Tag Archives: Adam LaRoche

Season Preview – NL West


We’re up to the last division left to review with the NL West. You can also take a look at my previews of the AL East, AL Central, AL West,  NL East, and NL Central.

Last Year’s Records
San Francisco – 92-70
San Diego – 90-72
Colorado – 83-79
Los Angeles – 80-82
Arizona – 65-97

Notable Additions

Arizona – Xavier Nady, Russell Branyan, J.J. Putz, Melvin Mora, David Hernandez, Kam Mickolio

Colorado – Matt Lindstrom, John Maine, Jose Lopez, Ty Wigginton, Felipe Paulino

Los Angeles – Marcus Thames, Matt Guerrier, Jon Garland

San Diego – Brad Hawpe, Cameron Maybin, Jorge Cantu, Aaron Harang

San Francisco – Miguel Tejada

Notable Losses

Arizona – Ryan Church, Adam LaRoche, Mark Reynolds, Brandon Webb

Colorado – Miguel Olivo, Clint Barmes, Jeff Francis

Los Angeles – Russell Martin, Ryan Theriot, Scott Podsednik

San Diego – Adrian Gonzalez, Miguel Tejada, Chris Young

San Francisco – Jose Guillen, Edgar Renteria

My Thoughts

Arizona – Under the leadership of new GM Kevin Towers, the Diamondbacks have already begun the process of rebuilding by trading away Mark Reynolds and letting Adam LaRoche and Brandon Webb leave via free agency.  They seem extremely unlikely to compete this season, but will look for improvements from Justin Upton and Stephen Drew.

Colorado – The Rockies spent their offseason spending money on contract extensions, as both Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki were signed to long term contract extensions. The team also did well to re-sign some of their free agents, most notably Jorge de la Rosa. This really seems like a team to me that has the chance to compete for the division title, providing they get a few breaks to go their way. They will look for a repeat performance from Ubaldo Jimenez and improvements from Jhoulys Chacin and Dexter Fowler as well.

Los Angeles – With the ownership situation in a state of partial disarray, the Dodgers didn’t really go out and spend a lot of money this offseason. They did resign free agent starter Ted Lilly, but otherwise did not make any large acquisitions. The pitching staff is excellent, but they will look for a bounce back season from Jonathan Broxton as the closer. The Dodgers are another team that seems to me like they can compete, providing they catch a few breaks.

San Diego – The biggest news out of the Padres this offseason unfortunately was the trade of star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. They have cut payroll down to a very minimal amount at this point, and could look to move closer Heath Bell if they fall out of contention. I am not seeing a repeat of last year’s 90 win performance out of this group of players, but I don’t think they are necessarily going to be terrible either. They will look for Mat Latos to build on his excellent 2010 season and try to take another step forward, but there’s a lot of questions after him in the rotation.

San Francisco – The reigning World Champions only had one slightly major acquisition (Tejada), but did well to resign Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff. Their pitching could conceivably be better than last year, with Madison Bumgarner making a full season of starts this year. 2010 NL Rookie of the Year Buster Posey will be up for the full season this year, and top prospect Brandon Belt is not likely to be in AAA for very long either. This is a team that could compete for the NL crown again.

Overall Thoughts

The NL West has the Giants at the top, and then a lot of question marks behind them. I honestly think that any of the teams at 2 through 4 could finish in any order in those spots.  Here’s my predicted order of finish:

1. San Francisco
2. Colorado
3. Los Angeles
4. San Diego
5. Arizona

Season Preview: NL East


Onto the National League, starting with the East division. You can also take a look at my previews of the AL East, AL Central and AL West.

Last Year’s Records
Philadelphia – 97-65
Atlanta – 91-71
Florida – 80-82
New York – 79-83
Washington – 69-93

Notable Additions

Atlanta – Dan Uggla

Florida – Omar Infante, Mike Dunn, Javier Vazquez, John Buck

New York – Brad Emaus, Ronny Paulino

Philadelphia – Cliff Lee

Washington – Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche, Tom Gorzelanny

Notable Losses

Atlanta – Omar Infante, Mike Dunn, Derrek Lee, Melky Cabrera, Takashi Saito

Florida – Dan Uggla, Cameron Maybin, Ronny Paulino

New York – John Maine, Hisanori Takahashi, Pedro Feliciano

Philadelphia – Jayson Werth

Washington – Josh Willingham, Adam Dunn

My Thoughts

Atlanta – This is a playoff team from last year that has upgraded itself at 2B (Uggla), and will look for growth from Jason Heyward in his second season. The team will plug in Freddie Freeman to start at 1B, and hope that he can have even a partially similar season to Heyward’s rookie year. The pitching remains solid, behind Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson, and Jair Jurrjens. The biggest role that seems to be up in the air coming into Spring Training is the closer, with Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters competing for the job.

Florida – As they prepare to move into their new stadium in 2012, this is a young team who should continue to be exciting for the next few seasons. It appears that 3B Matt Dominguez is likely to be the starter this year, despite not playing a single day in the Majors yet. However, the loss of Dan Uggla‘s bat in their lineup could cause a major hole in terms of power and run production. They’re also hoping that Javier Vazquez will rebound with a return to the NL East, and also provide some more veteran leadership with Josh Johnson in the starting rotation. I’m not sold that they stand a great chance of winning the division, but they could surprise some people in a tough division.

New York – With new GM Sandy Alderson on board, 2011 is going to be a partial rebuilding season. They did not make any substantial changes to their roster, and will look to get bounceback seasons from players like Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes instead. Ace Johan Santana is expected to be out until midseason, and the team is going to be looking for nice performances from Chris Young and Chris Capuano.

Philadelphia – The Phillies went out and made what was probably the biggest surprise move of the offseason, inking Cliff Lee to a 5 year, $120 million contract. With their four aces in the starting rotation, they definitely look like the team to beat in the NL East. However, the injuries are already starting to pile up, as Chase Utley has yet to play in Spring Training, and potential right fielder Domonic Brown will miss 3-6 weeks after having hand surgery. If this team can stay healthy, I don’t think there’s a team in the NL that can compete with them. But that is a gigantic if.

Washington – The Nationals made one of the biggest splashes in the free agent market, and it was completely unexpected. Jayson Werth signed a 7 year contract with the team, and will play right field for the first few years of the contract. The team is still not ready to compete, but they will look for continued growth from Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa. Jordan Zimmermann will also look to have an injury free campaign, and while they will miss Stephen Strasburg this season, he should be back in 2012 from his injuries.

Overall Thoughts

The NL East really comes down to the two teams at the top of the pile. The Braves and Phillies really seem like they will be the only teams that are likely to win the division or the Wild Card. The Mets and Nationals just simply aren’t ready, and I don’t believe that the Marlins are ready to compete quite yet either.  Here’s my predicted order of finish:

1. Philadelphia
2. Atlanta
3. Florida
4. Washington
5. New York

Fantasy Rankings in Review – First Basemen


Back in February, I took my first shot at attempting to rank players for fantasy purposes. After a full season, I thought it wise to take a look back at how they went, and compare them to how it actually turned out and see if there is anything to be gained from it. Next up is the review of my 1B rankings.

My Preseason Rankings
1. Albert Pujols
2. Miguel Cabrera
3. Prince Fielder
4. Mark Teixeira
5. Ryan Howard
6. Joey Votto
7. Mark Reynolds
8. Kevin Youkilis
9. Kendry Morales
10. Adrian Gonzalez
11. Derrek Lee
12. Justin Morneau
13. Adam Dunn
14. Pablo Sandoval
15. Carlos Pena

Yahoo’s Final Rankings (Top 15)
1. Albert Pujols
2. Miguel Cabrera
3. Joey Votto
4. Paul Konerko
5. Adrian Gonzalez
6. Mark Teixeira
7. Aubrey Huff
8. Ryan Howard
9. Nick Swisher
10. Adam Dunn
11. David Ortiz
12. Martin Prado
13. Prince Fielder
14. Billy Butler
15. Adam LaRoche

I also mentioned Adam LaRoche, Paul Konerko, Billy Butler, Garrett Jones, Lance Berkman, Chris Davis, Michael Cuddyer, Todd Helton, James Loney, Justin Smoak, and Chris Carter as players potentially having value this year.
From my preseason rankings, Kevin Youkilis (19), Derrek Lee (21), James Loney (24), and Justin Morneau (25) all finished in the top 25. Mark Reynolds, Kendry Morales, Pablo Sandoval, and Carlos Pena did not make the top 25 at the end of the season.
Free Agents: Lance Berkman, Adam Dunn, Troy Glaus, Aubrey Huff, Paul Konerko, Derrek Lee, Lyle Overbay, Carlos Pena
What We Saw

Buster Posey’s season was better than anyone even thought. He finished at #23 in the 1B rankings for Yahoo, which is clearly an elite offensive position. Wow.

I thought Joey Votto would do extremely well this season, but clearly this was above and beyond what I thought either. I think he’s going to start next season as a top 10 player overall.

Talk about a walk year improvement. Paul Konerko went nuts this year, and finished with 39 homers and 112 rbi. He’s a free agent, and while they want him back in Chicago, it remains to be seen where he will end up. But he’s clearly not as done as we all thought he was.

Aubrey Huff is another free agent who should get paid this offseason after an excellent performance in San Francisco. Part of his value was having 7 stolen bases this season, which seems unlikely to continue. I just can’t convince myself that he’s particularly likely to repeat the overall performance in 2011.

Injuries really had an effect on the 1B depth, with Kevin Youkilis, Kendry Morales, Justin Morneau, and Troy Glaus all missed time during the season. It didn’t help that players like Mark Reynolds, Lance Berkman and Carlos Pena all struggled during the season.

Justin Morneau really concerns me for next season, due to the fact that he still has not been able to do any baseball activities since suffering that concussion in Toronto. He could potentially provide a very nice value for fantasy owners next year, but he won’t end up on any of my teams most likely.

Adrian Gonzalez will continue to be the topic of trade rumors throughout the offseason, and I think that if he gets traded to anywhere else practically, he’s going to provide even more offense than he did this season, which seems like it should be impossible.

Overall, some of these rankings were pretty easy (I’m pretty sure it takes no brains to rank Pujols at #1), but some of these players clearly underperformed (Fielder, Reynolds, Pena). I think that Youkilis would have finished above the #8 spot I had believed at the beginning of the season had he not gotten injured. Not a terrible job on these, but definitely some work to be done next season.

Preliminary 2011 Rankings (Very Raw)
1. Albert Pujols
2. Miguel Cabrera
3. Joey Votto
4. Adrian Gonzalez
5. Mark Teixeira
6. Ryan Howard
7. Prince Fielder
8. Kevin Youkilis
9. Paul Konerko
10. Adam Dunn

Season Previews in Review: National League West


Back during Spring Training, I took a look at each team and made predictions about how each team would do and how I thought their season would go. This was the first year doing this, and I figured now was a good time to take a look back and see how it went. I’ve reviewed the rest of the divisions, and now it’s onto the last division, the NL West.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Predicted Record: 74-88
Actual Record: 65-97

What a mess. The team wasn’t really expected to be good, and they weren’t. But I don’t think anyone was expecting Dan Haren not to be on the team at the end of the season, or Josh Byrnes would be employed anywhere but in the desert. The team did get some solid production from first baseman Adam LaRoche and second baseman Kelly Johnson, and made a very nice trade to acquire Daniel Hudson from the White Sox for starting pitcher Edwin Jackson. There are better days ahead with new general manager Kevin Towers at the helm, but I don’t know if they will be in 2011.

Colorado Rockies

Predicated Record: 85-77
Actual Record: 83-79

Every season, the Rockies seem to just be hanging out until around early August, at which point they turn it on and really make a push for the playoffs. They were in the race until about 2 weeks left, carried by the amazing pitching performance of Ubaldo Jimenez and MVP candidates Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki. The team really did well on the Matt Holliday trade, as Gonzalez looks like he will be one of the top players in the National League for years to come.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Predicted Record: 92-70
Actual Record: 80-82

I really liked the Dodgers coming into the season. They looked poised for a division title with all the offense they appeared to have, and with the division not looking that strong, seemed almost like a lock. They did get great seasons from Clayton Kershaw and Hiroki Kuroda, but ended up moving outfielder Manny Ramirez, and not really ending up being important to the NL West race at all. The team has already resigned free agent starter Ted Lilly, but the thing that concerns me about this team is that there are really only two positions where they can make upgrades: catcher, and left field.

San Diego Padres

Predicted Record: 65-97
Actual Record: 90-72

Talk about a huge surprise. The Padres were widely expected to be a terrible team, and not perform well at all. They were carried by some solid pitching from Mat Latos and the rest of the starters, and managed to get enough offense to get 90 wins despite only having Adrian Gonzalez provide a consistent amount of offense. The team was in the race until 2 days left in the season, but wasn’t able to hold onto their division lead against the Giants. Bud Black and GM Jed Hoyer still have their work cut out for them, as the team still is unlikely to spend a lot of money on payroll, but they do have some solid prospects in their system.

San Francisco Giants

Predicted Record: 76-86
Actual Record: 92-70

The Giants really were a tale of two seasons: pre-Buster Posey, and post-Buster Posey. The team really started to take off once they inserted Posey into the lineup full time, and never looked back. They were expected to be led by their pitching, and while Tim Lincecum struggled at points during the season, him, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, and Madison Bumgarner really helped carry the team. Astute pickups of Pat Burrell, Cody Ross, Javier Lopez, and Ramon Ramirez also helped the team to their first World Series championship in over 50 years.

Original Draft Series: #1 – Atlanta Braves


For those that missed the guidelines I am using for this series of posts, you can find them here.

Team #1: Atlanta Braves

General Managers(since 1994)

John Schuerholz (1994-2007): 1298-902
Frank Wren (2008-Current): 158-166

Team Performance

Playoffs Division Finish
WC League Playoff App 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Last
1 3 11 11 1 3 1 0

All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C Brian McCann 2002 – 2nd Rd 8 5 All Star Appearances, 3 Silver Sluggers
741 gm, .290/.360/.491, 111 HR, 463 RBI
Currently with Org.
1B Adam LaRoche 2000 – 29th Rd 6+1 457 gm, .281/.346/.512, 77 HR, 253 RBI Traded to PIT – 1/19/07
2B Martin Prado
Int’l FA – 2001 9 1 All Star Appearance
389 gm, .309/.357/.459, 29 HR, 159 RBI, 9 SB
Currently with Org.
3B Chipper Jones 1990 – 1st Rd (1) 20 1999 NL MVP, 2 Silver Sluggers, 6 All Star Appearances
2261 gm, .306/.405/.536, 436 HR, 1491 RBI, 147 SB
Currently with Org.
SS Rafael Furcal
Int’l FA – 1996 9 2000 NL ROY, 1 All Star Appearance
817 gm, .284/.348/.409, 57 HR, 292 RBI, 189 SB
Left via Free Agency – 10/31/05
LF Jeff Francoeur 2002 – 1st Rd (23) 7 1 Gold Glove
631 gm, .266/.308/.424, 78 HR, 359 RBI, 14 SB
Traded to NYM – 7/10/09
CF Andruw Jones Int’l FA – 1993 14 5 All Star Appearances, 1 Silver Slugger, 10 Gold Gloves
1761 gm, .263/.342/.497, 368 HR, 1117 RBI, 138 SB
Left via Free Agency – 10/31/07
RF Jason Heyward
2007 – 1st Rd (14) 3 1 All Star Appearance
128 gm, .288/.403/.483, 18 HR, 71 RBI, 9 SB
Currently with Org.
DH Mark DeRosa 1996 – 7th Rd 8 393 gm, .266/.318/.371, 17 HR, 99 RBI, 6 SB Non-Tendered – 12/21/04
SP Adam Wainwright 2000 – 1st Rd (29) 3 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to STL – 12/13/03
SP Kevin Millwood
1993 – 11th Rd 9 1 All Star Appearance
75-46, 3.73 ERA, 1004.1 IP, 840 K, 303 BB
Traded to PHI – 12/20/02
SP Tommy Hanson 2005 – 22nd Rd 5 21-15, 3.32 ERA, 311.2 IP, 276 K, 97 BB Currently with Org.
SP Kyle Davies
2001 – 4th Rd 6 14-21, 6.15 ERA, 237 IP, 172 K, 126 BB Traded to KC – 7/31/07
SP Kris Medlen
2006 – 10th Rd 4 9-7, 3.90 ERA, 175.1 IP, 155 K, 51 BB Currently with Org.
RP Matt Harrison
2003 – 3rd Rd 4 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to TEX – 7/31/07
RP Charlie Morton
2002 – 3rd Rd 6 4-8, 6.15 ERA, 74.2 IP, 48 K, 41 BB Traded to PIT – 6/3/09
RP Blaine Boyer
2000 – 3rd Rd 9 6-9, 5.46 ERA, 117 IP, 105 K, 47 BB Traded to STL – 4/20/09
RP Jonny Venters
2003 7 4-2, 1.81 ERA, 74.2 IP, 83 K, 34 BB Currently with Org.
RP Kenshin Kawakami
Int’l FA – 2009 2 8-22, 4.32 ERA, 243.2 IP, 164 K, 89 BB Currently with Org.
CL Neftali Feliz
Int’l FA – 2005 2 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to TEX – 7/31/07
BN Yunel Escobar
2005 – 2nd Rd 5 446 gm, .291/.368/.403, 29 HR, 183 RBI, 17 SB Traded to TOR – 7/14/10
BN Elvis Andrus
Int’l FA – 2005 2 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to TEX – 7/31/07
BN Kelly Johnson
2000 – 1st Rd (38) 9 490 gm, .264/.346/.430, 45 HR, 206 RBI, 29 SB Non-Tendered – 12/12/09
BN Garrett Jones
1999 – 14th Rd 3 No Major League Appearances with Org. Released – 5/21/02
BN Jarrod Saltalamacchia
2003 – 1st Rd (36) 4 47 gm, .284/.333/.411, 4 HR, 12 RBI Traded to TEX – 7/31/07

June Amateur Draft

The Braves have done extremely well in identifying talent in the amateur draft, with Chipper Jones represent the glory days of the past and Jason Heyward the unfulfilled future that is to come. And in between they have had a lot of solid Major Leaguers in Brian McCann, Adam Wainwright, Kevin Millwood, Yunel Escbar, and Adam LaRoche. The key to them being my top team however is the fact that with few exceptions, they have gotten this value for the Braves themselves, and only Adam Wainwright has had extreme success with another organization.

International Free Agency

The Braves have had their fair share of international free agent signees, with Andruw Jones clearly providing the most value to the Braves themselves. Unfortunately, the trade to acquire Mark Teixeira didn’t quite work out as planned, as they gave up a starting shortstop (Andrus) and an All-Star closer (Feliz) in the trade, along with 3 other valuable players. They don’t always make the big splash it appears, but they do end up with quite a few solid players as a result of their efforts.

Overall Grade

A+. To me, the Braves are in a class by themselves for this project. There was no difficulty in filling out the roster for this organization, and many of the bench players would have been considered starters for a lot of the other teams. The on-the-field success has shown that they have known what they are doing for quite a while, and their ability to make trades (although they didn’t always work out), and retain their talent has been crucial to their success.

The Month in Review – July 2010


With the trade deadline now past, we look to the stretch run for the playoffs.

By my own count, here’s the teams I still think have a decent chance of making the playoffs. I’m including teams in their division if they are still in the wild card race.

AL East: New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox (albeit slightly)
AL Central: Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers
AL West: Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels (also slight)

NL East: Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies
NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds
NL West: San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies

My Award Winners to Date

AL MVP –  Miguel Cabrera (DET)
NL MVP – Joey Votto (CIN)
AL Cy Young – Cliff Lee (TEX)
NL Cy Young – Josh Johnson (FLA)
AL Rookie of the Year – Brennan Boesch (DET)
NL Rookie of the Year – Jaime Garcia (STL)

Weekly Links and Weeks in Review

June 28th-July 4th
Midseason Review
July 12th-July 18th
July 19th-July 25th

Trade Deadline Review

June was an extremely busy month for stories, with so many that I had honestly forgotten a few of them before I reviewed my week-in-review posts.

  • The trade deadline was at 4 PM EST on Saturday, and we saw an unbelievable amount of transactions get done before then. You can read my thoughts on the deadline as a whole by clicking on the trade deadline review link above. There were some huge names moved (Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman), and also some big names discussed that didn’t go anywhere (Adam Dunn, Manny Ramirez, Jayson Werth)
  • Alex Rodriguez is currently stuck at 599 homeruns in his career, and is line for a huge payday when he finally hits #600 at some point. To the tune of $6 million.
  • The All Star game was played in Anaheim, and the National League actually won! (I know, it was a huge surprise to me too). This could potentially be really good for the contenders in the National League, as they will have home field advantage in the World Series.
  • Also during the All-Star break, the sport lost an icon with the passing of George Steinbrenner. You can read my thoughts on it here.
  • The Diamondbacks started cleaning out their house early in the month, starting with manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Josh Byrnes. By the end of the month, they had made trades to move Dan Haren, Chad Qualls, and Chris Snyder. Interestingly, they held onto free agent to be Adam LaRoche, and much rumored player Kelly Johnson.
  • We had some pretty big names go on the disabled list this month, with Chase Utley missing nearly the entire month and phenom Stephen Strasburg put on the disabled list towards the end of the month. Justin Morneau is currently out indefinitely as well with issues stemming from a concussion he suffered earlier in the season.

What’s Coming in August

August is a bit of a catchup month, as I play to continue on with the Original Draft series posts with teams 12 through 7. There’s also 5 trade retrospectives planned, including 3 trades involving my Athletics. The amateur draft signing period ends in August as well, and I am planning a post looking at some of the big signings (and non-signings). I am scaling back posting here just a little bit, from 5-6 posts per week to between 3 and 4 per week so that I can also concentrate on some of my other writing ventures.

If you missed the announcement a couple of weeks ago, I have become a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance in July, and am looking forward to working with their community of bloggers. My first such post was some trade deadline thoughts I got from a trio of the bloggers over there, and you can read it here.

Thanks again to all the readers, and if you’re enjoying the writing, please feel free to either write a comment on the posts, and take a few seconds to become a fan of Jason’s Baseball Blog on Facebook. You can do that here.

Team Preview – Arizona Diamondbacks


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Miguel Montero SP 1 Dan Haren
1B Adam LaRoche SP 2 Brandon Webb
2B Kelly Johnson SP 3 Edwin Jackson
3B Mark Reynolds SP 4 Ian Kennedy
SS Stephen Drew SP 5 Billy Buckner
LF Conor Jackson Bullpen
CF Chris Young CL Chad Qualls
RF Justin Upton RP Juan Gutierrez
Bench RP Bobby Howry
IF Tony Abreu RP Aaron Heilman
OF Gerardo Parra RP Clay Zavada

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
SP Edwin Jackson Trade (DET) SP Max Scherzer Trade (DET)
SP Ian Kennedy Trade (NYY) RP Daniel Schlereth Trade (DET)
1B Adam LaRoche Free Agency OF Eric Byrnes DFA

Top Prospects: Jarrod Parker (SP), Brandon Allen (1B), A.J. Pollock (OF), Bobby Borchering (3B)

2009 Review

The Diamondbacks’ 2009 season started off poorly, and never really got any better. Opening Day starter Brandon Webb threw only 4 innings prior to leaving with an injury. That would be the only appearance he would make for the entire year. With the exception of Dan Haren, the rest of the rotation didn’t do much better. SP Doug Davis and SP Max Scherzer both posted ERAs over 4 and only had 9 wins each for their efforts, despite combining for 64 starts between them. The team finished 70-92, last in their division, but there were a few bright spots. On offense, 3B Mark Reynolds (44 HR, 102 RBI, 24 SB), OF Justin Upton (.300, 26 HR, 86 RBI, 20 SB) and C Miguel Montero (.294, 16 HR, 59 RBI) all performed very well. The bright spot in the rotation remained SP Dan Haren, who went 14-10 with a 3.14 ERA and 223 strikeouts in 229 innings. Their poor performance led to the shopping of veterans as the trade deadline approached, and were able to move IF Felipe Lopez and SP Jon Garland for prospects.

Team Outlook for 2010

The Diamondbacks are looking to build around their young core of players. 3B Mark Reynolds and OF Justin Upton were both signed to extensions during the offseason which will buy out their arbitration years. The biggest move of the offseason has to be the trade of SP Max Scherzer and RP Daniel Schlereth to the Tigers as a part of a 3 team deal that brought back SPs Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy. The team also made some low level signings, bringing in 1B Adam LaRoche and 2B Kelly Johnson on 1 year contracts. Both of these could have some upside, and the potential to also be trade chips if they fall out of the race early.

Overall, I am not sure that they are ready to compete with the top teams in their division this year. Their starting pitching has a lot of questions, as Ian Kennedy has never pitched a full season in the Majors, and it remains to be seen when Brandon Webb will be making his first start of the year. They will need rebound efforts from Conor Jackson and Stephen Drew, among others for them to have a chance to compete.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

OF Justin Upton is a top 5 outfielder, with the potential to hit .300 and go 30-30. 3B Mark Reynolds will look to repeat his 40/20 season from last year, and SP Dan Haren is as consistent as it gets. C Miguel Montero is a top-10 catcher for sure, and has the upside to be top-5. For deeper leagues, I would look at OF Chris Young, who is not far removed from a 20-20 season of his own.

Prediction for 2010

The Diamondbacks are still building, but I don’t think that they have the pitching to compete effectively in their division. There are just too many question marks.

74-88, 4th in the NL West

Team Preview – Pittsburgh Pirates


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Ryan Doumit SP 1 Zach Duke
1B Jeff Clement SP 2 Ross Ohlendorf
2B Akinori Iwamura SP 3 Paul Maholm
3B Andy LaRoche SP 4 Charlie Morton
SS Ronny Cedeno SP 5 Kevin Hart
LF Lastings Milledge Bullpen
CF Andrew McCutchen CL Octavio Dotel
RF Garrett Jones RP Evan Meek
Bench RP Joel Hanrahan
IF Bobby Crosby RP Brendan Donnelly
OF Ryan Church RP D.J. Carrasco

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
RP Octavio Dotel Free Agency RP Matt Capps Non-Tender
IF Bobby Crosby Free Agency RP Jesse Chavez Trade (TAM)
2B Akinori Iwamura Trade (TAM)

Top Prospects: Pedro Alvarez (3B), Tony Sanchez (C), Jose Tabata (OF), Chase D’Arnaud (SS)

2009 Review

The Pirates finished the 2009 season with a 62-99 record, last in the NL Central division. Overall, their offense was not very good, scoring only 636 runs. There were a few bright spots though. Most notably was rookie CF Andrew McCutchen, who posted a .286 average with 12 HR and 22 SB. Second-half call up Garrett Jones stormed in, hitting .293 with 21 HR in only 82 games. The pitching staff was led by the performances of Ross Ohlendorf (11-10, 3.92 ERA) and Zach Duke (11-16, 4.06 ERA)

The main stories in Pittsburgh’s season involved players who were dealt away. They moved popular CF Nate McLouth in early June for a package of 3 players. This move was widely panned as another cost-saving measure by the ownership of the Pirates, but the players they got in return (Charlie Morton, Gorkys Hernandez, and Jeff Locke) look like they could all contribute at the Major League level soon. They also moved OF Nyjer Morgan at the end of June to the Nationals, and received back closer Joel Hanrahan and OF Lastings Milledge. They did well with this trade, getting two major league level players in return for Morgan. They also moved 1B Adam LaRoche, 2B Freddy Sanchez, SP Ian Snell, and SS Jack Wilson prior to the trade deadline. They got some solid prospects in return, with SP Tim Alderson and C/1B Jeff Clement probably being the best of them.

Team Outlook for 2010

The Pirates are full force into their rebuilding efforts. They will look for improvement from CF Andrew McCutchen in his second season, and the further development of the pitching staff as a whole. They are also hopeful that they will be able to get a full season from C Ryan Doumit and OFs Lastings Milledge and Garrett Jones. Their offseason was spent finding undervalued players. Infielder Bobby Crosby will be looking to prove that he can still play at the Major League level, and should provide excellent depth on their bench, as he can play nearly all IF positions. Octavio Dotel is a high-risk, high-upside signing who could stabilize the back of the bullpen should he return to form.

The team is not built for 2010 to compete, but there is help coming in the form of Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata and Tim Alderson. Look for the Pirates to move some more veterans at the trade deadline this season if they feel that they can get a solid return for them.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

There’s not a lot to like here, but OF Andrew McCutchen is probably the best of the bunch. C Ryan Doumit could bounce back and post a top-10 catcher season this year as well. Beyond that, I am not sure I’d want to own anyone else on this team in a standard mixed league. Deeper league plays would probably be Ross Ohlendorf and Garrett Jones.

Prediction for 2010

The Pirates are in full rebuilding mode. And it shows. But there are some players here who will be in Pittsburgh when the rebuilding is complete. Watch for them in 2012.

70-92, 6th in the NL Central

Team Preview – Atlanta Braves


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Brian McCann SP 1 Tommy Hanson
1B Troy Glaus SP 2 Derek Lowe
2B Martin Prado SP 3 Tim Hudson
3B Chipper Jones SP 4 Jair Jurrjens
SS Yunel Escobar SP 5 Kenshin Kawakami
LF Melky Cabrera Bullpen
CF Nate McLouth CL Billy Wagner
RF Matt Diaz RP Takashi Saito
Bench RP Peter Moylan
OF Erik Hinske RP Kris Medlen
IF Omar Infante RP Eric O’Flaherty

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
LF Melky Cabrera Trade (NYY) SP Javier Vazquez Trade (NYY)
1B Troy Glaus Free Agency RP Rafael Soriano Trade (TAM)
RP Billy Wagner Free Agency RP Mike Gonzalez Free Agency

Top Prospects: Jason Heyward (OF), Freddie Freeman (1B), Arodys Vizcaino (P)

2009 Review

The Braves finished 3rd in the NL East last season, 7 games back of the NL Champion Phillies. The Braves waited to bring up top prospect Tommy Hanson until early June, and there has been discussion that they might have made the playoffs had they started the season with him in the rotation. The pitching rotation was led by Hanson (11-4, 2.89 ERA, 116 strikeouts in 127 innings) and offseason acquisition Javier Vazquez (15-10, 2.87, 238 strikeouts in 219 innings). The bullpen was finished by flame-throwing relievers, Mike Gonzalez (10 sv, 2.42 ERA) and Rafael Soriano (27 sv, 2.97 ERA).

The Braves helped to shore up their outfield midseason with the acquisition of CF Nate McLouth from the Pirates. They also surprised a lot of people by moving RF Jeff Francouer midseason to the division rival Mets for OF Ryan Church. McLouth provided a .257 batting average, 11 HR and 12 SB in the half-season with the Braves. The lineup was also led by veteran Brian McCann (.281, 21 HR), and late season acquisition Adam LaRoche (.325, 12 HR, 40 RBI in 57 games).

Team Outlook for 2010

The Braves were one of the few teams that entered the offseason with an abundance of starting pitching.  Having signed Tim Hudson to an extension, they now had 6 starters for 5 spots. As a result of this, they traded top starter Javier Vazquez to the Yankees for CF Melky Cabrera and prospects. The team still comes into 2010 with an excellent rotation from top to bottom. Free agent signees Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito will help to stabilize the back end of the bullpen following the losses of Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez to trade and free agency, respectively.

The biggest story out of Atlanta this spring has to be the emergence of top prospect RF Jason Heyward. Heyward, considered by many to be the top prospect in baseball right now, is threatening to force the Braves to keep him up and give him the starting RF job on Opening Day. He’s only played 3 games above AA level, but should be patrolling RF for the Braves for a long time. He posted a .323./.408/.555 split line across 3 levels last year. I wrote about him a bit more in depth earlier this year.

The key for the Braves is going to be on the offensive side. They will need improved production from 3B Chipper Jones, and a return to form by free agent signee Troy Glaus. I think that they can compete for the division or the Wild Card if they can get enough offense and run-support for these solid pitchers.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

The top fantasy players on the Braves would have to include C Brian McCann and SP Tommy Hanson. As always, closers provide value as well, and I think that we could see a return to form from Billy Wagner. In deeper leagues, OF Jason Heyward, SP Tim Hudson, and SS Yunel Escobar can all provide differing levels of value.

Prediction for 2010

The Braves did well this offseason with some of their moves (Wagner, Glaus, Saito), but in my opinion, they simply are not likely to get the production that they will need out of their offense to help them compete with the class of the division. I think that if Heyward starts the season patrolling RF, it could potentially be enough to get them into the front of the Wild Card chase.

83-79, 3rd in the NL East

Team Preview – Boston Red Sox


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Victor Martinez SP 1 Josh Beckett
1B Kevin Youkilis SP 2 Jon Lester
2B Dustin Pedroia SP 3 John Lackey
3B Adrian Beltre SP 4 Daisuke Matsuzaka
SS Marco Scutaro SP 5 Clay Buchholz
LF Mike Cameron Bullpen
CF Jacoby Ellsbury CL Jonathan Papelbon
RF J.D. Drew RP Hideki Okajima
DH David Ortiz RP Daniel Bard
Bench RP Ramon Ramirez
IF Mike Lowell RP Manny Delcarmen
C Jason Varitek RP Tim Wakefield

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
SP John Lackey Free Agency OF Jason Bay Free Agency
SS Marco Scutaro Free Agency 1B Casey Kotchman Trade (SEA)
3B Adrian Beltre Free Agency RP Billy Wagner Free Agency
OF Mike Cameron Free Agency

Top Prospects: Casey Kelly (P), Ryan Westmoreland (OF), Lars Anderson (1B), Jose Iglesias (SS)

2009 Review

The Red Sox finished 2009 with a 95-67 record, good for 2nd place in the AL East, and the Wild Card bid for the American League. The offense was led by LF Jason Bay (36 HR, 119 RBI), CF Jacoby Ellsbury (.301, 70 SB), and 1B/3B Kevin Youkilis (.305, 27 HR, 94 RBI), while the pitching staff was anchored by Jon Lester (15-8, 3.41 ERA) and Josh Beckett (17-6, 3.86 ERA). GM Theo Epstein was extremely busy during the season, acquiring C Victor Martinez from the Indians for a package of players, and also acquiring 1B Casey Kotchman while trading away SP Brad Penny, SP John Smoltz, 1B Adam LaRoche, and SS Julio Lugo.

The Red Sox season really appeared to be a tale of two halves, as the Red Sox were in first place as late as July 20th. However, once the Yankees got on a roll, the Sox were relegated to chasing after the wild card. In the playoffs, they drew the Angels in the first round, and were summarily swept in 3 games by the Angels.

The thing that I really found interesting about the Red Sox is that they were able to take some high-risk players, and when they didn’t work, still were able to make moves to allow them to recover. Penny and Smoltz both didn’t pitch particularly well for the Red Sox, but all they really cost the Sox was money. In spite of giving up quite a few players to acquire Victor Martinez, the farm system still remains extremely deep.

Team Outlook for 2010

The Red Sox are expected to compete for a playoff spot again this year, and would be on the short list of World Series contenders as well. They’ve improved at 3 positions where they were weak at the start of the 2009 season (C, 3B, SS), while losing some offensive production in LF. However, they’ve added excellent defenders at both 3B and LF, who should help make up some of that production. Their pitching staff is extremely deep, with Beckett, Lester and free agent signee John Lackey penciled in at the top of a rotation which still includes Daisuke Matsuzaka, a more experienced Clay Buchholz, and Tim Wakefield to fill in with solid innings in either long-relief or as a spot-starter.

I’m not really sure where the weakness would be on the Red Sox as of yet. J.D. Drew is always a risk to get injured, and DH David Ortiz was a bit of a mixed bag last season. The bullpen is still extremely strong, with Jonathan Papelbon slotted in as the closer yet again. Even the bench is fairly strong, with 3B Mike Lowell, C Jason Varitek, and 3B/OF Bill Hall among the players manager Terry Francona can call on to give the starters a rest.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

Lots of players to like here, with C Victor Martinez, 1B/3B Kevin Youkilis, 2B Dustin Pedroia, SS Marco Scutaro, CF Jacoby Ellsbury, CL Jonathan Papelbon, and SPs Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and John Lackey all being owned in standard 10-team leagues. If I were looking for a player with some upside, LF Mike Cameron could potentially hit better this season with a full home schedule of the Green Monster.

Prediction for 2010

The Red Sox, barring any unusual injuries, should be right at the top of the AL East again. I think that they’re going to be extremely competitive, and should be in the playoffs come October.

94-68, 2nd in the AL East
Wild Card winner for the AL