Tag Archives: Michael Taylor

Season Previews in Review: American League West

Back during Spring Training, I took a look at each team and made predictions about how each team would do and how I thought their season would go. This was the first year doing this, and I figured now was a good time to take a look back and see how it went. I reviewed the AL East and AL Central previously, and now it’s on to the AL West.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Predicted Record: 86-76            Actual Record: 80-82

I’m not entirely sure what happened with this team. The only event that I can pinpoint that stands out as a major turning point in the season was the loss of Kendry Morales for the season back in late May. Their pitching seemed suspect at the beginning of the season, and might have been worse had it not been for the midseason acquisition of Dan Haren from the Diamondbacks. The Angels continue to develop solid players though, with Peter Bourjos coming up after the All-Star break and should continue to develop next season. This team needs a bit of help in the offseason, but should do well and spend what is needed to do that.

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Trade Deadline Thoughts

With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, I put out a call to some of the team-centric bloggers from the Baseball Bloggers Alliance with 3 questions each, dependent on whether or not they considered their team to be a contender or not. Below are the questions, along with each of the responses.

Note that most of these responses were received over the last week, so some may be a bit out of date with the information now known, but that has more with my inability to sit down and write it all down and not with the respondents themselves.

The Respondents

Bill Ivie from I-70 Baseball (Responses are for the Cardinals)
Daniel Shoptaw from C70 at the Bat (Cardinals)
Bee Hylinski from Contract Year (Athletics)

For Contending Teams:

1.  What would you say is your team’s most pressing need to help them get to (or stay in) the playoffs?

Ivie: I will take the opinion side of this.  I have said it for months now.  The Cardinals need some strong help in the middle infield.  When they get production and table setting from the 2b/SS position, they produce and win.  When those positions are quiet, the team loses.

Shoptaw: There are two glaring holes on this team–middle infield, most especially shortstop, and the back of the rotation.  With the hopeful emergence of Tyler Greene to replace Brendan Ryan‘s woeful production, getting another starter would seem to be the most pressing need.  The team can not continue to run out Jeff Suppan and Blake Hawksworth on a regular basis and expect to play in October.

Interesting to me is the fact that both writers agree that the Cardinals’ middle infield is pretty much a black hole in terms of offense. I’m also inclined to agree with Daniel about the fact that the Cardinals need something in their rotation, but I think they are going to have to either make a small acquisition or wait to find out if and when injured pitchers Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse will be able to return to the rotation.

2. What player(s) do you think would most effectively fit that need? Generally, these would only be players that actually have a decent chance of being traded, so no offers for Albert Pujols 🙂

Ivie: What if I want to offer for Albert…oh, wait…we got ’em.  Dan Uggla is always and intriguing name.  I also like the discussions that are suggesting Stephen Drew at SS.  Other than that, I think the market is kind of small for help, but hopefully they can find something out there.

Shoptaw: While the Cardinals would be well-suited to a Dan Haren or a Roy Oswalt, their contract situation most likely leaves them out of the crosshairs of GM John Mozeliak.  All moves must be filtered through the prism of the potential Albert Pujols extension.  Therefore, they’d much rather have someone that was a free agent after this season rather than someone taking up space in the next year or two.  You would think, in that case, they’d look for someone like a Jake Westbrook or perhaps a Kevin Millwood.

I actually really like the idea of the Cardinals acquiring Dan Uggla for a playoff run. While he is a bit expensive at $7.8 million for this season, he is under team control for next season as well, and could conceivably be moved during the offseason if they feel he will be too expensive. I actually really like the Stephen Drew thought as well, but he has more seasons under team control and would realistically cost more to acquire than Uggla. The Cardinals also seem like they would be a good team to take a risk on a Jake Westbrook/Kevin Millwood/Jeremy Guthrie type, and pair them up with Dave Duncan and let him do his magic.

3. What player(s) in your system are most likely to net you the player(s) for those needs?

Ivie: This probably is the biggest obstacle for the Cardinals.  I would say that Bryan Anderson (AAA Catcher), Mitchell Boggs (ML Reliever), and Brendan Ryan (ML Shorstop).  Brendan may be thrown in for a change of scenery and take a team that feels that is what he needs, but it will be hard to tell.

Shoptaw: What they can give up is another story.  Since they used a lot of their chips last year acquiring Mark DeRosa and then Matt Holliday, there’s not a lot on the farm.  There are potentially useful players such as Mark Hamilton and Joe Mather, along with current big leaguers Jon Jay and Allen Craig, that could be used as parts of a deal.  Most likely, St. Louis would have to take on payroll, something that ownership has said there is flexibility to do, and give away lesser quality prospects.  Expect that Brendan Ryan could be a part of a deal as well, especially if they do make a deal for a shortstop.

After looking at the Cardinals system myself, it’s pretty empty at the higher levels. The biggest name that I have heard for them is pitcher Shelby Miller, who I would assume would have to be included in a trade if they were to get themselves someone like Roy Oswalt or Dan Haren. The other thing to remember at this point is that if they acquire a player who has a longer term contract, they may start running into a problem with their payroll limits after 2011 when they will need to resign Albert Pujols.

For Non-Contenders:

1. Which player(s) on your team do you think are most likely to get moved before the deadline?

Hylinski: Pitcher Ben Sheets, notwithstanding Billy Beane’s comments that he doesn’t plan on moving anyone.  Sheets has pitched better with every start recently.  His fastball is up to the mid nineties and all his other pitchers are working more accurately.  He’s a veteran presence and great with the young pitchers.  Speaking of the latter,  if a team would give up a great player and need more than Sheets, the A’s have a plethora of young pitchers in the minors to sweeten the pot.

I really thought that they were going to move him, and that despite his veteran presence he could bring back a fair amount in return. Unfortunately, he was placed on the disabled list on Saturday, and could potentially miss the rest of the season.

2. What would you like to see the organization get in return (ie, a 3B prospect, starting pitching prospects, salary relief, etc)? Specific players aren’t necessarily a requirement, unless you see a specific good match.

Hylinski: A slugger, a 3 or 4 hole hitter who can also play in the field (not another Jack Cust, please)  Someone like Hanley Ramirez would be terrific: a young major league hitter (or major-league ready hitter) with substantial pop in his bat.

I agree that this is definitely what the Athletics need, because the lineup just isn’t good enough in terms of power. Even when Sheets was healthy, I’m not sure I saw a player on the A’s current roster that could have brought that in return. Maybe catcher Kurt Suzuki, but with him now signed to a contract extension, I don’t think he’s going anywhere for at least a couple of seasons.

3. Do you see a good fit for these players that you think could get a deal done?

Hylinski: I am not convinced that Billy Beane and the ownership will pay top dollar for a hot bat.  But that’s what the team needs.  The only 2 bats at top of the A’s minor league system (Sacramento River Cats) are Chris Carter who can only play 1st base, so unless something happens to Daric Barton who has been a hitting and field machine, he’s not coming up; and  Michael Taylor who is at least a year off.

Another possibility might be 2nd-baseman Mark Ellis (though I’d really hate to see him go).  I understand the Phillies and maybe the Red Sox are looking for a 2nd baseman.  Probably Kevin Kouzmanoff will not be traded unless the other end of the deal is too good to pass up.

I’m inclined to agree with these points also, unfortunately. With the stadium situation continuing to drag on in Oakland, and with the team possibly moving to parts unknown, San Jose, or half a dozen other places, they just seem extremely unlikely to pay to get someone like that. The two prospects Bee mentioned have unfortunately been disappointments at AAA to this point, and signs are pointing that they may actually have to repeat the level again next season.

Overall, I thought it was interesting to get the perspective of some writers who are clearly very knowledgeable about their teams, and see if their observations about their teams were similar to mine as someone who sees it a little more at arm’s length. Thanks to everyone who responded to my questions, and you should check out their blogs at the links above as well.

Also, Allen Teruel over at Prorumors.Com had a series of writeups regarding potential trade targets for each team and certain types of players as well. You can find these stories here:

Here are a few Top 10 lists that can help you out too:

Trade Review – PHI/SEA/TOR/OAK

Philadelphia Phillies receive SP Roy Halladay (TOR), RP Philippe Aumont (SEA), P Juan Ramirez (SEA), OF Tyson Gillies (SEA), and $6,000,000 (TOR)

Seattle Mariners receive SP Cliff Lee (PHI)

Toronto Blue Jays receive C Travis D’Arnaud (PHI), SP Kyle Drabek (PHI), and 1B/3B Brett Wallace (OAK)

Oakland Athletics receive OF Michael Taylor (PHI)

The Phillies
At first, these trades seemed odd to me. They went and got Halladay, whom they had coveted for quite a while. I had visions of how tough a rotation that would be throughout the year – Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Happ, and Blanton. And then the other shoe fell and they moved Lee as well. The prospects they received are interesting, but I’m not 100% sure that the return they got for Lee was similar to the package that they gave up to get him initially.

What is there to be said about Roy Halladay, really? He has won 16 games or more each of the last 4 seasons. He won 20 last year. He has posted a sub-3.20 era 4 of the last 5 seasons. He struck out 200 batters the last 2 seasons. He won the 2003 Cy Young Award. He has established himself as one of the most durable, and best pitchers in the majors. While it isn’t a huge upgrade for this year between Lee and Halladay, the fact that they are getting him signed to an extension (sounds like it will be 3 yrs, $60 million at the moment) is critical to this trade being a success for the Phillies. That new extension will take him through the age of 36. So the Phillies are getting some of his best potential years to come, and not signing him to a ridiculously long extension.

Aumont has been working as a reliever exclusively, splitting time between High-A and AA. He posted a respectable line of 3.88 with 16 saves and 59 strikeouts in 51 innings between the two stops. Aumont finished last season as the #3 prospect according to John Sickels, and was generally considered to be a high-end pitching prospect. I think that Aumont would be a lot more interesting as a starting pitcher, but it remains to be seen whether or not the Phillies will convert him back or not.

Juan Ramirez looks like a solid starting pitching prospect. In the California League in 2009, he posted an 8-10 record with a 5.12 era,  111 strikeouts and 53 walks in 153 innings. I am more interested in his 2008 numbers, due to their being accomplished in the Midwest League. His line that year: 6-9, 4.14 era, 113 strikeouts, and 38 walks in 124 innings pitched. John Sickels had him at #4 in the Mariners system at the end of the 2008 season.

Gillies appears to be a very good speedster out in the outfield. He posted a .341/.430/.486 line with 9 homers and 44 steals. While these numbers are a bit inflated due to his playing the full season in the California League (known for its offense numbers), he also posted similar numbers in 2008 in the Northwest League (.313/.439/.427). He doesn’t appear that he has a lot of power, but its possible he could grow into that as he gets older. He will be only 21 when the 2010 season begins.

The Mariners
I think that the Mariners did really well here. They gave up a prospect whose luster had faded (Aumont), and two young prospects who are realistically unlikely to help the Major League team in the next 3 years. They turned those players into another ace for the top of their pitching staff. The combination of Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee at the top of their rotation really solidifies the Mariners’ chances to win their division next year. When you add in the fact that the Angels have lost 2 major players on their team (Lackey, Figgins), and replaced them with very little as of yet, I really like the Mariners to win this division as of right now.

The Blue Jays
The Jays really felt like they had to move Halladay, or potentially lose him to free agency for just some draft picks. The return they got, in my opinion, is fair. Not a slam dunk, but fair. Wallace becomes the heir apparent to first base in my opinion, and speculation is already out there that the Jays could move Lyle Overbay. Wallace had a very good year between AA Springfield, AAA Memphis, and AAA Sacramento, posting a .293/.367/.455 line with 20 homers and 63 rbi. He appears to be a solid prospect, and should turn out to be a solid major league starter.

Kyle Drabek ended this season as probably the top pitching prospect in the Phillies organization. He finished 12-3, with a 3.19 era. He finished with 150 strikeouts against 50 walks in 158 innings pitched. He pitched in AA last season, and is likely to start the season in AAA. The Blue Jays realistically, don’t need him to hit the majors for at least another season, with all the excellent starting pitchers that are already at or near the majors (Brett Cecil, Ricky Romero, Dustin McGowan, Shaun Marcum, Marc Rzepcynski, Jesse Litsch, Scott Richmond, David Purcey, Robert Ray). So it really just increases their depth in pitching.

Travis D’Arnaud is a very young catcher who spent the season at Single-A Lakewood. He posted a .255/.319/.419 line with 13 homers, 71 rbi, and 8 steals. I actually am not too familiar with him, so I went looking for a good profile of him, and found it here. After reading it, it appears he is considered to be a solid defensive catcher who is likely to stick at the position long term. A solid catching prospect overall.

Overall, I think that the Blue Jays did manage to address some specific positional needs in trading Halladay, and while this return isn’t necessarily as high as it would have been had he been moved in July, they did well to get some solid prospects here.

The Athletics
For my hometown A’s, I really like this trade. This makes me believe that the A’s do not believe that Wallace could stick at 3B, where they really needed him. So they turn him into a top-tier outfield prospect. While I would normally be concerned about the fact that they already have a ton of outfielders at or near the major league level (Rajai Davis, Travis Buck, Aaron Cunningham, Ryan Sweeney all come to mind), I am inclined to believe that Taylor is better than most, if not all, of these players. The Athletics are always seeming to be short of power hitters, and Taylor definitely fits the bill. He posted a .320/.395/.544 line between AA Reading and AAA Lehigh Valley for the Phillies last year, along with 20 homers and 21 stolen bases. The movement of Wallace also makes Jake Fox (recently acquired from the Cubs) to be the main option at 3B besides the permanently injured (sad, sad I know) Eric Chavez. I am amazed that Billy Beane managed to make his way into this trade, and gave up a solid prospect for a better one in my opinion.

Overall Review
I think that overall, each team did well with this trade. The Mariners appear to be making at least a partial push to win now. The A’s get a power bat that they desperately need. The Blue Jays get 3 solid prospects that will help their team to rebuild their farm system. The Phillies get an even better ace for the top of their pitching staff, and 3 high-end prospects as well. And somehow they got the Phillies to kick in $6 million bucks! It remains to be seen exactly how the prospects involved are going to turn out, and whether or not Halladay can stay healthy for the length of his new extension. But after trying to make sense of this for the past 24 hours, I can safely say that each team has improved themselves in at least some small manner.

CURRENT WINNER: Seattle Mariners

LONG-TERM WINNER: Philadelphia Phillies