The Gamer

USA Gets Physical on the Chi-coms: 9-1 (Thanks Getty Images)

Well, the Giants may not have a decent record this season, but they do have Nate Schierholtz, who will probably take Randy Winn’s job this offseason.  Oh and by the way, he absolutely destroyed the backup catcher here, which was before he hit a 2 run home run (the guy is really kicking some ass in Beijing):

 

 

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August 19, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

San Francisco Giants: The Future is Now

 

The Giants intend to rebuild around their $6.2 million dollar man, Buster Posey, the #5 overall selection.

The Giants intend to rebuild around their $6.2 million dollar man, Buster Posey (C), the #5 overall selection in 2008 from Florida State.

 

 

In 2005, the San Francisco Giants had the oldest collective starting lineup in baseball, stocked full of over the hill veteran players, injury ridden and worn from years of wear and tear.  Around the infield were J. T. Snow (37), Ray Durham (33), Omar Vizquel (37) and Edgardo Alfonzo (31); catcher Mike Matheny was 34; and the outfield consisted of Barry Bonds, Marquis Grissom (37) and Moises Alou (38).  Their average age, 36.1, was the highest for a group of starters.  The pitching rotation consisted of Jason Schmidt, Brett Tomko (32), Kirk Rueter (34), Brad Hennessey (25) and Noah Lowry (24); however, the rotation would get younger with the emergence of 20 year old Matt Cain at the end of the season.  The Giants finished 75-87 under one of the oldest managers Felipe Alou.  

 

The new look Giants have committed to restocking their minor league affiliates with high talent caliber position players and arms by investing more in their draft signings and making splashes on the international scene as well.  Since 2006, the Giants have started to rebuild their farm system.  The Giants have failed to produce an everyday position player since Pedro Feliz, and prior to him, Bill Mueller was the last position player to come out of the Giants farm system in 1996.  

 

 

Will Harris’ take on the Giant’s midseason progression towards youth:

First base
Rich Aurilia was the Opening Day starter, but Dan Ortmeier and John Bowker got chances. Now Bowker is back in Triple-A and it’s Travis Ishikawa’s turn. The 24-year old left-hander should deliver above-average defense, but his track record as a hitter is mixed. Ishikawa has a little pop, but strikes out excessively. He’s a career .257 BA/.352 OBP/.441 SLG hitter. Last year’s Double-A campaign was a disaster, as Ishikawa posted a .587 OPS and was sent back to Class A. This year, however, he’s slugging .603 in Triple-A. It’s Ishikawa’s first major league action since a 24-at-bat cup of coffee in 2006, and this time around he’ll get the bulk of the first base playing time versus right-handed pitching. Aurilia will back up at both corner infield spots.

Second base
Ray Durham was the starter until he was traded in July. Since then, there has been a timeshare at the keystone between switch-hitters Emmanuel Burriss and Eugenio Velez. Burriss is three years younger at age 23, but both are slap-hitting speedsters with similar skills. Travis Denker received a look earlier in the summer as well, but for now Burriss and Velez will continue to split time, with Burriss (who also plays shortstop) accumulating more total at-bats the rest of the way.

Shortstop
Brian Bocock started on Opening Day because Omar Vizquel was on the disabled list, but since then it’s been Vizquel’s job to lose, and he’s lost it. Now the 41-year-old shares time at the position with both Burriss and Ivan Ochoa. Like teammates Velez and Burriss, the 25-year-old Ochoa is a speedster with scant power.

Third base
Aurilia has seen time at third base, but for the most part, Jose Castillo was a mainstay at the hot corner until he was designated for assignment this week. The 24-year-old Ryan Rohlinger has been recalled to take over. Rohlinger will be an upgrade defensively, but with barely 100 at-bats above Class A, he may not be ready to improve Castillo’s miserable .244/.289/.391 line. Rohlinger is a polished hitter with good plate discipline and pitch recognition skills, but he lacks plus bat speed, though, and is unlikely to develop enough power to make it as a major league regular. He’ll get an audition during the season’s final six weeks, with Aurilia backing up.

Catcher
Bengie Molina has been the clear-cut starter all year, but that might change now that backupSteve Holm has been optioned out so the club can take a look at prospect Pablo Sandoval. The 22-year-old Sandoval does not yet have plus defensive skills behind the plate, although he’s improving, plus his glove is not a liability at first or third base. The switch-hitting Sandoval is a developing offensive talent who hit .350/.394/.578 in two levels in the minors this year. He has an average batting eye but makes hard contact and has developing power. He could see time at first base as well as catcher. Of the Giants’ newcomers, only Sandoval is worth more than a token flier in keeper leagues. All three could help fill a hole for the remainder of the season, with Ishikawa likely to receive the most at-bats.

 

Projected 2010 Opening Day Lineup:

C – Buster Posey 

1B – Pablo Sandoval 

2B – Nick Noonan 

SS – Emmanuel Burriss 

3B – TBD

LF – Fred Lewis 

CF – Aaron Rowand 

RF – Nate Schierholtz 

 

P – Barry Zito 

P – Matt Cain 

P – Tim Lincecum 

P – Madison Bumgarner 

P – Tim Alderson 

RP – Alex Hinshaw 

SU – Sergio Romo 

CL – Brian Wilson

August 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On the Rise: Pittsburgh Pirates

 

Pirates Manager John Russell and GM Neal Huntington (AP Photo/Al Behrman) ESPN

Pirates Manager John Russell and GM Neal Huntington (AP Photo/Al Behrman) ESPN

 

 

Last year the Pittsburgh Pirates finished the 2007 Season with the worst record in Major League Baseball (68-94).  However, despite the Pirates 53-64 record through August 11th, there have been many surprising notes regarding their season.  Who would have thought Nate McClouth (.277/22/74/.354/.517) would be leading the Pirates in virtually every offensive category, in addition to scoring the third most runs in the National League?  Also, catcher Ryan Doumit is hitting .331 on the season, and posting a team best .913 OPS, among some of baseballs best hitters such as Josh Hamilton and Mark Teixeira.  In addition, the Pirates are scoring an average of 4.79 runs per game, which is 5th best in the National League.  

 

Pitching woes have been hurting the Pirates all season, as reflected in their National League worst Team E.R.A. (5.18), Runs Per Game (5.47), Opponents Batting Average (.289), and Walks/Hits Per Innings Pitched (1.59).  The pitchers aren’t getting much help from their defense, which is posting a .674 Defensive Efficiency Rating (28th in MLB, 15th in NL).  

 

Much of the offensive credit is due to the combined performance of the Pirates outfield trio of Xavier Nady, Jason Bay and Nate McClouth.  However, the compounded salaries and age of outfielders Jason Bay and Xavier Nady, in addition to a commitment to rebuilding a young Pirates team for the future, led the Pirates to trade their two sluggers in search of pitching aid and young Major League Ready prospects.  

  • On July 22nd, the Pirates sent Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte (RP) to the New York Yankees for pitchers Ross Olendorf, Daniel McCutchen (AAA), Jeff Karstens and Outfielder Jose Tabata.  
  • On July 31st, literally at the deadline, the Pirates, Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox were involved in a trade that sent Manny Ramirez to Los Angeles, Jason Bay to Boston, and Boston players Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen, Dodger Prospects Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris (A).  

 

So far, Jeff Kastens has pitched 15 scoreless innings and against Arizona flirted with a perfect game.  Brandon Moss and Andy LaRoche have started out slowly for the Pirates, while Craig Hansen has consistently thrown hard but has been touched up a bit in his few appearances.  However scouting reports indicate that these players have good potential for the Pirates and will undoubtedly have an impact as regulars on the 2009 Roster.

 

It will be very interesting to see how the Pittsburgh Pirates will contend in the future with a younger team and saving $13 million dollars for next season (excluding departing free agents) to expend on the possible signing of Vanderbilt third baseman and 2nd overall pick, Pedro Alvarez.  In 2009, the Pirates will most likely build their team around young players Nate McClouth, Ryan Doumit and Paul Maholm.  I also suspect they will try and extend Adam LaRoche’s contract, as he has provided consistent power and plays a decent first base.  Also, top prospect Andrew McCutchen will be competing for a spot in the outfield.  

 

Player Notes

  • It’s no surprise Jack Wilson has been mentioned in trade talks. He is making $6.5 million this season and is schedule to get $7.25 million in 2009. That’s not a salary a team in rebuilding mode wants to pay, particularly to a shortstop who will be 31 in December and had a .316 on-base percentage and a .332 slugging percentage. 
  • It’s more peculiar the Pirates would be trying to move Grabow, who is making $1.135 million this season and probably will make in the $2.5 million range next year. Considering they have no one to replace Grabow, attempts to trade him smack of a pure salary dump.
  • With that in mind, here are some other players who might be in their last season with the Pirates.
  • Jose Bautista: His salary this season, his first in arbitration, is $1.8 million. That will probably jump into the $2 million range next season. It’s unlikely the Pirates want to carry a $2 million utility man, which is Bautista’s role since Andy LaRoche was acquired.
  • Zach Duke: He’ll be arbitration eligible next season, and with the new depth the Pirates have on their pitching staff, it’s doubtful the team will go that route with him. Although Duke had an outstanding start last week, he is 4-10 with a 5.13 earned run average. In his five starts before his last one, his ERA was 11.10.
  • Jason Michaels: He has a $2.6 million option for next season. The Pirates aren’t likely to pick that up. Based on the good job he’s done this season, there will be a market for Michaels, and his return is unlikely.
  • Doug Mientkiewicz: If he’s not dealt by the end of the season, he’ll be a free agent. Like Michaels, he has enhanced his value, particularly with his versatility, and is probably out of the Pirates’ price range.
  • Chris Gomez: Same as above.
  • Tyler Yates: He’s arbitration eligible, which means he could be non-tendered.

 

Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein Projects the Pirates 2010 Lineup:

 

Catcher: Optimistic, with caveats. Ryan Doumit is one of the better-hitting catchers in the game, he’s cheap, and he’s under control for a while. That said, he comes with huge concerns about his ability to stay in the lineup consistently; last year it was wrist and hamstring problems, but those were just additions to the long series of health issues that Doumit has suffered since being a second-round pick in 1999. Those injuries are one of the reasons it’s taken so long for Doumit to establish himself; during his first three full seasons in the minors, he played in just 184 games. He teases with All-Star possibilities as a hitter, but at the same time, you need a backup plan with him, and the Pirates have no real catching prospects of note in the system.

First Base: Neither good nor bad. Adam LaRoche has yet to duplicate his success with Atlanta, and just when it seemed like that might never happen, he hit .390/.472/.805 in July before hitting the disabled list with a rib cage injury. He’s not a star, but he doesn’t create a huge hole in the lineup either—he’s a solid placeholder until someone better comes along. Could that someone better be 2008 first-round pick Pedro Alvarez? Alvarez is hardly a great defensive third baseman, and with the acquisition of Adam’s brother Andy, Alvarez might end up quickly transitioning to either first base or left field.

Second Base: Push. After winning the batting title in 2006, Freddy Sanchez slipped a bit last year, then slipped a ton this season. Like LaRoche, he’s picked it up of late, hitting .302 since July began, and the Pirates are on the hook for him in 2009, with a 2010 club option for $8 million. He’ll surely stick around next year, as the Pirates have no replacement for him in the minors.

Third Base: Highly optimistic. The hot corner has long been a troublesome spot for the Pirates, and they hope they’ve found their long-term solution in Andy LaRoche. As I wrote in BP2008, “Everyone loves Andy LaRoche, except, perhaps, for the Dodgers,” and that still seemed to be the case. He was the All-Star third baseman on the official Players Who Need a Change of Scenery squad, and playing in an environment where the pressure of every mis-timed strikeout or error meant a trip to Las Vegas (can you believe that’s a negative thing?) could be the key to him turning into the star-level player that many scouts have been projecting him to be for years.

Shortstop: Still a nightmare. One of the more frustrating combinations of a non-productive starter (Jack Wilson) with a bad contract, paired with a system with no short-term prospects at the position. The Jack Wilson era likely ends after 2009, as Pittsburgh will almost gladly pay $600,000 to avoid giving him another $8.4 million, but as far as who takes over the position at that time, it’s a bit of a mystery. The organization spent their third- (Jordy Mercer) and fourth-round (Chase D’Arnaud) picks on polished college shortstops without a ton of upside, and they already have one of those in the system in Brian Friday, a third-round selection from last year who has plus defensive skills, good speed, excellent contact abilities, and no power.

Outfield: No holes, and more players than positions. That’s a pretty surprising outcome considering that the team just traded two everyday above-average corner men in Bay and Nady. But those moves did not create holes, as much as they created opportunities. For 2009, the three starters with likely be Nate McLouthAndrew McCutchen, and Brandon Moss. McLouth has been one of the more surprising performers in the game this year, already slugging 22 home runs on the season when PECOTA saw him maxing out at 13. If there’s one deficiency in his game, it’s his defense, as he merely holds his own in center and is far better suited for a corner, making his offensive breakthrough not only important, but a necessity. McCutchen is penciled in as the everyday player up the middle, provides an immediate upgrade with the glove, and over time should develop into a multi-faceted force at the top of the lineup. Moss was expendable for the Red Sox—he’s not good enough to be an everyday corner outfielder for Boston, but he still should be one of the top 60 corner outfielders around. Finally, don’t forget about Jose Tabata. The Pirates are hoping that this deal will be a wake-up call for the outfielder once considered to be one of the brightest young hitters in the game. With a second chance, and more of an opportunity, he could turn it around.

With that, let’s take a quick guess at the 2010 starting nine for the Pirates:

Catcher:      Ryan Doumit
First Base:   Pedro Alvarez
Second Base:  Freddy Sanchez/TBD
Third Base:   Andy LaRoche
Shortstop:    TBD
Left Field:   Nate McLouth
Centerfield:  Andrew McCutchen
Rightfield:   Brandon Moss

That may not be enough to create a murderer’s row, but it can be the parts for putting together a young lineup with several players holding impact potential. The Pirates were an above-average offense entering the year, but with the recent deals, they’ve shored up their future on the mound while ensuring that runs will be scored for years to come.

August 10, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ten Really Lopsided Trades

 

Grady Sizemore with the Expos in 200

Grady Sizemore with the Expos in 2000

 

 

1. The Expos trade Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips and Lee Stevens to the Indians for Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew.

 

Omar Minaya paid dearly — beyond dearly — for roughly two months of Colon. Colon gave the Expos high-quality innings down the stretch, but they finished 12 games out of playoff position. In the service of making that run, the Expos gave up, most notably, Sizemore (one of the best young players in baseball and already a three-time All-Star), Lee (possibly the AL Cy Young winner this season), and Phillips (a 30-30 player last season as a 26-year-old), who’s now a Red. The state of Ohio remains grateful.

 

2. The Mets trade Scott Kazmir and Jose Diaz to the Rays for Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato.

 

Zambrano was uniformly awful as a Met and is now out of the majors. Kazmir, in contrast, has evolved into one of the best young pitchers in baseball. This year, Kazmir may win the ERA title and last season he led the AL in strikeouts as a 23-year-old. The Mets will regret this one for the next decade or so.

 

3. The Mets trade Jason Isringhausen to the A’s for Billy Taylor.

 

Isringhausen, after leaving New York, became a dominating closer for the A’s and Cardinals, and now he’s working on 300 career saves. Taylor, though, logged a ghastly 8.10 ERA during his stay in Queens.

 

4. The Baltimore Orioles trade pitchers Curt Schilling, Pete Harnisch and outfielder Steve Finley to the Houston Astros for First Baseman Glenn Davis.

 

Despite his talent, the Orioles had found Schilling to bee too inconsistent and thus found it in their hearts to trade him.  Schilling live up to his potential by playing in three World Series (and winning two) and obtaining baseball immortality when pitching on a bad ankle in the “bloody sock.”  Harnisch would become a good middle of the rotation pitcher for the Astros.  Finley would become a solid centerfielder, having some nice seasons in Houston and San Diego before he became one of the cornerstones of that 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks team and hitting arguably the most damaging home run in the Giants-Dodgers rivalry history in 2004 in the 2nd to last game of the season, knocking the Giants out of contention and putting Los Angeles through.  As for Davis?  He would never be the same player for the Orioles as he was with the Astros.  A week after the trade, he would get his jaw broken in a bar room brawl.  After that, his numbers slowly dropped into obscurity.

 

5. The Seattle Mariners trade pitcher Derek Lowe and catcher Jason Varitek to the Boston Red Sox for closer Heathcliff Slocumb

 

What the hell were the Mariners’ thinking? 

 

Okay, Slocumb was a fairly good closer in his career.  Seattle, who was at the time dog fighting with the Anaheim Angels for control of the American League West, needed to shore up their bullpen if they were to make a run.  While the trade paid off in the short term, after 1997, Slocumb was terrible.  As for the other two, Lowe would switch from a good closer to a good starting pitcher and Varitek would evolve into one of the best catchers in baseball and captain of the Boston Red Sox.  More importantly, Seattle gave Boston the seeds that bloomed into their 2004 World Series title.

 

6. The Los Angeles Dodgers trade pitcher Pedro Martinez to the Montreal Expos for Delino DeShields. 

 

A trade brought on by necessity.  Because of second baseman Jody Reed rejecting the Dodgers’ offer of a contract extension to see what he could get on the open market (1 year, $750K, as compared to 3 years, $7.8 million.), the Dodgers were forced to bring in DeShields to patch up their infield.  Pedro would dominate the National League and was a part of that magical 1994 Expos team that would have won the World Series before he became a part of the Red Sox.  And the rest is history.

 

7. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays trade outfielder Bobby Abreu to the Philadelphia Phillies for shortstop Kevin Stocker.

 

After taking him from the Astros in the Expansion Draft, the D-Rays promptly traded Abreu to the Phillies for shortstop Kevin Stocker.  Abreu became one of the premier outfielders in baseball, while Stocker fell apart quickly for the Devil Rays and traded to the Angels in 2000.  Abreu has established himself as one of baseball’s toughest outs, averages more than 5 pitches seen per at bat. 

 

8. The New York Mets trade pitchers Nolan Ryan, Don Rose, catcher Frank Estrada, and outfielder Leroy Stanton to the California Angels for shortstop Jim Fregosi.

 

The Mets thought that Fregosi would be their answer to upgrade their infield.  And they probably thought that they got away with a steal, including Ryan, a wild, but talented player, and a bunch of busts in the deal.  Fregosi would do poorly in New York.  As for Ryan, his control issues cleared up in California, and he embarked on his journey down the path that would establish him as one of the greatest pitchers of all time.

 

9. The San Francisco Giants trade pitchers Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser to Twins for A.J. Pierzynski

 

Seeing Pierzynski as their last major piece needed for the championship, the Giants traded three pitching prospects for the catcher.  However, the Twins didn’t tell the Giants about how much of a jackass Pierzynski was.  Pierzynski did well for the Giants, but clashes with teammates and trainer Stan Conti’s nuts prompted the Giants to not bring him back.  Meanwhile, Joe Nathan has become one of the best closers in baseball, Francisco Liriano looks like the second coming of Johan Santana and Bonser is coming along nicely as a 4 or 5 starter, making Giants fans ape shit at GM Brian Sabean. 

 

10.  The Florida Marlins trade Derek Lee to the Chicago Cubs for Heesop Choi and a player to be named later. 

 

This trade is just hilarious.  Derek Lee turned into an All-Star first baseman with the Chicago Cubs.  This is where salary dumping and market correction just went bad. 

 

Honorable Mention:

 

Athletics trade Doug Mirabelli Red Sox for Justin Duchscherer

Files for Free Agency

Signs with San Diego Padres

Red Sox Trade Cla Mereditch and Josh Bard to the Padres for Doug Mirabelli

August 7, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Going For Gold: Baseball in Beijing.

The waiting is over, as team USA enters Beijing.  (Photo courtesy of flickr, Digital Papercuts)

Team USA against Canada. (Photo courtesy of flickr, Digital Papercuts)

 

Since, everyone’s getting into the Olympic spirit, I figured it would be appropriate to start writing about Baseball at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.  However, the International Baseball Federation has added a new rule regarding extra inning play after the 10th inning.  

Extra-Inning Rule (to be added to the IBAF Competition Norms):

If the game remains tied after the completion of ten (10) innings, the following procedures will be implemented during extra innings:

• Each team will begin the 11th inning (and any subsequent necessary extra innings) with a player on first and second, no outs.

• To begin the 11th inning, representatives from each team will meet at home plate and will indicate (at the same time) to the home plate umpire where the team wishes to begin the batting order. That is, the teams have the option of beginning the 11th inning anywhere in the existing batting order that was in effect when the 10th inning ended. Note that this is not a new lineup (just potentially a different order), and it may very well be the same lineup that ended the 10th inning. The rationale for doing so is to ensure that both teams have an equal chance at having what they consider to be their best hitters and base runners in a position to score in the 11th inning.

• For example, if the team decides to have the #1 hitter in the lineup hit first, then the #8 hitter will be placed at 2B and the #9 hitter will be placed at 1B. Furthermore, if the team decides to have the #3 hitter in the lineup hit first, then the #1 hitter would be at 2B and the #2 hitter would be at 1B.

• Once those players/runners are determined for the 11th inning, the order of any subsequent innings will be determined by how the previous inning ended. That is, if the 11th inning ends with the #6 hitter having the last plate appearance (PA), then the 12th inning begins the #7 hitter at bat, and the #5 hitter at 2B and the #6 hitter at first base.

• With the exception of beginning the inning with runners on 1B and 2B with no one out, all other “Official Rules of Baseball” and “IBAF Competition Norms” will remain in effect during extra innings required to determine a winner.

• No player re-entry is permitted during extra innings.

• The traditional system of the visiting team hitting in the top of the inning and the home team hitting in the bottom of the inning will remain in effect until a winner is determined.

Yeah, I’m not going to lie, that’s pretty odd.  

 

The following are excerpts from Baseball America’s Ben Badler’s 7 Prospects to Watch, an article published on baseballamerica.com for subscribers.  I have to say, there is pretty solid depth regardless of the absence of “Major League” players.  Many of these players listed here have Major League experience and have performed respectably well despite the early stages of their careers.  In fact, the Olympic Games gave public birth to the All-Star pitcher Ben Sheets, who won the Gold Medal Game in 2000.  Overall, these players will not only succeed at the Olympic Games, but are projected to have very successful careers in Major League Baseball.  Here’s why:

 

1. Matt LaPorta, lf/1b, Indians

The most raw power on Team USA belongs to 30-year-old Tigers third baseman Mike Hessman, who in 14 plate appearances had three hits (all home runs), struck out eight times and never walked. No pitcher should ever throw Hessman a fastball unless it’s painting the inside corner.

But LaPorta, 23, showed plenty of usable power, blasting three home runs among his six hits in 17 plate appearances. LaPorta feasted on a trio of mid-80s fastballs for his first two home runs, hit a 91 mph fastball out of the park in left and launched another one that scraped off the top of the tall left-center field wall. LaPorta struggled recognizing slower curveballs, which caught him swinging off-balance, though he showed the ability to make adjustments later in the series. LaPorta’s below-average speed limits his range in the outfield, but his instincts in the field are good. He showed a solid arm on Sunday, throwing out a runner at home on a fly out to left field. The throw was slightly up the third base line but made it to the catcher on a line in plenty of time to get the runner.

“I love the outfield—it’s fun,” LaPorta said. “(I’m) realizing that you can’t throw everyone out, to pick and choose when to throw home and to second.”
 

2. Brett Anderson, lhp, A’s

Anderson dominated the Canadian lineup with impeccable command, painting both sides of the plate with his 88-91 mph fastball, usually starting outside and working his way inside. But don’t confuse Anderson with the typical fringy prospect who gets by on command, deception and a good changeup—Anderson’s stuff is very good. He can crank his fastball up to 94 mph when he wants the extra velocity, although carving up the outside corner at 90 mph is just as effective.

Scouts have always said his curveball is a plus pitch, which he showed Friday night in the opening game of the series against Canada, when he threw four scoreless innings, struck out four, walked none and allowed three hits. His curve was a mid- to high-70s pitch, his low-80s slider was effective and he also showed a low-80s changeup.
 

3. Trevor Cahill, rhp, A’s

Like Anderson, Cahill doesn’t dial his fastball into the mid-90s, but he doesn’t need to do so to be successful. His sinker induced plenty of ground balls, while others simply swung over the top of it. In four shutout innings, Cahill allowed only one hit (a broken bat single over second base), one walk and he struck out three.

“It went good,” said Cahill, 20. “The biggest thing is throwing strikes, and I went out there, did that today, got behind some guys, but got some ground balls, and I was happy with how it went.”

Cahill mixed a variety of off-speed pitches—a curveball (his out pitch), a slider and a changeup. He used his 81-82 mph curve to get all three of his strikeouts, all of which were swinging, including one against 21-year-old outfielder Michael Saunders, perhaps the top prospect in the Mariners system. At the Futures Game last month, Cahill pitched through a cut on his finger, which is why he threw only one curveball in the game and instead relied more heavily upon his slider, but Cahill said the cut has since calloused over. Cahill used his sinker to keep the ball on the ground, allowing only two balls in play in the air (excluding foul outs) while getting six groundballs.

“My sinker’s kind of my pitch,” Cahill said. “So getting groundballs usually shows me that it’s working, so I’m glad I got some ground balls.”

 

4. Nate Schierholtz, rf, Giants

Schierholtz left Triple-A Fresno on a 13-game hitting streak, and he carried that over into the USA-Canada series. He flashed plenty of tools against Canada, most notably his quick bat speed and excellent power both in BP and in games. Two of his six hits were fortunately-placed ground balls that found their way into right field, but there was plenty of power in Schierholtz’s stroke. He homered twice against Canada; one was a home run at Durham Bulls Athletic Park that reached the last two rows in right-center field, while his second blast cleared all of the seats.

With most of the USA lineup leaning-heavily to the right, the lefty-hitting Schierholtz should be a useful piece for Johnson to plug into his lineup. He replaced the injured Colby Rasmus (Cardinals) as the team’s primary lefty bat. Although he’s just a 50 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale, Schierholtz also played some in center field, though his usual position is right field where his strong arm also plays well.

His one undoing throughout his career has been plate discipline, which was evident in the four-game series, though in a bit of irony he was one of only four USA players in the series who drew a walk. He doesn’t strike out that much, but he seldom walks and chased too many pitches out of the strike zone against Canada.
 

5. Lou Marson, c, Phillies

Marson defended well behind the plate, though he lacked the sub-2.0 pop times and well above-average arm of teammate Taylor Teagarden. But Marson, 22, was impressive at the plate in BP and in games, showing an easy, balanced swing. Though he only had 10 plate appearances while splitting catching duties with Teagarden, Marson showed an easy, balanced swing in BP and in games. He squared up balls with authority, and his outs were generally well-hit balls in play. Marson also has likely the best batting eye on the team, as he drew nearly as many walks (65) as strikeouts (69) this year with Double-A Reading and leads the Eastern League with a .434 on-base percentage.

Team USA is strong behind the plate, as Teagarden also showed good pop in BP, though it didn’t translate in the games, and his .217/.331/.378 composite line in 230 at-bats between Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Oklahoma is underwhelming.

 

6. Steven Strasburg, rhp, San Diego State

Strasburg came into Monday’s game in the fourth inning in relief of Jake Arrieta. Arrieta’s fastball sat at 94-96 mph in his first two innings with a good slider, but his velocity dropped in the third inning and struggled with his command.

Strasburg entered the game and proceeded toss mid-90s flames at the Canadian hitters, though 20-year-old Nick Weglarz (Indians) quickly showed him that he had the bat speed to turn on a 97 mph fastball with two strikes for a double to right-center field. The Canadian hitters had some success against Strasburg in his first inning of work, when he threw his fastball for 19 of his first 22 pitches.

But when Strasburg started complementing his 94-97 mph fastball with a sharp breaking ball, the hitters had no chance. Strasburg’s arm wasn’t completely fluid and he didn’t show a changeup, but he didn’t need one with his wicked fastball/slider combination. Strasburg allowed one run in three innings, allowed three hits, no walks and struck out three. He’s the favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft.

 

7. Brandon Knight, rhp, Mets

Thirty-two-year-old Triple-A pitchers aren’t supposed to get scouts excited, but at least one of them was when he saw Knight pitch for New Orleans this season. A scout with an American League club told BA last month that Knight sat in the 89-92 mph range with an average curveball, pegging him as more than a 4-A pitcher.

Knight, who started in five of his 11 appearances this season, left New Orleans for Team USA with a 1.60 ERA in 39 1/3 innings and a 49-10 K-BB mark. His numbers earned him a promotion to the big leagues, where he made his first big league start on July 26 against the Cardinals.

Instead of keeping him in New York, the Mets allowed Knight to pursue an Olympic medal, and Johnson and his staff like what they’ve seen out of Knight so far. Knight pitched the third game for Team USA on Sunday, when he struck out 10 in five scoreless innings, walked one and allowed just two hits. Knight worked off a fastball that dipped into the high-80s but mostly sat at 91-92 mph. His 74-78 mph curveball was slurvy at times, but his low-80s slider had downward movement that got him plenty of strikeouts, including seven outs in a row at one stretch.

 

8. Casey Weathers, rhp, Rockies

Weathers gives Team USA a power arm out of the bullpen, working with a 94-96 mph fastball and an 86-88 mph slider with good tilt. Weathers didn’t strike anyone out in his one official inning of work—he also worked an extra scrimmage inning against Canada in the team’s final game on Monday—but he has strikeout stuff and had 48 strikeouts in 40 innings with Double-A Tulsa before joining Team USA. Weathers showed room to improve his command—seven of his 13 pitches went for strikes, and he didn’t always hit his location within the zone—which is why he has walked 27 batters (6.1 per nine) this season.

“He’s got a very electric arm,” said USA pitching coach Marcel Lachemann, who is also a special assistant to Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd. “His command is probably not like some of these other kids’, but if he stays in line, he has a chance to be pretty special too.”

August 6, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Results of The Florida Marlins 2005 Offseason “Market Correction”

(From left) Josh Willingham, Mike Jacobs, Hanley Ramirez, and Miguel Olivo were just a few new faces in after the Market Correction.

(From left) Josh Willingham, Mike Jacobs, Hanley Ramirez, and Miguel Olivo were just a few new faces in after the "Market Correction."

  • October 2 after the Marlins’ last game of the season, manager Jack McKeon retired. 
  • October 3: The Marlins made their first offseason moves, releasing relief pitchers John Riedling and Tim Spooneybarger. Riedling had a 4-1 record and a 7.14 ERA during the season; Spooneybarger, who had not played since 2003 due to rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery, had to have the surgery a second time during the season and missed the 2006 season as well. Screwball specialist Jim Mecir retired following the Marlins’ last game of the season. 
  • October 19: Joe Girardi was hired as the new manager. Girardi, who was hired at age 41, became one of the youngest current managers in the major leagues. 
  • Few of the coaching staff, aside from infield/first base coach Perry Hill an d bullpen coordinator Pierre Arsenault, were expected to return, as Marlins GM Larry Beinfest told them to seek employment elsewhere. Pitching coach Mark Wiley and bullpen coach Luis Dorante came under fire during the season due to the late-season struggles of Burnett and the season-long struggles of the Marlins’ bullpen. Similarly, hitting coach Bill Robinson was often blamed for the Marlins’ offensive woes throughout the season, and in particular for his failure to get Pierre and Lowell out of season-long slumps. Girardi hired Jim Presley as a replacement for Robinson, and also hired Rick Kranitz as the new pitching coach and Bobby Meacham as the new third-base coach. 
  • Closer Todd Jones, P A.J. Burnett, 1B Jeff Conine, INF Lenny Harris, OF Juan Encarnación, SS Álex González, P Brian Moehler, P Ismael Valdéz, and P Paul Quantrill were among the Marlins’ players whose contracts expired following the 2005 season. Following the playoffs, they declared free agency. Burnett signed a five-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays worth 55 million; Jones signed for two years with the Detroit Tigers, and Moehler elected to remain with the Marlins. The Marlins declined to offer arbitration to Jeff Conine, Ismael Valdez, Paul Quantrill, Juan Encarnacion, Damion Easley, and Mike Mordecai, therefore ending their tenures with the club. Soon after announcing a plan to relocate (see below), the Marlins started to shed payroll by dealing their highest-paid players for minor-league prospects, in a series of moves reminiscent of the “fire sale” in the 1997 offseason but the club announced that it was more in their opinion of a “market correction”. 
  • November 21: Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell traded to the Red Sox for minor-league prospects shortstop Hanley Ramirez, and pitchers Aníbal Sánchez and Jesús Delgado. The deal was made official three nights later, and also included the Marlins sending Guillermo Mota to the Red Sox and receiving minor-league pitcher Harvey Garcia. The Beckett trade left the Marlins with just one member of their rotation on Opening Day in 2005, Dontrelle Willis. The Marlins will fill most of the remaining rotation spots with young pitchers such as Jason Vargas, Josh Johnson, and Scott Olsen, all of whom they had recalled from their Class AA affiliate during the 2005 season. 
  • November 23: The Mets and the Marlins agreed on a deal to move Carlos Delgado to the Mets for first baseman Mike Jacobs and pitching prospect Yusmeiro Petit. Also, the Marlins would have to pay $7 million of Delgado’s remaining contract. When the deal was made official the next day, the Marlins also received minor-league infielder Grant Psomas. According to the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, the Marlins passed up the Mets’ offer to give them center fielder Lastings Milledge, who was at the time ranked the Mets’ top prospect according to Baseball America. Combined, the two trades allowed the Marlins to reduce their 2006 payroll by $27 million. However, the Marlins were not yet done reducing payroll. 
  • Paul Lo Duca was traded to the Mets for two players to be named later; these players turned out to be pitcher Gabriel Hernandez and outfielder Dante Brinkley. Longtime second baseman Luis Castillo was traded to the Twins for pitchers Travis Bowyer and Scott Tyler, and Juan Pierre to the Cubs for pitchers Sergio Mitre, Ricky Nolasco, and Renyel Pinto. Of the seven players that the Marlins acquired in these three deals, only Mitre and Bowyer had any major-league experience when they came to the Marlins. 
  • To replace Castillo, the Marlins selected Dan Uggla from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Rule 5 draft. Uggla played in the Arizona organization at the Class AA level in 2005; he became the Marlins’ starting second baseman in 2006 . 
The 2006 Florida Marlins Roster and Payroll ($14,998,500):
Dontrelle Willis $4,350,000.00
Brian Moehler $1,500,000.00
Wes Helms $800,000.00
Miguel Olivo $700,000.00
Matt Herges $600,000.00
Miguel Cabrera $472,000.00
Alfredo Amezaga $340,000.00
Sergio Mitre $330,000.00
Chris Aguila $327,000.00
Joe Borowski $327,000.00
Jeremy Hermida $327,000.00
Mike Jacobs $327,000.00
Josh Johnson $327,000.00
Carlos Martinez $327,000.00
Randy Messenger $327,000.00
Ricky Nolasco $327,000.00
Hanley Ramirez $327,000.00
Eric Reed $327,000.00
Matt Treanor $327,000.00
Dan Uggla $327,000.00
Jason Vargas $327,000.00
Josh Willingham $327,000.00
image

The following chart shows total Opening Day player payroll figures for 2005 and 2006 (based on USA Today figures, which may differ from other sources): Blue 2006, Purple 2005

Despite their sub .500 winning percentage, the Marlins were able to accomplish very promising feats in their innagural “youth movement” season.
  • On September 6, rookie Aníbal Sánchez pitched the fourth no-hitter in franchise history.
  • Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla was named the Sporting News Rookie of the Year for the National League and won the Players’ Choice award as the league’s most outstanding rookie.
  • Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez won the 2006 National League Rookie of the Year award, as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Ramirez’s numbers at season’s end drew comparisons to Alfonso Soriano. For the first time in league history, six of the twelve players that received Rookie of the Year votes were Marlins. Uggla finished third in the voting and starting pitcher Josh Johnson, fourth; starting pitchers Scott Olsen and Anibal Sanchez and left fielder Josh Willingham received one third-place vote each.
  • Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera earned the 2006 Silver Slugger Awards in National League, and finished second in batting average in National League. The Marlins had four rookie starters who had each won ten or more games: Sánchez, Nolasco, Johnson, and Olsen. The 2006 Marlins were the first team in major-league history to have four rookie pitchers accomplish this feat.
  • Joe Girardi won the National League Manager of the Year award.

At the end of the 2007 season, the Marlins traded Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis for Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Eulogio De La Cruz, Burke Badenhop and Dallas Trahern. This move was primarily motivated to dump salary as well as strenghten their defense and pitching with the departures of Armando Benitez and Aaron Boone. Shortly afterwards, Hanley Ramirez signed a 6 year $70 million dollar extension. With vacancies at third base, the Marlins offered one year contracts to Jorge Cantu and Dallas MacPherson.

 

A Look at the 2008 Florida Marlins (Courtesy of Baseball Prospectus):

As of today, the Marlins are 1.5 games out of first place in the NL East and 7 games over .500, a pretty incredible feat considering Alex Rodriguez’s salary is higher than the entire Florida Marlins 25 Man Roster Payroll.

Top offensive performers by VORP

Hanley Ramirez
Hanley Ramirez
55.2 VORP
Dan Uggla
Dan Uggla
38.4 VORP
Jorge Cantu
Jorge Cantu
26.4 VORP

Top pitching performers by VORP

Ricky Nolasco
Ricky Nolasco
21.9 VORP
Scott Olsen
Scott Olsen
15.7 VORP
Renyel Pinto
Renyel Pinto
15.1 VORP

Hitters by VORP Decreasing:

Rank Player PA R 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG MLVr EqA Sorted Descending
VORP
1 Hanley Ramirez 509 88 23 3 25 50 57 99 26 11 .295 .381 .531 .292 .310 55.2
2 Dan Uggla 420 69 28 1 26 67 48 117 4 1 .270 .362 .567 .290 .311 38.4
3 Jorge Cantu 484 67 29 0 19 62 28 79 4 2 .291 .339 .484 .163 .284 26.4
4 Josh Willingham 248 38 14 3 8 32 31 50 2 2 .275 .379 .483 .206 .305 14.1
5 Cody Ross 336 38 15 3 16 54 25 71 4 1 .248 .307 .475 .056 .269 12.9
6 Jeremy Hermida 442 63 21 3 15 53 36 107 5 0 .260 .330 .440 .057 .268 11.9
7 Mike Jacobs 361 46 17 2 23 63 22 86 1 0 .243 .288 .512 .074 .272 11.8
8 John Baker 80 10 2 0 4 14 12 19 0 0 .246 .367 .462 .137 .000 4.7
9 Luis Gonzalez 297 22 17 1 6 36 34 32 1 2 .259 .340 .402 .023 .263 4.5
10 Mark Hendrickson 36 4 2 1 0 1 1 21 0 0 .265 .286 .382 -.099 .232 4.5
11 Alfredo Amezaga 236 29 11 2 2 16 16 33 5 2 .270 .326 .367 -.043 .247 4.0
12 Josh Johnson 12 0 2 0 0 2 0 5 0 0 .273 .273 .455 -.018 .178 1.8
13 Scott Olsen 51 1 0 0 0 3 2 17 0 0 .186 .222 .186 -.523 .143 1.5
14 Renyel Pinto 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 .000 .500 .000 -.130 .282 0.5
15 Doug Waechter 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .167 .167 .167 -.661 .090 0.0
16 Lee Gardner 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 -1.243 -.233 -0.1
17 Justin Miller 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .000 .000 .000 -1.243 -.233 -0.1
18 Eulogio De La Cruz 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .000 .000 .000 -1.243 -.233 -0.1
19 Joe Nelson 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 -1.243 -.233 -0.1
20 Kevin Gregg 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .000 .000 .000 -1.243 -.233 -0.1
21 Jai Miller 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .000 .000 .000 -1.243 -.232 -0.3
22 Jason Wood 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 .000 .333 .000 -.521 .158 -0.3
23 Logan Kensing 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 -1.243 -.233 -0.3
24 Christopher Volstad 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 .125 .125 .125 -.820 .000 -0.3
25 Anibal Sanchez 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .000 .000 .000 -1.243 -.105 -0.4
26 Rick Vanden Hurk 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 .000 .000 .000 -1.243 .048 -0.7
27 Wes Helms 214 24 10 0 4 26 15 52 0 0 .247 .313 .363 -.088 .244 -0.8
28 Ryan Tucker 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 .000 .000 .000 -1.243 -.232 -1.0
29 Burke Badenhop 14 0 0 0 0 0 0 7 0 0 .083 .083 .083 -.963 -.143 -1.0
30 Robert Andino 66 7 2 0 2 9 4 23 0 0 .213 .262 .344 -.226 .208 -1.9
31 Matt Treanor 208 18 7 0 2 18 16 47 1 0 .240 .309 .311 -.166 .226 -2.1
32 Ricky Nolasco 47 1 0 0 0 1 2 23 0 0 .077 .122 .077 -.892 -.124 -2.7
33 Brett Carroll 17 1 0 1 0 1 1 6 0 0 .062 .118 .188 -.757 -.124 -2.7
34 Andrew Miller 32 1 0 0 0 3 0 16 0 0 .067 .067 .067 -1.019 -.183 -2.8
35 Paul Hoover 42 1 1 0 0 2 2 17 0 0 .200 .238 .225 -.443 .137 -3.2
36 Jacque Jones 44 5 0 0 0 2 6 8 0 0 .108 .227 .108 -.634 .065 -5.6
37 Mike Rabelo 122 9 1 0 3 10 8 25 0 1 .202 .256 .294 -.308 .192 -6.0

Pitchers by VORP Decreasing:  

Rank Player W L SV G GS IP H9 BB9 SO9 HR9 ERA SNLVAR WXRL Sorted Descending
VORP
1 Ricky Nolasco 11 6 0 24 22 142.7 8.52 2.14 7.38 1.26 3.91 2.9 0.129 21.9
2 Scott Olsen 6 6 0 23 23 142.0 8.24 3.30 4.94 1.33 3.87 2.9 0.000 15.7
3 Renyel Pinto 2 3 0 60 0 60.0 6.60 5.25 8.25 1.05 3.30 0.0 2.188 15.1
4 Kevin Gregg 6 4 24 53 0 52.0 6.40 4.85 7.62 0.17 2.42 0.0 2.220 14.2
5 Doug Waechter 3 2 0 38 0 56.0 7.39 3.05 6.91 0.96 3.38 0.0 1.052 10.5
6 Joe Nelson 2 1 0 34 0 31.0 6.97 4.06 11.03 0.58 1.74 0.0 0.133 10.4
7 Matt Lindstrom 1 1 0 43 0 37.7 9.32 4.30 7.65 0.00 3.35 0.0 0.879 8.5
8 Josh Johnson 2 0 0 5 5 29.7 10.01 3.64 6.98 0.91 3.34 0.9 0.000 7.8
9 Christopher Volstad 2 2 0 5 4 27.7 8.78 3.58 6.83 0.33 3.25 0.7 0.112 6.5
10 Logan Kensing 3 1 0 34 0 43.0 8.37 5.65 8.16 1.47 4.19 0.0 -0.490 6.4
11 Justin Miller 4 2 0 43 0 44.7 8.26 3.83 8.46 0.81 4.03 0.0 0.762 3.4
12 Anibal Sanchez 1 0 0 1 1 5.7 9.53 3.18 6.35 0.00 3.18 0.2 0.000 1.5
13 Arthur Rhodes 0 0 0 2 0 1.0 0.00 0.00 27.00 0.00 0.00 0.0 0.098 0.6
14 Rick Vanden Hurk 1 1 0 4 4 14.0 12.86 6.43 12.86 0.64 7.71 0.2 0.000 -3.5
15 Lee Gardner 0 0 0 7 0 6.7 18.90 5.40 5.40 2.70 10.80 0.0 -0.027 -4.2
16 Burke Badenhop 2 3 0 13 8 47.3 10.46 3.99 6.65 1.33 6.08 -0.4 0.051 -4.6
17 Taylor Tankersley 0 1 0 25 0 17.7 11.21 4.08 6.62 3.06 8.15 0.0 -0.371 -5.2
18 Eulogio De La Cruz 0 0 0 3 1 4.3 12.46 14.54 4.15 2.08 16.62 0.0 -0.019 -7.8
19 Andrew Miller 5 9 0 20 20 100.7 10.46 4.47 7.15 0.54 5.63 0.3 0.000 -9.1
20 Mark Hendrickson 7 8 0 23 19 115.3 10.30 3.36 5.38 1.33 5.93 -0.2 0.175 -10.5
21 Ryan Tucker 2 3 0 10 6 34.3 11.01 5.77 6.82 2.10 8.39 -0.3 -0.109 -11.0

Sources:  Wikipedia.com, Hardballtimes.com, Baseball Prospectus

August 6, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment