Tag Archives: Matt Garza

Season Preview – NL Central


Time to look at the 6 team NL Central division. You can also take a look at my previews of the AL East, AL Central, AL West, and NL East.

Last Year’s Records
Cincinnati – 91-71
St. Louis – 86-76
Milwaukee – 77-85
Houston – 76-86
Chicago – 75-87
Pittsburgh – 57-105

Notable Additions

Chicago – Carlos Pena, Matt Garza, Kerry Wood

Cincinnati – Edgar Renteria

Houston – Clint Barmes

Milwaukee – Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Yuniesky Betancourt, Takashi Saito, Mark Kotsay

Pittsburgh – Lyle Overbay, Garrett Atkins, Kevin Correia, Scott Olsen, Joe Beimel

St. Louis – Ryan Theriot, Lance Berkman

Notable Losses

Chicago – Sam Fuld, Tom Gorzelanny

Cincinnati – Arthur Rhodes, Orlando Cabrera, Aaron Harang

Houston – Matt Lindstrom, Felipe Paulino

Milwaukee – Brett Lawrie, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Gregg Zaun

Pittsburgh -  Zack Duke, Andy LaRoche, Lastings Milledge

St. Louis – Brendan Ryan, Pedro Feliz, Brad Penny, Jeff Suppan

My Thoughts

Chicago – The Cubs had a very disappointing season last year, and went out and tried to plug some of those holes this offseason. Bringing in Carlos Pena on a 1 year contract, despite its cost, looks like a very nice signing for a power bat. The acquisition of Matt Garza brings a young, cost-controlled high-end starting pitcher to their rotation, but at the cost of top prospects Hak-Ju Lee, Chris Archer, and others.  I am not sold that this team will compete this year, as they will need bounceback performances from Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, and Carlos Zambrano to really end up in the thick of the race.

Cincinnati – The defending NL Central champions, the team has lost Aaron Harang and will hope that the combination of Mike Leake, Travis Wood, and others will be able to pitch complete seasons this year. The team returns nearly every player from last season’s title, but I don’t think that it is a slam-dunk that they will just run away with the division again this year.

Houston – Talk about a rebuilding effort. Here’s a team which has very few high-end prospects in the system right now, who also does not have a lot of higher-quality players at the Major League level either. There are some quality players in Hunter Pence and Brett Myers, but there’s not a lot of hope for the 2011 season. They will look to get a solid rookie season out of last year’s acquisition, Brett Wallace, but you have essentially gathered a group of mid-level players who can fill out a roster, but are unlikely to compete as a group for a division title, let alone a league championship

Milwaukee – And within the same division, you have a team who has gone all-in for 2011. The Brewers have traded nearly all of their top prospects in order to improve their pitching staff, and did so with the acquisitions of Marcum and Greinke. It’s not a great sign that Greinke is hurt already, but he should return in mid April and only miss a few starts. The bigger story throughout the season will be whether or not they fall out of contention and attempt to trade Prince Fielder before the deadline. They definitely remain a team to be reckoned with in the NL Central.

Pittsburgh – For a team that lost 105 games last year, they actually have a lot to look forward to. Center fielder Andrew McCutchen is poised to become one of the best young players in the Majors, and 2nd year players Jose Tabata and Pedro Alvarez both will look to build on their solid rookie years. They aren’t likely to compete this season, but there’s hope for Pirates fans that is starting to show itself at the Major League level.

St. Louis – The biggest story out of St. Louis up until the start of Spring Training was whether or not Albert Pujols would sign a contract extension prior to the start of the season, and unfortunately it’s no longer the current top story out of their camp. With Cy Young runner up Adam Wainwright out for the season with Tommy John surgery, they will now look to replace at least some part of his production in the starting rotation. I’m not sold that this team, as constructed, can compete for the division title. They will need everything else to fall just right for them to win this division.

Overall Thoughts

The NL Central really has the look of a wide open division. If things fall just right, 4 of the teams could conceivably win the division this season. That said, I’m not sold that things will fall right for all of them, but it should be intersting to watch regardless.  Here’s my predicted order of finish:

1. Milwaukee
2. Cincinnati
3. St. Louis
4. Chicago
5. Pittsburgh
6. Houston

Season Preview: AL East


With Spring Training well under way and the first games starting very soon, I figured it was a good time to take a look at my own predictions for the league, and the changes the respective teams have made.

Last Year’s Records
Tampa Bay – 96-66
New York – 95-67
Boston – 89-73
Toronto – 85-77
Baltimore – 66-96

Notable Additions

Baltimore – Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds, Vladimir Guerrero, J.J. Hardy, Justin Duchscherer

Boston – Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Bobby Jenks, Dan Wheeler

New York – Russell Martin, Rafael Soriano, Pedro Feliciano, Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, Eric Chavez

Tampa Bay – Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez, Adam Russell, Cesar Ramos, Felipe Lopez, Sam Fuld, Chris Archer

Toronto – Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Juan Rivera, Scott Podsednik, Brett Lawrie, Rajai Davis

Notable Losses

Baltimore – Kevin Millwood, Julio Lugo, Ty Wigginton, David Hernandez, Kam Mickolio

Boston – Adrian Beltre, Victor Martinez, Anthony Rizzo, Casey Kelly, Bill Hall

New York – Javier Vazquez, Andy Pettitte, Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood

Tampa Bay – Carl Crawford, Matt Garza, Rafael Soriano, Carlos Pena, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit

Toronto – Vernon Wells, Shaun Marcum, John Buck, Miguel Olivo, Scott Downs

Continue reading

Trade Review – Matt Garza to the Cubs


Another starting pitcher came off the trade market on Friday, as the Rays traded starter Matt Garza and minor leaguers Fernando Perez and Zach Rosscup to the Cubs in exchange for prospects Chris Archer, Robinson Chirinos, Brandon Guyer, Hak-Ju Lee, and Sam Fuld.

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs acquire Garza coming off what was probably his best season to date, as he posted a 15-10 record with a 3.91 ERA, 150 strikeouts and a 1.25 WHIP for the Rays. They will add him to a rather deep rotation already, with Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Carlos Silva, and Randy Wells likely to hold spots. Also in competition for a rotation spot for the Cubs are Andrew Cashner, Tom Gorzelanny, and possibly Sean Marshall. Continue reading

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.

Original Draft Series – Team # 15 – Minnesota Twins


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

Team #15: Minnesota Twins

General Managers(since 1994)

Andy MacPhail (1994): 53-60
Terry Ryan (1995-2007): 1023-1062
Bill Smith (2008-Current): 175-151

Team Performance

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

All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C Joe Mauer 2001 – 1st Rd (1) 9 2009 AL MVP, 3 All Star Appearances, 3 Silver Sluggers
766 gm, .325/.406/.478, 75 HR, 431 RBI, 35 SB
Currently with Org.
1B Justin Morneau 1999 – 3rd Rd 11 2006 AL MVP, 3 All Star Appearances, 2 Silver Sluggers
940 gm, .285/.358/.510, 178 HR, 672 RBI, 525 R
Currently with Org.
2B Michael Cuddyer 1997 – 1st Rd (9) 13 915 gm, .269/.342/.453, 114 HR, 462 RBI, 36 SB, 484 R Currently with Org.
3B Matt Tolbert 2004 – 16th Rd 6 133 gm, .247/.308/.337, 3 HR, 33 RBI, 13 SB, 50 R Currently with Org.
SS Trevor Plouffe 2004 – 1st Rd (20) 6 7 gm, .130/.125/.274, 3 RBI, R Currently with Org.
LF Denard Span 2002 – 1st Rd (20) 8 313 gm, .297/.379/.408, 17 HR, 144 RBI, 56 SB, 214 R Currently with Org.
CF Torii Hunter 1993 – 1st Rd (20) 14 2 All Star Appearances, 7 Gold Gloves
1234 gm, .271/.324/.469, 192 HR, 711 RBI, 126 SB, 672 R
Free Agency – 10/29/07
RF Jason Kubel 2000 – 12th Rd 10 579 gm, .276/.341/.470, 81 HR, 321 RBI, 252 R Currently with Org.
DH A.J. Pierzynski 1994 – 3rd Rd 9 1 All Star Appearance
430 gm, .301/.341/.447 26 HR, 193 RBI, 184 R
Traded to SF – 11/14/03
SP Scott Baker 2003 – 2nd Rd 7 49-40, 4.36 ERA, 582 K, 168 BB, 749 IP, 1.274 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP Nick Blackburn 2001 – 29th Rd 9 28-29, 4.46 ERA, 228 K, 104 BB, 490.1 IP, 1.424 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP Kevin Slowey 2005 – 2nd Rd 5 33-20, 4.47 ERA, 304 K, 67 BB, 400.1 IP, 1.304 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP Matt Garza 2005 – 1st Rd (25) 2 8-13, 4.47 ERA, 105 K, 55 BB, 133 IP, 1.602 WHIP Traded to MIN – 11/28/07
SP Brian Duensing 2005 – 3rd Rd 5 7-3, 3.17 ERA, 72 K, 39 BB, 116.1 IP, 1.246 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Alex Burnett 2005 – 12th Rd 5 1-1, 3.15 ERA, 26 K, 14 BB, 1.369 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Jesse Crain 2002 – 2nd Rd 8 33-20, 3.57 ERA, 228 K, 126 BB, 345.2 IP Currently with Org.
RP J.C. Romero 1997 – 21st Rd 8 25-20, 4.35 ERA, 336 K, 209 BB, 407.2 IP, 1.482 WHIP Traded to LAA – 12/9/05
RP Jose Mijares Int’l FA – 2002 8 2-3, 2.18 ERA, 70 K, 27 BB, 86.2 IP, 1.108 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Grant Balfour Int’l FA – 1997 8 5-1, 4.63 ERA, 74 K, 38 BB, 68 IP, 1.456 WHIP Free Agency – 12/21/05
CL LaTroy Hawkins 1991 – 7th Rd 12 44-57, 44 SV, 5.05 ERA, 532 K, 290 BB, 818 IP, 1.523 WHIP Free Agency – 10/27/03
BN Wilson Ramos Int’l FA – 2004 6 7 gm, .293/.321/.407, 1 RBI, 2 R Currently with Org.
BN Saul Rivera 1998 – 9th Rd 3 No Major League Appearances with Org. Selected by NYM – 11/20/01
BN Peter Moylan Int’l FA – 1996 2 No Major League Appearances with Org. Released – 4/1/98
BN Mike Lincoln 1996 – 13th Rd 4 3-13, 7.70 ERA, 42 K, 39 BB, 97 IP, 1.825 WHIP Released – 12/20/00
BN Evan Meek 2002 – 11th Rd 3 No Major League Appearances with Org. Released – 6/22/05

June Amateur Draft

The thing that seems to stand out to me about the Twins and their draft is that they consistently seem to get useful Major Leaguers out of the draft, and don’t seem to miss too often on their high level picks. Clearly the cream of the crop has been Joe Mauer, Torii Hunter, and Justin Morneau, who are all multiple award winners. Looking at their first round picks over the last 15 years, a majority of them have played in the Majors, and quite a few of them have made it to the Majors with the Twins as well.

International Free Agency

The Twins don’t visit the international markets a lot, mostly because it costs money to get the top prospects from foreign countries. That said, they still have done reasonably well, with Wilson Ramos being one of the top prospects in their system right now, and a solid reliever in Jose Mijares. The most recent signing of note for the Twins is Dominican SS Miguel Angel Sano, who was scouted by many teams and nearly signed a couple of times. I’d like to see more players come out of the international markets before I think it’s been a complete success, but the Twins have done alright here to this point.

Overall Grade

B-. The Twins have done very well to not only scout and develop a lot of high quality players, but have also managed to keep a lot of them and used their farm system to replenish themselves when they need to as well. The only reason that they aren’t really higher up in my rankings is because the bench is so unusually weak for a team with the amount of success that the Twins have had. Also, I think that their inability to translate these groups of players into a championship is a bit of a knock on them, but overall their performance has still been good.

The Month in Review: April 2010


Well, we are a little over 1/6th of the way through the season, and we’ve seen quite a bit already. At the end of each month, I will go over  some of the larger stories, name my season-to-this-point All-Star teams, and my season-to-point award winners.

All-Star Teams

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

Beyond that, I plan on not necessarily using any voting that may or may not have occurred yet, because to me, the voting is always biased toward the larger market teams.

American League

Starters
C – Joe Mauer (MIN): .345/.406/.500, 1 HR, 13 RBI
1B – Paul Konerko (CHW): .297/.413/.784, 11 HR, 21 RBI
2B – Robinson Cano (NYY): .400/.436/.765, 8 HR, 18 RBI, 2 SB
3B – Evan Longoria (TAM): .341/.400/.602, 5 HR, 18 RBI, 3 SB
SS – Derek Jeter (NYY): .330/.354/521, 4 HR, 18 RBI, 3 SB
OF – Vernon Wells (TOR): .337/.396/.717, 8 HR, 16 RBI, SB
OF – Carl Crawford (TAM): .337/.390/.551, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 7 SB
OF – Nelson Cruz (TEX): .323/.419/.758, 7 HR, 17 RBI, 5 SB
DH – Jose Guillen (KC): .304/.337/.609, 7 HR, 19 RBI, SB

Reserves

C – Jorge Posada (NYY): .310/.394/.638, 5 HR, 12 RBI
1B – Miguel Cabrera (DET): .344/.427/.615, 5 HR, 25 RBI
1B – Justin Morneau (MIN): .347/.490/.640, 5 HR, 17 RBI
1B – Kendry Morales (LAA): .295/.347/.523, 6 HR, 16 RBI
2B – Dustin Pedroia (BOS): .302/.343/.573, 6 HR, 18 RBI, 2 SB
IF – Ty Wigginton (BAL): .308/.395/.631, 6 HR, 12 RBI
SS – Alex Gonzalez (TOR): .289/.317/.629, 7 HR, 19 RBI
OF – Shin-Soo Choo (CLE): .317/.429/.500, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 4 SB
OF – Brett Gardner (NYY): .323/.397/.385, 6 RBI, 10 SB
OF – Austin Jackson (DET): .364/.422/.495, HR, 7 RBI, 5 SB
OF – Scott Podsednik (KC): .350/.418/.375, 8 RBI, 8 SB
OF – Andruw Jones (CHW): .259/.394/.630, 6 HR, 9 RBI, 3 SB

Pitchers

Matt Garza (TAM): 4-1, 2.06 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 34 strikeouts, 35 IP
Francisco Liriano (MIN): 3-0, 0.93 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 27 strikeouts, 29 IP
Jered Weaver (LAA): 3-0, 2.53 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 34 K, 32 IP
Colby Lewis (TEX): 3-0, 2.76 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 38 K, 32 2/3 IP
Zack Greinke (KC): 0-2, 2.56 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 27 K, 31 2/3 IP
John Danks (CHW): 3-0, 1.55 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 26 K, 29 IP
Ricky Romero (TOR): 2-1, 2.25 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 31 K, 36 IP
Felix Hernandez (SEA): 2-1, 2.23 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 31 K, 36 1/3 IP
Justin Duchscherer (OAK): 2-1, 2.89 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 18 K, 28 IP
David Aardsma (SEA): 0-1, 8 SV, 2.79 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, 11 K, 9 2/3 IP
Jose Valverde (DET): 0-1, 7 SV, 0.75 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 6 K, 12 IP
Mariano Rivera (NYY): 0-0, 7 SV, 0.00 ERA, 0.56 WHIP, 9 K, 9 IP
Jon Rauch (MIN): 1-0, 7 SV, 1.80 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 7 K, 10 IP

National League

Starters

C – Geovany Soto (CHC): .340/.500/.528, 3 HR, 7 RBI
1B – Albert Pujols (STL): .345/.430/.655, 7 HR, 19 RBI, SB
2B – Kelly Johnson (ARI): .313/.404/.750, 9 HR, 18 RBI
3B – Pablo Sandoval (SF): .368/.433/.575, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 2 SB
SS – Rafael Furcal (LAD): .309/.378/.420, 6 RBI, 8 SB
OF – Ryan Braun (MIL): .355/.430/581, 5 HR, 20 RBI, 6 SB
OF – Colby Rasmus (STL): .323/.463/.708, 6 HR, 12 RBI, 3 SB
OF – Andre Ethier (LAD): .329/.407/592, 6 HR, 19 RBI
DH – Kosuke Fukudome (CHC): .344/.443/.641, 5 HR, 16 RBI, SB

Reserves

C – Miguel Olivo (COL): .291/.333/.600, 5 HR, 13 RBI, SB
1B – Adrian Gonzalez (SD): .288/.408/.563, 6 HR, 16 RBI
2B – Chase Utley (PHI): .275/.431/.550, 6 HR, 15 RBI, SB
2B – Dan Uggla (FLA): .295/.364/.534, 5 HR, 14 RBI, SB
3B – David Wright (NYM): .273/.430/.506, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 7 SB
3B – Jorge Cantu (FLA): .311/.354/567, 5 HR, 23 RBI
SS – Ryan Theriot (CHC): .337/.370/.386, 12 RBI, 5 SB
SS – Troy Tulowitzki (COL): .304/.350/.435, 1 HR, 13 RBI, SB
OF – Matt Kemp (LAD): .278/.333/.546, 7 HR, 20 RBI, 3 SB
OF – Marlon Byrd (CHC): .348/.366/.584, 4 HR, 16 RBI, SB
OF – Andrew McCutchen (PIT): .299/.352/.443, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 10 SB
OF – Jayson Werth (PHI): .325/.402/.584, 3 HR, 14 RBI, SB

Pitchers

Ubaldo Jimenez (COL): 5-0, 0.79 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 31 K, 34 IP
Tim Lincecum (SF): 4-0, 1.27 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 43 K, 35 1/3 IP
Roy Halladay (PHI): 4-1, 1.80 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 33 K, 40 IP
Mike Pelfrey (NYM): 4-0, 0.69 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 19 K, 26 IP
Barry Zito (SF): 4-0, 1.53 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 24 K, 35 1/3 IP
Josh Johnson (FLA): 2-1, 3.19 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 34 K, 31 IP
Tommy Hanson (ATL): 2-2, 2.17 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 33 K, 29 IP
Jamie Garcia (STL): 2-1, 1.04 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 17 K, 26 IP
Adam Wainwright (STL): 4-1, 2.13 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 30 K, 38 IP
Heath Bell (SD): 1-0, 7 SV, 1.80 WHIP, 1.40 WHIP, 16 K, 10 IP
Matt Lindstrom (HOU): 0-0, 6 SV, 2.70 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 11 K, 10 IP
Francisco Cordero (CIN): 1-1, 9 SV, 2.70 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 13 K, 13 1/3 IP
Matt Capps (WAS): 0-0, 10 SV, 0.68 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 15 K, 13 1/3 IP

Overall, both of these teams ended up being a pretty fair representation I think. For most of the teams, there was at least one clear All-Star. Only with the Athletics and Astros did I really struggle particularly. It is interesting to see just how many excellent performances there were in April.

My Award Winners to Date

AL MVP – Evan Longoria (TAM)
NL MVP – Albert Pujols (STL)
AL Cy Young – Francisco Liriano (MIN)
NL Cy Young – Ubaldo Jimenez (COL)
AL Rookie of the Year – Austin Jackson (DET)
NL Rookie of the Year – Jason Heyward (ATL)

Weekly Links and Weeks in Review

April 4-11
April 12-18
April 19-25
April 26-May 2

To me, the stories that really dominated baseball were the emergence of the new rookie class (Austin Jackson, Jason Heyward, Mike Leake), Big Carlos Zambrano being sent to the bullpen, and the struggles of the Red Sox early on. Feel free to look through the weekly links to see some of the other top stories last month. We also saw the hot start of the Rays, and a no-hitter from Ubaldo Jimenez. Nothing quite like baseball.

The Week in Review – April 12-April 18


It’s been a pretty busy week, what with a 20 inning game, a no-hitter, and some really excellent performances.

If the Playoffs Started Today (Which Clearly, They Don’t)

Tampa Bay (WC) vs. Minnesota (C)
Oakland (W) vs. New York (E)

St. Louis (C) vs. Philadelphia (E)
Florida (WC) vs. San Francisco (W)

Last Week’s Top Performers

Shin-Soo Choo (CLE) – .579/.680/1.211, 3 HR, 11 RBI, SB, 5 R
Jose Guillen (KC) – .462/.500/.885, 3 HR, 5 RBI, SB, 7 R
Brett Gardner (NYY) – .385/.529/.385, 5 R, RBI, 4 SB
Denard Span (MIN) – .381/.552/.524, 8 R, 3 RBI, 3 SB
Ty Wigginton (BAL) – .348/.385/.913, 6 R, 4 HR, 10 RBI
Derek Jeter (NYY) – .500/.500/.955, 5 R, 3 HR, 7 RBI
Ivan Rodriguez (WAS) – .476/.500/.714, 7 R, 7 RBI, SB
Dan Uggla (FLA) – .464/.484/.821, 7 R, 2 HR, 7 RBI
Chase Utley (PHI) – .333/.481/1.048, 8 R, 5 HR, 8 RBI
Matt Kemp (LAD) – .333/.414/.875, 8 R, 4 HR, 8 RBI, SB
Andre Ethier (LAD) – ..423/.464/.769, 4 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI

Adam Wainwright (STL) – 17 IP, 1.06 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 2 W, 16 K
Matt Garza (TAM) – 16 IP, 0.56 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 2 W, 10 K
Ricky Romero (TOR) – 16 IP, 1.69 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, W, 18 K
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) – 12 1/3 IP, 2.19 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, W, 16 K
Ubaldo Jimenez (COL) – 9 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, W, 7 K (no-hitter)
Felipe Lopez (STL) – 1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP

Roster Movement and Job Changes

The biggest changes involved all the disabled list movement:

  • Chris Getz of the Royals was placed on the disabled list, and Alex Gordon was activated to take his spot on the roster.
  • Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies was placed on the disabled list, with Juan Castro replacing him in the lineup. Rollins should be out a few weeks.
  • Esmailin Caridad of the Cubs was placed on the disabled list
  • Aaron Rowand of the Giants was placed on the disabled list.
  • Brian Roberts and Felix Pie of the Orioles were both placed on the disabled list. It sounds like Roberts may be out for an extended period of time.
  • Kelly Shoppach of the Rays.
  • Aaron Hill of the Blue Jays
  • Brian Fuentes of the Angels was placed on the disabled list, and Fernando Rodney immediately filled the closer’s role for him.

Also of some note last week was that 2nd year pitcher Brett Anderson signed a contract extension that could take him through the next 6 seasons. Risk on both sides, but I think that the A’s have probably locked up an ace for these next 6 seasons at minimal cost.

Top Rookie Performers

Jason Heyward continues to be the story, as he is now hitting .302/.423/.581 with 3 HR and 15 RBI in just the first two weeks of the season. He finished up last week with a 3-rbi day yesterday, including a walk-off 2 run single. At this rate, I would be shocked if anyone was able to keep up with him for the Rookie of the Year. Jamie Garcia of the Cardinals had a good outing as well, throwing 7 shutout innings during Saturday’s 20 inning matchup.

In the American League, Austin Jackson of the Tigers has gotten off to a hot start, hitting .340/.389/.500 with 9 runs and 5 rbi. Of some concern is the fact that he has struck out 15 times to only 4 walks so far, but he is producing well at the top of the lineup to this point.

Top Stories and This Week’s Links

  • The biggest story of the week was the first no-hitter of the season, thrown by Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies on Saturday. He did this in spite of walking 6 batters throughout the game. And apparently on Sunday he went for a 6 mile jog to help clear his mind for his next start.
  • The Cardinals and Mets put on a clinic in poor lineup and bench management on Saturday. Their game went 20 innings, during which time the Mets ran out of players, warmed up their closer nearly every inning from the 8th onward, and had the starter from 2 days’ prior come on to get the save. However, the Cardinals won the award for the worst performance, as they ran out of pitchers after the 17th inning. So come the top of the 18th inning, 3B Felipe Lopez was called on to pitch, and managed to get through the inning without allowing a run. So in the 19th, they moved Lopez back to 3B and put the new 3B Joe Mather in for the next 2 innings, where he gave up 2 runs and ended up taking the loss.
  • Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports has a really good article about what a simulated game is. It’s a really interesting read for anyone who has heard the term but wasn’t sure what it meant exactly.
  • Vin Scully marked his 60th year with the Dodgers. He is retiring at the end of this season, and even though I’m not a Dodger fan, it is truly remarkable that Scully has continued to work with the Dodgers for all these years.

    Fantasy Preview – Starting Pitchers Part 1


    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 25 Starting Pitchers

    1. Tim Lincecum – SF
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    15 2.48 225.1 261 1.047
    Lincecum is coming off back-to-back Cy Young Awards, and is still extremely young. The unorthodox delivery will always be of some concern, but he has had success with it to this point, and in staying healthy while using it. He really should have won more than 15 games last season, but you’re not really looking for wins specifically at this point. To me, Lincecum is far and away the best starting pitcher at the start of the season, and could very well end up with a repeat of his 2009 season again in 2010.


    2. Roy Halladay – PHI
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    17 2.79 239 208 1.126
    After all the speculation that Halladay would be moved during the 2009 season, it was a small surprise to see him actually moved during the offseason. But I really like what this does for his value for 2010. His lineup is going to provide him with a ton of runs, and Halladay also gets the bonus of getting to face the Nationals and the rest of the National League as opposed to having to face the juggernauts in New York and Boston a half-dozen times. I think he could actually improve on these numbers, and I think he’s going to give Lincecum a run for the money for the Cy Young Award this season.


    3. Felix Hernandez – SEA
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    19 2.49 238.2 217 1.135
    Hernandez really put it all together last season, finishing 2nd in the AL Cy Young voting to Greinke. The Mariners have made a concerted effort to improve the defense behind their pitching staff for 2010, adding Casey Kotchman at 1B and Chone Figgins at 3B. I think that Hernandez can actually see slight improvements in his numbers this season. My only concern for King Felix would be that he may not necessarily get as many wins, but you really shouldn’t be chasing wins to begin with.


    4. C.C. Sabathia – NYY
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    19 3.37 230 197 1.148
    Sabathia is simply a true pitcher. He’s going to be out there for as long as they will allow him, throwing as many pitches as he needs to get through a start. I actually think that the win total could also have the potential to be even higher this season, and the strikeouts higher as well. He’s always going to have a pretty good amount of run support, and his ERA and WHIP should stay in a similar range to last year.


    5. Zack Greinke – KC
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    16 2.16 229.1 242 1.073
    Greinke won the AL Cy Young Award last season, edging out Hernandez and Sabathia both. I think he’s going to see a slight regression, as the ERA and WHIP were amazingly low. But we’re still talking about a pitcher who will end up with a sub-3 ERA and a WHIP around 1.15 or less. Oh, and the strikeout per inning is always a good thing too. Greinke really appears to have conquered his demons regarding the spotlight, and seems like a pretty safe bet to have another great season.


    6. Dan Haren – ARI
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    14 3.14 229.1 223 1.003
    Haren really seems to be a tale of two pitchers: He always has a very good first half, and a not-as-great second half. Just keep that thought in the back of your mind when drafting him. The fact that despite poorer performance in the second half, these were the numbers he posted, tells you how good the numbers were in the first half. Haren is also about as steady as it comes also, having posted excellent performances overall for each of the last 4 seasons.


    7. Adam Wainwright – STL
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    19 2.63 233 212 1.210
    Wainwright posted an excellent season last year, narrowly losing out on the NL Cy Young award last season. His peripheral numbers (.309 BABIP, 0.66 HR/9) indicate to me that there’s a very good chance he’ll repeat these numbers again in 2010.


    8. Justin Verlander – DET
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    19 3.45 240 269 1.175
    Verlander definitely announced his presence again in 2009, and my only question about him is this: Will he be able to repeat what he did in 2009, or will he regress back to the 2008 version? I think he’s a lot more likely to stay at the 2009 level, and could end up as a top-5 pitcher potentially.


    9. Jon Lester – BOS
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    15 3.41 203.1 225 1.230
    Lester’s personal story is a very good one, but the fantasy implications of his 2009 season are much more interesting for my purposes. I think that there is a reasonable chance he will actually improve on his numbers, both the ERA and WHIP. The Red Sox have done a very good job of improving their defense, and have managed to keep their offense in solid shape as well. Even his health concerns from the beginning of the 2009 season have been put to rest, and he should help lead the Red Sox for many years to come.


    10. Chris Carpenter – STL
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    17 2.24 192.2 144 1.007
    The only concern I have with Carpenter is the same one that he has nearly every season: health. Carpenter only pitched 192 innings last season, and I think it is unlikely he will get much past 200 IP this season as well. The strikeout rate seems to have dropped some, but his ERA and WHIP have been low enough that the fact that he’s “only” struck out around 7 per 9 innings is not really that relevant to me. But do remember that Carpenter is not without risk.


    11. Josh Johnson – FLA
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    15 3.23 209 191 1.158
    With a freshly signed contract extension, Johnson knows he’s going to be pitching in Florida’s spacious stadium until they move to the new one. 2009 was the first season really able to stay healthy for the full season. The value is definitely there with Johnson, as even when he was not healthy, his numbers were in line with what he accomplished last season. But he’s another pitcher that I would say has a slightly more than average risk for injury.


    12. Matt Cain – SF
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    14 2.89 217.2 171 1.181
    Cain, very quietly, had a very good season last year. And even though he didn’t show it in the win totals for a second straight season, his components indicate that he’s definitely for real. He may see some regression with regard to his ERA, but he should still be around 3.50 or so.


    13. Johan Santana – NYM
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    13 3.13 166.2 146 1.212
    Santana was one of the few bright spots on an otherwise very poor Mets team in 2009. I think that there is a very distinct possibility that Santana pitches a full season this year, and vaults back into the top-10 of starting pitchers. The only number I don’t think improves is his win total, but that is more to do with what I think of the Mets than anything.


    14. Javier Vazquez – NYY
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    15 2.87 219.1 238 1.026
    So Vazquez is back in New York, and I think that this is going to adversely affect the numbers he will provide for fantasy owners. He’s still likely to strikeout around a batter per inning, but it concerns me that he’s not going to be able to face the Nats and the other National League lineups. I think he still posts an ERA around 3.50 and a WHIP around 1.2, which will both be excellent. But don’t let yourself get caught bidding on Vazquez on the assumption that he’s going to duplicated 2009, because I just don’t see that happening.


    15. Josh Beckett – BOS
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    17 3.86 212.1 199 1.192
    Beckett seems poised to repeat the success he had in 2009, and should provide you with some solid value in all categories. I don’t think there is a lot of upside from the numbers he posted last year though, and even a chance of some regression in WHIP as well.


    16. Wandy Rodriguez – HOU
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    14 3.02 205.2 193 1.240
    The numbers appear to be, for the most part, real. The ERA could possibly go up from last year, but the WHIP and strikeouts appear legit. The other thing that I was thinking with Wandy was the fact that it seems unlikely he will win more than the 14 games he did last season. The Astros don’t look particularly good, and that will affect his final numbers slightly.


    17. Ubaldo Jimenez – COL
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    15 3.47 218 198 1.229
    Jimenez’s 2009 season was an improvement on 2008, mostly due to him cutting down his walk rate from 4.67 per 9 to 3.51 per 9 innings in 2009. If he can continue that lower walk rate, I don’t see any reason why he can’t perform to the same level in 2010.


    18. Cliff Lee – SEA
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    14 3.22 231.2 181 1.243
    Lee has had a whirlwind couple of seasons, having now been traded twice in the span of 5 months. His numbers could see some improvement by moving from Philadelphia to Seattle (mostly due to improved defense and ballpark), but the fact that he will be facing AL lineups again drops him from being a top-10 pitcher in my opinion. He’s still going to be an excellent pitcher, and he’s still going to provide solid numbers across the board. But I think I would rather have some other pitchers first.


    19. Jake Peavy – CHW
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    9 3.45 101.2 110 1.121
    Peavy came back late in the season from his injuries and pitched extremely well. He is another pitcher who could very well end up as a top-10 pitcher if he pitches a full season in 2010. But the fact that it took a majority of 2009 to recover from these injuries concerns me, as well as his adaption to pitching outside of Petco. I believe that he’s going to be solid as long as he’s healthy, and potentially elite also. He is not a product of Petco Park, but the place certainly didn’t hurt him as a pitcher.


    20. Clayton Kershaw – LAD
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    8 2.79 171 185 1.228
    Kershaw put it all together last season, and still has a lot of room for growth. He’s only going to be 22 years old this season, and should hopefully see him top 200 innings this year. The win total should improve as well, as he pitched a lot better than only getting 8 wins. My only real concern with Kershaw is how he will adjust to trying to throw that many innings. The potential dropoff is still well worth the risk in my opinion, as the upside for Kershaw remains huge.


    21. Yovani Gallardo – MIL
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    13 3.73 185.2 204 1.314
    Gallardo pitched the majority of the season last year for the first time, and posted some excellent numbers as a result. I think that he can approach 200 innings this season, but could potentially see a slight regression in ERA and WHIP due to a slightly lower BABIP (.288). The strikeouts are legit, and I could see the wins potentially improving as well. Gallardo is the unquestioned ace of the Brewers staff at this point.


    22. Ricky Nolasco – FLA
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    13 5.06 185 195 1.254
    Nolasco’s ERA really appears to be an outlier. Both his BABIP (.336) and FIP (3.35) indicate that the ERA was extremely unlucky. You’re looking at a pitcher who will approach 200 innings, and post excellent numbers in strikeouts, WHIP, and ERA this time around.


    23. Matt Garza – TAM
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    8 3.95 203 189 1.261
    Garza appears extremely unlucky in terms of wins. He did post a career high in strikeouts, which was more in-line with his minor league stats. His ERA may be a bit higher this year, but I think he still is right around 4.00.


    24. Tommy Hanson – ATL
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    11 2.89 127.2 116 1.185
    The only thing that is keeping me from ranking Hanson higher is the fact that he has not yet done it over a full season. But he’s going to be really good, and will probably post an ERA closer to 3.75 than the 2.89 he posted last season. A lot of upside here though to be sure.


    25. Brandon Webb – ARI
    W ERA IP K WHIP
    0 13.5 4 2 2.00
    Talk about a lost season. Webb pitched 4 innings in his first start, and never made it back to the team during the season. But the upside of Webb is a definite top 10 pitcher who could post 200 IP with a sub 3.50 ERA, a 1.25 WHIP, and 175 strikeouts. The risk of injury is the only thing keeping him from being higher up.

    Tomorrow I will continue on with my team previews, as I review the American League West this week, starting with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

    Team Preview – Tampa Bay Rays


    Roster Makeup
    Lineup Pitching Staff
    Pos Name Role Name
    C Kelly Shoppach SP 1 James Shields
    1B Carlos Pena SP 2 Matt Garza
    2B Ben Zobrist SP 3 Jeff Niemann
    3B Evan Longoria SP 4 David Price
    SS Jason Bartlett SP 5 Wade Davis
    LF Carl Crawford Bullpen
    CF B.J. Upton CL Rafael Soriano
    RF Matt Joyce RP J.P. Howell
    DH Pat Burrell RP Dan Wheeler
    Bench RP Grant Balfour
    IF Sean Rodriguez RP Randy Choate
    C Dioner Navarro RP Andy Sonnanstine

    Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

    Off-Season Transactions
    Key Additions Key Losses
    Pos Name How Pos Name How
    C Kelly Shoppach Trade (CLE) 2B Akinori Iwamura Trade (PIT)
    RP Rafael Soriano Trade (ATL) RP Troy Percival Free Agency

    Top Prospects: Desmond Jennings (OF), Jeremy Hellickson (P), Tim Beckham (SS)

    2009 Review

    The Rays were riding high off of their improbable World Series appearance in 2008, and expectations were high for repeat success in 2009. While the Rays didn’t have quite the same success, posting an 84-78 record last season, there was lots of things to be really excited about.

    The offense was led by the breakout season of Ben Zobrist. Zobrist played all over the field, mostly at 2B, SS, and RF, and hit everywhere he played. He posted a .297/.405/.543 line with 27 HR, 91 RBI, and 17 SB. A rather amazing season, especially when the Rays were expected to be led by 1B Carlos Pena (39 HR, 100 RBI), 3B Evan Longoria (.281, 33 HR, 113 RBI), and LF Carl Crawford (.305, 15 HR, 60 SB).

    The pitching staff was inconsistent, and really appeared to be the reason that the Rays didn’t return to the playoffs. The only starters to post sub-4.00 eras were rookie Jeff Niemann (13-6, 3.94), and Matt Garza (8-12, 3.95). The late season trade of Scott Kazmir was a bit curious, but the Rays had decided at that point that they would not catch the Red Sox, and were able to get a pretty good package for a still very young pitcher.

    Team Outlook for 2010

    The Rays will look to make another playoff run this season, acquiring C Kelly Shoppach to help address a lack of offensive production behind the plate. They also helped to solidify the back end of their bullpen with the acquisition of Rafael Soriano to be the closer. This is a team that would probably win the Central division on a consistent basis if they were in it, but unfortunately for them, they are not. The records they have posted in spite of having to play the Yankees and Red Sox 19 times each are a credit to manager Joe Maddon and general manager Andrew Friedman.

    I think that they will be in the hunt for the majority of the season, but are going to need some luck to catch the Red Sox or the Yankees. Something to watch for throughout the season is how long it takes for the Rays to call up top prospect Desmond Jennings. If Matt Joyce struggles early on, look for him to get the call sooner. Something else is the impending free agency of LF Carl Crawford. Rays’ fans are hopeful that the sides will work out a contract extension before he hits free agency, but the Rays are likely to be priced out of the market if he gets there. As a result, the Rays could look to move Crawford if they fall out of the race early on and don’t believe that they will be able to get anything for him besides the 2 draft picks for type A free agents.

    Fantasy Outlook for 2010

    OF Carl Crawford was a top-tier outfielder with his 60 stolen bases last season, although he had a precipitous drop off in success after the first two months of last season. Nearly every other everyday player for the Rays is ownable in standard fantasy leagues, with 2B/SS/OF Ben Zobrist and 3B Evan Longoria being the cream of the crop. The pitching staff also is mostly ownable, although I personally have been burned by James Shields one too many times for me to recommend him. Garza should have a better won-loss record this season, and Niemann will hopefully build on his excellent rookie campaign.

    Prediction for 2010

    The Rays need a bit of luck to help get them past Boston and New York, and should be in this race until very late in the season, possibly even the last weekend. Unfortunately, I think that they’re going to come up a bit short, and have another excellent season that ends with no games in the postseason.

    88-74, 3rd in the AL East