Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Texas' Take On The Brooks Trade

We've heard from Chicago's helop on the big Brooks trade.  Now the Rangers' GM bperkins weighs in:

"I didn't really expect to trade Brooks. I kinda wanted him to be a Ranger for life and have all the team records when he retired, but I know the window for the Rangers to win now is not happening.  

My pitching is terrible. My prospects for pitching are terrible, especially my bullpen. The strength of my prospect pool is in position players and I don't have many quality arms in the farm. 

The major player I wanted out of the Cubs was their young IFA pitcher Almadova. Knowing he was hesitant to part with the young stud, helop went with a quantity of players that I know will be a huge part of the rebuilding Rangers. 

My most intriguing player from this trade is Paxton Shuck. His splits aren't great, but his control, ground ball rate, and pitch selection I hope will make him a rotation fixture for a long time. 

I will probably move Santos Mota to either CF or 3B and he projects as a middle of the order type of player.  Ernest Black will spend the season in AAA before moving into a setup role for Season 36. 

Really excited about Antonio Washington, who will be a Game 20 call up this season. He can go multiple innings in a setup role that the Rangers have lacked the last 2 seasons. Dellin Vega will probably spend the season in AAA and will be part of the setup core in Season 36. 

Aaron Snyder will either be the #5 starter this season or long reliever. I know I didn't get a #1 starter out of this deal (which is what I originally wanted), but the depth of the group will be wonderful. I hate spending money on mediocre free agent relief pitching and this area will be shored up by next season. Thanks again for helop for all the negotiating. It was a ton of fun."

Season's First Big Trade - Brooks To The Cubbies

AL pitchers are checking their bonus clauses today.  Any of them with performance incentives could be a little richer this season...ironman slugger and Season 32 MVP Walter Brooks has been traded to the Chicago Cubs.

The Rangers also sent reliever John Randall and get back 6 prospects, the best of whom seem to be AAA swingman Antonio Washington, Season 34 IFA Dellin Vega, and Season 34's #3 overall pick, Santos Mota.

Here's Cubs GM helop on how the trade went down:

"I am pretty excited. With the players I will bring up at the beginning of the year and at the 20 day mark, this could be a good team. He had Brooks on the Trading Block. I contacted him to see if we could make something happen. He was looking to restock his farm system and I was looking for a big bat. We couldn't figure out a 3 for 1 trade, so we went with the two trades together. He received 6 players to restock his farm system, I received the slugger and closer I need to help my team."

Friday, May 20, 2016

Season 34 AL East Preview

Boston Red Sox 
Season 33:  91-71, won Division, advanced to ALCS, lost to Anaheim
GM: Spistol

Offseason:  After re-signing P's Sherry Grey and Skeeter Wilkinson, the only FA defection of note was SP Alex Burks.  They signed FA P's D.J. Mauer and Jimmy Griffin.  Their bigger offseason moves were the promotions of 2B's Peter Magnusson (Sea 31 #11) and Ronnie Burns (Sea 30 #5), and LR Oswaldo Oliva (Sea 27 IFA).

Outlook:  Magnusson and Burns are both natural 2B's (or even CF's), but with 2B and CF well covered in Boston, both are in search of positions.  Burns is taking LF for now, and an injury to 1B Matt Lawrence opened a spot for Magnusson.  Both are power hitters who could have some issues against RHP and offer plus defense just about anywhere.  Either or both could be on the ROY ballot.  Other than those additions, it's about the same profile as last year...a high-scoring, average-pitching team.  But those 2 rookies could be what gets them over the top in the playoffs.

Cleveland Indians
Season 33: 74-88
GM: jgnjr

Offseason:  One again, the tribe was almost completely quiet on the FA and trade front this offseason.  So other than rookie OF Julian Almonte (Sea 30 IFA), it's almost identical to last year's roster.

Outlook:  Starting to be a few signs of aging in the lineup:  C Ralph Dunn is 36 and now out for 70 games with a broken arm, and 1B Rod McNeil is 35 and not the power threat he used to be.  They weren't a very good offense last year (658 runs) and there's no reason to expect them to improve.  There's more talent on the staff, especially in the persons of SP Murray Hudson (3.46 ERA) and LR Jose Serra (career 3.27 ERA) - the pitching has been average-to-above-average the last few seasons.  SP Dan Lewis (Sea 30 #8) probably gets the call shortly, and probably becomes the #2 starter behind Hudson.

Probably a .500 team at best...<EDITORIAL BEGINS>  competent but unexciting.  I'd love to see some kind of big shakeup here.  Trade everything, build the farm for a couple of years (to go along with the 2 nice prospects from last year's draft), or, blow out free agency next year.  Anything but the perpetual around-.500. <END OF EDITORIAL>

New York Yankees
Season 33: 65-97
GM:  fsubwj

Offseason:  The Yanks lost 7 free agents from last year's ML roster (although only 2 - C Rich Daniels and 3B Julio Noesi - signed elsewhere).  They filled all the holes with promotions, giving them one of the youngest and cheapest rosters in Major Leagues.  The question is, "is it just young, or is there young talent there?

Outlook: There's starting to be some talent showing up.  SP Vin Gumbs (Sea 32 #1 overall and promoted last year after 1 MiL season) took his lumps last year but still has a couple of seasons of good ratings growth ahead of him.  Brace Wooster was #10 overall last year and gets the similar fast trip to the majors.  He'll likely get hit hard this year, but will grow into a nice starter.  Closer Mendy Dietz (Sea 30 #12) took a more conventional route to the bigs, and was very good (24 saves, 3.00 ERA) as a rookie last year.  Sure, some of the other youngsters are cheap filler, but they're getting there.  Still building this year, but in a couple of seasons NY will be shaking up the East.

Baltimore Orioles
Season 33:  73-89
GM:  NormanW5

Offseason:  Not much offseason action in Baltimore...but they seem to be much improved.   What happened?

Outlook: For starters, some of their hot prospects who struggled as rookies grew up and improved.  SP Flip Harris (Sea 29 #1) actually had a couple of rough seasons to start his career, but now looks like he's figuring it out (2-1, 3.00 ERA so far).  2B Keith Townsend (Sea 30 #3) is hitting over 100 points above his rookie season OPS.  Team OPS is 33 points ahead of last year, and Team ERA is nearly a full run a game better, so everyone's contributing.  The Birds had almost as bad a defense as Arizona last year (214 errors and bad plays, but at least they came up with 59 good plays).  It's much better so far, but I fear it's smoke and mirrors (SS Woody Brown's range would be no better than OK at 3B).  You never know - if they can maintain their relatively "hot" defensive play, they might stay in it.

Division Outlook:  

Boston wins again.  The Orioles entertain with young stars and a defense that implodes. The Yanks are respectably competitive with a $23MM payroll.  And the Indians, ah the Indians...around .500 again.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Season 34 AL West Preview

Anaheim Angels
Season 33: 98-64, won Division, advanced to WS, lost to Pittsburgh
GM: kennedrj

Offseason: The Angels had to negotiate a couple of free-agent potholes this offseason.  The big one was the loss of 20-game winner (and lifetime 3.12 ERA) Pedro Nunez, who bolted to Detroit for a big-$ deal.  They also lost long-time lineup bulwark Orlando Acosta, who despite showing some signs of decline was a good performer last year.  They replaced some, maybe most, of Nunez' innings with FA's Adrian Caruso (pitches over splits theory) and Lariel Blanco (going strong at 38).  2nd-year man Lorenzo Saenz (.702 OPD last season) takes over right field.  Angels' management also tells us they'll bring up AAA left-handers Santos Chavez (Sea 31 IFA) and Erasmo Miranda (Sea 30 IFA) at Game 20.  Not sure what their roles will be but you have to think they'll get a chance to start.

Outlook:  MVP Enerio Amaro was the AL's dominant offensive force last year, but the Angels are far from dependent on him.  They scored 833 runs last year (4th), and did it with contact (.269 BA - 2nd), power (255 HR's - 1st), and patience (551 BB's - 6th).  They even run some - 134 steals.  They had the 2nd-best AL ERA (3.72)...may have to spread Nunez 240+ innings around more this year, hut should be able to compensate.

The Angels have now won 90+ games 10 of the last 11 seasons, and gone to the WS 6 times in that stretch.  Don't against either this year.

Seattle Mariners
Season 33:  66-96
GM: captain10a

Offseason:  The Eswalin Camacho era is over in Seattle.  Camacho posted 233 wins and a 3.02 career ERA over his (likely HOF) 17-year career.  With his departure and those of DH Larry Sewell, RP Rabbit Martin, SS Richard Mohr, and SP Dave Frascatore, plus last year's 66-96 record, it seems the Mariners are entering rebuild mode.  They did re-sign SP Zach Lennon and brought in a handful of low-cost FA's, but the real focus is now on rookies Dan Lorenzen (SP), Stan Jackson (SP), Carlos Odor (LF), Rafael Gutierrez (SS), 2nd-year C Deven Carter, and RF Gerald Crane (now recovered from last year's nasty forearm injury).

Outlook:  Partly sunny (lots of young players) with frequent showers (losing streaks). Having Crane back for a full campaign certainly helps...the team should be reasonably competitive.  Plus, they're getting youngsters onto the roster and the payroll's headed the right way (and more relief next year when they can dump Wiki Saenz' contract).  Not a threat to make the playoffs this year, but things are going the right way.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Season 33: 74-88
GM:  drichter

Offseason:   Arizona re-signed it's 2 biggest free agents - RP Esmerling Vazquez and Clinton Skinner - losing only C/DH Henry Young.  They mined the FA fields for pitchers Jerry Baker (very nice 1-innings specialist for near the minimum), swingman Lee McCarthy (good but fragile arm), middle man Sam Lynn, and lefty-hitting C Patrick Boyer.  The made a trade for 2B Bryant Cashner, and tapped the farm system for RF Luis Mendoza (Season 32 #7), SP Erv Daley (Sea 30 #1), and RP Tom Williams (Sea 32 #34)...some serious young talent has arrived.

Outlook:  After struggling through his rookie season, SP Patrick Hunter (the #7 overral pick in Sea 29) showed signs last year of realizing his immense talent.  If he realizes it fully this year...and is joined in that realization by former #1 pick Daley...watch out, the Snakes could do some damage.  With an above-average offense (and that's with SS Sodowsky having a down year), they only won 74 last year.  See where I'm going?  If Hunter and Daley find it and the pitching is greatly improved (5.07 ERA - dead last in Sea 33)...and if Sodowsky bounces back (and his early 1.018 OPS suggest he will)...they "Could Be  A Contendah!"

D'Backs, can we talk about defense?  200 errors and bad plays led to an astounding 101 unearned runs last year.  And they'll probably be in that ballpark again - Vince Hawkins in CF is a bad plan, and 3B Adam Andrelczyk with his patented 7-hop throws to 1B is an even worse one (but hey, he's hitting).  Sodowsky at SS will be responsible for 40-50 of those errors and bad plays.

What the hey, you can't fix everything at once.  They're ripping the cover off the ball, they're 10-4 and everybody's having fun.  They'll be much improved, but won't catch the Angels.

Oakland Athletics
Season 33: 90-72, Wild Card, advanced to 2nd Round and lost to Anaheim
GM:  billhowell75

Offseason:  Last year's surprise playoff team had to deal with the loss of 6 significant contributors in FA, so they had their offseason work cut out for them.  The started by re-signing SP's Rosado and Hiljus, and added Jesus Francisco from St. Louis, so the backbone of their staff is locked up.  Those signings chewed up a lot of cash, so they had to promote a number of rookies to the staff. We probably all have some less-than-talented arms for mopup and LR slots, but Joaquin Floriman and Brandon Boyer on a ML roster?  Seriously?

Outlook:  Not quite sure what's going on with the A's.  2 of their Big 3 starters are pitching well (Hiljus has started poorly), but the rest of the staff has been atrocious (7.65 ERA), and the offense is off last year's pace by a fair amount.  The situation seems salvageable, but some fast action is needed.

Divison Outlook:

I love seeing a team like Arizona make the big leap into contention.  Hopefully they'll maintain the pace, but something tells me they won't actually hit .300+ all year.  Ultimately their defense will keep them from challenging the Angels.  

GM majnun's Atlanta preview:

(Editor apology:  I omitted GM majnun's commentary from the Braves' team preview.  My bad- just overlooked it.  Fits better in the preview, but here it is).

Here's GM majnun's take on the Braves chances this year:

"The Braves had the best record in baseball last year, so not many changes were needed. The only big weak spot was third base, so a trade was made for Hal Hernandez. Offensively we underperformed last year, so even if the pitching regresses I feel good about our chances for the playoffs."

Should the Portland Mavericks replace the Nashville Sounds when the opportunity arises?