Tag Archives: Rich Harden

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

Continue reading

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.

Original Draft Series – Team # 22 – Oakland Athletics


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

Team #22: Oakland Athletics

General Managers(since 1994)

Sandy Alderson (1994-1997): 261-321
Billy Beane (1998-Current): 1051-891

Team Performance

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

My hometown Athletics generally tend to have spurts of excellence. They had 4 playoff appearances in a row from 2000-2003, and another in 2006. The Athletics generally have been able to develop some players, but the depressing part is that almost invariably they have moved these players to acquire younger, cheaper players in order to stay competitive.  All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C Kurt Suzuki 2004 – 2nd Rd 6 410 gm, .272/.329/.404, 37 HR, 199 RBI, 11 SB, 176 R Currently with Org.
1B Jason Giambi 1992 – 2nd Rd 7 + 1 2000 AL MVP, 2 All Star Appearances
1036 gm, .300/.406/.531, 198 HR, 715 RBI, 9 SB, 640 R
Free Agency – 11/5/01
2B Bobby Crosby 2001 – 1st Rd (25) 8 2004 AL Rookie of the Year
677 gm, .238/.305/.378, 61 HR, 263 RBI, 34 SB, 320 R
Free Agency – 11/5/09
3B Miguel Tejada Int’l FA – 1993 10 2002 AL MVP, 1 All Star Appearances
936 gm, .270/.331/.460, 156 HR, 604 RBI, 49 SB, 574 R
Free Agency – 10/27/03
SS Cliff Pennington 2005 – 1st Rd (21) 5 164 gm, .253/.329/.367, 7 HR, 50 RBI, 20 SB, 68 R Currently with Org.
LF Ryan Ludwick 1999 – 2nd Rd 3 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to TEX – 1/14/02
CF Nick Swisher 2002 – 1st Rd (16) 5 458 gm, .251/.361/.464, 80 HR, 255 RBI, 4 SB, 267 R Traded to CHW – 1/3/08
RF Andre Ethier 2003 – 2nd Rd 2 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to LAD – 12/13/05
DH Mark Teahen 2002 – 1st Rd (39) 2 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to KC – 6/24/04
SP Tim Hudson 1997 – 6th Rd 7 2 All Star Appearances
92-39, 3.30 ERA, 899 K, 382 BB, 1240.2 IP, 1.222 WHIP
Traded to ATL – 12/16/04
SP Barry Zito 1999 – 1st Rd (9) 7 2002 Cy Young Award, 3 All Star Appearances
102-63, 3.55 ERA, 1096 K, 560 BB, 1430.1 IP, 1.250 WHIP
Free Agency – 11/1/06
SP Dallas Braden 2004 – 24th Rd 6 18-27, 4.47 ERA, 231 K, 108 BB, 368.2 IP, 1.373 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP Joe Blanton 2002 – 1st Rd (24) 6 47-46, 4.25 ERA, 431 K, 202 BB, 760.2 IP, 1.330 WHIP Traded to PHI – 7/17/08
SP Rich Harden 2000 – 17th Rd 8 36-19, 3.42 ERA, 523 K, 232 BB, 541.2 IP, 1.244 WHIP Traded to CHC – 7/8/08
RP Kevin Gregg 1996 – 15th Rd 6 No Major League Appearances with Org. Free Agency – 10/15/02
RP Vin Mazzaro 2005 – 3rd Rd 5 6-10, 5.30 ERA, 78 K, 52 BB, 120.2 IP, 1.732 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Tyson Ross 2008 – 2nd Rd 2 1-4, 5.77 ERA, 28 K, 16 BB, 34.1 IP, 1.485 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Brad Kilby 2005 – 29th Rd 5 1-0, 1.07 ERA, 28 K, 4 BB, 25.1 IP, 0.829 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Huston Street 2004 – 1st Rd (40) 4 2005 AL Rookie of the Year
21-12, 94 SV, 2.88 ERA, 271 K, 78 BB, 269 IP, 1.071 WHIP
Traded to COL – 11/10/08
CL Andrew Bailey 2006 – 6th Rd 4 2009 AL Rookie of the Year, 1 All Star Appearance
6-5, 39 SV, 1.84 ERA, 113 K, 31 BB, 112.1 IP, 0.899 WHIP
Currently with Org.
BN Trevor Cahill (SP) 2006 – 2nd Rd 4 16-15, 4.24 ERA, 132 K, 93 BB, 246 IP, 1.354 WHIP Currently with Org.
BN Eric Chavez (3B) 1996 – 1st Rd (10) 14 6 Gold Gloves (3B), 1 Silver Slugger (3B)
1320 gm, .267/.343/.478, 230 HR, 787 RBI, 47 SB, 730 R
Currently with Org.
BN Ramon Hernandez (C) Int’l FA – 1994 9 1 All Star Appearance
595 gm, .253/.322/.400, 60 HR, 263 RBI, 241 R
Traded to SD – 11/26/03
BN Jeremy Bonderman (SP) 2001 – 1st Rd (26) 1 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to DET – 8/22/02
BN Travis Buck (OF) 2005 – 1st Rd (36) 5 167 gm, .255/.335/.432, 18 HR, 71 RBI, 7 SB, 74 R Currently with Org.

June Amateur Draft

The Athletics have had 32 draft picks in the first round since 1995, including the notorious Moneyball draft of 2002 where they had 7 picks. They’ve done reasonably well in the first round, with Barry Zito, Eric Chavez, Joe Blanton, Nick Swisher and Huston Street all showing as successes from the round. They have also seen some a lot of successful players out of the 2nd round, but not nearly as many of these players showed their success with the Athletics. Most notably is probably RF Andre Ethier, who was traded to the Dodgers for Milton Bradley before the 2006 season. The team did make a playoff appearance in 2006, and was helped by Milton Bradley’s production, but I’m guessing that they would still love to have Ethier back.

International Free Agency

The Athletics haven’t been particularly good at finding international free agents, with only Miguel Tejada and Ramon Hernandez showing up on this roster. Part of this is the fact that they were unwilling to spend money on the top tier talent, as they would use that money for other items within development instead. That policy has changed slightly in the past few years, as the A’s have signed some top prospects out of the Dominican, most notably Michael Ynoa, a very young, very projectable pitcher. Time will tell if they will continue to see some prospects out of the international markets, but to this point the return has not been all that good.

Overall Grade

I think that the Athletics get my first “C”, as they have seen some excellent success stories (Zito, Chavez, Hudson), but there are quite a few of these players who did not make any appearances at all with the big league team. The fact that the international market has been so poor of a talent pool for them is what keeps me from moving them further up in the rankings.

The Week in Review: June 7-June 13


If the Playoffs Started Today

Tampa Bay Rays (40-23) vs. Minnesota Twins (36-27)
Texas Rangers (35-28) vs. New York Yankees (40-23)

Los Angeles Dodgers (36-27) vs. Atlanta Braves (37-27)
Cincinnati Reds (36-28) vs. San Diego Padres (37-26)

League Leaders

Batting Average – Robinson Cano (NYY) – .371
Runs – Kevin Youkilis (BOS) – 54
Home Runs – Miguel Cabrera (DET) – 19
Runs Batted In – Miguel Cabrera (DET) – 56
Stolen Bases – Juan Pierre (CHW) – 25

Wins – Ubaldo Jimenez (COL) – 12
Saves – Matt Capps (WAS) – 20
ERA – Ubaldo Jimenez (COL) – 1.16
Strikeouts – Dan Haren (ARI) – 97
WHIP – Cliff Lee (SEA) – 0.93

Roster Movement

To the Disabled List: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Nate McLouth, Rich Harden, J.J. Hardy, Jeremy Hermida, Aramis Ramirez, Orlando Hudson

Return from the Disabled List: Miguel Montero, George Sherrill, Ivan Rodriguez

To the Minors: Jake Fox, Lou Marson

Called Up: Stephen Strasburg, Mike Stanton, Carlos Santana, Brad Lincoln, Jose Tabata

Top Stories and Weekly Links

  • Clearly, the dominant story on the baseball landscape this week was the much-anticipated debut of Stephen Strasburg on Tuesday. And boy did he not disappoint. 14 strikeouts and only 2 earned runs over 7 innings on Tuesday en route to his first major league victory. As a result of this, Sunday’s start at the Indians became almost as hyped. He pitched well enough to get a victory on Sunday, striking out 8 and only allowing 1 earned run. But there does appear to be a human being under there, as he walked 5 and only went 5 1/3 innings in that start.
  • Not to be outdone, the Marlins called up top prospect Mike Stanton to make his debut on Tuesday as well. In the 5 games he has played since being called up, he has hit .368 with 4 runs batted in and 2 stolen bases. The strikeouts will remain a bit of a concern for him, but let’s remember that the kid is still just 20 years old, and probably likely to see at least a bit of growing pains.
  • On Friday, the Indians called up their top prospect C Carlos Santana. He is hitting .273, but slugging .636 after a homerun and a double in Saturday’s game. He faced off against Strasburg in his start on Sunday, and was the only player in the Indians’ starting lineup to not strikeout against the phenom. Pretty good start so far.
  • Lost in all these top prospects making their debuts was the fact that on Monday, Bryce Harper’s rights officially became the property of the Washington Nationals. I did find it interesting that the Nationals have announced already that he will be moved to the outfield immediately upon his signing. Looking at the Nationals’ minor league system, this is probably the fastest way for him to get to the Majors, and the Nats also have a solid prospect (Derek Norris) already at the catcher position who is more likely to make it to the Majors behind the plated before Harper would. Either way, Harper could very well end up making it to the Majors in two to three seasons at most, and is very likely to be no older than 20 when he does so. Lots of paydays in his future.

Links are a bit light this week, as I’ve been pretty busy. I am looking for some input from the readers, as I am starting to look into which prospects I should review in the offseason. My only rules really for this for the next offseason is that I want to preview a prospect from each team again. So if you have someone you think is going to be a top-10 prospect in an organization that you’d like to see a scouting report for, leave a comment and let me know.

Upcoming Posts This Week:

Tuesday: The Original Draft Series – Team #30 and #29
Wednesday: The Original Draft Series – Team #28 and #27
Thursday: The Original Draft Series – Team #26 and #25
Friday:  Trade Retrospective – Rickey Henderson to the Yankees

Fantasy Preview – Starting Pitchers Part 2


Last Sunday, I ranked my top 25 starting pitchers, and will finish up my rankings of the next 50 today. Not as many stats this time, but still some notes regarding the pitchers.

26. Cole Hamels (PHI) – I wrote about Hamels over at Fake Teams, and think that he’s going to rebound quite nicely this season. I think he can post around 200 strikeouts along with a 3.50 ERA and a sub 1.25 WHIP. I think that he also could be the victim of some sleeper hype as a result of the poor season last year.

27. Chad Billingsley (LAD) – Billingsley should recover nicely from the perceived poor season he had. His ERA should rebound, and his WHIP and strikeouts were both solid last year. Pitching half your starts at Dodgers Stadium will always help also.

28. Brett Anderson (OAK) – Anderson has been getting a lot of hype this offseason, and with reason. From July onward: 98 strikeouts, 1.11 WHIP, 3.02 ERA in 101 IP. While I think that he could see some downturn due to the jump in innings from last season, I think he could very well post those types of numbers for a full season.

29. Jered Weaver (LAA) – Weaver will be asked to lead the Angels pitching staff now, and should be able to fill that role pretty well. He has posted a strikeout rate over 7 per 9 in each of the last 2 seasons, and could approach 200 strikeouts again this season.

30. John Lackey (BOS) – Lackey goes to a new ballpark, with a new team. I’m not sure that either of those facts are particularly relevant to his ability to pitch effectively as a fantasy starter. He seems likely to post similar numbers whether he remained in Anaheim or not. He should post an ERA around 3.75 with a strikeout rate around 7.5 per 9 innings. If he gets to 200 innings I could see 160+ strikeouts potentially.

31. A.J. Burnett (NYY) – Burnett is going to strike out a lot of batters, as he’s been right around 200 in each of the last 3 seasons. However, his walk rate actually increased last season, getting up to 4.22 per 9 innings. He’s likely to get more win opportunities than a pitcher on another team due to the excellent Yankees lineup. However, I think he’s just as likely to post an ERA of 4.50 or higher as he is to post one under 4.00. Caveat emptor on this one.

32. Ryan Dempster (CHC) – Dempster posted a second straight solid season in the rotation, and posted another 200 inning season as well. To me, Dempster is a solid starting pitcher, and very consistent as well. He’s going to strikeout at least 160, and should post a WHIP around 1.30. Not the flashiest pitcher you could get, nor does he possess any particular upside, but you need pitchers like this too.

33. Randy Wolf (MIL) – Wolf appears to have been really helped by Dodger Stadium, but I’m not inclined to believe it was that much. His ERA was almost a half run lower than his FIP, but the rest of his numbers could be a solid value for your fantasy team. I can see him posting a 1.25 WHIP and a sub-4 ERA to go along with 160 strikeouts. A very solid #3 starter.

34. Jorge de la Rosa (COL) – The strikeouts are wonderful. He’s likely to strikeout more than a batter per inning. The walk rate, not so much. I think that he could conceivably improve on the walk rate, but the ERA and WHIP are probably going to suffer slightly even still. I had originally thought he could be a top-30 pitcher, but unless he can show that he can lower that walk rate, he’s going to remain lower in the rankings.

35. Scott Baker (MIN) – Baker had a better season than his ERA tells us. His ERA seems like it should come around, based on his sub 1.20 WHIPs in each of the last 2 seasons. Strikes out a little more than 7 per 9 innings, and there’s a lot to like here from Baker. I think this could be the year that he vaults into the top 20 of starting pitching.

36. James Shields (TAM) – I think Shields could see some improvement in his ERA from last season. He should strike out over 150 and post a solid WHIP in over 200 innings pitched. Probably the definition of a lower-risk, lower-upside pitcher. He’s not likely to strikeout 200 hitters, but if he can do repeat hist 2009 season, he will be a solid #2 or #3 starting pitcher.

37. Roy Oswalt (HOU) – Oswalt used to be considered a top-tier starting pitcher. He looks like he may have been a little bit unlucky last season, but his strikeout rate is down which concerns me. The fact that he pitches for the Astros and their anemic offense does nothing to make me feel better. I think that if he returns to 200 IP, he can strikeout about 150-170 or so, with a sub-4 ERA and a sub 1.30 WHIP

38. Scott Kazmir (LAA) – Kazmir should post a high strikeout rate, but his WHIP is still a concern. I think he’s probably going to be above 1.30 in that category, and could very well end up causing him to have an ERA above 4. There’s a lot of upside here, but I think this is about where I’d be willing to draft him.

39. Rich Harden (TEX) – There’s a lot of upside here. A LOT. He struck out almost 11 per 9 innings last year when he was healthy. But this “health” thing remains Harden’s issue. I don’t think that the move to Arlington will affect him particularly. Look for another season of 140 or so excellent innings, and anything else from him would be a bonus in my opinion.

40. Gavin Floyd (CHW) – Floyd only posted 11 wins last season, but I think he can improve on that this season.  Of some concern to me is the fact that his strikeout rate jumped last season by a full strikeout per 9 innings. He’s likely to provide a 1.25 WHIP, and I can see him adding 150 strikeouts and an ERA around 4.00 to that WHIP.

41. Edwin Jackson (ARI) – Pitcher moving from the AL to the NL: generally a good thing. Jackson really put together a great season last year, his first truly solid season from start to finish. I think that he should be helped a lot by being around Brandon Webb and Dan Haren, along with pitching in the pitcher friendly NL West.

42. Jair Jurrjens (ATL) – Jurrjens is a pitcher who appears to have posted a very lucky ERA (2.60), but even looking at his FIP for last season (3.68), he still posted a very solid season if that had been his ERA instead. He’s going to give you a lot of innings, and a solid strikeout number as well.

43. Clay Buchholz (BOS) – Buchholz will hopefully get a full season of starts this year, as he could conceivably post a sub-4 ERA with 175+ strikeouts and a solid WHIP as well. You’ll have to watch how this shakes out during the spring, but there’s a lot of upside with Clay.

44. Carlos Zambrano (CHC) – Big Z is a tease. He struck out 152 in 169 innings last season. And walked 78 in that same workload. Take the strikeouts knowing that he’s probably going to hurt your WHIP.  He should improve slightly on his WHIP from last year, but should still be around 1.30. There’s some upside here, but I probably won’t be the one that will be taking the chance.

45. Joe Blanton (PHI) – The numbers aren’t sexy. The fact that he gets them are also not. But he’s going to give you a lot of innings, and solid ratios and strikeouts for those innings. Another one of those solid starters that your team will need to back up some of your upside plays.

46. J.A. Happ (PHI) – There’s been a lot of talk that Happ was extremely lucky last season, and his strikeout and walk rates both point to that as well. I think that he can be a very solid starting pitcher though, and there’s some upside here to me. He should post a sub-4 ERA and a sub 1.30 WHIP, along with a solid if not amazing strikeout rate.

47. Max Scherzer (DET) – I think that Scherzer isn’t going to be affected too adversely by his move to the American League, as he was a dominant strikeout pitcher last season. That said, the missed time is of some concern, and the fact that the D’Backs were willing to give him up so easily also worries me. But there’s a lot of upside with him as well.

48. Tim Hudson (ATL) – Hudson came back at the end of last season, and had 7 solid starts. I think that if he can get to 200 innings pitched, he will strikeout 140 and post solid ratios as well. But there’s that injury risk still floating over Hudson, and that’s why he’s not likely to be higher on my rankings.

49. Ben Sheets (OAK) – Coming back from a lost season, Sheets is definitely high-risk. But the upside involved with Sheets is a top-10 starting pitcher. If he pitches well and the A’s fall out of the race, he will most likely be moved to a contending team as well.

50. Wade Davis (TAM) -  Davis struck out more than a batter per inning last year in his brief time with the Rays, and I am very interested to see how he will do in a full season at the Majors. The AL East is probably going to eat a lot of starters up and spit them out, but I think that Davis is one who will hold his own.

At this point, you’re looking for either high-upside or pitchers who are extremely consistent. I have a lot of these pitchers right around the same value as each other, so the specific rankings aren’t necessarily as important. At this point you should be taking a look at what your starters are currently providing, and draft accordingly. My next 25 starters:

51. Jonathan Sanchez (SF)
52. Ted Lilly (CHC)
53. John Danks (CHW)
54. Erik Bedard (SEA)
55. Colby Lewis (TEX)
56. Brian Matusz (BAL)
57. Randy Wells (CHC)
58. Mat Latos (SD)
59. Jeff Niemann (TAM)
60. David Price (TAM)
61. Ervin Santana (LAA)
62. Scott Feldman (TEX)
63. Mark Buehrle (CHW)
64. John Maine (NYM)
65. Bronson Arroyo (CIN)
66. Rick Porcello (DET)
67. Hiroki Kuroda (LAD)
68. Aaron Harang (CIN)
69. Kevin Slowey (MIN)
70. Derek Lowe (ATL)
71. Clayton Richard (SD)
72. Joba Chamberlain (NYY)
73. Daisuke Matsuzaka (BOS)
74. Ricky Romero (TOR)
75. Johnny Cueto (CIN)

Tomorrow’s post: Fantasy Relief Pitcher Rankings

Team Preview – Texas Rangers


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia SP 1 Scott Feldman
1B Chris Davis SP 2 Rich Harden
2B Ian Kinsler SP 3 Colby Lewis
3B Michael Young SP 4 Tommy Hunter
SS Elvis Andrus SP 5 Derek Holland
LF Josh Hamilton Bullpen
CF Julio Borbon CL Frank Francisco
RF Nelson Cruz RP C.J. Wilson
DH Vladimir Guerrero RP Neftali Feliz
Bench RP Darren Oliver
C Taylor Teagarden RP Chris Ray
OF David Murphy RP Brandon McCarthy

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
SP Rich Harden Free Agency C Ivan Rodriguez Free Agency
DH Vladimir Guerrero Free Agency SP Kevin Millwood Trade (BAL)
RP Chris Ray Trade (BAL) 3B Hank Blalock Free Agency

Top Prospects: Justin Smoak (1B), Marin Perez (P), Tanner Scheppers (P)

2009 Review

The Rangers came into the 2009 season with the same problem that they have had in many of the past seasons: not enough pitching. They had been coming off of a rebuilding effort, and were unlikely to be particularly competitive in the weaker AL West division. So much for that theory. The Rangers finished 87-75, good for 2nd in the AL West. They were led by excellent performances by 2B Ian Kinsler (31 HR, 31 SB), RF Nelson Cruz (33 HR, 20 SB), and 3B Michael Young (.322, 22 HR). Offense was not really considered likely to be the problem for the Rangers, but first year pitching coach Mike Maddux was able to help improve bring out the best in starter Scott Feldman. Feldman finished with a 17-8 record, leading the staff. The rebuilding efforts also started to show some returns, with SS Elvis Andrus and RP Neftali Feliz both having a large impact on their season. Both players were acquired in the Mark Teixeira trade from two seasons prior.

Team Outlook for 2010

The Rangers looked to help address what was perceived to be a weakness in the rotation, signing free agents Rich Harden and Colby Lewis to help anchor the rotation with Feldman. They will also see young OF Julio Borbon start the season as the starter, and should provide quite a bit of speed at the top of the Rangers batting order. I really liked the signing of Vladimir Guerrero, as he should provide a lot of power out of the DH spot.

The AL West has become surprisingly competitive, as the Rangers finished in 2nd place last year. They actually look like they will be competitive, but I think that they will need ace-level performance out of Rich Harden, and a solid 3rd starter in Colby Lewis. Neither of these things are a given unfortunately. The offense will carry this team most likely, but they’re going to need some excellent pitching. They do have more help coming potentially, although it seems more likely to be on the offense side with Justin Smoak.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

2B Ian Kinsler, 3B Michael Young, and LF Josh Hamilton are the top fantasy players in terms of ranking. Hamilton is coming back from what was essentially a lost season, and will be moving from CF to LF. Julio Borbon is the reason for this move, and should also provide quite a bit of fantasy value.  On the pitching side, Scott Feldman is a pitcher I would actually be concerned about, as a lot of his fantasy value last season came from his high win total. Another to watch: Colby Lewis is coming off of two very good seasons (albeit in Japan), where he posted excellent strikeout rates. He should be someone to watch for in your drafts as well.

Prediction for 2010

The Rangers have definitely improved since the start of last season, and should still be considered to be working on their rebuilding efforts. They should compete in the division, but I think that unless they have a lot of luck go their way, they are not going to win the division. But look out for them in 2011 as well.

86-76, T-2nd in the AL West

Free Agency Review – Starting Pitchers


As expected, the free agent class of starting pitchers was pretty deep this offseason, although there were very few solid options.

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

LH Starting Pitchers
Name Old New Years Total $
Randy Wolf LAD MIL 3 $29.75 M
Andy Pettitte NYY NYY 1 $11.75 M
Erik Bedard SEA SEA 1 $1.5 M
Aroldis Chapman CIN 6 $30.25 M
Doug Davis ARI MIL 1 $5.25 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: Jarrod Washburn (DET)


Of all the lefties, Randy Wolf probably did the best in terms of capitalizing on a good season. Milwaukee got a very good veteran starting pitcher for a reasonable price. Bedard signed an incentive-laden deal which could be worth up to $8.5 M total, and if he earns them all, the Mariners will be extremely happy with the results as well. The most unusual signing in my opinion was the Chapman signing. The Reds, not known for spending a lot of money necessarily, sign a pitcher who will be under contract for 6 seasons, and be paying him for as much as 10 perhaps, and will hopefully not be starting his career in the Major leagues.

RH Starting Pitchers
Name Old New Years Total $
Rich Harden CHC TEX 1 $7.5 M
John Lackey LAA BOS 5 $82.5 M
Brad Penny SF STL 1 $7.5 M
Joel Pineiro STL LAA 2 $16 M
Justin Duchscherer OAK OAK 1 $2 M
Ben Sheets OAK 1 $10 M
Jon Garland LAD SD 1 $5.3 M
Colby Lewis JPN TEX 2 $5 M
Jason Marquis COL WAS 2 $15 M
Vicente Padilla LAD LAD 1 $5.025 M
Carl Pavano MIN MIN 1 $7 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: Braden Looper (MIL), Todd Wellemeyer (STL), John Smoltz (STL), Pedro Martinez (PHI)

Lackey was the big name on the market this offseason, and got the big contract that went along with it. I was a bit surprised at the time about this since I didn’t really think that the Red Sox were in the market for a starting pitcher. However, it looks now like he will be the replacement for Josh Beckett should he leave via free agency after 2010. The Angels did well to replace Lackey with Pineiro. Pineiro, while not the same quality pitcher as Lackey, will provide more stability to the rotation being led now by Jered Weaver and Scott Kazmir. Free agency was also littered with high-risk, high-reward types like Harden, Sheets, and Duchscherer. The most interesting signing for a right hander to me is the Rangers’ signing of Colby Lewis. Lewis is returning from 2 seasons in Japan where he was very dominant, and should be interesting to watch this season.

Tomorrow: Free agency review of relief pitchers