Posted on: January 18, 2010 12:27 pm

The Perfect Small Market Team- Infield

I while ago i started up a series of posts on creating the perfect small market team. But do to the Winter Meetings, and NFL Playoffs i got sidetracked and have not had a chance to continue working on it. So last night after i suffered through the 34-3 thrashing of the Cowboys i decided i needed to take my mind off of football and work on this project. My goal was to assemble a full 40 man roster with only $70 mill to spend using the players 2009 salaries, so lets start with the infield.

C- Brian McCann - He is arguably one of the top catchers in the game, he gives you consitent production from a position that it is tyically hard to find at. But he is also fairly inexpensive ($3.7 mill in 09). With his production, cost and age (26) he seems to be the best fit for this team.

1B- Joey Votto- He provides a great batting average, solid power and RBI production and cost near the league minimum ($437,500). He is young (26) and still has a lot of potential but I'll take his current production.

2B- Dustin Pedroia- He plays good defense, hits for solid average, decent power, decent speed, and is a ferocious competitor. He is fairly inexpensive ($1.75 mill). He is an all around solid player and is still young (26). He will give us solid play up the middle.

SS- Alcides Escobar- He may not have played a full season yet, but he's young (23), he can hit for a decent average, has good speed, and some power potential. He could be a good leadoff hitter, and he will only make the league minimum.

3B- Ryan Zimmerman- One of the top prospects has finally reached his potential, he is a franchise player in the making who will hit .300-30-100 and play good defense. He is only 25 so he has huge upside, and is a very reasonable price ($3.325 mill).

The infield defense should be good with a gold glover in Pedroia, and good defenders in Votto, and Zimmerman. Escobar and Pedroia form a good leadoff combo and should score plenty of runs, and Votto, Zimmerman, and McCann make up the heart of the order. And these 5 guys will cost less than 1/7 of the teams salary.
Posted on: January 9, 2010 1:41 pm

A look at the NL Central

About a week ago i started putting together some stats and began working on my MLB Preview. I wont post that on here until March, but i thought i would give you a look at what i think the NL Central is going to look like based on the moves made thus far in the offseason. Lets talk about the big moves that have been made first. Lets start with the Cardinals.

St. Louis Cardinals-

Right now i would have to say that they are in the best shape to win the division this season. They have probably the 2 best hitters in the division and 2 aces at the top of their rotation. They signed Matt Holliday to a mega deal that will be paying him through 2029, and that will keep him in St. Louis for the next 7 years. The problem i have with that deal ( And everyone else who analyizes baseball) is that between what Holliday is getting, and what Pujols will get is going to eat half of their payroll for the next 7 years. I dont see how they will be able to re-sign their younger stars, or aquire other players to build around the franchise players. Plus their farm system is not very deep, so yes they will have the 2 best players in the division but outside of those two the teams that the Cardinals will fielding for the next 7 years may not be as deep as the others. Also i think this will hurt them in the post-season. Depth is the key in the post-season, because if you only have 2 guys who can hit what happens if they go cold in the playoffs, then you dont have any hitting. Anyways i just think that in the long term this hurts them. But right now they should have a fairly easy ride to the post season.

Chicago Cubs-

They go rid of Milton Bradley, and they signed Marlon Byrd to play center. I liked those 2 moves for a couple of reasons. First getting rid of Bradley may seem like a waste of money. But he really destroyed the team chemistry, which was the key to their success in 07, and 08. Plus he was an average outfielder at best, and an injury risk. Now what we got in return may not be that much (Some cash and Carlos Silva), but its only a short term problem. Carlos Silva may actualy be some what decent in Chicago. He is sinker ball pitcher, which they tend to succedd in Wrigley, and he has pitched better in the National League in his career. Most likely he will be a long reliever with the potential to be the #5 starter, but the Cubs have better options there. With Marlon Byrd the Cubs get a club house leader, an average defender and a solid #5 hitter (or so Jaramillo says). The part i like the best about this move is that it will move Fukudome back into RF where he plays exeptional defense. The Cubs have made several other small moves (Tradng Jake Fox and Aaron Miles for Jeff Gray and prospects, and aquiring Bryan LaHair). But they are mostly counting on former Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo to get their hitters to rebound from a sub par season in 09. The Cubs in my opinion are in a minor rebuilding faze, they are trying to develop their minor league talent, which had been desimated by trades earlier in the decade. If they can get the minors producing some solid major league talent they may let some of their older players go. But right now the Cubs are still contendors for the division.

Millwaukee Brewers-

They traded JJ Hardy to the Twins for Carlos Gomez, signed Randy Wolf and LaTroy Hawkins and Gregg Zaun. The Brewers problem is not offense, but they have lacked pitching depth for years. Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf are going to have to carry this pitching staff. They really need another starter or 2, the bullpen is okay with Hoffman still closing games out and Hawikins should be a decent set up guy. But their pitching ranks near the bottom of the division in talent. But they have probably the best offense in the division. WIth sluggers Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun in the middle of the order, and youngster Alcides Escobar should make an impact as the leadoff hitter and short stop of the future. The Brewers are a well balanced team on offense but their pitching (as always) may hold them back from making the playoffs.

Cincinnati Reds-

They havent really made any big moves besides extending Scott Rolen for 3 years. I really didnt understand that move. For a small market team to go ahead and committ to a 35 year old, injury prone third baseman. Rolen is a good defender and can still hit for average, but his power is a shadow of its former self. Outside of a couple of veterans this is a very young team. Their young talent will have to step up if they want to have any shot at contending this year. Joey Votto has already proved that he is rock solid at first and should put up great numbers as the #3 hitter. Jay Bruce needs to hit for better contact, but he has goobs of talent, and Drew Stubbs and Chris Dickerson look primed to man the other outfield spots. Brandon Phillips has been a mainstain at second posting 20-20 numbers consistently in his career in Cincinnati. The pitching staff also has some promise with young stars in Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey (altough they Bailey was dissapointing until late last season). They also have to veteran pitchers, Homer Bailey who has been very effective since his arival to cincinnati, and Aaron Harrang who has struggled that past 2 seasons. The rotation needs some work, but the bullpen has been solid and Fransico Cordero has been great as thier closer. The Reds have a lot of prospects on the way also. Maybe those prospects can be turned into trades to help improve this club. The Reds may be able to compete but i still think they are a few years away.

Pittsburgh Pirates-

Earlier in the offseason they aquired Akinori Iwamura to man second, they signed Javier Lopez for the pen, but those moves have been the most interesting. The Pirates have been rebuilding for years, but i really feel that they are moving in the right direction. They have a great up and coming Center Fielder in Andrew McCutchen, a great prospect at third in Pedro Alvarez (probably wont come up until mid-season). They have some interestin starters, Charlie Morton, Ross Ohlendorf, Zach Duke, and Paul Maholm. They have an interestin closer prospect in Joel Hanrahan and a break out outfielder in Garrett Jones. Really this is a team that will slowly get better as the prospects arrive. Until then they have no chance at the playoffs although i think they are about as good as the Astros are right now.

Houston Astros-

They aquired closer Matt Lindstrom and reliever Brandon Lyon, and signed starter Brett Myers. They have 2-3 proven starters, and one interesting prospect. Their bullpen may be alright with Lindstrom and Lyon. And their offense still has some stars in Carlos Lee, Lance Berkman, Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn. But they are in a slow decline, they have almost no prospects that should have any impact on the major league level outside of catching prospect Jason Castro. Their rotation is old and in decline, and outside of Bourn and Pence so is thier offense. They Astros may be the next team in the central that sits in the cellar for a while.
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