Friday, October 24, 2014

Cubs 2014-15 Offseason

According to Theo Epstein, it's time to take the step from rebuild to competitor. Even though he says that, there are still plenty of moves the front office has to make. With the money they have, this should be the easy part. What exactly do the Cubs need? Let's look at the list.
  • 2 Ace Starting Pitcher or 1 Ace Starting Pitcher and 1 Quality Starting Pitcher
  • A Left Handed Relief Pitcher.
  • A Starting Catcher or a defensive Back-Up Catcher
  • A quality Center Fielder
  • Figure out the Edwin Jackson situation
  • Joe Madden?
 With Jake Arrieta emerging as an ace this season, the Cubs really only need one ace free agent starter. If they go with one ace and one quality starter they should go for Jon Lester and Brandon McCarthy. Jon Lester had a career year with Boston and Oakland. A 9.0 K per 9, the 4th lowest ERA in the AL at 2.42 and a WHIP of 1.10. As for Brandon McCarthy, he struggled for the Diamondbacks but reemerged as a quality starter for the Yankees. With the Yankees he posted a 2.89 ERA with an 8.3 K per 9. His hit rate was shaky, but his walk rate was above average, leaving his WHIP at 1.15. In all actuality I would rather the Cubs bring back Jason Hammel. Hammel was putting up career numbers with the Cubs before he was traded. A 2.98 ERA, a WHIP of 1.02 and a K per 9 of 8.6. I think what ever Pitching Coach Chris Bosio did with Hammel really worked and I would like to see that again.
 If the Cubs decide to go all out on pitching then they should sign Jon Lester and Max Scherzer. I believe Scherzer is an ace, but not at the level of Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez or Adam Wainwright. Scherzer is still an ace. He strikes outs 10 per game and doesn't walk to many. His ERA and hit rate went up in 2014 but would probably go back down in the National League. And as the number 3 for the Cubs, the opposing teams will dread facing the Cubs.
 As for Left Handed Relievers it should be a pretty easy choice. If the Cubs want to spend more money then sign Andrew Miller. If they want to spend less, sign Zach Duke. Both Pitchers exploded at top of the line lefties. Andrew Miller proved however that he can get anyone out, not just lefties. I'd pick Andrew Miller over Zach Duke, but wouldn't complain if the Cubs got Duke instead.
 There are really only two catchers on the market that the Cubs should go after. Either Russell Martin or David Ross. Russell Martin would push Welington Castillo to either backup or trade bait. I'd prefer backup just incase Martin got hurt. Martin is a plus offensive and defensive catcher that look like he was back in his prime in 2014. As for David Ross, he his still a plus defender and in the words of A.J. Pierzynski "Like another coach". David Ross isn't much of a hitter anymore, but his work ethic and ability to teach is why he'd be a good backup. Welington Castillo's defense would increase dramatically because he's already above average. Plus having Ross for Spring Training would help draft pick Kyle Schwarber, who the Cubs want to have behind the plate.
 There aren't many quality Center Fielders on the Free Agent market this year. The best is Denard Span, but the Nationals have a club option on him. I don't believe they will pick it up however. He is a plus lead off man who bats from the left side and the Cubs need left handed hitting. I don't believe the Cubs should sign him though. I think the cheaper, more powerful choice of Colby Rasmus is who they should sign. Anthony Rizzo is the only left handed power bat in the Cubs lineup. Adding Rasmus and batting him sixth or seventh would fit perfectly. I am worried about a bounce back now that Bill Mueller has resigned as hitting couch, but maybe the Cubs will bring in Manny Ramirez who received rave reviews from the minor leaguers.
 As for the Edwin Jackson situation I see two options. One being find a bad contract to trade him for. Like engaging in talk with Braves for B.J. Upton again. That would get rid of Jackson and solve the right handed outfield bat search. The other move would be to release him all together. That would obviously cost an arm and a leg but the Cubs can afford it. There is the option of giving him to the Yankees because they seem to like bad contracts.
 The final issue to work out is whether or not to bring in Joe Maddon. Rick Renteria wasn't a bad manager last year. Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and Jake Arrieta all re-emerged as stars under him, but Travis Wood and Javier Baez regressed under him. He also has a laid back attitude that helps calm the players. Joe Maddon however has brought the Rays from awful to contender almost every season he managed them. I feel if they can bring in Maddon and move Renteria to bench coach they will be close to perfect. You add Manny Ramirez as assistant hitting coach and it will be perfect.
 As for the internal players. Send Arismendy Alcantara back to AAA and keep Bryant there as well. Obviously promote Addison Russell to AAA. Keep Kyuji Fujikawa. Keep Javier Baez and Jorge Soler at the Major League level. Start Luis Valbuena at third base to start the season. Use Kyle Hendricks as the their number four starter. Send Mike Olt to AAA and keep him there until September call ups. That way he'll have a full season to adjust to his eyes and work on his swing. And do not non tender Wesley Wright or Ryan Sweeney.
 I'd also like to lay out the beginning of the season line up.
  1. Chris Coghlan LF
  2. Starlin Castro SS
  3. Anthony Rizzo 1B
  4. Jorge Soler RF
  5. Javier Baez 2B
  6. Colby Rasmus CF
  7. Russell Martin C
  8. Luis Valbuena 3B
  9. Pitcher
I'm so glad Chris Coghlan re-emerged as a starting outfielder. He shows power and speed at the lead off position and he's a plus defender. If he drops off again they can replace him with Alcantara later on. Kris Bryant will likely be up in May after he destroys AAA some more. They should still keep Luis Valbuena for days off and interleague DH days. I don't think they need to go out and find a right handed bench bat because of Justin Ruggiano. He's another power/speed fourth outfielder who can sub for Rasmus and Coghlan.
 My verdict is that the Cubs will grab a wildcard spot and when Mike Matheny screws the Cardinals like he always does, the Cubs can grab 1st place. I don't think they can move passed the NLCS, but making the playoffs is the main goal next year.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Mike Trout Should NOT Win MVP!

Over the last decade Baseball fans have been spoiled by outstanding MVP performances and those who come in second. This years AL MVP is different however. Mike Trout has put up unreal numbers in 2012 and 2013 he's automatically going to win this year because Miguel Cabrera isn't having a ridiculous year. But I don't think that means Mike Trout is an MVP this year. I'll explain why and who should win it over him.
Let me start by saying I don't believe pitchers should win MVP in the American League. It's not because pitchers are less valuable than position players. It's because Pedro Martinez did not win it in 1999 or 2000. Why should I penalize others for Pedro not winning MVP? In 1999 Pedro had one of the top ten pitching seasons in the Modern Era, but he came in 2nd to Rangers Catcher Ivan Rodriguez. Then in 2000 he had the greatest pitching season of all time and only came in 5th in the voting's. So I think if you don't top Pedro's numbers as a pitcher, then you should never win MVP. I still believe Justin Verlander winning it was ridiculous.
With that out of the way, let me start with the three candidates that place ahead of Mike Trout in the MVP race. 3rd Place should go to Astros All-Star, Jose Altuve. The 5'5" Second Baseman is putting up ridiculous numbers, that can only be compare to Craig Biggio in Astros history. While Biggio took more walks and hit for more power, Altuve is making up for it by leading baseball in hits, batting average and the AL in stolen bases. Altuve has a .55 point higher in batting average, 44 more hits, 38 more steals, 4 more doubles and a higher on base percentage than Mike Trout. Trout is more powerful and has players around him to hit him home so his runs, RBI and home runs are higher, but that makes them pretty even.
In 2nd Place for MVP is the Rookie for the White Sox, Jose Abreu. The Cuban defector is probably the best right handed hitter in the American League this year. He is 4th in batting average, 3rd in home runs, 2nd in RBIs by 1 to Mike Trout, 5th in OBP, 1st in Slugging with a ridiculous .600 and tied for 1st in OPS. Mike Trout only beats him in one category, RBIs. The reason it's more impressive for Abreu is he has no supporting cast around him. He literally drives in everyone. Mike Trout has Albert Pujols driving others in and other decent players around him. But it's the significant differences in batting average, slugging and OPS that puts him ahead of Trout as well.
And the AL MVP should be Victor Martinez. Martinez is the only player putting up ridiculous numbers. He's a switch hitter who is 2nd in batting average and 1st in OBP. He's hit a career high 30 home runs and he's tied with Jose Abreu in OPS. The most staggering stat is his walks to strikeouts rate. He has 61 walks and only 39 strikeouts. That's unreal in this era. Victor Martinez is an MVP.
As for Mike Trout, my problem is his .284 batting average, .368 OBP, 13 steals and the fact that only Chris Davis has struck out more than him. Mike Trout has 159 strikeouts, that's 4 more that Chris Carter who led baseball last year. Mike Trout is the best player in baseball right now, but he is not the 2014 MVP.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The All-Time Major League Baseball Teams: Quick Notes

I apologize for my inconsistent posting, but once the playoffs start I will be posting at least once a week. I'm also pausing so I can use this season's stats. For example, Giancarlo Stanton was a bench player for the Marlins, but after this season will be a starter.
Again, I'm sorry for the wait but it's almost done.

The All-Time Major League Baseball Teams: Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks are the NL West Expansion team from 1998. They almost immediately made a splash in baseball. Their second season as a team they won 100 games. They had put together a great team that year, with a pitching staff anchored with Randy Johnson. They lost to the Mets in the first round of the playoffs that year. Then 2001 rolled around and even though they didn't win 100 games, they beat the Yankees in the World Series. Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling won the Co-World Series MVP. They came back in 2002 with more regular season wins than the year prior, but didn't make it to the Fall Classic. After that they were never quite as good. Partially due to the loss of Curt Schilling, then Randy Johnson.

Now let's get on with their All-Time Team.
Leading off and playing Center Field, Eric Byrnes. The now MLB analyst was a typical utility outfielder, until he got to play everyday. Then he put up great offensive line highlighted by 50 stolen bases and a dirt dog attitude.
Batting second the Right Fielder, Justin Upton. The former first overall pick was a high risk/medium reward player for the D-Backs. While he never quite lived up to expectation, he was better than people give him credit for. He had the athleticism and power for Right Field. He showed his talent in 2011 finishing 4th in MVP. The Diamondbacks have since ship him to the Braves, where he is putting up plus numbers.
Batting third and playing Second Base, Jay Bell. Jay Bell was part of the combination of himself and Matt Williams that led the team to a 100 win season. He crushed nearly 40 Home Runs and thanks to Matt Williams, he scored over 130 runs.
Batting cleanup and playing Left Field, Luis Gonzalez. The only player to have his number retired by the Diamondbacks, led them to a game 7 victory over the New York Yankees in the World Series. His 2001 season was also probably the best season in Franchise history, when he blasted over 50 Home Runs and drove in over 140 RBIs. He is however criticized for PED use.
Batting fifth and playing First Base, Paul Goldschmidt. Goldie broke out in 2013 and immediately gave himself a spot on the All-Time Team. He led the National League in Home Runs, RBI, Slugging, OPS and Total Bases. He had my pick for MVP, but Andrew McCutchen snatched it up.
Batting sixth and playing Third Base, Matt Williams. Williams had one of his better seasons with the Diamondbacks in 1999, driving in a career high 142 RBI. While he wasn't the type of guy to take a walk, he made contact more often than not.
Batting seventh the Designated Hitter, Mark Reynolds. Mark Reynolds is known for two things, Striking Out and hitting Home Runs. He crushed 44 Home Runs, but also stole 24 bases, which I never would have guess from him. This was a plus season for him in every category and good enough to make the All-Time Team.
Batting eighth and catching, Miguel Montero. The best catcher in Franchise history is still active. While he's had a down season in 2013, he had back to back seasons that I had trouble choosing from. I eventually went with the season where he hit more extra base hits.
And batting ninth the Shortstop, Stephen Drew. Drew can and did hit anywhere the Diamondbacks put him. One of the leagues most consistent Triples hitters in the National League, Drew used his intelligence to make him an above average base threat. He was finally traded after an injury to his ankle and had a bounce back season for the Red Sox. He's batting ninth so he can Triple men home and then get hit in by the lead off man.
Now for the pitching staff that makes them an above average team. Sorry Mariners fans, but Randy Johnson is on the Diamondbacks.
  1. Randy Johnson*   2.32/35/35/334/71/260/8/4/24-5/1.03 (195)
  2. Curt Schilling      2.98/35/35/293/39/256/6/1/22-6/1.07 (157)
  3. Brandon Webb    3.01/34/34/194/72/236/4/3/18-10/1.18 (158)
  4. Dan Haren          3.14/33/33/223/38/229/3/1/14-10/1.00 (142)
  5. Ian Kennedy       2.88/33/33/198/55/222/1/1/21-4/1.08 (137)
With Randy Johnson highlighting this staff with 334 strikeouts and a 2.32 ERA and great a number 2 and 3 starters, this team would be hard to beat. Everyone could strike you out or make you break you bat on the way to the dugout.
Now don't let the Rays bullpen cloud your view, the Diamondbacks bullpen is a plus too.
  1. Byung-Hyum Kim  2.04/72/0/92/26/84/66/36/8-3/1.07
  2. Jose Valverde         2.15/54/0/71/26/50/33/10/2-1/0.99
  3. Greg Swindell*      2.51/63/0/51/21/64/15/1/4-0/1.16
  4. Brad Zieglar           2.22/78/0/44/22/73/33/13/8-1/1.13
  5. Omar Daal*           2.88/33/23/132/51/162/0/0/8-12/1.21
  6. Miguel Batista       3.54/36/29/142/60/193/0/0/10-9/1.32
Byung-Hyum Kim was a great closer who they tried to turn into a starter. It didn't work out. But he was a high quality closer when he was closing. Brad Zieglar was one of the more consistant relief pitchers in all of baseball in 2013, of course he'd make this team. The other two short relievers didn't pitch as many innings, but were very effective when they did.
The Diamondback bench is a plus defensive bench with Gold Glove caliber defenders.
  1. Orlando Hudson      .287/87/166/34/9/15/67/9/.354
  2. Damien Miller         .271/45/103/19/0/13/47/0/.337
  3. Chad Tracy              .308/73/155/34/4/27/72/3/.359
  4. Chris Young            .257/94/150/33/0/27/91/28/.341
  5. Kelly Johnson         .284/93/166/36/5/26/71/13/.370
Chad Tracy is the weak defensive link, but his offense from the corner positions is why he's here. Chris Young almost got the starting Center Fielder nod, but Eric Byres put up better numbers and was a plus defender as well. Kelly Johnson I put as a back-up outfielder because he can play left and right field. He's mainly there for his bat, but he has a good throwing arm as well. Orlando Huson, the O-Dog, is a Gold Glover for reason. One of the smoothest Second Basemen I've ever seen. Plus he was fun to listen too. Damien Miller was the second best Catcher in their franchise making him the obvious choice for back-up Catcher.
Their starting line-up would look like this.
  1. Eric Byrnes              .286/103/179/30/8/21/83/50/.353
  2. Justin Upton             .289/105/171/39/5/31/88/21/.369
  3. Jay Bell                    .289/132/170/32/6/38/112/7/.374
  4. Luis Gonzalez         .325/128/198/36/7/57/142/1/.429
  5. Paul Goldschmidt    .302/103/182/36/3/36/125/15/.401
  6. Matt Williams         .303/98/190/37/2/35/142/2/.344
  7. Mark Reynolds        .260/98/150/30/1/44/102/24/.349
  8. Miguel Montero      .282/65/139/36/1/18/86/1/.351
  9. Stephen Drew          .291/91/178/44/11/21/67/3/.333
This line up is a good combination of speed and power, but they are also an intelligent line up. Each player can clearly read the base paths really well and as well as hit for RBIs instead of power. You add the strong defensive bench and excellent starting pitching and you have a formidable opponent for any team. The Diamondbacks are probably the most impressive 90s expansion in my opinion, even though the Marlins have more than one World Series Championship.
Next up, the Florida/Miami Marlins.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The All-Time Major League Baseball Teams: Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays were the AL East's expansion team in 1998. During their existence as the Devil Rays they were the punching bag for the rest of the AL East. When the changed their name from the Devil Rays to the Rays and with all their draft picks finally made it to the Majors, they became relevant. There were however players that put up above average seasons as Devil Rays too.

 We will start with the line up.
 Leading off and playing Left Field, Carl Crawford. Crawford was the face of the franchise when the Rays were good and when they were bad. A gold glover in Left Field and one of the best base stealers in baseball. He wasn't just a base stealer. He used his speed, as well as gap power, to be a leader in triples and doubles.
 Batting second and playing Shortstop, Jason Bartlett. Out of all the players that have played Shortstop for the Rays, Bartlett had the best single season. A high batting average and the ability to take the walk made him a key piece for the Rays.
 Batting third, the Designated Hitter, Aubrey Huff. Before he won a title with the Giants, Huff was playing Right Field, First Base and DHing for the Rays. Huff put up a couple under the radar great seasons. Bordering 200 hits and hitting over 40 doubles. He didn't drawn too many walks, but he didn't need to when he got 200 hits.
 Batting cleanup and playing Third Base, Evan Longoria. The current face of the franchise and on field leader, has been a force since his rookie year. A Gold Glove defender and offensive force, Longoria does just about everything the Rays need him to do.
 Batting fifth and playing First Base, Carlos Pena. After bouncing around for while, Pena found a home in Tampa. He proceeded to reward the Rays with an MVP caliber season and Gold Glove Defense. He put up monster home run seasons for the Rays, becoming the franchise leader in Home Runs. Evan Longoria has since broken that record.
 Batting sixth and playing Right Field, Ben Zobrist. The switch hitting, utility man has been a main piece for Rays for many years. Zobrist can play almost any position and play it well. He can hit doubles, home runs and steal bases. His On-Base Percentage is the strength that I like the most.
 Batting seventh and playing Second Base, Jorge Cantu. Cantu never had a chance to play on the American League Champion Rays, but he did put up some great seasons for the Devil Rays. Hitting almost 30 home runs and driving in over 100 RBI, he had another under the radar season for the Devil Rays.
 Batting eighth and Catching, John Flaherty. The Rays have never had a great offensive catcher, but John Flaherty was the closest to a plus offensive season. He was a plus fielder however and important to their pitching staff.
 Batting ninth and playing Center Field, B.J. Upton. The older Upton brother debuted and looked like he would be 30-30 hitter every season. Things don't always work out that way. He did however put up plus home runs for the Center Field position. He was a plus defender and stole plenty of bases. He's batting ninth so Crawford can drive him in.
 The Rays have built their teams around pitching and have had some great pitchers come and go.
The Rotation looks like this.
  1. David Price*               2.56/31/31/205/59/211/2/1/20-5/1.10 (150 ERA+)
  2. James Shields             2.82/33/33/225/65/249/11/4/16-12/1.04 (134 ERA+)
  3. Scott Kazmir*            3.48/34/34/239/89/206/0/0/13-9/1.37 (130 ERA+)
  4. Rolando Arrojo          3.56/32/32/152/65/202/2/2/14-12/1.28 (133 ERA+)
  5. Jeremy Hellickson     2.95/29/29/117/72/189/2/1/13-10/1.15 (128 ERA+)
A great rotation for todays standards, but an average at best for the All-Time Teams.
Their bullpen however, may be the best.
  1. Fernando Rodney    0.60/76/0/76/15/74/65/48/2-2/0.77
  2. Joaquin Benoit        1.34/63/0/75/11/60/16/1/1-1/0.68
  3. Jake McGee*          1.95/69/0/73/11/55/13/0/5-2/0.79
  4. Grant Belfour         1.54/51/0/81/24/58/12/4/6-2/0.89
  5. Alex Cobb              2.76/22/22/134/45/143/0/0/11-3/1.15
  6. Matt Garza             3.70/30/30/128/59/184/0/0/11-9/1.24
With Rodney putting up one of the top five closing seasons of all time, the back end of the Rays bullpen is bordering on unhittable. It is their biggest strength and possibly the best back end bullpen out of every All-Time Teams.
The Bench is solid bench and probably one they would use now.
  • Julio Lugo           .295/89/182/36/6/06/57/39/.362
  • Dioner Navarro   .295/43/126/27/0/07/54/0/.349
  • Ty Wiggington    .275/55/122/25/1/24/79/4/.330
  • Randy Winn        .298/87/181/39/9/14/75/27/.360
  • Delmon Young   .288/65/186/38/0/13/93/10/.316
Delmon Young and Julio Lugo are their go to offensive bench players and Ty Wiggington is their back up corner infielder, who can hit home runs. Navarro has always been solid, but was best when he was with the Rays. And Randy Winn was a good speed and power combo, with excellent defense.
Their starting line-up would look like this.
  1. Carl Crawford    .301/101/194/33/15/15/81/48/.331
  2. Jason Bartlett     .320/90/160/29/7/14/66/30/.389
  3. Aubrey Huff       .311/91/198/47/3/34/107/2/.364
  4. Evan Longoria   .281/100/164/44/0/33/113/9/.364
  5. Carlos Pena        .282/99/138/29/1/46/121/1/.411
  6. Ben Zobrist        .297/91/149/28/7/27/91/17/.405
  7. Jorge Cantu        .286/73/171/40/1/28/117/1/.311
  8. John Flaherty     .278/53/124/19/0/14/71/0/.310
  9. B.J. Upton         .300/86/142/25/1/24/82/22/.386
Now since Joe Maddon would be their manager, this line-up could change frequently. This line-up would probably be at the top of the AL East if they were playing together this year, but with money troubles and lack of fan support, it just wasn't meant to be. Would the Rays put up a fight against the rest of the All-Time Teams? Some what. This is baseball after all.
Next team will be the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The All-Time Major League Baseball Teams: Rules

The All Time Greats meeting the MVPs of Today. We all want to know who would play with the Babe if the Yankees put together an All-Time Team. I know I wanted to. As a Red Sox fan I also wanted to see if the All-Time Red Sox could beat the All-Time Yankees. So I looked through the history of the two franchises and put starting line-ups and a rotation together. When I was done, I realized Jimmie Foxx's best season didn't come with the Red Sox, it came with the Athletics. So I decided why not do the thirty franchises. It was a difficult processes, but a fun one. But I had to give myself a set of rules to go by for teams, position players, starting pitchers, bullpen and bench. Here are the rules I used.
General Rules
  1. The teams had to be from the National or American Leagues. No Federal, Presidential or Negro League teams.
  2. A player can only play on one All-Time team.
  3. Players do not need to have played more than a year with a certain team.
  4. The Player has to have played at least one year in the Modern Era (1901).
  5. The best season of the player will be used as their stats. Awards won't determine the seasons.
  6. If a player plays half a season on one team and half on another, the better half will determine what team the players is on.
  7. The Designated Hitter will be used on every team.
  8. While I hate steroid use in sports, I will be using player seasons that could be considered tainted.
  9. Teams will have 25 total players. 9 batters, 5 starting pitchers, 5 bench players, 4 relief pitchers and 2 back up starters/long relievers.
  10. No Strike seasons.
Batting Rules
  1. The player needs to play a large portion of the season. Either 135 Games, 500 At-Bats or 550 Plate appearances. If they don't they can still make the team, but come off the bench.
  2. The player needs to put up amazing numbers. Categories with the most importance: Batting Average, Runs, Hits, Doubles, Home Runs, RBIs, Stolen Bases and On-Base Percentage. Combinations of these will determine if you're a starter.
  3. Being a Franchise Player doesn't mean you make the team.
  4. Gold Gloves will make a difference in whether the player starts or is benched.
Pitching Rules
  1. To be in the rotation you need to make either 28 starts or pitch 180 innings while making mostly starts.
  2. Adjusted ERA+ will determine whether a player starts or is in the bullpen.
  3. A pitcher with more walks than strikeouts won't make a team.
  4. Wins do not play into which season is the best.
If there are any questions feel free to ask. The first team will be the Tampa Bay Rays.