Tag Archives: Russell Branyan

Season Preview – NL West


We’re up to the last division left to review with the NL West. You can also take a look at my previews of the AL East, AL Central, AL West,  NL East, and NL Central.

Last Year’s Records
San Francisco – 92-70
San Diego – 90-72
Colorado – 83-79
Los Angeles – 80-82
Arizona – 65-97

Notable Additions

Arizona – Xavier Nady, Russell Branyan, J.J. Putz, Melvin Mora, David Hernandez, Kam Mickolio

Colorado – Matt Lindstrom, John Maine, Jose Lopez, Ty Wigginton, Felipe Paulino

Los Angeles – Marcus Thames, Matt Guerrier, Jon Garland

San Diego – Brad Hawpe, Cameron Maybin, Jorge Cantu, Aaron Harang

San Francisco – Miguel Tejada

Notable Losses

Arizona – Ryan Church, Adam LaRoche, Mark Reynolds, Brandon Webb

Colorado – Miguel Olivo, Clint Barmes, Jeff Francis

Los Angeles – Russell Martin, Ryan Theriot, Scott Podsednik

San Diego – Adrian Gonzalez, Miguel Tejada, Chris Young

San Francisco – Jose Guillen, Edgar Renteria

My Thoughts

Arizona – Under the leadership of new GM Kevin Towers, the Diamondbacks have already begun the process of rebuilding by trading away Mark Reynolds and letting Adam LaRoche and Brandon Webb leave via free agency.  They seem extremely unlikely to compete this season, but will look for improvements from Justin Upton and Stephen Drew.

Colorado – The Rockies spent their offseason spending money on contract extensions, as both Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki were signed to long term contract extensions. The team also did well to re-sign some of their free agents, most notably Jorge de la Rosa. This really seems like a team to me that has the chance to compete for the division title, providing they get a few breaks to go their way. They will look for a repeat performance from Ubaldo Jimenez and improvements from Jhoulys Chacin and Dexter Fowler as well.

Los Angeles – With the ownership situation in a state of partial disarray, the Dodgers didn’t really go out and spend a lot of money this offseason. They did resign free agent starter Ted Lilly, but otherwise did not make any large acquisitions. The pitching staff is excellent, but they will look for a bounce back season from Jonathan Broxton as the closer. The Dodgers are another team that seems to me like they can compete, providing they catch a few breaks.

San Diego – The biggest news out of the Padres this offseason unfortunately was the trade of star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. They have cut payroll down to a very minimal amount at this point, and could look to move closer Heath Bell if they fall out of contention. I am not seeing a repeat of last year’s 90 win performance out of this group of players, but I don’t think they are necessarily going to be terrible either. They will look for Mat Latos to build on his excellent 2010 season and try to take another step forward, but there’s a lot of questions after him in the rotation.

San Francisco – The reigning World Champions only had one slightly major acquisition (Tejada), but did well to resign Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff. Their pitching could conceivably be better than last year, with Madison Bumgarner making a full season of starts this year. 2010 NL Rookie of the Year Buster Posey will be up for the full season this year, and top prospect Brandon Belt is not likely to be in AAA for very long either. This is a team that could compete for the NL crown again.

Overall Thoughts

The NL West has the Giants at the top, and then a lot of question marks behind them. I honestly think that any of the teams at 2 through 4 could finish in any order in those spots.  Here’s my predicted order of finish:

1. San Francisco
2. Colorado
3. Los Angeles
4. San Diego
5. Arizona

Season Preview: AL West


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

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

Notable Additions

Los Angeles – Vernon Wells, Hisanori Takahashi

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

Seattle – Miguel Olivo, Jack Cust

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

Notable Losses

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

Oakland – Rajai Davis, Vin Mazzaro

Seattle – Russell Branyan, Jose Lopez

Texas – Cliff Lee, Vladimir Guerrero, Frank Francisco

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Original Draft Series – Team # 18 – Cleveland Indians


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

Team #18: Cleveland Indians

General Managers(since 1994)

John Hart (1994-2001): 718-509
Mark Shapiro (2002-Current): 635-661

Team Performance

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

All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C Victor Martinez Int’l FA – 1996 13 3 All Star Appearances, 1 Silver Slugger
821 gm, .297/.369/.463, 103 HR, 518 RBI, 413 R
Traded to BOS – 7/31/09
1B Russell Branyan 1994 – 7th Rd 8 + 1 294 gm, .232/.311/.472, 55 HR, 139 RBI, 2 SB, 124 R Traded to CIN – 6/7/02
2B Marco Scutaro Int’l FA – 1994 6 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to MIL – 7/28/00
3B Jhonny Peralta Int’l FA – 1999 11 902 gm, .265/.331/.424, 101 HR, 447 RBI, 9 SB, 469 R Currently with Org.
SS Maicer Izturis Int’l FA – 1998 6 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to MON – 1/5/04
LF Manny Ramirez 1991 – 1st Rd (13) 9 4 All Star Appearances, 3 Silver Sluggers (OF)
967 gm, .313/.407/.592, 236 HR, 804 RBI, 28 SB, 665 R
Free Agency – 10/27/00
CF Willy Taveras Int’l FA – 1999 4 No Major League Appearances with Org. Rule 5 Draftee HOU – 12/15/03
RF Ben Francisco 2002 – 5th Rd 7 235 gm, .261/.332/.437, 28 HR, 99 RBI, 17 SB, 123 R Traded to PHI – 7/29/09
DH Jim Thome 1989 – 13th Rd 13 3 All Star Appearances, 1 Silver Slugger
1377 gm, .287/.414/.567, 334 HR, 927 RBI, 18 SB, 917 R
Free Agency – 10/28/02
SP C.C. Sabathia 1998 – 1st Rd (20) 10 2007 AL Cy Young Award, 3 All Star Appearances
106-71, 3.83 ERA, 1265 K, 498 BB, 1528.2 IP, 1.265 WHIP
Traded to MIL – 7/7/08
SP David Huff 2006 – 1st Rd (39) 4 13-17, 5.76 ERA, 99 K, 71 BB, 198.1 IP, 1.603 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP Jeremy Guthrie 2002 – 1st Rd (22) 4 0-0, 6.08 ERA, 24 K, 23 BB, 37 IP, 1.757 WHIP Selected by BAL – 1/29/07
SP Fausto Carmona Int’l FA – 2000 10 39-43, 4.53 ERA, 384 K, 265 BB, 632 IP, 1.453 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP Brian Tallet 2000 – 2nd Rd 5 1-2, 4.04 ERA, 16 K, 15 BB, 35.2 IP, 1.486 WHIP Traded to TOR – 1/17/06
RP Aaron Laffey 2003 – 16th Rd 7 16-20, 1 SV, 4.59 ERA, 143 K, 116 BB, 294.1 IP, 1.522 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Tony Sipp 2004 – 45th Rd 6 2-2, 4.29 ERA, 75 K, 44 BB, 65 IP, 1.508 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Rafael Perez Int’l FA – 2002 8 10-9, 3 SV, 4.02 ERA, 211 K, 81 BB, 221.2 IP, 1.349 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Jensen Lewis 2005 – 3rd Rd 5 5-11, 14 SV, 3.84 ERA, 162 K, 79 BB, 182.2 IP, 1.401 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP David Riske 1996 – 56th Rd 9 17-12, 16 SV, 3.55 ERA, 318 K, 135 BB, 317.1 IP, 1.261 WHIP Traded to BOS – 1/27/06
CL Danys Baez Int’l FA – 1999 4 17-23, 31 SV, 3.92 ERA, 248 K, 125 BB, 291.1 IP, 1.318 WHIP Free Agency – 12/20/03
BN Luke Scott (OF) 2001 – 9th Rd 3 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to HOU – 3/31/04
BN Ryan Church (OF) 2000 – 14th Rd 4 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to MON – 1/5/04
BN Kevin Kouzmanoff (3B) 2003 – 6th Rd 3 16 gm, .214/.279/.411, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 4 R Traded to SD – 11/8/06
BN Trevor Crowe (OF) 2005 – 1st Rd (14) 5 108 gm, .244/.295/.340, 2 HR, 35 RBI, 16 SB, 44 R Currently with Org.
BN Jeremy Sowers (P) 2004 – 1st Rd (6) 6 18-30, 5.18 ERA, 174 K, 132 BB, 400 IP, 1.440 WHIP Currently with Org.

June Amateur Draft

The Indians have gotten some pretty good players out of the first round, with Manny Ramirez and C.C. Sabathia being the clear front runners of the group. The rest of the group out of the 1st round has been a bit of a mixed bag, as you have players like David Huff, Jeremy Guthrie, Trevor Crowe, and Jeremy Sowers who have had a minimal contribution to the Indians’ long term success. They have done well to get some of their players up quickly, with Huff being an example of one who is already up from the 2006 draft. Top picks Beau Mills and Lonnie Chisenhall (2007, 2008) are both performing well in the minors, although Mills has run into a bit of trouble of late. Another excellent choice turned out to be 13th round selection Jim Thome, who was the face of the franchise when Manny Ramirez left via free agency after the 2000 season. Looking at the last decade of 1st round picks, they’ve had a full 9 players who were taken in the first round, but have still never played in the Majors for even a single day.

International Free Agency

The Indians have done extremely well in the international markets, and have a wide variety of countries represented. They have found players from Cuba (Baez), the Dominican Republic (Carmona), and Venezuela (Martinez), among others. While quite a few of them did not play any significant role for the Indians (Scutaro, Izturis, Taveras), many of them have become Major League regulars for at least some period of time. There aren’t necessarily as many players coming through that pipeline as there were before, but it does take quite a while for most international free agents to end up on the radar of the top prospect sites.

Overall Grade

C+ – The Indians have had a few bonafide stars, with Ramirez, Sabathia, Thome, and Martinez to help lead the team over the years. They’ve also had some players who have become major league regulars, even if they didn’t do it for the Indians (Guthrie, Scutaro, Izturis, Kouzmanoff). The quality level of some of the positions isn’t amazing, and I think that is what is leading me to not be able to give them a grade of B or higher. Overall, they’ve done fairly well, although these players haven’t necessarily lead to a lot of on-the-field success in the past few years.

Team Preview – Seattle Mariners


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Adam Moore SP 1 Felix Hernandez
1B Casey Kotchman SP 2 Cliff Lee
2B Jose Lopez SP 3 Ryan Rowland-Smith
3B Chone Figgins SP 4 Ian Snell
SS Jack Wilson SP 5 Garrett Olson
LF Michael Saunders Bullpen
CF Franklin Gutierrez CL David Aardsma
RF Ichiro Suzuki RP Brandon League
DH Milton Bradley RP Mark Lowe
Bench RP Shawn Kelley
IF Ryan Garko RP Jason Vargas
IF Eric Byrnes RP Erik Bedard

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
SP Cliff Lee Trade (PHI) 1B Russell Branyan Free Agency
OF Milton Bradley Trade (CHC) SP Brandon Morrow Trade (TOR)
3B Chone Figgins Free Agency 3B Adrian Beltre Free Agency

Top Prospects: Carlos Triunfel (SS), Michael Pineda (P), Dustin Ackley (OF/2B), Alex Liddi (3B)

2009 Review

The Mariners came into 2009 with a new manager (Don Wakamatsu), and were hopeful that 2009 would be a good season for them. While not expected by many to perform well, the Mariners still finished with a 85-77 record, good for 3rd place in the AL West and 12 games back of the Angels. They also brought Ken Griffey Jr back to the Mariners, partially as a publicity stunt, and partially to help fill the role of a veteran presence.

The pitching staff was led by Cy Young runner-up Felix Hernandez (19-5, 2.49, 217 strikeouts), Jarrod Washburn (8-6, 2.64), and Ryan Rowland-Smith (5-4, 3.74). On offense, Ichiro (.352, 11 HR, 26 SB) was a standout as usual. The Mariners also had some breakout performances, including 1B Russell Branyan (31 HR, 76 RBI), CF Franklin Gutierrez (.283, 18 HR, 16 SB), and closer David Aardsma (2.52, 38 sv).

Team Outlook for 2010

The team had a very active offseason, and are considered by many to be the most improved team going into 2010. The big acquisition was obviously the trade that brought former Cy Young winner Cliff Lee to the Northwest. And how they were able to bring Milton Bradley in return for Carlos Silva’s useless contract is beyond comprehension. They’ve added more speed and a top-of-the-order hitter in Chone Figgins, and continued to improve their defense with 1B Casey Kotchman.

I think that the Mariners may only be missing some additional power in their order, although they did bring Griffey back to help provide some power off the bench. Adding Lee will help the Mariners should they make the postseason, and give them a very good 1-2-3 punch with Hernandez and Bedard as well. They should see some development in both rookie C Adam Moore and OF Michael Saunders as well. They have really done well to build a team that is reliant upon defense and pitching, specifically built for Safeco Field.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

Ichiro remains a top tier outfielder, although there are some concerns that he may be slowing due to age. I wouldn’t worry too much about him though. Also, King Felix and Cliff Lee are both top-25 starters and will probably not last past the 7th round (in Lee’s case). 3B Chone Figgins should provide a good value, although at 3B he is one of the few players who provides no power and a lot of speed. Deeper leagues, I would say look at Milton Bradley, as he could potentially provide high-upside power, and also Ryan Rowland-Smith as a potential end-draft starter.

Prediction for 2010

The Mariners look like they have improved enough to compete in the division, and will rely on the 1-2 punch of Hernandez and Lee to help finish the job in the season’s final weeks. The AL West is wide open, and I think that the tandem of Hernandez-Lee will be what puts them over the top.

88-74, 1st in the AL West

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

Free Agency Review – C/1B/3B


All week, I will be recapping the free agency signings this offseason, by position. Today’s group: Catchers and Corner Infielders (1B, 3B)

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

Catchers
Name Old New Years Total $
Bengie Molina SF SF 1 $4.5 M
Miguel Olivo KC COL 1 $2.5 M
Ivan Rodriguez TEX WAS 2 $6 M
Jason Kendall MIL KCR 2 $6 M
Gregg Zaun TAM MIL 1 $2.15 M
John Buck KC TOR 1 $2 M
Brian Schneider NYM PHI 2 $2.75 M
Yorvit Torrealba COL SD 1 $1.25 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: Rod Barajas (TOR)

There really wasn’t a lot of available jobs for catchers this offseason, as realistically 5 jobs were vacated by free agents. Bengie Molina probably did the best, in my opinion, as he got the highest annual salary ($4.5 M), and managed to go to a team that has a very good prospect waiting in the wings. Of some concern was the fact that Molina had an even better offer on the table from the Mets, and turned it down anyway. Ivan Rodriguez was probably my favorite signing for a specific team, as he should be a real help to the Nationals rotation and lineup with his experience, and his winning track record. Nearly all of these signings are of the low-risk, high-potential variety, and no really big contracts either.

First Basemen
Name Old New Years Total $
Adam LaRoche ATL ARI 1 $6 M
Aubrey Huff DET SF 1 $3 M
Nick Johnson FLA NYY 1 $5.75 M
Troy Glaus STL ATL 1 $1.75 M
Jason Giambi COL COL 1 $1.75 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: Russell Branyan (SEA), Carlos Delgado (NYM), Hank Blalock (TEX)

This year’s crop of free agent first basemen really didn’t have a lot of high-end talent, with Branyan and LaRoche probably having the best seasons of any of the players available. As a result, we saw exclusively 1 year contracts for most players, and some still looking for work. Branyan is really the biggest surprise, although his published demands early on during the offseason may have scared away a lot of teams. Next year’s class of 1B free agents is extremely strong, including Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman, Derrek Lee, and Carlos Pena. This may also have contributed to the lack of long contracts, as teams may not want to tie up the position for next season’s bonanza. Another group of lower-risk, higher-potential contracts that if they don’t work, will not really cause any problems for the teams that signed them.

Third Basemen
Name Old New Years Total $
Mark DeRosa STL SF 2 $12 M
Adam Kennedy OAK WAS 1 $1.25 M
Chone Figgins LAA SEA 4 $36 M
Adrian Beltre SEA BOS 1 $10 M
Melvin Mora BAL COL 1 $1.3 M
Garrett Atkins COL BAL 1 $4.5 M
Pedro Feliz PHI HOU 1 $4.5 M
Miguel Tejada HOU BAL 1 $6 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: Joe Crede (MIN)

3rd base actually had some solid free agent signings, with some big dollars as well. Beltre got the highest annual salary at $10 M from the Red Sox. That contract actually seemed like a bit of a surprise, as the Red Sox still have Mike Lowell who will now be relegated to bench duty. Figgins was the cream of the crop of this group, and got a well-deserved $36 M contract from the Mariners. The other signing I really found interesting was the Miguel Tejada signing. Tejada has never played 3B before, but will be moving to the position in his return to the Orioles. It looks like a really good value signing for the Orioles, and provides some more veteran leadership in the Orioles clubhouse.