Advertisements

Blog Archives

B.J. Upton: Rays’ OF Trade Destinations and Recap of Beltran Trade to the Giants

Thursday July 28, 2011

 

 

Rob Bland (Intern- MLB Reports):  Trade Deadline.  More speculation.  Teams out of the playoff race sending their valuable veterans to contending teams for prospects.  This is a time of year that baseball journalists make a living out of contemplating where there is a fit.  The Tampa Bay Rays have quite a decision to make as to what to do with the frustrating yet ultra-talented Melvin “BJ” Upton.  Upton was the 2ndoverall pick in the 2002 MLB draft, and quickly rose through the ranks with the Rays.  In his first full season in 2007, he belted 24 home runs and stole 22 bases while maintaining an OPS of .894.  Every season since that breakout year, his BABIP has dropped, and he has been unable to replicate the type of power he previously displayed.  Upton is a good fielder in center field and a good base runner, with the ability to steal 30-40 bases a year.  This year, Upton has struggled at the Trop, where he is hitting .171/.250/.312/.562.  On the road, the numbers are much better at .284/.364/.481/.845.

The Rays would be wise to move B.J. Upton now as they could net a tremendous return from a team who may be desperate to make a push for the playoffs.  There have been close to a dozen teams who have at least called to check in on GM Andrew Friedman’s asking price.

 

Here are five teams who would be wise to make a big push for the outfielder:

San  Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants are looking to repeat as World Series Champs and look poised to make the postseason, even with one of the worst offenses in baseball.  They do have RHP Zach Wheeler ranked as MLB.com’s preseason #33 prospect.  The 2009 1st rounder has done very well this year in the California League, but does need to refine command.  Offering Wheeler would probably force the Rays to make the deal, however, the Giants seem to be looking at Carlos Beltran and Colby Rasmus as their main targets.** (NOTE: Since preparing this article, Rasmus has been traded to the Jays and Beltran appears to be on the move to San Francisco.  It is a likely safe bet that Upton is not headed anytime soon to San Francisco.)

 

Atlanta Braves
With none of their regular outfielders hitting over .234, the Braves are getting pretty desperate for help.  Even though they are currently three games up in the wild card race in the National League, they need to bolster their line-up in order to do some damage in the playoffs.  The Braves have a ton of pitching prospects to get the deal done.   Arodys Vizcaino is one of these top prospects, who has shot up to AAA from A-ball this season.  With great command and a plus fastball and curve, Vizcaino could be used to bring Upton to Atlanta.

 

Philadelphia Phillies
With the aging Raul Ibanez and youngster Dom Brown struggling to hit in the corner outfield spots, Upton could be ushered in to fill one of those spots.  Incumbent Shane Victorino likely wouldn’t be moved from center, but could shift to left for Upton.  I could actually see the Phillies going with a young athletic outfield of Victorino, Upton and Brown.  Ibanez then becomes a decent weapon off the bench.  Still only 19 years old, Jonathan Singleton has drawn a lot of interest from other teams.  The Phillies have stated they will not move Singleton for Beltran, but I could see it happening with Upton.  Singleton has an advanced approach at the plate, and as he matures, will surely hit for power.

 

Cleveland Indians
With Grady Sizemore seemingly always on the disabled list, Cleveland needs to shore up the center of their outfield.  Michael Brantley has performed admirably, however if they really want to contend in the shaky AL Central, they need a difference maker.  Shin Soo Choo has underperformed this year and with the addition of Upton, I can see him being able to turn his season around.  Joe Gardner, a right-handed pitching prospect could be moved in this deal.  Gardner is an extreme groundball pitcher that needs work on secondary pitches, but along with Cord Phelps, a 2B/3B who played 19 games with the Indians this year, a deal could be struck. 

 

Pitsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates’ string of losing seasons could soon be over, and they’re in the hunt for the NL Central crown.  Only a game back, they may make a push for a complement to Andrew McCutchen in the outfield.  With Jose Tabata struggling and spending time in AAA, Upton to play right field for the Pirates could be a great idea.  Starling Marte, a speedy outfielder who may remind some a bit of Upton, could be dangled with an arm such as Colton Cain, a lefty who can throw in the mid 90s but needs work on his secondary stuff.

 

The most likely spot for Upton to land is Philadelphia.  With the package that Philly could put together to obtain him, they are capable of pulling the trigger.  If the Pirates do make a move, and don’t make the playoffs, they risk possibly setting the organization back again, as rushing their success could cause a tremendous fallout.  Slow and steady usually wins the race.  Hopefully the Pirates remember that. 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Rob Bland.  Please feel free to leave comments and to welcome Rob aboard.  You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

 

 

Editor’s Note:  The Giants acquisition of Carlos Beltran looks to be complete.  As proposed last week on the Reports, Carlos Beltran is on the move from the Mets to the Giants in exchange for top Giants pitching prospect Zack Wheeler.  The trade simply needs a rubber stamp, as Beltran needs to go through the formality of waiving his no-trade clause.  His agent, Scott Boras, worked diligently to land Beltran with a NL contending team and did not disappoint with the trade to San Francisco.  The 21-year old Wheeler was the 6th overall pick in the 2009 draft.  The Giants gave up the top pitcher in their system, no doubt.  But with a major league rotation consisting of Matt Cain, Tim LincecumMadison Bumgarner, Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong and Jonathan Sanchez on the mend, the Giants could afford to part with pitching to acquire hitting.  The Mets are also sending $4 million dollars of salary relief to the Giants as further consideration in obtaining a top prospect back.  Expect Beltran to be the middle-of-the-order slugger the Giants so desperately crave, especially with top hitting catcher Buster Posey out for the year.  I can see Beltran carrying the Giants into the playoffs and advancing quite far, given his previous playoffs heroics and incentive to land one more big free agency contract in the offseason.  Beltran is also likely to re-sign with the Giants, so this is a win-win all around.  The Giants get run production this year and in possible future years and the Mets add a much needed building block for their future which just got brighter.

Advertisements

Carlos Beltran to the Giants: Mets Likely to Trade Slugger to San Fran

Tuesday July 19, 2011

 

MLB reports:   The MLB rumor mill is working overtime as the non-waiver trade deadline of July 31st quickly approaches.  With less than two weeks to go, the speculation is heating up as to which players will be changing uniforms.  Francisco Rodriguez is already a Brewer and Jeff Keppinger was just traded to the Giants.  But rumors persist that the Mets and Giants are not finished with their activity.  With both superstars Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran eligible for free agency at the end of the season, talk is that one or both players will be moved out of New York.  With the possibility of the Mets trying to retain Reyes, the most likely scenario is Carlos Beltran changing addresses.  At the center of the speculation is the San Francisco Giants.  The defending World Series champions have been simply atrocious this year offensively.  With their cleanup hitter Buster Posey out for the season, the team cannot afford to miss out on the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes. 

The Giants were very fortunate to win the World Series last year.  The playoffs are a tough road and requires the perseverance normally of a balanced team to make it to the end.  The Giants, while solid in the pitching department, were essentially using smoke and mirrors to score runs last year.  The team relied on the likes of Aubrey Huff, Cody Ross and Freddy Sanchez on offense.  While useful role players, these players are not the big sluggers that are supposed to win championships.  Now with Buster Posey out, the Giants are forced to rely on Eli Whiteside, Miguel Tejada, Aaron Rowand, Pat Burrell and company to score the team’s runs.  Possessing one of the best, if not the best pitching staff in baseball, the Giants can ill-afford to limit itself offensively and essentially waste such strong pitching.  To defend its championship, the Giants will have no choice but to beef up their offense.

Carlos Beltran has been one of the most consistent hitters in the game over the course of his career.  Taking a look at his numbers, we see a consistently high level of production:

Year Tm AB R H HR RBI SB BA
1998 KCR 58 12 16 0 7 3 .276
1999 KCR 663 112 194 22 108 27 .293
2000 KCR 372 49 92 7 44 13 .247
2001 KCR 617 106 189 24 101 31 .306
2002 KCR 637 114 174 29 105 35 .273
2003 KCR 521 102 160 26 100 41 .307
2004 TOT 599 121 160 38 104 42 .267
2004 KCR 266 51 74 15 51 14 .278
2004 HOU 333 70 86 23 53 28 .258
2005 NYM 582 83 155 16 78 17 .266
2006 NYM 510 127 140 41 116 18 .275
2007 NYM 554 93 153 33 112 23 .276
2008 NYM 606 116 172 27 112 25 .284
2009 NYM 308 50 100 10 48 11 .325
2010 NYM 220 21 56 7 27 3 .255
2011 NYM 328 54 94 14 59 3 .287
14 Seasons 6575 1160 1855 294 1121 292 .282
162 Game Avg. 621 110 175 28 106 28 .282
               
KCR (7 yrs) 3134 546 899 123 516 164 .287
NYM (7 yrs) 3108 544 870 148 552 100 .280
HOU (1 yr) 333 70 86 23 53 28 .258
               
NL (8 yrs) 3441 614 956 171 605 128 .278
AL (7 yrs) 3134 546 899 123 516 164 .287
 
 

His resume speaks for itself.  Beltran is a 1999 AL Rookie of the Year.  He has won four Gold Gloves for his defensive work in the outfield.  He won two silver slugger awards.  A lifetime .282 AVG, .360 OBP and .495 SLG.  In 2004 he hit the magical 30/30 mark (30 home runs, 30 stolen bases), and was actually two home runs short of 40/40.  For the most part, Beltran in his prime could do it all.  Hit home runs, hit for average, steal bases, catch and throw the ball like few players could.  One of the few true five-tool players in the game.  The aberrations we find in Beltran’s statistics were the last two years.  Due to various injuries, particularly knee woes, Carlos Beltran was forced to miss much of the last two seasons and saw his production sharply decline.  Now healthy and extremely motivated, Beltran has come back in a big way. 

Beltran played in his sixth All-Star game this year in Arizona.  While he rarely steals bases these days, the rest of Beltran’s game has returned as shown by his numbers.  The only issue surrounding Beltran is whether his knee will hold up for the rest of the season and into the playoffs.  From there, a team will need to determine his long-term health and abilities in awarding him a free agent contract.  But from all indications, Beltran is a player that can still play ball at the highest level when healthy.  An ideal fit for the Giants that lineup that desperately needs run production. 

How bad has the Giants offense been in 2011?  Going into tonight, the Giants as a team are hitting .243, with a .309 OBP and .363 SLG.  The team has collectively hit 63 home runs and scored 356 runs.  Yet somehow the team continues to sit in first place in the NL West, 3.5 games ahead of the Diamondbacks.  If not for Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong, Brian Wilson and the rest of the Giants pitching staff, the Giants would be in the basement of the division.  The run of the Giants over the past two seasons has been incredible, but clearly linked to its pitching.  To support its pitchers and put runs on the board, the Giants have to step up and beef up its offense.  While Jeff Keppinger is a useful player, he will not be enough to get the job done.  Rather, the Giants need to acquire a bomber, the way the Cardinals acquired Matt Holliday a couple of years ago in their playoff run.  Or closer to home, when the Astros acquired Carlos Beltran in 2004.  Beltran hit an incredible 8 home runs during the Astros playoff drive that year.  Coincidentally, Beltran was an impending free agent that year as well.  Fast forward to 2011 and the very same Carlos Beltran is available.  Having a fantastic campaign, Beltran in 2011 has hit .287 to-date, with 14 home runs, league leading 28 doubles, with a .381 OBP and .512 SLG.  Again during a free agency year.  Definite playoff calibre numbers and a perfect fit out west in San Francisco.

The Giants and Carlos Beltran are well suited for one another.  San Francisco needs a strong cleanup hitter.   Carlos Beltran wants to compete for a World Series championship and boost his free agency stock for one more prime contract.  The odds of getting a ring don’t get any better than joining the defending world champions.  Some experts have speculated that Beltran may not waive his no-trade protection to join the Giants.  I am not buying that theory.  The Giants are a terrific organization to play for, with highly regarded management, a fantastic ballpark in a beautiful city, and are one of baseball’s most historical and treasured teams.  Beltran would look fantastic in a Giants uniform.  What better way to showcase his abilities and earn his last free agency contract than by playing for a contender and fighting for a World Series championship.

Remember 1994, the year that Beltran was traded from Kansas City to Houston and played like a man possessed in nearly single-handedly leading the Astros to the World Series.  That performance, combined with his numbers to-date, earned Beltran that off-season a 7-year, $119 million contract from the Mets.  Now Beltran is on the cusp of free agency again and has the potential to “earn his pay” so to speak with the Giants in the same manner that he did with the Astros in 1994.  With Scott Boras as his agent, Beltran will surely receive the advice that playoff performance equals free agency dollars.   

The Giants will have a choice in making a pitch to the Mets for Carlos Beltran.  They will either have to absorb the majority of the contract and provide fairly decent prospects, or have the Mets absorb a large chunk of money and offer 1-2 elite prospects in return.  The Giants are well stocked in the minors and have excellent pitching at the major league level.  The Mets may request Jonathan Sanchez off the major league roster or a combination of minor leaguers from the farm.  Outfielder Thomas Neal and pitcher Zack Wheeler could be on the Mets wish-list.  Or perhaps the Giants will be able to give up a package of lower level prospects and not lose their top prospects and major league level.  The decision will boil down to the money involved and players offered by other teams in trade packages.

At the end of the day, much like the Yankees must acquire Ubaldo Jimenez from the Rockies (see our recent feature), the Giants have no choice but to trade for Carlos Beltran.  The Yankees cannot afford to waste their superior offense without enough top-level pitching and the Giants in turn, need to surround their talented pitching staff with consistent run production.  It is a lot of pressure to have a team win 2-1, 3-1 games night-in and night-out.  Carlos Beltran has proven that he can carry a team on his back when he is on his game.  Well, in 2011 he is definitely playing at his highest level in years.  Beltran needs the Giants for his next contract and a chance for a ring, while the Giants need his bat and glove to increase their chances of a championship.  The perfect marriage, expect Beltran to be a Giant by the end of July.  This acquisition makes too much sense for the Giants and Brian Sabean will continue to stock his team on route to a possible back-to-back World Series run for the Giants.  Carlos Beltran to the Giants.  Not a question of if, just a question of when.

 

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

Ubaldo Jimenez to the Yankees? Rockies May Move Ace to the Bronx

Saturday July 16, 2011

MLB reports:   As an unbelievable as it may seem, there has been talk in baseball circles that the Rockies are taking calls on their ace pitcher, Ubaldo Jimenez.  Start after start, game after game last year, Jimenez for the majority of 2010 was as unhittable as they come.   Despite coming back down to earth in the 2nd half, Jimenez last year appeared in his first All-Star game and finished 3rd in the NL CY Young voting.  He also pitched the very first no-hitter in Rockies history on April 17, 2010.  With a young Rockies team that was expected to contend in 2011, the 27-year old Dominican Jimenez was expected to anchor the team.  Now sitting with a 45-49 record, 8.5 games out of 1st in the NL West, the Rockies are on the fence as to whether they still have playoff aspirations this year.  Further, the team’s brass needs to decide whether Jimenez is a part of those aspirations and future playoff runs.  Media outlets have speculated that the Yankees are quietly making a run at Jimenez.  There is a strong probability the trade could happen, but in my estimation, the Rockies would be making a colossal error if they do.

There is no denying the strength and ability of Ubaldo Jimenez.  As the pitcher has slowly improved every year, especially noting his strong 2009 and 2010 campaigns, the hurler clearly has a world of potential.  Taking a look at his numbers, the results speak for themselves:

Year W L ERA IP H BB SO WHIP
2006 0 0 3.52 7.2 5 3 3 1.043
2007 4 4 4.28 82.0 70 37 68 1.305
2008 12 12 3.99 198.2 182 103 172 1.435
2009 15 12 3.47 218.0 183 85 198 1.229
2010 19 8 2.88 221.2 164 92 214 1.155
2011 5 8 4.08 110.1 101 43 99 1.305
6 Seasons 55 44 3.60 838.1 705 363 754 1.274
162 Game Avg. 14 11 3.60 212 178 92 191 1.274

With pitching at such a shortage, many baseball analysts are scratching their heads as to how the Rockies could possibly think about trading Jimenez.  The San Francisco Giants proved last year that the World Series could be won almost exclusively on the strength of pitching.  Tim LincecumMatt CainMadison BumgarnerJonathan Sanchez.  The Giants had so many weapons to throw against its opponents every night and good young pitching at the end of day beats good hitting much of the time.  The Rockies, ravaged by injuries and inconsistent performances, are unlikely to reach the postseason this year.  But in the management of the team, the present and future must be considered.  Look at Felix Hernandez on Seattle, Roy Halladay on the Phillies and Lincecum on the Giants.  Every team that is trying to build a winner needs a stud pitcher at the top of its rotation.  Jimenez is that guy for the Rockies and losing him on the roster will be a hole that will be difficult, to impossible to fill.

So given the positives that Jimenez brings to the table, the issue remains how and why the Rockies could possibly consider moving him.  There are a couple of main reasons in my estimation.  Part of the equation is the performance of Jimenez this season.  While he has been good, Jimenez for the most part has not been great.  His record this year is far off from his most recent seasons, despite a strong rebound in his last few starts.  Given his inconsistencies in 2011, the Rockies may be getting a little worried and looking to sell high before Jimenez starts to decline and/or injured.  But given his strong resume to date, young age and rebound recently, I would like to think the Rockies are more intelligent than that.  Players have their ups and downs, at all levels.  It happens.  Without a larger body of work for reference, it is almost impossible to reason that Jimenez is on his way down.  His recent numbers tend to show otherwise.  So while Jimenez may not be the same pitcher that we saw in early 2010, he is still the ace of the team.

So why the reports of trade talk with the Yankees?  I will give you two words.  Cliff Lee.  The same Cliff Lee that was all set to be traded last year from the Mariners to the Yankees in a package including Jesus Montero.  The deal was completed to the level that major media outlets were announcing the trade as fact.  As the story goes on that one, the Mariners played the Yankees against the Rangers and took a package from Texas built around prospect Justin Smoak at the very last-minute.  The Yankees were fuming to the level that they contacted the higher-ups in Seattle to complain about the conduct of their GM, Jack Zduriencik.  The fallout was the Rangers making it to the World Series and the Yankees left at the altar without their prize.  As a further dagger, Lee in his decision to sign with the Rangers or Yankees this past offseason, ended up going to the Phillies at the last-minute.  Again, the mystery team coming at the last second out of the woods and the Yankees were left standing with egg on their face.

Do not underestimate the New York Yankees.  They are the strongest and one of the proudest teams in baseball.  The Yankees and their fans do not like to be left disappointed in the constant search for top talent.  With Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia sitting in their rotation, the Yankees are clearly itching to make a move to bolster their rotation.  While names like Jeremy Guthrie, Derek Lowe and Bronson Arroyo being thrown around, it starts to shed some light as to where the Jimenez talk is coming from.  This is the Yankees and they do not like shopping at the Ford dealership.  This is a team built on Mercedes and BMW’s.  The problem is that the top cars, i.e. ace pitchers, are not readily available.  After making runs at Felix Hernandez and Francisco Liriano, the Yankees are still in search of a strong #2 to compliment ace CC Sabathia.  Considering that Sabathia can opt out of his contract during the coming offseason and possibly leave New York, the pressure is even greater to land a top starting pitcher.  From all the names that have been tossed around, the one that makes the most sense is Ubaldo Jimenez.

When Jimenez is on his game, he is as Cliff Lee-like as you can get.  Jimenez is a horse that has the potential to pitch a complete game shutout almost every game out.  This is the type of numbers that the Yankees are looking for.  Rather than waiting to what comes in free agency, the Yankees are trying to hedge their bets and make a run now.  Any package for Jimenez will be built around uber-prospect Jesus Montero.  Considering his strong bat, Montero could move from catcher to first base to replace the aging Todd Helton.  The Rockies still have faith in their own young catcher, Chris Iannetta, who has taken longer to develop than expected.  Montero would be great insurance and an almost guaranteed monster bat, in addition to the other prospects that would be headed to Colorado.  A win-win for both teams if it happens, considering the bodies that would be moving as part of the trade.  But still not quite if you consider the value of Jimenez to the Rockies.

Other teams  will sniffing around Jimenez as well.  The Red Sox, Indians, Tigers, Angels and Rangers could all be considered in the mix.  Jimenez would not come cheap and if the Rockies are smart, they will auction him off to the highest bidder.  At the end of the day, this is a trade that the Yankees have to make.  With little to no other options on the market, the Yankees have to overpay for Jimenez or risk failing to win a World Series despite the highest payroll in business.  The Yankees lost out twice on Cliff Lee and need to do everything in their power to land an equivalent pitcher to their fold.  While Ricky Romero or Jered Weaver would be nice acquisitions, realistically neither one will be made available by their respective teams.  With Carlos Zambrano overpriced and inconsistent and Johan Santana a question mark for the season, at this point it is Jimenez or bust for the Yankees.

In considering this trade from a Rockies perspective, think how long the organization suffered from a pitching perspective.  Despite always having strong hitting, the Rockies as an organization have been challenged to develop and maintain reliable pitching.  Now that the Rockies have an ace in place, the team should be focusing on building around Jimenez rather than moving him.  If the Rockies build their core of hitters and fail to have a deep and consistent starting rotation, the team will mean little come playoff time.  The team will simply fall back into old habits and fail to adapt to the new Major League Baseball.  With the steroid era past us, baseball is built around pitching and defense now for the most part.  The Rockies, like every other team, needs good young pitching to contend.  Jimenez has the potential to give them a high level of pitching for at least the next five years.  If the Rockies feel they have a chance to contend during that time, they must hold onto him or risk setting themselves back even further.

Knowing that this is a trade that Yankees must make and the Rockies should pass on, the final question is whether this trade will happen.  My heart says no, but my brain says yes.  Despite all the reasons that the Rockies should hold onto Jimenez, it appears in my estimation that the Yankees will make an offer that Colorado cannot refuse.  In fighting for World Series titles in New York, all necessary resources have to be acquired at any cost.  Considering that the Yankees will include Montero and 2-3 more top prospects, the Rockies will have a hard time saying no.  Perhaps the Yankees will include a couple of top pitching prospects in the package that will allow for a smoother transition for Colorado.  But the reality is, that while prospects are intriguing and desirable, they are far from a sure thing.  For every Derek Jeter that is drafted, developed and becomes a future Hall of Fame player, there are 1000’s of Todd Van Poppel clones that come highly touted and burn out just as quick.  Ubaldo Jimenez has the experience and numbers that are proven.  While I am always skeptical of pitching, based on injury risk (see Stephen Strasburg), the potential risk in this case by keeping Jimenez is worth the reward of the potential for future playoffs.  This will be the one case where I advocate that a team hold onto their starting pitcher rather than cash in for prospects.  But it is also the case where there is extreme speculation and rumors and I foresee the trade occurring.  The Yankees are the Yankees for a reason.  They usually get what they want.  They want Ubaldo Jimenez and before July is done, he very well could be in pinstripes.

 

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

%d bloggers like this: