Tag Archives: Lance Berkman

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 West


Time to move to my own team’s division, as I take a look at the AL West. You can also take a look at my previews of the AL East and AL Central.

Last Year’s Records
Texas – 90-72
Oakland – 81-81
Los Angeles – 80-82
Seattle – 61-101

Notable Additions

Los Angeles – Vernon Wells, Hisanori Takahashi

Oakland – Hideki Matsui, David DeJesus, Brian Fuentes, Grant Balfour, Josh Willingham, Rich Harden, Brandon McCarthy

Seattle – Miguel Olivo, Jack Cust

Texas – Adrian Beltre, Arthur Rhodes, Mike Napoli, Brandon Webb

Notable Losses

Los Angeles – Mike Napoli, Juan Rivera, Hideki Matsui, Scot Shields

Oakland – Rajai Davis, Vin Mazzaro

Seattle – Russell Branyan, Jose Lopez

Texas – Cliff Lee, Vladimir Guerrero, Frank Francisco

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Season Preview: AL East


With Spring Training well under way and the first games starting very soon, 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.

Last Year’s Records
Tampa Bay – 96-66
New York – 95-67
Boston – 89-73
Toronto – 85-77
Baltimore – 66-96

Notable Additions

Baltimore – Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds, Vladimir Guerrero, J.J. Hardy, Justin Duchscherer

Boston – Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Bobby Jenks, Dan Wheeler

New York – Russell Martin, Rafael Soriano, Pedro Feliciano, Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, Eric Chavez

Tampa Bay – Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez, Adam Russell, Cesar Ramos, Felipe Lopez, Sam Fuld, Chris Archer

Toronto – Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Juan Rivera, Scott Podsednik, Brett Lawrie, Rajai Davis

Notable Losses

Baltimore – Kevin Millwood, Julio Lugo, Ty Wigginton, David Hernandez, Kam Mickolio

Boston – Adrian Beltre, Victor Martinez, Anthony Rizzo, Casey Kelly, Bill Hall

New York – Javier Vazquez, Andy Pettitte, Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood

Tampa Bay – Carl Crawford, Matt Garza, Rafael Soriano, Carlos Pena, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit

Toronto – Vernon Wells, Shaun Marcum, John Buck, Miguel Olivo, Scott Downs

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Fantasy Rankings in Review – First Basemen


Back in February, I took my first shot at attempting to rank players for fantasy purposes. After a full season, I thought it wise to take a look back at how they went, and compare them to how it actually turned out and see if there is anything to be gained from it. Next up is the review of my 1B rankings.

My Preseason Rankings
1. Albert Pujols
2. Miguel Cabrera
3. Prince Fielder
4. Mark Teixeira
5. Ryan Howard
6. Joey Votto
7. Mark Reynolds
8. Kevin Youkilis
9. Kendry Morales
10. Adrian Gonzalez
11. Derrek Lee
12. Justin Morneau
13. Adam Dunn
14. Pablo Sandoval
15. Carlos Pena

Yahoo’s Final Rankings (Top 15)
1. Albert Pujols
2. Miguel Cabrera
3. Joey Votto
4. Paul Konerko
5. Adrian Gonzalez
6. Mark Teixeira
7. Aubrey Huff
8. Ryan Howard
9. Nick Swisher
10. Adam Dunn
11. David Ortiz
12. Martin Prado
13. Prince Fielder
14. Billy Butler
15. Adam LaRoche

I also mentioned Adam LaRoche, Paul Konerko, Billy Butler, Garrett Jones, Lance Berkman, Chris Davis, Michael Cuddyer, Todd Helton, James Loney, Justin Smoak, and Chris Carter as players potentially having value this year.
From my preseason rankings, Kevin Youkilis (19), Derrek Lee (21), James Loney (24), and Justin Morneau (25) all finished in the top 25. Mark Reynolds, Kendry Morales, Pablo Sandoval, and Carlos Pena did not make the top 25 at the end of the season.
Free Agents: Lance Berkman, Adam Dunn, Troy Glaus, Aubrey Huff, Paul Konerko, Derrek Lee, Lyle Overbay, Carlos Pena
What We Saw

Buster Posey’s season was better than anyone even thought. He finished at #23 in the 1B rankings for Yahoo, which is clearly an elite offensive position. Wow.

I thought Joey Votto would do extremely well this season, but clearly this was above and beyond what I thought either. I think he’s going to start next season as a top 10 player overall.

Talk about a walk year improvement. Paul Konerko went nuts this year, and finished with 39 homers and 112 rbi. He’s a free agent, and while they want him back in Chicago, it remains to be seen where he will end up. But he’s clearly not as done as we all thought he was.

Aubrey Huff is another free agent who should get paid this offseason after an excellent performance in San Francisco. Part of his value was having 7 stolen bases this season, which seems unlikely to continue. I just can’t convince myself that he’s particularly likely to repeat the overall performance in 2011.

Injuries really had an effect on the 1B depth, with Kevin Youkilis, Kendry Morales, Justin Morneau, and Troy Glaus all missed time during the season. It didn’t help that players like Mark Reynolds, Lance Berkman and Carlos Pena all struggled during the season.

Justin Morneau really concerns me for next season, due to the fact that he still has not been able to do any baseball activities since suffering that concussion in Toronto. He could potentially provide a very nice value for fantasy owners next year, but he won’t end up on any of my teams most likely.

Adrian Gonzalez will continue to be the topic of trade rumors throughout the offseason, and I think that if he gets traded to anywhere else practically, he’s going to provide even more offense than he did this season, which seems like it should be impossible.

Overall, some of these rankings were pretty easy (I’m pretty sure it takes no brains to rank Pujols at #1), but some of these players clearly underperformed (Fielder, Reynolds, Pena). I think that Youkilis would have finished above the #8 spot I had believed at the beginning of the season had he not gotten injured. Not a terrible job on these, but definitely some work to be done next season.

Preliminary 2011 Rankings (Very Raw)
1. Albert Pujols
2. Miguel Cabrera
3. Joey Votto
4. Adrian Gonzalez
5. Mark Teixeira
6. Ryan Howard
7. Prince Fielder
8. Kevin Youkilis
9. Paul Konerko
10. Adam Dunn

The Month in Review – July 2010


With the trade deadline now past, we look to the stretch run for the playoffs.

By my own count, here’s the teams I still think have a decent chance of making the playoffs. I’m including teams in their division if they are still in the wild card race.

AL East: New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox (albeit slightly)
AL Central: Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers
AL West: Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels (also slight)

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

My Award Winners to Date

AL MVP –  Miguel Cabrera (DET)
NL MVP – Joey Votto (CIN)
AL Cy Young – Cliff Lee (TEX)
NL Cy Young – Josh Johnson (FLA)
AL Rookie of the Year – Brennan Boesch (DET)
NL Rookie of the Year – Jaime Garcia (STL)

Weekly Links and Weeks in Review

June 28th-July 4th
Midseason Review
July 12th-July 18th
July 19th-July 25th

Trade Deadline Review

June was an extremely busy month for stories, with so many that I had honestly forgotten a few of them before I reviewed my week-in-review posts.

  • The trade deadline was at 4 PM EST on Saturday, and we saw an unbelievable amount of transactions get done before then. You can read my thoughts on the deadline as a whole by clicking on the trade deadline review link above. There were some huge names moved (Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman), and also some big names discussed that didn’t go anywhere (Adam Dunn, Manny Ramirez, Jayson Werth)
  • Alex Rodriguez is currently stuck at 599 homeruns in his career, and is line for a huge payday when he finally hits #600 at some point. To the tune of $6 million.
  • The All Star game was played in Anaheim, and the National League actually won! (I know, it was a huge surprise to me too). This could potentially be really good for the contenders in the National League, as they will have home field advantage in the World Series.
  • Also during the All-Star break, the sport lost an icon with the passing of George Steinbrenner. You can read my thoughts on it here.
  • The Diamondbacks started cleaning out their house early in the month, starting with manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Josh Byrnes. By the end of the month, they had made trades to move Dan Haren, Chad Qualls, and Chris Snyder. Interestingly, they held onto free agent to be Adam LaRoche, and much rumored player Kelly Johnson.
  • We had some pretty big names go on the disabled list this month, with Chase Utley missing nearly the entire month and phenom Stephen Strasburg put on the disabled list towards the end of the month. Justin Morneau is currently out indefinitely as well with issues stemming from a concussion he suffered earlier in the season.

What’s Coming in August

August is a bit of a catchup month, as I play to continue on with the Original Draft series posts with teams 12 through 7. There’s also 5 trade retrospectives planned, including 3 trades involving my Athletics. The amateur draft signing period ends in August as well, and I am planning a post looking at some of the big signings (and non-signings). I am scaling back posting here just a little bit, from 5-6 posts per week to between 3 and 4 per week so that I can also concentrate on some of my other writing ventures.

If you missed the announcement a couple of weeks ago, I have become a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance in July, and am looking forward to working with their community of bloggers. My first such post was some trade deadline thoughts I got from a trio of the bloggers over there, and you can read it here.

Thanks again to all the readers, and if you’re enjoying the writing, please feel free to either write a comment on the posts, and take a few seconds to become a fan of Jason’s Baseball Blog on Facebook. You can do that here.

Original Draft Series – Team #16 – Houston Astros


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

Team #15: Houston Astros

General Managers(since 1994)

Bob Watson (1994-1995): 142-117
Gerry Hunsicker (1996-2004): 793-665
Tim Purpura (2005-2007): 244-242
Ed Wade (2008-Current): 233-252

Team Performance

Playoffs Division Finish
WC League Playoff App 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th or 6th
0 1 6 4 8 1 3 1

All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C John Buck 1998 – 7th Rd 6 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to KC – 6/24/04
1B Lance Berkman 1997 – 1st Rd (16) 13 5 All Star Appearances
1569 gm, .297/.409/.549, 320 HR, 1073 RBI, 994 R
Currently with Org.
2B Julio Lugo 1994 – 43rd Rd 9 366 gm, .268/.332/.391, 28 HR, 114 RBI, 45 SB, 222 R Released – 5/9/03
3B Melvin Mora Int’l FA – 1991 6 No Major League Appearances with Org. Free Agency – 10/17/97
SS Tommy Manzella 2005 – 3rd Rd 5 66 gm, .211/.257/.253, HR, 16 RBI, 13 R Currently with Org.
LF Bobby Abreu Int’l FA – 1990 7 74 gm, .248/.325/.362, 3 HR, 27 RBI, 7 SB, 23 R Expansion Draft – TAM – 11/18/97
CF Hunter Pence 2004 – 2nd Rd 6 1 All Star Appearances
497 gm, .286/.336/.482, 78 HR, 261 RBI, 45 SB, 256 R
Currently with Org.
RF Ben Zobrist 2004 – 6th Rd 2 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to TAM – 7/12/06
SP Roy Oswalt 1996 – 23rd Rd 14 3 All Star Appearances
142-80 3.25 ERA,  1570 K, 441 BB, 1907.1 IP, 1.199 WHIP
Currently with Org.
SP Johan Santana Int’l FA – 1995 4 No Major League Appearances with Org. Rule 5 Draftee – MIN – 12/13/99
SP Wandy Rodriguez Int’l FA – 1999 11 55-62, 4.45 ERA, 715 K, 320 BB, 871.1 IP, 1.394 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP Freddy Garcia Int’l FA – 1993 5 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to SEA – 7/31/98
SP Mitch Talbot 2002 – 2nd Rd 4 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to TAM – 7/12/06
RP Matt Albers 2001 – 23rd Rd 6 4-13, 5.87 ERA, 82 K, 57 BB, 125.2 IP, 1.599 WHIP Traded to BAL – 12/12/07
RP Fernando Nieve Int’l FA – 1999 10 3-4, 4.63 ERA, 82 K, 43 BB, 107 IP, 1.374 WHIP Selected by NYM – 3/14/09
RP Felipe Paulino Int’l FA – 2001 9 6-20, 5.55 ERA, 180 K, 87 BB, 202.2 IP, 1.589 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Chris Sampson 1999 – 8th Rd 11 19-15, 4.41 ERA, 172 K, 87 BB, 350.2 IP, 1.332 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Brad Lidge 1998 – 1st Rd (17) 9 2 All Star Appearances
23-20, 123 SV, 3.30 ERA, 561 K, 170 BB, 401 IP, 1.197 WHIP
Traded to PHI – 11/7/07
CL Billy Wagner 1993 – 1st Rd (12) 10 3 All Star Appearances
26-29, 225 SV, 2.53 ERA, 694 K, 191 BB, 504.1 IP, 1.039 WHIP
Traded to PHI – 11/3/03
BN J.R. Towles (C)
2004 – 20th Rd 6 101 gm, .189/.273/.327, 8 HR, 39 RBI, 29 R Currently with Org.
BN Bud Norris (P)
2006 – 6th Rd 4 8-8, 5.61 ERA, 114 K, 52 BB, 104.1 IP, 1.639 WHIP Currently with Org.
BN Jason Castro (C)
2008 – 1st Rd (10) 2 6 gm, .250/.348/.400, HR, RBI, 5 R Currently with Org.
BN Chris Johnson (3B)
2006 – 4th Rd 4 25 gm, .217/.239/.275, 7 RBI, SB, 7 R Currently with Org.
BN Juan Gutierrez (P)
Int’l FA – 2000 7 1-1, 5.91 ERA, 16 K, 6 BB, 21.1 IP, 1.453 WHIP Traded to ARI – 12/14/07
BN Chad Qualls (P)
2000 – 2nd Rd 7 23-12, 6 SV, 3.39 ERA, 218 K, 84 BB, 284 IP, 1.236 WHIP Traded to ARI – 12/14/07

June Amateur Draft

The Astros really to me look like they have had some pretty decent draft picks. Unfortunately, there really haven’t been a lot of impact players in recent years, with Lance Berkman and Brad Lidge really being the last two impact players to come out of the system. They have done well with players like Hunter Pence, and the system will be drawing players like Jordan Lyles, Jiovanni Mier, and Ross Seaton all waiting to make an impact in the lower levels of the system. They recently promoted both Jason Castro and Chris Johnson to the Majors, so it remains to be seen whether they can adapt to being Major League starters.

International Free Agency

The Astros have done pretty well in the international free agent markets, with Wandy Rodriguez and Julio Lugo being the players who made the biggest impact for the Astros themselves. They’ve also had quite a few players go through the system who have turned into excellent players, but were either allowed to leave or traded before they could make a significant impact for the Astros. These include multiple Cy Young award winner Johan Santana, All-Stars Bobby Abreu, Ben Zobrist, and Freddy Garcia.

Overall Grade

I give the Astros a C+. The players that they have developed on their own have been excellent, but the short-sighted trades that they have made to acquire pieces for playoff runs have left the team with a completely depleted farm system, with very little currently in the system besides the players I mentioned. Hopefully the Astros will be able to continue to find some quality players going forward.

Team Preview – Houston Astros


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C J.R. Towles SP 1 Roy Oswalt
1B Lance Berkman SP 2 Wandy Rodriguez
2B Kaz Matsui SP 3 Brett Myers
3B Pedro Feliz SP 4 Brian Moehler
SS Tommy Manzella SP 5 Bud Norris
LF Carlos Lee Bullpen
CF Michael Bourn CL Brandon Lyon
RF Hunter Pence RP Matt Lindstrom
Bench RP Jeff Fulchino
IF Jeff Keppinger RP Tim Byrdak
OF Jason Michaels RP Chris Sampson

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
SP Brett Myers Free Agency SS Miguel Tejada Free Agency
RP Brandon Lyon Free Agency RP Jose Valverde Free Agency
3B Pedro Feliz Free Agency RP LaTroy Hawkins Free Agency

Top Prospects: Jordan Lyles (P), Jason Castro (C), Jiovanni Mier (SS)

2009 Review

The Astros posted a very poor campaign in 2009, finishing in 5th place in the division with a 74-88 record. This performance cost manager Cecil Cooper his job with about 2 weeks to go in the season. The team was not good on offense, but did have a few bright spots. CF Michael Bourn really came into his own, posting a .285 batting average with 61 steals and 97 runs scored. LF Carlos Lee hit .300 with 26 HR and 102 RBI. RF Hunter Pence had his best year so far, hitting 25 HR and stealing 16 bases along with a .282 batting average. On the pitching side, SP Wandy Rodriguez posted an excellent year, going 14-12 with a 3.03 ERA and 193 strikeouts in 205 innings pitched. And closer Jose Valverde recorded 25 saves to go with a 2.33 ERA.

Unfortunately, the top performers were not nearly enough to counteract some of the poor performances across the field. Starters Brian Moehler, Russ Ortiz, Mike Hampton and Felipe Paulino made 80 starts between them, and all posted ERAs over 5. 2B Kaz Matsui played solid defense, but hit .250 with only 9 HR and 19 SB. The Astros were also reliant on Geoff Blum to man 3B for most of the season, where he hit .247 with 10 HR. There appeared to be a severe lack of ability at some positions, at least for what you would expect out of a team trying to contend for a division title anyway.

Team Outlook for 2010

The Astros made a few moves this offseason, but almost all of them were to plug holes that were either made by outgoing free agents or that had already been there previously. Brett Myers is a good low-risk high-reward type pitcher, and will hopefully be able to return to his 200 innings pitched form. They have improved their defense at 3B and SS with Pedro Feliz and rookie Tommy Manzella. They will hope for a rebound year from both 1B Lance Berkman and SP Roy Oswalt.

For me, this team just doesn’t look like it is going to score enough runs. They have essentially black holes at C, 2B, and SS. 3B is really not a lot better either. The back end of the bullpen (Fulchino, Byrdak, Sampson) is not bad, but it’s not particularly amazing either. This really appears to be a team that is middling at best within their division.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

The Astros’ outfield is the best place to find solid fantasy players, as all three (Lee, Bourn, and Pence) are all ownable in all league formats. On the pitching side, SP Wandy Rodriguez is the best of the group, and SP Roy Oswalt is a player I might take a chance on, as he has performed in the past, just not this last season unfortunately. 1B Lance Berkman is also someone to watch, although he will start the season on the disabled list. The best sleeper of this bunch is probably Brett Myers, as he could potentially post a 200 strikeout season if he returns to form. That’s a big if to me though.

Prediction for 2010

The Astros appear to have a plan in place on how to improve, but they’re not going to get there this season.

73-89, 5th in the NL Central