Tag:BRaves
Posted on: November 16, 2011 4:22 pm
 

The 2011 Anti-Managers of the Year



By Matt Snyder


Some of the best managers in baseball for 2011 were listed on ballots that were revealed Wednesday. Joe Maddon and Kirk Gibson came out on top in a completely unsurprising movement. But what about the other end of the spectrum? Who were the worst managers? We'll exclude guys who were fired during the season because they've already suffered enough. But what about the managers who kept their jobs well into September despite failing to meet preseason expectations? Let's check them out.

AL Anti-Manager of the Year candidates

Terry Francona, Red Sox. No, he wasn't fired during the season. He walked away after the season, so he's "eligible" in this fun little exercise. And with the fallout of the historic collapse we've already heard far too much about, you have to question everyone in the Red Sox organization. Francona built up a ton of credibility throughout his years at the helm in Boston and rightfully so, but in looking at just 2011, the awful September is a real black eye on his resume.

Ozzie Guillen, White Sox. He wasn't fired either. He walked away to take a new job after having a colossal disappointment of a season. The White Sox were picked by many to win the AL Central with what looked like a stacked offense and very good starting pitching. Instead, Adam Dunn and Alex Rios were albatrosses, Gordon Beckham took a step backward in his development and the back-end of the bullpen was a mess for the first several weeks of the season. There were some positives, but the negatives far outweighed those on a high-priced roster that failed to meet expectations.

Ron Gardenhire, Twins. It's hard to completely blame Gardenhire for the disaster that was the Twins' 2011 season, considering all the injuries, but, frankly, I needed a third name here. And with the Twins getting 31 games worse in one season, Gardenhire has to shoulder at least some of the load.

The pick: It's gotta be Francona with that monumental collapse. And the funny thing is, I'd hire him in a heartbeat if I was running a team with a managerial opening. He just had a bad month, along with many of his players.

NL Anti-Manager of the Year candidates

Fredi Gonzalez, Braves. His ballclub lost a double-digit lead in the NL wild card in one month. That's not always on the manager, as the offense was sputtering just as it had most of the season, but I'm placing a lot of blame on Gonzalez because the back-end of his bullpen started to falter down the stretch. All season, people had been pointing out the overuse of Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters. And all season, Gonzalez just ignored it, and continued running the duo out there, even with three-run leads. Just because the save rule says a three-run lead means a save opportunity doesn't mean you have to use your guys. What was wrong with using Scott Linebrink and George Sherrill with a three-run lead in the middle of July, for example? Plus, there were times Gonzalez used either Venters or Kimbrel with a lead bigger than three. That's just unexcusable.

Dusty Baker, Reds. The Reds got 12 games worse in a mediocre division (yes, there were two good teams, but three pretty bad ones) with very similar personnel to their division-winning team in 2010. In four seasons, Baker has only had a winning record once.

Mike Quade, Cubs. Flawed roster? Yes. Injuries? Sure. But Quade was still pretty overmatched and appeared to lose control of his locker room by July. This was coming from a guy many players endorsed prior to the season.

Jim Tracy, Rockies. The Jorge De La Rosa injury hurt, just as some underperformance from a few players, but the Rockies entered the season with far too much talent to end up a whopping 16 games under .500. Manager of the Year voting seems to always use performance versus expectations, so it's only fair the Anti-Manager does the same. Thus, Tracy's inclusion here.

The pick: Gonzalez, and I'd actually think about firing him due to the aforementioned overuse of Kimbrel and Venters. It cost his team the season. Hopefully the wear and tear doesn't alter the career paths of the young fireballers.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 15, 2011 8:31 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 8:39 pm
 

Tuesday rumor roundup from GM Meetings

By Matt Snyder

With baseball's annual general manager meetings taking place in Milwaukee, there are many rumors floating around. Here's what CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler -- who is there -- heard Tuesday.

• The Yankees have met with Bob Garber, who is the agent for free agent starting pitchers C.J. Wilson and Roy Oswalt. The two sides are in preliminary discussions about both players, but several other teams are obviously still in play.

• The Red Sox are going to interview an unnamed candidate for a second time. Dale Sveum is also getting a second interview and several have speculated he's the front-runner.

• The Nationals need a center fielder and some other pieces, but are primarily focusing on one veteran starting pitcher. They're in on Wilson, Oswalt and Mark Buehrle. And we know they aren't shy when it comes to spending money (Exhibit A: Jayson Werth). Adding one of these guys to a rotation with young guns Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann would give the Nats a very strong rotation. The Nationals also wouldn't rule out any of the big-name offensive free agents (Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes), but it's much more likely they go pitching.

• The Orioles don't have near as much money to spend as some people thought they'd have. "We have to be smarter and work harder," new general manager Dan Duquette said. It looks like a payroll in the range of $90 million, which is an increase, but not a gigantic one. They opened last season with just over $85 million in player salaries.

• The Brewers have big reservations on signing Rafael Furcal and probably can't make a serious run at Jose Reyes, so don't be surprised if they bring back Yuniesky Betancourt to play shortstop. Also, Knobler told me it sounds like "the longest of longshots" Prince Fielder is back next season.

• Expect the owners to approve the sale of the Astros Thursday, and the move will also result in the Astros moving to the American League, starting in 2013. This will result in two 15-team leagues and interleague play all season.

• The Collective Bargaining Agreement will not be announced during the meetings. It will come Friday at the earliest, but don't worry, it's going to get done.

Here are some other notes from the meetings, compiled from other reporters:

• The Mets won't likely offer a six-year contract to Jose Reyes, Andy Martino of the Daily News reports. This isn't all too surprising but it's worth noting because the Marlins have reportedly offered Reyes six years and $90 million.

• The Reds are one of many teams that have contacted the Braves about All-Star pitcher Jair Jurrjens, but it's going to take "a ton" to land him, reports Jon Heyman of SI.com.

David Ortiz really wants to stay in Boston and will let the Red Sox match any offer he gets on the open market (Boston Herald).

Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com reports that the Red Sox, Reds, Blue Jays, Marlins, Dodgers, Angels, and Mets are all suitors for free agent closer Francisco Cordero. He's been a bit overshadowed in this free agency class by the likes of Jonathan Papelbon, Heath Bell and Ryan Madson, but Cordero has some serious pedigree as a closer. Only Mariano Rivera has more career saves among active players than Cordero.

• The Twins are interested in Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit, and that interest would heighten if Michael Cuddyer signs elsewhere (Star Tribune).

Hat-tips: MLB Trade Rumors

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 14, 2011 2:09 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 2:40 pm
 

Hellickson, Kimbrel named Rookie of the Year

Hellickson, Kimbrel

By Evan Brunell


While the NL was saturated with quality rookies, there was one clear candidate that stood out: closer Craig Kimbrel.

On Monday, Kimbrel's excellent season was recognized as he was named NL Rookie of the Year. Over in the American League, Jeremy Hellickson took home the award.

Rookie of the Year
Miller
The Rookie of the Year award voting went exactly as Scott Miller predicted.
Read>>
Related links
Kimbrel's 46 saves blew past the previous rookie record for saves, set by Neftali Feliz in 2010 with 40 saves. While Kimbrel was lucky enough to both hold off and benefit from dominant setup man Johnny Venters, he was wholly deserving of the award. The righty struck out an incredible 127 batters in 77 innings, posting a 2.10 ERA.

The 23-year-old beat out two of his teammates in first baseman Freddie Freeman and starter Brandon Beachy for the honors. He also had to hold off Phillies starter Vance Worley and Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa. The last time an Atlanta player won Rookie of the Year was in 2000, when Rafael Furcal took home the win.

Kimbrel's victory was historic, as he paired with Freeman to finish 1-2 in the voting. It's the first time since 1989 that a team was represented with the top two finishers. The Cubs' Jerome Walton and Dwight Smith were the last to accomplish the feat, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Not just that, but Kimbrel won unanimously, handing him the first unanimous vote since Albert Pujols' victory in 2001.

Hellickson, who now pairs with teammate Evan Longoria (2008) as the only Rays to win the award, entered the season with high expectations. Tampa Bay dealt away top pitcher Matt Garza in anticipation of Hellickson stepping in seamlessly, which he certainly did. In 29 starts, he posted a 2.95 ERA. He was actually very lucky, as he struck out just 117 and walked 72, but the Rays' dazzling defense behind him didn't disappoint. Hellickson gave up just 22.1 percent of all batted balls for hits, which is remarkably below the league average of 29 to 30 percent.

But while Hellickson's peripherals pointed to a poorer season than it may have otherwise appeared, the righty still put up remarkable numbers and is poised to break out into an ace in the coming seasons. If Tampa Bay had an average defense, Hellickson probably falls out of the top spot for the award, but it's not as if Hellickson's luck wasn't deserved. He led all rookies in innings pitched and some credit for his BABIP luck has to be attributed to Hellickson, who had the lowest opponent batting average among all rookies as well.

Hellickson beat out Mariners starter Michael Pineda and Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer for the honor. His closest competition was Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo, who received five first-place votes. Hosmer received four, with Ivan Nova of the Yankees taking home one along with Mariners second baseman Dustin Ackley.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 14, 2011 2:02 pm
 

NL Rookie of the Year honor belongs to Kimbrel

By Evan Brunell

While the NL was saturated with quality rookies, there was one clear candidate that stood out: closer Craig Kimbrel.

On Monday, Kimbrel's excellent season was recognized, as he was named NL Rookie of the Year. Kimbrel's 46 saves blew past the previous rookie record for saves, set by Neftali Feliz in 2010 with 40 saves. While Kimbrel was lucky enough to both hold off and benefit from dominant setup man Johnny Venters, he was wholly deserving of the award. The righty struck out an incredible 127 batters in 77 innings, posting a 2.10 ERA.

Kimbrel beat out two of his teammates in first baseman Freddie Freeman and starter Brandon Beachy for the honors. He also had to hold off Phillies starter Vance Worley and Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa. The last time an Atlanta player won Rookie of the Year was in 2000, when Rafael Furcal took home the win.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: November 11, 2011 4:53 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2011 2:01 pm
 

Closer look at all 30 closing situations



By C. Trent Rosecrans
 and Matt Snyder

It appears the first domino in closer market has fallen (at least, we're pretty sure this time), but that leaves Heath Bell and Ryan Madson as the top relievers still available. But who needs a closer? Here's a look at the closing situation for all 30 teams.

AL East

Baltimore Orioles: Kevin Gregg is still under contract -- much to the chagrin of new general manager Dan Duquette's chagrin. Gregg will make $5.8 million in 2012, not exactly ideal for a guy with a WHIP of 1.642 last season and an ERA of 4.37 while picking up 22 saves. Jim Johnson recorded nine saves and threw just 91 innings, but doesn't exactly miss a ton of bats. The Orioles could move Johnson to the rotation.
Possibilities: Gregg, Johnson, Bell, Francisco Cordero, Francisco Rodriguez, Jonathan Broxton.

Red Sox: Well, obviously Papelbon is gone. Papelbon was the Red Sox closer for the last six years, recording the final out of the 2007 World Series among other memories. Still, As untouchable as he was in his first four years as the closer (1.74 ERA and 0.917 WHIP from 2006-2009), he had a 3.43 ERA and 1.104 WHIP over the last two seasons. Daniel Bard is unhittable at times, but struggled in the last two months of the season (which certainly wasn't uncommon among Red Sox), posting a 6.95 ERA in 21 games in August and September.
Possibilities: Bard, Madson, Bell.

New York Yankees: Mariano Rivera. Enough said.

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays let the Yankees overpay for Rafael Soriano and then picked up Kyle Farnsworth off the discard pile, signing him to a two-year, $6 million deal. In retrospect, it was genius -- Farnsworth had 25 saves with a 2.18 ERA in 2011 and the Rays will keep him another year and let someone else overpay him for 2013.

Toronto Blue Jays: Frank Francisco was the team's closer for much of 2011, but he's a free agent and the team could be looking to spend some money on a  closer.
Possibilities: Madson, Bell, Cordero, Rodriguez, Casey Janssen.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox: Right-hander Sergio Santos converted 30 of 36 save opportunities, liming batters to just a .181/.282/.314 slash line and he should be in line to keep his job in 2012. If he falters, Addison Reed has a chance to take over.

Cleveland Indians: Chris Perez is on solid ground as the team's closer, picking up 35 saves in 2011.

Detroit Tigers: The Tigers picked up the $9 million option on Jose Valverde.

Kansas City Royals: The Royals picked up the $6 million option on Joakim Soria and have options for 2013 and 2014.

Minnesota Twins: The Twins declined their $12.5 million option on incumbent Joe Nathan, but have expressed interest in bringing him back. Although his overall numbers -- 4.84 ERA, 1.164 WHIP, 14 saves -- weren't too impressive, he did convert all 11 of his saves in the second half of the season. Left-hander Glen Perkins had two saves in 2011 and struck out 65 batters in 61 2/3 innings. If the team doesn't sign a free agent -- or trade for someone -- Perkins would have the best shot.
Possibilities: Nathan, Perkins, Jon Rauch, Broxton.

AL West

Los Angeles Angels: Jordan Walden recorded 32 saves as a rookie and made the All-Star team. He did blow 10 saves last season, so it wouldn't be a complete shock if the team looked for an upgrade, but it's not expected, especially with tight purse strings this winter. The team could bring in a veteran for cheap that could close if Walden falters.
Possibilities: Walden, Scott Downs, Broxton, Rauch.

Oakland Athletics: Andrew Bailey is the team's closer, but a trade is always possible with Oakland.

Seattle Mariners: Brandon League had 37 saves and a 2.79 ERA in 2011.

Texas Rangers: The Rangers could be a wild card in the free agent closer market if they decided to move Neftali Feliz to the rotation. The Rangers tried that last spring but decided to keep Feliz in the bullpen. If they bring in a big-name, that would mean they believe Feliz can make the move. If not, there's still a chance of Mike Adams taking over for Feliz. Or they could bring in a low-cost veteran to have in reserve in case Feliz does work in the rotation.
Possibilities: Mike Adams, Madson, Cordero, Rauch, Broxton.

NL East

Atlanta Braves: Craig Kimbrel. Period. 

Miami Marlins: While the artist formerly known as Leo Nunez gets his name issue sorted out, the Marlins have a gaping hole at closer. The current members of their bullpen combined for four saves last season. Do the Marlins try to go with an internal option like Edward Mujica or make a splash on the free agent market (as they've been connected to several huge names already)? 
Possibilities: Nunez, Mujica, Madson, Cordero, Rodriguez, Bell.

New York Mets: If they stay internally, which is entirely possible, it looks like Bobby Parnell. But he wasn't awesome by any stretch when given save chances last season. The Mets have spent big on a free agent closer before (K-Rod), so would they be gunshy in doing so again? It's possible. But it's also possible they try to land someone like Ryan Madson. 
Possibilities: Parnell, Madson, Bell.

Philadelphia Phillies: Papelbon. 

Washington Nationals: Drew Storen closed 43 of 48 games in 2011, his first full season in the majors. One would think that would be enough to earn him at least another year on the job, but Storen's name keeps popping up in trade rumors and the Nationals have been reportedly interested in Madson. The Nats have plenty of money, so if they wanted to ink a big-name closer and deal Storen as part of a package for a center fielder (Denard Span, perhaps?), they would be able to do so. 
Possibilities: Storen, Madson, Bell, Cordero.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs: It's probably going to be Carlos Marmol again, but he better get himself in gear. Not only did he blow 10 saves, but his once-astronomical strikeout rate lowered a bit in 2011 and control continues to be a serious problem. With new brass at the helm, 2011 will likely be his last chance to get things fixed. 

Cincinnati Reds: Cordero had a great four-year run with the Reds, amassing 150 saves with a 2.96 ERA, but he's a free agent now. Fireballer Aroldis Chapman is ticketed for the starting rotation and Nick Masset seems to be awfully inconsistent. The Reds don't have the money to spend in free agency, so would they make a trade for, say, Huston Street or Andrew Bailey? Seems unlikely. Either Chapman doesn't make it as a starter and sticks as closer or someone internally (23-year-old Brad Boxberger?) gets a shot. This one is totally up in the air. 
Possibilities: Cordero, Chapman, Boxberger, Bailey, Street, Broxton.

Houston Astros: Mark Melancon saved 20 games with a 2.78 ERA last season. There are far bigger problems with this team to believe they'll try hard to make a change here.

Milwaukee Brewers: John Axford and his award-winning 'stache.  

Pittsburgh Pirates: All-Star Joel Hanrahan nailed down the job last season. 

St. Louis Cardinals: Jason Motte was never officially named closer by the stubborn Tony La Russa, but he did more than enough down the stretch and in the playoffs to earn the job for 2012, closing nine of 10 saves during the Cardinals' late run and five more in the postseason. 

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks: It will again be J.J. Putz with David Hernandez filling in if (when?) Putz falls injured.

Colorado Rockies: Street is reportedly on the trading block. If he's is dealt, look for Rafael Betancourt to take over. He collected eight saves with a 2.89 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning in 2011. 

Los Angeles Dodgers: Rookie Javy Guerra came on to save 21 games in 23 chances with a 2.31 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings in 2011. That's enough to have nailed down the job for the 2011 season, one would think. 

San Diego Padres: Bell is a free agent, but the Padres may just offer him arbitration, and he actually might accept it. If he does stay, the choice is obvious. If Bell leaves, there's a decent internal option in Chad Qualls. Qualls, 33, has 51 career saves. As far as free agency, if the Padres want to pay for a closer, they'll be paying for Bell. 
Possibilities: Bell, Qualls.

San Francisco: The Beard. 

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 10, 2011 10:02 am
 

Rockies showing interest in Oswalt, Prado

By Matt Snyder

Being that it's still only November 10, it's going to be a while until most of the offseason activity even begins. It's mostly just a bunch of rumors and speculation at this point as teams get their ducks in a row. So here's your Rockies update.

Martin Prado has reportedly already been made available by the Braves via trade -- as we've previously passed along -- and the Rockies have interest, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. As far as a return? Seth Smith interests the Braves, reports David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. (Hat-tip: MLB Trade Rumors)

Prado, 28, could fill a hole at either second or third base for the Rockies, where Jonathan Herrera and Ian Stewart, respectively, likely sit atop the current Rockies' depth chart at those positions. Without Smith, the Rockies could still use Eric Young Jr. or Ryan Spilborghs in the outfield alongside Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler in the outfield. Smith would then likely slide in as the left field starter for the Braves.

Also, MLB.com reports the Rockies have interest in starting pitcher Roy Oswalt to anchor the rotation. We've already heard about strong interest in Oswalt by the Nationals and at least mild interest from the Rangers and Yankees, so add the Rockies to the list.

Oswalt, 34, would definitely be the established, veteran presence if the Rockies brought him in. With Jorge De La Rosa still recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Rockies are left with some mix of Jhoulys Chacin, Alex White, Drew Pomeranz, Jason Hammel and Esmil Rogers in the starting rotation.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 3, 2011 10:23 pm
 

Verlander tops at Players Choice awards

By Matt Snyder

Major League Baseball Players Association held its annual awards show Thursday night on MLB Network to reveal winners in 10 different categories. Tigers ace Justin Verlander was the big winner, taking home both the AL Pitcher of the Year and the MLB Player of the Year awards. This on the same night he announced he will grace the cover of a video game in the spring, so it was quite a night for Verlander.

Here's a complete list of the winners:

MLB Player of the Year: Verlander
Marvin Miller Man of the Year: Michael Young, Rangers

NL Outstanding Player: Matt Kemp, Dodgers
NL Outstanding Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
NL Outstanding Rookie: Craig Kimbrel, Braves
NL Comeback Player: Lance Berkman, Cardinals

AL Outstanding Player: Curtis Granderson, Yankees
AL Outstanding Pitcher: Verlander
AL Outstanding Rookie: Mark Trumbo, Angels
AL Comeback Player: Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox

It's worth noting that this was the second time in three years Young has taken Man of the Year honors, which is given to a "player who inspires others to higher levels of achievement by his on-field performances and contributions to his community." The other nominees for that award were Paul Konerko of the White Sox and Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals.

Click here to view a complete list of the nominees on MLBPlayers.com.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 3, 2011 5:51 pm
Edited on: November 3, 2011 6:01 pm
 

Report: Braves willing to deal Jurrjens, Prado

By Matt Snyder

The Braves got the hot stove season started earlier this week by trading veteran starting pitcher Derek Lowe, and it appears they're not done dealing. They "might be willing" to trade infielder/outfielder Martin Prado and starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com.

Dealing either one would give the Braves further salary relief (they removed $5 million from their 2012 payroll when they traded Lowe) and possibly help in the pursuit of free agents. If Prado and Jurrjens are traded, the Braves would have holes in left field and shortstop (assuming they don't bring back Alex Gonzalez) and more than $10 million less in payroll from last season due to the deals.

Hot Stove Season
If Jurrjens is removed from the rotation, the Braves still have enough depth to field a solid starting five. Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor are easy choices, while youngsters Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran could compete for the fifth spot. Of course, Hanson's balky shoulder could be a concern, but trading Jurrjens still has merit. Bowman cites the Royals in his report as a possible fit, and Royals general manager Dayton Moore has been reportedly seeking rotation help.

Prado, 28, hit .260/.302/.385 with 13 home runs, 57 RBI and 66 runs in 129 games during a disappointing offensive season in 2011. He was an All-Star and finished ninth in NL MVP voting in 2010. That, teamed with his ability to play four to five positions could make him attractive.

Jurrjens, 25, was in the mix for All-Star starter this past season before his second half was decimated with a knee injury. He finished the season 13-6 with a 2.96 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 90 strikeouts in 152 innings. He was 12-3 with a 1.87 ERA and 1.07 WHIP at the All-Star break. 

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com