Tag:Kosuke Fukudome
Posted on: February 14, 2012 12:14 pm
 

White Sox add Kosuke Fukudome

Kosuke FukudomeBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Kosuke Fukudome is headed back to Chicago -- but this time the Japanese outfielder will be playing for the White Sox.

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The team announced it signed Fukudome to a one-year deal worth $1 million with an option for 2013. He will earn $500,000 in 2012, but the total package is worth at least $1 million because of the $500,000 buyout for 2013's $3.5 million option.

Fukudome, 34, hit .262/.342/.370 for the Indians and Cubs last season, his fourth season in the big leagues. Fukudome was a disappointment for Chicago after signing a four-year, $48 million deal before the 2008 season. Fukudome has a career .361 on-base percentage, but his .260 batting average and average of just more than 10 homers a year was hardly sexy -- or what anyone would expect for $48 million.

Fukudome gives the White Sox a little more depth in the outfield, which has Alex Rios in center, with young, promising players Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza on either side of him. Rios and Viciedo are both right-handed hitters, so Fukudome gives the team some more flexibility and De Aza can also play center.

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Posted on: January 25, 2012 3:26 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 4:41 pm
 

Edwin Jackson, Roy Oswalt top free agents left



By C. Trent Rosecrans


With Prince Fielder finally off the market, we're officially in free-agent left-over time, with most of the big-name, big-money guys enjoying new contracts.

So, who is left? That's a good question. The best players available are starting pitchers -- with Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt leading the charge -- but in our free-agent tracker, only one position player (Derrek Lee) among the top 25 free-agent position players is available, while three top 25 pitchers remain (Jackson, Oswalt, Javier Vazquez).

Here's the best player -- and the rest -- among the remaining free agents at each position as we get closer and closer to spring training:

Ivan RodriguezCatcher: Ivan Rodriguez. OK, he's a big name, a future Hall of Famer, but he's also 40 -- and a catcher. Rodriguez, 156 hits from 3,000, adjusted to being a backup catcher last season and it's the role he'll play if he can find a team for 2012.
Others available: Jason Varitek, Ronny Paulino, Ramon Castro, Jason Kendall.

Derrek LeeFirst base: Derrek Lee. The 36-year-old finished the 2011 season in Pittsburgh and had a nice finish to the season, hitting .337/.398/.584 with seven homers in his return to the National League Central after struggling in Baltimore for most of the first half of the season. However, he did miss nearly a month after breaking a bone in his left wrist shortly after joining the Pirates. Lee could retire, CBSSports.com Insider Jon Heyman reported.
Others available: Casey Kotchman, Conor Jackson, Ross Gload, Russell Branyan.

Jeff KeppingerSecond base: Jeff Keppinger. The Giants non-tendered the 31-year-old infielder who struggled in his 56 games in San Francisco. Keppinger hit just .255/.285/.333 as the team's everyday second baseman, well off his career .281/.332/.388 line. Keppinger brings versatility with the ability to play any of the infield positions, and he's also played in the outfield. He could be a fit with the Mariners, Yankees or Rays.
Others available: Aaron Miles, Carlos Guillen.

Mark TeahenThird base: Mark Teahen. Our top third baseman was recently released to make room for a 41-year-old relief pitcher, what does that tell you? The Blue Jays acquired the 30-year-old Teahen in three-team deal that sent Edwin Jackson and others to St. Louis and Colby Rasmus to Toronto. Teahen hit .200/.273/.300 with the White Sox and Blue Jays, playing both corner infield and outfield spots, in addition to handling some DH duties. Another positive is that he often tweets pictures of his two adorable boxers.
Others available: Eric Chavez, Bill Hall, Alex Cora.

Ryan TheriotShortstop: Ryan Theriot. Theriot is versatile, with the ability to play pretty much anywhere on the field -- but he's best suited, defensively, to second base. He started the 2011 season as the Cardinals' starter at shortstop, but there's a reason the team went out to get Rafael Furcal. He hit .271/.321/.342 for the Cardinals last season, but at this point he's likely best suited as a utility player.
Others available: Edgar Renteria, Miguel Tejada, Felipe Lopez.

Yoenis CespedesOutfield: Yoenis Cespedes. While we have J.D. Drew ranked higher, he's expected to retire soon, leaving the extremely talented Cespedes as the top available outfielder. Cespedes has just recently acquired citizenship in the Dominican Republic, so now the official courting of the Cuban center fielder can begin. The Marlins, of course, are said to be very interested, even if Cespedes is less interested in Miami. Both Chicago teams are said to have interest in him as well.
Others available: Kosuke Fukudome, Raul Ibanez, Juan Pierre, Magglio Ordonez, Corey Patterson, Rick Ankiel, Marcus Thames, Jeremy Hermida, Jay Gibbons, Milton Bradley.

Johnny DamonDesignated hitter: Johnny Damon. The 38-year-old Damon is hardly the prototypical slugging designated hitter, but he still has some value. Last season he hit .261/.326/.418 for the Rays with 16 home runs. He could be a fit in Detroit, where he hit .271/.355/.401 with eight home runs in 2010.
Others available: Hideki Matsui, Vladimir Guerrero.

Edwin JacksonStarting pitcher: Edwin Jackson. At 28, Jackson has already pitched for six different teams and could be looking at his seventh. With the White Sox and Cardinals, the hard-throwing right-hander went 12-9 with a 3.79 ERA in 31 starts and 199 2/3 innings. He struck out 148 batters while putting up a 1.437 WHIP. There are recent reports that he's willing to sign a one-year deal, and is drawing interest from the Tigers. He was 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA for Detroit in 2009.
Others available: Roy Oswalt, Javier Vazquez, Rich Harden, Jeff Francis, Brad Penny, Chris Young, Brandon Webb, Jon Garland, Livan Hernandez, Tim Wakefield, Scott Kazmir, Rodrigo Lopez, Kyle Davies, Ross Ohlendorf, Doug Davis.

Arthur RhodesRelief pitcher: Arthur Rhodes. Rhodes turned 42 during the World Series and still appeared in 51 games during the regular season and eight more in the postseason. The left-hander had a disappointing run with the Rangers after signing a two-year deal with Texas. But he returned as part of Tony La Russa's bullpen in St. Louis, earning his first World Series ring in his 19 years in the big leagues.
Others available: Chad Qualls, Brad Lidge, Dan WheelerDamaso Marte, Michael Wuertz, Zach Duke, Javier Lopez, Juan Cruz, Jason Isringhausen, Mike Gonzalez, Todd Coffey, Shawn Camp, Scott Linebrink, Hong-Chih Kuo, Jamey Wright, Chad Durbin, Brian Tallet, Hideki Luis Ayala, Micah Owings, Dan Cortes, Sergio Mitre, Tony Pena, David Aardsma, Pat Neshek, Danys Baez, Ramon Ortiz.

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Posted on: November 27, 2011 11:28 am
Edited on: November 27, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Chicago Cubs



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, 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. To view the schedule of this feature, click here.

When we discuss the Chicago Cubs, no baseball fan is lacking an opinion -- specifically, everyone seems to have some pet theory as to why the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. I've long argued with the people who believe the streak has something to do with a stupid "curse" or somehow now has something to do with playing so many more day games than everyone else. No, the real problem is they've never put a top-to-bottom management system in place that has done the job consistently for more than a small handful of seasons. It's possible current Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has done so with Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, et al (in fact, I'd argue it's likely), but that's a different discussion for a different forum.

For now, we're left looking at one of the worst Homegrown Teams in our series.

Lineup

1. Kosuke Fukudome, RF
2. Darwin Barney, 2B
3. Starlin Castro, SS
4. Tyler Colvin, LF
5. Casey McGehee, 3B
6. Eric Hinske, 1B
7. Geovany Soto, C
8. Sam Fuld, CF

Starting Rotation

1. Ricky Nolasco
2. Kyle Lohse
3. Andrew Cashner*
4. Carlos Zambrano
5. Randy Wells
* - if Cashner fell injured like he did in the real 2011 season, the options would be: Jon Garland, Dontrelle Willis and Casey Coleman.

Bullpen

Closer - Kyle Farnsworth
Set up - Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol, Al Alburquerque, Juan Cruz, Michael Wuertz
Long - Jeff Samardzija, Rich Hill, Sergio Mitre

Notable Bench Players

Robinson Chirinos, Ryan Theriot, Ronny Cedeno, Brandon Guyer, Corey Patterson, Felix Pie, Tony Campana, Lou Montanez. In fact, feel free to grab any of these guys, plug them in the lineup and play around with it. There's really no wrong answer, because it's one marquee player (and he's only 21) amidst a heap of mediocrity at this point. Maybe Guyer proves a good player, McGehee bounces back and/or Colvin becomes a good everyday player, but we have to go on what we've seen up to this point.

What's Good?

The bullpen is really strong. It's well-rounded with righties and lefties, depth, power pitchers and specialists. Of course, there could be an issue with the lack of a reliable closer when it comes to either Farnsworth or Marmol, but a new-age manager might just abandon that idea and use whoever makes the most sense in the ninth.

What's Not?

The starting rotation doesn't have a true ace (or No. 2, for that matter). The infield defense sorely lacks range and the outfield isn't great either. The team speed is minimal, there isn't a good option at leadoff (or in the two-hole, or cleanup, or fifth ... you get the point) and who is the best power hitter? Colvin? Soto? Basically, everything other than the bullpen and Starlin Castro is lackluster.

Comparison to real 2011

You have to give former general manager Jim Hendry credit for scraping together a team good enough to win three division titles in six years, considering this bunch. Then again, he was in charge as the organization was assembling nothing more than a mediocre foundation (Baseball Prospectus now says the minor-league system is "not bad" but is more "depth than starpower."). Let's leave out the excuses, because there are far more bad picks (Montanez at third overall as a shortstop, for example) than there are instances of bad luck (Mark Prior, for example).

The amazing thing is that the 2011 Cubs were 71-91 and I actually think that team was better than this Homegrown unit. When we do the Homegrown rankings in mid-December, expect to see the Cubs toward the bottom. That probably changes in five years, but we're doing this exercise in the present. And this team would probably win somewhere in the ballpark of 65 games. Maybe fewer.

Up Next: Seattle Mariners

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Posted on: October 29, 2011 11:07 am
 

Free-agent position rankings: No OF stars

Carlos Beltran

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Carlos Beltran was the hottest name at the trade deadline and he'll be the top name in free agency. Still, no outfielder will come close to matching Carl Crawford's seven-year, $142 million dollar contract -- the entire crop may not get as much as Crawford and Jayson Werth put together. 

For all free agency moves, check out the CBSSports.com free agency tracker.

Carlos Beltran1. Carlos Beltran:
Even though he'll be 35 early in the 2012 season, the switch-hitting Beltran is the top outfielder available on the market, thanks to a bounce-back (and mostly healthy) year in New York and San Francisco. Although he didn't jumpstart the Giants' offense after his trade tot eh Bay Area, he still produced his fair share, if not more. One player couldn't overcome the Giants' overall lack of offensive production. He hit .323/.369/.551 with seven home runs in 44 games in San Francisco and .300/.385/.525 with 22 homers overall. 
Possible teams: Giants, Yankees, Marlins, Cubs, Braves

Nick Swisher2. Nick Swisher: The Yankees have a $10.25 million option on Swisher, who hit .260/.374/.449 with 23 homers in 2011. The money million won't be an issue for the Yankees, who will most likely pick up the option. There has been a report that New York may exercise the option and try to sign Beltran, then trading Swisher.
Possible teams: Yankees

Michael Cuddyer3. Michael Cuddyer: Cuddyer's versatility could make him a hot commodity. He's primarily played right field, but also played first, second and has played third in the past -- he even pitched a scoreless inning this past season, hitting .284/.346/.459 -- close to his career numbers. He also hit 20 home runs this past season and hit 32 in 2009 before the Twins moved to the spacious Target Field.
Possible teams: Twins, Red Sox, Phillies, Braves, Giants, Angels, Athletics, Cubs, Cardinals, Rockies

Jason Kubel4. Jason Kubel: The 29-year-old enters free agency after playing in just 99 games due to foot problems, it was the first time since 2007 he didn't play at least 140 games, but whoever signs him will be giving that left foot a thorough inspection. Kubel can play either corner spot and give a team some pop -- and if you're into RBI, he did have 103 and 92 in his last two full seasons.
Possible teams: Twins, Red Sox, Cubs, Reds, Indians

Josh Willingham5. Josh Willingham: The right-handed hitting Willigham had career-bests in home run (29) and RBI (98) -- but saw his batting average (.246) and on-base percentage (.332) take a tumble from not only his lofty 2010 numbers, but also his career averages (.262, .361). Willigham is hardly a Gold Glover and there are also concerns about his durability.
Possible teams: Athletics, Reds, White Sox, Twins, Orioles

Coco Crisp6. Coco Crisp: The 31-year-old is the top center fielder available, so that should help his stock. After a hot start, Crisp struggled in 2011, putting up his lowest on-base percentage (.314) since his second season in the majors. He did lead the American League with 49 stolen bases. The A's have had some interest in re-signing Crosp, but the price could be too high. The Giants have said to have interest in him, as well.
Possible teams: Athletics, Giants, Marlins

Grady Sizemore7. Grady Sizemore: The biggest risk/reward of the free agent outfield class -- if he hits free agency. The Indians have a $9 million option on the 29-year-old, who has played just 104 games over the last two seasons because of various injuries. He hasn't played more than 110 games in a season since 2008. When healthy, he's as talented as any player in the game -- but that's a huge if. Either the Indians will gamble and exercise his option or someone else will roll the dice.
Possible teams: Indians, Mariners, Giants, Marlins, Cubs, Reds

David DeJesus8. David DeJesus: DeJesus' first year in Oakland was a serious disappointment, as he saw his average drop .078 and his on-base percentage dropped .061, both to career-lows of .240 and .323, respectively. However, his batting average on balls in play (.271) was 45 points lower than his career mark and his walk rate increased, so it may have just bit a bit of bad luck -- and playing in the Oakland Coliseum. 
Possible teams: Padres, Orioles, Braves, Red Sox, Phillies, Athletics

Andruw Jones9. Andruw Jones: At 34 (he'll be 35 in April), Jones is no longer the elite defensive player he once was, but he put up solid numbers as a platoon player for the Yankees, hitting .247/.356/.495 with 13 home runs in 77 games, but hit .286/.384/.540 against right-handers. He could make a decent addition as a bat off the bench and late-gaem replacement in a corner outfield spot.
Possible teams: Yankees, Braves, Rays, White Sox, Reds

Cody Ross10. Cody Ross: After playing a pivotal role in the Giants' run to the 2010 World Series title and winning the NLCS MVP, Ross struggled in 2011, hitting .240/.325/.405 with 14 home runs. Wherever he lands, Ross will likely have to take a pay cut from the $6.3 million he made in 2010.
Possible teams: Giants, White Sox, Braves, Reds

J.D. Drew11. J.D. Drew: The biggest question is whether Drew will want to play as a 36-year-old platoon or bench player. The days of Drew taking a starting spot seem to be over, as he hit just .222/.315/.302 i 81 games this season. He was close to useless against lefties, hitting just .167/.259/.292 with one homer against left-handers in the final year of his five-year, $70 million deal with the Red Sox.
Possible teams: Rockies, Pirates, retirement

Ryan Ludwick12. Ryan Ludwick: Ludwick has a chance to disappoint his third team in a year -- as the 33-year-old has just not performed since taking off a Cardinals uniform. He started the season hitting .238/.301/.373 with 11 home runs in 101 games for the Padres and .232/.341/.330 with two homers in 38 games for the Pirates. In four years with the Cardinals, Ludwick hit .280/.349/.507.
Possible teams: Pirates, Braves, Reds

Kosuke Fukudome13. Kosuke Fukudome: It's safe to say Fukudome's next contract will be a little smaller than the four-year, $48 million deal he signed with the Cubs before the 2008 season. Fukudome was burdened by high expectations, failing to live up to the contract, hitting .260/.361/.399 in four seasons in MLB. A pretty good on-base guy, Fukudome's best as a leadoff man, which may make him a little more valuable than his numbers suggest.
Possible teams: White Sox, Indians, Reds, Athletics, Japan

Eric Hinske14. Eric Hinske: The Braves have an option on Hinske, and it's just $1.5 million -- so it's likely they'll pick it up. Hinske can play both outfield spots, as well as first base, so he's a useful bench player. However, the Braves are already a little too left-handed heavy and Hinske was dreadful against lefties (.118/.167/.294). 
Possible teams: Braves, Pirates, Mariners

Raul Ibanez15. Raul Ibanez: The Phillies seemed to want to find anyone other than Ibanez to man left field all season, but could never find anyone that was an improvement over the 39-year-old. His average (.245) and OBP (.289) both tumbled this season, but he still hit 20 home runs and drove in 84.
Possible teams: Phillies, Pirates, Mariners, retirement

Jonny Gomes16. Jonny Gomes: Goems projects as a Type B free agent and has publicly said he'd likely accept arbitration if offered. Gomes struggled in 2011, hitting just .209/.325/.389 with the Reds and Nationals, but did see his walk rate increase, although his power too a tumble, hitting just 14 home runs. He's best in a platoon situation, crushing left-handed pitchers to the tune of .311/.407/.456.
Possible teams: Nationals, Braves

Juan Pierre17. Juan Pierre: Pierre stole 41 fewer bases in 2011 than he did in 2010, but he was caught stealing just one fewer time, leading the majors by being caught stealing 17 times. Pierre was once fast, but doesn't seem to be anymore, which means he has very few marketable skills. Well, he did lead the majors with 19 sacrifice bunts.
Possible teams: Giants, Reds, Pirates 

Magglio Ordonez18. Magglio Ordonez: Ordonez re-fractured his right ankle during the ALCS -- the same injury that caused him to consider retirement during the season. Rehabbing that injury could be more than he would like to do at 38, especially coming off of a .255/.303/.331 season. Ordonez did look good in the ALDS victory over the Yankees, but his health just wouldn't hold out. 
Possible teams: Tigers, retirement

Corey Patterson19. Corey Patterson: Somehow, some way, Patterson keeps popping up in the big leagues. He's kind of like a weed. He doesn't do much of anything well, but he's kinda fast. Other than that… yeah. A career .252/.290/.400 hitter, you never think you'll see him again, but ultimately, you do.
Possible teams: Any

Juan Rivera20. Juan Rivera: Rivera's 62 games with the Dodgers after being traded from Toronto showed he may just have a little something left in the tank, hitting .274/.333/.406 with five home runs for Don Mattingly. He's still likely a platoon player, but can play both corner spots and first base. The Dodgers have expressed interest in bringing him back.
Possible teams: Dodgers, Padres, Pirates


Free-agent position rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | DH | SP | RP

Free-agent overall rankings: Position players | Pitchers

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Posted on: August 19, 2011 1:42 pm
 

Big contracts defined Hendry's reign

Alfonso SorianoBy C. Trent Rosecrans

During Tom Ricketts' press conference announcing the firing of general manager Jim Hendry, the Cubs owner made it a point that the next general manager would have to focus on "player development," which means (relatively) cheap draft picks and young players under team control instead of quick-fix, big contracts.

The latter are the types of moves that Hendry's tenure in Chicago will be remembered for, and here's the four that he will be remembered for:

1. Alfonso Soriano, eight years, $136 million: After the Cubs went 66-96 in 2006, Hendry made a splash in the offseason giving Alfonso Soriano a long-term deal. But like the fat kid doing the belly flop, the splash was just an opportunity to point and laugh. Soriano is a natural designated hitter, which is a problem in the National League. Soriano is in his fifth year with the Cubs and has hit 126 homers in that time, but coming off a 46-home run season in 2006, he's not hit more than 33 in any year with the Cubs, despite playing in homer-friendly Wrigley Field. As a Cub, he's hit .267/.320/.499 and become a favorite whipping boy for Cub fans who have no shortage of players to complain about. He's also due to make $19 million each of the next three seasons and will be 38 in his final season in Chicago.

2. Carlos Zambrano, five years, $91.5 million: The Zambrano contract is the albatross that just keeps on giving, isn't it? Currently on the disqualified list, the Cubs may get $3 million back from Zambrano's lost income during the 30 days he's on the list, but that also puts it into perspective that the Cubs are paying him $3 million a month. When Zambrano signed in Aug. of 2007, he was 26 and coming off a 16-7 season with a 3.41 ERA. However, that was 2006. In 2007 he was 14-9 with a 3.86 ERA on the season and was less than two months removed from a fight in the dugout with his catcher and had just weeks prior blasted Cubs fans. You can't say there weren't warning signs that a five-year deal may not have been the best idea.

3. Milton Bradley, three years, $30 million: If Zambrano's temper wasn't evident enough, there was no doubt that Bradley was a time bomb that wouldn't last three years in a Cubs uniform. The supremely talented outfielder had never spent three full seasons anywhere when Hendry handed him a three-year deal. Hendry gave Bradley the deal on the strength of an American League-best .999 OPS, but he had played in just 126 games and hit 22 homers at Rangers Park, a hitter's paradise. He hit just .257/.378/.397 in 124 games for the Cubs in 2009 and lived up to not only his reputation, but the standards of clubhouse buffoonery set by another Cub to play right field and wear No. 21, Sammy Sosa. In June of 2009, Bradley threw a temper-tantrum in a game against the White Sox and manager Lou Piniella told him to just go home. The Cubs suspended him for the rest of the season late in September after Bradley blasted the Cubs organization. He was traded to Seattle for another horrible contract (Carlos Silva) after the season.

4. Kosuke Fukudome, four years, $48 million: Searching for the next Ichiro, Hendry instead got the next Kaz Matsui. Fukudome got off to a hot start with the Cubs in 2008, but quickly faded. He never became much more than a decent player, if that. In three-plus years with the Cubs, he hit .262/.369/.403 with 37 homers before being traded to the Indians at the trade deadline for two minor-leaguers.

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Posted on: August 19, 2011 12:38 pm
 

Hendry's fate was decided in July

Tom RickettsBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Cubs announced the firing of Jim Hendry today, but the decision was made July 22 and Hendry had been working as the ex-general manager for nearly a month.

"At the moment I decided we needed to make a change, I thought the right thing to do was to let him know," Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said in a press conference at Wrigley Field on Friday. "In that conversation I said we had work to do, we had a good draft, we had a great draft, and we had to make sure those players went from that trade board to the our organization and we had a trade deadline coming up. We needed someone to get through those hurdles."

Besides getting rid of outfielder Kosuke Fukudome at the deadline, Hendry didn't do anything else at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

This week, however, the team did spend $12 million in signing bonuses to its draft picks including $2.662 million to first-round pick Javier Baez, an infielder and $2.5 million to 14th-rounder Dillon Maples, a right-handed pitcher, who had a scholarship to kick at North Carolina and had demanded at least $3.5 million going into the draft. The team also signed the sons of two well-known athletes, outfielder Shawon Dunston, the son of the team's former shortstop, and first baseman Trevor Gretzky, the son of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.

Although a decision had been made before the deadline, it seemed odd that the team would keep Hendry on. Ricketts said it didn't influence Hendry's decisions at the deadline, however the lack of moves may show otherwise.

"He never missed a beat," Ricketts said. "It's a credit to his character that we were able to operate the way we did and get the job done," Ricketts said. "We had the trade deadline coming up and I didn't think it made any sense to change horses mid-stream."

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Posted on: August 18, 2011 10:06 am
 

Pepper: Down to two races?



By C. Trent Rosecrans

With just more than a month to go, we're down to just two races in baseball -- the National League West and the American League Central.

The rest? Done. Decided.

The National League East? The Phillies lead the Braves by 8 1/2 games. Done.

The National League Central? The Brewers are up on the Cardinals by seven, winning 19 of their last 21 and watching as the Cardinals take another September siesta. Done.

The National League wild card? It's the Braves to not just lose, but to give away in spectacular Cubian fashion. That's not happening. Done.

The American League East? Boston trails by a half-game, so the division is up in the air, but with Boston leading the Wild Card by eight games, both teams are playing in October, all that's left is figuring out seeding, the important stuff? Done.

The American League West? Texas has won its last six, including the last three in Anaheim against the Angels. Done.

At least we have the NL West and the AL Central -- those will at least be interesting for a while.

Looking back at last year at the same time, the Braves led the Phillies in the NL East, but both ended up in the playoffs. In the AL East, The Yankees and Rays were deadlocked atop the division, but again, both went to the playoffs. Sound familiar?

Minnesota had a four-game lead over the White Sox in the AL Central, a lead they'd hold, while the Rangers were running away from the Angels with an eight-game lead. Deja vu.

As for the NL Central? Cincinnati was leading the Cardinals by just two games, but St. Louis would fade down the stretch. And in the NL West, the Giants trailed the surprising Padres by five games.

Basically, it looks like we've seen this all before. But you know what? It was pretty fun to watch last year and it will be again this year.

Brewers confident: After Tuesday's win, Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan said the team has to "try to catch Philly," according to the Associated Press. "That's our goal, since we have nobody to really chase in our division, let's go chase Philly." After Wednesday's win, Zack Greinke said, "It's definitely not locked up now, but it's on us mainly," according to the Journal Sentinel. And he added, "it is ours to lose." It is indeed.

Giants' road to repeat: The Giants have the easiest remaining schedule among contenders, Yahoo's Jeff Passan writes as he breaks down the remaining schedules for the contenders (and the Cardinals, Rays and Angels). Passan also gives the Brewers more reason to be confident -- the third-easiest remaining schedule, plus the most off days and more home games than road games remaining. As for the AL Central, the Tigers have the best remaining schedule among the contenders. And not only are the Rays well behind both the Red Sox and Yankees in both the division and the wild card, they also have the toughest remaining schedule -- 10 against Boston, six against New York, six against Texas and four against Detroit.

Some people are just jerks: And online, they all have a voice. Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has proof -- sharing the emails he's gotten from people against the proposed statue of Shannon Stone and his son.

Logic may prevail: Although there were reports this weekend that Cubs general manager Jim Hendry's job was safe, but Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman says that's not so certain. What you can blow $251.5 million on Carlos Zambrano, Milton Bradley, Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome and have to worry about your job? Say it ain't so.

Five tool players: Every year I look forward to Baseball America's Tools issue -- and I got it in the mail yesterday. It's fascinating reading and also allows you to geek out about minor league players and what they could become. Over at FanGraphs, they feel the same way, but Carson Cistulli decided to find out which big leaguers have displayed five tools through the "nerdiest possible" numbers. It's great stuff. And if you didn't know, Chase Utley, Troy Tulowitzki and David Wright are good.

Speaking of tools: Former Reds and Nationals GM Jim Bowden never saw a tools-y player he didn't like. He has five players you should give up on -- starting with the Pirates' Pedro Alvarez. [ESPN.com]

CC's history lesson: Yankees starter CC Sabathia spent Tuesday morning at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, saying he drew inspiration from the visit for his start on Thursday in Minnesota. If you're ever in Kansas City, make sure you make it to the museum either before or after you go to Arthur Bryant's. [New York Times]

Tony Plush's kitty kat: Good for Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan, who adopted a new cat from the Wisconsin Humane Society. [Twitter]

Dim your jacket: Tuesday night the umpires working the A's-O's game had to ask two men with LED equipped clothing behind the plate to dim their wares. [Yahoo!'s Big League Stew]

Extending Ichiro?: Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times makes the argument against the Mariners extending Ichiro's contract.

Passport problems: Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur will use his off day on Monday to get a new passport -- his old one expired after 10 years and he forgot about it. The Royals are scheduled to go to Toronto later that day. [Kansas City Star]

Hat flap: The National wanted to wear military hats in Tuesday's game, but Major League Baseball denied their request. Instead, the Nationals wore the hats during batting practice. The main reason? Well, ignore the jibber-jabber from MLB, it's that there was no money to be made, so they didn't want to do it. MLB told the Washington Post that it prefers to for teams to use patches or batting practice for such displays. [Washington Post's DC Sports Bog]

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Posted on: July 31, 2011 8:07 pm
Edited on: August 1, 2011 12:05 am
 

Trade deadline winners and losers

Jimenez

By Evan Brunell


Now that the trade deadline is over and the dust has settled, who are the winners and losers of the trade deadline?

There were plenty of big names dealt over the past week, including Colby Rasmus, Ubaldo Jimenez and Hunter Pence. Other players also moved that should impact teams for the next several years, and there were also plenty of minor deals to shore up holes. Over the coming months and years, the deals consummated today will be analyzed to death. We'll kick things off the same day with this uncompromising, unscathing look at your trade deadline winners and losers.

WINNERS

1. ACE IN THE HOLE

IndiansIn today's trade deadline chat, a commenter who appeared to be an Indians fan was rather upset with the deal to acquire Ubaldo Jimenez from the Rockies, pointing to Jimenez's decreased production and velocity as to why the deal was a failure from the start. While Jimenez's fastball velocity drop is concerning (96.1 mph average last year, 93.4 mph this season), his peripherals line up to what he produced last season. Jimenez may not be an Ace in the Roy Halladay mold, but at the very least, he's an excellent No. 2 who would serve as an ace on oh, 20 teams?

And unlike most top pitchers traded, Jimenez is under team control through 2013 and is just 27. He gives the fanbase a jolt of optimism as Cleveland attempts to win the division, and then most importantly, gives the Indians the premium pitcher necessary to compete the next two years, when Cleveland's core solidifies around a young, talented infield and an upcoming rotation. All they gave up were four minor-league players (three of them pitchers), none of which are guaranteed to turn into anything resembling Jimenez. This deal could still yet work out for Colorado, but it's already working out for Cleveland.

And of course, the Indians also added outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, who will help Cleveland withstand the losses of Shin-Soo Choo and Grady Sizemore, then become part of a nice stable of outfielders when these players return. They also were hoping to get outfielder Ryan Ludwick, but lost him to the Pirates. That may have been for the best anyways, as Cleveland was reportedly balking at San Diego's price for who wouldn't have significantly upgraded the outfield corps.

2. BOURN TO WIN

BravesAtlanta made out like bandits in the deal for Michael Bourn, acquiring a leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position... and not surrendering any top prospects. The Braves gave up a no-hit center fielder in Jordan Schafer plus three minor-league pitchers in Brett Oberholtzer, Paul Clemens and Juan Abreu. There are some intriguing aspects to these pitchers, but none are can't miss and only Oberholtzer appeared on Baseball America's top 10 Braves prospects list prior to the season. That hardly seems like fair value for Bourn.

The Braves, meanwhile, gain a 28-year-old who is the sixth-best center fielder in 2011, according to Fangraphs' Wins Above Replacement metric. With dazzling defense, scorching legs and a capable bat. Hitting .303/.363/.403, Bourn has added 39 stolen bases into the conversation to become a dynamic leadoff hitter that will cause problems right off the bat to start the game. Atlanta controls his rights through 2012 as well, so he's not a short-term rental. Again, remember: they didn't give up any of their top prospects for someone who, at least this season, has performed as a game-changer.

3. BULLPEN JACKPOT

RangersTexas gave up a pretty penny, there can be no doubt on that. The Rangers didn't make this list because they hoodwinked another team. Baltimore has to be pleased with the Chris Davis - Tommy Hunter haul for Koji Uehara, and the two minor-league pitchers sent to San Diego for Mike Adams will be heard from again. But Texas belongs on this list simply because of how impressively they upgraded their bullpen in the blink of an eye.

No longer are the Rangers handicapped by a shaky bullpen with a volatile closer. While the closer remains, the bridge to Neftali Feliz just got a lot more stable, with Adams and Uehara able to get the game from the starter to Feliz without breaking a sweat. Even better, the presence of Adams allows the Rangers to move Feliz out of the closer's role in October if need be, as well as grease the skids for a conversion to starting pitcher next season with Adams in the fold to close.

LOSERS

1. QUANTITY OVER QUALITY

DodgersIn the morning, Los Angeles' deal sending Rafael Furcal -- who was injured most of the year and not producing when he was in the lineup -- to St. Louis was finalized. They received a 24-year-old outfielder crushing Double-A but without much promise, and $1.4 million in saved money. Whatever, right? The Dodgers aren't listed here because of that deal.

There was only one trade made the entire week in which a team was instantly ridiculed for its move. The Cardinals were headed for the loser's seat before the waning minutes of the deadline, but Los Angeles took it away with a staggering display of incompetence. To help Boston facilitate acquiring Erik Bedard, the Dodgers agreed to trade away Trayvon Robinson, one of the few bright spots in the high minors that could actually hit. Robinson, along with Jerry Sands, could have made a pretty decent first base-left field combo over the next few years. Instead, Robinson will take his .293/.375/.563 line with 26 home runs in Triple-A to Seattle while the Dodgers come away with three organizational pieces.

And really, that's all they are. You've got catcher Tim Federowicz, who has a strong defensive reputation but whose hitting will be challenged enough that he best profiles as a long-term backup catcher. Those aren't tough to find. Add in starter Stephen Fife, who has pitched to Federowicz all season for Double-A Portland, who profiles as a back of the rotation starter or solid middle reliever. Lastly, Juan Rodriguez, a reliever who throws smoke but is 22 years old and in Class A. Splendid. Oh, and all three will be Rule 5 eligible after the year, meaning they need to be added to the 40-man roster or risk being lost in the draft -- and all three would be strong candidates to be taken. The Dodgers, in one fell swoop, traded away one of their few high-ceiling prospects for three organizational players who will all require 40-man spots, which are incredibly valuable.

2. STANDING PAT

CubsYou will hear much more on Monday about the Cubs' massive failure at the trade deadline thanks to GM Jim Hendry, who really should be fired on the spot. But while we're here, we might as well recap the Cubs' situation. That situation is a 42-65 record, which is just a few losses away from a 100-loss pace. The Cubs are loaded with unseemly contracts, ranging from the obscene (Alfonso Soriano) to the bad (Carlos Zambrano) to the unnecessary (John Grabow).

And yet, not only was Hendry content not to move any pieces but he was fine encouraging Aramis Ramirez to stay in town. He was fine ruling out the trading of a backup platoon infielder in Jeff Baker. (Read that last sentence again.) The only player Hendry parted with was Fukudome, and he never had fans in the front office and was a lock to leave after the season, anyways.

Instead of trying to set the Cubs up for future success, Hendry seemed paralyzed by which direction to go and while choosing to become buyers would have been ludicrous, it would have been a more palatable direction than just staying pat. Of course, the Cubs aren't flush with a deep farm system, especially after trading for Matt Garza. So Hendry's stuck pretending to be a contender for what, at least from this side of things, seems to be nothing more than a desperate attempt to save his job by pretending his team is close to contention and does not need a fire sale -- a fire sale that would have been entirely Hendry's fault.

3. MASTER PLAN FOILED

OriolesLet's think back to before the season started. Baltimore was coming off a 66-96 season, but optimism abounded thanks to Buck Showalter's 34-23 record to cap off the year. Brian Matusz was emerging into a top young pitcher and Zach Britton wasn't too far behind. The offense needed some help, but was young enough and projectable enough to have some optimism moving forward. In an attempt to make baseball relevant again in Baltimore and give the players some leadership, as well as something to strive for, the O's went veteran heavy in their free-agent signings.

Understandable, even if Baltimore knew it wasn't going to make any type of postseason run. It could still jack up energy in the city, then deal these players at the trade deadline for solid prospects or young players that might help the O's take the next step forward. Alas, Justin Duchscherer has been hurt all season. Vladimir Guerrero has taken his $8 million and crumbled before our very eyes, then hit the disabled list and destroyed his trade value. Only Derrek Lee's recent hot streak saved his trade value, and even he was only able to fetch a 23-year-old currently doing pretty decent ... in high-Class A. Hardly the return to make Baltimore relevant. The Orioles took a risk in the offseason, and even if you don't blame them for Lee and Guerrero's failures at the plate, they are losers because they came away from these moves with a net negative. All these millions of dollars and playing time allocations wasted, rather than giving Felix Pie and Nolan Reimold an entire year to establish themselves.

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