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29/08/2003

2004 Awards Already 

After yesterday’s column on the 2003 awards, I got a suggestion from Rich Lederer about a new article. Instead of talking about the 2003 awards, keep my futuristic hook going by making some early predictions on next season’s awards. Here’s my best shot...

AL MVP

GARY SHEFFIELD- YANKEES

What George wants, George gets. The Yankees lose significant salary off their payroll this season (Mondesi, Hitchcock) and have the money to sign Sheff. He is supposedly favored in the Big Apple to Vladimir Guerrero. Here’s a look at Sheffield’s 2003 vs. Manny Ramirez, Frank Thomas, A-Rod, and Nomar Garciaparra:

Sheffield: .322/.427/.611 34HR 108RBI 110R 17SB in 476AB
Ramirez: .317/.418/.573 31HR 90RBI 100R 3SB in 489AB
Thomas: .267/.385/.565 36HR 84RBI 71R 0SB in 453AB
Rodriguez: .301/.396/.594 37HR 95RBI 102R 16SB in 508AB
Nomar: .321/.361/.545 22HR 86RBI 101R 15SB in 549AB

So Sheffield doesn’t lead in HR, but leads in BA, OBP, SLG, RBI, R, and SB. Historically moving to the American League helps a player, as the quality of pitching isn’t as great. This season, for example, the American League has a cumulative ERA of 4.53 against the National League’s 4.28. That is a huge discrepancy, and for the record, the American League gives up more hits and home runs per nine innings.

In conclusion, Sheffield’s numbers would rank as the best in the American League this season. His main competition would come from A-Rod, Ichiro, and possibly Vladimir Guerrero.

NL MVP

BRIAN GILES- PADRES

It was between Giles and Bonds, and although I’m wrong, I keep forecasting a slight Bonds dip. But mark my words, when the Padres make the playoffs next season, Giles won’t be underrated anymore. The only thing that bothers me:

AB/HR
2001- 15.57
2002- 13.08
2003- 24.25

And for what doesn’t concern me:

BB/K
2001- 1.34
2002- 1.82
2003- 1.76

If a 39-year old Bonds flirts with sixty home runs, the MVP title is his. Giles must regain the power he’s had the last few years, and finally break 40 homers. He will have the chance for RBIs, with Ryan Klesko protecting him in the lineup.

And what about Pujols? Well, I don’t see him having quite as good of a season, and I think these two will dominate the voting. If Giles comes up with a .300/.450/.550 season with 40HR and 120RBI, he’ll definitely get some votes. But nowadays the MVP voting goes through San Francisco, and through the bat of Bonds.

AL CY YOUNG

PEDRO MARTINEZ- RED SOX

OK, not quite an out-on-a-limb, Esteban Loaiza-like prediction. But in his contract year, you think Martinez will sit out on starts? Do you believe he’ll allow Grady Little to let him pitch only 98 pitches per start? No way.

Consider that Pedro hasn’t had an ERA in the 3’s since 1996 when he was pitching in Montreal. Since the Boston trade he’s been a God:

With Boston: 87-27 2.27 823H/1129.6IP 1416K/242BB

Amazing. But look at his recent K rates:

K/9
2001- 12.57
2002- 10.79
2003- 9.98

Although, that’s not bad at all. It proves that even a bad Pedro is great. He needs to last longer in games to get more wins, and a steadier 2004 bullpen will also help. Lock in Pedro for 20 wins and a sub-2.50ERA next season.

NL CY YOUNG

MARK PRIOR

Career Stats:

19-11 2.82 235H/284.1IP 332K/76BB

These are unprecedented statistics, no pitchers start out like this. Doc Gooden is the only name I can think of that has had this kind of beginning, so quick. Prior is living up to his billing as the Greatest College Pitcher Ever, and will soon have some hardware. His record is because of bad Cubs offenses, but its improving every month and every season. For example, consider his last five starts:

Last 5: 5-0 0.69 21H/39IP 35K/4BB

I’ve watched almost all of these games, and it isn’t even the best he can pitch. His strikeout numbers are lower than normal, as he isn’t quite back to full strength. But to make up for it, he’s really not walking anybody. The Cubs offense is putting up runs for him, and they are winning games. Remember 39 innings in five starts is almost eight a game, which usually ensures victory.

Prior keeps getting better, and smarter, after every start. He has the best mechanics in baseball, and the perfect pitcher’s body. He throws all of his pitches for strikes, and thinks like a mix between Tom Seaver and Greg Maddux. Prior will win the 2004 Cy Young, and then proceed to win the next five after that.

AL ROY

JUSTIN MORNEAU- TWINS

It is feasibly, and actually likely, that the Twins will have the next two great rookies. The key to picking the Rookie of the Year is a player who is talented, and will get significant at-bats. With the likely non-tender of Mientkiewicz, Morneau will get the full-time call-up. Although he struggled in his first Major League stint, this was a great season. Here’s all you need to know:

Morneau’s 2003 HR total prorated to 500AB: 33.74

And as Jim Callis points out in his newest Ask BA, power tends to go up as you move through the levels. Morneau won’t hit 35 homers next season, although I wouldn’t bet against it. The 2003 class is kind of weak, and a .275/.360/.520 season with 30 homers might be enough.

Honorable Mention: Joe Blanton, Matt Riley, Travis Blackley, Jeremy Reed

NL ROY

GARRETT ATKINS- ROCKIES

A look at Atkins in AAA:

.325/.383/.490 with 13HR, 302B, 67RBI in 431AB

Atkins’ stock took a major jump this Spring Training, when he hit .525 in 40AB with the Major League team, including seven doubles and 12RBI. The team held back though, because he hadn’t exactly been earth-shattering before then:

2000 Rookie League: .303-7-17, 12 2B in 251AB
2001 High-A: .325-5-67, 43 2B in 465AB
2002 AA: .271-12-61, 27 2B in 510AB

So while Atkins showed fairly good plate discipline, and doubles power, there wasn’t much hope. But he kept it going after Spring Training, and has had a great 2003. Remember he’ll get 300AB in Coors next season, where you can be sure that some of those doubles will become home runs.

Honorable Mention- Kaz Matsui will make noise if he comes over, as will the Korean slugger whose name eludes my grasp. I like Khalil Greene, Terrmel Sledge, Chase Utley, and Joel Hanrahan also.


There’s too many rumors of potential managerial firings for me to predict 2004 Manager’s of the Year, although my guess is that the Baltimore manager (it won’t be Hargrove) and Bruce Bochy will get some mention.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be posting a notes column this weekend (think Sunday), and will be back on Labor Day. Have a good weekend, and if you find yourself bored, head over to Rich’s Weekend Baseball BEAT or For Rich or Sporer.

28/08/2003

2004 NL Awards 

I recently got into an argument with a friend on two National League awards, the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year, and have decided to write about it. I should mention that I chose Eric Gagne and Brandon Webb, respectively, while he chose John Smoltz and Dontrelle Willis. This content is justifiable on this site simply because its my prediction of the award. Enjoy...

1st- Rookie of the Year- Brandon Webb vs. Dontrelle Willis

A look at the overall basic numbers:

Webb: 22GS 8-6 113H/143.2IP 2.51ERA 141K/51BB
Willis: 20GS 11-4 109H/118.1IP 3.35ERA 106K/41BB

These translate to these stats:

Webb: 6.4IP/GS 1.14WHIP 2.76K/BB 7.08H/9 8.83K/9
Willis: 5.9IP/GS 1.27WHIP 2.59K/BB 8.29H/9 8.06K/9

We know that Webb is more of a workhorse, going almost two-thirds of an innings more per start. The K/BB and K/9 ratios are too close to count against Willis, but he is well behind in both WHIP and hits per nine innings. Let’s see who is steadier by analyzing their month-by-month splits:

Webb May: 1-1 2.65 28/34 24/12
Webb June: 2-1 2.06 23/35 23/8
Webb July: 3-2 3.23 38/39 44/9
Webb August: 1-2 2.60 21/27.2 39/20

So, he has been very consistent throughout all of his months, not taking any serious hits in that ERA. His august walk total is nearly doubled of the next highest, but he has figured out the strikeout more in July and August. Now to Willis...

Willis May: 3-1 3.72 31/29 34/12
Willis June: 5-0 1.04 25/34.2 28/8
Willis July: 2-1 2.94 29/33.2 31/12
Willis August: 1-2 7.29 24/21 13/9

What? A 7.29 ERA in the month of August? Both Willis and Marlin brass are blaming this on Willis’ constant attention, and say that he’s tired. His first three months were sensational, especially a June when he really came after hitters. But in August his ERA, H/9, K/9, and K/BB are all very far off.

So, both were very steady pitchers, although Willis has started to tail off. A good September will keep him in this race, but Webb is clearly ahead. Webb was ranked #1 on Baseball Prospectus’ steadiest pitcher statistic. There are a couple of things that point in Willis’ favor: his high win total, outstanding charisma, and attendance charts.

First, the wins. There’s no question that an 11-4 record is better than that of 8-6. But Webb has a better ERA, and is the 6th unluckiest pitcher in all of baseball. And despite all the smiles and media attention, there are people taking notice of Webb. In this week’s Sports Weekly, Bobby Cox calls Webb the best starter on his team, and basically states he wouldn’t think twice about the Rookie of the Year award. Remember, there was one point this month that Webb used his sinker to get 73 consecutive outs before a flyball putout. He’s the type of pitcher you consider bringing a fifth infielder for, and has the best sinker in the Majors (better than Lowe and Brown).

Finally, you can’t argue with attendance. Here’s a look at his last five starts, and the attendance of those games:

7/30 ARI= 37,735
8/6 @STL= 31,606
8/11 LA= 20,288
8/16 SD= 26,104
8/22 @SF= 42,244

So, in his last five games, Willis has brought an average of 31,595.4 people to the stadium. The Marlins were desperate for fans before his arrival, now have the best marketing tool in Flordia. In one start against the Braves, Peter Gammons reported it was the most watched non-playoff baseball game in five years. Willis is helping baseball, but is that enough to win an award for?

Finally, some oddball stats:

Webb
- On Baseball Prospectus, Webb is listed as the 4th best starting pitcher with a 5.3 SNWAR
- Michael Woolner reports that the cumulative OPS of batters faced has been .739
- Woolner also writes that the ERA of opposing pitchers is 4.39

Willis
- Willis is tied for the 26th best pitcher on the Prospectus chart, with a 2.7 SNWAR
- The OPS of batters faced is .736
- And the ERA of the opposing pitchers has been 4.69

So, when using park effects and what not, Webb is drastically a better starter. The difference in OPS isn’t substantial, but Willis has definitely faced easier pitchers in route to his 11-4 record. While the media sometimes tends to vote on their favorite player, there’s no question that Brandon Webb has been this season’s best rookie.

2nd- NL CY Young- Eric Gagne vs. John Smoltz

First, a look at overall stats:

Gagne- 63G 43SV 30H/66IP 113K/17BB 1.50ERA
Smoltz- 58G 44SV 45H/61IP 67K/8BB 0.89ERA

Which converts to these more complicated stats:

Gagne- 0BS 0.71WHIP 6.65K/BB 4.09H/9 15.4K/9
Smoltz- 3BS 0.87WHIP 8.38K/BB 6.64H/9 9.89K/9

By far the more difficult argument, since it takes the importance of reliever ERA into question. In terms of ERA, Smoltz is the superior; Gagne wins many other categories. He has less blown saves, a far better WHIP, and his strikeout rates are insane. Both are threatening Thigpen’s record, but aren’t likely to break it.

One record that should be broken, is the consecutive saves record. Gagne has forty-three straight this season, and his streak dates back to August 2002. He has been a savior in Los Angeles, and truly makes it an eight-inning game. An aberration in the All-Star Game may actually hurt him, although it shouldn’t.

Smoltz has been fantastic, and his K/BB rate is the best anyone could have. His ERA is his best asset, and will probably be the 2nd Atlanta reliever in two years with a sub-1.00 ERA.

Baseball Prospectus’ reliever rankings have Smoltz in the fourth spot, while Gagne is 6th. This appears to rely heavily on ERA, as Shigetoshi Hasegawa is in the first spot. Reliever ERA weighs way too much in current society, as the Smoltz-Gagne earned run spread is only five.

I hardly have a great argument against Smoltz, other than the dominating WHIP and K/9 numbers Gagne has. That’s all for now folks...

Editor's Note- Since writing this article, I discovered John Smoltz was placed on the 15-day DL, and won't be back until September. This should give Eric Gagne ample time to surpass Smoltz in saves, and will give Bobby Thigpen some rest.

27/08/2003

SoCal So Happy 

I was in the midst of preparing today’s fantasy entry when word came the Padres had acquired Brian Giles and traded Rondell White. The fantasy idea was quickly deleted, and my mind shifted to that of the San Diego Padres. Can Kevin Towers build another World Series team? Will PETCO Park attract enough fans to keep a bloated payroll afloat?

First, let’s analyze what the Padres are in possession of, then come up with methods of improving the team. The lineup is almost complete, with bats surrounding their newest star. Ryan Klesko is etched in at first base, and Mark Loretta will team with him on the right side. Khalil Greene went from 2002 College Player of the Year, to a 2003 where he is hitting .303/.359/.466 in 290 AAA at-bats. Sean Burroughs made up for a bad rookie season, although his five home runs is less than expected. Giles and Mark Kotsay are locks in the outfield, and there’s competition in right. Xavier Nady, a farm system prize, has had mixed results in the Major Leagues. And while Phil Nevin has proved everything, the Ken Griffey for Nevin rumors meant his job isn’t safe.

The catcher position is wide open, since neither Gary Bennett nor Wiki Gonzalez has gotten it done. The team has been toying with this position for years, without any real success. Here’s a mock 2004 lineup:

1. Greene- SS
2. Burroughs- 3B
3. Giles- LF
4. Klesko- 1B
5. Nady/Nevin-RF
6. Kotsay- CF
7. Loretta- 2B
8. Catcher to be named later

Actually, a playoff-type lineup. The catcher should be good defensively, as its obvious that scoring runs won’t be a problem for this team. In fact, its preventing runs that will hold this team back. What was once the best group of pitching prospects around has turned into trade bait (see Oliver Perez), or just flunked out (Dennis Tankersly).

The team has three good arms this season: Brian Lawrence, Jake Peavy, and Adam Eaton. Lawrence, the 2002 ace, isn’t having a great season (6-14, 4.54ERA), but has promise (166H in 170.2IP). Peavy is gradually improving, and allowing 148 hits in 159.1 innings against 124 strikeouts is a great sign. Eaton did well coming back from surgery, and actually pitched the best. His 119K showed his great curve was still there, and he also allowed less hits than innings. These three could sit in any rotation, although there isn’t a clear ace.

So, what’s available within the organization? Not much. Kevin Jarvis has been Towers’ greatest bust, and the contract will continually hurt the team. Clay Condrey, Carlton Loewer, and Mike Bynum have all been tried in the rotation, but none possess great potential. Ben Howard was just brought up from AAA, where he allowed 118 hits in 130.1 innings. Another encouraging player is AA southpaw Cory Stewart, who is 12-7 with 3.72ERA in the Southern League. He also has struck out 133 men in 125.2 innings, while surrendering only 104 hits and 50 walks. Let’s say, to be conservative, that one of these five players will impress Padres’ brass enough to be counted on every fifth day. That leaves:

1- Brian Lawrence
2- Adam Eaton
3- Jake Peavy
4- Howard/Stewart

What was once a great bullpen, has lost its hype with Trevor Hoffman’s injury-plagued season. Rod Beck has filled in nicely, not blowing a save in his first eighteen attempts. These two players are the Padres two significant free agents, and dictate a lot of what they do in the winter. Rod Beck wants 300 career saves, and will likely only sign somewhere that he is promised to get all the saves. That won’t happen if the Padres retain their all-time saves leader, Trevor Hoffman. San Diego’s favorite player has an expensive option for next season, and Towers has no choice but to decline. Both sides have reported interest, and are in the midst of working on an extension. Count on one of these two men closing games in San Diego next season.

So who else? Luther Hackman was acquired in the Brett Tomko deal, and the power leftie has done well in 56 games thus far. Scott Linebrink was a great waiver claim, as he is sporting a 3.33ERA in 81 middle relief innings. His future is not in a rotation, but rather in that middle-role. Jay Witasick was signed to set-up Hoffman, and hasn’t disappointed. Finally, although rumors are he may be traded, I expect the club to hold onto Brandon Villafuerte. These four players consitute a set-up man, two middle relievers, and a leftie.

Three that won’t be retained are Mike Mathews, Jaret Wright, and Charles Nagy. Mathews hasn’t done well in a LOOGY role, and there are better options available. Wright was a good idea in theory, but his 8.37ERA in 47.1 innings is pretty uninspiring. And if the 38-year old Nagy doesn’t retire, then he has an outside chance at a long relief role. He should battle with some of the rotation losers, like Jarvis and Clay Condrey.

Last season the Padres used more pitchers then any team in history, and have some succeeding in the minors. J.J. Trujillo, who had a brief tour in San Diego, has done decent in 26AA games. He is similar to both Linebrink and Villafuerte though, so he’ll likely go to AAA. But Rusty Tucker, who was closing games in Lake Elsinore (high-A) last season, shouldn’t. Tucker has closed 28 games for the Mobile Bay Bears, and struck out 63 men in 53 innings. Best of all, he’s a leftie. He could move into the bullpen and be the second left-hander, and set-up at the same time. This would give the Padres this:

CL- Hoffman/Beck
SU- Jay Witasick
LH/SU- Rusty Tucker
MR- Scott Linebrink
LH- Luther Hackman
MR- Brandon Villafuerte
LR- Nagy/Jarvis/Condrey

OK, so that leaves holes behind the plate and one in the rotation. The team could pursue these on the free agent market, although I see no need. Phil Nevin should be traded, as he is expensive, and commands value. The offense will surely score runs without him, and Xavier Nady should do much better next season. Here’s my idea:

Phil Nevin and Ramon Vazquez to Dodgers for Koyie Hill and Odalis Perez

This trade would undoubtedly help both teams. For the Dodgers, Nevin would be an extra bat in an offense that needs help. He would likely play first base, and permit Paul Lo Duca from moving there. Lo Duca’s presence at catcher would allow Hill, to exit. Odalis has struggled this season, and the Dodgers are loaded in pitching. Vazquez hasn’t done much since being a AAA all-star, but is an improvement over Cesar Izturis or Alex Cora.

San Diego would love this deal. Hill is ready to catch in the Major Leagues, and could post a decent average back there. Perez has immense potential, and would be the ace the team needs. It will fill all the regular holes, and leave money to be spent for deadline trades.

What was once the best division in baseball, the NL West should take a hit in coming seasons. Arizona and San Francisco have money problems, and won’t lure anymore free agents. Los Angeles is having ownership issues, and will likely fire Jim Tracy and Dan Evans. And Colorado, well no one will ever win in Denver. That leaves space for the Padres, once the laughingstock of baseball, to make another run to the playoffs.

Editor's Note: Since writing this article I learned the player to be named later in this deal is likely Cory Stewart. This doesn't change my stance dramatically, although it may put the Padres in the market for a fifth starter.

26/08/2003

Notes Day: Missing a Week 

A week away from my computer taught me one thing: a lot happens in August. Today I have a list of notes, everything from transaction analysis to minor league news...

Transaction Analysis
Most of the moves that have happened in August were good teams acquiring future free agents. I'll go quickly through these moves, as they don't have much 2004 and beyond bearing.

Mike Dejean to Cards for 2 Players to be Named
Rumor has it that Milwaukee will chosse between Josh Pearce, Mike Crudale, Jason Ryan, and Chance Capel. The first three are all in AAA, with Crudale being the most successful reliever. Capel is in high-A, and has bad numbers and is old. If these reports are true, expect the Brewers to acquire Crudale and Jason Ryan, sporting a 2.89ERA at AAA.

The Cardinals got the reliever they needed, and will probably keep him next season. The team will lose bad arms like Jeff Fassero and Cal Eldred, but keeping an extra closer around is a good idea.

Sterling Hitchcock to Cards for Justin Pope and Ben Julianel
Good move for the Yankees. By trading Raul Mondesi, Robin Ventura, and Hitchcock, the Yankees have added some good arms. Pope was an ex-prospect who was struggling, and Julianel is a reliever that has some insane low-A numbers (78K in 51.2IP).

Hitchcock's next few months will dictate the rest of his career. Either he could have a great stretch run, and get signed like Woody Williams did after he landed in St. Louis. Or he could go down the Jamey Wright route: pitch bad for the Cards and spend a year in AAA. It's all up to him.

Cubs get Womack and Simon
Who the Cubs gave up isn't important. The team got these two players who like to hack and won't add too much. Womack will play a nice middle relief reserve role, giving the club another decent runner off the bench (see Glanville). Simon is the interesting acquisition, as he is arbitration-eligible next season. A non-tender is most likely, but you can bet Dusty will be lobbying to trade Hee Seop.

Pirates get Bobby Hill
The extra from the Aramis and Lofton trade. Hill is a great acquisition, although he presents a logjam in the middle infield. The team traded for Freddy Sanchez, has Jack Wilson, and Jose Castillo is waiting in the wings. The possibility of Hill at second, Castillo at short, and Sanchez playing third is most likely. This would give the team a serious lack of power, but a solid team BA.

Eric Young to the Giants
This is the route the Cubs should have gone. Young is a good player, and his ability to play center really helps his value. The team is having health problems in the middle, and Young is another warm body. He won't be kept around next season, but now he is in the spotlight.

Nice acquisition by the Brewers in Greg Burso. He is a solid prospect, and is flying through the minors fast. Milwaukee will probably be out of the cellar next season, and be making a serious run at things by 2005.

Free Agent News

- Outfield is the most loaded position going into the offseason, with Gary Sheffield and Vladimir Guerrero topping the list. Rumor has it that the Yankees are more interested in Sheffield, and that Guerrero doesn't want to play in New York. The Orioles have made Vlad their number one priority, and his other serious suitors should be Atlanta and Los Angeles. I think the Dodgers will get Guerrero, and the Orioles will turn their attention to Mike Cameron.
- Another good outfielder possibly not on the move is Jose Guillen. This season's most improved player is enjoying playing by the bay, and has announced he wants a three-year deal to stay in Oakland. Depending on cost, expect Billy Beane to sign him.

- Despite the fact that the Blue Jyas are going to wait to sign an extension with Kelvim Escobar, expect it to happen. He is the best pitcher the Blue Jays have behind Halladay, and they can't allow him to escape to the weak market.
- One team in need of pitching in the offseason is the Red Sox. I think they'll make Bartolo Colon their number one priority, unless Javier Vazquez is easily attainable. I doubt that though, and expect Colon to be in Beantown.
- The White Sox will pursue their chubby ace, but won't be crying if Colon leaves them. Ken Williams has long-standing enfatuations with Sidney Ponson and Cory Lidle, and may use the Colon exit to satisfy those. Signing Ponson and Lidle would be a nice way to fill out a rotation currently featuring Loaiza, Buerhle, and Garland.
- Danys Baez is a huge question mark for the Indians. They will be paying Bob Wickman $5 million in 2004, and can't afford to pay Baez the same amount. Danys hasn't quite lived up to his potential, and is probably headed to the free agent market. And anyone notice that David Riske, and not Baez, is getting the saves in Cleveland?
- Expect the Expos to acquire Brandon Villafuerte from the Padres in the next few days...

Minor League notes

- 17-year old pitcher Felix Hernandez pitched in low-A yesterday. He did pretty well in his midwest league debut, after dominating the Northwest League. The Mariners could be looking at Hernandez in a couple of years, and the kid is flying through prospect charts. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure he's the youngest player in Professional baseball.
- The Angels top four prospects: Ervin Santana, Jeff Mathis, Bobby Jenks, and Dallas McPherson is the best foursome in baseball. The World Champs will be adding all these great players, and Casey Kotchman, in the next few seasons. Wow.
- Starting tomarrow, the sidebar will be charting the progress of Oakland's 2002 draftees. After reading how 'great' their draft was in Moneyball, I was suprised to look at how bad some of them are doing. Joe Blanton is the only one really standing out, and that was just a bad Ken Williams mistake.

Be back tomarrow, enjoy reading...

25/08/2003

Finally Home 

Wow, I had quite the week. Seven stadiums in eight days, and I still manage to miss a ton of baseball news. I'll hit everything I missed in the coming days, but first, here's a brief synopsis of my trip:

August 16: Camden Yards
Yankees at Orioles


Well, the matchup couldn't get any more uninspiring: Sterling Hitchcock vs. Pat Hentgen. But, in the end it was the best, and most exciting game of the trip. I loved Camden Yards, everything from its old-time feel, to it's Yawkey Way impersonation past the outfield wall. The food was great outside the stadium, although it was disappointing more Yankees fans were there than O's fans.

So, back to the game. In the first inning, following a Luis Matos double, Tony Batista hit a sacrifice fly to give the Orioles the early lead. But I noticed in the third inning that Jay Gibbons, not Batista, hit after Matos. This was a violation of the rules, but wasn't really disputed by Joe Torre. This was the first time I saw a Major League team screw up its lineup, although Little League Baseball is famous for it.

OK, flash to the ninth, when Mariano Rivera has the game one out from ending. Then, for the third time in five chances, he blows it. Luis Matos, by far the most impressive player from the game, hit a towering game-tying blast. The tie lasted until the 12th, when Jason Giambi sent a Henry Carrasco pitch far.

Then came the worst baserunning play ever. Jack Cust walked (as usual), bringing Larry Bigbie to the plate. Bigbie hit a Jeff Nelson pitch into the right field gap, a standup double. Cust was originally waved to home, but decided to stop instead. He lost hit footing, falling down 10 feet from the bad. Alfonso Soriano took the relay throw straight to third, landing Cust in a run-down. The only problem was, after avoiding the catcher, Cust had a straight path to home. Nelson forgot to cover the plate, but only ten feet from home Cust fell, again, leading to an Aaron Boone tag.

Wow. I guess the people who called Jack Cust one-dimensional were right.

August 17- Shea Stadium
Rockies at Mets

Then, after a four-hour drive to New York, we arrived for the only day game of the trip, in the Big Apple. The Mets stadium left me unimpressed, especially the fans who hardly cheered their team. Shea reminded me of U.S. Cellular Field, due to its ugly blue tint. If I don't land in Shea again before I die, no big deal.

The game wasn't that great either, with Jason Jennings getting hit hard. Al Leiter struck out ten in six innings, although he was alarmingly unefficient with his pitches. The two exciting parts were seeing phenom Jose Reyes, and being at Cliff Floyd's last game. Both of those two shined, Reyes going 2-5 with two runs, and Floyd going four-for-four. Cliff Floyd's swing is probably the easiest in baseball, and he is a sensational hitter. Reyes is a superstar in the making, needing a better batting eye to become the best leadoff hitter in the game.

August 18- Yankee Stadium
Royals at Yankees

Lima vs. Weaver! Headcase vs. Headcase! Not exactly expected to be a pitcher's duel, and it lived up to its billing. Both were horrible, and as it turned out, I saw Weaver's last start for a long time. While I was watching this game, Jose Contreras was striking out 15 men in a rehab start.

The game itself wasn't very exciting, with the Yankees outclubbing the Royals 11-6. Hideki Matsui showed dominance over Angel Berroa, hitting his 36th double of the year. Unfortunatly, Matsui is well on his way to winning the Rookie of the Year. Carlos Beltran had a spectacular game, and is possibly passing Vladimir Guerrero on some charts. I'll do a report on this later, but I can't say Vlad is better than Beltran.

August 19- Fenway Park
A's at Red Sox

Sadly, I later found out this was Mark Mulder's final start of the season. His hip led to an early exit, and has ended his season. The A's will struggle without him, needing John Halama to replace him every fifth day. I'm currently reading Moneyball, and it gives way too little credit to the pitching. Without the big 3, Billy Beane would never have been anything to write a book about.

A blister forced Derek Lowe out of the game after six fabulous innings, due to a blister problem. Then, Scott Sauerbeck and Scott Williamson promptly blew the game, giving up three runs in the seventh inning. Moneyball relievers Ricardo Rincon and Chad Bradford set it up, while Keith Foulke delivered the knockout punch. The only bad part? I was in the bathroom for the biggest play of the game, a Ramon Hernandez three-run jack.

August 20- McCoy Stadium
Syracuse SkyChiefs at Pawtucket Red Sox

Cory Lidle vs. Bruce Chen! Seriously, I went to a AAA game, and saw two Major League dropouts. How unfortunate. Well both looked decent, Lidle going four innings in his rehab start. He was shaky in two of them, but managed to allow zero runs for the game, handing the ball to Corey Thurman.

Chen was great untill the seventh, when the Blue Jays lit him up. But the PawSox came back, scoring six runs in the final inning for an unprobable finish. Earl Snyder hit a walk off three-run homer that sealed the game.

The only real prospect I saw was the Greek God of Walks, Mr. Kevin Youkilis. Kevin has been struggling since he got to AAA, and had no great day in front of me. In the second inning he took a Lidle pitch to deep center, only to have catcher-converted-center fielder Jayson Werth rob his home run.

August 22- Frontier Field
Scranton Wilkes-Barre Barons at Rochester Red Wings

Baseball America called Rochester the 2002 Baseball City, U.S.A, and it lived up to its billing. More than nine thousand people saw the game, topping most Expos games in Olympic Stadium. The stadium or city isn't awe-inspiring, but its the product of good marketing and passionate fans.

I did get to see Brandon Duckworth's second start since being demoted from Philadelphia. He looked good until his final inning, the sixth, when Rochester lit him up. Minnesota top prospect Justin Morneau played, although nothing special came out of it. Neither team had any other great prospects, as I had just missed Chase Utley (since he is now Philly's 2B).

August 23- Dunn Tire Park
Rochester Red Wings at Buffalo Bisons

I MET MARK SHAPIRO!

Right outside the stadium a man was nice enough to give us free tickets, which happened to be directly behind home plate, eight rows up. So I'm people watching before the game, when I notice Indians' GM Mark Shapiro is a row behind me. After waiting a few innings I talked to him for awhile, about his breaking in with a baseball team and becoming a GM. He was soft-spoken but a very approachable man, and it was an honor to meet him. I'm easily star-struck, so this was definitly the highlight of the trip.

Also, I saw Brandon Phillips hit a home run. Phillips, supposed to be Jose Reyes' counterpart, is well below the Mendoza line in 150 AAA at-bats. But his towering shot to left field was impressive, as was his defense at second. Although I didn't ask Shapiro, I found myself wondering if Phillips decline has been partially due to moving from shortstop.

Buffalo's stadium didn't draw many fans, but it is the most Major League looking minor league ballpark I have ever seen. No ads along the walls or across the outfield, but they did have luxury boxes located well above home plate. I liked Rochester more, but its a shame more people don't go to Dunn Tire Park.

So that's it. I saw some rehab and some injuries, some heroics and shame, but in the end I loved every minute of it. I'll be back tomarrow hopefully documenting everything I've missed.

20/08/2003

Phor Phillie Phans 

This is part-two of my series of answers to e-mails. Today I’ll be saying what the Phillies should do this offseason. My baseball trip has me in Boston today, seeing the deadly Boston vs. Oakland series.

The Phillies have made a decision over the last few years that they want this team around a long time. Mike Lieberthal, Jim Thome, David Bell, Pat Burrell, and Bobby Abreu are all signed in the long-term. Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd are still young enough to be on the roster for awhile before they reach free agency, so that leaves one position...second base. Placido Polanco is under contract next season, but the team has a great prospect at AAA in Chase Utley. Utley, formerly a standout at UCLA, is back at second base this season and tormenting the International League. He will play second base next season, leaving Polanco in the utility role.

Larra Bowa has verbally challenged Jimmy Rollins this season, basically to use his talent to the best of his abilities. The Phillies have altered Rollins so much since his entrance to the Majors, he’s a different player. Unfortunately, he’s the type of player who wears his heart on his sleeve, and will let offensive slumps effect his defense. The team will try him again next season, but he’s on a shorter leash then ever. They can’t take a .320 or less OBP from their leadoff hitter.

The rotation will remain mainly in tact. Vicente Padilla, Randy Wolf, and Brett Myers are guaranteed to be back. The team will lose $10M player Kevin Millwood, putting them in the market for an ace. Expect Ryan Madson or Taylor Buchholz to take the fifth starter job from Brandon Duckworth. But at the ace spot, the team will have two options: Millwood or Curt Schilling. Since early this season when rumors started that Arizona needed to dump salary, Philly has been a potential destination. The team has the minor league depth to make this type of trade, and bringing back Schilling would give a nice start to the new field.

But what Ed Wade has in front of him is piecing together a new bullpen. This season has seen great things from a bullpen that has expectations low, and we will see how many players he re-signs. Here is the status of each:

Jose Mesa- Team option- expect Philly to finally let Mesa go
Rheal Cormier- Team option- 2003 bullpen MVP will be back
Dan Plesac- Option- Retirement or Philly?
Mike Williams- Team option- next few months decide
Turk Wendell- Free Agent- Should move to greener pastures
Terry Adams- free agent- team will bring him back
Six guys could be gone from this bullpen. I expect Cormier, Plesac, and Adams to definitely be back. If Williams performs well in the next couple months, then Philly will pick up the option, and make him the 2004 closer. If not, then Mesa and Williams are both gone, and the team goes hunting. Eddie Guardado and Ugueth Urbina are free agents, and Trevor Hoffman will be as well. Expect the Phillies to land Guardado or Hoffman to close games. They will then add a few middle relievers, people in the Scott Sullivan mold.

Ed Wade took a career gamble the last few years. He wanted Phillie Phield to open like Jacobs Field did, to a team with great potential. That will be true in 2004, whether Schilling or Millwood pitches Opening Day.

18/08/2003

Bickering Back 

I recently got a couple of e-mails requesting my breakdown of the future on the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies. I’m still on my baseball trip, but here’s my response for the Mets. The Phillies will come tomorrow....

The Mets are in a flux: the team should be rebuilding but has too many overpriced veterans to do so. For every Jose Reyes and Aaron Heilman, there’s a Cliff Floyd and Tom Glavine. The Steve Phillips era ended horribly, and the team is going to need time to recuperate.

The first thing on everybody’s list is always to move Piazza to first. I think this should be a gradual movement, and that it shouldn’t happen full-time next season. The team has carried two other catchers this season, Vance Wilson and Jason Phillips. Wilson has gotten the brut of the time behind the plate, as he’s sound defensively and has a little bit of pop. Phillips is a good-hitting player, but more like Craig Wilson and Rob Fick, he simply outgrew the position. He’s hitting .324/.394/.470 this season, mostly spotting Mo Vaughn at first base. The team’s top first base prospect, Craig Brazell, is doing well in AA. The leftie is hitting .292/.331/.470. He doesn’t walk as much as you’d like, but he looks to be a great platoon candidate with Phillips. Art Howe’s ability to juggle Piazza, Wilson, Phillips, and Brazell next season will be important.

I also believe one key is moving Ty Wigginton back to second base. While his .269/.322/.410 numbers aren’t great at third base, its solid for a second basemen. He may also be able to steal 20 bases per season, which would greatly help this team. His middle infield partner, Jose Reyes, will be there for a long time. Reyes is a rich man’s Luis Castillo, he has 50SB speed, will lead the league in triples, and play some great defense at short. He may not be the best player to sit atop the lineup, with an OBP of .318, but he’s deadly in the two-hole.

That opens a hole for third base next season that Duquette may fill. Looking into the market, he should target young players on the rise who would be cheap. Well, that sounds like Adrian Beltre to me. While Beltre’s numbers have been going down for three seasons, he still has amazing potential and is super young. Since his cost will be low, the Mets will be one of many teams in the market. But how many other clubs could offer Beltre something in the line of a two-year, $3M deal?

The outfield has big question marks. Roger Cedeno must be released. His only true position is left field, which is also true for slugger Cliff Floyd. And what are Cedeno’s strengths anyway? He can’t sit atop a lineup anymore, and plays awful defense. He sounds more like a pinch runner than an everyday player. Floyd is locked in at left, but that’s it for the outfield. While Raul Gonzalez walks a lot, and Timo Perez can post a decent average, neither has what it takes to play everyday. Jamie Duncan was tried in the outfield, but in the end that proved a failure.

So, Phillips must find two outfielders? One must be able to lead off, and be relatively young so the team can stay in tact. I think the right fielder should have a good arm, and a solid bat. Not Vladimir Guerrero, but someone that still has a decent name. The right fielder that jumped off the page for me was Jose Guillen. He still won’t be expensive, as the one-year fluke rumors will still be flying. But New York should have no problem outbidding Oakland, and the risk/reward is one to take. There are no genuine leadoff centerfielders available, so Duquette must target that through a trade. Landing Randy Winn from Seattle would be a good idea, and it shouldn’t cost them too much.

On to the rotation. It seems like the rotation is actually set for next season. The team will lead with Tom Glavine, whether his struggles reflect a decline in his career or a fluke. They like Steve Trachsel a lot, and will pay him $5M to stay around next season. Al Leiter has pitched good since coming back from injury, dropping his ERA from 5.57 to 4.68. He will be much better next season, when he is healthy. Aaron Heilman has proved to not be ready for the Majors, but will get a chance at landing a spot. Jae Seo was making a Rookie of the Year bid in June, before going on a bad streak. He’s the type of flyball pitcher that should succeed in Shea Stadium and Dodger Stadium, but struggle in smaller stadiums. The team should be in the market for a 5th starter/long reliever.

Giving a Sterling Hitchcock, Wilson Alvarez, or Andy Ashby one last shot to succeed wouldn’t be the worst idea for this franchise. While Heilman prepares better at AAA, these veterans get a chance to boost their trade value and to become effective pitchers again. It helps when you’re learning from Leiter and Glavine too.

The bullpen is ugly. The team will be in the market for a closer, and they hope that the San Francisco Giants don’t pick up Felix Rodriguez’s option. If not, he fits the prototype of a young, high risk/reward player the team should be after. Having Mike Stanton, Grant Roberts, and Dave Weathers in a bullpen is a good start, so they’ll have to build from there.

This team isn’t going to be good anytime soon, but by getting young risk/reward players, there’s a chance that the ball will bounce their way.

15/08/2003

Vacation 

I am going on vacation today, a baseball trip that will bring me to these places:

Saturday- Baltimore Orioles
Sunday- New York Mets
Monday- New York Yankees
Tuesday- Boston Red Sox
Wednesday- Pawtucket Red Sox
Friday- Rochester Red Wings
Saturday- Buffalo Bisons

Not bad, eh? So next week there will be a minimum of two posts, although I may add another one or two.


Trading A-Rod 

Recently, to the subject of much hoopla, the best player in Baseball talked about being traded. Alex Rodriguez was prepared to finish his career in Arlington when he signed a 10-year, $252 million contract in December of 2000. This was by far the largest contract in history, and no other deal has flirted with the $200 million barrier since.

The reason teams are hesitant to devote so much money to one player is the result Texas has had since signing A-Rod:

2001: 73-89, last place
2002: 72-90, last place
2003: 53-67 through 8/14, currently last

It is unfair to say that A-Rod contributed to this failure, especially considering how the team’s pitching staff did in those seasons:

2001: 5.71 team ERA last in Majors (5.29 is next)
2002: 5.15 is 27th in Majors, 4.96 relief ERA is worst
2003: 5.86 team ERA last in Majors (5.11 is next)

Those are horrid numbers, and the reason behind those horrible numbers. I mean, you mean to tell me Alex Rodriguez has hurt this franchise? C’mon:

2001: .318/.399/.622 52HR/135RBI 18SB
2002: .300/.392/.623 57HR 142RBI 9SB
2003: .305/.399/.583 32HR/82RBI 15SB

And remember that he missed significant time this season with a back injury, one which he recently recovered from. He’s giving teams a reason to consider him this August, posting numbers of .405/.537/.952, hitting 7HR in just 42AB.

What’s really not fair of the Texas franchise is to say that A-Rod has hurt them become true players on the free agent market. The team’s payroll this season was $72.941,367, or about $49M after A-Rod. If Billy Beane can consistently build a contender with $49M, why can’t John Hart put 24 players around Rodriguez? I can answer that:

Chan Ho Park- 5-years, $65M
Zimmerman, Powell, Van Poppel- $19M through ’04
Rusty Greer- 3-years, $21.8M
Gonzalez, Palmiero- $21M in 2003

Bad contracts have killed this franchise. The team has consistently overpaid for pitchers, and re-signed hitters at insane prices. Greer is on the payroll for more than $7M next season, showing a huge mistake Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin made in his tenure. This team must allocate its funds better to compete, which John Hart should be able to do.

One positive for the Rangers is that Grady Fuson has assembled one of the best minor league systems in the minor leagues. The team has four great youngsters in their lineup with Hank Blalock, Mark Teixeira, Lance Nix, and Ramon Nivar. They also have Michael Young and Kevin Mench in their lineup to go with Rodriguez.

The team made some great trades at the deadline, getting talent that will help them for years to come. They acquired future 1B Adrian Gonzalez, SP Ryan Snare, and 4th OF Will Smith all for Ugueth Urbina. Carl Everett yielded them Frankie Francisco, Josh Rupe, Anthony Webster.

All that young hitting will come cheap for a few seasons, allowing the team to become big players on the free agent market. If Roger Clemens doesn’t retire, the team should try to tempt him to come to his home state, as they did with Nolan Ryan. Clemens is still effective, and could teach these youngsters a lot. Pitcher Jose Dominguez made his debut this week, after being heralded as having the best changeup in all of the minor leagues.

Although these are all examples of why not to trade A-Rod, what if they did? What if John Hart is ordered to look at the bounty he could get for the best player in the world? Here are the team’s that could do so fiscally, and have it be feasible in an organizational sense.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

The Majors worst offensive team desperately needs an offense, and Alex Rodriguez can provide that immediately. They play in the nation’s second largest city, and have another new owner committed to winning. Unfortunately, the team has a ton of money committed to pitchers over the long-term.

Here’s a small list of the Dodgers major free agents in terms of money, not including Hideo Nomo, whom I’m going to assume has his option get picked up:

Brian Jordan- 9M
Andy Ashby- 8M
Fred McGriff- 3M

The team will have 20M off the books this season, but will be left with holes in left, and on the corners, assuming Adrian Beltre is non-tendered. But, if they can add a bat like A-Rod’s to the team, everything else isn’t important. Here’s my proposed trade to get A-Rod in Dodger Blue:

Los Angeles gets:
Alex Rodrguez

Texas gets:
Cesar Itzuris
Darren Dreifort
Edwin Jackson
Chin-Feng Chen
Brian Pilkington

Texas gets a good defensive shortstop to play in their offensive minded-lineup, and an expensive, veteran pitcher with a lot of upside. They also get one of the Majors’ best prospects in the 19-year old Jackson, a potential left fielder in Chen, and another good pitcher with Pilkington.

Los Angeles would then have about 7M more to spend on the team, which is just enough. They could move Paul Lo Duca to first, putting prospects Koyie Hill and Dave Ross behind the plate. Evans then would get a 3B at a decent price, possibly re-signing Robin Ventura. Then, trade Odalis Perez, yielding J.D. Drew from the Cards. They would have to spend their final money on a fifth starter, anyone from Wilson Alvarez to Rick Reed. LA’s potential lineup:

1. Dave Roberts
2. J.D. Drew
3. Shawn Green
4. Alex Rodriguez
5. Paul Lo Duca
6. Robin Ventura
7. Koyie Hill
8. Joe Thurston/Alex Cora/Jason Romano

1. Kevin Brown
2. Hideo Nomo
3. Kaz Ishii
4. Joel Hanrahan
5. Wilson Alvarez/Rick Reed

I guarantee that team would win the NL West, and give LA the best marketing tool they could’ve imagined.

2. Chicago Cubs

This is really the only other team that could afford adding A-Rod, and giving up solid pitchers in return. Alex Rodriguez would solve the offensive woes that plague the team, and give Chicago a playoff team. Although, it would cost a lot for the team to get the young shortstop, and may do some harm to the vaunted pitching staff.

When my site premiered, I wrote a guest column over at the Cub Reporter. The article stated the Cubs had about $12M to spend on free agents, and the $24M that Rodriguez costs is well over that figure. But, not if this was the trade:

Cubs get:
Alex Rodriguez

Rangers get:
Kerry Wood
Alex Gonzalez
Justin Jones
Dave Kelton

In this trade, Kerry Wood has the chance to pitch in his home state, where he could get advice from legends like Nolan Ryan and Orel Hershiser very often. It would give the Rangers a great arm at the top, and one capable of taking the franchise on his shoulders. Gonzalez is a good defensive shortstop with just enough pop to keep in a lineup. Kelton could be the left fielder next season, or be used in the DH role. And finally, Justin Jones is a second-tier Cubs prospect, but would probably make the Rangers top 10.

All in all, I think this trade would help both franchises. The Tribune Company would be reluctant to drop Wood, who has drawn so much attention. But if they are going to do it for anyone, its Alex Rodriguez.

I was trying to add more teams to this list, but it doesn’t make sense. Here’s why:

- Padres- Apparently have the cash, but not the pitching
- Giants- Would need to dump way too many contracts
- Yankees/Red Sox- Umm...Jeter, Nomar?
- Mariners- Have cash and pitching, but a little too much irony

Trading Alex Rodriguez would do harm to his franchise, John Hart should spend his time worrying about getting the youngsters in his lineup while building a pitching staff. This team has playoff potential in about two seasons, but need to add some arms first.

14/08/2003

Glass Speaks 

"We're going to be better next year than we are this year. "My experience in baseball is the mark of a good young player is that he gets better each year.

I read this quote at the Kansas Star website yesterday, in which esteemed owner Daniel Glass predicted future success for his club. The quote is funny in its own, as experience in baseball and Glass don't belong in the same sentence. This was a man destroying the club who stumbled across a great manager and good farm system.

Whie Allan Baird gets a lot of flack around the baseball world, there's no question his system produced prospects. While the loot wasn't great for Johnny Damon and Jermaine Dye, they did get Angel Berroa, possibly the Rookie of the Year. Stars like Ibanez, Beltran, Sweeney, and MacDougal are products of good trades or good teaching. There is more on the way, as Jimmy Gobble has shown in his first two starts.

Today's article is geared at deciding if Glass may be correct, could be better next year. In doing so, we must look at what has worked this season. A look at some stars from every month this season:

April
Record- 16-7
Runelvys Hernandez- 3-0 1.60 22/33 16/15
Jason Grimsley- 15G, 13/15.2 14/4
Albie Lopez- 3-0 16/14.1 14/7

Raul Ibanez- .345/.408/.575 4HR/12RBI
Joe Randa- .329/.388/.632 5HR/14RBI
Mike Sweeney- .265/.411/.515 5HR/19RBI

May
Record- 10-19
Mike MacDougal- 11G 12/11 10/3

Carlos Beltran- .301/.404/.538 7HR/17RBI
Mike Sweeney- .337/.443/.517 4HR/11RBI

June
Record- 15-12
Mike MacDougal- 2-0 2.77 11/13 11/8 8Sv
Jose Lima- 2-0 15/18.1 5/7

Mike Tucker- .300/.385/.500 3HR/14RBI
Ken Harvey- .333/.389/.561 3HR/13RBI
Angel Berroa- .327/.383/.592 5HR/11RBI

July
Record- 15-11
Jose Lima- 5-0 1.44 20/31.1 18/10
Curt Leskanic- 3/8.1 12/3 0ER
Darrell May- 4-1 2.76 33/42.1 20/13

Carlos Beltran- .323/.395/.535 4HR/21RBI
Angel Berroa- .323/.337/.570 6HR/22RBI
Raul Ibanez- .341/.370/.516 4HR/17RBI

So far this month we're looking at...

Record- 6-6
Jimmy Gobble- 2-0 0.73 13/12.1 6/1
Kevin Appier- 1-1 8/11 4/2 2ER

Mix of Dan Carrasco, Curt Leskanic, Kris Wilson, Al Levine, Jason Grimsley...

40IP 34H 9ER 15BB 28K

Aaron Guiel- .310/.400/.500 1HR/7RBI
Joe Randa- .300/.429/.450 1HR/5RBI
Carlos Beltran- .278/.381/.528 3HR/9RBI

That, all in all, is what has kept Kansas City stay afloat. There are many different pitchers in the different months, portraying what KC has gone through this season. The first month Hernandez and Lopez were very good, but then Runelvys got hurt, and Albie sucked. Jose Lima and Kevin Appier were good finds on the free agent market, and the team added some good bullpen depth. But Grimsley, Levine, Lloyd, and Leskanic are all free agents at the end of the season, along with Lima and Appier from the rotation. The offense has Raul Ibanez, Mike Tucker, Mike Diefelice, Brent Mayne, and Joe Randa as free agents. Is the team likely to get so many finds next season? No.

Kansas City management insists they will re-sign Ibanez, despite the price. This may make them trade Carlos Beltran, which would get a solid return. They have David DeJesus, an OBP machine, waiting in the centerfield wings at AAA. A trade for Beltran could yield, from Los Angeles: Joel Hanrahan, Koyie Hill, and Wilken Ruan. Hanrahan would step in the rotation right away, as Hill would replace Mayne behind the plate. Ruan could platoon with the left-handed DeJesus in center.

But, it will be re-building third base, the rotation, and the bullpen that will decide Baird's future. Desi Relaford was a good signing, and is the 2004 KC second basemen, can Baird find a player like that to replace Randa? Can the veteran foursome be replaced in the bullpen? Probably not. Here's a hypothetical 2004 lineup, with Tony Batista in as the third basemen:

1. David DeJesus- CF
2. Desi Reladord- 2B
3. Mike Sweeney- 1B
4. Raul Ibanez- LF
5. Angel Berroa- SS
6. Tony Batista- 3B
7. Ken Harvey- DH
8. Aaron Guiel- RF
9. Koyie Hill- C

And the rotation, with Jeremy Affeldt moving back into it:

1. Hernandez
2. Affeldt
3. Gobble
4. Ascencio
5. May/Hanrahan

Then, you could lock MacDougal and Kris Wilson into the bullpen. Ultimately, expect Affeldt to stay as a power set-up man in the 'pen, with May being left in the rotation.

Glass' Royals have caught a lot of breaks in 2003, having rookies and Independant Leaguers all perform over their heads. The club will need much more consistency to do better next season, and for the Twins to not improve.

Glass: if you couldn't properly own a team for ten years, don't start talking trash now.

13/08/2003

Teenage Thoughts 

I’d like to point out I missed a few names that mentioned me in blogs this past week. Paul Sporer, of Rich and Sporer and the Southpaw are the two I’d like to mention. After you’re finished with this, get over to those sites for more baseball knowledge.

Many publications, namely Baseball Prospectus, don’t really believe in taking stock in a young player until he hits AA. That being said, I think even Prospectus believers would be blown away by Greg Miller’s last start for the Jacksonville Suns:

7IP 2H 0ER 14K

What could possibly make that line more impressive? How about the fact that it was his second start in AA, and he is at the ripe age of eighteen years. Truly amazing. How about his numbers for the season:

AA= 1-0 0.00 5H/14IP 20K/2BB
A+= 11-4 2.53 103/113.2 109/41

One of last season’s late first-round selections, Miller is quickly shooting up prospect charts with his great stats. Before June 2002’s amateur draft, Miller was a high-school leftie topping out at 92MPH with a loopy slider. In an offseason shoulder strengthening program he lifted his fastball to 95MPH, tightened his slider, and added a changeup. Those three ‘new pitches’ have helped him to become the youngest pitcher in AA.

Coincidence that the third youngest pitcher in AA is also a Dodger? No way. Edwin Jackson has also gained notice this season, as he is holding up in the Southern League, despite turning 19 before the season. Jackson attended the Futures Game, although he didn’t pitch in the contest. His season statistics:

7-6 3.37ERA 109H/136.1IP 143K/47BB

So, the Dodgers have two teenagers in AA? And combined they’ve allowed 114 hits in 150 innings, while striking out 163? Amazing. The two have blown past James Loney and Franklyn Gutierrez in prospect charts, and likely are two of the top ten pitching prospects in all of baseball....

TINSTAPP. That was the subject of Joe Sheehan’s “Prospectus Today” yesterday for Baseball Prospectus premium subscribers. Sometimes better known as “There Is No Such Thing As a Pitching Prospect,” Joe spoke of his lack of belief in young pitchers. As shown by my own hyping of teenagers Miller and Jackson above, I am going to have to disagree with Joe on that one.

Yes, there are an astounding number of pitchers who get injured every season, and a number of hyped players don’t spend time at the Big Show. But, isn’t waiting for the next Mark Prior, the next Roger Clemens or Greg Maddux worth talking about these players? Isn’t one Dontrelle Willis worth the hyping of ten Ryan Andersons? While the number of pitching prospects is hardly what Baseball America and even I document it to be, there’s reason to hope. For example, I hope none of you heard of Greg Miller before today. But after today’s column you’ll remember the southpaw in the Dodger’s farm system. And if one day Miller reaches Steve Carltonesque status, you can say, “I remember him striking out 14 in AA.” That’s what makes it worth it....

One belief I do share with Baseball Prospectus, sometimes, is that drafting college players is ‘safer’ than high school amateurs. For that reason, I argued many times this season that Richie Weeks was a better option than Delmon Young. Well, Weeks signed last week, and made his low-A debut yesterday with the Beloit Snappers. He immediately becomes the number two second base prospect in all of baseball, sitting right behind Josh Barfield. That gives the Brewers a pretty mean infield of the future:

1B- Prince Fielder- Ranked at the top of my first base rankings
2B- Richie Weeks- A top two second basemen
SS- J.J. Hardy- Easily one of the top five in the minors
3B- Corey Hart- Ranks in any hot corner top-10

Not bad. I will be giving my positional prospect rankings next week, but you can be sure to read those names in all of them. Throw in Dave Krynzel, Mike Jones, Luis Martinez, and others, and the Brewers will contend before 2010....

While Weeks may be the draft’s best prospect, no one has done better from the June draft than Arizona 3B/LF Conor Jackson. The first-round pick has thrived in rookie-ball, showing gap power and a watchful eye:

Yakima Bears: .315/.405/.565 30 2B 51RBI 6HR in 51 games

That’s right, Jackson is averaging one RBI a game, and more than .5 doubles per game. A college hitter, it should be noted that Conor was expected to succeed at this level, but not at this rate. He is hitting the cover off the ball, and it will be interesting to see if those doubles ever become home runs as he rises through the system....

The draft’s best pitching prospect has now arrived. Kyle Sleeth signed with the Tigers over the weekend, with Detroit giving him $3.35M. It’s good to know that Major League Baseball is trying to control signing bonuses, as giving a college pitcher $10M is crazy. Sleeth won’t rise through the system like Mark Prior did in Chicago, but don’t be surprised if he finishes 2004 in AA. Hopefully the team won’t push him like they did Jeremy Bonderman.

Sleeth became the fourth to last player in the first round to sign. First pick Delmon Young, fourth choice Tim Stauffer, and Lastings Milledge (12th), are all yet to sign. Young and Milledge have both used the college card to threaten the D-Rays and Mets, but it won’t work. These two players won’t pass up the big bucks now, but don’t expect to see them soon. It will be good for Stauffer to take the summer off, as he was worked too hard in college. The Padres will get this deal done soon, and should see results as soon as 2005....

Quickly a look at the next K-Rod:

Seattle: 2-0 1.42ERA 17/31.2 40K/6BB

Sensational numbers for Seattle’s best reliever, Rafeal Soriano. I believe the bullpen is a better home for Soriano, as he could then throw his high-90s heat and hard slider more consistently. The team would be smart to make him the 2004 closer, but will likely put him in Freddy Garcia’s spot in the rotation, the subject of tomorrow’s column....

And lastly, the line of my favorite prospect, now pitching in the Northwest League:

7-1 1.84ERA 30H/44IP 55K/22BB

Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners has dominated this league, and won’t turn 18 until next March. The hype on him may be premature, but there’s more upside in his right arm than anyone in the minor leagues.

Debuts for Neal Cotts and Jose Dominguez yesterday, and neither was horrible. Come back tomorrow as I analyze the future of two players whom are depressingly underperforming.

12/08/2003

Rebuilding the Reds 

The 1990s Cleveland Indians were lucky enough to open Jacob’s Field at the exact time the team started to succeed. This created an immense fan base, and led to one of the great consecutive sellout streaks of this generation. That’s not exactly how Carl Lindner’s Reds are doing things this season.

Cincinnati’s new and publicly funded stadium, the Great American Ballpark, opened this season to subpar response from the community. The fans simply didn’t want to see a team lacking an identity: half the team was seasoned veterans ready to win, the other half were youngsters part of some rebuilding plan. The team had one of the National League’s great offenses with an outfield of Dunn-Griffey-Kearns, but one of the worst rotations, as it led Haynes-Graves-Dempster. Bob Boone made some bad decisions as manager, and Jim Bowden struggled to give the team pitching. So when July came around this season, Lindner dumped Boone and Bowden, and dealt away Aaron Boone, Scott Williamson, Jose Guillen, and Gabe White.

Dealing Aaron Boone was actually a smart move: he’ll hit arbitration this year, was blocking top-prospect Brandon Larson, and yielded pitcher Brandon Claussen. I think this move does loads for the 2004 Reds, giving the team a real bona fide pitching prospect. The Guillen and White deals made some sense, as Cincinnati wasn’t in the bidding for either at season’s close, they might as well land some prospects. But the Williamson deal didn’t make sense. Phil Dumatrait? The team couldn’t even land the Sox best pitching prospect, Jorge De La Rosa, for their best pitcher?

Well, a lot of the money that was lost this season came back in those deals, giving Lindner about $5-6M more than the Opening Day payroll. Hopefully the tight-fisted owner will put that money back into the baseball team, as I believe there is a way for this team to contend soon. The young pitching of the Cubs, along with good markets in Houston and St. Louis will make this division very tough in the next few seasons, but the Reds aren’t out yet. Let’s examine a step-by-step way to get this team in contention:

1. Trade Sean Casey
While Casey is the team’s most popular player and great defender, he’s nothing more than a rich man’s J.T. Snow. He will make $14.6M the next two seasons, which is more than most teams can afford for an under performing first basemen. So the team’s management must signal another team’s bad contract that will work better for the Reds.

Barring injury, Livan Hernandez will pitch 217 innings this season, adding another year to his deal, at $6M in 2004. While common thought of Hernandez was the paltry San Francisco version, Livan isn’t a bad addition:

Since All-Star Break: 3-1 1.80 30/40 35/7, 8IP/GS

Eight innings per start! Two complete games in five starts! A 0.93 WHIP! Hernandez has become the pitcher he was in Florida again. That being said, Casey makes more money than Hernandez in 2004, and has an extra 2005 year. So while he does fill a hole for Omar Minaya’s Expos, the team simply can’t afford that much. The team will need to add another expensive player, possibly Mike Barrett in the deal. That trade gives the Reds an innings-eater to ease the bullpen, and a backup catcher for Jason La Rue.

2. Trade Ken Griffey Jr.
I admit that Ken doesn’t have quite the trade value he did in July, but there are still teams that want him. The team that Jim Bowden said was going to acquire him in July, the Yankees, should be interested again.

I predicted in yesterday’s entry that the Yankees would sign Vladimir Guerrero, but that doesn’t change the interest they may have in Griffey. The team has been hesitant to go with Nick Johnson consistently at the designated hitter, and would welcome the bat of Junior. Brian Cashman should take advantage of his low trade value and get him this winter, despite the price.

What can Cincy get in exchange for their center fielder? Well since his failures in the fifth starter spot, the Yanks have itched at getting rid of Jeff Weaver. It wasn’t long ago that Weaver was an ace in Detroit, and his high salary will lessen the blow of adding Junior. The Yanks would have to throw in Juan Rivera, which shouldn’t faze them dramatically. Rivera is a good prospect, but New York has been hesitant to play him everyday, although he has the necessary skills.

This move would put Rivera in left field, and move Adam Dunn to Sean Casey’s open vacancy at first base. It would open center, which brings me to....

3. Trade Steve Smitherman for Jay Payton
Smitherman in AA- .320/.404/.560 18HR 66RBI

Not bad numbers. I saw Smitherman play at the Futures Game, in which he ended hitting the go-ahead home run. He’s very big, and has more raw power than most players in the minor leagues. He could immediately replace Payton in Coors Field, at a cheaper cost and with more potential production.

Payton still has the legs to play center, but has proven to have the bat of a left fielder. He would come into this lineup in the second hole, and make an impact right away. It would cost some money, but as I said, Lindner made some extra this season.

4. Release Jimmy Haynes, Paul Wilson, and Ryan Dempster
Dead weight. What was the team thinking signing Haynes to a two-year, $5 million deal? Haynes has proven very ineffective this season, as have the gambles of Paul Wilson and Ryan Dempster. While they eat innings, I’d rather have a youngster pitch five strong than have Wilson get lit up through seven. Plus, it would open a hole for...

5. Sign Bartolo Colon
I know you’re thinking, “There’s no way that Colon would sign with the Reds!” Normally, I would agree, but if Colon continues at this pace, it will be a very disappointing season. He may be inclined to sign an expensive one-year deal, as Ivan Rodriguez did a year ago, so that he can boost his value the next season.

Colon eats innings like he does food, and can throw in the triple digits in every inning. I believe he’s a better pitcher than his win total indicates this season, as the White Sox haven’t scored enough runs. Bartolo would go to the top of the rotation, and really soften the bullpen. The same could be said for Livan Hernandez and Jeff Weaver, so it will leave the relievers fresh.

The fourth spot of the rotation should go to Brandon Claussen. He has recovered from Tommy John surgery miraculously, and without his fastball dominated every level he’s faced. Claussen is hardly a fourth starter, but in this rotation his expectations would be low. It would give the Reds a leftie in the rotation, and right now Claussen is likely their top prospect.

Finally, the fifth hole is yet to be determined. Jose Acevedo has done great in a few spot starts, but now sees himself on the DL. Chris Reitsma is seemingly in the competition every season, and has great stuff. He never wins the battle, and will finally end up in middle relief. Other competitors are Aaron Harang, recently acquired for Jose Guillen, and Josh Hall, who’s made one good start this year. My belief is Acevedo will get the job to start, with Hall making a few starts in Louisville first.

6. Leave Ryan Wagner in the bullpen
The next great closer is in the Major Leagues. Ryan Wagner was the Reds first-round pick THIS season, and has already logged eleven big league innings. He shows a plus fastball, and a great slider, and the Reds are undefeated in the games he has appeared in. Wagner set a NCAA record for K/9, shattering the record that his namesake Billy Wagner once set.

There’s talk the Reds will stretch Wagner out this offseason in the hope of making him a starter, a move that seems unnecessary. I have diagrammed a good rotation, not in need of help. But, with Scott Williamson getting dealt, the team will need a closer. That’s where the Wagner comes in. I love the idea of having Wagner pitching the eighth and ninth to close out games, and his endurance is good enough to do so.

If they do move Ryan to the rotation, it will invoke memories of 2000. In 1999, the Rookie of the Year went to the Reds’ own Scott Williamson. Scott had thrown 93.3 great innings in the ‘pen, grabbing 12 wins. The team moved him to the rotation the next season, which looked like a good move. But, Williamson was able to throw only two-thirds of one inning in 2001, thanks to arm problems due to moving to starting. While converting Wagner seems to be good for everyone, its not good for Wagner’s right arm.

Around Wagner in the bullpen will be failed starters Danny Graves and John Riedling. Both are effective pitchers the first three innings, but are annihilated when hitters get to see them a second time. They would be great middle relievers, and Graves could go back to short relief. Joe Valentine, whom was also acquired from the A’s for Guillen, will be in the running for set-up man. No one will question his stuff, but Valentine struggles with command. Don Gullet is a revered pitching coach, and will surely work to fix those problems. Finally, the team should sign a leftie, as they did with Felix Heredia and Kent Mercker, for cheap off the free agent market. Graeme Lloyd may come in a minor league deal, or they could re-sign Heredia.

Let’s recap. Here’s the lineup and rotation for my 2004 Reds:

1. D’Angelo Jimenez- 2B
2. Jay Payton- CF
3. Austin Kearns- RF
4. Adam Dunn- 1B
5. Brandon Larson- 3B
6. Juan Rivera- LF
7. Jason La Rue- C
8. Ray Olmedo- SS

1- Bartolo Colon
2- Livan Hernandez
3- Jeff Weaver
4- Brandon Claussen
5- Jose Acevedo

CL. Ryan Wagner

Now tell me that team can’t compete. I’ll be back tomorrow with my first minor league report on this site. Be sure to check back.

I’d like to thank Dave Pinto and Michael Blake for mentioning my site yesterday, and all those whom e-mailed a 'Good Luck'. I’d also like to give a shout out to Christian Ruzich, who let me write a guest column on the Cub Reporter as a debut for my site. If you haven’t read it, here's the link. Thanks everyone.

11/08/2003

2004 Effect of Deadline Deals 

Yankees
Traded Brandon Claussen and David Manning to Reds for Aaron Boone
Traded Raul Mondesi to Arizona for David Delucci, Bret Prinz, and Jon-Mark Sprowl
Traded Robin Ventura to Dodgers for Bubba Crosby, Scott Proctor


Ventura- .255/.350/.408 with 11HR and 0SB in 306AB
Boone- .264/.326/.449 with 18HR and 17SB in 432AB

While the differences between Aaron Boone and Robin Ventura aren’t earth shattering, Boone has more power and speed, Aaron may have been most helped by his contract situation: he’s on board through the 2004 season. With Raul Mondesi and Ventura, the Yankees had two spots in their lineup that would be open next season. Boone will close off the third base position, and also send a message to Drew Henson reading, “Go Play Football!”

The right field situation is the more interesting one. The team has many options the rest of the season: Karim Garcia, Ruben Sierra, David Delucci, and Juan Rivera. But Yankees management has been hesitant to give Rivera significant playing time, decreasing the probability of locking down the 2004 full-time job. And with all-star Vladimir Guerrero readily available over the winter, trading Rivera seems definite. Guerrero will have a hard time finding suitors, as many teams don’t have the money to go after the Dominican slugger. But the Yankees and Dodgers might, with New York having more money and exposure to offer Vlad.

Trading Brandon Claussen makes the rotation race a little more interesting for next season. Technically, the team has four starters signed for next year: Mike Mussina, Jose Contreras, Jon Lieber, and Jeff Weaver. The team has had it with Weaver though, and he will be in the first trade Brian Cashman can make. Also, expect the team to sign two of their three free agents, Roger Clemens, David Wells, and Andy Pettite. My guess is Clemens and Wells will re-sign, both taking less money and deferring payments.

The yield for Mondesi and Ventura was unique, as the Bronx Bombers got younger in the two deals. David Delucci is a great left-handed hitting bat off the bench, and can play all three outfield positions. Bret Prinz will have a chance at taking Antonio Osuna’s job in middle relief, although I believe the team will sign a veteran to block Prinz. Sprowl is a good hitting catcher that needs a position switch and another new organization, as prized prospect Dioner Navarro is in front of him. Bubba Crosby also needs another organization, and should draw interest as he flirted with .400 in the PCL this season. Finally, they got a sleeper in Proctor, who has shined since moving to the bullpen.

Boston
Traded Freddy Sanchez to Pirates for Jeff Suppan and Scott Sauerbeck
Traded Phil Dumatrait and a minor leaguer to Reds for Scott Williamson


Sanchez was penciled in for the 2004 2B job, with Todd Walker being a free agent. Bill Mueller has played second base on ten occasions this season, and is the favorite next season. That is considering Kevin Youkilis, the third base prospect that the Sox basically chose over Sanchez:

Sanchez (AAA): .341/.430/.493 5HR in 211AB
Youkilis (AA): .327/.487/.465 6HR in 312AB

So, Epstein is hoping Youkilis takes third base next season, and Bill Mueller can play second base every single day. But, expect the club to get a super-bench player who can play both positions, someone in the Tony Graffanino mold.

Suppan is a free agent at the end of the season, so his future value is zero. Jeff and John Burkett are likely gone, and the team has a few options for those spots. There are five in-house candidates: Jorge De la Rosa (top pitching prospect), Ryan Rupe, Casey Fossum, Ramiro Mendoza, and Byung-Hyun Kim. The battle should come down to Fossum and Mendoza, with De La Rosa starting in AAA. Expect them to pursue at least one starter, with Bronx Bomber Andy Pettite and the long sought after workhorse Bartolo Colon.

The Williamson addition was a good one, as Dumatrait doesn’t quite fit in the Theo Epstein prospect profile. Scott adds versatility to the ‘pen, and won’t be leaving the team next season. Boston will only lose Mike Timlin from the bullpen, and middle relievers are easily replaceable. Williamson allows the club to have two closers, along with Kim. This is the type of bullpen by committee that works, not the April 1 version.

Orioles
Traded Sidney Ponson to Giants for Kurt Ainsworth, Damian Moss, Ryan Hannaman

Baltimore’s farm system was believed to be one of baseball’s five worst before the season. In 2003, they’ve added:
- One of baseball’s best prospects, John Maine
- One of last year’s best prospects, Kurt Ainsworth
- One of next year’s best, Adam Loewen
- One of their former prospects, Matt Riley

In Ainsworth, the team has found a cheap, possible improvement over Sidney Ponson. He’ll be over his current injury by next year, ready to sit atop the Camden Yards’ rotation. Moss is good at the end of a rotation, as he’s a southpaw whom eats innings and changes speeds. The rotation will soon add Riley, who is doing well at AAA, after dominating the Eastern League. Fortunately, the team will lose the insane contracts of Scott Erickson and Pat Hentgen when the season ends.

That money should go towards adding the middle of the lineup hitter this team has lacked for so long. I believe the candidates they’re considering to be:
- Juan Gonzalez
- Rafeal Palmiero
- Ivan Rodriguez
- Miguel Tejada
Also, expect the team to deal arbitration-eligible Jason Johnson over the winter, likely filling another lineup hole. But, the team’s biggest worry should be solving the mysteries of Rodrigo Lopez, Omar Daal, and Buddy Groom.

Athletics
Traded Aaron Harang, Joe Valentine, Jeff Bruksch to Reds for Jose Guillen

Jose Guillen will not solve Oakland’s future offensive woes, as he will leave for bigger dollars in three months. As will the team’s biggest threat, and former AL MVP, Miguel Tejada. That means the A’s two best right-handed hitters are as good as gone. Bobby Crosby will replace Tejada, while Billy Beane will actively pursue a left fielder to replace Guillen. Packaging Terrence Long’s contract with a good prospect would be a very good idea.

What Oakland gave up isn’t important, simply replaceable talent. They now have four great starters with the addition of Rich Harden, and some good options next year. Let’s look at the options:

Justin Duchscherer- 11-2 3.06 126/132.1 101/13 at AAA
Mike Wood- 8-2 2.85 76/79 53/20 at AAA
Joe Blanton- 8-7 2.57 110/133 144/19 at low-A, three great AA starts

This allows the A’s to trade Ted Lilly in the offseason to acquire their left fielder. I have two possible trade scenarios for you:

- Ted Lilly, Terrence Long, John Rheinecker to Cards for J.D. Drew
- Lilly to Jays for Bobby Kielty

Angels
Traded Scott Schoenweis, Doug Nickle to White Sox for Gary Glover, Scott Dunn, Tim Bittner
Released Kevin Appier


Releasing Appier and trading Scott Schoenweis will open two holes next year: one rotation slot, and middle relief. Assuming Jarrod Washburn, Ramon Ortiz, John Lackey, and Aaron Sele stay around, it could be quite a race for the fifth spot. The question comes down to when will Ervin Santana be ready for the Show? Likely not next April, allowing current fifth starter Scot Shields to retain the job.

Then, with Schoenweis and Shields gone from the bullpen, two spots are open. Expect the Angels to sign a leftie-killer (like Gabe White), and add a long reliever from their system, possibly Greg Jones. Next year will be important for the former world champs to try again at proving 2002 wasn’t a fluke season.

Pirates
Traded Jeff Suppan and Scott Sauerbeck to Red Sox for Freddy Sanchez

Let me be the first on record to say Dave Littlefield has gotten too much heat. Yes, just Freddy Sanchez is probably not sufficient value for an overachieving Jeff Suppan and Scott Sauerbeck. But what does a rebuilding team need with a veteran innings-eater and LOOGY with a $2M contract?

Sanchez will likely be the 2004 Opening Day 2B, and likely will bat in the second spot. This move has an interesting subplot, as the Pirates are owed Bobby Hill, Frank Beltran, or Steve Smyth from the Cubs. Hill and Smyth will probably get overlooked, as Beltran will become the closer next year. The money that was going to Pat Meares, Pokey Reese, Randall Simon, and Aramis Ramirez will go to finding new power hitters. How about actively pursuing Adrian Beltre and trading for Sean Casey? It wouldn’t be too expensive, and those two still have great potential.

This whole report changes if Brian Giles is traded in the next three weeks, although I think the Pirates will ultimately hang on to him.

D-Backs
Traded David Delucci, Bret Prinz, Jon-Mark Sprowl to Yankees for Raul Mondesi

With the platoon of David Delucci and Danny Bautista slumping, the Diamondbacks couldn’t afford not to add another outfielder at the deadline. At first it looks like Delucci, Prinz, and Sprowl is too much for Mondesi, but consider who is in front of Prinz and Sprowl in the organization:

Brian Bruney, AAA- 2-1 1.21ERA 13H/22.1IP 22/10 K/BB
Jose Valverde- ML- 2-0 1.53ERA 15H/29.1IP 40/15 K/BB
Craig Ansman- AA- .324/.421/.624 with 15HR in 63G
Robby Hammock- ML- .284/.313/.505 with 5HR in 109AB

So, with those four players setting Prinz and Sprowl down in the team ladder, the trade was basically Delucci for Mondesi. While the ties to Delucci and Arizona date back to the team’s existence, Arizona needed another bat in the lineup. Mondesi has more power, speed, and a better arm than Bautista, Delucci, or Quinton McCracken. This was a good job by Joe Garigiola of using organization depth to acquire Major League talent.

Dodgers
Traded Bubba Crosby, Scott Proctor to Yankees for Robin Ventura

With Brian Jordan done, Fred McGriff not playing and Adrian Beltre not hitting, Dan Evans needed to add another bat. Problem is, Robin Ventura isn’t the hitter he was with Evans in Chicago, and can’t legitimately help this team. He will be gone at the end of the season, and expect the team to be non-tendering Adrian Beltre as well. With Jordan, Burnitz, Henderson, McGriff, Ventura, and Beltre all likely gone next year, Dan Evans will have the chance to add a big bat. The team will likely consider Vladimir Guerrero and Miguel Tejada, but it would be smarter to add Kaz Matsui, the next Japanese player, and the oft-injured Juan Gonzalez at the same price.

While both Crosby and Proctor may end up playing in the Major League one day, it won’t matter to Evans, who wasn’t expecting performance from either before the season. This team has a great future with pitchers Edwin Jackson, Greg Miller, and Joel Hanrahan to go along with James Loney, Joel Guzman, and Franlyn Gutierrez. I think it is likely that the Dodgers won’t truly contend until these players get established, as Kevin Brown and Darren Dreifort’s contracts kill flexibility.

What to watch this week

Monday-Thursday
- Cubs and Astros split
- Red Sox and A’s split
Friday-Sunday
- Royals over Twins
- Phillies over Cards

08/08/2003

T-minus 3 days 

Well, this site will get its official start on Monday, August 11. I will start with writing five articles a week, and hopefully reach no less than four. Some examples of the articles you'll find here:

- How transactions will effect the future
- Players chances on the free agent market
- An organization's minor league system
- Minor league profiles

I hope this site offers a unique look into baseball you can't find regularly anywhere else. In the meantime, here's a link to the archives to the Baseball Prospectus set of articles "Can of Corn." Dayn Perry has spend his first six articles analyzing the minor league performance of the stars of today versus that of subpar Major Leaguers.

Another new Baseball Prospectus column is "Prospecting" by U.S.S. Mariner's David Cameron. He's done a great job analyzing some of the minors hottest names, this week taking on the phenom B.J. Upton.

I will be going to the White Sox vs. A's game on Sunday, especially interesting because its Rich Harden vs. Esteban Loaiza. I'll try to put my scouting report of Harden on my sidebar Sunday night.

05/08/2003

Brand New 

I'm Bryan Smith, I used to operate a blog called Bryball. I'm a huge baseball fan, but I struggled to think of new articles to write every single day. I'm a very unique baseball fan, because while you're looking at stats around the web, I might be:

- Creating mock 2008 teams
- Looking into next offseason

So, I can't stop thinking about the future of baseball, even while the present is interesting. Which brings me to what this blog is:

This blog will update you on prospects, organizational rankings, future free agents, and give predictions on the future of Major League Baseball. Forget today, live tomarrow.

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