Tag Archives: Brett Wallace

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 Retrospective – Dan Haren to the Diamondbacks


On December 14th, 2007, the Arizona Diamondbacks acquired SP Dan Haren and RP Connor Robertson from the Oakland Athletics for pitchers Brett Anderson, Dana Eveland, and Greg Smith, 1B Chris Carter, and outfielders Aaron Cunningham and Carlos Gonzalez.

The Background

Dan Haren had been in Oakland since the start of the 2005 season, and had established himself as one of the top pitchers in the American League. Following the 2005 season, he had signed a contract extension which would keep him under team control at very reasonable prices through the 2010 season (it would have covered the 5 seasons at a total cost of $19.15 million overall). Haren was also being asked to fill the role of the staff ace, with Barry Zito having departed via free agency after the 2006 season. Haren had his best season with the Athletics in 2007, going 15-9 with a 3.07 ERA in 222.2 innings pitched, and a 138 ERA+. However, the team did not perform well, going 76-86 and finishing 3rd in the division despite going to the ALCS in the 2006 season.

The Diamondbacks had finished in first place in 2007, with a 90-72 record. However, they had been swept in the NLCS by the Rockies, and it appeared that they could use another starting pitcher behind 2006 Cy Young winner Brandon Webb. They did have, however, an extremely deep farm system available to them to go out and acquire what they would need to help in the 2008 season.

The Moving Pieces

In Phoenix, Haren slotted into the starting rotation between 2 former Cy Young award winners in Brandon Webb and Randy Johnson. Connor Robertson was sent to AAA Tucson, to be used mainly out of the bullpen.

In Oakland, Greg Smith and Dana Eveland both slotted into the back end of the starting rotation for the Athletics. OF Carlos Gonzalez was sent to AAA Sacramento to play every day. OF Aaron Cunningham was sent to AA Midland, and 1B Chris Carter and P Brett Anderson were both sent to High-A Stockton.

What Happened Next

The Diamondbacks were fairly happy with the performance of Haren, who went 16-8 with a 3.33 ERA and topped the 200 strikeout threshold for the first time in his career. Robertson made some spot appearances with the big club, but was essentially a non-factor on the team’s performance in 2008. Unfortunately, the team regressed a fair amount, and went 82-80 to finish 2nd in the NL West that season.

The Athletics were in full rebuilding mode, but did get some useful performances out of Dana Eveland and Greg Smith in 2008, who provided a lot of innings. Carter finished the season as one of the California League’s top hitters, clubbing 39 homers and driving in 104 runs in only 137 games. Carlos Gonzalez (BA’s #22 overall in 2008) hit fairly well in AAA, posting a .283 batting average and getting a midseason callup to the big club. Unfortunately, his performance in the Majors left a lot to be desired, hitting .242 with 4 homers and 4 steals in 89 games. Brett Anderson (BA’s #36 overall in 2008) posted an 11-5 record between High-A and AA, striking out 118 in just 105 innings. Aaron Cunningham hit .329 between AA and AAA, and also added 17 homers, 66 runs batted in, and 15 steals to those totals. He got into 22 games with the Athletics in 2008, hitting .250 with 1 homerun.

The Net Moves

Diamondbacks – First Level

  • Dan Haren made 2 All-Star appearances with the Diamondbacks, and posted a 37-26 record with a 3.56 ERA. He threw 586 1/3 innings over 3 seasons, and struck out 570 to just 107 walks. He was traded on July 25th of this season to the Angels for Joe Saunders, Rafael Rodriguez, Patrick Corbin, and Tyler Skaggs.
  • Connor Robertson went 0-1 with a 5.14 ERA in just 7 Major League innings for the D’backs. On December 12th, 2008, he was traded to the Mets for Scott Schoeneweis.

Athletics – First Level

  • Carlos Gonzalez appeared in 85 games at the Major league level for the Athletics in 2008, posting an underwhelming .242/.273/.361 line with 4 HR, 26 RBI, and 4 SB. He, along with Greg Smith and closer Huston Street, were traded to the Colorado Rockies on November 10th, 2008 for OF Matt Holliday.
  • Greg Smith went 7-16 with a 4.16 ERA in 190 1/3 innings pitched in 2008, but had a rather pedestrian 111 strikeouts compared to 87 walks. He was a part of the trade mentioned above.
  • Aaron Cunningham appeared in 45 games with the Athletics, posting a .211/.271/.338 line with 2 HR, 20 RBI, and 2 SB. He was traded on January 16, 2010 to the Padres along with Scott Hairston in exchange for 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff and minor league 2B Eric Sogard.
  • Dana Eveland went 11-13 with a 4.92 ERA in parts of 2 seasons. He threw a total of 212 innings, and had 140 strikeouts compared to 103 walks. He was traded to the Blue Jays on February 7, 2010, but no player was received in return.
  • Brett Anderson made his debut with the Athletics in 2009, and has posted a 14-14 record with a 3.79 ERA so far. He’s thrown 225 innings and has a very solid 184 strikeouts to 52 walks. He also recently signed a contract extension as well.
  • Chris Carter recently made his Major league debut, and was up for a cup of coffee so far. He was recently sent back to AAA, but is likely to be up for good by the end of the season.

Diamondbacks – Second Level

  • Scott Schoeneweis went 1-2 with a 7.13 ERA in just 24 innings pitched in 2009. Sadly, he was dealing with the death of his wife Gabrielle, who died in May of that season. He was a free agent after the season.

Athletics – Second Level

  • Matt Holliday played in 93 games for the Athletics, posting a .286/.378/.454 line with 11 HR, 54 RBI, and 12 stolen bases. The team fell out of contention, and he was traded on July 24, 2009 to the Cardinals for prospects Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortenson and Shane Peterson.
  • Kevin Kouzmanoff has played in 111 games, and hit .259/.2984/.390 with 10 homeruns and 55 runs batted in.
  • Eric Sogard has been the starting 2B for the Rivercats, and is more of a glove than a hitter. He’s hit an empty .296 with 2 homers and 13 stolen bases so far.

Athletics – Third Level

  • Shane Peterson has spent time at AA, hitting .263/351/.361 with 5 homers, 50 rbi and 9 steals.
  • Clayton Mortenson has had some success at AAA, but not a lot at the Majors yet. His line with Oakland is 2-4 with a 7.22 ERA in 33 2/3 innings pitched.
  • Brett Wallace finished the 2009 season with the Rivercats, and was traded to the Blue Jays as a part of the group of trades involving Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. The Athletics acquired OF Michael Taylor in the trade.

Athletics – Fourth Level

  • Michael Taylor has spent the 2010 season at AAA Sacramento, hitting a disappointing .264/.342/.387 with 5 homeruns, 64 RBI and 12 steals. It was thought he would be called up before the end of the season, but I’m not sure that will happen this year.

Overall Reactions

I was extremely annoyed at the time of the trade, because I thought that the A’s were giving up an up and coming ace starting pitcher, and while they got a lot of good prospects back for him, they were still just prospects. As the 2008 season progressed and we saw the pieces that played at the Major League level (Smith, Eveland, and Carlos Gonzalez) all play to average levels, it just sounded that much worse for the Athletics. Over time, I think this one has become a bit more evenly matched to both teams. The Diamondbacks got 3 very solid seasons from their acquisition, and while they ended up trading him this season, there is some hope for the players that they received in return.

To me, the Athletics are going to end up winning this one, as the players they got back are going to help to lead them to their next good run. Brett Anderson has become a bona fide top of the rotation starter, and would be for a lot of teams in the Majors. Chris Carter needs to show more at the Majors before he can be really viewed as a great part of the trade, at least in my opinion. The one downfall of this trade was the move that they made to try to compete in 2009, which sent Carlos Gonzalez to the Rockies for what ended up being 93 games of Matt Holliday. Gonzalez has really exploded onto the scene this year in Colorado, while Holliday went nuts after being traded to St. Louis and drove in nearly a run per game. Michael Taylor has some upside to be sure, but the luster has kind of fallen off of his top prospect status.

Overall, I think that this trade is going to end up beneficial to both teams, and it really gives the A’s an definitive advantage as the winner of last week’s trade retrospective, with Mark Mulder going to the Cardinals.

Trade Review – Roy Oswalt to the Phillies


The saga has finally wound itself up, with SP Roy Oswalt accepting a trade on Thursday afternoon and waiving his no-trade clause. I am including the trade made between the Astros and Blue Jays in this writeup because I think it speaks to the true value of the trade.

Philadelphia Phillies acquired SP Roy Oswalt (and $11 M cash)
Houston Astros acquired SP J.A. Happ and minor leaguers OF Anthony Gose and SS Jonathan Villar

Houston Astros acquired 1B Brett Wallace
Toronto Blue Jays acquired OF Anthony Gose

The Phillies

Clearly, the Phillies get another ace to put up at the top half of their rotation, and with Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt making up their top 3 starters, they look very strong if they make it into the playoffs. This wasn’t exactly what everyone had imagined as the pair of aces if the Phillies were to acquire Halladay last offseason, but it is still very formidable. By getting the $11 M, they have essentially been paid the cost of Oswalt for 2011 (he is owed $23 M through next season), and make the idea of giving up good players a lot more bearable. For them, Happ, Gose and Villar are the price it takes to make another run at a World Championship. The Phillies also did very well here in my opinion in that they were able to hold onto some of their higher end prospects like Jarred Cosart, Trevor May, and Jonathan Singleton.

The Astros

The Astros had pretty much been put in no-man’s land, and did surprisingly well here considering that fact. Happ is going to be at worst a #3 starter in the Majors in my opinion, and has shown some success previously. Minor leaguer Jonathan Villar is a very raw shortstop prospect, who looks like a speed guy to this point. He has 38 steals so far this year in 100 games in Single-A. The plate discipline concerns me quite a bit: 26 walks to 103 strikeouts in those same 100 games, but he’s still a very young prospect (only 19 at the time of the trade), and there’s a lot of upside there.

By acquiring Brett Wallace from the Blue Jays, they got a player who is a lot more major league ready than Gose, and can slot in as the replacement for Lance Berkman following the season. Berkman is on a team option for 2011, which will almost certainly be bought out instead of exercised ($2 M buyout versus $15 M salary). I find it extremely telling that the kid has now been traded 3 times in the past calendar year, as he was a part of the Matt Holliday trade and also the Roy Halladay trade group as well. Wallace has hit very well in the PCL this season, posting a .301/.359/.509 line with 18 HR and 61 runs batted in.

The Blue Jays

Anthony Gose, just 19 years old, trends to be a definite speedster out there as well. He stole 76 bases last season in a full season and has 36 so far this season as well. Another player who could struggle with poor plate discipline (32 walks vs. 103 strikeouts), but still has hit .263/.325/.385 at High-A Clearwater. I like this move for the Blue Jays, as it appears that they will be unable to move free agent to be Lyle Overbay, and were able to make a move of Wallace to get a player who has a high ceiling but who is also unlikely to arrive for another couple of seasons.

Overall, this trade was made with the hope that another pennant will be had by the Phillies, and I was actually surprised at how close the Phillies have gotten to the Braves in the last week. The Astros, considering all the limitations and cash issues that were surrounding moving Oswalt, did pretty well to get the players that they did. The one thing that really does concern me quite a bit about the Phillies is that they have already committed $143 million to a total of 17 players who are under contract for 2011. It seems to me like they could either end up spending similar amounts to the Yankees or have to find some serious bargains to help fill the roster. The biggest bonus for the Astros appears to be only having to pay the $11 million of the $23 million owed to Oswalt.

WINNER: Phillies

Team Preview – Toronto Blue Jays


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C John Buck SP 1 Ricky Romero
1B Lyle Overbay SP 2 Brett Cecil
2B Aaron Hill SP 3 Marc Rzepcynski
3B Edwin Encarnacion SP 4 Shaun Marcum
SS Alex Gonzalez SP 5 Brandon Morrow
LF Travis Snider Bullpen
CF Vernon Wells CL Jason Frasor
RF Adam Lind RP Jeremy Accardo
DH Randy Ruiz RP Jesse Carlson
Bench RP Kevin Gregg
OF Jeremy Reed RP Brian Tallet
OF Jose Bautista RP David Purcey

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
SP Brandon Morrow Trade (SEA) SP Roy Halladay Trade (PHI)
C John Buck Free Agency RP Brandon League Trade (SEA)
RP Kevin Gregg Free Agency SS Marco Scutaro Free Agency

Top Prospects: Brett Wallace (3B), Kyle Drabek (P), Zack Stewart (P)

2009 Review

The Blue Jays always seem to be not quite close enough to competing. They finished 2009 with a 75-87 campaign, which led to the firing of general manager J.P. Ricciardi after 8 seasons. Ricciardi and the Blue Jays spent most of the season listening to trade rumors surrounding SP Roy Halladay, which appeared to be a distraction overall. But the team definitely had some bright spots. 2B Aaron Hill lead the team with 36 HR, as he was healthy for the full season for the first time in a while. RF Adam Lind finally developed into a good middle-of-the-order hitter, powering 35 HR and a team-leading 114 RBI to go with a .305 batting average. SP Roy Halladay went 17-10 with a 2.79 era, leading a very young, but potentially very good pitching staff.

Injuries played a major part in the Blue Jays season, with 2 starting pitchers missing the entire season (Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan). However, rookies Brett Cecil, Marc Rzepcynski, and Ricky Romero all came up and stepped right into the rotation. Perhaps the most unusual moment came in August when RF Alex Rios, placed on waivers like nearly everyone else on the roster (as is standard at the time of year), was claimed by the White Sox. The Blue Jays took that opportunity to rid themselves of a rather large contract, and got just the relief from Rios’ salary in return.

Team Outlook for 2010

The Blue Jays are always going to be a second-tier team in comparison to the Yankees and Red Sox, but they have done well to position themselves in terms of the future. The Halladay trade netted them an excellent pitching prospect in Kyle Drabek, a high-level 3B prospect in Brett Wallace, a solid catching prospect in Travis d’Arnaud, and also acquired another good young arm in Brandon Morrow in a separate trade. This is in addition to the already good young arms of Brett Cecil, Ricky Romero, Shaun Marcum, and Dustin McGowan. While the team no longer has a bona fide #1 starter in Halladay, they did well to get as good of a return as they did considering he was only under contract for 1 season and had a full no-trade clause.

The Blue Jays should be helped with full seasons from OF Travis Snider, 3B Edwin Encarnacion, and SP Brett Cecil. However, they did lose a large amount of offense from SS Marco Scutaro and C Rod Barajas that wasn’t particularly replaced in the lineup. I think this is a team that will continue to develop this season, and unfortunately will not really be in the AL East race for very long. They simply don’t have enough offense from this lineup to compete with the top hitting teams (Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Rangers), and don’t have enough top-tier pitching to compete with the top pitching teams (Yankees, Red Sox, Mariners, Tigers).

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

2B Aaron Hill and RF Adam Lind are really the cream of this crop, as the Blue Jays have quite a few players who are better real-life players than fantasy players. I don’t expect Hill to repeat the home run total he had last season, but 2B is still very shallow and Hill is a definite starter in all leagues. Nearly all of their starting pitchers are high-risk, high-reward types due to the fact that they are all very young still. If I were to pick one out of the group, it would probably be Ricky Romero, as he’s shown the most success while with the big club to this point.

Prediction for 2010

The Blue Jays are in a semi-rebuilding mode at this point, as they have quite a few young players at the Major League level. I don’t believe that they will compete for the AL East crown this season, and could potentially see more movement if they can get a good return on players like Lyle Overbay, Jason Frasor, and Jeremy Accardo. But watch out for them in the coming seasons as they should improve under new general manager Alex Anthopoulos.

77-85, 4th in the AL East