Tagged: braves

Obligatory (and fun) 2010 MLB Predictions: National League

Pretty much every blog in the universe remotely related to baseball has been making its predictions for what will happen in the majors in 2010.  Some have done it division by division, and some have done it in one big shot. 

I’ll be subscribing to a combination of both as I go league by league.

I will not be including records because, well, I’m just not that smart. 

I see 2010 as a season that will have more than just a few surprises.  Sure, teams such as the Phillies and Yankees will be right there until the end, but there are other squads that I think possess much intrigue because of their offseason moves and the emergence of their younger players.

More than likely this is an effort in futility, but it sure is fun.

Today I will break down the National League.  Tomorrow the American League.  Tuesday I’ll put out my playoff predictions.

NL East

Phillies                        Nobody’s better in the NL.  They would be better with Cliff Lee AND Roy Halladay, but they are pretty darn strong as they stand.

Braves                        I like their mix of youth and experience.  Their pitching will be a strength for them, especially if Tim Hudson can turn in a strong season.

Marlins                       How can you pick against them?  Nobody knows how they do it, but they win every year.  Ricky Nolasco is back and Josh Johnson is solid. 

Mets               How can you pick FOR them?  The addition of Jason Bay would seem to bode well for the offense, but the recent injury to Daniel Murphy won’t help.  Neither will the fact that they seem to have given up on their pitching.

Nationals         I don’t want to pile on.  They are not a good team.  But their offseason moves and slow dedication to a youth movement points them in the right direction.

Playoff team:

 

NL Central

Cardinals         Makes me sick to say it, but they are darn good.  Their offense will more than make up for any pitching deficiencies.  They have the potential for closer problems this year, though.

Cubs                I love this team, but it seems no matter how much talent they get on the squad they do not win.  Sure, they won the division for three straight years, but that was about it.  Last year was an abomination.  Marlon Byrd, and a healthy Aramis Ramirez, will really help the offense.

Reds                They could be the surprise of the division in 2010.  I like their staff (and the addition of Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, even though he is in the minors now) and their bats.  Might sound crazy, but I think these guys could push for a playoff spot this year.

Astros             Sure Lance Berkman is hurt, but this team has some talent.  They are getting older at some positions (Carlos Lee, Berkman, Oswalt) and injuries could derail their season.

Brewers          Their pitching is horrendous.  Yovani Gallardo can’t stay healthy and one of their starters, Jeff Suppan, is already out.  Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are not enough.

Pirates             Andrew McCutcheon will be fun for the entire league to watch and will more than likely represent the Bucs in the All-Star Game.  That’s about it.

Playoff teams:  

 

NL West

Giants              As fans of the Tampa Bay Rays know, pitching wins.  And there are few staffs (provided Barry Zito is actually good this year) as strong as the Giants’.  “Kung Fu Panda” Pablo Sandoval will really shine this year.

Dodgers          Why won’t they win the division?  Health.  I just think that they are going to have some big injuries this year and that Manny will do all he can to distract the team from winning baseball games.  I like their young starting pitching, but it won’t gel enough this year. 

Rockies                       Coors Field seems like a great place to watch a baseball game.  Its offensive stats seem to have calmed down a bit.  The rise of Ubaldo Jimenez and his ability to induce ground balls will help this team have a solid season.

Padres             I love their youth.  Everth Cabrera, Mat Latos, Chase Headley.  I like ’em.  This will be a big surprise if they don’t finish in the basement of the division again.  I think they have some surprises in them.

Diamondbacks            It will be a surprise if these guys DO finish in the basement.  I like Dan Haren and their emerging catcher, Miguel Montero (he’s on my fantasy team!).  But I don’t see a lot to get excited about in the desert.

Playoff team:

 

Well, that was fun.  No doubt, some of my picks might be debatable. 

 

And, if they are debatable, feel free to tear me apart.

 

Let’s play some baseball!

 

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Gradin’ the Tradin’

Ah, well.  The Rays did not make any moves at the trade deadline.  Despite two glaring needs, the team was unable to do that trade that might have helped to shore up some weaknesses for the final playoff push.

I don’t know that moves HAD to be made.  This team stood pat last year and was able to utilize the huge talent it had to make it to October.  This year’s iteration of the Rays is not much different, and should be able to ride its talent–both here in the majors and in the minors–to a division crown or wildcard berth. 

It ain’t gonna be easy, though.

Even though I can’t look at any moves the Rays made, I wanted to take a look at the multitude of moves made yesterday and grade how each move should help each team.

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Deal: Red Sox trade for Victor Martinez

Analysis: Jason Varitek has not been what the Sox have needed this year.  Sure, he’s led the team as an old grizzled veteran should, but little more than that.  Add in the fact that Mike Lowell’s hip is not long for this season and you have a need at catcher and first base.  Well, the Red Sox filled those needs with the addition of Martinez.  One of the more coveted players available at the deadline, the versatile Martinez might just be the piece that complete the playoff puzzle for the Sox

Grade: A+

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Deal:  White Sox trade lots of young arms for Jake Peavy

Analysis:  Initially this looks like a great deal.  The White Sox were able to rekindle interest in moving Peavy late Friday (interest that waned early in the season) and finally consummated the deal.  Why Peavy would want to pitch in hitter-friendly US Cellular Field in a new league is beyond me, but he had his reasons to waive his no trade clause.  The Sox got a pitcher who is not ready to pitch now and might not be ready for several more weeks.  The Padres got a plethora of arms that should help them long term.

Grade:C+

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Deal:  Twins acquire Orlando Cabrera

Analysis:  I don’t like Cabrera.  Let’s get that out of the way.  I don’t like the way he tried to make some lame point in the playoffs last year against the Rays.  I am glad Grant Balfour struck him out, though.  Why do I say all this pointless blather?  Because this is a perfect move for the Twins.  And if I’m saying that with the way I feel, then you know it is good.  The Twinkies needed a strong shortstop, and they got it.  He will hit 2nd in the lineup ahead of Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer and will help that offense really get going.  And his defense will be welcome in the Metrodome–especially if you saw the bumbling of Brendon Harris in last night’s game.

Grade:A

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Deal:  Tigers get Jarrod Washburn

Analysis:  Washburn was not going to be able to help the Mariners make the playoffs this year.  And he was going to ask for more money than the M’s would be willing to pay him after the end of this season.  For them, this is a great move.  For the Tigers, this move makes sense.  They will now have a solid 1-3 in the rotation.  Plus, the move enabled them to keep pace with the moves the Sox and Twins made within the division.  But can Washburn keep up his torrid pitching?  I don’t think so.

Grade:  B-

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Deal:  Braves and Red Sox exchange 1B: Adam Laroche and Casey Kotchman

    

Analysis:  The Braves have fallen out of love with the guy they acquired for Mark Teixeira not that long ago.  Why?  They want more home runs.  Kotchman has just 6 this year.  But the guy is hitting .283 and plays a decent 1B.  Laroche, on the other hand, struggles to hit .250 and only has 13 dingers this year.  Each guy has only around 40 RBIs.  This is kind of a non-deal–much like the Jeff Francoeur for Ryan Church deal earlier.  What are the Braves thinking?

Grade:  Braves–C             Red Sox–B

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Deal:  Marlins trade for the Nats’ Nick Johnson

Analysis:  Everybody seems to love Nick Johnson.  I don’t get it.  He’s a marginal hitter, and ok fielder, and he might actually be slower than our own Pat Burrell.  What’s the deal?  When the Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez was told of the trade, he reportedly pumped his fist and yelled “YES!”  Why?  This might help the Marlins shore up their infield by moving Jorge Cantu to 3B and allowing Johnson to man 1B, but that’s about it.  But, the Fish did not give up much for him so…

Grade:  B

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Deal:  Rockies get Joe Beimel from the Nats

Analysis:  Make fun of the Pirates all you want, at least it seems they are getting a direction in mind for the franchise.  The Nationals don’t have a clue.  They dumped a solid lefty bullpen guy in Beimel to get two youngsters–one of which, I read, is recovering from surgery.  Ugh.  This deal should help the Rox, but not that much.

Grade:  B

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Deal:  Dodgers send minor leaguer 3B Josh Bell to O’s for closer George Sherrill

Analysis:  I’m looking at both sides of the coin on this one.  The Dodgers acquire a solid closer who has been more and more consistent as the season has gone on.  Thus, right now the Dodgers have one of the more potent 8th- and 9th-inning guys out there.  The Orioles got a guy I hadn’t heard much about, but about whom I read is something special at 3B.  Melvin Mora won’t be long in an O’s uni, so getting Bell, who might get a callup sometime next year, plays out perfectly for Baltimore.  This team is going to be pretty exciting come next season. 

Grade:  D’s–B+        O’s–B

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As with any trade that went down in the last few days, we will have to wait and see how things go.  Of course, the Cardinals have gotten immediate returns on their move as Matt Holliday has TORN IT UP since his arrival in St. Louis.

Lots of the deals above included young minor leaguers.  Their value is not entirely quanitfiable just yet, but it may be sooner rather than later.

Either way, Friday was lots of fun.

Even if the Rays did do nothing.

Tradin’ Post: Rays Edition

I had a few ideas of moves that the Rays should consider before the 4 pm trade deadline hits today. I know that this post has a shelf life (about 6 hours), but I think that talkin’ trades is one of the fun parts of this game we love.  I wanted to spend a little time on it.

Of course, NOTHING I write about here is coming true. 

But I did a little digging and a little research to see if something out there made sense for my Rays that could get them to the post season again.

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Guys to Get: Catcher

One of the needs the Rays have falls right behind the plate.  Our catcher position has been brutal offensively.  Dioner Navarro and Michel Hernandez have combined to hit about .228 with 6 home runs and 38 RBIs. 

Not the type of production you can live with from ANY position.

In their defense, so to speak, those two guys have played some great defense this year and really called some solid games.  That is worth its weight in gold and will probably keep both of them at the Trop for the remainder of the year. 

BUT

If the Rays made a move I think that there are two guys who would fit VERY VERY well.

 

Ryan Doumit

 

 .255   5 HR   20 RBI

Doumit is better known for his offense than his defense.  He broke out big time for the Pirates last year (.318/ 15 / 69 / 34 2b).  He has had some setbacks with his health this year, missing time several times over the course of the season.  However, the production he has been able to put up in spite of only 109 at bats is phenomenal for a catcher.

He’s 28 years old, which means that he is getting ready to enter his prime offensively.  I am sure his defense can come along if coached properly. 

And keep in mind that the Bucs just trade for Jeff Clement with Seattle.  Clement was a highly touted catching prospect for the M’s and just might have made Doumit expendable.

He has a team-friendly contract that puts him under team control until 2013.  Hmmmmmm….sound like a Rays-type of player?

 

Kurt Suzuki

.285   6 HR   47 RBI   1 error

This is the guy I’m most excited about.  And it might be a long shot for the A’s to drop him.  But he is only 25 years old, has some pop in his bat (26 doubles!), and does not make errors.  He calls a good game and, if you’ve watched him play much, is nimble around the plate.  He is a tough out and will draw a walk from time to time.

His contract is league-minimum right now and for next year.  In 2011 he becomes arbitration eligible–something the Rays should be able to buy out after Pat Burrell’s contract is off the books. 

He could bring alot of stability offensively to the catcher position and maintain the defensive prowess behind the plate we have been used to.

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Guys to Get: Reliever

I don’t think that that the Rays have a big hole anywhere on the team right now.  Surely, the starting pitcher has been quite inconsistent, but you don’t want to make any trades to shore that up (especially with Cliff Lee gone and Roy Halladay ridiculous).  Our other position players have done just fine–offensively and defensively.

I look at the bullpen as a spot where we could improved.  Specifically, our 7th and 8th inning guys.  I love Grant Balfour and Dan Wheeler, love ’em.  But they have not put together the most consistent seasons this year.  And you can’t have guys who are inconsistent come into the game to hold the lead for JP Howell.

It is with this in mind that I nominate the two following guys for acquisition.

 

Rafael Soriano

1-2   1.88 ERA   65 K   18 BB   15 SV   12.19 K/9 (!!!)

This guy is just a dream, more than likely, because the Rays are probably not going to throw the money he will be scheduled to make next year at him.  He should make 6.1 million next season in the final season before he becomes a free agent.  He is 29 and is coming off a shakey year in 2008. 

He has shuttled from setup guy to closer all year long.  But wow.  What a drastic difference if you could get hitters looking at Soriano’s 95mph heat in the 8th and Howell’s 85 mph “heat” in the 9th.  The Braves don’t mind moving him because they have….

 

Mike Gonzalez

MikeGonzalez7.jpg Mike Gonzalez after getting his 39th consecutive save! image by klingreen

3-3   3.06 ERA   60 K   20 BB   9 SV   12.06 K/9 (!!!)

He is 31 but seems to be finally hitting his stride with the Bravos.  He is a lefty, but he would be a great replacement for either (or both) Randy Choate and Brian Shouse.  He has been moved from team to team over the course of his career, playing middle reliever, setup guy, and closer at each stop.  The Braves have been pleasantly surprised at his output this year and have alternated between Soriano and him as the closer all season long.

His contract is more manageable for the Rays next year–his final contract year–as he should make 3.45 million.  He has a quirky delivery but he can strike anybody out at any time.  Not too bad for a setup guy.   

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Guys to Go

For reasons mentioned before, I think that the Rays could throw in these guys to any deal just to help sweeten it.  I don’t think that any of the players mentioned below will work for one-to-one straight up trades, but they are certainly salary dumps and add-ons that could help any deal go through.

Brian Shouse

His value has taken a hit since his return from the DL.  His ERA has balooned to above 5.00 and he is not getting the one guy Maddon allows him to face out.

 

Dioner Navarro.

He is not recovering from his slump.  He is trending in the wrong direction.  As a switch hitter he does fine against lefties, but against righties he hits only .190.  Not good.

 

Grant Balfour

I love the guy.  He leads the team in holds, but he is not reliable.  He’s given up 6 runs in his last 10 appearances.  That is not a consistent set up guy.  He is a free agent after this year.

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The Red Sox have pulled 4 1/2 games in front of the Rays for second place in the division with the Yankees up 7 games!  Time is ticking.

I don’t want the Rays to make any drastic moves that will affect negatively our ability to win next year.  That is one of the things that makes me proud of our front office–they do NOT succumb to peer pressure at all.  If they think we can make it to October, the deal will be done, but only if it does not hurt us next year or the next two years.

Only 6 hours and counting!!!