Posted tagged ‘Clearing the Bases’

Clearing the Bases : Los Angeles Angels

March 30, 2010

The Angels lost several key players for their team over the past two seasons. Last year Francisco Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira were the two main losses. Losing two players that are rated very highly at their positions, they settled for a cheaper Brian Fuentes and Kendry Morales. Both had pretty good seasons.

But this off season was a little different. They lost their ace pitcher John Lackey to the Red Sox. They lost Chone Figgins to a divisional foe in the Mariners. Vladimir Guerrero and Darren Oliver both signed with the Texas Rangers. And Kelvim Escobar went to the Mets while Jose Arredondo signed with the Reds.

However, LA still has a good club. They downgraded at third base and their bullpen is not as good. The rotation will look like this if everyone remains healthy:

Jared Weaver
Ervin Santana
Joe Saunders
Scott Kazmir
Joel Pineiro

The Angels usually do a good job at getting the cheaper player who can still put up good numbers the next season. Take Kendry Morales for example. Lets see what the Angels are losing/gaining this season by checking some projections on some of the players they lost and who is now there. Pineiro took Lackey’s rotation spot, Brandon Wood is taking over for Chone Figgins at third, and Matsui for Vladdy.

John Lackey :

IP : 186
Hits : 185
Home Runs : 20
Runs : 88
ERA : 3.92
SO : 141
BB : 51

Joel Pineiro :

IP : 168
Hits : 198
Home Runs : 17
Runs : 90
ERA : 4.45
SO : 79
BB : 35

The numbers show that Lackey is the better choice. Field dimensions do play a part in this, but Boston is more of a hitters park and Lackey will still post better numbers than Pineiro according to Chone’s projections. I agree with the struggles of Pineiro with a middle 4.00 ERA. This is why the Angels must stay healthy this year- I don’t feel like they have too many quality pitchers, especially considering depth is a weak point.

Chone Figgins :

AB : 522
R : 189
Hits : 142
HR : 4
SB : 33
BB : 79
SO : 103
OBP : .370
SLG : .358

Brandon Wood :

AB : 422
R : 58
Hits : 104
HR : 19
SB : 6
BB : 35
SO : 120
OBP : .309
SLG : .445

The Angels not only lost a good third baseman, but a big part of their team style. A gritty team that likes to steal bases and manufacture runs. With Chone Figgins this is possible. With Brandon Wood, not so much. They might have an okay middle of the lineup this year, but the top of the order will suffer without Figgins.

Vladimir Guerrero

AB : 469
R : 65
Hits : 137
HR : 23
BB : 27
SO : 67
OBP : .337
SLG : .495

Hideki Matsui :

AB : 428
R : 61
Hits : 113
HR : 17
BB : 54
SO : 67
OBP : .351
SLG : .437

Matsui is the better choice here. He will mostly be a DH too. But Vlad would still be serviceable.

I think the Angels could fight for the wild card in the AL, but the Mariners and Rangers both got better while the Angels gotten worse. Their style of play will never be the same unless they find someone to fill Chone’s role, and I really don’t like the rotation all too much. A lot of if’s.

Clearing the Bases: Pittsburgh Pirates

March 15, 2010

The Pittsburgh Pirates organization has been disastrous since joining the NL Central, and that’s putting it nicely.  Since switching from the NL East in 1994, the team has failed to finish above .500 in any of the last 16 seasons, let alone contend for a playoff spot.

If the Red Sox suffered from the curse of the Bambino after trading Babe Ruth, the Pirates might be victim to the curse of the Barroid.  Reaching the NLCS and forcing the series to at least 6 games in each year from 1990-1992, the Pirates traded legendary outfielder Barry Bonds to the Giants prior to the 1993 season, and the franchise has been stumbling over itself ever since.

However, the franchise finally appears to be in good hands, and those hands belong to general manager Neal Huntington.  Huntington began his MLB front office tenure with the Montreal Expos in the mid-90s before joining the Cleveland Indians and eventually joining the Pirates in 2007.

Huntington spent little time making his intentions known.  He immediately began moving the team’s major league contributors for a much needed injection of minor league talent.  Jason Bay, Nate McLouth, Xavier Nady, Freddy Sanchez, Jack Wilson; all were dealt from Pittsburgh over the past two years.

While these deals brought much ire from the Pittsburgh faithful who, like most fans, yearned for success sooner rather than later, these deals have only benefited the now promising team.  Nady and reliever Damaso Marte netted the Pirates promising 5-tool outfielder Jose Tabata from the Yankees.  Nate McLouth was sent to Atlanta for a couple top prospects, Jeff Locke and Gorkys Hernandez.  The former Pirates middle infield was flipped into a pair of more recent first round picks, the powerful hitting Jeff Clement and promising starting pitcher, Tim Alderson.  Huntington also sent the limited Nyjer Morgan to Washington in exchange for the talent-laced Lastings Milledge.

It’s impossible to predict how these players will pan out, but we have already seen a fruit of Huntington’s labor in last year’s surprise player, Garrett Jones.  The 28-year-old lefty had been in the minors since 1999, seeing a brief MLB stint with the Minnesota Twins in 2007 before he was brought to Pittsburgh and given the chance to play extensively with the big league club last year.  In just 82 games, Jones hit .293, boasted a .938 OPS, slugged 21 homers, and stole 10 bases.

Combine those moves with what appears to be a strong drafting performance, highlighted by their commitment to Scott Boras client Pedro Alvarez, and the Pirates now have something they haven’t had in a while: a future.

Clearing the Bases: New York Yankees

March 3, 2010

The New York Yankees are the most storied franchise in sports history. Yankee Stadium is home to forty pennants, thirty-nine Hall of Famers, twenty-seven World Championships, twenty-two MVP’s, seventeen retired numbers, and five Cy Young’s. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez are among the countless number of legends that have donned the pinstripes. Going position by position, the Yankees have an all-time player at each spot. Catcher? Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey. First base? Lou Gehrig. Third base? A-Rod. Shortstop? Derek Jeter? Left field? Rickey Henderson, Charlie Keller. Center field? Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio. Right field? Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, Reggie Jackson. Hmmm…am I missing a position? What’s that- second base? Oh snap.

Despite all those championships, Hall of Famer’s, and MVP’s, the Yankees have no major standout at second base. Sure, Tony Lazzeri and Joe Gordon are both Hall of Famer’s, but neither player is considered an “all-time” player. Going further, both players got into the Hall of Fame by way of the Veteran’s Committe. It took Lazzeri fifty-one years to finally get inducted and it took Gordon fifty-eight years to be inducted. Lazzeri played for twelve seasons during the live ball era, overshadowed by Ruth, Gehrig, and DiMaggio. Gordon played just seven seasons in pinstripes, losing two seasons to WWII. It’s amazing an organization that was home to so many legends, is so weak at a particular position. Once Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera have their numbers retired, the Yankees will have a retired number at every spot except second base (Billy Martin  is more renown for his managerial career). Actually, scratch that. Jackie Robinson’s number 42 is retired. Make that one Dodger second baseman with their number retired by the Yankees.

So with that in mind, just who is the best second baseman in Yankees history?

Although second base has lacked superstars, there have been decent (but mainly sub-par) players throughout the years such as Snuffy Stirnweiss, Bobby Richardson, Chuck Knoblach, and Alfonso Soriano. To narrow down the search for the best second baseman in team history, the minimum number of games at second base in Yankee pinstripes to qualify is 1000. Sorry Gil McDougald. That leaves us with three candidates: Tony Lazzeri, Joe Gordon, and Willie Randolph. Let’s get crackin’!

*Right click tables and hit view table to see larger image*

Tony Lazzeri (1926-1937, 1456 games)

Tony “Poosh ‘Em Up” Lazzeri was the first good Yankee second baseman in team history (and one of the first good Italian Yankee players), playing from 1926-1937. Born in 1903 in San Francisco, Lazzeri was twenty-two when he made his Yankees debut. That rookie season he went on to hit .275/.338/.462 with a 117 wRC+ and by 1928 he broke out with a 154 wRC+. He was a key piece of the famed Murderer’s Row, but his legacy loomed in the shadows of Ruth and Gehrig. He won five World Series, was an All-Star in 1933, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991 by the Veteran’s Committee.

Tony "Poosh 'Em Up" Lazzeri

His numbers might have been inflated due to the live ball era, but he was still a right handed batter in Yankee Stadium and still put up numbers quite a bit better than the league average, as indicated by his wRAA/600 PA. For a second baseman, he put up solid power numbers, but his better attribute was getting on base. During his stay with the Yankees, his wOBA never went below .350 and topped the .400 mark three times, with a career high of .437 in 1929. Lazzeri wasn’t the best fielder, but he held his own. He was a solid hitter with a decent glove. He peaked from 1927-1929, putting up WAR’s of 5.8, 4.7, and 7.8 respectively, and he had several solid seasons thereafter. By 1937 he was slowing down, however, and retired with a career Yankee WAR/150 of 4.2. That’s a good number, but is it enough to be considered the best Yankee second baseman of all-time?

Joe Gordon (1938-1946, 1000 games)

Born in 1915 in Los Angeles, Joe “Flash” Gordon took over the second base gig from Lazzeri in 1938. He hit the ground running posting a 4.1 WAR in his rookie season, which turned out to be his lowest single season Yankee WAR until 1946, his last season in the Bronx. His WAR hovered in the 4-6 range, finally peaking in 1942 with an 8.4 WAR. Looking purely at OBP, it may not appear Gordon was as good at getting on base as Lazzeri, but the numbers are somewhat skewed by a low BA. When it comes to drawing a walk, Gordon had a better BB rate and better BB%.  Despite a barely lower wRC+, it surely was due to a horrible campaign in 1946. Not to mention he missed two years because of war obligations. Had he been able to play in 1944 and 1945, his age 29 and 30 season no less, his numbers could have been even better.

Gordon won four World Series in the Bronx, appeared in six All-Star games, and won the AL MVP in 1942. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009 via the Veteran’s Committee.

Willie Randolph (1976-1988, 1693 games)

Born in 1954 in South Carolina, the next good Yankee second baseman since Gordon left in 1946 played his first game in pinstripes thirty years later, in 1976. After his playing days, Willie became a bench coach for the Yankees for thirteen seasons, becoming a fan favorite. He also managed the Mets and is currently the Milwaukee Brewers bench coach. He won two World Series with the Yankees as a player and was a five time All-Star during his stay in “The City That Never Sleeps”. He won a Silver Slugger Award and was the team captain from 1986 until 1988.

Willie Randolph

Unlike the other two second basemen discussed so far, Randolph is not a Hall of Famer. However, Randolph is one of the more underrated players in baseball and Yankee history. Many think of him as a coach or the Yankee captain, but in reality he is a borderline Hall of Famer (but falls short in my book). With the Yankees he was not a slugger by any means. His Yankee SLG of .357 is putrid, but even more so when comapred to the SLG of Lazzeri and Gordon. He made up for that with his OBP skills. Randolph was adept at walking and getting on base. His lowest BB% as a Yankee was 10.3%, with his career high being 18.5%(!) in 1980. While he wasn’t an exceptional hitter, he was above average and had several quality seasons at the dish from 1978-1980 and 1985-1987. What he was really good at though, was defense. In thirteen seasons he compiled a Total Zone of 70 and had several seasons where he saved 10+ runs. His three year peak from 1978-1980 is comparable to the best peaks of Lazzeri and Gordon. After that, Randolph continued to be a solid 3-4 WAR for the Bronx Bombers. 1981 and 1982 were down years for Willie, where he posted WAR’s of 2.9 and 2.4 respectively. To be honest, those year’s might have cost him a chance at the Hall of Fame. Had he been able to just put 4+ WAR seasons like he had been doing thus far in New York, his career WAR would have been in the mid-sixties. 1981 and 1982 may have cost him a chance at the Hall, but will it cost him the title of best Yankee second baseman?

After comparing the players head to head, you realize just how close they are to each other. It was tough to separate them, but here is how they rank:

1.) Joe Gordon

2.) Tony Lazzeri

2a.) Willie Randolph

Despite being a Yankee for just seven seasons and meeting the minimum requirement of games played dead on, he did enough to establish himself as the best in team history. Offensively, he was just as good as Lazzeri, if not better. While Lazzeri did have a better wRC+, Gordon had the best wRAA/600 PA of the three players, he was a great defender (much superior to Lazzeri), and his WAR/150 was a full win better than Lazzeri and Randolph. Imagine if he had the chance to play in 1944 and 1945 to pad his stats? If not for WWII, this question might have been settled already.

Joe Gordon, best second baseman in Yankee history

As  for second place, Lazzeri and Randolph were indistinguishable despite being opposites.  Lazzeri was the big hitter with an average glove. Randolph was the big time fielder, who was above average at the dish. Lazzeri has a 4.2 WAR/150. Randolph has a 4.3 WAR/150. In the end though, I give a slight, slight edge to Lazzeri. He was just a plain out better hitter, regardless of era. And despite the fact that Randolph was a much better fielder, Lazzeri was decent enough with the glove to hold off Randolph. Randolph got a lot of his WAR value from TZ, but I don’t trust TZ too much. So in a close contest like this, I will give the benefit of the doubt to the better hitter.

Currently in the Bronx, there is a twenty-seven year old second baseman who has been making a name for himself. His name is Robinson Cano. Although he figures to have a long ways to go before he can challenge Gordon, Lazzeri, and Randolph, how does he stack up right now? And what will he need to do in the future to become a contender for best second baseman in Yankees history?

Robinson Cano (2005-2009, 734 games)

Right away you can tell Robbie’s career stats are the victim of a terrible 2008. As a result, his first five seasons do not compare at all to the first five season’s of Lazzeri, Gordon, and Randolph. RC is going to need a sustained peak to make up ground. There are positive signs though for Cano. He is just twenty-seven and figures to have about five more solid to great seasons in his projected prime. There is no reason to think he can’t improve, as he’s already had two seasons of 5+ WAR in his low and mid twenties. (One small note on that though- his TZ ratings view him as a solid fielder. UZR disagrees big time. For the sake of consistency in comparing to past players, I used TZ). Moreover, longevity can be on his side. Assuming he stays with New York through his option years, he’ll have four more years in pinstripes.

How do I see it? Robbie will need a long, sustained peak in pinstripes. Like all things with Cano though, offensive success will depend on his “luck” with BABIP. Defensively, he’s flashed signs of brilliance so he just needs to bring that talent to the field on an everyday basis. If he can prove himself to be an average fielder with a good bat, Cano will add a couple more 5+ WAR seasons to his belt. In the end, I see Robbie matching Lazzeri. He will never match Gordon’s defense, but Cano can be a good offense, average defense player, much like “Poosh ‘Em Up” Tony. However, he still has a long, long way to go.

Can Robinson Cano become the best second baseman in Yankees history?

If RC ends up a lifelong Yankee though, he will be the best Yankee second baseman in team history. While his rate stats may not compare to Gordon by that point, the longevity factor will have to be taken into account, especially if the stats are still comparable and Cano has several major accomplishments under his belt, such as 3000 career hits.

So there you have it. For a weak position in a franchise of strength and depth, legends and history, Joe Gordon is the best second baseman in team history, followed by Tony Lazzeri and Willie Randolph.

Who do you consider the best second baseman in Yankees history? And where do you see Robbie Cano compared to the second base “Big Three” when his career his over?


Clearing the Bases: Colorado Rockies

February 14, 2010

Trade Brad Hawpe.

Sure this might be a tired topic in the SABR community, but it is true. The Rockies really should trade Brad Hawpe. Why?

1) It’ll open up their OF logjam for the better

2) It’ll save them some money

3) It can help them contend in 2010

4) Hawpe could bring in a decent return

As it stands right now, the Rockies have four OF: Dexter Fowler, Carlos Gonzalez, Seth Smith, and Brad Hawpe. It also looks like Fowler has the CF job locked up, while Gonzalez has the LF job locked up. That seemingly means Smith will be relegated to the bench, as Hawpe has been a starter in RF for 4.5 seasons now. However, that’s a big mistake.

Hawpe should not be starting in Colorado, despite being a good hitter. He tied his career high in wRC+ last season with 130, and has a career mark of 120+. He’s probably the best hitter among all their OF’ers. There’s also been no Coors affect with Hawpe, who is .379/.508/.375wOBA/121wRC+ hitter at home and .375/.489/.367wOBA/116wRC+ hitter on the road. But his defense is PUTRID. From 2007-2009 his UZR/150 was -27.2, -46.6, and -25.9. HOLY SHIT. That is terrible. -46.6? His glove was sooooooooooooooo bad, he took away about 4-5 wins on defense alone. The result is poor value. While he can hit, his glove erases all that offensive output and then some. His WAR in respective order the past three is seasons is 1.3, -.6, and 1.3. That’s not even the value of an average player!

Meanwhile, Seth Smith is younger, cheaper, and probably more valuable. While he may not be as good a hitter as Hawpe, he is close and certainly a better fielder. Smith raked in AA and AAA, and did the same in Colorado last season. In 387 PA (a relatively SSS compared to Hawpe), he had a wRC+ of 129. Rememeber, Hawpe’s was 130. Bill James, CHONE, Marcel, and the Fans all project Smith to have a wRC+ within the range of 125-130 in 2010. If he can do that, or come close, noone in Colorado will miss Hawpe. In over 700 career OF innings, a very SSS, he has a 9.0 UZR/150. Moreover, he is projected to have a 5.0 UZR/150 in 2010, compared to -19 for Hawpe.

Smith will provide more overall value for Colorado in 2010, and should be the everyday starter. So trading Hapwe ensures that Smith will start. Not only that, but it will save them money. Trading Hawpe, depending on who Colorado gets in return, will save the club $7mil. That could be huge for a team like Colorado when it comes to arbitration and signing players next season, or making trades at the deadline in 2010. Moreover, while it lowers payroll, the team just gets better. They’ll be promoting a better player to Hawpe’s spot. For a team that will be in the running for the NL West and the Wild Card, that could be a world of difference. And the icing on the cake is the return. Hawpe is probably seen as a solid player to baseball front offices. While he won’t command top prospects in return, the Rockies could heist someone for a couple decent prospects or a ML player who can contribute to the big league club and it’s run at the playoffs more than Hawpe would have.

Trading Brad Hawpe makes way too much sense for Colorado.

Possible suitors?

– Seattle Mariners: Sure they have Milton Bradley, but their offense is still weak, and there is a good chance he won’t work out. If he doesn’t, Hawpe would be a good DH, which is the optimal position for him if you want his max value.

– Tampa Bay Rays: If Pat Burrell struggles again and Tampa is in the playoff race, Hawpe would be a good bat to add to the lineup.

Clearing the Bases : Minnesota Twins

February 9, 2010

Last year in Minnesota the Twins needed one more game to decide the AL Central winner. The fans had their homer hankies waving in the air for their team to get a chance to make the playoffs. It was a happy ending for the Twins in the final regular season game at the Metrodome. Not for long though as they were swept out of the playoffs by the new World Series Champions, the Yankees. It is a new season now though. The Twins will play outdoor baseball at Target Field this season. Many wonder how it will affect the team. It will sure not be as loud and the turf will be gone. Will Mauer have another MVP season? Will Justin Morneau have a big impact? Will Francisco Liriano return to full strength? These questions will show if the Twins have a good season or not.

Lets start with Joe Mauer the reigning MVP. I expect another solid season from Joe Mauer. Remember he was out for a bit to start last season and yet still posted spectacular numbers. Mauer’s .365 batting average is the highest by a catcher in MLB history and led the league. He was very valuable for the Twins too. Posting one of the top WAR’s in the league. 8.2 to be exact. WAR does not account for catchers defense. So he would of had a higher WAR. If he can stay healthy the Twins should be alright. No one is too sure of what he will do in Target Field, but we can project using CHONE’s projections. They have him at a .408 OBP and a .510 SLG. Mauer will make a good case to keep his MVP award in 2010. The Twins also need to spend the money on this guy to keep him in his hometown. He’s the best player at the most valuable position on the diamond.

Justin Morneau left the Twins with a stress fracture in his back on September 14th. He might have affected the AL Central race a bit more with being only .3 points away from his 2008 WAR. It might have not been decided in a 1 game playoff. If he can come back healthy he should have a good season and make the Twins middle of the line up very dangerous.

The rotation will be much better this season if Francisco Liriano can return to full health. He looked alright in the winter league, but can he return to his 2006 form? He had a 4.5 WAR that season. Towards the end of the 2006 season Liriano need Tommy John surgery. He missed the whole 2007 season. He was then called up for the injured Slowey on April 11th 2008. After posting an 11.32 ERA in three starts he was sent back down. For a pitcher who went under this surgery its almost lucky for them ever to get back. It will take some work and mostly luck for Liriano to return to form. He is probably the biggest piece to say if the Twins are a World Series contender or not.

The Twins needed a few pieces to fill out their line up. They needed a shortstop to replace Orlando Cabrera. They traded Carlos Gomez for J.J. Hardy of the Milwaukee Brewers. Hardy doesn’t bring much offense to the Twins, but he is a big defensive upgrade. He had a 6.7 UZR and a 8.8 UZR/150 last season. So the Twins made a good move right here to snag Hardy.

Another needed position was second base. They recently decided to go with Orlando Hudson. It was either Hudson or Lopez basically for the Twins, and thought Hudson was the best option. Hes not the best defender, but at least he has a bat. I remember saying this is the guy for Minnesota. Here are his 2009 stats.



The 2010 Twins starters.

Catcher – Joe Mauer
First Base – Justin Morneau
Second Base – Orlando Hudson
Short Stop – J.J. Hardy
Third Base – Brenden Harris
OutField – Denard Span
OutField – Delmon Young
OutField – Michael Cuddyer
DH – Jason Kubel/Jim Thome

Clearing the Bases : Arizona Diamondbacks

February 5, 2010

The Arizona Diamondbacks have had plenty of success in their short time as a major league ball club. Most of it being with the help of the future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson. Johnson played twenty-two seasons in the big leagues and retired on January 5, 2010. Johnson played in games for six different franchises, most notably the Diamondbacks and Mariners. He intimidated many batters with his greasy mullet and intense stature on the mound. In his prime he could easily hit 100 MPH and though he had a great fastball his slider was his best pitch. Johnson accumulated 4,875 career strikeouts, the second greatest total ever. This past season he recorded his 300th win with the Giants.

During Johnson’s peak he spent three years in Seattle, one year in Houston, and four years in Arizona. I believe his peak was from 1995-2002. By 1995 he was thirty-one years old, but during that time he won 143 games. He lead the league in strikeouts five times totaling 2416. He pitched 1763.0 innings and had an ERA of 2.61. Some of his other numbers are below.

WHIP : 1.069
H/9 : 6.9
HR/9 : .8
BB/9 : 2.8
K/9 : 12.3

He pitched 193 games in his first stint in Arizona. In his 1389.2 innings for the Diamondbacks, he amassed an ERA of 2.65. He won four of his five Cy Young awards in Arizona along with his first and only World Series ring. In fact 2001 may have been Johnson’s best year as a Diamondback. He pitched close to 250 innings and had a 2.49 ERA. His FIP was 2.13 so he was a little un-lucky. His LOB% was 80%. That is excellent being that is around 6% higher than league average. His WHIP was 1.01. Johnson also posted a career high in strikeouts with 372. Johnson’s accumulated 91.8 WAR, 12th highest among pitchers in history

He is a sure Hall of Famer, but many will wonder if he is going in as a Mariner or a Diamondback. He won four Cy Young’s with Arizona and a World Series. I think that’s his choice.

Clearing the Bases: Tampa Bay Rays

February 4, 2010

Question (from GoGators 503, Gainesville, Florida):

Realistically, though, are the Rays going to keep all that young talent? We’ve fallen in love with a team in Florida before and been burned twice (the Marlins), why should we believe any different this time around with the Rays?

Answer (from fellow writer, Trecker):

I wouldn’t say they can keep all of it.

But we know a few things. Longoria is signed long-term on a very cheap deal for his production. The rotation aside from Shields has 4-5 cost controlled years left a piece. Jennings has 6 full years. Zobrist has 4 more cost controlled years and only one that might be expensive (his final arb. year).

You may know better then I living there, but the Rays are continuing to attempt to attain the resources to build a new stadium. I think its been shown in a few cities that the new stadiums bring in considerable revenue if only for a few years, which by the time it was built would allow them to sign some if not most of these guys.

We also know, Crawford is realistically going to walk after 2010 and this is something the Rays can not do much about unless he is willing to take a discount for them. However, the Rays over the last two years gone from a 24 million dollar payroll to what will be about a 70-73 million dollar payroll in 2010. They have attempted to supplement their system with veterans (Percival, Soriano, Burrell). They may not be able to ever buy the big name players, however if they continue to scout, draft and develop players from with in and supplement their major league clubs with FA they can remain competitive.

I want to believe that the Rays will hold onto to as many of these players as is economically feasible and with continued success at the major league level, the Rays should hopefully continue to see upswings in revenue. In baseball winning seems to breed money, money helps the winning process and it builds upon itself. (Granted this cycle has a limit with someone like Tampa, unlike in NY or LA).

So, in short I would like to hope the Rays as an organization will maintain their current payroll and increase when they see fit. Of course what would have been best for them would be a restructuring of the divisions. Being the third best team in all of baseball is a great accomplishment, the problem is they play in a division with teams 1a and 1b. Not saying the Rays can’t or won’t be in the playoffs because they certainly have the talent, its just an uphill battle. But heres to lady luck shining upon them this season (well to beat the Sox, not the Yankees 🙂 ).

Clearing the Bases: Washington Nationals

December 19, 2009

Within the next couple of years the Nationals have the potential to be a scary team. Last season the team has a few bright spots. Everyone knows that Ryan Zimmerman is a stud at third base. During the season they traded for Nyjer Morgan. This was Nyjer’s first full season in the majors and he performed well at the plate for a CF and he put up some ridiculous numbers defensively. Elijah Dukes had a great 2008, but fell off a cliff in 2009. Hopefully he can rebound. Josh Willingham has quietly put together some very nice seasons. In 2009 he had a .373 wOBA, 129 wRC+, and a 2.3 WAR. Jesus Flores put together a great season in limited time, but that is probably due to his .381 BABIP.

They also have some nice pitching. Jordan Zimmermann’s ERA is deceiving. He posted a 4.63 ERA, but his peripherals were great. He had 9.07 K/9, 2.86 BB/9, 3.17 K/BB, and a 3.59 FIP. It is too bad he will miss 2010 due to injury. In the 2009 Baseball America Prospect Handbook they said “[h]e profiles as a frontline starter – probably a solid No. 2 on a first-division club”. His FIP and K/BB from last season suggest that he is well on his way.

While Zimmermann is a righty with a high ceiling, the Nats also have a lefty with a higher ceiling. According to the 2009 Handbook he “has the highest ceiling of any pitcher in the system”. That was before they drafted and signed Stephen Strasburg. Earlier this week Baseball Prospectus came out with their top 20 players for the next decade. They ranked him 8th and had to say this about him, “Sure he’s never pitched an inning in the majors, but if you were setting odds, who would be your pitcher most likely to win three Cy Young awards in the upcoming decade? If Strasburg isn’t among your top three, you are only deluding yourself. On a scouting level, this guy is Tim Lincecum with half a foot more height, a better changeup, and a command that’s a full two grades higher than the Giants’ star.” That is saying A LOT when comparing a guy that has not pitched in A ball to a two-time Cy Young Award winner.

The Nats also have a promising young SS in Ian Desmond. Before the season Baseball America had two SS prospects ranked ahead of him, but after hitting .306/.372/.494/.396 in AA and .354/.428/.461 at AAA he leaped over the competition and earned a September call-up. He should be the starting SS on opening day. The other position players, Christian Guzman and Adam Dunn, are in the last year of their contract and will most likely be used as trade bait before the season is over.

The most intriguing thing about the Washington Nationals is that a year after drafting Stephen Strasburg with the #1 overall pick in the amateur draft they have the #1 pick again and have the opportunity to draft 17-year old Bryce Harper. Bryce is a catcher from Las Vegas who hit a 570-foot HR at the Area Code Games last year and a 502-foot HR at the International Power Showcase at Tropicana Field. He made history when he decided to get his GED after his Sophomore year and attend Southern Nevada Community College. Last season he hit .626/.723/1.339 with 22 2B, 9 3B, 14 HR, 76 R, 55 RBI, 5 SO, and 39 BB in 115 at-bats. If the Nats decide to draft him, and they would be crazy not to, they could be well on their way to winning a World Series in a few years.

Clearing the Bases: Seattle Mariners

November 28, 2009

2010 Seattle Mariners:

With a new front office led by general manager Jack Zduriencik the 2009 Seattle Mariners made one of the quickest turns into a winning, defensive oriented team we have seen in recent memory. With spectacular defense lead by Franklin Gutierrez, Jack Wilson, and perhaps the best pitcher in the game today Felix Hernandez, the Mariners seem well on their way to competing. The challenge of course for Seattle is to take the next step in a division that has the always competitive LAA Angels and the young and talented Texas Rangers. We will take a look at a few moves that would keep the Seattle Payroll fairly static going forward and push them into the driver’s seat in the AL West.

* Sign the best arm on the free agent market. This may seem like a no brainer and well it is. John Lackey has spent his career on the west coast, the Seattle Mariners have money to spend and a need for a #2 behind Hernandez. Although his perforamce has been better then AJ Burnett over his career, starting his season in May the last 2 years gives some cause for concern. Sign John Lackey 5 year/$90 million.

* Rumors about the Athletics not tendering Jack Cust a contract gives the Mariners an opportunity to find a discount DH that adds power to an otherwise powerless offense. Sign Jack Cust 1 year/$4-5 million.

* Signing 1B off a career year may not seem like the best move, but unless the Mariners want to increase payroll more then needed and put their faith in the oft hurt guys like Delgado or Nick Johnson on the FA market, re-signing Russell Branyan seems like a safe bet. Re-sign Russell Branyan 2 year/$10 million.

* Boston has an aging 3B with one year left on a big contract. The Red Sox also seem very willing to trade Mike Lowell for nothing in return and eat a good deal of his salary. With Adrian Beltre likely on his way out, Lowell would fit in nicely as 1 year player. Trade for Mike Lowell and take on $4 million.

* Although the rumors of Curtis Grandersons movement have subsided for the time being a move to Seattle still seems logical here. An average to above average CF, Granderson would slide into an OF with Ichiro in RF and Gutierrez in CF. A defensive juggernaut would be born. Although no real rumors of propsed trades have been leaked all over, a deal involving Seattle OF prospect Michael Saunders who hit .310/.378/.544 at Triple A Tacoma in 2009 before struggling in very brief appearances in the major league level, SS Carlos Triunfel who had a rough year at the plate but has been a highly touted prospect very early in his career seems like a deal that could work. The Mariners may have to include another player, perhaps one of their many hard throwing bullpen arms, but a deal here seems like it could get done. Trade for Curtis Granderson $5.5 million in ’10.

Those 5 moves would leave the Mariners with the Following Lineup and rotation:

(Slash Lines and UZR are projections from and, Links found below)

C – Adam Moore                    .248/.304/.379
1B – Russell Branyan           .247/.338/.503 +0
2B – Jose Lopez                     .280/.311/.466 -1
3B – Mike Lowell                  .268/.324/.433 +1
SS – Jack Wilson                   .257/.301/.362 +6
LF – Curtis Granderson     .267/.344/.469 +2 (as a CF)
CF – Franklin Gutierrez     .268/.325/.418 +16
RF – Ichiro Suzuki               .305/.338/.400 +7
DH – Jack Cust                       .231/.366/.430

SP – Felix Hernandez
SP – John Lackey
SP – Ian Snell
SP – Ryan Rowland-Smith
SP – Fister, Morrow*, Olson

CL – Aardsma

Bench – Bill Hall, Ken Griffey Jr., Jack Hannahan, Tuiasosopo, FA backup catcher

Bullpen – Lowe, Batista, White, Kelly, Morrow*.


*This would leave Seattle with a payroll at just below the 2009 figure of $98,904,166.

*Brandon Morrow should be given another shot in the rotation, however if he fails being placed back in the bullpen where has had success seems logical.

*Granderson/Gutierrez have horrible splits, Granderson unable to hit LHP and Gutierrez unable to hit RHP. Having them in the same OF, provides spectacular defense, but also for Seattle to fluctuate their lineup based on the opposing SP.

*Milwaukee is paying $7+ million of Bill Halls remaining contract in 2010, in case you were attempting to compute the payroll

*Jack Cust not being tendered a contract by Oakland is not currently a fact but an idea that has been expressed in many places.

*Ichiro has only once come within .17 points of putting up the projected OBP, it is unlikely his OBP drops .48 points from ’09-’10

*Projections for pitchers are not currently available, when they are this article will be updated.

*This lineup projects to a .263/.328/.429 line in 2010 with increases Seattle’s production across the board the 2009 line of .258/.314/.402.

UZR Projections

Baseball Porjection