Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Game 28 - AL North, AL East Story Lines

In the AL North, the White Sox are keeping a blistering pace...their .786 start would translate to 127 wins over the 162-game schedule. Possible?  For the most part, they're doing it with pitching - 2.73 team ERA.  Pretty much the whole staff is throwing well, but they're really getting great outings from their 2 big middle relievers, Esmil Gonzalez (3 wins, 4 saves, 1.17 ERA) and Kevin Chong (1 win, 6 saves, 1.73 ERA).  Despite a .701 OPS (10th), the offense has scored the 3rd-most runs in the AL.  Magglio Rodriguez is doing his thing (.444 OBP) and SS Jack Ratliff's .836-OPS start has been a pleasant surprise.  But the rest of the lineup has been quiet...what happens if they start hitting?

Minnesota (C Joel Dorsey - .342/7/16) with their crazy all-relief pitching scheme (Brian Murata - 5 wins, 1.57 ERA, J.J. Bibby - 4 wins, 0.81 Whip) and Detroit (Lucas Ford - .346/6/20, Cano - 3-2, 2.40 ERA) are playing well and trying to hang in, but both may be adjusting their goals to "Wild Card" soon.  After a horrendous start, Toronto has won 4 of 8 and could be righting the ship.

Boston's pitching wasn't great last year, but it was nearly good enough.  Not so with this year's 5.04 ERA.  Taylor Cashman's doing his part (2.63 ERA), but the rest of the rotation is mostly north of 6.00.  Good thing the lineup's clicking - they lead the league in runs and homers.  Pleasant Surprise Department: CF D.J. Nicholson has been a pretty good-hitting CF over his career (.771 OPS); he's currently 2nd in the AL with 12 homers and his 1.162 OPS leads the league.

The Red Sox' pitching problems have left the door open for the rest of the AL East; they haven't exactly walked through it but none are getting it slammed in their faces either.  The Indians are getting just enough hitting (Rod McNeil - .265/5/14) - combined with some surprise pitching performances (Rodney Stuart - 3 wins, 18 scoreless innings).  Despite currently riding an L9, the Orioles are only 3 back.  FA C Lonny Soto has provided the spark with a .343/4/17 start.  And after years of rebuilding, the Yankees are getting competitive.  Vin Gumbs, last year's #1 overall who jumped virtually straight to the Bigs, has taken a few lumps but is holding his own with a 2-2 record and a 3.57 ERA.  ROY, anyone?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Season 18 draft retrospective

Top 5 picks:
Howie McLaughlin CF/2B/COF Florida Marlins:  Awards: 1X AS appearance.  Summary:  Defensively, McLaughlin was either a below average CF, passable 2B, or above average corner OF.  Offensively, he had a career slash line of .261/.325/.433 in 1706 games and was good for 10-20 HR and 30 doubles a season.  Overall, while he hasn't been the splashiest of #1 overall picks, he has had a productive career and still has a couple seasons left in him.

Larry Sewell  OF/1B Colorado Rockies:  Awards: 1X MVP, 1x ROY, 2x AS, 4X Silver Slugger (2 LF, 2 1B).  Summary:  First things first, Sewell was traded twice before making his ML debut and thus far has spent his entire career in Minnesota, so Colorado has not inflated his stats.  In 1552 career games, Sewell has a slash line of .325/.388/.475 to go along with 1981 hits, 164 HR, and 481 SB.  He has topped 200 hits four times in his career and fell one hit shy of making it five times in season 22 and outside of a 69 game debut season, he has never hit below .300.

Lee McCarthy P Toronto Blue Jays: Awards: none.  Summary:  For his career, McCarthy has gone 71-77 with 39 saves in 1382 innings while posting a 3.48 ERA.  It looks like a handful of injuries forced him to the pen in his later years, where he actually put up some of his best numbers.  Generally I want more innings per season out of a top five pick, but I think McCarthy has lived up to his draft slot, at least in the context of this draft.

Robin Buford P Houston Astros:  Awards: none.  Summary:  Buford compiled a 102-113 record with a 3.92 ERA in 1,924.2 innings.  At first glance, this doesn't seem great, but he spent most of his career in homer friendly Minute Maid and Wrigley.  He never pitched like an ace, but he was consistently above league average despite his unfriendly confines.

Benji Hume P Milwaukee Brewers: Did not sign.  It appears his demands were not met as no compensation pick was awarded.  This is more an unmitigated disaster than a typical flop.

First round winners:
Mariano Lima 2B/OF #6 overall pick Arizona Diamondbacks:  Awards: 2X All-star, 1X Silver Slugger (3B).  Summary: Zero points awarded here for winning an award at 3B as his defense wiped out most of his offensive value.  Like McLaughlin, Lima could either be a passable 2B (3-4 minus plays per 162), or a solid corner OF.  His offense has been a bit better with a slash line of .256/.316/.463 and 348 HR in 1884 games.

Lucas Ford 1B #9 overall pick Texas Rangers:  Awards: 3X All-Star, 2X Silver Slugger (DH, LF), 1X Gold Glove (1B). Summary:   In 1,557 games, Ford has put up a slash line of .285/.350/.494. to go along with 1,763 hits and 331 HR.  If he doesn't decline too sharply, Ford should be able to finish his career with 2K hits and 400 HR.  Sure, its easy to call a slugging 1B a win, but even in his worst seasons he has been a lock to hit at least 20 HR and post a better than league average OPS.  Now on the wrong side of 30, Ford has been still been able to anchor a line-up in the not so friendly confines of Comerica and should have a few more seasons left at this level.

Sherry Grey P #22 overall Oakland Athletics:   Grey is in his 11th season in the bigs splitting time between the rotation and the pen.  His inclusion in the win section is based largely on two stellar seasons as a starter: with Florida in season 32 he went 18-9 with a 2.54 ERA in 209 innings and last season with Boston he put together a 16-7 record in 204.2 innings. Currently in the final season of his contract, if he can finish the year strong and follow up with a few more solid seasons as a starter he could make a case for himself as the best pitcher out of this draft.  It should also be noted that though he was drafted by Oakland, Grey was traded before making his ML debut and his overall numbers are not a product of a pitcher friendly environment.  Overall, he has a 95-58 record with a 3.78 ERA over 1,356 big league innings.

Milton Coffey SS #27 overall Seattle Mariners:  Awards 2X All-Star.  Summary:  Despite being drafted by Seattle, Coffey has spent his entire big league career calling hitter friendly Fenway Park his home.  Thus far he has put up a slash line of .254/.313/.423 in 5,083 AB posting 202 HR.  Coffey has made his living by combining 20 HR a season power with solid defense at a key position.  Admittedly, he has been a bit error prone, but his 141 + plays have helped offset that.

Ron Ratliff P #28 overall Washington Nationals:  Awards: 1X Gold Glove 1X All-Star.  Summary:  Of all the pitchers from this draft, Ratliff has had the most dominant stretch.  Seasons 25-28 with San Francisco combined to produce a 47-30 record with a 2.67 ERA over 763 innings.

Sam Lynn P #31 overall Baltimore Orioles:  Awards:  4X All-Star.  1X Fireman of the Year.  Summary:  While I find closers to be overrated overall, 295 saves and a 3.42 career ERA are nothing to sneeze at.  Lynn is off to a stellar start this season as well, converting on his first eight save opportunities and allowing just one run in 11 innings.

Comp round winners:
Banana Larkin P #48 overall pick Los Angeles Dodgers:  Larkin has posted a 3.68 ERA with a .714 OPS against in 786,2 innings.  Impressively, despite spending most of his career in friendly Dodger stadium, his best seasons have actually come while pitching in the decidedly hostile environment of Wrigley field.

Rabbit Martin P #56 overall pick Houston Astros:  Awards: 2X All-Stars.  Summary:  Martin was one of those RP value picks that paid off.  Stamina has been the one piece lacking in his game; he has yet to reach 80 IP in a season.  That said, Martin has been fairly consistent in his career posting a 3.69 ERA and a .684 OPS against in 519.1 career innings.`

Nathan Huff 3B/OF #57 overall pick Arizona Diamondbacks:  Defensively, Huff was a good corner outfielder and a slightly below par 3B, but he was able to offset that with his bat.  Through ten seasons he has amassed 208 HR with an OPS of .784.  Unfortunately for Huff, however, his best season was his rookie season when he put up a .957 OPS in 133 games and looked to be well on his way to a career filled with accolades.

Round 2-25 winners:
Diego James DH 2nd round #89 overall Washington Nationals:  For a man without a defensive position, James has stuck around for a surprisingly long time; he is now entering his 13th season.  For a DH his career marks of 363 HR and a .768 OPS are, admittedly, underwhelming.  He did have a stretch of six seasons in Boston however where he hit 30+ HR a year and had a couple of genuinely good seasons in this period.  He followed his stint in Boston by signing on with Seattle where he spent three seasons as a DH hitting well below league averages.  Now with the Dodgers, James has purchased a fielder's glove and is hoping to resurrect his career.

J.R. Voigt P 11th round #372 overall pick Boston Red Sox:  Voigt is one of those mythical beings known as a Diamond in the Rough that actually turned in a solid big league career.  Making him especially rare is that he has succeeded despite awful control.  In 316 innings, Voigt has posted a walk rate of just under 6 BB/9 yet he has managed an ERA of 3.82 and an OPS against of .694.  Enjoy him while you can; Voigt is in the final year of a 2 year pact with the Dodgers and who knows when the next rendition of Wild Thing will grace our mounds.

First round flops:
Bosco McCoy P #8 overall pick Baltimore Orioles:  In parts of six seasons, McCoy accumulated 593 innings posting a 26-40 record with a .786 OPS against and a 4.68 ERA. He had a couple of solid seasons early in his career in Detroit, but  his overall body of work was below average and that just won't cut it with a top 10 pick.

Lonny Lewis LF #10 overall pick Minnesota Twins:  Career slash line: .000/.000/.000 in one AB.  Retired.

Dan Greenberg RP #16 overall pick Cleveland Indians:  Over 268.2  career innings, Greenberg has produced a 5.19 ERA and an OPS against of .818.  Greenberg was the epitome of back of the pen filler, which is not what you are looking for this early.

Teddy Flier #17 overall pick Cincinnati Reds:  Initial demands not met; unsigned with no comp pick awarded.

Fred Howard 3B  #18 overall pick Kansas City Royals:  Over parts of two seasons Howard accumulated 459 AB with a slash line of .257/.304/.373 while playing adequate defense at the hot corner.

Homer Holland P #24 overall pick Arizona Diamondbacks:  Over six seasons, Hollands BEST output was a 4.21 ERA with a .765 OPS against in 83.1 innings.

Cliff Woods P #25 overall Minnesota Twins: Never made the majors.

George Gutierrez P #26: Anaheim Angels:  Gutierrez was a touch better than Holland, but a 5.35 ERA over eight seasons  still ugly.  His season 28 performance was one for the ages, posting an ERA of 8.70 with an OPS against of 989 in 89 innings.  I can only imagine he was allowed to pitch completely gassed as there is no other excuse for opposing hitters to all look like MVP candidates.

Intriguing picks:
Kimera Oliver SP #11 overall pick Nashville Sounds.   Awards: 1X All-star.  Summary:  In 2,582.1 career innings, Oliver has amassed a 161-111 record with  a 3.64 ERA and .701 OPS against; all said and done, this is what you want to see from your top pick.   Park factors are definitely working in his favor here with stints in Oakland, San Diego, and Shea Stadium which begs the question, what do Oliver's stats look like if he played in say Wrigley Field and Olympic Stadium?

Lee Fossum SS 4th round #148 overall pick Boston Red Sox:  Fossum is notable for being the first player I have come across to have a career spanning at least ten seasons and not once topping .500 OPS.  His defensive was above average, but even if he played 162 games a year I don't think it would have been quite Gold Glove worthy which makes his long career all the more amazing.

Best Draft:  Arizona Diamondbacks:  Yes, they did have a big first round miss with Holland, but they are the only team that walked away with two above average regular contributors in Lima and Huff.  At the end of the day though, this was a weak class and the Diamondbacks are merely the best of a bad lot.

Honorable Mention:  Washington Nationals: This is largely due to getting Ratliff at the tail end of the first round.; when he was at his best he outpitched everyone else from this draft.

Discussion points:
1) Lack of accolades for top 4 picks:  The top 4 picks combined for 46 ML seasons at the time of this writing, yet have a combined three All-star appearances, one MVP, one ROY and four Silver Sluggers.  If you take Sewell out of the equation that leaves just one All-star game over 35 seasons for the remaining three.  All of these picks were above average ML players, but (Sewell aside), did they reach your expectations for a top five pick?

2)   Going back to the points made on Kimera Oliver, parks in this world as a group tend to favor pitchers over hitters. Cumulatively, they favor hitters slightly for singles and moderately for triples while favoring pitchers moderately for doubles and HR to both fields.  I would argue that doubles and HR are more important to an offense than singles and triples (due to relative low impact of a single and relative scarcity of triples).  How do we use this to assess  the true impact a player had.  Oliver was certainly helped by pitching in some stadiums that were pitcher friendly across the board, but how much did that lower his career ERA?

3)  Performance wise, this was a very underwhelming draft class.  Several players appear to have another 3-5 seasons of productivity; are there any players who can do enough in the twilight of their careers to boost them onto the winners lists?

Game 22: NL East Arms Race Goes Ballistic

We recently got these comments on the state of the Nats and the NL East from Nats GM chase39:

"Still early in the season yet, but CF Darrell Hughes (.327/7/18) has been a pleasant surprise. I got him hitting leadoff, not ideal but best i can do with the lineup I have. I don't expect him to hit this well the rest of the year, but it's a nice start. Felix Satou has been a disappointment so far (6.14 ERA), even going back to last season, but I expect he will pick things up and team up with Adalberto Cervantes (1.35 ERA) to lock the 7th and 8th innings down.  Now I just have to hope one of Trahan (4 saves, 3.60 ERA) or Carlos Valdes (1 save, 0.00 ERA) can close and we should be good. I'm surprised how well every team in our division has been playing, I expected the Mets and Pirates to be better, but the Phillies have shown a great improvement."

Shortly after those comments, chase39 launched a nuclear strike against the rest of the division by trading for Giants ace Maicer Camacho***.

That's just the latest move in the arms race that has driven an incredible amount of talent into the NL East in the last 2 seasons (and seen all 4 teams play well over .500 to star the season).

Since the beginning of Season 32, here's a review of the talent that has flooded onto NL East ML rosters:

Mets: called up Ricardo Pena, Cecil Bonilla, Vin Valenzuela, Daniel Stevenson, and Jose De Aza

Nationals:  traded for Camacho and Satou, called up Hughes.

Phillies: signed FA's Eddie Michaels, Otis Simmons, Yuuta Abe, Steve Davenport, Allen Lincoln, Fritz Miles, and Benito Acosta; traded for IF Jack Forrest; and called up Diory Esposito and Trevor Donatello.

Pirates: signed FA Eddie Hamels; called up Benito Torres, Ramiro Cella, Roberto Esposito, R.A. Hollins, Tony Baerga, Tom Brinson, Ernesto Johnson and Bernie Martin; traded for Mac Kennedy, Kendry Fernandez, and Albie Accardo.

*** By the way, the Giants also did pretty well in this trade, getting prospects Yamil Pinto and Douglas Lindor, plus ML pitcher Dillon Shave, for a player who will likely declare free agency after next season.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Where did these CHW come from?

The Chicago White Sox, under owner pfontaine, have been around a long time. One of the longest-tenured owners in World Major Leagues, pfontaine has been at the helm since S5.

Recently though, the White Sox have stepped up their collective game, excelling in the hyper-competitive AL North. They've won 93+ games each season since S28 and in the past 3 have kicked it up another notch, winning 107, 101, and 110 games in S30, S31, and S32 respectively. Amazingly, the middle of those 3 seasons (S31) wasn't even enough to win the division, but did snag a Wild Card berth. In S32, the White Sox came roaring back, winning the division handily and running through the playoffs with an 11-5 record on the way to their first WS title.

So how was the juggernaut born? I decided to take a look at the current ML roster to see what I could learn.

Some highlights -

Total IFA signed by CHW - 3.
1 each in S25, S26, and S27. Total of $79M in IFA Bonus.

Total true 1st Rd draft picks made by CHW - 4.
2 each in S25 and S27, all 4 top 8 picks.

Total other draft picks made by CHW - 5.
Mostly specialists/role players or depth. 1 Supplemental Rd 1, 3 rd 2, 1 rd 3.

Players traded to CHW - 5.

FA signings - 7.
No max deals, but some pretty big ticket items - total expenditure of $209.6M.

Rule 5 players - 1.
From way back in S24.

Overall, pfontaine did an excellent job of accumulating truly top talent (9 of the 25 players were top 8 draft picks, plus the 3 IFA stars) and supplementing them with complementary role players under affordable contracts. With the current makeup, there's little reason to see the CHW falling off a cliff in the next 2-3 seasons, so owners in the AL North - as well as everyone aiming at a WS title - have their work cut out for them.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Season 25 Top 10 Draft Picks Reviewed

I thought it would be fun to look back at a draft and see the top 10 players selected and where they are.  Who were the great picks, good picks, and bad picks.  Let's review each one and determine if it was a good choice for the team.

#1 Overall Pick - Stubby George - Pitcher - College - Colorado Springs Rockies

Average ML Season Stats:

Career 62-47 Record
OAV:  .229
WHIP  1.16
Career ERA = 3.06


Season 28 Rookie of the Year
Season 31 All Star


George had the honor of being the first player taken in this draft.  The thin air of Colorado Springs hasn't stopped this lefty from being a very good groundball pitcher.  With great health and great durability, George looks like a mainstay to be in the All Star game hunt each year.  Surprised he hasn't won more games with his 3.06 career ERA.  Is George a future Hall of Famer?

#2 Overall Pick - Cy James - SS (now 2B,LF) - High School - Atlanta Braves

Average ML Season Stats:

AVG: .280
HR: 22
RBI: 79
SB: 23
OBP: .354


Season 28 Sliver Slugger SS
Season 31 All Star
Season 32 All Star
Season 32 Silver Slugger 2B


A great hitter across the board, James has been durable and consistent in his years with the Braves.  He has never been on the DL despite having a 75 health rating and has shown the ability to be consistent his average, power, and speed.  His versatility on defense is a plus.

#3 Overall Pick - Sidney Larkin - 2B (now LF) - JuCo - Chicago White Sox

Average ML Stats:

AVG: .271
HR: 34
RBI: 111
SB: 14
OBP: .333


Season 29 Most Valuable Player
Season 29 Silver Slugger LF
Season 31 Silver Slugger LF


Larkin has been a great player for the White Sox the last 4 seasons.  The only question mark with Larkin is his health issues.  His 64 health is a major concern and his infamous stint on the 60 DL in Season 32 with a herniated disk in his back really limited him on putting up even more amazing numbers.  When healthy, he is a MVP candidate.

#4 Overall Pick - Ubaldo Maduro - SS - College - Milwaukee Brewers

Average ML Stats:

AVG: .257
HR: 15
BB: 60


Season 30 Silver Slugger SS
Season 30 All Star
Season 32 All Star


If Milwaukee wanted to draft a good defensive shortstop that could hit for a bit with some power then they have found their man.  Guys like this are hard to come by.  Maduro's greatest attribute is his bunting skills (96 rating), but has also shown a great eye.  Would be a great #2 hitter for many years to come.

#5 Overall Pick - Brad Knight - Pitcher - College - Toronto Blue Jays

Average ML Stats:

Has yet to be in the major leagues


No MLB Awards


With a decent 3.68 ERA in the minors, Knight has yet to break through to the majors.  With porr stamina, his ineffectiveness against right handed hitters and his proneness to the long ball, it reflects poorly on the Blue Jays scouting department.  Knight has since been traded to the Cincinnati Reds as the Reds hope they can do to Knight what they did with Edinson Volquez.

#6 Overall Pick - Kareem McElroy - Pitcher - College - Detroit Tigers

Average ML Stats:

ERA = 3.69
WHIP = 1.27


No MLB awards


Not often do you see a #6 pick in the draft released, but McElroy was given up on by the Tigers in Season 32 and released.  McElroy has since been picked up by the New York Yankees and has done a respectable job while making less than $2 million a season.  Pitching doesn't seem to be a strong suit of the Season 25 draft.

#7 Overall Pick - Earl Mesoraco - Pitcher - College - Philadelphia Phillies

Average ML Stats:

ERA: 3.41
WHIP: 1.18


No MLB awards


Another pitcher that falls into the category of Season 25 not being a good draft for pitching.  Mesoraco has poor health and durability that includes a stint on the 60 day DL in Season 29.  An extreme flyball pitcher, Mesoraco has had only one winning season out of the 5 as a full time starter.

#8 Overall Pick - Stan Duran - LF (now 1B) - High School - Chicago White Sox

Average ML Stats:

AVG: .280
HR: 20
SB: 24
Has never struck out more than 99 times in a season.


Season 29 Rookie of the Year
Season 29 Gold Glove
Season 29 All Star
Season 30 Gold Glove
Season 31 All Star
Season 32 World Series Ring


Chicago finds another piece to their Season 32 World Series Championship.  Duran was a great selection at #8 and has given this team a Gold Glove caliber 1B that hits for average, power, and can steal bases.  Very durable as well in playing 157-159 games every year in the regular season.  The White Sox have done very well in this draft.

#9 Overall Pick - Braeden Gil - CF - High School - Washington Nationals

Gil did not sign.

#10 Overall Pick - Yamil Mercado - Pitcher - College - Baltimore Orioles

Average MLB Stats:

ERA: 4.16
WHIP: 1.32
OAV: .259




Your definition of an average pitcher.  Was very mediocre until a trade sent him to Minnesota where he worked out of the bullpen to have an amazing season in Season 32.  That year he went 15-1, 1 SV, and an ERA of 2.74.

Hope you enjoyed this!  Thanks to blanch for letting me contribute.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Who's Getting The Call At Game 20?

Game 20...when ROY campaigns and HOF careers begin.  The rookies we pin our hopes on but still hold back for awhile to get that treasured extra min-salary year.  Who's coming up this year, and what will the impact be?  Some of these guys won't get called up, but I tried to impact the highest potential impact players...let me know if I missed someone and we'll add a profile.

American League

Erv Daley - Arizona (Sea 30 #1):  The 'Backs looked like they had assembled a pretty effective rotation, and then BAM!  Patrick Hunter gets hurt.  Daley would benefit from a full year at AAA...his 3 sub-50 pitches mean he'll take a few lumps here and there.  But he'll also win some games by himself.  ROY candidate.

Keith Townsend - Baltimore (Sea 30 #3):  The Birds are getting nothing from COF's Ruffin and Maradona (no surprise, they  didn't last year, either), so Townsend steps right in as an everyday COF and brings a welcome power threat.

Randy Grant - Baltimore (Sea 29 #9):  I'm not sure he gets a shot yet, as the staff is performing reasonably well.  But he's in his 5th pro year, so he's not going to get a lot better, and his good pitches may offset that vR.  If he does get the call, it's probably as a LR or mopup, so little impact this year.

Edwin Coy - Detroit (Sea 26 #40): The wheels are coming off 36 year-old Hector Bennett (.560 OPS, .949 fielding % after 10 games) at 3B, so the Tigers will turn to Coy.  He doesn't look like much of a hitter, but being a switch hitter helps a lot...could turn into a nice surprise. And he'll produce a ton of + plays at 3B.

MacBeth Kohlmeier - Texas (Sea 30 #26):  There's plenty of room for improvement on the Texas staff (6.65 ERA after 10 games), so expect Kohlmeier to get the call.  ROY candidate?  Not impossible but probably not.  More likely he takes the ball every 5 days and helps bring some respectability to a bad situation.

National League

Steve Mench - Chicago (Sea 30 #10): Maybe, maybe not.  The Cubbies might let him simmer for another year, hoping his range will jump a few more points into true CF territory. But he could probably help as a LF or RF this year, as most of the committee in current use hasn't caught fire (Luigi Merced at .324/3/10 is a notable exception).  Not ROY candidate, but a good defensive OF who could hit for average.

Kennie Grilli (Sea 29 #6) and/or Rocky Clinton (Sea 29 #49) - Chicago:  I add the "or" because they're almost the same pitcher: lefty SP/LR's whose vR's make them suspect, but pitches might bail them out.  The Cubbies' staff is struggling; one or both could get the call and make some difference.

Amos Gregorio - Colorado (Sea 30 #22): this one may not happen yet because it's the Rockies' starters who are floundering; the bullpen is keeping them afloat.  Gregorio could probably pitch well in the majors now but that 4th pro year at AAA never hurts.

Zach Hudson - Florida (Sea 29 #47):  decent bet to be better than several of the Marlins' current starters. I wish those last 2 pitches were better, but he was the 47th pick (and a great pickup that late.  Not great odds of having a huge impact but could be a reliable starter.

Jarrett Boyd - Milwaukee (Sea 28 #21):  ready to contribute but no place to put him yet. Victor Armas getting most of the LF play, and he's hitting (and has 2 years left on his contract).  The Lowrie's off to a good start at 1B, and the RF's are holding their own.  Boyd would be expected to hit about as well as any of the current 1B/OF's, but may have to wait another year.

Dante Day - New York (Sea 30 #2):  already got the call (included here just because he wasn't on the Opening Day roster) and tossed 7 scoreless in his debut.  After sleepwalking through the opening series with the Phillies, the Mets are looking dangerous.  ROY candidate.

Karl Floyd - Philadelphia (Sea 30 #6):  3B Moises Blanco is hitting well (.926 OPS after 10 games) for the Phillies...RF Sid Swann not so much (.536 OPS).  Swann has 2 years on his contract, so if I was betting I'd say he gets more time to turn it around.  Floyd be a nice contributor...either later this year or early next.

Robert Esposito - Pittsburgh (Sea 30 #4): takes over in LF immediately...possible move to 2B in the future.  ROY candidate.

Tony Baerga - Pittsburgh (Sea 30 IFA):  some vulnerability to lefties, but with that STA/DUR he's going to get some complete games, too.  ROY candidate.

R.A. Hollins - Pittsburgh (Sea 30 #11):  RF starter this year, eventual moves his lefty power bat to 3B.

Tito Grichuk - Pittsburgh (Sea 29 #13): lefty compliment to Pirates' MR innings-eater Ernesto Johnson.

Esteban Mateo - St. Louis (Sea 30 #14):  Cards' staff has started the season on fire, but you can always use another good arm.  Just guessing but I think management will keep him in AAA this year and get some more points on already-good ratings.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Season 33 Predictions

Divison Winners/Wild Cards

AL North:  White Sox
AL East:    Red Sox
AL South:  Royals
Al West:     Athletics
AL WC 1:   Angels
AL WC 2:   Twins

NL North:  Expos
NL East:    Nationals
NL South:  Astros
NL West:   Rockies
NL WC 1:  Braves
NL WC 2:  Mets

Most Wins (AL) - White Sox 107
Most Wins (NL) - Nationals  100

ALCS:  Angels defeat Red Sox
NLCS:  Nationals defeat Rockies

World Series:  Nationals defeat Angels

AL MVP:  Magglio Rodriguez, 2B White Sox (#2 Matt Lawrence, 1B Red Sox)
NL MVP:  Cecil Bonilla, LF Mets (#2 Freddie Lanning, RF Braves)

AL CY:  Luis Osuna, Angels (#2 Manuel Cano, Tigers)
NL CY:  Jim Colin, Expos  (#2 Tony Moya, Astros)

AL ROY:  Vin Gumbs, Yankees (#2 Deven Carter, Mariners)
NL ROY:  Leonardo Grimm, Expos (#2 Tony Baerga, Pirates)

Season 33 AL West Preview

The Angels keep the powder dry ...Mariners get a table-setter ...Diamondbacks gear up to lead the league in runs...A's hope for a pitching rebound

Anaheim Angels
Season 32:  93-69
GM: kennedrj

"Breakthrough" Means:  Winning 2 of the next 5 World Series.  They've done everything else - 15 straight winning seasons, 13 of those in the playoffs, 5 WS trips but just 1 win.

To Do That They Have To:  Round up a monster setup man (or 2) to fill the gap between the starters and closer Felipe Jose.  They had a couple of very short relievers have decent seasons, but for the most part their RP's disappointed...they're losing some games in the 7th and 8th innings.  

This Team Is Built On:  Power Bats :  250 HR's last year and 8 hitters had 20+ (DH Amaro with 40 and LF Acosta with 33 led); Starting pitchers that go deep into games :  their 5 primary starters all had 10+ wins in Season 32.

Player to Watch:  Emmanuel Prieto moves in as the CF starter.  Incredible range - the Angels could add 25 "+" plays to the ledger from him alone.  Will botch the occasional easy catch, but his range far overshadows that.

Seattle Mariners
Season 32:  89-73
GM: captain10a

"Breakthrough" Means:  getting to the World Series.  captain10a has been piloting the Mariners to (almost all) winning seasons for 15 years, but the trip to the Big Dance has eluded him.

To Do That They Have To:  Get on base much, much better.   Despite leading the AL with 267 HR's (in a difficult park to boot), the M's were 14th in runs scored with 724.  The culprit: a league-low .299 OBP.  Their pitching is always in the top 5 (watch Eswalin Camacho this year at age 38) and they have a nice core of power hitters (1B Paul Stock, RF Gerald Crane and rookie C Deven Carter.

This Team Is Built On:  The 1-run homer rather than (unfortunately) the 3-run homer, and tough pitching top-to-bottom.

Player to Watch:  Larry Sewell could be the table-setter (or at least one of them) they desperately need.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Season 32:  80-82
GM:  drichter

"Breakthrough" Means:  Cracking 90 wins and challenging for the Division.  They've done it twice (made the playoffs) during drichter's tenure, and there were positive signs last year with an 11-win improvement.

To Do That They Have To:  Get some pitching!  That 4.86 ERA won't cut it for contenders. Some defense wouldn't hurt, either - 93 unearned runs, a .980 fielding % (15th), and 15/61 +/- plays are not the numbers of playoff teams.  To be fair, they did make some moves on the pitching front in FA.

This Team Is Built On:  Scoring runs!  They led the AL with 897 runs in Season 31 and tied for 2nd with 864 last year.  They hit all kinds of ways: HR's:  Andrelczyk, Sodowski and Hawkins had 30+ and 10 players were in double figures; walks - 7 players over 50; triples: their 41 led the league.  Their SS (Sodowsky) went .302/32/104 when most teams' SS's are hitting .237/3/35.

Player to Watch:  2nd-year SP Patrick Hunter.  The Snakes had high hopes for the 7th pick of the Season 29 draft, but he was a huge disappointment as a rookie, going 8-14 with a monster 5.85 ERA.  He'll improve, possibly by a lot.

Oakland Athletics
Season 32:  71-91
GM:  billhowell75

"Breakthrough" Means:  Get to the playoffs.  They've made it 3 times in the last 16 seasons, and not since Season 28.

To Do That They Have To:  Get some pitching, pitching PITCHING!  Their team ERA was dead last at 5.54 last year.  But that was a bit deceptive. They actually have some very good bullpen arms - Castillo, Canseco, De Aza, Aldridge, Buxton. They had 2  starters - Russ Hiljus and Al Rosado - who had their worst years as a major leaguers.  They should recover to ERA's around 3.50 (Hiljus) and 4.00 (Rosado).  Rookie Pete Stoddard (Season 29 #27) should be better than most of starters were last year.

This Team Is Built On:  Getting on base - their .347 OBP led the AL (C Tony Chirinos and 1B Stevie Foltynewicz paced the team at .389 and .382).  The offseason trade acquisition of Shawn Quinn should help drive home more of those baserunners.

Player to Watch:  SP Edgmer Cervelli.  A throw-in in the Max Mullens-Shawn Quinn trade, Cervelli has major league juice but as Harry Doyle might say, "occasionally has a little trouble finding the plate" (Cervelli broke Nuke Laloosh's Class A season record for hit mascots).  Will he be the phenom who posted a .539 OPS-against in 26 innings for Tampa Bay in Season 31?  Or will he be the Cervelli who walked 53 in 71 innings en route to a 6.78 ERA last year?  The answer may determine Oakland's season outcome.

Divison Outlook:

For my one crazy prediction, I'm saying Oakland goes worst-to-first and wins the division, with the Angels nosing out Seattle for 2nd.

Awards Watch:

Angels:  SP Luis Osuna has everything needed for a CY: good stuff, stamina, run support. It just hasn't happened yet.

Mariners: watch for C Deven Carter in the ROY competition, IF he can hit RHP a little

Diamondbacks:  Gil Sodowsky would be an MVP candidate - IF he moved to 3B, where he'd be winning Gold Gloves.  

A's:  Russ Hiljus is a good enough P to win a CY, especially with the home-ballpark help Oakland affords.

Friday, February 12, 2016

AL East Season 33 Preview

The Red Sox - so close ...Indians - quiet offseason...Yankees still building...Orioles developing the farm

Boston Red Sox 
Season 32:  91-71
GM: Spistol

Season 32 Strengths/Weaknesses: One of the top 1 or 2 offenses in the AL with 864 runs (t 2nd), 235 HR's (5th) and a .282 BA (1st). 1B Matt Lawrence had a huge career year with .295/46/147 and had plenty of help:  5 other Sox batsmen topped 20 longballs (and 2B Eddie Hines was right there with 19).  The pitching, with a 4.31 ERA, wasn't bad...it was good enough to get within 1 game of the WS.  But it's probably where Boston will seek upgrades.  The top end of the staff, with Sherry Grey (16-7, 3.21) et al. was fine.  But they had a few guys pitching 100 innings and turning in 5+ ERA's.  Felipe Tavarez is the ultimate mystery - his ERA's are always in the 3's or over 6 - never in the 4's or 5's.  The Sox' ML payroll is in the $100 million range, so they'll have to be picky about free agency help.

Addressed In Offseason:  They added SP Yorman Morales (4.86 ERA over 9 seasons) and short RP Daryl O'Halloran (4.36 ERA over 6 years).  They also promoted David Fernandez late last season - he could see a lot of work as both a SP and LR.

Cleveland Indians
Season 32:  75-87
GM: jgnjr

Season 32 Strengths/Weaknesses:  A little under the AL average with 749 runs scored - a little better on the contact/on-base skills, and  a little worse on the power categories(180 HR's - 11th).  C Ralph Dunn (.317/22/82) and LF Philip Rose (.283/38/102) had huge seasons and CF Joe Smith swiped 89 bases.  The Tribe could really benefit from a couple more solid bats.  The pitching was just above league average with a 4.24 ERA.  Ace Murray Hudson was excellent agin with a 3.00 ERA, but only pitched 165 innings - perhaps a non-DL injury. They got great work out of many of their MR and setup guys - Serra, Park, Meacham, Stairs and Burton - but the bulk of the starts went to guys whose ERA's were pushing 5.  Of special note, SS Kurt Blackley set a Major Leagues record by becoming the only SS in world history to win 5 Gold Gloves - and he's still pickin' at 32.  With a ML payroll around $78 million, the Tribe has some room to add FA talent.

Addressed In Offseason:  The Tribe was eerily silent this offseason - no free agent signings and no promotions.

New York Yankees
Season 32:  73-89
GM:  fsubwj

Season 32 Strengths/Weaknesses:  The Yanks are in a rebuild phase after the long and successful mikeymel era.  They were competitive despite scoring a league-low 691 runs.  More importantly, how is that rebuild project coming?  Well, they've signed their last couple of first rounders, IF Sean Benard (Sea 31 # 24) and SP Vin Gumbs (Sea 32 #1).  And they've dipped into the IFA waters for 2B Frank Bong, RP Rosell Miro (looks like a huge bargain), OF Harry Cayones, and RP Aurelio James.  And they've got the ML payroll trimmed all the way down to $20 million.  With some good prospects in the pipeline, it's not impossible to imagine the Yanks going for a big FA splash this season.

Addressed In Offseason:  In a bold move, NY promoted last year's #1 overall, SP Vin Gumbs, to the ML roster after only 100 innings in the minors (AAA last year).  He was a pretty advanced 22 year-old college draftee, he has the stuff to pitch now in the majors, and he'll keep getting better...why not?  Their six shortstops made 35 errors and bad plays last year - they stabilized that situation by promoting Juan Torres and signing Phil Singleton, both pretty good defenders.

Baltimore Orioles
Season 32:  63-99
GM:  NormanW5

Season 32 Strengths/Weaknesses:  The Birds have been rebuilding for 4 seasons now...are they getting anywhere?  Not if you look purely at last year's results: 63 wins, 15th in runs scored and 14th in runs allowed.  But they've drafted reasonably well (Adrian Garcia - #5 last year, Eugenio Cespedes - #2 in Sea 31, Keith Townsend - #3 in Sea 30, Randy Grant - Sea 29 #9) and added the occasional useful IFA (Vin Torrealba last year, Albert Banuelos in Season 30).  If we ranked farm systems, Baltimore's would be up there.  Combine what's coming with the existing young talent (SP Flip Harris, Season 28's #1 overall pick, and DH Rudy House, who hit a promising .321/14/47 in 190 ML AB's last year.  One glaring hole last year was Woody Brown's 49 errors and bad plays at SS; he'd be a good defender and plus hitter at 3B. They need to go find a real SS to plug that sucking chest wound.

Addressed In Offseason:  Baltimore mostly stayed away from FA, but they did add some pop with C Lonny Soto.  They filled all the other open slots by promoting C Arthur Parkinson, 1B Mitch McConnell, and LR Marvin Roth - not a lot of talent, but at least they're cheap.

Division Outlook:  I wish I could say there's something shaking this division up some, but I just don't see it.  The Red Sox win handily. Cleveland could improve but it looks like a struggle to get to wild-card territory.  And the Yankees and Orioles keep pumping up their farm systems.

Awards Watch:

Eddie Hines OPS'd .826 as a rookie, with 19 HR's, 35 doubles, 31 SB's and good 2B defense.  Pump those up 20% and you have an MVP contender.  Darkhorse candidate, but conceivable.  Cleveland's Murray Hudson has the stuff to win a CY, but needs to get more innings and wins.  Baltimore's Rudy House could hit enough to win a ROY (even as a DH, and if he still qualifies as a rookie).  Could Flip Harris win 15 with a not-too-good team?  He'll win a CY or 2, just not this year.  Vin Gumbs will get a head start on many AL ROY candidates and has to be one of the favorites.