Tag:Cubs
Posted on: March 22, 2010 3:54 pm
 

2010-2011 Cubs revamp

I read a post on mlbtraderumors.com that discussed the future of the Cubs next season yesterday. It talked about how 2010 is really that last year of the Cubs team we have know for the past few years. It seems very likely that the 2011 Cubs will not include Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, or Ted Lilly. Now while i love those players i really believe it would be a good thing. We have been masivly handicapped by the big contracts of our aging stars who are now becoming more injury prone. I think it is highly doubtfull that A-Ram will make it through the season without another shoulder injury or Derrek Lee will not get neck spasms. Now dont get me wrong Derrek Lee is my favorite current cub player and he provides excellent leadership but if we want to win a world series any time soon we need to go with youth. We have several prospects waiting in the wings for spots and with Lee, Ramirez, and Lilly off the books we should have around $40 mill to play with. So if im Hendry this season i would look to move these players for prospects and to free up some salary, now i realize this would not be a popular move and i would only suggest it if we werent in serious contention but i think we need to step back and look to the longterm competitvness of the franchise rather than immediate success. The Cubs have been drafting much better talent and soon we should have some solid everyday players to build around with free-agent signings. I cant wait to see Starlin Castro playing SS, or Andrew Cashner in the rotation. I just am concerned that Jim Hendry is not going to realize that this is a transition period for the Cubs, a changing of the gaurd from the 2007 free agent splurge to a Cubs team similar to the Red Sox. The new ownership recognizes that the Cubs need to go that route and i think by 2011 we will see a very different Cubs team.
Posted on: March 16, 2010 10:16 pm
 

Back end of the rotation discussion

Well its been a little while since my last post (I have been getting into college hoops in preperation for the tournament.) but i wanted to dicuss the situation at the back end of the Cubs rotation. The Cubs have several options to fill 1, possibly 2 depending on Lilly's return. None of the options are outstanding and im not sure who i like better, but i think i know the order of who will get the spots. The most likely guy to earn the 5th/4th spot is Carlos Silva. The main reasons being, he has the most expierence, he is the highest paid, and he has looked the best. Although he dosnt project to be a big winner i think he could put up Jason Marquis like numbers up. Tom Gorzelanny is likely the next in line based on the fact that Sean Marshall is much better in relief and the Cubs have a shortage of expierenced relievers. Tom can be effective, and has some upside but had mixed results in his time in Chicago last season. Sean Marshall would definatly be the third, he has had some success as a starter but as i said before the Cubs are in desperate need of expierenced relievers. Another factor is that his ERA is almost a full point higher as a starter than in relief. Althogh Marshall is one of my favorite players (He's got one nasty curveball) the Cubs need him in relief. Jeff Samardzija is the last option for the spot, he has the talent but not the expierence or the arsenal of pitches. While he looked good at the end of 08' most of his success was attributed to his pure talent and the fact that nobody had seen him before. In 09' when they figured out he throws about 2 pitches they hammered him. Jeff needs to work on his repitoire and get another year of expierence in 10' and maybe he will be ready by the end of the season. Mike Parisi was another option i had heard about, but i have had a chance to see him so i cant evaluate him. But i havent heard anything to suggest he really is in the running for anything more than a middle relief role. And to anyone reading please tell me who you think should get the spot, i would love to hear everyones opinions on this topic.
Category: MLB
Posted on: March 4, 2010 8:58 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2010 9:00 pm
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Posted on: February 11, 2010 6:45 pm
 

My Official NL Central Preview

Its been a while since my last post ( I believe it was about the Cubs signing Xavier Nady) but that dosnt mean i havnt been working diligently on this post. I have been analyizing these numbers for weeks and looking at lots of projections. So here is a look at my 2010 Official NL Central Preview.

1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Chicago Cubs
3. Milwaukee Brewers
4. Cincinnati Reds
5. Houston Astros
6. Pittsburgh Pirates


Lets take a deeper look at all 6 teams, because even though most analysts believe the Cards will run away with it im not convinced. Anyone in the top 4 spots could legitamitly when this division.

1. St. Louis Cardinals

Departed (notable players)- Rick Akiel, Mark DeRosa, Troy Glaus, Joel Pineiro, Brad Thompson
Aquired- Rich Hill, Brad Penny

The Cards were a mediocre team at the start of the 2009 season, but a midseason trade for Matt Holliday changed everything. Now the Cardnials have ascended to the upper echelon of NL teams with the likes of Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Their rotation is headlined by 2 terrific Aces in Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. Recently aquired Brad Penny will look to fill Joel Pineiro's shoes and become another one of Dave Duncans reclamation projects. Outside of those 3 the rotation has a lot of questions, wil Kyle Lohse bounce back, and who will be the fifth starter. The Infield is pretty solid with Albert Pujols anchoring it at first. There can be no argument that Pujols is the best player in the majors right now. Skip Schumaker ande Brendan Ryan make up the middle infield, both are farily good contact hitters, but they dont blow you away considering the other talent in the division. The biggest question mark for the Cards infield is David Freese, it looks like they are going to give him a shot, hopefully he can perform better than Colby Rasmus did last year. The outfield is definatly one of the Cardinals strong points with Matt Holliday the anchor there. Holliday, like Pujols is one of the premier players in the league forming one of, if not the best 1-2 punch in the National League. Coby Rasmus will man center field, although his rookie season wasnt great he still provides good defense (according to UZR stats) and is developing offensivly. And in right field Ryan Ludwick will continue to mash, he may not be as good as he was 2 seasons ago he is good at protecting Holliday and Pujols. Overall the Cardinals are a very balanced team, they arnt very deep so if they sustain some injuries things could go downhill. But as of right now statisticly speaking they should win this division.

2. Chicago Cubs

Departed- Milton Bradley, Jake Fox, Kevin Gregg, Rich Harden, Aaron Heilman, Reed Johnson, Aaron Miles, Neal Cotts
Aquired- Marlon Byrd, Jeff Gray, Bryan LaHair, Chad Tracy, Kevin Millar, Xavier Nady, Mike Parisi, Carlos Silva

The Cubs were supposed to win this division last season, but due to a ridiculous amount of injuries, down years for star players, and the chaos that Milton Bradley created they came in second. Although there have been some changes, this team is very similar to the one that had the best record in the NL in 08. The rotation is headlined by underachieving Ace Carlos Zambrano (Im not sure i can even call him an ace anymore), Ted Lilly (Although he will be out for the first month), and Ryan Dempster. Randy Wells should be the #4 starter and the #5 spot is open to several pitchers although Tom Gorzelanny is the favorite. Zambrano has struggled the past few seasons due to his immaturity and injuries. But he has apparently slimmed down and is much more focused so look for a bounce back season from him. The Bullpen while not great has some interesting peices that could make it a good unit. Marmol is the big question mark, how will he be able to handle the pressure of being the full time closer. He looked good at the end of last season, but he is wild and when he dosnt have his command he is useless. John Grabow, Angel Guzman, Sean Marshall, Jeff Gray, Carlos Silva, and Esmailin Caridad make up the rest of their projected bullpen. The infield is a strength with 09's top Cubs performer Derrek Lee at first, and the always consistent Aramis Ramirez at 3rd (when healthy). The middle infield is mediocre but servicable, with The Riot at short, and Jeff Baker/Mike Fontenot at 2B. Although in the near future a shift to 2b for Theriot looks likely as his defense is better there and Starlin Castro is on his way. The Cubs are really hoping that 08' Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto returns to form. The outfiled is improved but not great with the dissapointing and often injured Alfonso Soriano in LF. Marlon Byrd came from Texas to play CF and should provide solid but unspectacular numbers. And Kosuke Fukudome playing solid defense in RF and probably platooning with Xavier Nady. If former Texas hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo can get the Cubs hitters to return they should be real close to the Cardinals and a mid season trade for a star could push them into the playoffs.

3. Milwaukee Brewers

Departed- Mike Cameron, JJ Hardy, Jason Kendall, Seth McClung, Mike Rivera, Felipe Lopez, Braden Looper
Aquired- Doug Davis, Jim Edmonds, LaTroy Hawkins, Randy Wolf, Greg Zaun, Carlos Gomez

The Brewers have the best offense in the division by far. But their pitching may be the worst which is what has held them back. They have aquired some talent to help bolster that with the additions of Randy Wolf and Doug Davis, but neither are star pitchers that can carry a team on their shoulders. They are innings eaters, Yovani Gallardo is the teams ace, but he is vey young and having to carry a team on your shoulders at a young age is tough. Their pitching will be better than in 08' but not enough to overcome the Cubs or Cardinals. The Pen is also improved with the additon of LaTroy Hawkins they now have a solid setup man who can help Trevor Hoffman. But Hoffman is getting up their in years and Hawkins has dissapointed before so dont count on them. The pitching still isnt thier but they have enough offensive peices that they could trade for a pitcher midseason. The Infield is held together by one of the best firstbaseman in the league in Prince Fielder. He is a big bopper who can hit for good contact, and Casey McGhee was solid at 3rd last year. The middle infield is talented with the youngster Alcides Escobar at short and Ricke Weeks, but Escobar only has 125 AB of major league expierence and Weeks is coming off a big injury. The Outfield is solid with Ryan Braun in LF, he may be one of the best LF in all of baseball. Corey Hart is a solid RF, and Carlos Gomez will replace Cameron in CF. Greg Zaun is an upgrade at Catcher from the ancient Jason Kendall. This is a solid team that should be in the division race and should finish over .500 but i think they need a young arm to step up or they need to trade for one. If they do that then i think they have a legitimate shot at the division title.

4. Cincinnati Reds

Departed- Willy Taveras, Adam Rosales
Aquired- Orlando Cabrera, Aroldis Chapman, Aaron Miles, Josh Anderson

The Reds seem on the verge of becoming a very good team, but i am still a litte sceptical thats why i put them this low. They very well could be a spot or two up but there are a lot of variables for that to happen. Plus the Reds always seem to look decent on paper but not be able to put it together. The rotation is decent, Bronson Arroyo has been very reliable and was great in the second half last season. Harrang has not been the same since he pitched in relief in 08' and continues to put up abismal statistics despite a decent ERA. Johnny Cueto looks like he could be a star and Homer Bailey finally started to put it all together last September. Both of them will need to have good seasons for the Reds to be competitve. The #5 spot may be filled by Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, but he is a young lefty and sometimes those guys take a while to reach their potential. He is their biggest future prospect as he has been compared to Randy Johnson. Francisco Cordero has been a solid closer although the Reds are looking to dump his salary since it makes up a significant portion of their limited payroll. Even without him, the Reds have one of the better bullpens in baseball. The Infield is a strong point for the Reds with a really good 1B in Joey Votto and veteran Scott Rolen at the corners. Up the middle former gold glover and steady veteran Orlando Cabrera is at short, and perenial All-Star Brandon Phillips is at 2B. Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hannigan play solidly at Catcher. The Outfield has some questions, will former top prospect Jay Bruce bounce back from a dissapointing sophmore season? Is rookie Drew Stubbs the answer in CF? Will Chris Dickerson start in LF? They have some good players with good potential and they will have to live up to it if they want to compete for the divison. This could be a very good team, and as i said before they have a ton of potential but potential doesnt win the divison. This is a team that will have to grow up this season, but this is a team on the rise and will be good for some time.

5. Pittsburgh Pirates

Departed- Brian Bixler, Matt Capps, Jesse Chavez, Robinson Diaz
Aquired- Neal Cotts, Ryan Church, Bobby Crosby, Brendan Donnelly, Octavio Dotel, Akinori Iwamura, Javier Lopez

This is my bold prediction for 2010, the Pirates will not finish in the division cellar. I think the Pirates are on the rise, although they are no where near being competitive i think they are a team that can win 70-75 games. But this perdictions doesnt necesserily reflect on the Pirates being that much better, but that the Astros are worse. The Pirates rotation is nothing to brag about but there are some interesting arms there. Paul Maholm is their top pitcher although he has been dissapointing, Zach Duke is a solid middle of the rotation guy, but he could get traded. Ross Ohlendorf suprised some people, but im not sold on his performance. The back of the rotation is likely going to consist of Charlie Morton who was effective in Atlanta, Kevin Hart who came over from Chicago in the Grabow, Gorzelanny deal. The bullpen has been put together out of unwanted pieces from other teams. They could be succesful, but it is hard to predict relief pitchers. Octavio should be the closer, although i think the eventual goal is for Joel Hanrahan to close. The infield doesnt have any stars but some solid pieces, Garrett Jones will probably play first, he burst onto the scene last season and the Pirates are hoping for a repeat performance. Andy LaRoche is playing 3rd although he is nothing more than a place holder for the Pirates future star Pedro Alvarez. Recently aquired Akinori Iwamura will man 2nd, and Ronny Cedeno and Bobby Crosby will battle for the starting shortstop gig. While they are nothing special they have a lot of depth at the positions and some farm help on the way. The outfield has the most potential, former top prospect Lastings Millidge will play in LF and he played well after coming over from Washington. If he can play to the potential that he was said to have the Pirates will have a solid LF. Andrew McCutchen will look to improve upon his outstanding rookie season and play CF for the full season. Ryan Church will most likely start in RF, while he may not put up great numbers he is a solid player. The Pirates also have some depth here with Brandon Moss, and former top prospect Steve Pearce. This team may lack superstars (although one is on the way, and McCutchen may become one) they have more overall talent than the Astros do.

6. Houston Astros

Departed- LaTroy Hawkins, Miguel Tejada, Jose Valverde, Doug Brocail (Retired), Chris Coste
Aquired- Pedro Feliz, Brandon Lyon, Brett Myers, Matt Lindstrom

The Astros have really gone down hill since that 2005 world series appearance. They used to be one of the best teams in the National League, but i think poor managment has put them in a position to fall out of the competition for some time. They have not clearly defined their direction, wether they are rebuilding or contending. Their recent aquisitions have not convinced me that they are improving. The rotation is relying on the return of the dominant Roy Oswalt, he did not look very good last season (I know cause he was on my fantasy baseball team). They discovered they have a solid arm in Wandy Rodriguez and they are hoping Brett Myers can give them a solid #3 starter. But after that there is a significant dropoff, Brian Moehler will probably start along with youngster Bud Norris, neither of them impress me and there is not any help after them. The bullpen is somewhat restructered, replacing LaTroy Hawkins and Jose Valverde with Matt Lindstrom and Brandon Lyon. Aparently they want Lindstrom to close, he has been great in the past and has a great fastball but he will have to bounce back from an awfull season. Brandon Lyon is about equal to LaTroy Hawkins in my eyes, maybe a bit worse. The infield has some nice pieces, with the consistent Lance Berkman (although he had a down year last year), Pedro Feliz is at the other corner, he plays solid defense but dosnt offer much in offense anymore. Kaz Matsui will play 2nd and youngster Tommy Manzella will likely start at short. Manzella dosnt really project to contribut much and Matsui is very average. The outfield is the Astros strength with another consistent player in Carlos Lee in LF. Michael Bourne leads off and plays CF, but outside of steals he is very average (Most believe his 09' BA is a mirage and he will hit more in the .250-.260 range). Hunter Pence is another solid outfielder in RF, he will put up a solid .280-25-90 stat line. The Astros dont have a ton of depth so injuries will be a killer. They could finish ahead of the Pirates but that is their ceiling in 10'. Sorry Astros fans but i dont see them getting better anytime soon, they need to get that farm system going if they want to get better.



Posted on: February 11, 2010 6:45 pm
 

My Official NL Central Preview

Its been a while since my last post ( I believe it was about the Cubs signing Xavier Nady) but that dosnt mean i havnt been working diligently on this post. I have been analyizing these numbers for weeks and looking at lots of projections. So here is a look at my 2010 Official NL Central Preview.

1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Chicago Cubs
3. Milwaukee Brewers
4. Cincinnati Reds
5. Houston Astros
6. Pittsburgh Pirates


Lets take a deeper look at all 6 teams, because even though most analysts believe the Cards will run away with it im not convinced. Anyone in the top 4 spots could legitamitly when this division.

1. St. Louis Cardinals

Departed (notable players)- Rick Akiel, Mark DeRosa, Troy Glaus, Joel Pineiro, Brad Thompson
Aquired- Rich Hill, Brad Penny

The Cards were a mediocre team at the start of the 2009 season, but a midseason trade for Matt Holliday changed everything. Now the Cardnials have ascended to the upper echelon of NL teams with the likes of Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Their rotation is headlined by 2 terrific Aces in Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. Recently aquired Brad Penny will look to fill Joel Pineiro's shoes and become another one of Dave Duncans reclamation projects. Outside of those 3 the rotation has a lot of questions, wil Kyle Lohse bounce back, and who will be the fifth starter. The Infield is pretty solid with Albert Pujols anchoring it at first. There can be no argument that Pujols is the best player in the majors right now. Skip Schumaker ande Brendan Ryan make up the middle infield, both are farily good contact hitters, but they dont blow you away considering the other talent in the division. The biggest question mark for the Cards infield is David Freese, it looks like they are going to give him a shot, hopefully he can perform better than Colby Rasmus did last year. The outfield is definatly one of the Cardinals strong points with Matt Holliday the anchor there. Holliday, like Pujols is one of the premier players in the league forming one of, if not the best 1-2 punch in the National League. Coby Rasmus will man center field, although his rookie season wasnt great he still provides good defense (according to UZR stats) and is developing offensivly. And in right field Ryan Ludwick will continue to mash, he may not be as good as he was 2 seasons ago he is good at protecting Holliday and Pujols. Overall the Cardinals are a very balanced team, they arnt very deep so if they sustain some injuries things could go downhill. But as of right now statisticly speaking they should win this division.

2. Chicago Cubs

Departed- Milton Bradley, Jake Fox, Kevin Gregg, Rich Harden, Aaron Heilman, Reed Johnson, Aaron Miles, Neal Cotts
Aquired- Marlon Byrd, Jeff Gray, Bryan LaHair, Chad Tracy, Kevin Millar, Xavier Nady, Mike Parisi, Carlos Silva

The Cubs were supposed to win this division last season, but due to a ridiculous amount of injuries, down years for star players, and the chaos that Milton Bradley created they came in second. Although there have been some changes, this team is very similar to the one that had the best record in the NL in 08. The rotation is headlined by underachieving Ace Carlos Zambrano (Im not sure i can even call him an ace anymore), Ted Lilly (Although he will be out for the first month), and Ryan Dempster. Randy Wells should be the #4 starter and the #5 spot is open to several pitchers although Tom Gorzelanny is the favorite. Zambrano has struggled the past few seasons due to his immaturity and injuries. But he has apparently slimmed down and is much more focused so look for a bounce back season from him. The Bullpen while not great has some interesting peices that could make it a good unit. Marmol is the big question mark, how will he be able to handle the pressure of being the full time closer. He looked good at the end of last season, but he is wild and when he dosnt have his command he is useless. John Grabow, Angel Guzman, Sean Marshall, Jeff Gray, Carlos Silva, and Esmailin Caridad make up the rest of their projected bullpen. The infield is a strength with 09's top Cubs performer Derrek Lee at first, and the always consistent Aramis Ramirez at 3rd (when healthy). The middle infield is mediocre but servicable, with The Riot at short, and Jeff Baker/Mike Fontenot at 2B. Although in the near future a shift to 2b for Theriot looks likely as his defense is better there and Starlin Castro is on his way. The Cubs are really hoping that 08' Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto returns to form. The outfiled is improved but not great with the dissapointing and often injured Alfonso Soriano in LF. Marlon Byrd came from Texas to play CF and should provide solid but unspectacular numbers. And Kosuke Fukudome playing solid defense in RF and probably platooning with Xavier Nady. If former Texas hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo can get the Cubs hitters to return they should be real close to the Cardinals and a mid season trade for a star could push them into the playoffs.

3. Milwaukee Brewers

Departed- Mike Cameron, JJ Hardy, Jason Kendall, Seth McClung, Mike Rivera, Felipe Lopez, Braden Looper
Aquired- Doug Davis, Jim Edmonds, LaTroy Hawkins, Randy Wolf, Greg Zaun, Carlos Gomez

The Brewers have the best offense in the division by far. But their pitching may be the worst which is what has held them back. They have aquired some talent to help bolster that with the additions of Randy Wolf and Doug Davis, but neither are star pitchers that can carry a team on their shoulders. They are innings eaters, Yovani Gallardo is the teams ace, but he is vey young and having to carry a team on your shoulders at a young age is tough. Their pitching will be better than in 08' but not enough to overcome the Cubs or Cardinals. The Pen is also improved with the additon of LaTroy Hawkins they now have a solid setup man who can help Trevor Hoffman. But Hoffman is getting up their in years and Hawkins has dissapointed before so dont count on them. The pitching still isnt thier but they have enough offensive peices that they could trade for a pitcher midseason. The Infield is held together by one of the best firstbaseman in the league in Prince Fielder. He is a big bopper who can hit for good contact, and Casey McGhee was solid at 3rd last year. The middle infield is talented with the youngster Alcides Escobar at short and Ricke Weeks, but Escobar only has 125 AB of major league expierence and Weeks is coming off a big injury. The Outfield is solid with Ryan Braun in LF, he may be one of the best LF in all of baseball. Corey Hart is a solid RF, and Carlos Gomez will replace Cameron in CF. Greg Zaun is an upgrade at Catcher from the ancient Jason Kendall. This is a solid team that should be in the division race and should finish over .500 but i think they need a young arm to step up or they need to trade for one. If they do that then i think they have a legitimate shot at the division title.

4. Cincinnati Reds

Departed- Willy Taveras, Adam Rosales
Aquired- Orlando Cabrera, Aroldis Chapman, Aaron Miles, Josh Anderson

The Reds seem on the verge of becoming a very good team, but i am still a litte sceptical thats why i put them this low. They very well could be a spot or two up but there are a lot of variables for that to happen. Plus the Reds always seem to look decent on paper but not be able to put it together. The rotation is decent, Bronson Arroyo has been very reliable and was great in the second half last season. Harrang has not been the same since he pitched in relief in 08' and continues to put up abismal statistics despite a decent ERA. Johnny Cueto looks like he could be a star and Homer Bailey finally started to put it all together last September. Both of them will need to have good seasons for the Reds to be competitve. The #5 spot may be filled by Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, but he is a young lefty and sometimes those guys take a while to reach their potential. He is their biggest future prospect as he has been compared to Randy Johnson. Francisco Cordero has been a solid closer although the Reds are looking to dump his salary since it makes up a significant portion of their limited payroll. Even without him, the Reds have one of the better bullpens in baseball. The Infield is a strong point for the Reds with a really good 1B in Joey Votto and veteran Scott Rolen at the corners. Up the middle former gold glover and steady veteran Orlando Cabrera is at short, and perenial All-Star Brandon Phillips is at 2B. Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hannigan play solidly at Catcher. The Outfield has some questions, will former top prospect Jay Bruce bounce back from a dissapointing sophmore season? Is rookie Drew Stubbs the answer in CF? Will Chris Dickerson start in LF? They have some good players with good potential and they will have to live up to it if they want to compete for the divison. This could be a very good team, and as i said before they have a ton of potential but potential doesnt win the divison. This is a team that will have to grow up this season, but this is a team on the rise and will be good for some time.

5. Pittsburgh Pirates

Departed- Brian Bixler, Matt Capps, Jesse Chavez, Robinson Diaz
Aquired- Neal Cotts, Ryan Church, Bobby Crosby, Brendan Donnelly, Octavio Dotel, Akinori Iwamura, Javier Lopez

This is my bold prediction for 2010, the Pirates will not finish in the division cellar. I think the Pirates are on the rise, although they are no where near being competitive i think they are a team that can win 70-75 games. But this perdictions doesnt necesserily reflect on the Pirates being that much better, but that the Astros are worse. The Pirates rotation is nothing to brag about but there are some interesting arms there. Paul Maholm is their top pitcher although he has been dissapointing, Zach Duke is a solid middle of the rotation guy, but he could get traded. Ross Ohlendorf suprised some people, but im not sold on his performance. The back of the rotation is likely going to consist of Charlie Morton who was effective in Atlanta, Kevin Hart who came over from Chicago in the Grabow, Gorzelanny deal. The bullpen has been put together out of unwanted pieces from other teams. They could be succesful, but it is hard to predict relief pitchers. Octavio should be the closer, although i think the eventual goal is for Joel Hanrahan to close. The infield doesnt have any stars but some solid pieces, Garrett Jones will probably play first, he burst onto the scene last season and the Pirates are hoping for a repeat performance. Andy LaRoche is playing 3rd although he is nothing more than a place holder for the Pirates future star Pedro Alvarez. Recently aquired Akinori Iwamura will man 2nd, and Ronny Cedeno and Bobby Crosby will battle for the starting shortstop gig. While they are nothing special they have a lot of depth at the positions and some farm help on the way. The outfield has the most potential, former top prospect Lastings Millidge will play in LF and he played well after coming over from Washington. If he can play to the potential that he was said to have the Pirates will have a solid LF. Andrew McCutchen will look to improve upon his outstanding rookie season and play CF for the full season. Ryan Church will most likely start in RF, while he may not put up great numbers he is a solid player. The Pirates also have some depth here with Brandon Moss, and former top prospect Steve Pearce. This team may lack superstars (although one is on the way, and McCutchen may become one) they have more overall talent than the Astros do.

6. Houston Astros

Departed- LaTroy Hawkins, Miguel Tejada, Jose Valverde, Doug Brocail (Retired), Chris Coste
Aquired- Pedro Feliz, Brandon Lyon, Brett Myers, Matt Lindstrom

The Astros have really gone down hill since that 2005 world series appearance. They used to be one of the best teams in the National League, but i think poor managment has put them in a position to fall out of the competition for some time. They have not clearly defined their direction, wether they are rebuilding or contending. Their recent aquisitions have not convinced me that they are improving. The rotation is relying on the return of the dominant Roy Oswalt, he did not look very good last season (I know cause he was on my fantasy baseball team). They discovered they have a solid arm in Wandy Rodriguez and they are hoping Brett Myers can give them a solid #3 starter. But after that there is a significant dropoff, Brian Moehler will probably start along with youngster Bud Norris, neither of them impress me and there is not any help after them. The bullpen is somewhat restructered, replacing LaTroy Hawkins and Jose Valverde with Matt Lindstrom and Brandon Lyon. Aparently they want Lindstrom to close, he has been great in the past and has a great fastball but he will have to bounce back from an awfull season. Brandon Lyon is about equal to LaTroy Hawkins in my eyes, maybe a bit worse. The infield has some nice pieces, with the consistent Lance Berkman (although he had a down year last year), Pedro Feliz is at the other corner, he plays solid defense but dosnt offer much in offense anymore. Kaz Matsui will play 2nd and youngster Tommy Manzella will likely start at short. Manzella dosnt really project to contribut much and Matsui is very average. The outfield is the Astros strength with another consistent player in Carlos Lee in LF. Michael Bourne leads off and plays CF, but outside of steals he is very average (Most believe his 09' BA is a mirage and he will hit more in the .250-.260 range). Hunter Pence is another solid outfielder in RF, he will put up a solid .280-25-90 stat line. The Astros dont have a ton of depth so injuries will be a killer. They could finish ahead of the Pirates but that is their ceiling in 10'. Sorry Astros fans but i dont see them getting better anytime soon, they need to get that farm system going if they want to get better.



Posted on: January 27, 2010 7:12 pm
 

Xavier Nady signs with the Cubs

Well we had been hearing that the Cubs were going to sign a 4th outfielder soon and they finally did yesterday with the signing of Xavier Nady. The former Yankee, Pirate, Met and Padre signed a 1 year deal worth of 3 mill. I had heard a lot of names thrown out there, Johnny Gomes, Reed Johnson, and several others but i think i am the most satisfied with Nady. I really think he compliments Fukudome well in RF. Fukudome is atrotious against lefties, hitting under .200 against them last season. Nady on the other hand has hit over or close to .300 against lefties every year but 2008. Many fans will be dissappointed that they didnt bring Reed Johnson back, but Pinella wanted another RBI guy in the lineup and Nady fills the bill there. Nady is a better all around hitter than Reed although he might not be as fun to watch in the field. If his arm is fully recovered from surgery he also has a pretty good throwing arm. And of course the best thing is that he is a good clubhouse guy, which is what the Cubs need. They are a veteran team made up of good guys. I think this move really solidifies their outfield and a middle reliever is really the only other piece they need to add. I think the Cubs could really fly under the radar this season and make some noise, but they'll probably have to make some midseason aquisitions. But all in all i like Xavier Nady and i like this move by the Cubs.
Category: MLB
Posted on: January 9, 2010 1:41 pm
 

A look at the NL Central

About a week ago i started putting together some stats and began working on my MLB Preview. I wont post that on here until March, but i thought i would give you a look at what i think the NL Central is going to look like based on the moves made thus far in the offseason. Lets talk about the big moves that have been made first. Lets start with the Cardinals.

St. Louis Cardinals-

Right now i would have to say that they are in the best shape to win the division this season. They have probably the 2 best hitters in the division and 2 aces at the top of their rotation. They signed Matt Holliday to a mega deal that will be paying him through 2029, and that will keep him in St. Louis for the next 7 years. The problem i have with that deal ( And everyone else who analyizes baseball) is that between what Holliday is getting, and what Pujols will get is going to eat half of their payroll for the next 7 years. I dont see how they will be able to re-sign their younger stars, or aquire other players to build around the franchise players. Plus their farm system is not very deep, so yes they will have the 2 best players in the division but outside of those two the teams that the Cardinals will fielding for the next 7 years may not be as deep as the others. Also i think this will hurt them in the post-season. Depth is the key in the post-season, because if you only have 2 guys who can hit what happens if they go cold in the playoffs, then you dont have any hitting. Anyways i just think that in the long term this hurts them. But right now they should have a fairly easy ride to the post season.

Chicago Cubs-

They go rid of Milton Bradley, and they signed Marlon Byrd to play center. I liked those 2 moves for a couple of reasons. First getting rid of Bradley may seem like a waste of money. But he really destroyed the team chemistry, which was the key to their success in 07, and 08. Plus he was an average outfielder at best, and an injury risk. Now what we got in return may not be that much (Some cash and Carlos Silva), but its only a short term problem. Carlos Silva may actualy be some what decent in Chicago. He is sinker ball pitcher, which they tend to succedd in Wrigley, and he has pitched better in the National League in his career. Most likely he will be a long reliever with the potential to be the #5 starter, but the Cubs have better options there. With Marlon Byrd the Cubs get a club house leader, an average defender and a solid #5 hitter (or so Jaramillo says). The part i like the best about this move is that it will move Fukudome back into RF where he plays exeptional defense. The Cubs have made several other small moves (Tradng Jake Fox and Aaron Miles for Jeff Gray and prospects, and aquiring Bryan LaHair). But they are mostly counting on former Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo to get their hitters to rebound from a sub par season in 09. The Cubs in my opinion are in a minor rebuilding faze, they are trying to develop their minor league talent, which had been desimated by trades earlier in the decade. If they can get the minors producing some solid major league talent they may let some of their older players go. But right now the Cubs are still contendors for the division.

Millwaukee Brewers-

They traded JJ Hardy to the Twins for Carlos Gomez, signed Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins and Gregg Zaun. The Brewers problem is not offense, but they have lacked pitching depth for years. Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf are going to have to carry this pitching staff. They really need another starter or 2, the bullpen is okay with Hoffman still closing games out and Hawikins should be a decent set up guy. But their pitching ranks near the bottom of the division in talent. But they have probably the best offense in the division. WIth sluggers Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun in the middle of the order, and youngster Alcides Escobar should make an impact as the leadoff hitter and short stop of the future. The Brewers are a well balanced team on offense but their pitching (as always) may hold them back from making the playoffs.

Cincinnati Reds-

They havent really made any big moves besides extending Scott Rolen for 3 years. I really didnt understand that move. For a small market team to go ahead and committ to a 35 year old, injury prone third baseman. Rolen is a good defender and can still hit for average, but his power is a shadow of its former self. Outside of a couple of veterans this is a very young team. Their young talent will have to step up if they want to have any shot at contending this year. Joey Votto has already proved that he is rock solid at first and should put up great numbers as the #3 hitter. Jay Bruce needs to hit for better contact, but he has goobs of talent, and Drew Stubbs and Chris Dickerson look primed to man the other outfield spots. Brandon Phillips has been a mainstain at second posting 20-20 numbers consistently in his career in Cincinnati. The pitching staff also has some promise with young stars in Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey (altough they Bailey was dissapointing until late last season). They also have to veteran pitchers, Homer Bailey who has been very effective since his arival to cincinnati, and Aaron Harrang who has struggled that past 2 seasons. The rotation needs some work, but the bullpen has been solid and Fransico Cordero has been great as thier closer. The Reds have a lot of prospects on the way also. Maybe those prospects can be turned into trades to help improve this club. The Reds may be able to compete but i still think they are a few years away.

Pittsburgh Pirates-

Earlier in the offseason they aquired Akinori Iwamura to man second, they signed Javier Lopez for the pen, but those moves have been the most interesting. The Pirates have been rebuilding for years, but i really feel that they are moving in the right direction. They have a great up and coming Center Fielder in Andrew McCutchen, a great prospect at third in Pedro Alvarez (probably wont come up until mid-season). They have some interestin starters, Charlie Morton, Ross Ohlendorf, Zach Duke, and Paul Maholm. They have an interestin closer prospect in Joel Hanrahan and a break out outfielder in Garrett Jones. Really this is a team that will slowly get better as the prospects arrive. Until then they have no chance at the playoffs although i think they are about as good as the Astros are right now.

Houston Astros-

They aquired closer Matt Lindstrom and reliever Brandon Lyon, and signed starter Brett Myers. They have 2-3 proven starters, and one interesting prospect. Their bullpen may be alright with Lindstrom and Lyon. And their offense still has some stars in Carlos Lee, Lance Berkman, Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn. But they are in a slow decline, they have almost no prospects that should have any impact on the major league level outside of catching prospect Jason Castro. Their rotation is old and in decline, and outside of Bourn and Pence so is thier offense. They Astros may be the next team in the central that sits in the cellar for a while.
Posted on: January 1, 2010 10:40 pm
 

MLB- Past Decade In Review

Now that another decade has come and gone i figured it was time to take a look at how each baseball franchise has faired over this past decade. This morning i went on to baseball-reference.com and poured over statistics for several hours and compiled a list ranking every franchise in order of their success this decade. The top 4-5 are pretty obvious, but the lower rankings were tougher and are partially my opinion.

1. New York Yankees - No real suprise here, they started and ended the decade with World Series titles. Appearing in the playoffs every year except 2008, they have been the dominant franchise over the past 10 years.

2. Boston Red Sox - These 2 teams from the AL East have really dominated baseball this decade, the Red Sox finally broke their curse and went on to win 2 World Series titles. They have created a steady foundation to be competitive for the next decade also.

3. St. Louis Cardinals - They have been the dominant franchise of the NL, making 7 post-season apperances and win a World Series title. The Cardinals dominance has been highlighted mainly by the emergence of one of the greatest baseball players of a generation in Albert Pujols.

4. Los Angeles Angels - It has become a common occurence to see the Angels in the post-season. They won the first World Series title in 2002, and have accended to the top as one of the dominant franchises in the league.

5. Atlanta Braves - Although the Braves are considered the team of the 90's they have still been very succesfull in the 00's. They made 6 post season appearences and have recently begun to get back to their formula of dominant pitching. Look for them to see even more success in the coming decade.

6. Chicago White Sox - The White Sox also broke their curse in this decade, winning their first World Series title since 1917 in 2005. They made 3 post-season appearences and have thrived under the leadership of manager Ozzie Guillen.

7. Philadelphia Phillies- They slowly built themselves up over the corse of the decade to the point that now they have back to back World Series appereances one of which they won. They have created a model of success that many teams are going to try and repeat.

8. Oakland Athletics- They started off the decade with 4 straigth post-season apperances and made another in 2006. They have struggled lately, but they have one of the best GM's in baseball in Billy Beane.

9. Los Angeles Dodgers- They have had a winning record every year except the 2005 season, and have made the post-season 4 times. Most recently, under the guidance of Joe Torre they have made it to the NLCS in back to back years with a youthfull roster that should dominate for years to come.

10. Minnesota Twins- They have only had 2 losing seasons over the course of the decade and have appeared in the playoffs 5 times. They have been in constant competition with the White Sox through out the decade.

11. Arizona Diamondbacks- Only 3 years old when the decade began the Diamondback franchise has seen it ups and downs throughout its short life. They started off the decade very well, winning the World Series in 2001 with the dominant dou of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. They have eratic the second half of the decade though.

12. Houston Astros- Since the NL Central was first formed the Astros and Cardinals have been the main competitors for the division (Although the Cubs have taken their place as of late). They were great the first half of the decade, culminating in an NL Pennant in 2005, but have faded in the second half.

13. San Francisco Giants- The Giants were another team that started the decade strong earning the NL Pennant in 2002. But struggled mightly in the second half, failing to win more than 76 games from 2004-2008. But with the arrival of stars such as Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Pablo Sandoval they showed promise in 2009.

14. Florida Marlins - They havnt been flashy, only making the post-season once, but they made it count winning the franchises 2nd World Series title in 2003. They have managed to stay competitve through out the decade with a small fanbase and budget.

15. Chicago Cubs- Another decade has gone, and the curse still remains. THe first half of the decade they were erratic, although in 2003 they came within a game of winning the NL Pennant. Most of their success came in the last 3 years of the decade, with 2 post season apperances and 3 straight winning season the Cubs may break the curse in the next decade.

16. Seattle Mariners- The first four years were great, with 2 post season appearances and a 116 win season in 2001. But they also had 3 season with fewer than 70 wins. They have looked better near the end of the decade although Ichiro is starting to slow down ( Only in speed, he still collects 200 hits a season).

17. New York Mets- They started the decade off with the Subway series (Although they lost to the Yankees). But since then they have only made 1 post-season apperances. The latter half of the decade has been defined by end of the season collapse, and the team self destructed in 2009. The future is uncertain for the Mets.

18. Cleveland Indians- The late 90's were good for the Indians, but the 00's were not as good. They only made 2 post-season apperances, although they did have four seasons of 90 or more wins. 07 showed promise winning 96 games and making it to the NLCS but their record worsened in 08, and 09.

19. Colorado Rockies- The young franchise struggled for most of the decade. Until in 2007 they won the NL Pennant, losing to the Red Sox in the World Series. They had a down year in 08', but made the playoffs again in 09'. The next decade holds a lot of promise for the Rockies.

20. San Diego Padres- They have struggled for most of the decade, with only 4 winning seasons from 2004-2007 during that span they managed to make the post-season twice and never made it past the NLDS.

21. Detroit Tigers- The first half of the decade the Tigers were awfull, in 2003 they posted their worst record going 43-119. But in 2006 they came out of no where to win the AL Pennant, and have posted winning records 3 out of the last 4 years, although only 1 post-season appearance.

22. Toronto Blue Jays- The Blue Jays could go higher on this list if it werent for the fact that they did not make the post-season at all this past decade. They havnt been bad, but they have played in a very tough division with the Yankees and Red Sox the top 2 teams of the decade. They have posted a winning record 5 times in the decade.

23. Texas Rangers- The Rangers have been a mediocre team most of the decade, never losing more than 91 games in a season in the decade. They have only had 2 winning seasons and did not make the post-season at all this decade.

24. Millwaukee Brewers- The Brewers have been succesfull recently, but the earlier part of the decade they were awfull, posting their worst season in 2002 going 56-106. But in 2008 they made the playoffs for the first time since 1982 and the Franchise looks poised to be a contender in the next decade.

25. Tampa Bay Rays- I guess the name change from Devil Rays to Rays turned the franchise around (LOL). Up until 2008 they had never won more than 70 games in a season. They sure turned around fast going from having 10 straight losing seasons (from 98-07) to winning the AL Pennant. They were not as good in 09 but still had a winning record.

26. Cincinnati Reds- They started the decade off with a winning season, but have failed to have one since. While they have not been awfull they havent done much right either. There are some signs of hope for the next decade though.

27. Washington Nationals- Im including the Expos in this analysis. They have had 3 winning seasons, but they did not make the post-season at all in this decade. They had 2 consecutive 100 loss seasons to end the decade and they are still a while away for contention in the next decade.

28. Kansas City Royals- Although they have the worst record of the decade i still rate them higher than the other 2 because they haeg had a winning record as recently as 2003. The other 2 franchises are on record long losing streaks.

29. Baltimore Orioles- Their last winning record was in 97' and they have failed to win win more than 78 games in the decade. Their are signs of life and they have the potential to break out of thier drout in the next decade.

30. Pittsburgh Pirates- It is well known that the Pirates are on a streak of 17 consecutive losing seasons. This past decade they were especially bad winning more than 72 games only once (75 in 2003). They are in a complete rebuilding process and it may take a while to break that streak.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com