Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Catching Up on Transactions: Part One

The Trades
The Toronto Blue Jays traded RHP Shaun Marcum to the Milwaukee Brewers for 2B Brett Lawrie.

We knew that the Blue Jays were planning to deal some of their surplus of starting pitching. Our mistake was believing they would deal prospects rather than arguably their best starter. Shawn Marcum may not qualify as an ace in the eyes of some but he was a great starter for Toronto when healthy in 2008 and 2010. The AL-East is where only the best pitchers can thrive and Marcum thrived. Now he heads to the NL-Central where instead of the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays he will see the Pirates, the Astros, and the newly weakened Cardinals. Pitchers almost automatically see a bump in performance moving from the American League to the National League, moving to the central should make Marcum look even better. Marcum is a prime target in NL-only leagues now.

Brett Lawrie is presently called a second base prospect but he actually shoulld be called a hitting prospect. The position is just a detail, Lawrie is a hitter. He should hit for average and power and steal a few bases from whatever position he ends up playing. There are rumors of a switch to third base, no doubt based on the huge hole the Blue Jays have on their major league roster.

The Milwaukee Brewers traded Carlos Villanueva to the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Chicago White Sox traded RHP Scott Linebrink to the Atlanta Braves for Kyle Cofield.

The Arizona Diamondbacks traded 3B Mark Reynolds to the Baltimore Orioles for RHPs David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio.

Mark Reynolds is an interesting player but not a great one in fantasy or otherwise. I doubt he'll hit worse than he did in 2010 again. But he will also be a threat to trash your batting average in exchange for 30 or so homeruns. The Orioles actually can use Reynolds as both a third base insurance plan until Josh Bell is ready and then move him into their (at least for now) gaping hole at first base. He should be a decent fantasy player just don't expect him to repeat 2009 again.

The Diamondbacks get two middle relievers. I actually like David Hernandez a lot and until they acquired J.J. Putz I thought he might fill their closer hole nicely. In deeper leagues he's still a decent reliever to fill a spot and could see some action in the ninth if Putz has problems staying healthy and effective.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Royals Trade Zack Greinke to Milwaukee

This Hot Stove season has been everything a baseball fan could hope.

UPDATE: Word is that Jeremy Jeffress is not in the deal and that a PTBNL is the fourth part of the Royals' return package.

UPDATE 2: But that word is wrong and Jeffress is headed to Kansas City.

Last night the Kansas City Royals and Milwaukee Brewers agreed on a trade that will send ace starter Zack Greinke and much maligned shortstop Yuneisky Betancourt to Milwaukee for young center fielder Lorenzo Cain, speedy shortstop Alcides Escobar and two top pitching prospects: Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress.

Wow, is the word that comes to mind. Though I imagine the few remaining Royals fans are thinking in less family friendly terms. The deal actually isn't too bad. It may actually be the best deal Dayton Moore has made.

Lorenzo Cain was a favorite to unseat Carlos Gomez as the starting center fielder in Milwaukee in the upcoming season. Cain has above average, maybe even great speed. He is definitely a quality basestealer. He has very little homerun power right now. However, he has shown that he has the patience to draw walks and has shown signs that he knows what he is doing at the plate. If he continues to develop he should be the Royals' best option as leadoff hitter.

Alcides Escobar was supposed to become one of the stolen base leaders in the National League. Unfortunately he failed to hit as expected in 2010 and found himself with a manager who was not a fan of the stolen base. I was actually looking forward to watching Escobar rebound this season under new manager Ron Roenicke. Escobar doesn't walk much which hurts his on-base percentage and he swings at a ton of pitches out of the strike zone. He does make good contact and has fantastic speed so he still has a great chance to contribute to a fantasy team.

Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress were the Brewers best pitching prospects. Ordorizzi is a potential ace starter which awesome stuff. He has a great fastball and a variety of quality pitches to complement it. He had a nice 10.07 K9 last season in the minors and a very decent 46 percent groundball rate. He is the real deal. Jeffress throws the ball with triple digit velocity and has been compared to Dwight Gooden very frequently. He has an other worldly strikeout rate but struggles to gain even decent control. Many analyst believe that he will eventually move to the bullpen and become a top closer.

The Brewers have just about emptied their farm system between the Greinke and Marcum deals but have put together what is likely a top five starting rotation. The Brewers had one of the better offenses in the National League last season so they should be a much improved team. Greinke will love pitching in the National League because he will get to hit (something he never wanted to stop doing) and he will finally get to pitch in meaningful games. Greinke joins Marcum at the top of NL-only wish lists.

The 2011 season is going to be a ton of fun.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Keeper Advice By Request


I am in need of deciding who to keep for the upcoming year. I am in a 10 man H2H points based keeper league. Pretty standard league, we start 4sp, utility, C,1b,2b,ss,3b, and 3 OF spots. We keep 6 guys. The players i am considering are Miguel Cabera, Dustin Pedroia, Jose Reyes, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Ryan Howard, Kershaw, Wainwright, and cliff lee. I do not have a rd1 (rd6 in normal drafts) because i delt it to obtain ryan howard. Who should i keep/trade/let go.

I was thinking of keeing, miggy, ped, zimmerman, reyes, braun, cliff lee. Trading howard and wain. However i love kershaw and think hes a future superstar and would love to keep him. I dont know let me know what you think. thanks


Hey Rob,

Apologies for taking so long to get back to you. I just started a new job and I'm still adjusting to it.

You have a loaded to group to choose from, that's always great news. You have tough decisions to make, but I think you have it right.

Miguel Cabrera
is and an easy KEEP. He is one of the top ten players in any league and probably deserves to be top five. He will provide you with huge stats in almost every category. He hits for average, smashes 40 homers a season, and even on the Tigers should be close to the century mark in both runs and RBI.

Ryan Braun is probably the player most analysts would rank second on this list. Unfortunately, Braun has seen his groundball rate drop for two consecutive seasons which has hurt his homerun totals. Still, I'm not ready to dump him. He should be a $30-plus player even if the power stays at its current level. Just be careful not to depend on his former reputation for power. KEEP

Ryan Zimmerman has been underrated in a lot of leagues but is one of the best players in baseball. He's actually better than the more popular David Wright. The Nationals lineup should be improved this season with stronger hitters in the infield and Jayson Werth filling in for Adam Dunn. He's in the prime of his career he could take a nice step up with better players around him. KEEP

Jose Reyes is coming off another injury plagued season. He is likely to be a free agent after the 2011 season which should provide him with some motivation to play at his best. The Mets should be a lot better than most expect. If everyone is healthy (the big question) their lineup should be stacked. All that is good news for Reyes. KEEP

Dustin Pedroia also struggled with injuries but he won't be had for a discount. Hitting second in the stacked lineup in Boston, Pedroia could score 120 runs easy. Even if the sox move him further down in the lineup he should still be extremely productive and one of the better second base options. KEEP

Cliff Lee has been dominate and after signing with the Phillies he will not only be a productive player but an exciting one to own. If you chose to trade him you could probably get whatever you liked right now. KEEP

Clayton Kershaw is awesome. You could easily decide to stick with Kershaw over Cliff Lee. But I think Kershaw was pitching slightly over his head and his control can still stand some improvement. Still I would trade him unless you can get max value for him. I would rather have him back in the draft than take a lesser deal and eliminate your chances of keeping him again. BACK IN THE DRAFT

Ryan Howard
is still a very nice fantasy player. He is extremely streaky and that hurts him sometimes but at the end of every season he is a great asset to a fantasy team. Someone will want him. TRADE

Adam Wainwright
is a great pitcher he just isn't going to bump any of the players in your top six unless there is some reason to believe pitching will be scarce. TRADE

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Hot Stove Update: Ooddles and Ooddles of O's

Note: This article has been through a few revisions, and I even managed to lose half of it. I'll update the rest of the transactions including all the trades tonight.

Baseball's Winter Meetings are all wrapped up and the Action has been almost non-stop. This has to have been the most entertaining Winter Meetings in years. The teams seems to have plenty of money to spend and the players are not waiting very long to grab it.

The Baltimore Orioles seem determined to move from also-ran to contender this season. They don't have the experienced high-end talent that the Red Sox and Yankees do, but they've found it incredibly difficult to convince the best free agents to take their money. They've turned to the trade market to fill their needs instead. The Mark Reynolds acquisition is covered below. They are also pretty close to completing a deal for shortstop J.J. Hardy for two middle relievers. They've also agreed on a new contract for Koji Uehara, who will probably act as their closer.

It looks like the Zack Greinke trade will have to wait until Cliff Lee makes a decision. He seems to be holding out for a seven-year contract but so far it doesn't look like anyone is biting. There was a rumor of a mystery team offering a seventh year but that looks like a story started to get the other teams thinking. The Yankees have been willing to go six years, the Rangers, five years. There are probably other bidders but they have not been revealed publicly.

The Justin Upton idea seems to have faded out of the news. But this too may be a second choice for teams that were hoping to sign Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth. With Crawford now off the market the Upton talks could heat up again, especially if the Yankees fail to acquire Lee.

Hisashi Iwakuma will not be joining the Oakland Athletics and they will get their posting fee back. This seemed like an odd move for the Athletics from the beginning. I think they severely underestimated what it would take to sign top Japanese talent.

Major Free Agent Signings

The San Diego Padres signed free agent RHP Aaron Harang.

The Padres filled the spot left vacant by Jon Garland by signing veteran starter and once upon a time Reds ace, Aaron Harang. Harang has decent control and though his strikeout rate has fallen in recent seasons he still maintains a respectable rate. His biggest problem seems to be elevated BABIP and homerun rates. These are problems that Petco Park will definitely lessen if not solve. Harang has also seen his groundball rate fall slightly over the years which hasn't helped his results. The change of scenery could (and should) do wonders.

Harang should come very cheaply in most leagues in 2011. I recommend him as a late round pick or single-digit bid, especially in NL-only leagues.

The Washington Nationals signed free agent RF Jayson Werth.

Many Stat Nerds are all worked up about this deal. They claim that Jayson Werth is too old, with not enough track record to deserve such a contract. They criticize the Washington Nationals for spending too much of their budget on one player. I have a few problems with this view.

First, no one outside of MLB has any idea what the Washington Nationals can spend and stay within the black. Washington D.C. is not a small market. The Nationals may have chosen to keep the payroll small while they built up the farm system, that does not mean that they could not have spent more. There is also a significant value to bringing in top tier talent that goes far beyond their field production matching their salary.

Also, Werth may not be in his twenties any longer but I find it ridiculous that so many analysts seem to believe that players will essentially drop dead when they reach 35-years old. Or that a player will decline at a nice regular, predictable rate.

Werth is a very good hitter and defensive outfielder. He has spent most of his time in right field but is capable of manning center field. He walks a ton, and makes pretty good contact for a power hitter. He has excellent plate discipline and should hit for good batting averages most years. He is an excellent fantasy player who hits homers and steals bases. The move to Washington should do very little to change that.

The Arizona Diamondbacks signed free agent 3B Melvin Mora.

Mora is fading fast. However, he still gets on base at a fairly decent rate. His power is nearly gone but is a fairly disciplined hitter who makes very good contact, which means he will usually hit for a decent batting average. For fantasy purposes he is not much of a Mark Reynolds replacement but he is likely a temporary fill-in (along with Geoff Blum) until a prospect like Matt Davidson or Bobby Borchering is ready to take over. I'd avoid Mora until the Dollar Dayz. but then happily throw him into a CI spot.

The Chicago Cubs signed free agent 1B Carlos Pena.

Carlos Pena has seen enough success in his career that he probably deserves the benefit of the doubt when it comes to bouncing back (at least a little) from his horid 2010 season. The Cubs showed some faith in Pena by signing him to a one-year, $10 million deal. Pena is actually on a three-year decline in BABIP which is pretty scary. He has never been much of a BABIP guy (career .279) but last season's .222 rate was a disaster and 2009's .250 was not much better. But even if bad luck played some part in the last two seasons, at 32 a major improvement is not a great bet. I suggest fantasy owners avoid Pena unless he comes with very little risk, I mean dirt cheap, and replaceable on a whim.

The Kansas City Royals signed free agent RF Jeff Francoeur.

What the hell s Dayton Moore thinking? The man makes it impossible to root for him. In the Royals write-up I've been composing in my head (for the Fantasy Guide I'll be offering to readers in February) I wanted to suggest that despite the horors of the major league roster, Moore was due some praise for re-building the farm system. But for every honor point he gains, there is a move like this.

Moore has drooling over Jeff Francoeur since the Braves first started to show signs of frustration with him. Moore of course came from the Braves system that raised Francoeur. There have been rumors of Frenchy joining the Royals forever. Now they've got him and given him the outfield spot they traded David DeJesus to open. Can you sense my head shaking?

Francoeur is a decent contact hitter but lacks patience and plate discipline. If he ever gained any real plate discipline we might see evidence of his once significant power potential . But since he will swing at anything and is now residing in a ballpark that robs homers, the chances have shrunk even further. Fantasy owners should avoid him completely unless he gets on an insanely good lucky streak. That means don't draft him.

The Colorado Rockies re-signed free agent LHP Jorge De La Rosa.

Jorge De La Rosa is durability, slightly better control and a nice pitcher's park away from having every thing you want in a starting pitcher. He collects strikeouts in bunches, induces groundballs about half the time, and consistently gives you that "this is the year he breaks out" feeling. Unfortunately, this will be the fourth season since he first gave us that feeling. Still, he should be an average starting pitcher in front of an above average offense which means he has a shot at wins. I would definitely take another shot at him, just don't break the bank thinking this is the year, again.

The Boston Red Sox signed free agent 2B Drew Sutton.

Buried under the avalanche the hype of the Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford moves was this smaller gem. The Red Sox picked up Sutton as a minor league free agent. Sutton is a player I've liked for a while. Obviously, he won't be stealing a starting spot from Dustin Pedroia, but he should be a very useful utility player. He can play all over the infield and outfield and is useful with the bat. He is very patient at the plate, and shows good discipline. He is also a better contact hitter than the evidence of his brief Major League appearances might suggest. He has 20 homer and 20 steal potential. I like him a lot, late, in AL-only leagues.

The St. Louis Cardinals signed free agent RF Lance Berkman.

There was a story going around that the Cardinals were going to move Matt Holiday to right field so that Lance Berkman could play left field. That isn't going to happen, according to Tony LaRussa, who told MLB Network that Berkman would be in right field. Many analysts seem to hate this move by the Cardinals because it puts Berkman back in the outfield. Berkman has not played the outfield since 2007, and has never been a good defensive outfielder. But they can hardly play him at first base, can they?

The Cardinals are obviously willing to sacrifice some outfield defense for offensive production. For that they need Berkman to rebound from his lousy 2010 season. Berkman is still a patient hitter, with solid plate discipline. Very little has changed in his game other than his BABIP and his ISO. If this was not the second consecutive year that Berkman's BABIP has dropped below .300, I'd call it bad luck. But that's probably not the whole story.

Berkman has battled through injuries the last few seasons and that may be the difference, but that just means that we also need to know that Berkman is actually going to significantly healthier than he was the last two seasons. This is extremely difficult considering he has averaged 522 at-bats the last two seasons despite the injuries. He plays through them and that is probably hurting his numbers.

I like the chances of Berkman bouncing back if he is healthy. I suggest potential fantasy owners pay special attention to Berkman in the spring. Watch for signs of pain, look for wincing, limping and sitting out consecutive home games. He is a decent sleeper but also a risky one.

The New York Yankees re-signed free agent SS Derek Jeter.

This has been covered so much, and Derek Jeter is so well known that it seems silly to spend much time with this transaction. Jeter is the same patient, disciplined hitter he has always been. A poor BABIP was the only real sign that he slipped last season. He will bounce back closer to his career levels. Also note how disturbed Jeter was by the negative rumors surrounding the negotiations. His feelings were hurt and that could be extra motivation for a guy that hasn't needed much in the past.

Other Significant Transactions

San Francisco Giants re-signed free agent LF Pat Burrell.

Los Angeles Dodgers signed free agent C Rod Barajas.

Boston Red Sox signed free agent RHP Brandon Duckworth.

Chicago White Sox re-signed free agent C A.J. Pierzynski.

Boston Red Sox signed free agent RHP Jason Bergmann.

RHP Joel Peralta elected free agency.

LHP Hideki Okajima elected free agency.

LHP Andrew Miller elected free agency.

RHP Chien-Ming Wang elected free agency.

San Diego Padres signed RHP Luis Perdomo.

Cleveland Indians signed free agent 3B Jack Hannahan.

Philadelphia Phillies released RHP Jesus Sanchez.

Cincinnati Reds signed free agent 3B Miguel Cairo.

Hot Stove: The Red Sox Sign Carl Crawford

You may have tricked yourself into thinking that after acquiring and signing Adrian Gonzalez that the Red Sox had made their major move of the Winter. You would have been wrong. You're wrong because the Boston Red Sox signed Carl Crawford last night to a seven-year, $142 million deal. I know it messed up the Hot Stove Update I was writing last night.

Crawford makes the Red Sox lineup as tough as any lineup in the game. He is such a versatile player he can hit anywhere from first to fifth in the lineup and be a major asset. The most likely scenario has him batting first or second, and since he has been a reluctant leadoff hitter in the past I'm guessing he will bat second behind either Dustin Pedroia or Jacoby Ellsbury. Either way, every batter in the Boston lineup should get a boost to their personal stats.

Carl Crawford is a supreme athlete and one of the best defensive outfielders in the game. He does not walk a ton (career 5.4 percent walk rate) but has improved over the last three seasons (6.9 percent three-year average). Crawford is a groundball hitter averging just a 30.8 percent flyball rate. However, he can hit mistakes a long way. He has the power to hit 20 homers but is usually in mid-teens in homeruns. While Crawford swings at a few more pitches out of the strike zone than average, he also makes better than average contact. He is easily one of the best basestealers in the game and is a cinch to steal 40-plus bases if the Red Sox allow it. I think they will.

Carl Crawford is an easy first round pick in most fantasy leagues and should only benefit by moving into Fenway Park. The contract may be a bit extreme, but as I stated in the Hot Stove Update I now have to re-write, just because a contract is for a lot of money and takes a player into his 30's does not make it a bad or even an undesirable contract.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Red Sox Go Crazy! Gonzalez Deal is Off, For Now...

There is a slight chance that you've already heard about Adrian Gonzalez coming to Boston. Well, there is a good chance the deal is off. It may or may not happen but it is probably is worth looking at. On Friday, the Red Sox and Padres agreed on a deal that would send three prospects and a PTBNL (Player To Be Named Later) to San Diego in exchange for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and a small window to negotiate a contract extension with Gonzalez. The quality of the PTBNL is probably largely dependent on whether the Red Sox are able to sign Gonzalez within the window. However, there are conflicting reports about this and as of the negotiating deadline (2pm, Sunday) there was no extension agreement. It was originally believed that the Red Sox would take Gonzalez even without the extension but obviously that may not be the case.

The Red Sox are parting with at least three top ten prospects but this still looks like a great deal for the Boston Red Sox. The acquisition will move gold glove first baseman, Kevin Youkilis back to his old third base position. Youkilis was once a potential gold glove third baseman as well, but was moved to fit Mike Lowell into the lineup after the Red Sox received him in the Josh Beckett acquisition. Youkilis may not be quite the third baseman he was, but he should still be a solid defensive third baseman.

Gonzalez would be moving from Petco Park, one of the most extreme pitchers' parks into Fenway Park, one of the better parks for hitters. Fenway would provide a slight boost to Gonzalez's power numbers but it would do much more for his batting average. Gonzalez likes to send flyballs to the opposite field where they went to die in Petco, but would bounce off the Green Monster for singles and doubles.

Gonzalez is streaky but also a fairly disciplined hitter. He has a essentially equal distribution of flyballs and grounders, a consistent 20 percent of his batted balls are linedrives. He has a strong walk rate of 11.4 percent in his career and makes strong contact, especially for a power hitter. In Fenway Park I would confidently expect him to bat .300-plus with around 40 homeruns.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Thinking About Jose Lopez as a Colorado Rockie

Last night, I didn't really understand why the Colorado Rockies traded for infielder Jose Lopez. This was based on his disappointing performance five of the seven seasons he was a Mariner. Even in the two seasons he wasn't exactly horrible, there was a lot of room for improvement. A poor track record combined with already having three middle infielders battling for one starting second base job already, made the decision seem ludicrous.

Eric Young, Jr is probably the favorite candidate of fantasy owners. He has hit for average, gotten on base and stolen a ton of bases in the minors. His first 250 at-bats in the majors have not been stellar and his defense is a little rough. However, he looks like a quality leadoff bat to me and if the Rockies would let him settle in a bit I'm certain he would produce.

Jonathan Herrera has been less consistent but has shown he can draw a walk when pressed and play decent defense. He performed better than Young for the major league team in 2010, but his ceiling is far lower and he does not have the same kind of physical tools.

Chris Nelson has the best power of the original candidates. He might best fit the profile of a Rockies hitter but that isn't always a good thing. He performed decently at shortstop when Troy Tulowitski was injured.

What I failed to mention yesterday is that Lopez has very good power. He is a dead pull hitter which did a lot to ruin his numbers playing in Safeco Field. However, the same type of hitter can thrive in Coors Field. But Lopez has been very inconsistent and that isn't all about the ballpark he's spent his career within. But if he wins the job he might reward a lucky fantasy owner with 30-plus homers.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Hot Stove Update: Adam Dunn Lands in Chicago

Brett Gardner is having surgery to fix a problem in his wrist, the problem has been described as tendinitis. Kind of weird to need surgery to fix tendinitis in my experience, but the Yankees expect him to be ready to go at the start of Spring Training. I'm just a little worried...

Lance Berkman is leaning towards Colorado as his new home. He would apparently do so as a part-time first baseman and ocassional outfielder. I'm not certain that Berkman needs to sign as a back-up. The Athletics are supposedly after him as a lineup regular...

Are you counting on Joe Nathan making a triumphant return in 2011? Maybe you invested in Nathan during his Tommy John Season to get him ultra cheap. Chances are you still wasted your money. As Parker Hageman of Over the Baggy (an excellent Twins Blog) explains, pitchers usually require 22-24 months before they can be effective after TJS. Though there have been some relevant exceptions as Parker points out.

Derek Jeter and the Yankees Brass met for the first time in three weeks on Wednesday, at Jeter's request. Supposedly, they needed to meet and remember how much they love each other. No one agrees with me that they should just pay him. But can we agree that the Yankees could just give him what he wants and not suffer for it?

Over at the Tao of Stieb (a most excellent Blue Jays Blog) they are losing sleep over Adam Lind. They worry that his awful splits against lefties will continue into the 2011 season. I'd be more worried that the Jays bench him against lefties without giving him another shot at them. He was that bad last season. That's probably just as senseless, but you never know what a new manager will do. Am I fear mongering? I feel like FOX News...

Key Free Agent Signings

The Chicago White Sox have agreed to a four-year contract with first baseman Adam Dunn.

Adam Dunn has agreed to a deal with the Chicago White Sox according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale. The deal won't be official until Dunn passes a physical scheduled for Friday, December 3rd, but it looks pretty solid. I usually wait until these things are locked in but no one else does so whatever. It's a four-year, $56 million deal, he'll become the regular designated hitter if they manage to re-sign Paul Konerko.

Dunn is an excellent power hitter. He has great plate discipline and patience at the plate. He is not a great contact hitter but more than makes up for that with his tremendous power. The White Sox have been an aggressive running team under Ozzie Guillen. We may see stolen bases return to Dunn's game. Obviously, big, slow, aging dudes shouldn't be counted on for their speed, but 5-10 steals would be nice for his fantasy value. Dunn also moves out of a neutral to slight pitcher's park into one of the premiere homerun parks. He should be a lock for 40-plus homers.

The Boston Red Sox have agreed on a one-year deal with catcher Jason Varitek.

Jason Varitek agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal to stay with the Boston Red Sox. At the moment the Red Sox have penciled Jarrod Saltalamacchia into the starting catcher role. That could easily be reversed or develop into a platoon.

The Seattle Mariners signed free agent LHP Erik Bedard.

The Seattle Mariners are desperately trying to get something out of the time, energy and players they spent on Erik Bedard. If he's healthy, he's a fantastic number two starter, if he's plowing through an injury he's rotation filler, and if he's truly injured, it will be typical Erik Bedard.

The Florida Marlins signed free agent RHP Javier Vazquez.

I like this move for the Marlins, especially after the series of poor moves they made to kick off the hot stove season. I think back in the National League, Javier Vazquez should rebound at least some. I doubt he'll be the pitcher he was in 2009 with the Braves but still a better than average pitcher. I think he hates pitching in the American League and especially in New York City. Just a hunch, that is...

Fantasy owners should be aware that Vazquez has seen his fastball velocity drop three consecutive seasons. During the 2009 season he claimed that he had worked on reducing his velocity to increase his command but who knows if that's what we're seeing here. I would bid up to $2o in my deep NL-only but not further than that. That's fairly confident he rebounds, isn't it?

The San Francisco Giants signed free agent SS Miguel Tejada.

Miguel Tejada agreed to a one-year, $6.5 million contract with the Giants on Tuesday. The Giants may still be in on shortstops Jason Bartlett and J.J. Hardy, but I'm sure what they were willing to deal for either player has now been drastically reduced.

Tejada is just barely hanging on at this point. His bat has been severely reduced and his fantasy value is mostly dependent on his position. Don't dig too deep to add him to your roster.

The Trades

The Seattle Mariners traded infielder Jose Lopez to the Colorado Rockies for right-hander Chaz Roe.

Jose Lopez is not a good player and I have absolutely no idea why the Rockies wanted him (if they even do). Maybe it's like one of those fantasy deals you make just to make, then you dump the guy you got.

Other Significant Transactions

RHP Bobby Jenks elected free agency.

LF Matt Diaz elected free agency.

DH Jack Cust elected free agency.

3B Edwin Encarnacion elected free agency.

LF Travis Buck elected free agency.

Atlanta Braves signed free agent LF Eric Hinske.

Los Angeles Angels signed free agent LHP Hisanori Takahashi.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Hot Stove Update: The Dodgers Making Moves

Things are getting interesting around the ol' Hot Stove.

The Red Sox are Hot 'n Heavy for Carl Crawford.
This surprises me a little because I figured with Jacoby Ellsbury coming back they would be more interested in a power hitter. But only a little, Crawford is easily the best position player available and the Red Sox are one of the teams that have mounds of available cash and an outfield opening. Who plays center field? Ellsbury, I guess...

The Yankees and Derek Jeter are looking at each other funny. The Yankees are suddenly acting like cheapskates when it comes to the Captain. He deserves every penny he's asking for for being one of the few superstar players that did not let us down during the steroid era. He had a down 2010 season but he isn't done just yet. The Yankees may want to phase Jeter away from shortstop, and that's understandable, but they should not force Jeter to play for the Baltimore Orioles. The popularity hit they would take is a lot bigger than they seem to think.

Someone is flooding the internet with rumors of Zack Greinke and the Yankees being a better match than most have speculated. Greinke has suffered from anxiety and bouts of depression. Most think that the pressure of New York would be too much for him. I submit that the man was depressed playing for the Kansas City Royals, who wouldn't be? The Yankees are about as far from the Royals as an organization as you can get. Plus, the Yankees clubhouse is very protective of their younger players and Greinke would get a ton of support. That said, I still don't buy him coming to New York.

What is Adrian Beltre looking for? He turned down $64 million from the Athletics. For certain, the Athletics are not the ideal team for Beltre but other than re-signing with the Red Sox (still a possibility) teams like the Angels and Orioles seem like bad fits as well. The Rangers would be nice but are they really looking to add an expensive third baseman with Michael Young on the roster?

The Giants are hoping they don't need to shop for a third baseman. Pablo Sandoval in an effort to re-gain the starting position he lost in the playoffs has begun a rigorous off-season program to lose weight and get in better shape. He has hooked up with Triple Threat Performance, the experts that are famous for working with major leaguers like Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield. Hey! No steroid jokes about Kung-Fu Panda.

Major Free Agent Signings

The Los Angeles Dodgers signed free agent infielder Juan Uribe.

The strangest thing about this signing is the report that Juan Uribe turned down essentially the same three-year, $21 million offer to stay with the World Series Champion, San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers plan to start Uribe at second base and to emphasize that plan they traded away infielder Ryan Theriot. It is not official yet, the Giants wasted no time signing Miguel Tejada to a one-year contract to be their starting shortstop in 2011. However, the Giants are supposedly still interested in acquiring Tampa Bay shortstop Jason Bartlett.

Uribe posted a career high walk rate and hit a career high 24 homers in 575 at-bats. Uribe has nice power for a shortstop. Although his BABIP was very low at .256 (career .282) fantasy owners should not expect much of a rebound in batting average. Uribe has a swing at everything approach that doesn't jive with his mediocre contact rates. He should continue to provide pretty much the same stats as a Dodger. Dodger Stadium is slightly better for homeruns but suppresses scoring at a rate similar to AT&T Park.

I find it interesting that the Dodgers have been fairly aggressive to start the off season. I guess I assumed that the divorce would be an impediment to progress. The Dodgers are one of the teams I want to root for to do well. Unfortunately they have lousy ownership and a GM in Ned Colletti that hasn't convinced me he knows what he's doing so far. So far so good for 2011.

Texas Rangers signed Japanese free agent right-hander, Yoshinori Tateyam.

The Rangers have signed Yoshinori Tateyam to a split contract that means he will be paid differently depending on whether or not he makes the major league club. Tateyam features a fastball that sits around 90 mph, a screwball that he features against left-handed batters and excellent control. He apparently has a very deceptive delivery that should at least make him effective the first time around the American League, assuming he makes the team. He isn't a threat to steal the closer job at this point so his fantasy value should be minimal.

The Trades

The Los Angeles Dodgers traded middle infielder Ryan Theriot to the St. Louis Cardinals for right-handed reliever, Blake Hawksworth.

The 2010 season was not a good one for Ryan Theriot. He pretty much had his worst season as a professional. He will play the 2011 season at age 31, so it isn't too hard to envision a bounce-back season. The Cardinals are apparently planning to move him back to shortstop, where Theriot claims he is more comfortable. What that means for the light-hitting Brendan Ryan is still a question to be answered.

Theriot usually provides a decent on-base percentage. His walk rate has been all over the place but his career 8.4 percent walk rate is probably about right for projecting. He has a good eye at the plate and a strong contact rate complemented by his above average speed on the bases. If his BABIP once again approaches his career level, Theriot should be able to hit for a batting average in the .275-.285 level and steal at least 20 bases. As a shortstop he has more fantasy value than some might expect.

Blake Hawksworth is a typical right-handed reliever. He had a very unfortunate 2010 season, but has the potential to be a solid middle reliever. His fantasy value should be minimal.

Other Significant Transactions

Texas Rangers signed free agent C Yorvit Torrealba.

Atlanta Braves signed free agent C Wilkin Castillo.

Pittsburgh Pirates outrighted Andy LaRoche to Indianapolis Indians.

LF Wilkin Ramirez assigned to Atlanta Braves.

St. Louis Cardinals signed free agent LHP Brian Tallet.

Pittsburgh Pirates signed free agent RHP Fernando Nieve.

Pittsburgh Pirates signed free agent 3B Andy Marte.

Pittsburgh Pirates signed free agent C Dusty Brown.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hot Stove Update: Martinez,Garland, Huff, and More

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgivings or at least went to the movies. I'm digging through the AFL results and reports and thinking about the Rule V Draft, so you should see stuff about that soon. I also have a report on Elvis Andrus, who believe it or not some have been labeling overrated.

Major Free-Agent Signings

The Detroit Tigers signed free agent catcher Victor Martinez.

The Detroit Tigers signed Victor Martinez to a four-year, $50 million contract to become their primary catcher (catching about half the time), part-time designated hitter and occasional first baseman. The contract is not a bad one for the Tigers. Martinez is one of the better available bats in free agency and is a solid versatile player. He may not be catching in 2013 when the Tigers' other catcher, Alex Avila, will have either proven himself or been replaced. However, he should still be a valuable designated hitter. What this means for players like Ryan Raburn and Carlos Guillen hasn't been made clear yet. Be patient before reacting to changes on the Tigers, there is still a lot of Hot Stove Season left.

The Tigers pitching staff could be cringing at this news considering Martinez has problems on the defensive side of the catcher position. Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Daisuke Matsuzaka all pitched considerably better during the 2010 season when Martinez was not behind the plate.

The Los Angeles Dodgers signed free agent right-hander Jon Garland.

From MLB.com:

Garland will be guaranteed $5 million for 2011 with an additional $3 million in incentives and an $8 million option in 2012 that will become guaranteed if he reaches 190 innings pitched in 2011. He has reached that number in all nine seasons since he became a full-time starter.
By most measures, Dodger Stadium is not quite the pitchers' haven that Petco Park has become. Still, if the Dodger defense bounces back, Jon Garland should be a very effective fifth starter for the Blue. Garland had a nice 2010 season with a boost in his k-rate and the Petco effect complementing well. He is very likely to take a step back in 2011. However, if I owned Garland at a reasonable price in a NL-only league I would definitely consider adding him to by list of keepers. In mixed leagues it depends on the depth of the available pitching but it would still be a consideration at the right price.

The San Francisco Giants re-signed free agent first baseman Aubrey Huff.

The Giants rewarded their best hitter of their 2010, World Series winning season with a two-year $22 million deal to continue to hit in the middle of their lineup. Huff isn't an elite first base option, and has had problems with consistency but was a solid option at first base in a short term contract such as this one. Huff should be a nice keeper option in most NL-only leagues and a solid middle round connection in mixed leagues. Brandon Belt owners should have no fear of Huff blocking him. One of them, most likely Huff, will move to left field when the time comes.

There seems to be a perception out there that Huff was playing over his head. He clearly was not. He did not have a great 2009 season and that was the reason he was available on the cheap for the Giants. His 2010 stats while very good were much different than his other good seasons. I would not want to bet on him at full price in a fantasy league but at the price he was available at last year, he makes a great keeper.

The Detroit Tigers signed free agent relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit.

Joaquin Benoit banks the huge season he had for the Tampa Bay Rays. He will receive $16.5 million over three years to become the primary set-up reliever for closer Jose Valverde. Many analysts believe this contract is too long for benoit who has not been durable in the past. I think it is fairly reasonable. When Benoit is healthy he is one of the better relievers in baseball and deserves to be paid as such.

The Trades

The Pittsburgh Pirates traded lefty Zach Duke to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Pirates designated Zach Duke for assignment and made him available to every team in the process. The Arizona Diamondbacks stepped in and offered a Player To Be Named Later for Duke. Chances are the Diamondbacks will make Duke a decent contract offer. If he accepts he'll be in the rotation this season, if not he'll be non-tendered.

It's easy for prospect-crazed analysts to look at the Pittsburgh Pirates young stars and see a brighter future. They certainly have the bats of a future contender to build around. They have a few big arms on their way up the minor league system. Things are brighter than they've been in a long time, so tossing Zach Duke away like so much garbage seems pretty easy from the perspective of a Pirates fan and possibly even Pirates staff. the unfortunate part is the Pirates never put Duke in a position to succeed.

Zach Duke is a pitcher that relies heavily on the defense behind him. He has better than average control, He induces a fair number of groundballs, but does not have the stuff to rack up strikeouts in large bunches. In the estimation of many analysts Duke would seem to have two thirds of the stuff we like to see in our pitchers (as far as results are concerned, tools/stuff is another thing altogether) control and groundballs. Now, consider that the Pirates had one of (if the absolute worst) defense in MLB in 2010. In 2010 Duke was worth 0.4 WAR in an awful season. In 2009, the Pirates had one of the better defenses in MLB. In 2009, Duke was worth a solid 2.5 WAR. Now the Diamondbacks, owner of one of the better 2010 defensive teams, own Duke, and a sleeper (for NL-only leagues at least) is born.

The New York Yankees traded first baseman Juan Miranda to the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor leaguer Scottie Allen.

Juan Miranda had no place to go in the Yankees organization. He was trapped behind Mark Teixeira and the aging Yankees who will populate the designated hitter spot over the next few years. The trade to the Arizona Diamondbacks could be a blessing in disguise for both Miranda and fantasy owners. Miranda projects as a solid MLB first base option. Offensively he is probably a little better than Diamondback first base prospect, Brandon Allen. Allen can play left field, where the Diamondbacks presently have penciled in the weak-hitting (but defensively superior) Gerardo Parra. Miranda is capable of batting around .260-.270 with 25-35 homeruns with a solid walk rate and decent defense in a full season. Fantasy owners should keep a close eye on this situation.

From Fangraphs.com:

Scott Allen, meanwhile, goes to the Yankees in the Miranda deal. The 19-year-old was an 11th round draft pick in the 2009 draft. In 2010, he posted rates of 9.1 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 78 innings pitched at South Bend of the Low-A Midwest League. According to Baseball America, the 6-1, 170 pound Allen sits 87-91 MPH with his fastball, mixing in a decent high-70s slider and changeup and a fringy curveball. Allen didn’t crack either Kevin Goldstein’s or John Sickels’ recent lists of top Diamondbacks prospects.

Other Significant Transactions

Kansas City Royals released RHP Bryan Bullington.

Seattle Mariners signed free agent LHP Fabio Castro.

Seattle Mariners signed free agent RHP Charlie Haeger.

Seattle Mariners signed free agent RHP Chris Smith.

Cincinnati Reds signed free agent LHP Dontrelle Willis.

Minnesota Twins signed free agent 1B Justin Huber.

New York Yankees released RHP Jonathan Albaladejo.

St. Louis Cardinals signed free agent LHP Raul Valdes.

Philadelphia Phillies signed free agent 2B Josh Barfield.

Philadelphia Phillies signed free agent 2B Pete Orr.

Philadelphia Phillies signed free agent LHP Dan Meyer.

Kansas City Royals signed free agent RF Brett Carroll.

Other Thoughts...

The Minnesota Twins were the top bidder for the rights to sign Japanese middle infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka. The Twins are trying to add speed to their lineup. Nishioka has it but is not an elite base stealer, just a competent one. How his stolen base rate translates to MLB will be something to watch, I would not set my hopes at middle infield Ichiro, as some have suggested.

Catching prospect Derek Norris could be a nice sleeper. He has a higher upside than Wilson Ramos who has a solid shot at being the primary catcher for the Washington Nationals in 2011. Watch for Norris owners who are ready to give up on him due to the poor batting average and the Ramos acquisition. Norris is still one to watch.

Gary Sanchez is the long term future of the Yankees at the catcher position. He has tremendous offensive potential and the instincts to be a dynamic defensive catcher. He is a primary target in AL-only leagues with minor league systems.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hot Stove Update: John Buck, Clint Barmes and Rajai Davis

I am a baseball fan. I live for baseball news during the Fall and Winter months. But I also love football. I was stunned by Michael Vick's performance last week (especially since it cost me two wins) and I can't wait to see what he does against the best defense in the NFL this weekend. However, what is most on my mind this morning is a question. Why are Matt Kemp and Justin Upton so clearly on the trade market and where will they land?

So far, the Boston Red Sox seem like the most aggressive suitor of Upton. Our friend DJ from Fire Brand of the American League believes the Red Sox should have been in on Dan Uggla as a left fielder or even a third baseman. I disagree, but then we also disagree about how much Red Sox fans want Adrian Beltre back (I think a lot, he says they don't care).The Red Sox definitely have the major league ready prospects the Arizona Diamondbacks are looking for, but are they willing to satisfy the quantity that general manager Kevin Towers is demanding, three major league ready prospects and two other prospects. But Upton's shoulder problems may force him to lessen his demands or take Upton off the market.

There are a few teams interested in Kemp as well. The Washington Nationals seem like a long shot, they have a few nice prospects but they don't seem deep enough to get the job done. But that is without actually hearing what it is the Dodgers want. I'd think a lot but you never know... The Los Angeles Dodgers have plenty of prospects anyway, but I think they want players to help their major league team right now.

The Phillies are definitely interested. Bradley Schlegel of theReporterOnline.com thinks the Phillies should send stud second baseman, Chase Utley, to Los Angeles for Kemp. I think that's a very interesting idea. Schlegel is even prepared to add Dominic brown to the deal as a sweetener. That may be a little much in my opinion. Brown or Utley I can see doing either but both doesn't make much sense in the long term.

Meanwhile, teams like the Oakland Athletics and Minnesota Twins are investigating the talent available from Japan. The Athletics have already won the bidding for Hisashi Iwakuma, thought to be the second best pitcher in Japan last season. They have thirty days from the date they won the bidding to sign him. The Twins are interested in infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who can play either second base or shortstop. The Twins apparently want to add his speed to their lineup which Nishioka can do, even if he isn't a great base-stealer.

Major Free Agent Signings

Florida Marlins signed free agent C John Buck to a three-year $18 million contract.

This transaction has been slammed, almost universally. John Buck has some power (for a catcher) but he is a terrible hitter. He is severely lacking in patience and discipline at the plate. He also isn't so great a defensive catcher that he warrants the huge contract the Marlins are giving him. To boot, his fantasy value will take a hit moving from the homer haven of the Rogers Centre to the pitcher's dream that is Sun Life Stadium. Don't be as excited about him as the Marlins seem to be and consider him as a second catcher at best.


The Houston Astros sent right-handed starter Felipe Paulino to the Colorado Rockies for middle infielder Clint Barmes.

On the surface perhaps you can understand what Ed Wade, the general manager of the Houston Astros is trying to do. His team lacks power and is especially poor in the middle infield. Adding Clint Barmes who has had some successful seasons for the Colorado Rockies might ring as a good idea. But that depends on what you're giving up and what you can reasonably expect Barmes to produce outside of Coors Field which significantly boosts offensive statistics.

Barmes is a very good defensive infielder at both second base and shortstop. He is a very poor hitter. He lacks plate discipline, swings at far more pitches out of the strike one than most batters. He does not draw walks, although he did reach a career high in walk rate in 2010. But he does have decent power, and hits a lot of flyballs. Unfortunately, Barmes is moving from one of the best parks for hitters in 2010 to one of the worst, Minute Maid Park.

In exchange for good defense (which they already had) they sent the Rockies 27-year old right-handed power pitcher, Felipe Paulino. Paulino has some potential thanks to nice stuff but has lost a ton of time to injuries in his career thus far. Paulino's largest failings are mediocre control and the lack of durability. He has a nice strikeout rate and has gotten better at keeping the ball in the park and draws a decent number of groundballs. tERA liked his performance a lot in 2010. Still, the results have not been there so you can understand why the Astros would be willing to trade him.

The problem is the Rockies had no further use for Barmes with Eric Young, and Chris Nelson ready to battle for the second base position and the rest of the infield in good hands. There is a very good chance that Barmes would have been non-tendered and the Astros could have had him for just money. For fantasy purposes both players are less desirable than they were before. I might make a low dollar bid on Felipe Paulino in my NL-only leagues but I'd pass on Barmes unless I were truly desperate.

The Oakland Athletics traded outfielder Rajai Davis to the Toronto Blue Jays for two prospects : RHP Danny Farquhar and RHP Trystan Magnuson.

The Blue Jays have not made it clear what their plans for Rajai Davis are. He could become their new center fielder with Vernon Wells moving to either left or right field (Jose Bautista would move to third base in that scenario). They could also use him a fourth outfielder if the rumors of a Manny Ramirez signing have some truth to them. Manny would become the designated hitter and push Adam Lind to first base.

Either way, you can be certain that Davis is in town to add speed and defense to the Blue Jays powerful lineup. He should continue to provide bunches of steals but it is difficult to say how many until we know what role he will fill. As a full time player he could easily steal 50-plus base or provide 20 or so coming off the bench. We'll have to wait and see.

The Blue Jays parted with a pair of decent prospects who both project to be decent major league middle relievers. It may be a bit much for a player like Davis but the Blue Jays are swimming in pitching prospects and middle relievers are easy to find.
The Prospects:

Danny Farquhar was the 2008 Sun Belt Conference Preseason Pitcher of the Year. He was selected by the Blue Jays with the 309th overall selection. A relief pitcher, he employs a deceptive delivery to induce strikeouts, but control problems have limited his effectiveness. The Blue Jays thought enough of him to send him to the Arizona Fall League.

Trystan Magnuson was the 56th overall pick by the Blue Jays in 2007. Because of a sore elbow Magnuson did not make his pro debut until 2008. After struggling as a starter he was moved to the bullpen in 2009. In 2009 he had a 2.39 ERA in 71.2 innings for High-A Dundein and Double-A New Hampshire. Magnuson continued to make strides with New Hampshire in 2010. His strike-out rate rose from 6.50 K/9 to 7.73 K/9 and his walk rate improved from 3.80 BB/9 to 1.23 BB/9. He was an Eastern League All-Star and a member of the World Team in the 2010 Futures Game.
Other Transactions

Minnesota Twins signed free agent LHP Phil Dumatrait.

Seattle Mariners signed free agent RHP Justin Miller.

Seattle Mariners signed free agent SS Sean Kazmar.

Chicago Cubs released 1B Micah Hoffpauir.

Colorado Rockies released RHP Manuel Corpas.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hot Stove Update: Dan Uggla, Cameron Maybin, David DeJesus

Well the Hot Stove season certainly seems to have cranked up early. The Florida Marlins have made two trades, their star second baseman and their center fielder for three middle relievers and a glorified utility player. Meanwhile the Oakland Athletics have stuck with their recent pitching and defense first strategy, except they seem more willing to spend money than they have been in decades. The San Diego Padres want to win despite their budget and they just might. As usual the Atlanta Braves are fearlessly re-shuffling the deck and stretching their resources to strengthen their contending team.

The Trades

The Kansas City Royals sent outfielder David DeJesus to the Oakland Athletics for lefty reliever Justin Marks and right-handed starter Vin Mazzaro.

The last few seasons have seen the Oakland Athletics move a few steps away from the emphasis on on-base percentage and power that made the organization famous after
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game became a huge hit. Those that actually read the book and listened to general manager Billy Beane, understand that it was never about OBP. It was about exploiting weaknesses in the market. Presently, if the composition of the Athletics roster tells us anything, the A's are looking for quality defensive players that are major league average offensively. David DeJesus fits into that mold almost perfectly.

***The Athletics also seem to be exploiting the prejudice against players with injury history, DeJesus fits into that mold as well.

The Kansas City Royals have been dangling DeJesus as bait for almost a year. He has a competent bat capable of producing from various spots in a lineup and plays very good defense in the corner outfield spots. He makes extremely good contact with the ball and hits lots of line-drives with mediocre power, typically in the 8-12 homer range (he's capable of hitting around 20 homers in the right park, the Oakland Coliseum is not it). He has slightly above average speed but is a poor base stealer, which will probably reduce his steal totals in Oakland to none. DeJesus possesses outstanding plate discipline and would make an excellent number three hitter for the Athletics. He could very well pile up the RBI batting behind Oakland's speedy outfielders
Rajai Davis and Coco Crisp (if healthy).

Both Vin Mazzaro and Justin Marks have above average stuff but neither has been seen that stuff translate into above average results. Mazzaro came out of the minors with a powerful sinker that in the majors has failed to induce grounders. Without either groundballs or strikeouts he has depended almost entirely on the excellent defense of the Athletics. Unfortunately for Mazzaro, the Royals defense has been nearly as good. Mazzaro still has excellent potential but needs to work on locating his sinker better to induce those grounders. If the Royals can help him with this, they may have done very well acquiring Mazzaro alone. Fantasy owners looking for cheap starters to get lucky with could do a lot worse than Mazzaro.

Justin Marks has nice strikeout stuff but has struggled with a groin injury that required surgery in 2009. He was slowed to start 2010 because of it and his initial results proved that he had quite a bit of re-adjusting to do.
(Re-Adjusting, was that funny? I can't decide...) Marks does have excellent potential and is one to watch.

The Boston Red Sox traded lefty relief prospect Dustin Richardson to the Florida Marlins for the disappointing (but still potential laden) left-handed pitcher, Andrew Miller.

Dustin Richardson has two great fastballs and a decent slurve but has struggled to gain command over his pitches. He will pitch in 2011 at 27-years old. He has potential but is running out of time to make use of it. This is not dissimilar to the man for whom he was traded. The difference is Andrew Miller was supposed to have even greater potential. The Red Sox do have excellent teachers in their system but I would bet against Miller having a fantasy impact this season.

The Red Sox gain the player with the greater potential. The Marlins get a similar player who may be fired up to play for a team that may actually have a spot for him. But I expect Richardson will be little more than a lefty specialist who isn't all that great at his job.

The San Diego Padres send right-handed relievers Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb to the Florida Marlins for center fielder Cameron Maybin.

The Marlins struggled with their bullpen in 2010. They obviously needed some help in that area and Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb are pretty good additions to their bullpen. But I do not understand why they decided to send the incredibly gifted
Cameron Maybin to the Padres to acquire them. It seems like a massive overpay to me.

Cameron Maybin has not been good in his brief major league stints but has shown some real progress in the minor leagues. He will never be a real power hitter hitting as many ground balls as he does, but in Petco that's almost to be expected. He does have power potential, if he can adjust his swing to add power to the gaps he can be an extremely effective player for San Diego.

For the Padres he should play pretty good defense in center field and has the potential to be a dynamic leadoff hitter. His plate discipline is approaching average in the major leagues. He actually needs to be more aggressive in my opinion. He watches a lot of pitches go by and swings at far fewer in the strike zone than the average hitter. I think in a full season he could hit for a decent (.265-.275) average with a bit of power (the 8-12 homer range I guess) and 20-30 steals.

Bill James is projecting .277/.349/.424 with 14 homers, 85 runs, 60 rbi, 20 sbs, 7cs which would make the Padres extremely happy. I think Maybin owners would be pretty happy with it as well.

Mujica is a good middle reliever with excellent control but has had problems keeping the ball in the park. This problem will only get worse moving out of Petco. He has some value in deeper fantasy leagues but shallow-mixed league owners probably won't gain anything by owning him.

Ryan Webb is a potential closer candidate. He has a decent (not great) strikeout rate complemented by pretty good control and the ability to induce groundballs at an above average rate. The Marlins have
Leo Nunez in the closer role in the short term but I can see them making a change in the long term to Webb. That makes him a nice reserve round or dollar days pick-up.

The Atlanta Braves traded power lefty reliever Michael Dunn and Utility Infielder Omar Infante to the Florida Marlins for second baseman Dan Uggla.

The Atlanta Braves sacrifice some defense to put their three year need for a right-handed power bat to rest. Dan Uggla has averaged 31 homers per season in five major league seasons. He is coming off his best season having hit .287/.369/.508 with 33 homers, 100 runs, 105 rbi and four stolen bases.

Uggla experienced a career high BABIP of .330 in 2010. When compared to his career BABIP of .302 it appears he was pretty fortunate to hit for as high an average as he did. However, Uggla is an extremely disciplined hitter who swings at very few pitches out of the strike zone and makes good contact within the zone. However, his batting average suffers because he hits the majority of his pitches into the air which results in far more flyouts.

Uggla is moving into a much better homerun park and could see a significant boost to his power numbers. His batting average could even be aided by seeing a larger number of his flyballs leave the park. He should also have a much better lineup around him with
Martin Prado, Jason Heyward, Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, and promising rookie Freddie Freeman (not the boy who becomes the super-hero...Captain Marvel Jr.). They should help Uggla pile up lots of RBI opportunities.

Martin Prado becomes the left fielder, a position he has apparently played in the Venezuelan Winter League. For a year at least he should have nice dual position eligibility in most leagues.

Omar Infante has had a few nice seasons since coming to the Atlanta Braves from the Detroit Tigers. He has very little power but makes a lot of contact with the ball. He has fairly average plate discipline but refuses to take walks. He isn't a great defensive player but is not a liability which is a huge defensive upgrade over Uggla for the Marlins. But without any power or even speed to contribute he is probably miscast as an everyday player. His fantasy value depends on his BABIP staying high as it has the last couple of years, which results in strong batting averages. He won't contribute in any other fantasy categories.

Mike Dunn is a decent strikeout loogy but has poor command. He is unlikely to have any fantasy value.

Other Transactions of Interest

Oakland Athletics claim Edwin Encarnacion off waivers from Toronto Blue Jays.

"The Oakland A's are excited to have had our bid for Hisashi Iwakuma accepted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles," the team said in a statement. "Out of respect for the posting process and for Mr. Iwakuma and his representative, we will not have any comment until the 30-day negotiation period comes to an end."

The A's continued a busy offseason by reportedly signing Vicmal de la Cruz, a sought-after center-field prospect from the Dominican Republic. The A's also inked third baseman Renato Nunez of Venezuela in early July for $2.2 million and signed top Venezuelan catching prospect Argenis Raga later that month.

Boston Red Sox claim Taylor Buchholz off waivers from Toronto Blue Jays.

St. Louis Cardinals signed free agent RHP Jake Westbrook.

The new-look Florida Marlins?

It is uncanny. I go ahead and vent my bellyaching for the Marlins trade of Cameron Maybin and what do they do?

Of course, they one-up me.

In case you hadn't heard, the Marlins just traded Dan Uggla for career utility man Omar Infante and LH reliever Mike Dunn.

I think we just found #11 on the list of worst trades in the last 25 years in my previous posting. Holy cannoli!

It's hard to ascertain what the Marlins are doing here. They just traded their CF and 2B for three relievers and a utility infielder for heaven's sake....but there may be a silver lining on this very dark cloud (more on this in a second).

First, I understand the reasons why the Marlins needed to trade Uggla away. Forget the fact that he is the club's all-time home run leader, because he refused a decent $48 million offer from the Marlins earlier this offseason. Yes, Florida had to get some kind of return on investment -- and as a my good friend Adam reminded me yesterday, the Marlins got Uggla for nothing way back in 2005 in the Rule 5 Draft.

But Omar Infante? I'm not a fan. In his last five seasons with Detroit and then Atlanta, he has averaged 88.8 games played per season. Forget his ridiculous all-star selection last season -- this guy is simply a career backup infielder (8 years worth of being one, too) who has played well recently -- although his defense is extremely suspect. In 29 games as a third baseman (the position he projects to play in Florida), he committed 30 errors last season. Yeah -- that's more than one error PER GAME.

Dunn offers the Marlins some much-needed bullpen help; however, did they not just trade away their prospect center fielder for two relief pitchers?

It has been a fast start to the hot stove season for the Marlins. Not only have they made two pretty awful trades, but they also spent $18 million for three years on a middle-of-the-road catcher, John Buck, who probably could have been signed for half that amount. Sure, Buck hit 20 homers last season for the Blue Jays -- but guess what, he isn't going to do that next year in spacious Dolphin Stadium...although I suppose the new ballpark would be more suitable to his power.

The Silver Lining
Everything above has been undoubtedly bad for the Marlins so far. Some people on the message boards are calling for an official intervention! However, there is some good news....

First, assuming Infante is placed at third base, Chris Coghlan will move to his natural position of second base for next season. This is great news for his fantasy owners, because Cogs' production was middling at best for an OF, but should be above average production for a second baseman.

Right now, Florida does not have a center fielder (unless you count the god-awful Emilio Bonifacio).........is it even remotely possible that the Marlins are clearing some payroll and roster space to make a run at Carl Crawford? This is total speculation on may part, but it kind of makes sense. If you are going to trade your power-hitting second baseman to a division rival and dump your center fielder for some bullpen help in the same week....it may be just a setup for a huge maneuver.

Then again, this IS the Marlins I'm talking about.

As of today, here is my projected Marlins lineup (assuming they make the humongous signing):
1 - Carl Crawford (CF)
2- Chris Coghlan (2B)
3- Hanley Ramirez (SS)
4- Mike Stanton (RF)
5- Gaby Sanchez (1B)
6- Logan Morrison (LF)
7- John Buck (C)
8- Omar Infante (3B)

They are definitely depending A LOT on Stanton in this lineup. But once again, the Marlins would have a very young, competitive squad that is just not quite good enough to compete with the Phillies and Braves. --Pauly

Monday, November 08, 2010

Five Keys to a Great Hot Stove Season

This article was originally published in an older blog of mine. It still makes a ton of sense.

One of the factors that annually separate the champions from the also-rans is off-season preparation. There are two types of Fantasy Owners, the first kind spends the winter playing Texas Hold-em and watching World Series of Poker re-runs. Many of the other owners mistake time spent during the winter tracking every trade rumor and constantly updating their player rankings as good preparation but it is not. Below I present you with five ways to can ensure that your Hot Stove season is a productive one without abandoning your spouse and children in favor of re-reading last season’s fantasy baseball magazines.

Reflect on last season

This very valuable step is often missed, especially when your fantasy baseball season ended in frustration. By looking back we can uncover where we went wrong. Did we take too many chances at the draft? Have you become predictable? Was that drunken Fourth of July trade you made with your weasel of a cousin a bad idea? Did you dump CC Sabathia on some “sucker” after his second terrible start in April? Making these self-evaluations, we can stop ourselves from making the same mistakes again.

We should also take the time to study our rivals. How did your league champion win? Does he make amazing trades? Did he rebuild for two years? Maybe your rival has a weakness for players on the Boston Red Sox that you can exploit. Does he have what looks like an unbeatable collection of young stars he can keep? Perhaps he exploited a loophole in the rules. We need to know our rivals as well as ourselves.

Set some goals for next season

Now that you have a better appreciation of what you did last season, you can decide what you need to do in the next one. This is more than just deciding to win a championship. Perhaps you want a more fruitful farm system. Maybe you want to improve your selection of pitchers or refine your draft strategy. It could be you just want to come up with all new strategy. By setting your goals early, you give yourself more time to achieve them.

You can also set goals you want your rivals to achieve. You can see to it that your chief rival pays full price for those older veterans he always acquires cheaply. You might need to stay in better touch with the other members of your league so your rival is not the only one involved in trade talks with the quiet guy in your league. Whenever you can make your rival change direction, pay more, or work harder you’ve done something valuable.You may want to check your poker deposit options because you should plenty of disposable income coming your way (along with a championship trophy).

Separate the noise from the knowledge

I am a true Hot Stove Junkie so I understand the temptation to read everything.


But it just isn’t necessary. The trade rumors and the speculation can be fun but most of it is noise that means very little in the long term. A far more effective course would be to discover a few good sources that report the facts that you need to know. Check in with those sources once or twice a week and you will save yourself a lot of time and effort. Rotoexperts.com is one great source.

Be careful not to put too much importance on what teams and their managers and general managers say. Lou Pinella just said that his Chicago Cubs do not need any more pitching. How long will it be before you hear him say you can never have enough pitching? The Boston Red Sox are already committed to Jed Lowrie as their starting shortstop. Does it seem likely that a team that has had five shortstops since 2004 would never consider an upgrade? If we can avoid giving too much importance to the noise, we can develop a much clearer picture of the truth.

Put moves into context

To evaluate events we need to put that event into the proper context. If the Yankees were to actually sign CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Derek Lowe as they have been rumored we would learn much more than who fills the spot that retired (and should be Hall-of-Fame) starter Mike Mussina left open. We also learn that the Yankees have more questions about their starting pitching than they might be willing to admit. Is Chin-Ming Wang going to be ready to start the season? Are they worried about Joba Chamberlain’s durability as a starter? What happened to the so-called youth movement? Are they giving up on Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy after just one injury plagued season?

Understanding why a team makes the moves that it does makes our fantasy predictions and projections a lot more accurate. In the above scenario, you might not want to buy low on Phil Hughes. You might also decide that even though you own a cheap Joba Chamberlain it might be wise to see what the obsessive Yankees fan in your league is willing to offer. If Sabathia becomes a Yankee, LeBron James to the New York Knicks is a lock, right?

Do not obsess

Relax. Take time to breathe and enjoy the holidays. So you let a few news items get past you. You will catch up with them the next time you check in with your trusted sources. Fantasy Baseball is supposed to be fun. If you are pulling the hair from your scalp and losing sleep so you can scour the internet all night you are not having fun – you’re obsessed.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

2011 Sleeper: Eduardo Nunez SS New York Yankees

The 2010 Major League Baseball season is officially over. Congratulation to the San Francisco Giants for winning their first championship since leaving New York for the West Coast. I am certain that few fans (outside of California) expected the Giants to get past the Philadelphia Phillies. Actually winning the World Series was the ultimate fantasy. It makes you want to check the Belmont Sportsbook for the odds. And while it is sad that we won't have much baseball to watch over the winter months, now, in a lot of ways, is when the 2011 Fantasy Baseball season truly begins.

I have missed on plenty of sleepers in the past (you're shocked I'm sure...) and hit on more than my fair share (I despise your doubting chuckles) of undiscovered gems. One of the most galling misses was Robinson Cano. I am an avid follower of the New York Yankees but I did not see him coming. He looked like a mediocre infield prospect without much patience at the plate. A lot like Eduardo Nunez before the last two seasons of rapid development during which he became the Shortstop of the Future(read with a super-cool Space Ghost style voice).

Okay. You may be wondering how I can get excited about a Yankees shortstop prospect when Derek Jeter is as close to a lock to spend his entire career in pinstripes as any active player of the last fifty years. The easy answer is I'm not alone. The Yankees themselves were willing to part with stud catching prospect Jesus Montero in a trade for Cliff Lee back in July, but they refused to sub Nunez for injured infielder David Adams and forced the Seattle Mariners to deal with the Texas Rangers instead. It is easy to assume that Nunez is just a contingency plan in case Derek Jeter does something unexpected like become one of Buck Showalter's Baltimore Orioles. But according to Bill Madden of the New York Daily News the Yankees could have other ideas:
Though no one in the Yankee high command is ever going to even speculate about the future after 2011 - especially with the very sensitive contract negotiations with Jeter about to get underway – but it's becoming increasingly clear the plan is to phase out Jorge Posada next season when his contract expires, opening up the DH slot for Alex Rodriguez, thereby allowing Jeter to move to third, making room for a more athletic shortstop, which would be the 24-year-old Venezuelan, Nunez, who hit .289 with 50 RBI and 23 stolen bases in 118 games at Triple-A Scranton this season.
Yes, that could very well be just ridiculous speculation on the part of Madden but it makes a lot of sense. General Manager Brian Cashman has been adamant about incorporating more younger talent into the 25-man roster. You have seen evidence of this on the pitching staff (Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson) and in the outfield (Brett Gardner). Shortstop has not been an area of great need, but even the most fervent Jeter supporters will admit it would be nice to improve the defensive range at the position. Even if Jeter does stick at shortstop Nunez is likely to see an ever increasing role off the bench - subbing at shortstop and third base as New York's aging superstars spend more time at Designated Hitter and resting on the bench.

So pretend you buy that Eduardo Nunez will receive meaningful at-bats. The question then is about his worth to fantasy owners. Obviously, I believe he will have greater value than his cost. He should come very cheaply because most will not expect him to play at all. Nunez was highly touted as a Five-Tool Prospect when the Yankees signed him as an non-drafted free-agent in 2004, as a 16-year old. Nunez is an excellent contact hitter but has struggled with patience and plate discipline in the past. He has shown very little power but has begun to pack solid muscle weight onto his once skinny frame. He is now a very solid 215 pounds. When drafted he was a frail 155 pounds. Adding power to his game is about learning to wait for his pitch, he has the potential to become a 20-plus homerun hitter. Nunez also has plus speed and is learning to become a better base stealer. He has the potential to steal 20-30 bases annually.

The last two seasons have seen massive improvements from Nunez. Some of this is the result of giving up switch-hitting to bat exclusively right-handed. Although there is still a lot of room for improvement, his plate discipline and selectivity at the plate have improved dramatically. He is waiting for his pitch more often and is more willing to take a walk. Anthony Dorunda of Pinstripes Plus (Scout.com's Yankees Site) received this quote:
"He's matured mentally a lot," hitting coach Butch Wynegar said. "I didn't know him much before but from what I've heard and what I've seen now, he's done a nice job of mentally maturing and he's got a better idea of what he's doing up at the plate. He's done a lot of battling with two strikes. whereas last year he didn't battle as well."
Defensively (relevant to playing time questions), Nunez has great hands, a cannon arm and tremendous range. He struggles with consistency and staying focused on the job at hand. He has struggled with taking bad at-bats into the field, but has shown improvement here as well. He routinely makes plays that many shortstops could not. With maturity he should become a Gold Glove caliber (in the very best sense of the phrase) shortstop in the majors.

When you bet on baseball, play in a big money fantasy leagues, or vote independent you embrace risk. Rostering Eduardo Nunez is a risk but a small one relative to price. I place his ceiling as a player somewhere around Robinson Cano's but with much better stolen base potential. He should eventually hit for a good batting average, average power, and provide great speed and excellent defense. Acquiring him in your fantasy league should be a risk well worth taking.