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
TB trades Andy Sonnanstine to NYM; NYM trades SS Reese Havens and CF
Ezequiel Carrera to SF; SF trades Randy Winn, RHP Keiichi Yabu, and LHP Geno
Espineli to TB
So this is a three-team deal.
And yes, the Rays trade away one of their starters in the playoffs Andy
Sonnanstine. Still, this trade
makes sense for every team involved.
The Rays predictably will use their starting pitcher depth to acquire a
bona-fide starter in right field. In
this case it would be Randy Winn.
It’s true, the Rays have a lot of players
who play right field. Eric Hinske, Gabe Gross, Ben Zobrist, Fernando Perez,
Ruggiano all are capable. But
Hinske and Gross are not exactly the type of guys you want starting every day
on a team that is expected to compete for the championship again next
year. Zobrist and Perez are bright,
young players but at least at this point are most valuable being on the bench
because of Perez’s ability to play every OF position, and his blazing
speed. Zobrist also is very versatile
and is a valuable guy off the bench. He
might even have a reasonable chance to overtake Iwamura
as the Rays starting second baseman. Ruggiano
has done everything you could ask from him in AAA. Yet he just can’t seem to bring the same game to the majors. He had a .911 OPS in 66 AAA games versus
.576 with the Rays. So, with Winn
coming up, in it can put all of the right field questions to rest while adding
a veteran presence that can fill the #2 spot in the Rays order. That way Iwamura can move down in the order
where he should be. If Crawford
continues to struggle, Iwamura could easily come back to the top instead of a
guy like Upton having to be taken out of the heart of the order.
Although Winn will obviously make a huge mark on
the Rays, I think Andy Sonnanstine is the biggest impact player involved in
this deal. Simply put, to have a
Sonnanstine in the Mets rotation would be fantastic for them. Even if, at his best, Sonnanstine is only as
good as a #3 starter, his ability to eat up innings without eating payroll is a
quality invaluable to the Mets at this point.
This way the Mets can afford not resigning Oliver Perez. In my opinion, Jon Niese is
ready to be the Mets’ 5th starter next year. However, if the Mets do re-sign Perez their
rotation would be dynamite. Whether or
not Perez comes back, the Mets would have, for the first time in a while, a
young rotation that can last a long time.
To have a rotation where every pitcher in under control until 2012 is a
huge advantage over the other NL East clubs.
Of course since Sonnanstine is that
valuable, New York will have to give up a lot.
The big sacrifice that the Mets will have to make is their second pick
of the 2008 draft, slugging infielder Reese Havens.
Havens (left) was drafted 22nd overall
as a shortstop but is expected to wind up as third or second baseman by the
time he gets to the majors. Ezequiel
Carrera, a High-A outfielder, didn’t put up great numbers this year but if
you start thinking about his age (21) and the fact that he completely skipped
A-ball, his .344 OBP, 28 steals, and seven dingers are pretty impressive. The Giants have a fair amount of outfielders
like Fred Lewis,
Schierholtz and some nice prospects like Antoan
Richardson, Ben Copeland,
Martinez-Esteve. And yet, with the
decent chance that Rowand and Lewis could get traded in the near future,
Copeland’s and Richardson’s non-overwhelmingness, and Martinez-Esteve’s and
Schierholtz’s sudden lack of power, there is a reason to why the Giants might
want to add another outfield prospect.
Now when you think about it, Tampa Bay would be
trading Sonnanstine straight up for Winn, and that obviously wouldn’t favor
them. But if you add Yabu and Espineli to
the deal, it evens out. Those two will
add depth to the bullpen. And although
Espineli (right) probably will find himself spending some time in Durham, he provides a
lefty arm and the credentials of 2.66 in Triple-A last year in the hitter-friendly
Pacific Coast League. Yabu (below) is pretty old but if he can be effective when he’s 40 (3.57 ERA), how much much worse can he be at 41?
SO, when it’s all said and done, here’s how it
would work out for each team:
Receive Give Up
Randy Winn Andy Sonnanstine
Receive Give Up
Reese Havens Randy Winn
Ezequiel Carrera Keiichi
Receive Give Up
Andy Sonnanstine Reese
So, what do you think? Fair all around?
I guess since Monday marks the beginning of
baseball’s hardware week, I will give you my picks for each major award (with the
runner-up in parentheses):
Again, these are my picks for who deserves each
award, not my predictions for who will win:
Rookie of the Year
AL – Evan Longoria — (Jose Arredondo)
NL – Geovany Soto — (Joey Votto)
AL – Cliff Lee — (Roy Halladay)
NL – Johan Santana — (CC Sabathia)
AL – Kevin Youkilis — (Mark Teixeira)
NL – Wily Mo Pe, I
mean, Albert Pujols — (Manny
Manager of the Year
AL – Joe Maddon — (Ron Gardenhire)
NL – Cecil Cooper — (Charlie Manuel)
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.
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.
Grudzielanek, like Guzman and Sherrill, should have been traded at the deadline this year. Gruddie is 38 years old and probably
will be retired by the time the Royals are at a championship level. I predict it will take around four years,
at least, for the Royals to be a really good team.
Grudzielanek will be 42 years old at that time. My point is, Grudzielanek will never help
the Royals win anything big, so it made all the sense in the world to trade
him to a team that could use a veteran infielder with a bunch of
experience. Do I think Mark is really
good enough to be a starting second baseman on a championship team? No.
He has little pop (3 HR this season) and little speed (2 SB), but he
does have a fairly good .356 OBP, and is great with the glove. I could have seen him being a nice pick up for
the Rays or White Sox.
White Sox only have Juan Uribe as a backup infielder. They desperately need an upgrade. His power is way down; he makes too many errors and has a dismal OBP of .285.
Rays also would have benefited from acquiring Grudzielanek. The person now serving as the primary backup at second base is
Willy Aybar, but he’s having a bad year at the plate, and is a natural third
baseman. The Rays have a lot of guys
that could fill the role, like Elliot Johnson and Ben Zobrist, but they have
done little with the bat and have no postseason experience. With the Rays competing for a playoff spot,
Grudzielanek could be a valuable infielder and a solid pinch hitter.
Royals can’t ask for too much in return for a 38 year old second baseman,
especially if the team that acquires him will use him as a back up. In any case, the Royals should ask for a
prospect or two. In would make sense
for the Royals to ask for a second base or pitching prospect in return.
Esteban German would likely fill the role
that Grudzielanek left behind, but with the season German is having, when
Alberto Callaspo comes off the DL, I would assume that he would be the starter
at second. The thought that Mike Aviles
could move over to second base to allow Tony Pena (pictured) to start at short is
bonkers. Pena has NO power, and has an
.OBP of .174. That’s horrible for a
pitcher, let alone a potential starting position player. Defense can only do so much. I wish I could say that defense and speed
mean just as much as pure hitting, but they don’t. Not even close.
Orioles need to trade George Sherrill now!
I respect Andy MacPhail and what he has done so far as GM, but the
Orioles have a reliever who is as the top of his career, and ultimate peak of
Sherrill was impressive in
the AS game and has proven he is capable of closing. But Sherrill(pictured) is 31 years old, and by the time the Orioles are at
a championship level will be way past his prime. I think 2013 is the absolute earliest the Orioles could plan for
winning the World Series. If that prediction
is right, then Sherrill will be 36 years old.
The Orioles need to trade him at this year’s deadline. Why not wait until next year? Because the Orioles will not be good next
year either, and every year Sherrill gets older his value will go down. I know the Orioles have a currently unstable
bullpen, but they have some nice future pieces like Randor Bierd, Lance
Cormier, Jim Hoey, Cory Doyne, Jim Johnson, Dennis Sarfate, Matt Albers, Chris
Ray, and Bob McCrory.
Ray, of course is the future closer, while Doyne was named Closer of the Year in
the International League (AAA). Sarfate
will be a good set-up man for years to come and Bierd has been a nice Rule 5
Lance Cormier has broken out
in Baltimore as reliever, and the same thing can be said about Matt
Albers. Hoey just needs consistency
and he will be dominant. Jim Johnson
has been the best reliever this year for the O’s, while McCrory is mowing them down
in Norfolk. Fernando Cabrera(pictured) is a big
question mark. He was the
Indians future closer at one time, but has struggled for the past two
years. He’s doing a fine job in
Baltimore so far and has the chance to post a huge comeback season. It’s weird to say that a 26 year old could have a comeback season, but it certainly would apply to Cabrera.
Sherrill should go to any team that could use bullpen
help like the Brewers, Cardinals, Angels, Twins, and even Yankees or Mets. The Orioles could, and should ask for some
prospects in return. I don’t care what
position the minor leaguers play because the Orioles need help everywhere. They could trade Brian Roberts in the
future, so second base depth will be important if that occurs. The only areas I would shy away from, is the
outfield (Adam Jones, Nolan Reimold, Luke Scott, Nick Markakis), and catcher
(Wieters). Any infield players, or
starting pitchers should be the main targets for the O’s.
- Outman is starting games again
in Midland! The A’s are seeing clearly
now. Maybe some Oakland official read
this blog. Or maybe they just don’t care
about what the Phillies think.
- Adam Loewen and Brian Bogusevic
are both abandoning pitching and becoming a first baseman and outfielder,
respectively. Boy, the Orioles just
can’t catch a break. Bogusevic, on the
other hand, has the opportunity to contribute something to the Astros. He was a bust as a pitcher, being drafted in
the first round in 2005. They could
have drafted guys like Matt Garza, Clay Buchholz, Colby Rasmus, or Michael
Bowden. The chance of Bogusevic ever
being as good as any of those players is still extremely slim. They are trying the exact opposite of what
Matt Bush(pictured) is attempting. If you don’t
know about Bush already, he was the first overall pick in 2004. He never did squat in the minors, and at the
end of last season he switched to pitching.
He only pitched in 7.2 innings with a 1.17 ERA, before getting
injured. He had TJS, and will be out
all of this season likely. Of the 7
games he appeared in, six of them were in rookie ball. His last outing was in A-ball. By the way, isn’t it weird that Bush had a
brother named Jeremy, while so does Tim Beckham. Both were high school shortstops drafted first overall. Jeremy (17th round), Tim’s
brother has already been promoted to A- before his bro. Tim has .247 OBP with no homers in 23 games
for Princeton (R). In Tim’s defense,
Jeremy was drafted out of college.
the way, the Randy Wolf for Chad Reineke deal makes no sense at all for the
Astros. Does Ed Wade actually believe
the Astros could make the playoffs? Not
that Reineke is anything special, but I’m starting to think that Wade makes
trades just for the heck of it.
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