Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"What Would the Outsider Do" - Cincinnati Reds

With a handful of promising Major League ready youngsters, the Reds are poised to build their roster into a contender in the near future. However, 2009 will not be that season and the Reds should simply be content with development and health.

The Reds are stocked with a lot of very nice prospects. However, many of the prospects are getting old for their level of competition which could lead to some misleading numbers.

Even with that in mind, the Reds have had some solid drafts in the last couple of seasons. Thus, despite being 'old', the club has a fine minor league system with a lot of major league ready depth. Not only that, but they also have a surplus of players that could be utilized in trades.

Interestingly, this is one of the first seasons in recent memory where the Reds are looking as if pitching may be their strength. With the era of Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. in the clubs rear view mirror, the Reds have more financial flexibility then they may know what to do with. Hopefully that doesn't send them off on an unfounded spending spree as it did during the 2004-05 off season en route to signing Eric Milton.

What the Reds don't need:

Surprisingly, starting pitching. The Reds have a capable core of Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, and Micah Owings. Let us also not forget that Homer Bailey is still too young to be labelled a 'bust'. Additionally, the club has Ramon Ramirez, Daryl Thompson, and Matt Maloney who are all Major League ready and are fine options for the #5 slot in the pitching rotation.

In fact, because of this pitching depth, the Reds should find themselves testing the trade market with Harang and/or Arroyo. I'll get to that in a moment.

Relief pitching is another area the Reds can afford to hold off on. Not because I buy into the fact that the team's relievers had one of the 10 best ERA's in all of baseball, rather, because the Reds shouldn't have too many meaningful games that they need to win. It would also be beneficial of the club to use the 2009 season as an open tryout for 2010 and beyond.

Any big contracts. There really isn't a player available that the Reds need. Therefore, the Reds shouldn't be looking to overspend, as so often happens on the free agent market. Instead, the Reds should be looking to unload big contracts (as mentioned with Harang and Arroyo) giving them financial flexibility going forward.

What the Reds need:

The club enters this offseason with some enormous financial flexibility. They should be looking to create more while keeping their ears to the ground regarding any available young studs. I'm thinking Matt Holliday or Prince Fielder here. Players that fit the Miguel Cabrera mold as a player approaching a price point which their current clubs cannot afford.

Despite Jay Bruce being the obvious face of the franchise for the foreseeable future, the Reds are in a spot where they can afford the financial commitment that Holliday or Fielder would require. The acquisition of Fielder would move Joey Votto to left field, a position he has played, although it is not the most desirable location for the kid.

Keep in mind, the acquisitions of Holliday or Fielder are only worthwhile ideas if the Reds can get them at a discount. This is most likely improbable, so I won't account for that.

The next move the Reds should make is to lose either Arroyo or Harang. At this point, I would imagine Arroyo would bring the greater return and thus be a more sought after pitcher. One team that jumps out as an interested suitor would be the Milwaukee Brewers. With CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets ready to jump ship, the Brewers could be looking to acquire a dependable veteran starter. There are a few ideal chips within the Brewers roster, but I would aim for shortstop JJ Hardy, who is said to be available due to the emergence of youngster Alcides Escobar. The Brewers may get into desperation mode and accept a trade like this if they feel their rotation is not coming together.

As I mentioned, the Reds have quite the stable of 'old-for-their-level' prospects. Each of whom had a nice 2008 season and could be valued trade chips. As it stands, the Reds have four young outfielders, only one of whom has a truly high ceiling (Jay Bruce). Chris Dickerson, Drew Stubbs, and Danny Dorn all have potential, but none truly profile as franchise player and could easily be expendable if the right offer came about. The Angels, for example, could use some youth in their outfield-maybe a straight up swap of Dorn for Jeff Mathis?

A final move WWOD would look into is the acquisition of Willy Taveras. Willy T has had a pitiful season en route to essentially losing his job in Colorado. This, the year in which Taveras posted the highest K/BB rate of his career, as well as his highest line drive rate. At 27 years old, Taveras still has some room to grow and sounds as if he will be available for pennies on the dollar.

With those moves in mind, here is how the Reds should shake out offensively:

CF - Willy Taveras
RF - Jay Bruce
1B - Joey Votto
3B - Edwin Encarnacion
2B - Brandon Phillips
SS - JJ Hardy
C - Jeff Mathis
LF - Chris Dickerson

One of the major transitions the Reds are encountering is that of a team lacking plate discipline and patience. Encarnacion and Phillips are excellent hitters, but are allergic to free passes. This will be a powerful bunch, that will score a majority of their runs utilizing Great American Ballpark's cozy dimensions.

The club does, however, have the benefit of a fairly sound bench, starting with Ryan Freel and Jeff Keppinger, with Norris Hopper, Ryan Hanigan, Alex Gonzalez, and a player whom I can see being an excellent bench option Tonys Gutierrez.

Gutierrez is a 25 year old left handed infielder with limited power but an outstanding eye. Since 2006, Gutierrez has had a walk rate hovering around 15%, albeit, playing at a level well below his age.

Additionally, I wouldn't hesitate to platoon Freel with Dickerson as well as utilizing Freel as a super-utility player.

Keep in mind, the Reds have Yonder Alonso who was considered one of the most major league ready hitters in the 2008 first-year player draft. His 6-game performance in high-A only furthered his reputation, and despite a relatively low ceiling, should be close to the majors by the end of the 2009 season.

The rotation would be measured based on their ability to stay healthy. With up to four starters at 26 or younger, the club is poised for a long run as one of the league most promising rotations. Here's how I see them shaking out:

Aaron Harang
Johnny Cueto
Edinson Volquez
Micah Owings
Daryl Thompson

It may come off as an interesting move that Thompson makes the rotation over Homer Bailey, and I can understand any justification for an opposite approach. However, hear me out. Bailey has been thumped in his short tenure as a Major Leaguer, there is no way the kid can be taking the bump with any confidence. To build it, I try him out in the bullpen for a couple of months, letting him reer back and get things done in an inning or two of work.

Thompson on the other hand should not have those same confidence issues and can be a dependable #5 starter for this club.

The Reds bullpen has been impressive throughout the 2008 season and looks to build on that success in 2009. Here's how the core looks for 2009:

CL - F. Cordero
SU - J. Burton
RP - B. Bray
RP - H. Bailey
RP - C. Fisher
LR - R. Ramirez

Carlos Fisher is certainly a 'wildcard'. The 25 year old has done an excellent job as a minor league reliever, and it would be nice for the Reds to give him an opportunity to show what he's got in the bullpen this year. Aside from that, the bullpen looks much the same as how it completed this season.

The Reds have a handful of other arms that appear destined for the bullpen. Similar to the outfield depth, many of the arms are getting old for their level and are rather replaceable with one another. One arm to watch, it 2008 draft pick Zach Stewart. The 22 year old right hander had zero issues transitioning to the pro game and pitched 32 successful innings between A and high A ball. Somewhat of a worry, although in a small sample size, is the fact that while Stewart's strikeout rate rose considerably in his stint of high A ball, so too did his walk rate. This saw Stewart's K/BB rate drop from an impressive 4.33 in A ball down to 2.09 in high A.

Considered as an arm that should fly through the system, Stewart should find himself as a September call-up in 2009 strengthening an already deep bullpen.

The Reds are built around power and pitching. With the current depth they appear to have in their minor league system, the club is poised to be a buyer at the trade deadline, possibly going after a Bobby Abreu-2006 type with the extra cash at hand. Their pitching depth also presumably has the Reds regretting the Josh Hamilton for Edinson Volquez trade of last off season.

Despite being young, this club cannot be counted out for the 2009 season. While there are holes to fill, WWOD would sit out of The 2008-09 Hot Stove League to discover what it is the club has, and what they do not have. Consider the 2009 season as an open tryout, albeit a very exciting one given the roster that I have assembled.

BallHype: hype it up!

Monday, September 29, 2008

'Closing' Day - Part 2?

I can't think of another season, another league, another sport, where the playoff picture is not completed after the final day of the regular season. At some point today the White Sox and Tigers will take the field to make up a game that was scheduled for earlier this month. If the White Sox are victorious they will square off against the Twins in a one game playoff in Chicago Tuesday afternoon.

It amazes me that after a 162 game season playoff pictures still do not become fully understood until the last days of the season. One would think that after all of those independent trials, the best teams would separate from the rest of the pack. People claim that big market teams like the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Dodgers all have an unfair advantage, that a salary cap would create a form of competitive balance that isn't already present.

While it is true, as I mentioned, that there are teams that are out of contention prior to Opening Day, there are others that can kiss the playoffs goodbye before the summer arrives. However, what chaos would ensure if all 30 teams were in the hunt until the last weeks of the season? The trade deadline, which is one of the most interesting times in baseball, would be all but obsolete.

With that said, I will give a sneak peek into my post-season awards, and introduce "TheOLIBy's".

The 2008 season was definitely an interesting one for the American League. The top performers were predominantly from underachieving teams, and just when a player would begin to pull away, another would string together an equally as impressive stretch. However, following the same rule of thumb from last year, the requirements for winning an award are league-wide value.

That is, the Baseball Writers of America (BBWA) will dock a player based on his teams results. I believe this to be a false set of rules and one which is not entirely justified. True, if we are talking about two players with nearly identical seasons, it is fair to look at his teams performance, however to what extent? Consider the American League this season, where Alex Rodriguez and Grady Sizemore have been the two top performers according to Baseball Prospectus' VORP (Value Over Replacement Player). In fact, of the top 10 performers in the American League, only four come from playoff teams.

Thus, consider the value those players had to their respective clubs in asking yourself, would the Red Sox have been hurt more by the loss of Dustin Pedroia then the Yankees would have the loss Alex Rodriguez? While the Sox may have dropped a handful of victories with his absence, chances are the team was still good enough to make the playoffs. Whereas the Yankees still had a shot as early as September 1st, despite missing ARod for nearly a month.

As I mentioned during last season's American League Award Show,
When selecting who will win the awards, I take into account several factors. The first, is how a player performs in respect to their position. For the record, I am not going to pick a player who performed at a high level at a brutal position, but wasn't even in the top 5 or 10 in 'win' stats.

The second criteria is 'Win' stats? The Hardball Times owns a stat for this, as does Baseball Prospectus; called Win Shares Above Bench (WSAB) and Value over Replacement Player (VORP) respectively. I will reference these stats in and out of my writings, for the most part, utilizing both.

Next, I will look at exceptional play of a player. A streak, a record, or really something they did on an individual level to lift the team to higher levels. That is not to say a player from a losing team can not win an award, although admittedly, those players are at a slight disadvantage.

Lastly, I do take into account salary and the players surrounding-something you will notice with my AL Cy Young award.
Salary is one component of last years requirements which I will more or less neglect. While Rodriguez is making enough to solve the debt crisis in North America, it is not his fault that a team was willing to dish out that sort of cash.

The American League MVP race will come down to Alex Rodriguez, Dustin Pedroia, and Josh Hamilton. Each of these players had exceptional seasons, with Pedroia and Hamilton being major surprises throughout the league. Two players certainly deserving of acknowledgment, and who may make a last minute push once I fully evaluate the numbers are Joe Mauer and Milton Bradley.

The Cy Young race has been one of the most interesting ones the American League has recently seen. The two top candidates are Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, two deserving candidates each of whom had outstanding seasons on mediocre teams. Jon Lester, Ervin Santana, and John Danks will all receive consideration, but will seemingly fall short of Lee and Halladay.

Last year, I set forth the following additional requirement for the Cy Young winner,
[T]he Cy Young award is not simply awarded to the pitcher who had the best statistics, rather, it is awarded to the pitcher who was not only most valuable to his team, but would have been to any other team.
One of the reasons I decide that is because pitching statistics are often misleading. A pitchers ballpark can have a great influence on a pitcher, not only whether a park is a 'hitters' park or a 'pitchers' park, but whether the park is friendly to ground ball pitchers. A club's defense can let a starter down enough to negatively affect his statistics, despite having a better pitched season.

Entering May, the American ROY picture appeared to be an open and shut case. Jacoby Ellsbury was playing like a seasoned veteran, while Evan Longoria and Alexei Ramirez were struggling to adapt to Major League Baseball. At that point, Mike Aviles was still an unknown player bound to be tabbed as a 'journey man'.

According to The Blogger's Poll, the top three by the end of May sat at Ellsbury, David Murphy, and Oakland pitcher Greg Smith-none of whom look even partially deserving as of today. As it stands, it appears as if Longoria, Aviles, and Ramirez top the list for position players in the American League, with Joba Chamberlain and Brad Zeigler being the tops of the pitching class.

The American League manager of the year will come down to two candidates, the Tampa Bay Rays' Joe Maddon and Minnesota Twins' Ron Gardenhire. Mike Scocia makes an annual showing on this list, but this season, Maddon and Gardenhire have been the class of the American League.

In similar fashion, the National League provides us with many candidates, most of whom come from non-playoff contenders. There are, however, players with statistics that the BBWA favor and grade at too high of a level.

Another issue with the National League is the fact that two of the most important players have half a season or less of statistics accumulated. Both Manny Ramirez and CC Sabathia would be sure fire locks if they had played from Opening Day at that level in the National League. However, that they were mid-season acquisitions, it is difficult to discover exactly what type of impact they had on their respective teams, or if their impact was greater then a player with a full season worth of playing time.

For the MVP award, right off the bat I am going to eliminate Ryan Howard, who is receiving far too much recognition in the media. True he has been a catalyst in the Phillies run to winning the National League East due to his monster September. It is not as if he is the sole reason the Phils are going to make the playoffs, and his ineptitude at the plate through much of the season is reason enough to discredit him. Despite that, people see the Phillies in the playoffs and can only recall what a player has done for them lately.

If Howard is going to be considered for National League MVP, Manny deserves the first look. In fact, it is arguable that Howard's September wasn't any more spectacular then was his teammates April. Recall Chase Utley absolutely killed it in April, hammering out 10 home runs.

The National League MVP will come down to four players, Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman, Hanley Ramirez, and David Wright, with Manny Ramirez having an outside shot at the award given what he did for the entire Dodgers club. None of these players made the playoffs, but each team was integral in providing their respective clubs close to the playoffs-which I feel is equally as valuable.

As for the Cy Young race, there is no race in my opinion. This is an open and shut case belonging to Tim Lincecum. I will let the numbers direct me here allowing Johan Santana to enter the race. Also receiving consideration will be Cole Hamels, Brad Lidge, and CC Sabathia.

Similar to the American League, a hot start out of one of the National League's rookies seemed to eliminate the purpose for further discussion. Geovanny Soto was an absolute monster the first month of the season. However, as the season grew on, catching duties began to catch up to Soto as his incredible pace predictably slowed. Still the favorite for the award, Soto invited Jair Jurrjens, Joey Votto, and Hiroki Kuroda into the conversation.

Joe Torre and Lou Pinella did splendid jobs managing their respective clubs, however the job is fairly easy when you have a roster of All Stars. Certainly they can not be docked for having the benefit of a great team, and will be strongly considered as candidates to win this award. Also involved in the discussion will be Florida's Fredi Gonzalez, Philadelphia's Charlie Manuel, and Houston's Cecil Cooper.

You may be still asking yourself, 'So what about these "OLIBy's"?' Well, as you obviously remember, last year I handed out baseball's version of the Dundy's. While I have enjoyed receiving hits from fans of NBC's The Office, I feel terrible that they aren't able to see any pictures of Angela-almost as terrible as I feel for teachers looking for Lesson Plans for SE Hinton's The Outisders-thus, it is time to change the name for this 'annual' award show.

The OLIBy's will be much the same as they were in 2007, providing 'bests' and 'worsts', as well as acknowledging impressive milestones. Stay tuned for those and much more to come!

BallHype: hype it up!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

'Closing' Day

187 days ago the first 'meaningful' pitch was thrown, over 6 months later the 2008 season is merely hours from being completed. While some may see this as a somber afternoon, a day in which a season of hope and desire has come to an end, the beginning of a cold and dark winter, I see the finale of baseball's regular season as simply another section of the great story we give so much too.

While today will mark the official end of the season for many teams, the fact is, most were eliminated long before the season even began. There were certain teams, that despite a hot start, or an impressive string of victories, were simply over matched. There were teams that dug themselves into a hole too deep to get out of. By the mid-summer classic, one could have reasonably eliminated half of the teams in the league and come up with 10 teams that were legitimate contenders. Even a 2007 Colorado Rockies-type surge, as improbable as it is, wouldn't have been enough for many 'fringe' contenders.

Today we say good-bye, but realistically, that should have been done months ago. The playoffs will begin, and for as exciting as they are, they fall short of the grind that is baseball's regular season. From the early Valentine's Day present of pitchers and catchers reporting, to mid-summer fireworks. From milestone accomplishments, to historic happenings. No matter how the season plays out (cliche alert) there cannot truly be a loser during a given baseball season.

Over the next few days I will reflect on the season. I will discuss my predictions and preview the post season action. WWOD will continue looking at the 'have nots' and how they can become the 2009 version of the 2008 teams they are so jealous of.

The off-season, despite its name, is not time to take 'off' at all. Enjoy this dark and gloomy day.

Go Brew Crew!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Exciting Stuff at BDD

As per BDD's press release,
Birmingham, Ala. -- With the final weekend of the season now upon us, this week's edition of Baseball Digest Daily Live highlights the teams fighting for the final spots of October baseball. Join host Eric SanInocencio as he's joined by a panel of some of the best beat writers in all of the game.

Four guests highlight an extended 90 minute version of the Saturday podcast, with content ranging from coast to coast. Listen as reporters Buster Olney (ESPN), Mark Gonzalez (Chicago Tribune), Mike DiGiovanna (LA Times) and Adam Rubin (NY Daily News) discuss nearly all of the teams sure to compete for a World Series championship.

With plenty of heart wrenching action left to be played, BDD Live will also recap the game winners and clutch hits that have seen several squads rekindle hopes of playoff glory. Your calls, emails and predictions are welcome, as the game of baseball turns its attention to their championship tournament.

To join in on the debate, dial 646-716-7728.

So join us on Saturday at 12:00 PM Eastern Time at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/baseballdigestdaily to listen to the live broadcast. You can also download the show or listen to the recording upon completion.

Or, to download this and all other podcast archives via iTunes, just do the following:
1) Open iTunes.
2) Click on the Advanced menu at the top.
3) Then click on Subscribe to Podcast.
4) Enter this URL http://www.blogtalkradio.com/baseballdigestdaily/feed and click ok.

I encourage everyone to check this out as it is certain to be one of the best BDD Live's to date.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Octoberquest 2008 - Cubs v. Mets

Following tonight's action through MLB.com's GAMEDAY, I came across one of the most hilarious lineups in recent memory. Keep in mind, this lineup is comical mostly due to what it is replacing, and due to the fact that if the Cubs pull out this same lineup against the Brewers on the weekend, Mets fans will be up in arms about it.

Here it is:

LF - F. Pie
SS - R. Theriot
1B - M. Hoffapauir
CF - J. Edmonds
2B - M. Fontenot
3B - C. McGehee
RF - K. Fukudome
C - K. Hill

The Cubbies typical lineup:

LF - A. Soriano
SS - R. Theriot
1B - D. Lee
3B - A. Ramirez
2B - M. DeRosa
C - G. Soto
CF - J. Edmonds
RF - K. Fukudome

In other words, the Cubs sent out their B squad, keeping in only their worst 'regulars'. Utilizing David Pinto's lineup analysis tool, the B Squad would put up at most 3.992 runs per game. By comparison, the A squad would put up at most 5.319 runs per game. A substantial deviation of nearly 1.5 runs per game. In other words, that would be like swapping the leagues worst offensive team (San Diego at 3.94 runs per game) with the leagues best offensive team (Texas at 5.54 runs per game).

If the Mets don't win this game, they have only themselves to blame.

As a side note, I have to tip my hate to Lou. He set up his rotation to perfection for his run into the playoffs. Both Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden will have the ideal amount of rest for their series against the eventual 'wildcard' team.

"What Would the Outsider Do" - Seattle Mariners

The Mariners are one that that I truly have limited interest in. Despite being one of two teams which get 'national' coverage in Canada-a blog and rant for another time-the Mariners simply have a team that I cannot cheer for. That is, until I found that their inaugural logos had a trident!

I digress, this team still lacks a big name youngster to get excited about. This team has thrown money around like a big market franchise although it has done so poorly. Considering the team is backed by the owners of Nintendo, they certainly could compete with the Yankees, Angels, and Red Sox for highest paid team. However, the Mariners are running a 'business' and cut corners where they deem appropriate. Hopefully that time has come to an end as the Pacific Rim deserves a Major League franchise it can cheer for.

That aside, no one is going to argue that the Mariners are in an envious position. There probably isn't a general manager in baseball that would trade what he's got for what the Mariners have. Especially with $30M owed between Jarrod Washburn, Miguel Batista, and Carlos Silva. I suppose it was those signings, plus Richie Sexson and Kenji Johjima, that has led Mariners management to squash any desires at making a big splash in free agency this year.

With that said, the nearly imminent loss of Raul Ibanez, very little in the minor league cupboards that is major league ready, it sounds as if the Mariners will start from scratch. Although the club doesn't seem to be interested in truly rebuilding. However, WWOD really does not care about what the Mariners management wants to do, especially since the Mariners don't seem to have a real plan themselves.

What the Mariners don't need:

Veteran pitching-at least in terms of overpriced veteran pitching. The club could certainly benefit from upgrading the rotation outside of Felix Hernandez and Brendan Morrow, unfortunately those roster spots are sewn up by the unsightly trio of Washburn, Batista, and Silva. It's difficult to stomach that those three were at one time desirable.

Despite being one of the most difficult positions to field, the Mariners are surprisingly deep at middle infield. Even for a team that gave away a nice young middle infielder to the Indians. With Carlos Truinfel, another youngster the club is rushing, the Mariners are 'set' up the middle for years to come.

While the Mariners have the middle infield locked down, they also have players with weak on base percentages locked down. Thus, the club should ignore any players who don't have at least league average on base abilities.

Lastly, the Mariners need to avoid rushing Matthew Tuiasosopo. Unless an absolutely incredible offer comes around for Adrian Beltre (read-someone willing to take on his salary), sit tight and let him master triple-A hitting. Depending on how the season is going for the club, a September call-up should be the most this kid sees of the major leagues.

What the Mariners need:

Lots! Although surprisingly not enough to panic. There are available pieces in free agency which would fit in perfectly. The first piece, replace Raul Ibanez with Adam Dunn. Ibanez will presumably be a type A free agent and net the Mariners two first round pick (if he signs with a team outside the top 15). Dunn will simply cost the Mariners a second round pick, however he has enough youth on his side to be a solid source of power and on base percentage for years to come.

Next up, the Mariners should look at a committee approach to their DH/1B black holes. Dan Johnson will presumably be free for the taking and would make for an outstanding left handed platoon partner. How about bringing back Richie Sexson as the other half of the platoon. Sexson has had favorable splits against left handed pitchers, and should come at a cheap enough price to warrant bringing him back to grab a partial return on the club's 2005 investment.

Lastly, the Mariners need some bullpen help. The fact that the teams closer has been largely ineffective or unavailable this season has only furthered this requirement. That said, given a full season out of JJ Putz, the addition of a legitimate arm to the bullpen will be as good as completely revamping this group. Ambiorix Burgos from the Mets would be my target. He could presumably be had for Tim Hulett, as the Mets are fairly shallow up the middle.

After those moves, and pending development and a couple rebound seasons, the Mariners could be setup nicely to compete in the weak American League West. Offensively, everything would have to go perfectly, and there is little in the way of legitimate back up plans in the case of Adam Dunn.

That said, there is no way Johjima could possibly perform worse. The Mariners have had the leagues worst production from first, as well as designated hitter. By all standards, Beltre has had a fairly disappointing season from a power perspective. With the moves I suggest as well as players performing at a level they should, the Mariners would easily improve on their current standing as the third worst OPS in all of baseball.

Here's how they should look:

RF - Ichiro Suzuki
2B - Jose Lopez
LF - Adam Dunn
DH - Jeff Clement
1B - Dan Johnson/Richie Sexson
3B - Adrian Beltre
CF - Wladimir Balentien
C - Kenji Johjima
SS - Luis Valbuena

On base percentage. That is the teams first and foremost issue. It is nearly impossible to create a top end of this batting order as the club does not have a single bat worthy of the #2 spot. If Valbuena proves capable of hitting major league pitching, and that this years major step forward was not a matter of luck, the Mariners could quickly move him up the batting order.

The bench would be predominantly filled with current Mariners with one exception, Mike Sweeney. Sweeney would come to town to fight for the designated hitter job, where his presence would boot Johjima from the club altogether and slide Clement into a fulltime catching job.

The rest of the bench would be filled with Sexson, Yunesky Betancourt, Jeremy Reed, and Jamie Burke.

Another option for the bench/Mike Sweeney/Richie Sexson job, ex-Met, and strikeout Master, Victor Diaz. Diaz could easily form the other half of the Dan Johnson platoon, although that may limit the position flexibility-unless Clement can play some first?

The rotation has quite a bit more upside then offense does. There are performances that can only get better, starting with Erik Bedard. Carlos Silva, despite all who disapproved of his signing, is certainly a better pitcher then he has been in 2008. Brendan Morrow will at worst be what the Mariners got from RA Dickey and Miguel Batista. In other words, the rotation will improve simply because it cannot possibly perform any worse.

Here's how it shakes out:

Felix Hernandez
Erik Bedard
Jarrod Washburn
Brandon Morrow
Carlos Silva

Clearly the biggest issue this rotation faced in 2008 dealt with injuries. Bedard was expected to throw 200 near Cy Young innings, instead, he threw 80 good, but not great innings. Silva has been absolutely dreadful, although he has performed much better then the numbers suggest. Washburn and Hernandez have been about what the club expected out of them.

The big 'wildcard' will be Brandon Morrow and how he reacts to the increased workload. The Mariners should be careful with him, keeping his innings under 160. Yanking him in and out of the rotation is not the answer, but skipping his turn once in a while might be the best course of action.

As I mentioned, the bullpen will look as though it has undergone a facelift simply by having JJ Putz healthy for the full season. Here's how WWOD would put the bullpen together:

CL - JJ Putz
SU - Ambiorox Burgos
RP - Sean Green
RP - Eric O'Flaherty
RP - Cesar Jimenez
RP - Miguel Batista
LR - RA Dickey

The one player that I truly wish could be in this bullpen that is not, is Mark Lowe. Clearly he deserves a spot in the bullpen over Batista, and if WWOD was truly running the show, Batista would be playing his snake flute on a street corner somewhere. However, with the last bullpen spot, its really not a big deal if Batista is in town or Lowe. That said, if Lowe is out of options and the choice is between Lowe and eating Batista's contract, it's a no-brainer.

I truly love the appearance of Burgos at the top of this bullpen. His stuff is nasty and he is young enough to build the bullpen around if he truly harnesses his stuff.

This is a club without many options. While Suzuki isn't aging like the rest of us humans, he certainly cannot be depended on to perform at this level beyond 2010. With Felix and Bedard, the club could have the best 1-2 punch in the majors, or they could have an over matched #2 starter if Bedard hits the shelf again.

One thing that is disappointing, however, is that people do not consider Dunn the type of bat a team can build around. I disagree, and feel as though a trio of Dunn, Clement, and Balentien, while not outstanding, would be a very strong place to start.

The one thing that is encouraging about the Mariners, the club seems reluctant to move its top prospect, French-Canadian pitcher Phillippe Aumont. That, however, should not be mistaken with the fact that the Mariners will treat him appropriately, in that it would come as a surprise to no one if Aumont logged innings at the major league level in 2009.

BallHype: hype it up!

Up next-The Cincinnati Reds

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Adam Miller Watch - Spring Training 2009

I thought adding days to spring was a good thing?

According to AP sports writer Ronald Blum, due to the 2nd annual World Baseball Classic, Spring Training will undergo some changes to its 2009 schedule. Namely, we will get to see pitchers and catchers report 6 days earlier.

In addition to this, the mandatory date for all players to show up to Spring Training has been moved up from March 5th to February 22nd. To me, this is excellent news. It also reminded me to put my name in for World Baseball Classic tickets at the Rogers Dome.

This also reminded me that I haven't done an Adam Miller Watch in quite some time.

Adam Miller, who as some of you remember, entered 2008 as the Indians top prospect and one of the top prospects in baseball. He began the 2008 season on the disabled list, but upon return, fired things up en route to 4 very promising starts. His pitch counts were high, as Miller struggled to make it through the early innings in some poor Buffalo weather. Despite this, Miller still looked dominating, giving the Indians reason to believe he would be a factor for the team by seasons end.

However, as has been customary with Miller, he found himself hurt again. This injury knocked him out for the year as the Indians medical staff performed a procedure they hoped would cure his lingering problems.

Miller, who been with the Indians instructional league team in Arizona, is now headed in a new direction, at least temporarily. The Indians are working on adding Miller to the bullpen, and seeing how his body fares against the work load of a reliever.

In any event, 6 extra days of Spring will certainly help me get through the winter.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Yankees are Un-American?

"I went off for like twenty minutes! It was amazing! I totally popped...I talked for like twenty minutes about how the traffic system sucks, and that we should only have yellow lights, because then we could be very cautious, but not get stuck in traffic."
-Mac (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, October 4, 2007)

I haven't reflected upon the closing of Yankee stadium, and honestly, did not intend too. I did not get the opportunity to take in a game at The House that Ruth Built, nor do I feel specifically disappointed that I did not. While I am certain the atmosphere at a perpetually sold out ballpark of 50,000+ is a pleasure. October electricity in May and June is something I know little about.

Allegedly the ballpark's early 70's facelift changed it from a ballpark to a stadium, and unlike historic Wrigley and Fenway park, was reconstructed to suit the desires of the fan at that time. Since then, many ballparks have been built, and essentially each one of them have strayed from this and reverted to the 'traditional' ballpark feel. Pilot Field (now Dunn Tire Park in Buffalo) was the first of this transition, with Camden Yards being the first big league ballpark to turn back the clock. Having taken in ballgames in Buffalo, Detroit, Cleveland, and Boston, as well as in Toronto, my desire to sit in a 'stadium' has diminished.

However, that did not stop me from watching a historic moment in Major League Baseball history. Despite the Yankees and the 'Evil Empire' stigma, I sat down and watched parts of the Sunday Night telecast. I did not mind that ESPN made it sound as if baseball was coming to an end. I did not think twice about the curtain call that Yankee Captain Derek Jeter received while being pulled out in the ninth inning. I thought it was perfect that a catcher hit the final home run, just like at the Polo Grounds. Mariano Rivera throwing the last pitch was absolutely fitting.

None of those moments 'moved' me. Not once during the game did I think that baseball in New York would never be the same. Quite the contrary. This game reminded me of the continuity of baseball, unlike other sports. While Yankee Stadium will be taken down, the New Yankee Stadium will continue to capture historic moments of baseballs most storied franchise. A franchise, that loves and needs to win-apparently there is something wrong with that?

One of SportsBlog Nation's websites Let's Go Tribe has one of the most pathetically hilarious 'blog' entries I have ever read. In fact, it might be even more unsightly in my eyes, as a fellow Indians fan. That aside, the article is the equivalent of the FOX Networks 'new hit series' Hole in the Wall:

Really, I won't waste anyone's time going through the entire article-although I don't really encourage anyone into reading it them self. Rather, I want to point out one of the laughable comments written by 'Jay'.

According to the author,
and in the decades since, the Yankees have become something awful: the most corrupt, cowardly, and even un-American force in sports. They are now, in fact, the antithesis of legitimate, competitive sports.
In case you missed that, Jay calls the Yankees and the Yankee ownership and management, 'un-American'. Really?

The author points to George Steinbrenner's free spending ways, specifically how Steinbrenner went out and 'bought' championships, starting with the signing of free agent Reggie Jackson. Correct me if I am wrong, but did every Major League franchise not have the opportunity to purchase Jackson? While being the team in the city certainly gives the Yankees a leg up on the competition, if another team truly wanted Jackson, he was available.

Some may argue that Jackson signing the largest free agent contract at that time is evidence of the Yankees eventual take-over, but Jackson entered Free Agency as the AL's leading slugger after the 1976 season-seems legitimate to me.

But even if Steinbrenner drove the prices up in order to 'buy' the best team possible, how is this 'un-American'? Does this not sound entirely like capitalism-which by definition is the American Way?

That is, capitalism is defined by the individual, not the market. Capitalism is said to be an 'unfair distribution of wealth'. Thus, is it 'un-American' that Wal-Mart, America's company, continues to build and strengthen it's empire while leaving the 'Ma and Pa' stores to waste? I'd gather that Jay does not have an issue saving $0.33 on a stick of deodorant, yet the Yankees are in the wrong for spending to win?

Additionally, this has not 'ruined' the competitive balance of baseball, this has simply changed the way teams operate. No longer can the small market clubs make major mistakes. The clubs need to concentrate on development rather then purchases.

The author states,
In just seven years, the Yankees took the highest payroll in the sport and tripled it, shattering any illusions of a level playing field and turning the sport into a competitive joke.
However fails to acknowledge that despite this apparent 'un-level' playing field, the Yanks are on the verge of missing the playoffs. Despite this 'un-level' playing field, the Yanks have not won a World Series since 2000. How is this 'un-level'? Wouldn't one classify a dynasty as involving an 'un-level' playing field?

Lastly, the author claims that the Yankees have become the definition of entitlement. I feel this is slightly off base. Are Yankee fans arrogant? Certainly. But wouldn't you be if you were the fan of the sports best and most historic franchise? Wouldn't you be if you were from America's anointed center of the universe?

This is not an issue with the Yankees, or being a Yankee fan, rather, this is an issue of America.

How is this for comparison Jay? Anytime you boo Derek Jeter, or call him out for being overrated, you are invariably being the same as the very Yankee fans that you loath. Do you believe that Jeter went door to door asking New Yorkers to fall in love with him?

Much will continue to be written about Old Yankee Stadium. People will continue to cry out for a return to the 'good old days'. The New York Yankees will forever be hated because they have done what no other ballclub has. Yankee fans will forever be hated, because they are the fan of a team everyone is jealous of, and from a city, everyone wishes they could live in. The fact remains, that the New Yankee Stadium, despite allegedly being reminiscent of the pre-facelift Old Yankee Stadium will never be the venue of historic accomplishments. It will be new, and it will be beautiful, but it won't be the same-something people loath, why else would Steinbrenner be such a public enemy?
I'm gonna rise up, I'm gonna kick a little ass, I'm gonna kick some ass in the U.S.A.
I'm gonna climb a mountain, I'm gonna sew a flag, I'm gonna fly on an eagle.
I'm gonna kick some butt, I'm gonna drive big trucks, I'm gonna rule this world.
I'm gonna kick some ass, I'm gonna rise up, Gonna kick a little ass, Rock on flyin' eagle!
Charlie (It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, August 10, 2006)

BallHype: hype it up!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Introducing the Buffalo Baby Mets

According to MiLB.com, the Buffalo Bisons and New York Mets have reached an affiliation agreement. As per the press release,
A new era of Buffalo Bisons Baseball began today as the team signed a two-year player development contract with the New York Mets.

This partnership aligns the Bisons with one of the elite franchises in all of Major League Baseball. Under this agreement, the Buffalo Bisons will be the New York Mets' Triple-A affiliate for the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

Interesting, this will be the second time the Bisons and Mets have an agreement in place. The last time, during the 1963 to 1965 seasons. During the last three season tenure, the Bisons made the International League playoffs with players who went on to have long careers with the Mets, such as Ed Kranepool, Ron Swoboda, and Cleon Jones. Additionally, these three were all part of the Mets' 1969 World Series Team.

The news of the Bisons-Mets affiliation is a taste of both good and bad news. The good news, at least Buffalo does not have to again be linked with Toronto and Torontonians. This is also another block in Ted Rogers pursuit to purchase the 'Queen City'.

The bad news, however, is that the Mets are not traditionally kind to their Triple-A affiliates. Many of the clubs top prospects will simply skip right over this level of the minors, which means that the current top prospect in the Mets organization, Fernando Martinez, will probably never grace the Kentucky Blue grass at Swan and Washington St. Additionally, with few other top prospects, the Bisons are looking to be a team filled with veterans and Quadruple-A players (a Quad-A player is one that excels in the minors but can't hack it in the majors-Ernie Young was the definition of this player, and before this season, Ryan Ludwick too) . In other words, the Bisons should be looking to compete right from the get go, despite having very few exciting young prospects to monitor after they have graced us with their presence. So no Brandon Phillips', no Jhonny Peralta's, no Victor Martinez's, no Adam Miller's, etc.

With all that said, the affiliation is the beginning of a new era and one that I am excited to be apart of. The Bisons open their home schedule against Boston's Triple-A affiliate, the Pawtucket Red Sox on April 13th. It will be interesting to see what sort of lineup the Mets put together for the Bisons, although we can be sure it will provide plenty of depth for the major league club, depth that the Mets have sorely lacked during the 2008 season.

BallHype: hype it up!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Instant Replay Debate: The 5 Minute Home Run

Well Instant Replay, you got one right. Last night, against the Minnesota Twins, Carlos Pena of the Tampa Bay Rays launched a home run that was called on the field as 'fan interference'. The fan interference play was ruled a double, Pena was awarded second base and Eric Hinske would have crossed home plate with Akinori Iwamura moving to third. The 'double' was overturned and Pena was justly rewarded with a home run.

As it stands, Instant Replay has overturned one play, in three reviews. While FOX, TBS, and ESPN would clamor for a .333 hitter despite his other statistics, we all know there is more to a picture of a player then his batting average. That is, instant replay is not 1 for 3, it is, for all intents and purposes, 1 for 1.

However, what has it done to the game?

In the two previous occasions the umpires made the correct call. The first, occurring in Tampa, as Alex Rodriguez's home run was confirmed, and as I mentioned previously, had no real affect on the game.

The second, occurred in Houston, as Instant Replay proved that Hunter Pence's RBI double was called accurately by the umpire crew. Similar to the Rodriguez call, the game was more or less out of reach, and whether Pence was allowed to cross home, or had to stay at second would not have made a big difference. That is, instead of the Astros leading the game 9-2, they would have had an 11-2 lead.

Fan Graphs does an excellent job at plotting win probability at a given point during a specific game. Here is how the game looked without Pence's home run:

If that image is not clear enough, how about this? According to the data provided by Fan Graphs, after Pence's double the Pittsburgh Pirates had a 0.7% chance at winning the game. The next inning, Steven Pearce hit a one out home run for the Pirates increasing their odds of winning by half a percent.

In other words, the two runs that were potentially lost, held little to no value in the big picture.

Each of the previous Replays took a little over 2 minutes and solved nothing. It stalled the game on the field and for no reason.

But finally, Instant Replay does something! Or does it?

After over 4 minutes of replay-which jumped out to the FSN Florida commentators almost immediately-the umpire crew reversed the call, giving Pena a home run. 4 minutes?

In a game that typically takes in the range of 3 hours, 4 minutes isn't a big deal. In a 6-0 game (7-0 after the ruling on the field), 4 minutes can feel like an eternity-probably enough to lose some of your TV audience and consequently advertising revenue-although that could work the other way as well for various reasons.

The Twins-Rays game ended with a score of 11-1, in hindsight, the call was extremely inconsequential. But how did Pena's home run affect the win probability of this game?:

Looks fairly inconsequential, right? Pretty much. Not as terribly un-meaningful as the previous instant, but close. That is, prior to Pena's home run, the Rays had a 96.4% chance at winning the ballgame. After the home run, 99.2%. The double, which would have left a runner on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs, while scoring a run, probably would have placed the win probability over 97%.

In other words, this overturned call eliminated about a 2% chance that the Twins had in winning the game anyways.

Really? That's why we are delaying the game? I cannot wait for Major League managers to figure out how to use Instant Replay as a method for warming up pitchers. That is, keep in mind that foul balls can also be reviewed.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ray Pride Part V - 9 = 8 = Magic Number of 1

Well, the season is yet to be completed but with the Rays magic number sitting at 1, and the Red Sox trailing the Jays by 4 in the bottom of the 2nd inning (at the Rogers Dome) it looks as though at least one of my preseason predictions is going to be accurate.

That's right, TheOLIB readers saw it here first. On March 27th, I proclaimed the Rays to make the playoffs, and better yet, to win the division. While other publications claimed the Rays would take steps in 2008, suggesting a historic season in Tampa (finishing with greater then 70 wins), I went out on a limb and took the Rays as my choice of class in the American League East.

True, I have spent some time 'prizing' my ego throughout this very series (Read Ray Pride Part One, Two, Three, and Four), but is it not partially acceptable? Keep in mind, this is a Rays team, that despite sitting in first place at the All Star break, was still being written off as a legitimate contender in the East and would have had difficulties making the playoffs.

Still, sitting mere hours away from the Rays clinching their first ever playoff birth, people still are not taking this team for real. Experts and insiders would take the Red Sox, not the Rays to represent the American League in the World Series. Those who had never before pointed to the pythagorean standings, would assert it is simply illogical not to pick the Sox.

Clearly the mindset has not changed. The very day I posted my preseason picks for the American League East, a reader wrote in to ask if I was celebrating April Fool's on an earlier date? (although in a not so clever manner) Over at the Bleacher Report, I had multiple readers call me out.

According to reader Alfred,
"[T]hat was the single dumbest article I have read in a LONGGG time..."
Thayne commented,
"Switch the Rays and Sox then you make more sense. Interesting read for sure!"
Thayne was suggesting I drop the Rays to 4th (where most figured the team to finish) and the Sox be bumped up to first (similar to the popularly held belief within mainstream media). It was nice that he gave me credit for an 'interesting read', I just hope that wasn't to be taken negatively.

I did have a few readers at least agree with my logic as I claimed the Rays made enough minor moves, and had enough breakout candidates to make a legitimate run at things. Coupled with a vastly improved defensive infield, this team was bound to break out,
In fact, [Evan] Longoria’s presence and the addition of [Jason] Bartlett will make the Rays infield solid both defensively and offensively. Also look for [Carl] Crawford and [B.J.] Upton to be among the best outfielders (again both defensively and offensively) in the American League.

With all that said, I hope the Rays have not been upset with me borrowing them as my adopted team. While it took last weekend's 3 game Royal sweep for me to officially give up on the Indians, a small part of me has been rooting for the Rays since Opening Day.

BallHype: hype it up!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"What Would the Outsider Do" - San Diego Padres

The San Diego Padres are at an interesting cross roads. They have some pieces in place where they should be competing in what is a fairly weak National League West division. The club is also not young enough, or deep enough with prospects to have much confidence beyond 2010 when compared to the rest of the division.

This is a club that just missed the playoffs in 2007 and have since fallen all the way down to the Steven Strasburg sweepstakes. This is a club that needs to rebuild, but is also be only a couple pieces from competing. So what do they do? Where do they stand?

That's where WWOD? comes in. WWOD? suggests what the Padres should do, not what they will do.

The Padres should go for it. You heard it. How much longer can they count on Jake Peavy to dominate the National League? Will Adrian Gonzalez price his way out of San Diego? While there are some nice youngsters kicking around, are they the type of players an organization can build around?

The Padres have had a couple strong drafts, and this year, they decided to spend like never before. The club signed its top picks quickly and got them into the system. Each of the players have performed at a fairly high level giving the Padres hope for the future, albeit a distant one.

All that being said, the Padres appear to have a relatively small window, especially with how the teams in the division are built. Thus, the Padres should go for it in 2009, make some bold moves and take care of things once and for all.

What the Padres don't need

Major league ready youngsters. The lineup is littered with inexperienced players. While adding a Miguel Cabrera wouldn't ever be a thing to disregard, age should not be a priority for the 2009 Padres.

What the Padres need

A fair amount actually. But specifically three or four players will get it done for the Pads.

Legitimate third and forth starting pitchers. The club needs to hope Chris Young can avoid line drives off of his face. Given the odds are against the Padres losing Young for a month due to a freak injury, adding a true third starter, something they failed to do entering the 2008 season when they went with Randy Wolf and Greg Maddux, should be a must.

How about signing Mike Mussina and Pedro Martinez? I don't think it's unrealistic to think that Mussina would sign a one year (plus option) contract. Similarly, I imagine Martinez would want to rebuild his value, and what better place then the best pitchers park in baseball?

A bat that can back up Adrian Gonzalez. For three straight seasons Gonzalez has carried the Padres. At 26 years old, the former first overall pick should not slow down anytime soon, however being the only bat in the city for three straight years has to grow tiring on a young hitter.

Unfortunately all of the quality options would be defensively stretched in right field. However, I have a plan in place that would allow that to work. Let's bring in Raul Ibanez on a three year contract. No, Ibanez is not the ideal player given his age and soon-to-be salary demands. However, the Pads might get him at a slight discount given the top end of the left field free agent market (Dunn, Burrell, and Bradley).

The next phase of this plan would be to trade Kevin Kouzmanoff and put Chase Headley at the hot corner, a position he is much more comfortable with. Thus far, the moves may appear to be a parallel exchange, however, can the Padres truly expect 31 combined home runs from Jody Gerut and Scott Hairston in 2009? Either way, Kouz goes and the Pads try and outfield of Ibanez, Gerut and and Brian Giles.

Where does Kouzmanoff go? How about the Minnesota Twins? Brian Buscher has been a surprise this season for the club, but on a team lacking power he is not ideal for a tradtional power position. Kouz would then come as an upgrade at third base for the Twins at an affordable cost. In return, the Pads could ask for reliever Jesse Crain, starting pitcher Boof Bonser, and a low level prospect.

Before you stop reading because Bonser owns a waiver wire ERA of over 6.00, keep in mind that he is only 26 years old and has been handed a fair amount of poor luck. Over 44% of runners that Bonser has let on base have ended up scoring. This differs from a league average (and highly uncontrollable) of 30%. Thus, the reason why Bonser's FIP (Fielding Independent of Pitching) is the lowest of his career.

The final move the Padres should make this offseason is shoring up their bullpen. Crain will help, and moving Cha Sueng Baek back to the pen on a full time basis adds depth. However, with the impending departure of Trevor Hoffman the bullpen will be largely inexperienced. To replace him, I'm offering Kyle Farnsworth a one or two year deal and putting him and Heath Bell in an open battle for the closers job. Keep in mind, Farnsworth's last season in the National League was in 2005 where he was downright dominant.

After all of those moves, here is how the lineup should shakeout on Opening Day for the Padres,

RF - Brian Giles
CF - Jody Gerut
1B - Adrian Gonzalez
LF - Raul Ibanez
3B - Chase Headley
SS - Khalil Greene
C - Josh Bard
2B - Matt Antonelli

This is certainly a much more potent lineup then the Padres were running out there on Opening Day 2008. For a team that ranks #26 in team OPS, this is certainly a lineup that will plate some runs. My major concern, even with this lineup, is a weak on base percentage. However, given I anticipate rebounds seasons from Greene and Bard the Padres should improve on their MLB worst catcher OPS and 26th ranked short stop OPS.

The bench is going to have to be deep for the Padres given the amount of major injuries and underperformances they suffered this season. A bench of Brad Wilkerson, Scott Hairston, Juan Uribe, Daryle Ward, and Nick Hundley would provide reasonable depth, as well as offering a fair amount of power potential.

A complete rotation makeover is vital for this team to succeed. I mentioned the players the Pads should sign and trade for. I would assert that those three moves are the most important if the Padres intend to contend this season.

I've decided to make a lot of moves with the Padres. I decided to spend a lot of money, but I feel like this is a team that could, if healthy, win the National League pennant. Let's see how the rotation will shake out,

Jake Peavy
Pedro Martinez
Chris Young
Mike Mussina
Boof Bonser

The Padres would be looking at adding some $22M to $25M to the teams payroll with Martinez and Mussina. However, this gives them a much better staff then they started 2008 with, although for a substantially higher cost. While there is a legitimate argument against doing such (namely that old pitchers are quite the gamble), I feel this gives the padres the best shot at contending.

The more I look at Boof Bonser in the rotation, the more I like the way it looks. I am curious how Bonser would perform in the National League and I feel the Twins and Padres could be a nice match for a trade.

Another option, although probably over a year away, is highly regarded prospect Matt Latos. The report on Latos is that he has the best stuff in the system. Given his to date production, it appears as though the book on him is correct. He also appears to have an advanced ability to control his pitches.

Although the youngster missed a great deal of time in 2008, the Padres have been aggressive with him promotions. Interestingly, Latos seemed to 'expire' at each level once he reaches 23 strikeouts. I'm think he makes a Joba Chamberlain/Francisco Rodriguez/David Price type impact as a rookie in 2009.

The Padres have had two closers since 1994, with Rod Beck simply keeping Trevor Hoffman's seat warm in 2003 while Hoffman missed all but a couple weeks of the season. Now is the time to enter the club's third closer in 16 seasons. Heath Bell appears to be a legitimate candidate although as I mentioned, the job should not simply be handed to him. Here's how the Pads bullpen should shake out for 2009 (aka AH-After Hoffman),

CL - Heath Bell
SU - Kyle Farnsworth
RP - Mike Adams
RP - Jesse Crain
RP - Cla Meredith
RP - Justin Hampson
LR - Cha Sueng Baek

The top four of this bullpen would easily make this core the hardest throwing bullpen in all of baseball. Gone will be Hoffman and his 86mph fastball and 72mph change up. In will be heavy and frequent hard fastballs from Fransworth and Crain-both of whom average 94mph on their four seamers.

If I am the Padres manager, I almost consider going with a closer by committee approach, similar to what the Cardinals have done this season.

Between Ibanez, Martinez, Mussina, and Farnsworth, the Padres are probably looking at a payroll of around $85M. I'm not certain this is a feasible cost for a small market team, however it is a cost that is required for this team to contend. After the 2009 season, I would suggest the team pulls a Florida Marlins and sells the majority of its assets and looks toward 2013 when the 2007/08 draft picks should be ready as well as the international prospects.

BallHype: hype it up!

Images courtesy Chris Creamer's Sports Logo's.

Up next - The Seattle Mariners

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Goodbye Buffalo...

There had been rumor and speculation that the Buffalo Bisons and Cleveland Indians were going to end their 14 season affiliation. The rumors have been confirmed and the Indians have decided not to renew their contract with the Bisons and will move closer to home, taking up shop in Columbus Ohio. This is a move that will surely disappoint me, and I wonder what the exact economic purposes of this move are, however I am confident that Columbus' brand new ballpark played a part in this move.

Buffalo has certainly been fortunate in recent years as the Indians have allowed essentially everyone of their top prospects to spend considerable time in triple-A, which isn't something that always occurs. In fact, of the Tribe's current starting 9, each player had spent considerable time in Buffalo.

One of the most exciting seasons I have had enjoying Bison baseball occurred in 2004 when Jhonny Peralta and company took the International League crown. Peralta had such a brilliant season that he took home the IL MVP award. Additional current Indians include Grady Sizemore, Ryan Garko, Franklin Gutierrez, and Fausto Carmona.

This club also had some other players that have gone on to make serious impacts within Major League Baseball including Jeremy Guthrie, Bob Howry, Ryan Ludwick, Josh Bard, and Brandon Phillips. Rare is it for a minor league team to see so many young players combine to win a championship and end up being capable big league teams.

Another great moment occurred in 2005 when Ernie Young smacked his 300th career minor league home run. Ernie Young was a player that was easy to root for as he played over 1700 games in the minor leagues.

With the imminent severing of the Indians organizational ties, there had been rumor that the Jays would move into Dun Tire Park. This had come as terrible news as the Jays run one of the worst triple-A organizations in all of baseball. Triple-A, for the Jays, is often a team which goes through the motions. Rare is it for a top prospect to spend a significant amount of time in triple-A.

For example, Jays current right fielder Alex Rios spent all of 49 games in Syracuse. Middle infielder Aaron Hill saw only 38 games of action in the 'Cuse. While there are certainly ex-Jays prospects who had a great deal of triple-A hacks (Wells, Lind, and Marcum to name a few), the team is very quick to skip this stop among a players career.

Further example of the Jays ineptitude of running a triple-A club, the Chiefs have not seen the playoffs since 1994. During this time, the Bisons have sent 9 teams to the playoffs, 7 while being affiliated with the International League.

There has been recent rumor that the New York Mets are going to pass on Syracuse and set up shop in Buffalo. This would clearly be the best of what is a fairly sad situation. Clearly, for Buffalonians, the Mets are the best idea as their games are more prominent on nationally televised games, and many have access to the Mets home network, SNY. Conversely, CBC is the only network that shows Jays games in the Buffalo area, and they only do so once or twice a week.

According to Syracuse.com,
The New York Daily News is reporting today that the Mets are moving their Triple-A team to Buffalo, not Syracuse, and they've scheduled a press conference to announce the deal on Monday in Buffalo.
There is however, one issue that is keeping this deal up in the air. Aside from the fact that teams are not allowed to begin discussions until September 18th, WGR 550AM is reporting that Syracuse, in one last attempt to land the Mets, are offering the Mets partial ownership with the team. Whether or not this seals the deal will be seen in the next couple of days and will become obvious if the Mets cancel their press conference in Buffalo on Monday.

In other news, I had my final assignment as a university student submitted the other day. My practicum should begin in January and adult-hood is just around the corner.
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