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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
The first post I put out a few days ago was only to rate the trades that occurred on Friday, the trading deadline day.
However, I got a few e-mails asking me why I left out one trade or the other. They got me to thinking….why NOT go through the notable trades from the trading deadline and just before?
I enjoyed arguing with some of you through comments and e-mail about what you thought of some of the trades. Good times…
This post might be more for me than anybody since I LOVE trades and how they affect teams. I think they are something that is utilized by baseball better than any other sport and is part of the reason why this game is so grand.
Again, I’m primarily looking at the team that is the bigger part of the deal, though in some cases I grade both teams.
So without further adieu….here is part deux.
Deal: Reds trade Edwin Encarcion et al to the Blue Jays for Scott Rolen
Analysis: It seemed that Encarnacion never really got it going in Cincinnati. He hit a load of dingers last year, but the average the last few years was never really what Dusty Baker wanted (.209 in 2009). I don’t see him being the 3B of the future for the Jays, unfortunately. However, from what I’ve read about the two young pitchers who were also sent to the Jays, the real value might be there. These two pitchers might make an impact on Toronto this season, which would make the Jays winners here. The Reds get an aging 3B who might be able to help out a little next year. While the Reds play in a strong offensive park, the fact is that Rolen is 34 and has seen his best years pass him by.
Grade: Reds–C+ Jays–B+
Deal: Jerry Hairston, Jr. to the Yankees for a Single-A catcher
Analysis: This just doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. Of course, the Rays are notorious for making the “not a big deal” trades that end up getting them a bunch of wins. Maybe the Yankees have been taking notes. They already went into the Rays’ playbook to make a deal for Eric Hinske earlier in the year, after all. Hairston, Jr. has speed and versatility. For those reasons he might be a nice guy to have on a team. A National League team. I don’t see him helping the Yanks out too much. Then again, New York didn’t give up much, either.
Deal: Brewers deal to get Claudio Vargas from the Dodgers
Analysis: The Brewers needed a starter. A good starter. They needed somebody to help them contend with the Cubs, Cardinals, and, suddenly, the Astros. Instead they dealt for a bullpen guy in LA who they actually had not that long ago and dumped because of his ineffectiveness. They didn’t give up much, but they didn’t get much, either.
Deal: Cubs get John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny from Pirates
Analysis: This is a case where I think both teams won out. The Pirates got a young hurler in Kevin Hart and a strong piece of the bullpen in Jose Ascanio. The Cubs needed a starter in Gorzelanny (he’ll start this week) to fill in for Ted Lilly and they needed a strong lefty in the ‘pen in Grabow who will take the place of the Tommy John-bit Neal Cotts. Grabow will complement Sean Marshall in the bullpen and add some stability to a shakey group.
Grade: A for both teams (especially because of the mad kung fu skills of Gorzelanny)
Deal: Royals get Josh Anderson from the Tigers
Analysis: This guy was got for cash. That’s it. Typically these deals are non-issues. This one fits in with that characterization. So why are we talking about it?
Grade: Who cares?
Deal: The Giants get Freddy Sanchez from the Pirates
Analysis: The Pirates are becoming to be old hat in these trade discussions. With that said, the Bucs are doing the right thing. Sanchez was scheduled to make $8 mill next year. That’s too rich for a team with so many holes. I was hoping that the Rays would get this guy–he’s one of my faves–so that they could move Ben Zobrist’s rocket arm and huge bat to right field. Alas, not to be. This move will probably lead to the Giants releasing Rich Aurelia and his salary. Sanchez will help the Giants. The Pirates got a pitcher in Tim Alderson who will help them–in the future.
Deal: Phillies land Cliff Lee from Indians
Analysis: C’mon, do we have to talk about this one? I was hoping the Rays might get active here, and they were, but not as active as the Series champs. They got Lee, gave up some guys they’ll miss, and promptly saw him throw a complete game shutout. ‘Nuff said.
Deal: Mariners get Jack Wilson from Pirates for a bunch o’ guys
Analysis: The M’s got the shortstop they had hoped they had in Yuniesky Betancourt. When they realized Betancourt was a flop defensively, they shipped him to Kansas City–where he’s struggled. Wilson is a solid piece of the future puzzle for the M’s and will get them some wins in the future. The guys the Pirates got will be helpful, but not too helpful right away. Ronny Cedeno is flopping right now and catcher Jeff Clement was not sparking the way the Mariners wanted. I thought that the addition of Clement might lead to the Bucs moving Ryan Doumit–to the Rays. Not so. Oh well.
Grade: Mariners–B+ Pirates–B
Deal: White Sox get Mark Kotsay, Red Sox get Brian Anderson
Analysis: No doubt, the White Sox won this trade–right now. The White Stockings got a premiere pinch hitter who can play almost any corner position. He is a veteran who can fit in immediately with is new team and pay dividends as they push for October. The Red Stockings got a supreme underachiever in Anderson. He might develop, though, into a guy who might be the utility outfielder Rocco Baldelli is supposed to be. With JD Drew on his way out (c’mon, folks, he’s hurt, like, ALL THE TIME) this might be a good add–next year.
Grade: White Sox–B+ Red Sox–B+ (potentially)
Deal: Giants get Ryan Garko for Single-A pitcher
Analysis: Garko was a fan fave in Cleveland, but he was going to be up for big money in the off season. So he was shipped. He was taking playing time away from guys the Indians really wanted to see and they did not view him as a piece of the future. He has a gift for being offensive–in a good way–and should help the Giants offense get going. The guy Cleveland got will be good two years from now. That’s something to be happy about in Clevelend–and there isn’t much these days. However, the move will give more AB’s to superstar-in-the-making Matt LaPorta
Deal: Matt Holliday goes to St. Louis
Analysis: Waste of time to talk about. He’s hitting .529!!!
Grade: A+ (and it sickens me to say that)
Sorry if the pics got a little weird there at times. I’m as distracted by the strange moments of our favorite sport as anybody.
I think that runs down most of the more notable trades that have occurred the last few weeks (and a couple of not-so-notable trades).
I think that this time of year is the most captivating of any sport out there. Teams are fighting for division titles. Others are scrambling for wildcard berths. Franchises are deciding whether to buy or sell. Squads are scouting for both this and next year–and with a do-or-die attitude.
It’s just great.
And the waiver-wire trades are going to get going soon too. Teams have to make waiver deals before August 30th if they want that guy to be eligible for the post season.
And the countdown begins.
And if anybody asks me about the Julio Lugo deal……..
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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…
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
If the Rays made a move I think that there are two guys who would fit VERY VERY well.
.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?
.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.
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.
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….
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!
Carlos Pena showed the country last night that we can hit the ball out of the park.
Carl Crawford showed viewers that we can also bring the ball back in.
I was hoping. I was hoping that CC’s 1-3 night and amazing game saving catch would be enough.
Our own Carl Crawford took home the MVP trophy for tonight’s All-Star Game–the first Ray ever to do so. It was an amazing feat that shows exactly how far this franchise has come the last few years.
I was excited that tonight’s game was going to showcase 5 Rays and help get the nation more acquainted with our squad of hard workers. Our guys helped to show the naysayers that this team has alot that will be said before this season is over, playing solid enough defense to lead the AL squad to a 4-3 victory over the NL.
It is no coincidence that fielding has been a hallmark of Joe Maddon’s teams the last few seasons, and to emphasize the point Crawford went blazonly at the fence after Rockie Brad Hawpe launched a long ball towards left center field. CC did what CC does best–he took away a hit.
Only this time, the “hit” he stole was going to be a game-tying home run.
Hawpe hit it to the wrong side of the ballpark.
Crawford exhibited his typical humble personality in his postgame interview. In fact, he seemed happier to have gotten an autographed baseball from our nation’s president than he did to be the winner of the MVP of the All-Star Game. He told Chris Rose of FOX that it was his teammates, his Rays coaches, and manager Joe Maddon who helped him to be comfortable enough to go out there and play well.
Lucky for the AL, he did play well. In fact, the American League team that makes the World Series (ahem, the Rays) owes Carl a debt of gratitude for giving them home field advantage.
What a great night.
Congrats to CC on being named the AL’s All-Star Game MVP.
Congrats to the Rays on demonstrating the “Ray Way” of playing the game.
ALL STAR RECAP
Overall I would say that the game was a success. I enjoyed it MUCH more than the Home Run Derby the night before. There was alot more drama and more excitement.
Plus, I would say the pitchers last night fared much better than the pitchers at the derby….
Here are some things I noticed about last night’s game:
Wow. Somebody get out a stopwatch because those pitchers were trying for some kind of speed record out there. They got the ball and threw, no hesitation. Of course, it didn’t help that many of the hitters were swinging away at the first or second pitch.
I felt especially bad for Raul Ibanez. The guy gets his first All-Star Game nod and swings at the first pitch he ever seeing in an ASG and fouls out to third. Ouch. Not many good memories there.
Aside from CC’s amazing catch, I thought the fielding was adequate.
The game was punctuated by great catches in the outfield, one for the AL (Crawford) and one for the NL (Jayson Werth’s snag in the 8th to stop an AL potential rally).
Albert Pujols booted one early in the game, but came back to make a few good plays after that.
Jason Bartlett almost made an amazing play diving for a grounder up the middle. That would really have shown everybody how we play defense at the Trop.
(It was kind of cool in the 9th when Bartlett threw out an Upton–Justin Upton)
I know that does not sound exciting, but I felt like the managers were not making a big effort to get guys in during the game. Especially the pitchers. It seemed like Maddon and Manuel were managing to actually win the game. That is great, but doesn’t that detract from the FUN aspect of the game?
People tune in to see their guys get in. The Pirates are not going to have alot of success this season, but seeing Freddy Sanchez and Zach Duke get into the game is kind of neat. Neither made it.
I know that I was looking forward to seeing Ted Lilly throw an inning–or part of an inning. Unfortunately, the only guy who got booed by the always hospitalbe fans of St. Louis did not make an appearance.
In all, the AL used 25 guys and the NL used 26. That means 7-8 guys on each team made the trip to St. Louis, and that was all. The fans who bought the All Star jerseys never got to see their favorite players wear them on the field.
Of course, the job of a manager in a game such as this is tough. But trying to add more significance to the game (home field advantage in the WS) might just be the thing that is taking away some of its sparkle.
In all, I had a great time watching the game. The Rays did well (they got the MVP of the game, duh) and the game moved quickly. The competition was high and there was a level of fun involved.
Now it will be time to get back to the business of real baseball. Something that, I am sure, every player and fan has been itching for since Ben Zobrist caught the final All Star out.