Tag Archives: Melky Cabrera

Season Preview: NL East


Onto the National League, starting with the East division. You can also take a look at my previews of the AL East, AL Central and AL West.

Last Year’s Records
Philadelphia – 97-65
Atlanta – 91-71
Florida – 80-82
New York – 79-83
Washington – 69-93

Notable Additions

Atlanta – Dan Uggla

Florida – Omar Infante, Mike Dunn, Javier Vazquez, John Buck

New York – Brad Emaus, Ronny Paulino

Philadelphia – Cliff Lee

Washington – Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche, Tom Gorzelanny

Notable Losses

Atlanta – Omar Infante, Mike Dunn, Derrek Lee, Melky Cabrera, Takashi Saito

Florida – Dan Uggla, Cameron Maybin, Ronny Paulino

New York – John Maine, Hisanori Takahashi, Pedro Feliciano

Philadelphia – Jayson Werth

Washington – Josh Willingham, Adam Dunn

My Thoughts

Atlanta – This is a playoff team from last year that has upgraded itself at 2B (Uggla), and will look for growth from Jason Heyward in his second season. The team will plug in Freddie Freeman to start at 1B, and hope that he can have even a partially similar season to Heyward’s rookie year. The pitching remains solid, behind Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson, and Jair Jurrjens. The biggest role that seems to be up in the air coming into Spring Training is the closer, with Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters competing for the job.

Florida – As they prepare to move into their new stadium in 2012, this is a young team who should continue to be exciting for the next few seasons. It appears that 3B Matt Dominguez is likely to be the starter this year, despite not playing a single day in the Majors yet. However, the loss of Dan Uggla‘s bat in their lineup could cause a major hole in terms of power and run production. They’re also hoping that Javier Vazquez will rebound with a return to the NL East, and also provide some more veteran leadership with Josh Johnson in the starting rotation. I’m not sold that they stand a great chance of winning the division, but they could surprise some people in a tough division.

New York – With new GM Sandy Alderson on board, 2011 is going to be a partial rebuilding season. They did not make any substantial changes to their roster, and will look to get bounceback seasons from players like Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes instead. Ace Johan Santana is expected to be out until midseason, and the team is going to be looking for nice performances from Chris Young and Chris Capuano.

Philadelphia – The Phillies went out and made what was probably the biggest surprise move of the offseason, inking Cliff Lee to a 5 year, $120 million contract. With their four aces in the starting rotation, they definitely look like the team to beat in the NL East. However, the injuries are already starting to pile up, as Chase Utley has yet to play in Spring Training, and potential right fielder Domonic Brown will miss 3-6 weeks after having hand surgery. If this team can stay healthy, I don’t think there’s a team in the NL that can compete with them. But that is a gigantic if.

Washington – The Nationals made one of the biggest splashes in the free agent market, and it was completely unexpected. Jayson Werth signed a 7 year contract with the team, and will play right field for the first few years of the contract. The team is still not ready to compete, but they will look for continued growth from Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa. Jordan Zimmermann will also look to have an injury free campaign, and while they will miss Stephen Strasburg this season, he should be back in 2012 from his injuries.

Overall Thoughts

The NL East really comes down to the two teams at the top of the pile. The Braves and Phillies really seem like they will be the only teams that are likely to win the division or the Wild Card. The Mets and Nationals just simply aren’t ready, and I don’t believe that the Marlins are ready to compete quite yet either.  Here’s my predicted order of finish:

1. Philadelphia
2. Atlanta
3. Florida
4. Washington
5. New York

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: #6 – New York Yankees


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

Team #6: New York Yankees

General Managers(since 1998)

Gene Michael (1994-1995): 149-108
Bob Watson (1996-1997): 188-136
Brian Cashman (1998-Current): 1177-763

Team Performance

Playoffs Division Finish
WC League Playoff App 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Last
5 7 15 12 3 1 0 0

All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C Jorge Posada 1990 – 24th Rd 20 5 All Star Appearances, 5 Silver Sluggers
1693 gm, .277/.378/.481, 260 HR, 1015 RBI
Currently with Org.
1B Nick Johnson 1996 – 3rd Rd 7+1 272 gm, .249/.378/.414, 33 HR, 121 RBI Currently with Org.
2B Robinson Cano
Int’l FA – 2001 9 2 All Star Appearances, 1 Silver Slugger, 869 gm, .308/.346/.490, 113 HR, 487 RBI, 19 SB Currently with Org.
3B Mike Lowell 1995 – 20th Rd 3 8 gm, .267/.267/.267 Traded to FLA – 2/1/99
SS Derek Jeter 1992 -1st Rd (6) 18 1996 AL Rookie of the Year, 11 All Star Appearances, 3 Silver Sluggers, 3 Gold Gloves
2271 gm, .314/.385/.454, 234 HR, 1128 RBI, 320 SB
Currently with Org.
LF Alfonso Soriano Purchased from Japan – 1998 5 2 All Star Appearances, 1 Silver Slugger
501 gm, .284/.322/.502, 98 HR, 270 RBI, 121 SB
Traded to TEX – 2/16/04
CF Austin Jackson 2005 – 8th Rd 4 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to DET – 12/8/09
RF Brett Gardner
2005 – 3rd Rd 5 278 gm, .271/.361/.368, 8 HR, 82 RBI, 79 SB Currently with Org.
DH Hideki Matsui Int’l FA – 2002 7 2 All Star Appearances
916 gm, .292/.370/.482, 140 HR, 597 RBI
Left via Free Agency – 11/9/09
SP Andy Pettitte 1990 – 22nd Rd 17 3 All Star Appearances
203-111, 3.97 ERA, 2522.1 IP, 1812 K, 817 BB
Currently with Org.
SP Phil Hughes
2004 – 1st Rd (23) 6 1 All Star Appearance
29-16, 4.16 ERA, 342 IP, 300 K, 120 BB
Currently with Org.
SP Ian Kennedy 2006 – 1st Rd (21) 3 1-4, 6.03 ERA, 59.2 IP, 43 K, 37 BB Traded to ARI – 12/8/09
SP Daniel McCutchen
2006 – 13th Rd 2 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to PIT – 7/26/08
SP Chien-Ming Wang
Int’l FA – 2000 9 55-26, 4.16 ERA, 670.2 IP, 310 K, 197 BB Non-Tendered 12/12/09
RP Phil Coke 2002 – 26th Rd 7 5-3, 3.74 ERA, 131 IP, 110 K, 43 BB Traded to DET – 12/8/09
RP Tyler Clippard 2003 – 9th Rd 4 3-1, 6.33 ERA, 27 IP, 18 K, 17 BB Traded to WAS – 12/4/07
RP David Robertson 2006 – 17th Rd 4 8-5, 4.07 ERA, 121.2 IP, 157 K, 65 BB Currently with Org.
RP Joba Chamberlain 2006 – 1st Rd (41) 4 17-13, 3.80 ERA, 3 SV, 340.2 IP, 345 K, 141 BB Currently with Org.
RP Jose Contreras Int’l FA – 2003 2 15-7, 4.64 ERA, 166.2 IP, 154 K, 72 BB Traded to CHW – 7/31/04
CL Mariano Rivera Int’l FA – 1990 20 11 All Star Appearances
74-54, 2.20 ERA, 555 SV, 1140.2 IP, 1047 K, 265 BB
Currently with Org.
BN Francisco Cervelli
Int’l FA – 2003 7 125 gm, .263/.318/.331, HR, 43 RBI Currently with Org.
BN Ramiro Pena Int’l FA – 2005 5 144 gm., .256/.288/.312, HR, 28 RBI, 10 SB Currently with Org.
BN Melky Cabrera Int’l FA – 2001 8 569 gm, .269/.331/.385, 36 HR, 228 RBI, 44 SB Traded to ATL – 12/22/09
BN Shelley Duncan 2001 – 2nd Rd 8 68 gm, .219/.290/.411, 8 HR, 24 RBI Left via Free Agency – 11/25/09
BN Marcus Thames
1996 – 30th Rd 6+1 71 gm, .298/.369/.539, 12 HR, 32 RBI Currently with Org.

June Amateur Draft

The Yankees have really not done very much in the draft, and there’s probably two main reasons for that: 1) They generally have picks later in the round due to all this winning, and 2) They’ve had a tendency to sign Type-A free agents and lose their draft picks as compensation. That said, they still have found some very good players through the draft. Clearly the best one has to be Derek Jeter, who will end up in the Hall of Fame one day. Of late, they’ve gotten solid performance or value out of recent 1st rounders Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Ian Kennedy. Jorge Posada was someone who I thought was an international free agent, but was actually drafted and has clearly been elite at times as well.

International Free Agency

The Yankees have done their best work in the international free agent market, with so many players found out of the Dominican Republic and of course Japan as well. So many of them have either turned into excellent players themselves (Rivera, Matsui, Cano), or have been turned into key players at the time (Contreras, Soriano, Cabrera). Clearly, not all of their work in this market has been amazing (See Igawa, Kei), but with the amount that they spend on payroll they clearly have the ability to absorb any issues.

Overall Grade

A. The Yankees receive my first grade of A, mostly because the team has managed to find homegrown players for nearly every position and part of the rotation. That said,  I think they are behind the rest of the teams left because they simply have the ability to absorb such large contracts and can literally outbid other teams if they want a player bad enough. I do think it has been interesting to watch over the past few seasons as the team has really made a concerted effort to not just trade away all their prospects for veterans.

Team Preview – Atlanta Braves


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Brian McCann SP 1 Tommy Hanson
1B Troy Glaus SP 2 Derek Lowe
2B Martin Prado SP 3 Tim Hudson
3B Chipper Jones SP 4 Jair Jurrjens
SS Yunel Escobar SP 5 Kenshin Kawakami
LF Melky Cabrera Bullpen
CF Nate McLouth CL Billy Wagner
RF Matt Diaz RP Takashi Saito
Bench RP Peter Moylan
OF Erik Hinske RP Kris Medlen
IF Omar Infante RP Eric O’Flaherty

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
LF Melky Cabrera Trade (NYY) SP Javier Vazquez Trade (NYY)
1B Troy Glaus Free Agency RP Rafael Soriano Trade (TAM)
RP Billy Wagner Free Agency RP Mike Gonzalez Free Agency

Top Prospects: Jason Heyward (OF), Freddie Freeman (1B), Arodys Vizcaino (P)

2009 Review

The Braves finished 3rd in the NL East last season, 7 games back of the NL Champion Phillies. The Braves waited to bring up top prospect Tommy Hanson until early June, and there has been discussion that they might have made the playoffs had they started the season with him in the rotation. The pitching rotation was led by Hanson (11-4, 2.89 ERA, 116 strikeouts in 127 innings) and offseason acquisition Javier Vazquez (15-10, 2.87, 238 strikeouts in 219 innings). The bullpen was finished by flame-throwing relievers, Mike Gonzalez (10 sv, 2.42 ERA) and Rafael Soriano (27 sv, 2.97 ERA).

The Braves helped to shore up their outfield midseason with the acquisition of CF Nate McLouth from the Pirates. They also surprised a lot of people by moving RF Jeff Francouer midseason to the division rival Mets for OF Ryan Church. McLouth provided a .257 batting average, 11 HR and 12 SB in the half-season with the Braves. The lineup was also led by veteran Brian McCann (.281, 21 HR), and late season acquisition Adam LaRoche (.325, 12 HR, 40 RBI in 57 games).

Team Outlook for 2010

The Braves were one of the few teams that entered the offseason with an abundance of starting pitching.  Having signed Tim Hudson to an extension, they now had 6 starters for 5 spots. As a result of this, they traded top starter Javier Vazquez to the Yankees for CF Melky Cabrera and prospects. The team still comes into 2010 with an excellent rotation from top to bottom. Free agent signees Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito will help to stabilize the back end of the bullpen following the losses of Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez to trade and free agency, respectively.

The biggest story out of Atlanta this spring has to be the emergence of top prospect RF Jason Heyward. Heyward, considered by many to be the top prospect in baseball right now, is threatening to force the Braves to keep him up and give him the starting RF job on Opening Day. He’s only played 3 games above AA level, but should be patrolling RF for the Braves for a long time. He posted a .323./.408/.555 split line across 3 levels last year. I wrote about him a bit more in depth earlier this year.

The key for the Braves is going to be on the offensive side. They will need improved production from 3B Chipper Jones, and a return to form by free agent signee Troy Glaus. I think that they can compete for the division or the Wild Card if they can get enough offense and run-support for these solid pitchers.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

The top fantasy players on the Braves would have to include C Brian McCann and SP Tommy Hanson. As always, closers provide value as well, and I think that we could see a return to form from Billy Wagner. In deeper leagues, OF Jason Heyward, SP Tim Hudson, and SS Yunel Escobar can all provide differing levels of value.

Prediction for 2010

The Braves did well this offseason with some of their moves (Wagner, Glaus, Saito), but in my opinion, they simply are not likely to get the production that they will need out of their offense to help them compete with the class of the division. I think that if Heyward starts the season patrolling RF, it could potentially be enough to get them into the front of the Wild Card chase.

83-79, 3rd in the NL East

Prospect Review – Jason Heyward – OF – ATL


Baseball Reference.Com Profile
Fangraphs Profile

The Basics
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
How Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round (#14 overall) of the 2007 amateur draft by the Atlanta Braves
Age: 20

Statistics

2008 – Rome (Sally League – Braves Single A) – 120 games

  • .323/.388/.483
  • 11 homeruns, 52 RBI, 15 stolen bases
  • 49 walks, 74 strikeouts

2008 – Myrtle Beach (Carolina League – Braves High-A) – 7 games

  • .182/.240/.273
  • 4 RBI
  • 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

2008 Totals (2 levels – 127 games)

  • .316/.381/.473
  • 11 homeruns, 56 RBI, 15 stolen bases
  • 51 walks, 78 strikeouts

2009 – Myrtle Beach (Carolina League – Braves High-A) – 49 games

  • .296/.369/.519
  • 10 homeruns, 31 RBI, 4 stolen bases
  • 21 walks, 30 strikeouts

2009 – Mississippi (Southern League – Braves AA) – 47 games

  • .352/.446/.611
  • 7 homeruns, 30 RBI, 5 stolen bases
  • 28 walks, 19 strikeouts

2009 – Gwinnett (International League – Braves AAA) – 3 games

  • .364/.462/.364
  • 2 RBI, 1 stolen base
  • 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

2009 Totals (3 levels – 99 games)

  • .323/.408/.555
  • 17 homeruns, 63 RBI, 10 stolen bases
  • 51 walks, 51 strikeouts

Rankings
Baseball America – #1 (ATL – 2010)
Baseball Prospectus – #1 (ATL – 2009) – 5 star
Project Prospect – #1 (Hitters – 9/2009), #1 (Corner Outfielders – 11/2009)
John Sickels – #1 (ATL – 2010) – A

Analysis

Heyward burst onto the scene following his excellent 2008 season, flashing all 5 tools against decent competition while only 18 years old. He played in only 99 games during the 2009 season due to a hip flexor injury, but made excellent use of the games he did play in. He missed the majority of the month of June, but was promoted to AA Mississippi a couple of weeks after his return. He didn’t appear to miss a beat, posting a .352/.446/.611 line while there, and earning himself a late season promotion to AAA Gwinnett.

Heyward has shown against tough competition that he can hit for average, power, and can run as well. He profiles as a corner outfielder long term, but I imagine that he could potentially center field in a pinch as well. Heyward’s minor league progression reminds me a lot of the path that Justin Upton took to the Majors. Upton dominated in the Southern League at age 19, and started the following season with AAA Tucson. Upton also got a call-up midseason 2008, and has never looked back. I do believe that Heyward, when he is called up, could possibly have similar struggles to Upton’s first full season. Heyward’s talent will eventually lead him to long-term success in the Majors.

Heyward has pretty much become the consensus top position player prospect in the Minors, and is almost always in the top 2 of nearly every prospect list that includes both position players and pitchers. The Braves have done well to not rush him along too much, and should definitely see the fruits of their labor very shortly. And they’re really going to enjoy it. I can see Heyward developing with age into a potential 30-30 player on a yearly basis, and posting a high average along with it.

Outlook

Heyward will most likely start the 2010 season at AAA Gwinnett, but if he does well in the early part of the season, could see a mid-season call-up. Even though he will start the season as a 20 year old in AAA, I fully expect him to dominate as he has at previous levels, and get that call by the All-Star Break. The Braves have 2 of their outfield spots filled with CF Nate McLouth and LF Melky Cabrera, and a bit of a hole in RF. Matt Diaz will be called upon most likely to fill that spot until Heyward is ready. Once he is, I expect him to stay there a long time.

Projection for 2010

AAA: .330/.410/.500, 10 homeruns, 10 stolen bases (about 60 games)
Majors: .285/.370/.470, 6 homeruns, 10 stolen bases (about 80 games)

Expected ETA

2010. No later than mid-July.

Tomorrow’s Prospect up for Review: Starlin Castro (SS) of the Chicago Cubs

Trade Review – NYY/ATL


New York Yankees receive SP Javier Vazquez and RP Boone Logan
Atlanta Braves receive CF Melky Cabrera, RP Mike Dunn, and P Arodys Vizcaino

The Yankees
The Yankees did pretty well here in my opinion. Vazquez is coming off of what could be his best year ever, where he posted a 15-10 record with a 2.87 ERA (2.77 FIP), 238 strikeouts, and a solid .297 BABIP. While it would appear that he could potentially see a severe regression due to moving from the Braves’ home field to the Yankees, I am confident based on his groundball ratio that he will not see a huge change in stats.

2004 (with the Yankees) GB/FB ratio: 0.88
2009 (with the Braves) GB/FB ratio: 1.20

I believe that if he can maintain that groundball ratio from 2009, he should be a solid #2-3 starter for the Yankees. Which will be excellent since he’s really slotting in as the #4 starter behind Sabathia, Burnett, and Pettitte. I am inclined to believe that this move allows the Yankees to keep Philip Hughes in the bullpen where he really excelled last year. This also makes it really likely that the Yankees are going to keep Nick Swisher in the outfield, with Brett Gardner playing the other corner outfield spot. Adding Logan just gives them another arm that they can mix and match into the back end of their bullpen as well.

The Braves
The Braves had a definite excess of starting pitching, with Lowe, Hudson, Hanson, Jurrjens, and Kawakami all under contract for 2010. Moving Vazquez not only saves them some money (about $11.5 Million owed to him), but also acquires a solid young outfielder, a useful reliever in Mike Dunn (99 K in 73 IP in AAA last season), and a very young high-potential arm in Vizcaino (52 K in 42 IP at Staten Island last season).

Overall Review
This is one of those trades that looks like it really helps out both teams. The Braves move one of their excess starting pitchers for a useful outfielder and two good arms. The Yankees move one of their few excesses (corner outfielder type), and turned him into one of the best pitchers currently. And they only need him to be a 4th starter really.

Yankees win now, Braves win long-term