Tagged: Rotation

Rotation Picks

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

 

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

 

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

  4. Casey Janssen
  1. Bryan Bullington

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Minnesota

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

 

Chicago

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

 

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


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

cashman_brian031217_getty.jpg

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

wade.jpg

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

 

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

A Tiny Transaction

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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.

birkins.jpg

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. 

 

birkins2.jpg

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.

 

The
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. 

birkins3.gif

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. 

 

I
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?

 

birkins4.jpg

From
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.

 

On
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.

birkins5.jpg

Here is
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.

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birkins6.jpg

The Phillies Read My Mind (Partially)

Well, I was in the middle of writing a long post about the Phillies transaction of bringing R.J. Swindle up, Brett Myers down and Chad Durbin coming into the rotation.  But of course, perhaps the Phillies read my mind and are keeping Durbin in the pen.  They also sent R.J. Swindle down, and recalled J.A. Happ. 
   
    The post I was writing was basically why the Phillies need to send up either Happ or Brian Mazone from AAA, so Chad Durbin could remain a reliever, where he has shined. 
   
    The Phillies did what I thought they should do, except for one thing.   In the “Lost Post” I mentioned (before I stopped writing) that I thought that Swindle actually deserved a call-up, and I was going to discuss why he was way better than other Phillies relievers that are still in the majors. 
   
    As of Saturday, this is the Phillies bullpen along with their age and ERA this year:
  
Brad Lidge, 31, 0.77, Dominant closer who’s 19 for 19 in saves.
Chad Durbin, 30, 1.50, You don’t mess with something that’s finally fixed.
Ryan Madson, 27, 3.07, Nucleus of the bullpen, just as valuable as Lidge.
J.C. Romero, 32, Way more than a lefty specialist, although he is great in that role.
Rudy Seanez, 39, Having an unbelievably great year, perhaps will stay around another year or two.
Tom Gordon, 40, I don’t care about how much experience he has, he’s been bad since the end of May.
Clay Condrey, 31, He’s not dominant, but can play many different roles.

    Explain to me why R.J. Swindle is back in on the farm, while Tom Gordon is 40 years old and has 6.48 ERA in last ten appearances is still with the Phillies.

Let’s compare how they have done this year:
R.J. Swindle          Age:25         Salary:390,000
swindle face.jpg

Level     G     ERA     W     L     IP     BB     K
AA        11    0.54      1      0    16.2   1       16
AAA      19    2.19      1      1    24.2   5       34

Swindle has been awesome, and just take a look at those BB/K ratio.  Nasty.  Plus he has a 55 MPH curveball.  All hail the ephus!

Tom Gordon          Age: 40          Salary: 5,500,000
tomgordonface.jpgLevel     G     ERA     W     L     IP     BB     K
MLB     34    5.16      5      4     29.2  17      26

Explain to me why Gordon, who hasn’t been good the past two years, is still considered better than Swindle.  I actually know why; because teams just can’t get over a player’s reputation even if truthfully they know another player can do better than him.  It’s hard to explain exactly, but it happens. 

     If the Phillies would release Gordon, they would still have to pay a large portion of his salary.  They could send him down, although I’m not sure his current contract would allow it.  Truthfully to be respectful, I think you trade him for a low to mid level minor-leaguer.  That would relieve the Phillies of the of a larger portion of Gordon’s salary, depending of the specifics of the trade.  If the other team is smart, they make the Phillies pay up to 50% of Gordon’s salary. 
    Just trade Gordon to any team that needs bullpen depth.  I’m thinking maybe the Tigers, Dodgers, or Brewers.

    Of any trade involving Gordon, the most important aspect would be how much each team pays of that 5 and a half million.  Still, hear are some minor-leaguers that could be involved in deals.
delwyn.jpgDelwyn Young     Age: 26      Left Fielder
Level     G     AB     H     .OBP     HR     RBI     SB     BB     SO
MLB     57     94     25     .330       1        5        0        9       23

He’s hammered at every level in the minors, and is blocked in LA.  If Geoff Jenkins and Pat Burrell both leave after this year, he could play a big role in 2009.

bazardo.jpgYorman Bazardo     Age:24     Pitcher

Level     G     GS     ERA     W     L     IP     H     BB     K
AAA     14     11      6.47      2      5    65.1  88     26     44

I see the bad numbers, but Bazardo is extremely young and had a very good year in Toledo last year.  He’s a ahead of his age, but Yorman and Detroit don’t quite click.   The Phillies need more young starters after Kendrick and Hamels.  Bazardo looks like he could use a change of scenery.

gillespie.jpgCole Gillespie      Age: 24     Left Field
Level     G     AB     H     .OBP     HR     RBI     SB     BB     SO
AA        84   304&nbsp
;    84    .375       12      55       9       48      70

Gillespie is very similar to Young as a player and the position he’s in.  He blocked in the outfield in Milwaukee, but has done well in the Minors.  Young is more experienced than him, but Gillespie may have more power potential.

brantley.jpgMichael Brantley     Age:21     Center Field
Level     G     AB     H      .OBP     HR     RBI     SB     BB     SO
AA        74   306     62     .405       4        34      25      39      18

Brantley has been very consistent in his career so far, and has a huge amount of speed.  His .OBP is great and has over twice as many walks as strikeouts!   He looks to be ready for the majors by, at the most, age 24, but, like Gillespie, is blocked in Milwaukie.  He could move Victorino over to right if the Phils make a deal for him.

skelton.jpgJames Skelton    Age: 22     Catcher
Level     G     AB     H     .OBP     HR     RBI     SB     BB     SO
A+        42    145    42    .429       2        13       10      36      36

I know about Lou Marson, but the Phillies still really need catching depth, and Skelton is a solid player.  He doesn’t have much power, but he is a fast catcher and knows how to get on base.  He may be like a Jason Kendall-type player.  I’m a Carlos Ruiz non-believer.  Sorry

carlossantana.jpgCarlos Santana     Age: 22     Catcher

Level     G     AB     H     .OBP     HR     RBI     SB     BB    SO
A+        81    284    89    .421       12      80       5       55     46

Every catcher in the Dodgers system should hope to get traded unless they want to be a back-up.  Russell Martin will be there for a long time, so Santana could be future trade bait.  Santana had a bad year last year in the Midwest League(A), so it would be a reasonable thing to say that the high altitude of the California League is helping him.  But hey, he’s putting up some sweet numbers.  I’d jump at the oppurtunity to acquire Santana for Gordon.

   Any of these players I’d trade straight up for Tom Gordon.  Of course that would never happen considering Gordon’s salary, but the Phillies should try to gripe (is that a word?) away some of these players.  Heck, include Mike Zagurski in the deal.

   Well, I plan on talking about the Nationals, Mariners, and Giants in the near future.  See ya.

Who Will Replace Zambrano?

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

2009 Red Sox Rotation

I know it’s early to be thinking about 2009 starting rotations but with the news about Curt Schilling’s potentially career ending surgery, I started thinking about the Sox’s future rotation.  I think the chances of Theo Epstein resigning Bartolo Colon after this season are slim, and the battle of the last rotation spot seems more and more like it will be between Clay Buchholz and Justin Masterson.  My pick at this point would have to be Clay Buchholz.  First of all, if you look at Buchholz’s career minor league numbers versus Masterson’s ML numbers you have to like what Buchholz could do in 2009.  Buchholz has proven himself at every level in the minors, seems like he could still good work at the major league level this season.  I don’t see Clay being a very good major league starter until next year.  On the other hand, Masterson has seemingly breezed through the minors and posted great numbers in his first six starts with the Red Sox.  If you look closely at Masterson’s numbers you will see he REALLY went through the minors.  He started with Lancaster (High A) and did well in the hitter-friendly league.  He got called up to AA Portland and did absolutely phenomenal in his first four starts, but tailed off and ended with average numbers: 4-3, 4.34 in 10 starts. mastersonPIX.jpg

The Red Sox had Masterson start this year back in Portland, and once again had average numbers, 1-3, 4.28 in 8 starts.  After one start in AAA, Masterson got called up to Fenway and has made people forget how unspectacular he was in the minors. Masterson reminds of another sinkerball pitcher who was a rookie last year, Kyle Kendrick.  Kendrick was an essential piece of the Phillies run last year, but this year had tailed off to the tune of 5.06 ERA.   I don’t see how the Red Sox could keep Buchholz out of the rotation next year.  clay-buchholz.jpgHere are Buchholz’s minor league numbers: Double A – 16-6, 2.23 ERA with 189.2 innings pitched in 36 starts.  Triple A – 1-4 3.78 with 54.2 innings pitched in 12 starts.  The AAA numbers are not ace like, but I like what will Clay be able to do in his sixth professional season.  I see at least a number four starter in him next year.  After that, him and Beckett will be great at the top at the rotation.  I like a future Red Sox rotation of Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Clay Buchholz, John Lester and Michael Bowden/Nick Hagadone .   Just in case you are wondering here are Hagadone’s (the Red Sox first draft  pick in 2007) numbers in the minors since he has been drafted:  2-1, 1.31 ERA with 34.1 innings pitched in 13 starts split with Low A and A ball.  OK, I’m done with this entry and hopefully I’ll be back blogging about some other team besides the Red Sox.  And just in case you have not seen it yet: copy and past this URL to the address bar: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080620&content_id=2969030&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb