Tag:Milwaukee
Posted on: February 21, 2012 2:51 pm
 

NL Central Preview

This is a division that has lost a lot of talent with the Free Agent departures of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. While both their former teams should be competitive in 2012, this has left both teams weakend and an opportunity for the Reds to claim their 2nd division title in 3 years. So lets jump right in and break down the weakened NL Central!

1. CINCINNATI REDS

 C- Devin Mesoraco/Ryan Hannigan
1B- Joey Votto
2B- Brandon Phillips
SS- Zack Cozart
3B- Scott Rolen/Todd Frazier
LF- Ryan Ludwick/Chris Heisey
CF- Drew Stubbs
RF- Jay Bruce

Pitching-

1. Johnny Cueto
2. Matt Latos
3. Bronson Arroyo
4. Mike Leake
5. Homer Bailey/Jeff Francis
6. Aroldis Chapman

CL- Ryan Madson
SU- Sean Marshall
SU- Nick Masset

The Reds had a very good off-season, realizing that their window of opportunity is now. They bolstered their rotation with the additions of Matt Latos and Jeff Francis. They also fortefied their bullpen with the addition of former Phillies closer Ryan Madson and former Cubs set-up man Sean Marshall. The offense is led by a trio of stars in Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce with some nice complementary players in Drew Stubbs, Devin Mesoraco and recently acquired LF; Ryan Ludwick. There are question marks at third and short but they still have a top tier offense. I think the Reds are a solid playoff team but I still think they have too many holes to win a world series (but anything can happen in baseball).   

2. ST. LOUIS Cardinals

C- Yadier Molina
1B- Lance Berkman
2B- Daniel Descalso
SS- Rafael Furcal
3B- David Freese
LF- Matt Holliday
CF- Jon Jay
RF- Carlos Beltran

Pitching-

1. Chris Carpenter
2. Adam Wainwright
3. Jamie Garcia
4. Kyle Lohse
5. Jake Westbrook

CL- Jason Motte
SU- Fernando Salas
SU- Mitchell Boggs

The loss of Albert Pujols is devestating and the retiring of LaRussa is going to hurt as well, but I still think the Cardinals can be a competitive team in 2012.This could be the year of David Freese and they still have a solid core with Berkman, Holliday, Molina and Beltran. The key will be how Adam Wainwright's return goes as he could push the Cardinals into contention with the Reds. I still think in the end it will be tough for the Cardinals to win the division as they have taken too many losses in the offseason and the Reds have gotten exponentially better.

3. MILWAUKEE Brewers

C- Jonathan Lucroy
1B- Mat Gamel
2B- Rickie Weeks
SS- Alex Gonzalez
3B- Aramis Ramirez
LF- Norichika Aoki/Ryan Braun
CF- Njer Morgan/Carlos Gomez
RF- Corey Hart

Pitching-

1. Yovani Gallardo
2. Zack Grienke
3. Shaun Marcum
4. Randy Wolf
5. Chris Narveson

CL- John Axford
SU- Francisco Rodriguez
SU- Kameron Loe

Losing Prince Fielder and 50 games of Ryan Braun is HUGE! With Braun I might have still picked them to win the division as they have the best top of the rotation in the division. With the hit to the offense even with the additions of Aramis Ramirez, Norichika Aoki and a potential breakout season from Mat Gamel I dont think they can realistically win the division. The staff IS stacked and expect an even better season from Greinke as the stats show he was much better than his ERA indicated. The Brewers are still a very dangerous team that could sneak into contention as many people are counting them out. 

4. CHICAGO CUBS

C- Geovany Soto
1B- Bryan LaHair/Anthony Rizzo
2B- Darwin Barney
SS- Starlin Castro
3B- Ian Stewart
LF- Alfonso Soriano
CF- Marlon Byrd
RF- David DeJesus

Pitching-

1. Matt Garza
2. Ryan Dempster
3. Paul Maholm
4. Travis Wood
5. Chris Volstad/Randy Wells

CL- Carlos Marmol
SU- Kerry Wood
SU- Jeff Samardzija

The Cubs are going through a complete rebuild and although you can never completely rule out a team they really have no chance to win the division (this coming from a Cubs Fan). The offense is going to be rough as they lack a true middle of the order hitter. The rotation is vastly improved from 2011 as they actual have a surplus of starters now, and while they might not all be top arms there is some upside for guys like Travis Wood and Chris Volstad. The Cubs may not be in the playoff hunt but they should be as good if not a little better than in 2011 and pretty exciting to watch.

5. PITTSBURGH Pirates

C- Rod Barajas 
1B- Garrett Jones
2B- Neil Walker
SS- Clint Barmes
3B- Pedro Alvarez/Casey McGehee
LF- Alex Presley
CF- Andrew McCutchen
RF- Jose Tabata

Pitching-

1. Charlie Morton
2. Erik Bedard
3. A.J. Burnett
4. James McDonald
5. Jeff Karstens/Kevin Correia

CL- Joel Hanrahan
SU- Evan Meek
SU- Jason Grilli

The Pirates were the suprise first half team last season and at one point was winning the division. Eventually they collapsed due to their youth and a plethora of injuries but they got Pittsburgh excited about baseball again. The offense should be better this season with an upgrade at short and a couple of potential bounce back seasons. The rotation is also better with the addition of A.J. Burnett to eat some innings and Erik Bedard to get in some good starts. I still think the bullpen was very fluky last season and will regress but still the Pirates are no longer the worst team in baseball. I see a couple win improvement from last year and they could beat out the Cubs for fourth place. 

6. HOUSTON Astros

C- Jason Castro
1B- Carlos Lee/Brett Wallace
2B- Jose Altuve 
SS- Jed Lowrie/Angel Sanchez
3B- Jimmy Paredes
LF- J.D. Martinez
CF- Jordan Schafer/Jason Bourgeois
RF- Brian Boguesevic

Pitching-

1. Wandy Rodriguez
2. Brett Myers
3. Bud Norris
4. Livan Hernandez
5. Jordan Lyles/J.A. Happ

CL- Brandon Lyon
SU- Wilton Lopez
SU- Fernando Rodriguez

There should be no argument that the Astros are the worst team in the division and possibly in the National League. Luckily this is their last season in the NL Central before their jump to the AL West. The offense is full of names that few people outside of diehard baseball fans know and the bullpen looks rough. I actually think their rotation is pretty solid (Im a big fan of Bud Norris and Jordan Lyles) but I dont think its enough to carry them out of the division cellar. 


All in all the NL Central is weak in comparison to previous years but it always seems that when the division looks weak they produce a team that goes to the world series. This was a tough call for this spot between the NL Central and the AL West but I think the extra teams help put the NL Central above but not for long.
  

Posted on: August 5, 2011 7:57 pm
 

NL Central Trade Deadline Analysis

Two days ago I posted my NL East Trade Deadline Analysis, as I took a look at how the teams in that division either got better or worse. Today we will take a look at the NL Central. There is technically a four team race for the NL Central crown but i feel we can realistically count out the Pirates and Reds as the Reds have been far too inconsistent and the Pirates are starting to putter out. 3 of those for teams made somewhat important moves and one sat quietly. The Cubs and the Astros are looking to rebuild but only one team has committed to a full rebuilding project. So let’s dive right in and analyze these deadline moves by the NL Central.

  Pittsburgh- Acquired 1B- Derrek Lee from Baltimore for 1B- Aaron Baker

                - Acquired OF- Ryan Ludwick from San Diego for A Player to be Named Later

 The Pirates are a fringe contender in the NL Central, they obviously realized this and made moves that improve the club without giving up top prospects. Neither player is going to push the Pirates to the post season but they still may be able to keep them over .500 for the first time in 18 years. Both players will likely only play on the Pirates for this season as they will be free agents next season, but the moves show to the players that Management believes in them. All in all these moves are more for PR rather than actually improving the club, as they are only marginal upgrades but are solid veterans who can boost morale.

  Chicago Cubs- Acquired OF- Abner Abreu and P- Carlton Smith from Cleveland for OF- Kosuke Fukudome

  I am a fan of Abner Abreu, and Carlton Smith may be a bullpen contributor in the near future so this is not a bad deal for the Cubs. Fukudome has never lived up to the hype that he received when he signed in 2008, his defense has eroded the past 2 seasons and his offensive numbers have probably been the worst of his career in 2011 so I am amazed the Cubs were able to get anybody interesting. The main complaint about the Cubs deadline is that they didn’t dump more of their overpaid under producing players and commit to a rebuild. Abner Abreu is an intriguing outfielder who has pop and speed with a strong arm in the outfield but lacks plate discipline, so he could be a hit or a miss type player. Carlton Smith is a very average reliever but has made it to AAA so an appearance at the Major League level either this year or next is not out of the question.

  Houston- Acquired P-Jarred Cosart, 1B/OF- Jonathan Singleton, P- Josh Zied from Philadelphia for OF- Hunter Pence

              -Acquired OF- Jordan Schafer, P- Brett Oberholtzer, P- Paul Clemens, P- Juan Abreu from Atlanta for OF- Michael Bourn

  Houston replenished their farm system by dealing their two best hitters, but many believe the Astros should have held out for more talented players. Cozart immediately becomes the Astros top pitching prospect, he is still a while away from the big leagues but he is above average to good in almost all aspects of his game. Singleton is another young player that is at the low level minors but has tremendous upside. He will hit for good average and power and has good plate discipline, and he instantly becomes the Astros top hitting prospect in my mind. Josh Zeid is a mediocre pitching prospect who is at the AA level but has struggled this year, if he makes the big leagues he will likely be a middle reliever. The return for Michael Bourn was a lot less exciting, especially if you look at the prospects Atlanta has. Jordan Schafer is the replacement for Bourn in center and he could be a serviceable one. He has great speed with some power, but lacks the ability to make consistent contact. He is still young and has room to improve so Schafer still has the potential to be a star but more likely he will be a solid major league starter. Brett Oberholtzer is a solid lefty pitching prospect with good command and good homerun suppression ability, just not a huge strikeout pitcher, but he will get his fair share. I am actually a fan of Oberholtzer and I think that he could be a solid middle of the rotation guy down the road. Paul Clemens is another decent prospect, but while his numbers look ok AA this year I’m just not a huge fan. He has decent strikeout ability but not as good of command as Oberholtzer or as good of a homerun suppression rate. He could be a back of the rotation starter or reliever down the road. Juan Abreu is one of those middle relievers who has great strikeout ability but lacks good command to be a starter. He has played well at AAA in 2011 so I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays an important role in the Astros 2012 bullpen. Overall they Astros have gotten some nice prospects but they should have been able to get better ones for the players they gave up.

 St. Louis- Acquired P- Edwin Jackson, OF- Corey Patterson, P- Marc Rzepcynski, P- Octavio Dotel from Chicago White Sox and Toronto     for OF- Colby Rasmus, P- Trever Miller, P- Brian Tallet, P- P.J. Walters

               Acquired SS- Rafael Furcal from Los Angeles Dodgers for OF- Alex Castellanos

 I think the Cardinals made the most surprising moves near the deadline. I had heard rumors that Rasmus was going to get shipped out of St. Louis but then they were always quickly denied. The Cardinals gave up on a very talented CF but acquired a well traveled but effective starter who should help them make a post-season push. The rest of the players are pretty good as well, Corey Patterson can still be a solid 4th outfielder and Rzepcynski and Dotel should both be solid middle relievers for the Cardnials. I was not crazy about the Rafael Furcal trade, he really has been bad this year, but the benefit is having another veteran starter for the stretch run i guess. The problem is his bat has been abysmal, he is injury prone and he is only playing average defense at best this year. All in all the Cardinals did make a big splash bringing in (can i call him a journey man at 27?) Edwin Jackson along with some smaller pieces and it should be a close battle for the NL Central crown.

 Cincinnati- Acquired OF- Bill Rhinehart and P- Chris Manno from the Nationals for OF- Jonny Gomes

 This trade really has no impact on the season or down the road besides the fact the Reds were smart enough to get rid of Gomes. Rhinehart seems like he will be a Quad A type player or at best a 4<sup>th</sup> outfield type. Manno is a young reliever sitting at High A who has good strikeout ability but is mediocre besides that. He is too young right now for me to make a prediction of what he might do at the majors because he could still not make it. Surprisingly the Reds got something for Gomes but again this trade really does nothing for the Reds.

 

Overall Summary- If you noticed I did not include the Francisco Rodriguez trade because it did not happen as close to the deadline. The Cardinals and Astros made the biggest moves of the deadline, but for very different reasons and the Pirates made 2 smaller moves. The Cubs and Reds did the least and both needed to do more. Overall I think the Cardinals are the winners of the Central at the deadline but I’m not sure they have enough to beat the Brewers for the division.


Posted on: August 20, 2010 1:16 pm
 

Best Teams NL Central

Earlier in the week a started a series of posts that were going to cover each team in baseballs best players in the modern era (which i consider 1950+). I analyzed the Cubs then began working on the other teams, i decided it would be much more effiecent if i posted the teams by division and compare to see which would fare the best. I will post each teams lineup and #1 starter with their WAR and FLD numbers next to them.

Cubs
1. Ryne Sandberg-2B-  4.2 WAR  4 FLD
2. Mark Grace-1B-        3.5 WAR  5.1 FLD
3. Billy Williams-OF-     5.2 WAR  -3 FLD
4. Sammy Sosa-OF-     4.9 WAR  6.6 FLD
5. Ron Santo-3B-         5.7 WAR  1.9 FLD
6. Ernie Banks-SS-       3.9 WAR  2.8 FLD
7. Andre Dawson-OF-   3.0 WAR  -.5 FLD
8. Jody Davis-C-          2.4 WAR  4.5 FLD

#1 Starter- Fergie Jenkins

Cardinals
1. Lou Brock-OF-         3.2 WAR  -3.1 FLD
2. Ozzie Smith-SS-      4.7 WAR  15.1 FLD
3. Albert Pujols-1B-      7.8 WAR  6.3 FLD
4. Stan Musial-OF-       6.3 WAR  2.4 FLD
5. Jim Edmonds-OF-    5.5 WAR  4.4 FLD
6. Ken Boyer-3B-         5.2 WAR  6.8 FLD
7. Ted Simmons-C-     4.1 WAR  -1 FLD
8. Red Shoendienst-2B- 2.5 WAR  5 FLD

#1 Starter- Bob Gibson

Astros
1. Craig Biggio-2B-      3.5 WAR  -3.3 FLD
2. Cesar Cedeno-OF-   4.3 WAR  .5 FLD
3. Lance Berkman-OF- 4.7 WAR  .3 FLD
4. Jeff Bagwell-1B-       5.6 WAR  3.9 FLD
5. Jose Cruz-OF-          3.8 WAR  6.5 FLD
6. Doug Radar-3B-       3.4 WAR  -1 FLD
7. Dickie Thorn-SS-      2.1 WAR  4.3 FLD
8. Brad Ausmus-C-         .5 WAR  -1 FLD

#1 Starter- Roy Oswalt

Reds
1. Joe Morgan-2B-        7.6 WAR  .75 FLD
2. Pete Rose-3B-          4.6 WAR  -4 FLD
3. Frank Robinson-OF-   6.6 WAR  5 FLD
4. Johnny Bench-C-       4.8 WAR  4.2 FLD
5. George Foster-OF-     4.3 WAR  4.8 FLD
6. Tony Perez-1B-          3.2 WAR  .4 FLD
7. Vada Pinson-OF-        4.5 WAR  0FLD
8. Barry Larkin-SS-         3.7 WAR  1.5 FLD

#1 Starter- Jim Maloney

Brewers
1. Paul Molitor-3B-         4.1 WAR  .7 FLD
2. Robin Yount-SS-        3.7 WAR  -2.3 FLD
3. Cecil Cooper-1B-        3.1 WAR  .7 FLD
4. Jeromy Burnitz-OF-     3.7 WAR  4.2 FLD
5. Geoff Jenkins-OF-      2.8 WAR  6.5 FLD
6. Ben Oglive-OF-          2.7 WAR  .1 FLD
7. B.J. Surhoff-C-           1.9 WAR  2.8 FLD
8. Jim Gantner-2B-         1.4 WAR  2 FLD

#1 Starter- Teddy Higuera

Pirates
1. Roberto Clemente-OF-  5.1 WAR  11.3 FLD
2. Jason Kendall-C-          3.8 WAR  -1.8 FLD
3. Barry Bonds-OF-           7.1 WAR  18.4 FLD
4. Willie Stargel-OF-         3.4 WAR  -3.5 FLD
5. Donn Clendenon-1B-    2.6 WAR  -.2 FLD
6. Richie Hebner-3B-        3.5 WAR  -5.4 FLD
7. Jay Bell-SS-                 3.1 WAR  .7 FLD
8. Bill Mazeroski-2B-         2.3 WAR  8.6 FLD

#1 Starter- Bob Friend

Team WAR + FLD

Cubs- 32.8 WAR  21.4 FLD
Cardinals- 39.3 WAR  35.9 FLD
Astros- 27.9 WAR  10.2 FLD
Reds- 39.3 WAR  12.7 FLD
Brewers- 23.4 WAR  14.7 FLD
Pirates- 30.9 WAR  28.1 FLD

I think it is obvious that the Cardinals have the best team of the bunch and are lead by the best pitcher of the bunch as well. Cincinnati is probably the second best team on this list because their team WAR is tied for first with the Cardinals but their defense is 2nd to last and Jim Maloney dosnt rate up as highly as Bob Friend or Fergie Jenkins. The Cubs and Pirates are probably tied for 3rd, while the Cubs have a better WAR the Pirates have a better FLD, although Fergie may have the edge over Friend. The Astros are 5th and the Brewers are officaly the worst team of the buch. I got the WAR and FLD stats from Fangraphs.com which is an excellent site if your a stats junkie like me. I created the lineups by going to Baseball-Reference.com and anaylizing who i thought were the best at each position, obviously not everyone is going to agree with me on my stats. Also a side not i just picked the top 3 outfielders i did not pick the best at each particular position this time. If you have any comments please post them i love reading them and give me feedback please. I plan on doing the AL Central next.
         
Posted on: February 11, 2010 6:45 pm
 

My Official NL Central Preview

Its been a while since my last post ( I believe it was about the Cubs signing Xavier Nady) but that dosnt mean i havnt been working diligently on this post. I have been analyizing these numbers for weeks and looking at lots of projections. So here is a look at my 2010 Official NL Central Preview.

1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Chicago Cubs
3. Milwaukee Brewers
4. Cincinnati Reds
5. Houston Astros
6. Pittsburgh Pirates


Lets take a deeper look at all 6 teams, because even though most analysts believe the Cards will run away with it im not convinced. Anyone in the top 4 spots could legitamitly when this division.

1. St. Louis Cardinals

Departed (notable players)- Rick Akiel, Mark DeRosa, Troy Glaus, Joel Pineiro, Brad Thompson
Aquired- Rich Hill, Brad Penny

The Cards were a mediocre team at the start of the 2009 season, but a midseason trade for Matt Holliday changed everything. Now the Cardnials have ascended to the upper echelon of NL teams with the likes of Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Their rotation is headlined by 2 terrific Aces in Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. Recently aquired Brad Penny will look to fill Joel Pineiro's shoes and become another one of Dave Duncans reclamation projects. Outside of those 3 the rotation has a lot of questions, wil Kyle Lohse bounce back, and who will be the fifth starter. The Infield is pretty solid with Albert Pujols anchoring it at first. There can be no argument that Pujols is the best player in the majors right now. Skip Schumaker ande Brendan Ryan make up the middle infield, both are farily good contact hitters, but they dont blow you away considering the other talent in the division. The biggest question mark for the Cards infield is David Freese, it looks like they are going to give him a shot, hopefully he can perform better than Colby Rasmus did last year. The outfield is definatly one of the Cardinals strong points with Matt Holliday the anchor there. Holliday, like Pujols is one of the premier players in the league forming one of, if not the best 1-2 punch in the National League. Coby Rasmus will man center field, although his rookie season wasnt great he still provides good defense (according to UZR stats) and is developing offensivly. And in right field Ryan Ludwick will continue to mash, he may not be as good as he was 2 seasons ago he is good at protecting Holliday and Pujols. Overall the Cardinals are a very balanced team, they arnt very deep so if they sustain some injuries things could go downhill. But as of right now statisticly speaking they should win this division.

2. Chicago Cubs

Departed- Milton Bradley, Jake Fox, Kevin Gregg, Rich Harden, Aaron Heilman, Reed Johnson, Aaron Miles, Neal Cotts
Aquired- Marlon Byrd, Jeff Gray, Bryan LaHair, Chad Tracy, Kevin Millar, Xavier Nady, Mike Parisi, Carlos Silva

The Cubs were supposed to win this division last season, but due to a ridiculous amount of injuries, down years for star players, and the chaos that Milton Bradley created they came in second. Although there have been some changes, this team is very similar to the one that had the best record in the NL in 08. The rotation is headlined by underachieving Ace Carlos Zambrano (Im not sure i can even call him an ace anymore), Ted Lilly (Although he will be out for the first month), and Ryan Dempster. Randy Wells should be the #4 starter and the #5 spot is open to several pitchers although Tom Gorzelanny is the favorite. Zambrano has struggled the past few seasons due to his immaturity and injuries. But he has apparently slimmed down and is much more focused so look for a bounce back season from him. The Bullpen while not great has some interesting peices that could make it a good unit. Marmol is the big question mark, how will he be able to handle the pressure of being the full time closer. He looked good at the end of last season, but he is wild and when he dosnt have his command he is useless. John Grabow, Angel Guzman, Sean Marshall, Jeff Gray, Carlos Silva, and Esmailin Caridad make up the rest of their projected bullpen. The infield is a strength with 09's top Cubs performer Derrek Lee at first, and the always consistent Aramis Ramirez at 3rd (when healthy). The middle infield is mediocre but servicable, with The Riot at short, and Jeff Baker/Mike Fontenot at 2B. Although in the near future a shift to 2b for Theriot looks likely as his defense is better there and Starlin Castro is on his way. The Cubs are really hoping that 08' Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto returns to form. The outfiled is improved but not great with the dissapointing and often injured Alfonso Soriano in LF. Marlon Byrd came from Texas to play CF and should provide solid but unspectacular numbers. And Kosuke Fukudome playing solid defense in RF and probably platooning with Xavier Nady. If former Texas hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo can get the Cubs hitters to return they should be real close to the Cardinals and a mid season trade for a star could push them into the playoffs.

3. Milwaukee Brewers

Departed- Mike Cameron, JJ Hardy, Jason Kendall, Seth McClung, Mike Rivera, Felipe Lopez, Braden Looper
Aquired- Doug Davis, Jim Edmonds, LaTroy Hawkins, Randy Wolf, Greg Zaun, Carlos Gomez

The Brewers have the best offense in the division by far. But their pitching may be the worst which is what has held them back. They have aquired some talent to help bolster that with the additions of Randy Wolf and Doug Davis, but neither are star pitchers that can carry a team on their shoulders. They are innings eaters, Yovani Gallardo is the teams ace, but he is vey young and having to carry a team on your shoulders at a young age is tough. Their pitching will be better than in 08' but not enough to overcome the Cubs or Cardinals. The Pen is also improved with the additon of LaTroy Hawkins they now have a solid setup man who can help Trevor Hoffman. But Hoffman is getting up their in years and Hawkins has dissapointed before so dont count on them. The pitching still isnt thier but they have enough offensive peices that they could trade for a pitcher midseason. The Infield is held together by one of the best firstbaseman in the league in Prince Fielder. He is a big bopper who can hit for good contact, and Casey McGhee was solid at 3rd last year. The middle infield is talented with the youngster Alcides Escobar at short and Ricke Weeks, but Escobar only has 125 AB of major league expierence and Weeks is coming off a big injury. The Outfield is solid with Ryan Braun in LF, he may be one of the best LF in all of baseball. Corey Hart is a solid RF, and Carlos Gomez will replace Cameron in CF. Greg Zaun is an upgrade at Catcher from the ancient Jason Kendall. This is a solid team that should be in the division race and should finish over .500 but i think they need a young arm to step up or they need to trade for one. If they do that then i think they have a legitimate shot at the division title.

4. Cincinnati Reds

Departed- Willy Taveras, Adam Rosales
Aquired- Orlando Cabrera, Aroldis Chapman, Aaron Miles, Josh Anderson

The Reds seem on the verge of becoming a very good team, but i am still a litte sceptical thats why i put them this low. They very well could be a spot or two up but there are a lot of variables for that to happen. Plus the Reds always seem to look decent on paper but not be able to put it together. The rotation is decent, Bronson Arroyo has been very reliable and was great in the second half last season. Harrang has not been the same since he pitched in relief in 08' and continues to put up abismal statistics despite a decent ERA. Johnny Cueto looks like he could be a star and Homer Bailey finally started to put it all together last September. Both of them will need to have good seasons for the Reds to be competitve. The #5 spot may be filled by Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, but he is a young lefty and sometimes those guys take a while to reach their potential. He is their biggest future prospect as he has been compared to Randy Johnson. Francisco Cordero has been a solid closer although the Reds are looking to dump his salary since it makes up a significant portion of their limited payroll. Even without him, the Reds have one of the better bullpens in baseball. The Infield is a strong point for the Reds with a really good 1B in Joey Votto and veteran Scott Rolen at the corners. Up the middle former gold glover and steady veteran Orlando Cabrera is at short, and perenial All-Star Brandon Phillips is at 2B. Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hannigan play solidly at Catcher. The Outfield has some questions, will former top prospect Jay Bruce bounce back from a dissapointing sophmore season? Is rookie Drew Stubbs the answer in CF? Will Chris Dickerson start in LF? They have some good players with good potential and they will have to live up to it if they want to compete for the divison. This could be a very good team, and as i said before they have a ton of potential but potential doesnt win the divison. This is a team that will have to grow up this season, but this is a team on the rise and will be good for some time.

5. Pittsburgh Pirates

Departed- Brian Bixler, Matt Capps, Jesse Chavez, Robinson Diaz
Aquired- Neal Cotts, Ryan Church, Bobby Crosby, Brendan Donnelly, Octavio Dotel, Akinori Iwamura, Javier Lopez

This is my bold prediction for 2010, the Pirates will not finish in the division cellar. I think the Pirates are on the rise, although they are no where near being competitive i think they are a team that can win 70-75 games. But this perdictions doesnt necesserily reflect on the Pirates being that much better, but that the Astros are worse. The Pirates rotation is nothing to brag about but there are some interesting arms there. Paul Maholm is their top pitcher although he has been dissapointing, Zach Duke is a solid middle of the rotation guy, but he could get traded. Ross Ohlendorf suprised some people, but im not sold on his performance. The back of the rotation is likely going to consist of Charlie Morton who was effective in Atlanta, Kevin Hart who came over from Chicago in the Grabow, Gorzelanny deal. The bullpen has been put together out of unwanted pieces from other teams. They could be succesful, but it is hard to predict relief pitchers. Octavio should be the closer, although i think the eventual goal is for Joel Hanrahan to close. The infield doesnt have any stars but some solid pieces, Garrett Jones will probably play first, he burst onto the scene last season and the Pirates are hoping for a repeat performance. Andy LaRoche is playing 3rd although he is nothing more than a place holder for the Pirates future star Pedro Alvarez. Recently aquired Akinori Iwamura will man 2nd, and Ronny Cedeno and Bobby Crosby will battle for the starting shortstop gig. While they are nothing special they have a lot of depth at the positions and some farm help on the way. The outfield has the most potential, former top prospect Lastings Millidge will play in LF and he played well after coming over from Washington. If he can play to the potential that he was said to have the Pirates will have a solid LF. Andrew McCutchen will look to improve upon his outstanding rookie season and play CF for the full season. Ryan Church will most likely start in RF, while he may not put up great numbers he is a solid player. The Pirates also have some depth here with Brandon Moss, and former top prospect Steve Pearce. This team may lack superstars (although one is on the way, and McCutchen may become one) they have more overall talent than the Astros do.

6. Houston Astros

Departed- LaTroy Hawkins, Miguel Tejada, Jose Valverde, Doug Brocail (Retired), Chris Coste
Aquired- Pedro Feliz, Brandon Lyon, Brett Myers, Matt Lindstrom

The Astros have really gone down hill since that 2005 world series appearance. They used to be one of the best teams in the National League, but i think poor managment has put them in a position to fall out of the competition for some time. They have not clearly defined their direction, wether they are rebuilding or contending. Their recent aquisitions have not convinced me that they are improving. The rotation is relying on the return of the dominant Roy Oswalt, he did not look very good last season (I know cause he was on my fantasy baseball team). They discovered they have a solid arm in Wandy Rodriguez and they are hoping Brett Myers can give them a solid #3 starter. But after that there is a significant dropoff, Brian Moehler will probably start along with youngster Bud Norris, neither of them impress me and there is not any help after them. The bullpen is somewhat restructered, replacing LaTroy Hawkins and Jose Valverde with Matt Lindstrom and Brandon Lyon. Aparently they want Lindstrom to close, he has been great in the past and has a great fastball but he will have to bounce back from an awfull season. Brandon Lyon is about equal to LaTroy Hawkins in my eyes, maybe a bit worse. The infield has some nice pieces, with the consistent Lance Berkman (although he had a down year last year), Pedro Feliz is at the other corner, he plays solid defense but dosnt offer much in offense anymore. Kaz Matsui will play 2nd and youngster Tommy Manzella will likely start at short. Manzella dosnt really project to contribut much and Matsui is very average. The outfield is the Astros strength with another consistent player in Carlos Lee in LF. Michael Bourne leads off and plays CF, but outside of steals he is very average (Most believe his 09' BA is a mirage and he will hit more in the .250-.260 range). Hunter Pence is another solid outfielder in RF, he will put up a solid .280-25-90 stat line. The Astros dont have a ton of depth so injuries will be a killer. They could finish ahead of the Pirates but that is their ceiling in 10'. Sorry Astros fans but i dont see them getting better anytime soon, they need to get that farm system going if they want to get better.



Posted on: February 11, 2010 6:45 pm
 

My Official NL Central Preview

Its been a while since my last post ( I believe it was about the Cubs signing Xavier Nady) but that dosnt mean i havnt been working diligently on this post. I have been analyizing these numbers for weeks and looking at lots of projections. So here is a look at my 2010 Official NL Central Preview.

1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Chicago Cubs
3. Milwaukee Brewers
4. Cincinnati Reds
5. Houston Astros
6. Pittsburgh Pirates


Lets take a deeper look at all 6 teams, because even though most analysts believe the Cards will run away with it im not convinced. Anyone in the top 4 spots could legitamitly when this division.

1. St. Louis Cardinals

Departed (notable players)- Rick Akiel, Mark DeRosa, Troy Glaus, Joel Pineiro, Brad Thompson
Aquired- Rich Hill, Brad Penny

The Cards were a mediocre team at the start of the 2009 season, but a midseason trade for Matt Holliday changed everything. Now the Cardnials have ascended to the upper echelon of NL teams with the likes of Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Their rotation is headlined by 2 terrific Aces in Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. Recently aquired Brad Penny will look to fill Joel Pineiro's shoes and become another one of Dave Duncans reclamation projects. Outside of those 3 the rotation has a lot of questions, wil Kyle Lohse bounce back, and who will be the fifth starter. The Infield is pretty solid with Albert Pujols anchoring it at first. There can be no argument that Pujols is the best player in the majors right now. Skip Schumaker ande Brendan Ryan make up the middle infield, both are farily good contact hitters, but they dont blow you away considering the other talent in the division. The biggest question mark for the Cards infield is David Freese, it looks like they are going to give him a shot, hopefully he can perform better than Colby Rasmus did last year. The outfield is definatly one of the Cardinals strong points with Matt Holliday the anchor there. Holliday, like Pujols is one of the premier players in the league forming one of, if not the best 1-2 punch in the National League. Coby Rasmus will man center field, although his rookie season wasnt great he still provides good defense (according to UZR stats) and is developing offensivly. And in right field Ryan Ludwick will continue to mash, he may not be as good as he was 2 seasons ago he is good at protecting Holliday and Pujols. Overall the Cardinals are a very balanced team, they arnt very deep so if they sustain some injuries things could go downhill. But as of right now statisticly speaking they should win this division.

2. Chicago Cubs

Departed- Milton Bradley, Jake Fox, Kevin Gregg, Rich Harden, Aaron Heilman, Reed Johnson, Aaron Miles, Neal Cotts
Aquired- Marlon Byrd, Jeff Gray, Bryan LaHair, Chad Tracy, Kevin Millar, Xavier Nady, Mike Parisi, Carlos Silva

The Cubs were supposed to win this division last season, but due to a ridiculous amount of injuries, down years for star players, and the chaos that Milton Bradley created they came in second. Although there have been some changes, this team is very similar to the one that had the best record in the NL in 08. The rotation is headlined by underachieving Ace Carlos Zambrano (Im not sure i can even call him an ace anymore), Ted Lilly (Although he will be out for the first month), and Ryan Dempster. Randy Wells should be the #4 starter and the #5 spot is open to several pitchers although Tom Gorzelanny is the favorite. Zambrano has struggled the past few seasons due to his immaturity and injuries. But he has apparently slimmed down and is much more focused so look for a bounce back season from him. The Bullpen while not great has some interesting peices that could make it a good unit. Marmol is the big question mark, how will he be able to handle the pressure of being the full time closer. He looked good at the end of last season, but he is wild and when he dosnt have his command he is useless. John Grabow, Angel Guzman, Sean Marshall, Jeff Gray, Carlos Silva, and Esmailin Caridad make up the rest of their projected bullpen. The infield is a strength with 09's top Cubs performer Derrek Lee at first, and the always consistent Aramis Ramirez at 3rd (when healthy). The middle infield is mediocre but servicable, with The Riot at short, and Jeff Baker/Mike Fontenot at 2B. Although in the near future a shift to 2b for Theriot looks likely as his defense is better there and Starlin Castro is on his way. The Cubs are really hoping that 08' Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto returns to form. The outfiled is improved but not great with the dissapointing and often injured Alfonso Soriano in LF. Marlon Byrd came from Texas to play CF and should provide solid but unspectacular numbers. And Kosuke Fukudome playing solid defense in RF and probably platooning with Xavier Nady. If former Texas hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo can get the Cubs hitters to return they should be real close to the Cardinals and a mid season trade for a star could push them into the playoffs.

3. Milwaukee Brewers

Departed- Mike Cameron, JJ Hardy, Jason Kendall, Seth McClung, Mike Rivera, Felipe Lopez, Braden Looper
Aquired- Doug Davis, Jim Edmonds, LaTroy Hawkins, Randy Wolf, Greg Zaun, Carlos Gomez

The Brewers have the best offense in the division by far. But their pitching may be the worst which is what has held them back. They have aquired some talent to help bolster that with the additions of Randy Wolf and Doug Davis, but neither are star pitchers that can carry a team on their shoulders. They are innings eaters, Yovani Gallardo is the teams ace, but he is vey young and having to carry a team on your shoulders at a young age is tough. Their pitching will be better than in 08' but not enough to overcome the Cubs or Cardinals. The Pen is also improved with the additon of LaTroy Hawkins they now have a solid setup man who can help Trevor Hoffman. But Hoffman is getting up their in years and Hawkins has dissapointed before so dont count on them. The pitching still isnt thier but they have enough offensive peices that they could trade for a pitcher midseason. The Infield is held together by one of the best firstbaseman in the league in Prince Fielder. He is a big bopper who can hit for good contact, and Casey McGhee was solid at 3rd last year. The middle infield is talented with the youngster Alcides Escobar at short and Ricke Weeks, but Escobar only has 125 AB of major league expierence and Weeks is coming off a big injury. The Outfield is solid with Ryan Braun in LF, he may be one of the best LF in all of baseball. Corey Hart is a solid RF, and Carlos Gomez will replace Cameron in CF. Greg Zaun is an upgrade at Catcher from the ancient Jason Kendall. This is a solid team that should be in the division race and should finish over .500 but i think they need a young arm to step up or they need to trade for one. If they do that then i think they have a legitimate shot at the division title.

4. Cincinnati Reds

Departed- Willy Taveras, Adam Rosales
Aquired- Orlando Cabrera, Aroldis Chapman, Aaron Miles, Josh Anderson

The Reds seem on the verge of becoming a very good team, but i am still a litte sceptical thats why i put them this low. They very well could be a spot or two up but there are a lot of variables for that to happen. Plus the Reds always seem to look decent on paper but not be able to put it together. The rotation is decent, Bronson Arroyo has been very reliable and was great in the second half last season. Harrang has not been the same since he pitched in relief in 08' and continues to put up abismal statistics despite a decent ERA. Johnny Cueto looks like he could be a star and Homer Bailey finally started to put it all together last September. Both of them will need to have good seasons for the Reds to be competitve. The #5 spot may be filled by Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, but he is a young lefty and sometimes those guys take a while to reach their potential. He is their biggest future prospect as he has been compared to Randy Johnson. Francisco Cordero has been a solid closer although the Reds are looking to dump his salary since it makes up a significant portion of their limited payroll. Even without him, the Reds have one of the better bullpens in baseball. The Infield is a strong point for the Reds with a really good 1B in Joey Votto and veteran Scott Rolen at the corners. Up the middle former gold glover and steady veteran Orlando Cabrera is at short, and perenial All-Star Brandon Phillips is at 2B. Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hannigan play solidly at Catcher. The Outfield has some questions, will former top prospect Jay Bruce bounce back from a dissapointing sophmore season? Is rookie Drew Stubbs the answer in CF? Will Chris Dickerson start in LF? They have some good players with good potential and they will have to live up to it if they want to compete for the divison. This could be a very good team, and as i said before they have a ton of potential but potential doesnt win the divison. This is a team that will have to grow up this season, but this is a team on the rise and will be good for some time.

5. Pittsburgh Pirates

Departed- Brian Bixler, Matt Capps, Jesse Chavez, Robinson Diaz
Aquired- Neal Cotts, Ryan Church, Bobby Crosby, Brendan Donnelly, Octavio Dotel, Akinori Iwamura, Javier Lopez

This is my bold prediction for 2010, the Pirates will not finish in the division cellar. I think the Pirates are on the rise, although they are no where near being competitive i think they are a team that can win 70-75 games. But this perdictions doesnt necesserily reflect on the Pirates being that much better, but that the Astros are worse. The Pirates rotation is nothing to brag about but there are some interesting arms there. Paul Maholm is their top pitcher although he has been dissapointing, Zach Duke is a solid middle of the rotation guy, but he could get traded. Ross Ohlendorf suprised some people, but im not sold on his performance. The back of the rotation is likely going to consist of Charlie Morton who was effective in Atlanta, Kevin Hart who came over from Chicago in the Grabow, Gorzelanny deal. The bullpen has been put together out of unwanted pieces from other teams. They could be succesful, but it is hard to predict relief pitchers. Octavio should be the closer, although i think the eventual goal is for Joel Hanrahan to close. The infield doesnt have any stars but some solid pieces, Garrett Jones will probably play first, he burst onto the scene last season and the Pirates are hoping for a repeat performance. Andy LaRoche is playing 3rd although he is nothing more than a place holder for the Pirates future star Pedro Alvarez. Recently aquired Akinori Iwamura will man 2nd, and Ronny Cedeno and Bobby Crosby will battle for the starting shortstop gig. While they are nothing special they have a lot of depth at the positions and some farm help on the way. The outfield has the most potential, former top prospect Lastings Millidge will play in LF and he played well after coming over from Washington. If he can play to the potential that he was said to have the Pirates will have a solid LF. Andrew McCutchen will look to improve upon his outstanding rookie season and play CF for the full season. Ryan Church will most likely start in RF, while he may not put up great numbers he is a solid player. The Pirates also have some depth here with Brandon Moss, and former top prospect Steve Pearce. This team may lack superstars (although one is on the way, and McCutchen may become one) they have more overall talent than the Astros do.

6. Houston Astros

Departed- LaTroy Hawkins, Miguel Tejada, Jose Valverde, Doug Brocail (Retired), Chris Coste
Aquired- Pedro Feliz, Brandon Lyon, Brett Myers, Matt Lindstrom

The Astros have really gone down hill since that 2005 world series appearance. They used to be one of the best teams in the National League, but i think poor managment has put them in a position to fall out of the competition for some time. They have not clearly defined their direction, wether they are rebuilding or contending. Their recent aquisitions have not convinced me that they are improving. The rotation is relying on the return of the dominant Roy Oswalt, he did not look very good last season (I know cause he was on my fantasy baseball team). They discovered they have a solid arm in Wandy Rodriguez and they are hoping Brett Myers can give them a solid #3 starter. But after that there is a significant dropoff, Brian Moehler will probably start along with youngster Bud Norris, neither of them impress me and there is not any help after them. The bullpen is somewhat restructered, replacing LaTroy Hawkins and Jose Valverde with Matt Lindstrom and Brandon Lyon. Aparently they want Lindstrom to close, he has been great in the past and has a great fastball but he will have to bounce back from an awfull season. Brandon Lyon is about equal to LaTroy Hawkins in my eyes, maybe a bit worse. The infield has some nice pieces, with the consistent Lance Berkman (although he had a down year last year), Pedro Feliz is at the other corner, he plays solid defense but dosnt offer much in offense anymore. Kaz Matsui will play 2nd and youngster Tommy Manzella will likely start at short. Manzella dosnt really project to contribut much and Matsui is very average. The outfield is the Astros strength with another consistent player in Carlos Lee in LF. Michael Bourne leads off and plays CF, but outside of steals he is very average (Most believe his 09' BA is a mirage and he will hit more in the .250-.260 range). Hunter Pence is another solid outfielder in RF, he will put up a solid .280-25-90 stat line. The Astros dont have a ton of depth so injuries will be a killer. They could finish ahead of the Pirates but that is their ceiling in 10'. Sorry Astros fans but i dont see them getting better anytime soon, they need to get that farm system going if they want to get better.



Posted on: December 9, 2009 9:36 pm
 

Brewers Making Moves

The Brewers made 2 pretty big moves today in aquiring lefty starter Randy Wolf and reliever LaTroy Hawkins today. They bolsterd an area that they had a huge need for, and should help them to contend in an interesting NL Central. I have always liked Randy Wolf, he may not be a great pitcher but he has always been effective. He is coming off of his second best season of his career concerning ERA. He seems to be fully healthy and can provide solid innings (214 last season). He will slot in as the number 2 rotation spot in Milwaukee and should prove the be a significant upgrade from Jeff Suppan. His numbers may go up because Miller Park is a little more hitter friendly, but he should still provide solid innings for the Brewers. He is probably more of a middle of the rotation fuy, but he might be okay as the Brewers number 2. They probably need another starter to really be able to contend, now that Harden is off the board (Texas Rangers) they could bring back Ben Sheets, or they could sign a Vicente Padilla which is probably more likely. The Brewers may have overpayed a little for Wolf but they should still be happy from what they get out of him.
The LaTroy Hawkins deal was the other big move the Brewers made today. He gives them a nice setup option to help out Trevor Hoffman. Also he provides insurrance in case Hoffman gets injured he could close if needed. The only thing i worry about with Hawkins is that he was just playing for a good contract last season. But even at his worst i still value Hawkins higher than most if not all of the Brewers current relievers. I like this move especially with the news that Mark DeFilice is going to be out for the season next year. Again like the rotation they need some more arms to make this a good bullpen, but this move will help them bridge that gap to the 9th inning. The Brewers are making some smart moves, and if they continue to improve their pitching they could win this division considering the offensive weapons they have.

Posted on: November 9, 2009 6:21 pm
 

Trade Reviews/Previews

Well the offseason officialy started last week and it has already been very interesting. So far the most intriguing trade to me has been the J.J. Hardy for Carlos Gomez trade. On paper right now it seems like an even deal, but after looking over the numbers, i think the Twins will benefit the most from this trade. That;s not to say i dont think Gomez will contribute, or be a valuable player but J.J. Hardy will improve the Twins more than Gomez will the Brewers. Had Hardy not crashed offensivly his value would have been a lot higher, and he might not have even been traded. So basicaly the Twins bought low on a high potential, he plays exceptioanl defense, and if he can return to his 07-08 form, he could be a 20 HR threat at SS. The aquisiton of Gomez will allow the Brewers to let Mike Cameron go, and let them use what they would have paid him to improve their pitching, which is the biggest concern for them right now. When you look at the potential the Twins have on offense with Mauer, Morneau, Kubel, Cuddyer, and now Hardy they have a serious edge in the AL Central. I already talked about the Iwamura- Chavez deal which the more i look at i think the Rays got the edge for that one.  Iwamura is kind of expensive for his production, while the Rays aquired a cheap hard throwing reliever that is under team control for a while.

Rumor Discussion-

Talking about the Cubs for the offseason, GM Jim Hendry made it clear that they are going to move some pieces around this season and that they are going to go more towards trades than spending money on free agents although he said they might still sign some people. For me that is great news, because the Cubs seem to be better traders than buyers ( We like to overpay for players). Just think about it the heart and soul of our team (Aramis Ramirez, and Derrek Lee) were aquired via trade. What i like more is the fact that the players we have given up in trades never really pan out. Lets take a look at some Cubs trades from recent years.

Aquired                                                           Recieved

John Grabow, Tom Gorzelanny                            Kevin Hart, Jose Ascanio, Josh Harrison

Rich Harden, Chad Gaudin                                  Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton, Eric Patterson

Derrek Lee                                                        Hee Seop Choi

Aramis Ramirez, Kenny Lofton                             Jose Hernandez, Matt Brubeck, Bobby Hill


Those are 4 of the most significant, recent trades made by GM Jim Hendry, all 4 of those trades were successes to an extent. But if you compare that to his free agent signings you will understand why i am glad he wants to do more trading.

Alfonso Soriano-  8 years  $136 mill

Kosuke Fukudome-  4 years  $48 mill

Milton Bradley-  3 years  #30 mill

These 3 contracts are really holding the Cubs back from being able to due much this offseason (although i dont know who they would get). Obviously the Bradley contract is the worst, Fukudome is getting way overpaid but he does contribute. Soriano has the potential to still live up to that contract, but im not suret the Cubs should have signed him so long he is going to be in his mid to late 30's before his contract expires. Now the Cubs have made some bad trades, and some good signings but overall Hendry is a better trader than a buyer. I will be interested to see who the Cubs go after, the only thing we no for sure is Bradley is going somewhere else. I have heard the Cubs are going to go after pitching, more likely relief and insurance for the rotation. I havnt heard a ton about offensive trades, im sure Brian Roberts rumors will pop up like they usually do this time of year. The Cubs seem like they are confident in Jeff Baker at second, so it seem like they are going to try and improve the outfield. I have heard some rumors about the Cubs going after Mike Cameron, Marlon Byrd, Jason Bay, and Matt Holliday although the latter two are less likely. Cameron would actualy be a good fit, he would provide great defense in the outfield which is something the Cubs have been lacking for many years and he hits for solid power. I am not as crazy about Byrd although he did play for Jaramillo and he played well last year. If the Cubs can bolster the pen, get rotation insurrance and get at least 1 outfielder to replace Bradley they could easily be in contention especially since the Cards most likely wont retain Holliday.


 
 
 
 
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