Tag Archives: Brendan Ryan

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

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/

Original Draft Series – Team # 23 – St. Louis Cardinals


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

Team #23: St. Louis Cardinals

General Managers(since 1994)

Walt Jocketty (1994-2007): 1117-968
John Mozeliak (2008-Current): 177-147

Team Performance

Playoffs Division Finish
WC League Playoff App 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
1 2 8 7 1 3 4 0

The Cardinals have clearly had quite a bit of success on the field, with 8 playoff appearances in 15 seasons, and the 2006 World Championship. GMs Walt Jocketty and John Mozeliak have been extremely productive, and have been aided by the help of manager Tony LaRussa and pitching coach Dave Duncan. All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C Yadier Molina 2000 – 4th Rd 10 1 All Star Appearance, 2 Gold Gloves
730 gm, .267/.327/.361, 37 HR, 292 RBI, 19 SB, 203 R
Currently with Org.
1B Albert Pujols 1999 – 13th Rd 11 2001 Rookie of the Year, 3 MVP Awards, 5 Silver Sluggers
8 All Star Appearances, 1 Gold Glove
1467 gm, .332/.427/.624, 381 HR, 1162 RBI, 67 SB, 1110 R
Currently with Org.
2B Adam Kennedy 1997 – 1st Rd (20) 2 + 2 235 gm, .253/.300/.344, 6 HR, 70 RBI, 13 SB, 81 R Traded to ANA – 3/23/00
3B Placido Polanco 1994 – 19th Rd 8 489 gm, .296/.331/.385, 15 HR, 134 RBI, 22 SB, 218 R Traded to STL – 7/29/02
SS Jack Wilson 1998 – 9th Rd 2 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to PIT – 7/29/00
LF Rick Ankiel 1999 – 2nd Rd 10 342 gm, .251/.311/.452, 49 HR, 157 RBI, 7 SB, 155 R Free Agency – 11/5/09
CF Colby Rasmus 2005 – 1st Rd (28) 5 211 gm, .258/.329/.451, 29 HR, 86 RBI, 11 SB, 114 R Currently with Org.
RF J.D. Drew 1998 – 1st Rd (5) 5 597 gm, .282/.377/.498, 96 HR, 280 RBI, 59 SB, 355 R Traded to ATL – 12/13/03
SP Dan Haren 2001 – 2nd Rd 3 6-10, 4.85 ERA, 75 K, 39 BB, 118.2 IP, 1.416 WHIP Traded to OAK – 12/18/04
SP Jaime Garcia 2005 – 22nd Rd 5 7-4, 2.27 ERA, 74 K, 43 BB, 1.259 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP P.J. Walters 2006 – 11th Rd 4 1-0, 8.73 ERA, 24 K, 17 BB, 33 IP, 1.818 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP Anthony Reyes 2003 – 15th Rd 5 10-24, 5.38 ERA, 168 K, 84 BB, 220.2 IP, 1.350 WHIP Traded to CLE – 7/26/08
SP Clayton Mortensen 2007 – 1st Rd (36) 2 3 IP, 2 K, 1 BB, 2.00 WHIP Traded to OAK – 7/24/09
RP Mitchell Boggs 2005 – 5th Rd 5 6-7, 4.84 ERA, 79 K, 65 BB, 119 IP, 1.672 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Chris Narveson 2000 – 2nd Rd 4 + 2 0-0, 4.82 ERA, 5 K, 5 BB, 9.1 IP, 1.179 WHIP Traded to COL – 8/11/04
RP Kyle McLellan 2002 – 25th Rd 8 6-13, 3.44 ERA, 139 K, 69 BB, 175.1 IP, 1.30 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Jason Motte 2003 – 19th Rd 7 6-6, 3.54 ERA, 105 K, 36 BB, 96.2 IP, 1.221 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Luke Gregerson 2006 – 28th Rd 3 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to SD – 3/23/09
CL Chris Perez 2006 – 1st Rd (42) 3 4-4, 3.72 ERA, 72 K, 37 BB, 65.1 IP, 1.347 WHIP Traded to CLE – 6/27/09
BN Daric Barton (1B) 2003 – 1st Rd (28) 1 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to OAK – 12/18/04
BN Skip Schumaker (2B) 2001 – 5th Rd 9 511 gm, .293/.349/.388, 16 HR, 119 RBI, 16 SB, 239 R Currently with Org.
BN Brendan Ryan (SS) 2003 – 7th Rd 7 334 gm, .268/.325/.365, 9 HR, 74 RBI, 32 SB, 133 R Currently with Org.
BN Tyler Greene (SS) 2005 – 1st Rd (30) 5 58 gm, .224/.273/.336, 12 R, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 4 SB Currently with Org.
BN Joe Mather (OF) 2001 – 3rd Rd 9 81 gm, .228/.282/.422, 8 HR, 20 RBI, 2 SB, 24 R Currently with Org.
BN Nick Stavinoha (OF) 2005 – 7th Rd 5 111 gm, .240/.262/.352, 4 HR, 27 RBI, 17 R Currently with Org.

June Amateur Draft

The Cardinals have had quite a bit of success on the field in the last 15 seasons, and as a result they have not had a lot of early picks in the first round of the draft. In the 15 previous drafts (not including 2010), they have had 25 picks, with only 2 picks in the top 10 (J.D. Drew and Braden Looper). Overall, the first round has brought them some reasonable success, as they have drafted players like Matt Morris, J.D. Drew, and Colby Rasmus in the past. Clearly, the biggest victory of all draftees is the one taken in the 13th round of the 1999 draft, Mr. Albert Pujols. Unfortunately, beyond him, there has only been even 1 All-Star Appearance by any of these players while they were with the organization. 22nd round pick Jaime Garcia could change that this year, as he is having an excellent season so far. Overall, the Amateur draft has had some solid picks, but overall they haven’t done a whole lot with the draft.

International Free Agency

I was surprised to find that none of the players I selected were international free agents. Not a single one of them. Digging into Baseball America’s Top 10 prospects for the team, only 1 of the top 10 (Eduardo Sanchez) was signed out of an international market. The team does pretty well with their ability to find good professional free agents, so this has not really been a glaring miss to this point. At some point though, I would have to imagine that they are going to need to improve their scouting and development areas with regard to the international markets, as they are missing out on some talented players.

Overall Grade

C-. The Cardinals clearly are being carried by their best player, Albert Pujols. But if you take him out of the picture, you have a lot of players who have not done a whole lot with the Cardinals. And while they have traded quite a few of these players for key pieces to their success (Barton, Perez, Mortensen, Polanco), many of them didn’t really see any particular level of success with the Cardinals themselves.