Tag Archives: Joakim Soria

Fantasy Rankings in Review – Relief Pitchers


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

The AL Goose Gossage Award


Over at the Baseball Bloggers’ Alliance, we have been voting on our award winners for the regular season. Last week I posted my votes for the AL and NL Connie Mack awards, given to our managers of the year, and I wrote earlier in the week about the AL and NL Willie Mays awards, given to our top rookies in each league. Today’s vote is for the American League Goose Gossage Award, given to the top reliever in the past season.

The inherent nature of an award given to the best reliever implies automatically that it should be given to the best closer in the league for the past season. As a general rule, it makes sense on some level that the pitcher who has the most success at the end of the game is going to be the one who had the best season, but I actually considered some pitchers who weren’t necessarily closing games. As usual, these are in order from east to west, and I will have my vote at the bottom.

Daniel Bard (BOS)

Bard brought some much needed stability to the 8th inning for the Red Sox. He recorded only 3 saves while filling in for Jonathan Papelbon, but did lead the American League in holds with 32. He also posted a 1.93 ERA and 1.00 WHIP to go with 76 strikeouts in 74 2/3 innings pitched.

Mariano Rivera (NYY)

At some point, we’re going to remember that it isn’t as easy as Mariano Rivera makes it look every season. The numbers: 33 saves, 1.80 ERA, 0.83 WHIP. Not quite as dominant as he has been in the past, but I have to remind myself that he’s been doing this now for 14 seasons as the closer for the Yankees. This was also the third straight season he has posted a sub 2.00 ERA, and the 7th in the last 8 seasons.

Rafael Soriano (TAM)

Soriano was acquired by the Rays during the offseason to come in and take hold of the closer’s job, and he definitely did that. He finished the season with a league leading 45 saves, a 1.73 ERA and 0.80 WHIP. It was nice to see what Soriano can finally do when he stays healthy for a full season. The fact that he did it in the game’s toughest division (17 saves vs AL East) speaks to just how great his performance was.

Joaquin Benoit (TAM)

Joaquin was an epiphany for the bullpen of the Rays, as he wasn’t even expected to be a major portion of the pen at the start of the season. He became the trusted 8th inning pitcher for the playoff-bound Rays, posting 25 holds in 60 1/3 innings pitched. His ERA of 1.34 and WHIP of 0.68 were among the league leaders for relievers. He also struck out 75, a rate of over 11 per 9 innings pitched. He also stranded 95% of runners on base.

Matt Thornton (CHW)

Thornton made this list because of his ability to pitch anywhere from the 7th onward, and pitched excellently when called upon. He finished the season with 8 saves while filling in for the struggling Bobby Jenks, but also had 21 holds, and struck out 81 batters in just 60 2/3 innings. His 2.67 ERA was actually higher than his FIP, and also posted a WHIP of 1.01 on the season.

Joakim Soria (KC)

Soria had what would definitely be considered a quiet excellent season. Players tend to get overlooked in Kansas City as the team continues to struggle to perform, but Soria has been that good out there. He finished with 43 saves, 1.78 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and stranded 89% of runners. 

Neftali Feliz (TEX)

Feliz was my choice for the AL’s Willie Mays award, and deservedly so. He finished the season with 40 saves, 3 holds, a 2.73 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, and 71 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings pitched. He helped to solidify the end of the bullpen for the Rangers after closer Frank Francisco struggled mightily in the first week of the season.

My Vote

  1. Rafael Soriano (TAM)
  2. Joakim Soria (KC)
  3. Neftali Feliz (TEX)

The thing I kept coming back to was how vital the performance of Soriano was to the success of the Rays. The team had struggled in previous seasons with filling the closer’s role adequately, and Soriano owned that role and was as much of a lockdown closer as is possible. I just keep coming back to the fact that one of the biggest changes from last season for the Rays was Soriano, and the team had so much more success this year than last. Soria would probably win this award in nearly every other season, but he unfortunately gets punished slightly for playing in games that didn’t have the importance of the Rays games. But there has to be some distinction made when the performances are that good, and that’s the one I’ve chosen to use.

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.

All Star Roster Review


These were my predictions for the All-Star rosters that I posted back on Saturday, representing my final thoughts on who I thought would make the team. Looking at how my predictions went, I am actually reasonably pleased with how they turned out.

Correct selections:

AL: Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Robinson Cano, Evan Longoria, Derek Jeter, Carl Crawford, Ichiro Suzuki, Josh Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero, Miguel Cabrera, Ty Wigginton, Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Vernon Wells, Cliff Lee, David Price, Jon Lester, Trevor Cahill, Clay Buchholz, Mariano Rivera, Jose Valverde, Neftali Feliz

NL: Yadier Molina, Albert Pujols, Chase Utley, Hanley Ramirez, Andre Ethier, Jason Heyward, Ryan Braun, Adrian Gonzalez, Martin Prado, David Wright, Scott Rolen, Jose Reyes, Corey Hart, Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Johnson, Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, Tim Hudson, Adam Wainwright, Matt Capps, Brandon Phillips

Incorrect:

AL Backup Catcher: I chose Mike Napoli as who I thought would be there, not really looking at Victor Martinez since he was injured at the time I made the pick. I’m not sold I agree with John Buck as the replacement for Martinez over Napoli, but it’s not a brutal choice. I think overall Napoli is going to have a better season, but they are pretty similar so far.

AL Backup Infielders: Paul Konerko and Kevin Youkilis are in the final vote, and in their place on the roster are Ian Kinsler (the replacement for Dustin Pedroia) and Alex Rodriguez. Part of the issue I had here was that I was not aware that the teams were required to take a utility player, which is where Wigginton fits on the roster. As a result, I didn’t take a 2B. I also didn’t include Pedroia because of his injury status, but he’s definitely deserving. A-Rod is also having a pretty good year, and I think this was my own personal bias. Knowing that the Yankees’ manager is managing the All-Star team, I probably should have seen that one.

AL Backup Outfielders: I think Choo would have made the team had he not gotten hurt just prior to the announcement, but when I made the selection it wasn’t for sure yet what his status was. Torii Hunter was selected as the only initial Angels’ player, and I think he’s definitely deserving as well. I do have a hard time looking at Jose Bautista on that roster with Alexis Rios who did not make the team, and is hitting better. The fact that the Blue Jays had Vernon Wells as well seems really odd to me. I don’t know how the player vote went (as he may have been a selection that was made by them), but it seems like a bit of an omission. Brett Gardner is having a great year, and he’s probably the player I would have left off in lieu of another infielder had I known I needed one.

AL Backup Designated Hitter: David Ortiz is probably more deserving than Jose Guillen was, but I knew I needed a Royal and liked a lot of the other relievers available more than Joakim Soria.

AL Pitching Staff

  • Jered Weaver was added to the roster in place of C.C. Sabathia (who will start on the Sunday prior to the All-Star game), which was the most glaring omission to me.
  • Andy Pettitte was added to the roster to replace the injured Clay Buchholz, but they did not have him on the initial roster.
  • The exclusion of Shin-Soo Choo due to injury required the Indians to have an All-Star on the pitching staff, and they went with Fausto Carmona instead. Look, someone had to be selected from the Indians, but it just shows how badly the rest of that team played.
  • Rafael Soriano was added to the roster to replace Mariano Rivera, who will rest instead of playing in the game.
  • I initially had Trevor Cahill as the replacement on the roster for the injured Shaun Marcum, who did not make the team. As a result, I also had Andrew Bailey on the initial roster as the A’s lone representative. They went with Matt Thornton of the White Sox, who is having an excellent season and is well deserving of the honor.
  • Phil Hughes is in the roster spot that I had for Colby Lewis. I think both are having excellent seasons and this is more of Girardi picking his guy when there are two similar players. I can understand that.

NL Backup Catcher: They selected Brian McCann over Miguel Olivo, and I don’t think that was a bad choice. Olivo is having a very nice offensive season, but McCann is the catcher for an excellent pitching staff on the first place Braves. The Capitol Avenue Club had a great post last week about how many times McCann has been snubbed when he was having amazing offensive seasons, so it is good to see a little bit of balance here.

NL Backup Infielders:

  • Clearly, the most glaring omission is the selection of Ryan Howard over Joey Votto. Howard is having a fine year, and I can even understand wanting to reward your player when you’re the manager. But clearly someone should have been left off the roster in place of Joey Votto who is having an MVP caliber season for the Reds. He is in the final vote (along with 4 of my All-Star selections), and I hope he gets in somehow. The Reds are a first place team, and Votto has clearly been their best player to this point.
  • I am not really worried about the missed selection of Placido Polanco, as I had already replaced him on the roster with Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman is on the final ballot, but I don’t think he’ll end up making the team.
  • Omar Infante as the utility player makes sense based on his 2009 season, but I really wonder if there wasn’t some other player that could have been selected that could play more positions. I will say this much: His selection makes a whole heck of a lot more sense once Charlie Manuel came out and said they needed the utility player. I mean, even the player himself thought he was being notified he had been traded, not made the All-Star team.
  • I didn’t have Troy Tulowitzki due to his injuries, and the replacement ended up being Jose Reyes. I’m still not sold that Reyes is necessarily the right selection, but I don’t think he’s a poor one either.
  • Leaving Troy Glaus off the roster seems to me like it’s just a crunch at 1B. I understand it, but he’s been a boon for the first place Braves.

NL Backup Outfielders:

This is where I differed most from the actual team, as I missed 5 of them. 3 of them were the lone representatives for their team, so there’s three matching incorrect pitchers as well.

  • I picked Andrew McCutchen as the lone Pirates representative, and the team selected Evan Meek to represent them instead. Looking at the game as a winnable game, Meek is probably the more important player to have, and he is having an excellent season as well.
  • I picked Roy Oswalt as the lone deserving rep from the Astros, and they chose Michael Bourn instead. Bourn is having a reasonably good season, but I completely disagree on this one. I think his spot on the pitching staff was held by Yovani Gallardo, who could end up being replaced due to his injury anyway.
  • Chris Young instead of Justin Upton. As I looked at the numbers again, they got that one right. Young is having the better season pretty easily at the moment.
  • Matt Holliday was chosen over Colby Rasmus, and whoever made that selection got it wrong. I think that Holliday was selected a lot on his 2009 second half, as he’s only been hot of late in 2010. Rasmus will get his shot someday though.
  • Jayson Werth I think is the player who got crunched as a result of the lone Cubs’ representative, Marlon Byrd. Byrd is having an excellent season, and I think he’s a good pick.
  • Carlos Gonzalez is also in the final vote, and I think he’s the player who ended up getting crunched by the utility player needing to be on the roster. I don’t think they have made a selection to replace the injured Jason Heyward yet, and think Gonzalez would be the first choice. Hopefully anyway, as he’s having an amazing year.

NL Pitching Staff:

  • Chris Carpenter and Yovani Gallardo both made the roster, leaving my choices of Roy Oswalt and Mike Pelfrey off the roster. Neither pitcher is having a bad year, and the choices are solid ones. Gallardo is likely to be replaced on the roster due to injury, so one of them may still end up making the team.
  • The bullpen is a complete mess to me. How the Padres only got one representative overall, and no pitchers is beyond me. Heath Bell is in the final vote, but should probably be there regardless. I chose Luke Gregerson as my middle reliever, and Charlie Manuel chose Arthur Rhodes of the Reds. His choice is a good one here I think, as Rhodes may be having the best season of his career.
  • Billy Wagner is on the final vote ballot, and Carlos Marmol was left off the roster since Marlon Byrd is representing the Cubs. In their places, Jonathan Broxton and Brian Wilson were selected. Neither of these two are necessarily bad choices, just not necessarily the ones I would have made based on the current season. It does appear, however, that Manuel is managing to win the game, and I probably would trust both Broxton and Wilson more than Marmol.

Overall, I got 43 out of 68 correct. It has been a really interesting experiment to see how close I can get to predicting the teams, and next season I think the thing to remember to look at will be who is managing the teams. Had I done that, I probably would have gotten another 3-4 players correct. I think next year’s goal will be to get over 80% of the roster correct, especially now that I know about the utility player rule as well.

In terms of the roster makeup itself, Joey Votto and Kevin Youkilis stand out to me as the players who are the most deserving to be on the team but are not on there as of yet. I will be shocked if Votto doesn’t get onto that roster somehow, and a bit disappointed too.

Fantasy Preview – Relievers


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.

My top 15 Relievers for 2010

1. Jonathan Broxton – LAD
W ERA SV K WHIP
7 2.61 36 114 0.961
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
W ERA SV K WHIP
3 1.76 44 72 0.905
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
W ERA SV K WHIP
1 1.85 38 76 1.147
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
W ERA SV K WHIP
3 2.21 30 69 1.132
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
W ERA SV K WHIP
6 2.71 42 79 1.12
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
W ERA SV K WHIP
6 1.84 26 91 0.876
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
W ERA SV K WHIP
5 2.74 38 83 1.203
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
W ERA SV K WHIP
4 3.06 35 70 0.908
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
W ERA SV K WHIP
3 3.71 35 73 1.309
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
W ERA SV K WHIP
1 2.97 27 102 1.057
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
W ERA SV K WHIP
1 1.72 0 26 1.021
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
W ERA SV K WHIP
1 3.93 48 46 1.40
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
W ERA SV K WHIP
2 2.16 39 58 1.32
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
W ERA SV K WHIP
3 1.83 37 48 0.907
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
W ERA SV K WHIP
4 1.92 38 44 1.197
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.

Team Preview – Kansas City Royals


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Jason Kendall SP 1 Zack Greinke
1B Billy Butler SP 2 Gil Meche
2B Alberto Callaspo SP 3 Brian Bannister
3B Alex Gordon SP 4 Luke Hochevar
SS Yuniesky Betancourt SP 5 Kyle Davies
LF Scott Podsednik Bullpen
CF Rick Ankiel CL Joakim Soria
RF David Dejesus RP Juan Cruz
DH Jose Guillen RP Robinson Tejeda
Bench RP Kyle Farnsworth
IF Chris Getz RP Roman Colon
IF Josh Fields

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
CF Rick Ankiel Free Agency RF Mark Teahen Trade (CHW)
LF Scott Podsednik Free Agency 1B Mike Jacobs Free Agency
2B Chris Getz Trade (CHW) C John Buck Free Agency
3B Josh Fields Trade (CHW) CF Coco Crisp Free Agency
C Jason Kendall Free Agency C Miguel Olivo Free Agency

Top Prospects: Mike Moustakas (3B), Eric Hosmer (1B), Aaron Crow (P), Mike Montgomery (P), Wil Myers (C)

2009 Review

The Royals were not really expected to compete in 2009, and they pretty much performed to those expectations. They finished the season at 65-97, good for a 4th place tie in teh AL Central. But they definitely had some bright spots. C Miguel Olivo posted a career high 23 HR to lead the team. 1B Billy Butler had an excellent season at the plate, posting a .301 average with 21 HR and 93 RBI. Easily the best performance by a Royal came from SP Zack Greinke, the AL Cy Young award winner. Greinke put it all together in 2009, posting a 16-8 record with a 2.16 ERA and 242 strikeouts. Unfortunately, the only other pitcher on the staff that performed remotely well was closer Joakim Soria, who saved 30 games and posted a 2.21 ERA.

Team Outlook for 2010

The Royals came into the offseason with a lot of holes to plug (C, CF, LF), and did well to get some high-upside players for a couple of those positions. I liked the signing of Ankiel and Podsednik, as they are both low-risk, high-upside signings. If they don’t work out, they only spent about $5 M on the two players, and are only committed to them for the 2010 season. The most confusing move that they made was the signing of Jason Kendall. Kendall is a good catcher for a young pitching staff, and that part makes sense to me. It’s a good thing, in fact, because he’s highly unlikely to provide any offense at all. That’s essentially a black hole for offense. And this is on a team that has very little offense to speak of.

The team is hoping that the starting rotation will improve this season, and will also be giving reliever Kyle Farnsworth an opportunity to try to start in spring training. After Greinke, they have a lot of pitchers that should improve, but I’m not sure how much. Meche is probably very similar to what he performed like last year. Hochevar remains a mixed bag, with a lot of potential, but hasn’t really seen it show up yet. Bannister and Davies both seem to be reasonable innings-eaters, but not a whole lot else. Another player that the Royals are hopeful will rebound is 3B Alex Gordon. Gordon has been touted for a long time, and has been inconsistent at the Major League level to this point.

They do have some solid players coming down the line in Crow and Montgomery, but both are pretty far away still. It also remains to be seen how the long term plan works in Kansas City, as their best prospects realistically play the same positions as the young talents they already have. They really don’t have a whole lot of prospects for the outfield, and for a team that has had as many high draft picks as the Royals have, the minor league system seems unusually thin.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

Realistically, the only players on the  Royals I’d want to own are Zack Greinke, Joakim Soria, and Billy Butler. Beyond that, the offense is a pretty big black hole. The pitching staff is not a whole lot better. My only upside players I see are Scott Podsednik, who could provide some steals, and Rick Ankiel, but only if he can return to his power form.

Prediction for 2010

The Royals aren’t going to compete this year. I’m not 100% sure that they’re going to compete in the next 3 years. It seems really likely to me that some point in the next 2 years, general manager Dayton Moore is going to lose his job, because the performance is really not getting it done. I know it takes time to rebuild  a system as bare as the Royals, but at some point they’re going to need to see improvement at the Major League level.

72-90, 4th in the AL Central