Tag Archives: Atlanta Braves

Season Preview: Playoffs and Awards


With less than a week until opening day, here’s my predictions for the playoffs and the major awards as well. I already gave my division winners in each division preview post, but here’s a recap:

NL: San Francisco, Milwaukee, Philadelphia
AL: Texas, Minnesota, Boston

My two wild card predictions are Atlanta and Tampa Bay. As a result, here’s my playoff matchups:

Atlanta vs. San Francisco
Milwaukee vs. Philadelphia
Tampa Bay vs. Minnesota
Texas vs. Boston

I think that San Francisco and Philadelphia will both just have too much pitching not to advance in these matchups, and will face each other in the NL Championship. On the other side, I think that Tampa and Boston will be the top two teams overall in the league, and will advance to the AL Championship

Tampa Bay vs. Boston
San Francisco vs. Philadelphia

In the AL Championship, I think that the Boston lineup will be just too much for Tampa, despite potential flaws in the Boston pitching staff. In the National League, the addition of a 4th ace by the Phillies may be too much for the Giants, but it will definitely be a series that is built around pitching.

Boston vs. Philadelphia

In what appears likely to be the top offensive team facing off against one of the best pitching staffs in recent memory, I think that Philadelphia would likely defeat Boston. Off the top of my head guess makes me think it will take 6 games.

Awards Predictions

Here’s my picks for the major awards:

AL Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Hellickson
NL Rookie of the Year: Brandon Belt
AL Cy Young Award: Jon Lester
NL Cy Young Award: Roy Halladay
AL Most Valuable Player: Evan Longoria
NL Most Valuable Player: Ryan Braun
AL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon
NL Manager of the Year: Ron Roenicke

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

Who Are the Faces of the Franchise? NL East Edition


Time to start looking at the Senior Circuit, beginning with the 5 teams in the East…

  • Braves – This one has to be Chipper Jones as of right now. He’s easily the longest tenured Brave, has been with the team his entire career, and has been an excellent player throughout. I could see this role going to either Brian McCann or Jason Heyward when Chipper finally decides to hang them up.
  • Marlins – For better or worse, it’s definitely Hanley Ramirez for the Marlins. The largest contract in the history of the team was given to Hanley, and was well deserved based on his performance. The only thing I can remember even remotely being negative around him was when his previous manager called him out for a lack of hustle.
  • Mets – David Wright and Jose Reyes really stand out to me for the Mets. I’d be more inclined to give the nod to Wright since he has not been injured nearly as often as Reyes in recent years, and it could continue that way with Reyes potentially being a free agent after this season.
  • Phillies – This one’s actually a lot more difficult than I would have thought it would be. There are so many big name players on the Phillies now that picking one by themselves is very difficult. Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Roy Halladay could all vie for this role, but I think for now it has to be Ryan Howard. The former MVP seems to be out front for the organization more than any other player, including Halladay.
  • Nationals – Last year, I would have said it had to be Stephen Strasburg. But with his injury, and the gigantic contract given to Jayson Werth, Werth has to be the de facto face of the franchise. It remains to be seen whether or not he can live up to the expectations that come with a contract that size, but for now it’s definitely on him to try.

Prospect Review – Nick Lipka


The next prospect up for review is Matt Lipka of the Atlanta Braves

The Basics
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
How Acquired: Drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 1st round (Supplemental, 35th pick) of the 2010 amateur draft.
Age as of 4/1/11: 18

Scouting Reports and Statistics
The Baseball Cube

Tm           Lg Lev  G  R HR RBI SB BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG
Braves     GULF  Rk 48 33  1  24 20 14 22 .302 .357 .401
Danville   APPY  Rk  4  1  0   1  1  1  2 .125 .176 .125

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/24/2011.

Prospect Ranks
Hardball Times: #8 (ATL – 2011)
Deep Leagues: #131 (Overall -  2011), #13 (SS – 2011)
Bullpen Banter: NR (2011)
Baseball America: #6 (ATL – 2011)
John Sickels: #7 (ATL – 2011) B
Scouting Book: #24 (SS – 2011), #210 (Overall – 2011)
Top Prospect Alert: #8 (ATL – 2011) Continue reading

Trade Review – Dan Uggla to the Braves


Today the Braves acquired 2B Dan Uggla from the Marlins in exchange for IF Omar Infante and P Mike Dunn.

The Braves

The Braves get a player who at worst is a 1 year rental, as Uggla will enter arbitration for the last time this season. But he provides a much needed middle-of-the-order bat to the team, and will allow the Braves to slot another power hitter into their lineup between catcher Brian McCann, outfielder Jason Heyward, and third baseman Chipper Jones when he recovers from his injuries.

To me, it seems like Uggla could be a candidate for an extension, but the Braves have very few players locked up to long-term contracts after the 2011 season (Just McCann, Derek Lowe, Jones, Tim Hudson, and David Ross according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. This is at worst a win-now move for the Braves, but I don’t think that they really gave up anything that will particularly hurt them in the short-term or long-term.

The Marlins

The Marlins gain some more flexibility with Omar Infante, as he can play 2B, 3B, SS, or the OF. This move seems like it would be likely to allow Chris Coghlan to move to his natural position of 2B instead of the previously announced move to 3B. There is obviously some salary savings as well, as Uggla was expected to get a raise from his 2010 salary of $7.8 M, while Infante is set to earn $2.5 M in 2011.

The Marlins have been adding bullpen arms all over the place in the past few weeks, and Mike Dunn appears to be at least a reasonable arm for their pen.

My Thoughts

Honestly, I’m wondering if this was a complete overreaction to the breakdown in contract negotiations between the Marlins and Uggla. It seems to me that there were a lot of rumors out there about what the Marlins might get in return for Uggla, and nearly all of the other rumors seemed like they were a better return.

I am wondering also if this will bring about another investigation from the commissioner’s office for the Marlins unwillingness to spend money on payroll. The Marlins already have $19.75 M guaranteed in contracts for 2011, and while it will clearly go up with more salaries being included (currently only 3 players are in that $19.75), I don’t imagine it’s going to get to even the 2010 level of $47 M.

Grades

Braves: A

Marlins: C-

Season Preview in Review: National League East


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 previously looked at each of the divisions in the American League, and I move now to the NL East.

Atlanta Braves

Predicted Record: 83-79            Actual Record: 91-71

At the start of the season, I just didn’t see where the Braves were going to find enough of anything to perform this well. But they got enough out of people like Troy Glaus, Martin Prado, and Jason Heyward to help carry them to the NL Wild Card. I had really hoped that the Braves would have a long postseason run to send off retiring manager Bobby Cox, but the Giants took care of them pretty quickly.

Continue reading

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.

Trade Retrospective – Tim Hudson to the Braves


On December 16th, 2004, the Atlanta Braves acquired starting pitcher Tim Hudson from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for outfielder Charles Thomas and pitchers Juan Cruz and Dan Meyer.

The Background

The Athletics were coming off another good season, which unfortunately ended without a berth in the postseason despite being tied for the AL West division lead with 3 games to go and the other team in the lead, the Angels, coming in for the last 3 games. The Angels took the first 2 games, and clinched the division. With a 91-71 record, the team was now forced to start looking at the hard fact that one of their aces, Tim Hudson, would be eligible for free agency after the 2005 season, and the team was highly unlikely to be able to afford the ace. From AthleticsNation.Com’s Tyler Blezinski, from before the trade:

So, I’m on record saying that Tim Hudson will not be wearing an A’s uniform in 2005.  It’ll be tragic to lose Huddy, but if Billy gets young, cheap talent in return which vastly improves our offense and a starting pitcher, it improves the long-term outlook for the green and gold (since it sounds like the A’s cannot afford to keep Hudson after the next season).  Beane may back out at the last second because trading a talent like Hudson can come back to haunt you, but I don’t think so.  Billy is going to do what’s right for the long-term health of the franchise.  And with the budget restrictions Oakland has, spending the majority of your payroll on three players (Chavez, Kendall and possibly Hudson) doesn’t make much sense.

The Braves finished the 2004 season with a 96-66 record and a division title (I know, huge surprise at that point, right?) The team lacked a true top flight starting pitcher, and would lose 2 different free agents out of their starting rotation after the season. Clearly, they were in need for a high-caliber starting pitcher.

The Moving Pieces

In Atlanta, Tim Hudson was slotted into the #2 spot in the rotation behind the return to the rotation of John Smoltz. Hudson signed a contract extension not long after being traded, at least in part due to his growing up nearby.

In Oakland, Juan Cruz was slotted into the bullpen in Oakland. Charles Thomas was kept in Oakland as well, but was a bit of a role player/4th outfielder at the start. In Sacramento (the A’s AAA affiliate), Dan Meyer, BA’s #43 prospect coming into the 2005 season, was slotted into the starting rotation.

What Happened Next

The Braves got everything that they could have hoped for out of Hudson in his first season in Atlanta: 14-9, 3.52 ERA and 192 innings pitched. He helped to stabilize the rotation for the Braves, who won another division title in the NL East. In his one postseason start that season, Hudson gave up 5 earned runs over 6 2/3 innings, taking the loss against the Astros and Andy Pettitte.

The Athletics were in a semi-rebuilding mode, going 88-74 in 2005 and finishing 2nd to the Angels again. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that close, and the players they received in the trade really had no impact at all on the performance on the field. Juan Cruz was completely ineffective, posting an 0-3 record with a 7.44 ERA in 32 2/3 innings pitched in 2005. Thomas played in only 30 games in the Majors that season, posting a brutal .109/.255/.109 line with 1 RBI. Meyer spent the entire season in AAA, posting a 2-8 record with a 5.36 ERA in only 89 innings. Injuries derailed his season as well.

The Net Moves

Braves – First Level

  • Tim Hudson has posted a 68-44 record with a 3.55 ERA in his time in Atlanta. Currently with the organization, he has thrown 967 2/3 innings pitched, struck out 580 and posted a 1.285 WHIP.

Athletics – First Level

  • Juan Cruz only spent the 2005 season with the Athletics, posting the awful line listed above. He was traded to the Diamondbacks on 3/26/2006 for P Brad Halsey.
  • Dan Meyer made another appearance in the Majors with the Athletics in 2007 and 2008, but was unimpressive. He posted an 0-6 record with a 7.98 ERA in 44 innings pitched over 17 appearances (7 starts). He was selected off of waivers on 11/3/2008 by the Marlins.
  • Charles Thomas only spent 2005 in the Majors with the Athletics, but was with the organization in the minors until 2007, when he was traded to the Brewers for C J.D. Closser

Athletics – Second Level

  • Brad Halsey was with the big club for 2006, posting a 5-4 record with a 4.67 ERA in 94 1/3 innings pitched. He posted a poor strikeout-to-walk rate with 53 K and 46 BB, and spent 2007 in the minors with the Athletics. It appears that he was not tendered a contract after the 2007 season, and is out of organized baseball.
  • J.D. Closser did not play in the majors for the Athletics, and left (although I’m not sure how exactly) after the 2007 season

Overall Reactions

They can’t all be winners for Billy Bean, now can they? Cruz has become a very good reliever, evening earning Type A status before his last contract. It just didn’t happen in Oakland. It’s hard to say whether or not Thomas fizzled because he wasn’t given a fair shot or because he wasn’t good enough. His success in the minors really appears to have been entirely in the 2004 season, where he hit .358 in AAA Richmond, but with little power or speed. The key piece in this trade was Dan Meyer. From Baseball America’s Bill Ballew, in a chat shortly after the trade:

Q: Mike from Manassas VA asks:
Where would Dan Meyer rank on the Braves list?
A: Bill Ballew: top five, with serious consideration for the top 3

Clearly, he was pretty highly thought of, but just didn’t pan out the way that it was hoped would happen. Sometimes this happens with prospects unfortunately. This one is a definite win for the Braves, both now and then unfortunately. Amazingly, it didn’t really impact the Athletics as poorly as you would think given that they moved a top starting pitcher in Hudson. As I’ll look at next week, it wasn’t the only one that got moved that offseason.

Trade Deadline Review


Well, we are now officially one day past the non-waiver trade deadline, and there have been quite a few different trades made. It was definitely one of the more active periods in a lot of years. I wrote up the major trades as they happened, and you can read my thoughts with the links below.

Major Trades

Texas Rangers acquire SP Cliff Lee and P Mark Lowe from the Seattle Mariners for 1B Justin Smoak and 3 minor leaguers
Los Angeles Angels acquire SP Dan Haren from the Arizona Diamondbacks for SP Joe Saunders and 3 minor leaguers
Philadelphia Phillies acquire SP
Roy Oswalt from the Houston Astros for SP J.A. Happ and 2 minor leaguers

Semi-Major Deals

1. New York Yankees acquire RP Kerry Wood from the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named later or cash
2. New York Yankees acquire 1B Lance Berkman from the Houston Astros for P Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes
3. Los Angeles Dodgers acquire SP Ted Lilly and IF Ryan Theriot from the Chicago Cubs for IF Blake DeWitt, minor league P Brett Wallach and Kyle Smit
4. St. Louis Cardinals acquire SP Jake Westbrook from the Cleveland Indians and minor leaguer Nick Greenwood from the San Diego Padres, San Diego Padres acquire OF Ryan Ludwick from the St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Indians acquire minor leaguer Corey Kluber from the San Diego Padres
5. Pittsburgh Pirates acquire C Chris Snyder and OF Pedro Ciriaco from the Arizona Diamondbacks for P D.J. Carrasco, IF Bobby Crosby, and OF Ryan Church
6. Chicago White Sox acquire SP Edwin Jackson from the Arizona Diamondbacks for SP Daniel Hudson and P David Holmberg
7. Minnesota Twins acquire RP Matt Capps from the Washington Nationals for C Wilson Ramos and minor league P Joe Testa
8. Texas Rangers acquire IF Jorge Cantu from the Florida Marlins for minor leaguer pitchers Evan Reed and Omar Poveda
9. Los Angeles Dodgers acquire OF Scott Podsednik from the Kansas City Royals for minor leaguers C Lucas May and P Elisaul Pimentel
10. Los Angeles Angels acquire 3B Alberto Callaspo from the Kansas City Royals for P Sean O’Sullivan and P Will Smith
11. Toronto Blue Jays acquire SS Yunel Escobar and P Jo-Jo Reyes from the Atlanta Braves for SS Alex Gonzalez and minor leaguers Tyler Pastornicky and Tim Collins
12. Los Angeles Dodgers acquire RP Octavio Dotel from the Pittsburgh Pirates for OF Andrew Lambo and P James McDonald

Minor Moves

1. Texas Rangers acquire IF Cristian Guzman from the Washington Nationals for minor leaguers Ryan Tatsuko and Tanner Roark
2. Texas Rangers acquire C Bengie Molina from the San Francisco Giants for P Chris Ray
3. Toronto Blue Jays acquire 1B Mike Jacobs from the New York Mets for a player to be named later
4. San Diego Padres acquire IF Miguel Tejada from the Baltimore Orioles for minor league P Wynn Pelzer
5. Tampa Bay Rays acquire RP Chad Qualls from the Arizona Diamondbacks for a player to be named later
6. New York Yankees acquire OF Austin Kearns from the Cleveland Indians for ?
7. Detroit Tigers acquire IF Jhonny Peralta from the Cleveland Indians for minor league P Giovanny Soto
8. San Francisco Giants acquire P Javier Lopez from the Pittsburgh Pirates for P Joe Martinez and OF John Bowker
9. Atlanta Braves acquire IF Wilkin Ramirez from the Detroit Tigers for cash or a player to be named later
10. Florida Marlins acquire RP Will Ohman from the Baltimore Orioles for P Rick VandenHurk
11. San Francisco Giants acquire RP Ramon Ramirez from the Boston Red Sox for P Daniel Turpen
12. Atlanta Braves acquire OF Rick Ankiel and RP Kyle Farnsworth from the Kansas City Royals for P Jesse Chavez, OF Gregor Blanco, and minor league P Tim Collins
13. Boston Red Sox acquire C Jarrod Saltalamacchia from the Texas Rangers for 1B Chris McGuiness, P Ramon Mendez and a player to be named later or cash

Wow. There’s still stuff coming in as I write this, and in the last hour there have been a lot of these to get done. So who did well here and who didn’t?

Winners

The Yankees – Let’s see if we have this right. The Yankees picked up Lance Berkman to be their designated hitter. They added Kerry Wood to help solidify the back end of the bullpen behind Mariano Rivera. And they got both of them for a pair of players that are of no use to the Yankees, and even got some money in the deals? Really? They already have the best record in the Majors, and have decidedly improved their team with both acquisitions. Oh, and they added to their bench depth with Austin Kearns as well.

The Rangers – With a decent lead in the AL West, the Rangers went out and got themselves an ace starter (Lee), a solid catcher who can help them play defense at the position (Molina), a run producing right handed bat who can play two positions (Cantu), a backup infielder who will be able to spell their third baseman and shortstop, and fill in while their second baseman is on the disabled list (Guzman),  and moved a player that they had soured on for some prospects. They are the prohibitive favorite in the AL West at this point, now being 8 games ahead of the 2nd place Angels and 8.5 of the 3rd place Athletics. They plugged nearly every gap they had in their team, and will go into the pennant chase with a very good chance of being in the World Series at the end of it.

The Angels – Even though the moves may end up being more for next season, acquiring Dan Haren to give them a very good 1-2 punch in their rotation for “some magic beans” as Matthew Berry put it on the Fantasy Focus podcast was a stroke of genius. Callaspo also gives them a solid hitter to play at 3B which they had sorely been missing. While it may not be enough to catch the Rangers, they gave up very little of value to do both trades.

The Pirates – They took D.J. Carrasco, Bobby Crosby, Javier Lopez, Octavio Dotel, and Ryan Church and turned them into a major league backstop (Snyder), two solid potential major leaguers (Bowker and Martinez), and 2 higher end, albeit risky prospects (Lambo, McDonald). Someone must have put something in Neal Huntington’s coffee that helped out a lot. They did extremely well to turn a lot of random pieces that aren’t really that helpful into all that.

The Royals – Pieces that aren’t for the future: Podsednik, Ankiel, Farnsworth, Callaspo. All moved for players with varying levels of upside who can help with the rebuilding process: Lucas May, Tim Collins, Jesse Chavez, Gregor Blanco, Sean O’Sullivan, Will Smith. Not the most amazing group of players, and definitely no high-end prospects here. But the Royals have a lot of high-end prospects already, and need others to help give them some balance as well with regard to position scarcity and depth overall. Very well done today.

The Padres – They gave up a pair of pitching prospects to acquire a much needed outfield bat, and a utility player who should provide some value over the remainder of the season. Nothing too major here, and definitely nothing that mortgages the future. I like the Ludwick acquisition, as he could see an improvement with a change of scenery. I’m not 100% sold on the Tejada acquisition, but they didn’t really give up that much to get him in my opinion.

Losers

The Nationals – The trade of Matt Capps was nice, netting them a very good catching prospect in Wilson Ramos. But the way that they handled Adam Dunn leading up to the trade deadline was inexcusable. They clearly had not made up their mind as to what they wanted to do with him, and in the end they simply ran out of time. They clearly could have gotten more for him had they moved him instead of waiting for his free agency to play out, and the only reason to do that would have been to get him signed to an extension (which they didn’t do either). Not sure what happened here, but we’ll see if this was a really bad plan from the start.

The Dodgers – In a division where they are 7.5 games back of the leader and 5 games back of the wild card leader, the Dodgers decided to go for it, sending prospects Brett Wallach, Kyle Smit, Lucas May, Elisaul PimentelAndrew Lambo, and James McDonald (along with Blake DeWitt) to other teams to acquire: the remainder of this season from Octavio Dotel, Ted Lilly and Scott Podsednik, and also Ryan Theriot. I’m pretty sure that if they had offered those players to the Diamondbacks they would have been able to get Dan Haren, Kelly Johnson, and a bullpen arm. I’m also pretty convinced that they could have offered that group to the Mariners and gotten Cliff Lee, Jose Lopez and possibly David Aardsma. I’m not at all impressed with what they did here, and are only one bad week from being completely out of the race.

The Orioles – It’s a tough beat, but they were only able to move Will Ohman and Miguel Tejada, and would have been served by moving Ty Wigginton and Kevin Millwood, among others. Unfortunately, neither player has been playing well of late, and had essentially managed to knock their own values down to next to nothing.

The Twins – They needed some help in the bullpen, and really could have used another starting pitcher behind Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano. Unfortunately, they only filled one of those gaps, and at a cost that seems high even considering that the prospect that they gave up had no place to play in the Twins’ future.

Mixed Bag

The Astros – They were able to get out from under a lot of the big dollar contracts owed to Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman, and got back at least a reasonable return. Brett Wallace will slot in at 1B to replace Berkman, and J.A. Happ will fill Oswalt’s slot in the rotation. But time will tell if they get anything other than salary relief for Berkman, and Happ and Wallace will have to be very good to replace the value of Oswalt in my opinion.

The Phillies – They gave up a lot more to get Oswalt than they got back in return for Cliff Lee, who would have played a similar role for the Phillies this season had he not been traded. Oswalt will need to be the piece that moves them over the top for this one to really be a winner for them.

The Diamondbacks – They acquired a pretty good young pitcher in return for Edwin Jackson (Hudson). But they practically gave away Dan Haren, a better pitcher who was not that much more expensive than Jackson. They got back a bunch of garbage essentially for their second catcher Snyder. Crosby is a free agent after the season, and Church and Carrasco are both likely candidates for a non-tender after the season. They also did not move Kelly Johnson and Adam LaRoche, both of whom had a lot of value built up despite poor performance of late. Some of the players they acquired could turn out to be good, but it remains to be seen.

The White Sox – They really could have used a bat, and it sounds like they were trying to get one by acquiring Edwin Jackson. I honestly can’t remember the last time I heard about a player being acquired with the hope of moving him to another team, only to have that other team tell them it wasn’t enough. Jackson is a nice pitcher, but is not that much better than Hudson should be.

Overall, a very exciting trade deadline, and there is still the possibility that we will see a lot more trades before the waiver deadline of August 31st.

Week in Review – June 21 to June 27


If the Playoffs Started Today

Boston Red Sox (46-31) vs. Texas Rangers (45-29)
Minnesota Twins (41-34) vs. New York Yankees (46-28)

New York Mets (43-32) vs. San Diego Padres (45-30)
Cincinnati Reds (42-34) vs. Atlanta Braves (44-32)

League Leaders

Batting Average – Robinson Cano (NYY) – .359
Runs – Kevin Youkilis (BOS) – 61
Home Runs – Miguel Cabrera (DET), Paul Konerko (CHW), Jose Bautista (TOR) – 20
Runs Batted In – Miguel Cabrera (DET) – 64
Stolen Bases – Juan Pierre (CHW) – 29

Wins – Ubaldo Jimenez (COL) – 13
Saves – Matt Capps (WAS) – 22
ERA – Ubaldo Jimenez (COL) – 1.60
Strikeouts – Jered Weaver (LAA) – 118
WHIP – Cliff Lee (SEA) – 0.91

Roster Movement

To the Disabled List: Dustin Pedroia, Mike Lowell, Felipe Paulino

Return from the Disabled List: Aramis Ramirez, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jimmy Rollins, Nelson Cruz,

To the Minors: Sam LeCure, Dioner Navarro, Rick Porcello,

Called Up: Matt LaPorta, Madison Bumgarner, Brad Bergesen, Matt Joyce, Andrew Oliver,

Top Stories and Weekly Links

  • Erik Bedard made two different rehab starts this week, and is tentatively slotted in to make his return to the Majors on July 6th.
  • Tommy Hanson had a pair of forgettable starts this week, as he allowed a total of 14 earned runs over 6 2/3 innings pitched.
  • Ubaldo Jimenez had what was probably his worst start of the season, allowing 6 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Red Sox on Wednesday. The regression was due at some point, and this could be it.
  • Injuries abound over the week, especially if your jersey says Red Sox on the front. The day after hitting 3 homers in a game, Dustin Pedroia fouled a pitch off the inside of his foot, breaking it. Return timetable: Uncertain, but placed on the disabled list. On Saturday, starting pitcher Clay Buchholz hyperextended his knee running the bases in the second inning. Return timetable: Unknown. And on Sunday, catcher Victor Martinez took a foul ball off of his left thumb during the game, breaking the thumb. Return timetable: Too soon to know yet. What a terrible weekend it was for the Red Sox in San Francisco, despite winning.
  • Edwin Jackson of the Diamondbacks threw the 4th no hitter of the season on Friday, throwing a season-high 149 pitches and walking 8 to do it. It’s been really interesting to see so many no-hitters, and reminds me a lot of the 1991 season, when there were 7 of them during the season.
  • Manager A.J. Hinch of the Diamondbacks was given a lot of grief for allowing his pitcher to throw that many pitches in pursuit of a no-hitter, but I’m inclined to believe that the group of the manager, the pitcher, and the pitching coach are going to know what their player can and cannot handle.
  • In a rather surprising move, the Marlins fired manager Fredi Gonzalez on Wednesday morning. The Marlins were in 4th place at the time, and ownership had made it pretty clear that they expected the team to be in the playoff hunt and make the playoffs at the end of the season. Whether or not that was really realistic remains to be seen, but the Marlins will continue to search for his replacement.
  • I don’t think we can really discuss the week that was without discussing Big Z and his big blowup during his start on Friday afternoon. Whether or not he was trying to fire up the team remains to be seen, but the Cubs did not appreciate the behavior, pulled him from the start after 1 inning, and suspended him indefinitely. It’s really been a lost season both for the Cubs and Zambrano himself, and Big Z will be sent to the bullpen when his suspension is over.
  • Saturday brought the season debut of Giants’ pitching prospect Madison Bumgarner. He pitched effectively in the loss, going 7 innings and not having 100 pitches in that time. If they keep him up the rest of the season, they will have added an excellent arm to an already top-tier pitching rotation.
  • Andy Oliver was called up on Friday to take the rotation spot of the recently demoted Rick Porcello, making his major league debut. His debut was nothing particularly amazing, but Oliver is probably best known for his legal fight regarding his eligibility to pitch in college.
  • Josh Hamilton has been hitting out of his mind for over 3 weeks now, as he is in the middle of a 21-game hitting streak. He has hit nearly .500 with a whole lot of power since the streak started.
  • Jose Guillen is also in the midst of a 21 game hitting streak, but it appears that it has not been nearly as prolific as the one by Hamilton at this point.
  • Stephen Strasburg continues to dominate major league hitters, and took his first loss of the season in a 1-0 game against the Royals this week. He now holds the record for most strikeouts in his first 4 starts of the career with 41 in that time.

Upcoming Posts This Week:

Tuesday: The Original Draft Series – Team #18 and #17
Wednesday: The Original Draft Series – Team #16 and #15
Thursday: The Month of June in Review
Friday:  Trade Retrospective – Rafael Palmeiro to the Rangers