Dugout Central’s American League Central Division Preview

by Chuck

By Cameron Nelson

While not as exciting as the AL East or having standout studs like the NL West and its pitching, the AL Central is always fun to watch. As a fan of the division, and my hometown Royals in particular, I’m proud to be the one to give Dugout Central a preview of (what I think) will happen in the AL Central this year.

I’ll  take a look at the teams, what they did in the offseason, what to watch for, what they should pray won’t happen, and my predictions for the team.

In alphabetical order, we go to…

Chicago White Sox

The Offseason: Chicago decided to go all-in this season, and given the run they made last season, I agree with the move. Reinsdorf wants to put out a winner on the field and they’re trying their damndest. Adam Dunn is the DH for the next four years, welcome back Paulie and AJ, and the bullpen lost Putz and Jenks, but Thornton is resigned and guys like Will Ohman and Jesse Crain cushioned the blow somewhat. This lineup looks absolutely beastly and US Cellular’s outfield will need to give out free hardhats.

What to Watch For: It still seems like Chicago wants to get rid of Carlos Quentin and still want to see if they can make some moves, so I guess I could say that Chicago’s roster isn’t finalized just yet and that’s the main thing to watch. Other than that, I want to keep an eye on the team’s homer totals. I call this team next year’s Blue Jays. Plus, there’s a legit DH in Chicago now. About damn time, even Ozzie can’t screw that one up.

What to Dread: Another set of substandard years from the rotation. Gavin Floyd and John Danks had slow starts, Mark Buerhle kinda vanished, and Jake Peavy went up in smoke. If they can stay healthy and on top of their game, they’re one of the best rotations in the league. Chris Sale looks to be a combination setup man to Thornton and sixth starter. I’m calling it right now, this kid’s on the DL in less than two months with Tommy John surgery. Tried his delivery once to see how he could do it. …It hurt like hell.

My Prediction: The top of the AL Central is hard to call, but Chicago looks like a very legitimate contender. If the pitching does its job, the lineup will carry them to a 90+ win season and they’ll finish first. That rotation could cost them a winning season yet again, though. Proceed with caution when placing money on the ChiSox.

Cleveland Indians

The Offseason: Pretty much, all they did was get Austin Kearns, something I find amusing as they traded him to the Yankees for Zach McAllister and got him back in the offseason anyway. As one of the lower-payroll teams in the league, no one expected them to make a splash. A glance at the minor league transactions show a nice set of low-risk moves, though.Travis Buck, Jack Hannahan, Adam Everrett, Anthony Reyes, and a trade for Preston Mattingly form a decent security blanket at AAA. I’d say passable for the Indians. They know they aren’t contending, so actively avoiding anything stupid is a good thing for them. Also, that little middle finger to the Yankees of taking McAllister AND re-signing Kearns gets a couple extra points for comedy value.

What to Watch For: Returns of a healthy Carlos Santana and Grady Sizemore are going to make baseball in Cleveland somewhat watchable again. These two guys are major sparkplugs, very young, and it’ll keep ‘em going. Shin-Soo Choo should be an under-the-radar success yet again. The real thing to watch for is the young guys like Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley, Justin Masterson, and Carlos Carrasco. If they can start to approach expectations, we’ll see something exciting. Spring Training might have some battles, such as Lonnie Chisenhall at third and seeing if Zach McAllister can crack the rotation. You may have noticed that outside the young guys, I didn’t mention the pitching much. Really, nothing to say. Outside of Fausto Carmona and Chris Perez, you couldn’t pick the rest of them out of a lineup, expect both the rotation and the bullpen to finish in the bottom half in ERA.

What to Dread: Injuries. Santana and Sizemore going down really hurt the team, and Asdrubal Cabrera missed a lot of time too. While there are good youngsters there, they can’t replace the few marquee players they have. There’s a decent outfield depth there, but production will drop pretty heavily if anyone goes down.

My Prediction: 4th in the AL Central, top 10 draft pick in 2012. These guys are on the upswing with a good crop of young talent at the ML level and the farm’s coming along, but the team is still too green and placed in a tough division that’s very heavy at the top. They’ll be good in a few years, but not now.

Detroit Tigers

The Offseason: Only a small handful of moves, and it’s both good and bad. Victor Martinez is a very good catcher, but his bat isn’t necessarily good enough to play as an everyday DH (even worse in Comerica’s huge outfield) and he’s not fit enough to be an everyday catcher. While he’s a good player, the contract could come back to bite them in the ass later. Joaquin Benoit is a good pitcher, not good enough for 16 million dollars, and pray that Brad Penny doesn’t pitch like his last trip to the AL. Jhonny Peralta came back and Ryan Raburn got an extension to round out the other major moves. My one huge beef was bringing back Magglo Ordonez. Not that Mags isn’t popular in Detroit or a good player, but you could’ve had Manny Ramirez for 2 million instead of Mags for 10 million.

What to Watch: Miguel Cabrera, but that’s a given. The rotation easily figures to be one of the most electric with 5 fastballs that average in the mid-90s led by one of the league’s true aces in Verlander. The young guys like Sizemore, Jackson, Coke, Zumaya, and Boesch are still there and look to make a good core of players to support Cabrera and Verlander. A good lineup and a stacked rotation will make them a very solid team.

What to Dread: Sophomore slumps. Boesch was streaky enough as it is, Jackson’s Ks could kill his production up front, and the other young guys could go down and hurt the team. Brad Penny was a cancer in Boston’s rotation and if he repeats, yikes. Magglio Ordonez going down last season hurt the production and he could repeat this season and he’s a year older too. It’s a precarious position they find themselves in.

My Prediction: All things considered, I’ll call them for another third place finish, but I also say they’ll have a winning record at just a shade of finishing over .500. If injuries and slumps strike again, though, I could pretty much see a carbon copy of last year’s Tigers.

Kansas City Royals

The Offseason: Possibly one of the best in the league. Gil Meche retired, that saved us 12 million bucks, 8 of which went back into paying Billy Butler this year. Locking up Butler is a very god move for KC as it solidifies the lineup of the future by keeping him here and his doubles and mid-range homer power is gonna be nice with the studs that’ll be in front of him in a few years. Outside of that one, it’s been the emphasis of low-risk free agents with the likes of Bruce Chen, Jeff Francis, and the like. Again, not contending this year, no need to go for broke. The trade for Zack Greinke made most fans in KC sad (not me, I was rip-roarin’ pissed, but that was because of Greinke being a Royal asshat), but we got a premier defender in Escobar and solidified spots that we’re thin in (middle infield, a legit CF, and RHP). Cain, Escobar, and Jeffress figure to help KC at the major league level and they’ll be good, but not enough to save the team.

What to Watch For: Seeing if general admission tickets get any cheaper? Honestly, outfield tickets are five bucks with all-you-eat food and Rivals Sports Bar in RF if you want to drink the game away. The rotation is Hochevar and bunch of guys who are castoffs of other rotations, the bullpen is dreadfully thin outside of Soria, and the lineup is DREADFUL. However, there are a few shining bits of hope. Spring Training could see the coming of Mike Moustakas, but he could start in Omaha to avoid Super Two status. Still, expect Moose to come up at some point midseason, and folks like Eric Hosmer, Aaron Crow, Mike Montgomery, and the like as possible September callups.

What to Dread: Having to watch “The Fuckin’ Royals” for another year. This team is going to be good in a couple of years, but when your best hitters (outside of Butler) are Jeff Francouer and Melky Cabrera with a staff ace of Luke Hochevar…

My Prediction: Dead last in the ML.

Minnesota Twins

The Offseason: Minnesota’s offseason had a noticeable amount of loss. Their once-solid bullpen lost Jon Rauch, Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, and Brian Fuentes with no real pickups coming in to fill the big shoes they left. The middle was shored up by Japanese import Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Carl Pavano is back, and Jim Thome anchors the bench yet again, but the major story is what they lost here.

What to Watch For: Twins fans rejoice! Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan are back. Morneau lost half a season and Nathan a full season and they still had a 90 win season. The rotation still has no defined ace, but it’s still a very solid group of guys. I think they’ll still be one of the most baffling success stories in the MLB, but don’t mess with a good thing, I guess. Tsuyoshi Nishioka was a .350 hitter in Japan and could be a Rookie of the Year favorite if he plays up to expectations. Oh yeah, they also have the Joe Mauer guy, I heard he’s good.

What to Dread: The comeback kids’ injuries. Remember the post-concussion slump David Wright had? Morneau could have one too. Nathan’s back from TJ and while he could throw harder than ever, he could be injured again. Just a note of caution. Also, the rotation still has no definite ace still. I’ve been waiting for the pitching to collapse for years and it could happen. The bullpen’s also noticeably thin, be careful. Capps and Nathan are a very good duo, but it’s pretty much just them back there.

My Prediction: The Twins really didn’t change all too much, so I could say Ron Gardenhire could lead them to another 90 win season and another ALDS loss… But with the combination of the weakened bullpen and Chicago’s strong push, I’m calling a win total in the high 80s and a second-place finish. If injuries and the under-performance I’ve been calling for years before finally strike though, they could be this year’s Tigers. Realistically, I say they finish second behind the White Sox.

Well, this was my first Dugout Central story. Let me know if you want more.

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135 Responses to “Dugout Central’s American League Central Division Preview”

  1. Bob Says:

    Cameron, speaking for myself I want more. Excellent job.

  2. Chuck Says:

    I concur.

    Justin Morneau hasn’t begun baseball drills yet or passed any post-concussion tests.

    He could end up like Mike Matheny.

    I think that’s why the Twins were so adamant about bringing Thome back, figuring Morneau wouldn’t be at 100% until well into the season..if that.

  3. Jim Says:

    Nice job Cameron.

    Its hard to see the Twins at the top of the division unless there are big surprises in the middle relief corp. Even if Nathan is sound, he’ll probably not be overstressed as the rest of the bullpen will cough up many leads.

    Brave predictions: The Royals play well enough to beat out the woeful Indians and escape last place. Ozzie’s head explodes and the Tigers slip past the WS to win the division.

  4. Raul Says:

    The concern with the White Sox for me, is defense. They’ll hit, that’s for sure.

    Cleveland? Ugh, it’s ugly there. They might need to Tom Berenger and Corbin Bersen to make yet another movie. Grady Sizemore is finished.

    The Tigers are going to win the AL Central. Question is, who’s playing 2nd base?

    The Royals got rid of Jose Guillen and Yuniesky Betancourt, thus filling in a huge hole in the organization. That might be the biggest addition by subtraction since Ben Affleck got rid of Jennifer Lopez. I’m buying my Royals jersey immediatley.

    The Twins? I underrate them every year, and this year is no different. They’ll finish 3rd behind the Tigers and White Sox.

    And for the record, Ozzie Guillen is the best thing to happen to baseball since Casey Stengel and Dock Ellis. Ozzie is awesome.

  5. John Says:

    Ozzie is…certainly amusing.

  6. Cameron Says:

    “The concern with the White Sox for me, is defense. They’ll hit, that’s for sure.”

    Here’s the thing, while their lineup’s anchored with a bunch of big hitters, they still have good defenders in Rios, Pierre, Ramirez, Beckham, AJ, and Brent Morel (with Omar Vizquel as a defensive replacement up the middle and at third). They’ve got enough defense to contend, but left-handed hitters hitting to Paulie and Quentin will give them trouble.

  7. Melvin Says:

    Soria, Tejeda, Jeffress, Collins, Coleman. The Royals will have the best bullpen in the division. Just because you’ve never heard of any of them besides Soria doesn’t make them dreadful. Also the Royals are paying Butler 4 million this year, six if you count the 2 million bonus. And a lot of teams were after Jeff Francis so I’m not sure he profiles as a castoff. Sure they’ll probably finish in last place but they’ll be much better than you think.

  8. Raul Says:

    Ramirez is good defensively? I thought he sucked. Maybe I was confusing him with someone else. And if Juan Pierre is playing significantly, it’s a problem.

  9. Chuck Says:

    I don’t like Ramirez, either.

    He’s OK defensively, and he’s not much of a stick.

    And, yeah, if Pierre is in the lineup everyday, the White Sox are hurting.

  10. Cameron Says:

    He’s not great in the lineup, but he can track down a ball in left. Even though they’re weak offensively up the left side, they’ll be able to swallow up balls. It’s lefties that’ll kill them.

  11. Raul Says:

    Does Carlos Santana still qualify for ROY in 2011?

  12. Chuck Says:

    No, Raul, he doesn’t.

    Brent Morel is a .305 lifetime hitter in the minors and won the AFL batting title two years ago, and he can pick it at third.

    It’s true he doesn’t have prototypical “corner power” but if he hits 12-15 HR a season with 35 doubles or so and comes in around .280/.300 every year, then the White Sox will be happy as shit.

  13. Cameron Says:

    Rookie of the Year cutoff is 130 AB/50 IP/45 days on a Major League roster, Santana had 150 ABs. He’s in his second season officially.

  14. Cameron Says:

    Beckham, Ramirez, and Morel backed up by Vizquel isn’t exactly a defensive slouch, and Pierre and Rios on the OF are gonna be able to track down flies. The core of the lineup won’t be doing much defensively, but MAN will Paulie and Dunn beat the shit out of that horsehide.

  15. Chuck Says:

    Yeah, I’m kind of looking forward to seeing Dunn in the AL.

  16. Cameron Says:

    In particular, US Cellular in a very top-heavy set of rotations. Yes, it’s the home of Verlander, but the ENTIRE KC and Cleveland rotations are gonna have nightmares for the next four years because of this guy, and guys like Blackburn and Slowey in Minny have proven to be hittable. The bottom end of Detroit and Minnesota, plus 36 games against KC and Cleveland are gonna be batting practice for this guy.

  17. Chuck Says:

    I just wonder if he can adjust to DH, look at Pat Burrell.

    He struggles in a real good lineup in a real good hitting park, then ends up in a graveyard in San Fran and once he plays OF everyday starts ripping the cover off the ball.

    Without Burrell, the Giants don’t make the postseason last year.

  18. Raul Says:

    Yeah Burrell played very well. Not sure who saw that coming.

  19. Hartvig Says:

    If Morneau plays a significant portion of the season the Twins will be right in the thick of it. If not, then I think Raul has them pegged about right. I think it will come down to Detroit & Chicago and I’m going with Detroit because they have better pitching. I would love to see Grady Sizemore become the player it looked like he might be but even if he has a Josh Hamilton season, the Indians are going nowhere. And I’m excited as hell to see what the Royals put on the field in a couple of years, even if that means my Tigers will be fighting for second place for a few seasons, but this year a third place finish would have to be considered an enormous achievement.

    Nice job Cameron.

  20. Chuck Says:

    I find it interesting the Indians are looking to move Fausto Carmona and Grady Sizemore.

    Neither’s contract would be considered an over-pay, so I’m thinking maybe the Indians know something we don’t as far as their health is concerned?

    Same with Minnesota and Morneau, too.

    Obviously they won’t trade him, but more is said sometimes when people say NOTHING.

  21. Cameron Says:

    Maybe, but on the flipside of the coin, the time off the field could allow him to focus more on hitting and he’ll tear the cover off the ball. Look at Vlad last season and compare his performance as DH to when they tried to field him.

    In this preview, I’m looking at things in a vacuum, and Dunn looks to have a career renaissance in Chicago.

  22. Chuck Says:

    Burrell’s a good player who got the shaft in Philly.

    Rollins and Howard won MVP awards, and Utley is the golden child, so when things went wrong the fans and media needed a whipping boy, and Pat was it.

  23. Chuck Says:

    “..and Dunn looks to have a career renaissance in Chicago.”

    I totally agree.

    It’s amazing what happens when you’re not eliminated from postseason play in April.

  24. Cameron Says:

    Sizemore plays himself into injuries. It’s the same thing as Jacoby Ellsbury, except Sizemore’s a much better player. I hate to tell a guy to tone it down, but he’ll kill himself playing the way he does.

    And awful lot of Tigers fans here, hope I didn’t seem like I was trying to sell them short. To me, they’re a good team, they’re just up against good competition. They’re circling Minnesota and Chicago, waiting for a screw-up. Still, Detroit’s a top-heavy team. If a guy at the top gets hurt (like Mags did or God forbid, Miggy or Verlander) and the replacement level there is so thin it’s gonna hurt.

    Though Brad Penny has the slowest heater in the rotation. …At an average of 94.9 mph. Damn.

  25. Chuck Says:

    Sizemore had micro-fracture knee surgery..the same thing Beltran had.

    That’s a position player equivalent to Tommy John..it takes a year at a minimum.

  26. Raul Says:

    I don’t know if the numbers support it, but if there was one guy who seemed to own the Mets, it was Pat Burrell

  27. Cameron Says:

    Grady Sizemore had elbow surgery, lower abdominal surgery that was a follow-up to a botched hernia surgery, a left groin injury, microfracture knee surgery, and I’m pretty sure there was an ACL tear in there somewhere I can’t quite track down. …In the past two years. That’s either injury prone or being a divine whipping boy.

    Dude’s held together by bubblegum and paperclips, but when healthy, he’s an annual 30-30 threat.

  28. Chuck Says:

    Burrell hit .246 lifetime against the Mets with 42 HR.

    His next highest HR v. opponent is 24 against Florida.

    So, yeah, he owned the Mets.

  29. Raul Says:

    And maybe Chipper Jones too

  30. Cameron Says:

    Doesn’t really approach to the way Vlad took the Rangers to town whenever he visited Arlington. It was brutal to watch.

  31. Raul Says:

    Grady Sizemore and Rocco Baldelli. Two Centerfielders who were on a pace to do great things.

    Although Baldelli may have grown out of CF eventually.

  32. Chuck Says:

    So, Raul, you never said why you “vehemently disagree” with MLB.com ranking Bryce Harper at #3?

  33. Raul Says:

    Bryce is not the 3rd best prospect in the minor leagues. Fuck that noise. I probably wouldn’t even put him in the Top 10.

    The kid hasn’t done ANYTHING.

  34. Chuck Says:

    Whew…for a minute there I thought you’d rank him #1.

    And I agree with you.

    Domonic Brown is #4 and Chris Sale #5 and both PLAYED in the major leagues last year.

    These lists are just to sell papers and advertising space.

    (I think Brown is too high also, by the way)

    I’m gonna laugh my ass off when Harper hits .240 in A ball.

  35. Cameron Says:

    Yeah… He was a taxi squad player in the AFL… Number 3 my balls.

    Anyway, I couldn’t find a ready set of splits of Vlad Guerrero vs. the Rangers. So I took the H/AB and HR of him in LA (2004-2009) and… Damn. 151 hits to 387 at bats.

    That means an average of .390 with 23 homers against the Rangers while he was wearing Angels red.

  36. Chuck Says:

    Actually, it was Chapman at #6, not Sale. He was 25th.

  37. Chuck Says:

    “Yeah… He was a taxi squad player in the AFL.”

    Washington did that intentionally.

  38. Cameron Says:

    If they had actual faith in the “raw ability” people kept raving about, they wouldn’t have.

  39. Chuck Says:

    There’s more to it than that, Cam.

  40. John Says:

    In his career against the Rangers:

    .396/.461/.666 in 438 PA for Guerrero.

    Yeah.

    As for Harper, he’s a young dude and I guess the people ranking him could picture him being anything as a 24 year old. So much talent, so much time to develop. Overwhelming odds are he doesn’t amount to the hype; odds are only about 60% or so that he even sees big league action.

  41. Raul Says:

    There’s no doubt that Harper showed some impressive talent in high school and even in JuCo. But I’m not rating some kid #3 when he hasn’t even played yet.

    Potential? Sure. But hundreds of minor leaguers have potential.

    Hell, I wonder if Harper would even get drafted in the top 10 if he came out THIS year. I’m not saying the kid sucks, but he’s not Darren Dreifort or one of these other highly touted prospects to come along over the years.

  42. Cameron Says:

    True, just wanted to be the board crumudgeon for a turn. And god damn, he’s better against Texas even when you figure the years in Montreal.

    Also, with San Francisco’s evaluation, here’s the list of Baseball America’s #1 prospects by team. WITH FOOTNOTES!

    Arizona – Jarrod Parker, RHP
    Atlanta – Julio Teheran, RHP
    Baltimore – Manny Machado, SS
    Boston – Jose Iglesias, SS*
    Chicago (AL) – Chris Sale, LHP
    Chicago (NL) – Brett Jackson, CF**
    Cincinnati – Aroldis Chapman, LHP
    Cleveland – Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
    Colorado – Tyler Matzek, LHP
    Detroit – Jacob Turner, RHP
    Florida – Matt Dominguez, 3B
    Houston – Jordan Lyles, RHP
    Kansas City – Eric Hosmer, 1B
    Los Angeles (AL) – Mike Trout, CF
    Los Angeles (NL) – Dee Gordon, SS
    Milwaukee – Mark Rogers, RHP
    Minnesota – Kyle Gibson, RHP
    New York (AL) – Jesus Montero, C
    New York (NL) – Jenry Mejia, RHP
    Oakland – Grant Green, SS
    Philadelphia – Domonic Brown, RF
    Pittsburgh – Jameson Taillon, RHP
    Seattle – Dustin Ackley, 2B
    San Diego – Casey Kelly, RHP****
    San Francisco – Brandon Belt, 1B
    St. Louis – Shelby Miller, RHP
    Tampa Bay – Jeremy Hellickson, RHP
    Texas – Martin Perez, LHP
    Toronto – Kyle Drabek, RHP
    Washington – Bryce Harper, RF

    * = Was Casey Kelly, reverted to #2 Jose Iglesias after Adrian Gonzalez trade
    ** = Was Chris Archer, reverted to #2 Brett Jackson after Matt Garza trade
    *** = Would have been Jake Odorizzi (RHP), but was replaced by Rogers after Zack Greinke trade
    **** = Was Simon Castro (RHP) before Adrian Gonzalez trade, reverted to #3 after trade behind Kelly and #2 Anthony Rizzo (1B)

  43. Chuck Says:

    “Hell, I wonder if Harper would even get drafted in the top 10 if he came out THIS year.”

    Which is why he got his GED and did the JUCO thing, because in all likelihood he wouldn’t have.

    Gotta give Boras credit on this one, he was smart enough to realize this was his shot to cash in with the kid.

  44. Cameron Says:

    >> Dammit, the *** didn’t show up next to Mark Rogers.

  45. Cameron Says:

    …I’m giving credit to Boras as a businessman, but I personally think the guy is scum for it.

    Now, what does 2012 and beyond look like in the draft? If Harper finished high school (which he would’ve done with honors) and spent time polishing up in college, he probably would’ve hit the majors maybe a year later at the most and would’ve been able to turn that raw power into power with good contact. He could’ve been the next great player with a bit more time and refinement. Stephen Strasburg could easily handle major league pitching at the major league level mentally because of the four years of college and coaching under Tony Gwynn. If he got drafted out of prep school, we probably wouldn’t know who the hell he is. That could’ve been Harper, now he’s a discount Adam Dunn ceiling. So much potential…

    Thanks Chuck, you sure made me go all introspective and realize Scott Broas is the world’s biggest douchebag.

  46. Chuck Says:

    “realize Scott Broas is the world’s biggest douchebag.”

    I would have guessed you would have figured that out after the Luke Hochevar mess.

  47. Cameron Says:

    He was in contention, but he didn’t take the top spot until I thought about how he screwed Harper’s future like a two-dollar whore.

  48. Raul Says:

    So I go on the Transaction page today and see that the San Francisco Giants agreed to a minor league contract with Marc Kroon.

    Who is Marc Kroon? I have no idea. So I looked him up.
    He’s a 37 year old RHP who’s last appearance was in 2004 for the Colorado Rockies.
    In his 4 seasons (1995, 1997, 1998, 2004) he has 26.2 Innings Pitched.

    I’m hoping the Giants’ signing is a way to turn him into a coach or something.
    Either that, or he’s the 2nd coming of Jimmy Morris.

  49. brautigan Says:

    Raul: Kroon pitched in Japan last year. He’s probably going to be in Fresno’s bullpen this season, that is if he makes the team.

  50. Chuck Says:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Marc_Kroon

    “He’s probably going to be in Fresno’s bullpen this season”

    Either way, Tokyo or Fresno, it’s still Triple A.

  51. brautigan Says:

    Chuck: I disagree. AAA is a tougher league.

  52. brautigan Says:

    Cameron: My guess is that Johnny Giavotella will be Kansas City’s second baseman this year. He had an impact AA season last year, and offensively, he already is head and shoulders ahead of Getz. He’s possibly as good, if not better, defensively than Getz. If not this year, most certainly next year.

    Like I said, Kansas City is going nowhere…..might as well turn it over to the youngsters and get them their turns at the MLB level and let them grow into a team together.

  53. Cameron Says:

    Possibly, but Giavotella doesn’t figure as long-term as Colon does profiling at second base. We may have Johnny here this season, but if Escobar’s bat comes around (or not, never stopped St. Louis from keeping Ozzie Smith around) and Colon’s advanced approach and tools (starting at AA this season), he’s gonna be a big part of things.

    Giavotella’s a bit of a lame duck in the system. Good, but not good enough to keep around. I could see him as part of a trade package to shore up the outfield or pitching, one thing we need help on. If we can, see if St. Louis will jump on a package centered around Cain, Giavotella, and one/two of the lower-ranked lefties for Colby Rasmus.

  54. Raul Says:

    For what it’s worth, Keith Law’s Top 50:

    1. Mike Trout (OF) – Angels
    2. Bryce Harper (OF) – Nationals
    3. Domonic Brown (OF) – Phillies
    4. Jesus Montero (C) – Yankees
    5. Eric Hosmer (1B) – Royals
    6. Julio Teheran (P) – Braves
    7. Dustin Ackley (2B) – Mariners
    8. Wil Myers (C) – Royals
    9. Shelby Miller (P) – Cardinals
    10. Aaron Hicks (OF) – Twins
    11. Zack Britton (P) – Orioles
    12. Manny Banuelos (P) – Yankees
    13. Kyle Drabek (P) – Blue Jays
    14. Jeremy Hellickson (P) – Rays
    15. Aroldis Chapman (P) – Reds
    16. Matt Moore (P) – Rays
    17. Brandon Belt (1B) – Giants
    18. Martin Perez (P) – Rangers
    19. Casey Kelly (P) – Padres
    20. Desmond Jennings (OF) – Rays
    21. Michael Pineda (P) – Mariners
    22. Jacob Turner (P) – Tigers
    23. Mike Moustakas (3B) – Royals
    24. Tyler Matzek (P) – Rockies
    25. Jarrod Parker (P) – Diamondbacks

    26. Manny Machado (SS) – Orioles
    27. Jonathan Singleton (1B/OF) – Phillies
    28. Mike Montgomery (P) – Royals
    29. Miguel Sano (3B) – Twins
    30. James Taillon (P) – Pirates
    31. Devin Mesoraco (C) – Reds
    32. Kyle Gibson (P) – Twins
    33. Derek Norris (C) – Nationals
    34. Jarred Cosart (P) – Phillies
    35. Jean Segura (2B) – Angels
    36. Zack Wheeler (P) – Giants
    37. Brett Lawrie (2B) – Blue Jays
    38. Anthony Rizzo (1B) – Padres
    39. Lonnie Chisenhall (3B) – Indians
    40. Chris Archer (P) – Rays
    41. John Lamb (P) – Royals
    42. Jordan Lyles (P) – Astros
    43. Freddie Freeman (1B) – Braves
    44. Zach Stewart (P) Blue Jays
    45. Jose Iglesias (SS) – Redsox
    46. Jaff Decker (OF) – Padres
    47. Arodys Vizcaino (P) – Braves
    48. Wilmer Flores (SS) – Mets
    49. Hak-Ju Lee (SS) – Rays
    50. Randall Delgado (P) – Braves

  55. Cameron Says:

    Moose at 23rd? Fuck Keith Law.

  56. Raul Says:

    Keith Law’s 51-100:

    51. Billy Hamilton (SS) – Reds
    52. Carlos Matias (P) – Cardinals
    53. Nick Franklin (SS) – Mariners
    54. Anthony Ranaudo (P) – Redsox
    55. Matt Dominguez (3B) – Marlins
    56. Jason Kipnis (2B) – Indians
    57. Travis D’Arnaud (C) – Blue Jays
    58. Grant Green (SS) – Athletics
    59. Yasmani Grandal (C) – Reds
    60. Drew Pomeranz (P) – Indians
    61. Mike Minor (P) – Braves
    62. Hank Conger (C) – Angels
    63. Tony Sanchez (C) – Pirates
    64. Simon Castro (P) – Padres
    65. Yonder Alonso (1B) – Reds
    66. Trey McNutt (P) – Cubs
    67. Chris Sale (P) – White Sox
    68. Gary Sanchez (C) – Yankees
    69. Willin Rosario (C) – Rockies
    70. Dee Gordon (SS) – Dodgers
    71. Ben Revere (OF) – Twins
    72. Zack Cox (3B) – Cardinals
    73. Dellin Betances (P) – Yankees
    74. Oswaldo Arcia (OF) – Twins
    75. Nick Castellanos (3B) – Tigers

    76. Brody Colvin (P) – Phillies
    77. Alex Torres (P) – Rays
    78. Tyler Skaggs (P) – Diamondbacks
    79. Christian Yelich (1B/OF) – Marlins
    80. Chris Carter (OF) – Athletics
    81. Jurickson Profar (SS) – Rangers
    82. JP Arencibia (C) – Blue Jays
    83. Matt Harvey (P) – Mets
    84. Chris Owings (SS) – Diamondbacks
    85. Jordan Walden (P) – Angels
    86. Matt Davidson (3B) – Diamondbacks
    87. Christian Friedrich (P) – Rockies
    88. Andrew Brackman (P) – Yankees
    89. Alex Colome (P) – Rays
    90. Drake Britton (P) – Redsox
    91. Zach Lee (P) – Dodgers
    92. Nolan Arenado (3B) – Rockies
    93. Trevor May (P) – Phillies
    94. Rubby De La Rosa (P) – Dodgers
    95. Wilson Ramos (C) – Nationals
    96. Adeiny Hechavarria (SS) – Blue Jays
    97. Jake McGee (P) – Rays
    98. Danny Duffy (P) – Royals
    99. Aaron Sanchez (P) – Blue Jays
    100. James Jones (OF) – Mariners

  57. Chuck Says:

    In my humble, meaningless opinion…I see no reason why Christian Colon can’t remain at shortstop.

    I got to give Law some credit here, at least he didn’t follow the majority.

    To say he’s a bit off is an understatement, but props for trying.

  58. John Says:

    Zero Brewers in the top 100.

    Do or die in 2011.

  59. brautigan Says:

    Cameron: Unless Colon is a much better defender than Giavotella, he won’t move him off of 2B. (well, there is of course that first round pick crap, meaning he’ll get every chance to do so). I agree with Chuck, although maybe for different reasons: Escobar is a great glove, but unless he improves his hitting, Colon could challenge him at SS.

  60. brautigan Says:

    Keith Law needs to get out of his office and watch some friggin’ baseball.

  61. Raul Says:

    lol @ cameron

  62. Cameron Says:

    And in my, admittedly biased KC opinion, Colon is a plus defender, but he has a better bat than Giavotella AND younger. He’d be more productive for longer and he’ll still be able to handle second. I just want the best DP combo possible and I’ll take Colon-Escobar over Giavotella-Escobar.

  63. Chuck Says:

    First of all, you can’t just assume because a guy can handle shortstop that he can handle second base.

    Second, Escobar has experience in the outfield, and KC’s outfield blows.

    Third, Escobar’s defense at short is, shall we say, shaky.

    If Colon proves he can handle SS and can hit .270, Escobar will be a fart in the breeze.

  64. Raul Says:

    Bought a 12 pack of Schlitz.

    What a shitty, awful beer. Oddly, I mean that in a good way.
    Schlitz is the kind of beer you pound on a bus somewhere. Or in a garage.

    Also got a bottle of Woodford Reserve. I was told it’s pretty good.

  65. Cameron Says:

    Possibly. Escobar’s shaky, but he’s a young guy who’s still getting the hang of things. He’s a very good glove, and when he avoids the rookie mistakes, he’ll bey a lock at the keystone. Though he could be good at second.

    The outfield could be good. Wil Myers may not stay behind the plate, but he’ll be a good right fielder and Salvador Perez will be there behind the plate (probably better defensively too) and Brett Eibner’s a beast but may not be able to stick in center. Still, he’ll be good in left. That leaves center to be covered by Escobar, Cain, Dyson, or Derrick Robinson.

    …That surplus of lefty starters could fix that easily.

  66. Chuck Says:

    We used to pilfer Schlitz or Carling Black Label from my uncle.

    Yeah, it’s piss.

    Woodford Reserve is good stuff.

  67. Chuck Says:

    Keith Law does watch alot of baseball, Joe DelGrippo used to run into him all the time watching SALLY games in New Jersey.

    Law lives in Chandler, AZ, now. Luckily for me, I haven’t run into him yet, although I did see him at the AFL Rising Stars game, although, as is the case now, I didn’t recognize him.

    DelGrippo was standing with Law and a couple of schmoes from Baseball Prospectus. Joe is my size, about 5′10″, and he looked like Kareem standing next to a couple of point guards.

  68. Raul Says:

    lol

    i just find it funny that guys who never even played the game outside of high school gym class are in a position to tell others anything.

    i’m not saying you have to be Bobby Bonds, but did you at least get a Varsity letter?

  69. Raul Says:

    I wonder if Carlos Lee is gonna get traded.

    He seems like a guy that could help a team needing a hitter.

  70. Cameron Says:

    I’d say no one would eat that contract, but someone traded for Vernon Wells…

  71. Raul Says:

    Wow, you’re right.

    Didn’t realize Carlos Lee is due 18.5 million this year and next.

  72. Chuck Says:

    Vernon Wells can run to first base in less time than it takes to cook a well done steak, and he doesn’t have to bend from the waist at a 45 degree angle to make sure his shoes are tied.

    Carlos Lee’s not worth the money Manny Ramirez got.

  73. Raul Says:

    When was steroid testing implemented? After 2004?
    Just noted the difference in Todd Helton’s career from 2005 on.

  74. Chuck Says:

    I believe it was implemented in the minors in 2003 and in the majors in time for the 2005 season.

    Notice the coincidence of Jeff Bagwell, Brett Boone, Juan Gonzalez, Raul Mondesi, Larry Walker and Rafael Palmeiro retiring almost immediately, and Craig Biggio shortly thereafter.

  75. Cameron Says:

    Last season or this season, Chuck?

    Steroid testing was around before then Raul, but the current drug testing and suspension guidelines were implemented in 2004. Though I could blame the humidor more than PEDs. Even though it was put in during the ‘02 season, the park total HRs finally dipped below 200 in 2005, right in step with Helton’s decline.

  76. Cameron Says:

    “Notice the coincidence of Jeff Bagwell, Brett Boone, Juan Gonzalez, Raul Mondesi, Larry Walker and Rafael Palmeiro retiring almost immediately, and Craig Biggio shortly thereafter.”

    They were also all in their late 30s, and had injury histories or were on the DL for a significant period of time in the last couple seasons of theirs.

  77. Raul Says:

    Seriously though,

    Brett Boone was more jacked up than Reggie Bush.

  78. Cameron Says:

    Not saying that these guys don’t have steroid connections (well, some of them I’ll defend), but there’s more contributing to that than just steroid testing. Shit, Sammy Sosa still played in 2007, so testing wouldn’t kill every major juicer’s career.

  79. brautigan Says:

    Cameron, you DO realize that Barry Bonds record from his age 36 to age 39 years quite easily eclipsed his numbers he generated prior to 2000. Perhaps the only coincidence of Bagwell, Boone, and the others is they discontinued steroid use which resulted in the drop in performance. Biggio is one whose performance didn’t decline due to age, which again, raises suspicion.

    That’s what truly dispicable about the steroid era, everyone is suspect.

  80. brautigan Says:

    Said Sosa in 1997: “I take Flintstone Vitamins”.

    We used to yell at Sosa in Mesa: “You sure it wasn’t Fruity Pebbles?”

  81. Cameron Says:

    Yeah, Bonds was about the most obvious case you can get. I was just saying with those guys that Chuck listed were accused as being ended by steroid testing, but there’s a bunch of other factors in those guys retiring.

  82. Chuck Says:

    Sammy’s the poster child for steriods.

    Bonds was a HOFer before he ever touched the stuff.

    Without steriods, Sosa doesn’t play long enough to qualify for his pension.

  83. Raul Says:

    Dude, it’s just common sense about certain guys that juiced.

    Alex Sanchez? Hard to tell.
    Bret Boone? Give me a fucking break. That was obvious.

  84. Cameron Says:

    Not arguing against you, Chuck just picked a bunch of guys that were at common retirement age for that little slice. A good handful of juicers like Rocket, Bonds, and Sosa were still playing even after testing, and guys like McGwire retired before.

    There’s a possible common thread, but saying they retired at the same time just because of that with all the other commonalities is faulty reasoning. Correlation is not causation.

  85. Chuck Says:

    Baseball players in their late 30’s, early 40’s are making millions of dollars.

    Former star players would have no problem hanging on for as long as they wanted to grab some extra cash and sell some tickets.

    For guys to suddenly walk away when they could easily have played or made some more money is not a coincidence.

  86. Raul Says:

    Cam,

    How old is the Kaufman Stadium? Is it in good shape? Just wondering since a lot of stadiums have been built in the past few years and KC doesn’t appear to be needing one.

  87. Cameron Says:

    Kaufmann Stadium was built in 1973, but the place is under constant renovation and we just went through a big multi-million dollar renovation for the whole Truman Sports Complex (Kaufmann and Arrowhead Stadiums) and the new Kaufmann is just beautiful. Place is gonna be around for a good while.

    When they could’ve played. Look at the career ends of all those guys. Larry Walker? Juan Gonzalez? They were dead in the field at that time and weren’t gonna be able to play at the level that’d get them their old contracts. They hung around ’til the end of their paychecks and bailed. Not everyone can be Gil Meche.

  88. Chuck Says:

    In the last week, teams have signed Matt Anderson, Bartolo Colon, Marc Kroon and Nick Bierbrodt.

    Say whatever you want about talent levels, but the fact these guys can get contracts despite not having pitched for awhile pretty much defeats any argument.

  89. Chuck Says:

    “They were dead in the field at that time and weren’t gonna be able to play at the level that’d get them their old contracts”

    OK, so would it be fair to say without steriods their careers would have been over two or three years before they actually were?

  90. brautigan Says:

    32 used to be retirement age. Rocco Colavito was “done” by age 33, Ralph Kiner was “done” by age 33, I could go on, but my point is, in the “good old days”, only the superstars played beyond 35, and usually poorly. There were some outliers like Henry Aaron (whose age 37 record of 47 homeruns was eclipsed by Bonds 73!).

  91. Cameron Says:

    Possibly. Same time, steroid use can cause injuries due to the deterioration they cause. They could’ve lasted the same or longer without them, just not without the few standout seasons the juice gave them.

  92. Raul Says:

    Put a bottle of scotch in front of Brautigan and he might really tell you what he thinks of these young primadonnas and steroid users, hahahaha.

  93. Cameron Says:

    Yeah, and back then Tommy John surgery had a 1-in-100 success rate. Times change.

  94. Chuck Says:

    “32 used to be retirement age. Rocco Colavito was “done” by age 33, Ralph Kiner was “done” by age 33,”

    Because teams had 22, 23 year old guys in the minors who were better.

    Nowadays, the 35 year old former star is still a better player than anyone else in the organization.

  95. Chuck Says:

    Cam, did you notice Odirizzi isn’t on Law’s top 100 list?

    He’s not on Baseball America’s, either.

  96. Chuck Says:

    Six lefthanders in the minors better than Mike Montgomery?

    I don’t think so, homey.

  97. Cameron Says:

    I don’t think BA released its 2011 Top 100, at least not on the website. Law doesn’t know his asshole from his elbow, so not caring. I still like Jake, but according to BA he was like the 9th on the Royals top 10.

  98. Chuck Says:

    “I don’t think BA released its 2011 Top 100, at least not on the website.”

    You’re right.

  99. Cameron Says:

    Well I don’t have the Prospect Handbook, so I can’t comment on their Top 100 yet. If you do, I think he’s still listed as a Brewer in it. Check by name, not team.

  100. Chuck Says:

    I don’t have mine yet, either.

    Maybe tomorrow.

  101. Cameron Says:

    Didn’t order it, I’m broke. << Jake was the top Brewer before the trade, so I'd expect him somewhere on there. An organization top prospect is a safe bet to be on a top 100 list.

  102. Chuck Says:

    “An organization top prospect is a safe bet to be on a top 100 list.”

    Not really.

    Aaron Poreda was the White Sox’ top prospect a couple of years ago and he ended up something like 133rd.

    Order it through Amazon, Cameron, it’s like $12 cheaper.

  103. John Says:

    “Say whatever you want about talent levels, but the fact these guys can get contracts despite not having pitched for awhile pretty much defeats any argument.”

    No, it doesn’t.

  104. Lefty33 Says:

    “Steroid testing was around before then Raul, but the current drug testing and suspension guidelines were implemented in 2004.”

    The current guidelines were formulated in January of 2005 and agreed to by the MLBPA in November of 2005 for the 2006 season.

    The policy that was in place in 2004 was a joke in terms of the punishments and penalties and it took John McCain to stick his nose into the debate and threaten during the Congressional holiday recess in December of 2004 that if the MLBPA and Baseball couldn’t get something done ASAP he was going to introduce legislation that would’ve put MLB’s drug testing under Federal guidelines.

    Funny how an agreement was then reached in under a month.

  105. Lefty33 Says:

    Nov. 15, 2005: Major League Baseball and the players association reached agreement on Tuesday on a plan that significantly strengthens penalties for steroid and other illegal drug use. Penalties for steroid use will be 50 games for a first offense, 100 games for a second and a lifetime ban for a third. The plan also includes testing and suspensions for amphetamine use.

  106. Lefty33 Says:

    “No, it doesn’t.”

    Of course it does John.

    It’s kind of pathetic that guys like that can still get signed and that AAA is now mostly an elephant graveyard of 30-35 year old guys making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year just to fill roster spaces.

    They should be working as busboys at a Sizzler but instead they’ll make six figures to be a AAA team’s “ace”.

    I’ll give you a nice collection of stiffs from last year’s opening day roster for the Phillies AAA team with their end of year age:

    Nate Bump 34

    Brandon Duckworth 34

    Chris Duffy 30

    John Ennis 31

    Paul Hoover 34

    Luis Maza 31

    Brian Mazone 34

    Cody Ransom 34

    Dane Sardinha 31

    Andy Tracy 37

    Rich Thompson 31

    Ryan Vogelsong 33

    Ehren Wassermann 30

    Can you seriously tell me that it really made any sense for the Phillies to keep any of these guys around last year?

    But they did due to a lack of talent.

    They’re all nothing more than wasted space.

    Just like what Chuck said, it tells you a lot about the availability of talent when the kind of bottom-feeders he mentioned are still “employable” and will likely make decent money this year just to suck or be irrelevant.

  107. Cameron Says:

    Lack of talent and insurance policy. Those guys aren’t around to be stars, they’re being paid to be benchwarmers. Disagree on whether they should be paid six-figures or not, don’t go saying these guys are being paid to be the stars of the team. They’re there in case the actual players get hurt.

  108. Cameron Says:

    *these guys aren’t

  109. John Says:

    Those guys have 600 years of professional baseball experience between them. What about veteran leadership?

  110. Cameron Says:

    Veteran leadership is something you pay starters for, not bench jockeys.

  111. John Says:

    In the minors? Screw that. I want my up-and-coming 20-22 year olds starting and getting the at-bats.

  112. Chuck Says:

    “Lack of talent and insurance policy.”

    Same thing.

    What can Melky Cabrera do that Mitch Maier can’t?

    What can Andruw Jones do that Brandon Laird can’t?

    Over his last 1300 at bats, Jones is hitting .217 with an OBP of .311.

    And for that, he’s getting two million?

    I guess it’s lucky for him Sizzler wasn’t hiring.

  113. brautigan Says:

    Generally, the talented ballplayers skip AAA, or start out in AAA for a month or so before being called up (Buster Posey is a good example of that).

    I mean really, check out all the “stars” in MLB and see how much development time they spent in AAA. It doesn’t amount to much.

  114. Raul Says:

    I think too many prospects are hurt by skipping AAA.

  115. Chuck Says:

    It used to be the biggest step for a player is from AAA to the majors.

    It still may be, but the step isn’t as big.

    Either that, or Jason Heyward and Mike Stanton are freaks.

    Counting his AFL total, Stephen Strasburg had less than 75 minor league innings.

    Greg Maddux had 491.

    The Nats are responsible for Strasburg’s injury.

    Instead of working with the kid for a couple of years teaching him how to pitch and cleaning up his mechanics, they were too fucking greedy.

    You’re supposed to use young stud pitchers to get into the playoffs, not avoid 100 losses.

  116. Hartvig Says:

    You will very often find a teams best talent at the AA or lower levels and it’s been mostly that way since at least the 1960’s.
    Joe Morgan never played a day of AAA ball, neither did Alan Trammell or Lou Whitaker. Same for their Brewer contemporaries Robin Yount & Paul Molitor. Same for a slugger like Reggie Jackson & a singles hitter like Pete Rose. It’s does appear that most pitchers & catchers spend a little time in AAA but even there Doc Gooden & Catfish Hunter were exceptions. Maybe it has something to do with having a cool nickname.

    I don’t know that every team does it every year but I think most AAA rosters are full of career minors leaguers or cup-o-coffee major leaguers who are there in case someone at the MLB level goes down & they need a body to call up and fill a spot on the bench without taking playing time away from their best prospects. I went to a couple of Toledo Mudhens games in the mid-1990’s & they had guys like 37 year old Skeeter Barnes & 32 y/o Jeff Kunkel & 33 y/o Steve Springer- all guys who were marginal major leaguers- mixed in with Bobby Higginson & Milt Cuyler and a couple other prospects. I also saw them play the Red’s AAA franchise Indianapolis, who had a 33 year old Kurt Stillwell playing shortstop- who I had seen play over a decade earlier in Cedar Rapids when the Reds were trying to make up their mind if he or a kid named Barry Larkin was going to be their shortstop of the future- and it was anything but a foregone conclusion as to which it would be. And now he was playing in the minors in case his brittle former rival went down to yet another injury.

  117. brautigan Says:

    Raul: It depends. Griffey Jr. skipped AA AND AAA.

  118. Raul Says:

    All the guys you’re noting are friggin HOFers

  119. John Says:

    Raul’s right…you can’t cite freaks as a rule.

  120. Hartvig Says:

    I still think you’ll find that most AAA franchises are staffed mostly with former major league bit players and never-quite-good enough, past-their-prime former prospects mixed in with a handful of make-or-break year prospects and a legitimate stud or 2.

    I was going to cite Ed Kranepool but I’ll be damned if he didn’t play parts of FOUR different seasons at AAA even though he was a starting player in the major leagues at age 18.

  121. brautigan Says:

    Junior Noboa was playing in the major leagues at age 19, same as Griffey Jr.

    YES, THAT Jr. Noboa.

  122. brautigan Says:

    Alex George…..1955 Kansas City A’s. Check out HIS age.

    Freaking amazing.

  123. KerryWhisnant Says:

    Braut,

    A couple of other players who played at age 16, and got a lot more playing time, were Tommy Brown (1944) and Jim Britt (1872). They both had 160 PA. Brown actually had a career lasting until 1953. Overall 15 players had at least 1 PA at age 16 (well, in the year in which they were 16 on June 30th, which is how baseball-reference fixes an age).

  124. Bob Says:

    Guess I will put this here. The Mets are looking for a minority owner in the aftermath of the Bernie Madoff scandal.

  125. Raul Says:

    Sucks. The Mets with Reyes, Beltran, Delgado, Johan, D Wright…and only made 1 NLCS.

    They should have gotten more out of the last few years.

    Maybe not as disappointing as those late 80s Mets teams, but damn…

  126. brautigan Says:

    Kerry: I kind of discounted Tommy Brown and Joe Nuxhall since they both were brought up during the WW2 era. Hell, if the Brownies can lose a pennant with a one armed OF, well……I just discount the WW2 era.

  127. Raul Says:

    Which do you think is harder? Teaching a guy to hit or Teaching a guy pitch recognition?

  128. Chuck Says:

    I don’t believe you CAN teach pitch recognition.

    It’s up to the individual, and seeing as each person has different eyesight, different depth perception, different night/day vision, it’s almost impossible.

    Adding the fact each pitch and pitcher is also different, all a hitting coach can do is give tricks or tips and let the hitter make his own adjustments.

  129. Lefty33 Says:

    “I still think you’ll find that most AAA franchises are staffed mostly with former major league bit players and never-quite-good enough, past-their-prime former prospects mixed in with a handful of make-or-break year prospects and a legitimate stud or 2.”

    Just as an example the Phillies, other than the short time Brown spent in AAA last year and will likely spend at the beginning of this year, have not had a stud at AAA that did anything since Howard in 2005.

    Since then it’s been every Brian Mazone and Pablo Ozuna clone that could be found on the FA or independent league market.

  130. brautigan Says:

    I have to agree with Chuck. I used to be able to hit curve balls to the opposite field with regularity. However, if someone threw me an over hand curve, i couldn’t touch it with a paddle. I think it had to do with pitch recognition….I always saw it as a fastball….every time. We used to have this big guy with a good over hand curve and I asked him to throw that pitch to me a lot in practice and I used to hit it all the time. Then, in a game situation, here came that over hand curve and WHIFF. (It’s because I knew the over hand curve was coming in practice, but in a game situation, I didn’t recognize it in time to adjust).

  131. Hartvig Says:

    I live in a northern state where the biggest sports team is the University of North Dakota hockey team. I followed an on line link to ProHockeyTalk (PHT) where 2 guys ranked the 36 best professional hockey players.

    I had never heard of a single one of them.

    Professional hockey is doomed.

  132. Cameron Says:

    Figure to make a comment relevant to this topic before it dies.

    Chicago locks up Alexei Ramirez with a 4 year, $32.5MM contract extension. Thoughts? Personally, I think Ramirez would be in line to ask for more in the market if he hit it, but is he overpaying? I think at the end of the contract, he’ll prove his worth.

  133. Chuck Says:

    When I first heard about the contract, I immediately thought of guys like Evan Longoria and Justin Upton and some others, guys who were “bought out” of their remaining arbitration years and maybe even their first couple of free agency.

    It makes sense for both sides to get a young player under contract early and use it as a motivator later on for a bigger deal and also shows the other players in the organization and even the fan bases the team is serious about winning.

    Then I saw Ramirez’ age.

    He’s 29.

    This IS his biggest deal.

    If Ramirez was 24, 25 I’d say it was a good contract, probably a bit of an underpay, but fair for both sides.

    At 29, it’s not so good. Maybe not necessarily an overpay, but if Ramirez doesn’t play 155 games a season for the next four years it sure will be.

    I like Ramirez better as a second baseman anyway, so maybe I’m shortselling him a bit based on bias, but……

  134. John Says:

    Meh.

    It might be a little bit of an overpay, but at 8M/season till he’s 32? For a SS with a little pop?

    Not an awful deal.

  135. JohnBowen Says:

    Continuing in our series, I’ve gone ahead and published my preview for the NL Central. Enjoy!

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