Blue Jays inquire about Greinke, Gordon: Toronto Sun

Well, this is interesting.  According to Bob Elliot of the Toronto Sun, the Jays have inquired about Royals superstar pitcher Zach Greinke and former first overall pick Alex Gordon.

The Blue Jays have inquired about the availability of Kansas City right-hander Zack Greinke.

With Cliff Lee the top free agent on the market, Greinke would
appeal to also-rans in the Lee sweepstakes such as the Texas Rangers,
Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels.

The Royals are looking for two “can’t-miss prospects” as a starting
point in talks on the 2009 American League Cy Young award winner.

Grienke, 26, was 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA in 33 starts this season and will make $13 million US next year.

The Jays have also discussed obtaining Alex Gordon, a former No. 1
draft pick. Gordon started as the Royals third baseman before being
demoted to triple-A Omaha in May to play the outfield. A left-handed
hitter, Gordon batted .215 with eight homers and 20 RBIs in 74 games
with the Royals. He hit .315 with three homers and 44 RBIs in 68 games
at Omaha.

Although, I love the idea of the Jays acquiring Greinke, I think it’s important not to jump on this.  The Royals want at least two front-line prospects for Greinke which means the Jays would likely have to part with Kyle Drabek who would be under control of the Jays until at least 2016.  Greinke, on the other hand, is owed $27-million over the next two years and then is a free agent.  I also find it hard to believe that the Royals would part with Greinke at any point this offseason.  If he’s traded, it will likely be some point during the season or next offseason, depending on how the Royals play this year.  Since the Jays probably won’t realistically be contenders in the next two years, i feel like it would be a bad move, unless Alex Anthopoulous plans to acquire him and then flip him before the deadline if the Jays aren’t contending.

Now Alex Gordon is a different story.  Gordon is a former 1st overall pick who has not panned out, but he has shown flashes of brilliance at times.  Alex Anthopolous could probably wrestle him out of KC for very little.  I have a feeling Gordon could be a very good defensive first-basemen and I believe that’s where he’d play if the Jays got him.  I don’t know what evidence I have to go on, but I really think Gordon is a prime late-bloomer candidate who could do well from a change of scenery.

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On the DeJesus-Mazzaro trade

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The other day, the Oakland
Athletics
and Kansas City Royals
pulled off the first major trade of the 2010-11 offseason.  Headed to Oakland is long-time Royals
outfielder David DeJesus, who was in
the midst of a career year before a thumb injury stopped his season in its
tracks.  The Royals snag two pitchers in
highly-touted Vin Mazzaro and minor-league
lefty Justin Marks.

David-DeJesus-2.jpg

On the surface, this looks like a trade of necessity for
both clubs.  The Royals exercised their
2011 option on DeJesus on October 2nd and will make
$6.0-million.  Given that this is a
reasonable amount for a potentially above-average outfielder, the Royals likely
thought it was better to exercise the option and try to get something in a
trade, than let Dejesus go via free agency.

 

The A’s seem quite focused on playing to their spacious park
and instead of spending money on big, cumbersome slugging outfielders; they are
attempting to create an athletic core of players with moderate power and
above-average range.  Ryan Sweeney, Dejesus, Coco Crisp, Rajai Davis, and Conor
Jackson
are all under contract or in control for next year and are all very
similar players; athletic fielders, solid contact hitters, average to below
average power.  Overall, DeJesus is
definitely a player who’ll fit in nicely in Oakland for 2011.  He’ll likely jet via free agency after next
season.

 alg_mazzaro2.jpg

That’s what makes this deal perplexing.  Clearly the A’s are a team that sees
themselves contending next year, and certainly they could in the unpredictable
AL West, but DeJesus is a 31-year-old injury-plagued player with one year left
on a deal.  Mazzaro, on the other hand is
a potential stud.

 

His numbers in the majors aren’t terrifically impressive,
but they aren’t bad either; he got significantly better last year over his ’09
rookie performance.  His minor-league
number were solid and has all the makeup of a pitcher who could eventually be a
top-of-the-rotation talent.

 

Marks, like Mazzaro, is a former third-round pick, however
he has yet to show anything at the minor-league level that would lead me to
believe he’s a major-league player.

 

Overall, I think the A’s didn’t need DeJesus enough to give
up a pitcher like Mazzaro.  On the other
hand, they are probably the best equipped organization to give up some pitching
talent given the wealth of it they possess.

2010 American League East Review

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AL East

2010 Final Standings

 

Tampa Bay Rays

96-66

New York Yankees

95-67

1

Boston Red Sox

89-73

7

Toronto Blue Jays

85-77

11

Baltimore Orioles

66-96

30

 

The Tampa Bay Rays eked
out their second division title in the last three seasons by one game over the New York Yankees whom they battled with
all season long.  The Yankees took home
the wildcard, qualifying for the post-season for the 15th time in
the last 16 years.  The toughest division
in baseball saw four winning teams again in 2010 with the third-place Boston Red Sox finishing with 89
victories and the upstart Toronto Blue
Jays
finishing with 85 victories despite everybody predicting their demise
after the trading of franchise pitcher Roy
Halladay
last December.

 

Here’s what I predicted at the beginning of the season:

AL East

 

 

Boston
Red Sox

96-66

New
York Yankees

95-67

1

Tampa
Bay Rays

90-72

6

Baltimore
Orioles

73-89

23

Toronto
Blue Jays

68-94

28

 

So, as you can see, I was a bit off.  I had the top two teams finishing with 96 and
95 wins respectively, which happened, and the Yankees did finish second with 95 wins, taking home the wildcard, but I had
the BoSox finishing first.  Swap the Rays
and BoSox, and I would have been DAMN close, one game off in fact.  But alas.

 

I keep expecting the O’s to get better and they never do,
maybe next year I won’t be so naive.  I
was still only 7 games off with their prediction, but I also had them finishing
fourth, ahead of my Jays.  I was 17 games off with Toronto, but I was
definitely not alone there.  Trust me; I
would rather have the Jays as a winning team than be right.

 

I’m going to give slightly longer reviews for playoff teams
than for non-playoff ones.

 

Tampa Bay Rays (Mng,
Joe Maddon)

Final Record: 96-66,
1st AL East

Prediction: 90-72,
3rd AL East

Diff: 6

Playoffs:  Lost to Texas in the ALDS

 

How do you define a clutch lineup?  The 2010 Rays.  6th in the AL in homeruns, 6th
in OBP, and 13th in
batting average, yet somehow finished
3rd in the AL in runs scored. 
Carl Crawford had another
typical Crawford season raking at a .304 clip with 19 homeruns and 90 RBI, he
also stole 47 bases to finish 3rd in the junior circuit.  The Rays will have a tough time replacing him
as it’s expected they will let him walk via free agency.  The Red Sox and Yankees already appear to the
frontrunners for his services, but the Reds, Dodgers, Phillies and Mets have
also been mentioned.  Evan Longoria had 104 RBI to lead the
team and has stepped up as the emotional leader of the club.  The Rays had 96 wins in spite of three of
their best players having horrid season. 
Carlos Pena had 28 homeruns,
but hit just .196; B.J. Upton stole 42 bases and had 18
HR, but hit only .237 and had just a .322 OBP; and Ben Zobrist had a predictable fall from grace hitting just .238
with 10 HR a year after clubbing a career-high 27.

 

All five of the Rays main starting pitchers made at least 29
starts.  Only 8 starts all year went to
pitchers outside of those five.  The health of the Rays’ starters was huge in their success.  Of course it helps that all five starters had
solid seasons.  They all won at least 12
games and David Price could wrap up
the Cy Young after a 19-6 season and a 2.72 ERA.  He has emerged as the ace they thought he’d
be.  Matt
Garza
won 15 games and threw a no-hitter in July.  James
Shields
was only 13-15 with an ERA over 5, but still threw over 200
innings, while Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis won 12 games each.  Rafael
Soriano
gave the Rays their best season by a closer in franchise history
finishing with an AL best 45 saves and a terrific 1.73 ERA.  He had a ridiculous 0.80 WHIP.  Joaquin
Benoit
emerged as a top-flight middle relief option and Grant Balfour returned to his 2008
form.  Overall the Rays had the 2nd
best ERA in the AL.

 

Post-season

In October, the Rays were bounced by the Texas Rangers in the maximum 5 games in
the ALDS.  The heavily favoured Rays were
expected the breeze through the Rangers who had never won a series, but Texas,
led by playoff stud Cliff Lee
bounced the Rays by outpitching them. 
Yeah, I know, the Rangers outpitched the Rays?  I was surprised too.  3 home losses in the ALDS killed their hopes
of a World Series title.

 

Grade (Based on
prediction): A

 

Leaders

Avg.

Carl Crawford (.307)

Evan Longoria (.294)

HR

Carlos Pena (28)

Evan Longoria (22)

RBI

Evan Longoria (104)

Carl Crawford (90)

SB

Carl Crawford (47)

B.J. Upton (42)

W

David Price (19)

Matt Garza (15)

ERA

David Price (2.72)

Matt Garza (3.91)

Bullpen ERA

Joaquin Benoit (1.34)

Rafael Soriano (1.73)

K

David Price (188)

James Shields (187)

SV

Rafael Soriano (45)

Dan Wheeler (3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York Yankees
(Mng, Joe Girardi)

Final Record: 95-67,
2nd AL East, Wilcard Champs

Prediction: 95-67,
2nd  AL East, Wildcard Champs

Diff: 0

Playoffs:  Lost to Texas in the ALCS

 

I nailed this one. 
Just sayin’.  The Yankees led the
AL in runs, which should not have been surprising.  What was surprising was captain Derek Jeter had the worst statistical
season of his career hitting just .270 with 10 HR and 67 RBI.  Career years from Robinson Cano and Nick
Swisher
, solid campaigns from Mark
Teixeira
and Alex Rodriguez and
a breakout year from Brett Gardner
helped shoulder the load.  As usual, the
Yankees achieved their run-scoring prowess with patience (1st in the
AL in walks) and power (3rd in HR).

 

The Yankees had some troubles in the pitching department
this season, outside of the front and back of the staff.  C.C.
Sabathia
is the favourite for the Cy Young after a 21-7 record with a 3.18
ERA, once again justifying his huge contract; Phil Hughes emerged as a true front-line starter with 18 wins, but
he struggled down the stretch and in the playoffs having never pitched anywhere
near the innings he logged this season.  Andy Pettitte was on his way to one of
his best seasons before an injury kept him out from mid-season until the
playoffs.  A.J. Burnett was wildly inconsistent all season and awful at the end of the year (hate to
say I told you so, Yankees’ fans) and Javier
Vazquez
never found his footing.  Mariano Rivera was terrific again with
a 1.80 ERA and 33 saves, but the rest of the bullpen was inconsistent at best.

 

Final Word

In the end, the Yankees’ inconsistent pitching got to them
as they were completely outclassed by the Rangers and the utterly dominant Cliff Lee in the ALCS.  As he did with the Rays, Lee carved up the
Bronx Bombers with one of the most dominant post-season pitching performances
ever in game 3 of the CS.  The Yankees
did dispose of the Twins in the ALDS, but that’s nothing new.  A successful season for the Yankees can only
end one way, so it’s back to the drawing board for New York as they attempt to
land Lee, the pitcher that has caused them more than a few headaches in the
past two post-seasons.

 

Grade (based on
prediction): B +

 

Leaders

Avg.

Robinson Cano (.319)

Nick Swisher (.288)

HR

Mark Teixeira (33)

Robinson Cano/Nick Swisher (29)

RBI

Alex Rodriguez (125)

Robinson Cano (109)

SB

Brett Gardner (47)

Derek Jeter (18)

W

C.C. Sabathia (21)

Phil Hughes (18)

ERA

C.C. Sabathia (3.18)

Andy Pettitte (3.28)

Bullpen ERA

Mariano Rivera (1.80)

Boone Logan (2.93)

K

C.C. Sabathia (197)

Phil Hughes (146)

SV

Mariano Rivera (33)

Joba Chamberlain (3)

 

 

 

 

 

Boston Red Sox (Mng,
Terry Francona)

Final Record: 89-73,
3rd AL East,

Prediction: 96-66,
1st  AL East, AL Champs

Diff: 7

Playoffs:  Failed to qualify

 

Like the Yankees, any season the Red Sox don’t win a world
title at this point in their history is a disappointment.  Not only did the BoSox fail to win it all,
but they failed to make the post-season, finishing only four games ahead of the
4th place Jays.  It was the
first time since 2006 and only the second time since 2002 that the BoSox missed
the post-season and that surely doesn’t sit well with the Boston faithful.  I suppose you’re a lucky fan is an 89-win
season is considered a complete bomb.

 

The Red Sox did have a good year offensively, finishing
second in runs, homeruns and slugging in the AL, while finishing third in OBP,
and first in OPS, doubles and at-bats. 
Four players finished with more than 20 HR including David Ortiz who had a great rebound
year hitting .270 with 32 HR and 102 RBI, and Adrian Beltre who was healthy for the first time in a while and
smashed 28 dingers while driving in over 100 and hitting .321.  It was his best year since his 48 homer-year
in his free agent year in LA.  Oh yeah,
he’s a free agent again this off-season; coincidence?  The BoSox battled through a number of tough
injuries to key players with Jacoby
Ellsbury
, Mike Cameron, Dustin Pedroia, and Kevin Youkilis all missing significant
time, but veterans such as Bill Hall
and Darnell MalincDonald stepped in
along with some young talent including Daniel
Nava
, Ryan Kalish, and Jed Lowrie to help effectively fill the
void.

 

The problem with Boston this year was their pitching.  Outside of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz
and Daniel Bard who are going to be
staples of this staff for years to come, the rest of the Red Sox pitchers had
mediocre to awful seasons.  Josh Beckett, Tim Wakefield, and Daisuke
Matsuzaka
combined to post a 5.25 ERA and only a 19-22 record, while the
bullpen, outside of Bard, struggled all season long leading to the ouster of Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez during
the year to try and fix the problem

 

Grade (based on
prediction): C +

 

Leaders

Avg.

Adrian Beltre (.321)

Kevin Youkilis (.307)

HR

David Ortiz (32)

Adrian Beltre (28)

RBI

David Ortiz (102)

Adrian Beltre (102)

SB

Ryan Kalish (10)

Dustin Pedroia/Bill Hall (9)

W

Jon Lester (19)

Clay Buchholz (17)

ERA

Clay Buchholz (2.33)

Jon Lester (3.25)

Bullpen ERA

Daniel Bard (1.93)

Jonathan Papelbon (3.90)

K

Jon Lester (225)

John Lackey (156)

SV

Jonathan Papelbon (37)

Daniel Bard (3)

 

 

 

 

Toronto Blue Jays
(Mng. Cito Gaston)

Final Record: 85-77,
4th AL East,

Prediction: 68-94,
5th AL East

Diff: 17

Playoffs:  Failed to qualify

 

If there were to be any situation where being off by 17
games in my prediction was okay, this is it. 
I, like most people, thought the Jays would stumble in a big way this
year.  They traded their franchise player
and the best pitcher in their history in Roy
Halladay
last December in a deal that brought a package of prospects who
will not make a major impact for a couple more years.  They were coming off a rather rare losing
season and on paper, things appeared to be worse for 2010.  But they Jays were one of the biggest
surprises in baseball.

 

The biggest
surprise in baseball by far was Jose
Bautista
.  Bautista led the majors
with a ridiculous 54 homeruns.  A
journeyman utility player who’s bounced around the league his entire  career shocked everybody with this
performance.  Aside from that, Bautista
led the AL in outfield assists with 12 despite not being an everyday outfielder
(he split time at third base) and displayed an all-around game that mirrors
anyone’s.  Aside from the Jays hit more
homeruns than anyone else in the majors and in fact, their 257 total dingers
ranked among the best of all time, by any team.  Vernon
Wells
had a rebound season and slugged 31 homeruns and even though Aaron Hill and Adam Lind had regression seasons, they still hit 26 and 23
respectively.  In total, 7 Jays hit more
than 20 homeruns.

 

The Jays young starters are emerging as one of the best
young staffs in the game led by Rickey
Romero
, Shaun Marcum, Brett Cecil, and Brandon Morrow.  Morrow may
have the highest ceiling judging by some of his dominating performances.  He also got better as the season went
on.  The bullpen was consistently good
led by closer Kevin Gregg who had 37
saves and Scott Downs who continued
his stretch of being one of the best lefty relievers in baseball.  However both, along with Jason Frasor will likely land elsewhere via free agency this
offseason which could open the door for younger relievers such as converted
starter David Purcey and several
other minor-league arms such as Josh
Roenicke
, Zach Stewart, Rommie Lewis, and Danny Farquhar.

 

Grade (based on
prediction): A +

 

Leaders

Avg.

John Buck (.281)

Vernon Wells (.273)

HR

Jose Bautista (54)

Vernon Wells (31)

RBI

Jose Bautista (124)

Vernon Wells (88)

SB

Fred Lewis (17)

Jose Bautista (9)

W

Brett Cecil (15)

Ricky Romero (14)

ERA

Shaun Marcum (3.64)

Rickey Romero (3.73)

Bullpen ERA

Scott Downs (2.64)

Shawn Camp (2.99)

K

Brandon Morrow (178)

Rickey Romero (174)

SV

Kevin Gregg (37)

Jason Frasor (4)

 

 

 

 

Baltimore Orioles
(Mng. Dave Trembley, Juan Samuel, and Buck Showalter)

Final Record: 66-96,
5th AL East,

Prediction: 73-89,
4th AL East

Diff: 7

Playoffs:  Failed to qualify

 

I keep waiting for the Orioles to start winning more
games.  Every year I think, ‘this is the
year that they win about 73-78 games and start turning the corner’ and every
year, much to the chagrin of O’s fans, they continue to lose at a catastrophic rate.  The Orioles were on pace for their worst
season ever when they fired manager Dave
Trembley
 and replaced him with
interim manager Juan Samuel.  Under those two the Orioles were a desolate
32-73 when the O’s removed Samuel and replaced him with rebuild specialist Buck Showalter who proceeded to win
more games (34-23) with the team than the other two combined in just over half
the games.  The O’s were among the worst
offensive teams in the AL in 2010 finishing second-to-last in runs scored.  They were led by DH Luke Scott who led the team with 27 homeruns and hit a solid
.284.  Nick Markakis probably doesn’t have as much power as people thought
he would, but he’s still a great hitter and a terrific rightfielder.  There is a surprising lack of young talented
position players in this organization with only 3 regulars 25 years of age or
younger.  This seems unacceptable on a
team that should by now have a stockpile of young talent built up from all the
years of losing.

 

The O’s were also second-to-last in the AL in team ERA, but
at least on the pitching side there are some talented young arms to build
on.  Jeremy
Guthrie
was the team’s best starter finishing with 11 wins and a 3.83 ERA,
but veteran Kevin Millwood has his
worst season as a pro going 4-16 with an ERA over 5.  A host of young hurlers such as Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen, Jake Arrieta,
Chris Tillman, David Hernandez, and Troy
Patton
do give the organization some hope. 
Outside of former starter Koji
Uehara
and Jason Berken, the
bullpen was extremely shaky which wasn’t helped by the fact that both Jim Johnson and Mike Gonzalez spent much of the year injured.  Gonzalez was supposed to be the high-paid closer,
but he finished with only one save on the season.

 

Grade (based on
prediction): D

 

Leaders

Avg.

Nick Markakis (.297)

Luke Scott/Adam Jones (.284)

HR

Luke Scott (27)

Ty Wigginton (22)

RBI

Ty Wigginton (76)

Luke Scott (72)

SB

Corey Patterson (21)

Brian Roberts (12)

W

Jeremy Guthrie (11)

Brian Matusz (10)

ERA

Jeremy Guthrie (3.83)

Brian Matusz (4.30)

Bullpen ERA

Koji Uehara (2.86)

Jason Berken (3.03)

K

Brian Matusz (143)

Kevin Millwood (132)

SV

Alfredo Simon (17)

Koji Uehara (13)

2010 Season-in-Review Part One

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This was a baseball season steeped in firsts.  The San
Francisco Giants
won their first World Series title since moving to the
Bay-area in 1958, their first in 56 years overall, ending the third-longest
current drought in the majors.  Only the
fans of the Cleveland Indians and of
course, the Chicago Cubs have
suffered longer than the fans in San Francisco. 
So enjoy the victory Franciscans, you deserve it.

Recently it was discovered that
the last three posts I’d written in February are inexplicably gone, those three
posts included my Giants and National League previews which disclosed my
prediction of the Giants as champions, but I assure you, I did have them winning it
all in 2010.

But I digress.

The Texas Rangers won their first playoff series, then their first
playoff home game, then their first American League pennant all on the backs of
the most complete team in the AL.


Dallas Braden, Roy Halladay
and Armando Galarraga all threw
perfect games within one month of one another, Galarraga’s came four days after
Halladay’s and was taken away from him by a botched call at first-base by Jim Joyce.   However, in the ultimate show of
sportsmanship, Galarraga presented the Tigers’ lineup card to an emotional
Joyce the next day and let it be known that he held nothing against Joyce who
had made an honest mistake.


Ubaldo Jimenez, Edwin
Jackson
, and Matt Garza also
threw no-hitters during the season, marking the first time since 1990 that that
many no-hitters were thrown in one season. 
The Jays’ Brandon Morrow was
one two-out bottom-of-the-ninth infield single away from just the second
no-hitter in Jays’ history, much to my chagrin, jumping up and down in my
living room.  Morrow’s performance with
one hit, one walk and 17 strikeouts might have been the most dominating performance
in the Majors this season; perfect games included.

All of this led to the 2010 season
being unofficially dubbed “The Year of the Pitcher”, although 1968
might be offended by such a label. 
Still, coming out of the steroid era, this year was a significant step
out of the dark cloud Major League Baseball has been under for quite some time
now.  The dominance of pitchers on levels
not seen since the late 1980’s is an encouraging turn of events.  Are steroids totally out of the game?  No, and expecting them to be is naive, but
still, this season is encouraging

From the standpoint of a Jays’
fan, this was a great season.  The Jays
were much better than expected in
2010 and have a lot of promise for the future. 
Jose Bautista was the biggest
surprise performance of my lifetime in any sport.  A journeyman utility-player who has the
dubious distinction of being the only player in history to appear on 5
different Major League rosters in one season, hit 54 homeruns.  If he’s not the most unlikely 50-homerun
hitter, I’d like to know who is.

In the next post, I’ll start to go
through each team in a paragraph or two, division-by-division.  Hopefully in the next week, I’ll have them
all posted, but I’m not making any promises. 
I’m a busy man.

Well, crap.

Hey everybody,

As you have no doubt noticed, it is the baseball off-season.  This is bittersweet.  Sure, we don’t have baseball and the summer season is long gone, soon to be replaced by that abhorrent season known as winter, but I also love the off-season.  The speculation, rumours and storylines present during the hot stove season are almost as much fun as baseball itself.

The off-season also means that I’ll be back writing on this blog.  This will help quench my thirst for the game until it returns in the spring.

Very shortly, I’ll start writing again (although just how much is up for debate), but I am a little miffed.

It appears as though the last three entries I posted on the blog (the Padres and Giants previews as well as a National League overview) are GONE!!!  I no longer have the posts backed up due to a mid-summer computer failure and I can only find the notes from which I generated the writing.

This is particularly annoying considering that in those posts I revealed that I was predicting the Giants would win the NL Wildcard and then go on to win the 2010 World Series.  I think I may have been the only person outside the Bay area to have such a prediction and now proof of it is gone forever.

Anyway, I’ll soon post my review of the season with comparisons to my February predictions.

Cheers!

2010 Los Angeles Dodgers Preview

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dodgers.gif2009 Record: 95-67, 1st NL West

2009 Prediction: 87-75, 2nd NL West

2010 Prediction: 1st NL West

 

Impact Player: Matt Kemp

Impact Pitcher: Chad Billingsley

Top Prospect Player:
SS Dee Gordon

Top Prospect Pitcher:
RHP Chris Withrow

 

Manager: Joe Torre, 3rd Season (179-145,
.552)

 

Significant
Acquisitions
:  INF Jamey Carroll, OF Reed Johnson, OF Brian Giles,
INF Nick Green

Significant Losses: 2B Orlando Hudson, OF Juan
Pierre
, INF Mark Loretta, INF Juan Castro, 1B Jim Thome, LHP Randy Wolf,
RHP Guillermo Mota, RHP Jon Garland

 

During the regular season, the Dodgers were easily the best
overall team, not just in wins, but in everything.  They were number one in team ERA, runs
allowed, and hits allowed, and also number one in hits, batting average and
on-base percentage.  The Dodgers went to
the NLCS for the second straight year against the Phillies, and for the second
straight year they were bounced by the bombers from Broad Street.  This offseason, the team’s owner are engaged
in a bitter divource settlement that has led to a very unstable ownership
status, and the team is unwilling to spend any money at the moment.  Very little was done in the way of
acquisitions while the team lost many key parts including Randy Wolf, Orlando Hudson,
Juan Pierre, and Jon Garland.  There is little doubt, however, that the
Dodgers still have the depth of talent to win again in the improving NL West.  Two young hurlers in Clayton Kershaw and Chad
Billingsley
anchor the rotation while three bourgeoning young hitters are
about to become perennial MVP threats in Matt
Kemp
, Andre Ethier and James Loney.  There’s little standing in the way of LA
making it back to the playoffs.

 

Pitching

ChadBillingsley_2007_003.jpg

There is a lack of depth in the rotation that could be the
Dodgers biggest hurdle this season, but the top of the rotation is overflowing
with promising talent.  Billingsley is
about to become a true ace, the likes of which have not been seen in LA since the
days of Orel Hershiser.  He’s a dominating pitcher with the composure
of a winner.  Last season he wore down on
the second half after a very strong first half. 
With another year under his belt, he should be able to put together a
full season.  He won 16 games with a 3.14
ERA in 2008.  Kershaw is a Cy Young Award
waiting to happen.  He’s only 22, and he’s already an
established Major League arm.  Last
season he was only 8-8 in 30 starts, but he often didn’t pitch very deep into
games party because of a high walk rate, but also because there was a conscious
effort on a part of the Dodgers to limit his innings; there will be no such
limit this season.  His ERA last year was
a terrific 2.79, if he continues to pitch like that, he’ll be winning 15-20
games without batting an eye.  Hiroki Kuroda struggled with injuries
last season, but still had a 3.76 ERA in 20 starts; if he’s healthy he’s a
solid number 3 pitcher.  Vicente Padilla was much better after
the Dodgers acquired him from Texas and was re-signed to be the fourth guy.  The fifth spot will be a Spring battle
between lefties Eric Stults and Scott Elbert as well as bullpen
standout James McDonald.  Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger will be in the mix as well.

 

Jonathan Broxton
certainly has the mound presence of an elite closer at 295 pounds and a
fastball that touches 100 mph, but he’ll need to be slightly more consistent to
be considered in a group that includes Rivera, Papelbon and Nathan.  There’s no doubt that the ability is there,
though.  The bridge to Broxton is as
solid as anyone with lefty specialist and setup man George Sherrill back for a full season.  McDonald has become a dependable late inning
option as well and will be there unless he’s starting.  Ramon
Troncoso
and Ronald Belisario
were dominant last season with 2.72 and 2.04 ERAs respectively, while
dependable lefty Hong-Chih Kuo is
back from his shoulder injury and will look to remain healthy for the whole
year.  Cory Wade will be in the mix as well after shoulder problems kept
him from a repeat of his ’08 performance when he had a ridiculous 2.27
ERA.  Many other arms are also in the mix
and could step in if there are injuries, including Eric Gagne who’s back with the organization after a few years away.

 

ROTATION

Age

B/T

Chad
Billingsley

25/6

R/R

Clayton
Kershaw

22

L/L

Hiroki
Kuroda

35

R/R

Vicente
Padilla

32

R/R

Eric
Stults

30

L/L

 

 

 

BULLPEN

 

 

Jonathan
Broxton

25/6

R/R

George
Sherrill

33

L/L

James
McDonald

25

L/R

Roman
Troncoso

27

R/R

Ronald
Belisario

27

R/R

Hong-Chih
Kuo

28/9

L/L

Cory
Wade

26/7

R/R

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

Scott
Elbert

24/5

L/L

Charlie
Haeger

26

R/R

Carlos
Monasterios

24

R/R

Armando
Zerpa

23

L/L

Justin
Miller*

32/3

R/R

Jeff
Weaver

32/3

R/R

*=newly acquired

 

 

 

Lineup

matt-kemp1.jpg

Manny Ramirez‘s
suspension for steroid use last season derailed the image of the fun-loving,
uber-talented star outfielder and it now appears that his career is winding
down.  He’s still a terrific player and
is a force in the middle of this lineup, but even he acknowledges that this
could be his last season; it’ll definitely be his last in LA.  Along with Manny in left, the Dodgers have
one of the scariest outfields in baseball with young All-Stars Kemp and Ethier
in center and right respectively.  Kemp
is one of the best all-around players in baseball, doing everything very
well.  A 30/30 season seems
inevitable.  Ethier led the team in 2009
in both homeruns (31) and RBI (106), making the 50-game absence of Manny seem
like nothing at all.

 

First baseman James
Loney
should eventually develop more power than he’s shown so far, but his
all-around game is impeccable; he should win a Gold Glove any year now.  Rafael
Furcal
is back at shortstop and will look to bounce back from a
disappointing season a year ago.  He’s
still only 32 and is an elite defender.  Ronnie Belliard won’t play defense at
the level Orlando Hudson did last
year at second base, but he was basically the starter over Hudson down the
stretch and in the playoffs, while steady veteran Casey Blake is back at third base until the team finds a better
option there.  If ownership gets
steadier, they may make a run at Mike
Lowell
if he’s healthy to provide some depth at the position.  Catching will be the responsibility of
Canadian Russell Martin who will
look to prove his accusers wrong after a powerless 2009.  He’s still one of the best defensive and
game-calling catchers in the NL.

 

The bench has some depth with veterans Jamey Carroll and Reed
Johnson
and Blake DeWitt will
also be around.  DeWitt may still be
future at third.  41-year-old Brad Ausmus is back for yet another
year to backup Martin, while Jason Repko
and veterans Brian Giles and Alfredo Amezaga will fight for the last
roster spot.

 

Pos.

 

Age

B/T

SS

Rafael
Furcal

32

S/R

1B

James
Loney

25/6

L/L

CF

Matt
Kemp

25

R/R

RF

Andre
Ethier

28

L/L

LF

Manny
Ramirez

37/8

R/R

C

Russell
Martin

27

R/R

3B

Casey
Blake

36/7

R/R

2B

Ron
Belliard

35

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

BENCH

 

 

C

Brad
Ausmus

41

R/R

INF

Jamey
Carroll*

36

R/R

INF

Blake
DeWitt

24/5

L/R

OF

Reed
Johnson*

33

R/R

OF

Jason
Repko

29

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

INF

Chin-Lung
Hu

26

R/R

C

A.J.
Ellis

29

R/R

INF

Angel
Berroa*

32

R/R

INF

Nick
Green*

31

R/R

1B

Doug
Mientkiewicz*

35/6

L/R

INF

Argenis Reyes*               

27

S/R

OF

Brian Giles*

39

L/L

UTIL

Alfredo Amezaga*

32

S/R

*=newly acquired

 

The Dodgers still have one of the best teams in the NL.  Kemp, Ethier and Loney will be stars for a
long time and Billingsley and Kershaw are the future and the present in the
rotation.  The division looks to be more
competitive than it has been in years so the goings might be tougher this
season, but that adversity may end up helping them come October.

Final Prediction:
92-70, 1st NL West

2010 Colorado Rockies Preview

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rockies.gif2009 Record: 92-70, 2nd NL West

2009 Prediction: 80-82, 3rd NL West

2010 Prediction: 4th NL West

 

Impact Player: Troy Tulowitzki

Impact Pitcher: Ubaldo Jimenez

Top Prospect Player:
C Wilin Rosario

Top Prospect Pitcher:
LHP Tyler Matzek

 

Manager: Jim Tracy, 2nd Season
(74-42, .638)

 

Significant
Acquisitions
: C Miguel Olivo,
UTIL Melvin Mora, RHP Justin Speier, RHP Tim Redding

Significant Losses: 3B Garrett Atkins, C Yorvit
Torrealba
, OF Matt Murton, RHP Jason Marquis, LHP Alan Embree, RHP Josh Fogg,
LHP Glendon Rusch

 

For the second time in three years, the Rockies shocked the
baseball world and came back from a slow start to storm down the stretch and
get into the playoffs on a wildcard berth. 
Their 92 wins were a franchise record and manager Jim Tracy (who
replaced Clint Hurdle part way through the year) had a .638 winning percentage
with the team.  Unlike in 2007, however,
the Rockies couldn’t ride their hot streak to the World Series, losing to the
Phillies in the NLDS 3 games to 1. 
Colorado is hoping that they don’t have a repeat of the 2008 season when
they stumbled to a 74-win year following their improbable run to the World
Series.  The Rockies definitely have some
talent, but was the last part of last year a fluke, or are they that good?  They made no significant changes to their
team, but instead added small pieces such as Melvin Mora and Miguel Olivo
to strengthen their bench.  Will their
stability be a strength, or will teams adjust and push the Rockies back down
the list of good teams in the NL West.

 

Pitching

UbaldoJimenez.jpg

 The Rockies were 8th
in the NL in ERA last season, which is quite the feat when you consider that
they play in the thin air of Colorado. 
One of the reasons was their team control, the Rockies were fourth best
in the NL in walks allowed.  Ubaldo Jimenez has blossomed into a
solid number one pitcher, going 15-12 with a 3.47 ERA.  When adjusted for ballpark differences,
Jimenez’s ERA is 3.14, putting him among the best in the NL.  The team lost its other 15-game winner, Jason Marquis, to free agency, but the
Rocks are hoping that Aaron Cook can
stay healthy and be back in the 15-17 win area. 
He was 11-6 last season in just 27 starts.  There was some talk of Jorge De La Rosa winning the Cy Young Award last season, which was obviously
crazy, but De La Rosa finally had the breakout year experts have been
predicting for a while.  He led the team
with 16 wins and had a 4.38 ERA striking out 193 in only 185 innings.  There’s no questioning his raw ability, but
his elevated ERA and high career walk rate suggest he’ll slump back to earth
this season.  Jason Hammel is back and is expected to the fourth man in the rotation
after a 10-8 season in 2009; he could be poised for a breakout season.  The fifth starter will likely be Canadian Jeff Francis who is apparently healthy
again and will need to prove it to stick in the rotation.  If he can’t, another injury-riddled lefty Greg Smith could be in the mix.  22-year-old Jhoulys Chacin could also step in at some point in 2010.

 

Huston Street was
re-signed in the offseason and will remain the Rockies closer.  He can be erratic at times and gets beaten up
too often to be an elite closer, but he still saved 35 games and posted a
decent 3.06 ERA.  He also does three
things any good closer needs to do:  He
doesn’t give up many hits (6.3 per 9 innings); he doesn’t walk many (1.9 per 9
innings); and he strikes out a lot of batters (10.2 per 9 innings).  Former lefthanded starter Franklin Morales will be given the setup
job to start the year, but his permanent place is in the rotation, while Matt Daley will setup from the right side.  24-year-old Esmil Rogers will help fill out the rest of the ‘pen with
35-year-old Rafael Betancourt and
former playoff standout Manuel Corpas.  The long-man will likely be Taylor Buchholz.  Lefthander Randy Flores will have a decent shot at making the team considering
Morales is the only other lefty, while Matt
Belisle
, Justin Speier, Jimmy Gobble, and Juan Rincon are all in camp on minor-league deals and could make
hte team.

 

ROTATION

Age

B/T

Ubaldo Jimenez

26

R/R

Aaron Cook

31

R/R

Jorge De La Rosa

29

L/L

Jason Hammel

27

R/R

Jeff Francis

29

L/L

 

 

 

BULLPEN

 

 

Huston Street

26/7

R/R

Franklin Morales

24

L/L

Matt Daley

27/8

R/R

Esmil Rogers

24/5

R/R

Rafael Betancourt

35

R/R

Manuel Corpas

27

R/R

Taylor Buchholz

28

R/R

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

Randy Flores

34/5

L/L

Matt Belisle

29/0

R/R

Greg Smith

26

L/L

Samuel Deduno

26/7

R/R

Justin Speier*

36

R/R

Tim Redding*

32

R/R

Jimmy Gobble*

28/9

L/L

Juan Rincon*

31

R/R

Jhoulys Chacin

22

R/R

Shane Lindsay

25

R/R

Greg Reynolds

24/5

R/R

*=newly acquired

 

 

 

Lineup

troy-tulowitzki.jpg

Even though the Rockies were second in the NL in homeruns,
the Rockies don’t appear to be as power-oriented as it has been in the past,
but there are still some very good young players that will hope to score as
much as they did last season when they were second in the NL in runs.  The outfield has 5 players who will all try
to get enough playing time.  Brad Hawpe will be the everyday
rightfielder after another decent season. 
Hawpe hit .285 with 23 homeruns and 86 RBI in 2009, while logging an
impressive .384 OBP.  Dexter Fowler showed promise last year
in his rookie season and is a tremendous athlete; he’ll steal close to 30 bases
and play outstanding defense.  Carlos Gonzalez and Seth Smith will likely both see time in
leftfield.  Gonzalez has a much higher
ceiling and is ultimately a better athlete, so he will likely have the inside
track.  His 13 homeruns in only 89 games
last season suggest that he could be a 25/25 guy in the near future.  Smith, on the other hand, was solid last
season hitting .293 with 15 homeruns and 55 RBI.  Ryan
Spilborghs
will see significant time as well.

 

First baseman Todd
Helton
is the franchise’s best ever player and as he winds down his career,
his numbers will surely continue to fall off. 
He won’t hit for 30-40 homer power anymore, but he still hit .325 last
season and is one of the best hitters of this generation.  Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is currently the best player on the team and will
be for years to come.  He hit 32 homeruns
last season and hit .297.  Some people
say he’s Derek Jeter with more
power, but I’m not sure he can claim such things just yet.  He certainly is an MVP candidate in
waiting.  Clint Barmes hit 23 homeruns last season but was only a .241
hitter.  It’s amazing he’s still with the
organization after all the terrible seasons, and ultimately isn’t part of the
long term plans of the organization, while Ian
Stewart
will get the chance to play third. 
He hit 25 homeruns last season, but hit only .228 and had just 70
RBI.  If he struggles immensely, Mora
could step in.  Catcher Chris Iannetta also hit only .228 last
season and will have to prove that he is the player scouts once thought he was.

 

The Rockies have a much deeper and more versatile bench than
in past years which certainly helps them. 
Smith, Spilborghs and Mora will be joined by Jason Giambi who will spell Helton at first and also provide a
powerful pinch-hitting bat off the bench. 
Olivo will be the veteran backup catcher and could end up starting if
Iannetta struggles.

 

Pos.

 

Age

B/T

LF

Carlos Gonzalez

24

L/L

CF

Dexter Fowler

24

S/R

1B

Todd Helton

36/7

L/L

SS

Troy Tulowitzki

25

R/R

RF

Brad Hawpe

30/1

L/L

C

Chris Iannetta

27

R/R

3B

Ian Stewart

25

L/R

2B

Clint Barmes

31

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

BENCH

 

 

C

Miguel Olivo*

31/2

R/R

1B

Jason Giambi

39

L/R

UTIL

Melvin Mora* (3B, SS, CF, LF)

38

R/R

OF

Seth Smith (LF, RF)

27

L/L

OF

Ryan Spilborghs (LF, CF, RF)

30

R/R

 

 

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

UTIL

Eric Young, Jr. (2B, LF, RF)

24/5

R/R

C

Paul Lo Duca* (1B)

38

R/R

*=newly acquired

 

I could be completely off-base here, but I don’t see the
Rockies contending in 2010.  The
honeymoon period of Jim Tracy’s arrival will be gone and this team
traditionally doesn’t perform well under high expectations.  Outside of Jimenez, the rotation lacks high
ceiling players entering their prime and their bullpen might have a really hard
time bridging the gap to Street, who isn’t the greatest of closers.  Their lineup is full of players who hit for
power in the thin air, but struggle on the road and hit for horrible
averages.  I don’t buy that the Rockies
have what it takes to contend in a much deeper and more talented NL West.

Final Prediction:
79-83, 4th NL West