to the majors in 2006, he was put in the bullpen, and never got a
chance to start.
Heading into 2007,
Birkins was again assigned to AAA Norfolk as a reliever. Despite having made all but one of his
appearances in Norfolk last year, as a starter.
just don’t get it. Birkins made 19
starts in Norfolk the year before, and had a 3.05 ERA. And then, he gets transferred to a reliever,
after he made 35 relief appearances with the O’s the year before and had a 4.94
ERA. So, after struggling again with
the Orioles (as a reliever) the next year, Birkins was put on waivers, and
Tampa Bay claimed him. In an instant, I
knew that desperately needing pitching Baltimore had lost a real legitimate,
young starter. When claimed, Birkins
was only 27 years old. I was really
hoping that the Rays would realize just how good of a starting pitcher Kurt
Birkins was. But no, when the Rays again
assigned Birkins to AAA they also used him as a reliever. You already know what he did this year. I’m 90% sure if the Rays decided on using
him as a starter, his ERA would have vastly gone down. That’s the type of pitcher Birkins has
proved himself to be over his career.
More innings and a better ERA?
What more could you want?
the Rays point of view, it would have been hard to imagine someone being so
drastically better as a starter than a reliever, but if any pitcher can prove
it’s possible, it’s definitely Kurt Birkins.
August 29th, the Rays released Birkins. Amazingly, no team has taken notice of what he did with Norfolk
in 2006, and he’s still unsigned. If I
were a GM of a pitching deprived team, I would without a doubt, sign him to be
a starter. Since Birkins still is still
looking for a place to play, the Orioles have a chance of redemption if they
bring Birkins back.
Birkins’ statistics throughout his professional career. Take note on the number of starts and relief
appearances each year. See a pattern? The higher percentage of his games that were
starts, a noticeably lower ERA.
In my last entry I said
that Cincinnati had the worst management in baseball. And the Reds’ latest move (or lack there of) has convinced me I
am totally…….right. First of all, the Griffey
trade was a good one for the Reds.
To give up an old veteran who frankly was not very good anymore, was
smart. Danny Richar
doesn’t excite me very much, but Nick Masset
was a good acquisition just because he’s a young pitcher. Looking at it from a Reds standpoint, all you
have to say is “young pitcher” and it is a good acquisition.
But the move I am
referring to in the beginning of the entry is a direct result from the Griffey
trade. After the trade, Adam Dunn
and Jay Bruce were the only outfielders left on the team that were bona-fide
starters. Ryan Freel and Norris Hopper
were both injured. Jerry Hairston
Jr. (below) was thought to have the starting job in center field for two
reasons. 1) Jay Bruce would move over
to right field, where he will end up eventually anyway 2) Hairston was having a
career season with the bat.
I won‘t argue that
Hairston is having a great year. So far
he’s had a .393 OBP with three home runs and twenty-two RBI in 58 games.
But I don’t think Hairston should be the
starting center fielder. Why do I think
a guy who’s having such a great year be on the bench? The Reds season has been so bad, every decision made from now on
should be in the interest of the future.
With that in mind, Chris
Dickerson (right) should get called up from Triple-A Louisville and be the Reds’
starting center fielder.
Jerry Hairston is 32 years
old, while Dickerson is only 26 years old.
Hairston has always been a utility guy who can play the infield and
outfield and could and should continue that role. Dickerson is the only legitimate outfield prospect in the system
besides Drew Stubbs. As I said before,
Hairston could still help out the club by playing second base, shortstop, third
base, left field, and occasionally center field.
Dickerson is having a
great season in AAA. Here his
G .OBP AB R H HR RBI BB SO SB SLG OPS
94 .385 336 62 96 11 53 53 99 26 .479 .864
Those numbers are too good
for him to stay in AAA. The Reds need
to build for the future, therefore they need to let Chris Dickerson play in the
But I unfortunately doubt
Jocketty (Reds GM) will do I what I suggest because he’s well, I don’t want to say he’s
dumb, but he is.
intrigues a lot of GMs just by his potential and speed. But Patterson is 29 years old and I think I
can confidently say that you can say goodbye of any chance of him reaching his
“potential”. He’s a bad player, nothing
personal but it’s true, and to think he’s the one starting in center field
while Hairston is recovering from his injury is staggering. The Reds really need to take a different
perspective on running the team. Out of
all the baseball fans, I think Reds fans have the most right to be
unhappy. Even more unhappy then Oriole
fans, but that’s something everyone in Baltimore will deny. I think there is no doubt though, who has
the nicer ballpark. Reds or Orioles? Come on O’s fans, you know which one is
nicer. As for Pirate fans, I could
never be angry with management because I don’t think there is any instance in
professional sports where the nicest venue in the league
has the third
lowest average ticket price. It’s
truly remarkable and almost sad.
If I really need to
convince everyone reading this blog that Cincinnati’s front office is in
shambles, take a look at this
article. Yes it’s true. I’m sorry for all the Red fans out there,
but it’s not some cruel joke. Watch this
video. Bavasi was so bad as GM of the
M’s, that Mariners beat writer Jim Street forgot to mention the Richie
Sexson signing. How bad does a GM
have to be for a beat writer to neglect to mention the Sexson deal
when going through all the bad moves Bavasi made during his stint? Really Mr. Jocketty? The only way the Reds front office could get
worse is if Walt hires Dave Littlefield or Tim Purpura. It wouldn’t even be funny if mentioned the
possibility of Jocketty hiring Jim
The Reds also recently
Ross (pictured) for assignment.
He was the
Reds’ starting catcher for the last two seasons, and had a really good year in
2006 for them. Here’s what he did: 90
games: .353 OBP, 20 HR, 52 RBI, .579 SLG.
But in 2007 he was atrocious with a .271 OBP and 17 home runs in 117
games. For Ross, this year was sort of
ying-yang. He had a .381 OBP but only
hit 3 homers. He was going to be on
pace for only 9 homers this season.
Yet, he still was the best catcher on the Reds, way better than Javier
Valentin and Paul
Bako. I could see how Bako could
help the young pitchers on the team, but Valentin was having a horrible year
with a .294 OBP and one home run. Why
would the Reds let go of the best catcher on their team and keep their third
string catcher who’s older than Ross and is having a horrible year with the
stick. It doesn’t make sense,
especially when you look at Ross’s high percentage of throwing out would-be
I do however like the
player the Reds called up from Triple-A.
Hanigan was really swinging the bat well in Louisville and carried a .392
OBP. He’s not a power hitter at all; in
75 games this season he’s only hit four dingers, and has 18 career home runs in
549 career minor league games. He appeared in 10 games with the club in September last year, but is a pretty old rookie at
28. That being said, I don’t see how the Reds’ expectations for Hanigan can be any higher than what Ross did this year. I just don’t get why the Reds have
three catchers, especially in the NL, and why Javier Valentin is one of those
three, while David Ross is not.
Here’s some more
unfairness. Homer Bailey was
sent down on Sunday. But that is not
what’s unfair. Sending Bailey down was
the right move. He simply couldn’t put
it together at the majors, and hopefully the minors will help him regain his
form. The part about this that is
unfair is that Josh
Fogg will replace Bailey in the rotation.
I have know logical guess as to why Fogg is in the rotation, and Ramon
Ramirez is still in AAA. Fogg is 31
years old, but he’s definitely not a part of the Reds’ long-term plan. Ramirez is already 25 years old, so it’s
time he gets a chance to pitch in with the Reds. He has a 3.35 ERA this year in AAA, and 1.98 ERA in his last 7
starts. Why Fogg (who is 2-4 with a
7.98 ERA) is with Cincinnati, but Ramirez isn’t befuddles me.
prospect the Reds have is Josh Roenicke.
He’s in Triple-A at the moment and is plowing down hitters there. He wields a .227 BAA, and a 2.40 ERA. I think he’s ready for majors right now, and
he’s already 26, but the Cincinnati bullpen doesn’t have any odd man out at
Francisco Cordero: 53
games – 3.86 ERA – 22 SV (28 Opp) – 32 years old
David Weathers: 53 games –
3.35 ERA – 38 years old
Jeremy Affeldt: 60 games –
3.67 ERA – 29 years old
Mike Lincoln: 45 games –
3.51 ERA – 32 years old
Bill Bray: 46 games – 2.77
ERA – 25 years old
Gary Majewski: 24 games –
4.66 ERA – 28 years old
Nick Masset: 36 games –
4.30 ERA – 26 years old
Gary Majewski is obviously
the weakest link in the pen, but he is still is a good pitcher who bodes well
for the future and the Reds shouldn’t send him down again. I guess it couldn’t hurt if Roenicke could
put more innings under his belt in Triple-A but he’s a large part of the future and
is another reason why the Reds need to trade David Weathers this
off-season. He’s too valuable of a
player to be wasting away in Cincy. A
contending team like the Cardinals would love to have Weathers in their pen
The bottom line is the Reds are a bad team
and they need to get younger and continue to rebuild. They can’t stop at Cueto, Volquez, Bruce and Votto. They still need to get better and younger. Their farm system is in bad condition
despite what it’s pumped out the past two years.
This last little thing
doesn’t have anything to do with the Reds, but I’ll say it anyways. Didn’t any team notice what Carlos
Rivera (below) did in the Mexican League last year? I know it’s the Mexican League but at some point the
numbers start to have meaning. Take a
look at these things of beauty:
G OBP AB R H HR RBI BB SO SB SLG OPS
101 .511 361 75 148 16 73 70 63 3 .615 1.126
As a GM, wouldn’t you just
take a chance on him, and see what he could do in affiliated baseball
again. Obviously, Rivera was in
affiliated ball for 11 seasons
until 2007 and didn’t put up those same numbers, but those numbers above are
just so good, it’s tempting to pick him up for a very low price tag and
see what he can do. He’s still a free
agent and is 30 years old. Talk about
Finally to put the
finishing touches on my entry, here’s a “Phunny Photo”. I know that was lame. If you have seen it before (it’s fairly
popular) my apologies:
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:
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.
would have thought Waters was so bad in AAA, with the way he pitched on
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.
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.
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
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.
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 all these
player’s salaries, the prospects involved in the deal would not be
top-notch. 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 Orioles
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 ball.
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.
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.
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
Oh by the way, milb.com is
having a poll on the best bubble photo.
Here your choices:
Vote on the milb.com
homepage in the lower right hand corner. I voted Dustin Martin, but they are all so funny.