Tag Archives: Brad Penny

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

Season Preview: AL Central


With Spring Training well under way and the first games already in the books, I figured it was a good time to take a look at my own predictions for the league, and the changes the respective teams have made. Today’s group is the American League Central.

Last Year’s Records
Minnesota – 94-68
Chicago – 88-74
Detroit – 81-81
Cleveland – 69-93
Kansas City – 67-95

Notable Additions

Chicago – Adam Dunn, Lastings Milledge

Cleveland – Orlando Cabrera

Detroit – Victor Martinez, Brad Penny, Joaquin Benoit

Kansas City – Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Jeff Francoeur, Melky Cabrera, Vin Mazzaro

Minnesota – Tsuyoshi Nishioka

Notable Losses

Chicago – Andruw Jones, Manny Ramirez, Freddy Garcia, J.J. Putz, Bobby Jenks, Scott Linebrink

Cleveland – NONE

Detroit – Johnny Damon, Jeremy Bonderman, Gerald Laird, Armando Galarraga

Kansas City – Zack Greinke, David DeJesus, Brian Bannister, Gil Meche

Minnesota – J.J. Hardy, Orlando Hudson, Brendan Harris, Jon Rauch, Brian Fuentes

Continue reading

Original Draft Series: #2 – Arizona Diamondbacks


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

Team #2: Arizona Diamondbacks

General Managers(since 1998)

Joe Garagiola Jr (1998-2005): 652-644
Josh Byrnes (2006-2010): 318-330
Jerry DiPoto (Current)

Team Performance

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

All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C Miguel Montero Int’l FA – 2001 9 364 gm, .270/.335/.446, 40 HR, 160 RBI Currently with Org.
1B Lyle Overbay 1999 – 18th Rd 5 98 gm, .271/.357/.391, 4 HR, 29 RBI Traded to MIL – 12/1/03
2B Dan Uggla
2001 – 11th Rd 4 No Major League Appearances with Org. Rule 5 Draft – FLA – 12/8/05
3B Mark Reynolds 2004 – 16th Rd 6 554 gm, .244/.335/.489, 121 HR, 345 RBI, 42 SB Currently with Org.
SS Stephen Drew
2004 – 1st Rd (15) 6 634 gm, .272/.331/.446, 62 HR, 269 RBI, 25 SB Currently with Org.
LF Carlos Quentin 2003 – 1st Rd (29) 4 138 gm, .230/.316/.425, 14 HR, 63 RBI, 3 SB Traded to CHW – 12/3/07
CF Carlos Gonzalez Int’l FA – 2002 5 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to OAK – 12/14/07
RF Justin Upton
2005 – 1st Rd (1) 5 1 All Star Appearance
421 gm, .272/.352/.471, 70 HR, 208 RBI, 40 SB
Currently with Org.
DH Conor Jackson 2003 – 1st Rd (19) 7 526 gm, .277/.358/.423, 46 HR, 247 RBI, 22 SB Traded to OAK – 6/15/10
SP Brandon Webb 2000 – 8th Rd 10 2006 NL Cy Young, 3 All Star Appearances
87-62, 3.27 ERA, 1319.2 IP, 1065 K, 435 BB
Currently with Org.
SP Brett Anderson
2006 – 2nd Rd 1 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to OAK – 12/14/07
SP Max Scherzer 2006 – 1st Rd (11) 3 9-15, 3.86 ERA, 226.1 IP, 240 K, 84 BB Traded to DET – 12/8/09
SP Jorge de la Rosa
Int’l FA – 1998 2 No Major League Appearances with Org. Purchased by Mexican League – 4/2/00
SP Brad Penny
1996 – 5th Rd 3 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to FLA – 7/8/99
RP Micah Owings
2005 – 3rd Rd 3 14-17, 4.97 ERA, 257.1 IP, 193 K, 91 BB Traded to CIN – 9/12/08
RP Javier Lopez 1998 – 4th Rd 4+1 1-1,9.42 ERA, 14.1 IP, 11 K, 11 BB Rule 5 Draft – BOS – 12/16/02
RP Lance Cormier 2002 – 4th Rd 3 8-7, 6.21 ERA, 124.2 IP,87 K, 68 BB Traded to ATL – 12/7/05
RP Brian Bruney 2000 – 12th Rd 5 4-7, 6.17 ERA, 12 SV, 77.1 IP, 85 K, 62 BB Released – 5/20/06
RP Tony Pena Int’l FA – 2002 7 16-13, 4.08 ERA, 7 SV, 222.2 IP, 162 K, 67 BB Traded to CHW – 7/7/09
CL Jose Valverde Int’l FA – 1997 10 9-14, 3.29 ERA, 98 SV, 260 IP, 331 K, 111 BB Traded to HOU – 12/14/07
BN Jack Cust
1997 – 1st Rd (30) 4 3 gm, 1-2 Traded to COL – 1/7/02
BN Scott Hairston 2001 – 3rd Rd 6 201 gm, .238/.293/.407, 16 HR, 47 RBI, 5 SB Traded to SD – 7/27/07
BN Rod Barajas Int’l FA – 1996 7 211 gm, .212/.257/.334, 11 HR, 66 RBI Left via Free Agency – 12/21/03
BN Chad Tracy 2001 – 7th Rd 8 704 gm, .280/.339/.453, 78 HR, 318 RBI, 11 SB Left via Free Agency – 11/5/09
BN Rusty Ryal
2005 – 14th Rd 5 129 gm, .265/.322/.407, 6 HR, 20 RBI Currently with Org.

June Amateur Draft

For a team who has only been drafting for less than 15 years, they have done very well in the draft, especially in the first round. Justin Upton, Stephen Drew, and Conor Jackson have all been cornerstones of the team at one point during the career, and they have clearly gotten solid Major League talent out of other picks, with Scherzer used to acquire Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy. There are a lot of players that were drafted by the organization who were turned into other players, with Brett Anderson probably providing the highest value (used to acquire Dan Haren). But they have also had some late round values as well, with Brandon Webb and Mark Reynolds being the best examples from that group. Overall, they have drafted very well.

International Free Agency

The Diamondbacks have also done very well int the international free agent market, signing future closer Jose Valverde and MVP candidate Carlos Gonzalez. But they have also had solid players, especially in catchers Rod Barajas and Miguel Montero. There were also a lot of other middling relievers that were originally signed by the Diamondbacks, but I felt weren’t as high of a quality as the ones I chose above.

Overall Grade

A. The Diamondbacks had one of the largest amounts of Major Leaguers who started in their system in all of baseball, and I was able to put together a very good roster of players who could compete with nearly anyone. There were at least another 15 players who I could have included on their roster that made the Majors and were productive for at least some length of time. They have also done well with trading a lot of these players (not all of them, clearly), as they were able to acquire the players they needed to make productive playoff pushes. I will be interested to see whether or not they retain interim GM Jerry DiPoto, or if they go get a more recognized GM to run their organization going forward.

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/

The Week In Review: May 19th – May 23rd


If the Playoffs Started Now

Texas Rangers (25-20) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (32-12)
New York Yankees (26-17) vs. Minnesota (26-18)

Cincinnati Reds (25-19) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (26-17)
St. Louis Cardinals (26-19) vs. San Diego Padres (26-18)

Top Stories of the Week that Was

  • The Hanley Ramirez lack of hustle story appears to have resolved itself, after Ramirez met with his teammates and Hall of Famers Andre Dawson and Tony Perez. I really hope that this is the last time we hear about Hanley Ramirez in a bad light, because the Marlins really want (and need) him to be the face of their franchise when they move into their new stadium in 2012.
  • Trevor Hoffman worked the 8th inning of Sunday’s game for the Brewers, and appears to have been removed from the closer’s role at least in the short term. I really hope that by the end of the season he gets it back together and gets on a roll, as I have to imagine that this is most likely going to be his last season in the Majors. He’s only 4 short of 6o0 career saves, which I have to imagine he would love to achieve before retiring.
  • Milton Bradley returned from the restricted list, and sounds like he may be finally getting the help that he needs. The talent is definitely still there, but the key is that he may finally be in a good spot to get the support he needs. Seattle is full of clubhouse leaders like Ken Griffey Jr and Mike Sweeney, and I have to imagine they are helping a lot.
  • Eric Chavez was put on the disabled list on Saturday to help clear a spot for the returning Mark Ellis. Chavez has been experiencing neck spasms for the majority of the season, and it sounds like this may finally be the injury. Chavez said at the beginning of the season that if he suffered another major injury, he would most likely retire. Well, apparently that may be the case this time. As an A’s fan, the whole thing is really sad to me, as Chavez was so good for the start of his career, but was just completely derailed by injuries for the last 4 seasons.
  • Sunday brought sad news that Jose Lima had died of a heart attack. Lima wasn’t the best pitcher, but he was always one of the most entertaining to be sure. He had a really great season in 1999, when it was always Lima-Time. Sad to hear this.
  • Jimmy Rollins was placed on the disabled list again after reinjuring his leg. I’m wondering at this point if this is going to be a lost season along the lines of what happened to Jose Reyes last year.
  • Nyjer Morgan didn’t have the greatest week ever. On Wednesday, he misplayed a ball which ended up as an inside-the-park homerun. Which would have been bad enough, except that it also happened to him again on Saturday.  Hopefully this week will be better.
  • Brad Penny was having a pretty good game on Friday, when he came up with the bases loaded against Joel Pineiro. He hit a grand slam, and proceeded to not be able to come back out to the mound in the following inning. A back injury has landed him on the disabled list.
  • The injury bug hit some more big name players, as Jorge Posada and Grady Sizemore were both placed on the disabled list. For fantasy purposes, I would think that both of them are droppable in shallower leagues.

I’m working on a new project and am hoping to have posts for it up starting this week sometime.

The Week in Review – April 19 to April 25


If the Playoffs Started Today

New York AL (WC) vs. Minnesota (C)
Oakland (W) vs. Tampa Bay (E)

San Francisco (WC) vs. Philadelphia (E)
San Diego (W) vs. St. Louis (C)

Last Week’s Top Performers

Kendry Morales (LAA) – .542/.593/.917, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 7 R
Marlon Byrd (CHC) – .500/.517/.615, 5 RBI, 6 R
Justin Morneau (MIN) – .576/.607/.952, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 6 R
Ryan Theriot (CHC) – .500/.548/.643, 6 RBI, SB, 5 R
Paul Konerko (CHW) – .450/.542/1.150, 4 HR, 6 RBI, 4 R
Kurt Suzuki (OAK) – .429/.500/1.071, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 3 R
Mark Reynolds (ARI) – .421/.500/1.000, 3 HR, 11 RBI, SB, 5 R
Michael Bourn (HOU) – .316/.519/.368, 7 R, RBI, 7 SB
Chase Headley (SD) – .364/.417/455, 5 R, 5 RBI, 5 SB

John Danks (CHW) – 2 W, 16 IP, 1.69 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, 14 K
David Price (TAM) – W, 14 IP, 1.93 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 12 K
Brad Penny (STL) – 2 W, 14 2/3 IP, 1.23 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 7 K
Brandon Morrow (TOR) – W, 13 IP, 2.08 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 16 K
Kevin Slowey (MIN) – W, 13 1/3 IP, 3.38 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 11 K
Matt Lindstrom (HOU) – 4 SV, 2.25 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 2 K
Francisco Rodriguez (NYM) – 3 SV, 0.00 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 7 K

Roster Movement and Job Changes

Disabled List:

  • Returning This Week: Aaron Hill, Brian Fuentes, Ted Lilly, Lance Berkman
  • Going On the DL: Vicente Padilla, Manny Ramirez, Jeff Mathis, Carlos Guillen, J.A. Happ, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron

Promotions and Demotions:

  • Promoted: Justin Smoak, Ike Davis
  • Demoted: Mike Jacobs, Chris Davis

Top Stories and This Week’s Links

  • On Monday, the Mets finally ended their experiment with Mike Jacobs, sending him to the minors and calling up top prospect Ike Davis. Davis wasted no time, going 2-4 in his first game.
  • Bleacher Report writes about their plan for ML realignment. An interesting read, but not really a whole lot more workable than any other plan that has been announced to this point.
  • Around mid-day on Tuesday, Twitter started lighting up that a Major League player was going to be receiving a 50-game suspension for violating the drug policy. As the day progressed, we were finally informed it was SP Edinson Volquez of the Reds. A little bit of an oddity, Volquez can serve the suspension while on the disabled list. Since he is recuperating from Tommy John surgery and is unlikely to return prior to August, it hurts him more in the pocketbook than anything.
  • Also on Tuesday, the Rangers went nuts on the basepaths, stealing 9 bases in the first 5 innings of their game against the Red Sox. Sadly, even though they were stealing on C Victor Martinez and SP Tim Wakefield all over the place, they ended up losing that game.
  • On Wednesday, manager Lou Piniella announced that when SP Ted Lilly returned on Saturday from the disabled list, SP Carlos Zambrano (of the $18+ M annual contract) would be going to the bullpen. Needless to say, it was a bit of a shock to the baseball world. Big Z made his first relief appearance on Saturday, getting a hold in 1 1/3 IP.
  • Thursday marked another demotion for Rangers’ 1B Chris Davis. Struggling again, the Rangers decided to bring up top prospect Justin Smoak, who had been hitting extremely well at AAA.
  • Also on Thursday, the Pirates should have stayed home. Since they lost 20-0, it probably would have been a little less painful than being there.
  • Saturday had a bit of a scary moment, as Pirates’ starter Chris Jakubaskas was hit in the head with a line drive. He was placed on the disabled list on Sunday, and I have not heard anything about him other than that.

Team Preview – St. Louis Cardinals


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Yadier Molina SP 1 Chris Carpenter
1B Albert Pujols SP 2 Adam Wainwright
2B Skip Schumaker SP 3 Kyle Lohse
3B David Freese SP 4 Brad Penny
SS Brendan Ryan SP 5 Blake Hawksworth
LF Matt Holliday Bullpen
CF Colby Rasmus CL Ryan Franklin
RF Ryan Ludwick RP Trever Miller
Bench RP Kyle McLellan
IF Felipe Lopez RP Dennys Reyes
IF Julio Lugo RP Jairo Garcia

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
SP Brad Penny Free Agency SP Joel Pineiro Free Agency
IF Felipe Lopez Free Agency OF Rick Ankiel Free Agency
OF Matt Holliday Free Agency SP John Smoltz Free Agency

Top Prospects: Jairo Garcia (P), David Freese (3B), Daryl Jones (OF), Robert Stock (C)

2009 Review

The Cardinals finished 2009 with a 91-71 record, good for the NL Central division title. They were helped quite a bit by their mid-season acquisitions. The biggest name was clearly free-agent-to-be OF Matt Holliday, acquired from the A’s in July. With St. Louis, he helped to carry the offense with a .353 batting average, 13 HR, and 55 RBI in only 63 games. As usual, their offense was led by 1B Albert Pujols (.327, 47 HR, 135 RBI), who won his 3rd MVP award and 2nd in a row. In the rotation, the Cards were led by 2 Cy Young candidates in Chris Carpenter (17-4, 2.24 ERA) and Adam Wainwright (19-8, 2.63 ERA). Unfortunately, they faced the Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs, and were swept 3-0.

Team Outlook for 2010

The Cardinals biggest move of the offseason was resigning OF Matt Holliday. They gave the OF a 7 year, $120 million dollar contract extension, and was widely viewed as a massive overpayment. However, they did get their man, and an elite run producer to complement Pujols. The team is probably the strongest team in the division, led by their 2 aces and 2 excellent hitters. Their offense is not particularly amazing outside of the two main hitters, but they are solid and overall provide a good lineup to manager Tony LaRussa. The only questions I really see on this team are at 3B, with David Freese slotted in as the starter in Spring Training, and at the back end of the rotation.

The main concern I have with the team at this point is injuries. While not thought serious, it is worth monitoring the back injury of Albert Pujols. He played in today’s game, and should still be ready for Opening Day. I am also concerned about the two aces, Carpenter and Wainwright. For Wainwright, it’s a jump in innings last season that could potentially present a problem this year. For Carpenter, this is a pitcher who has had Tommy John surgery twice, and is always a risk for an injury.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

Lots to like here for fantasy players. Pujols is clearly the top player in the game right now, as he provides elite value in 4 categories and solid value in the 5th. OF Matt Holliday, SP Chris Carpenter, and SP Adam Wainwright are all top-tier players at their position as well. A sleeper in my opinion would be SP Brad Penny. Pitching coach Dave Duncan has worked well with many pitchers who have come before, and I think that Penny could be this year’s version.

Prediction for 2010

The Cardinals are one of the elite teams in their division, and the league as a whole. I think that they could run into a little bit of bad luck this year, and finish out of the playoffs. It may not be by much though, if it does happen.

86-76, 2nd in the NL Central, Wild Card winner

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

Free Agency Review – Starting Pitchers


As expected, the free agent class of starting pitchers was pretty deep this offseason, although there were very few solid options.

All salary data from ESPN.com’s Free Agent Tracker
All 2011 free agent information from MLB Trade Rumors’ 2011 Free Agent List

LH Starting Pitchers
Name Old New Years Total $
Randy Wolf LAD MIL 3 $29.75 M
Andy Pettitte NYY NYY 1 $11.75 M
Erik Bedard SEA SEA 1 $1.5 M
Aroldis Chapman CIN 6 $30.25 M
Doug Davis ARI MIL 1 $5.25 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: Jarrod Washburn (DET)


Of all the lefties, Randy Wolf probably did the best in terms of capitalizing on a good season. Milwaukee got a very good veteran starting pitcher for a reasonable price. Bedard signed an incentive-laden deal which could be worth up to $8.5 M total, and if he earns them all, the Mariners will be extremely happy with the results as well. The most unusual signing in my opinion was the Chapman signing. The Reds, not known for spending a lot of money necessarily, sign a pitcher who will be under contract for 6 seasons, and be paying him for as much as 10 perhaps, and will hopefully not be starting his career in the Major leagues.

RH Starting Pitchers
Name Old New Years Total $
Rich Harden CHC TEX 1 $7.5 M
John Lackey LAA BOS 5 $82.5 M
Brad Penny SF STL 1 $7.5 M
Joel Pineiro STL LAA 2 $16 M
Justin Duchscherer OAK OAK 1 $2 M
Ben Sheets OAK 1 $10 M
Jon Garland LAD SD 1 $5.3 M
Colby Lewis JPN TEX 2 $5 M
Jason Marquis COL WAS 2 $15 M
Vicente Padilla LAD LAD 1 $5.025 M
Carl Pavano MIN MIN 1 $7 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: Braden Looper (MIL), Todd Wellemeyer (STL), John Smoltz (STL), Pedro Martinez (PHI)

Lackey was the big name on the market this offseason, and got the big contract that went along with it. I was a bit surprised at the time about this since I didn’t really think that the Red Sox were in the market for a starting pitcher. However, it looks now like he will be the replacement for Josh Beckett should he leave via free agency after 2010. The Angels did well to replace Lackey with Pineiro. Pineiro, while not the same quality pitcher as Lackey, will provide more stability to the rotation being led now by Jered Weaver and Scott Kazmir. Free agency was also littered with high-risk, high-reward types like Harden, Sheets, and Duchscherer. The most interesting signing for a right hander to me is the Rangers’ signing of Colby Lewis. Lewis is returning from 2 seasons in Japan where he was very dominant, and should be interesting to watch this season.

Tomorrow: Free agency review of relief pitchers