September 30, 2011

ALDS Preview - New York Yankees Vs. Detroit Tigers

There was probably not a better finish to a regular season then this year so many games going down to the wire. Boston choking (yes CHOKING) with only weeks left to go; Longoria’s walk off home run, sending his Rays to the postseason.  However, two teams already had a seed in the postseason and likely hoped not to face one another in the ALDS. The Yankees and the Tigers are a very interesting matchup with M.V.P. candidates on either side. Here is my take on how this series boils down.
           

Pitching Staff

Yankees-

When looking at the Yankees starting rotation it’s not hard to be intimidated by their ace Mr. C.C. however, the intimidation ends there. Rookie Ivan Nova (16-4 in regular season), came to the league with low expectations and exceeded those expectations tremendously (3.70 E.R.A. 98 K’s and 165.1 IP). Barely making the opening day starting 5, he is now pitching game 2. He truly needs Sabathia to win game one in order to be effective in his start. The rookie’s butterflies will be there, just more so being down a game.            

We must not forget about Mo, the Yankees closer, and not arguably the best closer the league has ever seen. Take for instance six hundred three. 603 is the number of times he’s been handed the ball, stared down the batters, nodded to the cutter, and closed out the game. When Mariano Rivera’s standing on the mound, the opposing team has little to no chance. His cutter is virtually unhittable, his presence unnerving. He is the last Yankee a Tiger wants to see.


Tigers- 

The Tigers starting rotation is slightly deeper then the Yankees, thanks to their acquisition of Doug Fister at the trade deadline. Fister, the Tigers game two starter, has a season E.R.A. of 2.83 and a 1.79 E.R.A. since being with the Tigers.            

One of the most amazing milestones this season was Rivera breaking Trevor Hoffman’s career saves mark. But it is time to turn our heads to another great feat. 49 for 49. Jose Valverde had a great year completing all of his save opportunities. Valverde had 69 K’s in 72.1 innings this season being a major part of getting the Tigers to the postseason.


Lineups

Yankees-

Jeter is the leader for all time postseason hits, and runs in the major league; he is always a threat when he’s standing at the plate, as well as between second and third (that’s right, he can still steal a hit from ya). Every hitter in the Yankees lineup is a threat to change the game, which is no surprise why they led the American league with 97 wins.  The Yankees are stacked with power; they have 8 players with 10+ homers, six of them over 15, and two of them are among the top 5 in the major leagues; Granderson 41 (#2) and Teixeira 39 (#T3). 


Tigers-

The Tigers have one player that has over 10 steals on the season (Jackson 22), that matches up against the Yankees 3 players with 10 plus steals (Gardner 49, Granderson 25, and Jeter 16). Look for the Yankees to use this speed at Comerica Park but use their power to take advantage of that short fence at home.             The only sure thing in the tigers lineup is, Miguel Cabrera will hit 4th and Victor Martinez will hit 5th. Leave it to Leeland to shake up the starting lineup game to game, as he did all season. In game one Leeland will likely put Delmon Young in the three hole since Cabrera’s career average against C.C. is 563. And the tigers as a whole are hitting 3.20 off of him.            
   
The Tigers have had many players step up and play great ball this season, unlike the Yankees who have a team full of superstars. Playing the game right is a big part of getting a win, and when it comes down to it,  catcher Alex Avila’s .295 and Shortstop Johnny Peralta’s .299 averages are going to play a huge role in the series. Look for them to get on base and be effective, if not, say good bye to the Tigers.     
   

Prediction-

Game 1 will showcase two of the greatest pitchers in the game. C.C. Sabathia had 230 K’s this year with a 3.00 E.R.A. Verlander, The Tigers ace finished his dominant season with 2.40 E.R.A. and 250 K’s. If the tigers take game one, I predict a sweep. The Yankee’s Nova and Garcia don’t stack up to the Tigers Fister and Scherzer. If the Yankees take game one, I predict Tigers in 5. It will be an exciting series for sure.


*ALDS Preview by Kyle Furtah (Thanks Bro!)

Division Series Preview – Tampa Bay Rays vs. Texas Rangers

With the postseason just hours away we wanted to highlight each division series and try to point out some strengths and weaknesses for each team. We'll start with the Rangers and Rays (Tigers and Yankees to come later this afternoon). In my opinion this is the toughest series to call as each team comes into the postseason on much different paths. Did the Rays use everything they had to catch the Red Sox for the Wild Card or does their momentum carry them through?


Lineups

Texas Rangers

1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
2. Elvis Andrus, SS
3. Josh Hamilton, CF
4. Michael Young, DH
5. Adrian Beltre, 3B
6. Mike Napoli, C
7. Nelson Cruz, RF
8. David Murphy, LF
9. Mitch Moreland, 1B

Key Reserves; Endy Chavez, Yorvit Torrealba

Analysis- This is one of, if not the, top lineups in baseball. They have power throughout and enough speed at the top. They scored more runs (855) than any other team in the playoffs except for the Yankees. They aren't the most durable group out there as many of them have spent significant time on the DL over the past couple seasons, but they all come into the postseason relatively healthy. They'll face some tough pitching, but I think they'll still be able to score runs.


Tampa Bay Rays

1. Desmond Jennings, LF
2. BJ Upton, CF
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. Matt Joyce, RF
5. Johnny Damon, DH
6. Ben Zobrist, 2B
7. Casey Kotchman, 1B
8. John Jaso, C
9. Sean Rodriguez, SS

Key Reserves; Kelly Shoppach, Sam Fuld, Reid Brignac

Analysis: I often hear people say that the Rays don't have a good enough lineup. While they aren't stacked from top to bottom I think they enough tallent sprinkled throughout that they are dangerous enough. While they rank in the middle of the pack in runs scored (less than any other playoff team) they've played better as of late. BJ Upton has been hitting much better lately and obviously Evan Longoria will come in with tons of confidence.

Advantage: Rangers


Defense- Defense is a tough thing to quantify. Even the best stats out there have their flaws. You can't go by errors because better defenders get to more balls. You can't go strictly by range, its hard to say who has the best arm (angles, who gets to more balls, who dives vs. letting it fall in front, etc.), defense is partly determined by pitching, etc. Anyway, I think I'd give the defensive advantage to the Rays here.


Rotations

Texas Rangers

1. CJ Wilson
2. Colby Lewis
3. Matt Harrison
4. Derek Holland
5. Alexi Ogando*

Analysis; The Rangers clinched a playoff spot early so they were able to set their rotation. Their ace CJ Wilson will start game 1 and he's proven over the past two years he is an elite level MLB pitcher. After that there are some questions. Lewis is consistent, problem is he's consistently average. Holland has great stuff, but he's up and down. It'll be interesting to see who Ron Washington sends out there if this series goes to 4 or 5 games. It's clear that the Rangers will be in a hole if they don't bring home game one.


Tampa Bay Rays

1. Matt Moore
2. James Shields
3. David Price
4. Jeremy Hellickson
5. Wade Davis*

Analysis; One of the biggest storylines leading up to this series is Joe Maddon's decision to use rookie Matt Moore in game 1. He's pitched a grand total of 9.1 innings in his major league career! It's easy to say this is the biggest stage he's been on, but in his previous 8 innings he's allowed 6 hits and 1 run while pitching against the Red Sox and Yankees in a pennant race. I think he'll be just fine. After Moore the Rangers will face one of the best pitchers in 2011 (Shields) and 2010 Cy Young runner up (Price).

Advantage: Rays

*Each team will probably go with a 4 man rotation (at most) so Ogando and Davis will be used out of the bullpen


Bullpens

Texas Rangers

Neftali Feliz-CL
Mike Adams
Koji Uhera
Darren Oliver
Mike Adams

Analysis; Neftali Feliz has had his rough spots, but for the most part he is a solid closer. After dropping off early in the season, his K rate is back to 2010 levels. The Rangers made some moves to bolster their bullpen at the trade deadline. They were solid in the regular season, but Texas got them to win a World Series, we'll see how they do.


Tampa Bay Rays

Kyle Farnsworth
Joel Peralta
JP Howell
Jake McGee
Juan Cruz

Analysis; Every year the Rays bullpen looks quite different and every year they seem to have success. This year Farnsworth won the closer roll early in the season and hasn't looked back. Each reliever has his strengths and the Tampa coaching staff seems to know just how to utilize them.

Advantage: Rangers


Prediction: I mentioned that to me this is the toughest division series to pick. I originally thought the Rangers would have too much offense for either the Red Sox or Rays, but after looking at the pitching matchups I'm almost inclined to take Tampa here. If Moore pitches well today (very possible) Maddon will look like an absolute genious. I think he'll pitch well, but CJ Wilson will pitch a little better and the Rangers will win game 1 on their way to a 3-2 series victory. Lets Play Ball!

September 29, 2011

MVP & Cy Young Candidates and Picks

American League MVP

Jacoby Ellsbury- 119 Runs, 32 HRs, 105 RBI, 39 SB, .321 AVG, .928 OPS, 9.6 WAR
     I said before last nights games that if the Red Sox made the playoffs I'd vote Ellsbury the MVP. Well, that obviously didn't happen, but its not really his fault. He had a great season, a great September and a rediculously good WAR on the season. He has to be considered strongly.

Curtis Granderson- 136 Runs, 41 HRs, 119 RBI, 25 SB, .262 AVG, .916 OPS, 6.9 WAR
     He got off to a really fast start and kept it going throughout
the year. Because the Yankees wrapped things up early and since they have so many 'superstars' it seems like Grandy has been overlooked a little bit. Take another look at those numbers! The only thing that isn't stellar is his average and we all know how important that is (not very...).

Miguel Cabrera- 111 Runs, 30 HRs, 105 RBI, 2 SB, .344 AVG, 1.033 OPS, 7.3 WAR
     A lot of people will have Justin Verlander on their list of MVP candidates. I believe pitchers have their awards (we'll get to that in a second) and hitters have theirs. Still, a Tiger does deserve some consideration. Cabrera led baseball with a .344 batting average and also finished with a OPS above 1.

Jose Bautista- 105 Runs, 43 HRs, 103 RBI, 9 SB, .302 AVG, 1.056 OPS, 8.4 WAR
     A couple weeks ago I would have given Bautista the award without question, but I'm not quite sure now. Not only did his team not make the playoffs (I tend not to put too much into that anyway), he didn't finish as strongly as some of the other candidates. His league leading HRs and OPS are still outstanding however. He also doesn't play as demanding a postion.

Evan Longoria- 78 Runs, 31 HRs, 99 RBI, 3 SB, .244 AVG, .850 OPS, 6.1 WAR
     I'm not saying he should win. In fact I'm not even sure he's in the top 5, but he has to get some recognition right. His batting average is terrible, but along with arguably the 2 biggest hits of the entire season (both on the same night to lock up a playoff spot) he's also put together some solid stats across the board. Side note; I was hoping to draft him next year at a relative discount, those hopes are all but gone now :).

My Pick: Curtis Granderson

National League MVP

Matt Kemp – 115 Runs, 39 HRs, 126 RBI, 40 SB, .324 AVG, .986 OPS, 8.7 WAR
     I think this is really a 2 man race. Kemps path to success was paved in the offseason when Joe Torre retired. He no longer had to bat in the 7/8 hole and sit a couple times a week. He also got into better shape. Many people predicted a better season, but I'm not sure anyone saw this coming.

Ryan Braun- 109 Runs, 33 HRs, 111 RBI, 33 SB, .332 AVG, .994 OPS, 7.8 WAR
     While Braun will win over some voters since his team made the playoffs, he'll also lose some votes to his teammate Prince Fielder. Most of his numbers are a touch below Kemp's so it'll be interesting to see how the voting plays out.

Albert Pujols – 105 Runs, 37 HRs, 99 RBI, 9 SB, .299 AVG, .906 OPS, 5.2 WAR
     Everyone knows he's had a down year by his standards. However, when your down years look like this you're intitled to ask for the kind of money he's seeking. It also doesn't hurt that he's played better down the stretch helping his team reach the postseason.

Justin Upton- 105 Runs, 31 HRs, 88 RBI, 21 SB, .289 AVG, .898 OPS, 6.5 WAR
     You don't hear much about him when talking MVP, but would the Dback be where they are without him? The scary thing is he's only 24 years old. He may not win it this year, but I wouldn't bet against him in 2012...or 13, 14, etc. Makes you wonder if they were ever close to a deal...

Prince Fielder- 95 Runs, 38 HRs, 120 RBI, 1 SB, .299 AVG, .981 OPS, 5.6 WAR
     He has put up a good season and is a premier power threat in all of baseball. Whether he gets it from the Brewers or someone else, he made himself a Ton of money in 2011 (with a chance to add to it in October). Still, he's not even his teams MVP let alone the league.

My Pick; Matt Kemp

American League Cy Young

Justin Verlander- 251 Innings, 24 Wins, 250 Ks, 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 2.84 SIERA, 7.0 WAR
     This is the easiest award to choose (by far). Verlander may not lead every pitching category, but he leads most of them. It's one of the best year long pitching performances we've seen in the past 10 years. Looking forward to seeing what he does in the post-season.

CJ Wilson- 223 Innings, 16 Wins, 206 Ks, 2.94 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 3.29 SIERA, 5.9 WAR
     May not get much consideration, but to put up these numbers while pitching half your games in Arlington is no small feat. He'll get a nice pay raise in 2012 as well (but with what team?).

Jerad Weaver- 235 Innings, 18 Wins, 198 Ks, 2.41 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 3.52 SIERA, 5.6 WAR
     He was actually right there with Verlander for most of the season and his final numbers are still great. But he didn't pitch quite as well down the stretch and his team didn't make the playoffs (though he did his part).

James Shields- 249 Innings, 16 Wins, 225 Ks, 2.82 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 3.14 SIERA, 4.9 WAR
     Started off strong, then was quite through the dog days of summer. He picked it back up to finish off the season and will lead a very strong rotation into the playoffs.

CC Sabathia- 237 Innings, 19 Wins, 230 Ks, 3.00 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 2.99 SIERA, 7.2 WAR
     I think we can pretty much pencil Sabathia in for these numbers every year. He is one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball and the Yankess definately need that this season. Oddly enough he doesn't get enough credit because he pitches for the Yankees (may be the first and last time you hear that) and is expected to play well.

My Pick; Justin Verlander


National League Cy Young

Cliff Lee- 232 Innings, 17 Wins, 238 Ks, 2.40 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 2.57 SIERA, 6.8 WAR
     This is going to be a tough award to pick. There have been some very good pitching performances this year in the national league. Lee is one of three aces on the Phillies. It's tough to pick a top pitcher from the Phillies which may hurt them all in the final vote.

Clayton Kershaw- 233 Innings, 21 Wins, 248 Ks, 2.28 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 2.66 SIERA, 6.8 WAR
     I mentioned earlier how Upton is only 24, well Kershaw is only 23 (sorry NL hitters). Pitching is a little bit more questionable due to injuries, but it looks like the Dodgers have a bona fide ace to build around. He is the favorite to win the award. Only 1 other team in history had the MVP and Cy Young and missed the playoffs.

Ian Kennedy- 222 Innings, 21 Wins, 198 Ks, 2.88 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 3.29 SIERA, 5.0 WAR
     Kennedy gets a lot of hype because of his Wins and the success of his team. In fact, his numbers don't quite add up to the rest of the candidates. Don't get me wrong he's had a solid year, I just can't vote for a pitcher because his team is good.

Roy Halladay- 233 Innings, 19 Wins, 220 Ks, 2.35 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 2.64 SIERA, 8.2 WAR
     Another pitcher you can basically pencil in every year. He is the model of consistency. Leads all pitchers in WAR (by a full win) and has stellar stats to back it up. Helps that his team won over 100 games, may hurt that there are 2 others on his team that could be considered.

Cole Hamels- 216 Innings, 14 Wins, 194 Ks, 2.79 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 2.88 SIERA, 4.9 WAR
    Probably the third best pitcher on his own team and still in the top five of all national league pitchers. If pitching wins championships the Phillies have a great shot (more on the first round playoff series' tomorrow). Did miss a handful of starts due to injury which keeps him out of the running for top spot.

My Pick; Clayton Kershaw

I'll take this time to quickly remind everyone of my bets prior to the season (since I didn't win any of my leagues I need to feel like I did something right).

• AL MVP - Evan Longoria 10-1 odds
• NL MVP - Matt Kemp 30-1
• AL Cy Young - Justin Verlander 15-1
• NL Cy Young - Clayton Kershaw 20-1
• Bonus; I picked the 1st manager to be fired; Jim Riggelman (10-1 odds) but since he resigned they aren't counting it.
• World Series Pick - Tigers 28-1 (I wish I had the Brewers but their odds are now 4-1)
• Also won the over under on total stolen bases, RBIs and strikeouts

Next year you can call/ask me before you make your pre-season wagers, for a fee of course.


September 28, 2011

2011 White Sox in Review / 2012 Preview




Consistency. A word not often used this year on the South Side of Chicago. In fact, the only consistent thing about the 2011 White Sox was their inconsistency. The White Sox entered the year with high hopes. Local and National writers alike predicted AL Central glory for the Sox, and why not? On paper the White Sox boasted a bevy of pitching talent in the starting rotation as well as the bullpen. Key members from 2010 were coming back healthy after having strong seasons. Kenny Williams bolstered the already potent lineup with lefty slugger Adam Dunn. Sox fans drooled at the thought of a 3-4-5 consisting of Konerko, Dunn, and Quentin. Things looked swell
on the South Side.
To say things did not go as planned would be an understatement. The season started with inconsistent defensive play and a bullpen in disarray. Once Ozzie Guillen established order with Thornton, Crain, and Sale setting up the save for Sergio Santos, the bullpen fell into line as planned. Once the bullpen began performing well, the offense went into hibernation. The defense never came around. The White Sox would occasionally find themselves at or near the .500 mark, only to predictably nose dive the following week. Fans around Chicago began to use the phrase: "These guys are scared of .500". There are many things one could point to when trying to identify what went wrong this year for the White Sox. The obvious and glaring reason is Adam Dunn and Alex Rios. Both guys are high money high expectation players. Their numbers suggested that despite slow starts, at the end of the season their stats would be close to their career averages. ESPN's John Kruk even went as far as predicting that Adam Dunn would be the 2nd half MVP. The less obvious reason to the national audience but extremely glaring to White Sox fans was standard everyday fundamentals. Hitting the cut off man, taking the extra base, moving runners over, sacrificing outs for runs, holding runners on, throwing first pitch strikes, and basic on field communication were all lacking this season. Time after time, Sox would get on base with less than 2 outs, and nothing would accumulate. Time after time, Sox pitching could not overcome a defensive blunder. In the end, someone had to pay the piper.
Ozzie Guillen requested to be released from his contract rather than getting fired or enduring a lame duck 2012. White Sox fandom is split down the middle on their allegiances. Half support Ken Williams, and the other half support Ozzie Guillen. While Ken Williams is certainly to blame for the acquisitions of Rios and Dunn (not to mention highly paid and rarely played Jake Peavy), Sox fans can NOT overlook the fact that their major league baseball team struggled with the most basic of baseball functions and constantly were put in situations set up for failure.
Here is a look at the overall grades for each spot on the White Sox roster from 2011.
Catcher - AJ Pierzynski - C+
AJ had a solid year at the plate, hitting .287, but only drove in 47 runs in over 400 plate appearances. AJ also took less than 30 walks this year. AJ needs to increase his OBP and drive in more runs to be a more effective hitter. AJ did not have a great year behind the plate. Teams ran at will with Pierzynski catching. Tyler Flowers nips at AJ's heels for playing time, playing very well upon his late season call up. AJ might be better suited as a DH for the White Sox.
1st Base - Paul Konerko - A
All hail the King. When your nickname is "King", you are doing something right. Konerko is the fine wine of the Chicago White Sox, he continues to get better with age. He makes in game adjustments if he feels them necessary and they usually end with him making someone look bad. He uses all fields when at the plate. He is going to finish the season with a .300 BA, 30+ Home Runs, and 100+ RBI's. Konerko is one of the slowest players in the league, so .300 BA knowing that none of his hits were infield "swinging bunts" is even more impressive. One can not even begin to accumulate Konerko's value off the field. He is one of a very small group of players who wear the designation of "Team Captain" in baseball. He helps the young guys on the roster and provides an excellent example of how a pro should act on and off the field. Konerko is one of the few bright lights of this season.
2nd Base - Gordon Beckham - D
Terrible season for Gordon Beckham. Gordon came into 2011 with high expectations. This was supposed to be the year that Beckham took the giant leap forward offensively. That did not happen. Numerous times this season, Beckham looked like he was new to baseball while at the plate. Truthfully, the only reason Beckham did not get an "F" Grade is because he played a remarkable defensive 2nd base. In today's baseball, there is no room for a defensive specialist at 2nd base.
Short Stop - Alexei Ramirez - C
Not a good year, not a bad year for Alexei Ramirez. .269 BA, 15 HR's, and 69 RBI's with 2 games left to play. Alexei is a fast guy. He should be taking more bases. He only stole 7 bases this year. Unfortunately, Alexei lead the planet in grounding into double plays. Several times this season Ramirez would mis-play fly balls, or not be in the right position to make a play. With two excellent defensive infielders on the White Sox coaching staff (Guillen and Cora), Sox fans would have liked to see Ramirez's glove work improve this year. It did not.
3rd Base - Brent Morel - D
Same story as Gordon Beckham. Terrible at the plate. Mark Buehrle almost had as many walks at the plate this season as did Morel. Some people claim that Morel is on the "Joe Crede Path" and will continue to grow offensively while playing a strong defensive 3rd base. The only reason Morel did not receive an "F" grade was because of his glove work at the hot corner.
LF - Juan Pierre - B-
Pierre started slow, played poor defense, and then picked it up late and will finish the season close to his career averages. Pierre is not a true lead off hitter. His lack of OBP hurt the White Sox offensively this year. When the White Sox have a productive leadoff hitter, they play well.
CF- Alex Rios - F
One word can describe Alex Rios' season: FAIL. Defensively, he took terrible routes to fly balls, he constantly over threw cut off men, and did NOT effectively communicate with his fellow outfielders and middle infielders. Offensively, he was worse. He was almost hitless with runners in scoring position. He was not much better overall, hitting .227 on the year. Alex Rios is a waiver claim gone horribly wrong. The White Sox are locked into Rios for the next few years at a whopping 13 million dollars per season. The new manager must not be afraid to bench money for better talent, otherwise 2012 will be no better.
RF - Carlos Quentin - C-
Quentin's defense is not good. He has a strong arm, but did not take good routes to balls and his range was limited. Offensively, his numbers were below expectations. Power numbers were down this year, and his batting average will end in the .250's. Most Sox fans can live with the low BA so long as Quentin's power numbers increase next year and he gets hits when they matter, not when the game is already decided. Look for Quentin to be used as trade bait this offseason. The Sox have future star Dayan Viciedo ready for greatness, but they do not have a position for him at the moment. Quentin could bring solid talent back in exchange for his services.
DH - Adam Dunn - F--
That's right. F minus minus. Dunn did nothing right this year. He might end the year with the worst offensive statistics among qualifiers in the history of baseball. You can count his hits against lefties this season on ONE hand. Dunn loudly admitted he does nothing in the offseason. He has since said that perhaps he should re-think his offseason regimen. Kenny Williams did not look into the factor of Dunn having never played for a team with expectations. It is much easier to thrive in Cincinnati and Washington D.C. than it is Chicago. Again, Dunn needs to do some serious offseason work, or the new manager will have to not be afraid to bench money for talent.

SP - C
On paper, the White Sox pitching staff is pretty damn good. On paper. John Danks and Gavin Floyd both have number 1 type stuff. Buehrle is a bulldog inning eater with an ERA below 4.00. Jake Peavy is a Cy Young caliber pitcher that just can't stay healthy. Too often this year, the starting pitchers would surrender early runs, and the offense would ball up into the fetal position. Games would be over after 3 innings. Sox pitchers need to throw more first pitch strikes, hold runners on, and field their position better (except for Buehrle who will win another gold glove this year).
RP - B+
The bullpen was great this year. They did everything that was asked of them. A rough start keeps them out of the "A" grade category, and let's be real, any sub .500 level team should not have more than one (if any) "A" grades. Sale, Thornton, Crain, and Santos were all nasty. The bullpen might take a small step backwards next year if Sale makes the transition to the starting rotation.

2012 Outlook

The starting rotation will look very different next year. Speculation is Mark Buehrle will not be back next year. John Danks wants #1 type money. He could be shipped out as well. Chris Sale is projected as a starting pitcher and should find his way into the rotation next year. Gavin Floyd is a "Nuke LaLoosh" type player (10 million dollar arm, 10 cent head) and could be dangled for prospects. Phil Humber was arguably the best pitcher in the Sox rotation this year, and will be back next year. Jake Peavy seemingly is locked up for another 15 years and can not be moved. If healthy, Peavy would be a great # 4 or 5 starter. The bullpen nucleus should remain intact. Thornton, Crain, and Santos make up a solid 7,8, and 9th inning combo and will return strong in 2012.
The White Sox needs around the diamond are many. The emergence of Alejandro De Aza at CF and Dayan Viciedo at RF make Quentin and Rios expendable. The White Sox would have to eat a large portion of Rios' contract to move him, so he may be back next year, possibly in a more limited role. Left Field will be a position wanted for upgrade in 2012. Juan Pierre is the hardest working member of the White Sox, but clearly, baseball does not come naturally to him. The Sox may look for a bona-fide leadoff hitter to place in LF next year. Ideally, the Sox would upgrade at 3rd Base and 2nd Base as well, but upper management has faith that Brent Morel and Gordon Beckham will improve offensively. Konerko and Ramirez will be back at 1st and Short Stop respectively. AJ Pierzynski will be back next year, most likely again at Catcher. Tyler Flowers is the catcher in waiting and has done nothing but impress since his late season call up. Pitchers have commented on how much they enjoy throwing to Flowers, and his bat has never really been in question. Ideally, Pierzynski will return in a DH role, and Adam Dunn will either be on the bench, or on another team. The White Sox will NOT put up with another awful season from Adam Dunn. A dark horse candidate to make the club next year and be impactful is John Danks's little brother, Jordan. Jordan is a gap to gap hitter who the Sox are very high on. If the White Sox go young in 2012, the outfield could be Danks 7, De Aza 8, and Vicieido 9. Kenny Williams has already said he does not plan on making any big splash type moves. All those White Sox fans hoping to see Prince, Albert, or Reyes on the southside next year shouldn't hold their breath.

Who Will Manage The White Sox in 2012?
Kenny Williams has already extended the contract of Don Cooper, one of the best pitching coaches in the league. Harold Baines will also be back as a coach. Extending two coaches seems to imply that Williams will not go with an older veteran who would insist on bringing in his own guys. This to me, rules out Tony LaRussa making a return to the southside. The two most discussed names are Sandy Alomar Jr and Dave Martinez, both of whom have Sox ties. White Sox broadcaster Steve Stone believes the Sox will bring in Sandy Alomar Jr, who has long been considered an extremely knowledgable baseball guy. Dave Martinez is currently serving as Joe Maddon's bench coach in Tampa. In Tampa, Martinez has learned at the feet of one of the best managers in baseball, and has experience coaching in big games, including the playoffs. My money is on Dave Martinez becoming the next White Sox Manager.
Dark Horse: Terry Francona - If the Red Sox do not make the playoffs, many in Boston believe the Red Sox will not pick up his option for 2012. Francona has White Sox ties (he managed Michael Jordan for the White Sox AA team in Birmingham) and has 2 World Series rings. If Francona becomes available, expect the White Sox to make a hard push to sign him to a multi year deal. In the end, cooler heads will prevail, the Red Sox will bring Francona back, and wanting Tito to manage the White Sox will not matter.
I fear 2012 may be a difficult season for the White Sox. Cleveland was a surprising young team this year, and will be better in 2012 with a year of experience under their belts. Kansas City has a stockpile of young players oozing with talent. The Twins will be healthier next year and will never go away. Detroit will be competitive as long as Verlander and Cabrera remain healthy. The White Sox need to get young, they need to get fundamental, and they need to regain their focus in 2012 if they want to compete for a division title.

September 27, 2011

Indians 2011: A Recap of The Season, and Looking at a 2012 Preview

            This was a long year for Cleveland Indians fans, from Ubaldo Jimenez, to getting out of playoff contention. The truth is, that whole year has been one large accomplishment.

             The beginning of the year started with a bright future. The fans waited until June 27th, to bring up one of their most hyped prospect, known as Lonnie Chisenhall,  a little less than a month later, Jason Kipnis started to bring some enthusiasm from the fans.
The prospects were a large bright spot, as it was insinuated that this was the end of the downfall of the Indians which lasted from 2008-2010.

         Jason Kipnis, was another bright spot in the clubhouse, as August 10th, was the day that marks his a big point in his career in the "Road to the Big Leagues". Kipnis, smashed five hits, a homer, and 4 runs, leading to a 10-3 win.

          The trade deadline was a massive deal, leading to controversy throughout the teams' fans. Many fans don't realize the main aspect of these prospects, which have been traded in a deal which sent Ubaldo Jimenez to the Cleveland Indians. Here is a scouting report based on each dealt prospect.

Joe Gardner: Gardner, is a left-handed pitcher, who is still currently in the minors. Gardner, 23, is known for his hard throwing sinker, clocking at 94 MPH. Left handers, are a true dread for him, as in AA, they have hit well over .300 facing him. His secondary pitches are inconsistent, leading to trouble, as hitters get used to his hard throwing sinker. Currently he is a reliever, though, it's expected for him to switch to a starter by the time he gets to the "Show".

Alex White: Whites' development, is a huge success as of now. Some say, his hard throwing sinking fastball, and his splitter as an out-pitch could lead him to become an ace. White, 23, can not only pitch a nice fastball, and splitter, but he can throw a un-hittable slider, across the plate. White is an inning eater, which is a huge part of his development, start getting to know his name, because he has potential to be bigger than big.

Drew Pomeranz: Pomeranz, has a nice speed fastball, which leaves the batter confused, with a swing straight through the pitch. His command, is usually good, as he has a terrific arm. Though, Pomeranz needs more decisive pitches, as his only dominant pitch is a fastball. Though, his fastball can lead him to being a successful number two starter, in a few seasons from now. He also has a decent breaking ball, but not good enough. With his performance, and size, there's no doubt that he'll be excited to watch.

Matt McBribe: McBribe, is most likely the worst of this patch. McBribe, is a righty, and hits for contact, though his power bat isn't horrific. The former second rounder, can play multiple position, and is developing fairly well. McBribe, is only 20, and his future remains unclear.

Ubaldo Jimenez: Ubaldo Jimenez, came into the year as an all star, a first half monster, a dominator. Is it so? Ubaldo Jimenez, was looking as a clear Cy Young, at the beginning of the 2010 season, as a sudden breakdown occurred post the all-star break. This was considerably a season of despair for Ubaldo, as his ERA ended to be close to 4.70, and his win/loss ratio was poor. He still has a golden hand, when the batters goes up to the plate, and he scorches his fastball right across the plate. Jimenez, is still a dangerous pitcher, which causes batters to continue to dread. Even though his stats may seem poor, overall as a pitcher, he is far from a nightmare.

Trade Overview: The trade, was at first a controversy, and still is, though to many it's a clear win for the Rockies. The Rockies, acquired four dominant prospects, who have great potential. The Indians acquired a hyped pitcher, whose dominance lasted for a few months. Now, the Rockies have a robust farm system, as the Indians, have an average farm, and a bad to decent number two starter. Ubaldo, has caused sights of the next Roy Halladay, though many experts expected a bust to be.

   After the first half of the season, where the Indians were considerably back, they started slumping, and once a slump comes, it's hard to get out. The Indians, were fighting to get the "Virus" away as soon as possible, as September 17th, marked the day, where they get eliminated from the playoffs. A huge piece in their success was Justin Masterson, who has emerged into an ace.

    The Indians struggles in injuries, were a killer. At one point of the season, the Indians, could barely find 4 pitchers to fill a rotation, for some time, and had pitchers starting at four day rest. Vinnie Pestano, was a pleasant surprise in the bullpen, as his ERA lasted below 3.00. Carlos Santana, and Asdrubadel Cabrera, were among the contributors in the the hitters' area. The Indians, lasted this, as unexpected performances from Ubaldo Jimenez, injuries, and long lasting slumps, ended their season a few weeks earlier than their goal.

         A bright spot in the Indians organization, is that the organization, is filled with hard hitting youth. Michael Brantley, Asdrubadel Cabrera, Carlos Santana, Matt Laporta, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Shin Soo Choo, can leave the Indians fans with a smile on their face for next season.

          The pitching of the Indians, is less convincing, though, they have big potential in some arms. Zach McCallister, along with Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone, Carlos Carrasco, and Josh Tomlin, can make a youth rotation, into an above average rotation, in the wild central. A lot of excitement is in stock for Indians fans, and some youth in the organization, can bring same faith among Indian fans.

September 26, 2011

Top 250 for 2012

I know 2011 is still winding to a close and hopefully you're still in the running for some money (hopefully we've helped :) ).  Anyway, it's never too early to look ahead to next year.  I spent some time today trying to rank the top 250 overall players.  I used 2011 performance, past performance, projected future performance (more important for the younger guys) and position eligibility.  This list will change quite a bit throughout the offseason as we learn more about player injuries, free agent signings and trades.  I'll rely on you to help me tweek it.  So, what do you think?  Who is ranked too high, too low?  Any glaring issues? 

Rank- Player
1- Ryan Braun
2- Matt Kemp
3- Jacoby Ellsbury
4- Jose Bautista

5- Albert Pujols
6- Adrian Gonzalez
7- Miguel Cabrera
8- Curtis Granderson
9- Troy Tulowitzki
10- Evan Longoria
11- Justin Upton
12- Robinson Cano
13- Mark Teixeira
14- Roy Halladay
15- Justin Verlander
16- Joey Votto
17- David Wright
18- Carlos Gonzalez
19- Hanley Ramirez
20- Jose Reyes
21- Clayton Kershaw
22- Josh Hamilton
23- Dustin Pedroia
24- Prince Fielder
25- Ryan Howard
26- Ian Kinsler
27- Jered Weaver
28- Cliff Lee
29- Hunter Pence
30- Adrian Beltre
31- CC Sabathia
32- Tim Lincecum
33- Cole Hamels
34- Felix Hernandez
35- David Price
36- Asdrubal Cabrera
37- Andrew McCutchen
38- Ian Kennedy
39- Zack Grienke
40- Victor Martinez
41- Paul Konerko
42- Alex Rodriguez
43- Alex Gordon
44- Jon Lester
45- James Shields
46- Matt Holiday
47- Michael Young
48- Mike Stanton
49- Carl Crawford
50- Dan Haren
51- Craig Kimbrel
52- Eric Hosmer
53- Drew Storen
54- Matt Cain
55- Stephen Strasburgh
56- Michael Bourn
57- Starlin Castro
58- Jay Bruce
59- John Axford
60- Yovanni Gallardo
61- Jeremy Hellickson
62- Brandon Phillips
63- BJ Upton
64- Ichiro Suzuki
65- Brian McCann
66- CJ Wilson
67- Matt Morse
68- Dan Hudson
69- Drew Stubbs
70- Melky Cabrera
71- Johnny Cueto
72- Mariano Rivera
73- Jonathan Papelbon
74- Shawn Marcum
75- Lance Berkman
76- Kevin Youkilis
77- Josh Beckett
78- Michael Pineda
79- Shane Victorino
80- Heath Bell
81- Elvis Andrus
82- Ricky Romero
83- JJ Putz
84- Jason Heyward
85- David Ortiz
86- Tommy Hanson
87- Brett Gardner
88- Carlos Marmol
89- JJ Hardy
90- Jordan Walden
91- Adam Jones
92- Tim Hudson
93- Mike Napoli
94- Madison Bumgardner
95- Howie Kendrick
96- Doug Fister
97- Jose Valverde
98- Neftali Feliz
99- Jimmy Rollins
100- Joakim Soria
101- Buster Posey
102- Ubaldo Jimenez
103- Jayson Werth
104- Rickie Weeks
105- Chase Utley
106- Nelson Cruz
107- Brett Lawrie
108- Desmond Jennings
109- Mat Latos
110- Carlos Santana
111- Brian Wilson
112- Matt Garza
113- Joel Hanrahan
114- Mark Trumbo
115- Ben Zobrist
116- Carlos Beltran
117- Alex Avila
118- Francisco Cordero
119- Sergio Santos
120- Ryan Madson
121- Josh Johnson
122- Freddie Freeman
123- Justin Masterson
124- Johnny Venters
125- Dan Uggla
126- Chris Young
127- Carlos Quentin
128- Alex Rios
129- Ervin Santana
130- Gio Gonzalez
131- Brett Butler
132- Kenley Jansen
133- Adam Lind
134- Mark Reynolds
135- Ryan Zimmerman
136- Bud Norris
137- Mike Trout
138- Hiroki Kuroda
139- Chris Perez
140- Carlos Lee
141- Matt Moore
142- Chris Sale
143- Yunel Escobar
144- Pablo Sandoval
145- Ted Lilly
146- Wandy Rodriguez
147- Paul Goldschmidt
148- Vernon Wells
149- Derek Holland
150- Kyle Farnsworth
151- Miguel Montero
152- Jason Kipnis
153- Chris Carpenter
154- Brandon Beachy
155- Jesus Montero
156- Nick Markakis
157- Jason Motte
158- Colby Rasmus
159- Derek Jeter
160- Corey Hart
161- Danny Espinosa
162- Clay Buchholz
163- Neil Walker
164- Jordan Zimmerman
165- Alexi Ramirez
166- Anibal Sanchez
167- Houston Street
168- Brandon League
169- Aroldis Chapman
170- Michael Cuddyer
171- Matt Wieters
172- Trevor CaHill
173- Peter Bourjos
174- Tyler Clippard
175- Francisco Rodriguez
176- Brandon Morrow
177- Cameron Maybin
178- Shin Soo Choo
179- Matt Joyce
180- Logan Morrison
181- Dustin Ackley
182- Josh Bard
183- Andre Ethier
184- Andrew Bailey
185- Carlos Pena
186- Ike Davis
187- Scott Baker
188- Martin Prado
189- Javier Vazquez
190- Mike Minor
191- Torii Hunter
192- Joe Mauer
193- Edwin Jackson
194- Jeff Francouer
195- Jair Jurrgens
196- Mike Leake
197- Nick Swisher
198- Michael Brantley
199- Alejandro De Aza
200- Dexter Fowler
201- Jose Altuve
202- Jamie Garcia
203- Vinny Pestano
204- Frank Francisco
205- Bobby Parnell
206- Travis Snider
207- Grady Sizemore
208- Eric Thames
209- John Danks
210- Dee Gordon
211- Bobby Abreu
212- Gavin Floyd
213- Ryan Vogelsong
214- Eric Young Jr.
215- Domonic Brown
216- Max Scherzer
217- Jolyes Chacin
218- Josh Willingham
219- Mike Moustakas
220- Derek Lee
221- Henderson Alvarez
222- Brett Myers
223- Johnny Damon
224- Randy Wells
225- Adam Dunn
226- Eric Bedard
227- Cliff Pennington
228- Derek Lowe
229- Stephen Drew
230- Brandon Belt
231- Edwin Encarnacion
232- Kurt Suzuki
233- Jarrod Parker
234- Bartolo Colon
235- Wilson Ramos
236- Ivan Nova
237- Geovanny Soto
238- Angel Pagan
239- Hideki Matsui
240- Chris Ianneta
241- Jemile Weeks
242- David Freese
243- Austin Jackson
244- Cory Luebke
245- Jeff Niemann
246- Ian Desmond
247- Alfonso Soriano
248- Vladamir Guererro
249- Drew Pomeranz
250- Justin Morneau

Some Takeaways;
-I will add more detail as we go forward (position, team, stats, projected stats, etc.)
-You may not agree with every ranking, but you should be able to get a feel for position strengths (catcher) and weaknesses (3rd base again). 
-I generally prefer hitters over pitchers
-I genearlly prefer power over speed
-I generally prefer youth over 'experiance' (expecially as you get further into the draft). 
-I don't like to draft injury risks, or players who were injured for most of the previous year.  Sure, sometimes they work out, but more times than not you will get burned. 
-It's not easy to start from scratch making a list like this :).  Many times I found I missed a player and had to do some reshuffling.  I wanted to start with the top 12 (1st round) then 50, 100, etc. but I kept having one or two players I wanted to include and the list got much larger.

September 23, 2011

How Far Will the Yankees Go in the Playoffs? What to Expect

              The Yankees entered the season with a troubled rotation, some great bullpen signings from the offseason, and a star studded lineup.

                 The Yankees had immediate troubles in the rotation. The troubles in the rotation excelled from the start of the season, as their former number two starter
, who seemed to be dominant, wasn't able to play due to a "Dead arm". The rotation was filled with a rookie(Ivan Nova), CC Sabathia, struggling A.J. Burnett, and two veterans who weren't very successful in the past few seasons.

              The Yankees were up for the challenge, as they didn't only beat out the  nearly untouchable Red Sox in the division race, but also had a season full of historical baseball moments. Derek Jeter, became the first player in Yankee history to reach the 3,000 hit mark, as for Mariano Rivera, who is now the all time leader in saves in Major League Baseball history.

             Bartolo Colon, and Freddy Garcia unexpectedly were huge parts in lifting Yankees until the day they clinched the division spot. As for Ivan Nova, as he won 16 games for the Yankees in the "Journey to the playoffs". Now the Yankees are finished with that journey and are now in a new journey which is "Journey to the World Series"
        
            The playoffs are bound to start soon, as the Yankees are in the process of last minute preparations. Unnamed sources have leaked out, that Ivan Nova will start at game two, and A.J. Burnett will not appear as a starter in the playoffs. Even though these sources aren't confirmed, they are from a reliable source. Yankees playoff rotation, is looking more favorable for Freddy Garcia to be the number three starter, as Bartolo Colon is going through a horrific slump. Colons' ERA(earned run average) in September is well over a 6.50 ERA, resulting his ERA to surpass 4.00 on the season. Therefore, it is probable that Freddy Garcia will proceed to start for the Yankees in the MLB playoffs 2011.

            There has been multiple questions concerning Jesus Monteros' spot in the Yankees playoff rotation. To date, it seems likely Yankees will proceed to place him on the rotation due to Francisco Cervellis' spot in the rotation, as he is expected to come back later in the playoffs due to concussion symptoms.

              Besides the rotation, bullpen, and the Yankees lineup, backups take a big role in the "Key to success". The Yankees backups are looking extraordinary as the season is near an end. The backups will include a trio of Eric Chavez, Eduardo Nunez, Andruw Jones, and either Jesus Montero or Jorge Posada as of now. The backups are looking promising, and can take a big part in the "Journey to the World Series"
        
          The Yankees have a team full of playoff greats, such as Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and others such as Alex Rodriguez, and CC Sabathia. There is great deal of questions if the veterans can lift the Yankees proceeding to championship Number 28. The answer is simply "Yes", but "No", the Yankees veterans promise playoff strength, such as Derek Jeter(also known as Mr. November), and Mariano Rivera, with others who have experience, and have the strength to lift the Yankees. However, the Yankees veterans are aging, and as they age, they get less, and less reliable, leaving backups with a huge role.

              The Yankees teams consists of youth, veterans, and a great deal of confidence. The confidence is within the clubhouse as Thursday, CC Sabathia, was interviewed by MLB.com, saying how if he plays correctly he will win. With the attitude and the strength to do so Yankees can get far into the race.

               The Yankees will most likely play the Texas Rangers, or the Detroit Tigers. Their are uncertainty which team yet, though each team have their ups, and downs and certain distractions they will have to face.

Detroit Tigers:  The Tigers have a outstanding rotation coming into the playoffs. Max Scherzer, is a strikeout master, while Justin Verlander is just about a master at everything. Justin Verlander, has produced great success this year, as he's seeking to be the Cy Young, and possibly the first pitcher to win the MVP award, in the last 20 years.

Doug Fister will be a huge part of the Tigers playoff plans, as his ERA dropped below 3.00 recently. His September stats consists of four wins, and a 0.69 ERA, as this streak is looking unstoppable, and will be a hard match for the Yankees. The Yankees pitching isn't looking very promising as to late, and as Tigers clearly win that category, if the Yankees can't produce runs, against the hard throwing pitching staff, it may be hard to get by them. The Tigers hitting, consists of Miguel Cabrera, Alex Avila, and Victor Martinez. With the Yankees pitching rotation banged up the Tigers can be a real hard match.

Prediction: Yankees in five

Texas Rangers: All eyes are on the Rangers distracted rotation now. C.J Wilson who has been having substantial success this year for the Rangers, is facing a problem to think about, as the offseason approaches, which is free agency. Free agency can effect not only the thoughts of players, but how they are playing. Thoughts are a very powerful thing, as on different occasions it can be hard to think about it, though, it can also be helpful giving pressure to the pitcher to pitch well.

               Alexi Ogando, Derrek Holland, and Colby Lewis are among the probable rotation. All of them are decent pitchers, though they occasionally rely on help from the hitters, which is the main problem for the Yankees.

                The Rangers lineup consists of Mike Napoli, Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, and Ian Kinsler
in the heart of their lineup. This can be extremely difficult for the Yankees rotation, as Rangers seem to possibly have the best lineup in the Majors, possibly even better than the Yankees lineup. If the strength of the Rangers rotation and lineup continue to consume strength, the Yankees can be outmatched.

Prediction: Rangers in five

             Assuming the Yankees play the Tigers, and proceed to the second round, with either the Red Sox(Assuming they win the wild card), or the Rangers, they will both be a close call and some games to watch. The Red Sox have are in a similar situation as the Yankees, as they're pitching staff has averaged a 6.60 ERA in the last ten games played. So that game will likely proceed to game seven, if it occurs, and from there we're just going to have to watch, and wait.

              The Yankees, have made history, accomplishments that no team can ever beat, and most importantly success. Success is a big thing for the Yankees, as they are survivors, they never give up, and always look for comeback. This year has been one big accomplishment, as they surpassed the Red Sox, and are looking for championship rings in the year of 2011.
                        

September 22, 2011

Minnesota Twins’ Offseason Preview

Current Depth Chart
C – D. Butera / J. Mauer: 1 yr/$0.429M (11) / 8 yr/$184M (11-18)
1 – C. Parmelee / J. Morneau: Rookie Contract / 6 yr/$80M (08-13)
2 – B. Bikelman/ L. Hughes: Rookie Contract
3 – D. Valencia: 1 yr/$0.4375M (11)+Arb.12-16
SS – T. Plouffe: Rookie Contract
LF – J. Benson: Rookie Contract
CF – D. Span/B. Revere: 5 yr/$16.5M (10-14)+15 cl opt / Rookie Contract
RF – M. Cuddyer: 3 yr/$23M (08-10)+11 cl opt
DH – J. Kubel: 2 yr/$7.2M (09-10)+11 cl opt

*All contract info. courtesy of Cot’s Baseball
Current Rotation1. C. Pavano: 2 yr/$16.5M (11-12)
2. K. Slowey: 1 yr/$2.7M (11)
3. A. Swarzak: Rookie Contract
4. S. Diamond: Rookie Contract
5. L. Hendriks: Rookie Contract
6. F. Liriano: 1 yr/$4.3M (11)

BullpenJ. Nathan (CL): 4 yr/$47M (08-11)+12 cl opt
M. Capps: 1 yr/$7.15M (11)
G. Perkins: 1 yr/$0.7M (11)
A. Burnett

Current Team Outlook:Minnesota is experiencing its worst season since 1999. The revolving door of players in just about every position is making for some issues. Injuries to their 2 biggest stars, Mauer and Morneau, derailed their season early, and with them never really gaining any traction killed the season. The players that are coming up are showing some life like Revere and Parmelee, but I don’t see any difference makers. As I say that I laugh because when has Minnesota been known for difference makers? They’ve always been the pluky team that could! I think 2011 is just one of those seasons where everything went wrong.

Prospect Watch:1. A. Hicks - OF
2. K. Gibson - P
3. M. Sano – 3B
4. O. Arcia - OF
5. C. Gutierrez - P

- The Twins have a flood of talent entering their club, unfortunately, it’s about 1-3 years away. Hicks and Sano have loads of talent, and all the right tools, but they are young and raw. A little more seasoning, and they’ll be ready. I can see a really nice outfield in the future of Revere, Span, and Hicks. Now that screams Twins outfield!

Issues/Targets:Like I stated earlier, this season seemed doomed from the beginning with Mauer going out with some mystery illness (what the F is weak leg syndrome?!), Liriano not pitching like he can, Span on and off the DL, and Morneau never getting fully healthy. The Twins aren’t a team to go out and fix their issues through free agency. They are more likely to plug holes from within, like they did this season, so don’t expect Minnesota to be linked to any big name free agents, except for Cuddyer. They already offered him a decent 2 year deal, but gauging what Cuddyer deserves based on last years free agent contracts, I think Minnesota will up there offer to a $30mil/3 yr deal to keep him home.

Overall:No team needs 2011 to be over with more then Minnesota. I think this team is in good shape for 2012 though. I think Mauer, Morneau, and Span can get healthy this offseason and bounce back. I feel Minnesota will offer Cuddyer what he wants and keep him. Revere will continue with his success, and I think their pitching issues get ironed out. Nishioka is a bit of a wild card. Does he play SS or 2nd? Does he play at all? We’ll see. I hate saying all this because I know Minnesota will bounce back and be the usual thorn in the side of my Tigers.


Projected 2012 Depth ChartC- J. Mauer
1 – J. Morneau
2 – Nishioka
3 – D. Valencia
SS– T. Plouffe
LF – D. Span
СF – B. Revere
RF – M. Cuddyer
DH – C. Parmelee

Projected Staff:1. C. Pavano
2. K. Slowey
3. F. Liriano
4. S. Baker
5. N. Blackburn

September 21, 2011

Race For Anti-MVP (Hitting Edition)

          It's that time of the year. Right now, hype is going around the Most Valuable Player award, but how about Anti-MVP, which points of the busts, and people who were expected to be successful this year, and weren't even near expectations.

       Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox: Adam Dunn is an obvious bust here. After hitting 38 homers in each of his two seasons with the Nationals, he gets a whopping four year contract of 56 million dollars.
Now he's posting up a .167 average, 11 homers, and a whopping 165 strikeouts, which makes it questionable for him to even be in the starting line-up for the White Sox. Adam Dunn was a real strikeout.

       Carl Crawford, Boston Red Sox: Carl Crawford was the real deal as he approached free agency, right after he might've had the best season of his career. Crawford,  smacked 19 balls over the wall, and stole a whopping 47 bases, as his average was the 2nd the highest in his career at .307, as it lookes to be the 29-year olds prime time. Carl Crawford has signed a 7-year 142 million contract, the media was all over it, as now it was a sure thing that the near picture-perfect Red Sox, will win the division. Say it ain't so, as the Yankees are looking to clinch the division today for their 16th postseason appearance in the last 17 years. Carl Crawford, is currently looking to end the season to a batting average of less than .260, around 20 steals, and not a significant amount of home runs.

             Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals: Another free agent signing this year. Jayson Werth was looking good on the Phillies 46 doubles, 27 homers, and a near .300 average. After signing a huge contract, in the three digit numbers, the Nationals will have to deal with this problem for the next seven years. Werth, finished off eighth in the MVP race last year, coming into the season, hoping for a .300 average, and around 30 homers, with close to 25 steals. Has his wish came true? well let's just say his average is .230, he has 19 homers, 16 stolen bases, and 151 strikeouts( 156 is his season high) this year.

                  Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves: Jason Heyward came into the season as a beast, a dread for pitchers, a ball crusher, as the hype put him 20th in the MVP race, an all star, and a close 2nd in rookie of the year award. His average was decent at .277, his OPS was around .850, and had 18 homers. Coming into this year, Braves fan saw a star in Heyward, a team changer. Was it so? a .716 OPS killed his stats, his slugging percentage also went down, and especially his average rotted into a .227. He has only posted 14 homers also, but expectations are still up , as scouts are assuming this is a typical case of a sophomore slump.

 Honorable Mentions:
Colby Rasmus, Toronto Blue Jays

 Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays: Evan Longoria, isn't a failure, just a disappointment. Longoria, has hit 28 homers this year, and has been doing decent for the Rays, but his average is just hard too believe. Last year, Longoria posted a season high in hits, and his average, coming into the season expected to hit at least .300, and be a top player. He has failed to do so, as his average is just below .245, .50 points less than last year.


              As the fast going season is finally to an end, all the discussion is concerning the MVP. Though there is players, who had the potential to win MVP, but slumped, and had hard adjustments to new teams as they got awarded the Anti MVP award.



*Note: This is the hitters edition, pitchers edition will come later in the season.

September 20, 2011

Yankees Rotation: Is AJ Burnetts Ruining His Reputation as a Yankee?


A.J Burnett was unexpectedly pulled from yesterday's game in the fifth inning. This wasn't an injury, however, as Joe Girardi told the media after yesterdays game, "I thought his stuff had clearly changed; that's why I pulled him, It wasn't that I wanted to; I was hoping to get distance out of him. I would've loved to have a complete game, but I thought his stuff clearly changed."
A.J Burnett was insulted and humiliated by these comments, as he stormed out of the clubhouse telling the AP , "Heaven forbid I give up a couple hits." He also said, "I didn't get through the fifth because I wasn't allowed through the fifth."
Burnett has also stated how he has been treated "nasty" while he was slumping during the year.
Is this a good influence for the young players still learning in the clubhouse? Obviously not. In these statements, it seems like Burnett is not afraid of the Yankees organization and has a lack of respect. Has Burnett not realized when he points out a few hits is OK, even though he also gave up four runs. 
So what does this mean?
This means Burnett feels like he is undeserving for the threats of losing his rotation spot, as his ERA is almost the highest in the league( among daily starters) and has been struggling. Burnett often has troubles coming into the fifth or fourth inning, which is a bad sign. So this means it has been a too long and too soft journey for A.J. Burnett, who is excused for having bad outings on a constant basis.
This has ruined respect for Burnett, whose 16.5 million dollar contract per year is due after next season. Yet he is apparently excused from him posting a 5.28 ERA, though he is not and needs a reality check. His disturbing selfish attitude is resented to the media, and it may cost him a playoff rotation spot.
He will likely lose his spot not because of his outing, but because of his respect for his management, players and all-around team, as he has caused nothing but trouble. He as to face reality right now and accept his position without tearing apart the media.

Update: AJ Burnett reportedly wants a guarantee for a rotation spot, in other words AJ lost his mind

The Playoff Push

The playoffs are right around the corner and soon we'll know the first round playoff matchups.  About a week ago we knew what the teams would be, just not the matchups.  Now, there is some uncertainty in Boston and Atlanta as their recent losing streaks have allowed other teams to make up ground quickly.  Still, we can take a look a the 'potential' playoff matchups.  Anyway, here goes;


In the American League it looks like the Yankees, Tigers and Rangers are in.
 The Rangers haven't locked up a spot, but they've played well enough the past couple weeks to put some distance between them and the Angels.  It would take a MAJOR collapse for them to allow the Angels back in.  Speaking of major collapse, the Red Sox are battling to stay ahead of the Rays for the Wild Card spot.  They're 5-14 so far in September and what looked like a coast to the playoffs now has everyone in RedSox Nation on suicide watch.  They finish with 5 games against the Orioles and 3 against the Yankees while the Rays have 7 vs. the Yankees and 3 against the Blue Jays.  Only fitting that the Yankess get to play a big role in this.  Meanwhile, the Tigers and Rangers are jostling for the 2 seed (the 1 seed isn't out of the question yet either).  Surely, you'd much rather play the struggling Red Sox or the 'all out' Rays than the rested Yankees in round 1.


Over in the National League things are even more complicated (though they don't get nearly the press).  We do know one thing, the Phillies are in and will have the number 1 seed.  They've struggled a bit of late, but nobody can be excited to face that rotation in the postseason.  They'll surely be a favorite in every series (including the World Series should they get there).  A week ago you would have been pretty confident to put the Brewers, Dbacks and Braves in as well.  Not so fast.  The Cardinals and Giants have both won 8 of their last 10 to jump right back into the Wild Card race and inject a little excitement into their respective division races too (they are both 5.5 games back).  While making up 2-3 games with just over one week to play is by no means an easy task, the Braves are doing everything they can to make things interesting.  They've lost 7 of their last 10.  Even though the Giants have some solid pitching, including a legitimate ace, I think if the Cardinals are able to make it in they will be a scary team to face.  The rotation isn't dominant, but it is good and any team with Pujols on it has a chance to shock some people.  Just like over in the AL, the NL division leaders are still battling for position.  As bad as the Braves have played, they are still likely to take the WC which means either the Brewers or Diamondbacks will be forced to play the Phillies in round 1.  Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Halladay and Lee?  No thanks...


Sit back and enjoy the rest of the regular season. What we thought was going to be a dull final few weeks has shaped up to be must watch TV.  Of course that could all change before this weekend.   
 

Even though we here at BlecherGM.com have been slow the past week or so, we do plan on picking it up for the post-season (I won't be working the Tribe games...) including previews of each series and we'll continue throughout the offseason (the most exciting time of the year!).  We also may invite a couple guest bloggers to join us in the future (if you're interested let me know).

September 14, 2011

Baltimore Orioles’ Offseason Preview

Current Depth ChartC – M. Weiters: 1 yr/$452,250 (11)+Arb12-15
1 – C. Davis
2 – B. Roberts: 4 yr/$40M (10-13)
3 – M. Reynolds: 3 yr/$14.5M (10-12)+13 cl opt
SS – JJ Hardy: 3years/$20mil
LF – N. Reimold: Rookie Contract
CF – A. Jones: 1 yr/$3.25M (11)+Arb.12-13
RF – N. Markakis: 6 yr/$66.1M (09-14)
DH – Vlad Guerrero: 1 yr/$8M (11)

*All contract info. courtesy of Cot’s BaseballCurrent Rotation1. J. Guthrie: 1 yr/$5.75M (11)
2. T. Hunter: 1 yr/$442,160 (11)+Arb12-15
3. A. Simon
4. Z. Britton
5. B. Matusz: 4 yr/$3,472,500 (08-11)+Arb12-14

BullpenK. Gregg (CL): 2 yr/$10M (11-12)+13 v opt
J. Johnson: 1 yr/$0.975M (11)+Arb.11-12
C. Jakubauskas
B. Bergesen

Current Team Outlook:Even with big years from Jones, Reynolds, Guthrie, and Hardy, Baltimore just couldn’t stand tall against the giant that is the AL East. Although their power numbers weren’t that awful overall in the AL (5th in HR, 7th in SLG), they just couldn’t get on base consistently enough (12th in BB & OBP) to do enough damage. It never helps when your catalyst, Roberts, goes out for the year. As Adam Jones said at the beginning, this team will go as far as Brian Roberts takes us. There were also some major holes all year; Vlad not producing what he did in 2010, (raise your hand if you saw that coming…uh-huh…the entire room raised their hand except Andy MacPhail…gotcha), Derrek Lee not being the answer at 1st, left being a major hole, and the ups-and-downs of rookie pitching. I do see some light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s going to take time, and quality management.

Prospect Watch:1. Manny Machado - SS
2. Xavier Avery - OF
3. Joe Mahoney – 1B/OF
4. Ryan Adams - IF
5. L.J. Hoes – 2B

- Baltimore is loaded with bats, well, they were loaded with high-end starting pitching, but those guys were all promoted. Anyway, the next crop starts making their move headlined by Machado. Machado is the total package, right now, since he’s only 19 there is a lot of growth left. As for the rest, no-one projects to be “amazing”, but there is some talent there, and some help on the rise.

Issues/Targets:With a lot of money is coming off the books, about $50mil, and not a lot of high priced arbitration cases coming up, I can see Baltimore making a big splash in free agency. They’ve already been linked to Fielder and Pujols, and I think that’s 100% true. This team is in desperate need of a power threat in the middle of their order. Guthrie is returning, but he’ll test the waters of free agency, and why wouldn’t Baltimore try for Wilson? With that much coming off the books, and having to keep up with the big boys, go for it!

Overall:This team is one big IF…IF Hardy,Markakis (I think 2011 will be the best type of season he’ll give. Not worth $11mil, but whatcha gonna do?!), and Jones can repeat performances…IF Matusz, Britton, and Hunter can step up…IF Baltimore makes 1-2 big free agent signings…IF Roberts can stay healthy, I can see Baltimore finishing in 3rd or 4th. Sorry, but the Yanks and Red Sox are just too good, and Tampa and Toronto are nothing to laugh at.

Projected 2012 Depth Chart
C- M. Wieters
1 – P. Fielder
2 – B. Roberts
3 – M. Reynolds
SS– J. Hardy
LF – J. Willingham
СF – A. Jones
RF – N. Markakis
DH – N. Reimold/H. Matsui

Projected Staff:1. J. Guthrie
2. T. Hunter
3. Edwin Jackson
4. Z. Britton
5. B. Matusz

September 12, 2011

Tampa Bay Rays' Offseason Preview

Current Depth Chart
C – J. Jaso - 1 yr/$0.4272M (11) + Arb. 11-15
1 – C. Kotchman – Minor League Contract
2 – B. Zobrist - 4 yr/$18M (10-13)+14-15 opts
3 – E. Longoria - 6 yr/$17.5M (08-13)+14-16 opts
SS – E. Johnson - 1 yr/$0.4149M (11) + Arb. 11-15 / R. Brignac - 1 yr/$0.4254M (11) + Arb. 11-15
LF – D. Jennings – Rookie Contract
CF – B.J. Upton - 1 yr/$4.825M (11)+Arb 11
RF - M. Joyce - 1 yr/$0.4265M (11)+Arb.11-15
DH – J. Damon - 1 yr/$5.5M (11)
*All contract info. courtesy of Cot’s Baseball

Current Rotation
1. J. Shields - 4 yr/$11.25M (08-11)+12-14 opts
2. D. Price - 6 yr/$8.5M (07-12)+Arb.13-15
3. J. Hellickson - 1 yr/$0.4184M (11) )+Arb.12-15
4. J. Niemann - 1 yr/$0.903M (11) +Arb.12-14
5. W. Davis - 4 yr/$12.6M (11-14)+15-17 opts

Bullpen
K. Farnsworth (CL) - 1 yr/$3.25M (11)
J. Howell - 1 yr/$1.1M (11)
J. McGee
C. Ramos

Current Team Outlook:
I pegged the Rays for a big year this year. They always seemed to have what the Twins had, that “never count them out” essence. Although their year wasn’t awful, it was below what I, and many others, expected. This is due in part with the underperformances of Damon, Manny, Brignac, Rodriguez, Longoria, and the entire catcher position. However, when called up, Jennings went off! He looks like the superstar everyone (not really me) pegged him for. Imagine and entire year of that performance! Also, having a light hitting 1st baseman never seems to really have big dividends. It was also nice to see Joyce finally have his year; been waiting for that for a while now.

Prospect Watch:
1. Matt Moore - SP
2. Hak-Ju Lee - SS
3. Chris Archer - P
4. Alex Torres - P
5. Josh Sale - OF

- Matt Moore is a stud, and arguably a top 5 prospect overall! He’s going to contribute in a big way next year. Lee seems to be a top of the order, high average player with a solid glove, but is a couple years away. Overall, the Rays have a solid mixture of players that’ll be ready next year, and players that’ll be ready in a couple years, but that’s their plan! Keeping the pipeline filled with talent at every position.

Issues/Targets:
Obviously catcher is a major issue, but Jaso and Shoppach have too good of contracts to seek out another catcher. 1st base will be another complication. Do you bring Kotchman with his .318 average, 8 HRs, but stellar defense back? I mean that sounds great for a SS, or 2nd baseman, but at 1st? Along with other decisions to make, do you continue with Brignac/Rodriguez/Johnson in the middle of the infield? I mean, Zobrist can only play 1 position at a time! Add to that Farnsworth and half the bullpen’s contracts are up, and do you trade Upton? Unfortunately, the Rays are not the Yankees, and can not solve these issues with money. With the market flooded with relievers and closers, the Rays will do their “norm” and wait till the high priced free-agents go, and sign the bottom feeders. They will trade Upton for a boatload of prospects to keep the pipeline filled and go with internal options like Fuld/Guyer/Ruggiano and/or pickup a lower tier free agent like Ludwick or DeJesus to play in left, while Jennings mans center with Joyce in right.

Overall:
I think the Rays are never out of it, and have plenty of talent, and a solid staff to compete. Unfortunately they always work with a small margin of error when competing. If injuries or issues happen, they can’t just solve it with money, or make a big trade. I like them to compete for the wild card or AL East crown next year because I see their pitching continuing to keep them in games, Longoria actually playing like Longoria, and an entire season of Jennings making a difference.

Projected 2012 Depth Chart
C – J. Jaso
1 – C. Kotchman
2 – B. Zobrist
3 – E. Longoria
SS– Brignac/Rodriguez
LF – W. Harris/Kearns
СF – D. Jennings
RF – M. Joyce
DH – N. Johnson

Projected Staff:
1. J. Shields
2. D. Price
3. J. Hellickson
4. J. Niemann
5. M. Moore

September 9, 2011

Moment of Silence

In honor of those lost on 9/11/01 and for all the family and friends affected we at BleacherGM will be joining other members of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) in a 'Moment of Silence'. No posts, no tweets, etc. More details can be found at the link below.

http://www.i70baseball.com/2011/09/09/tenth-anniversary-of-september-11th-attacks/

September 8, 2011

AAAA All-Stars

Each year there are guys who are supposed to break out, but struggle. Then they’re deemed to need more seasoning in the minor leagues so they go down, dominate AAA and are called back up. Only problem is sometimes there are players who put up great AAA numbers, but can never translate that success to the big leagues. We call those guys AAAA players.

I thought it’d be fun to put together an All-Star team of players who constantly dominate in the minor leagues, but continue to struggle when called upon by their Major League affiliate. I’ll break it down position by position. I’m positive I’ve missed some players. Feel free to point them out in the comments and I’ll update the list accordingly.

Let’s start by pointing out two players we labeled AAAA not long ago who have since turned it around.

Nelson Cruz (TEX);
Minor League Numbers- 11 seasons, 2746 Abs, .369/.536/.905, 155 HRs, 107 SBs
Early Major League Numbers- 3 seasons, 442 Abs, 15 HRs, 3 SBs, .280/.385/.665
Recent Major League Numbers- 4 seasons, 1409 Abs, 90 HRs, 49 SBs, .349/.549/.898

Alex Gordon (KC);
Minor League Numbers- 3 seasons, 1061 PA, 48 HRs, 30 SBs, .438/.578/1.016
Early Major League Numbers- 4 seasons, 1442 Abs, 45 HRs, 29 SBs, .322/.398/.720
Recent Major League Numbers- 1 season, 560 Abs, 20 HRs, 16 SBs, .374/.496/.870


Ok, now on to the current AAAA All-Stars, who hope to have success at the ML level soon;

C
Jarrod Saltalamachia (BOS);
Minors- 8 seasons, 1643 AB, .356/.458/.823
Majors- 5 seasons, 1125 AB, 38 HR, 145 RBI, .312/.410/.722
At age 26 he’s finally started to show signs of becoming a decent starting catcher in the big leagues, but he’s been on the cusp now for years.

Dishonorable Mention; Chris Iannetta

1B
Chris Davis (BAL);
Minors- 6 seasons, 1807 AB, 118 HR, 409 RBI, .375/.597/.971
Majors- 4 seasons, 932 AB, 43 HR, 127 RBI, .295/.444/.739 
This one was pretty easy to pick. Although Matt LaPorta has disappointed in the bigs, Davis is the current poster child for the AAAA player.

Dishonarable Mention; Matt LaPorta, Ryan Strieby

2B
Luis Valbuena (CLE);
Minors - 7 seasons, 2269 AB, 65 HR, 75 SB, .358/.431/.789 
Majors- 4 seasons, 725 AB, 12 HR, 3 SB, .284/.339/.623 
Neither EY Jr or Beckham have been great at the major league level, but Valbuena has been terrible. He’s also been back and forth and continually puts up solid AAA numbers.

Dishonorable Mention; Eric Young Jr, Gordon Beckham

3B
Mat Gamel (MIL);
Minors – 7 seasons, 2835 AB, 105 HR, 503 RBI, .376/.498/.873 
Majors– 4 seasons, 171 AB, 5 HR, 23 RBI, .309/.374/.684 
This was a tough one. Both Gamel and Stewart fit perfectly. I gave it to Gamel because while he’s only had 171 major league Abs to prove himself that is his own fault. Every time he’s given a chance he falters, then he goes right back down to the minors and excels. Stewarts been disappointing, but at least been a source of power at times.

Dishonorable Mention;  Scott Sizemore, Dallas McPherson, Josh Bell, Ian Stewart

SS
Reid Brignac (TB)
Minors- 7 seasons, 2748 AB, 75 HR, 47 SB, .337/.448/.785 
Majors- 4 seasons, 614 AB, 10 HR, 8 SB, .277/.332/.609 
I’m probably missing somebody here, but Brignac was a highly touted prospect with decent minor league numbers and he has done absolutely nothing in his time with the big club. He was also supposed to be a top tier defensive SS which never materialized either.

Dishonorable Mention; Sean Rodriguez, Tyler Greene

OF

Willy Mo Pena (BAL);
Minors- 11 seasons, 2241 AB, 108 HR, 415 RBI, .343/.483/.826  
Majors- 8 seasons, 1623 AB, 84 HR, 238 RBI, .303/.448/.752
Pena has always had power at that has translated to the majors, he just strikes out way to much against the better pitchers.

Travis Snider (TOR);
Minors- 6 seasons, 1660 AB, 73 HR, 30 SB, .379/.522/.901
Majors- 4 seasons, 799 AB, 28 HR, 16 SB, .307/.423/.730
He is still very young and could move out of this category quickly, but he already has 799 at bats in the majors and hasn't performed like the top prospect he is.

Lastings Milledge (CWS);
Minors- 8 seasons, 1803 AB, 50 HR, 117 SB, .375/.463/.838
Majors- 6 seasons, 1500 AB, 33 HR, 40 SB, .328/.395/.723
So much promise a couple years ago and he continues to deliver on that promise in the minors, but he's been a huge disappointment with every call up.

Dexter Fowler (COL);
Minors- 7 seasons, 1504 AB, 27 HR, 105 SB, .395/.457/.852
Majors- 4 seasons, 1411 AB, 14 HR, 50 SB, .356/.415/.771
In his latest call up he's done much better, but I was surprised to see he's already had 1400+ ABs without much success.  We'll see next year if he is for real.

Dishonarable Mention; Jon Bowker, Mike Carp, Jeremy Hermida, Gorkys Hernandez


Many AAAA All-Stars will never figure it out and will either become reserve players on major league rosters or continue to wreak havoc on AAA pitching for years to come; however, as Cruz and Gordon have shown in recent years, a couple of these players could very well break out and still have very productive major league careers.  Who on this list do you think has the best chance of fullfilling some of their potential?

September 6, 2011

Toronto Blue Jays' 2012 Offseason Preview

Depth Chart
C – J. Arencibia: 1 yr/$0.4174M (11)+Arb11-14
1 – A. Lind: 4 yr/$18M (10-13)+14-16 cl opts
2 – K. Johnson: 1 yr/$5.85M (11)
3 – B. Lawrie
SS – Y. Escobar: 1 yr/$2.9M (11)+Arb.12-13
LF – R. Davis: 2 yr/$5.75M (11-12)+13 cl opt
CF – C. Rasmus: 1 yr/$0.443M (11)+Arb11-14
RF – J. Bautista: 5 yr/$65M (11-15)+16 opt
DH – E. Encarnacion: 1 yr/$2.5M (11)+12 cl opt
*All contract info. courtesy of Cot’s Baseball

Rotation
1. R. Romero: 5 yr/$30.1M (11-15)+16 cl opt
2. B. Morrow: 1 yr/$2.3M (11)+ Arb.12-13
3. B. Cecil: 1 yr/$0.4431M (11)+Arb.11-14
4. H. Alvarez: Rookie Contract
5. L. Perez: Rookie Contract

Bullpen
F. Francisco (CL) : 1 yr/$4M (11)
J. Rauch: 1 yr/$3.75M (11)+12 cl opt
S. Camp: 1 yr/$2.25M (11)
C. Villanueva: 1 yr/$1.415M (11)

Current Team Outlook:
Being in the hardest division, with the 2 most historic/competitive/rish in baseball can take its toll, but the best way to combat that is with a great front office and GM. Toronto has one in Alex Anthopoulos. The moves he’s pulled off since he took the reigns have been great; from the dumping of Vernon Wells’ to acquiring Colby Rasmus, to many more in between. We can get into a debate of how impactful each acquisition has been/ will be, but I just wanted to highlight how great of a GM I think Anthopoulos has been for Toronto. As for the team, it’s on the rise, in a big way. I think Lind can develop, if not already, into a legit middle of the order power bat, same with Lawrie. Lawrie might be a few years away, but he’s showcasing a little right now to what he can bring to the table. Bautista is Bautista, and I’m a fan of Rasmus. What he did last year, a 5 tool player, shows he’s a guy you can build your club around. As for the rotation, I believe Romero is 1-2 season away from competing for the Cy Young, he’s that talented, and Morrow, if he can become more consistent, is a great #2 with high K potential.

Prospect Watch:
1. Travis d'Arnaud – C
2. Anthony Gose - OF
3. Deck McGuire - SP
4. Carlos Perez - C
5. Jake Marisnick – OF

- Besides d’Arnaud, the rest are a few years away. With recent promotions, its left Toronto with not a lot on the horizon. Some experts predict McGuire will be with the club next year, but I don’t think he’ll be too impactful. Most likely a long reliever, and a spot starter.

Issues/Targets:
Looking at the team as it stands, I don’t see Anthopoulos making any huge acquisitions to the everyday lineup. The team ranks top 5 in power hitting categories, so I think a full season with a healthy Rasmus, Lind, and Lawrie will really boost the team Avg. and OBP. The pitching is another story. It’s yielding too many walks and hits to keep this team in games. There are some bright spots. Since late July, the pitching has improved 10-fold, and gives some hope for 2012. I see Anthopoulos resigning Kelly Johnson to a 2-3 year deal, along with an inning-eater type of starting pitcher. With the bullpen in shambles this year, I can see him signing a true closer along with a couple middle relievers. Anthopoulos is a smart and shrewd GM, one that won’t dole out massive contracts to free agents. There is a lot of money coming off the books, btu there's a lot of Arbitration elegible players. Once Anthopoulos takes care of his current guys, I think he'll open up his book and add about $20-$35mil to next years payroll.

Overall:
Toronto is in really good shape, much better then their record shows. I see them turning some heads and really giving Boston and New York a run for their money next year. I can see Toronto finishing in 3rd next year, but in the early season they reach 2nd.

Projected 2012 Depth Chart
C – J. Arencibia
1 – A. Lind
2 – K. Johnson
3 – B. Lawrie
SS – Y. Escobar
LF – R. Davis
CF – C. Rasmus
RF – J. Bautista
DH – E. Encarnacion/ T. d'Arnaud


Rotation
1. R. Romero
2. B. Morrow
3. B. Cecil
4. B. Chen
5. H. Alvarev /L. Perez

September 2, 2011

AL MVP Race - Side by Side

With a month left in the season, its time to take a look at who is currently in the discussion for the most prestigious postseason awards.  Lets start by looking at the AL MVP race. 

The Contenders


Curtis Granderson - 124 runs, 38 HRs, 107 RBI, 24 SBs, .275 Avg, 6.8 WAR, .960 OPS - Started the year off fast and hasn't slowed down.  His power numbers are helped by his home park, but also gets on base and plays solid defense.




Jacoby Ellsbury - 97 runs, 24 HRs, 84 RBI, 36 SBs, .313 Avg, 7.7 WAR, .898 OPS - Went on a tear mid-season where it looked like he was unstoppable.  Out a couple weeks with an injury but has come back strong.  Sure the lineup is great around him, but he is the catalyst for that lineup and plays great defense.




Adrian Gonzalez - 92 runs, 23 HRs, 103 RBI, .341 Avg, 5.7 WAR, .956 OPS - Seems like every time I check the box scores Gonzalez is 3 for 5 with a HR and 2B.  Has had very few slumps in 2011 and rarely strikes out, as evident by his stellar .341 Avg




Jose Bautista - 95 runs, 39 HRs, 89 RBI, 6 SBs, .309 Avg, 8 WAR, 1.089 OPS - Wow, still amazed at his resurection from average hitter with some power to league leader in HRs.  He is so dangerous and can hit the ball a mile.  His team wont make the playoffs but as you can see from his 'advanced' stats he has been extremely valuable to the Jays.



Robinson Cano - 88 runs, 23 HRs, 98 RBI, 8 SBs, .307 Avg, 4.8 WAR, .884 OPS - After seeing his less than stellar advanced stats I thought about moving him out of the top 5 and into the list below.  However; he may be the most consistent hitter in baseball, never amazing and never slumps which means the Yankees don't have to worry.  Also, though he's not a Gold Glover he plays servicable defense at an imporant position. 


On the Outside Looking In - These guys are not in the top 5 right now, but with a good month and things falling their way they could get there. 

Dustin Pedroia - Pretty solid across the board, but nothing spectacular.

Justin Verlander - I'm not a fan of giving the MVP award to a pitcher as theres already an award for best pitcher.  Just change the name of the award I guess.

Asdrubal Cabrera - Also not a fan of the arguement that a team has to be good or make the playoffs for a player to win the MVP, but if the Indians are able to beat the odds and somehow make the playoffs you'd have to consider Cabrera.

So who's my pick?  Right now I think I'd give the award to Jose Bautista.  There is still a lot of time left in the season though and the race is pretty close.  We may not have many good division races, but the MVP and Cy Young debates should be good.