Thursday, 29 March 2012

2012 Previews: St. Louis Cardinals

Your reigning, defending, MLB heavyweight champions of the world.

The Majors
If you needed evidence that anything can happen in the majors, look no further than the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals.  They were pretty damn lucky to even get in to the playoffs, thanks to the Braves shitting their pants last September, and they were about half a breath from being eliminated multiple times throughout the playoffs, but they dug in and came out on top somehow anyway.  That's not to take away from the fact that they actually won 90 games, and played really solid down the stretch, but in terms of true talent, they were probably the 13th or 14th best team in baseball.

Fast forward an offseason; elephants in the room consist of Chris Carpenter and his shoulder/nerve issue, Adam Wainwright and his return from Tommy John surgery, and the loss of Albert Pujols (replaced by Carlos Beltran).  I don't think it would be a shock to say that this team isn't favored to repeat as World Series champs, but I can certainly see them competing for the division, or at worst, a wild card spot.  They should be worse this year when compared to last, but the good NL Central teams (CIN, STL, MIL) should beat up on the bad ones (HOU, CHC, PIT) to the point where it's almost unfair.

The pitching staff, without Carpenter, looks sort of mediocre, with Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Kyle Lohse, Jake Westbrook, and probably Lance Lynn covering.  A fairly strong, Rays-like bullpen should be able to keep the Cards in games late.

The real point of worry is going to be the offense, however.  The loss of Pujols allows the Cards to shift 36-year old Lance Berkman to 1B, making room for Carlos Beltran.  As far as replacing Pujols goes, that's good, I guess, but I'll be goddamned he comes anywhere close to Pujolsian production.  I also expect a pretty big regression from Berkman.

The Minors
The Cards have built themselves a really nice minor league system over the last few years, and it will probably be one of the best in the game if they can continue to develop their high-ceiling guys.  Pitcher Shelby Miller leads the class, and will probably be around at some point this season, especially if one of the rotation members can't hang (unless Carp comes back, shifting Lynn back to the bullpen).  They've drafted really well over the last few years, which is probably the reason why former vice president Jeff Luhnow got the GM job in Houston over the offseason.

The Verdict
I expect the Cards to take a step back this season.  The Cards themselves are a worse club than a year ago, and the Reds and Pirates have improved, which should take away some wins.  The second wild card obviously helps, and they're good enough to compete for the division thanks to the step back from Milwaukee, so I fully expect two NL Central teams to make the playoffs.

Projection: 88-74, 2nd in the NL Central

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

2012 Previews: Philadelphia Phillies

The Boss

The Majors
It appears as though the Phillies dynasty years are drawing to a close, especially now that Chase Utley isn't Chase Utley anymore, and the 5-year, $125MM Ryan Howard contract is only beginning.  There are still plenty of useful pieces in this lineup, but this is one of the oldest teams in the history of baseball, and we're getting in to the back halves of some contracts.  Without Howard and Utley in the lineup, there is absolutely no left-handed pop in this order.  Shane Victorino is due for a regression, and Jimmy Rollins has lost any power that he once had.  To rub that in, Domonic Brown was sent back to AAA the other day, in favor of either Scott Podsednik, or Juan Pierre.  In place of Utley and Howard, we're going to see Freddy Galvis and a lot of Ty Wigginton or Jim Thome, neither of whom are sure to put their gloves on the correct hand. Hunter Pence is the best of a bad situation.

The pitching staff is obviously still pretty fucking retarded, but nobody is immune to aging.  Halladay, Lee and Hamels make up the best 1-2-3 in baseball, and Vance Worley is a pretty good #4 option.  Beyond those four, Jonathan Papelbon and Antonio Bastardo lead a pretty decent little bullpen.  Overall, this club shouldn't allow very many runs, even in their little bandbox of a park.  The obvious caveat is that they're not going to score any either, which is a tough break in a quickly improving division.

The Minors
Having been in contention for several years now, it should be of little surprise that the Phillies farm system is very weak, having traded a bunch of pieces away in the last several years to get Halladay, Lee, Pence, and so on.  With an again major league club, and a pretty empty minor league system, there may be the need of a rebuild sooner rather than later.  They got a couple of picks after losing Jayson Werth last offseason, and probably should have let Jimmy Rollins walk as well this offseason for the same purpose, but win-now mode, I suppose.  That's not to say that they didn't have a great run, because they've won the NL East like 80 years in a row or something, and with their financial flexibility and pitching staff, they're never really all that far out of it.

The Verdict
They're still going to contend, based solely on their pitching staff, but I don't think they're going to win the division, and I think they're doomed for 2013 onward, without a big prospect rebuild.  They should win the Wild Card (one of them) thanks to pitching alone, assuming their big three can stay healthy.

Projection: 90-72, 2nd in the NL East

Roster Stuff

Thanks to Gregor Chisolm, we're getting some info about what the Jays' roster should look like for at least the first few days of the season, but there's obviously still quite a bit of speculation to be done.

First, Adam Lind should be good to go for the start of the season, despite a recurrence of the back troubles he had last year; those very same back troubles that supposedly made him terrible (and here I was thinking that it was because he swings at literally everything).  Anyway, that spot is pretty well set, barring any further setbacks, and we shouldn't need anybody to come fill a gap.

Me too.  That leaves the question of what to do with Mike Mccoy and Luis Valbuena.  Valbuena is out of options, and Mccoy still has one left, as far as I know, but I've been wrong before.  Either way, I don't think either will be brought north with the big club, and could be traded for cash or a D-level prospect to a team who needs a backup infielder, like Philadelphia.  Ben Francisco seems to be a lock for the 5th OF/super bench spot, but Mccoy would probably be the next option is Francisco is still hurt (hamstring strain).

So this means that we're going to get some version of Romero, Morrow, Alvarez, Cecil and Drabek, at least for a while until Mcgowan returns, since he's been all but guaranteed a rotation spot if he can stay healthy.

Once Mcgowan returns, the most likely candidate to be sent down is Drabek, but if they really wanted Drabek to go back down to AAA anyway, they could swing it.  The Jays have three offdays in their first 10 days of the schedule, so they could theoretically do something like:

CLE series
Romero Apr 5., Offday, Morrow Apr7., Alvarez Apr 8.

BOS Series
Cecil Apr 9., Romero Apr 10., Morrow Apr 11., Offday

BAL series
Alvarez Apr 13, Cecil Apr 14, Mcgowan Apr 15

And then return to a regular 5-man rotation.  This would allow the Jays to DL Mcgowan and let him do some rehab starts against minor league teams, meanwhile giving that roster spot to an extra bullpen arm or bench player.

That gives us:





And then one of Valbuena, Mccoy, Cooper, or Mcdade if it's a bench player or Laffey, Crawford, Beck, Magnusson, Carreno or Farquhar if it's a pitcher until Mcgowan comes back.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

2012 Previews: San Francisco Giants


The Majors
Well, Brian Sabean's insane, there's no denying that.  He pretty much refuses to let Brandon Belt play, opting instead for Aubrey Huff.  He also went ahead and traded his top prospect for 2 months of Carlos Beltran last year, only to go ahead and practically beg Beltran to sign elsewhere.

With all that nonsense, however, comes some good stuff.  Basically, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, Pablo Sandoval, and Buster Posey make this team watchable, and clearly have them entrenched as the best of a hilarious situation in the NL West this year.  Basically, the team is mediocre, which should be all they'll need in this division.

It will be interesting to see what they get from Buster Posey, coming back from a broken leg, and from Tim Lincecum, coming off of two consecutive years of decline.  If they happen to be out of the running by the trade deadline, and don't have him signed to an extension yet, look for them to deal Matt Cain.

The bullpen looks pretty fantastic, to be quite honest.  Wilson, Romo, Affeldt, and Mota have been very solid for the last few years, and should continue to crush late.

The Minors
There's not much there, especially when Brian Sabean is running the show and moving his best prospect for two months of Carlos Beltran.  Not surprisingly, when said best prospect projects as a mid-rotation/back-of-the-bullpen guy, the system can't be that deep.

The Verdict
Meh, best in the NL West doesn't really mean a ton.  Then again, STL won the world series as a wild card.

Projection: 90-72, 1st in the NL West

Scattered Internets

Nothing really major going on so far today, just the odd link for you, so here goes.

Derek Holland jumped on the Tim Kurkjian impersonation wagon yesterday.  He also throws in a decent Harry Caray.  The volume is hilariously low for me, for some reason.  JP Arencibia's is still the best, in my opinion.

This is the manager of the South Georgia Peanuts, of the South Coast League, and they have no affiliation with any MLB club, so he's not fucking around when he says that some of these guys might need to go get jobs. This was being taped for a documentary series about the team, apparently, which I've never come across on the internet.

Not surprisingly, Wally Backman used to manage this team, and had a much more entertaining meltdown a few years ago, which, if you haven't seen yet... well, we're not friends anymore.  You can seriously spend days watching and re-watching various Wally Backman videos on youtube.

Dustin Mcgowan's new contract apparently comes with a $500K buyout if the Jays opt to decline the $4MM club option, according to Gregor Chisolm.  Fangraphs has an opinion, and John Lott has a recap of the press scrum.

The 72-year old motorcyclist that Rays' pitcher Matt Bush struck with his car while driving drunk is now in a coma, and if he doesn't survive, the minimum sentence will be 2 years in jail.

Don't forget to check out Nowhere Plans for various previews and spring training news (plus more), but don't make that an excuse to not read the ones that I write here.  I preview the Rays, Jays, Rangers, and Padres starting tomorrow or the next day or something.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Jays extend Mcgowan

The Jays have announced that they've extended Dustin Mcgowan for two seasons, with the option for a third, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN, via MLBTR.  I don't know why, but they did.  I can't imagine that this is for too much money, since Mcgowan is obviously a pretty huge injury risk, and as of now, I'm not entirely sure as to whether the first year of the contract replaces his current 2011 contract or not, but whatever.  I'm sure we'll know more soon.

Mcgowan is out of options, but it would appear that he's going to get the 5th spot in the rotation to start the season.  Hopefully, by extending him at this juncture of his career/comeback, they can write some hilarious clause in to his contract the way Theo Epstein did with Andrew Miller, where Miller would earn a split salary based on minor league and major league time, but if, at any point during the season, he was DFA'ed and claimed on waivers by another team, a $3MM club option would become guaranteed.

Mcgowan was to be a free agent at the end of the season, which would have been kind of a slap in the dick to the Jays organization, considering the way that they've stuck with him over the last 3 years of injuries and surgeries and setbacks.  I still don't see a ton of reason for the Jays to do this, but we'll see how this one works out.

[Update]: The deal is worth $1.5MM for 2013, $1.5MM for 2014, and has a $4MM club option on 2015.  I mean, it's not so much money that it would ever come anywhere close to doing anything near approaching handcuffing the team, but this is still really weird.  I just kind of assumed that they were going to replace his 2012 contract of $600k, but I guess not.  I dunno, meh.

Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star has a piece on Adam Lind that I probably wouldn't have read.  No disrespect to Griffin, but the title of the piece is "Adam Lind needs to step it up at the plate" or something like that, and I already knew that (so did DJF). Anyway, the only reason I read it was because someone told me that he basically talks about Cito Gaston a whole bunch, and I guess it kind of makes sense of his last two seasons, at least a little bit.

Lind mentions that Cito wanted him to get in there and hack away, instilling that mindset on him literally the day after Cito got re-hired, which is when Lind was called up and given the everyday LF job.  So far this spring, Lind's been a lot more patient at the plate, and actually had two 10-pitch at-bats the other day against the Braves.

Something that I had missed until reading this was the following quote from John Farrell, about Lind and his spot in the order:
On Saturday morning, prior to the Jays’ 9-0 spanking of the Braves, manager John Farrell suggested the 4-5 batting spots against lefties in those situations may go to Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie.
 John Farrell was on The Jeff Blair show this morning.  I haven't gotten around to listening to that one yet, but here's the audio file.

Up Close with Jose Bautista and Ricky Romero is on tomorrow night on SN1, and will probably air repeatedly over the week if you miss it.  The one with Snider, JPA and Lawrie was just on like half an hour ago on SNW.  It was also on somewhere, so I suppose you can expect that to happen.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Things That Happened, According to the Internet.

Bautista got beaned in the hand, X-rays negative.  Video here.

Travis Snider has been sent to AAA, and the LF job is Eric Thames' to lose, according to Gregor Chisolm.

Also within that Bautista link, Sergio Santos is throwing in games again after throwing only bullpen sessions for the last few days, trying to work on his changeup.  He's not physically hurting or anything, just work that they wanted him to do outside of game action.

Brett Lawrie went 0-for-2 today before being lifted in the 5th inning.  He apparently felt fine, so that's good news.

Dustin Mcgowan apparently has plantar fasciitis (or however the fuck you spell that), and could miss the start of the season.  If he does miss, he'll be placed on the DL retroactive to some point in time recently (when he last pitched), and would probably miss the first week or so.  Kyle Drabek or Aaron Laffey would be the likely replacements, but if I'm not mistaken, the Jays wouldn't even need a fifth pitcher until their 9th or 10th game of the season, thanks to an offday.  I haven't read that link yet, by the way.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

2012 Previews: Washington Nationals

The Chosen One.

The Majors
This is probably going to be the funnest NL team to watch.  Between Strasburg, Zimmermann, Gio, and Edwin Jackson, this rotation is going to be incredibly solid, assuming they can all stay healthy and consistent.  That's a big "if", because all four have battled a problem with one or the other to this point in their careers.  Strasburg, once he gets a full season under his belt, will probably be the best pitcher in the world for years to come, especially as Roy Halladay's career winds down.  Throw in a bullpen with Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, and Henry Rodriguez, and I think it is safe to say that this team won't really be in too much danger of allowing many runs.

The obvious weakness of this club is the lineup.  If Jayson Werth doesn't rebound and have a nice season offensively, that contract could go down in history as one of the worst of all time.  Fortunately, Ryan Howard is still in the league, and his 5 year, $125MM deal hasn't even started yet, so he should be able to deflect any of that talk down the road to Philly.

The rest of the team's core of position players should be good to go though: Mike Morse appears to have finally broken out, as did Wilson Ramos.  Ryan Zimmerman, when healthy, is one of the best players in the game, and at 24 and 25 years old respectively, Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond provide plenty of value up the middle.  Who knows, we might see the other Chosen One, Bryce Harper, in a Nats uniform by mid-season to help spruce up the offense.

This is going to be a good team, and they're only going to get better in the next few years.  They have very rich ownership who will be willing to spend, and their convenient back-to-back last places in years with the best prospects we've ever known (Harper and Strasburg) have put them in a position where they can build internally to become a powerhouse.  As the Phillies mini-dynasty is set to come to a crashing halt, the Nationals have a chance to contend this year, and then win for the next few.  I predict that I'll predict them to win the NL East next year.

The Minors
This was a really nice system before the Gio Gonzalez trade, but is now a bit barren.  Obviously, one of the goals of building a nice system is to turn prospects in to useful, controllable MLB-talent the way they did, so that's fine.  As a plus, they've still got Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon, plus some other useful pieces.  Rendon might end up being blocked by Zimmerman if the latter doesn't move to 1B soon, but that's a problem that can be addressed at a later date.

The Verdict
They could surprise, especially if they can get repeat performances out of Morse, a full season out of Zimmerman, and a bounceback from Jayson Werth.  They will definitely contend, and if they're close at the deadline, they've got the financial flexibility and prospects to make a trade and take on some salary if they need to.  Talent-wise, they're probably the third best team in the division, but they should be in the running for the wildcards, if not the division.  I really like the direction that this club is moving, and they'll probably be the team to beat in the NL East in 2013.

Projection: 86-76, 3rd in the NL East.

Friday, 23 March 2012

New Commercial!

I prefer the Diddy one last year to the Coldplay this year, but what can you do?

2012 Previews: Milwaukee Brewers

I see you creepin', I can see it in my shadow.  Wanna jump up in my Yovani Gallardo.

The Majors
The loss of Prince Fielder obviously sucks, but this team is still plenty good enough to contend if things go right, especially with two wild cards.  The front end of the rotation can hang with any team, the bullpen is very strong, and they have Ryan Braun on steroids.  I worry most about the offensive contributions that this team can put up now, especially with Fielder gone, and with Corey Hart being a bit of a question mark.  They won more than their fair share of close games last season, and seemed to get blown out of the water an awful lot for a team that won 96 games.

One thing I like quite a bit about what the Brewers did this offseason was investing in some people who can actually play some defense in the infield, instead of giving Yuniesky Betancourt everyday shortstop time.  With better infield defense comes better results for Gallardo-Grienke-Marcum, all of whom had fip's under 4.

Ultimately, I don't think that they're a better team than STL or CIN, but they should be able to stay within a reasonable distance of both, and maybe if they can find a trade somewhere to pick up a legitimate 1B option if Mat Gamels (or whoever) can't hang, the NL Central race should be reasonably close at the end of the season.

The Minors
If they do happen to want to pick up a 1B option, they might have to get creative, because there isn't much in the minor league system, and they have already announced that they're going to be running over their budget this season.  There are a few arms in the system that could reach the bigs at some point in 2013, but this system is pretty thin.

The Verdict
If they can find a surprise contribution out of 1B, they might be able to contend, but I wouldn't feel comfortable betting on it.  After signing Aramis Ramirez to try to fill the gap left by Prince Fielder, they pushed their payroll beyond their planned budget, which is a scary thought considering Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum are both free agents after this season (Randy Wolf also has a $10MM option that probably won't be exercised).  If they decide that they're close enough that they want to go for it, they have a few arms in the system that could fetch a decent player.  This depends mostly on what they think they'll get out of Corey Hart, and what they think their chances are of re-signing Greinke and, to a lesser extent, Marcum.  If they think both pitchers walk at the end of the year, they might try to mortgage off their future at the expense of a few prospects to try and win now before rebuilding for a year or two.

Projection: 87-75, 3rd in the NL Central

Today's Stuff, sponsored by Don Draper

Since this will almost certainly be the last post I make before the Mad Men season premiere (I'll actually be doing another team preview, but that doesn't count), I may as well include Jon Hamm in this one as a "Hey, watch Mad Men on Sunday" kind of reminder.  Or at least download it and tweet about how awesome it was or something.

I don't really have any idea where I'm planning on going with this post other than the slathering of random baseball-related links after I write a few paragraphs explaining that I don't know where I'm going with this, but as long as everybody knows that Mad Men is back this Sunday night at some point, I feel like I'll have done my job.

This is an interactive Mad Men youtube game in 8-bit.

This is a hastily written, contrived comparison between baseball teams and Mad Men characters.

If you don't watch this show, I hate you and you should start immediately.

Anyway, before I start ranting...

Paul Beeston spoke with Stephen Brunt yesterday, and told us the same old stuff that we already knew.  He touches on why they didn't sign Darvish or Fielder, and speaks about money.  Over it.

Shi Davidi has a spot about Jays' catchers and the coaches wanting them to emphasize to pitchers to keep the ball low in the zone, or something like that.

Ben Nicholson-Smith from MLBTR tweeted earlier today:

Valbuena, of course, is a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, and I'm sure he could be available if Omar Vizquel makes the big league roster.  Conversely, maybe Mike Mccoy could get a shot with another organization?

The Phillies, already without lefties Ryan Howard and Chase Utley to start the season, have sent Domonic Brown back to their AAA camp, removing any and all left-handed pop from their lineup.  Meanwhile, it looks like one of Juan Pierre or Scott Podsednik is going to make that team.  Shaking my head.

Not that he really had much of a career going for himself anyway, but Joba Chamberlain dislocated his ankle yesterday while playing with his son, and it may be career threatening.

Finally, here's a link to Part 1 of "Jays: Up Close" with Snider, Lawrie and Arencibia.  Parts 2 and 3 are on the side in the related videos section.  Jose Bautista and Ricky Romero go fishing on next week's episode.

By the way, the week 6 recap of Survivor should be up in like half an hour on Nowhere Plans.  There have also been team-by-team MLB previews, and a Big Ass Spring Training Blog going on for the last little while.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

2012 Previews: Arizona Diamondbacks

The real catching Montero.

The Majors
Well, they have a shitload of young, talented pitchers and position players.  They also have Aaron Hill.  Win some, lose some.  This team isn't nearly as good as advertised, but in a weak division, they should still be plenty good enough to contend.  They won 6 games more than their Pythagorean record would have suggested, powered by a 24-9 finish to the season.

The young core of this franchise is comprised of guys like Justin Upton, Stephen Drew, Paul Goldschmidt, Miguel Montero (I'd re-sign him before this offseason, please), and pitchers Dan Hudson and Ian Kennedy, and Trevor Cahill, so in theory, it should be all about supplementing that core with some good veterans.  Jason Kubel seems fine, especially in that park (though it kind of suppresses the use of Gerardo Parra), but the other offseason acquisitions are headscratchers. Obviously, they needed somebody to take over for Stephen Drew, based on the lack of certainty when it comes to his health, so they answered by giving John Mcdonald, Willie Bloomquist, and Geoff Blum 2-year contracts for some reason.  They also guaranteed Aaron Hill 2 years, which, if we can be serious for a second, is a goddamned joke.

This might be Kevin Towers' version of Moneyball, and taking 4 separate fliers on 2-year deals seems pretty ridiculous to me, but I guess if he can find some semblance of value (through playing time or trade) out of one of them, it won't be completely awful given their financial position, and more importantly, their position on the win curve.

The Minors
Usually, I like to look at the entire system when I talk about farm systems, but uhhh, Trevor Bauer.  Now obviously, one player doesn't make the whole system, and players, especially pitchers, can fizzle out or get hurt or just never fully hit their potential, but I think I'd feel as good about Bauer getting there as just about anybody in the game.  Beyond Bauer, they had a few nice draft picks in the last few years, and have made some trades in recent years when they were worse at the MLB level, so they've really infused their system with a lot of nice arms.  They move Jarrod Parker (and more) to Oakland to get Trevor Cahill, so that obviously hurt the system a bit, but they were deep enough that it shouldn't be a big problem.

The Verdict
I dunno, I'm just not overly fussy about this team.  Sure, they can contend in the NL West, because the NL West isn't very good, but they can just as easily fall flat on their faces, given all of the random background players filling out the rest of the roster.  I'm really surprised that they didn't sell out this offseason in order to secure themselves as the best team in the division, but maybe they're waiting for the extra arms in the minors to come up.

Projection: 89-73, 2nd in the NL West

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

2012 Previews: Miami Marlins

Don't call me Mike.

The Majors

This is going to be a fun, fun team to watch this year. Giancarlo-Cruz Mike Stanton may have usurped Jose Bautista as the most watchable player in baseball, thanks to his outrageous power, leading to several oooh's and aaah's.  Guys like Logan Morrison, Gaby Sanchez and Hanley Ramirez were already the makings of a pretty good core, and the addition of Jose Reyes is only going to make it better.

Mark Buehrle (or however you spell that) joins a pretty decent rotation from top to bottom, consisting of Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco, and Carlos Zambrano (?).  Heath Bell will anchor a bullpen that, frankly, is probably going to disappoint a lot of people, now that the Marlins are expected to be good.  Bell himself is going to get a pretty rude awakening, as a 36 year old closer who had the luxury of being a reliever in the NL West, pitching in Petco most of the time, and the rest of the bullpen isn't really anything special.

If the bullpen were the biggest problem that this team was going to face this year, they'd probably be in pretty good shape as far as their chances of success went.  As it stands right now, though, their biggest problem is the competition.  The Nationals, with a full season of Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann, plus the addition of Gio Gonzalez, are quite simply, a better team than the Marlins.  Further, the Braves and Phillies were significantly better than the Marlins last year, and will return very similar teams.  Now you know how the Jays feel.

The Minors
The Marlins will get a bit of a pass here, since their two biggest prospects of the last few years (Stanton and Morrison) have just graduated to the big leagues in recent years.  However, don't get me wrong: this system is terrible.  If it weren't for the Chicago White Sox, this would probably be the worst system in the game (Cleveland and Houston might have something to say about that).  If you remember back when Heath Bell and Jose Reyes signed, I had a little bone to pick with the Marlins' management regarding the timing of this deal.  Without any assets in the minor league system, the Marlins only have two options going forward; (1) They can sign a bunch more free agents and limit their competition window to the next 3 or 4 years before the decline phase of Buerhle, Reyes, and others begin, or (2) they can be perpetually average.  What they have right now isn't going to get the job done in this division, and I have no idea how they're going to try to fix that.

The Verdict
They would be good if it weren't for the Nats, Phillies and Braves.  I can see the Phillies declining pretty sharply over the next couple of seasons, but the Braves and Nats should be, at worst, fairly good for the next few years.  They're going to need some more pieces if they want to win, so they can either open the wallets, or settle for third.

Projection: 83-79, 4th in the NL East

Trevor Bauer is Still Using his Camera

Fuck Tim Lincecum, Trevor Bauer is your new favorite guy.  Here's a link to his youtube page, which he will hopefully keep updating with videos the way he did yesterday.  He has a clip of himself throwing a bunch of different pitches at 480 frames per second, one of which is a "reverse slider", which really should just be called a screwball and we can leave it at that.  You're just going to confuse people.

MLBTR has their review of the Jays' offseason up.  What offseason, amirite?  No but seriously, they touch on the lack of acquisition of an ace starting pitcher that people are all up in arms about.

Also at MLBTR, Derek Holland has agreed to a contract extension with the Rangers, using Ricky Romero's (and others) contract as a guideline.  Romero signed a 5 year, $30.1MM extension last offseason, a deal, much like Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, Yovani Gallardo and Trevor Cahill, that buys out all of their pre-arb seasons, and has options for at least 1 free agency season.  Holland's deal is worth slightly less money ($28MM guaranteed), and has two club options instead of one.

Jon Morosi of FOX sports has a piece about Jose Bautista and his desire to give back.  He wants to help kids in the Dominican Republic finish their educations and get signed by MLB clubs afterwards, as a means of trying to avoid a strained relationship between the MLB and the Dominican Republic after all the shit that went down this offseason (Jairo Beras was signed as a potentially underage player, Fausto Carmona was outed as an identity fraudulator).

Jonah Keri (Grantland) is concerned about the Phillies offense, now that Chase Utley might be out for a while, but says that it's not all bad.

Give @bluejaysmoves a follow on twitter.  He'll let you know that the Jays have optioned Travis d'Arnaud, Evan Crawford, Joel Carreno, and Mike McDade to minor league camp today, among other items.

Finally, Miguel Cabrera is a real third baseman:

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Post-Rant Links

These are things I've seen on the internet lately:

The increasingly "meh" Joel Sherman of the NY Post has a write-up about the Jays.  Within, A-Rod says that the Jays are going to be a good team for the next few years, and that they can spend a bunch of money.  This is stuff that we already knew, and that I've linked several hundred times over the last 9 months.

Trevor Bauer did long-toss the other day, and someone finally caught this shit on video.  It's kind of hard to see the ball, since the only way to catch a decent look at just how far he's throwing the ball is to use one of the FOX satellites orbiting the Earth to catch the footage.

Bryce Harper was interviewed by GQ magazine.  Excerpt:
"It hurts like a dick."
Rumor has it that the Miami Marlins' theme song is incredibly catchy, but you can see for yourself.  I think I read on twitter yesterday that an official for the team claims that they have absolutely no official involvement with this song.

The Royals have extended Alcides Escobar, MLBTR has learned.  The deal will cover 4 years for $10.5MM, and has two club options that could push the deal to over $21MM.  The 4 guaranteed years are all years that he was under team control anyway, but the two options are his first two free agent seasons.  

On Cecil's Velocity

By the sounds of it, Brett Cecil is having himself a decent little spring, though he could be doing terrible and I'd have no real knowledge of it, since all we ever hear is "This guy is in the best shape of his life", or "His changeup looks better than I've ever seen it".  Now, Google is telling me that Cecil has yet to allow a run over three Spring appearances to this point, which happens to total 6 innings, and there is no context to those 6 innings in terms of batters faced or whatever.  Basically, Spring Training still means nothing.

If we can remember back to a year ago, all the talk was about Cecil's diminished velocity (and really, that whole talk lasted literally all year long), and a lot of people were really shitting their pants, worried that he just wasn't going to be good anymore, since the '09 and '10 versions of this guy were touching 95 with the fastball, while the spring and early summer version was between 85 and 93MPH.  Well, wouldn't you know it?  People are worried about his velocity again.  To those people, I say this:

Shut up.

If you had the first fucking clue about whatever it is that you're talking about, maybe you'd see that there's more to the story than just "OMG Cecil's fastball is slow now and that's why he stinks!"  The big problem last year was his control, not his velocity.  It doesn't matter how hard you throw if you're just tossing up belt-high meatballs. We need to consider the fact that this is spring training.  Quite literally, nearly everybody's velocity is way down in spring training.  It's because these games don't matter, and there's no point of cranking up and throwing at 100% so soon after a 3 month layoff.

Second, many power pitching prospects throw harder in high school or college ball than they ever do at the major league level.  It's because the human body isn't exactly designed to perform a violent, overhand throwing motion at 95MPH.  It just shouldn't happen.  Ever wonder why so many pitchers throw in the high-90's early in their career and then get hurt, needing to retire at age 29?  Fuck, we had Adam Loewen right in front of us towards the end of last season.  Mark Prior is another perfect example.

Third, and most importantly, Cecil isn't the same pitcher he was in 2009, when he could occasionally reach back and hit 95 on the gun.  I'm not saying that he can't do that now, per se, it's just that Cecil's pitch repertoire and pitching profile has evolved as he's been in the league, getting used to MLB-hitters, and vice-versa.  Let's have a look at his pitch F/X numbers.

In 2009, Cecil threw about 58% fastballs (4-seam, 2-seam), 30% sliders/curves, and 11% changeups.  His average fastball velocity was 90.8MPH (88.3 for 2-seamers), and his average changeup velocity was 83.4MPH.  As Cecil has evolved as a pitcher, he's slowed his changeup down to an average of 81.1 MPH, adding a nearly 1MPH gap between the changeup and fastball velocities, and is now throwing it three times as often.  He's also eliminated his 2-seamer, and throws more sinkers.

It stands to reason that his average fastball velocity is going to drop a bit if he doesn't throw his hard pitches as often, no? The whole idea of a changeup is to make it look like a fastball.  Invariably, you'd like your fastball to look like a changeup as well.  Which would you like, 2 more MPH on your fastball, or a more effective changeup?  I don't know if there's a right answer to that question, but you can't have fucking both without being some freak.  Last I checked, Cecil is a #3 at best, so I'd prefer the extra pitch, and since Alex Anthopoulos reported yesterday on the Jeff Blair show (which I reviewed here last night) that Cecil's changeup has been lights out, maybe we can put two and two together?

Let's look at someone who has never really depended on velocity to get guys out: Shaun Marcum.  When Marcum broke in, he threw his fastball 43% of the time (plus 7% cutters) at an average velocity of 88MPH, and threw his changeup 17.5% of the time, averaging 81.3MPH.  Marcum now throws 23% fastballs, and 26% changeups, and guess what?  He throws both pitches significantly slower now.  Marcum's fastball frequency has dropped each year since 2007, and his average velocity has done the same.

Look at Cecil's heatmaps while you still have the fangraphs link: he hardly throws fastballs to lefty hitters anymore, and is now peppering the zone with changeups to batters on both sides of the plate.  Have you ever heard old broadcasters with funny hair say stuff like "this guy has all the stuff needed to be a good major league pitcher, he just needs to learn how to pitch"?  Shaun Marcum understands how to pitch.  Brett Cecil is simply still learning how to pitch, and realizing the fact that he can't blow it past MLB hitters was probably step number 1.  I'm not saying that Cecil has ace potential, or will even be good for the rest of his career; I'm simply saying that velocity isn't the be-all and end-all for pitching, and that losing a mile on his fastball for the sake of improving his best pitch (the changeup) is probably a really good trade if we want him to have a chance.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

wOBA vs. OPS, plus stuff

Remember that post I did once, talking about all the stats that I like to use?  This one right here?  Well I added a quick update to it today, courtesy of Walk Like a Sabermetrician, via Tom Tango's Book blog.  I never really knew how to explain the problem I had with OPS (and thus OPS+), and the way that it overrated slugging percentage, or, more wordily but equally sense-making, double counted doubles and triples.  Basically, it explains wOBA in a formulaic way, and mathematically shows why wOBA>OPS.  W stands for walk here:
If we convert wOBA equation so that the S is fixed at 2.129, we get: 
wOBA = (1.70W + 2.13S + 2.93D + 3.69T + 4.61HR)/(AB + W) 
OPS severely undervalues the walk, and somewhat overvalues the extra base hit.  If you are going to go to ANY effort to calculate a metric that includes BB, H, and HR, it makes zero sense to put that effort into OPS.
Great stuff for a nerd like myself.

Apparently expanded instant replay is going to have to wait for at least another year.  That sucks.

Alex Anthopoulos was on the Jeff Blair show this morning.  Among the discussion topics were starting pitching, Travis Snider/Eric Thames, and Adeiny Hechavarria.

On Hech: AA says he looked great, and that he didn't want to send him down to the minors this morning, but it's spring training so meh.  He's gotten stronger, and the bat speed is better than last year.  Defensively, he's good enough now, but the bat has to improve.  Tools are there, and worst case, he's a bottom of the order bat going forward.

He'd be thrilled if Hech improved to the point that he's knocking down the door, and would be totally fine putting him at 2B if, say, Kelly Johnson got hurt, despite the fact that they seem him as a gold glove SS.  Yunel is still there, and is totally a part of the team.  Lind, Snider, etc., have come up, and have needed to go back down.  Sometimes this kind of they need more time.  If he's not hitting in AAA, he's not an option in Toronto.

On trades: Same policy stands.

On Starting Pitchers: Right now, they're not bringing in pitchers.  Cecil has looked outstanding, especially the change-up.  His velocity has never been anything overbearing, so he doesn't understand why everybody is shitting their pants about the velocity.  Rates were the same as they were last year than they were the year before, so it's no biggie.  They haven't had dialogue with guys like Webb or Oswalt, or any other free agents. If the Jays bring in another starter, they'd need to be a big, big upgrade when you consider the loss of development for whoever that guy replaces in the rotation.

On Snider: Eric is the front-runner for the job, but it won't be handed to him.  Spring is a small sample.  If he goes to AAA, he'll be an option, but up-and-down is something that they'd like to avoid.  If they option him again, he can't come back up without being exposed to waivers.  He reminds us that Snider his .400 in spring last year, and we saw how that worked out.

On Vizquel: Can still play the left side of the infield. Arm strength isn't there, but footspeed and range is still there to the point that he's still very serviceable.  Reminds him of John Macdonald, in the sense that throws across the infield aren't frozen ropes, but he gets to the ball so fast that there really isn't any worry.

Dustin Mcgowan was also on the Blair show this morning, and the audio was dogshit.  He says that he feels fine for this first time in years.  At the start of the spring, he had some lingering thoughts about injury problems, but he's good to go now in terms of worrying, soreness, etc.  He still has the attitude that he has to go out there and make the team, so he's not really experimenting with new pitches and stuff.  He feels like he's the same pitcher than who he was pre-injuries, and he always wanted to stick with pitching and coming back, since he thought that he was going to come back and get to the bigs again.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Blue Jays "Fart du Jour"

I didn't want to call it a link dump, because it's only going to be small.  Could have went with "turd" but what I have here hardly qualifies as news, and therefore isn't anything of substance, ergo, fart.  Plus, that video.

Anyway, I could link to Bleacher Report and their stupid, terrible, shitty slideshow interface, since they had something about Travis Snider the other day, but instead I'll let you know that it's completely worthless and a waste of time.  If you really want it, you should know how to use google by now.

MLBTR tells us that Brett Cecil and Kyle Drabek are drawing interest from opposing scouts and management.  And so they should, since the Jays are apparently in the market for an upgrade at starter.  I'd be surprised if either were moved, since they're 25 and 24, respectively, and the Jays don't have any real reason to want to move either guy at this point in time.  I did not realize that Cecil was only 25 though.  The available pitchers listed on that link don't really impress me near enough to warrant giving up Drabek, but Cecil could probably fetch Floyd, or at least be the main piece.  All in all, I don't think this is much to dwell on.

I think I read that Cecil threw 3 innings today, allowing 0 runs, 1 hit, 2bb's and stiking out two, but I can't remember where I read that/who wrote it, so you'll just have to find that yourself, since I don't care enough about spring training games to find out what exactly happened, who it was against, or if it even happened.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports tells us that the Jays and D'Backs might make a nice trade partnership at some point this year or next, depending on what happens with Miguel Montero and Travis d'Arnaud.  If Montero decides that he'd like to test the free agent waters, and d'Arnaud performs well enough to warrant a promotion, JP Arencibia could be sent to the desert.  Rosey suggests Gerardo Parra (and more), but I find that a bit too convenient for the D'Backs, seeing as the Jays are already facing logjams to come in the outfield. Dave Cameron from Fangraphs had a live chat today, and said that the Jays would probably be better off keeping JPA as a backup catcher/occasional DH/pinch hitter, by the way.  Rosenthal also suggests that one of Hech or Yunel could be moved once that situation tightens up.  Call me crazy, but I don't think Hech is going to be anything more than a backup.  Again, this is probably nothing to dwell on.

Regarding the Gavin Floyd thing from yesterday:

Also, if you'd like to see people overrate Floyd's value, or talk nonsense about trading Jose Bautista, you should check the comments of that thread.

2012 Previews: Colorado Rockies


The Majors
 If there's a team that could surprise in the NL, it's probably the Rockies.  Assuming the Reds winning their division wouldn't be surprise to you, because it shouldn't.  It's not like this division is overly tough or anything, I just prefer the chances of both the D'Backs and Giants to the Rockies, mostly due to massive, huge, extraordinary pitching concerns.

The lineup should be fine.  Tulo and CarGo are obviously the main attractions offensively, but beyond that, the criminally underappreciated Marco Scutaro is an excellent addition at 2B, and he should fit in nicely in front of Tulo/CarGo. Michael Cuddyer should thrive at Coors, assuming the move to hitter-heaven allows him to remain anywhere near as skillful as he's been in the last couple of years.  The fact that he can play all over the diamond in at least a somewhat serviceable manner always helps.

The big question mark is the pitching staff.  Dan O'Dowd has actually gone out and found a bunch of flyball pitchers to play at Coors, which, on the surface, sounds completely fucking braindead.  I really struggle to find any sense here, but if, for some reason, all these flyball pitchers are inducing weak flyballs instead of liners, maybe the outfielders and go and get them and O'Dowd will have put together an effective staff on the cheap.  Seems ambitious.  Whatever that rotation is going to look like by opening day, it's just going to be a bunch of 3's and 4's, but with a halfway decent bullpen backing them up.  They truly miss a frontline starter, having moved Ubaldo, but now that we've found out recently that Ubaldo wasn't happy in Colorado, it makes more sense.

The Minors
The Ubaldo Jimenez trade from last summer shored up the system nicely.  Drew Pomeranz and newly-DUI'ed Alex White should provide some value going forward, and Nolan Arenado is one of the better infielder prospects in the game, but beyond that, it's a whole bunch of depth without a bunch of star-power. The club has been in "win now" mode for the most part since 2007, whether they were actually winning or not, so building up prospects hasn't really been the plan lately.  I find that they're kind of in limbo regarding what they should do over the next few years, but they just signed Tulo and CarGo to extensions, so it's tough to justify blowing up the rest of the team around them at the moment.

The Verdict
Without a solid rotation, I can't honestly trust this team to surprise anybody, especially in this park.  They'll probably be decent, and I think a lot of people are going to be surprised at how many games they win, since most are writing them off, but they won't contend down the stretch without going out and finding a frontline starter, which they don't really have the pieces for anyway.  They might get surprising contributions from Drew Pomeranz, but I doubt it will be enough.

Projection: 81-81, 3rd in the NL West

Monday, 12 March 2012

2012 Previews: Pittsburgh Pirates

Another Justin Upton!

The Majors

This is one of those teams who have been so bad for so long that they've finally built up a farm system and a young core, whether or not that was the plan. Neil Huntington has done a nice job so far, and has been rewarded by the club with a 3 year extension this past September.  I know he's done a good job because he signed Andrew Mccutchen to a contract extension instead of trading him or letting him expire in to free agency.

This team isn't going to be overly good this year, despite all the modest additions.  They got AJ Burnett for cheap (probably a slight overpay, but meh), and they added Clint Barmes, Erik Bedard, and Kevin Correia to relatively cheap deals that could turn out to be nice prospect finders for the team.

This past year, they were actually 7 games over .500 just after the all-star break, and were actually tied for the division lead 100 games in to the season.  Whatever the fuck happened after that, I can't really say, but it didn't go well down the stretch.  They could probably compete if they were to add a good starter (or get contributions from their farm studs like Taillon), and get the performances we've been waiting for from guys like Tabata and Alvarez, but ultimately, I don't think they're good enough to compete with the better teams in this division.

The Minors
They've graduated a few guys to the majors in the last few years, but being so terrible has allowed them to draft some pretty special guys.  They have pitching out the ass, with Jameson Taillion, and Gerritt Cole, and Stetson Allie (though Allie had a bad year last year, and might be a reliever going forward). They don't have a ton of depth behind those pitchers and OF Josh Bell, but that's mostly because of their young MLB club.  There are still some nice prospects in this system, even if there aren't many fillers behind them.

The Verdict
It's coming.  I liken them to Cleveland in terms of their chances to compete.  They'll lose a doormat in 2013, as Houston moves to the AL, so their schedule should toughen a bit, but the big league roster should improve and be ready to contend by then anyway.  They're probably going to peak at the right time (two or three years from now), with both Cincinnati and Milwaukee peaking  around now.

Projection: 75-87, 4th in the AL Central

Jays still in on Floyd

MLBTR is telling us that the Jays are still looking in to White Sox starter Gavin Floyd, via Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi.  Floyd would probably represent an upgrade over Dustin Mcgowan/Kyle Drabek/whoever, so if the Jays think that this might be year 1, they can go for it and deal with the rotation jam later.  He'll make $7MM this year, and then has a $9.5MM option for 2013, but will become a free agent if that option is declined.

Assuming the Jays do acquire Floyd, he would take over as the #3 starter, moving Cecil to #4, and either Alvarez or Mcgowan will take the #5 spot, with the other... um.. hmm.  Alvarez could still be sent down, since he still has options, as does Drabek if he's not ready, or some guys could be jettisoned from the bullpen, making room for either Mcgowan or Alvarez there (I think they want Mcgowan starting to keep a routine).  Either could be traded, obviously, but I don't think that's likely.  Alvarez to AAA or the bullpen is probably the most likely scenario here, I'd say.

Here's a thought: Let's say the Jays can acquire Floyd without giving up a whole lot (big "if" already); they complete the year with him, and then decline the option, making him a free agent.  Floyd would almost certainly get something along the lines of 5 years and $50MM, which would net the Jays a compensation pick!  Odds are currently set at "Very Unlikely".



Elsewhere, my fantasy preview is up at Nowhere Plans.  There is also a big-ass spring training blog there, if you're at all interested in that.  I know I'm not, but I do happen to know that Travis Snider is having a great spring to this point.  That can be found here.

The Cubs signed Gerardo Concepcion the other day.  The Cuban prospect got a 5 year, $6MM guaranteed contract with a spot on the 40-man roster.

The NY Times had a piece on Brandon Morrow that I think I forgot to link.

Finally, Fangraphs' Marc Hulet released his top-100 prospects list.  You'll find 7 familiar names on it, tied for second most with Oakland, and 1 behind the Braves.  Travis d'Arnaud (36), Anthony Gose (37), Dan Norris (53), Drew Hutchison (54), Justin Nicolino (63), Noah Syndergaard (64) and Jake Marisnick (66) were the good guys.

Friday, 9 March 2012

2012 Previews: San Diego Padres

I probably know less about this team than any other, save for maybe Houston, since nobody knows dick about their cornucopia of AAA lifers.  What I do know is that last year, they lost an astounding eight games more than their pythagorean record would suggest.  I also happen to know that they amount of young talent that they've stockpiled over the last few years is outrageous, and that this team is on their way up.

The Majors
I'll be honest, I paid 0 attention to this team last year, and they're one of the few teams that I have to look up to compare their 2011 and 2012 rosters.  I don't see a ton of turnaround, beyond the obvious elephant in the room in the form of Mat Latos/Yonder Alonso.

Unless I'm missing something major, Orlando Hudson and Jason Bartlett will continue to both get everyday playing time, and suck. Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal are both mainstays of the future that can be added to their already excellent batch of youngsters (Headley, Maybin, Leubke), so we can certainly expect the Padres to be solid in a few years, but I think it's too soon to expect either Grandal or Alonso to be good enough to turn this team in to a contender for at least one more season.  Having said that, they play in a ballpark that really supresses offense, which makes games a lot more volatile (i.e. their 8-game differential between actual and pythagorean records last year), so they could be a surprise.  They certainly have a lot of payroll flexibility and they don't play in an overly difficult division, so if they're close at the deadline, expect them to be buyers.

The Bartlett and Hudson contracts expire after this season, and Carlos Quentin is a free agent-to-be as well, assuming they don't lock him up, so there will certainly be some work to do moving forward.  They could also stand to find another halfway decent pitcher.  If they do happen to be buyers at the deadline, look for them to acquire a middle infielder and relegate one of Hudson/Bartlett to the bench.

The Minors 
This is one of the best systems in baseball, if not the best.  Most top-100 lists released by the major scouting sources (Law/Goldstein/Callis) have few Padres in the top half, but they all seem to wax on about how, if the lists were 150 or 200 players long, that there would be 10+ Padres.  If you include the young members of the core of the major league club, you can see why this franchise is on the way up.

The Verdict
I can see this team contending in 2013, though I'm sure this season is a bit of a transitional one, and things are more geared up for 2014 and beyond.  In this division, I can see a team this youg and talented having the same problems that any young team have, and I think the pitching is going to be a pretty big weak spot as well.  With that in mind, I don't think the record of the club really matters to the front office this year, nor can it when you deal your ace in the offseason.

Projection: 77-85, 4th place in the NL West

Thursday, 8 March 2012

2012 Previews: Chicago Cubs

It was ugly until this happened.  Now it's just bad.

The Majors
Man, Jim Hendry really did a number on this team.  Now I'll be honest, I'm not exactly sure what the difference between a GM and a President is, or what the President does, or what Theo is going to be doing now relative to what he was doing in Boston, but I'd be surprised if this team stays terrible for long under his/Jed's direction.  Hereon, when I refer to Theo, I'm saying it as if he is also the GM and is in charge, because he probably is.

Now that Carlos Zambrano has been traded, the Cubs only have $33MM and change (plus arbitration raises and minimum contracts) committed to their 2013 payroll, which should leave them plenty of flexibility going forward.  Now, the team isn't very good, but Theo is really good at his job, and if he really feels the need to compete, he can get creative.

You'd like to just go and trade everything that isn't nailed down, but there isn't really a whole lot of value on that roster beyond Matt Garza, since everything else is stuff that you'd rather build around (and Garza could feasibly be locked up long-term).

The Minors
Theo has already said that he'd like to rebuild this team slowly and properly, through drafting and developing prospects and building up the team internally, supplementing that with trades.  The new CBA should make it a bit tougher to do that without making some trades from his major league club, so it should be interesting to see what that plan turns in to a year or two from now.

The Verdict
The team isn't very good, especially when compared to three above-average teams within their division.  I don't think they plan on contending much over the next few years, and I think they're going to have trouble rebuilding given the state of their franchise.  The Cubs are one team that should really get nailed by the new CBA, since they don't have very many major league assets to turn to prospects, and they don't really have a great farm system to build on to.  I can't see them being any better this year than they were last year, especially if they make any trades (Garza, Dempster, Byrd, Soriano, Marmol could all go).

Projection: 72-90, 5th in the NL Central

2012 Previews: Los Angeles Dodgers

Kershaw! Kemp! Nothing else!

The Majors
Frank Mccourt should be sent to jail for murdering this organization.

Beyond Kershaw and Kemp, this team is pretty much just a big abandoned shed of old yard-sale eligible Nintendos and bikes and lawnmowers.  I honestly don't think they have any intention of contending for the next two years while they rebuild this club and settle their ownership issues, but they're following through with that plan in a pretty expensive way: they signed Aaron Harang, Mark Ellis, Adam Kennedy, Jerry Hairston, and Chris Capuono to deals taking them through the 2013 seasons this past offseason (not to mention re-signing Juan Rivera for $4.5MM and giving Juan Uribe 3/$24MM last year).  It's hard to justify being this bad and having a payroll of $120MM, but they've got some trade candidates in Andre Ethier and James Loney if they can stay healthy, plus any of the aforementioned names could turn in to something at the trade deadline with a decent season.

The Minors
They really need to develop some prospects over the next few seasons.  They have a lot of really good arms in the system to complement Kershaw, Kenley Jensen, and Javy Guerra, but it appears as though their lack of depth in position players could hold them back.  Again, they should have some chances to move guys like Ethier for prospects, plus some people could develop from the 2010 or 2011 drafts to look better going forward.

The Verdict
Going forward, they should be able to rebuild fairly quickly once their ownership situation gets resolved, thanks to the fact that they're the Dodgers, steeped in tradition and whatnot.  They play in a great big market that can sell a bunch of tickets and support a payroll that will be competitive enough to make up for any major holes on the roster.  They need to lock up Kershaw long-term.  If they do, they've got their core locked up and can easily toss aside any old scrubs that are in the way.

Projection: 73-89, 5th place in the NL West

Monday, 5 March 2012

Daily Jays Internets

The Jays lost a spring training tilt with the Tigers today.  You can relive that one via boxscore here, or choose to not care, the way I do.  I'll save you the reading, and let you know that Colby Rasmus was 2-for-2, and nobody else really did much.  I think I read that Edwin missed a homerun by a matter of inches, but that was just what twitter said.

JP Arencibia was on The Dean Blundell Show today (32-minute mark), and, among other things, claimed that Ricky Romero is balls to the wall now that he's free of Rima Fakih, who is batshit insane, apparently.  This is pretty entertaining, so have a quick listen.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that the Jays and Red Sox are both still very interested in Gavin Floyd.  It's literally a paragraph in a long page, so:
Gavin Floyd, RHP, White Sox - He continues to be a focus of teams looking for one more starter. He could be in play for the Blue Jays or Red Sox. The White Sox don’t appear eager to move Floyd, but general manager Kenny Williams wouldn’t be shy if it brought him a decent bounty in return.
Lastly, Marcel projections are out.  Jays batters and pitchers. Bautista projects to be the third best hitter in baseball, and Brett Lawrie projects to be the best hitting 3B, per this system.

2012 Previews: New York Mets

It just keeps getting worse.

The Majors

It was always going to be bad, but if Ike Davis actually has Valley Fever, as is being reported, then sweet Jesus.  This lineup is going to be David Wright (if he stays healthy), sort of Daniel Murphy, and that's about it. Instead of re-signing Jose Reyes, they used the money that they saved on that contract and spent it on a bunch of aging relievers who aren't worth free agent compensation anymore.  They'll get two draft picks out of Reyes, thanks to his deal with the Marlins, but if they had opted to trade him early in the season (before his injury), they could have found much more value, and would have found themselves relatively equally far from the playoffs (see: really far).

I can understand the non-trade of David Wright, thanks to the goofy little clause in his contract that allows him to void the club option on his contract, but I think the management in this organization has really dropped the ball, and the ownership fiasco obviously hasn't helped anything along.  They need to either shed the contracts of, or get rebound seasons from guys like Jason Bay and Johan Santana.

They've cut about $40MM worth of payroll since last opening day, and I don't think any team has ever had success in the season immediately following such a salary drop.

The Minors

I feel like the direction that the club is moving (eventually) is correct, but its' just going to take quite a bit of time.  This farm system isn't anything special, but it should be a lot better, since they should have traded some guys for a wealth of prospects by now.  I can see Jon Niese getting moved somewhere at some point this year, especially if he ever begins to match his peripheral stats and stays healthy.  He's pretty much Gio Gonzalez, so if he does get traded, we can expect to see a similar pile of prospects.

Until then, they do have some prospects to go along with their young position players, so it's not a complete disaster forever.

The Verdict

They could probably finish with the worst record in the NL, thanks to their division.  They'd have to be pretty unlucky, or just trade a whole bunch of their players, but it is at least possible.  They've still got some good young players, and who knows, maybe Jason Bay and Johan Santana aren't completely finished.

Projection: 71-91, 5th in NL East

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Sunday Stuff For You

Bill James, in all his socially awkwardness, was on the B.S. Report with Bill Simmons on ESPN on Friday.  The interview was in front of a live audience, which probably helped contribute to James' nervousness, but I'm sure that if you edited out all of the Ummm's and Uhhh's, it would probably translate in to a pretty interesting 40 minutes or so.  As is, it's an hour long, and still pretty good.

Sticking with ESPN, Jayson Stark has a piece about the Jays and their corresponding chances for the Wild Card, now that there are two of them.  Again, it's a lot of what we've heard recently about the amount of talent that they're stockpiling, and the strategies that they've put in place to get to where they are and where they're going.  Obviously, Stark mentions both the Rays, and Joey Votto.  Because who wouldn't?

Here's a terrible piece of shit by Kevin Glew of CBC Sports.  He thinks that Kelly Johnson should be the leadoff hitter.  I thought about making a whole post about why this is terrible, but meh.  I might make one similar to this, only reasonable, closer to opening day.  For what it's worth, I think Johnson should be closer to the 4-5-6 area, simply due to his profile as a hitter.  He strikes out too much to be a leadoff guy, but still has good on-base and slugging tendencies, even coming off a shitty year.

Shi Davidi of Sportsnet has a recap of the Jays 7-1 spring training win against the Pirates yesterday.  Worth noting, the Jays had their starting lineup from last year (post trade deadline) playing yesterday, while the Pirates opted to play only rookies.  The two teams will play again today, though lineups haven't been released.  The game will be broadcast on the FAN590 and the Bluejays radio network, and if you have MLB.TV, you can probably find it their too.  I, of course, am cheap and have chosen to wait for the inevitable discount, the way they do it every year, since I'm not really going to burst my cherry on spring training games anyway.

Fangraphs' Dave Cameron was on Clubhouse Confidential yesterday, talking about ZiPS projections.  Among the topics, and something that I was going to point out in my fantasy baseball primer that I haven't posted yet, is the fact that Ian Kinsler is probably a better pick than both Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia, despite being ranked much lower than both (Based on Yahoo rankings, Cano is a 1st rounder, Pedroia an early 2nd, Kinsler is a late 2/early 3).  Cat's out of the bag, I guess.  By the way, there are a whole bunch of Clubhouse Confidential videos there for free, and they're all pretty excellent.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Quick Stuff Dump

The above is the debut of Logan Morrison and Bryan Peterson's (of the Miami Marlins) youtube show.  LoMo is a great, great twitterer, and Peterson is halfway decent as well, so I'm hoping that there's a bunch of these coming up, because I had a few chuckles at this one.

Alex Anthopoulos was on the Fan590 this morning (audio here), talking about Kyle Drabek and September baseball.

Kevin Goldstein of baseball prospectus was also on Fan590 (audio here), this time with Jeff Blair, talking about prospects Jake Marisnick and Anthony Gose, as well as the new CBA.

The Jays played a 5-inning split squad game today, but I have no idea what happened.  They basically took their 2011 starting lineup and played it against "the others", such as Snider, Francisco, Davis...  Romero started for the good team, Morrow for the bad.

My latest on Nowhere Plans is up.  Episode 3 of Survivor.  That can be found here.

Grady Sizemore is going to miss 2-3 months after having a little back surgery yesterday, apparently something similar to what Peyton Manning had done.  That guy seriously just gets paid to do absolutely nothing.  Speaking of injuries, AJ Burnett bunted a ball in to his face, and broke an orbital bone.  Should miss quite a bit of time.  I wonder if Richard Griffin is going to shit his pants now, because if that trade should have been vetoed by the commissioner's office before the injury...