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2012 MLB End of the Year Awards: Predictions

Thursday October 11th, 2012

Bernie Olshansky:What a year it has been. With the extra Wild Card and a Triple Crown winner, there has been no shortage of excitement. As part of the BBA (Baseball Bloggers Alliance), we are to vote for awards including the Hall of Fame, All Star Game, end of the year awards, and a baseball writer with quality writing and a strong internet presence.

In this segment, I will outline the various end of the season awards (with their announcement dates) and who I believe will win them. Some selections were very, very close.

October 15th: Connie Mack Award (Manager of the Year): NL: Davey Johnson (Washington Nationals); AL: Bob Melvin (Oakland Athletics)

Johnson: This decision was a no-brainer. Johnson lead his young Nationals team to the first NL East title in Washington Nationals’ history with a 98-64 record—finishing four games better than the Braves—an early-season favorite for the title. Johnson and the Nats’ secured the number one seed in the playoffs and were the best team in baseball—winning 18 more games than in 2011. This was Johnson’s first full year with Washington and he made it a good one.

Melvin: This was one of the most remarkable stories in a very long time. The A’s were in the midst of rebuilding, trading away aces Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals and Trevor Cahill to the Diamondbacks. Oakland did not start off too well, having a mediocre first half, but really turned it on after the All Star Break. This was a tough decision because of Orioles manager Buck Showalter also putting up a strong case. The Orioles finished almost identically to the A’s with a 93-69 record (A’s finished at 94-68). In my opinion, Melvin had even less of a team to work with than Showalter, and still won one more game.

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The All-Bargain 2012 MLB Free Agency Team

 

Monday November 21, 2011

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  Every baseball offseason, we all seem to fall into a familiar trap.  The focus always seem to be on the “prize” free agents, while bargains always seem to be had (especially when the big spenders have reached their budgets).  So while Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes, C.J. Wilson and company are the majority of the headlines- are they truly the difference makers? Getting quality players that are more economical may in fact have a stronger impact on a team that is looking to compete.  It allows for a team to fill needs while devoting financial resources to other resources, including scouting, signing draft picks and locking up younger players before they hit free agency.  Remember: a team has many expense areas but only a certain amount of money to go around. Devoting $100 million+ to 1 player tends to significantly limit a team, regardless of the strength of such a player.  “Spreading the wealth” so to speak, will limit the risk of putting all the eggs in one basket.  It is a similar to diversification of stocks.  A well-rounded portfolio will tend to outperform most others.  But if those assets can be acquired at a reduced cost, the return will look even better.

Now, imagine that we were going to build a starting lineup based purely on free agents.  What available free agents would give a team the best bang for the buck? If we were to look at the 2012 MLB free agency list, our All-Bargain team would probably look a little something like this:

C:  Ryan Doumit (starter) and Jose Molina (backup): At approximately $5 million combined, Doumit and Molina should offer fairly solid production at a reasonable rate.  Doumit also offers versatility by playing first and some outfield.  If (and when) Doumit gets injured, Molina can handle the starting chores for a stretch with a minor leaguer backing up.  In my estimation Doumit has the potential to breakout in a Mike Napoli manner.  He has the skills and power.  The guy just has to stay healthy.  As far as overall offense and defense from the catching position, there are fewer solid backups that Jose- part of the great “Catching Molinas.”

1B:  Carlos Pena:  This one area that I am prepared to splurge.  For all the talk of the low average, Pena should offer good power, a solid OBP and gold glove defense.  At approximately $10 million per season, he will still be a bargain to the other heavyweights at the position.  This is one area that you need top-notch offense and Pena should deliver again in 2012.

2B:  Kelly Johnson:  See Carlos Pena but at a more reasonable ticket price.  Johnson has a strong knack for getting on base and has excellent power for the position.  He is a gamer that will always have a spot on my team.

SS:  Ramon Santiago:  You can’t fully appreciate what Santiago offers unless you watch him on a daily basis.  Few infielders have a glove as strong as his.  While not the most gifted offensive player, he can chip in the occasional big hit while holding his own as a #8 or #9 hitter.  Another versatile player to have on the roster.  Options are always good.

3B:  Kevin Kouzmanoff:  The “Crushin’ Russian” is on the squad.  Yes, I am still holding out hope that he will come together.  I would take a chance on a breakout.  At the very least you will get good “D” and some offense at a bargain basement price.  If he doesn’t come together, I would grab Casey Blake or Wilson Betemit to sit on the bench if they come dirt cheap.

CF:  Grady Sizemore:  I like the style of Ruben Amaro Jr. and Pat Gillick.  I would have been at Sizemore’s house on the first day of free agency as well.  Given his high upside and apparent health, I would sign him as quickly as possible.  If you get even 75% of the old Sizemore, you still have a likely All-Star.

LF:  Raul Ibanez:  I’ve heard about his defense.  But I am still signing him.  Rauuuuul will come at a fraction of his last big contract.  The man owns his own rejuvenation chamber and still has the body of a 35-year old.  Strong leader, 20+ home runs and all at a maximum of cost $5 million per season.  Mark him sold.

RF:  J.D. Drew:  Hungry for one more big contract?  With Scott Boras as his agent, this on-base machine should be hungry to prove that he is healthy and productive.  He may cost $3 million per season.  Well worth the risk.  Just to cover ourselves, Johnny Damon is also coming on board as a 4th outfielder.  Between Sizmore, Ibanez, Drew and Damon, we should be able to run out an outfield most days.  If David DeJesus or Rick Ankiel are prepared to hang around as 5th outfielders/designated hitters, we may find some spare cash for them as well.

DH:  If we are talking non-National League team, then we HAVE to grab Josh Willingham as our designated hitter.  Or even a right fielder if we must.  The Hammer still carries a heavy bat and should anchor the offense.  He still has a couple of more productive years in him.  He should come at a relative bargain price considering 25+ home run bats are not easy to come by.

SP:  Chris Capuano, Bruce Chen, Aaron Harang, Paul Maholm, Brad Penny, Dontrelle Willis:  From these six selected starters, we should have ourselves a fairly decent rotation.  Pitching is one of the most difficult areas on any roster to fill, especially starters.  You have to catch lightning in a bottle and hope many factors, especially health, work out.  Maholm and Harang should be our “aces” with approximately 12 wins a-piece.  Capuano will be the third starter, who should be even better with another healthy year under his belt.  Between Chen, D-Train and Penny, we will count on veteran inning-eaters who are able to squeeze out wins.  Not the team’s greatest source of strength, but all six of these pitchers combined will cost less per season that C.C. Sabathia on his own.

RP:  Matt Capps, Jonathan Broxton, Jeremy Accardo, Shawn Camp, Fernando Rodney, Damaso Marte, J.C. Romero:  Going with the Tony La Russa formula, we are putting together a veteran pen with several closing options.  If at full strength, Broxton should be the ninth inning guy.  Otherwise, the role will fall to Capps or Rodney.  Accardo and Camp should be decent middle relievers with Marte and Romero balancing out the pen.  Used to their capabilities, our pen should help us contend.

Conclusion:  Building a team on a budget is not the easiest process.  This team will cost us likely north of $80 million dollars, but should stay under the magical $100 million mark.  Considering it is a team built from scratch and based on availability, “Team MLB Reports” should be a veteran squad that stays in the pennant race.  Even with the relative slim pickings in some areas, this year’s free agency squad offers value at most positions.  While no teams will be built based solely on free agency this year, there are enough complimentary parts that any Major League team can find good value.  It is just a question of shopping smart and buying at the right time.

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

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Game 162 and Beyond – Can MLB Top That?

September 29, 2011

Rob Bland (Baseball Writer – MLB reports): In order to write all of this, I needed to step away from my TV and computer, take a deep breath, and sleep for a while.  The excitement of last night was almost too much for my fragile heart to bear, so the time away to clear my head was necessary.

I find myself repeating, “What just happened??” in my head.  What happened last night was unfathomable.  Not only were there two teams in each league tied for the Wild Card, but both teams that had been leading, suffered epic failures along the way.  Go back to September 1, and the Boston Red Sox held a 9 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays.  The Atlanta Braves held an 8.5 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. Both teams chances of reaching the postseason were over 99%.  Nobody could have actually predicted seriously at that time, that both the Cards and Rays would win the Wild Card on the final day of the regular season.  Especially not the way that the AL Wild Card was eventually decided.

The Rays started David Price against the Yankees.  Sounded promising enough, until Price gave up 6 runs in 4 innings.  The game was pretty much over with the score at 7-0 in the Rays’ half of the 8th inning.  3 runs plated in the bottom of the 8th, then Evan Longoria took over the game.  A 3-run home run put them within one run, and Tropicana Field exploded.  Then with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th, Rays manager Joe Maddon made one of the gutsiest calls I have ever seen: pinch hit with Dan Johnson.  Johnson was 9 for 90 this season.  He hadn’t gotten a hit since April.  He had 36 hits since 2008.  With one swing of the bat, the pandemonium levels in Florida had never been so high.  Then, as if he hadn’t done enough already, Longoria blasted another home run, this one of the walk-off variety that would vault the Rays to the postseason.

What hasn’t been said about Boston and their collapse? It has been covered by so many people from so many angles.  You could blame the whole organization from top to bottom, and you wouldn’t be wrong.  What happened was an epic collapse, capped off by a 2 out rally by the Baltimore Orioles of all teams in the bottom of the 9th inning of game 162.  The Orioles had nothing to play for but pride, and the love of the game.  Robert Andino’s walk-off single to win the ball game will be remembered by Boston fans for years to come.

Hunter Pence hit a bloop-ish 120 ft infield single to win it for the Phillies over the Braves.  In the 13th inning.  After Craig Kimbrel, the super rookie, blew a lead in the 9th inning.  The game saw the Phillies march out nine pitchers and the Braves used 8, including Scott Linebrink, who eventually gave up the winning run in the 13th.

Chris Carpenter twirled a gem for the Cardinals, a 2 hit shutout with 11 strikeouts and 1 walk against the Astros.  This performance sealed at the very least a one-game playoff game against the Braves had they won.

Wow what a night.

Now onto LDS matchups:

Rays vs. Rangers

The Rays come in with unlimited momentum, and a pitching staff that is so deep, that manager Joe Maddon is having a difficult time naming the starter for game 1.  While Matt Moore seems to be the obvious choice to me, Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis could be viable options as well.**  James Shields would have to go on short rest, and Price pitched last night, so one of the other three will be chosen to go against C.J. Wilson and a Rangers offense that is ready to take on all comers.  Shields will go game 2 and Price go the 3rd.  Beyond that is a toss-up.  For the Rangers, Wilson will go Game 1, Derek Holland game 2, and still undetermined the rest of the way.

Adrian Beltre had a phenomenal September, earning AL Player of the month, and Mike Napoli has been dominant all year, bashing home runs all over the field.  Michael Young worked his way into the MVP race after a tumultuous offseason that saw him switch positions yet again.  Josh Hamilton is as dangerous as ever, and Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler are still hitting home runs at a high rate.  Kinsler actually became only the third 2nd baseman to join the 30-30 club, with 32 HR and 30 SB.  The Rays may not have the prodigious bombers that the Rangers have, but they have athletic, smart ballplayers that never say die.  They ultimately seem like a team of destiny, and I will not discount the fact that they may have the best manager in all of baseball at the helm.

** Note: Matt Moore has been named the starter for game 1.

Rays in 4

Yankees vs. Tigers

So the Yankees have the highest payroll in baseball, and the Tigers have the 10th, about $100,000 between them.  Should be easy, right? Yankees should take this series in 3 games.  Wrong.  Detroit has one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball in 2011 in Justin Verlander, who should win the Cy Young vote unanimously.  He should also garner serious MVP interest.  Against him will be CC Sabathia, who has been one of the best starting pitchers in baseball the last 7 or 8 years.  Doug Fister was brought in to shore up a shaky Tigers rotation, and with Max Scherzer, the Tigers look like they have a pretty decent chance.  Behind Sabathia will be rookie Ivan Nova, who I am not sold on, and after him is Freddy Garcia, who is having a fine year, but is nowhere near the pitcher he used to be.

Robinson Cano has been his usual stellar self playing 2nd base for the Yankees, but there were a lot of subpar seasons by other Yankees.  Derek Jeter was better than last year, A-Rod was almost nonexistent for a lot of the season, and aside from Curtis Granderson, the lineup struggled to find consistency.  The Posada soap opera continues, but giving Jesus Montero more at bats needs to happen.  The kid can swing it.  The Tigers have another MVP candidate in Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez has been stellar, and they have a young kid behind the plate named Alex Avila who could be in line for a Silver Slugger award.  The Tigers are younger, and hungrier to win, but the Yankees have more overall talent.  Even if their roster is aging, and this one should go down to the final out.

Tigers in 5

Diamondbacks vs. Brewers

The two best managers in the NL this year; Kirk Gibson of the DBacks and Ron Roenicke of the Brewers square off in this ultimately tight series.  Arizona did it this year with a cast of relative nobodies and no real superstar other than Justin Upton.  The Brewers have Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Zack Greinke, John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez.  They have star power up and down the lineup and rotation, and they have a great fan base.

Ian Kennedy may be a Cy Young candidate, but the Brewers have more depth in their rotation.  Yovani Gallardo will oppose him in game 1, followed by Shaun Marcum and Greinke, who will be opposed by Josh Collmenter and Daniel Hudson.  The Brewers also have the dominant back-end of the bullpen in K-Rod and John Axford, who was 46 for 48 in save opportunities.

Brewers in 5

Cardinals vs. Phillies

Prince Fielder just missed his 11th straight season of .300/ 30 HR/ 100RBI.  He hit .299 with 37 home runs and 99 RBI.  The cards are not just a one trick pony, however, as Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday, and Yadier Molina have been stellar all season long.  If they can get solid contributions from their secondary players they could make the series interesting.  The Phillies, like the Brewers, have tremendous star power in Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.  Not to mention one of the best deals of the year in Hunter Pence.  They have a veteran presence filled with guys who have been to the postseason five years in a row, and have the ability to hit any team’s pitching.

If you ask anyone who knows anything about baseball what team has the best pitching, the unanimous decision would go to the Phillies. The 4 Aces look to lock up Philly’s second World Series in the last 4 seasons.  Led by Roy Halladay, or Cliff Lee, or Cole Hamels, every team in the postseason should be scared.  It is not very often that a team could have 3 pitchers in the top 5 for the Cy Young Award, but it could happen this year.  Roy Oswalt will pitch game 4 if necessary.   Tony La Russa has decided to open the series with veteran Kyle Lohse, which seems asinine.  Edwin Jackson will go Game 2 and Chris Carpenter game 3.  Jaime Garcia, who could be their most talented pitcher, will throw game 4 if necessary.

Phillies in 4

All 4 series should play pretty close, and the series I am most excited to watch is Arizona vs. Milwaukee.  If Game 162 was any indication of what is to come of the postseason this year, then everyone needs to grab their popcorn and beverages, get bunkered down, and get ready for a long, gruelling, exciting month of baseball. 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Rob Bland.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  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.

Jobless in 2012 – MLB Managers on the Hot Seat from 2011

Saturday September 10, 2011

Rob Bland (Baseball Writer – MLB reports): When a team has a disappointing season, the most likely candidate to lose his job is the manager.  So far in the 2011 season, there has already been three managers who have either resigned or been fired.  The Oakland Athletics fired Bob Geren on June 9th and replaced him with Bob Melvin.  A week and a half later, Edwin Rodriguez resigned from his post as manager of the Florida Marlins.  Jack McKeon became the oldest manager since Connie Mack at 80 years old.  Yet another week later on June 26th, Jim Riggleman of the Washington Nationals resigned and was replaced by Davey Johnson two days later.  With only a few weeks left in the regular season, who are the frontrunners to be replaced after the World Series?

With eight managers being new to their respective teams to start the 2011 season, one would think there can’t be too many jobs to lose.  The first criteria I look at in order to predict who will not be returning his club is if the team was expected to contend for the playoffs, and fell short.  Another thing I look at is the perception of the clubhouse, ie. if players get along, or if the manager is able to manage egos.  Of course, the manager’s ability to create a lineup and manage a bullpen is taken into consideration.  Other factors such as injuries and expectations of players are measured as well.  The list that follows are my top 3 managers who could be canned after this season.

Mike Quade, Chicago Cubs

It is not often that I would think a first year manager would be fired like this, but there are so many circumstances that make me believe he will be gone.  First, there has been grumbling since day one in Chicago that Quade was hired over franchise icon Ryne Sandberg.  The Cubs have been packed with talented players such as Carlos Zambrano, Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto, Ryan Dempster and Carlos Marmol.  Add in Matt Garza and Starlin Castro, and you would think they could at least come close in the terrible NL Central.  They are 22 games behind the streaking Milwaukee Brewers, and 21.5 behind Atlanta for the Wild Card.  Their record is 62-81 with a 35-40 record at Wrigley Field.

Bud Black, San Diego Padres

With 2011 being Black’s 5th season with the Padres, a 62-82 record and already 21 games behind Arizona for the NL West title, he could be on the way out.  The Padres have yet to reach the postseason under Black, however they were involved in a 1-game playoff with Colorado for the Wild Card title in 2007 that many of us will never forget as one of the most exciting games we have ever witnessed.  In 2010, the Padres held a 6.5 game lead over eventual World Series Champs San Francisco Giants on August 25th.  After a 10 game losing streak, the Padres were still in contention, and were not officially eliminated from the playoffs until the final day of the regular season with a 90-72 record.  Those were the only winnings seasons in Black’s tenure and his time in San Diego may be up.

Ron Gardenhire, Minnesota Twins

Is it really fair to say Gardenhire’s job is in jeopardy?  Probably not, but it definitely is possible.  Over his 10 year career with the Twins, he has amassed an 861-740 record and they have been in the playoffs 6 times.  However, they have only won 6 games, 4 of which were in one series, in Gardenhire’s first season; 2002.  The Twins have not won a playoff game since 2004, being swept in 2006, 2009 and 2010 in the American League Division Series.  This year, Gardenhire has had to deal with crippling injuries of former AL MVP’s Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer.  Statistically, the best hitter has been Michael Cuddyer, hitting .282 with 18 home runs and 64 RBI.  The best pitcher has been Scott Baker who is 8-6 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 131 2/3 innings.  Francisco Liriano has not been the same as he was before undergoing Tommy John surgery after the 2006 season, and aside from his no-hitter against the White Sox on May 3, he has been downright awful and is now on the 15-day disabled list.  When the best players don’t perform, or are hurt, the manager is forced to do the best he can with what he is given.  However a 59-84 record may just be the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back for Gardenhire.

This year, with 3 mid-season changes already, and eight new managers at the beginning of the season, shouldn’t see too much activity.  I do believe that with the Cubs’ search for a new general manager under way, Quade’s days are numbered in Chicago.  I also believe that Black’s inability to get the always promising Padres to the next level will leave him without a job by November.  Gardenhire has not proven to me that he can bring the Twins to the World Series, and that is what the job description entails.  Has it ever happened where both Managers of the Year from their respective leagues gets fired the following year? It could happen if Black and Gardenhire are let go.

 

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Rob Bland.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  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 onFacebook .  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.

 

Diamondbacks and Blue Jays Swap Second Basemen: Hill and McDonald for Johnson

Tuesday August 23, 2011

 

 

Rob Bland (Intern- MLB reports):  The Arizona Diamondbacks are in the middle of a pennant race in the National League West, and yet made a change with their second baseman, Kelly Johnson.  Statistics show that Johnson had been underperforming this year, and GM Kevin Towers said he wanted better defense and infield depth.  With that in mind, Towers got a hold of Toronto Blue Jays’ GM Alex Anthopoulos to inquire on super utility infielder John McDonald.  McDonald can play 2B, SS, and 3B at an above average level, although he doesn’t do much with the bat. With regular shortstop Stephen Drew lost for the season due to injury, the D’Backs have been forced to start Willie Bloomquist the majority of the games in his absence.  That led to talks involving Toronto’s longest tenured player, second baseman Aaron Hill.  The end result was Arizona acquiring Aaron Hill and John McDonald, with Kelly Johnson going to Toronto.

Aaron Hill had a terrific start to his career, which so far has peaked in 2009 when he hit .286 with 36 home runs and 108 RBI.  He was an All-Star and a Silver Slugger winner that year.  He plays good defense and is a well-liked guy in the clubhouse.  His contract situation is an iffy one, in that he has 2 option years left worth $8M each.  By the end of 2009, it would have been a lock that those options would have been picked up, however, 2010 and 2011 have not been so kind to Hill.  Last year he hit .205 with a walk rate of only 7.1%.  He at least was able to club 26 home runs, which are numbers he has not been able to replicate this year.  Hill in 2011 is walking in 5.4% of his plate appearances, and has only 6 home runs to go along with his paltry .225 average.

McDonald is arguably the most beloved player in Toronto, after Jose Bautista.  He routinely gets standing ovations, and this writer can proudly say one of his favourite moments in MLB history was watching McDonald hit a home run in his first at bat after missing a few games.  The significance was that his father had just passed away, and McDonald promised to hit a home run for him.  So on Father’s Day of 2010, McDonald crushed a home run over the left field wall.  The teary-eyed McDonald crossed the plate and was embraced by every member of the Blue Jays.  McDonald is a phenomenal defender, often used as a pinch runner in key situations, but doesn’t hit much. In his 13 seasons, he has only 21 home runs, with 12 of them coming in his last 3 seasons.   His value comes as a player that will give everything for his team, playing every position imaginable and making highlight reel plays.

Johnson is only a season removed from a .284/.370/.496 slash line, and although scouts often say his defense is sub par, the advanced metrics tell a different story.  His UZR was 7.1 last year, and 3.9 this year, where 0 is average.  Johnson’s production, like Hill, has fallen off the table.  He is still hitting home runs; 18 this year compared to 26 last year.  He takes walks, just under 11% for his career.  But his main problem has been the strikeouts.  This year has been worse than usual, as he has struck out in over 27% of his plate appearances.  Johnson’s line drive rate is just a tick below his career numbers, so his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) being 50 points lower than his career average is probably a good indicator of why his numbers are so low.

All three players are free agents at season’s end.   McDonald and Hill both said during their press conference today that they are very open to returning to Toronto in 2012.  Until then, the Diamondbacks will look to add to their 1.5 game lead over the San Francisco Giants with this move.  Should they be propelled to the playoffs, it is likely that an infield of Hill, McDonald, Lyle Overbay, and Ryan Roberts (all former Blue Jays) could face off against another former Jay in Roy Halladay and the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Division Series.

This deal seems strange from a Diamondbacks perspective, as Hill is a downgrade from Johnson, even with the poor season Johnson has been having in 2011.  The amount of upside the Dbacks get from having McDonald over Bloomquist at shortstop is completely negated by this downgrade.  However, the Dbacks get two great clubhouse characters, who will surely help the club defensively and in teaching the younger players.  For the Blue Jays, this trade makes complete sense.  Johnson is currently set to be a Type B free agent at the end of the year, and with a hot streak, could become a Type A.  As a Type B, he would net the team a supplemental draft pick if he signs a major league deal with another team.  But if Johnson reaches Type A status this offseason, he will also net a first round pick on top of the supplemental pick.  The Jays can use this time to better evaluate Johnson, and by showing him what the organization has to offer, Johnson may sign with the team at the end of the year.

Aaron Hill and Kelly Johnson were two players that have been coveted by each team for the last couple of years, but no deal could have been struck.  However, with both players struggling so badly this year, both players were in need of a change of scenery.  A fresh start could do wonders for Hill as he could get back into the groove he was in before the 2010 season, while Johnson could return to his 2010 form.

So at the very worst, the Jays get an extra draft pick as part of this trade, and in many people’s opinions, they will also get McDonald back in 2012 to be their utility infielder.  For the Dbacks, Hill’s production could seriously limit their offense and push them out of a playoff spot.  Both teams are facing risks, but I believe Toronto’s level of risk was much lower, as they are not in a pennant race.  The upside potential of this trade for the Jays makes them the winner in my books.

 

 

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Rob Bland.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  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 onFacebook .  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.

Boston Red Sox: Who is on Their Radar? Jimenez to Indians and Trade Deadline Summary

Saturday July 30, 2011

 

Rob Bland (Intern- MLB Reports):   With the deadline only a day away, I expect a flurry of moves in the next 24 hours, and the Boston Red Sox are sure to get involved.  With injuries to Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka, combined with the inability of John Lackey to get outs, the BoSox have been in on every rumored starting pitcher being moved.  Here’s a look at Boston’s targets, and who they would have to give up in order to consummate a deal.

 

Hiroki Kuroda

The Japanese import could bring a good haul for the LA Dodgers, and it is believed that they are looking for a young catcher or a starting pitcher in return.  I don`t believe the Red Sox would give up Anthony Ranaudo for him, but it is the Red Sox, and their system is fairly stacked.  Kuroda isn`t a top line starter, but could fit in nicely behind Josh Beckett and Jon Lester right now.  In his last 10 starts, Kuroda is 1-8 with a 2.66 ERA, giving up more than three runs in a start only once.  He is on pace to break the 200 inning mark for the first time in his MLB career.

Prospects

I could see the Dodgers wanted a package that could involve Kyle Weiland, who has been at AAA, including a couple of underwhelming starts for the Red Sox.  He has been dominant in AAA, and while his ceiling might not be very high, Weiland could be a piece used to obtain Kuroda.

Former top pick Andrew Miller could be involved as well, as he has shown flashes of the potential that the Tigers saw to draft him 6th overall in the 2006 draft.

 

Jason Vargas (SEA), Aaron Harang (SDP), Jeremy Guthrie (BAL), Erik Bedard (SEA)

Vargas is another pitcher who hasn’t had much luck this year, going 6-9 with a 4.09 ERA.  He too is on pace to break the 200 inning plateau for the first time in his career.  He gives up a lot of fly balls and home runs, so he might not be the best fit for Fenway Park.

Harang has made the most of his move to spacious Petco Park.  In the pitcher’s haven, his ERA is 2.92, as opposed to 4.31 on road games.  Harang in Boston might not be a good fit due to his propensity to give up the long ball, but, whether it is due to the park or not, he has only given up 9 homeruns so far this year.

Playing the last five years in Baltimore will never help your win-loss record, but Guthrie has been a reliable arm for the Orioles over that time.  His career ERA of 4.16 while mostly pitching in the AL East proves that he could be a capable pitcher for the Red Sox.  Although he is 5-14, he has pitched fairly well this year, and could be great addition to the back-end of the Red Sox rotation.

Bedard’s once promising career has been derailed by injury after injury.  He has always possessed tremendous stuff, but hasn’t been able to stay healthy.  In his last ten starts, he has thrown 58 2/3 innings, striking out 64.  Bedard has never amassed 200 innings, and his career high is 196, in 2006.

All of these pitchers are available and the Red Sox are in talks with each of the respective teams.  Many of the prospects mentioned in this article will be in play, as well as Bryce Brentz, a powerful outfielder in high-A.  He needs to cut down on strikeouts but he is a solid right fielder for the future.

 

Reed Johnson

The Cubs` outfielder could bring a spark of energy to the club.  J.D. Drew is on the DL, again, so they do need an outfielder if they want to upgrade over Josh Reddick or Darnell McDonald.  Johnson plays great defense and is hitting the ball pretty well this year, so he could slot into right field well at Fenway.

23-year-old catcher Ryan Lavarnway could be involved in a deal. He is a young catcher that isn`t too far away from the big leagues.  Lavarnway has a lot of power as shown by his 27 home runs already this year.   He is known as a good game caller and a smart catcher.

 

Ubaldo Jimenez 

Ubaldo Jimenez has tremendous upside and is signed to a team-friendly contract through 2014.  The Colorado Rockies are asking for a prospect haul that most teams can’t even match.  At this point, only the Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays, together with the Red Sox are involved in talks with the Rockies.  Although just 6-9 this year with a 4.20 ERA, he has made some great strides in the last couple of months.  In his last 10 starts, he is 5-4 with 3.47 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings.  Jimenez has lowered his ERA almost a full run during that time.  Although some teams worry about his delivery, the big righty has been durable, throwing at least 198 innings in the last three years, and is on pace to break that mark again this year.

Prospects

Anthony Ranaudo, a supplemental 1st round pick in 2010 started this season in A-ball, but could quickly shoot up the system in Colorado if moved.  He possesses three above average pitcher and has front of the rotation stuff.  He has good control and has great makeup and poise.

Will Middlebrooks is a prototypical third basemen with a good glove.  He hits for average, and for power, evidenced by his 17 home runs so far this season.  He also has 7 stolen bases.  He possesses a good baseball IQ and he should have a long career in the big leagues.

Lars Anderson was once considered the top bat in the Red Sox system, and with Adrian Gonzalez in the mix, there doesn`t seem to be a spot for Anderson.  He has good vision at the plate, sees a lot of pitches, and has gap power.  As he continues to fill out, he will get stronger.  I expect 20 home runs and 30 doubles a year out of Anderson when he finally does make it to the Show.

 

I think that the Red Sox win the Ubaldo Jimenez sweepstakes, sending uber-prospects Ranaudo, Middlebrooks, Anderson and maybe one or two players to be named later.  This gives the Red Sox a fearsome top three starters in Beckett, Lester and Jimenez.  If Buchholz comes back healthy, they have an incredible rotation for years to come.  Reed Johnson is also a great fit for the team, and I see them making a move for him.

***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.***

 

 

Editor’s Notes and Trade Deadline Summary:

A great article by our intern Rob Bland.  As the trade deadline has shown already, as much as we think we can predict what will happen- surprises will always occur.  Today was the last day before the non-waiver trade deadline, Sunday July 31st.  Here is a rundown of all the trades that took place today in Major League Baseball:

Rich Harden (A’s) for Lars Anderson and Player to be Named Later (Red Sox):  Yet to be announced.  This deal has not yet been finalized and may fall through.  Likely Billy Beane is pushing strong for this one.  Boston gets Harden, a talented but very injury prone pitcher that cannot be counted on.  Oakland would get a top young hitting prospect in Anderson and a PTBNL.  Oakland wins if this one does happen, stay tuned.

Ubaldo Jimenez (Rockies) for Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Joe Gardner and Matt McBride (Indians):  What a difference a year makes.  The Indians are going for it and have beefed up their rotation with the addition of Jimenez.  When on his game, Ubaldo is one of the best in baseball.  Further, Ubaldo continues to be under team control, so the Indians don’t simply acquire a summer rental here.  The keys to this deal for the Rockies are Pomeranz and White.  Considered to be the Indians two best pitching prospects, the Rockies add to their farm while losing their ace.  While Pomeranz is considered highly in baseball circles, I would have expected to see the Rockies get more major league ready talent.  Considering that they were supposed to get Jesus Montero and Ivan Nova from the Yankees or Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and/or Homer Bailey from the Reds, I give the Indians the edge on this deal.  Ace pitchers do not grow on trees and the Indians got one without giving up any of their major league talent or some of their other finer prospects, including Nick Weglarz.  Competing with the big boys, the Indians get the prize of the trade deadline and likely a division title as well.

Derek Lee (Orioles) for Aaron Baker (Pirates):  The Pirates are going for it and while Lee is an aging first baseman, he is an upgrade offensively over incumbent Lyle Overbay.  Baker is a Class A first baseman that is not considered a top prospect.  This trade is a draw, as the Pirates beef up for their playoff run and the Orioles auction off an impending free agent to stock their system.

Orlando Cabrera (Indians) for Thomas Neal (Giants):  This deal came out of left field, as the Indians are still contending and were expected to hold onto Cabrera.  With many young infielders on their roster, the Indians were prepared to sacrifice their utility man for one of the Giants higher rated prospect bats.  Speaking to Neal on several occasions, he is one of the nicer young men you will ever want to meet in the game.  Considered a great tools player, both offensively and defensively, the Indians have added another piece to their offensive puzzle while sacrificing a veteran that was expandable.  The Giants, with injury and offensive woes, took a chance on Cabrera, a good luck charm for each of his respective teams in the postseason.  While Neal was a big price to pay, the Giants are in win-now mode.  A draw, as both teams will away happy from this exchange.

Koji Uehara (Orioles) for Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis (Rangers):  This is a good old-fashioned baseball trade.  The Rangers pick up a veteran reliever, who is enjoying his finest campaign in the big leagues and could be a setup man or closer.  The Orioles continue to stockpile prospects and add a starter and first baseman to their mix.  Davis has one of the most explosive bats in the game when he gets hot and the Orioles could have their cleanup hitter for the next 5-7 years.  Hunter should be a good #3 or #4 starter for the team.  A draw as both teams achieve their respective goals in this deal.

Jason Marquis (Nationals) for Zach Walters (Diamondbacks):  I am a fan of what the Diamondbacks are doing in Arizona, but this trade doesn’t work for me.  Marquis will pitch in Arizona, but I don’t see him being the effective starter the team needs to fight the Giants for a playoff berth.  Walters is a prospect shortstop who could have been Stephen Drew‘s replacement one day when he left the team.  Walters has a good offensive bat and was not worth the price of Marquis.  Advantage Washington for adding another prospect to its growing farm while dumping a veteran pitcher that had no place on their roster.

Mike Aviles (Royals) for Yamaico Navarro and Kendal Volz (Red Sox):  The Red Sox get some sort of infield insurance, which was unnecessary in my estimation with both Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie on the roster.  If Lowrie is out beyond early August as projected, then this deal makes sense.  Otherwise, to give up two decent prospects for a player who has struggled this season and is unlikely to hit much in Boston does not equate for me.  Advantage Royals for dumping a player who did not fit on the team and continuing to stock their system.

Jerry Hairston Jr. (Nationals) for Erik Komatsu (Brewers):  The Brewers get depth for their playoff run and the Nationals get a marginal prospect back.  A draw.

Doug Fister and David Pauley (Mariners) for Francisco Martinez, Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush and a PTBNL (Tigers):  For a Tigers team that was considered early in the day to be in the hunt for Ubaldo Jimenez, this one is a bit of a let down.  Fister will be a #4 or #5 starter for the Tigers, good but not great.  Pauley was having an incredible season for the Mariners in their pen and should do well in Comerica.  Wells will likely slot immediately into the Mariners outfield and the rest of the players are prospects to their stock their farm.  While I’m not excited about what Detroit received, I am equally not impressed by what they gave up.  Call this one a draw.  Middle of the road players for players at this point.

Denard Span (Twins) for Drew Storen and ? (Nationals): Yet to be announced.  This one is a real head scratcher for me.  I consider Span a good, but not great outfielder.  This trade is not completed although many outlets are reporting that this deal will get done.  The Nationals would give up their young closer if this deal happens and considerably weaken their bullpen.  Span, while playing a strong centerfield is not the offensive bat the Nationals are looking for.  After taking the Twins to the cleaners a year ago in trading Matt Capps for Wilson Ramos, this trade would be payback for the Twins.  If Storen is part of this deal, advantage Twins.  If the Nationals hang on to their closer, consider it a draw.

Rafael Furcal and cash (Dodgers) for an unknown player (Cardinals):  Yet to be announced.  With Dee Gordon in the minors and money woes being an issue, this trade for the Dodgers is about getting younger and saving money in the process.  The Cardinals are pushing for a playoff spot and if healthy, Furcal should give the team a spark offensively.  Personally, I would not trust Furcal based on his injury history.  It also remains to be seen which player the Cardinals get back.  But overall, without all the specifics, if the Dodgers can unload Furcal and have the Cardinals pick up most of his contract, I will label this trade a Dodgers win.

Ryan Ludwick (Padres) for an unknown player (Indians):  Yet to be announced.  The Indians are looking to make a strong playoff run and former Indian Luckwick would fit well in their offense this year.  It remains to be seen what the Indians have to give up, but for a player in as strong demand as Ludwick, as long as it is not too much, give the edge to the Indians.

 

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From Riggleman to Johnson: Davey is the New Sheriff in Washington

Saturday, June 25, 2011

MLB reports:   According to several sources, the Nationals are set to announce the hiring of their new manager.  Less than twenty-four hours after the abrupt resignation of Jim Riggleman (see yesterday’s feature), Mike Rizzo has apparently found the man for the job within the Nationals organization.  Ex-Mets skipper, Davey Johnson is set to move from the front office to the dugout.  Nationals fans couldn’t be happier.

Year Tm Lg G W L W-L% Finish
1984 New York Mets NL 162 90 72 .556 2
1985 New York Mets NL 162 98 64 .605 2
1986 New York Mets NL 162 108 54 .667 1
1987 New York Mets NL 162 92 70 .568 2
1988 New York Mets NL 160 100 60 .625 1
1989 New York Mets NL 162 87 75 .537 2
1990 New York Mets NL 42 20 22 .476 2
1993 Cincinnati Reds NL 118 53 65 .449 5
1994 Cincinnati Reds NL 115 66 48 .579 1
1995 Cincinnati Reds NL 144 85 59 .590 1
1996 Baltimore Orioles AL 163 88 74 .543 2
1997 Baltimore Orioles AL 162 98 64 .605 1
1999 Los Angeles Dodgers NL 162 77 85 .475 3
2000 Los Angeles Dodgers NL 162 86 76 .531 2
New York Mets 1012 595 417 .588 1.7
Cincinnati Reds 377 204 172 .543 2.3
Baltimore Orioles 325 186 138 .574 1.5
Los Angeles Dodgers 324 163 161 .503 2.5
2038 1148 888 .564 1.9

Unlike his predecessor, Davey Johnson is a proven winner.  Johnson managed four teams in his career before accepting the Nationals position.  As a big league manager, Johnson has a career record of 1148 wins and 888 losses, good for a .564 winning percentage.  Johnson has finished 11 of his 14 seasons above .500.  He won a World Series title in 1986 with the New York Mets.  Looking further at the numbers, Johnson’s teams have finished first in their division five times and in second place on seven different occasion.  Johnson wins everywhere he goes and the same will be expected as the new face of baseball in the nation’s capital.

With Stephen Strasburg on the mend and Bryce Harper slowly making the climb to the big leagues, the Nationals will have a strong talent base for Johnson to mold.  The Nationals will be looking for its team to play “Daveyball” and try to recreate some of the Mets magic from 1986.  That team was filled with young prospects that gelled together at the same time, sprinkled with key veterans.  As Mike Rizzo continues to tinker with the roster, we could very well be seeing a Nationals playoff run by 2013.  Coincidently, that will also be the year that new manager Davey Johnson’s contract is set to expire.  Provided Johnson’s teams perform to expectations, his run in Washington will be far longer than that of Jim Riggleman.

Davey Johnson is known as a gamer.  A man who played with his heart on his sleeve back in his playing days and as an intense competitor behind the bench.  This is a man who refuses to lose.  For an organization that seemingly refuses to win, Johnson is a breath of fresh air and should turn out to be the voice of a reason for an organization in dire need of direction.  Bobby Valentine would have been a good choice as well (given the rumors surrounding him in the media).  But the Nationals have their man.  A former Manager of the Year (AL 1997) and World Series winner.  Welcome to the new Nationals manager, Davey Johnson.  Get ready to see a lot of W’s in Washington during the next few seasons.

 

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