Posted on: July 31, 2010 6:51 pm

Deadline recap and analysis

Well the 2010 MLB trade deadline is officially in the books and it was a rather tame one to say the least. It was a buyers market for sure, which i think prevented some teams from being willing to give up their top talent. The most interesting trade was the 3 team deal sending Ryan Ludwick to San Diego, Jake Westbrook to the Cardinals and prospects to the Indians. The Padres seem like the winners in this one, aquiring a solid middle of the order bat to protect Adrian Gonzalez. The losers have to be the Cardinals, they trade away their starting right fielder who is a middle of the order hitter in a mediocre offense for a below average starting pitcher. Im sure there we be those who believe the pitching god of Dave Duncan can make him into a good pitcher but i have my doubts. Another interesting trade involves the Cubs and Dodgers, Chicago is sending Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot to the Dodgers for Blake DeWitt and 2 AA pitching prospects. The Dodgers are getting a solid middle to back of the rotation pitcher in Ted Lilly. He may not have his best stuff any more but he has excellent control and can be dominant on occasion (such as his 1-hitter against the White Sox). The Dodgers also get a solid SS/2B with some speed who will hit around the .290/.330/350 mark and is an average defender. The Cubs get a mid level starter prospect and a throw in reliever prospect, to go along with 2B/3B Blake DeWitt. DeWitt is a 25 year old who was called up a little to soon in his career and hasnt shown a lot but has some potential. Although this year he has been a better player than Theriot, really this is a move that helps the Cubs get younger and cheaper as the attempt a quick rebuild. I think the Cubs get the edge in this one because they achieved what they wanted to. They dumped salary(although not all of it) they got some pitching prospects and got younger at 2B. The dodgers did get a pitcher who will help them down the stretch but DeWitt may be a bit better than Theriot at 2nd. Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood, and Austin Kearns are all headed to the Yankees where they continue to assemble the best talent possible. Lance Berkamn is definatly a win because he is a very skilled player who is just having a down year, and the salary dosnt really affect the Yankees. The Astros are a completley different team then the ones that played the Cubs a few days ago, with Brett Wallace as the new first baseman and JA Happ replacing Roy Oswalt. The Pirates are really starting to show they are on the way up with some excellent deals. They moved some veteran relievers they signed in the winter such as Octavio Dotel(dodgers), DJ Carrasco(D-Backs) and Javier Lopez(Giants) and aquiring players with huge upside (John Bowker,Joe Martinez,James McDonald, Andrew Lambo,and Chris Snyder to name some). I think you have to consider the Pirates as really winners in the trade market, they may not be anywhere near contention but they have stockpiled a ton of prospects the past few years to where once some of them develop and they become contenders they will still have some in which to trade to push them over the top in a pennant race. That being said they are a while a way from contention. I was not suprised to see Adam Dunn stay mainly because i think the Nationals value him much more than any other team in baseball and they will most likely extend him long term because they will pay him more then anyone else. The MLB landscape has not changed that much through these trades, really the biggest impact is going to be the Berkman trade in my opinion, outside of that the rest of the moves wont achieve that much this year.
Posted on: July 30, 2010 4:59 pm

Trade Deadline Approaching

Well were about 24 hours away from the 2010 MLB trade deadline and as usual the trades and trade talks are picking up. The most recent trade coming when the White Sox aquired Edwin Jackson for Daniel Hudson and a prospect. I dont see the Sox holding on to him, most likely the will flip him in an attempt to aquire Adam Dunn. Im not sure that is smart for either side. Adam Dunn has made it clear he wants to play in the NL and he dosnt want to DH. And i think Edwin Jackson is extremely overvalued, yes he can be dominating but he has extreme control issues. The only place i see him succeding is in St. Louis if he works with Dave Duncan but there is no way that will happen. The Nationals have been doing well with trades so far, aquiring Wilson Ramos and Joe Testa from Minnesota in the Capps deal and i hear they got some good A ball prospects for Christian Guzman. The good thing about these trades is that they got quality prospects for players that were not essential to this years competitivnes or long term. Guzman had been a starter but since Ian Desmond came up at SS he as been relegated to a utility role. Matt Capps has been an outstanding closer this season and has made the Pirates look bad for letting him go. But he is playing somewhat over his head and the Nationals have a closer in the wings with Drew Storen. Even if Storen doesnt become the closer right away the Nationals are not contending this year and why do you need a good closer if your not going to win. Another interesting trade happened yesterday when the Phillies aquired Roy Oswalt for very little in my opinion. The Astros the flipped the main prospect in the deal (I dont remember his name just that he was a speedy CF similar to Michael Bourn) for Brett Wallace. Brett Wallace is going to have played for every MLB teams farm system before he gets called up it seems. The Phillies getting Roy Oswalt is more of an appology to their fans for not keeping Cliff Lee. I know everyone is saying this but just think had they kept lee and got oswalt what that playoff rotation could have achieved. Some other notable trades included- Angels aquiring Dan Haren for Joe Saunders and prospects, Tigers aquiring Johnny Peralta, and the Rangers aquiring Jorge Cantu. What i am really interested to see is who gets Ted Lilly and is Ryan Theriot or other Cubs players a part of the deal. I think the Dodgers want Lilly the most but im not sure who the Cubs get in return. There is a lot of interesting things going on in major league baseball and this along with the winter meetings is one of my favorite non-playing events in baseball.
Posted on: July 18, 2010 5:41 pm

The Future of the Cubs

Well now that we have past the All-Star break and are past half way through the season. While the Cubs may still have a chance i dont feel like the Cubs are going to do any better than 3rd in the division at this point. So now the talk should begin to shift from competing this year to, what can we do to be better next year. I think the first thing the Cubs need to look to do is trade their chips now. While the soon to be free-agents may not get them as much as they'd like its better than getting nothing if they leave next year. They may be able to get some minor leage talent that could be used to aquire a star in the off-season. Ted Lilly seems to be the Cubs biggest trade chip, along with Derrek Lee, Xavier Nady and Kosuke Fukudome. Now Fukudome may be hard to trade this year but i have a feeling next year we may be able to get something for him. But Lee, Nady and Lilly are all going to be free-agents and there are teams looking at all 3 of them. Lee is the hardest to part with because he has been such an important part of this team for the past 5 years. But sometimes you cant let sentimental value deter you from getting rid of something. Lee has been my favorite player for the past few seasons, and if they can get him to take a much smaller contract then I can see him staying although i feel the Cubs can upgrade at first in the off-season. Its time for the Cubs to change from the 07-08 playoff team, to a new team built around their young talent and new aquisitions. They have a core of young players that i do like, Geovany Soto has definatly rebounded from a rough 09' campaign to show that he is one of the top offensive catchers in the game. Starlin Castro has shown amazing range at short along with a consistent and patiant aproach at the plate to go with blazing speed. Tyler Colvin appears to be a solid young OF with a great power stroke and good speed. Andrew Cashner appears to be the set-up man for the time being and could be an even better closer than Marmol which may make him trade bate in the years to come. They also have some solid pieces in Marlon Byrd in CF, and Soriano in LF (although he may not be the star he once was he is still a solid power hitter.) and Ryan Dempster, Tom Gorzelanny, Carlos Silva, and Carlos Marmol. They main issue has been the dissaperance of Lee and Ramirez (although it appears Ramirez may be back) and the lack of a true ace. These missing pieces are what the Cubs need to fill via free agency. They can solve the middle of the order bat by aquiring someone like Prince Fielder or Adrain Gonzalez. A-Gon may be difficult bu the Cubs should have the cash for Fielder with Lee, Lilly, and Nady's contracts coming off the books. The next step would be aquiring an ace, im not sure if any are available on the free agent market but the Cubs could look into trades. If the Cubs do several of these things they could easily bounce back from a rough 2010 season. 
Category: MLB
Tags: Baseball, Cubs, MLB
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 4, 2010 8:58 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2010 9:00 pm
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Posted on: February 17, 2010 8:51 pm

My Official NL West Preview

Well i am continuing my preview series of each divison, the last post was the AL West so i figured i stay out west and do the NL West. I think this could be one of the most intriquing divisions in baseball, because i think every team excluding the Padres has a shot at winning this division. So anyway here is my predictions and anaysis, please post a comment if you have any questions or if you want to tell me your opinion.

1. San Francisco Giants
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
3. Colorado Rockies
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
5. San Diego Padres

1. San Francisco Giants

Departed- Ryan Garko, Bob Howry, Randy Johnson, Justin Miller, Brad Penny, Merkin Valdez, Rany Winn, Noah Lowry
Aquired- Mark DeRosa, Aubrey Huff, Todd Wellemeyer, Santiago Casilla, Byung-Hyun Kim

I realize a lot of people are going to disagree with me on this one, and i realize its a stretch but when you break down the statistics they seem slightly better than the D-Backs, Rockies, or Dodgers. This team makes me think a lot of the 2003 Cubs team that almost beat the Marlins in the NLCS. They have one of the best pitching staffs in the buisness. At the top of the rotation they have 08' and 09' CY Young award winner Tim Lincecum. He is arguably the best pitcher in baseball, he just hasnt got a ton of run support. Behind him is another dominant pitcher in Matt Cain, while he dosnt strike as many people out he is great for ERA. Jonathan Sanchez is the interesting option, i really think he can become an ace. He has the stuff to do it, hopefully he can put it all together this season. Barry Zito is the veteran presence in the rotation, he may not be the same guy he was 4-5 years ago but he is a solid innings eater at the least. The guy im the most excited to see in this rotation is Madison Bumgarner. This looks like another star pitcher to come out of this farm system, i think he could be in the rookie of the year running based on his talent. The bullpen is solid with Brian Wilson saving games and Jeremy Affeldt setting him up. Although after those two they are not particularly deep, middle relief is average at best. The lineup is considered the Giants weakness, and they will struggle but i think they have improved from last season. The infield is pretty good with Kung Fu Panda (Pablo Sandoval) at 3rd, he is basically a Vladimir Guerrero clone when it comes to his ability to hit unhittable balls. Aubrey Huff will man 1st and will be looking for a bounce back season. He hit decently with the Orioles but struggled after he was traded to Detroit. Hopefully Freddy Sanchez will have a healthy season and provide solid production at 2nd. Edgar Renteria will hope to improve on a dissapointing season at short although some of it was due to him declining. Bengie Molina will return at catcher but he is just holding the fort until Buster Posey is ready. The outfield is improved with the addition of the ever versatile Mark DeRosa. He can lay the corner outfield, infield and 2nd. Aaron Rowand will continue to play Center, and Nate Schierholtz will start in RF. The Giants also have solid depth with Juan Uribe, and Eugenio Velez as infield options and Fred Lewis and Andres Torres as outfield options. This may not be the best hitting team but they have depth and great pitching. I realy like this team and i think they can win this division.

 2. Los Angeles Dodgers

Departed- Jon Garland, Orlando Hudson, Juan Castro, Mark Loretta, Will Ohman, Juan Pierre, Jim Thome, Randy Wolf
Aquired- Jamey Carroll, Reed Johnson, Alfredo Amezaga, Nick Green

This is still a good team, but i do not like there pitching depth. Billingsley and Kershaw are going to have the pressure to carry this team on their backs. I think Billngsley may be able to do that, but i dont think Kershaw can. He is to young and doesnt have the expierence to carry a team. Behind those two there is Kuroda, Padilla, McDonald, and Jeff Weaver, none of those options with the exception of Kuroda are anything more than innings eaters. The bullpen is very good though, Broxton is a bulldog and can handle a lot of innings for a reliever. Sherrill is a good setup guy and i like Tronosco, and Kuo as middle relief. The offense has some good young talent that is going to be relied upon to make the playoffs. The infield is solid with the veteran Casey Blake at 3rd, and James Loney at 1st. I am not a James Loney fan mainly because he doesnt have the power to play 1st and his defense isnt outstanding so i dont see his purpose. Ronnie Belliard will play 2nd, and Rafael Furcal will look to bounce back from a dissapointing season at short. Russell Martin is also looking for a rebound season after having the worst season of his career. The dodgers have lost some confidence in him, enough for him to be mentioned in trade talks for Adrain Gonzalez, which also questions James Loney's jon security. The Dodgers do have one of the best outfields in the majors. They saw breakout seasons from Andre Ethier in RF and Matt Kemp in CF. Ethier provieded some good power, while Kemp gave a good power, speed combo. And of course there is the infamous Manny Ramirez in LF, he missed significant time for a suspenision due to a drug test infraction. Everyone knows Manny did roids, but he does have talent and should still put up better numbers than last season. They have some good depth with Blake DeWitt and Jamey Carroll as backup infield options and Reed Johnson in the outfield. Im a big Reed Johnson fan, he plays all out and hits for contact and decent power. The depth is not quite as good as the Giants though and i think the lack of pitching depth is what really will hurt them this year.

3. Colorado Rockies

Departed- Garrett Atkins, Jose Contreras, Matt Herges, Jason Marquis, Ryan Spierer, Yorvit Torellaba
Aquired- Melvin Mora, Miguel Olivo, Tim Redding

I really wanted to put these guys in first and they very well could be but im not sold on them. The pitching has a lot of potential and they have an ace in the making with Ubaldo Jimenez. Aaron Cook is a solid middle of the rotation guy, but im not sold on Jason Hammel and especially Jorge De La Rosa and the sabermetric systems dont favor these guys either. I am excited to see Jeff Francis return but he has been out of the game for a year and will take time to get back. I have also heard about Jhoulys Chacin as another guy who could make an impact at some point this season. He is one of their top prospects and supposidly has good stuff but i havent seen him before so i cant really comment about him. I like their bullpen, hopefully Huston Street will continue to succeed as the closer and Rafael Betancourt will continue to be a good setup man. Its amazing what happend to Manny Corpas from being their top closing prospect to being a disaster (Is Carlos Marmol a potential Manny Corpas) but i think he might be able to put it together this season. The staple of every Rockies team has been offense and that hasnt changed with this one. Todd Helton continues to play at 1st and although he doesnt have the power he once had he still can hit for a great average and rbi guy. Ian Stewart will have a full time gig at 3rd this season, and while he has power his .228 average doesnt inspire success. Clint Barmes is another situation like Stewart where he hits for power but not average. Troy Tulowitzki is probably the Rockies best player which is rare for a short stop, but he is a very special player (I drafted him for Fantasy Baseball). He hits for great power, good average and has decent speed. He is an all around threat who also plays solid defense. Chris Iannetta is another power guy who struggles with his average, but i am looking for a breakout year for him. The Rockies outfield is very young with the exception of Brad Hawpe. Carlos Gonzalez will likely start in LF, He is another guy who can hit for power and speed with a solid average and could be a very good major leaguer. Dexter Fowler will man second, ive heard he has sick speed but needs to hone his decesion making and is not very patiant at the plate. Brad Hawpe is really the power bat in the outfield, and is one of thier main RBI guys. The have good infield depth with Melvin Mora as their utility guy and Jason Giambi will return to his new pinch hitting role. They also have 2 solid back up outfielders in Seth Smith and Ryan Spiboroghs.My favorite thing about this team is that its almost entirley homegrown, thats something you dont see much of anymore. This is a team that if it gets to the post-season could make a deep run but they will have to fight for it. As I said before they could easily win this division but im just not sold on them yet.

4. Arizona D-Backs

Departed- Eric Byrnes, Doug Davis, Max Scherzer, Daniel Schlereth, Chad Tracy
Aquired- Bob Howry, Kelly Johnson, Ian Kennedy, Adam LaRoche,

This is another team that could also win the division, but no matter what happens they will much improved from last season. The rotation will be a lot better than last season. Dan Haren is still at the top providing a quality start after quality start and striking out plenty of guys along the way. The biggest addition to this team is a healthy Brandon Webb, if he can play anywhere near the way he did before his injury should be a huge boost. Edwin Jackson will replace Max Scherezer, while he may not provide the strikouts he should be a bit more consistent and may work deeper into games. Ian Kennedy will try to get his career as a starter going after failing in New York and Billy Buckner will probably be the fifth guy. Really this is a 3 deep rotation, but you can get to the postseason with that. The pen is average to below average. Chad Qualls is OKAY as a closer, and Bob Howry is decent as setup. Aaron Heilman is an average middle reliever, his probelm is that he tries to be to perfect with his pitches which makes him walk a lot of guys and put on a lot of runners. Also he always seems to let his inherited runners score. I love Clay Zavada though, the mustache is awesome and he pitched great last season. All in all though it may be the worst bullpen in the division. I really like the infield, Adam LaRoche while he may be streaky on a monthly basis, is very consitent year to year and will proved better production at first than the D-Backs have had for a while. Mark Reynolds has some serious power and good speed, he is a great middle of the order hitter. The middle infield has a lot of potential, but they need bounce back years from both Stephen Drew (SS) and Kelly Johnson (2B). Johnson came over from the Braves during the offseason after hitting himself out of the Braves lineup. He had been fairly consistent up until last season so you have to think he will bounce back. Miguel Montero finally broke out after seeming like a bust, he put up excellent numbers and should continue to improve. The outfield is highlighted by Justin Upton in RF, who in my eyes is a hitter of Albert Pujols caliber, he may not be as developed as Pujols was at his age but i think when he peaks his numbers will be similar. Chris Young is in CF and looking to improve upon a disasterous 09' campaign in which he hit .212-15-42-54-11 in 433 AB. He has the ability to be a 30-30 threat but his high strikeout rate hinders him. Conor Jackson will start in LF, he is a consistent bat but not a great one.They have mediocre depth with Chris Snyder at catcher although he is a likely trade canidate. Augie Ojeda and Ryan Roberts are decent infield options with Gerrardo Parra and Alex Romero outfield options. This knock on this team has always been their youth and inexpierence, but now they have grown up some and they have taken thier licks so they may finally breakout and make a run for it this season.

5. San Diego Padres

Departed- Henry Blanco, Brian Giles, Edgar Gonzalez, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Drew Macias
Aquired- Aaron Cunningham, Jon Garland, Jerry Hairston Jr, Yorvit Torrellaba, Scott Hairston

This pick is pretty obvious, they are pretty far behind the rest of division in total talent. They have some nice pieces and if they trade A-Gon they should be in a postion to have a solid core of young players and should have the financial flexability to make some moves. The rotation actually isnt that bad with Chris Young as the leader. Which isnt very reliable due to his injury history but he does have talent. Jon Garland will eat some innings and his record may take a beating but he should have a solid ERA. Kevin Correia looked excellent at the end of last season and put up solid numbers overall. Clayton Richard (came over from CHW is Peavy trade) looks like a solid back of the rotation option with upside, and Matt Latos will get a shot for a full season. He has a ton of potential and its been mentioned that he may be hard to keep around once he gets going. The bullpen is one of the best in the game with Heath Bell at closer (another trade canidate), and Mike Adams as a setup man and future closer. Luke Gregerson, Joe Thatcher, and Greg Burke are all viable setupmen. The infield is solid anchored by one of the best players in the game in Adrain Gonzalez at first. Who knows how much longer he'll play for them but he has sick power and at any other ballpark could hit .300 and he also a gold gover first baseman. Chase Headley moves to 3rd and is an average one. David Eckstein mans 2nd and is still one of those players who does the most with the least talent. Everth Cabrera will play short and is another one of these new generation of shortstops (more oldschool, light hitting with good speed). The outfield is highlighted by Scott Hairston in RF who is one of the better power hitters at PETCO Park. At the other side is Kyle Blanks who looks to be another great player but should be at first but is blocked by A-Gon. He should be a solid middle of the order hitter. Will Venable will start in CF and will provide average production from the postition. Tony Gwynn is a solid backup option but there isnt a lot of help behind him. Jerry Hariston is a good utility infielder but may struggle at PETCO, and Matt Antonelli and and Luis Rodriguez are other infield options. The Padres are the only divison that doesnt really have a shot to win the division.      

Posted on: February 15, 2010 9:35 am

My Official AL West Preview

Well this has been the Angels division the past decade, but is there a changing of the guard in 2010. Many people believe the Marniers may be able to take the Angels and take over as the class of the division. The Marniers made the most changes, and it is obvious that the Angels have lost some talent, Texas is about the same except they lost the best hitting coach in the buisness, and Oakland is getting better. This is a division on the rise, but who will win it this year? Continue reading to find out my opinions on the AL west this year.

1. L.A. Angels
2. Seattle Mariners
3. Texas Rangers
4. Oakland Athletics

1. L.A. Angels

Departed- Jose Arredondo, Kelvim Escobar, Chone Figgins, Vladimir Gurerrero, John Lackey, Gary Matthews Jr., Darren Oliver
Aquired- Hideki Matsui, Joel Piniero, Fernando Rodney, Brian Stokes

Most people question wether this team will be able to mantain the level of play that they have performed for the past decade after losing the core of those teams. While i believe this is a less talented Angels team than we have seen in previous years i dont believe they are going to lose this division to the Mariners. While the rotation may not have a bonafied ace they are solid from top to bottom (If Joe Saunders is your worst starter thats saying something.). I do think that Jered Weaver could become the ace of this rotation, and Scott Kazmir was once Tampa Bay's ace. So im not even sure that i agree that they dont have an ace. I think any one of thier starters could become the ace of this staff, they are just going to have to prove it. The bullpen is somewhat rough, i am curious who will close (Brian Fuentes, or Fernando Rodney?) and neither one is a great closer. Outside of those 2 guys only Scot Shields strikes me as a great arm. They will have to go to their farm system to fill out their bullpen. The infield has some question marks, the biggest being how will Brandon Wood perform? Kendry Morales is solid at first and Aybar and Kendrick are solid up the middle. Macier Izturis will be their utility man, but they dont have a ton of bench depth behind him. Mike Napoli will start at catcher and has good power, Jeff Mathis is an okay backup. The outfield is solid offensivly but not to good deffensivly. Bobby Abreu continues to hit and run well, but his deffense coninues to slide. Torii Hunter is still a great offensive threat although injury prone, but his defense is starting to go. Juan Rivera had a great season, replacing Garrett Anderson after his departure. With the trade of Gary Matthews Jr., the Angels are thin on the bench for the outfield with Reggie Willits as their 4th outfielder. So they Angels will have to rely on their farm system to give them some depth there. The biggest channge is replacing the great Vladimir Guerrero at DH with Hideki Matsui AKA Godzilla. Guerrero had his least productive season of his career which meant the Angels were willing to let him go, but im not sure they improved here. They traded one injury prone veteran who cant play the field for another. Overall the Angels have lost some talent, but they still have enough talent on the offensive side and their rotation is good enough top to bottome to win this division, but it will be close.

2. Seattle Mariners

Departed- Miguel Batista, Adrian Beltre, Bill Hall, Kenji Johjima, Brandon Morrow, Carlos Silva
Aquired- Milton Bradley, Chone Figgins, Ryan Garko, Cliff Lee, Eric Byrnes, Brandon League

The Marniers improved from a 100 loss team to a contender in 2009, and now they hope to win the division. They have made headlines this offseason with the additions of Cliff Lee, Chone Figgins, and Milton Bradley. They may have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, with King Felix at the top of the rotation. He was the 2nd best pitcher in the AL last year behind Grienke, and is still only 24 years old. And the great thing is that the Marniers locked him up long term in the offseason. Behind him they added 2008 CY Young winner Cliff Lee who should benifit greatly from the Marniers outstanding defense and spacious field. Ryan Rowland Smith has potential and they are hoping for a healthy season from Erik Bedard. The biggest question mark to me is Ian Snell, he has a lot of talent and looked promising several years ago in Pittsburgh if he can have a good year it would go a long way to helping this team win the division. The bullpen is one of the weak links on this team, i think David Aardsma played out of his mind last year and i doubt a repeat performance. Brandon League is a solid arm, and i think his aquisition was an attempt to improve the bullpen. We will have to see if any of their young pitchers step up, because you can never really predict how a reliever is going to pitch accuratley. The infield is very strong deffensivly but offensivly they are mediocre. At first they have former Angel, Brave, and Red Sox Casey Kotchman, while he plays outstanding defense his offense has hovered around the .270-10-50 line. At third they have former Angel Chone Figgins, who again plays good defense and he also hits for average and has great speed. Figgins will likely hit 2nd behind perenial all-star Ichiro Suzuki. Up the middle is really the Mariners main power threat in Jose Lopez (his ceiling is about 25 HR though), and at short the great glove of Jack Wilson. So the Marniers basicaly have a wall on the left side of the infield. Rob Johnson will likely start at catcher and good be solid, but he will battle for playing time with Adam Moore. The outfield is pretty good to, with Ichiro in right he provides awesome defense and is guaranteed to collect 200 hits and 20+ stolen bases. In CF Frankilin Gutierez is also an elite defender who can cover a lot of ground, plus he has good offensive game (He has 20-20 potential). The only weak link defensivly in the outfield is Milton Bradley in LF, he makes a lot of dumb mistakes but he is not a horrible defender. He needs to rebound from a bad year offensivly in Chicago. Ken Griffey Jr. will likely DH most of the time with Bradely, and Ryan Garko also getting some time there. The mariners have speed, pitching and defense but their lack of power is what will hold them back from winning the division.

3. Texas Rangers

Departed- Marlon Byrd, Andruw Jones, Kevin Millwood, Ivan Rodriguez, Hank Blalock, Omar Vizquel
Aquired- Khalil Greene, Vladimir Guerrero, Rich Harden, Colby Lewis, Darren Oliver, Clay Rapada, Chris Ray

Texas is stuck in the 3 spot again this season, and its not a reflection on their talent, but on the talent of the division. Texas main problem is their lack of a solid pitching staff. They were much improved last season, but they slumped offensivly. But the rotation has a different look to it in 2010, Kevin Millwood is gone and Rich Harden is in. Harden is extremely injury prone and is a lock for 2 stints on the DL, but when healthy he is a force. Behind him there isnt a ton, Scott Feldman and Brandon McCarthy are solid middle of the rotation guys. Tommy Hunter was pitching well last season, and he could break out in 2010. While they have some solid young guys coming up, i dont see them contending with the staff they have. The bullpen is decent with Frank Francisco at closer, and Chris Ray the likely set up man. The main guy to look at in 2010 is Neftali Feliz, he could start but if hes in the pen he could be awesome. By the end of the season he may be the primary set up man. The infield is solid with slugger Chris Davis at first, he will need to improve his discipline, but he has 30 HR power. Michael Young will man 3rd and provide solid offense as he has in the past. Up the middle looks pretty good with all-star Ian Kinsler at 2nd, he hits for power and has good speed (a 30-30 season is possible). He is partnered with Elvis Andrus at short, he may not have power but he plays good defense and has great speed. Jarrod Saltalamacchia will likely split time with Taylor Teagarden although neither player has lived up to their potential. The outfield is weaker with the loss of Marlon Byrd, but if Josh Hamilton is healthy in CF it would help greatly. Nelson Cruz also is great in RF, and the Rangers hope David Murphey can play well in LF. The Rangers biggest addition in 2010 is definatly Vlad, he should have a great year that might garner comeback player of the year consideration because he loves the ballpark in Arlington and he has put up great numbers there. He should continue adding to his hall of fame credentials this season. The Rangers are solidly in 3rd place and i dont see them getting out of this spot due to the excellent managment and resources of the Mariners and Angels.

4. Oakland Athletics

Departed- Nomar Garciaparra, Bobby Crosby, Adam Kennedy, Aaron Cunningham, Dana Eveland, Jeff Gray, Scott Hairston, Aaron Miles, Brett Wallace, Willy Taveras
Aquired- Coco Crisp, Jake Fox, Gabe Gross, Adam Rosales, Ben Sheets, Michael Taylor

Oakland seems like they are going to be stuck in last place a little while longer. They have improved talent wise from the 2009 club, we will have to wait and see if that translates to wins. The rotation is interesting and will at least be better than the Rangers. Ben Sheets is the headliner of this staff, will he be able to return to form this season after missing all of 09'. When healthy Sheets is a great pitcher and was the ace for Milwaukee for years. Justin Ducsherer is another starter returning from injury who the A's will rely to give them veteran leadership in the rotation. They also have 3 youngsters who will try to improve upon their 09' seasons Dallas Braden, Trevor Cahlil and Brett Anderson. Looking at each of thier stats and after watching them last year i really like Brett Anderson and i think he may be the breakout pitcher on this staff. If all 3 of these guys can play to thier potential Oakland could make a move to 3rd but they would need some offensive help to. The bullpen is lead by 09' AL rookie of the year closer Andrew Bailey. The A's may actualy have the best pen in the division when you look at each player. Mike Wuertz will likely be the setup man and Brad Ziegler, Joey Devine, and Craig Breslow make up a solid bullpen. The infield is okay, there arnt any superstars but some solid talent. Kevin Kouzmanoff will likely start at 3rd ending the age of Eric Chavez, and Jake Fox will figt to play first with Daric Barton (my guess is that Fox will win the job). Fox has some sick power but he is very similar to Jack Cust and will strikeout a good amount and does not play good defense. The middle infield will be made up of Mark Ellis at 2nd, and Cliff Pennington at short. Pennington is probably the weaklink in the infield. Kurt Suzuki will start at catcher, he has been a solid major leaguer and continues to improve (Im a nig fan of Kurt Suzuki). They also have some infield depth with Adam Rosalses from the Reds, and Eric Patterson (former Cubs prospect). The outfield has speed, with Rajai Davis in LF, and Coco Crisp in CF. They should combine for over 70 SB, and will make up the top of the batting order. And sweet fielding Ryan Sweeny will start in RF. Jack Cust will return as the DH and will split some time with Fox there. Fox, Cust, and Kouzmanoff are really the only power hitters on the team, so they may have a hard time driving in runs. If they get good production from Fox, and Kouzmanoff they may be able to sneak up on the Rangers but that would have to be paired with some great pitching.   

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.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com