Thursday, October 29, 2009

Should the Braves Trade Javier Vazquez?

With word coming down yesterday that the Braves and Tim Hudson have come to terms on a contract extension, the Braves officially have a surplus of starting pitching. In addition to Hudson, the Braves have Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami, and Javier Vazquez. Six starters for five rotation spots.

Even though too much starting pitching is never a bad thing, but the Braves need a big bat in the middle of the order. With their surplus of starting pitching, the Braves can now move one of their starting pitchers in return for a big bat.

So which starting pitcher should the Braves look to move?

Jair Jurrjens: There has been some talk that Jurrjens might be the guy to move, but there is no way that the Braves should move Jurrjens.

Tommy Hanson: No chance.

Derek Lowe: The Braves would love to move Lowe and the $45 million dollars owed to him, but the chances of the Braves actually finding a taker are slim to none. And even if the Braves find a taker for Lowe, the chances of them receiving anything of value in return is next to nothing.

Kenshin Kawakami: Kawakami put together a good first season with the Braves and is signed for a very reasonable 2 year/$13 million dollar contract. While Kawakami has value, I'm not sure he can bring back the type of power hitter the Braves are looking for.
(I suggested Kawakami for Corey Hart a few weeks back)

Javier Vazquez: Vazquez is coming off the best season of his career in which he won 15 games, struck out 238 hitters, and produced an ERA of 2.87. Simply put, he was one of the best pitchers in the National League.

Obviously, Vazquez has a good deal of value. I've heard the argument that the Braves should take advantage of Vazquez's stellar 2009 season and trade him for the best power hitter they can find. However, I'm skeptical that the Braves would be able to get a significant package for Vazquez for two reasons:

1. free agency

-After the 2010 season, Vazquez will be a free agent. Is there any team out there willing to trade a potent power bat for one season of Vazquez?

2. no trade clause

-Vazquez can turn down any trade to teams in the NL West and AL West. That significantly limits the market for Vazquez and probably eliminates two teams that need an ace (Angels and Dodgers).

In short, I don't know if the Braves will be able to get a legitimate power hitter in return for Vazquez. However, if the Braves can find a taker for Vazquez's salary and receive some quality prospects in return, that'd be something GM Frank Wren should consider only if he can parlay the Vazquez savings into signing a power hitter that would help the Braves compete in 2010. It remains to be seen if the Braves are willing to take on another long term contract, but acquiring a power hitter needs to be their priority this offseason.

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Hypothetically Speaking: Cliff Lee, the Free Agent

As I watched Cliff Lee dominate the Yankees last night, two things came to my mind:

1. Cliff Lee is one of the top 5 starting pitchers in baseball
2. Too bad Cliff Lee was not a free agent after this season

Seriously, could you imagine the type of contract that Cliff Lee would be in line for? His resume is awfully impressive:

-AL CY Young award in 2008
-22 wins, 2.54 ERA in 2008
-14 wins, 3.22 ERA in 2009
-3 wins with a 0.81 ERA in the 2009 postseason (so far)
-31 years old

While I doubt Lee would come close to signing a Sabathia-esque deal, there is no doubt in my mind that Lee's contract would have exceeded the AJ Burnett contract, the John Lackey contract, and probably topped $100 million dollars.

In fact, it would not have shocked me if Lee received something like a 5 year/$110 million dollar contract if he was a free agent this offseason. Is that figure excessive?

With his performance this offseason, Lee is certainly raising his free agent stock when he hits the free agent market in 2010. Even though Lee will be 32 after the 2010 season, it's not out of the realm of possibility to think that Lee will command a five or even six year contract on the open market as long as he performs well once again in 2010.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Can the Mariners Afford to Take a Chance on Aroldis Chapman?

According to Larry Stone, the Mariners have some serious interest in the Cuban fireballer:
"The Mariners have stepped up their pursuit of free agent Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman and are asking to meet with him and his agent, Edwin Mejia,, in the coming week, according to a source.

There are no details yet on a date or location of a potential meeting by Chapman with Seattle officials. Chapman is being pursued by numerous teams, the Yankees and Red Sox most fervently, according to reports. The Yankees hosted him for Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, while Chapman is scheduled to throw a bullpen session today at Fenway Park."
No surprise there. The Mariners have to be looking for a starting pitching this offseason and Chapman might be the best long term investment on the market. But here comes the real important question: can the Mariners compete for the Yankees and Red Sox for Chapman's services?

The logical answer is no. Both of those teams have superior payrolls and should be able to trump any offer the Mariners make for Chapman. That is of course, if the Yankees or Red Sox actually want Chapman.

But there is a good reason not to count out the Mariners in the Chapman bidding: payroll flexibility. The Mariners are only committed to $40 million+ in player salaries next season (before arbitration), so they could conceivably have $40-$50 million to spend if they are going to approach their 2009 payroll of $98 million.

Granted the Mariners have lots of holes to fill this offseason and need to seriously consider giving Felix Hernandez an extension, but Chapman might be a good risk for them to take if the price is right. The Mariners have a good history of success with international players (Ichiro, Kaz Sasaki, Kenji Johjima), but obviously Chapman is a different story since he is coming from Cuba. We'll see if the Mariners international success is a selling point for Chapman.

Then again, I'm not sure how interested the Mariners are in committing a boatload of payroll into a starting pitcher after the Carlos Silva debacle...

Is it worth it for the Mariners to go after Chapman? What type of contract would be acceptable for the Mariners?

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Hypothetically Speaking: The Adrian Gonzalez Contract Extension

No one really seems to think that Adrian Gonzalez will remain with the Padres in the long term. Given the Padres financial limitations, the odds of the Padres signing Gonzalez to a contract extension seem to be slim to none.

But I'm not ready to give up just yet. Two things need to happen for the Padres and Gonzalez to have any chance of a deal:

1. Gonzalez wants to stay in San Diego and is willing to take a hometown discount
2. The Padres' payroll will increase from around $40 million in 2010 to $70-$80 million by 2012 or 2013.

If those two things don't occur, then there is virtually no chance of a deal happening.

But let's stay positive. What would it take for the Padres to keep Adrian Gonzalez long term? Let's take a look at what each side would need to make Gonzalez a Padre for the foreseeable future.


1. Buyout at least two years of Gonzalez's free agency
2. Salary structure that fits the Padres' potentially growing payroll in the coming years

The Adrian Gonzalez Camp

1. Increase salary in each 2010 and 2011

(Note: In my opinion, the Padres' best chance to extend Gonzalez is this offseason because they can offer him a salary boost in each of the next two seasons. That is something that could appeal strongly to Gonzalez, depending on how much he wants to stay in San Diego)

2. Yearly salaries that demonstrate how much the Padres value his performance

3. Contract that allows him to become a free agent again in the near future

So how about this deal for Gonzalez and the Padres?

(5 years/$70 million)

Here is the contractual breakdown:

2010: $9 million
2011: $12 million
2012: $15 million
2013: $16 million
2014: $18 million

Why it works for the Padres:

1. keep Gonzalez long term

2. Gonzalez's salary should not account for more than 20-25% of the team's total payroll at any point (as long as Moorad is willing to increase payroll to $70-$80 million in the coming years)

Why it works for Gonzalez:

1. He'd earn almost $11 million dollars in 2010 and 2011, just by agreeing to a new contract (scheduled to earn $10.25 million over the next two years, but he would earn $21 million in 2010 and 2011 with this extension)

2. Demonstrates how strongly the Padres value his abilities

3. Gonzalez would become a free agent when he is just 32 years old. He could be in line for another massive contract

4. He would be one of the highest paid first baseman in 2012-2014

Again, Gonzalez could probably do much better on the free agent market in 2011 simply by maximizing his value and allowing the big market clubs to big up his services, but this offer meets the needs of both sides.

Is this contract realistic? Should the Padres approach Gonzalez about an extension?


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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Don't Expect Any Big Moves from the Cubs this Winter

If there are any Cubs fans out there dreaming about a the Cubs making a big splash this offseason, dream on:
Except for one thing. Anyone expecting a dramatic shift in philosophy will be in for a huge letdown. The Cubs might be getting a new owner, but they figure to keep doing business the same old way. At least for the next year or two. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it could be a blind-side blow to frustrated Cubs fans craving instant change.

In fact, this might be the most dormant offseason for the Cubs during Jim Hendry's eight winters as general manager. The message you can expect Ricketts to deliver Friday will be simple: There is no magic formula or giant check that will instantly turn the Cubs into champions. He won't start throwing money around to right 101 years, worth of wrongs.

It's enough of a shock to leave Ronnie Woo Woo speechless. Ricketts has a sound baseball philosophy, but that won't soothe the masses. If you want a glimpse at how the Ricketts era will begin, study the final two years of the Tribune Company's tenure under president Crane Kenney, who remarkably retains his title even without the security blanket he enjoyed in The Tower.

When team executives meet in Arizona next month to map the future, Hendry can expect a payroll in the $143 million range—a tick above what he had last season. With so many contracts ballooning in 2010, there won't be any room for a big deal. And don't expect Ricketts to cave in at the last minute to get that big name."
According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, the Cubs already have $120 million committed in player salaries before arbitration. The Cubs payroll is sure to increase once arbitration raises are given out to Ryan Theriot, Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, and others.

So if the Cubs' 2010 payroll is indeed $143 million, then you'd figure that GM Jim Hendry would have about $6-10 million to play with to sign free agents and re-sign their own free agents (John Grabow). I'd love to see the Cubs add another arm in the bullpen and maybe even a second baseman depending on how much the Cubs trust Mike Fontenot and Jeff Baker.

The best things the Cubs can do this offseason are simple:
1. Figure out what is happening with Milton Bradley
2. Get healthy
3. avoid any more long term deals
4. accumulate depth

I still think the Cubs are one of the more talented groups the National League. While this group as a whole underperformed in 2009, there is plenty of upside on this roster for the Cubs to make some noise in 2010 without making significant noise on the free agent market.


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Can the Padres Sign Adrian Gonzalez Long Term?

In 2009, the Padres' payroll ranked 29th in all of baseball with only the frugal Marlins behind them. However, there seemed to be hope on the horizon for a increased payroll when Jeff Moorad became the principal owner of the ballclub:
"Next season will now have to be re-evaluated given the Peavy deal," Moorad said. "I'm ultimately comfortable with a payroll in the $70-80 million [range], but it's likely that it will take us a couple years to get back to that level.

"The good news is we now have an opportunity to reconstruct the payroll in a careful, strategic way that allows for a continued focus and emphasis on scouting and player development."
A $70-$80 million dollar payroll seemed realistic enough. Right now, it's virtually impossible to compete with a payroll of less than $60-$65 million and even then the odds are not in your favor. But adding $30 million or so to the payroll over time seemed to be a logical way for the Padres to potentially keep some of their young talent long term. Namely, Adrian Gonzalez. The slugging first baseman will be a free agent after the 2011 season and has put up remarkable offensive numbers despite playing half his games in PETCO Park and having limited offensive talent surrounding him.

If the Padres want to keep Gonzalez around, they would likely have to commit at least $15 million annually over the course of six or seven years. And even that total might not get it done, but it would at least put the Padres in the ballpark. The Padres would still be committing around 20% of their payroll to Adrian Gonzalez, which is a large amount, but certainly not impossible for the team to work around.

However, if this statement by former GM Kevin Towers is true, then the chances of Adrian Gonzalez playing in San Diego long term are zero:
In addition, nobody knows how much it's costing new owner Jeff Moorad to complete his buyout of John Moores. "They're going to have a $40 million payroll for the foreseeable future," said recently fired Padres GM Kevin Towers, "and there's just no way they can devote half of that to one player. It's just a matter of when they decide to trade (Gonzalez)."
I don't care how much the Padres love Gonzalez because there is no way they could commit at least $15 million to Gonzalez with a $40 million dollar payroll (38%).

So does anyone actually think the Padres can keep Adrian Gonzalez? Would they be better off trading him now?


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Monday, October 26, 2009

Note to Alex Anthopoulos: Follow the Dan O'Dowd Model

As new Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos begins his first offseason with the Blue Jays as GM, there are plenty of questions surfacing about the direction of the team.

-What will the Blue Jays do with Roy Halladay?
-Are the Blue Jays going to rebuild?
-Can the Blue Jays compete in the AL East in 2010?

The Blue Jays struggles competing in the AL East with the Yankees and Red Sox in the Ricciardi era have been well documented. While the Red Sox and Yankees spend well north of $100 million dollars on player salaries, the Blue Jays have remained in the middle of the pack, only exceeding $90 million ($97 million, 2008) once.

As a result, the Blue Jays over the past eight years under Ricciardi have been stagnant. The Blue Jays finished in second place in the AL East once under Ricciardi, never made the playoffs, and could never put together a team deep enough to seriously compete in the AL East. The Blue Jays have taken a number of different approaches over the past eight years:

1. Sign big free agents
-Ricciardi signed Frank Thomas, BJ Ryan, and AJ Burnett to big (and controversial) contracts during his tenure

2. Build through the farm
-Players like Roy Halladay, Shawn Marcum, Dustin McGowan, Ricky Romero, Vernon Wells, Alex Rios, Adam Lind, and Aaron Hill all came up through the Blue Jays' farm system. That's an impressive list of talent, but that talent has yet to translate over to wins.

For the Blue Jays to sustain long term success in the ultra competitive AL East, which approach should Anthopoulous take?

Well, that decision is obvious to me: build through the farm. And the answer is not simply because the Blue Jays cannot compete with the payrolls of the Red Sox and Yankees.

The answer lies with the Blue Jays center fielder: Vernon Wells. The Blue Jays owe Wells a ridiculous $98.5 million over the next five years, which is devastating to the Blue Jays because Wells has gone from a franchise cornerstone to below average outfielder in just a few seasons. For whatever reason, Wells has been declining rapidly.

Can the Blue Jays realistically compete if they have a struggling player taking up 10-22% of their total payroll (assume Blue Jays total payroll is roughly $80 million)? Hard to say. But hope is not lost for Anthopoulous: just look at Colorado.

In 2001, the Rockies signed "cornerstone" first baseman Todd Helton to a huge 9 year/$141 million dollar extension that handcuffed the Rockies payroll flexibility for years. By 2006, Helton's contract took up a ridiculous 39% of the Rockies total payroll.

But even with Helton's massive contract and the Rockies small payroll, O'Dowd was able to accumulate great young talent through the draft and smart trades. Players like Ubaldo Jimenez, Brad Hawpe, Troy Tulowitzki, Garrett Atkins, Aaron Cook, Brian Fuentes, Matt Holliday, Dexter Fowler, Carlos Gonzalez and Hutson Street are all examples of talented, cheap, young players, who either developed in the Rockies system or were acquired via trade. As a result of his efforts, O'Dowd's Rockies have made the playoffs in 2 of the last 3 years.

Realistically, can Anthopoulos follow the O'Dowd model to success? It will be very difficult. Competing economically with the Red Sox and Yankees is completely different than competing with the Dodgers and Giants. But honestly, this is the only way the Blue Jays can realistically look to compete with the Red Sox and Yankees in the future.

And in all fairness, the Blue Jays will need Vernon Wells to become a productive player once again. Even though Todd Helton has been declining since 2005, he's still productive hitter and far from a liability at the dish. The turnaround of the Blue Jays will directly coincide with the redemption of Vernon Wells.

With that in mind, I'd trade Roy Halladay this offseason, accumulate as much young talent as possible, and begin a short term rebuilding process with the goal being to compete in the AL East by 2012. Eliminate short term mediocrity in the name of long term success.


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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Can the Dodgers Find an Ace?

As the Dodgers enter free agency, it's apparent that they have a glaring need for a top flight starting pitcher. However, it looks as though GM Ned Colletti is setting the bar low for himself:
The Dodgers lacked an ace on their pitching staff, with youngsters Clayton Kershaw and All-Star Chad Billingsley showing fleeting stretches of wanting to claim that title.

"Clayton Kershaw has not been lobbying for it, but just the way he's pitched, he's certainly the favorite," Torre said. "Billingsley, even though he had a rough second half, he certainly showed us the personality and the ability to be a No. 1-type guy."

Veteran Randy Wolf proved to be the most dependable and durable starter, although the left-hander is a free agent.

Colletti said the Dodgers are considering adding one or two more starters and perhaps a couple of relievers to the bullpen, which he expects to remain mostly intact.

"You'd like to find an ace, but you got one hanging around?" he said. "It's not like you have a choice of five or six (free agents) that you can pick from."

That statement does have some level of truth to it. On the free agent market, the only true "ace" out there is John Lackey, but he is going to require a handsome long term contract and a hefty annual salary.

But make no mistake about it, there is potential for Colletti to find his ace on the open market. I'd suggest taking the Red Sox approach and taking a flier on a "low risk, high reward" starting pitcher, who could turn into the ace the Dodgers crave...if he stays healthy. In addition, this strategy would fit nicely with what Ned Colletti has done in years past with the Dodgers, namely sign veteran free agents to short term contracts. Here are some suggestions for Colletti:

-Erik Bedard:
The good:left handed, potential ace, only 30 years old, one year deal?
The bad: injured in each of the past two seasons, 30 starts total in 2008 and 2009

-Justin Duchscherer:
The good: right handed, potential top of the rotation starter, one year deal?
The bad: depression issues, missed all of 2009, never started more than 22 games in a season

-Brett Myers
The good: only 29 years old, has potential to be a solid starting pitcher, one year deal?
The bad: is he a starter? Are his best years behind him? (has not put together solid season in starting rotation since 2006)

Other options: Kelvim Escobar, Rich Harden (sort of)

If you were Ned Colletti, would you go after any of these "low risk/high reward" options? If so, which one?


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How Will Ben Sheets Fare on the Free Agent Market?

After John Lackey, there is no other top flight starter available on the free agent market. Randy Wolf is good, but he is not an ace. Joel Pineiro had a solid 2009, but no one knows if he can repeat that. No one knows exactly how Aroldis Chapman will fare in the majors. Erik Bedard and Justin Duchscherer are very good pitchers when healthy, but the problem has been keeping them healthy.

One very intriguing name on the free agent market is winter is Ben Sheets. Assuming Sheets is healthy, he could be a real difference maker for a contending team. Where does Ben Sheets fit on the free agent market?
"Assuming Sheets, a four-time National League All-Star, is healthy, he could be highly-coveted player on what appears to be a thin free-agent pitching market. Sheets nearly signed with the Rangers last winter before concerns about his elbow scuttled the deal, and is now open to offers from all 30 teams including the Brewers, despite his somewhat complicated exit from Milwaukee.

Sheets, who debuted with the Brewers in 2001 and by 2008 was the player with the longest tenure with the club, worked much of the second half of the 2008 season with elbow pain and only revealed the torn flexor tendon in October, when he was left off Milwaukee's postseason roster.

At the time, the medical prognosis was that with rest and exercise and rehab Sheets would recover. The team was so comfortable with that diagnosis that it extended a Dec. 2 offer of arbitration to Sheets, who was free agent-eligible for the first time in his career.

Had Sheets accepted that offer, he would have been considered a signed player for 2009 at a salary to be determined, almost certainly higher than the $11 million he earned in 2008 when he finished 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA in 31 starts and started the All-Star Game for the National League."
I have no doubt that Sheets will be an attractive commodity on the free agent market. Will he get a one year deal loaded with incentives? And if he can prove he's healthy, then is it out of the realm of possibility to think that Sheets could get a multi year contract?


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Friday, October 23, 2009

Ramon Hernandez and the Catching Market

The weak crop of free agent catchers might become slightly more interesting:
The $8.5 club option ($1M buyout) must be exercised or declined on catcher Ramon Hernandez. That doesn't have to be decided until soon after the World Series. My take: the Reds won't pick up the option but will try to re-negotiate for a lower-priced deal.
As I see it, there are two sides to this story.

Side 1: The Reds would be making the smart move by not picking up Hernandez's option. The team simply cannot afford to spend $8.5 million in 2010 to an aging catcher.

Side 2: If the Reds don't pick up the option, Hernandez might find a litany of suitors on the free agent market. The free agent crop of catchers in pretty weak this season (led by Benjie Molina and Rod Barajas) and there's a good chance Hernandez could bolt. With that in mind, would the Reds feel comfortable letting Ryan Hanigan play full time behind the plate in 2010?

I think it's pretty safe to say that the Reds will not pick up the option. When that happens, does Hernandez become the most attractive catcher on the free agent market despite his disappointing 2009 season? He's only 33 years old, calls a very good game, and still has some pop in his bat (despite hitting only 5 HR this year). Is there any possibility that Hernandez could land a multi year contract with another club?


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Should the Royals Trade Joakim Soria?

Should the Royals trade one of their best pieces to acquire more pieces? You decide:
"Aside from a barstool, there may be no more emotional position in baseball than closer. This is certainly true for Jonathan Papelbon and K-Rod, but more, it's true for the people watching.

So long as it doesn't get watered down from blowouts, the best moment at Kauffman Stadium is when the video boards set fire and Slash starts playing "Welcome to the Jungle" and Joakim Soria comes out from the bullpen to throw fastballs at the knees and 67-mph curveballs through bats.

Beyond his success -- Soria is, what, one of the four best closers in baseball? -- he is the shining example of what the Royals' current scouting department is capable of. They got him in the Rule 5 draft, for $50,000, which is the equivalent of you getting a two-week Hawaiian vacation for 50 cents.


There's something that's been discussed in certain circles of Royals fans, and this offseason it should be out in the open.

Soria is among the Royals' very best trading chips, and they should look long and hard about using it."
Jeez, this a tough one. There's so much to like about Soria if you're a Royals fan. Soria is one of the best closers in baseball. Soria is only 25 years old. Soria is signed through 2014 to a very team friendly deal.

In short, Soria is one of the only commodities the Royals have right now.

So then why would the Royals want to trade Soria?

The answer is simple yet painful: the Royals have so many holes to fill that they need to acquire as many useful pieces as possible. You can make the case that the Royals roster right now contains only 4 or 5 players that any team would have interest in acquiring: Greinke, Butler, Dejesus, maybe Teahen, and Soria. If the Royals are going to add any talent this offseason via trade, then Soria is one of the only guys that can actually yield a substantial return.

But ask yourselves this: is now the best time for the Royals to trade Soria? Will they maximize his value? I'm not sure about that. Soria missed a month with shoulder issues and the free agent market is already loaded with closers (Valverde, Rodney, Soriano, etc.) while a number of big name closers have been rumored in potential deals (Papelbon, Nathan). Given his contract, age, and ability level; I'm sure many teams would prefer Soria over all those guys. Whether or not they would be willing to pay the Royals' heavy price tag is another story.

If the Royals are going to trade Soria, they need to be completely overwhelmed by the package offered to them. The goal should not simply be to get back as many useful pieces as they can, but to maximize Soria's value. If Moore cannot find a package that he feels maximizes Soria's value, then no deal should be made.

Now comes the hard part for Dayton Moore: finding out when Soria's value will be at its peak.

And now comes the hard part for Royals fans: trusting Dayton Moore's decision making.


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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thoughts on the Phillies

As the last out was recorded in last night's game and the Phillies sprinted out on the field to celebrate. I couldn't help but think how impressive it was that the Phillies made it back to the World Series. No one should be surprised by the Phillies' success because just last year, the Phillies won the World Series.

But there's something very different about last year and this year.

Last year, everything seemed to go right for the Phillies. The Mets collapsed (again). Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Chase Utley put together huge seasons. Pat Burrell and Jayson Werth gave the Phillies much needed right handed pop. Shane Victorino gave the Phillies a swagger. Cole Hamels developed into an ace. JC Romero continued his dominance out of the bullpen. And closer Brad Lidge was perfect.

But this year, so much has gone wrong for the Phillies:

-Brad Lidge was terrible ($11.5 million)
-JC Romero was suspended and hurt ($4 million)
-Brett Myers was hurt ($12 million)
-Jimmy Rollins struggled at the plate ($7.5 million)
-Jaime Moyer proved that he too can age ($6.5 million)
-Cole Hamels was not his dominant self ($4.35 million)

For those of you counting at home, that's roughly $45 million dollars worth of the Phillies 2009 payroll. That's almost 40% of the total payroll. All of those guys either struggled, were not effective, or injured. Think about how devastating the manifestation of all those struggling, ineffective players should have been on the Phillies.

But the Phillies won anyway.

How'd they do it? Shrewdness, that's how. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. made some quality trades (Cliff Lee!), summoned J.A Happ from the minors, and was not afraid to see what Pedro Martinez had left in the tank.

I'd argue that the Phillies making it this far with all the stuff they had to deal with along the way is far more impressive than what the team accomplished last season.


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Do the Angels Need to Re-Sign John Lackey?

Should the Angels now look to retain John Lackey? Maybe:
The consensus of most baseball people I've talked to is that Game 5 of the ALCS could be John Lackey's last as an Angel, barring an unlikely three-win comeback against the Yankees, of course.

As the most appealing pitcher in the free-agent market, Lackey will be heavily pursued by a number of teams, and although the Angels would like to keep him, the feeling is they won't pay the expected $75 million to $100 million over five years that his agent is likely to ask.

After what has happened in the postseason, however, you wonder if Arte Moreno should reconsider his stance.

The acquisition of Scott Kazmir was supposed to give Moreno the leverage to let Lackey go. But considering the disappointing way Kazmir has pitched in his two playoff appearances, you can't help but question if that's still the case.

One writer described the Angels' staff heading into the postseason as four No. 2 starters. I don't agree with that. When he's sound, Lackey, who was brilliant in Game 1 of he ALDS, is a No. 1 starter. It's just that he's not quite at the same elite level as the CC Sabathias, Cliff Lees and Roy Halladays.
I'm torn on this one. The Angels need a true ace in the worst way if they are going to compete with the Red Sox and Yankees next year. Scott Kazmir and Ervin Santana have ace like stuff, but neither guy is an ace. Joe Saunders and Jered Weaver are nice pitchers to have on a staff, but neither of them is an ace. Outside of Lackey, Weaver is probably the closest thing the Angels have right now to an ace.

If the 2010 Angels are led by those four pitchers, then they can very well win the AL West. But does anyone honestly think they would have a realistic shot to win the World Series? I don't.

The problem for the Angels is that Lackey is the only bonafide ace on the market, which means competition will be fierce and the price tag will be steep. Are the Angels willing to go out of their comfort zone and give Lackey the gigantic contract he's looking for? I don't think so, but if GM Tony Reagins is concerned enough about his rotation, then all bets are off. I think the Angels would be better off exploring the option of Roy Halladay instead of ponying up for Lackey, but only time will tell.


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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Who will be the Next Manager of the Nationals?

By: Evan Levitt

A few years ago, it seemed as though the Washington Nationals just hired one of the best managerial prospects of 2006--Manny Acta. Many, myself included, envisioned him to not only be the right man to lead this young team out of the N.L. East cellar, but the man who could lead the Nationals for the next 10+ years--as he was only 37 years old, had experience coaching in the Major Leagues, experience managing in the minor leagues, and an agressive drive for success--just what the Nats needed...right?

Well, that's what we all thought but on July 13, 2009, the Manny Acta era ended in Washington when he got a "pink slip" in the mail. Was it justified? I don't know. However, its time for the Nationals to look for their next manager and "take two" on looking for the future organizational star.

Here are the candidates with a list of pros and cons for hiring each of them:

Jim Riggleman

WHY SHOULD THEY HIRE HIM--> Through 75 games, he led the Nats to 33 wins. While that total is not playoff worthy by any means, it is a MAJOR improvement from the totals they had in the first half of the year. Additionally, he seemed to really motivate the last-place Nationals, even until the last weekend of the year (did you see his reaction when Justin Maxwell hit that walk-off grandslam against the Mets at the end of the year? He looked like he won the pennant). Additionally, he has experience managing and working with young players.

--> Frankly, is he anything more than a professional interm manager? I don't know. His career win-loss record is not great by any means (.444 winning percentage), but much of that is not his fault. He is also not likely that guy who will be managing the Nationals in 2020 as he would be 72 this year. He might be a little "over-the-hill" to be the Nationals manager of the future.

Bobby Valentine

WHY SHOULD THEY HIRE HIM--> Bobby V took the Mets from underachievers to pennant winners. He manages with a fire that is second to none. He could be the perfect man to light a fire under the behinds of these young ballplayers and bring out the best in them. Wherever he has managed, success has followed (in one way or another) so what's to say that success would not follow him ot DC?

WHY THEY SHOULD PASS--> Bobby V will be 60 years old soon and has had a wonderful career as a manager. Would he want to continue managing for another 10 years? Probably not. Additionally, he has been away from baseball in the USA for over 5 years, so would it make sense to hire him to manage a bunch of young players he has probably never heard of?

Don Mattingly

WHY SHOULD THEY HIRE HIM--> When Donnie Baseball became the hitting coach for the Dodgers, he showed that he is willing to develop into a future manager, regardless of whether it is with the Yankees. He has had one of the best mentors in the game: Joe Torre. He is young and could realistically manage the team for 10+ years.

WHY THEY SHOULD PASS-->He has no managerial experience and has always coached with Joe Torre by his side. Would we be considering him for this job if it were not for Joe Torre--maybe not. Additionally, rumor has it that he retired from playing baseball due to "personal problems" and also delayed his debut as the dodgers hitting coach due to the same "personal problems." By no means is this a reason not to hire him, but it is something to think about.

Darnell Coles

WHY SHOULD THEY HIRE HIM--> While working for the Nationals A affiliate in 2007, I had the fortune of watching Darnell manage in his freshman year and frankly I was impressed. He has such a fire when managing and developing young talent. He has experience managing in the minor leagues and has moved through the Nats organization rather rapidly (manager in low A in 2007, manager in high A in 2008, hitting coach AAA in 2009). He is a young guy too and might be the most realistic choice (out of the ones listed) to still be managing the Nats in 2020.

WHY THEY SHOULD PASS-->Darnell Coles has limited experience managing/coaching in the minor leagues and no experience managing/coaching in the majors. While I am biased and would absolutely love to see him manage the Nats in 2010, I think he probably will need a few more years of experience managing in the minors and/or coaching in the majors before taking the reigns for a big league club. However, MARK MY WORD, he will manage in the big leagues one day.

Willie Randolph

Mr. Randolph has spent his whole career around winning and has the rings to prove it. He has experience in almost every facet of running a baseball team, from managing to working as an asstant general manager. He is clearly a smart guy who knows the game of baseball. Plus, the passion for managing seems to be stronger than ever for Willie.

WHY THEY SHOULD PASS--> When the Mets hired Willie, they thought that his "winning ora" would rub-off on the players. For a short period of time, it did. However, after a while Willie seemed emotionless and lacking "life." Frankly, there is nothing in particular that sticks out as being a "key component" of Willie's managerial game, everything is just average. Do the Nats need another "average" guy managing them?

Ned Yost

He has been a coach for countless playoff teams, helped transform the Brewers from the laughing stock of the league into a play-off contender, and learned from a future Hall-of-Fame manager, Bobby Cox? Sounds pretty good, right?

WHY THEY SHOULD PASS--> He received a lot of criticism in 2008, so much so that he was fired with 12 games left in the season. It was one thing when the Astros fired Cecil Cooper this year with 13 games left as the chance of them making the playoffs was 0%. However, when Yost was fired, the Brewers were in the heat of the playoff race. Thus, there must be sometime MAJOR about Ned that caused the team to fire him after 150 games in 2008. His managerial style was often the subject of criticism--is that something that the Nats need?

Bob Melvin

WHY SHOULD THEY HIRE HIM--> This guy has experience managing, and has shown that he can be successful. Additionally, people like working for him (note Bryan Price resigning after Melvin was fired in 2009). A few years ago, he was even named the N.L. Manager of the Year. Additionally, he has been known to be unconventional and creative with his lineup and roster--something that might come in handy for the Nats. Plus, he is young, so he can be around for a while.

WHY THEY SHOULD PASS--> He has been fired from his managerial post twice since 2004 and pushed the D-Backs to fire him after less than 30 games this year. Thus, it is not unreasonable to be concerned about his managerial style/clubhouse management. His career record is so "up and down"--one year making the playoffs, the next losing 90+ games; is that what the Nats need?

Tim Bogar

This former utility infielder has really developed into a top managerial prospect. He managed in the minor leagues from 2004-2006 and won THREE manager of the year awards. THREE. That is ridiculous! But what else does he have to show besides a few pieces of hardware? He has gotten promoted throughout the minor leagues and spent the past year coaching in the big leagues for the Red Sox. Additionally, he is one of the youngest in this crowd (only 42 years old) so he can potentially be penciled in for 10+ years.

WHY THEY SHOULD PASS--> While he has won managerial awards, he only has 3 years of experience managing--and that was in the minor leagues. His experience coaching in the Major Leagues is even more limited. Someone will eventually take a chance on Tim, but it may not be in the best interest of the young and inexperienced Nats to have a young and inexperienced manager.

Tony Pena

Tony took a team that was the laughing stock of the league (the KC Royals) and made them into playoff contenders. Thus, he won the 2003 A.L. Manager of the Year award. His success with the Royals did not last, but he showed what he could do with a young team. Additionally, he has spent the past 4 years coaching the winningist franchise in baseball history--the NY Yankees.

WHY THEY SHOULD PASS--> While it is very impressive what Tony did with the 2003 Royals, the 2004 and 2005 Royals were nothing short of a disaster. However, the most alarming thing might be the fact that he resigned when things got really rough for the Royals...what's to say he would not do this again with the Nationals?

  • Tim Foli
  • John Stearns
  • Brad Mills
  • Chip Hale
  • Clint Hurdle

To Be completely honest, when I started writing this I thought my conclusion would be that Jim Riggleman is the best candidate to manage the Nats. However, that has since changed since I looked into the candidates a little further. I believe that that this is not simply a "fluke" and that most people probably will think that Riggleman is the best candidate, but after looking into the potential candidates, they will see that there is someone better suited for the job, and that person is....


So why do I believe that this former utility infielder, with minimal experience managing in the minors and even less experience coaching in the majors is the right choice? Because, he has shown that he can manage if given the opportunity. Here is his career record:

2004-Greeneville Astros 41-26
2005-Lexington Legends 82-57
2006-Akron Aeros 87-55

That leaves him with a career win loss record of 250-168--that is a .611 winning percentage. Granted, it is almost a guarantee that this record will suffer if he manages the Nats. But that is besides the point. Not only has he gained experience managing in the minor leagues and coaching the major leagues, he done so with flying colors.

The problem with Riggleman is that he is nothing more than an "average manager." What the Nationals need is someone who will be able to grow with the organization and help players like Jordan Zimmerman, Ryan Zimmerman, and John Lannon develop into organizational stars. This is not going to happen over night. It could take years. Thus, I am a firm believer that the Nationals need a young manager and Bogar is perfect. Is this a risk. ABSOLUTELY. However, the pay-off can be huge, and thus, I believe it is a risk worth taking!

Unlike the situation with the Astros I do not think the ideal candidate will be the one hired. Instead, I think the job will ultimately go to either Jim Riggleman or Don Mattingly. Riggleman's experience managing and time with the team might be enough for Mike Rizzo to hire him. Mattingly has spent his career around big names and winning, which is something I believe may ultimately lead the Nats to offering him the job.


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Crazy Retro Scott Boras Quote of the Day

*Scott Boras is baseball's most successful and well known agent. Boras is a mix of crazy with a whole lot of genius. He's the master salesman for his clients, but even the great Boras goes overboard every once and awhile. The following is an example of Boras going wayyyyyyyyyy overboard*

********** **********

On client Alex Rodriguez's postseason failures:
On ESPN's "First Take" show yesterday, Boras made the mistake of trying to defend A-Rod's failures in the postseason as some sort of twisted media perspective that needed correcting.

He even blamed Mariano Rivera as a cause for A-Rod's problems, which may be the height of desperation.

The question posed to Boras was why Rodriguez's regular-season numbers haven't translated to postseason success.

"That's a characterization that, when you look at the data, is frankly inaccurate," Boras said. "If you look at Alex's first season in New York, I believe he was 7-for-16 with two home runs and five RBIs going into Game 4 in Boston.

"The brilliant Mariano Rivera, probably the only flaw he's made in a historic career over the postseason, if he got those three outs (in the ninth inning of Game 4), Alex would have been in the World Series and he would have been held to have a great postseason. "When you look at his records with Seattle - and even this year - you're talking about a player whose postseason records are really up there with many of the superstars of the game."


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Joe Morgan, Contracts, and the 2010 Phillies

For the life of me, I have no idea why this guy chose to ask Joe Morgan this question, but his answer is classic Joe Morgan. From yesterday's chat:

SteveFitz (Cicero, IL)

Joe, is this the offseason where the Phillies have to maybe trade one of its better players due to higher pay raises now or in the near future? Maybe Werth?

Joe Morgan (11:46 AM)

Well if they win another championship, I don't see why you would break them up. Payrolls are not my expertise. I believe that you just go out there to try and win. If you have the winning combination there, you keep them together. I saw the team I was on, the Reds, we won two straight championships and if we had stayed together, we would have won three straight. If you take one player away, you disrupt it and then you don't know what you're going to get.

ESPN describes Joe Morgan as a "baseball analyst," which, as a baseball fan, I would hope signals that he knows at least the basics of team payrolls, contracts, etc.

So since Joe Morgan failed to answer your question, SteveFitz, I'll take a stab at it even though ESPN never gave me the fancy title of baseball analyst:

According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, the Phillies are already committed to $108 million dollars in payroll next season even though they only have 11 players under contract right now. In addition, both Joe Blanton and Shane Victorino are due raises in arbitration this winter. There are also several other important players, who are under contract with the Phillies, but are not yet eligible for arbitration (Happ, Ruiz, Kendrick, Francisco). Hence, none of those guys are eligible for big raises next season.

Let's deal with the two guys, who are due raises: Victorino and Blanton. Victorino is the heart and soul of the Phillies and it would be absolutely crushing for the fans if the Phillies dealt him. It wouldn't surprise me to see the Phillies lock up Victorino long term if the opportunity presents itself. If the Phillies and Victorino go to arbitration, I'd expect Victorino to earn somewhere in the range of $5-$6 million, which is a nice raise for him, but a price that the Phillies should gladly pay. As for Blanton, I'd expect him to earn roughly $6 million next season after arbitration, which is a pretty good price for a middle of the rotation starter. In fact, if the Phillies did look to move anyone, I'd put my money on Blanton, a free agent to be after 2010.

So when you take into account the price of the Phillies arbitration eligibles (roughly $4 million), one would have to think that the Phillies would still have some change left over to deal with the rest of the team (assuming their payroll is between $110-$120 million). Sure they will have a number of holes to fill (3rd base, bullpen), but the cost of filling those holes should not force the Phillies into dealing.

As for Jayson Werth, he is signed through 2010 for $7.5 million and then he will be a free agent. I'd expect the Phillies to at least explore the possibility of extending Werth this offseason...if he's not too expensive. The Phillies might pay the price for their success after 2010 if Werth chooses to bolt for the money.


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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Can Matt Holliday Become Mark Teixiera?

Scott Boras recently caused a stir in the blogosphere by making this statement about his client and the consensus "best free agent position player", Matt Holliday:
"Scott Boras threw out the ceremonial first pitch in free agency today, comparing Matt Holliday to Mark Teixeira in the impact the agent believes each player can have on a club.

"These guys are blue-collar superstars," Boras said. "They don't hit 50 home runs, but they're complete players. They can give you something without swinging a bat."

Teixeira signed with the New York Yankees last winter, for $180 million. Boras would not say what his asking price would be for Holliday, but he made clear he considered Holliday's abilities in getting on base, hitting for power and playing superior defense similar to those of Teixeira.

"There are differences between hitters and complete players," Boras said. "Matt Holliday is a complete player.

"There is, frankly, no one like him in the market."
Boras's remark was met by ridicule and many, many snide comments. No one seems to think that Scott Boras can get Matt Holliday a contract similar to the one he got Mark Teixiera last offseason (in an economic crisis, nonetheless). Of course, there are a number of factors that will determine if Holliday nets roughly $110 million, or $180 million like Teixiera.

1. The market

Most people seem to think that the Teixiera sweepstakes was just another part of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, which in a small way it was. But we have remember that there were many other players, who added into this equation.

-There was the Angels, who longed to keep Teixeria and reportedly made an offer somewhere in the 8 year/$160 million dollar range.

-There was the Orioles, who were trying hard to sell Teixiera on the idea of playing for his hometown team. Even though the Orioles were struggling as a franchise, they too, made a decent offer to Teixiera on top of pulling at his heart strings.

-And then there was the Nationals, who were the worst team in the National League in 2008, but desperate to make a splash and catapult themselves onto the stage with the big boys. And depending on your source, the Nationals made Teixiera a huge offer, possibly the most lucrative one he had on the table.

(Note: It helps when the Yankees are involved!)

Will Scott Boras be able to drum up a market similar to that for Matt Holliday?

2. Competition

Outside of Teixiera, there was no other first baseman who was anywhere near his league. Sure, Adam Dunn is a great power hitter, but he did not offer the complete package that Mark Teixiera offered and could not play defense. Outside of Teixiera and Dunn, no other first baseman got more than a one year deal last offseason. For any team looking to pick up a great first baseman, the choice was obvious: Mark Teixiera.

This is the area where Boras will have a tough time because of one man: Jason Bay. Even though Holliday is a better all around player, Bay provides interested teams with a somewhat cheaper alternative to Holliday. Bay is only 31 years old and is one of the best power hitters in the American League. Because both Holliday and Bay are free agents, there is no clear cut obvious choice for teams, who want a franchise quality power hitting outfielder. In addition, it might be more difficult for Boras to get clubs into a bidding war when there are two star quality outfielders on the market, not just one.

So no, I don't think Matt Holliday's contract will come close to matching that of Mark Teixiera's. It will be interesting to watch Boras try and drum up competition and create a market for his client, who undoubtedly is looking to cash in on a monster second half with the Cardinals.


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Crazy Retro Scott Boras Quote of the Day

*Scott Boras is baseball's most successful and well known agent. Boras is a mix of crazy with a whole lot of genius. He's the master salesman for his clients, but even the great Boras goes overboard every once and awhile. The following is an example of Boras going wayyyyyyyyyy overboard*

********* ***********

On Adrian Beltre (May, 2004):
"You have to look at A-Rod," [Scott Boras] said, referring to the 10- year, $252-million signing of Alex Rodriguez, then 25, by the Texas Rangers in December 2000. Boras said he didn't mean that Beltre would qualify for a similar contract but that there are few 25-year- olds of that stature from which to draw comparisons.

"Adrian's ceiling can only grow," Boras said. "He'll have another five years before he's 30, and he would have a real advantage over other players in the market. In fact, players of that stature rarely get to free agency. Teams generally understand what they have and don't let it happen. In Beltre's case, there's going to have to be a premium paid in years and dollars."


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How Bad is this Idea: Vladimir Guerrero to the Mets?

Should the Mets make a play for Vladimir Guerrero? Let's hope not:
"This is a big post-season for Vlad, who is eligible for free agency this winter and could have used a defining post-season to help alleviate ever so slightly the always-present injury issues. Vlad will get a contract, but in this cautious marketplace it will likely be with a big-market team that can afford to cover any losses. Baseball people have felt for some time it’s a slam-dunk that he would end up with the New York Mets and their general manager Omar Minaya, but a combination of Minaya’s lack of job security, the Mets recent record of injuries to big-time players and concerns about how much money the Wilpon family lost in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme no longer make that a certainty. One agent told me in the summer that the best Vlad could hope for would be “to be somebody’s Plan B or Plan C.”

Just for the record, I would have loved it if Guerrero joined the Mets in 2004...but 2010 is a completely different story.

The author of this piece gives us several different reasons why the Mets might not go after Guerrero, but he mercifully fails to mention the most obvious one: defense. Guerrero has not played right field since July and has been the Angels primary DH for most of the season. Simply put, Guerrero is no longer an effective defensive player. There's no way that a hobbling, limping, and slowling moving Guerrero could cover any ground in the spacious Citi Field next season. Hell, Guerrero would be the new Gary Sheffield.

Aside from that obvious point, Guerrero is nothing more than a aging, declining, free swinging, injury prone, defensive liability at this point. Sure Guerrero is a big name, but he belongs nowhere near any National League roster unless he magically becomes 100% healthy.

(Note: I love how the author mentions the Madoff ponzi scheme as a reason why the Mets might not go after Guerrero. Laughable. The only way the "Madoff ponzi scheme" would have prevented the Mets from making a run is if Guerrero was in line for a huge Matt Holliday like contract. But at best, Guerrero should hope for a one year deal with a boatload of reachable incentives.)


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Monday, October 19, 2009

The Mariners $16 Million Dollar Gift

"Catcher Kenji Johjima has opted out of the final two years of his contract, according to a press release from the Mariners. He'll resume his career back in Japan. The Mariners are apparently freed from the $16MM they'd have owed Johjima over 2010-11.

Johjima originally signed with the Mariners as a free agent; he agreed to a three-year, $16.5MM deal in November of 2005. His success in '06 and '07 made that entire contract worthwhile, but Johjima's April '08 three-year extension for $24MM was widely panned."
There's no way else to put this: this decision by Johjima is a gift for the Mariners. Sure Johjima was a solid player for the Mariners a few years back, but at this stage in his career, he was not productive enough at the dish to be considered a starting catcher, let alone an $8 million dollar a year player.

So now comes the big question, what will the Mariners do with their additional funds? They already have close to $50 million coming off the books (before arbitration), so the extra $8 million will give the Mariners even more flexibility.

But with that said, this is a team that has lots of holes entering the offseason:

1. shortstop (do they pick up Jack Wilson's option?)
2. third base (do they re-sign Adrian Beltre)
3. catcher
4. first base (will they re-sign Russell Branyan)
5. DH (will they upgrade from the Sweeney/Griffey Jr. combo)
6. Starting rotation (who will fill the rotation after Felix Hernandez?)

And here are some other questions to consider:

1. will the Mariners offer Felix Hernandez an extension? (YES, YES, YES!)
2. will the Mariners re-sign Erik Bedard?
3. will the Mariners become players for Jason Bay or Matt Holliday?

For now, all I know is this: Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik is going to be one busy man this offseason.


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Are the Rockies Making a Mistake by Not Trading Brad Hawpe?

Surprising news out of Colorado this morning that GM Dan O'Dowd will not look to trade Brade Hawpe this offseason:
“The Rockies understand the value of Brad Hawpe on the field and off,” said O’Dowd. “We have no desire to move him at all. He has leadership ability and a commitment to the approach we feel is important for a team’s success.”
Hawpe hit .284 with 23 home runs and 86 RBI, ranking fourth on the Rockies in average, third in home runs and tied for second in RBI. He, however, hit only .209 with 10 RBI in September.

There is no financial push to move Hawpe, who is signed for $7.5 million in 2010. He had a $10 million option for 2011, but there is no buyout.

Obviously, the benefit for the Rockies, who had a payroll slightly north of $75 million this season, is that they would cut 10% of their budget ($7.5 million) by trading Hawpe. In addition, the Rockies have three cheap, young outfielders, who one can argue are all better suited for the National League and the Rockies: Carlos Gonzalez, Seth Smith, and Dexter Fowler.

And even though Hawpe struggled in the second half, there is little reason to think that Hawpe wouldn't be able to bring back a solid package for the Rockies. Hawpe is only 30 years old, hits for power, and has a very reasonable contract ($7.5 in 2010, $10 million option in 2011). The free agent market isn't exactly flooded with productive left handed power hitters, which plays even more in the favor of Brad Hawpe.

All signs pointed towards Brad Hawpe being traded this offseason. So why is Dan O'Dowd pulling him off the market? Supposed veteran leadership? Market value?

Your guess is as good as mine on this one.


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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Who will be the Next Manager of the Astros?

By: Evan Levitt

Well it’s that time of year again…managerial musical chairs. Unfortunately for baseball fanatics like myself, there are only 3 teams looking for new managers this year (Nationals, Astros, and Indians). There are so many different ways to go about predicting who the next manager of a team will be—you can go with the safe choice, the stretch, the underdog, the person who has a 1% chance of managing, and the list goes on. For fun, I am going to examine who could be the next skipper of each of the three teams in a three part series. Since my prediction is that the Astros are going to make the first hire, they are the first ones I am going to take a look at:


This team is quite unique. They have not been bad in recent years, yet they have not been good. They have been pretty average. However, they have the talent and potential payroll to put together a team that can win the NL Central next year. However, before that they need someone to lead the ship. With this being said, here is a detailed breakdown of three potential candidates to right this ship


Why he is a good candidate—He knows the team and has some experience managing the team (if you count 13 games). Clearly the organization also sees potential in him as they gave him the reigns this September when Cecil Cooper got the boot.

Why they should pass on him—He has 13 games of managerial experience at the Major League level and the Astros have said they are looking for an individual with experience to manage in 2010…do 13 games really qualify him to manage?


Why he is a good candidate—He is young, bright, and has over 15 years experience in the Astros minor league system. For years he has been dubbed the future managerial star. This might be the perfect organization for him to become that star.

Why they should pass on him—He could not right the Nationals ship when given the opportunity so what’s to say he will be a great manager in Houston?


Why he is a good candidate—You know the saying that you don’t know how good you have it until it’s gone? I think the Astros may be realizing how good they had it with Garner leading the ship until that fateful day 2 years ago when he got the pink slip. Additionally, he is the only manager to bring the ‘stros to the World Series so he has brought success to the organization before…why can’t he do it again?

Why they should pass on him—To use another saying, “been there done that,” Garner has been the manager of the Astros and was fired. Obviously, something went wrong for them to fire him a month before the season’s end. Why go back to something that did not work after the first year?


Why he is a good candidate—He retired after the 2001 season; yet, he has already won 3 manager of the year awards in the minor leagues…not too shabby. He has clearly shown that he can manage in the minor leagues, so maybe it’s time to give him a shot in the big leagues.

Why they should pass on him—He has 1 year of experience coaching in the big leagues—that’s it. Additionally, no one knows anything about him as a player, manager, or coach. In turn, he may have a very small following.


Why he is a good candidate—He has a fire that burns within him that is so unique and powerful. If the Astros are looking for someone to light a fire under the players within the organization, who better than Bobby V? He has managerial experience in Texas (while managing the Rangers) and experience managing in a major city (New York)…maybe Houston is the perfect combo?

Why they should pass on him—Towards the end of his tenure with the Mets, it seemed as though he “lost” the clubhouse. Bobby V just finished a contract out in Japan and was more popular than a Big Mac is in America. Could this have transformed him into a diva? I hope not, but it’s something to consider.

HE GOT FIRED?: Bob Melvin

Why he is a good candidate—He has shown that he can win if given the chance. Unfortunately for him, the Diamondbacks did not want to give Bob a chance to win in 2009 or 2010 and wanted to give that job to a man in their front office for the next four years. Frankly, I think Bob is a very smart man who has a lot of potential as a manager in the majors. All he is really guilty of is working for teams that did not have him in their long term plans.


Al Pendrique: his record as a manager with the Diamondbacks a few years ago sucked and he seems to have found his niche in the front office. Chances are, he should and will stay there.

Luis Pujols: He has experience managing in the majors (Detroit in 2002), experience managing in the Astros system since 2008 (Corpus Christi—the Astros AA affiliate). However, I think the only way he gets a nod as the Astros next manager is if he can convince them that hiring him will guarantee that his cousin Albert will join the team after 2010.

Terry Collins: He managed the Astros for 3 seasons and produced a team with a record over .500 each of the 3 years. However, he never brought the team to the playoffs. He has a lot of experience managing and is supposedly quite similar to Bobby V. However, this might have been one ship that already sailed as far as its going to go.

Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, or Brad Ausmus: Biggio and Bagwell are two of the most popular icons in Astros history. Thus, it would seem to be fitting that they manage the team they both spent 20+ years with. However, they have no experience managing or coaching, which makes their chances of managing slim to none. The same goes for Ausmus except he also is still active, thus he needs to retire before being considered a candidate to manage.

The Verdict: Given his history with the organization, extensive upside, and experience managing in the minor and major leagues, I believe that Manny Acta is not only the best candidate for the job in Houston, but also the most likely to get the position (not too often this happens). Only 40 years old, it would not be unreasonable to say that Acta could potentially manage the Astros for 10+ years if things go right.


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