Last Year’s Records
Texas – 90-72
Oakland – 81-81
Los Angeles – 80-82
Seattle – 61-101
Last Year’s Records
Texas – 90-72
Oakland – 81-81
Los Angeles – 80-82
Seattle – 61-101
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
Cleveland – Orlando Cabrera
Minnesota – Tsuyoshi Nishioka
Cleveland – NONE
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. The last position up for review is the relief pitchers, and you can find my preseason rankings here. Note that I have removed any starting pitchers who appeared in these rankings due to previous season qualifications.
Yahoo’s Top 15 Relief Pitchers
1. Billy Wagner
2. Rafael Soriano
3. Heath Bell
4. Brian Wilson
5. Neftali Feliz
6. Carlos Marmol
7. Joakim Soria
8. Mariano Rivera
9. Hong-Chih Kuo
10. Matt Capps
11. John Axford
12. Chris Perez
13. Joaquin Benoit
14. Francisco Rodriguez
15. Andrew Bailey
Of my top 15 preseason ranks, Jonathan Broxton (1), Huston Street (8), Brian Fuentes (12), Francisco Cordero (13), Trevor Hoffman (14), and Ryan Franklin (15) all finished out of the top 15. Continue reading
For those that missed the guidelines I am using for this series of posts, you can find them here.
Team #3: Seattle Mariners
General Managers(since 1994)
Woody Woodward (1994-1999):458-445
Pat Gillick (2000-2003):393-359
Bill Bavasi (2004-2008):359-451
Jack Zduriencik (2009):85-77
All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.
|Position||Name||Acquired||Years with Org.
||Stats with Organization
|C||Jason Varitek||1994 – 1st Rd (14)||3||No Major League Appearances with Org.||Traded to SEA – 7/31/97|
|1B||Raul Ibanez||1992 – 36th Rd||8+5||986 gm, .284/.346/.464, 127 HR, 547 RBI, 21 SB||Left via Free Agency – 12/21/00, 10/30/08|
||Int’l FA – 2000||10||1 All Star Appearance
853 gm, .266/.297/.399, 77 HR, 422 RBI
|Currently with Org.|
|3B||Alex Rodriguez||1993 – 1st Rd (1)||7||4 All Star Appearances, 4 Silver Sluggers
790 gm, .309/.374/.561, 189 HR, 595 RBI, 133 SB
|Left via Free Agency – 10/30/00|
||Int’l FA – 2002||4||No Major League Appearances with Org.||Traded to CLE – 6/30/06|
|LF||Shin-Soo Choo||Int’l FA – 2000||6||14 gm, .069/.182/.103, RBI||Traded to CLE – 7/26/06|
|CF||Adam Jones||2003 – 1st Rd (37)||4||73 gm, .230/.267/.353, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 5 SB||Traded to BAL – 2/8/08|
||Int’l FA – 2001||10||2001 AL MVP and Rookie of the Year, 10 All Star Appearances, 9 Gold Gloves, 3 Silver Sluggers
1564 gm., .331/.376/.430, 89 HR, 550 RBI, 88 SB
|Currently with Org.|
|DH||David Ortiz||Int’l FA – 1992||4||No Major League Appearances||Traded to MIN – 9/13/96|
|SP||Felix Hernandez||Int’l FA – 2002||8||1 All Star Appearance
69-51, 3.23 ERA, 1124.1 IP, 1019 K, 347 BB
|Currently with Org.|
||2006 – 1st Rd (5)||3||8-12, 3.96 ERA, 197.2 IP, 204 K, 128 BB||Traded to TOR – 12/23/09|
|SP||Joel Pineiro||1997 – 12th Rd||11||58-55, 4.48 ERA, 996 IP, 658 K, 327 BB||Left via Free Agency – 12/12/06|
||1991 – 8th Rd||6||2-4, 6.96 ERA, 53 IP, 39 K, 20 BB||Traded to SEA – 7/31/97|
||1996 – 1st Rd (22)||10||55-44, 4.65 ERA, 815.1 IP, 575 K, 363 BB||Left via Free Agency – 10/31/06|
||Int’l FA – 1992||8||0-1, 9.35 ERA, 8.2 IP, 3 K, 6 BB||Left via Free Agency – 10/18/00|
|RP||Matt Thornton||1998 – 1st Rd (22)||7||1-6, 4.82 ERA, 89.2 IP, 87 K, 67 BB||Traded to SEA – 3/20/06|
|RP||Rafael Soriano||Int’l FA – 1996||10||4-8, 2.89 ERA, 4 SV, 171 IP, 177 K, 53 BB||Traded to ATL – 12/7/06|
|RP||Ryan Franklin||1992 – 23rd Rd||13||35-50, 4.34 ERA, 811.1 IP, 427 K, 238 BB||Left via Free Agency – 12/21/05|
|RP||J.J. Putz||1999 – 6th Rd||9||1 All Star Appearance
22-15, 3.07 ERA, 323 IP, 337 K, 104 BB
|Traded to NYM – 12/11/08|
|CL||Brian Fuentes||1995 – 25th Rd||6||1-1, 4.63 ERA, 11.2 IP, 10 K, 8 BB||Traded to COL – 12/16/01|
||Int’l FA – 1984||9||1 Gold Glove
660 gm, .252/.309/.303, 6 HR, 131 RBI, 39 SB
|Traded to CLE – 12/20/93|
|BN||Greg Dobbs||Amat. FA – 2001||5||100 gm, .257/.291/.351, 2 HR, 32 RBI||Selected off waivers by PHI – 1/15/07|
|BN||Yuniesky Betancourt||Int’l FA – 2005||4||588 gm,. 279/.302/.393, 27 HR, 202 RBI, 24 SB||Traded to KC – 7/10/09|
|BN||Jeff Clement||2005 – 1st Rd (3)||4||75 gm, .237/.309/.393, 7 HR, 26 RBI||Traded to PIT – 7/29/09|
||Int’l FA – 2002||6||18 gm, .245/.315/.347, RBI||Traded to CLE – 12/11/08|
June Amateur Draft
The Mariners have actually not been as active in the draft as I thought they had been. Clearly, the retirement of Ken Griffey Jr in the middle of the season removed him from this team, although to be honest he probably would have only been a bench player like he was in real life. The Mariners are unfortunately not seeing nearly as much success as they be expected to considering the quality level of the players listed here. Alex Rodriguez has clearly been the best player to this point overall, at least coming out of the draft. But the story for a lot of these players has been that they achieved their greatest success while with other teams. Morrow is very rapidly turning into a top starting pitcher, Lowe and Varitek were both traded short-sightedly to the Red Sox for a reliever, and of course the group of players who were dealt to acquire Erik Bedard (Jones, George Sherrill, Chris Tillman, among others).
International Free Agency
The Mariners have clearly done their best work in the international market. Ichiro, while not an amateur free agent, has clearly been the cream of the crop and has helped to define the organization ever since he arrived. But there have been so many other excellent players that were brought in by the Mariners as well, with King Felix Hernandez probably providing the most to the team while on the team. They have had some solid players go through the organization via this method as well, but unfortunately the story is very similar to the amateur draftees. The two that stand out to me are Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo, who were traded for a pair of platoon first basemen in Eduardo Perez and Ben Broussard. Both were just prospects when they were traded, but have turned into at worst solid major league regulars.
A. The Mariners are one of the few teams where I had to ignore quite a few players. There were probably another 10-15 players that could very well have ended up on the rosters of other organizations further down the list. I think that they did receive quite a bit of production from these players, and clearly the one who retired (Griffey) also helped the team stay in Seattle practically. They had an All-Star closer in J.J. Putz, a clear Ace in Felix Hernandez, and a future Hall of Famer in Ichiro Suzuki. Every position has someone who has become a major league regular, as well as players on the bench who have in some capacity as well. The pitching staff has 5 pitchers who have closed for at least some time in their careers, and a solid pitching rotation as well. Overall, they were immediately on my mind as one of my top teams overall.
If the Playoffs Started Today
Tampa Bay Rays (79-50) vs. Texas Rangers (73-57)
Minnesota Twins (75-56) vs. New York Yankees (80-50)
Philadelphia Phillies (73-57) vs. San Diego Padres (76-53)
Cincinnati Reds (75-55) vs. Atlanta Braves (75-55)
Called Up: Casper Wells, Micah Hoffpauir, Chris Valaika, Matt Carson, Fernando Salas, Ryan Roberts, Cameron Maybin, Sam LeCure, Collin Balester, Scott Maine, Alex Cora, Franklin Morales, Jordan Zimmermann, Juan Francisco,
Other Roster Moves:
Top Stories and Weekly Links
Upcoming Posts This Week:
Tuesday: I’ll be continuing on with the Original Draft Series, posting team #7
Wednesday: Month in Review for the month of August.
Saturday: I’ll be starting a month-long (once a week) series on the group of trades that were made by the Firesale Marlins from the end of their championship run in 1997 through the following season. Part 1 will be up on Saturday.
One Other Thing
Lastly, I wanted to bring up a charity that the Baseball Bloggers Alliance has taken up. Here’s the official word, and what you can do:
Pitch In For Baseball is delighted to have been selected to participate in State Farm’s ‘Go To Bat’ campaign. Now we need your
‘Go To Bat’ was launched nationally during the State Farm Home Run Derby. ’Go To Bat’ gives entrants a chance to win tickets to the upcoming World Series and selected charity partners the chance to receive significant financial support.
Here’s how to play and how to help Pitch In For Baseball:
* Go to www.statefarm.com/gotobat to register for your chance to win World Series tickets.
* As you register, you will get a chance to designate a charity that could win up to $25,000/week.
* To designate Pitch In For Baseball as your charity, select PUBLIC GOOD as the charity category and then choose Pitch In For
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* Revisit www.statefarm.com/gotobat each day and play the ‘Go To Bat’ online game to increase your chances for tickets and Pitch In For
Baseball’s chance at financial support
Thanks to all the readers who help out with this. You can find a lot more information about Pitch In For Baseball at their website
It’s been a pretty busy week, what with a 20 inning game, a no-hitter, and some really excellent performances.
If the Playoffs Started Today (Which Clearly, They Don’t)
Tampa Bay (WC) vs. Minnesota (C)
Oakland (W) vs. New York (E)
St. Louis (C) vs. Philadelphia (E)
Florida (WC) vs. San Francisco (W)
Last Week’s Top Performers
Shin-Soo Choo (CLE) – .579/.680/1.211, 3 HR, 11 RBI, SB, 5 R
Jose Guillen (KC) – .462/.500/.885, 3 HR, 5 RBI, SB, 7 R
Brett Gardner (NYY) – .385/.529/.385, 5 R, RBI, 4 SB
Denard Span (MIN) – .381/.552/.524, 8 R, 3 RBI, 3 SB
Ty Wigginton (BAL) – .348/.385/.913, 6 R, 4 HR, 10 RBI
Derek Jeter (NYY) – .500/.500/.955, 5 R, 3 HR, 7 RBI
Ivan Rodriguez (WAS) – .476/.500/.714, 7 R, 7 RBI, SB
Dan Uggla (FLA) – .464/.484/.821, 7 R, 2 HR, 7 RBI
Chase Utley (PHI) – .333/.481/1.048, 8 R, 5 HR, 8 RBI
Matt Kemp (LAD) – .333/.414/.875, 8 R, 4 HR, 8 RBI, SB
Andre Ethier (LAD) – ..423/.464/.769, 4 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI
Adam Wainwright (STL) – 17 IP, 1.06 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 2 W, 16 K
Matt Garza (TAM) – 16 IP, 0.56 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 2 W, 10 K
Ricky Romero (TOR) – 16 IP, 1.69 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, W, 18 K
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) – 12 1/3 IP, 2.19 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, W, 16 K
Ubaldo Jimenez (COL) – 9 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, W, 7 K (no-hitter)
Felipe Lopez (STL) – 1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP
Roster Movement and Job Changes
The biggest changes involved all the disabled list movement:
Also of some note last week was that 2nd year pitcher Brett Anderson signed a contract extension that could take him through the next 6 seasons. Risk on both sides, but I think that the A’s have probably locked up an ace for these next 6 seasons at minimal cost.
Top Rookie Performers
Jason Heyward continues to be the story, as he is now hitting .302/.423/.581 with 3 HR and 15 RBI in just the first two weeks of the season. He finished up last week with a 3-rbi day yesterday, including a walk-off 2 run single. At this rate, I would be shocked if anyone was able to keep up with him for the Rookie of the Year. Jamie Garcia of the Cardinals had a good outing as well, throwing 7 shutout innings during Saturday’s 20 inning matchup.
In the American League, Austin Jackson of the Tigers has gotten off to a hot start, hitting .340/.389/.500 with 9 runs and 5 rbi. Of some concern is the fact that he has struck out 15 times to only 4 walks so far, but he is producing well at the top of the lineup to this point.
Top Stories and This Week’s Links
Today is the last of my fantasy positional rankings today with the reliever rankings.
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.
|1. Jonathan Broxton – LAD
|Broxton is probably the most dominant strikeout reliever in the Majors right now. He’s going to get a lot of save chances, and has about as strong of a lock on the position as is possible. The win total seems unlikely to be repeated, but he’s going to give you a lot of saves and a very good ERA and WHIP as well.|
|2. Mariano Rivera – NYY
|Rivera is as stable as it comes. He’s going to get you a sub-2 ERA, 40+ saves, and a WHIP right around 1. There’s not a whole lot to be said about him other than he’s also extremely safe as well.|
|3. Jonathan Papelbon – BOS
|Papelbon is another closer who’s going to get a lot of save opportunities and strikes out more than batter per inning as well. I can see him getting over 40 saves this season as well|
|4. Joakim Soria – KC
|Soria has posted a few really good seasons in a row, and is also locked in as the closer for the Royals. He struck out more than 11 per 9 innings last year, and will post solid ratios as well.|
|5. Heath Bell – SD
|The only real concern I have about Bell is whether or not he gets moved by the Padres. But it seems likely to me that if he does get moved, he’s probably going to be closing for whomever he goes to, since he’s still under team control for another 2 seasons. High strikeouts, low ratios, and a lock on the job as long as he’s in San Diego.|
|6. Andrew Bailey – OAK
|Bailey was an epiphany last season, taking the closing job in early May and never looking back. He should post a high strikeout rate and low ratios, although the ERA is unlikely to remain as low as it was last season.|
|7. Brian Wilson – SF
|I’ve never been a huge fan of Wilson, but I think that has more to do with him being on the Giants than anything. But he’s got a lock on the Giants’ closer job, and is going to provide strikeouts and good ratios as well.|
|8. Huston Street – COL
|Street came into the 2009 season having been traded to the Rockies, and without a guaranteed closing job. But he quickly took over the job, and returned to the form that had won him the Rookie of the Year award. I have to imagine that unless he struggles pretty mightily, he will remain the closer and I wouldn’t be concerned about the fact that he’s in Colorado.|
|9. Francisco Rodriguez – NYM
|The walks are a real concern. But this is a trend that has been going on for the last 3 seasons, and a lowered strikeout rate as well. The Mets are committed to him for another 2 seasons at another $25 M total, so I think he’s going to have to struggle pretty badly for him to lose his job. But the Mets seem unlikely to get a massive amount of save opportunities, and all in all makes Rodriguez a bad value to me.|
|10. Rafael Soriano – TAM
|The concern here is health. He pitched excellently last season, and provides an extremely high strikeout rate. I think he’s going to see a slight increase in his ratios due to pitching in the AL East now, but he still seems likely to post a sub 1.2 WHIP and sub 3 ERA.|
|11. Billy Wagner – ATL
|Wagner did very well this offseason, and all signs point to him having an excellent season. The health is still some concern, but as long as he stays healthy he should be a lock as the closer for the Braves. He posted an excellent strikeout rate, and could conceivably provide top-5 closer value if he is healthy all year long.|
|12. Brian Fuentes – LAA
|Fuentes and his lower strikeout rate concern me, as does the walk rate. He did lead the league in saves, but for when you will have to take him, I’ll pass. The fact that there’s a closer in waiting in that bullpen does not persuade me otherwise.|
|13. Francisco Cordero – CIN
|Cordero, quietly, continues to post solid, if not amazing seasons in Cincinnati. His walk rate remains a concern, which has elevated his WHIP. 2009 saw a drop in his strikeout rate, but it is still a respectable 7.83. A good second tier closer.|
|14. Trevor Hoffman – MIL
|Hoffman remains a good source of saves. He’s not going to strikeout a lot of batters at this point, but the only way I can see him losing his job as the closer is to injure himself.|
|15. Ryan Franklin – STL
|Franklin had what was easily his best season last year, posting career bests in ERA and WHIP along with the 38 saves. He’s going into this season with the closer job sewn up, but I think that he’s going to see some regression. The hard part with Franklin is that he’s not going to provide a lot of strikeouts for the innings he pitches, but the saves are still worth something. Just don’t go looking for this season to go as well as last did.|
After my top 15, there’s a lot of closers still available. I generally tend to be of the mindset that saves come into the league, so I think it’s important that if you’re going to look for saves to keep an eye on strikeout rates. There’s a lot of unsettled jobs as of these rankings (WAS, PIT, FLA, MIN) as well to watch during Spring Training.
There are a lot of relievers that can provide some value in deeper leagues, even if they are not providing saves.
Tomorrow I will continue on with my team previews, as I review the National League East this week, starting with the Atlanta Braves.
|C||Mike Napoli||SP 1||Jered Weaver|
|1B||Kendry Morales||SP 2||Scott Kazmir|
|2B||Howie Kendrick||SP 3||Joe Saunders|
|3B||Brandon Wood||SP 4||Joel Pineiro|
|SS||Erick Aybar||SP 5||Ervin Santana|
|CF||Torii Hunter||CL||Brian Fuentes|
|RF||Bobby Abreu||RP||Fernando Rodney|
|DH||Hideki Matsui||RP||Scot Shields|
|C||Jeff Mathis||RP||Sean O’Sullivan|
|IF||Maicer Izturis||RP||Sean Palmer|
Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.
|Key Additions||Key Losses|
|RP||Fernando Rodney||Free Agency||DH||Vladimir Guerrero||Free Agency|
|DH||Hideki Matsui||Free Agency||SP||John Lackey||Free Agency|
|SP||Joel Pineiro||Free Agency||3B||Chone Figgins||Free Agency|
Top Prospects: Trevor Reckling (P), Hank Conger (C), Peter Bourjos (OF), Mike Trout (OF)
The Angels were the class of the AL West last season, winning the division by 10 games. They were led on the offense by Torii Hunter (.299/.366/.508, 22 HR 90 RBI, 18 SB), Bobby Abreu (.293/.390/.435, 15 HR, 103 RBI, 30 SB), and Kendry Morales (.306/.355/.569, 34 HR, 108 RBI). The pitching staff was led by Jered Weaver (16-8, 3.75 ERA), Joe Saunders (16-7, 4.60), and John Lackey (11-8, 3.83). The Angels met the wild-card Red Sox in the division round of the playoffs, and swept them pretty handily. This led them to the AL East Champion Yankees, and unfortunately were eliminated in 6 games.
Morales finally showed the promise that had been talked about, and actually performed similarly to the man he replaced in Mark Teixeira. Free agent signee Bobby Abreu brought another solid performance as well, and first-year closer Brian Fuentes led the league with 48 saves. Late season acquisition Scott Kazmir rebounded from his poor performance while in Tampa with a 2-2 record and 1.73 ERA in 6 starts.
Team Outlook for 2010
The Angels needed to address some rather glaring holes during the offseason, most notably with free agents John Lackey and Chone Figgins signing with other teams. They started before the season even ended by acquiring SP Scott Kazmir from the Rays. I think that they did very well to get DH Hideki Matsui to replace some of the production of outgoing DH Vladimir Guerrero, and adding Joel Pineiro to their rotation should also give them some solid innings toward the back-end of the rotation.
The one need that I think that they didn’t really address was the loss of Chone Figgins. Brandon Wood is currently slotted in to replace Figgins at 3B, and should provide some excellent power now that he’s being given the chance to play full time. But I don’t think that the Angels have really got a player that can hit at the top of the order and provide that type of production like Figgins.
The pitching staff is now led by Jered Weaver, and slots in solid started behind in Joe Saunders, Scott Kazmir, and Joel Pineiro. The bullpen I believe will be the same strength, as they have signed Fernando Rodney to help fill the innings that Jose Arredondo was throwing, and could potentially close if something were to happen to Brian Fuentes.
I don’t think that they will see a lot of promoted prospects from their top lists, as many of their best prospects are still at AA or below. Brandon Wood should be really exciting to see with full-time playing time, and has the potential to hit 30 homers at some point.
Fantasy Outlook for 2010
Top players for the Angels for fantasy purposes include 1B Kendry Morales, C Mike Napoli, CF Torii Hunter, RF Bobby Abreu, and SP Jered Weaver. In deeper leagues, SS Erick Aybar, 2B Howie Kendrick, and DH Hideki Matsui should all provide some value as well. The Angels have two high-upside players available in my opinion: SP Scott Kazmir and SP Ervin Santana. Both of them have the potential to strikeout a batter per inning, and post solid numbers. They have both done it in their past, and could definitely do it again.
Prediction for 2010
The AL West has gotten better, and while it hasn’t been a huge jump forward, that coupled with the slight step back of the Angels, leads me to think that this division is really wide open. The Angels have become known for outperforming the Pythagorean expected win-loss record, so it wouldn’t really surprise me for them to outperform it again. I think that they will finish extremely close to the top, if they don’t win it all. As of right now, I think the Angels will finish 2nd, but it’s going to be extremely close.
86-76, T-2nd in the AL West