Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Logical Movement of Mike Jacobs

For all of you who cannot wait for the 2009 season to begin, at least we have the hot stove season to keep us warm! And wow, the first major (depends on your definition) trade of the offseason has already happened! And what's even better, the trade is actually a good one for both sides.

Royals acquire:
1b Mike Jacobs

Marlins acquire:

RP Leo Nunez

On paper, this trade looks very good for the Royals. Jacobs comes to the Royals at a modest price (around $2 mil after arbitration), at a young age (28), and with light tower power (32 homers in 2008). So why would the Marlins trade this guy? A few reasons:

1. money
-Even though $2 mil is nothing for most major league teams, the Marlins will operate with one of the smallest payrolls in baseball next season and probably wanted to spend that money addressing other needs. Jacobs' power simply became a luxury for the Marlins who are loaded with offensive power, but need to address issues concerning their pitching and defense.

2. defense
Good thing Jacobs is coming to the AL because his defense is absolutely atrocious. Having Jacobs play 1b was a major liability for the team and made the other three infielders around him worse. This move could upgrade the pathetic Marlins infield defense.

3. OBP
Sure the 32 homers are great, but how about the .299 OBP. That clip flat out sucks especially for a middle of the order hitter.

Even with Jacob's obvious flaws, he was a good gamble for GM Dayton Moore to take. The 2008 Royals had absolutely no power to speak of outside of Jose Guillen and Alex Gordon while no Royal hit over 20 homers last season. For that reason alone, Jacobs is a good find for the Royals. How many young, power hitting first basemen can be found nowadays for a relief pitcher? Not many. Jacobs adds some instant punch to a lineup that was punch-less last season, but he will need to improve his OBP. I fear that Guillen and Jacobs will become the first 3 and 4 hitters to each have OBPs under .300. How scary would that be? Get on base fellas!

With the move, I wonder what will happen to Billy Butler and Kila Ka'aihue. Like Jacobs, Butler is a liability on the field, but he can rake. Or at least he did in AAA. We have yet to see consistent production from him in the majors. As for Ka'aihue, this move sets him back further on the Royals 1b depth chart. After a tremendous season in the minors, many thought that this guy was the Royals first baseman of the future because of his power. But after this move, I guess thats not the case. Maybe they weren't as high on him as all the experts are.

As for the Marlins, this trade makes a whole lot of sense. The 2009 Marlins need to add defense and pitching depth to remain competitive in the NL East. Adding Leo Nunez, a guy who very quietly produced a 2.98 ERA in 45 games for the Royals, the Marlins have added a potentially valuable piece to their bullpen. This move also give the Marlins the potential to add a defensive minded first baseman or third baseman, depending on whether they shift Jorge Cantu from first base to third base. The defensive "addition by subtraction" should make the Marlins a more fundamentally sound team. I fully expect the Marlins to compete for the top spot in the NL East next season. These guys are good and this move shows the genius of Larry Beinfest.

Kudos to both teams on a rare trade that benefits both sides!

Part VI: NL West Amnesty

Jorge Says No! introduced amnesty earlier and we are happy to present to you our NL West picks. Which contract would your team want to waive at the end of this season? Lets take a look:

How can a playoff team be saddled with so many bad contracts? Between Juan Pierre, Jason Schmidt, and Andruw Jones, the Dodgers have spent more than $100 million bucks on guys who did almost nothing to get them to the playoffs this season. That fact reflects the strength of the Dodgers player development to have enough quality young players to play in place of these struggling and injured veterans. But make no mistake, all three contracts have been a mistake. So who would the Dodgers most like to release?

Based on performance, it has to be Jones, who hit only .158 this season and is owed almost $18 million dollars through 2009. Yikes. Based on injury history, it has to be Schmidt, who is owed almost $15 million dollars through 2009. Schmidt has failed to remain healthy during his Dodger tenure because of massive shoulder damage. As we all know, shoulder injuries are very bad news for pitchers. Yikes.

However, neither Jones nor Schmidt are my choice here. Logically, the choice has to be Juan Pierre, who is still owed another $28.5 million dollars through 2011. That's an astronomical amount for a fourth outfielder who has no power. And to top it all off, the Dodgers are pretty set in the outfield with Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Manny Ramirez, if they decide to re-sign him. Pierre is merely a waste of space at this point and would do alot better on a different roster.

Even though the Padres are trying to cut costs right now, there are really no contracts on this roster that are terrible. The long term deals the Padres have signed have been financially responsible and very team friendly. Amnesty would not benefit the Padres.

Barry Zito. Barry Zito. Barry Zito. Barry Zito. Is that really a surprise to anyone?

After the 2006 season, Zito was the most coveted free agent on the market because of his youth, track record, durability, and big curveball. The Giants believed that they were signing the "post Barry Bonds" face of the franchise so they had no problem giving Zito the seven years/$126 million dollars he desired. Zito was paid like an ace, but his performance has been bush league. Over the past two seasons, Zito has won only 21 games, while producing ERAs in the high fours and low fives. Zito has lost a few MPH on his fastball, which has made his breaking pitches much more hittable. And to top it all off, Zito's control still sucks. Walks continue to plague Zito, who can no longer get away with walking so many guys because the rest of his stuff is declined so far. Not a good combo.

All signs point to the decline of Zito's career, which is why the Giants would LOVE to get out from this horrific contract. Zito is still owed another $98 million dollars over the next five years. This contract could realistically harm the Giants for the next decade.

The Diamondbacks are another smaller market team that does not have too many long term contracts worth tons of money. However, the long term contract that the team gave to Eric Byrnes does not look too good right now. Byrnes missed a majority of the season with tears in his hamstrings, which is terrible because a majority of Byrnes game is based on his speed, intensity, and passion. Byrnes is owed another $20 million dollars over the next two seasons, which could be better spent addressing other problem areas for the Diamondbacks.

After the Rockies signed 1b Todd Helton to a 9 year/$141 million dollar contract in 2003, the Rockies thought they had just signed the face of their franchise for the next decade, which is a major accomplishment for the small market club. However, just three years later, the Rockies realized that Helton was on the decline and tried to move him to the Red Sox. A potential deal fell through, but the Rockies have continued to search for any opportunity to move Helton.

Simply put, his contract is killing the team because Helton is not the masher he once was; sure he hits for average, but the power is gone and the injuries are becoming more frequent. The Rockies still owe Helton almost $52 million dollars over the next three years, which is way too much for an aging and declining first baseman.

Phillies Win the Series

In a season that has featured numerous wacky twists and turns, I guess it is only fitting that it ends this way. Congratulations to the Phillies. This team exemplified heart and character while overcoming all obstacles put in their way. I have rooted against the Phillies in every playoff series for obvious reasons, but I must admit that their style of play is both fun to watch and entertaining. Even though the series ended in five, the quality of the games was rather good and MLB should be happy about that.

As much as I hate/despise seeing a rival win it all, they deserved it. Hopefully we'll get ya back for it in 2009.
(Photo; SI)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Cliff Floyd I Know

Don't know how I missed this on Sunday, but the Rays deactivated Cliff Floyd from their postseason roster because of a sore right shoulder. I'm not surprised in the slightest bit. I love watching Floyd play because:

a. he played harder than any player I've ever seen
b. His swing was absolutely vicious. He smoked balls.
c. The moonball. Wow did his homers go far.
d. He looked like a 60 year old man running the bases. Rays fans know what I'm talking about.

During his tenure with the Mets, somehow Floyd was always injured (besides 2005). Cliffy was never on the field consistently and just when he appeared to hit his stride, his bad knees, back, or hamstrings would miraculously act up. It's like the baseball Gods constantly wanted to tease Floyd (and Mets fans). It's only fitting that Floyd's Mets tenure ended with Floyd reduced to pinch hitting duties in the NLCS because of his hamstring and other various ailments.

I'm pissed that Floyd won't be able to play anymore in the Series because I really thought he was going to have his big moment a la Matt Stairs. Watching Floyd celebrate like a child in a massive dog pile was one of my main motivations for watching game 5. A potential classic moment is now gone. Now all I can hope for is for Floyd to be healthy enough to play cheerleader in the dugout for the young Rays. A World Series ring would be a fitting end to Floyd's somewhat tortured career. Make it happen, Rays.

Don't Trade Holliday

If the Rockies are serious about trading Matt Holliday like the reports state, then they are about to make a huge mistake. I understand all the reasons to trade Holliday: free agent after 2009, wants a huge contract. That thought process is very logical: there is no way in hell that Holliday will sign with us so we better try to get what we can for him now." If that's what GM Dan O'Dowd is thinking, then that's great, I understand.

But there is no doubt in my mind that this move would be a huge mistake. For starters, the Rockies are not far from becoming a contending team. The NL West is absolutely terrible and every team in the division (besides the Giants) has a realistic chance of competing. Dealing Holliday now would ultimately doom the Rockies chances of competing and signal to the fans that the 2009 season is a wash. Considering how weak the division is, it would be irresponsible to move Holliday right now.

Probably the best argument against trading Holliday now is the Johan Santana effect. As we all remember, the Twins traded Santana last offseason to the Mets and by all accounts, did not receive a phenomenal package from the Mets. Teams backed away from Santana because they knew his contract demands and they knew that they might only have him for a season. And even in the case of the Mets, they gave up less player wise because they knew that they would have to spend an additional $140 mil to sign Santana. So simply put, Holliday's contract situation diminishes the potential return that the Rockies could see right now.

But what Holliday's contract does allow, is for GM Dan O'Dowd to attempt to trade his star right fielder in the middle of the season at the trading deadline. Case in point, Mark Teixeira and the Braves. The Braves knew that Tex was not going to sign with them, but they at least gave themselves a chance to compete in the NL East by retaining Tex for the beginning of the season. As it turns out, the Braves stunk, so GM Frank Wren dealt Tex at the end of July for 1B Casey Kotchman, who will be the Braves first baseman for the next few seasons at a cheap price. The Braves were still able to get a good package for Tex because his value spiked because many teams were looking for a stud who could propel them to the playoffs. This will be now different in 2009. Plus, as of right now, I don't think the big guys (Mets, Yankees, Red Sox) will be involved with Holliday. It is very difficult to develop a market for Holliday without the big guys being involved.

One final point on Holliday, GM Dan O'Dowd should look at this year's free agent OF class and immediately drop the telephone. While the class is not deep, it is very top heavy and features players who offer very similar production to Holliday. Outfielders Manny Ramirez, Adam Dunn, Pat Burrell, Raul Ibanez, and maybe Bobby Abreu all offer similar production to teams as Holliday. Why would a team give up prized prospects and other young players for Holliday when they could simply throw some big bucks at one of these free agents. Holliday's market is further diminished by the quality free agents in this year's class.

So in short, hold. Give the Rockies a shot to compete, and you know what, if that doesn't pan out, then move Holliday. Worse to comes to worse, the Rockies would gain two high draft picks in the 2010 draft. Moving Holliday now is a terrible idea and needs to be reconsidered.

Clutcher than Clutch

While Bug Selig and the rain ultimately dominated last night's game 5, to me, the most underrated storyline was the two out opposite field single by Carlos Pena. Pena, who had been struggling mightily throughout most of this series, was at the plate with BJ Upton on second, with the Rays down 2-1, and the rain pouring down. Oh yeah, and the Phillies had their ace lefty, Cole Hamels, on the mound. Pena must've had some idea that if this run doesn't score, then the game might never start back up again (Since the two teams played 4.5 innings last night, the game was official).

So with that backdrop, Pena delivered in a big way. On a 2-2 count, Pena lashed a base hit out to left field that ultimately scored BJ Upton, who had no traction rounding the bases through the large puddles and rain. How huge is that? Knowing that the Rays' magical season could come to an end, Pena came up huge to at least extend the impossible dream for another night, or for another few innings. The pressure of that situation can not be underestimated or unnoticed. Simply put, Pena saved the Rays season.

On a side note, could you imagine what would have happened if this game ended after 5 and a half innings because of rain? I'm sure baseball people would have been enormously pissed, not too mention all the good folks in Tampa. I'm sure the Philly Phaithful would have loved it. If that did happen, this World Series would have lost most of it's luster and good feeling.

(Note to the Commish: Teams need to play all nine innings in the postseason. This is not just a suggestion, but a necessity. Make it happen. Rule change!)

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Bottomless Pit in My Stomach is Back

As a Mets fan, I have experienced lots of pain. In my 18 years of being a Met fan, I have had my heart broken more times than I can even remember. Hell, it's come to the point where I almost expect it. It's part of being a Mets fan. The Mets failure over the past three seasons only makes me feel worse around playoff (especially World Series time). I couldn't watch the 2006 World Series because of my Wainwright related nightmares, and watching the Red Sox win was worse than sitting through a address by President Bush about the economy. Awkward, painful, and anger all rolled into one. Not a good combo.

As I think about the possibility of the Phillies win the World Series, all of the pain that the Mets caused me this season returns. I dunno why, but it does. To a certain degree, it's probably because the Phillies were our hated rival in the NL East. The rival transition from the Braves to the Phillies was a relatively quick one because of the demise of the Braves, the resurgence of the Mets and Phillies, and Jimmy Rollins. (Note: To this day, I believe that Rollins announcement that the Phillies were better than the Mets was the turning point in the rivalry. That statement showed that Rollins had some large cahunas and the MVP award simply cemented his place in ballzy hall of fame)

So basically for the last three years, I have hated the Phillies. Especially the last two. Maybe it's the stubborn New Yorker in me, but I always thought of them as number 2. Even this season, when the Mets were decimated by injury and massively struggling, I still thought that the Mets were the better team. That's probably another reason why this hurts so bad. The Phillies were a flawed team that lacked consistency and had limited starting pitching; not too mention that they play in a ballpark built for a little league team. I have beaten this topic to death already, but it's impossible to sit back happily as the team you despise is one win away from winning a World Series (Yankee fans can attest to this). But like the 1996 Yankees, this Phillies team has heart, and no talent evaluator can fully judge the degree to which that helps.

As Joe Blanton rounded third after belting a homerun, I quickly turned off the TV and punched my bed. Another baseball season, more frustration. And again, I am forced to sit back and watch teams I despise (Yanks, Red Sox, Phillies) win World Series.
Yup, the baseball Gods are definitely not Mets fans.

Go Rays.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Worth a Shot: Ruben Gotay

One of my favorite pastimes during the offseason is viciously scouring the transaction pages on the web to find out which guys have been left off the 40 man roster and thereby granted free agency. Whether they are too old, can't play defense, or simply just stink; many guys, who have ability are let go after every season. No, signing these players usually will not cause a stir amongst fans or front office personnel, but very often these guys wind up getting their shot to play elsewhere and wind up thriving. Case in point, Rays 1B Carlos Pena. After being thrown to the scrap heap by the Boston Red Sox, Pena signed a minor league deal with the Rays in 2007 and eventually became the Rays starting first baseman and Comeback Player of the Year. Like so many other professions, all some of these guys need is a chance to show what they can do. Many fail, but the success stories sure are sweet.

So today, after glancing through the minor league transactions, one free agent stuck out to me: 2b Ruben Gotay. As some of you may remember, Gotay had a pretty eventful cup of tea with the Mets in 2007 and actually played pretty darn well. Gotay exhibited a quick bat with some power and often came up big when the Mets needed it the most. Gotay hit .295 for the season with 4 homers, 24 RBI, and 12 doubles. Most impressively, Gotay hit .318 against right handed pitching and produced many quality at bats and walks. Fans and front office personnel could see Gotay's offensive potential, but his horrific defense kept Gotay from claiming the starting job or even a bigger role on the team. After the 2007 season, I thought Gotay was on his way to getting his shot with the Mets because young 2b who can hit don't come along everyday. But the Mets thought otherwise, and eventually elected to hand $26 million bucks to Mr. Slap, Luis Castillo.

Fast forward to spring training 2008, the Mets, faced with a looming roster crunch, put Gotay on waivers and hoped that no one would claim him. Unfortunately for the Mets, the Braves swooped in and claimed Gotay. Gotay lasted the entire year on the Braves roster, but even though the Braves stunk, Gotay was never given a chance to show what he could do. He was relegated to only pinch hitting duties and only started 9 times for the 90 loss Braves. The reasons for Gotay's limited playing time were obvious: inability to field, inability to hit lefties, and the Braves already had a pretty good 2b in Kelly Johnson. In very limited action, Gotay wound up hitting .235 while only coming to the plate 102 times.

So it comes as no surprise that the Braves let go of Gotay. Make no mistake, he is a flawed player who has major limitations. So why take a shot on him? Because second base is a tough position to fill and finding a young second baseman, is nearly impossible. Who knows? Maybe Gotay will never amount to much defensively and maybe left handed pitching will continue to serve as his kryptonite, but his ability to hit right handed pitching well should force teams to give Gotay a look. AL teams should be especially interested because the DH rule adds value to what Gotay can bring to the table. Teams like the Orioles, Athletics, Tigers, and Indians should all take a long look into signing Gotay. At worst, Gotay can be a pinch hitter against right handed pitching and provide quality depth to a organization. At best, he could be a starting second baseman in this league. General Managers should clamor to sign a guy like Gotay: The risk is low while the reward is very high. It doesn't getter much better than that, huh?

Saturday, October 25, 2008


How do you make a Met fan cringe? Thanks to this insightful suggestion by Jon Heyman, we now know how.


"The Mets, Rangers and Indians are believed to be three teams looking to sign star Rockies closer Brian Fuentes, who had a special season in his walk year. (And he will walk, as the Rockies can't afford him.)
The Cardinals are another team that could badly use the 33-year-old Fuentes. But the Mets are seen by some as the favorite to sign him. The Mets are badly in need of a shutdown closer and view Francisco Rodriguez's asking price of $75 million over five years as too steep considering their $11 million commitment to injured closer Billy Wagner.
Fuentes' take is expected to be along the lines of $36 million over three years, a relative bargain."

Whooaa there Jonny. Yes, the Mets need a shutdown closer as much as any other team in the majors. And sure, Fuentes would be a welcome addition to the Mets given the season that he had in 2008. His 1.54 road ERA signifies how good this guy can be away from Coors Field. But to think that Fuentes is a shutdown closer is a stretch. Remember, only one year ago, Fuentes was so bad as a closer down the stretch that he actually lost the job to Manny Corpas. Fuentes was great in 2008, but the term "shutdown closer" should be reserved for guys like Rivera, Nathan, Papelbon, and Lidge.

And really, is Fuentes a $12 million dollar a year player? I think not. He's a very good relief pitcher, but the only reason he's being mentioned in the same breath as K-Rod is simply because both are free agents at the end of the season. Consider that Joe Nathan receives less than $12 million per season, Lidge will receive slightly more than $12 million per season, and Mariano Rivera, perhaps the greatest closer of all time, receives $15 million per season. Again, Fuentes does not belong in the same breath as any of those guys.

So if the Mets are willing to pay Fuentes $12 million per season, then why is K-Rod for $15 million per season too much? Yes, 5 years is too many, but I'm sure any Met fan would prefer K-Rod at $15 mil, especially if the Mets are willing to go as high as $12 mil on Fuentes. I understand that the market will naturally spike the price tags on these guys, but $12 mil a season for Fuentes is ludicrous. I'd say that's about $4-$5 million more per season than I'd be willing to pay. If some other team is willing to pay that, I'd happily pass. Desperation does not equal insanity.

Then again, if his price goes down, make a push for him Omar, please.

Tale of the Tape (So Far)

Yeah sure, the World Series is tied at 1 game as the series heads back to Philly. I'm actually quite satisfied because the series has been well played and the games have been exciting so far. As a fan of neither squad, that is honestly all I can hope for...besides the Phillies losing! But one thing has stuck out to me more than any so far:
the Phillies are 1 for 28 with runners in scoring position after two games.

Think about that for a second. Now let's digest it.

-Obviously the Phillies are putting runners on base. This is good.
-Obviously the Phillies are failing to bring these runners home. Not so good.
-On the plus side, the Rays pitchers have magically turned into Houdinis. Seriously, every time they needed a big out in game 2, they got it. However, after years of Albie Lopez, Tanyon Sturtze, Doug Waechter, Hideo Nomo, Travis Harper, and Jorge Sosa; I guess they were due.

Yes folks, this is your classic postseason press job. Seen it before many times by my beloved Mets (in September nonetheless) and I know how painful it can be. If this statistic does not improve, then yes, the Phillies will lose. There is no doubt about this.

So to be quite frank, the Phillies are lucky to have split the first two games with the Rays. If it wasn't for the dynamic pitching of Cole Hamels in game 1, the Phils would probably be down 2-0. But now, with the series tied at one a piece, the Phillies need to turn Matt Garza into Dewon Brazelton and Andy Sonnestine into Victor Zambrano. Pateince fellas, remember, you can't hit a five run homer!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Free Agent at the End of the Season: Ryan Dempster

No other free agent has increased his earning potential this season than Ryan Dempster. The change in Dempster from 2007 to 2008 has been both dramatic and improbable. Dempster went from being a shaky and unreliable closer/relief pitcher to dominant and overpowering starter in just one season. Dempster's 2008 campaign was filled with accolades: all star, game 1 starter, 17 wins, and an impressive 2.96 ERA. What a great time for an all-star season! Can you say, Carl Pavano? (Note: Anyone else check out Dempster's 1998 ERA....7.08 ERA in 11 starts!)

The Case for Dempster
-Dominant stuff.
When Dempster is on, he is as good as any starting pitcher out there. Armed with a dynamite fastball and a wicked slider, Dempster managed to strike out 187 hitters in 206 innings pitched. He simply makes hitters look foolish. With stuff like that, Dempster could be a serviceable #1 or a reliable #2 for most teams.

-His age.
Even though it seems liek Dempster has been around forever, he is only 31 years old and is still in his "prime." He could be a great example of guy who has finally figured it out after entering the league at such a young age (20).

-His arm.
Yes, Dempster had Tommy John surgery back in 2003, but that could actually work in Dempster's favor. Usually guys who have a history of arm problems are looked at more cautiously by teams, but Dempster might be an exception. Take into account that before this season, Dempster had previously been a relief pitcher for the past four seasons. That means that his arm might have less wear and tear on it than other starting pitchers who have hundreds of more innings on their arm than Dempster does. His potential to remain in his prime into his mid to late thirties is higher than most pitchers because of this.

-Hard worker.
Apparently, Dempster is somewhat of a legend for his strenuous workout/running program since joining the Cubs. During spring training this year, Dempster showed up to camp in the best shape of his career and prepared his arm for the 200 IP he would accumulate as a starter. Teams have to love this type of attitude and will to want to improve.

-His head.
-On top of being a quality pitcher, Dempster is a quality person and quite hilarious. On top of doing a spot on Harry Caray and by all accounts is a wonderful teammate. Always good to add good people to the organization.

The Case Against Dempster
-Will it last?
Sure Dempster had a great season this year, but he has only had one season in his 10 year career that even comes close to matching the kind of success he had this year (2000). Dempster's career has been a pendulum-with massive highs (2008) and severe lows (1998, 2003) with some frustratingly inconsistent campaigns tricked in (2006, 2007). Was his 2008 success for real? Will Dempster's strikeout rate decline after this season? Only time will tell. Understanding Dempster's long term potential is quite difficult because he has been both a starter and a reliever.

-The walks
Dempster has never been known for his control dating all the way back to his early days with the Marlins. Before this season, Dempster's walk to strikeout rate had always been rather high and his walk rate was around (4.6/9 IP). The difference with Dempster this season was his ability to throw strikes and not try to strike everyone out. In turn, hitters made more contact and Dempster succeeded. Even with all these positives, Dempster turned in a horrible performance during game 1 of the NLDS by walking 7 hitters in just 4.2 innings. So it's clear that Dempster still has some Oliver Perez in him and teams need to be aware of it.

This year's starting pitching class is actually quite deep with Sabathia, Sheets, Lowe, and Oliver Perez; but Dempster offers something different. He is more consistent than Perez, not injury prone like Sheets, younger than Lowe, and won't cost as much as Sabathia. And too top it all off, Dempster is just as good as any of those guys when he is on his game. I expect the Cubs, Braves, Giants, Mets, Yankees, Blue Jays, and Rangers to be in on the Dempster sweepstakes. There will be no shortage of suitors. Most teams need at least one or two starters.

(4 years/$48 mil)

I admit my prediction here is rather conservative. The only thing that is holding Dempster back from much greener pastures is that he's only done this for one season. There is no doubt that teams will definitely pay for Dempster, but I bet that teams will show some (a very small amount!) fiscal restraint because of his inexperience as a starter.

With that said, his agent should look at the contracts given to:

-Jason Schmidt (3 years/$45 mil)
-Gil Meche (5 years/$55 mil)
-Kevin Millwood (5 years/$60 mil)
-Kyle Lohse (4 years/$41 mil)

Dempster could probably garner anywhere between $40-$60 mil on the open market depending on which teams get involved. Either way, Dempster has positioned himself very nicely for a huge payday after a phenomenal 2008.

SIGNED: 4 years/$52 million

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Luis Aguayo is No Longer My Homeboy

Sadly, the New York Mets announced today that third base coach Luis Aguayo would be reassigned within the organization (whatever that means) and would no longer be the team's third base coach. I quickly grew fond of Aguayo simply because of his dynamite ability to relay signs (Mets fans know what I'm talking about) and his penchant to viciously wheel runners in from third base. Seriously, there were times where I thought the dude's arm was going to fall off. Aguayo was a very fun third base coach to watch, second only to our beloved Cookie Rojas, who was famously ejected from game 4 of the 1999 NLCS and promptly shoved the umpire. Cooooookie!
I'm very happy to report that the man the Mets hired to replace Aguayo has one of the best names of all time: Razor Shines. Seriously everybody, I think I'm in love already. That's probably the coolest name I have heard since...Cookie Rojas! What is it with these Mets third base coaches and amazing names? (Side note: Cookie Rojas wife is named Candy...I kid you not)

On second though, maybe the loss of Aguayo won't be all that devastating for me. We now have the third base coach with the coolest name in all of baseball...I owe him a shot to win my heart with a fast moving wheel of a right arm.

At Least Ned Colletti is Consistent

I have to give Dodgers GM Ned Colletti for this, at least he's consistent. Colletti has historically refused to give out long term deals that could potentially kill a franchise over the long haul (except for Juan Pierre!). Instead, he chooses to give out less years with more money per season because hey, if these shorter contracts go bad (see Jason Schmidt, Andruw Jones), then the franchise will simply be paralyzed, not killed. The Dodgers have been successful with these types of contracts before (see Rafael Furcal, Brad Penny); so it comes as no surprise to me that Colletti is willing to pay Manny Ramirez the big bucks (A-Rod money) for only two or three seasons.

"Ramirez has said publicly that he is looking for a long-term deal. Sources told that the Dodgers might be willing to pay Ramirez Alex Rodriguez-type money, but only for two years."
Could you imagine if Manny Ramirez received a two year/$54 million dollar contract? I mean, wow, I know the guy is an absolute stud at the plate, but how comfortable would you be paying that much for a guy, who does not have the best track record in terms of playing hard or playing defense.

With that said, in this situation, I think the Dodgers have no choice. If the Dodgers failed to make a major push to sign Manny, they would be crucified in the media. If the Dodgers fail to sign Manny, the media will more than likely bash Colletti and upper management. They need Manny, case closed. Dodger fans need to see Manny's goofy dreadlocks and Turk Wendell like #99 wearing royal blue for the Dodgers next season. And for all my Colletti bashing, I think that this type of deal would be best for both sides. Manny gets his money while the Dodgers get their superstar and a major draw to the ballpark.

If the Dodgers are going to make a real hard push for Manny, this is the way to do it. Be aware though, if some team overwhelms Manny with a 4 or 5 year deal for $100-$125 mil, then pass. It's not worth it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Yellow Submarine

Sitting somewhere deep in the Rays bullpen lies a relief pitcher who could be the most vital player on the Rays entire roster. He is half man, half submarine, and is absolutely lethal against right handed hitters. Jayson Werth and Pat Burrell, you both are on notice. I hope you both have fun hitting against a pitcher, who almost underhands the ball to home plate as his right arm swings down to the dirt of mound. Ahhh, the beauty of a 77 MPH fastball, submarine style. Of course, the man I'm talking about is Chad Bradford.

Bradford, who was acquired by the Rays from the Orioles in August, is not a household name. Most casual fans have never heard of him except as "that guy who throws funny." However, there is no one else I would want on the mound against a righty in a big spot if I am the Rays. Sure Dan Wheeler has been good this season and yes, Grant Balfour does throw magnificently hard, but neither of these guys can do what Bradford does. I know because I've watched it.

When Bradford was a Met in 2006, he was part of the specialist twin towers featuring himself and lefty specialist Pedro Feliciano. Bradford quickly became a favorite of Mets manager Willie Randolph and Mets fans alike because of his unique throwing style and dominance against right handed hitters. Once the postseason rolled around, Bradford's role changed from a middle reliever to one of the first guys out of the pen. Willie Randolph had that much faith in Bradford. Against the Cardinals in the NLCS, Bradford became Mr. Reliable out of the pen by routinely getting Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, David Eckstein, and Yadier Molina out. These guys had no shot against the submarine styles of Chad Bradford. Unfortunately for me, Bradford left the Mets after the 2006 season and quite honestly, my life, and the Mets, have never been the same.

So that's the Bradford I knew. The submariner will go down as one of my favorite relievers of all time and one of the most dependable and reliable against righties. Rays fans, enjoy him while you can. Enjoy watching Bradford submarine a ball over to first base like he did in game 6 of the ALCS. Enjoy watching righties look downright terrible against him. Mr. Maddon, Bradford is golden in a big spot, put him in...have faith. Rays fans will learn to love him like I did.

And trust me, he will come up big in the World Series. Just watch.

Prediction Time!

Rays in 6
MVP: Scott Kazmir (thanks to the baseball Gods)
Likely Goat: Brett Myers

Here's why: The Phillies offense is dynamic and powerful, but the Rays have the pitching and pitching depth to match the Phillies lineup. I love the fact that the Rays have three lefties out of the pen to face Utley and Howard; that is a huge advantage. I still don't trust Brad Lidge in a big spot even though he's proved me wrong all season. I see a long Cliff Floyd homer in Brad Lidge's future. It comes down to pitching and defense, which are Rays strengths. Oh yeah, and the David Price coming out party will continue.

The Scott Kazmir Punch in the Gut

Sometime tonight, probably around 8:07 PM, I will be sitting in front of my TV mercifully listening to Joe Buck and Tim McCarver call Game 1 of the World Series. Buck and McCarver are a painful announcing team to listen too and have made me a big fan of the mute button, but that's not why I'm in pain tonight.

Sometime tonight, probably around 8:21, after Cole Hamels pitches a 1-2-3 top of the first inning, I will be sitting in front of my TV cursing out the Phis. I still cannot believe that the Phillies are in the World Series, while my Mets, who I STILL think were the better team, are home sitting on the couch probably watching FrankTV (thanks TBS). It's not that the Phillies haven't played better than the Mets, but as a fan, I still cannot fathom that the Phillies have made it this far. I feel like a Yankee fan, circa 2004. And to be quite honest, this sucks. But even so, that's not why I'm in pain tonight.

Yes I will be in pain tonight because back in 2004, then Mets GM Jim Duquette decided to trade away future stud SP Scott Kazmir for the carcase known as Victor Zambrano. Duquette apparently thought that young left handed pitchers who throw in the mid nineties with pinpoint control were not worth holding onto because of character concerns and his lack of height. This trade reeked of terrible from the start and left me bordering on insanity. Fast forward to tonight, when Rays ace Scott Kazmir will take the hill against a Phillies lineup that is loaded with left handed bats. Even though Kazmir has been an all-star and the best pitcher on the Rays for the past three seasons, this game, this series will serve to be his coming out party.

Kazmir will dominate tonight. The electric stuff that has been missing over the past few weeks will magically come back. I just know it, the baseball Gods will continue to mock Mets fans by teasing us with what could have been. Kazmir will make Chase Utley and Ryan Howard look foolish while striking out somewhere between 5-8 over 6 innings. The nation will be introduced to a little guy who could very well determine how far the Rays go in the playoffs. The world will be introduced to a budding star in a crappy market, who is littered with talent and has all the potential in the world to become a great pitcher.

Every time I watch a Phillie swing through a Kazmir fastball, every time I watch a Phillie hitter look foolish because of the devastating Kazmir offspeed stuff, the pit in the bottom of my stomach will grow a little bit deeper. For a team that missed the playoffs on game 162 two years in a row, this guy could have been the Mets difference maker. Hell, he would have been our difference maker. Instead of an aging Pedro Martinez, there could have been Kazmir. Instead of an inexperienced Jonathan Niese or Philip Humber, there could have been Kazmir. Could you imagine a rotation of Kazmir, Santana, Pelfrey, Maine, and Perez? Dominant!

I am indeed very bitter.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New Team on Board!

Jorge Says No! is proud to announce that we have joined, which is one of the best sports blog networks on the web. I encourage everybody to check this site out because the content is fantastic and unique.

This is from their website:

Sports Blog Net is currently built on the principal of making all blogs in the network as successful as possible. Both in terms of money and traffic. We want sports fans to Discover, Read, Write, and Build.

Our goals are to get all the small blogs out to the masses, give new bloggers the ability to get the exposure they are looking for, and give sports fans a destination that they want to visit everyday.

I believe that this site could be a tremendous resource for all of the readers out there, so again, I highly encourage you to stop by. They are very interested in hearing your feedback.


Monday, October 20, 2008

So Whose Next?

Watching the Rockies and the Rays make the World Series in consecutive seasons has been thrilling for me. As a fan, these teams seem to enjoy winning more because with every victory they are defying the odds by achieving something that no one, outside of the team, thought was humanly possible. In this era of big spending and outrageous contracts, the Rockies and Rays became competitive out of nowhere thanks to player development and shrewd trades. That's the only way for small/mid market teams to compete against the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mets. A small market team's payroll is between normally between $40-$60 million dollars while a mid market team has a payroll closer to $80 million while the big guys have payrolls well above triple digits with seemingly no end in sight. The success of small market teams is not only refreshing for the fans, but it is refreshing for baseball economics, which are by nature absolutely ridiculous.

The key is too spend money on player development rather than the absurd contracts given to free agents. The only problem is that this process can take a long time because breaking into the majors is hard work and a constant struggle.

Looking ahead to 2009, I can only wonder what small/mid market team will sprint out of nowhere to capture not only my heart, but an entire fan base. No one saw the rise of the Rockies or Rays coming, which made their success even more enjoyable for their respective long suffering fan bases. The odds are stacked against these teams to compete year after year with the big spending teams, but if the Twins and Athletics have taught us anything, it can be done.

So who will be the next small/mid market team to succeed? Your guess is as good as mine. But if I were too guess, I would have to say the Marlins. The NL East is very weak and the Fish have tremendous leadership that knows exactly what its doing. To squeeze 84 wins out of a $20 million dollar payroll is simply fantastic. Hanley Ramirez is obviously a huge plus here. Plus, the Marlins have great offseason trade chips in Dan Uggla, Mike Jacobs, and even Josh Willingham, all of whom can potentially bring back either younger players or pitching in return.

I'd like to see which small/mid market team (payroll less than $80 mil) you all feel has the best chance to win in 2009. Please leave your response in the comment section and explain why!

Final Thoughts: 2008 ALCS

-In the end, the Rays ultimately won this series because of their depth. The Rays ability to bring in five or six quality relievers out of the bullpen along with major contributions from Rocco Baldelli, Willy Aybar, Andy Sonnastine, and David Price provided the perfect compliments to a fantastic core.

-The Red Sox lost this series because they became the 2008 Mets. Sure Dustin Pedroia, Jason Bay, Coco Crisp, Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima and Kevin Youkilis had great series, but who else rose to the occasion? No one. Guys who needed to be big in this series (David Ortiz, Jason Varitek, Mark Kotsay) went a combined 12 for 76 with only 2 homers and 5 RBI. The Red Sox had too many holes in their lineup. It is difficult to win with only six or seven guys performing well.

-I understand why Terry Francona did not pinch hit for Jason Varitek in the ninth inning. But not pinch hitting for Varitek in the top of the seventh was simply stupid. With two guys on and two outs, Francona elected to let the Captain hit even though he had only one hit during the entire series. What justification could Francona make? Varitek only hit .201 against righties during the regular season and did not have a hit off of a right handed pitcher during the entire ALCS. Furthermore, Francona had both Ellsbury and Lowrie on the bench at that moment. Yes both guys have looked terrible so far in the ALCS (especially Ellsbury), but both have been major statistical upgrades over Varitek against right handed pitching. What's the rationale here? Did Francona not want to upset Varitek by taking him out of such a big game? Or perhaps, did Francona not want his young guys in such a big spot? I would lean towards the latter, but any explanation is poor in this situation.

-Series MVP Matt Garza was phenomenal. After Dustin Pedroia homered in the first inning, Garza remained in control throughout the entire game by impressively harnessing his emotions to deliver the best fastballs I've seen from him all season. The Red Sox looked terrible at the plate against Garza most of the night. It would've been very interesting to see how long Maddon stayed with Garza if Bartlett had not made that error in the top of the eighth.
-Even though the Rays won, Joe Maddon's bullpen management remains as suspect as ever. For some reason, Dan Wheeler has gone from closer to middle reliever over the course of five playoff games. How did this happen? I haven't the slightest clue. Since the Rays do not have the services of Troy Percival, Wheeler has assumed the closer's role. Or so I thought. In both game 5 and game 7, Madddon brought Wheeler in before the ninth inning when the Rays needed to get outs. While I might make moves like this in Strat-O-Matic, eventually this sort of bullpen management will come back to bite the Rays in the butt. Relievers need definition.

-With that said, definition can be thrown out the window if David Price is on. Price has the composure of a 10 year veteran and the stuff of a young CC Sabathia. Great fastball location to go along with a hard, fast, biting slider that eats up lefties and righties alike. That dude has some dominant stuff and loves to yell into his glove. Does it get any better than that?

-Did anyone else start chanting Alex Gonzalez to their TV after Jason Bartlett made an error in the 8th inning? I sure did.

-Who else loved the potential theifdom of Akinori Iwamura at the end of the Rays victory? Iwamura fielded the pennant clinching ground ball and after he stepped on second base, he proceeded to shove the ball into his back pocket before entering the dog pile. Bold move sir, I hope you still have the ball though.

-Carl Crawford's leap onto the top of the dogpile was epic. Crawford sprints in from left field feverishly shaking his wrist before he leaps over the entire dog pile to gracefully land on top of the team. Easily my favorite moment of the night.
(Photo: AP)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Coco Crisp-Jacoby Ellsbury Shuffle

Anyone remember the 2007 playoffs when Jacoby Ellsbury burst onto the scene with his speed, defense, and good looks to propel the Red Sox to a World Series victory? Ellsbury seemed to be unstoppable at the time and came through with huge plays-both offensively and defensively. Ellsbury was not the Red Sox starting outfielder for most of the 2007 season, but his hot play forced manager Terry Francona to play Ellsbury over former starter Coco Crisp, who was relegated to fourth outfielder. Crisp asked to be traded in the offseason, but GM Theo Epstein could not find a suitable taker.

Fast forward to 2008. Jacoby Ellsbury has been the Red Sox starting CF for the entire season while Crisp's play has fluctuated based on injuries and rest. Crisp's only notable moment this season was his matrix-esque dodging of a James Shields punch. Needless to say, it was not a very good season for Crisp. However, during the postseason, Jacoby Ellsbury has suddenly become colder than Jason Varitek by not recording a hit in his 14 postseason at bats. Ellsbury's slump has opened the door for Coco Crisp to regain his starting OF spot. And fortunately for the Red Sox, Crisp has thrived so far by hitting .500 in 16 postseason ABs including a huge hit off of Dan Wheeler in game 5 of the ALCS.

In part because of Crisp's hot streak, the Red Sox are now one game away from the World Series. Kudos to GM Theo Epstein for not trading Crisp. Depth is key to the success of any baseball team. It's funny how the Ellsbury and Crisp's roles have reversed from 2007 to 2008. With that said, Ellsbury is still the long term starter on this team and Crisp will probably ask to be traded again at the end of this season.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sorry for Sveum

Does anybody understand the Brewers' thinking? After 150 games this season, the Brewers fired manager Ned Yost after the team struggled mightily in September. Yost's replacement, Dale Sveum, was seen as a calming influence who could guide the team into the playoffs. Sveum led the Brewers to only a 7-5 record, but the Brewers still made the playoffs because the Mets collapsed...yet again.

In the playoffs, the Brewers looked outmatched against the Phillies, who used their dynamic offense to defeat the struggling Brewers pitching. Ben Sheets was injured. Yovani Gallardo had just came back from a year long stint on the DL. And CC Sabathia looked tired after pitching on three days rest three times in a row to propel the Brewers to the playoffs. None of that was Sveum's fault. To me, the only questionable move Sveum made was starting Jeff Suppan in game 4. But its easy to play Monday morning quarterback when a team is eliminated.

So what's really going on here? Sveum did not lead the Brewers to the World Series, but he did an admirable job leading the fading Brewers to the playoffs. It's hard to believe that the Brewers had enough faith in Sveum down the stretch of the season, but they don't even have enough confidence in him to give him a chance at the job. Sveum has been a rising star in the coaching ranks for several years, so it is rather shocking that the Brewers denied him this opportunity. Seriously, who is a better candidate than Sveum? Some retread manager (Terry Collins)? To me, the candidate pool is not all that strong this offseason and unless the Brewers pay big bucks to well known manager (Bobby Valentine), how can they justify upgrading their manager from Sveum or even Yost?

I'm not sure if there was anything that Sveum did wrong in the eyes of the Brewers higher ups, but higher management clearly jumped off the Sveum bandwagon very quickly, which to me, is unfortunate given his small sample size. I would love to see Sveum coaching on Jerry Manuel's staff next season.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Why Wheeler?

Somehow, the Red Sox found a way to win game 5of the ALCS, a game that they had no business winning. Down 7-0, the Red Sox methodically came back against the AL's best bullpen to stun the Rays and the baseball community. And you know what, the Sox owe it all to Joe Maddon...and here's why.

After Big Papi took Grant Balfour deep to make the score 7-4, Maddon decided to bring in Dan Wheeler, his closer, to face Kevin Youkilis in with two outs in the sixth inning. I understand bringing out Grant Balfour, who has been terrible this series, but to bring in his closer in the seventh inning? And did I mention that there was no one on base? What gives? Did Maddon really plan on having his closer go 2.1 innings tonight after pitching 3 innings in game 2? The game was not on the line here, but Maddon managed like an inexperienced, panicked manager.

Mr. Maddon, just because a playoff game is tight does not mean that you have to manage any differently that you have during the regular season. What ever happened to Chad Bradford? Isn't he the righty specialist who is supposed to come in during the middle innings? Bradford would have been a better selection here because there was no one on base and also, that's his role. Role definition is important, yet overrated, in baseball right now, but using Wheeler this early threw his bullpen out of whack and ultimately cost the Rays the game.

Final thought, if the Rays score in the top of the ninth, who would the Rays have turned to close out the game? Would it have been Howell, who has only 3 saves in his career? Or how about flame throwing lefty David Price, who has just arrived in majors a month ago? Bradford couldn't have been an option here because he cannot get lefties out. If the 2008 Mets have shown me anything, definition is important in the bullpen and Maddon blew it by not sticking to the game plan.

Let's hope Maddon and the Rays can turn it around in game 6. Or else my remote will be on notice for a launch threw the TV.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Don't Trade Peavy

Just last season, the Padres signed stud SP Jake Peavy to a reasonable 3 year/$52 million dollar extension after Peavy unanimously won the NL CY Young award. However, just a year later, the Padres are now apparently trying their best to trade Peavy in an effort to maximize his value. Gm Kevin Towers apparently saw the Orioles bounty for Erik Bedard last season and is trying to move fast in order to upgrade the Padres horrific offense. To me, trading Peavy would be a mistake, unless they received a A++++++ stud position player in return. While the temptation to move Peavy will be high, Towers has to understand that Peavy is not Johan Santana or Erik Bedard. Peavy is a wonderful person and teammate who wants to stay in San Diego. He has reiterated that over and over again.

Towers can try to justify moving Peavy by saying that the Padres, who lost 99 games this season, cannot afford to keep Peavy because they want to rebuild, but I say thats a load of bull. Before 2008, the Padres made the playoffs for two consecutive seasons and seemed to be a team on the rise entering this season. This team still has the makings of a contender and to top it all off, they play in a ballpark that is very pitcher friendly. Behind Peavy and SP Chris Young, the Padres should have a great 1-2 punch, especially at PETCO park.

Jake Peavy is a flat out dominant ace. He doesn't just produce quality starts, he produces seasons with an ERA under three like its clockwork. Guys like that are few and far between. Furthermore, the contract Peavy signed is very team friendly! Given the fact that Peavy could/should have signed a mega deal like Johan Santana, the Padres should be grateful that Peavy re-upped with them at such a great price. I also understand that his contract could be a major selling point because the contract is so good. The Padres could make a killing on Peavy. Towers is probably looking at 3 premium level players (2 major league ready) in addition to whatever else he wants. That kind of deal doesn't come around that often either.

But please Mr. Towers, the Padres had one bad season. The problem here is not the pitching, the problem is instead about your inability to spend some money developing quality hitters or signing big bats. Move on from Trevor Hoffman. Move on from Brian Giles. That's $16.5 mil right there to spend. Take a chance on a free agent bat this season (Furcal? Hudson?) and start spending some money in the draft on quality bats. That's the problem here. And you know what, the Padres have a legitimate chance to compete next season...with Peavy. I would take my chances with Peavy and Young in a short playoff series...wouldn't you? Trading Peavy would be a sign to the fan base that a long, unnecessary rebuilding effort is underway, which would be tragic.

The Genius of Pat Gillick

In the next few days, I expect to see many more articles like this one praising the work of Phillies GM Pat Gillick. The Phillies have had a tremendous season and the shrewd moves made by Gillick have been a complementary reason why the Phillies won the pennant for the first time since 1993. Gillick's genius is not simply that he was able to acquire big name players, but it's his ability to to recognize the hand he is dealt and work around that.

When Ed Wade was fired as Phillies GM at the end of 2005, he left the Phillies with a solid core that would lead to their eventual pennant. Just take a look at these names: Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell, Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Ryan Madson, Shane Victorino, and Carlos Ruiz were all acquired in some form by Wade. Once Gillick came aboard in November 2005, the nucleus for a great team was already in place, the hard part was finding spare parts to fill in the Phillies perceived weaknesses. Gillick has done a great job addressing those needs (pitching/right field/depth) through a series of moves:

1. Signing JC Romero
People forget just how bad the Phillies bullpen was at points during the 2007 season. Closer Tom Gordon was battling through injuries and poor performance and SP Brett Myers was forced into the bullpen to try and stabilize the backend. However, it was Gillick's acquisition of Romero that really saved the Phillies in 2007. Gillick signed Romero after he was cut by the Red Sox, surely hoping and praying that Romero would recapture his 2005 form. Luckily for Gillick, Romero has been spectacular for the Phillies in 2007 and 2008. Lefties have no shot against Romero and most importantly, Romero does not give up homeruns (only 5 this season). What a find.

2. Trading for Brad Lidge
This was the deal the propelled the Phillies to the NL Pennant this year. There is no doubt in my mind. Lidge was the main difference between the Phillies and the Mets and has been absolutely dominant so far in the postseason. Gillick acquired Lidge for some spare parts (Michael Bourn, Mike Costanzo, Geoff Geary) because of lingering questions about Lidge's ability to pitch under pressure. The post Albert Pujols 2005 NLCS moonshot Lidge had scared away many teams, but for some reason, Gillick was willing to take a chance on Lidge. And boy has that paid off. Lidge has yet to blow a save this season while dominating hitters to the tune of a 1.95 ERA this season. Lidge basically turned Phillies' games into 8 inning games...a la Mariano Rivera.

3. Trading for and signing Jaime Moyer
What an underrated move this has turned out to be. I remember laughing when the Phillies acquired Moyer in 2006 thinking "this guy is washed up." And yes, I laughed even harder when the Phillies gave Moyer a 2 year extension after the 2006 season think that, "there is no way this Grandpa will survive in that bandbox." Wow, was I wrong. Moyer's ability to locate his pitches has made up for his non-existent velocity and has made him one of the best pitchers in the NL this season. Moyer, at 45, had a 3.71 ERA this season pitching in one of the smallest ballparks in the NL. That's remarkable. Give the man his due.

4. Signing Jayson Werth
Everybody knew that Jayson Werth was immensely talented, but no one believed that he could avoid getting injured. Werth never seemed to stay healthy, but Gillick took a flier on Werth hoping that he would benefit from the Phillies small ballpark and platooning against lefties. What a find Werth has been, often hitting in between the two left handed studs in the Phillies lineup-Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Werth absolutely kills left handed pitching (.303 BA, 16 HR), which is exactly what the Phillies need. Furthermore, he has provided the consistent punch in the middle of the lineup that Pat Burrell has been able to maintain throughout 2008. Tremendous player, tremendous find.

5. Spares
The real genius of Gillick is evident here. Be honest, how many of you would have been able to identify the names Greg Dobbs, Eric Bruntlett, Scott Eyre, or Matt Stairs before the season began? Not too many of us. Each of these guys fills a role for Phillies and has made an impact at some point during the season. The Phillies are a deep, deep team that can compete with any AL team.

-More GMs need to look at the strategy of Pat Gillick: acquire guys at low points, and depth, depth, depth. Let's contrast the Mets and Phillies for a second. The Mets had five guys have fantastic seasons and struggled to find consistency amongst the remaining 20 players. But the Phillies were able to overcome injuries (Jimmy Rollins, Brad Lidge) and inconsistency (Kyle Kendrick, Pat Burrell, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley) because of the depth that Gillick accumulated. It is impossible to win a pennant with only a handful of primary contributors in baseball, the entire roster (1-25 needs to be strong) and that's where the Phillies have succeeded. Omar Minaya needs to do a better job identifying complementary players to go along with his phenomenal core. Take notes from Gillick, Omar.

Phillies Win the Pennant

And I feel sick. Not quite up there with watching the Yankees make the World Series in 1999 and definitely not nearly as bad as watching the Yankees win on OUR field in 2000. But this hurts.

The baseball Gods are sticking a dagger through my Orange and Blue heart. And it hurts, alot. Not just because the Phillies won the pennant, but because I don't think that the Phillies were a better team than the Mets. In fact, I would still take the Mets over the Phillies in a seven game series (Yes, I am a homer!) Ughhh, I hate it.

At this point I am too bogged down with schoolwork and too amped on caffeine to say anything truly insightful, so I'll leave you on this.

Go Rays.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Struggling Organization: Texas Rangers

One of the most vivid memories of my childhood was watching the Rangers and Yankees play in the ALDS every season. The Rangers were a fun team to watch because of their ridiculous lineup anchored by Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez, and Rafael Palmiero (enter steroids joke here). Not too mention that they had two guys: Rick Helling and Aaron Sele, who had huuuuuuuuuuuge breaking curveballs that seemed to to float up to the sky before furiously spinning back over the plate for a strike. How cool is that? Not just one guy, but two. That's like having two Barry Zitos!

I would always get really excited about the Rangers for some reason. I would convince myself that this was going to be the year that they beat the Yankees behind those big bats and maybe, just maybe, they wouldn't crumble under the bright lights of Yankee Stadium. But my prayers were never answered. The Rangers were abused by the Yankees year after year because the Yankees' pitching would dominate the Rangers bats. And as I'm sure your aware, the Rangers pitching was terrible. No pitching+shut down offense=LOSERS!

And you know what's funny? The Rangers still have no pitching. They remain entertaining because of the offensive studs: Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, and Josh Hamilton just to name a few. But they still cannot pitch. I'll put it to you this way, you know your in trouble when no one in your starting rotation has an ERA under 4.50. Yikes.

Free Agents
Terrible, terrible, terrible. Those are the only words I can use to describe the $93 million dollars the Rangers have invested in horrible starters; namely Kevin Millwood and Vincente Padilla. Sure both of these guys have had good careers, but the Rangers paid both of them significantly more than either was worth. Kevin Millwood has been up and down throughout his career, which makes the $60 million dollar contract given to him after a stellar 2005 season look foolish. Doesn't anyone look at the trends? Millwood has been unable to sustain dominance from year to year...what made the Rangers think that he could be an ace? And as for Padilla, when the Rangers traded for him in 2006, that was a good move simply because they gave up almost nothing for him. But to give him $33 million dollars over three years? Again, doesn't anyone look at the trends? Padilla's ERA has been on the rise since 2004 and he has been no better than a #4 starter. What did the Rangers see in him?

(On second thought, maybe the Rangers have to overpay pitcher because no one wants to pitch in Arlington? Hmmmm...that makes sense. If that's the case, then why did the Rangers trade away homegrown pitching talent? Ugggg, so many questions.)

People can claim all they want that GM Jon Daniels is one of the rising stars in the world of baseball executives, but his growing pains were disastrous for the Rangers. Back in 2005, Daniels traded three players for SP Adam Eaton, a flyball pitcher who had never produced an ERA under 4 in his career. For some reason, Daniels thought that Eaton would perform well in Arlington, where homers are hit at a crazy high pace. Did we mention that Eaton was a free agent at the end of the season as well? Everything about this deal reeked of stinker. And that's before you realize that Eaton missed half the season with a finger problem and only pitched 65 IP in his Rangers career. Oh yes, the three players acquired for Eaton: OF Terrmel Sledge, SP Chris Young, and 1B Adrian Gonzalez. Ouch. Two all stars for 65 IP of crap. Nice work Jonny boy.

And then to top it all off, in 2006, Daniels traded for an alleged stud SP named Brandon McCarthy, who was one of the White Sox top prospects. McCarthy was armed with a beautiful changeup and phenomenal control was thought to have been ready to join the Rangers rotation in 2007. Daniels jumped at the chance to pick up a quality, young starting pitcher who could produce immediately. However, McCarthy's two years in Texas have been dreadful. He has dealt with more injuries than Cliff Floyd (circa 2006) and has yet to develop into a consistent starting pitcher. Oh yeah, can anyone remember the name of the guy who was traded for McCarthy. If you guessed SP John Danks you would be correct! Danks was the Rangers top prospect, but Daniels believed that Danks would not be ready for a few more seasons. That was a miscalculation: Danks had a superb 2008 campaign and is looking like one of the top lefties in the AL. Oooops.

And I know Rangers fans are clamoring for me to mention the trade that brought Josh Hamilton to Texas. Sure Hamilton has been great for the Rangers and looks like the second coming of God at the plate, but once again, the Rangers gave up a quality pitcher. This time around they gave up Edinson Volquez, who dominated the NL this season in a ballpark fit for a little league team. That's impressive. It's hard for me to harp on this trade considering how good Hamilton has been, but Volquez is just another example of a young starting pitcher who the Rangers have traded away. The problem is not only with developing pitchers, but there is a fundamental problem in the front office deciding who should stay and who should go.

Perhaps the best trade of the Daniels era was the Mark Teixeira trade. Daniels knew that the Rangers had a very small chance of signing Tex long term so he cut his losses when Teixeira's value was at its peak. In July 2007, Daniels moved Teixeira to the Atlanta Braves for SS Elvis Andrus, C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, SP Matt Harrison, and SP Neftali Felix. Andrus, 19, looks to be the real deal at SS while Saltalamacchia has tremendous potential behind the plate. If the Rangers can get anything out of Harrison and Felix, that will be a bonus. Elvis Andrus has the potential to be something special and the Rangers are lucky they got their hands on him.

The Eric Gagne trade was another heist by Daniels. Gagne, who was a free agent at the end of the 2007 season, was not going to re-sign with the Rangers at the end of the season. Daniels knew this, but he got lucky: the bullpen trade market was terrible and teams were willing to go above and beyond to add the missing piece to their bullpen. Ultimately, the Red Sox pulled the trigger on a deal for Gagne in which they sent OF David Murphy, OF Engel Beltre, and Sp Kason Gabbard to the Rangers. Little did the Red Sox know that Gagne would stink down the stretch for the Sox (GAG-ME) and that Murphy would shine as the Rangers regular left fielder in 2008. This dude plays hard and is a total gamer. Love his style. In addition, Beltre has developed into one of the Rangers' top prospects because of his raw talent and power. If he develops, this will be a major coup for the Rangers.

The Rangers recent drafts have been rather interesting for me to look at. They have drafted some quality players (Thomas Diamond, Eric Hurley, John Mayberry, Taylor Teagarden), but none of those guys have had any real impact in the majors for various reasons. Diamond has dealt with many injuries with Mayberry and Teagarden seem to have found themselves this season in the minors. It is time for these guys to start stepping up and produce with the big club. The hope for the future lies in the right arms of Michael Main and Blake Beaven who are your classic flame throwing Texans. Jon Daniels should say his lucky prayers every night that these guys stay healthy. Don't move them JD, please.

With the said, the Rangers have had recent success with 1B Chris Davis, whose power looks like a combination of Kevin Mass/Mo Vaughn/Mark McGwire. Lemme say this, dude has phenomenal potential and could be the next 45-55 HR guy. He's that good. For some reason, in 2003, 2B Ian Kinsler fell to the Rangers in the 17th round. Since then, all Kinsler has done is hit at every level and develop himself into one of the premier second baseman in the league. Very very good pick.

*Until the Rangers develop some quality arms of their own, they will continue to struggle to compete. Pitching is the name of the game and it is impossible to compete when your team ERA is above 5.30. Developing pitchers will be the key to any future success.
Pitching, pitching, pitching.

(Final thought: Let's hope team president Nolan Ryan knows what he's doing. I think he's got the right idea changing the culture with the Ranger's pitchers. And I am all in favor of no pitch counts! Wooooo! Go get 'em Nolan!)

The Sojo Effect

It's becoming brutally obvious to me that God is not a Mets fan. Ok fine, we get eliminated AGAIN on the last day of the season is cruel, heartbreaking fashion that nearly sends thousands of fans into local emergency rooms because their poor hearts can't take it anymore. You know what, we (and me!) can take that. We've done it before, and trust me, there will be plenty more chances for the Mets to break my heart into pieces followed by a collective team effort in spitting on it. I know that. I accept that. It's part of what being a Mets fan is all about.

But what I didn't think would ever happen is actually pretty damn close to happening: the Phillies are one game away from the World Series. Yes, it's the same Phillies that I said could never win a World Series because of their lack of starting pitching. Yes, it's the same Phillies who I said could never win a World Series because of their ridiculously small ballpark. But you know what, I'm okay with this. Baseball is unpredictable; and sometimes, it hurts.

But you know what, having Matt Stairs hit the game winning homer last night was like a double spit on my already depleted and drenched heart (imagine that). Because quite simply, Stairs is a scrub, who had a nice career, but has never done anything meaningful in the postseason, ever. If I'm going to get beat, let's not make it by the 25th man on the bench. Make it Utley, Rollins, Howard, or even Burrell...I dont care. Just please, the Phillies winning is bad enough. Do you have to rub it in???

(Note: I know what I just wrote goes against everything that Managers should be thinking on the bench. Of course you would rather get beat by Stairs instead of Ryan Howard...Howard is 100 times more dangerous. But folks, as a fan, watching a stiff beat you is like getting stabbed in the heart...and slowly watching the perpetrator twist it mercifully through. I would know this because I sat in the upper deck of Shea Stadium for game 5 of the World Series. We got beat by Luis f$($*ng Sojo. That kills me to this day)
I think most fans would agree with me: getting beat by a star is less painful than getting beat by a old bench player with diminished bat speed.

So as I watched Stairs' homer sail over the fence, I muttered a few profanities before turning the TV off. I couldn't take it anymore, my feeble heart had enough. It was like Sojo all over again. Only this time it wasn't a slow, pewny ground ball through the middle of the infield, instead it was a long majestic homer that seemed to travel to Pluto. Either way, same effect, I was crushed.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Part V: NL Central Amnesty

Jorge Says No! introduced amnesty earlier and we are happy to present to you our NL Central picks. Which contract would your team want to waive at the end of this season? Lets take a look:

There is only one logical choice here: RF Kosuke Fukudome. Fukudome made a name for himself early in the season through his clutch hitting, ability to get on base, and his quality at bats. Cubs fans were confident that Fukudome was the real deal and in turn would be the left handed hitter that they needed. However, Fukudome fell off dramatically in the second half to the tune of a .217 batting average and a pathetic 3 HRs. Fukudome no longer had quality at bats as he seemed to consistently flail at the ball. The Cubs would be better off cutting their losses instead of hoping for a massive turnaround.

Back in 2006, there was no one on the Cardinals staff that I feared more than Chris Carpenter. Here was a guy who had battled through so many injuries to become one of the most dominant pitchers in the NL. With a huge, dramatic curveball and pinpoint command of his 91-94 MPH fastball, Carpenter seemed to be on the fast track to stardom. Before the 2007 season, the Cardinals gave him $65 mil over 5 years thinking that they had just signed their ace long term. However, Carpenter has only started 4 games since he signed the big contract because of Tommy John surgery and shoulder problems. the chances that he makes it back to his dominant form in unlikely.

Again, the choice is clear. SP Jeff Suppan parlayed two good seasons and a phenomenal playoff performance into a 4 year/$42 million dollar contract, which is about $20 million more than he deserves. Suppan has below average stuff and has been hit hard even in the national league. In his first two seasons with the Brewers, Suppan has delivered ERAs of 4.62 and 4.96 while producing only 22 wins. And to top it all off, Suppan rarely strikes out hitters, which is a severe hindrance given the porous Brewer's defense. The Brewers would be grateful to be rid of Suppan so they could pursue big C.C.

SP Bronson Arroyo and his 2 year/$25 million dollar contract are tempting here, but Arroyo is serviceable for the Reds. My choice here is RP Francisco Cordero. Yes, the Reds signed Cordero only last season, and yes, Cordero did not have a bad season in 2008. But the facts are simple, it is stupid for a mid market team, who is far away from competing to be paying a closer $10 million dollars a season. That money could be better spent investing in young talent and specifically, pitching!

If SS Jack Wilson is not traded this offseason, then he would be a splendid choice for the Pirates. Wilson is a good player, who plays solid defense and hits for average, but should not be making anywhere near $7 million dollars. Wilson has struggled to maintain a solid OBP throughout his career and offers nothing spectacular to the table. He would be a good fit for a better team (Blue Jays), but the Pirates would benefit by cutting ties with him.

Surprisingly, there is no one here who immediately jumps out at you. Miguel Tejada has proven to be a solid regular even though his skills are on the decline while Carlos Lee has been a force in the middle of the lineup during his tenure as an Astro. Sure Lee doesn't deserve the $100 million contract the Astros gave him, but his bat is too important for the Astros to lose. Also keep in mind that the Astros have very few young players who are close to playing in the big leagues right now, so any amnesty casualty would probably be filled by a veteran/stopgap/AAAA player. Amnesty is not really an option here.
(Photo: Sports Illustated)

<span class=