Tag Archives: Matt LaPorta

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

Week in Review – June 21 to June 27


If the Playoffs Started Today

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

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

League Leaders

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

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

Roster Movement

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

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

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

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

Top Stories and Weekly Links

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

Upcoming Posts This Week:

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

Original Draft Series – #25 – Milwaukee Brewers


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

Team #25: Milwaukee Brewers

General Managers(since 1994)

Sal Bando (1994-1999): 424-481
Dean Taylor (2000-2002): 197-289
Doug Melvin (2003-Current): 544-589

Team Performance

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

The Brewers have had a bit of stability in the front office, with the same scouting director for many years until leaving after the 2008 season and only 3 general managers in the last 16 seasons. Unfortunately, they are in the NL Central, the domain of the Astros, Cardinals, and Cubs. All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C Angel Salome 2004 – 5th Rd 6 3 gm, 0-3 Currently with Org.
1B Prince Fielder 2002 – 1st Rd (7) 8 2 All Star Appearances, 1 Silver Slugger
741 gm, .281/.382/.541, 173 HR, 479 RBI, 15 SB, 423 R
Currently with Org.
2B Rickie Weeks 2003 – 1st Rd (2) 7 547 gm, .248/.352/.416, 70 HR, 216 RBI, 84 SB, 375 R Currently with Org.
3B Ronnie Belliard 1994 – 8th Rd 8 489 gm, .263/.341/.396, 30 HR, 174 RBI, 18 SB, 243 R Free Agency – 12/21/02
SS Alcides Escobar Int’l FA – 2003 7 108 gm, .271/.314/.357, 3 HR, 29 RBI, 8 SB, 48 R Currently with Org.
LF Ryan Braun 2005 – 1st Rd (5) 5 2007 Rookie of the Year, 2 All Star Appearances, 2 Silver Sluggers
486 gm, .307/.363/.564, 113 HR, 362 RBI, 60 SB, 340 R
Currently with Org.
CF Tony Gwynn 2003 – 2nd Rd 5 130 gm, .248/.300/.298, 4 HR, 50 RBI, 34 SB, 98 R Traded to SD – 5/21/09
RF Corey Hart 2000 – 11th Rd 10 1 All Star Appearance
579 gm, .272/.327/.481, 84 HR, 307 RBI, 67 SB, 297 R
Currently with Org.
SP Yovani Gallardo 2004 – 2nd Rd 6 28-20, 3.38 ERA, 419 K, 182 BB, 408 IP, 1.297 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP Ben Sheets 1999 – 1st Rd (10) 9 4 All Star Appearances
86-83, 3.72 ERA, 1206 K, 313 BB, 1428 IP, 1.201 WHIP
Free Agency – 10/30/08
SP Dana Eveland 2002 – 16th Rd 4 1-4, 6.98 ERA, 55 K, 34 BB, 59.1 IP, 1.904 WHIP Traded to ARI – 11/25/06
SP Manny Parra 2001 – 26th Rd 9 22-24, 5.04 ERA, 334 K, 186 BB, 374.2 IP, 1.652 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP
RP Craig Breslow 2002 – 26th Rd 2 No Major League Appearances with Organization Released – 7/6/04
RP Mitch Stetter 2003 – 16th Rd 7 8-2, 3.99 ERA, 82 K, 51 BB, 79 IP, 1.405 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Zach Braddock 2005 – 18th Rd 5 1-0, 5.40 ERA, 12 K, 3 BB, 8.1 IP, 1.920 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Mike Adams Amateur FA – 2001 5 2-4, 3.54 ERA, 54 K, 26 BB, 68.2 IP, 1.340 WHIP Traded to NYM – 5/26/06
RP Dennis Sarfate 2001 – 9th Rd 6 0-0, 4.32 ERA, 11 K, 4 BB, 8.1 IP, 1.560 WHIP Purchased by HOU – 9/11/07
CL
BN J.J. Hardy (SS) 2001 – 2nd Rd 8 571 gm, .262/.323/.428, 75 HR, 265 RBI, 5 SB, 279 R Traded to MIN – 11/6/09
BN Matt LaPorta (OF) 2007 – 1st Rd (7) 1 No Major League Appearances with Organization Traded to CLE – 7/7/08
BN Mat Gamel (3B) 2005 – 4th Rd 5 63 gm, .246/.340/.431, 5 HR, 20 RBI, SB, 11 R Currently with Org.
BN Cole Gillespie (OF) 2006 – 3rd Rd 3 No Major League Appearances with Organization Traded to ARI – 7/19/09
BN Jonathan Lucroy (C) 2007 – 3rd Rd 3 9 gm, .314/.314/.314, 2 SB, 4 R Currently with Org.
BN Bill Hall (UT) 1998 – 6th Rd 11 831 gm, .253/.312/.446, 102 HR, 367 RBI, 49 SB, 370 R Traded to SEA – 8/19/09

June Amateur Draft

Looking at their drafting results, they have had only 20 first round picks in the last 15 drafts (not including 2010). They haven’t had a ton of success at the Major League level, which has led the Brewers to have 8 top-10 draft picks. Part of the reason that they are higher than some of the previous teams, in spite of being unable to field a full pitching staff, is because of the success already of some of their draft picks. First rounders Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are pretty easily considered to be in the top 5 players at their position in the Major Leagues, with both likely to be All-Stars for the considerable future. Easily the top pitcher on this staff was 1st rounder Ben Sheets, who made 4 All-Star appearances for the team. Even some of the other first round picks who haven’t been amazing, but solid include Rickie Weeks, and they were able to trade fellow first rounder Matt LaPorta to get C.C. Sabathia for their playoff run in 2008.  The Brewers have also done well getting value out of later picks, with Corey Hart out of the 11th round, and Manny Parra out of the 26th round.

International Free Agency

The Brewers don’t appear to have been particularly active to this point in the international market . SS Alcides Escobar was so widely viewed as a top tier prospect coming into the 2010 season that the Twins were able to move previous SS and power hitter J.J. Hardy to the Twins for other needs. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a single player beyond Escobar that the Brewers had found in any of the international markets.

Overall Grade

I think that they have to get a C- also. The high-end talent on this team is clearly better than all of the other teams I’ve reviewed so far. But the problem lies in the fact that I couldn’t even come up with 11 pitchers to fill out a pitching staff that were still active. Throw in that some positions are extremely shallow (catcher comes to mind first), and I think that overall this team is a bit incomplete. There are some top prospects on their way, with 2B Brett Lawrie leading the way. But they’re not there yet, and this team kind of shows it.

Team Preview – Cleveland Indians


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Lou Marson SP 1 Jake Westbrook
1B Russell Branyan SP 2 Justin Masterson
2B Luis Valbuena SP 3 David Huff
3B Jhonny Peralta SP 4 Aaron Laffey
SS Asdrubal Cabrera SP 5 Fausto Carmona
LF Michael Brantley Bullpen
CF Grady Sizemore CL Kerry Wood
RF Shin-Soo Choo RP Chris Perez
DH Travis Hafner RP Tony Sipp
Bench RP Rafael Perez
IF Andy Marte RP Joe Smith
OF Matt LaPorta RP Carlos Carrasco

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
1B Russell Branyan Free Agency C Kelly Shoppach Trade (TAM)

Top Prospects: Hector Rondon (P), Carlos Santana (C), Lonnie Chisenhall (3B), Nick Hagadone (P)

2009 Review

The Indians had recovered from the trade of SP C.C. Sabathia during the 2008 season, and were hopeful for improvement in the 2009 season. However, almost from the beginning things began to go wrong. They started the season with a 5 game losing streak, and never really recovered from it. By the end of April, they were 6 games under .500 and already 3.5 games out of the division lead. The team was decimated by poor performances or injuries from SP Fausto Carmona, CL Kerry Wood, and CF Grady Sizemore. By the time the trade deadline approached, it was clear that the Indians were not going anywhere this season. Midseason trades of reigning Cy Young winner Cliff Lee, 3B Mark DeRosa, and C Victor Martinez signaled the end of the season for all intents and purposes.

The Indians did have a few bright spots. The offense was led by RF Shin-Soo Choo (.300, 20 HR, 21 SB) and SS Asdrubal Cabrera (.308, 17 SB). SP Cliff Lee pitched well prior to his trade (7-9, 3.14), and C Victor Martinez performed well also (.284, 15 HR). Young players like 2B Luis Valbuena, 1B Matt LaPorta, and starters David Huff and Aaron Laffey all showed improvements in their development. The team, unfortunately, finished even worse than they started, posting a 7-21 record in September to limp into a 65-97 record which led to the firing of manager Eric Wedge.

Team Outlook for 2010

The Indians are hopeful for bounce-back performances from SP Fausto Carmona, RP Kerry Wood, DH Travis Hafner, and CF Grady Sizemore. This, in addition to a full season of SP Justin Masterson, give the Indians hope for the future. The only significant free agent signing they made was the recent addition of 1B Russell Branyan. He should bring some power to a lineup that appears to be severely lacking. That signing will most likely limit the playing time of either Matt LaPorta or Michael Brantley.

Their prospects for the 2010 season look pretty bleak. Their rotation, while young, just doesn’t really inspire me to thoughts that they can compete with the pitching staffs in their own division. The offense is developing, but is probably another year away from being a solid group of hitters. There is help coming, in the form of top prospects C Carlos Santana and 3B Lonnie Chisenhall, but they’re not ready yet.

The Indians are hopeful that new manager Manny Acta can help to develop these players, as they look to his experience with the Nationals as a good sign that he can handle the role. Look for the Indians to potentially move anyone not in the long-term plans of the team, including CL Kerry Wood, SP Jake Westbrook, and potentially even DH Travis Hafner if they can find a taker.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

The players with the most fantasy value are CF Grady Sizemore, who I think will rebound closer to his 2008 performance level, RF Shin-Soo Choo, and SS Asdrubal Cabrera. Beyond that, nearly everyone else is a risky player, with some upside. One player I would watch specifically is SP Justin Masterson, as he should perform fairly well given consistent time in the rotation. Another player that could have some fantasy value would be LF Michael Brantley, as he has the potential to steal 30+ bases with a full time job.

Prediction for 2010

The Indians are in full rebuilding mode, and it really shows at the moment. They have put together a good group of young talent, led by 1B Matt LaPorta and SS Asdrubal Cabrera. But they are at least another season away, and hopefully will use 2010 as a developmental season for the many young players they have on the roster.

68-94, 5th in the AL Central