2008 Nationals Projections

Friday, February 29, 2008

C Paul Lo Duca
.268 AVG, 6 HR, 46 RBI
1B Dmitri Young
.285 AVG, 12 HR, 59 RBI
2B Ronnie Belliard
.272 AVG, 13 HR, 55 RBI
3B Ryan Zimmerman
.286 AVG, 31 HR, 104 RBI
SS Felipe Lopez
.255 AVG, 10 HR, 58 RBI
LF Wily Mo Pena
.273 AVG, 16 HR, 48 RBI
CF Lastings Milledge
.279 AVG, 17 HR, 68 RBI
RF Austin Kearns
.256 AVG, 14 HR, 63 RBI

1B Nick Johnson
.283 AVG, 19 HR, 67 RBI

SP Shawn Hill
9-5 W-L, 3.97 ERA, 74 K
SP John Patterson
8-9 W-L, 4.65 ERA, 92 K
SP Jason Bergmann
11-9 W-L, 4.59 ERA, 106 K
SP John Lannan
10-10 W-L, 4.76 ERA, 76 K
SP Matt Chico
8-11 W-L, 4.86 ERA, 114 K



Top 5 Prospects: AL and NL West

Jonathan Mayo covers the minor leagues and the draft as a senior writer for MLB.com. Mayo also has a book coming out that has some interesting timing. It is a look at what it is like to face Roger Clemens and is appropriately titled Facing Clemens. The book was written prior to the release of the Mitchell Report and is now available for purchase. He’s agreed to do a series of posts on the top prospects in each division heading into the 2008 season. Last week, he covered the AL and NL East. Now he’ll take a look at the top 5 prospects in the AL and NL West.

AL West

The A's have their offseason trades to thank for being on this list twice.

  1. Nick Adenhart, RHP, Angels. He's going to make everyone want Tommy John surgery. He'll be knocking on the door this year and he's only 21.
  2. Brandon Wood, SS/3B, Angels. To some, his star has faded. But he's only 23, has big-time power potential and can now play short or third capably. There's still a lot to like.
  3. Carlos Gonzalez, OF, A's. A lot of people want to hand him a job in the A's outfield now. Even if it's not immediate, he's going to force his way there before the season is over. Eventually, he's going to mature into a prototypical right fielder.
  4. Gio Gonzalez, LHP, A's. One of my personal favorites because of his infectious personality, he also can flat-out pitch. He's got nasty stuff that allowed him to lead the Minors in strikeouts. I'd give him a rotation spot now.
  5. Eric Hurley, RHP, Rangers. He's moved steadily along while the vaunted DVD (Danks, Vazquez, Diamond) has long-since split up. He won't crack the rotation right away, but I could see him making an impact at some point in 2008.

NL West

A revitalized Padres system produces two top guys.

  1. Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Dodgers. He's the best pitching prospect in baseball, in my opinion. His size, his stuff, his command, his poise, his left-handedness. I know projecting pitching is risky business, but this guy is the real deal.
  2. Franklin Morales, LHP, Rockies. The National League will learn first-hand this year just how nasty he is. A good choice for NL Rookie of the Year. The young Rockies keep getting better.
  3. Matt Antonelli, 2B, Padres. Tad Iguchi? Really. As a prospect geek, that disappointed me. Padres fans will have to wait a year because Antonelli will be ready for a shot by then, if not sooner. He can hit with some pop and runs quite well. A move to the OF isn't out of the question.
  4. Chase Headley, 3B/OF, Padres. Speaking of moves to the OF, that's what Headley's done. With Kevin Kouzmanoff cemented in at the hot corner, Headley will carry his bat to left. At least the Padres realized they need to get his bat into the lineup.
  5. Andy LaRoche, 3B, Dodgers. Yes, he fizzled in his opportunities in the past, but trust me, this guy can play. He's in great shape and it should be a fun competition for the third base job in Dodger camp. Here's hoping LaRoche wins it.


Where Will Lohse Go?

Free agent pitcher Kyle Lohse is still on the market looking for a job, and the Mets and Phillies are no longer interested. Lohse has been looking for a one to two year deal worth 5-7 million dollars annually, but has yet to find it. Lohse was once looking at a Carlos Silva like deal but poor negotiation by his agent, Scott Boras, has lead many to believe that he might open the year without a job. Lohse's numbers are not worthy of a Carlos Silva like contract, but more like a Jason Marquis deal. Going 9-12 with a 4.62 ERA in the NL and calling the AL too hard won't do you any good, especially because you rule out 15 teams that might be interested in signing you. If the Reds are that desperate for pitching come the end of spring training, they could try and add Lohse to a one year deal, worth 3-5 million dollars. Other teams that might try and add him include the Pirates, but only if Tom Gorzelanny is out for an extended amount of time, Astros, Marlins, Orioles, Dodgers, and Padres.


Marlins To Sign Patterson?

Free agent outfielder Corey Patterson is still on the market, and no deal appears close. His hometown Braves are not interested and the Orioles are pretty set with Adam Jones, Luke Scott, and Nick Markakis in the outfield. Jayson Stark of ESPN.com believes that the Marlins could jump in. The Marlins have talked about bringing him in if his price comes down, but that does not seem likely just yet. His agent, Scott Boras, is still looking for a big contract. One reason why the Marlins might bring him in is because they do not see the need to rush Cameron Maybin and bringing in Patterson would give them a solid outfielder for the top of their lineup. If Patterson wants to be ready for Opening Day, he better take a deal pretty soon or he might be unemployed come March 31st.


Dodgers Coaches To Ignore Helmet Rule

New Dodgers third base coach Larry Bowa is protesting the rule requiring base coaches to wear helmets. This is a result of the death of former first base coach Mike Coolbaugh from the Rockies system, who was struck in the head by a fall ball this past season. "I'll really make a joke out of it," Bowa said. Bowa went on to say that he will take the fine for 162 games, because he will not do it. Personally, I think Bowa and Dodgers management for not enforcing this are disrespecting the Coolbaugh family, the Rockies, and Major League Baseball. What is the big deal? Is he trying to make a fashion statement? I understand that they may be uncomfortable, but I think they should at least respect the rule for the sake of the Coolbaugh's. I have a lot of respect for Larry Bowa, but I think he is wrong to openly reject the rule before the season even starts.


Cubs Still Trying To Deal

Thursday, February 28, 2008

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs would still like to make a trade before Opening Day. They are reportedly sending scouts all over Arizona to look at players, and you know they have scouts in Fort Lauderdale covering Brian Roberts. The Cubs saw a lot from some of their younger players in their opening day win over the Giants, but I think they are set on making a move. Before I get to Brian Roberts, the Cubs are having internal discussions about Coco Crisp. Crisp has been pushed out of a job by young outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and has told the Red Sox he would like a trade. The Red Sox have approached the Braves, Rangers, Padres, and Cubs, among others, about Crisp, but nothing is really brewing just yet. Probably because he hit .268 with 6 HR in 145 games last season, but also because he has got 10.5 million dollars left on his contract through 2009. One reason why I do not think the Cubs will make a move is because Felix Pie or Sam Fuld will be ready to take over everyday by 2009, if not this season. Felix Pie flexed some muscle today in the spring opener, and is the leading candidate in center. Another reason is because Crisp has little to no experience in the NL and a switch to the NL and to Wrigley Field might affect his numbers.

Now to Brian Roberts. Roberts had a great Spring opener as well but talks won't stop. The Orioles have sent scouts to the Cubs complex in Mesa to get a closer look at players that might be in the deal, and if the Orioles like what they see, we could see a deal get wrapped up pretty quickly. The Baltimore Sun believes Ronny Cedeno and Sean Gallagher will be apart of the deal, along with at least two other players. As for the other two, possibly Matt Murton. Lou Piniella was talking him up to reporters a couple days ago, but I do not think that has too much significance. As for other players, minor leaguer Tony Thomas could go to Baltimore. He is a solid second baseman with a lot of speed to burn. Roberts doesn't seem to worried, and I do not think we should be, for now.


Teixeira Loves Baltimore, But...

Braves first baseman Mark Teixeira was born in Baltimore. He has always loved playing the Orioles and enjoys seeing his family and friends at games out there. So, does that mean he is heading to Baltimore next off season via free agency? Teixeira did very well in Atlanta towards the end of last season and it would make sense that he would continue playing there. However, his agent is Scott Boras who always has his players go to the market to cash in. Not only that, but several big spending teams are in the need for a first baseman and could easily pay for a contract that he will be looking for. I suspect that Teixeira will be looking at a Vernon Wells type deal to start, but that will probably go up. Players that I have talked to on the Braves say the team is run like a family. They say everyone works out together, know each others families- all the things that would make a player comfortable in a new city. So don't rule out a long term deal for Teixeira in Atlanta. The Orioles have the money, but probably will look at for a hometown discount to bring him in. They just seem to conduct their business like that. As for other teams, I suspect the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Mets, among others to be the most aggressive suitors.


Shawn Green Retires

Fifteen year veteran outfielder Shawn Green has announced his retirement. Green, who most recently played with the Mets, was drawing some interest from a few West Coast teams. But since he hit .291 with 10 HR in 130 games, I think he would not accept anything less than a guaranteed deal. Green is a career .282 hitter with 328 HR in 1971 games with the Blue Jays, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, and Mets. Green was always known for being a great player with tremendous respect for the game, and now he will leaves the game to spend more time with his family.


Cardinals Release Spiezio

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

An arrest warrant for Scott Spiezio was issued today on six charges dating back to December. Spiezio, who did not play in Wednesday's opener, allegedly drove under the influence, and was involved in a hit and run, aggravated assault, and assault and battery. Because of this, the Cardinals released him in response to the charges. Spiezio has had a rough couple of seasons with the Cardinals. Last season, he was place on the restricted list so he could be treated for a "chemical dependency." "We hope Scott will continue to seek appropriate help and wish him the best in baseball, but more importantly in life." General Manager John Mozeliak said. In 200 games as a Cardinal, he has hit .270 AVG with 17 HR and 83 RBI. Not a terrible line, but certainly not worth keeping him around if he will be a distraction. With Spiezio off the roster, possible fillers include Josh Phelps, who hit .306 with 7 HR in 94 games, Juan Gonzalez, D'Angelo Jimenez, or one of the younger guys. We have a long way to go this Spring, and I think this problem will work itself out.


2008 Phillies Projections

C Carlos Ruiz
.268 AVG, 9 HR, 59 RBI
1B Ryan Howard
.282 AVG, 42 HR, 119 RBI
2B Chase Utley
.304 AVG, 33 HR, 116 RBI
3B Pedro Feliz
.264 AVG, 17 HR, 68 RBI
SS Jimmy Rollins
.284 AVG, 26 HR, 86 RBI
LF Pat Burrell
.262 AVG, 28 HR, 103 RBI
CF Shane Victorino
.276 AVG, 14 HR, 53 RBI
RF Geoff Jenkins
.266 AVG, 17 HR, 69 RBI

SP Brett Myers
14-5 W-L, 3.88 ERA, 177 K
SP Cole Hamels
16-8 W-L, 3.57 ERA, 183 K
SP Kyle Kendrick
10-11 W-L, 4.74 ERA, 97 K
SP Jamie Moyer
10-13 W-L, 5.03 ERA, 108 K
SP Adam Eaton
8-12 W-L, 5.69 ERA, 100 K



Santana to Close?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Angels starting pitcher Ervin Santana struggled to find his comfort zone last season, but is eying a comeback. Personally, I think he can do it. Although he went 7-14 with a 5.76 ERA in 28 games, he went 28-16 with a 4.47 ERA in the two seasons before that. However, if he cannot shock the Angels with his new and improved 'stuff,' we might see a switch to the bullpen in his future. The Angels may be thinking about life without Francisco Rodriguez and will consider Ervin Santana for the spot. Although he does not have closing in his past, several closers do not have experience in that spot and have still done well. He throws hard and has good movement, so he could be very successful if he pitched one to two innings every other day. Santana has never pitched over 33 games in a season, so endurance might be a problem. However, if Joe Saunders can do well in the rotation and Santana will accept a switch to the bullpen, they can start to convert him now. Yes, we are far from determining K-Rod's future with the team, but it might be smart to consider Santana in that spot for the future.


Will Diamondbacks Trade Hudson?

Diamondbacks second baseman Orlando Hudson is a year away from free agency and he might be traded if a contract cannot be worked out. Although I have not heard whether or not talks are ongoing, the Diamondbacks have not been ones to pay up for their players. They let Livan Hernandez walk this past offseason and with several young players in need of long term deals, they might let him walk as well and hope young second base prospect Emilio Bonifacio comes through. Also, if they want to give more time to Bonifacio they could sign someone like Mark Ellis or Luis Rivas as a one year stopgap. However, Hudson has said he wants to stay in Arizona and might be willing to take a discount that the Diamondbacks will take under their payroll: "I want to spend the rest of my career here. I love it here." As of right now, I think Hudson will stay in Arizona. But he is the best second baseman on the market and could land a huge deal if he puts together another solid season.

Bonds not going to New York: The Yankees have no plans to bring in Barry Bonds. That makes sense considering they have several big name players and very few spots left open.


News and Notes: Wells Contacts Cardinals

Monday, February 25, 2008

The agent of pitcher David Wells has put in a call to the Cardinals seeing whether or not they were interested. The Cardinals interest is lukewarm but could change if one of their pitchers does not perform this spring. "At this point, the Cardinals seem like they want to see how their younger guys look at camp." Wells went 9-9 with a 5.43 ERA and 83 K in 29 games last season, but finished the season going 4-1 with a 4.65 ERA. For the Cardinals, I think it would be a good signing. They do not have much depth and adding Wells, who wants to prove himself, could help the rotation and some of the younger pitchers who need guidance.

Johnson not stirring pot?: Blue Jays outfielder Reed Johnson has been shopped all offseason but there is no interest out there. Johnson has had back problems and maybe teams are waiting to see if he is okay before making a trade. Johnson hit .236 with 2 HR in 79 games, but when playing everyday he has showed he can hit for power and average.

Nathan likely gone?: Joe Nathan is looking for a Mariano Rivera like deal, and the Twins are not interested. I doubt Nathan is with the Twins next season.

Marlins should pay Ramirez soon: The Marlins should show the cash to shortstop Hanley Ramirez before his demands become too great. If they can lock him up to a deal slightly larger than Tulowitzki, it will allow them to lock up other players as well.

Mark Prior on the comeback: Mark Prior is excited about being with the Padres and a fresh start and it is showing by how hard he was working. Some Cubs fans I have talked to have said they are happy the Cubs do not need to worry about him, and hope he can do well, just not against the Cubs. That seems fair. I know a lot of Cubs fans did not like waiting and relying on him.

Sosa waiting for contract?: The agent of Sammy Sosa says they are holding out for a contract that guarantees him everyday playing time.

Mets trying to trade El Duque?: According to Jon Heyman, the Mets tried to trade Orlando Hernandez this offseason but found no interest. Maybe he proves he can perform maybe they will find a suitor and then sign Kyle Lohse in his place.

Milledge in for big year?: Nationals outfielder Lastings Milledge is ready to show that he can live up to his potential. But he is hoping to show the Mets more than anything. He believes the Mets did not ever believe in him.

Shawn Green closing in on a minor league deal?: According to sources, free agent outfielder Shawn Green is closing in on a minor league deal with an unknown west coast team. As for who it could be, I don't know. I thought maybe the Mariners but maybe the Dodgers would give him a shot to make the bench. Or the Padres, who are looking for a corner outfielder.


Rays Considering Bonds?

Rays officials are holding discussions about the possibility of bringing in outfielder and DH Barry Bonds. Bonds makes sense for the Rays because he would fit nicely in the DH spot, somewhere that they have struggled to fill. Yes, they have Johnny Gomes, but he and Cliff Floyd could fit in and play some outfield and first base and see their fair share of at-bats. Furthermore, if Barry Bonds has to leave the team for an extended amount of time, Floyd and Gomes could fit in. Manager Joe Maddon seems open to having him in the clubhouse, but I wonder if the players would like him in the clubhouse. Some of those guys are really thriving because they are being allowed to develop while not having to worry about media coverage. If Bonds were there, it might draw a lot of unwanted attention to the clubhouse. Both the Rays and Bonds agent said talks are not serious, but Bonds' agent said Japan was not out of the question.


2008 Marlins Projections

Sunday, February 24, 2008

C Mike Rabelo
.262 AVG, 6 HR, 48 RBI
1B Mike Jacobs
.255 AVG, 22 HR, 66 RBI
2B Dan Uggla
.263 AVG, 27 HR, 84 RBI
3B Dallas McPherson
.245 AVG, 14 HR, 57 RBI
SS Hanley Ramirez
.307 AVG, 26 HR, 78 RBI
LF Josh Willingham
.259 AVG, 24 HR, 72 RBI
CF Cameron Maybin
.272 AVG, 15 HR, 58 RBI
RF Jeremy Hermida
.284 AVG, 21 HR, 60 RBI

SP Scott Olsen
12-13 W-L, 4.92 ERA, 143 K
SP Sergio Mitre
7-10 W-L, 4.87 ERA, 73 K
SP Andrew Miller
10-16 W-L, 4.69 ERA, 149 K
SP Mark Hendrickson
8-13 W-L, 5.09 ERA, 98 K
SP Ricky Nolasco
9-10 W-L, 4.79 ERA, 87 K



Red Sox Sign Colon

According to ESPN.com, the Red Sox and Bartolo Colon have agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Colon provides depth to the Red Sox rotation, but is likely a fall back in case one of the younger pitchers goes down. Colon struggled to fully recovered from injury last season and it showed as he went 6-8 with a 6.34 ERA. The 2005 Cy Young winner is a long shot to make the team as his fastball has topped at 87 mpg.


Howard Looking For Big Extension

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is looking for a deal more than the eight year, 136 million that Alfonso Soriano got. In the year Soriano got that contract, he hit .277 with 46 HR, 95 RBI, 41 SB, and 160 K. This past season, Howard hit .268 with 47 HR, 136 RBI, 1 SB, and 199 K. Those numbers are pretty similar, and if Howard does it again I assume the market will take him up to a something like a ten year deal worth 20 million dollars annually. Personally, I do not know if the Phillies will take that kind of contract under their wings, but they might be able to sign him to a short term extension to buy out some of arbitration, and then trade him during the 2010 or 2011 season. Howard does not seem to set on his future, so I think he will explore the waters just for the experience. The Phillies plan to go year by year with Howard, and might take him to arbitration one or two more times before considering a big extension. So we are obviously far from a resolution here but this could turn into an ugly situation if something is not settled soon.


Brewers Will Try New Lineup Style

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Brewers manager Ned Yost is considering a lineup that would have Jason Kendall batting ninth and Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder hitting second and third, respectively. Yost wants Braun to get more at-bats and thinks if he were in the two spot, the second and third time through the lineup he will have opportunities to drive in runners. This would also allow for Fielder to hit like he was in the cleanup spot. Although the idea has a good chance to work with their kind of lineup, it does put a lot of pressure on the 5-6-7 guys to get on base. If they are unable to get on base, it completes ruins the idea and will allow teams to limit Ryan Braun's potential damage. Furthermore, the Reds always start off very strong in April and early May and if the Brewers struggle, they will have a much harder time coming back. Not only that, but if the Cubs start off strong with new acquisition Kosuke Fukudome and rookies Geovanny Soto and Felix Pie finding their swing, it would put a lot more pressure on Milwaukee to stop the idea and adjust quickly. I think it is a good idea, but a good idea later in the season after players find their step.

Word coming out of Brewers camp is that Braun's agent, Naz Balelo, is working on an extension
for Braun, similar to the one Troy Tulowitzki got. "It's certainly something I am open to, but I honestly haven't thought about it too much yet," Braun said. "I'm definitely not opposed to considering whatever they have to say." The meeting was informal, but positive, according to officials. I do not expect something to get done before the season starts, but something next off season seems likely.


Padres Interest Turns To Gross

The Padres are looking for an outfielder and have turned their interest to outfielder Gabe Gross. Gross hit .235 with 7 HR in 95 games, but he is just 28 and could be the Padres outfielder for the next couple of years. Furthermore, the Padres will not have to give up as much as they would if they were to trade for Xavier Nady or Matt Murton, so that makes him an even more solid pick up. The Brewers are likely to unload him because there is no room in the Padres outfield, so they might be willing to take less. They have Tony Gwynn and Gabe Kapler behind Mike Cameron, Ryan Braun, and Corey Hart, so carrying six outfielders seems pointless. The A's and Indians were believed to be interested in him as well, but I think the Padres are the most likely to trade for him.


Interview with LaTroy Hawkins

Friday, February 22, 2008

Today, I had the chance to talk to veteran pitcher LaTroy Hawkins. Hawkins is a Yankee relief pitcher, but was apart of the Rockies last year, and the Twins in the early 2000s that made the playoffs. He is a class act, who is likely to set up for closer Mariano Rivera. He was nice enough to take some time away from his busy Spring training schedule to answer some questions for me. I want to thank him and Mike Dillon of Reynolds Sports Management for setting this up for me, I really appreciate it.

ELI: You played baseball, basketball, and ran track in high school. Which was your strongest sport at the time?

LaTroy: Basketball. But I couldn't go pro in the NBA, maybe somewhere else, but not the NBA.

ELI: Was there any doubt in your mind that baseball was not the path you were going to take?

LaTroy: No, not really. My grandpa said baseball was my best sport so I took his word for it.

ELI: Back in 1994, you played in A, AA, and AAA. Do you remember what kind of adjustments you had to make to continue doing well at the higher levels?

LaTroy: I just kept doing what I was doing. Throw strikes, limit walks. I had a solid defense which was good to have and it worked to my benefit.

ELI: Can you tell me about when you were called up? How were you told? Where were you?

LaTroy: I was taken out of Spring Training. They extended the rosters coming off the strike, so we had thirty players for the first two weeks. So that is how I got my big league review, off the expanded rosters.

ELI: 2002 and 2003 were great years for you. What sorts of things were working well for you those years?

LaTroy: I was comfortable in my role. I was able to throw a lot of strikes, get a lot of ground balls. I was thinking ahead in the count. I could get the ball down and away on lefties and righties, so I was hitting my spots well.

ELI: You were a free agent in 2004, what was the experience like for you?

LaTroy: It was cool. A lot of teams wanted me, a lot were interested in my services.

ELI: This past season, you got out and helped the grounds crew with the tarp during that storm. Was it hard to handle?

LaTroy: No, it was not a big deal. I was out there for probably five minutes. Some of those guys were out there for twenty. I got a lot of credit for nothing.

ELI: What was the Colorado clubhouse like during the late season playoff run? Were a lot of guys superstitious?

LaTroy: You know, if you play well, good things will come. If you don't, bad things will come. Everyone was pretty excited. We started off poor, found every which way to lose, and now we were finding new ways to win. It was great.

ELI: You pitched in the playoff game against the Padres, how were you feeling after pitching a scoreless inning?

LaTroy: I felt good. That was the greatest game I have ever been apart of. I was there for David Wells' perfect game, but the energy, emotion of this game was different. I had all my adrenaline pumping. We knew they had no shot, they were down and out at that point.

ELI: You nearly signed with the Yankees back in 2004, was it pretty easy getting a contract done because you understood where they were coming from?

LaTroy: It is always easy with the Yankees. They don't mess around. If they want you, they will get you.

ELI: What is the typical Spring Training day like for a relief pitcher?

LaTroy: You have to be dressed by 10:15, but guys get there earlier to do their own workout. Then, we stretch as a team. After that, we do fundamentals: run downs, pop ups, ground balls, stuff that might happen during games. Then you do some individual stuff. Someone will hit the ball to first and you will run over and cover it. There are three stations of that. Then you go over signals, like for pitch outs. Then you do conditioning and that is when all the pitchers run together. Then you are done, but most go and work out individually in the gym.

ELI: You have pretty good deception, at what time in your career did you really work to make that better?

LaTroy: It was God given. It just comes out of my hand hard. I have always pitched like this so it was God given.

ELI: Do you have a favorite stadium to pitch at?

LaTroy: Yankee Stadium.

ELI: If you could give out one piece of advice to young, aspiring pitchers, what would it be?

LaTroy: Take care of your arms.


2008 Mariners Projections

DH Jose Vidro
.293 AVG, 8 HR, 56 RBI
C Kenji Johjima
.282 AVG, 12 HR, 59 RBI
1B Richie Sexson
.237 AVG, 19 HR, 65 RBI
2B Jose Lopez
.266 AVG, 10 HR, 64 RBI
3B Adrian Beltre
.273 AVG, 24 HR, 90 RBI
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
.294 AVG, 11 HR, 72 RBI
LF Raul Ibanez
.279 AVG, 18 HR, 92 RBI
CF Ichiro
.337 AVG, 8 HR, 64 RBI
RF Brad Wilkerson
.242 AVG, 16 HR, 58 RBI

SP Erik Bedard
15-7 W-L, 3.34 ERA, 215 K
SP Felix Hernandez
16-8 W-L, 3.76 ERA, 184 K
SP Carlos Silva
13-11 W-L, 4.39 ERA, 82 K
SP Jarrod Washburn
9-11 W-L, 4.76 ERA, 106 K
SP Miguel Batista
12-10 W-L, 4.48 ERA, 114 K



What's Happening In Spring Training?

Phillies: Yesterday, Ryan Howard won a record breaking arbitration case and will make 10 million dollars, instead of the 7 the Phillies wanted to pay him. He made 900,000 last year. Brad Lidge is throwing very well and should be the Phillies closer. Also, the Mets and Phillies feud is still going on, and Pedro Martinez is jumping in threating brawls. It will be an exciting first series.

Reds: Craig Wilson failed his physical and is no longer in Reds camp. I think Wilson would have made the team, and it is possible they will resign him once he gets healthy, but they have other options. Maybe if they trade Scott Hatteberg, they will try and sign him again. Josh Fogg is officially a Red.

Athletics: Some of the newly acquired A's are turning some heads in Spring Training. Not a surprise. The A's acquired some very good players who should be playing everyday in the MLB in a couple of seasons.

Yankees: The Yankees will be watching very closely to see if Derek Jeter can still play shortstop everyday. With a lot of players leaving via free agency, it is possible we could see him play first base, move Juan Miranda to DH, and sign a new shortstop, perhaps Rafael Furcal. If they were to go through trade, Michael Young is available, Chin-Lung Hu, if they are willing to take a chance. Otherwise, there are not many other options unless they were to pull off a big splash.

Marlins: Dallas McPhearson is hitting the ball really well in Marlins camp. If this continues, I doubt they will pursue a Wes Helms trade.

Blue Jays: Roy Halladay and Frank Thomas are looking really good in their first spring training workout. Also, the Blue Jays are really excited about young catching prospect Brian Jeroloman.

Twins: The Twins morale is already low, but Joe Mauer is looking good.

Cubs: The Cubs really like what they are seeing from Kosuke Fukudome, along with pitcher Esmailin Caridad. Also, the closer spot will be decided when games start, but it will likely go to Bob Howry over Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol to start.

Red Sox: Manny is no longer being Manny. Meaning, he is no longer asking for a trade every off season. He loves Boston, for now, and is hoping the Red Sox will pay him 20 million dollars. I doubt that will happen, but I do not doubt they will decline it and then sign him to something cheaper.

Indians: The Indians have a lot of chemistry, and it helped by not making too many moves. I think they are in for another good year.

Rays: Number one pick David Price is turning some heads in Spring Training, and so is Evan Longoria.

Nationals: Lastings Milledge is ready to be a National, and is excited about the opportunity to play everyday.

Dodgers: Nomar Garciaparra continues to be a leader, but he will have to adjust to a new role with the Dodgers.

That is all for now, check back soon.


Breakout Player Spotlight: Rickie Weeks

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Rickie Weeks is obviously the Brewers second baseman of the future. He can hit, run, and field - and he is a leader in the clubhouse. Last year was a down year coming off of surgery, but he is in for a big year that could take the Brewers into the playoffs. He is going to be in a good spot in the lineup where power is all around him, so he will have a chance to score and drive people in. I think he will be a great fantasy pick up and a player to look out for when pitching to this season. However, do not immediately go and pick him up. He does have injury problems that could easily come up again playing everyday. Still, one person close to Weeks said that a whole offseason to rest did him well and he should hit the ground running when the season the starts. We'll see, but if weeks is hanging around in the later rounds of your fanatasy leagues, I would take him.


Top 5 Prospects AL and NL Central

Jonathan Mayo covers the minor leagues and the draft as a senior writer for MLB.com. Mayo also has a book coming out that has some interesting timing. It is a look at what it is like to face Roger Clemens and is appropriately titled Facing Clemens. The book was written prior to the release of the Mitchell Report and is now available for purchase. He’s agreed to do a series of posts on the top prospects in each division heading into the 2008 season. Last week, he covered the AL and NL East. Now he’ll take a look at the top 5 prospects in the AL and NL Central.


This list would have been more balanced had the White Sox and Tigers not traded away a large amount of their respective farms in offseason trades. The Twins brought in some young players, but none who qualify for Top 5 status, in my opinion. (As an aside, a guy like Kevin Slowey or Carlos Gomez of the Twins didn’t qualify because they are no longer considered rookies by Major League Baseball).

1. Adam Miller, RHP, Cleveland: Yes, I know he’s had injury problems and needs to stay healthy. He’s also still got one of the best arms in the Minors. He could break through in a bullpen role to start the year.

2. Rick Porcello, RHP, Detroit: He hasn’t thrown a competitive professional pitch yet, but there is much excitement about his right arm, especially since he’s more or less the farm now.

3. Mike Moustakas, SS, Kansas City: Simply, the kid can just flat-out hit. I can’t wait to see what he does in his first full season. He’s at short for now, but he won’t stay there long-term.

4. Luke Hochevar, RHP, Kansas City: The 2006 No. 1 overall pick has top of the rotation-type stuff, but will start the 2008 season in the bullpen. Don’t expect that to last, though.

5. Chuck Lofgren, LHP, Cleveland: A lefty with arm strength and good stuff, he just needs to refine some command issues. Look for things to click for him in 2008 and he’ll pass up some of the softer-tossing lefties in
the organization.

Others of note: Of the prospects the Twins got from the Mets, RHP Deolis Guerra rates the highest; the White Sox have a couple of pitchers who could help soon in Jack Egbert and Lance Broadway, both right-handers.


This is an exciting division for prospects, with the top three all coming from the first round of the 2005 draft.

1. Jay Bruce, OF, Cincinnati: He’s the No. 1 prospect in baseball, not just according to me, but most who do these kinds of rankings. I hope that Dusty Baker actually lets him play CF to start the year, but I also know that may not be realistic.

2. Colby Rasmus, OF, St. Louis: There’s a reason the Cardinals dealt Jim Edmonds away. Rasmus is very close to being ready. He’ll get a long look for the CF job on Opening Day, but even if he starts the year in Triple-A, he won’t be there long.

3. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh: That 2005 draft class that featured HS talents Justin Upton, Cameron Maybin, Bruce and Rasmus also produced McCutchen. He started slowly last year, but came on strong and has the makings of a five-tooler who can flat out play center. Whoever starts the year in center for the Pirates may not finish it there because of him.

4. Homer Bailey, RHP, Cincinnati: Pay no heed to his early stats from last year. Look instead at his September starts. You’ll see the real Homer Bailey, the one who’s got ace potential, in 2008.

5. Josh Vitters, 3B, Chicago: Another 2007 draftee to make these lists (see Porcello and Moustakas above). His summer debut deserves a mulligan. With a full offseason to prepare, he’ll hit the ground running in ’08.

Others of note: The aforementioned Cueto, who sometimes gets lost in Homer Bailey’s shadow; fellow Reds 1B Joey Votto, who should be their starter at that position, but you have to wonder if veteran-lover Dusty Baker will allow it; Brewers OF Matt LaPorta, the 2007 draftee who could start this year all the way up in Double-A and Brewers SS Alcides Escobar, who’ll play the 2008 season at age 21 in Triple-A.


Crisp Talks Picking Up

Now that Crisp has said he would like to be traded if he does not get the starting job - which is likely - it is only a matter of time before he is traded. Jacoby Ellsbury is the center fielder and lead off hitter of the future and everybody knows it. Crisp's value is down right now after a poor postseason showing, so a good spring should get his value up to a solid point. As of right now, the A's, Rangers, and Twins are the only serious contenders. The Rangers and Red Sox were pretty serious during the offseason, according to one source, but talks fell through. Supposedly, the Rangers offered Gerald Laird for Crisp and the Red Sox wanted more. Now, they are reportedly talking to the A's about sending Crisp and a top prospect or two for Joe Blanton. Crisp would play center for one more year and it will give Chris Denorfia a chance to develop more. I think Crisp will find a home, but I doubt it will be in Oakland.

Cardinals forgive Weaver, put in call: The Cardinals are desperate for pitching and are calling on former Cardinals Jeff Weaver, who spurned the team to sign a one year deal with the Mariners. I doubt he can repeat the numbers he put with the Cardinals, but maybe he can help the bottom part of the rotation.

Reds close in on Fogg: The Reds and Josh Fogg are in the process of finalizing a contract. I do not think this will stop them for pursuing Joe Blanton, but maybe they will not go as hard for him.


Stewart to Blue Jays?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Blue Jays confirmed that they have made an offer to outfielder Shannon Stewart, but have not heard back in over a week. Stewart will be thirty-four next week and was seeking a two year deal until he found no takers. However, Stewart hit .290 with 12 HR and 48 RBI and is pretty solid in the first months leading to the All-Star game, so he could be a cheap addition with a lot of reward. Although I do not think he will repeat his numbers, Stewart has the makings of a solid reserve outfielder who would help the Blue Jays.


Garcia to Mets?

According to Jon Heyman, free agent pitcher Freddy Garcia met with Mets officials today and talks reportedly went well. Garcia, who 1-5 with a 5.90 ERA in 11 starts, is recovering from shoulder surgery and should be ready to pitch in July. The Mets want a lot of depth in their rotation and were impressed at how fast Martinez recovered, so they might run Garcia through the same program if he signs.

UPDATE: Omar Minaya said the Mets are not interested and that Garcia was just visiting two friends, Pedro Martinez and Johan Santana.


2008 Indians Projections

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

DH Travis Hafner
.272 AVG, 29 HR, 110 RBI
C Victor Martinez
.305 AVG, 22 HR, 102 RBI
1B Ryan Garko
.284 AVG, 18 HR, 72 RBI
2B Asdrubal Cabrera
.274 AVG, 9 HR, 58 RBI
3B Casey Blake
.258 AVG, 15 HR, 66 RBI
SS Jhonny Peralta
.277 AVG, 19 HR, 83 RBI
LF David Dellucci
.248 AVG, 13 HR, 57 RBI
CF Grady Sizemore
.293 AVG, 28 HR, 88 RBI
RF Franklin Gutierrez
.269 AVG, 14 HR, 54 RBI

SP C.C. Sabathia
17-8 W-L, 3.48 ERA, 175 K
SP Fausto Carmona
15-6 W-L, 3.56 ERA, 146 K
SP Paul Byrd
9-14 W-L, 4.88 ERA, 76 K
SP Jake Westbrook
12-10 W-L, 4.47 ERA, 109 K
SP Cliff Lee
10-11 W-L, 4.69 ERA, 112 K



Nixon to Arizona?

The Diamondbacks were impressed with Trot Nixon's offensive workout this past Sunday and are having discussions on whether or not to offer him a minor league deal. “We’ll probably make a decision whether to bring him in the next day or so, or at least making an offer, to the extent he might have other choices,” general manager Josh Byrnes said Monday. Although Nixon hit several balls out of the park, the Diamondbacks have a lot of depth, and signing him might force the Diamondbacks to make room for him, which would take at-bats away from several players. Nixon, 34, hit .251 with 3 HR in 99 games, but would probably make for a solid bench player. There is no harm in bringing him in for an extended look, especially if they give Nixon the option to be released if he does not make the team at the end of Spring Training.

Quote of the week:
"I just didn't see the door and jumped through it," he said. "I have small cuts everywhere." Hunter Pence cut his hand and legs, but should not miss major time.


Perez to Nationals or Red Sox

Free agent Odalis Perez is mulling over two offers, one from the Nationals and one from the Red Sox. Perez, 30, was 8-11 with a 5.57 ERA in 26 starts last season for the Royals, but is 66-70 with a 4.47 ERA in his career. It seems hard to turn down a deal from the Red Sox right now, but if the Nationals are offering a spot in their rotation while Perez might not make the squad in Boston, I'm sure he would go to D.C. Also, you are joining a team with a new stadium and the potential to win some games in the NL East this year, so this definitely is a tough decision. Perez has seen success in the National League so I would suggest him moving to the NL, but he may have personal reasons we are all unaware of. Also, Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell is known for his ability to work with lefties, and it has shown with Hideki Okajima. We'll see, but I expect an announcement very soon.


Cliff Lee Available?

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Indians starter Cliff Lee is available. Lee went 5-8 with a 6.29 ERA in 20 games last season, but is 54-36 with a 4.64 ERA in his career. He has one eighteen win season, and could benefit from a switch to the NL. The Reds are interested if the Blanton deal falls through, but I think they are going to push for Blanton until the very end of Spring Training. We could see Lee in a Jason Bay trade, but I think the Indians will hold onto him so he can build up his value again, then trade him.


Rangers Sign Kinsler

The Rangers and Ian Kinsler have agreed to a five year extension worth 22 million dollars, according to MLB.com. Although Kinsler hit just .263 with 20 HR, the deal buys out all years of arbitration and two years of free agency, so if he improves, this will be an even better deal for the Rangers. The Rangers have been involved with trade talks concerning Marlon Byrd, but I think they are done making moves this spring. As for locking other players up, if Josh Hamilton puts out another good year and plays 130-145 games, he might be worthy of one. Also, young catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is entering his second year in the bigs and he could get a big deal if he plays up to his potential. I think it is still early for him, but they do have several young players that can lead this team. However, they lack solid pitching which I think is hurting them in the division.


Astros, Chacon Close?

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Astros and Shawn Chacon are reportedly closing in on a one year deal. Chacon, 30, will definitely help the Astros pitching considering how versatile he was for the Pirates in the bullpen and rotation in 2007. Chacon is 37-46 with a 4.89 ERA in 119 career starts and 6-12 with 36 saves and a 5.39 ERA in 135 career relief appearances in nine seasons with the Rockies, Yankees, and Pirates. Many pitchers are starting to find homes but what about Kyle Lohse? Lohse was looking at thirty million dollars and his agent, Scott Boras, supposedly ruined that for him by refusing to back down. I think Lohse's best deal probably lies with the Phillies, but could come from a team who offers a minor league deal in the next week or so. Lohse has to sign soon so he is ready for the regular season. I expect something to get done this week with Lohse.


Wieters Could See MLB in '08

Orioles first round draft pick Matt Wieters is already drawing a lot of attention at Spring Training. Not only is he showing his natural ability to hit and throw the ball, but the way he interacts in the clubhouse shows that he belongs. "It's been a great experience so far," he said. "I'm just trying to be like a gnat on the wall, where you just fly around and listen to what everybody else is saying. And everybody's been great about talking to me, whether it's about hitting or the clubhouse. It's been a fun couple of days." In 185 games at Georgia Tech, Wieters hit .359 AVG with 35 HR and 198 RBI. Although Wieters did not play in the minor leagues last season, it would not surprise me if he got a September call up. His solid bat and average fielding make him the likely replacement for Ramon Hernandez in the future. However, there are some problems in Weiters' swing, but nothing that can't be fixed. Mainly just movement in his swing which keeps him less balanced. Also, there are not many 6'5'' catchers, and we have not seen him catch at the professional level, so if it is something he cannot handle, he might make a switch. Still, scouts say he has excellent baseball instincts and I think he will adjust fine. As for seeing time in 2008, and I think you are better off banking on 2009.


Rodriguez Wants Long Term Deal

Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez is entering the final year of his contract and it sounds like if a deal is not reached by Opening Day, he will walk. Rodriguez, 26, went 5-2 with a 2.81 ERA and 90 K, but has recored 132 saves over the past three seasons. I think Rodriguez will be looking for at least fifteen million dollars annually over six to seven seasons. He is just twenty-six, and those demands do not seem too unreasonable. The Angels do not plan to trade Rodriguez just yet, but I'm sure they would if the right deal came along. The Angels have one of the best minor league systems and a pretty good draft record, so if Rodriguez does walk, they could take the draft picks and sign someone else. As for possible replacements, Brandon Lyon and Juan Cruz of the Diamondbacks, Rafael Soriano, and maybe Damasco Marte. Another possible replacement, although unlikely, is Japanese lefty Hirotoshi Ishii.


News and Notes: Pitchers Looking Good

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Now that pitchers have reported and started their workouts, many are calling for big years from certain players. According to Richard Griffin, Mike Mussina not only looks better than he did last Spring, but he is also working with young pitchers Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes. He went on to talk about Kei Igawa, who has been working to improve on his stuff for next season. I doubt that he will make the rotation, and I think it wiill be a struggle for him to make the bullpen. In the AL West, Ervin Santana has reportedly been working hard so far and looks a lot better. Personally, I think Santana would be a solid pickup if you are doing Fantasy Baseball this year. I wouldn't gamble on Mussina just yet, but Santana and Hughes would be solid late round pickups. Another solid pick up in the late rounds would be B.J. Ryan, who is looking very good since being cleared to throw after surgery.

Jay Payton likely to be traded?
: Jay Payton is the odd man out in the Orioles outfield, and they have yet to find a suitor for the thirty-five year old making five million dollars. Not only
that, but his numbers in 2007 leave the Orioles in no position to make demands.

Willie Randolph on hot seat?:
Bob Klapisch belives that Willie Randolph's job is on the line if he fails to make it to the playoffs. I can't say I disagree. Randolph was helpless towards the end of the last season and did hardly anything to turrn it around. However, the players love him and if they rally for him, he might stay.

Trevor Hoffman still caught on Rockies game:
Hoffman has said before that he still thinks about the Rockies game. This spring he has been working from the windup, moving away from his trademark stretch. Why would he move away from the stretch? It has only been his style that has gotten him 524 saves, the most all time.

Cubs plan to make more trades?:
Matt Murton has no place in the Cubs outfield despite his ability to hit for power. He is pretty good off the bench, but if he can"t get 400 at bats, I think they should trade him. Another name is Sean Marshall, who is very similar to Ted Lilly and Rich Hill. I think he has the potential to be very good, but it is obvious that the Cubs do not want him behind Hill or Lilly.


Could Schilling Be Traded?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Red Sox have reported to camp and many are starting to believe that they have what it takes to be a dynasty. I can't say I disagree. They are young, they have been together for awhile, and they are only getting better. However, it seems that Curt Schilling might be on the outs among some Red Sox pitchers, management, and other players. He is a regular blogger on his website 38pitches.com, but seems to voice his opinions too often. I am sure that causes some problems in the clubhouse and it could lead to a trade if it becomes too much. Not only that, but he wasn't too impressive last season, but shined in the playoffs. Furthermore, he is blocking Clay Buchholz from starting with the Red Sox, so if he does well, they could ship some cash and Schilling to a team looking for a solid pitcher. I can't say which teams will need a pitcher in four months, but we could see the Cubs or Dodgers come in hoping to put them over the top in their respective divisions.


Nationals Could Trade Young?

Last year, there was a lot of speculation around the possibility that Dmitri Young might be traded since he restored some value in himself. Although he was not traded, there is more speculation now that Spring Training is underway. Young, who hit .320 with 13 HR and 74 RBI, could help a lot of teams. Not only can he play first base, but he has been a DH before and would probably accept a position change if needed. As for teams that could be interested, the Yankees could pull in and make a trade. Or, if the Cardinals lose Albert Pujols for an extended amount of time, he would make for a solid stop gap. Personally, I see a trade involving Young closer to the trade deadline, but if the right trade presents itself for the Nationals, they might pull the trigger.


Giants Hope To Sign Kim

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Giants arrived at camp yesterday and questions are already coming up about their weak pitching staff. According to Henry Schulman of SFGate.com, the Giants hope to sign Byung-Hyun Kim to a spot starter role. Kim pitched fairly well last season even after being moved around several times. Kim went 10-8 with a 6.08 ERA in twenty-eight games last season, but I think he would be more effective from the bullpen. His high ERA and high walk totals I think would limit coming from a position where he would face two to three batters at most. We'll see, but it is obvious that the Giants Front Office is looking to make a move. Why not sign Kyle Lohse to a 'Livan Hernandez type deal'?


2008 Mets Projections

Thursday, February 14, 2008

C Brian Schneider
.246 AVG, 6 HR, 48 RBI
1B Carlos Delgado
.262 AVG, 23 HR, 86 RBI
2B Luis Castillo
.295 AVG, 3 HR, 46 RBI
3B David Wright
.312 AVG, 34 HR, 123 RBI
SS Jose Reyes
.289 AVG, 14 HR, 62 RBI
LF Moises Alou
.272 AVG, 16 HR, 73 RBI
CF Carlos Beltran
.273 AVG, 28 HR, 105 RBI
RF Ryan Church
.269 AVG, 16 HR, 71 RBI

SP Johan Santana
16-10 W-L, 3.42 ERA, 243 K
SP Pedro Martinez
12-5 W-L, 3.58 ERA, 137 K
SP John Maine
13-10 W-L, 4.10 ERA, 163 K
SP Oliver Perez
10-13 W-L, 4.34 ERA, 156 K
SP Orlando Hernandez
8-10 W-L, 4.45 ERA, 118 K



News and Notes: Bobby Cox Not Done Yet

Long time Braves manager Bobby Cox told reporters on the first day of Spring Training that he is not retiring for sure after this season. That is good for Braves fans, who see no legitimate replacement looking for a job. Cox is a genius when it comes to developing players, and is also respected for his relationships with players. I assume that when Cox is done, he will take a Special Assistant job in the Front Office, so he won't be far from the clubhouse. As for replacements for next year, I think hitting coach Terry Pendleton will be considered, along with Cubs bench coach Alan Trammell. I will have to look more closely at other coaches, but I am sure whatever happens, Bobby Cox will have a lot of say in what goes down.

still looking to make a trade: The Padres are still trying to make a trade for an outfielder an are eying Jason Bay, Xavier Nady, and Matt Murton. I think Nady is the most likely to land in San Diego, just because the Pirates are more willing to deal him.

Crisp could be traded soon?: According to the Providence Journal, the Red Sox are looking to acquire a starting pitcher and have talked to the Rangers, White Sox, and Cubs. Jason Marquis to Boston? Jose Contreras?

Noah Lowry still on block?: The Giants are still looking to trade Noah Lowry and is drawing some minor interest. I assume the Red Sox might be interested, and probably the White Sox as well.

Colon still jobless: Bartolo Colon is still looking for a job and might have to take a non-guaranteed deal to show that he can pitch effectively. Other notable players still unsigned include Kenny Lofton, Kyle Lohse, and Corey Patterson.

Bush to pardon Clemens?: According to McNamee's lawyer, if Roger Clemens is charged in the steroid scandal, President Bush will pardon Clemens because of their close relationship.


Sabathia Cuts Off Talks

Indians pitcher C.C. Sabathia has decided to table contract discussions until the end of the season, according to his website. I am sort of surprised he wouldn't want to get a deal done but if he can make at least 130 million dollars on the market, it is understandable. Especially because teams like the Dodgers, Yankees, and Red Sox with a lot of spending money will be looking for starting pitchers next off season. Sabathia, who went 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA and 209 K, has said before he would like to stay in Cleveland, but because the Tigers have improved so much this off season with young talent, he might want to play for a team with a better chance of winning. Who knows, maybe he just wants to focus on baseball. Maybe he has other intentions. However, some pitchers do not do well when they are pitching without a contract, and he might feel extra pressure if he struggles. Personally, I think he will stay with the Indians. The Indians have the money, they just need to meet Sabathia half way.


Juan Uribe to Baltimore?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The White Sox report to Spring Training in two days and questions are already brewing about what to do at shortstop. After Juan Uribe gave the White Sox a hometown discount, the White Sox went out and acquired a solid shortstop in Orlando Cabrera. It is obvious that he will be their shortstop barring a serious injury. So what to do with Uribe? He is making 4.5 million dollars, too much to put him on the bench. And they have a second baseman in Danny Richar and a DH in Jim Thome. So what can they do? One AL executive said that he would not be surprised if the Orioles made a move, especially if they do not trade Brian Roberts. Uribe hit .234 with 20 HR and 68 RBI while Luis Hernandez, who played in just 30 games, hit .290 with 1 HR. Hernandez may be the future at shortstop and if the Orioles are trying to get younger, it wouldn't be smart to bring in an another aging player. I think a trade involving Juan Uribe will happen in the first week or so of exhibition games. I do not think the White Sox want the unrest in the clubhouse while everyone is trying to get comfortable and in to in-season form.


Phillies Sign Benson

The Phillies and pitcher Kris Benson agreed to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. The Phillies do not plan to rush Benson to return, and may even start him at Triple-A to further build up his arm strength. Nevertheless, I think this is a good move with little risk. Benson has proven he can put up wins and pitch consistently, so if he can return, he could help the Phillies against his former team and Philly rival, the Mets.


Offseason In Review

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

In retrospect, I think I picked the best time to start this website. It was on the verge of a big off season with several big name players asking for big time money. Trades were going around, signings everyday, people were just interested, and so was I. This off season, I came in with an optimistic feeling that they would be a lot of trades and not a lot of big signings. I was wrong. There have not been too many trades and there have been hardly any big signings. Yes, Johan Santana, Dan Haren, and Erik Bedard were traded. But they toyed with us all off season in getting a deal done. But with any off season, there are always winners and losers, and I am hear to break it down:

Biggest Winners:

1. Detroit Tigers

- Not only did they add Edgar Renteria to get their shortstop, but they acquired Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to give them one of the best offenses in baseball. The bullpen is still weak, but the rotation and lineup should allow for the bullpen to make a couple of errors here and there. Obviously the Tigers went out to get a World Series and I would not be surprised if they were back playing October ball this October. After acquiring Willis and Cabrera, they locked up Willis, and are currently working on Miguel Cabrera. Aside from them, they signed Granderson long term, and also acquired Jacque Jones to play left field.

2. New York Mets

- The Mets kept pretty quiet this off season after their heart breaking collapse in the final weeks of the season. However, they played hard to get with the Twins and finally pulled off a huge deal to land the best pitcher in baseball, Johan Santana. Not only that, but they gave up four decent minor league players who are still unproven. I do not think this locks up the division, but it makes them a lot better than last season with just one major addition. Other notable additions are Ryan Church and Brian Schneider, who should adjust nicely to Shea Stadium after playing in D.C.

Biggest Losers:

1. Minnesota Twins

- Yes the Twins were able to unload Johan Santana but did not get anything in return that will help them significantly in 2008. If they had taken an earlier offer, they could have had Jacoby Ellsbury and four other prospects that were a lot better than the ones they got. With the trade, they have no number one starter with Liriano still in question and although they landed Delmon Young, did nothing to improve their infield by signing Mike Lamb and Adam Everett. In the division they are in now, I think they will be fighting for third, possible fourth if the Royals turn it around.

2. St. Louis Cardinals

- Just a year after winning the World Series, the Cardinals finished in third place. They had no pitching, and did nothing this off season to improve that. Yes they added Matt Clement, but he has not pitched successfully in two seasons. Cesar Izturis is not the answer at shortstop, and hopefully Troy Glaus can perform at third. Who knows if Ankiel can repeat his impressive numbers now moving to center, and who is playing right field again? Skip Schumaker, or the rookie Colby Rasmus.

Honorable Mention: Scott Boras

Best Signing:

1. Andruw Jones, Dodgers

- To sign Andruw Jones to a two year deal worth 36.2 million dollars does not seem like a good signing considering he hit .222 with 26 HR, but that was obviously a fluke. He had 50 HR just two seasons ago. Yes, we can see his is on the decline but he still has two solid years left and if Dodger pitching can hold the line, I think they will be up for a playoff bid.

Worst Signing:

1. Mariano Rivera

- Mariano Rivera is one of the best closers in the history of the game, but in no way did he deserve a three year deal. I am going to avoid the money and the type of player he is for one second. The Yankees are an old team and in order to compete with the Yankees, need to get younger. Signing him to a one year deal or even two year deal would allow them to go out and try and land someone like Joe Nathan or Francisco Rodriguez in the next off season. Instead, they are stuck with the closer who is expected to struggle.

2. Aaron Rowand

- For the Giants, they are in no position to be injury prone players. The Giants are a last place team and keep signing players when they should be trading the good players they have left for younger players with better potential. Just not a smart signing on the Giants part.

Best Trade: Athletics traded OF Nick Swisher to the Chicago White Sox for LHP Gio Gonzalez, RHP Fautino De Los Santos and OF Ryan Sweeney.

- Wow. What a move by the A's. Not only did they acquire three solid prospects but they got rid of a decent player locked up for a long time. Don't get me wrong, I think that Swisher can perform, but not enough to help the A's. The White Sox traded away three players key to their future for one player who may or may not help. Big win for A's.

So what can we look for next off season? Obviously there will be more moves with a lot of good players on the market, but who might be traded? What will the biggest contract come out to?


2008 Dodgers Projections

C Russell Martin
.286 AVG, 17 HR, 82 RBI
1B James Loney
.292 AVG, 18 HR, 88 RBI
2B Jeff Kent
.272 AVG, 14 HR, 65 RBI
3B Nomar Garciaparra*
.266 AVG, 14 HR, 60 RBI
SS Rafael Furcal
.301 AVG, 8 HR, 48 RBI
LF Andre Ethier*
.288 AVG, 18 HR, 72 RBI
CF Andruw Jones
.262 AVG, 34 HR, 104 RBI
RF Matt Kemp
.298 AVG, 17 HR, 84 RBI

3B Andy LaRoche*
.258 AVG, 16 HR, 58 RBI

LF Juan Pierre
.300 AVG, 0 HR, 32 RBI

SP Brad Penny
15-5 W-L, 3.49 ERA, 138 K
SP Derek Lowe
11-11 W-L, 4.24 ERA, 133 K
SP Chad Billingsly
14-8 W-L, 4.04 ERA, 157 K
SP Hiroki Kuroda
10-9 W-L, 4.34 ERA, 123 K
SP Esteban Loaiza*
7-10 W-L, 4.89 ERA, 82 K

Jason Schmidt*
8-11 W-L, 4.78 ERA, 109 K

*assuming they start.



Astros Close In On Chacon

According to GM Ed Wade, the Astros and Shawn Chacon are working on a one year deal. Chacon, who was 5-4 with a 3.79 ERA and 79 K in 64 games for the Pirates, will help the Astros in the rotation and 'pen. Not only that, but he has pitched with the Pirates for two seasons now, and if very familiar with the league. I assume that he will join the rotation, probably behind Oswalt in the two or three spot. One Astros executive expects a deal to be finalized by the end of the week.


Twins Sign Hernandez

Johan to Livan. The Twins today reached an agreement with free agent pitcher Livan Hernandez. Hernandez has been treading the waters all off season looking for a team and finally landed with one, but probably not his first choice. The deal is worth 5-6 million dollars, a pretty good deal for the type of pitcher he has been over the past several seasons.

More details soon...


Top 5 Prospects: AL and NL East

Monday, February 11, 2008

Jonathan Mayo covers the minor leagues and the draft as a senior writer for MLB.com. Mayo also has a book coming out that has some interesting timing. It is a look at what it is like to face Roger Clemens and is appropriately titled Facing Clemens. The book was written prior to the release of the Mitchell Report and will be available on March 1st, though you can pre-order it now. He’s agreed to do a series of posts on the top prospects in each division heading into the 2008 season. It kicks off with a look at the top 5 prospects in the AL and NL East.

AL East

Some pretty good arms with a pair of potent bats here. It’s fun to think about the guy atop this list and how he’ll hopefully get to face the pitchers on this list numerous times over the next decade or so.

1. Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa: I don’t really see the need to hesitate here. He’s ready, and he’s going to be an asset immediately. Just give him the 3B job and leave him alone.

2. Clay Buchholz, RHP, Red Sox: That no-no was no fluke. And while no one wishes injury on a player, Curt Schilling’s ailment could help Buchholz land in the rotation on Opening Day. Otherwise, he may have begun the year in Triple-A. Either way, he’s going to contribute this year.

3. Joba Chamberlain, RHP, Yankees: Think you liked what you saw as a reliever? While it would be unreasonable to expect that kind of dominance all the time as a starter, he’s pretty darned good and you’ll get to see all of his pitches this time around. The Clay vs. Joba debate should be a good one for years to come.

4. David Price, LHP, Tampa: The guy hasn’t even thrown a professional pitch yet, but scouts everywhere rate him this highly. He is extremely polished and is the real deal. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him in Tampa in September, though their glut of pitching talent (Wade Davis, Jacob McGee to name just two) may allow the Rays to take their time.

5. Travis Snider, OF, Toronto: This guy just flat out hits. Against all levels of competition. He was the Midwest League MVP last year then went to the AFL and dominated there as one of the younger performers. Even if the Jays wanted to proceed cautiously, this guy’s bat is going to move him quickly.

If I were to include a player from every team in the division, the O’s representative would be Matt Wieters, their first-round pick last year.

NL East

A quick scan of this list compared to the one above shows you it’s clearly the American League with the better elite prospects right now, though the trade the Marlins made with the Tigers makes it a little more even.

Cameron Maybin, OF, Florida: He can do it all and is just beginning to scratch the surface of his enormous potential. There might be some early bumps as he begins his first full season in the bigs, but the payoff is going to be huge.

Fernando Martinez, OF, New York: The guy the Twins didn’t get. I still can’t get over that. The Mets did well to get him. This season is a big one for him as it’s time for him to start turning potential into performance…and stay healthy. I think he’ll do so.

Carlos Carrasco, RHP, Philadelphia: Not everyone who does this sort of thing is as high on him as I am, but scouts love his stuff. He needs some fine-tuning, but should be ready to slot in right behind Cole Hamels by 2009, at the latest.

Chris Marrero, OF, Washington: This guy is ready to fast-track, big time. He reached High A ball in his first full season and wasn’t overmatched there. He’s going to hit for average and power and the Nats will make room for him as soon as he’s ready. Oh, and he won’t turn 20 until July

Jordan Schafer, OF, Atlanta: Before the Mark Kotsay deal, there was actual talk about giving Schafer a long look for the big-league job this spring, even though he hasn’t played an inning above A ball. Performing well in the AFL probably helped him, but another year in the Minors will serve him well.

Just misses would be Washington’s first-rounder from last year, Ross Detwiler, and the Braves’ top pick from the previous June, outfielder Jason Heyward.

I’ll be back next week with the Central Divisions…