Tag Archives: Alcides Escobar

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

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Trade Review – Zack Greinke to the Brewers


After all of the posturing that was coming out about what the Royals were looking for in return for 2009 Cy Young winner Zack Greinke, it appears that a trade came together pretty quickly. Jim Breen over at Bernie’s Crew broke the story last evening, and the trade that appears to have been finalized was Greinke, Yuniesky Betancourt, and $2 M going to the Brewers in exchange for SS Alcides Escobar, OF Lorenzo Cain, SP Jake Odorizzi, and SP Jeremy Jeffress.

Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers have really improved their starting pitching with both the acquisition of Shaun Marcum and now Zack Greinke. Their rotation now consists of Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, Marcum, Randy Wolf, and Chris Narveson most likely, which could well be the top starting rotation in the NL Central, and probably 3rd in the NL behind the Phillies and the Giants.

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Fantasy Rankings in Review – Shortstop


Back in February, I took my first shot at attempting to rank players for fantasy purposes. After a full season, I thought it wise to take a look back at how they went, and compare them to how it actually turned out and see if there is anything to be gained from it. Next up is the review of my SS rankings.

My Preseason Rankings
1. Hanley Ramirez
2. Troy Tulowitzki
3. Jimmy Rollins
4. Ben Zobrist
5. Derek Jeter
6. Jose Reyes
7. Jason Bartlett
8. Elvis Andrus
9. Marco Scutaro
10. Alexei Ramirez
11. Ryan Theriot
12. Asdrubal Cabrera
13. Miguel Tejada
14. Alcides Escobar
15. Cliff Pennington

Yahoo’s Final Rankings (Top 15)
1. Troy Tulowitzki
2. Hanley Ramirez
3. Derek Jeter
4. Alexei Ramirez
5. Jose Reyes
6. Stephen Drew
7. Alex Gonzalez
8. Marco Scutaro
9. Rafael Furcal
10. Ben Zobrist
11. Omar Infante
12. Juan Uribe
13. Miguel Tejada
14. Elvis Andrus
15. Ian Desmond

I also mentioned J.J. Hardy, Stephen Drew, Yunel Escobar, and Everth Cabrera as potential deep league plays, and specifically to avoid Rafael Furcal.
From my preseason rankings, Cliff Pennington (19), Ryan Theriot (21), and Jason Bartlett (23) all finished in the top 25. Jimmy Rollins, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Alcides Escobar all finished outside of the top 25.
Free Agents: Edgar Renteria, Miguel Tejada, Juan Uribe

What We Saw

  • Despite missing part of the season, Troy Tulowitzki pretty clearly had the best season of anyone with SS eligibility. His September was definitely one to remember as well. I imagine we might see some rankings next year with him ahead of Hanley Ramirez, but I’m not sure I could go that far yet. But I definitely wouldn’t fault people who do that.
  • Derek Jeter had what was widely considered to be a down year for himself in 201, and still finished 3rd in Yahoo’s rankings. While the batting average was definitely down, he still had double digit steals and home runs, and scored 111 runs. Still a lot of value there.
  • So much for my thought that the fantasy value of Rafael Furcal was less than zero. Oops. He would have been higher up in the final rankings had he played more games, but I’m not sold he would have kept up that production if he had.
  • Jimmy Rollins is going to be a very nice value pick to some people next year, but I definitely don’t trust him to either stay healthy or to be productive when he is healthy. It is telling that he fell outside the top 25 at a position as shallow as SS.
  • Ian Desmond and Starlin Castro both strike me as players who will be in the top 15 for 2011, if not potentially top 10 players. They should improve with a full season under their belts.
  • Overall, the position is probably at one of its most shallow points. It seems to fall off pretty quick once you get past the top 5 or so, and you kind of end up with a lot of players who do 1 or 2 things, but not all 5.

Preliminary 2011 Rankings (Very Raw)
1. Hanley Ramirez
2. Troy Tulowitzki
3. Jose Reyes
4. Derek Jeter
5. Alexei Ramirez
6. Stephen Drew
7. Jimmy Rollins
8. Ian Desmond
9. Elvis Andrus
10. Starlin Castro

Midseason Review


We are halfway through the season and as happens every year, it doesn’t quite go exactly as we all thought it would.

Right before the season started, I wrote up my preseason predictions of how I thought the playoffs and awards would go:

American League

Correct so far: New York Yankees
Incorrect so far: Boston Red Sox (Tampa Bay Rays), Minnesota Twins (Chicago White Sox), Seattle Mariners (Texas Rangers)

National League

Correct so far: None
Incorrect so far: Philadelphia Phillies (Atlanta Braves), Chicago Cubs (Cincinnati Reds), Los Angeles Dodgers (San Diego Padres), St. Louis Cardinals (Colorado Rockies)

League Leaders at the Half

Batting Average: Miguel Cabrera (DET) and Josh Hamilton (TEX) – .346
Runs: Carl Crawford (TAM) – 70
Hits: Martin Prado (ATL) – 121
Home Runs: Jose Bautista (TOR) – 24
Runs Batted In: Miguel Cabrera (DET) – 77
Stolen Bases: Juan Pierre (CHW) – 32

Wins: Ubaldo Jimenez (COL) – 15
ERA: Josh Johnson (FLA) – 1.70
Strikeouts: Jered Weaver (LAA) – 137
Saves: Joakim Soria (KC) – 25

The Top Stories

The Year of the Pitcher Again?

The pitchers look like they may have gained back some of the advantage again versus the hitters, as we’re seeing a lot of amazing performances out of both elite and non-elite pitchers.

Starting Pitchers with an ERA under 3.00: 17
Starting Pitchers with 10+ wins: 12
Starting Pitchers with a FIP under 3.00: 6
Starting Pitchers with a WHIP under 1.10: 14

And of course, there’s the no-hitters:

Let’s not forget Armando Galarraga either, and his near-perfecto on June 2nd.

Ken Griffey Jr Abruptly Retires

Almost randomly,  Ken Griffey Jr. announced his retirement on June 2nd. I wrote up my thoughts on his career shortly after the announcement, but the long and short of it remains that Griffey always seemed to be having more fun than anyone else on the field, and was really a joy to watch play, no matter what he was doing.  I have no doubt in my mind that he’s going into the Hall of Fame at first opportunity.

Sadly, the story was lost among the Armando Galarraga near perfect game, as it happened about an hour after the announcement. Hopefully the Mariners will have him back at some point before the end of the season to really give him a great sendoff.

The Cliff Lee Sweepstakes

The Mariners were widely predicted to win the AL West on the strength of the arms of Felix Hernandez and offseason acquisition Cliff Lee. Unfortunately, the team has floundered quite a bit, to the point where it became only a matter of time for the Mariners to start selling off the pieces, including their newly acquired ace Lee. The trade discussions centered around the unlikely competitors of the Reds, Twins, and Rangers, along with the usual suspects (Yankees, Red Sox, Rays). Nearly every top prospect in their systems was mentioned as the potential trade pieces in return. It was even stranger when the Mariners had come to a deal with the Yankees, only to have that one fall apart and be replaced by a trade with the Rangers. I wrote up what I thought of the trade, and really liked it for both teams involved.

Break Up the Reds and the Padres!

Completely unexpectedly, the Reds and the Padres are both leading their divisions as we approach the All-Star break. The Padres are doing it with the best pitching in the Majors, led by young phenom Mat Latos (10-4, 2.45) and top power hitter Adrian Gonzalez (.301, 18 HR, 56 RBI). The Reds are being led by MVP candidate Joey Votto (.315, 22 HR, 60 RBI, 1.014 OPS), and a resurgent Scott Rolen (.292, 17 HR, 57 RBI). I honestly think that barring some unexpected injuries or other unusual circumstances, both teams have the talent available to hold on to their leads throughout the rest of the season.

3 Teams, A Maxiumum of 2 Spots

The AL East continues to improve every single year, as the Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees have been trading 1st through 3rd in the division back and forth all season. Through Friday’s games, all 3 teams have the 3 top records in the American League. Clearly, this presents a problem, as only 2 of them can make the playoffs. Someone is going to have to separate themselves at some point, but I’m not sure when that is going to happen. The Rays got off to a hot start, but have struggled of late. The Yankees got off to a slow start but have come on strong and now lead the division. Even the Red Sox are only 5 games back despite having suffered an unusually high amount of injuries. Someone is going to be sitting at home unhappy despite potentially winning 90+ games in that division.

Managers Available for Hire

We could be looking at potentially having nearly half the teams in the Majors change managers by the start of the 2011 season. 4 teams have already gotten the ball started, with Fredi Gonzalez (Marlins), Trey Hillman (Royals), Dave Trembley (Orioles) and A.J. Hinch of the Diamondbacks. In addition, major skippers like Joe Torre of the Dodgers and Lou Piniella of the Cubs are both in the final year of their contracts, and it appears that more and more that neither man is likely to return. And of course, there is the expected retirement of the Braves’ Bobby Cox and Blue Jays’ Cito Gaston after this season as well. Invariably, there will be some other managers that could lose their jobs before the start of next year, and my own speculation leads me to think that potentially teams like the Brewers, Pirates, Athletics and even the Mariners could all potentially see new managers as well.

The Rookie Class of 2010

It seems like this year’s rookie class is by far one of the best in many years. The season started out with Atlanta Braves’ OF Jason Heyward making the team out of Spring Training, and has not let up ever since. 13 of Baseball America’s Top 20 prospects have already made their debuts, and many of them are seeing a lot of success.

  • Carlos Santana of the Indians is hitting .284 with 5 HR and 16 RBI since being called up on June 11th.
  • Buster Posey of the Giants is hitting .333 with 6 HR and 20 RBI while playing both catcher and first base.
  • Tyler Colvin of the Cubs has hit 12 homeruns in part time playing time so far this season.
  • Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch of the Tigers have been going back and forth for the AL Rookie of the Year award. Jackson got off to a hot start, but Boesch has passed him at this point. Boesch is leading all rookies with 12 homeruns and 48 runs batted in, and also is hitting .345.
  • Gaby Sanchez of the Marlins is quietly hitting .299 with 9 homeruns and 38 runs batted in.
  • Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals has exceeded all expectations, posting an 8-4 record with a 2.17 ERA and 80 strikeouts so far.
  • Mike Leake of the Reds surprised everyone by coming up without playing a single game in the minors and has a 6-1 record with a 3.53 ERA.
  • Neftali Feliz of the Rangers has stabilized the back end of their bullpen, recording 23 saves and earning himself an All-Star appearance.

Other top prospects that have come up as well: Pedro Alvarez of the Pirates, Mike Stanton of the Marlins, Alcides Escobar of the Brewers, Ike Davis of the Mets, and Justin Smoak of the Rangers… er Mariners.

Clearly though, the most anticipated debut didn’t come until June 8th…

Strasburg

June 8th was the Major League debut of the phenom, Nationals’ top prospect Stephen Strasburg. His starts in the minors were selling out every time through. He was sent down to the Minors after Spring Training to work on his performance with runners on base. As if he was actually allowing any of those down there. His minor league numbers (AA and AAA): 11 starts, 7-2, 1.30 ERA, 65 strikeouts to 13 walks in 55 1/3 innings pitched. At times, his stuff looked absolutely dominant, but the concern remained: Could he repeat this performance at the Major League level?

For the most part, the answer to that question is a resounding Yes. His debut against the lowly Pirates: 14 strikeouts, 0 walks, and a victory in 7 innings. So far, he has a 3-2 record with a 2.32 ERA and 61 strikeouts in just 42 2/3 innings pitched. He has had some games where his control has been less than stellar, including the 5 walk performance against the Indians. I have to admit, I thought that he would have some struggles when he got up to the Majors, but I didn’t anticipate the excellent performance overall that he has given to this point. The longer that Jason Heyward stays on the disabled list, the more likely it becomes that Strasburg will win the Rookie of the Year award for the National League. He simply looks dominant out there in nearly every start, and the stuff he throws is simply amazing. I hope he can stay healthy long term, as he is really going to be something special if he can.

Overall Reactions

After so many games being played, it has been a really good season to this point. As it seems to happen every season, there are some things that don’t go the way everyone expects, but it definitely makes it more interesting when there are new stories that emerge over the span of the season. It looks like it’s going to be a good race in many of the divisions, and could go down to the wire.

No post on Tuesday this week, and I’ll be back with a new post on Wednesday.

Original Draft Series – #25 – Milwaukee Brewers


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

Team #25: Milwaukee Brewers

General Managers(since 1994)

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

Team Performance

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

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

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

June Amateur Draft

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

International Free Agency

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

Overall Grade

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

Team Preview – Milwaukee Brewers


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Gregg Zaun SP 1 Yovani Gallardo
1B Prince Fielder SP 2 Randy Wolf
2B Rickie Weeks SP 3 Doug Davis
3B Casey McGehee SP 4 Jeff Suppan
SS Alcides Escobar SP 5 Dave Bush
LF Ryan Braun Bullpen
CF Carlos Gomez CL Trevor Hoffman
RF Corey Hart RP LaTroy Hawkins
Bench RP Todd Coffey
IF Craig Counsell RP Mitch Stetter
OF Jim Edmonds RP Manny Parra

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
SP Randy Wolf Free Agency SS J.J. Hardy Trade (MIN)
CF Carlos Gomez Trade (MIN) CF Mike Cameron Free Agency
SP Doug Davis Free Agency C Jason Kendall Free Agency

Top Prospects: Brett Lawrie (2B), Alcides Escobar (SS), Mat Gamel (3B)

2009 Review

The Brewers finished the 2009 season with an 80-82 record, good for 3rd place in the division. The team had some excellent performances on offense, led by 1B Prince Fielder (.299, 46 HR, 141 RBI), LF Ryan Braun (.320, 32 HR, 114 RBI, 20 SB), and rookie IF Casey McGehee (.301, 16 HR,  66 RBI). Unfortunately, the rest of the offense was rather middling, and only scored 785 runs last year. The pitching staff, now missing the excellent half-season of free-agent departee C.C. Sabathia, was led by Yovani Gallardo (13-12, 3.73 ERA). Unfortunately, the rest of the staff pitched extremely inconsistently, with replacement level performances from Braden Looper, Jeff Suppan, Manny Parra, and Dave Bush.

Team Outlook for 2010

The Brewers officially ushered in the Major league career of SS prospect Alcides Escobar early in the offseason with the trade of SS J.J. Hardy to the Twins. They were able to replace free agents C Jason Kendall and SP Braden Looper with C Gregg Zaun and SP Doug Davis, respectively. The Hardy trade also brought their replacement for CF Mike Cameron, another free agent departee. Their main free agent signing this offseason has to be SP Randy Wolf. Wolf will help to bring stability to the rotation, and allow Davis, Jeff Suppan, and Dave Bush to slot in closer to their proper positions in the rotation. The offense is led by elite 1B Prince Fielder and LF Ryan Braun, and should be helped by the return of 2B Rickie Weeks and RF Corey Hart from injuries. This team has done well to build around its solid core of top players, and has also tried to find some veteran presence with Trevor Hoffman and OF Jim Edmonds.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

OF Ryan Braun and 1B Prince Fielder are both 1st round talents regardless of format. After that, SP Yovani Gallardo is really the only player who’s ownable in all formats. For some deeper leagues, I would recommend SS Alcides Escobar (for SB potential), and SP Randy Wolf as well.

Prediction for 2010

The Brewers are improved over last season, but I think that they’re going to need a little luck if they were to pass either Chicago or St. Louis. As of right now, their offense and pitching are both not quite up to the standard of a division leader. But they’re getting closer.

83-79, 3rd in the NL Central

Fantasy Preview – Shortstop


A note about my rankings: I am assuming a standard scoring league (5×5) with the following categories:

R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, W, SV, ERA, K, WHIP

Also, I have done a lot of statistical analysis in the past, but I’m not ready to start calculating my own projections statistically. So for me, a lot of this is based entirely on gut feel (which of these 2 players would I want), and looking at previous performance. All statistics are from the 2009 season.

My top 15 Shortstops for 2010

1. Hanley Ramirez – FLA
R HR RBI SB AVG
101 24 106 27 .342
Ramirez set career highs in batting average and runs batted in in 2009, and is still only 26 years old heading into the season. Ramirez provides excellent value in all 5 categories, and I could see him potentially getting back into 30-30 range this season as well. While I think that the batting average would suffer somewhat with an increase in power, he’s still far and away the best shortstop for fantasy purposes coming into the 2010 season.



2. Troy Tulowitzki – COL
R HR RBI SB AVG
101 32 92 20 .297
Tulowitzki has been a bit of a mixed bag the last few seasons, as I’m sure owners who had him in 2008 would attest. As a result, he fell on draft day last year, and 2009 owners got a great value out of Troy. Tulowitzki is also another young shortstop (still only 25), and could conceivably see more growth as both a power hitter and a run producer. I think he can very easily achieve numbers similar to his 2009 season again.



3. Jimmy Rollins – PHI
R HR RBI SB AVG
100 21 77 31 .250
Rollins will look to rebound this season, as he had a terrible first half of the season. Dragging down his average last season was his batting average on balls in play (.251), which if it regresses closer to the mean, should improve his average between 20 and 30 points. I think that the rest of the numbers are probably pretty close to spot on for a 2010 season as well, with potentially a few more steals due to being on base more often.



4. Ben Zobrist – TAM
Also qualifies at 2B and OF
R HR RBI SB AVG
91 27 91 17 .297
I talked about Zobrist in the 2B preview. I think that the positional flexibility puts him slightly ahead of players with similar numbers at this position. I also think he’s going to have to be drafted slightly higher than his stats would normally suggest.



5. Derek Jeter – NYY
R HR RBI SB AVG
107 18 66 30 .334
Jeter was a bit of a shocker last season, as he posted numbers that approached his career high in multiple categories, all at the age of 35. I think he was partially helped by the new Yankee Stadium, but I also think that Jeter can post similar numbers again this year. The power may drop slightly (think 15 instead of 18), but the average is not that far out of his normal range, and neither is the speed or runs. The Yankee lineup is going to create a lot of runs, and Jeter near the top of the order will be in line to score a lot of them as well.



6. Jose Reyes – NYM
R HR RBI SB AVG
18 2 15 11 .279
Nearly everyone who drafted Jose Reyes last year was hurt pretty badly as a result of it. Shut down by a leg injury, Reyes played in only 36 games last season, and posting reasonable stats for him in that time. All reports seem to indicate that Reyes is back to 100%, and if so, is a threat to steal 50 bases and hit 15 homers again. Watch for reports during spring training regarding his ability to run. If there are problems during spring training with that, I’d be extremely concerned. I have him ranked here because of the upside related to that speed.



7. Jason Bartlett – TAM
R HR RBI SB AVG
90 14 66 30 .320
Bartlett posted an excellent season for the Rays last year, posting career highs in all 5 categories. Of some concern to me are two peripheral statistics. His line-drive percentage spiked to 26%, from a career mark of around 20%. Also, his BABIP was a career high .364, up from his 2008 season mark of .330. The speed appears legitimate, although I would draft Bartlett with caution. If you expect him to post a similar season to 2009, you could be in for a rude awakening.



8. Elvis Andrus – TEX
R HR RBI SB AVG
72 6 40 33 .267
Andrus posted an excellent rookie season last year, and should see some growth potential this season. Andrus will enter the 2010 season at only 21 years old, but I think he will have the potential to score more runs, and even see a slight improvement in his steals and batting average as well. I don’t believe he has yet begun to approach his potential.



9. Marco Scutaro – BOS
R HR RBI SB AVG
100 12 60 14 .282
Scutaro improved on his 2008 campaign by cementing himself in the discussion for fantasy shortstops. He’s not likely to provide a huge amount of homers or steals, but will provide value in all 5 categories. I think that the move to Boston, with their better lineup and with the Green Monster in LF will help him, as he tended to pull most of his homeruns last year. I think that he could conceivably score more runs and have more RBI as well. Even at 34, I think there is still some upside in Scutaro.



10. Alexei Ramirez – CHW
R HR RBI SB AVG
71 15 68 14 .277
Ramirez improved on his plate discipline last season, and while it didn’t show in his batting average or power, it bodes well for him to continue to improve. I think that Ramirez has the potential to post a 20-20 season, although I am not 100% sure it will be this season. I’d be pretty happy with the season he posted last year. He’s probably going to fall closer to where he should be drafted this year, due to the loss of the positional flexibility he had coming into the 2009 season. But he’s still a solid value shortstop, and owners should be pretty happy with the results he provides.



11. Ryan Theriot – CHC
R HR RBI SB AVG
81 7 54 21 .284
The Riot posted a solid season last year, but there is something of some concern I noted in some of his other statistics. 2009 was the first season that his walk total was substantially lower than his strikeout total (51 BB/93 K). This was also easily the highest strikeout total he’s had as a Major Leaguer. I think that if he can cut down the strikeouts back toward the totals he has posted in the past (50, 58), his average could approach .300 again. Which would be really helpful, as I don’t believe he’s going to necessarily hit more than 5 homers this season.



12. Asdrubal Cabrera – CLE
Also qualifies at 2B
R HR RBI SB AVG
81 6 68 17 .308
I also wrote about Cabrera in my 2B rankings. I think he provides a good value at SS, and will provide some value in all 5 categories. He seems to be getting a lot of hype this offseason, so he may end up being drafted earlier than expected.



13. Miguel Tejada – BAL
Will qualify at 3B after 5 starts
R HR RBI SB AVG
83 14 86 5 .313
I actually didn’t write up Tejada at 3B, as I thought his value wasn’t that high compared to some of the other players at the position. Tejada seems unlikely to post more than about 15 homers at this point, but should be the beneficiary of more chances to score and drive in runs in the Orioles lineup. The average should stay similar, and the positional flexibility he will possess after the first week of the season will be a nice bonus as well. But I don’t think he’s going to approach the numbers he posted in his MVP season unless he starts counting other players’ stats as his own.



14. Alcides Escobar – MIL
R HR RBI SB AVG
20 1 11 4 .304
Escobar has been handed the starting SS job in Milwaukee after the trade of J.J. Hardy. He looks to be a speedster, who I could see stealing 30-40 bases with the playing time he’s going to receive. Do remember though that he is still a rookie, and will likely see some struggles as a result. Over the span of the season, he should approach 90 runs and a .290 batting average. There’s some upside here, but he’s probably not likely to become either Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins for a couple of years, if ever.



15. Cliff Pennington – OAK
R HR RBI SB AVG
27 4 21 7 .279
Another upside play, Pennington looks to me like a threat to steal 20+ bases in a full season. He’s unlikely to show a lot of power, as the 7 homeruns he hit last year between AAA and the Majors was his career high. Another thought of some concern would be the fact that the A’s aren’t exactly well known for producing a whole lot of runs. At this point in the rankings though, I’d rather have some upside, and Pennington does have some.


After my top 15, there’s still some potentially useful players. J.J Hardy of the Twins stands out as someone to monitor during spring training. This is a player who posted back to back 20+ homer seasons back in 2007-2008. If you’re still looking at this point for a shortstop, Stephen Drew and Yunel Escobar will provide some value in most categories without necessarily killing you in others. In the speed demon group, you’ve got Everth Cabrera, who is a cheap source of steals. You may have noticed a specific “name” player who I haven’t really mentioned at this point, and that’s Rafael Furcal of the Dodgers. Furcal, to me, looks like a player who has transitioned into a better real-life player than fantasy player. He does provide some value though, and is another player to keep an eye on during the season.

Tomorrow I will continue on with my team previews, as I review the American League Central this week, starting with the Chicago White Sox.

Trade Review – MIL/MIN


Milwaukee trades J.J. Hardy to Minnesota for Carlos Gomez
Source: ESPN.com

When I first heard this trade, I really liked it for both teams. Hardy fills an immediate need for the Twins at SS, and only takes away from a position of strength. For the Twins, they are able to shift Denard Span permanently to CF, and have either Michael Cuddyer or Jason Kubel go to RF. For the Brewers, this allows them to let Mike Cameron leave via free-agency, and take that savings to help improve the team in other areas. This definitely signals the start of the Alcides Escobar era in Milwaukee, as he will likely be handed the starting SS job.

Overall, I like this trade a lot. One of those trades that makes too much sense.

Some other opinions and information:

Beyond the Box Score takes a look at the impact of this trade on the defense of the Twins next season.
They also take a look at the value provided to each team by each player.