Tag:John Grabow
Posted on: November 26, 2011 1:46 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Pittsburgh Pirates

Jose Bautista

By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no waivers, no minor- or major-league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams.

In 2011 the Pirates extended their streak of losing seasons to 19, finishing 72-90 after a promising start. However, there are signs of the team finally putting it together, with much of their talent coming from within the organization. Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker are among the future stars the team has drafted and kept. If Pittsburgh had been able to keep a couple more of its homegrown players, the Pirates could at the very least be looking at fielding a winning team.

Lineup

1. Andrew McCutchen, CF
2. Neil Walker, 2B
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
5. Ryan Doumit, 1B
6. Jeff Keppinger, SS
7. Ronny Paulino, C
8. Nyjer Morgan, LF

Starting Rotation

1. Paul Maholm
2. Bronson Arroyo
3. Tom Gorzelanny
4. Brad Lincoln
5. Chris Young

Bullpen

Closer - Juan Oviedo (Leo Nunez)
Set up - Matt Capps, Mike Gonzlaez, John Grabow, Sean Burnett, Tony Watson
Long - Tim Wakefield, Zack Duke

Notable Bench Players

Pedro Alvarez, Rajai Davis, Brent Lillibridge, Nate McLouth, Alex Presley

What's Good?

The top of the lineup is the envy of just about any organization -- there's speed at the top and power throughout the first four batters. Jose Bautista will forever be the one that got away, but not just for the Pirates, who drafted him in 2000, but also for the Orioles, Rays, Royals and Mets, who all acquired -- a got rid of -- Bautista at some point. But still, the Pirates had him twice and are now watching him blossom as one of the game's best players while in a different uniform. In addition to the top of the lineup, the bottom of the lineup isn't too bad, while the bullpen is stout. 

What's Not?

The rotation isn't going to intimidate too many batters, but the team will put up some runs and leads have a good chance of being held with that bullpen. Keppinger is a solid bat and makes all the plays in front of him, but doesn't quite have the range most teams look for at shortstop. He can play there, but it isn't an ideal spot.

Comparison to real 2011

The Pirates rotation overachieved in the first half of 2011 and flopped in the second -- as Pittsburgh went 25-47 after finding themselves trailing by just a game in the NL Central at the All-Star break. While this lineup would put up more runs, its starters would allow more. That said, the improved lineup and bullpen would be good for several more wins and probably even give the team a winning record. 

Up next: Chicago Cubs

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Posted on: June 24, 2011 8:02 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2011 5:25 pm
 

With rebuild on way, who could Cubs trade?

Soriano

By Evan Brunell


The Cubs are gearing up for trade season, as GM Jim Hendry and his staff plan to determine the team's future leading up to the trade deadline. The Chicago Tribune says that Chicago will start taking bids on overpriced or underachieving players, as Hendry continues his third rebuild, although he could be out of a job once the season ends.

With those parameters in mind, who could the Cubs deal?

Kosuke Fukudome, right fielder
Original contract:
4 years, $48 million
Contract remaining (includes 2011):
1 year, $13.5 million

Fukudome is enjoying his most productive season and has gotten better with each of his four years in the majors. He's playing center field on Friday for the first time since 2009, which tells you the Cubs are trying to keep his bat in the lineup. He still doesn't hit for much power, but that doesn't matter when you have a .400 OBP. Even better is the fact he is no longer a platoon player against left-handed pitching.

Chance of being traded: Fukudome has never really seemed to fit in Chicago, although his disappointing production to start is partly to blame. The Cubs project to have an Alfonso Soriano - Brett Jackson - Marlon Byrd outfield next season, so Fukudome would appear to be the odd man out. There are several teams in demand of an outfielder and it will be hard to do much worse than Fukudome in production, salary and cost to acquire.

John Grabow, reliever
Original contract:
2 years, $7.5 million
Contract remaining: 1 year, $4.8 million

For a team rebuilding, do they really need a reliever tasked with getting left-handers out -- but isn't? Grabow's contract is obviously not a hindrance, but his performance this season isn't up to par. While he's still getting lefties out at a better clip than righties, he hasn't exactly been a lockdown reliever. In 31 innings, Grabow has walked 11 and whiffing 16, posting up a 4.94 ERA and 4.79 xFIP.

Chance of being traded: Grabow isn't getting the job done overall or against left-handers, and the contract is hefty for his (lack of) production.

Carlos Pena, first baseman
Original contract:
1 year, $10 million

Pena isn't really underachieving thanks to his power production, nor is his contract prohibitive, but a .220 batting average is disappointing even if it represents a 24-point increase over 2010. By trading Pena, the Cubs could give Tyler Colvin an extended shot at playing time in the second half, plus gear up for possible runs at Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. There are teams out there that would welcome Pena's 14 bombs and .350 OBP.

Chance of being traded: Pena will probably stay, as none of the clear contenders other than the Angels appear to have any interest or need of a first baseman. If Washington somehow stays hot and inserts itself in the postseason race, they could use Pena as Adam LaRoche is now lost for the season due to injury. Washington actually coveted Pena over LaRoche, but the former Ray opted for Chicago.

Aramis Ramirez, third baseman
Original contract:
5 years, $75 million
Contract remaining: 1 year, $14.6 million, plus $16 million club option ($2 million buyout)

Ramirez has a no-trade clause and has already said he won't allow a trade out of Chicago, but he could always change his tune based on where he would be traded or just by flat-out changing his mind. After all, as Alfonso Soriano said recently, why would you block a trade if the team wants you out? Ramirez had a brutal first half last season before recovering in the second half. He hasn't been much better this season.

Chance of being traded: Unless a team is really desperate and the Cubs agree to cover the buyout plus some of his current deal (fat chance), Ramirez is staying.

Alfonso Soriano, left field
Original contract:
8 years, $136 million
Contract remaining: 4 years, $72 million

Soriano's 2009 is looking more and more like an aberration -- at least for now. That's good, but he still hasn't reached the level of play he flashed in his first two years with the Cubs. The 35-year-old is a liability on defense, is showing regression in plate discipline without much difference in contact levels and is just overall a massive risk for a team to take on.

Chance of being traded: Unless Soriano is part of another bad contract trade (for Barry Zito?), he's going to be finishing out his deal. How this contract is going to look in two years is a scary thought.

Carlos Zambrano, starting pitcher
Original contract:
5 years, $91.5 million
Contract remaining: 2 years, $38.875 million, plus $19.25 million vesting player option

Out of all the players on the list, Zambrano looks the most appetizing. Unfortunately, it's almost by default. Big Z has just one year after this remaining on his deal and it's a long shot he will get that player option to vest as he has to finish in the top four of Cy Young Award voting next season to trigger it. But as everyone knows, he's quite a hothead and is too erratic and inconsistent in his pitching. His 4.50 ERA won't draw any fans, although he's always capable of ripping off a dominating stretch as everyone witnessed in his final 11 starts of 2010.

Chance of being traded: Teams are always in need of pitching, so Zambrano might be able to find a new home by July 31. The odds are that he stays and is part of the rumor mill during the offseason.

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Posted on: June 7, 2011 3:30 pm
Edited on: June 7, 2011 5:00 pm
 

Agents says Ramirez wants to stay in Chicago

Aramis Ramirez

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Aramis Ramirez is still a Cub and he wants to keep it that way.

Ramirez's agent, Paul Kinzer, told the Chicago Tribune that his client doesn't want to be traded and is unlikely to OK a trade if the team asked. Ramirez has a full no-trade clause and is also a 10-and-5 player, meaning he must OK any trade because of his 10 years of Major League service time, inclujding the last five with the same team.

"He doesn't event want to take a trade. He took less years and less money to stay in Chicago [in 2006], so that is definitely his first option," Kinzer told the paper.

Ramirez makes $14.6 million this season and the Cubs have a club option for 2012 worth $15 million, one they'll no doubt decline and pay a $2 million buyout.

Ramirez is hitting a solid .288 with a .343 on-base percentage, but his slugging is down to just .394 with two homers in 216 plate appearances. Ramirez has a career slugging percentage of .495, but it has dipped each of the last seven seasons since he slugged a career-best .578 in 2004. Since then his slugging has decreased, sometimes gradually (.568 in 2005) and sometimes drastically, from .516 in in 2009 to .452 last season.

As I was watching the Cubs-Reds for a bit last night, they flashed some of Ramirez's career stats -- in his 14th season -- and ninth in Chicago, Ramirez has accumulated 291 home runs and 1,050 RBIs, all the while hitting .282/.340/.495. Even playing for the Cubs, I'm not so sure Ramirez has ever gotten his due for just how good of a player he's been over the years. He has earned just two All-Star nods.

Perhaps he has been overlooked among National League third basemen because he played in the time of Chipper Jones and Scott Rolen, as well as during the rise of David Wright and Ryan Zimmerman

Ramirez will turn 33 later this month and his power seems to be diminishing. Also, he has been at best an average defender. There's no way he makes $15 million next season and it appears his career is on its downside. Desppite that, there are teams that could use him for even his current skills. That said, it's unlikely to be the Cubs, unless he likes the team so much he'll take a huge paycut to stay in Wrigley.

By the way, Kinzer is also the agent for Geovany Soto, Starlin Castro and John Grabow. Kinzer told the Tribune he doesn't expect the Cubs to jettison Soto or Castro (duh), but it's possible Grabow could be on the market when the trade market begins to heat up. 

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