Tag Archives: Zach Duke

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

Original Draft Series: #12 – Pittsburgh Pirates


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

Team #12: Pittsburgh Pirates

General Managers(since 1994)

Cam Bonifay (1994-2001): 541-688
Dave Littlefield (2002-2007): 349-549
Neal Huntington (2008-Current): 129-194

Team Performance

Playoffs Division Finish
WC League Playoff App 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Last
0 0 0 0 1 2 2 11

All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C Jason Kendall 1992 – 1st Rd (23) 12 3 All-Star Appearances
1252 gm, .306/.387/.418, 67 HR, 471 RBI, 140 SB
Traded to OAK – 11/27/04
1B Jose Bautista 2000 – 20th Rd 3+4 400 gm, .241/.329/.403, 43 HR, 159 RBI, 10 SB Selected by BAL – 12/15/03
2B Neil Walker
2004 – 1st Rd (11) 6 74 gm, .287/.332/.421, 5 HR, 31 RBI, 3 SB Currently with Org.
3B Aramis Ramirez Int’l FA – 1994 9 559 gm, .263/.312/.435, 76 HR, 316 RBI Traded to CHC – 7/23/03
SS Jeff Keppinger 2001 – 4th Rd 3 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to NYM – 7/30/04
LF Nate McLouth 2000 – 25th Rd 9 1 All Star Appearance, 1 Gold Glove
481 gm, .261/.339/.462, 60 HR, 194 RBI, 64 SB
Traded to ATL – 6/3/09
CF Andrew McCutchen 2005 – 1st Rd (11) 5 209 gm, .286/.362/.454, 21 HR, 87 RBI, 43 SB Currently with Org.
RF Nyjer Morgan
2002 – 33rd Rd 7 157 gm, .286/.351/.376, 3 HR, 41 RBI, 34 SB Traded to WAS – 6/30/09
DH Jose Guillen Int’l FA – 1992 7 336 gm, .267/.301/.406, 29 HR, 172 RBI Traded to TAM- 7/23/99
SP Ian Snell 2000 – 26th Rd 9 33-46, 4.75 ERA, 576 K, 308 BB, 693 IP Traded to SEA – 7/29/09
SP Tim Wakefield
1988 – 8th Rd 7 14-12, 4.17 ERA, 110 K, 110 BB, 220.1 IP Released – 4/20/05
SP Bronson Arroyo 1995 – 3rd Rd 7 9-14, 5.44 ERA, 111 K, 85 BB, 187 IP Selected by BOS – 2/4/03
SP Paul Maholm
2003 – 1st Rd (8) 7 45-53, 4.37 ERA, 570 K, 317 BB, 927.1 IP Currently with Org.
SP Zach Duke 2001 – 20th Rd 9 1 All Star Appearance
42-65, 4.42 ERA, 477 K, 244 BB, 913.2 IP
Currently with Org.
RP John Grabow 1997 – 3rd Rd 12 20-15, 4.09 ERA, 326 K, 167 BB, 363.1 IP Traded to CHC – 7/30/09
RP Sean Burnett 2000 – 1st Rd (19) 9 7-8, 4.54 ERA, 95 K, 77 BB, 160.2 IP Traded to WAS – 6/30/09
RP Mike Gonzalez 1997 – 30th Rd 9 7-9, 2.37 ERA, 287 SV, 183 K, 74 BB, 155.2 IP Traded to ATL – 1/19/07
RP Tom Gorzelanny 2003 – 2nd Rd 6 25-25, 4.79 ERA, 252 K, 176 BB, 383.1 IP Traded to CHC – 7/30/09
RP Leo Nunez Int’l FA – 2000 4 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to KC – 12/16/04
CL Matt Capps 2002 – 7th Rd 7 19-19, 67 SV, 3.61 ERA, 208 K, 50 BB, 271.2 IP Non-tendered – 12/12/09
BN Rajai Davis 2001 – 38th Rd 6 44 gm, .242/.333/.323, 2 RBI, 6 SB Traded to SF – 7/31/07
BN Ryan Doumit 1999 – 2nd Rd 11 490 gm, .270/.332/.441, 54 HR, 223 RBI, 10 SB Currently with Org.
BN Steven Pearce 2005 – 8th Rd 5 135 gm, .240/.313/.394, 8 HR, 42 RBI, 5 SB Currently with Org.
BN Ronny Paulino Int’l FA – 1997 11 304 gm, .278/.331/.382, 19 HR, 128 RBI Traded to PHI – 12/10/08
BN Pedro Alvarez 2008 – 1st Rd (2) 2 44 gm, .229/.307/.439, 9 HR, 26 RBI Currently with Org.

June Amateur Draft

This team has had a lot of high first round picks in the last 15 years, and they are finally starting to see some production from the,. While they had players like Sean Burnett and Paul Maholm , both of whom provided value but were definitely not the high end players that they had hoped, they are now seeing top tier players in Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez make an impact at the Major League level. Getting some late round values like Zack Duke and Ian Snell has definitely helped also.

International Free Agency

The Pirates have a few high-profile international free agent signees in Aramis Ramirez and Jose Guillen, but unfortunately many of their international free agents have not had a large positive impact with the Pirates. It seems at this point that their most well known international free agents have done well, just not in Pittsburgh. They have been active in a lot of markets, including India.

Overall Grade

B. I like the level of talent that has gone through the organization. But the fact that so many of these players either were given away (Rajai Davis, Aramis Ramirez, Leo Nunez), or did not have any success with the team itself shows why the success level in these past 15 seasons has been less than acceptable. I actually like the progress that the team is making, and with honegrown talents Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez locked in for the next few seasons, the team should start to see improvement in the standings as soon as next season.

Week in Review – July 12 to July 18


If the Playoffs Started Today

Tampa Bay Rays (55-36) vs. Texas Rangers (53-39)
Chicago White Sox (50-41) vs. New York Yankees (58-33)

Colorado Rockies (50-41) vs. Atlanta Braves (54-38)
St. Louis Cardinals (51-41) vs. San Diego Padres (54-37)

League Leaders

Batting Average – Josh Hamilton (TEX) .347
Runs – Carl Crawford (TAM) 70
Home Runs – Jose Bautista (TOR) 25
Runs Batted In – Miguel Cabrera (DET) 79
Stolen Bases – Juan Pierre (CHW) 33

Wins – Ubaldo Jimenez (COL) 15
Saves – Heath Bell (SD) 26
ERA – Josh Johnson (FLA) 1.62
Strikeouts – Jered Weaver (LAA) 142
WHIP – Cliff Lee (TEX) 0.94

Roster Movement

To the Disabled List: Kerry Wood, Mat Latos, Mike Adams, Eric O’Flaherty, Reed Johnson, Matt Wieters, Justin Morneau, Doug Davis

Return from the Disabled List: Zach Duke, Manny Ramirez, Chad Durbin, Carlos Beltran, Jason Heyward, Placido Polanco

To the Minors: Jason Jaramillo, Dan Meyer, Brandon Hicks

Called Up: Allen Craig, Lorenzo Cain, Josh Bell

Trades:

Top Stories and Weekly Links

  • The All-Star Game festivities were this week, so there were only 4 days with games on them. The National League finally managed to get off the bench and win one, as they defeated the American League 3 to 1 on Tuesday. Brian McCann had the deciding hit, and was named the game’s MVP.  Manager Joe Girardi of the American League received a small ration of grief as well for not pinch running Alex Rodriguez for David Ortiz in the bottom of the 9th inning, but overall the game was pretty well played and well managed.
  • The Home Run Derby on Monday was won by David Ortiz, and since the majority of the players participating had very little home run derby experience, it was nice to see them get so much national exposure.
  • Sadly, the Yankee family lost a titan on Tuesday, with the passing of owner George Steinbrenner from a massive heart attack. I wrote up my thoughts on the Boss here.
  • The All-Star break ended with a surprising trade, as the Braves sent their starting SS Yunel Escobar to the Blue Jays for their starting SS, Alex Gonzalez. It appears that Escobar was not well liked in the Braves’ clubhouse, and there seemed to be constant concern with a lack of effort from Escobar. A true challenge trade, it remains to be seen which side will win this trade in the end, but I actually think it could be good for both teams.
  • It had been widely discussed that Padres’ ace Mat Latos would be on an innings limit, and there was talk that he might be placed on the disabled list so that he could be skipped for his next start and help to keep him near that innings limit. The surprise was the “injury” that he sustained to put him there. Apparently he tweaked a muscle trying not to sneeze. At least it’s not a deer meat injury.

From the Twitter Followers and Friends

If you aren’t yet, you can follow me over at Twitter here. These are some of the better reads I found from the previous week.

Upcoming Posts This Week:

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: I will be continuing on with my series of posts about the 2003 BA Almanac, going over both the Minor League All-Stars  the Top 20 Prospects by League, and the 2002 Top 100 Prospect List

Friday:  Trade Retrospective of Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs. This one is a huge trade, since 4 teams were involved in it, and also clearly had an impact on the pennant races as well.

Other News

I also wanted to let everyone know that in addition to writing for Fake Teams, I am also now a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. The group of over 200 blogs has writers who cover nearly every aspect of baseball you could think of, and honestly a couple I had not thought of yet.

The BBA has, as a secondary aim, the goal of producing year-end awards in a similar fashion to the Baseball Writers of America.  These awards can be found here in October with links back to the voters, ensuring transparancy and, most likely, the onset of some good baseball arguments.

Over the coming weeks, I will be taking a look at a lot of them (there are so many!), and may potentially writeup a few of them. We’ll see what happens, but I’m really excited to be here!

One Other Thing

Lastly, I wanted to bring up a charity that the Baseball Bloggers Alliance has taken up. Here’s the official word, and what you can do:

Pitch In For Baseball is delighted to have been selected to participate in State Farm’s ‘Go To Bat’ campaign.  Now we need your
help!

‘Go To Bat’ was launched nationally during the State Farm Home Run Derby.  ‘Go To Bat’ gives entrants a chance to win tickets to the upcoming World Series and selected charity partners the chance to receive significant financial support.

Here’s how to play and how to help Pitch In For Baseball:

* Go to  www.statefarm.com/gotobat to register for your chance to win World Series tickets.
* As you register, you will get a chance to designate a charity that could win up to $25,000/week.
* To designate Pitch In For Baseball as your charity, select PUBLIC GOOD as the charity category and then choose Pitch In For
Baseball from the drop down list.
* Revisit www.statefarm.com/gotobat each day and play the ‘Go To Bat’ online game to increase your chances for tickets and Pitch In For
Baseball’s chance at financial support

Thanks to all the readers who help out with this. You can find a lot more information about Pitch In For Baseball at their website

Team Preview – Pittsburgh Pirates


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Ryan Doumit SP 1 Zach Duke
1B Jeff Clement SP 2 Ross Ohlendorf
2B Akinori Iwamura SP 3 Paul Maholm
3B Andy LaRoche SP 4 Charlie Morton
SS Ronny Cedeno SP 5 Kevin Hart
LF Lastings Milledge Bullpen
CF Andrew McCutchen CL Octavio Dotel
RF Garrett Jones RP Evan Meek
Bench RP Joel Hanrahan
IF Bobby Crosby RP Brendan Donnelly
OF Ryan Church RP D.J. Carrasco

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
RP Octavio Dotel Free Agency RP Matt Capps Non-Tender
IF Bobby Crosby Free Agency RP Jesse Chavez Trade (TAM)
2B Akinori Iwamura Trade (TAM)

Top Prospects: Pedro Alvarez (3B), Tony Sanchez (C), Jose Tabata (OF), Chase D’Arnaud (SS)

2009 Review

The Pirates finished the 2009 season with a 62-99 record, last in the NL Central division. Overall, their offense was not very good, scoring only 636 runs. There were a few bright spots though. Most notably was rookie CF Andrew McCutchen, who posted a .286 average with 12 HR and 22 SB. Second-half call up Garrett Jones stormed in, hitting .293 with 21 HR in only 82 games. The pitching staff was led by the performances of Ross Ohlendorf (11-10, 3.92 ERA) and Zach Duke (11-16, 4.06 ERA)

The main stories in Pittsburgh’s season involved players who were dealt away. They moved popular CF Nate McLouth in early June for a package of 3 players. This move was widely panned as another cost-saving measure by the ownership of the Pirates, but the players they got in return (Charlie Morton, Gorkys Hernandez, and Jeff Locke) look like they could all contribute at the Major League level soon. They also moved OF Nyjer Morgan at the end of June to the Nationals, and received back closer Joel Hanrahan and OF Lastings Milledge. They did well with this trade, getting two major league level players in return for Morgan. They also moved 1B Adam LaRoche, 2B Freddy Sanchez, SP Ian Snell, and SS Jack Wilson prior to the trade deadline. They got some solid prospects in return, with SP Tim Alderson and C/1B Jeff Clement probably being the best of them.

Team Outlook for 2010

The Pirates are full force into their rebuilding efforts. They will look for improvement from CF Andrew McCutchen in his second season, and the further development of the pitching staff as a whole. They are also hopeful that they will be able to get a full season from C Ryan Doumit and OFs Lastings Milledge and Garrett Jones. Their offseason was spent finding undervalued players. Infielder Bobby Crosby will be looking to prove that he can still play at the Major League level, and should provide excellent depth on their bench, as he can play nearly all IF positions. Octavio Dotel is a high-risk, high-upside signing who could stabilize the back of the bullpen should he return to form.

The team is not built for 2010 to compete, but there is help coming in the form of Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata and Tim Alderson. Look for the Pirates to move some more veterans at the trade deadline this season if they feel that they can get a solid return for them.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

There’s not a lot to like here, but OF Andrew McCutchen is probably the best of the bunch. C Ryan Doumit could bounce back and post a top-10 catcher season this year as well. Beyond that, I am not sure I’d want to own anyone else on this team in a standard mixed league. Deeper league plays would probably be Ross Ohlendorf and Garrett Jones.

Prediction for 2010

The Pirates are in full rebuilding mode. And it shows. But there are some players here who will be in Pittsburgh when the rebuilding is complete. Watch for them in 2012.

70-92, 6th in the NL Central