Tag Archives: Albert Pujols

Season Preview – NL Central


Time to look at the 6 team NL Central division. You can also take a look at my previews of the AL East, AL Central, AL West, and NL East.

Last Year’s Records
Cincinnati – 91-71
St. Louis – 86-76
Milwaukee – 77-85
Houston – 76-86
Chicago – 75-87
Pittsburgh – 57-105

Notable Additions

Chicago – Carlos Pena, Matt Garza, Kerry Wood

Cincinnati – Edgar Renteria

Houston – Clint Barmes

Milwaukee – Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Yuniesky Betancourt, Takashi Saito, Mark Kotsay

Pittsburgh – Lyle Overbay, Garrett Atkins, Kevin Correia, Scott Olsen, Joe Beimel

St. Louis – Ryan Theriot, Lance Berkman

Notable Losses

Chicago – Sam Fuld, Tom Gorzelanny

Cincinnati – Arthur Rhodes, Orlando Cabrera, Aaron Harang

Houston – Matt Lindstrom, Felipe Paulino

Milwaukee – Brett Lawrie, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Gregg Zaun

Pittsburgh -  Zack Duke, Andy LaRoche, Lastings Milledge

St. Louis – Brendan Ryan, Pedro Feliz, Brad Penny, Jeff Suppan

My Thoughts

Chicago – The Cubs had a very disappointing season last year, and went out and tried to plug some of those holes this offseason. Bringing in Carlos Pena on a 1 year contract, despite its cost, looks like a very nice signing for a power bat. The acquisition of Matt Garza brings a young, cost-controlled high-end starting pitcher to their rotation, but at the cost of top prospects Hak-Ju Lee, Chris Archer, and others.  I am not sold that this team will compete this year, as they will need bounceback performances from Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, and Carlos Zambrano to really end up in the thick of the race.

Cincinnati – The defending NL Central champions, the team has lost Aaron Harang and will hope that the combination of Mike Leake, Travis Wood, and others will be able to pitch complete seasons this year. The team returns nearly every player from last season’s title, but I don’t think that it is a slam-dunk that they will just run away with the division again this year.

Houston – Talk about a rebuilding effort. Here’s a team which has very few high-end prospects in the system right now, who also does not have a lot of higher-quality players at the Major League level either. There are some quality players in Hunter Pence and Brett Myers, but there’s not a lot of hope for the 2011 season. They will look to get a solid rookie season out of last year’s acquisition, Brett Wallace, but you have essentially gathered a group of mid-level players who can fill out a roster, but are unlikely to compete as a group for a division title, let alone a league championship

Milwaukee – And within the same division, you have a team who has gone all-in for 2011. The Brewers have traded nearly all of their top prospects in order to improve their pitching staff, and did so with the acquisitions of Marcum and Greinke. It’s not a great sign that Greinke is hurt already, but he should return in mid April and only miss a few starts. The bigger story throughout the season will be whether or not they fall out of contention and attempt to trade Prince Fielder before the deadline. They definitely remain a team to be reckoned with in the NL Central.

Pittsburgh – For a team that lost 105 games last year, they actually have a lot to look forward to. Center fielder Andrew McCutchen is poised to become one of the best young players in the Majors, and 2nd year players Jose Tabata and Pedro Alvarez both will look to build on their solid rookie years. They aren’t likely to compete this season, but there’s hope for Pirates fans that is starting to show itself at the Major League level.

St. Louis – The biggest story out of St. Louis up until the start of Spring Training was whether or not Albert Pujols would sign a contract extension prior to the start of the season, and unfortunately it’s no longer the current top story out of their camp. With Cy Young runner up Adam Wainwright out for the season with Tommy John surgery, they will now look to replace at least some part of his production in the starting rotation. I’m not sold that this team, as constructed, can compete for the division title. They will need everything else to fall just right for them to win this division.

Overall Thoughts

The NL Central really has the look of a wide open division. If things fall just right, 4 of the teams could conceivably win the division this season. That said, I’m not sold that things will fall right for all of them, but it should be intersting to watch regardless.  Here’s my predicted order of finish:

1. Milwaukee
2. Cincinnati
3. St. Louis
4. Chicago
5. Pittsburgh
6. Houston

Who are the Faces of the Franchise? NL Central Edition


Only two divisions left to look at for the Faces of the Franchise, but there’s some definite notable ones here .

  • Cubs – At the moment, the player who is most known for being a Cub has to be Carlos Zambrano. Whether or not that is a good thing or not remains to be seen, but the team seems like it is more associated with him than some of the more famous position players like Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez. Continue reading

The Next Contract for Albert Pujols


With the self-imposed deadline come and gone, it appears that for now, Albert Pujols will play out his contract, and have the option to test free agency come November. The potential suitors who could vie for his services if he actually reaches free agency have been written about ad nauseum, but I think it’s important to look at the actual impact Pujols will have on the game itself.

If He Returns to the Cardinals

If Albert returns to the Cardinals, two things stand out potentially for him. He could be the next great lifetime Cardinal, in the ilk of Stan Musial and Bob Gibson, as famous for being a Cardinal as a great ballplayer. His numbers to this point clearly indicate that he is already a great player, one of the greats of all time in just 10 seasons. But he could also make a run at some of the great Cardinal records, many of which are held by Musial.

Continue reading

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

The NL Stan Musial Award


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Over at the Baseball Bloggers’ Alliance, we have been voting on our award winners for the regular season. Previously I have announced my votes for the Connie Mack awards (Best Manager of the Year), the Willie Mays awards (Top Rookie), the Goose Gossage awards (Top Reliever), and the Walter Johnson awards (Top Pitcher). Only one set of awards left to give out, and it’s the big one: The Stan Musial award, given to each league’s most valuable player.

Every season there seems to be a real debate as to what should be considered for the league’s most valuable player. It’s become pretty clear that there is (or at least should be) a difference between who is the best player and who was the most valuable to his team this season. Well, here’s my criteria (at least how I see it anyway):

Value to their Team

It becomes extremely hard for me to argue that a player who has a great season on a team with a lot of great players is more valuable than a player who has a great season on a team that doesn’t have a lot of good players on it. When I look at it, I start looking at how the team would perform without the player. If the player I am looking at were to miss extended time, would their team be able to easily replace what he does, or would they struggle until he returned to form?

The Complete Player

It becomes extremely important in my opinion, that for a player to be the most valuable player, they have to provide at least some value on both sides of the game. Clearly, there is value to a player who plays excellent defense in addition to a player who hits extremely well. To me, this doesn’t necessarily mean that a player needs to steal a lot of bases and hit a lot of home runs on the offensive side, but they should clearly be pretty close to elite for what they do. And in terms of players who are primarily designated hitters, to me they have to be far and away the most obvious candidate for them to get a lot of votes. While it is a position in the game, I think that it is important to find a way to offset the value they are not providing in the field.

Pitchers

I tend to view pitchers the same way as designated hitters in terms of the most valuable player. They would need to be unbelievably dominant to move ahead of top level position players.

The Big Stats

At this point, it’s pretty much impossible to ignore what the statistics tell us overall. It becomes hard to argue that there isn’t a judgment to be made when looking at value with regard to home runs, stolen bases, runs scored, runs batted in, and batting average, among many others. That said, it is something I look at, but it doesn’t become a spot where I just make a judgment based entirely on the statistics.

With all that (phew!), here’s my top candidates for the NL Stan Musial award. Players are listed from east to west, and my vote will be at the bottom. For this award, it’s a 10 person ballot. Also, when you’re talking about the best of anything, it invariably ends up a bit nit-picky when it comes to differentiating candidates. Everyone on this list had a great season, and it just comes down to trying to determine small ways in which one was better than the rest. There’s not a whole lot to say about each player as a result, and so instead here are the statistics that I looked at for each player, and then I’ll go into my logic for my decision.

Continue reading

The Month in Review – August


With the roster deadline now past, we look to the final month of 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
AL West: Texas Rangers

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

My Award Winners to Date

AL MVP -  Josh Hamilton (TEX)
NL MVP – Joey Votto (CIN)
AL Cy Young – C.C. Sabathia (NYY)
NL Cy Young – Adam Wainwright (STL)
AL Rookie of the Year – Austin Jackson (DET)
NL Rookie of the Year – Buster Posey (SF)

Weekly Links and Weeks in Review

August 2-August 8
August 9-August 15
August 16-August 22
August 23-August 29

August was yet another busy month for stories as we get down to the final sprints of the playoff push.

  • Injuries to key players were a big story, with the most disappointing name to hit the disabled list being Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg will need Tommy John surgery, and will most likely miss the 2011 season in addition to the rest of the 2010 season. It’s been a very up and down year for Strasburg, and I know that I look forward to seeing him when he returns from this. There has been a lot of comparisons between the last pitcher touted this highly, and how his career path went. I think it’s a bit early to compare him to Mark Prior though.
  • Francisco Rodriguez will miss the remainder of the season after getting into a fight with his girlfriend’s father and hurting his pitching hand. Nothing about this looks good for Rodriguez, and it will be interesting to see what happens as next season approaches.
  • Roger Clemens was indicted on charges in the middle of the month, of lying to Congress. We’ll see how this plays out, but the thing that I know for sure is that it is extremely unlikely it plays out quickly. I imagine we’ll still be talking about this story in a year or two.
  • Milestone homeruns came for Alex Rodriguez (600) and Albert Pujols (400) this month as well.
  • Lou Piniella had previously announced his retirement effective the end of the season, but decided to move that plan up to August 22nd so that he could help with the care of his mother. We’ll miss you, Lou.
  • We’re seeing a bonafide Triple crown chase in the National League, as Albert Pujols and Joey Votto are tied for at least 2nd in all 3 major categories. I think Votto has to be the MVP if the Reds win the division, and I don’t think that changes if Pujols were to win the Triple Crown instead of Votto.

What’s Coming in September and in the Future

September is (other than obviously the last month of the regular season) going to be a slightly less busy month here at JBB. We’ll have a Week-in-Review post on the 6th, 20th, and 27th, and I’ll be finishing up the Original Draft Series with the last 6 teams spread over the first 3 weeks of the month, along with a review of the whole series. Trade retrospectives will conclude for the season with a series of posts about the firesale that happened after the 1997 Marlins’ World Championship. After the minor league season ends, I’ll take one more look at how the performance of the prospects I reviewed back in January.

Once the season ends, I am planning on taking a few days to evaluate what will be next and what I’ll be writing about for the offseason. I do plan on having another awards prediction column once the regular season ends like last year.

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.

Trade Deadline Thoughts


With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, I put out a call to some of the team-centric bloggers from the Baseball Bloggers Alliance with 3 questions each, dependent on whether or not they considered their team to be a contender or not. Below are the questions, along with each of the responses.

Note that most of these responses were received over the last week, so some may be a bit out of date with the information now known, but that has more with my inability to sit down and write it all down and not with the respondents themselves.

The Respondents

Bill Ivie from I-70 Baseball (Responses are for the Cardinals)
Daniel Shoptaw from C70 at the Bat (Cardinals)
Bee Hylinski from Contract Year (Athletics)

For Contending Teams:

1.  What would you say is your team’s most pressing need to help them get to (or stay in) the playoffs?

Ivie: I will take the opinion side of this.  I have said it for months now.  The Cardinals need some strong help in the middle infield.  When they get production and table setting from the 2b/SS position, they produce and win.  When those positions are quiet, the team loses.

Shoptaw: There are two glaring holes on this team–middle infield, most especially shortstop, and the back of the rotation.  With the hopeful emergence of Tyler Greene to replace Brendan Ryan‘s woeful production, getting another starter would seem to be the most pressing need.  The team can not continue to run out Jeff Suppan and Blake Hawksworth on a regular basis and expect to play in October.

Interesting to me is the fact that both writers agree that the Cardinals’ middle infield is pretty much a black hole in terms of offense. I’m also inclined to agree with Daniel about the fact that the Cardinals need something in their rotation, but I think they are going to have to either make a small acquisition or wait to find out if and when injured pitchers Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse will be able to return to the rotation.

2. What player(s) do you think would most effectively fit that need? Generally, these would only be players that actually have a decent chance of being traded, so no offers for Albert Pujols :)

Ivie: What if I want to offer for Albert…oh, wait…we got ‘em.  Dan Uggla is always and intriguing name.  I also like the discussions that are suggesting Stephen Drew at SS.  Other than that, I think the market is kind of small for help, but hopefully they can find something out there.

Shoptaw: While the Cardinals would be well-suited to a Dan Haren or a Roy Oswalt, their contract situation most likely leaves them out of the crosshairs of GM John Mozeliak.  All moves must be filtered through the prism of the potential Albert Pujols extension.  Therefore, they’d much rather have someone that was a free agent after this season rather than someone taking up space in the next year or two.  You would think, in that case, they’d look for someone like a Jake Westbrook or perhaps a Kevin Millwood.

I actually really like the idea of the Cardinals acquiring Dan Uggla for a playoff run. While he is a bit expensive at $7.8 million for this season, he is under team control for next season as well, and could conceivably be moved during the offseason if they feel he will be too expensive. I actually really like the Stephen Drew thought as well, but he has more seasons under team control and would realistically cost more to acquire than Uggla. The Cardinals also seem like they would be a good team to take a risk on a Jake Westbrook/Kevin Millwood/Jeremy Guthrie type, and pair them up with Dave Duncan and let him do his magic.

3. What player(s) in your system are most likely to net you the player(s) for those needs?

Ivie: This probably is the biggest obstacle for the Cardinals.  I would say that Bryan Anderson (AAA Catcher), Mitchell Boggs (ML Reliever), and Brendan Ryan (ML Shorstop).  Brendan may be thrown in for a change of scenery and take a team that feels that is what he needs, but it will be hard to tell.

Shoptaw: What they can give up is another story.  Since they used a lot of their chips last year acquiring Mark DeRosa and then Matt Holliday, there’s not a lot on the farm.  There are potentially useful players such as Mark Hamilton and Joe Mather, along with current big leaguers Jon Jay and Allen Craig, that could be used as parts of a deal.  Most likely, St. Louis would have to take on payroll, something that ownership has said there is flexibility to do, and give away lesser quality prospects.  Expect that Brendan Ryan could be a part of a deal as well, especially if they do make a deal for a shortstop.

After looking at the Cardinals system myself, it’s pretty empty at the higher levels. The biggest name that I have heard for them is pitcher Shelby Miller, who I would assume would have to be included in a trade if they were to get themselves someone like Roy Oswalt or Dan Haren. The other thing to remember at this point is that if they acquire a player who has a longer term contract, they may start running into a problem with their payroll limits after 2011 when they will need to resign Albert Pujols.

For Non-Contenders:

1. Which player(s) on your team do you think are most likely to get moved before the deadline?

Hylinski: Pitcher Ben Sheets, notwithstanding Billy Beane’s comments that he doesn’t plan on moving anyone.  Sheets has pitched better with every start recently.  His fastball is up to the mid nineties and all his other pitchers are working more accurately.  He’s a veteran presence and great with the young pitchers.  Speaking of the latter,  if a team would give up a great player and need more than Sheets, the A’s have a plethora of young pitchers in the minors to sweeten the pot.

I really thought that they were going to move him, and that despite his veteran presence he could bring back a fair amount in return. Unfortunately, he was placed on the disabled list on Saturday, and could potentially miss the rest of the season.

2. What would you like to see the organization get in return (ie, a 3B prospect, starting pitching prospects, salary relief, etc)? Specific players aren’t necessarily a requirement, unless you see a specific good match.

Hylinski: A slugger, a 3 or 4 hole hitter who can also play in the field (not another Jack Cust, please)  Someone like Hanley Ramirez would be terrific: a young major league hitter (or major-league ready hitter) with substantial pop in his bat.

I agree that this is definitely what the Athletics need, because the lineup just isn’t good enough in terms of power. Even when Sheets was healthy, I’m not sure I saw a player on the A’s current roster that could have brought that in return. Maybe catcher Kurt Suzuki, but with him now signed to a contract extension, I don’t think he’s going anywhere for at least a couple of seasons.

3. Do you see a good fit for these players that you think could get a deal done?

Hylinski: I am not convinced that Billy Beane and the ownership will pay top dollar for a hot bat.  But that’s what the team needs.  The only 2 bats at top of the A’s minor league system (Sacramento River Cats) are Chris Carter who can only play 1st base, so unless something happens to Daric Barton who has been a hitting and field machine, he’s not coming up; and  Michael Taylor who is at least a year off.

Another possibility might be 2nd-baseman Mark Ellis (though I’d really hate to see him go).  I understand the Phillies and maybe the Red Sox are looking for a 2nd baseman.  Probably Kevin Kouzmanoff will not be traded unless the other end of the deal is too good to pass up.

I’m inclined to agree with these points also, unfortunately. With the stadium situation continuing to drag on in Oakland, and with the team possibly moving to parts unknown, San Jose, or half a dozen other places, they just seem extremely unlikely to pay to get someone like that. The two prospects Bee mentioned have unfortunately been disappointments at AAA to this point, and signs are pointing that they may actually have to repeat the level again next season.

Overall, I thought it was interesting to get the perspective of some writers who are clearly very knowledgeable about their teams, and see if their observations about their teams were similar to mine as someone who sees it a little more at arm’s length. Thanks to everyone who responded to my questions, and you should check out their blogs at the links above as well.

Also, Allen Teruel over at Prorumors.Com had a series of writeups regarding potential trade targets for each team and certain types of players as well. You can find these stories here:
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/national-league-west-buyers-and-sellers/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/american-league-west-buyers-and-sellers/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/nationals-league-central-buyers-and-sellers/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/american-league-central-buyers-and-sellers/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/national-league-east-buyers-and-sellers/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/american-league-east-buyers-and-sellers/

Here are a few Top 10 lists that can help you out too:
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/top-10-mlb-power-hitters-that-could-be-traded-by-july-31/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/top-10-mlb-starting-pitchers-that-could-be-traded-by-july-31/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/top-ten-prospects-that-could-get-traded-by-july-31/

All Star Roster Review


These were my predictions for the All-Star rosters that I posted back on Saturday, representing my final thoughts on who I thought would make the team. Looking at how my predictions went, I am actually reasonably pleased with how they turned out.

Correct selections:

AL: Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Robinson Cano, Evan Longoria, Derek Jeter, Carl Crawford, Ichiro Suzuki, Josh Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero, Miguel Cabrera, Ty Wigginton, Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Vernon Wells, Cliff Lee, David Price, Jon Lester, Trevor Cahill, Clay Buchholz, Mariano Rivera, Jose Valverde, Neftali Feliz

NL: Yadier Molina, Albert Pujols, Chase Utley, Hanley Ramirez, Andre Ethier, Jason Heyward, Ryan Braun, Adrian Gonzalez, Martin Prado, David Wright, Scott Rolen, Jose Reyes, Corey Hart, Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Johnson, Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, Tim Hudson, Adam Wainwright, Matt Capps, Brandon Phillips

Incorrect:

AL Backup Catcher: I chose Mike Napoli as who I thought would be there, not really looking at Victor Martinez since he was injured at the time I made the pick. I’m not sold I agree with John Buck as the replacement for Martinez over Napoli, but it’s not a brutal choice. I think overall Napoli is going to have a better season, but they are pretty similar so far.

AL Backup Infielders: Paul Konerko and Kevin Youkilis are in the final vote, and in their place on the roster are Ian Kinsler (the replacement for Dustin Pedroia) and Alex Rodriguez. Part of the issue I had here was that I was not aware that the teams were required to take a utility player, which is where Wigginton fits on the roster. As a result, I didn’t take a 2B. I also didn’t include Pedroia because of his injury status, but he’s definitely deserving. A-Rod is also having a pretty good year, and I think this was my own personal bias. Knowing that the Yankees’ manager is managing the All-Star team, I probably should have seen that one.

AL Backup Outfielders: I think Choo would have made the team had he not gotten hurt just prior to the announcement, but when I made the selection it wasn’t for sure yet what his status was. Torii Hunter was selected as the only initial Angels’ player, and I think he’s definitely deserving as well. I do have a hard time looking at Jose Bautista on that roster with Alexis Rios who did not make the team, and is hitting better. The fact that the Blue Jays had Vernon Wells as well seems really odd to me. I don’t know how the player vote went (as he may have been a selection that was made by them), but it seems like a bit of an omission. Brett Gardner is having a great year, and he’s probably the player I would have left off in lieu of another infielder had I known I needed one.

AL Backup Designated Hitter: David Ortiz is probably more deserving than Jose Guillen was, but I knew I needed a Royal and liked a lot of the other relievers available more than Joakim Soria.

AL Pitching Staff

  • Jered Weaver was added to the roster in place of C.C. Sabathia (who will start on the Sunday prior to the All-Star game), which was the most glaring omission to me.
  • Andy Pettitte was added to the roster to replace the injured Clay Buchholz, but they did not have him on the initial roster.
  • The exclusion of Shin-Soo Choo due to injury required the Indians to have an All-Star on the pitching staff, and they went with Fausto Carmona instead. Look, someone had to be selected from the Indians, but it just shows how badly the rest of that team played.
  • Rafael Soriano was added to the roster to replace Mariano Rivera, who will rest instead of playing in the game.
  • I initially had Trevor Cahill as the replacement on the roster for the injured Shaun Marcum, who did not make the team. As a result, I also had Andrew Bailey on the initial roster as the A’s lone representative. They went with Matt Thornton of the White Sox, who is having an excellent season and is well deserving of the honor.
  • Phil Hughes is in the roster spot that I had for Colby Lewis. I think both are having excellent seasons and this is more of Girardi picking his guy when there are two similar players. I can understand that.

NL Backup Catcher: They selected Brian McCann over Miguel Olivo, and I don’t think that was a bad choice. Olivo is having a very nice offensive season, but McCann is the catcher for an excellent pitching staff on the first place Braves. The Capitol Avenue Club had a great post last week about how many times McCann has been snubbed when he was having amazing offensive seasons, so it is good to see a little bit of balance here.

NL Backup Infielders:

  • Clearly, the most glaring omission is the selection of Ryan Howard over Joey Votto. Howard is having a fine year, and I can even understand wanting to reward your player when you’re the manager. But clearly someone should have been left off the roster in place of Joey Votto who is having an MVP caliber season for the Reds. He is in the final vote (along with 4 of my All-Star selections), and I hope he gets in somehow. The Reds are a first place team, and Votto has clearly been their best player to this point.
  • I am not really worried about the missed selection of Placido Polanco, as I had already replaced him on the roster with Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman is on the final ballot, but I don’t think he’ll end up making the team.
  • Omar Infante as the utility player makes sense based on his 2009 season, but I really wonder if there wasn’t some other player that could have been selected that could play more positions. I will say this much: His selection makes a whole heck of a lot more sense once Charlie Manuel came out and said they needed the utility player. I mean, even the player himself thought he was being notified he had been traded, not made the All-Star team.
  • I didn’t have Troy Tulowitzki due to his injuries, and the replacement ended up being Jose Reyes. I’m still not sold that Reyes is necessarily the right selection, but I don’t think he’s a poor one either.
  • Leaving Troy Glaus off the roster seems to me like it’s just a crunch at 1B. I understand it, but he’s been a boon for the first place Braves.

NL Backup Outfielders:

This is where I differed most from the actual team, as I missed 5 of them. 3 of them were the lone representatives for their team, so there’s three matching incorrect pitchers as well.

  • I picked Andrew McCutchen as the lone Pirates representative, and the team selected Evan Meek to represent them instead. Looking at the game as a winnable game, Meek is probably the more important player to have, and he is having an excellent season as well.
  • I picked Roy Oswalt as the lone deserving rep from the Astros, and they chose Michael Bourn instead. Bourn is having a reasonably good season, but I completely disagree on this one. I think his spot on the pitching staff was held by Yovani Gallardo, who could end up being replaced due to his injury anyway.
  • Chris Young instead of Justin Upton. As I looked at the numbers again, they got that one right. Young is having the better season pretty easily at the moment.
  • Matt Holliday was chosen over Colby Rasmus, and whoever made that selection got it wrong. I think that Holliday was selected a lot on his 2009 second half, as he’s only been hot of late in 2010. Rasmus will get his shot someday though.
  • Jayson Werth I think is the player who got crunched as a result of the lone Cubs’ representative, Marlon Byrd. Byrd is having an excellent season, and I think he’s a good pick.
  • Carlos Gonzalez is also in the final vote, and I think he’s the player who ended up getting crunched by the utility player needing to be on the roster. I don’t think they have made a selection to replace the injured Jason Heyward yet, and think Gonzalez would be the first choice. Hopefully anyway, as he’s having an amazing year.

NL Pitching Staff:

  • Chris Carpenter and Yovani Gallardo both made the roster, leaving my choices of Roy Oswalt and Mike Pelfrey off the roster. Neither pitcher is having a bad year, and the choices are solid ones. Gallardo is likely to be replaced on the roster due to injury, so one of them may still end up making the team.
  • The bullpen is a complete mess to me. How the Padres only got one representative overall, and no pitchers is beyond me. Heath Bell is in the final vote, but should probably be there regardless. I chose Luke Gregerson as my middle reliever, and Charlie Manuel chose Arthur Rhodes of the Reds. His choice is a good one here I think, as Rhodes may be having the best season of his career.
  • Billy Wagner is on the final vote ballot, and Carlos Marmol was left off the roster since Marlon Byrd is representing the Cubs. In their places, Jonathan Broxton and Brian Wilson were selected. Neither of these two are necessarily bad choices, just not necessarily the ones I would have made based on the current season. It does appear, however, that Manuel is managing to win the game, and I probably would trust both Broxton and Wilson more than Marmol.

Overall, I got 43 out of 68 correct. It has been a really interesting experiment to see how close I can get to predicting the teams, and next season I think the thing to remember to look at will be who is managing the teams. Had I done that, I probably would have gotten another 3-4 players correct. I think next year’s goal will be to get over 80% of the roster correct, especially now that I know about the utility player rule as well.

In terms of the roster makeup itself, Joey Votto and Kevin Youkilis stand out to me as the players who are the most deserving to be on the team but are not on there as of yet. I will be shocked if Votto doesn’t get onto that roster somehow, and a bit disappointed too.

My Final All-Star Predictions


Happy 4th of July to everyone! With the voting and teams to be announced today, I wanted to update what I thought would happen with the Major League All-Star teams prior to that:

These teams were created with the same rules that the managers in the game are required, that being 34 man rosters with 21 position players and 13 pitchers. Each team must also have a representative. The starters are based on the last voting results that were publicized.

Italicized selections are on the disabled list currently, and have been replaced with another player on the roster.

American League:

Starting Lineup
C – Joe Mauer (MIN)
1B – Justin Morneau (MIN)
2B – Robinson Cano (NYY)
3B – Evan Longoria (TAM)
SS – Derek Jeter (NYY)
OF – Carl Crawford (TAM), Ichiro Suzuki (SEA), Josh Hamilton (TEX)
DH – Vladimir Guerrero (TEX)

Bench:

C – Mike Napoli (LAA)
1B – Miguel Cabrera (DET), Paul Konerko (CHW), Kevin Youkilis (BOS)
2B – Ty Wigginton (BAL)
3B – Adrian Beltre (BOS)
SS – Elvis Andrus (TEX)
OF – Alexis Rios (CHW), Vernon Wells (TOR), Shin-Soo Choo (CLE), Brett Gardner (NYY)
DH – Jose Guillen (KC)

Pitching Staff:

Starters – Cliff Lee (SEA), David Price (TAM), Jered Weaver (LAA), Jon Lester (BOS), Colby Lewis (TEX), Andy Pettitte (NYY), Shaun Marcum (TOR), Trevor Cahill (OAK), Clay Buchholz (BOS)
Relievers – Mariano Rivera (NYY), Neftali Feliz (TEX), Rafael Soriano (TAM), Jose Valverde (DET), Andrew Bailey (OAK)

National League

Starting Lineup
C – Yadier Molina (STL)
1B – Albert Pujols (STL)
2B – Chase Utley (PHI)
3B – Placido Polanco (PHI)
SS – Hanley Ramirez (FLA)
OF – Andre Ethier (LAD), Jason Heyward (ATL), Ryan Braun (MIL)
DH – Joey Votto (CIN)

Bench:

C – Miguel Olivo (COL)
1B – Adrian Gonzalez (SD), Troy Glaus (ATL)
2B – Martin Prado (ATL), Brandon Phillips (CIN)
3B – David Wright (NYM), Scott Rolen (CIN), Ryan Zimmerman (WAS)
SS – Jose Reyes (NYM)
OF – Andrew McCutchen (PIT), Jayson Werth (PHI), Justin Upton (ARI), Corey Hart (MIL), Colby Rasmus (STL), Carlos Gonzalez (COL)

Pitching Staff:

Starters – Roy Oswalt (HOU), Ubaldo Jimenez (COL), Roy Halladay (PHI), Josh Johnson (FLA), Tim Lincecum (SF), Tim Hudson (ATL), Adam Wainwright (STL), Mike Pelfrey (NYM)
Relievers – Luke Gregerson (SD), Heath Bell (SD), Matt Capps (WAS), Billy Wagner (ATL), Carlos Marmol (CHC)

Overall, I am actually a bit surprised just how difficult this process can be. There are a lot of players that are deserving of an All-Star appearance who are going to be crunched because of the requirement to have a representative from every team.  If I were to guess, I would be surprised if I got more than 60% right. I will post my review of the All-Star rosters, along with how I did with this final prediction (and the others as well) on Thursday.

The Month in Review – June 2010


As we rapidly approach the All Star break, I can honestly say that once again we’ve had quite a bit going on in the world of baseball to this point. Rookies making their debut all over the place, no-hitters everywhere (and near no-hitters), retirements, and of course the start of the trade deadline rumor mill.

All-Star Teams

Every month prior to the All-Star break, I will create my All-Star teams for each league. I plan on following the same guidelines given to the managers of the All-Star game when selecting my teams for each month. Those would be:

  • 34 man rosters, 21 position players, 13 pitchers
  • Each team must be represented

Now that we’ve received the final voting updates for the All-Star game, I will start the lineups with that, and build the team around that. All stats are through Tuesday’s games.

American League


American League Starters
Pos Name Team AVG OBP R HR RBI SB
C Joe Mauer MIN .302 .378 41 3 34 1
1B Justin Morneau MIN .347 .445 47 15 50 0
2B Robinson Cano NYY .358 .407 56 15 53 2
3B Evan Longoria TAM .296 .373 46 12 53 12
SS Derek Jeter NYY .286 .346 50 8 39 8
OF Ichiro Suzuki SEA .335 .391 31 3 24 21
OF Carl Crawford TAM .315 .379 57 7 38 27
OF Josh Hamilton TEX .343 .386 52 18 58 6
DH Vladimir Guerrero TEX .330 .375 49 16 63 4
American League Reserves
Pos
Name Team AVG OBP R HR RBI SB
C Mike Napoli LAA .262 .346 29 13 40 0
1B Paul Konerko CHW .295 .389 40 12 52 1
1B Miguel Cabrera DET .338 .414 57 20 67 2
1B Kevin Youkilis BOS .301 .421 62 15 50 2
2B Ty Wigginton BAL .262 .346 29 13 40 0
3B Adrian Beltre BOS .349 .387 40 12 52 1
SS Elvis Andrus TEX .296 .378 52 0 24 22
OF Alexis Rios CHW .307 .365 49 13 40 21
OF Vernon Wells TOR .288 .340 44 19 47 4
OF Shin-Soo Choo CLE .285 .387 46 12 42 12
OF Brett Gardner NYY .321 .403 49 3 23 24
DH Jose Guillen KC .279 .342 41 13 47 1
American League Pitching Staff
Role Name
Team W L SV IP ERA WHIP K
SP Cliff Lee SEA 7 3 0 95.2 2.45 0.92 78
SP Jered Weaver LAA 7 3 0 101.2 3.01 1.09 118
SP David Price TAM 11 3 0 99.2 2.44 1.21 84
SP Jon Lester BOS 9 3 0 107 2.86 1.11 111
SP Colby Lewis TEX 7 5 0 98.2 3.28 1.07 94
SP Andy Pettitte NYY 9 2 0 99.1 2.72 1.16 74
SP C.C. Sabathia NYY 9 3 0 108.1 3.49 1.15 89
SP Shaun Marcum TOR 7 3 0 103.1 3.14 1.13 81
RP Jose Valverde DET 1 1 18 34 0.53 0.68 32
RP Rafael Soriano TAM 2 0 18 27.2 1.63 0.76 26
RP Neftali Feliz TEX 1 1 20 33.1 2.70 0.96 37
RP Mariano Rivera NYY 2 1 17 29.1 0.92 0.61 29
RP Andrew Bailey OAK 0 0 15 32 1.69 0.97 23

The National League

National League Starters
Pos Name Team AVG OBP R HR RBI SB
C Yadier Molina STL .235 .313 14 3 30 6
1B Albert Pujols STL .312 .424 44 18 57 7
2B Chase Utley PHI .277 .383 49 11 37 5
3B Placido Polanco PHI .318 .349 39 5 27 3
SS Hanley Ramirez FLA .293 .378 43 12 50 14
OF Ryan Braun MIL .299 .358 48 11 49 11
OF Andrew McCutchen* PIT .298 .378 48 7 24 19
OF Andre Ethier LAD .312 .370 37 12 47 1
DH Joey Votto CIN .313 .415 49 17 54 7
* – Injury replacement for Jason Heyward
National League Reserves
Pos Name
Team AVG OBP R HR RBI SB
C Miguel Olivo COL .308 .368 34 11 38 4
1B Adrian Gonzalez SD .302 .395 42 16 51 0
1B Troy Glaus ATL .264 .368 41 14 56 0
1B Adam Dunn WAS .271 .361 43 17 47 0
2B Martin Prado ATL .334 .376 55 7 33 3
3B David Wright NYM .310 .392 43 14 61 13
3B Scott Rolen CIN .301 .368 41 17 53 0
SS Juan Uribe SF .270 .340 37 12 45 1
OF Justin Upton ARI .268 .351 47 14 39 11
OF Colby Rasmus STL .275 .370 46 16 40 8
OF Corey Hart MIL .278 .345 39 18 60 4
OF Carlos Gonzalez* COL .302 .330 47 12 46 11
*roster replacement for Jason Heyward
National League Pitching Staff
Role Name Team W L SV IP ERA WHIP K
SP Ubaldo Jimenez COL 14 1 0 113 1.83 1.05 102
SP Josh Johnson FLA 8 3 0 108 1.83 0.96 107
SP Roy Halladay PHI 9 6 0 108 2.29 1.07 102
SP Tim Lincecum SF 8 3 0 103.2 3.12 1.25 117
SP Mike Pelfrey NYM 10 2 1 99.2 2.72 1.07 70
SP Tim Hudson ATL 8 3 0 106.1 2.37 1.17 51
SP Jaime Garcia STL 7 4 0 87.1 2.27 1.26 70
SP Adam Wainwright STL 11 5 0 119.1 2.34 1.03 114
RP Matt Lindstrom HOU 2 1 18 31.1 3.16 1.6 7.18
RP Matt Capps WAS 0 3 22 33.2 3.48 1.46 30
RP Heath Bell SD 3 0 21 32.2 1.93 1.41 43
RP Billy Wagner ATL 5 0 15 30.1 1.19 0.96 46
RP Carlos Marmol CHC 2 1 14 35.2 2.27 1.21 66

I took Jason Heyward out of the starting lineup since he has already stated that if he is selected, he won’t play due to his thumb injury. I picked McCutchen to replace him in the lineup as both Braun and Ethier are corner outfielders, and McCutchen plays CF. Other players who are likely to be replaced, but have not been as of yet: Chase Utley (who I would replace with Casey McGehee of the Brewers), and Placido Polanco (who I would replace with Ryan Zimmerman). Looking at the All-Star starters, the only one who really hasn’t done a whole lot offensively to deserve it at this point, to me anyway, is Yadier Molina. But it’s hard to argue with a catcher who has a pitching staff with 2 All-Star starting pitchers and a 3rd who is also deserving (Chris Carpenter).

My Award Winners to Date

AL MVP -  Miguel Cabrera (DET)
NL MVP – Albert Pujols (STL)
AL Cy Young – Cliff Lee (SEA)
NL Cy Young – Ubaldo Jimenez (COL)
AL Rookie of the Year – Brennan Boesch (DET)
NL Rookie of the Year – Stephen Strasburg (WAS)

Weekly Links and Weeks in Review

May 31-June 6
June 7-June 13
June 14-June 20
June 21-June 27

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.

  • On June 2nd, Ken Griffey Jr. announced his retirement abruptly, about an hour before that evening’s game. I wrote up my thoughts about him here, and also wrote up my thoughts on him as a fantasy player over at FakeTeams.
  • Unfortunately, the retirement of Griffey was overshadowed by the near-perfect game that was thrown on the same night by Tigers’ pitcher Armando Galarraga. By now, it seems to have blown over, as it is not really mentioned nearly as much as it was when it happened. I wrote up my thoughts on it at the time, and I think that they are still pretty apt a month later.
  • It was a bit of an up-and-down month for Carlos Zambrano, as he was brought back into the rotation early on in the month, only to have blown his top in the dugout of his last start on the 25th. He is currently on the restricted list and is seeking treatment in New York. What that treatment is exactly for is anyone’s guess, but I would have to imagine it has something to do with his temper. Hopefully he’ll be able to return after the All-Star break to the form that had made him an All-Star previously.
  • Yet another no-hitter was thrown in the month of June, with Edwin Jackson of the Diamondbacks throwing one on June 25th. The story with the no-hitter seemed to be 2 fold: One, that manager A.J. Hinch had left Jackson in the game to throw a total of 149 pitches to get through the start, and two, that Jackson had allowed 10 different baserunners without allowing a hit. Either way, it was probably one of the more improbable no-hitters that we have seen in awhile.
  • June clearly was the month of rookie debuts. Some of the rookies making their season (or career) debuts in June: Pedro Alvarez, Brad Lincoln, and Jose Tabata of the Pirates, Dayan Viciedo of the White Sox, Madison Bumgarner of the Giants, Andrew Oliver of the Tigers, and Felix Doubront of the Red Sox. But there were 3 names that were covered more than any other, and with good reason: Mike Stanton of the Marlins, Carlos Santana of the Indians, and Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals. Stanton has been a bit of a mixed bag to this point, hitting .217/.276/.348 with 2 homeruns and 3 stolen bases so far. In any other season, Santana would be the rookie debut most discussed, as he has caught fire and is hitting everything that moves in the American League. To date, Santana is hitting .333/.456/.704 with 8 doubles, 4 homeruns, and 14 runs batted in through 17 games.
  • Clearly though, the story on everyone’s mind all month long has been the debut and subsequent starts of Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg electrified Nationals fans, and the league as a whole after striking out 14 in 7 innings in his debut against the Pirates on June 8th. He’s done nothing but pitch well ever since, and despite a 2-2 record, he now has a 2.27 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP, and 48 strikeouts to 7 walks in only 31 2/2 innings pitched. That’s a K/9 rate of 13.6, the highest of any starter so far this season. Having watched the highlights of all his starts, and parts of others as they happened, the kid is legit. With the injury of Jason Heyward toward the end of the month, the NL Rookie of the Year race is wide open and I think Strasburg could very well take it.
  • The hot stove league has heated up slowly so far, with minor trades of Dontrelle Willis and Conor Jackson being the only players of note. But with Cliff Lee likely to be traded, and rumblings of Roy Oswalt being available, it is only a matter of time before there are many more deals to discuss. I plan to do reviews like I did during the offseason of some of the major ones when they happen.
  • The MLB draft was also on June 8th, and the only real surprise of the first round was the fact that Nationals’ top pick Bryce Harper was announced as an outfielder, not a catcher. Clearly, this will make his path to the Majors that much faster, as his bat could be pretty close to Major league ready as it stands now.

What’s Coming in July

I am actually pretty well planned out for the month of July for posts. I went through teams #30 to #15 in my Original Draft Series, where I look at each organization and build a roster based on each player’s original professional franchise. In July, I will continue on with the series, posting about teams #14 through 11 later on in the month. In addition, I will be reviewing the rosters of the All-Star teams after they are announced on Sunday, and critiquing my own choices versus the managers. Also, I will look back on how the prospects I reviewed in the offseason have progressed so far, and how they are stacking up to my own predictions (wild as they may have been).

I will also be starting up the book reviews I had previously mentioned that I had hoped to do. The first book on the list is Fantasyland by Sam Walker. I also picked up a pair of older copies of Baseball America’s Almanac (the 2003 and 2008 editions) at a used book sale last week, and have been looking through some of the information for some post ideas, and found some pretty good ones so far.

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.