Tag Archives: Orlando Cabrera

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 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 – Team #13: Washington Nationals


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

Team #13: Washington Nationals (Montreal Expos)

General Managers(since 1994)

Kevin Malone (1994-1995): 140-118
Jim Beattie (1996-2001): 434-538
Omar Minaya (2002-2004): 233-253
Jim Bowden (2005-2008): 287-282
Mike Rizzo (2009-Current): 59-103

Team Performance

Playoffs Division Finish
WC League Playoff App 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
0 0 0 1 2 0 6 7

All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C Brian Schneider 1995 – 5th Rd 12 757 gm, .252/.323/.377, 47 HR, 294 RBI Traded to NYM – 11/30/07
1B Geoff Blum 1994 – 7th Rd 7 317 gm, .254/.323/.409, 28 HR, 113 RBI, 11 SB Traded to HOU – 3/12/02
2B Brandon Phillips
1999 – 2nd Rd 3 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to CLE – 6/27/02
3B Ryan Zimmerman 2005 – 1st Rd (4) 5 1 All Star Appearance, 1 Gold Glove, 1 Silver Slugger
693 gm, .286/.351/.483, 108 HR, 416 RBI, 20 SB
Currently with Org.
SS Orlando Cabrera Int’l FA – 1993 11 1 Gold Glove
904 gm, .267/.315/.405, 66 HR, 381 RBI, 93 SB
Traded to BOS – 7/31/04
LF Jason Bay 2000 – 22nd Rd 2 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to NYM – 3/24/02
CF Grady Sizemore 2000 – 3rd Rd 2 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to CLE – 6/27/02
RF Vladimir Guerrero
Int’l FA – 1993 10 4 All Star Appearances, 3 Silver Sluggers
1004 gm, .323/.390/.588, 234 HR, 702 RBI, 123 SB
Left via FA – 10/27/03
DH Milton Bradley 1996 – 2nd Rd 5 109 gm, .222/.288/.332, 3 HR, 34 RBI, 9 SB Traded to CLE – 7/31/01
SP Cliff Lee 2000 – 4th Rd 2 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to CLE – 6/27/02
SP Javier Vazquez 1994 – 5th Rd 9 64-68, 4.16 ERA, 1229.1 IP, 1076 K, 331 BB, 1.274 WHIP Traded to NYY – 12/16/03
SP Stephen Strasburg 2009 – 1st Rd (1) 1 5-2, 2.32 ERA, 75 K, 15 BB, 1.067 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP John Lannan 2005 – 11th Rd 5 22-35, 4.19 ERA, 498 IP, 240 K, 192 BB, 1.434 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP Armando Galarraga Int’l FA – 1998 7 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to TEX – 12/8/05
RP Craig Stammen 2005 – 12th Rd 5 6-11, 5.29 ERA, 199 IP, 97 K, 51 BB, 1.372 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Miguel Batista Int’l FA – 1988 3+1 12-15, 4.54 ERA, 333 IP, 232 K, 153 BB, 1.523 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Ross Detwiler 2007 – 1st Rd (6) 3 1-7, 4.71 ERA, 48 K, 36 BB, 1.568 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Marco Estrada 2005 – 6th Rd 4 0-1, 7.20 ERA, 20 IP, 19 K, 9 BB, 1.600 WHIP Selected by MIL – 2/3/10
RP Collin Balester 2004 – 4th Rd 6 4-11, 5.85 ERA, 112.1 IP, 72 K, 42 BB, 1.513 WHIP Currently with Org.
CL Drew Storen 2009 – 1st Rd (10) 1 2-2, 2.73 ERA, 29.2 IP, 26 K, 14 BB, 1.281 WHIP Currently with Org.
BN Mark Grudzielanek 1991 – 11th Rd 7 1 All Star Appearance
492 gm, .281/.320/.378, 19 HR, 161 RBI, 77 SB
Traded to LAD – 7/31/98
BN Roger Bernadina Int’l FA – 2001 9 102 gm, .255/.317/.374, 6 HR, 29 RBI, 12 SB Currently with Org.
BN Jamey Carroll 1996 – 14th Rd 9 336 gm, .269/.344/.338, 2 HR, 54 RBI, 14 SB Purchased by COL – 2/11/06
BN Wilson Valdez Int’l FA – 1997 5 No Major League Appearances with Org. Selected by FLA – 3/29/02
BN Ian Desmond 2004 – 3rd Rd 6 115 gm, .257/.296/.418, 10 HR, 54 RBI, 10 SB Currently with Org.

June Amateur Draft

For as bad as this team has been overall in the last 15 years, you would think that their first round picks would have developed a lot better. Stephen Strasburg gives a lot of hope for the organization, and Bryce Harper also will be there eventually. But the draft has been a lot of what could have been in Montreal if the ownership and the general managers could have held onto allow the team develop instead. Look at the list of players who made All Star teams for other teams: Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, Milton Bradley, Jason Bay, Brandon Phillips. This is a team that should have more to show for its draft than it does.

International Free Agency

The Nationals have done a lot better in international free agency than a lot of the other teams have done so far. Clearly, the cream of this crop has been Vladimir Guerrero. If only they had been under new ownership when he became eligible to be a free agent…. But the Nationals also had Orlando Cabrera and Miguel Batista, who have both had success in the Majors. While there aren’t a lot of players on this list who came this way, the quality is what makes me believe it is a better class.

Overall Grade

B. This is an organization that has definitely had some talent go through. This was one of the first teams where I was able to build a starting roster with a substantial amount of All-Stars, albeit not with the Nationals. The only weaknesses in the starting lineup to me were at C and 1B, but as good as the rest of the lineup is more than made up for it. The starting rotation is anchored by a pair of aces (Lee, Vazquez) and an ace-in-waiting with Strasburg. The only real weakness on the pitching side to me is the bullpen, which is mostly unproven or very raw.

Trade Retrospective – Nomar Garciaparra


On July 31, 2004, as a part of a massive 4 team trade, the following happened:

Chicago Cubs acquired SS Nomar Garciaparra and OF Matt Murton
Minnesota Twins acquired minor leaguer Justin Jones
Boston Red Sox acquired 1B Doug Mientkiewicz and SS Orlando Cabrera
Montreal Expos acquired SS Alex Gonzalez and minor leaguers Francis Beltran and Brendan Harris

The Background

The Red Sox had previously tried to move Garciaparra after nearly acquiring Alex Rodriguez from the Rangers, so it wasn’t really a huge surprise that he might get moved during the 2004 season. He was due to be a free agent after the 2004 season, and the Sox were hoping to improve their team overall.

The Cubs were 56-48 at the trade deadline, and over 10 games out of first place. They were, however, in the wild card race, being only 2 games back of that at the time. They had been running the offensive (in a bad way) shortstop Ramon Martinez out there every day, and clearly were in need of an upgrade.

The Twins were looking to cut salary, and had a top prospect ready to take over the first base job in Justin Morneau.

The Expos appear to have been looking for some return on free agent to be Orlando Cabrera. There had been concerns about what would happen to the team following the season. From a CBC article then:

Montreal, which occupies the National League East basement, is rumoured to be on the move to several cities, including Washington, Northern Virginia, Las Vegas, Norfolk, Va., Portland, Ore., and Monterey, Mexico.

The Moving Pieces

In Boston, Nomaah was gone, but the Red Sox had found an able replacement in free agent to be Orlando Cabrera, and had a solid backup first baseman in Dougie Baseball. GM Theo Epstein had this to say about the trade at the time:

“We lost a great player in Nomar Garciaparra, but we’ve made our club more functional,” Epstein said. “We weren’t going to win a World Series with our defense.”

In Chicago, Nomaah had arrived with the hopes that the Cubs would be able to return to the playoffs for a second straight season, something that they had not done in a very long time. From GM Jim Hendry (via SI.com article):

“I think he will bring a ton to the table and a presence on the field and off,” Hendry said. “You never go to work thinking he’s going to be available.”

The Twins got the salary relief that they were looking for, and were able to plug in Morneau as the everyday first baseman. Strangely, the Twins were actually hosting the Red Sox on the day of the trade, and Mientkiewicz actually played against the Twins in that game. From Mientkiewicz (via SI.com article):

“It’s a little awkward right now, but I think it’s better for everyone,” he said. “The situation over there was a rough one. They gave me an opportunity in the big leagues, and what the Twins are all about is they give the young guys chances.”

The Expos were able to get 3 solid, if not amazing players or prospects in return for Cabrera.

What Happened Next

The Red Sox, helped by acquisitions Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz among many others, won the World Championship in 2004 without the services of Nomar Garciaparra. In Chicago, the Cubs ended up with an 89-73 record, good for only 3rd place in the NL Central and out of the playoff picture. The Twins

The Net Moves

Red Sox – First Level

  • Orlando Cabrera hit .294/.320/.465 with 6 homeruns for the Red Sox, and left via free agency after the season. He netted the Red Sox two compensation draft picks, which they used rather well: Jacoby Ellsbury was drafted with the first pick, and Jed Lowrie with the other.
  • Doug Mientkiewicz hit .215/.286/.318 with 1 homerun and caught the final out of the World Series. He was traded on 1/27/2005 to the Mets for minor leaguer Ian Bladergroen.

Twins – First Level

  • Justin Jones was a reasonable prospect for the Twins, in spite of only being 19 years old when he was acquired. He had been the #56 prospect according to Baseball America, and posted his best season with the Twins in 2005, going 7-3 with a 3.01 ERA at High-A. He was no longer with the organization after the 2006 season, spending 3 seasons with the Nationals. It appears he retired after the 2009 season.

Cubs -  First Level

  • Nomar Garciaparra hit .297/.364/.455 with 4 homeruns and 20 runs batted in for the Cubs in 2004, and resigned with the team as a free agent after the season for a 1 year contract. In 2005, he hit .283/.320/.452 with 9 homeruns and 30 runs batted in over 62 games due to injuries. He left via free agency, and no compensation was received for him.
  • Matt Murton spent from 2005 to 2008 with the Cubs, posting a .294/.362/.448 line with 28 homeruns and 104 runs batted in over 308 games. He was one of the players included in a trade that netted the Cubs pitchers Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin from the Athletics.

Expos/Nationals – First Level

  • Alex Gonzalez was only with the Expos for 35 games, posting a .241/.289/.383 line before being traded as a part of a conditional deal to the Padres. It doesn’t appear that any compensation or players was received for Gonzalez.
  • Francis Beltran made 11 appearances for the Expos in 2004, with a 7.53 ERA in 14 1/3 innings pitched. He missed the 2005 season due to injury, and spent the 2006 season in the minors for the Nationals. He left via free agency after the 2006 season.
  • Brendan Harris appeared in 41 games from 2004 to 2006 with the Expos/Nationals as a bench player. He was included in the trade that netted the Nationals OF Austin Kearns, IF Felipe Lopez, and P Ryan Wagner from the Reds.

Red Sox – Second Level

  • Jacoby Ellsbury is currently with the organization, but still recovering from broken ribs this season. To date, he has hit. 295/.347/.412 with 20 homeruns, 128 runs batted in, and 131 stolen bases in just over 3 seasons. He has lead the American League in steals twice, with 50 and 70 respectively.
  • Jed Lowrie is also with the Red Sox still, but has not had nearly the success that Ellsbury has. In 116 games over 3 seasons, he has hit .236/.316/.370, and is essentially viewed as a bench/role player for the Red Sox at this point. A change of scenery might be good for him, as there is no place on the field for him to play with SS Marco Scutaro and 2B Dustin Pedroia manning the middle infield spots long term.
  • Ian Bladergroen spent 2005 and 2006 with the Red Sox in the minors, but was in independent ball from then onward.

Cubs – Second Level

  • Rich Harden pitched well down the stretch of the 2008 season, going 5-1 with a 1.77 ERA and 89 strikeouts over 71 innings. He was also with the Cubs in 2009, but injuries derailed parts of both seasons for him, as he went 9-9 with a 4.09 ERA and 171 strikeouts in 141 innings. He left after the 2009 season via free agency, and signed with the Texas Rangers. No free agent compensation draft picks were received.
  • Chad Gaudin went 4-2 with a 6.26 ERA in 24 relief appearances for the Cubs down the stretch, and was not tendered a contract after the season.

Expos/Nationals – Second Level

  • Austin Kearns played for the Nationals through the 2009 season, and posted a .242/.346/.376 line with 34 homeruns and 159 runs batted in over 390 games. He was not tendered a contract after the 2009 season, and became a free agent.
  • Felipe Lopez was with the team through the trade deadline in 2008. He hit .250/.320/.344 with 49 steals in his 3 seasons there. He was released on July 31, 2008 by the Nationals.
  • Ryan Wagner was with the Nationals through the 2008 season, posting a 3-5 record with a 5.05 ERA in 40 appearances. He is currently out of organized baseball.

Overall Reactions

This is one of those trades that is extremely hard to dissect. Clearly, the Red Sox did well with these acquisitions as they were able to win the 2004 World Series. Throw in the fact that they used one of the draft picks they received for Cabrera to draft potential All-Star Jacoby Ellsbury also helps out a lot with them potentially winning the trade. The Cubs didn’t get quite what they needed, but did get solid production from Nomar when he was healthy, and also ended up netting them Rich Harden for 1 1/2 seasons by moving the other player in the deal, Matt Murton. The Twins, sadly, look like they did the worst in the trade, but accomplished what they wanted to in clearing a spot for prospect Justin Morneau.  Even the Expos did alright with this trade as they used one of the pieces in that trade to help facilitate the theft of Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez from the Reds. Overall, I would rank them in this order: Red Sox, Expos, Cubs, Twins. But I think that all the teams ended up accomplishing what their goals were for this trade.

Fun with Old Copies of BA’s Almanac (2003 edition) – Part 1


A couple of weeks ago, I was at a used book sale, and there were a couple of copies of old Baseball America Almanacs available. I picked them up, as I thought it would bring some interesting insights now that it’s been a few years since they were published. I’ll be writing a few posts on and off during the remainder of the season, with plans to cover both this (2003) edition as well as the 2008 edition as well.

The 2003 edition follows after the end of the 2002 season. The Almanac starts out with a recap of the top stories of the 2002 season:

Contraction

After the 2001 season, Commissioner Bud Selig mentioned that he was a proponent of the idea of contracting two of the organizations, as neither team appeared to be economically viable based on their current market conditions. The two teams: The Montreal Expos and the Minnesota Twins. I can distinctly remember at the time being extremely interested in how they would go about doing this: How would they distribute the players currently under contract with these teams, would they become free agents as well or would there be some version of a contraction draft, similar in nature to an expansion draft. Some of the players who were under team control who could very well have been available in such a contraction draft:

  • Torii Hunter, Joe Mauer, A.J. Pierzynski, Brad Radke and Johan Santana from the Twins
  • Vladimir Guerrero, Orlando Cabrera, Javier Vazquez, Grady Sizemore, Milton Bradley, and Cliff Lee from the Expos

This clearly would have also modified the formatting of the leagues themselves as well, as someone would have had to go to one of the leagues to make both of them have even numbers of teams. I think it is interesting to look at, much in the same manner that it would be interesting to see what happened if MLB were to expand to 32 or more teams as well.

The players’ union was clearly not for this idea, as it essentially amounted to losing at minimum 50 jobs for union members. Thankfully for all parties involved, this idea was shelved with the completion of the next item.

If you look at the baseball landscape now, it clearly would have been a lot different had the Twins and Expos been eliminated. The first thing that pops into my mind is just how much of a viable entity the Twins have become in the Twin Cities. Part of this has also been helped by the fact that ownership changed from Carl Pohlad to his son Jim. The newly opened Target Field appears to be another stunning example of a great ballpark in a downtown area.

Labor Strife and Something Different

The biggest story surrounding the 2002 season, which to be honest with you, I had forgotten had even happened, was the expiration of the previous labor agreement on November 7, 2001, and the potential for a lockout or a strike that could result from this. It clearly did not bode well for the parties involved, as they had not been able to come to an agreement for a labor contract without some version of a work stoppage in the past.

Clearly, this much remains true: The fact that they had set a lockout date (August 30th, before the Cubs-Cardinals day game) shows us just how close it really came to being another work stoppage, and potentially more irreparable harm done to the game. The sides were able to come to an agreement 3 hours before the deadline set by the players.

The impact to me, is that it proved to both the owners and the players that their differences were not such that they could not be met together and solved together. So much so that the 2006 labor negotiations came off without any particularly concrete mentions of work stoppages. Long term, this particular contract really has helped to solidify the labor peace for years to come.

Baseball Games Can End in Ties Apparently

Talk about a disappointing finish. No one ever really thought that the All-Star game was particularly important, and knew that nearly everyone was just showing up for a fun three days, see their favorite players, and go back to the business of winning games. But they clearly ran into a bit of a problem in 2002, when both teams ran out of pitchers after going 11 innings in the All Star Game and commissioner Bud Selig declaring the game a tie and ending it there.

Ugh. What a mess this one created. We have the “Now it counts” campaign, which to me has done very little for the All-Star game’s popularity. The point of the game originally was to showcase the stars of the season, but now it gives the winning league the home field advantage in the World Series. I think it honestly should have stayed as an exhibition, allowing it to be a nice break in the season for all the parties involved. Instead, it’s now become extremely important to win this game. However, watching Tuesday’s All Star game it still seems like the managers are less concerned about winning than MLB would hope. To me, if I am trying to win that game no matter what, I don’t let David Ortiz run the bases after getting on in the bottom of the 9th. There’s no guarantee that Alex Rodriguez would have made it in time to second base, but clearly he’s a better baserunner at this point than David Ortiz.

The Passing of Legends of the Game, and One Gone Too Soon

2002 saw two titans of the game pass on unfortunately. For St. Louis fans, it was almost too much to bear when iconic broadcaster Jack Buck passed away on June 18th. You can see what, to me, was one of his greatest moments ever, when he spoke to Cardinals fans when games resumed after September 11th. Sadly for the Cardinals, the week just continued to get worse, as hours before their game against the Cubs 4 days later, it was discovered that 33 year old starting pitcher Darryl Kile had passed away in his sleep from a blocked coronary artery. The Cardinals were still able to win the NL Central division with a 97-65 record, and lost to the Giants in the NLCS.

The other major passing in 2002 was of the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams. The story that ensued afterward became an embarrassment to everyone involved, as the members of the Williams family disputed Ted’s final wishes. The argument stemmed around whether or not he had made a viable determination that he wanted to be cryogenically frozen or whether he was to be cremated and scatter his ashes. Thankfully, the story sort of went away by the end of the year.

MLB, Owner of the Montreal Expos

In an extremely unusual twist of fate, MLB stepped in in early February to purchase the Montreal Expos from their previous owner, Jeffrey Loria, so that he could purchase the Florida Marlins from their current owner, John Henry, so that Henry could purchase the Boston Red Sox. It became a bit of a contentious point as the other 29 teams essentially became the part owners of the Expos, and it was widely wondered exactly how the team would be allowed to operate, including signing free agents, trading players, and managed. MLB placed Omar Minaya in the GM’s office, and Frank Robinson as the field manager. Surprisingly, the team actually performed very well in 2002, to the point where they actually acquired ace starting pitcher Bartolo Colon from the Indians at the trade deadline. However, the team fell out of contention, finishing with a bery respectable 83-79 record but stunting the growth of the franchise by moving future franchise players Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee, and Grady Sizemore to the Indians to acquire Colon.

As I am sure it is with any season, the 2002 season had its own share of major stories. Anyone remember any other specific stories from the 2002 season? Post them in the comments below.

The next post from this series will be early next week, and will look at BA’s 2002 Minor League All-Star Teams.

Team Preview – Cincinnati Reds


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Ramon Hernandez SP 1 Aaron Harang
1B Joey Votto SP 2 Bronson Arroyo
2B Brandon Phillips SP 3 Johnny Cueto
3B Scott Rolen SP 4 Homer Bailey
SS Orlando Cabrera SP 5 Matt Maloney
LF Chris Dickerson Bullpen
CF Drew Stubbs CL Francisco Cordero
RF Jay Bruce RP Nick Masset
Bench RP Arthur Rhodes
IF Aaron Miles RP Jared Burton
OF Jonny Gomes RP Micah Owings

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
SP Aroldis Chapman Free Agency CF Willy Taveras Trade (OAK)
SS Orlando Cabrera Free Agency IF Adam Rosales Trade (OAK)

Top Prospects: Aroldis Chapman (P), Yonder Alonso (1B), Todd Frazier (IF), Mike Leake (P)

2009 Review

The Reds finished up 2009 with a 78-84 record, and although the season didn’t end with a winning record, they still had some definite bright spots. 1B Joey Votto posted a .322 batting average with 25 HR and 84 RBI, despite missing almost 30 games due to depression. 2B Brandon Phillips quietly posted another 20-20 season. The rotation was led by Bronson Arroyo (15-13, 3.84 ERA), although there was a lot of inconsistency behind him. Closer Francisco Cordero (39 sv, 2.16 ERA) also had a solid season.

Team Outlook for 2010

The Reds look much improved (even though they didn’t really make too many moves), and I think have the potential to compete in the NL Central in 2010. Their rotation looks good, and I think it could keep them in the race longer if they can get a little bit lucky as well. For this to happen, they need Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey to really start to live up to their potential. I liked the signing of Orlando Cabrera to bring some veteran presence to a team that is still very young. The biggest signing in the offseason has to be Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman. Chapman has looked lights out so far in Spring Training,  although it was thought at the time of the signing that he wouldn’t start the season higher than AA. But with his performance, he may force his way into the rotation at the start of the season. Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips should continue to lead the offense, and I think that OF Jay Bruce could really start to show more of the promise he had coming into the league.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

I think Joey Votto is primed for a big season, and think he could easily post a top-10 season at 1B. 2B Brandon Phillips is one of the quietest top fantasy performers in all of baseball, usually in the top 5 of the position. Nearly all of the starting pitchers in the rotation are ownable for deeper leagues, but in standard leagues I would say that they are all right around replacement level. If I had to pick one for upside, it would be Bailey. Aroldis Chapman probably has the most upside of anyone on the team, and is definitely worth monitoring as Spring Training continues.

Prediction for 2010

The Reds are steadily improving, and will hopefully take another step forward this season. I don’t think that they are quite ready though to take on the Cubs and Cardinals. But it won’t be long.

80-82, 4th in the NL Central

Team Preview – Oakland Athletics


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Kurt Suzuki SP 1 Ben Sheets
1B Daric Barton SP 2 Justin Duchscherer
2B Mark Ellis SP 3 Brett Anderson
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff SP 4 Trevor Cahill
SS Cliff Pennington SP 5 Dallas Braden
LF Rajai Davis Bullpen
CF Coco Crisp CL Andrew Bailey
RF Ryan Sweeney RP Brad Ziegler
DH Jack Cust RP Joey Devine
Bench RP Michael Wuertz
IF Jake Fox RP Craig Breslow
IF Eric Chavez RP Gio Gonzalez

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff Trade (SD) OF Aaron Cunningham Trade (SD)
SP Ben Sheets Free Agency OF Scott Hairston Trade (SD)
IF Jake Fox Trade (CHC)

Top Prospects: Chris Carter (1B), Michael Taylor (OF), Michael Ynoa (P), Grant Green (SS), Max Stassi (C)

2009 Review

The Athletics came into the 2009 season with the hopes that they would be able to compete in what appeared to be a weakened AL West. They had made the blockbuster trade to acquire OF Matt Holliday in the offseason, and had made some potentially excellent value signings in SS Orlando Cabrera and 1B Jason Giambi. However, the team was once again decimated by injuries, and quickly fell out of contention. By July, the discussion was when the A’s would trade free-agent-to-be Matt Holliday, not if. They were able to get some solid return on trades including Holliday and SS Orlando Cabrera also.

The A’s did have some bright spots during the season. SP Josh Outman pitched well (4-1, 3.48) prior to getting hurt. SP Brett Anderson (11-11, 4.06) and SP Trevor Cahill (10-13, 4.63) both pitched well in their first full season. The standout, to be sure, was AL Rookie of the Year Andrew Bailey (6-3, 1.84, 26 sv). On the offense, OF Rajai Davis (.305, 41 SB) and C Kurt Suzuki (.274, 15 HR) were the shining stars.

Team Outlook for 2010

As has been the problem in recent years, again coming into 2010 the A’s look strapped for offense. They are hopeful that IF Eric Chavez will be able to provide some production, whether it be at 3B or somewhere else on the diamond. They brought back OF/DH Jack Cust, who should continue to provide some solid power, even at the cost of a low batting average. A full season of SS Cliff Pennington and OF Rajai Davis will also be a welcome addition.

This really looks like a team that could compete, but only if everything falls their way. They need an All-Star caliber season out of free agent signee Ben Sheets, and improvements across the entirety of the pitching staff. They need 1B Daric Barton to return to the form that made him a top prospect. And they need pretty much everyone else in the lineup to improve again this season, whether it be through health or through better production. If this doesn’t happen, look for the A’s to deal Sheets, and potentially Justin Duchscherer as well at the trade deadline.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

The A’s are a bit shallow when it comes to fantasy talent. C Kurt Suzuki, OF Rajai Davis, SP Brett Anderson and CL Andrew Bailey are probably the top talents. SP Ben Sheets remains a very high-upside, high-risk player, but could definitely pay off for fantasy owners. In deeper leagues, 2B Mark Ellis and SS Cliff Pennington could potentially provide value, as well as SP Dallas Braden and Justin Duchscherer.

Prediction for 2010

The A’s simply haven’t gotten better by enough in my opinion to make a legitimate run at the division title. The rest of the division is simply too much better at this point. They will do well to continue letting their top prospects develop, and hopefully will compete in 2011.

79-83, 4th in the AL West

Free Agency Review – 2B/SS


Yesterday, I went over this offseason’s free agent catchers, first basemen, and third basemen. Today, the middle infielders.

All salary data from ESPN.com’s Free Agent Tracker
All 2011 free agent information from MLB Trade Rumors’ 2011 Free Agent List

Second Basemen
Name Old New Years Total $
Placido Polanco DET PHI 3 $18 M
Orlando Hudson LAD MIN 1 $5 M
Freddy Sanchez SF SF 2 $12 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: Felipe Lopez (MIL)

The thing that really stood out to me about the 2B free agents was the fact that Hudson, for a second year in a row, had to wait until nearly Spring Training to find a job. Minnesota is a good fit for him, as he’ll probably slot in near the top of the order and provide some excellent defense up the middle. I also thought it was interesting that Polanco decided to go to Philadelphia, and change positions to move to 3B to do so. I also wonder how much longer Felipe Lopez will be available as a free agent. He seems like too good of a player to still be without a job of some sort, especially considering his ability to play multiple positions in the infield.

Shortstops
Name Old New Years Total $
Marco Scutaro TOR BOS 2 $12 M
Orlando Cabrera MIN CIN 1 $3 M

Shortstop was extremely shallow this offseason. Miguel Tejada was available to play shortstop, but it became clear that no one believed he can be a starting major league shortstop any longer. Beyond Scutaro and Cabrera, nearly all the remaining players who could play shortstop were backups, or simply defensive specialists. Scutaro’s $12 M contract was easily the largest, both in terms of years and dollars. Clearly, by signing Scutaro, the Red Sox decided that they don’t believe Jed Lowrie is a Major League shortstop, either. Cabrera surprises me again this season, as he had a season that was pretty consistent with his career averages, and yet somehow continues to have difficulty finding a job via free agency.

Tomorrow’s free agent positional review: The Outfielders