Tag Archives: Edwin Jackson

The Season’s Top Stories: The Year of the Pitcher?


Throughout the month of October, I’ll be reviewing some of the top stories that were in the newly completed regular season. I wrote last week about the 2010 rookie class, and today’s post looks at the amazing season from pitchers in 2010.

The No-Hitters

The season was one for the ages in terms of no-hitters and perfect games, as there were 5 (3 no-hitters, 2 perfect games) thrown during the regular season. It started on April 17th with Ubaldo Jimenez blanking the Braves, and continued with the perfect games by Dallas Braden on Mother’s Day and Roy Halladay 20 days later. The Rays were involved in their 3rd no-hitter in a calendar year on June 25th, as they were blanked by Edwin Jackson of the Diamondbacks. A month after that, the Rays were finally on the positive end of a no-hitter when Matt Garza threw one against the Tigers.

The Low Hitters

In addition to the no-hitters, there were what seemed to be an inordinate amount of low hitters:

  • 1 hitters: 23 in 2010, 21 in 2009
  • 2 hitters: 45 in 2010, 52 in 2009
  • 3 hitters: 133 in 2010, 104 in 2009

And of course, there were the near misses, with the most notable clearly being the start of Armando Galarraga on June 2nd where he came within 1 out of a perfect game.

The Overall Numbers

Looking at the numbers of the top pitchers in the game, it’s amazing to see how they compared to last season. Each of these categories list the number of players who met the standard in 2010, followed by 2009:

  • ERA of 3.00 or less: 15 in 2010, 11 in 2009
  • 16 or more victories: 17, 12
  • 4 or more complete games: 12, 7
  • 2 or more shutouts: 9, 12
  • 220 or more innings pitched: 15, 10
  • 200 or more strikeouts: 15, 10
  • ERA+ of 130 or higher: 21, 21
  • WHIP of 1.20 or lower: 29, 17

Even the advanced statistics start showing us things as well:

  • FIP of 3.oo or lower: 5, 5
  • FIP of 3.50 or lower: 24, 17
  • WAR of 4 or higher: 31, 20

The thing that really stands out to me is that while there were definitely some elite numbers posted by some of the pitchers, as a general rule the entirety of the pitchers improved from previous seasons. The overall ERA for all pitchers: 4.08 in 2010, 4.32 in 2009. Even when looking at the fielding percentages to see if there were more errors being committed, the numbers don’t even bear that out as a problem: 3030 errors in 2010, 2865 in 2009, which translates to a difference of approximately 1/10th of an error more per game. Essentially, a negligible number in comparison to the drop in ERA.

It is hard for me to say what it is that is specifically causing the pitchers to be that much better, and while it would be easy to immediately chalk it up to the lessened amount of PEDs and amphetamines in the game, I think we could also be seeing another shift in the quality of players away from the hitters and slightly toward the pitchers again. It’s almost a cop-out in my opinion to decide that drugs are clearly the main cause of this shift. When you look at the sheer quantity of players coming into the Majors who are rapidly evolving into elite pitchers regardless of their role on the team, I think it speaks volumes about the development of the game and its ability to adjust as the game progresses through history.

I will be posting my selections for the Walter Johnson awards in the next few days, which select the top pitchers in each league, and it is really going to be a difficult choice this season when you look at how many pitchers had great seasons.

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Original Draft Series: #8 – Los Angeles Dodgers


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

Team #8: Los Angeles Dodgers

General Managers(since 1994)

Fred Claire (1994-1998): 397-347
Kevin Malone (1999-2001): 249-237
Dan Evans (2002-2003): 177-147
Paul DePodesta (2004-2005): 164-160
Ned Coletti (2006-Current): 349-299

Team Performance

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

All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C Russell Martin 2002 – 17th Rd 8 2 All Star Appearances, 1 Gold Glove, 1 Silver Slugger
667 gm, .272/.365/.396, 54 HR, 300 RBI, 66 SB
Currently with Org.
1B Paul Konerko 1994 – 1st Rd (13) 4 55 gm, .212/.271/.298, 4 HR, 16 RBI Traded to CIN – 7/4/98
2B Blake DeWitt
2004 – 1st Rd (28) 6 230 gm, .262/.340/.379, 12 HR, 86 RBI, 5 SB Traded to CHC – 7/31/10
3B Adrian Beltre Int’l FA – 1994 10 1 Silver Slugger
966 gm, .274/.332/.463, 147 HR, 510 RBI, 62 SB
Left via Free Agency – 10/28/04
SS Juan Castro Int’l FA – 1991 8+1+1 270 gm, .205/.258/.271, 3 HR, 32 RBI, SB Traded to CIN – 4/1/00
LF Shane Victorino 1999 – 6th Rd 5 No Major League Appearances with Org. Rule 5 Selection of PHI – 12/13/04
CF Franklin Gutierrez Int’l FA – 2000 4 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to CLE – 4/3/04
RF Matt Kemp
2003 – 6th Rd 7 1 Gold Glove, 1 Silver Slugger
588 gm, .289/.338/.472, 81 HR, 310 RBI, 101 SB
Currently with Org.
DH James Loney 2002 – 1st Rd (19) 8 586 gm, .292/.350/.442, 53 HR, 337 RBI, 24 SB Currently with Org.
SP Ted Lilly 1996 – 23rd Rd 2+1 4-0, 1.29 ERA, 28 IP, 26 K, 4 BB Traded to MON – 7/31/98
SP Edwin Jackson
2001 – 6th Rd 4 6-4, 5.50 ERA, 75.1 IP, 48 K, 39 BB, 1.566 WHIP Traded to TAM – 1/14/06
SP Clayton Kershaw 2006 – 1st Rd (7) 4 24-20, 3.24 ERA, 436 IP, 448 K, 210 BB, 1.298 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP Hiroki Kuroda
Int’l FA – 2007 3 25-28, 3.66 ERA, 448 IP, 321 K, 104 BB, 1.203 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP Chad Billingsley 2003 – 1st Rd (24) 7 1 All Star Appearance
57-37, 3.58 ERA, 780 IP, 703 K, 338 BB, 1.365 WHIP
Currently with Org,
RP Hong-Chih Kuo Int’l FA – 1999 11 1 All Star Appearance
12-15, 3.34 ERA, 5 SV, 250.1 IP, 290 K, 101 BB, 1.194 WHIP
Currently with Org.
RP Joel Hanrahan 2000 – 2nd Rd 6 No Major League Appearances with Org. Left via Free Agency – 10/15/06
RP Dennys Reyes Int’l FA – 1993 5 2-7, 4.16 ERA, 75.2 IP, 69 K, 38 BB, 1.533 WHIP Traded to CIN – 7/4/98
RP Takashi Saito Int’l FA – 2006 3 1 All Star Appearance
12-7, 1.95 ERA, 81 SV, 189.2 IP, 245 K, 52 BB, 0.912 WHIP
Left via Free Agency – 12/12/08
RP Jonathan Broxton 2002 – 2nd Rd 8 2 All Star Appearances
23-16, 2.96 ERA, 77 SV, 367.1 IP, 483 K, 144 BB, 1.171 WHIP
Currently with Org.
CL Joakim Soria Int’l FA – 2001 3 No Major League Appearances with Org. Released – 10/12/04
BN Andy LaRoche
2003 – 39th Rd 5 62 gm, .217/.348/.316, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 2 SB Traded to PIT – 7/31/08
BN Delwyn Young 2002 – 4th Rd 6 110 gm, .267/.331/.394, 3 HR, 10 RBI, SB Traded to PIT – 7/31/08
BN Xavier Paul 2003 – 4th Rd 7 55 gm, .230/.281/.333, HR, 12 RBI, 3 SB Currently with Org.
BN Miguel Cairo Int’l FA – 1990 5 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to SEA – 11/29/95
BN A.J. Ellis
2003 – 18th Rd 7 38 gm, .159/.213/.183, 10 RBI Currently with Org.

June Amateur Draft

The Dodgers have done really well of late, getting a lot of their first round picks to the Majors in short order. Their current pitching staff relies on both Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw, who were both first round picks in the past 8 seasons. Blake DeWitt, recently traded to reacquire Ted Lilly, was also a first round pick, but he has not been quite the performer they expected yet. James Loney was also a first round selection, and has become a solid Major League regular. The team has also done well with other rounds, getting All-Star closer Jonathan Broxton (2nd), Gold Glove outfielder Matt Kemp (6th), and Delwyn Young (4th), who was used to help acquire Manny Ramirez during the 2008 season. Even some of the later round picks have been productive, with catcher Russell Martin being the best of the later round picks. There even have been some excellent players who didn’t really play much with the team, with both Paul Konerko and Shane Victorino becoming All-Star caliber players with different organizations.

International Free Agency

The Dodgers have always been considered to be one of the leaders in looking for new talent markets, and international free agency has done well for them as well. While they have had more success with some of the professional free agents they have signed (Takashi Saito and Hiroki Kuroda), they have also seen some success with signing young players out of both the Latin American countries as well as the Asian markets. Adrian Beltre had probably the best single season of any of the IFAs, earning himself a huge free agent contract after a 48 homerun seasonin 2004. They have also had some players who kind of got away who have turned into solid Major Leaguers, with Franklin Gutierrez and Joakim Soria the highest profile ones.

Overall Grade

A-. The Dodgers, who generally have a lot more money to play with than a lot of organizations, still do very well to build their team from the inside, and add pieces as needed. They have had their few players who were essentially given up on (Victorino, Soria), but they generally haven’t missed on too many of their high level prospects. The team has also had quite a few homegrown All-Stars, with Russell Martin, Jonathan Broxton, Chad Billingsley, Hong-Chih Kuo, and Takashi Saito all representing the Dodger Blue. They also have a lot of high end prospects on their way in the minors, led by Dee Gordon, Chris Withrow, Ethan Martin and Jerry Sands, and should continue to be competitive in the NL West.

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.

The Month in Review – June 2010


As we rapidly approach the All Star break, I can honestly say that once again we’ve had quite a bit going on in the world of baseball to this point. Rookies making their debut all over the place, no-hitters everywhere (and near no-hitters), retirements, and of course the start of the trade deadline rumor mill.

All-Star Teams

Every month prior to the All-Star break, I will create my All-Star teams for each league. I plan on following the same guidelines given to the managers of the All-Star game when selecting my teams for each month. Those would be:

  • 34 man rosters, 21 position players, 13 pitchers
  • Each team must be represented

Now that we’ve received the final voting updates for the All-Star game, I will start the lineups with that, and build the team around that. All stats are through Tuesday’s games.

American League


American League Starters
Pos Name Team AVG OBP R HR RBI SB
C Joe Mauer MIN .302 .378 41 3 34 1
1B Justin Morneau MIN .347 .445 47 15 50 0
2B Robinson Cano NYY .358 .407 56 15 53 2
3B Evan Longoria TAM .296 .373 46 12 53 12
SS Derek Jeter NYY .286 .346 50 8 39 8
OF Ichiro Suzuki SEA .335 .391 31 3 24 21
OF Carl Crawford TAM .315 .379 57 7 38 27
OF Josh Hamilton TEX .343 .386 52 18 58 6
DH Vladimir Guerrero TEX .330 .375 49 16 63 4
American League Reserves
Pos
Name Team AVG OBP R HR RBI SB
C Mike Napoli LAA .262 .346 29 13 40 0
1B Paul Konerko CHW .295 .389 40 12 52 1
1B Miguel Cabrera DET .338 .414 57 20 67 2
1B Kevin Youkilis BOS .301 .421 62 15 50 2
2B Ty Wigginton BAL .262 .346 29 13 40 0
3B Adrian Beltre BOS .349 .387 40 12 52 1
SS Elvis Andrus TEX .296 .378 52 0 24 22
OF Alexis Rios CHW .307 .365 49 13 40 21
OF Vernon Wells TOR .288 .340 44 19 47 4
OF Shin-Soo Choo CLE .285 .387 46 12 42 12
OF Brett Gardner NYY .321 .403 49 3 23 24
DH Jose Guillen KC .279 .342 41 13 47 1
American League Pitching Staff
Role Name
Team W L SV IP ERA WHIP K
SP Cliff Lee SEA 7 3 0 95.2 2.45 0.92 78
SP Jered Weaver LAA 7 3 0 101.2 3.01 1.09 118
SP David Price TAM 11 3 0 99.2 2.44 1.21 84
SP Jon Lester BOS 9 3 0 107 2.86 1.11 111
SP Colby Lewis TEX 7 5 0 98.2 3.28 1.07 94
SP Andy Pettitte NYY 9 2 0 99.1 2.72 1.16 74
SP C.C. Sabathia NYY 9 3 0 108.1 3.49 1.15 89
SP Shaun Marcum TOR 7 3 0 103.1 3.14 1.13 81
RP Jose Valverde DET 1 1 18 34 0.53 0.68 32
RP Rafael Soriano TAM 2 0 18 27.2 1.63 0.76 26
RP Neftali Feliz TEX 1 1 20 33.1 2.70 0.96 37
RP Mariano Rivera NYY 2 1 17 29.1 0.92 0.61 29
RP Andrew Bailey OAK 0 0 15 32 1.69 0.97 23

The National League

National League Starters
Pos Name Team AVG OBP R HR RBI SB
C Yadier Molina STL .235 .313 14 3 30 6
1B Albert Pujols STL .312 .424 44 18 57 7
2B Chase Utley PHI .277 .383 49 11 37 5
3B Placido Polanco PHI .318 .349 39 5 27 3
SS Hanley Ramirez FLA .293 .378 43 12 50 14
OF Ryan Braun MIL .299 .358 48 11 49 11
OF Andrew McCutchen* PIT .298 .378 48 7 24 19
OF Andre Ethier LAD .312 .370 37 12 47 1
DH Joey Votto CIN .313 .415 49 17 54 7
* – Injury replacement for Jason Heyward
National League Reserves
Pos Name
Team AVG OBP R HR RBI SB
C Miguel Olivo COL .308 .368 34 11 38 4
1B Adrian Gonzalez SD .302 .395 42 16 51 0
1B Troy Glaus ATL .264 .368 41 14 56 0
1B Adam Dunn WAS .271 .361 43 17 47 0
2B Martin Prado ATL .334 .376 55 7 33 3
3B David Wright NYM .310 .392 43 14 61 13
3B Scott Rolen CIN .301 .368 41 17 53 0
SS Juan Uribe SF .270 .340 37 12 45 1
OF Justin Upton ARI .268 .351 47 14 39 11
OF Colby Rasmus STL .275 .370 46 16 40 8
OF Corey Hart MIL .278 .345 39 18 60 4
OF Carlos Gonzalez* COL .302 .330 47 12 46 11
*roster replacement for Jason Heyward
National League Pitching Staff
Role Name Team W L SV IP ERA WHIP K
SP Ubaldo Jimenez COL 14 1 0 113 1.83 1.05 102
SP Josh Johnson FLA 8 3 0 108 1.83 0.96 107
SP Roy Halladay PHI 9 6 0 108 2.29 1.07 102
SP Tim Lincecum SF 8 3 0 103.2 3.12 1.25 117
SP Mike Pelfrey NYM 10 2 1 99.2 2.72 1.07 70
SP Tim Hudson ATL 8 3 0 106.1 2.37 1.17 51
SP Jaime Garcia STL 7 4 0 87.1 2.27 1.26 70
SP Adam Wainwright STL 11 5 0 119.1 2.34 1.03 114
RP Matt Lindstrom HOU 2 1 18 31.1 3.16 1.6 7.18
RP Matt Capps WAS 0 3 22 33.2 3.48 1.46 30
RP Heath Bell SD 3 0 21 32.2 1.93 1.41 43
RP Billy Wagner ATL 5 0 15 30.1 1.19 0.96 46
RP Carlos Marmol CHC 2 1 14 35.2 2.27 1.21 66

I took Jason Heyward out of the starting lineup since he has already stated that if he is selected, he won’t play due to his thumb injury. I picked McCutchen to replace him in the lineup as both Braun and Ethier are corner outfielders, and McCutchen plays CF. Other players who are likely to be replaced, but have not been as of yet: Chase Utley (who I would replace with Casey McGehee of the Brewers), and Placido Polanco (who I would replace with Ryan Zimmerman). Looking at the All-Star starters, the only one who really hasn’t done a whole lot offensively to deserve it at this point, to me anyway, is Yadier Molina. But it’s hard to argue with a catcher who has a pitching staff with 2 All-Star starting pitchers and a 3rd who is also deserving (Chris Carpenter).

My Award Winners to Date

AL MVP –  Miguel Cabrera (DET)
NL MVP – Albert Pujols (STL)
AL Cy Young – Cliff Lee (SEA)
NL Cy Young – Ubaldo Jimenez (COL)
AL Rookie of the Year – Brennan Boesch (DET)
NL Rookie of the Year – Stephen Strasburg (WAS)

Weekly Links and Weeks in Review

May 31-June 6
June 7-June 13
June 14-June 20
June 21-June 27

June was an extremely busy month for stories, with so many that I had honestly forgotten a few of them before I reviewed my week-in-review posts.

  • On June 2nd, Ken Griffey Jr. announced his retirement abruptly, about an hour before that evening’s game. I wrote up my thoughts about him here, and also wrote up my thoughts on him as a fantasy player over at FakeTeams.
  • Unfortunately, the retirement of Griffey was overshadowed by the near-perfect game that was thrown on the same night by Tigers’ pitcher Armando Galarraga. By now, it seems to have blown over, as it is not really mentioned nearly as much as it was when it happened. I wrote up my thoughts on it at the time, and I think that they are still pretty apt a month later.
  • It was a bit of an up-and-down month for Carlos Zambrano, as he was brought back into the rotation early on in the month, only to have blown his top in the dugout of his last start on the 25th. He is currently on the restricted list and is seeking treatment in New York. What that treatment is exactly for is anyone’s guess, but I would have to imagine it has something to do with his temper. Hopefully he’ll be able to return after the All-Star break to the form that had made him an All-Star previously.
  • Yet another no-hitter was thrown in the month of June, with Edwin Jackson of the Diamondbacks throwing one on June 25th. The story with the no-hitter seemed to be 2 fold: One, that manager A.J. Hinch had left Jackson in the game to throw a total of 149 pitches to get through the start, and two, that Jackson had allowed 10 different baserunners without allowing a hit. Either way, it was probably one of the more improbable no-hitters that we have seen in awhile.
  • June clearly was the month of rookie debuts. Some of the rookies making their season (or career) debuts in June: Pedro Alvarez, Brad Lincoln, and Jose Tabata of the Pirates, Dayan Viciedo of the White Sox, Madison Bumgarner of the Giants, Andrew Oliver of the Tigers, and Felix Doubront of the Red Sox. But there were 3 names that were covered more than any other, and with good reason: Mike Stanton of the Marlins, Carlos Santana of the Indians, and Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals. Stanton has been a bit of a mixed bag to this point, hitting .217/.276/.348 with 2 homeruns and 3 stolen bases so far. In any other season, Santana would be the rookie debut most discussed, as he has caught fire and is hitting everything that moves in the American League. To date, Santana is hitting .333/.456/.704 with 8 doubles, 4 homeruns, and 14 runs batted in through 17 games.
  • Clearly though, the story on everyone’s mind all month long has been the debut and subsequent starts of Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg electrified Nationals fans, and the league as a whole after striking out 14 in 7 innings in his debut against the Pirates on June 8th. He’s done nothing but pitch well ever since, and despite a 2-2 record, he now has a 2.27 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP, and 48 strikeouts to 7 walks in only 31 2/2 innings pitched. That’s a K/9 rate of 13.6, the highest of any starter so far this season. Having watched the highlights of all his starts, and parts of others as they happened, the kid is legit. With the injury of Jason Heyward toward the end of the month, the NL Rookie of the Year race is wide open and I think Strasburg could very well take it.
  • The hot stove league has heated up slowly so far, with minor trades of Dontrelle Willis and Conor Jackson being the only players of note. But with Cliff Lee likely to be traded, and rumblings of Roy Oswalt being available, it is only a matter of time before there are many more deals to discuss. I plan to do reviews like I did during the offseason of some of the major ones when they happen.
  • The MLB draft was also on June 8th, and the only real surprise of the first round was the fact that Nationals’ top pick Bryce Harper was announced as an outfielder, not a catcher. Clearly, this will make his path to the Majors that much faster, as his bat could be pretty close to Major league ready as it stands now.

What’s Coming in July

I am actually pretty well planned out for the month of July for posts. I went through teams #30 to #15 in my Original Draft Series, where I look at each organization and build a roster based on each player’s original professional franchise. In July, I will continue on with the series, posting about teams #14 through 11 later on in the month. In addition, I will be reviewing the rosters of the All-Star teams after they are announced on Sunday, and critiquing my own choices versus the managers. Also, I will look back on how the prospects I reviewed in the offseason have progressed so far, and how they are stacking up to my own predictions (wild as they may have been).

I will also be starting up the book reviews I had previously mentioned that I had hoped to do. The first book on the list is Fantasyland by Sam Walker. I also picked up a pair of older copies of Baseball America’s Almanac (the 2003 and 2008 editions) at a used book sale last week, and have been looking through some of the information for some post ideas, and found some pretty good ones so far.

Thanks again to all the readers, and if you’re enjoying the writing, please feel free to either write a comment on the posts, and take a few seconds to become a fan of Jason’s Baseball Blog on Facebook. You can do that here.

Week in Review – June 21 to June 27


If the Playoffs Started Today

Boston Red Sox (46-31) vs. Texas Rangers (45-29)
Minnesota Twins (41-34) vs. New York Yankees (46-28)

New York Mets (43-32) vs. San Diego Padres (45-30)
Cincinnati Reds (42-34) vs. Atlanta Braves (44-32)

League Leaders

Batting Average – Robinson Cano (NYY) – .359
Runs – Kevin Youkilis (BOS) – 61
Home Runs – Miguel Cabrera (DET), Paul Konerko (CHW), Jose Bautista (TOR) – 20
Runs Batted In – Miguel Cabrera (DET) – 64
Stolen Bases – Juan Pierre (CHW) – 29

Wins – Ubaldo Jimenez (COL) – 13
Saves – Matt Capps (WAS) – 22
ERA – Ubaldo Jimenez (COL) – 1.60
Strikeouts – Jered Weaver (LAA) – 118
WHIP – Cliff Lee (SEA) – 0.91

Roster Movement

To the Disabled List: Dustin Pedroia, Mike Lowell, Felipe Paulino

Return from the Disabled List: Aramis Ramirez, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jimmy Rollins, Nelson Cruz,

To the Minors: Sam LeCure, Dioner Navarro, Rick Porcello,

Called Up: Matt LaPorta, Madison Bumgarner, Brad Bergesen, Matt Joyce, Andrew Oliver,

Top Stories and Weekly Links

  • Erik Bedard made two different rehab starts this week, and is tentatively slotted in to make his return to the Majors on July 6th.
  • Tommy Hanson had a pair of forgettable starts this week, as he allowed a total of 14 earned runs over 6 2/3 innings pitched.
  • Ubaldo Jimenez had what was probably his worst start of the season, allowing 6 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Red Sox on Wednesday. The regression was due at some point, and this could be it.
  • Injuries abound over the week, especially if your jersey says Red Sox on the front. The day after hitting 3 homers in a game, Dustin Pedroia fouled a pitch off the inside of his foot, breaking it. Return timetable: Uncertain, but placed on the disabled list. On Saturday, starting pitcher Clay Buchholz hyperextended his knee running the bases in the second inning. Return timetable: Unknown. And on Sunday, catcher Victor Martinez took a foul ball off of his left thumb during the game, breaking the thumb. Return timetable: Too soon to know yet. What a terrible weekend it was for the Red Sox in San Francisco, despite winning.
  • Edwin Jackson of the Diamondbacks threw the 4th no hitter of the season on Friday, throwing a season-high 149 pitches and walking 8 to do it. It’s been really interesting to see so many no-hitters, and reminds me a lot of the 1991 season, when there were 7 of them during the season.
  • Manager A.J. Hinch of the Diamondbacks was given a lot of grief for allowing his pitcher to throw that many pitches in pursuit of a no-hitter, but I’m inclined to believe that the group of the manager, the pitcher, and the pitching coach are going to know what their player can and cannot handle.
  • In a rather surprising move, the Marlins fired manager Fredi Gonzalez on Wednesday morning. The Marlins were in 4th place at the time, and ownership had made it pretty clear that they expected the team to be in the playoff hunt and make the playoffs at the end of the season. Whether or not that was really realistic remains to be seen, but the Marlins will continue to search for his replacement.
  • I don’t think we can really discuss the week that was without discussing Big Z and his big blowup during his start on Friday afternoon. Whether or not he was trying to fire up the team remains to be seen, but the Cubs did not appreciate the behavior, pulled him from the start after 1 inning, and suspended him indefinitely. It’s really been a lost season both for the Cubs and Zambrano himself, and Big Z will be sent to the bullpen when his suspension is over.
  • Saturday brought the season debut of Giants’ pitching prospect Madison Bumgarner. He pitched effectively in the loss, going 7 innings and not having 100 pitches in that time. If they keep him up the rest of the season, they will have added an excellent arm to an already top-tier pitching rotation.
  • Andy Oliver was called up on Friday to take the rotation spot of the recently demoted Rick Porcello, making his major league debut. His debut was nothing particularly amazing, but Oliver is probably best known for his legal fight regarding his eligibility to pitch in college.
  • Josh Hamilton has been hitting out of his mind for over 3 weeks now, as he is in the middle of a 21-game hitting streak. He has hit nearly .500 with a whole lot of power since the streak started.
  • Jose Guillen is also in the midst of a 21 game hitting streak, but it appears that it has not been nearly as prolific as the one by Hamilton at this point.
  • Stephen Strasburg continues to dominate major league hitters, and took his first loss of the season in a 1-0 game against the Royals this week. He now holds the record for most strikeouts in his first 4 starts of the career with 41 in that time.

Upcoming Posts This Week:

Tuesday: The Original Draft Series – Team #18 and #17
Wednesday: The Original Draft Series – Team #16 and #15
Thursday: The Month of June in Review
Friday:  Trade Retrospective – Rafael Palmeiro to the Rangers

Team Preview – Arizona Diamondbacks


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Miguel Montero SP 1 Dan Haren
1B Adam LaRoche SP 2 Brandon Webb
2B Kelly Johnson SP 3 Edwin Jackson
3B Mark Reynolds SP 4 Ian Kennedy
SS Stephen Drew SP 5 Billy Buckner
LF Conor Jackson Bullpen
CF Chris Young CL Chad Qualls
RF Justin Upton RP Juan Gutierrez
Bench RP Bobby Howry
IF Tony Abreu RP Aaron Heilman
OF Gerardo Parra RP Clay Zavada

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
SP Edwin Jackson Trade (DET) SP Max Scherzer Trade (DET)
SP Ian Kennedy Trade (NYY) RP Daniel Schlereth Trade (DET)
1B Adam LaRoche Free Agency OF Eric Byrnes DFA

Top Prospects: Jarrod Parker (SP), Brandon Allen (1B), A.J. Pollock (OF), Bobby Borchering (3B)

2009 Review

The Diamondbacks’ 2009 season started off poorly, and never really got any better. Opening Day starter Brandon Webb threw only 4 innings prior to leaving with an injury. That would be the only appearance he would make for the entire year. With the exception of Dan Haren, the rest of the rotation didn’t do much better. SP Doug Davis and SP Max Scherzer both posted ERAs over 4 and only had 9 wins each for their efforts, despite combining for 64 starts between them. The team finished 70-92, last in their division, but there were a few bright spots. On offense, 3B Mark Reynolds (44 HR, 102 RBI, 24 SB), OF Justin Upton (.300, 26 HR, 86 RBI, 20 SB) and C Miguel Montero (.294, 16 HR, 59 RBI) all performed very well. The bright spot in the rotation remained SP Dan Haren, who went 14-10 with a 3.14 ERA and 223 strikeouts in 229 innings. Their poor performance led to the shopping of veterans as the trade deadline approached, and were able to move IF Felipe Lopez and SP Jon Garland for prospects.

Team Outlook for 2010

The Diamondbacks are looking to build around their young core of players. 3B Mark Reynolds and OF Justin Upton were both signed to extensions during the offseason which will buy out their arbitration years. The biggest move of the offseason has to be the trade of SP Max Scherzer and RP Daniel Schlereth to the Tigers as a part of a 3 team deal that brought back SPs Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy. The team also made some low level signings, bringing in 1B Adam LaRoche and 2B Kelly Johnson on 1 year contracts. Both of these could have some upside, and the potential to also be trade chips if they fall out of the race early.

Overall, I am not sure that they are ready to compete with the top teams in their division this year. Their starting pitching has a lot of questions, as Ian Kennedy has never pitched a full season in the Majors, and it remains to be seen when Brandon Webb will be making his first start of the year. They will need rebound efforts from Conor Jackson and Stephen Drew, among others for them to have a chance to compete.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

OF Justin Upton is a top 5 outfielder, with the potential to hit .300 and go 30-30. 3B Mark Reynolds will look to repeat his 40/20 season from last year, and SP Dan Haren is as consistent as it gets. C Miguel Montero is a top-10 catcher for sure, and has the upside to be top-5. For deeper leagues, I would look at OF Chris Young, who is not far removed from a 20-20 season of his own.

Prediction for 2010

The Diamondbacks are still building, but I don’t think that they have the pitching to compete effectively in their division. There are just too many question marks.

74-88, 4th in the NL West

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 – Detroit Tigers


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Gerald Laird SP 1 Justin Verlander
1B Miguel Cabrera SP 2 Rick Porcello
2B Scott Sizemore SP 3 Max Scherzer
3B Brandon Inge SP 4 Jeremy Bonderman
SS Adam Everett SP 5 Nate Robertson
LF Johnny Damon Bullpen
CF Austin Jackson CL Jose Valverde
RF Magglio Ordonez RP Joel Zumaya
DH Carlos Guillen RP Phil Coke
Bench RP Ryan Perry
C Alex Avila RP Bobby Seay
OF Clete Thomas RP Zach Miner

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
CF Austin Jackson Trade (NYY) CF Curtis Granderson Trade (NYY)
SP Max Scherzer Trade (ARI) SP Edwin Jackson Trade (ARI)
P Daniel Schlereth Trade (ARI) 2B Placido Polanco Free Agency
RP Jose Valverde Free Agency RP Brandon Lyon Free Agency
LF Johnny Damon Free Agency RP Fernando Rodney Free Agency

Top Prospects: Austin Jackson (OF),  Jacob Turner (P), Casey Crosby (P)

2009 Review

The Tigers’ 2009 season was a very good one for the team, which unfortunately ended after a loss in game 163 to the Twins. The Tigers finished 86-77, 1 game back of the Twins for the AL Central crown. Led by manager Jim Leyland, the Tigers started off the season with the unexpected release of DH Gary Sheffield, despite being owed over $10 M for the season. Another surprise was that top prospect Rick Porcello, all of 20 years old, made the opening day rotation despite only being in the minors for one season, at high-A.

The Tigers got some excellent performances out of their players, especially in the rotation. SP Justin Verlander led the rotation with a 19-9 record, 3.45 ERA and 269 strikeouts, with offseason acquisition Edwin Jackson providing excellent innings as well (13-9, 3.62). Porcello did well also, posting a 14-9 record with a 3.96 ERA. 1B Miguel Cabrera led the offense again, posting a .324 batting average to go with his 34 HR and 103 RBI.

The Tigers unfortunately endured some distractions during the season. Among them were the decision by Jim Leyland to keep SP Justin Verlander on regular rest toward the end of the season so that he would be slotted to start the last game of the season on regular rest, and giving the ball to rookie Rick Porcello should they have to play into the playoffs. Another huge distraction during the last week of the season was 1B Miguel Cabrera’s arrest early on October 3rd. The Tigers had been in full-force collapse to that point, as they had a 3 game lead on the Twins with only 4 games to play.

Team Outlook for 2010

The Tigers spent a large portion of the offseason trying to shave payroll some, and succeeded by moving CF Curtis Granderson to the Yankees as a part of a huge three team deal. They have slotted in prospect Austin Jackson to replace Granderson in CF, and will sorely miss Granderson’s bat. They’ve gone younger, with 2B Scott Sizemore coming into spring training as the starter at 2B. This team is going to be built around their excellent pitching. Look for them to have a very dominant top 3, with Verlander, Porcello, and newly acquired Max Scherzer.

My main concern with this team is the amount of unknowns. 2B Scott Sizemore and CF Austin Jackson are both rookies, and it remains to be seen whether or not they will be able to provide similar production to the players they are replacing. Will Rick Porcello hit a wall after such a huge jump in innings pitched last season? Will Max Scherzer be able to stay healthy this season, and will Justin Verlander be able to repeat his excellent 2009 season? This is a team that has a lot more questions than answers at this point, and I feel like they will need a lot of things to break their way to end up at the top of the division in 2010.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

SP Justin Verlander and 1B Miguel Cabrera are far and away the best fantasy players on this team, with CL Jose Valverde providing value with the amount of saves he gets. Beyond that, there’s a lot of players that will be useful in deeper leagues (Sizemore, Laird, Inge) and players who are high-upside, high-risk types (Jackson, Porcello, Scherzer). A player to watch during spring training would be Jeremy Bonderman. Bonderman is trying to come back from a lost season due to injury, and did provide good value as a starter when he was healthy previously. New addition Johnny Damon will look to repeat his excellent 2009 season, but I can’t really foresee that occurring. He’s going to be 36 this season, and will be going from the extremely hitter friendly Yankee Stadium to Comerica, which should play a lot more neutral.

Prediction for 2010

The Tigers have retooled, and are making a run at the division again in 2010. However, I don’t think that this team as constructed is necessarily going to be good enough to catch either the Twins or the White Sox. They’re going to need some unexpected performances from someone on this team, and it’s never a good thing to have to rely on getting those.

82-80, 3rd in the AL Central

Trade Review – NYY/ARI/DET


New York Yankees receive CF Curtis Granderson (Tigers)
Arizona Diamondbacks receive P Edwin Jackson (Tigers) and P Ian Kennedy (Yankees)
Detroit Tigers receive P Max Scherzer (D’Backs), P Daniel Schlereth (D’Backs), CF Austin Jackson (Yankees), and RP Phil Coke (Yankees)

The Yankees
I really like this trade for the Yankees. The best player involved in the trade went to the Yankees, and they were able to acquire him by giving up pieces that they can either easily replace, or no longer need. Granderson is signed to a very team-friendly contract until 2013. He gives the Yankees a true center fielder, with excellent power and speed.

2009 was the 4th straight season where Granderson had at least 60 extra base hits. While his batting average has been falling, his slugging percentage has not dropped in comparison to the batting average. He posted an isolated Slugging (Slugging % minus Batting Average) of .250 in 2007, .214 in 2008, and .204 in 2009. So while his batting average appears to be falling each year, the power remains fairly constant. The fact that he is not hitting left handed pitchers very well is a concern (.183/.245/.239). His batting average on balls in play has been steadily dropping (.362 in 2007, .317 in 2008, .276 in 2009), so this may be at least a part of the reason for the drop in batting average. He still remains a commodity well worth the risk.

The Diamondbacks
I’m pretty confused here. Scherzer and Schlereth are both former 1st round picks, and definite fire-ballers. Scherzer posted an excellent strikeout rate last year (174 in 170 innings), but posted only a 9-11 record with a 4.12 ERA. He spent a portion of the year on the disabled list in July as well. Schlereth made 21 appearances last season, mostly as a left handed specialist. He struck out 22 in 18 1/3 innings. They received a high-ceiling starting pitcher in Jackson, who posted a 13-9 record last year and made the AL all-star team for the Tigers. Kennedy was injured most of last season, and only made one appearance in the majors.

The part I don’t get here is that Jackson, while a bit more proven, is not necessarily a huge upgrade over Scherzer. And at this point, Schlereth and Kennedy are both very similar players. Neither has done a ton of things yet in the Majors, and neither really has been given too much of a chance yet. I have to believe that the Diamondbacks know something about both Scherzer and Schlereth that has yet to be seen, or at least that they believe that they are not necessarily going to be better than Jackson and Kennedy.

The Tigers
I really, really like this trade for the Tigers. They have decided that they need to cut payroll in some form, and take Granderson, a very good centerfielder who may price himself out of Detroit soon, and Jackson, a starting pitcher who had an excellent year last season, and turn them into Granderson’s replacement (Jackson), a high-potential starting pitcher (Scherzer), and 2 at least useful power arms for their bullpen (Schlereth, Coke). Throw in that they control Jackson for 6 seasons, Scherzer for at least 4, Schlereth for at least 5, and Coke for at least 5, and they really did well to achieve their goal of cutting payroll AND making their team better at the same time.

Overall Review
I really like this trade. Each team addressed needs of their teams, although I still am not sure yet what the Diamondbacks believe that we don’t see. It really doesn’t bode well for the rest of the American League that the World Champion Yankees went out, took some pieces that they didn’t really need for next year’s team, and turned them into a better player than they had in center field.

CURRENT WINNER: New York Yankees
LONG-TERM WINNER: Detroit Tigers