Dugout Central’s National League East Preview

by Chuck

The 2009 season for the teams in the National League East were newsworthy right from Opening Day, with Roy Halladay making his National League debut and Braves’ rookie Jason Heyward homering in a nationally televised game. Halladay would go on to win the Cy Young, throw a perfect game and a postseason no-hitter in the process. Heyward would fade down the stretch but still finished second in ROY voting, and was joined by a long list of solid rookies, including Ike Davis, Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen, Logan Morrison, Gaby Sanchez and Mike Stanton. The Phillies won the division easily, with Atlanta making a late season push to overtake the San Diego Padres on the season’s final day. Unfortunately, neither the Phils or Braves could get the job done, with both failing to reach the World Series.

The headlines didn’t end when the season did, however, with Cliff Lee returning to Philadelphia, and the Marlins trading star second baseman to division rival Atlanta. As was the case heading into 2009, the Phillies once again are the pre-season favorites to represent the NL in the Fall Classic, but each of its division rivals took steps to make sure they weren’t eliminated by Memorial Day. Three of the five teams have new managers, Terry Collins in New York, Fredi Gonzalez in Atlanta, and Edwin Rodriguez had the interim tag removed from his title in Florida.

Looking at each team:

Atlanta Braves

The Braves returned to the postseason in 2010 for the first time since their fourteen year run of consecutive appearances ended in 2005. Despite losing to the eventual World Series champion Giants in the Division Series, the Braves’ run to the Wild Card provided a fitting end to the managerial career of Bobby Cox, who had announced his retirement before the season.

The Braves managed to win 91 games despite a patchwork lineup caused by injury, most notably to third baseman Chipper Jones, Jason Heyward and Brooks Conrad, respectively. The Braves will once again rely on contributions from younger players, but with Jones due back in the lineup by May, the Braves should remain in the race for most of the season.

Infield:

The key to the Braves’ season unquestionably lies in the health of Jones. Falling six or more games behind in the first month would be a big hill to climb. In Jones’ absence last fall, the Braves received solid play from both Martin Prado and Omar Infante, but with Prado now penciled into a starting OF role and Infante in Miami, an early return is paramount.

Atlanta acquired slugging second baseman Dan Uggla from Florida, and while his bat should play well between Jones and Jason Heyward in the lineup, he is a defensive liability. With a pitching staff loaded with ground ball pitchers, Uggla concievably have as many errors as homers. Rookie Freddie Freeman takes over for Troy Glaus at first, and while he is a definite upgrade defensively, Freeman doesn’t project to have the run producing bat Glaus did. The steady Alex Gonzalez, acquired mid-season from Toronto, returns as the everyday shortstop.

Outfield:

Rookie of the Year runner-up Jason Heyward will again handle rightfield, but the other to positions check in with question marks. Martin Prado takes over in left field from the departed Matt Diaz and Melky Cabrera, with Nate McLouth, he of the .190 BA/.209 OBP is the centerfielder. McLouth is solid enough defensively, but if he doesn’t return to the offensive form he showed a few years ago as a Pirate, the Braves may look to former Cardinal Joe Mather or former top prospect Jordan Schafer to step in.

Catcher:

All-Star Game MVP Brian McCann remains in place to catch his usual 135 games or so, with David Ross competing with former Red Willkin Castillo for the backup role.

Starting Rotation:

Undoubtedly the biggest surprise to come out of the Braves’ season was getting a combined sixty-seven starts from mid-thirties veterans Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe. Throw in the thirty-four posted by youngster Tommy Hanson, it gave Atlanta 101 starts from their top three in the rotation. Jair Jurrjens returned from injury to post twenty starts and Kenshin Kawakami made sixteen of his own before he got hurt. All four return in 2011, with rookies Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy battling free agent veteran Rodrigo Lopez for the fifth spot.

Bullpen:

Rookie Craig Kimbrell showed promising signs last year when closer Billy Wagner went down with an injury, posting a 4-0 record and a 0.44 ERA in twenty-one games. The remainder of pen looks to be a nice mix of veterans and rookies, with George Sherrill, Scott Linebrink and Scott Proctor joining Kimbrell and Jonny Venters.

Outlook:

Asking the Braves to repeat their 91 wins from last season, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Jones and their weakened defense, although where the ultimately finish in September will be determined by their play in April. As the old saying goes, you can’t win a pennant during the first month, but you sure can lose it.

Florida Marlins

To say the Marlins’ 2009 season was weird would be considered an understatement. Despite having the National League’s third lowest payroll, expectations for a postseason run were high in South Beach, but things started to go “south” on their season almost from the get-go.

Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez got into scraps with manager Fredi Gonzalez and teammate Dan Uggla over his lack of hustle and insubordination, then three weeks later found themselves on the receiving end of Roy Halladay’s perfect game, shortly after which manager Fredi Gonzalez received a pink slip.

If those occurrences weren’t enough, Chris Coghlan suffered a torn knee cartiledge celebrating a walkoff win and pitcher Ricky Nolasco suffered a knee injury of his own taking off a shoe.

Despite the weirdness, the Marlins somehow managed to finish the season one game below .500 and almost immediately began working on the upcoming season. Uggla was traded to the Braves, and the two key pieces of the 2007 Miguel Cabrera, outfielder Cameron Maybin and pitcher Andrew Miller, where shipped out in seperate deals.

Infield:

Gaby Sanchez and Ramirez return at first and short, respectively. Omar Infante, who nearly won the NL batting title before fading at the end of th e season, will play second. Third base is the question mark, with veteran utility player Wes Helms currently listed as the starter, although the Marlins hope rookie Scott Cousins can win the centerfield job in the spring which would allow Coghlan to play third, his natural position. Ozzie Martinez, Emilio Bonafacio and Donnie Murphy figure to be the primary infield reserves.

Outfield:

The Marlins led all major league teams by using 21 rookies last season, and that trend could continue this year, at least as far as their outfield is concerned. Even if Coghlan is the starter in center, Cousins almost assuredly will be the fourth OF, with Logan Morrison in left, joining last season’s rookie standout, Mike Stanton. Morrison, a first baseman by trade, played well during his intial outfield experiment, but his calling card is clearly his bat. Many believe, myself included, that Morrison will win a batting title or three before he’s done. With all the publicity thrown on fellow rookie rightfielder Jason Heyward early on, Stanton bided his time in AA, hitting 23 three homers in 57 games before being called up, and he responded with another 22, giving him a total of 45 for the season. Bonafacio, Cousins and non-roster invitee DeWayne Wise figure to see most of the reserve outfield time.

Catcher:

John Buck, acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays, takes over as the starter, with John Baker and Brett Hayes the backups.

Starting Pitching:

The starting rotation is all but set, headlined by Cy Young contender Josh Johnson. He will be followed by Nolasco, free agent signee Javier Vazquez, Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad. Lefty Sean West could find himself in the mix depending on Nolasco’s health. There is no major league ready pitching in Florida’s system, so an injury to any of the starters, especially Johnson, will have the Marlins scrambling through the waiver wires for a fill-in.

Bullpen:

Leo Nunez as the closer doesn’t excite anyone outside of Mrs. Nunez, but the Marlins have done a pretty good job of filling in the holes around him. Lefty Mike Dunn came over from Atlanta as part of the Uggla deal, sidearming lefty Randy Choate is available as are righthanders Clay Hensley and Eric Mujica.

Outlook:

Looking around the division it’s hard to see the Marlins improving on their 80 wins, everyone else, including Washington, seems to have gotten better. As long as Josh Johnson stays healthy it’s hard to envision Florida suffering a long losing streak, but with question marks at third and center, a thin bench and even thinner minor league system, it’s hard to see them putting together a long winning streak.

New York Mets

Cliff Lee to Philadelphia. Cliff Lee not going to New York. Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. Zack Greinke or Matt Garza.

No matter your own preferences, the most important off-season move made by any team may have not included a player; the Mets’ ending the Omar Minaya era in favor of future Hall of Famer Sandy Alderson has already paid dividends.

Despite the fire and brimstone which tarnished his final three seasons in New York, the Mets posted a .521 winning percentage during Minaya’s six year tenure. Blowing late season leads in both 2007 and 2008, at home no less, and losing 92 games in 2010 while having baseball’s second highest payroll sealed Minaya’s fate.

Alderson immediately went to work, hiring and firing his way through the front office, bringing in former GM’s J.P. Ricciardi (Toronto) and Paul DePodesta (Dodgers) as assistant GM and President of Player Development and Scouting respectively, and hiring Chad MacDonald as his Scouting Director.

On the field in 2009, there wasn’t much to get excited about. The Mets lost Carlos Delgado to hip surgery for the season, and got just 64 games played from star outfielder Carlos Beltran. Adding insult to injury, the Mets received six homers and 47 RBI from big free agent signing Jason Bay and lost ace Johan Santana halfway through the season to shoulder surgery.

Things can’t get any worse, right?

Infield:

On paper, at least positionally, the Mets have few, if any, holes. First baseman Ike Davis is coming off a solid rookie season, Jose Reyes and David Wright form a solid left side. It’s no secret the Mets would like to upgrade over Luis Castillo at second base, and even went so far to pick up two potential second base prospects in the Rule V draft. Castillo, a pending free agent (as is Reyes) could conceivably be traded for pitching help or even released. Luis Hernandez is the primary INF backup, with Brad Emaus, Nick Evans, Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy in the mix for playing time.

Outfield:

The only concerns here are Jason Bay’s offense and Carlos Beltran’s defense. Bay, picked up from Boston following the 2009 season as a free agent, managed to play just 95 games and offered almost nothing at the plate. Beltran (my pick for 2011 Comeback Player of the Year) missed most of the season recovering from knee surgery and, like Reyes, is entering his walk year. Angel Pagan will play rightfield, but if Beltran experiences problems with his knee they will switch positions. The Mets really don’t have any rookies ready to step in and play everyday, but their three most advanced prospects are outfielders; Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Lucas Duda and Fernando Martinez. Nieuwenhuis is a lefty hitter capable of playing all three OF spots and has passed Minaya fav Martinez on the depth chart. Duda saw time in the major last year and has the advantage of being able to spell Ike Davis at first, although as an outfielder he is limited to left. The Mets have brought in former Nationals’ super-sub Willie Harris as a non-roster player, he could land a prominent role if the Mets decide to go with twelve pitchers at the start of the season.

Catcher:

Rookie Josh Thole surprised everyone with his performance last year, especially defensively. He remains the starter, with Ronnie Paulino, Mike Nickeas and non roster veteran Raul Chavez looking for reserve time.

Starting Pitching:

Johan Santana will be out until July..at the earliest. To replace him the Mets signed former Padre Chris Young and former Twin Boof Bonser. In Santana’s absence, the rotation figures to consist of Mike Pelfrey, RA Dickey, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Young. Former Brewer Chris Capuano could beat out Gee for the fifth starter spot, although new Mets’ manager Terry Collins likes his versatility out of the pen. The Mets’ top overall prospect, pitcher Jenrry Mejia is following in the career path of the Rangers’ Neftali Feliz and will spend all of, if not most of, the 2011 season in AAA Buffalo converting to a starter.

Bullpen:

Former starter Oliver Perez is now a reliever, although after his disastrous Winter League performance it remains to be seen in exactly what capacity. Blaine Boyer, Capuano, Bonser, DJ Carrasco, Taylor Buchholz join closer Frankie Rodriguez in a veteran laden, but on paper still shaky, bullpen.

Despite all the negativity surrounding the Mets last season, on the field and off, they somehow managed to win 79 games. On paper, everyone else in the division seems to have taken steps forward, so for the Mets to stay competitive all season they’ll need to score alot of runs to compensate for their questionable pitching. Imperative to that is a healthy Carlos Beltran and a resurgence from Jason Bay. Without either of those factors, the Mets will be sellers instead of buyers at the trade deadline.

Philadelphia Phillies

Last year at this time, after the acquisition of Roy Halladay, fans and media alike were saying it be best to just hand the Phillies the trophy and not bother playing the season.

We all know how that turned out.

People are saying the same thing now after Ciff Lee turned down blue pinstripes for red. Here’s the thing, Lee only plays 20% of the time, as did/does Halladay and Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.

The Lee signing aside, the core components of the Phillies lineup remain unchanged except on their birth certificates. Sure, the loss of Jayson Werth will hurt somewhat, but everyone else is back. The Phils will use Ben Francisco to replace Werth, at least until top prospect Domonic Brown proves he can handle major league pitching and improves his defense. Some scouts aren’t so sure he can do either. There’s no one else on the farm capable of filling an everyday role, so if the Phils run into some injury problems, which seems almost unaviodable considering past history and age, they may have to go outside the organization for a replacement.

Infield:

While all four starters return from last season, all four had injuries affect their seasons, Ryan Howard logged the most games played with 143, but he was hardly a factor and looked lost and overmatched during the postseason. Howard joined the departed Werth as the only Phillie position players to reach 20 homers for the season. Wilson Valdez remains the top infield reserve, with Brian Bocock battling non-roster invitees Delwyn Young and Jeff Larish for the 25th spot.

Outfield.

Only Werth played more games last year than did thirty-eight year old Raul Ibanez. Centerfielder Shane Victorino is coming off his career year but is entering his age 30 season also. Francisco, a former starter in Cleveland, will handle rightfield, with Ross Gload and the versatile Young possibly seeing some time there, depending on how Brown performs in spring training.

Catcher:

Carlos Ruiz remains the starter, with lefty swinging Brian Schneider his backup.

Starting Pitching:

Nothing really needs to be said here. Halladay, Oswalt, Lee and Hamels form what is already considered the best rotation in Phillies history. Trade rumors continue to swirl around fifth starter Joe Blanton, if he is in fact dealt, then the role falls to either Vance Worley or Kyle Kendrick.

Bullpen:

The bullpen, leading up to closer Brad Lidge, contains Ryan Madson, JC Romero, Jose Contreras, Danys Baez and Scott Mathieson. Lefty Antonio Bastardo and righty Drew Carpenter could also fit into the mix.

Outlook:

The Phillies were my favorite team as a kid, even before the Yankees. To this day I can’t root against them unless they’re playing New York, and I believe the overpaying of Cliff Lee to be monumentally stupid. Not only will Halladay have a better year, so will Oswalt and maybe even Hamels. If everybody pitches to their ability and remain healthy, the Phils are the NL East favorites. If they struggle through with injuries to their core, and if some guys start to show their age, it could be a long season because everyone else in the division made serious attempts to get better also.

Washington Nationals

For the second consecutive year, the Nationals set a record for bonus spending on the amateur draft, forking over almost twenty-four million dollars. While this possibly bodes well for the future, it doesn’t for the present, especially considering one of those big bonus recipients, pitcher Stephen Strasburg, will miss the entire 2011 season following Tommy John surgery. The draft amount spent by Washington comes more into light when you consider the $126 million they lavished on free agent Jayson Werth exceeds the total they had spent in the previous twenty years combined.

Werth is an upgrade defensively over the departed Adam Dunn but he won’t be the presence in the lineup Dunn was. A recent MLBNetwork poll listed Ryan Zimmerman as the second best third baseman in baseball and a top fifty overall player. Rookie shortstop Ian Desmond, despite spending most of the season in Manager Jim Riggleman’s doghouse, had a solid rookie season. Strasburg pitched well in his brief stint before his injury and while his presence had little effect on the standings, he more than made up for it in the box office, with Washington averaging about 14,000 more fans during his starts than in anyone else’s.

Infield:

Despite being bit players in the Carlos Pena/Derrick Lee free agent sweepstakes, the Nationals’ wisely avoided overpaying for those two underperforming vets and instead “settled” on the steady if unspectacular Adam LaRoche. A solid defender, LaRoche handles lefties pretty well and is a consistent everyday player. Rookie Danny Espinosa takes over at second base, with Desmond at short and All-Star Zimmerman at third. Alberto Gonzalez, Jerry Hairston Jr and non roster invitee Alex Cora figure to be the primary infield reserves alongside Mike Morse, who should see playing time in the outfield as well.

Outfield:

Other than Werth, the outfield picture in Washington is cloudy, at best. As of now, the other starters are Roger Bernadina in left and Nyjer Morgan in center. Neither player has a standout skill and offer nothing of value in terms of playing everyday. Morgan spent most of the season rooming with Desmond in the doghouse and appears to have exhausted the patience of Riggleman and GM Mike Rizzo. The Nats signed veterans Rick Ankiel, Matt Stairs, Brandon Moss and Jonathan Van Avery and acquired Corey Brown in a trade with Oakland in part to light a fire under the holdovers but with the hope one wins an everyday role.

Catcher:

Ivan Rodriguez returns as the everyday catcher with Jesus Flores and rookie Wilson Ramos fighting for the backup role. The Nats’ have a surplus of top catching prospects in the minor leagues with Derek Norris their catcher of the future. Flores has battled injuries over the past two years but was once the prize of Washington’s system and is the likeliest candidate to be traded for help somewhere else, most likely pitching.

Starting Pitching:

The loss of Strasburg decimates an already anorexic rotation, with guys like Luis Atilano and Yuniesky Maya figuring into the mix for a spot. The top three places will be filled by the ancient Livan Hernandez, Jason Marquis and Jordan Zimmermann. Tom Gorzelanny and Chien Ming Wang are veterans brought in with the hope they can fill in the bottom two spots. Over the past two seasons, the Nationals top drafted pitcher has made his major league debut the following season, with Strasburg following Zimmermann. While it’s hard to say for sure whether their respective lack of innings played a part, both players ended up needing Tommy John surgery. Lefty Sammy Solis was Washington’s top drafted pitcher in 2010, and as a college player may see limited action in 2011.

Bullpen:

The problem with Washington’s bullpen isn’t lack of talent, collectively they’re stronger than the rotation. The problem is they may be faced to throw alot more innings than Riggleman would like, thus reducing their effectiveness. Drew Storen, another 2009 draftee who made his debut less than a year after signing, pitched well enough early in the season in a middle innings role that Washington didn’t hesitate to trade closer Matt Capps at the deadline. Others in the pen with varying levels of experience include Ross Detwiler, Craig Stammen, Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard. Former Brewer closer Todd Coffey should land a role, with Garrett Mock, Chad Durbin and rookie Cole Kimball figuring to get good looks in the spring as well.

Outlook:

A good friend who writes for a well known Nationals’ blog insists they will win 75 games this season and are “one or two small moves away” from a .500 season. Over 162 games, winning an extra 6-10 games doesn’t seem like very much, one a month or so should do the trick. I asked him where he believes these other wins will come from; they only had one winning month all last year and went 30-42 against their own division. Washington finished 12th in the NL in runs allowed and 14th in runs scored, and I don’t see where they’ve done enough to improve.

Fearless Forecast:

The Phillies are clearly the best team in this division, although I don’t believe they will win 97 games this season, as a matter of fact, the second place Braves’ total of 91 wins will be enough. I don’t see a way the Braves’ elderly rotation can go two straight years without a significant injury, and even though I have high expectations for a return to greatness for Carlos Beltran, I’m not as optomistic that in itself will make up for not having Johan Santana for half the season, at least, and I believe Jason Bay will have a solid year. I almost wish I could live in Miami for the summer, just so I can go out and watch Logan Morrison and Gaby Sanchez rake and Mike Stanton hit moonshots. They’re going to struggle to reach .500, but watching those kids will be fun. I just hope Washington plays well enough so my buddy Jim Riggleman can get a new contract past this year.

I’m going to save my predictions for Thomas Wayne’s annual pre-season forecast series, but other than a possible Met’s/Marlins switch, I can’t see this division playing out much different than last year.

I will say the Braves total of 91 wins from last year will be enough to win the division this year, however.

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76 Responses to “Dugout Central’s National League East Preview”

  1. Chuck Says:

    Damn, this ended up being longer than “War and Peace.”

    Should I edit it down some?

  2. brautigan Says:

    No. It was a good read, perhaps not on par with War and Peace, but certainly enjoyable.

  3. JohnBowen Says:

    Great read Chuck.

    A couple minor points:

    - Jason Heyward wasn’t ROY, Posey was.
    - If Stanton hit 23 HR in AA and 22 in the bigs, that gives him 45 overall. Small detail.

    I was particularly interested in what you had to say about this:

    “Alderson immediately went to work, hiring and firing his way through the front office, bringing in former GM’s J.P. Ricciardi (Toronto) and Paul DePodesta (Dodgers) as assistant GM and President of Player Development and Scouting respectively”

    Ricciardi and DePo are both SABR guys; assistant GM is whatever, but President of Player Development and Scouting for DePodesta? Not exactly the prep school wonder’s strong suit right?

  4. Cameron Says:

    Ricciardi had pretty good drafts in Toronto that are paying off right about now. Guy couldn’t swing a trade or handle extensions for his life, but Alderson hired him to do what he does best.

    DePodesta isn’t ringing any bells for me though.

  5. JohnBowen Says:

    Well DePodesta was Beane’s assistant GM in Oakland; he was anecdotally cited in Moneyball as always being on his computer looking up stats.

    DePo was run out of town in LA after like two seasons. Not saying he was necessarily good at his job, but he wasn’t really given much of a chance.

  6. Cameron Says:

    Scouting and player development? …Take a look at Oakland’s pitching last season. Even if it was a fluke year, they developed and (mostly in Gio’s case) scouted some pretty damn good talent. I’d probably given JPR his job though.

  7. Chuck Says:

    “Heyward would fade down the stretch but still finished second in ROY voting,”

  8. Chuck Says:

    Never mind, I found it.

    Fixed.

    Thanks

  9. Cameron Says:

    And Alfredo Aceves, one of the decent bullpen options in the Yankees pen is now an official member of the Boston Red Sox. Assuming Boston carries 13 pitchers, their pen (if I was building it up) looks a little like this.

    Jonathon Papelbon
    Daniel Bard
    Bobby Jenks
    Dan Wheeler
    Hideki Okajima
    Michael Bowden
    Tim Wakefield
    Alfredo Aceves

    Scott Atchison, Felix Doubront, and Junichi Tazawa are guys that are waiting in Pawtucket, waiting for an injury to a starter or Wakefield to open a spot. Pound for pound, this is the best bullpen in the league on paper.

  10. Lefty33 Says:

    “The remainder of pen looks to be a nice mix of veterans and rookies, with George Sherrill, Scott Linebrink and Scott Proctor joining Kimbrell and Jonny Venters.”

    Scott Proctor?

    Wow that’s a name from the past. I thought that Torre burned him out and blew him up.

    “Brian Bocock battling non-roster invitees Delwyn Young and Jeff Larish for the 25th spot”

    Also in the mix for the 25th spot is Mayberry Jr.

    Charlie mentioned at one of the winter caravan stops that he will be taking reps at 1B in the spring, and that depending on how his spring looked he could have a chance if he can hit and play multiple positions (LF, RF, 1B).

    “The bullpen, leading up to closer Brad Lidge, contains Ryan Madson, JC Romero, Jose Contreras, Danys Baez and Scott Mathieson. Lefty Antonio Bastardo and righty Drew Carpenter could also fit into the mix.”

    I would actually say more that if Philly carry seven guys in the pen it will be Lidge, Madson, Romero, Contreras, Baez, Kendrick, and either Bastardo or Herndon.

    Carpenter took major steps back last year and I think that he’s done with the organization if he cannot put it together this year.

    I also don’t put a lot of stock in Mathieson is he finished out last season by missing the last few weeks with another arm injury.

    He looked great as the AAA closer but the guy is incapable of staying healthy for a whole year.

    And then in 2012 when some of the kids like Schwimer, De Fratus, and Stutes are likely to be ready that will be curtains for just about everyone not named Contreras as he is the only pen guy until contract for that season.

  11. Chuck Says:

    Mathieson is out of options Lefty, I believe, so he pretty much is guaranteed a spot regardless of how he pitches.

    Carpenter pitched pretty well from what I saw in the AFL, enough so that he’s at least gotten himself back into the mix for a spot.

    I agree he probably won’t make the team, but I think he’ll get some quality innings during the spring, even if they are showcase innings.

    I heard the same things about Mayberry, but I don’t think his chances are all that good. Young is a switch hitter who can play every position except one and two, Larish could beat out Gload for the lefty corner INF/OF spot.

  12. Lefty33 Says:

    “but I don’t think his chances are all that good. Young is a switch hitter who can play every position except one and two”

    I don’t think that Mayberry’s chances are good either but the team seems hell bent on finding out this year if he can sink or swim so that they can stop wasting a 40 man roster space on him.

    Hopefully the Phillies won’t turn him into another six year FA that they keep bringing back to clog up AAA every year.

    I agree with you on Young likely being the front runner for the spot as I read in the local paper that he turned down jobs from other teams to play every day so that he could come to Philly and win a ring.

    I doubt he would do that if there wasn’t a nod and wink part to the “minor league contract”.

    “but I think he’ll get some quality innings during the spring, even if they are showcase innings.”

    Carpenter got down to the final cuts in ST last year and then when he didn’t make the team he seemed to sulk throughout the whole year.

    Which was too bad because if he could have pitched last year they way he pitched in ‘09 he probably would have gotten the call when Moyer went down instead of Kendrick.

    “Mathieson is out of options Lefty, I believe”

    You very well could be right on this.

    But I swear I remember seeing on Scott Proefrock’s Twitter page that Mathieson still had options left as of June of last year due to the Phillies putting him on waivers to move him in June back to AAA instead of using a contract option.

  13. Cameron Says:

    If Mayberry’s anything like his dad, you’ll get a couple good years out of him and a lot of headaches for Charlie Manuel.

  14. Cameron Says:

    And Toronto’s now shopping Juan Rivera. So they basically traded Vernon Wells for salary relief. Can’t blame ‘em, but I would’ve kept Napoli just because he’s a good bat and could play first, shifting Lind out of the field. Ah well, they aren’t looking for impact players, just a supporting cast for their young guys and both of ‘em were due more money than AA felt comfortable with.

    And Colorado is officially pulling out of the Michael Young trade market because the best centerpiece fora deal they were giving up was Eric Young Jr. …If I was trading Young, I’d want more than fucking EYJ.

  15. Bob Says:

    Chuck, great job. I have my work cut out for me.

  16. Bob Says:

    Also, I heavily doubt Michael Bowden makes the Sox roster out of spring training. Matt Albers has a better shot at making the team than Bowden.

  17. Chuck Says:

    “But I swear I remember seeing on Scott Proefrock’s Twitter page that Mathieson still had options left as of June of last year due to the Phillies putting him on waivers to move him in June back to AAA instead of using a contract option.”

    Could be.

    Teams will sometimes remove an injured player from the roster and try and sneak him through waivers because they believe no one will put in a claim. Once he clears then his orginal team, Philadelphia in this case, signs him to a minor league contract, assigns him to a minor league team, then re-adds him to the 40 man roster.

    “And Toronto’s now shopping Juan Rivera”

    Not surprised, because he sucks.

    Napoli did surprise me, but when you realize he almost doubled his salary in arbitration, I would have traded him too. Twenty nine years old, five years in the majors, only one season with more than 120 games played, and he goes from $3.6 million to $5.8?

    If I’m Toronto, I’m not paying him that, either.

    “…If I was trading Young, I’d want more than fucking EYJ.”

    I cracked up when I saw that…Colorado expects to get a six time All Star for a guy who can’t even start for them and a couple of other chumps?

    I heard Texas asked for Aaron Cook and the Rockies said no.

    “Also, I heavily doubt Michael Bowden makes the Sox roster out of spring training.”

    Agreed.

  18. Chuck Says:

    “Chuck, great job.”

    Thanks, Bob.

  19. Raul Says:

    Happy Birthday, Vladimir Guerrero and Mookie Wilson.

    On this day in 1920:

    “The Joint Rules Committee bans all foreign substances or other alterations to the ball by pitchers, including saliva, resin, talcum powder, paraffin, and the shine and emery ball. A pitcher caught cheating will be suspended for 10 days. The American League allows each club to name just two pitchers who will be allowed to use the pitch for one more season. The National League allows each club to name all its spitball pitchers. No pitchers other than those designated will be permitted to use the banned pitch, and none at all after this season (however, the designated pitchers will eventually be allowed to use the pitch for the rest of their careers). Other rules changes: the adoption of writer Fred Lieb’s proposal that a game-winning home run with men on base be counted as a home run even if the batter’s run is not needed to win the game. Also, the intentional walk is banned, and everything that happens in a protested game will go in the records.”

    The Intentional walk is banned??

  20. Bob Says:

    Well how the heck did Jim Rice get one with the bases loaded???
    I am kidding, just trying to get a laugh.

  21. Chuck Says:

    Last year with Pittsburgh, Ross Ohlendorf made 21 starts, pitched 108.1 innings, allowed 106 hits, walked 44 and struck out 79, posted a 1.38 WHIP, a 4.07 ERA and a won/lost record of 1-11.

    Ohlendorf made the major league minimum last year ($439k). Ohlendorf was arbitration eligible this year and had asked the Pirates for $2.025MM, the Pirates offered $1.4MM, a pretty significant raise for a guy who went 1-11.

    Ohlendorf won his salary.

    How the fuck can a guy who goes 1-11 get a 500% raise?

    How is it a guy who goes 1-11 is in arbitration in the first place? I would have released his sorry ass.

    MLB should take over ownership of the Pirates like they did with Washington, something needs to be done. The Pirates are a great franchise and Pittsburgh will support a winning team..just ask the Steelers.

  22. brautigan Says:

    Ohlendorf is being paid for what he did in 2009. However, there were a heck of a lot of pitchers last year that Ohlendorf out performed and those guys made a lot more money. Besides, Ohlendorf’s 1-11 record does not indicate what he did on the mound….more like what his offense did behind him.

  23. JohnBowen Says:

    “How the fuck can a guy who goes 1-11 get a 500% raise?
    How is it a guy who goes 1-11 is in arbitration in the first place? I would have released his sorry ass.”

    He was the best pitcher on his team?

    He wasn’t bad at all. He had a 100 ERA+ and got 2 runs or less of support in 13 of his 21 starts.

    If he had pitched for the Yankees, he would’ve gone 12-2 and everyone would have thought he was awesome.

  24. Raul Says:

    It’s not about Ross Ohlendorf being a bad pitcher.

    It’s whether you think his performance dictated his salary be increased 500%.

    What if Luke Hochevar went to arbitration and they increased his 1.7 million dollar salary to 8.8 million? Would you people be defending THAT case?

  25. JohnBowen Says:

    Of course not. He’s a worse pitcher and that’s a more drastic increase.

    In the scope of arbitration cases, Ohlendorf’s is extremely reasonable.

  26. brautigan Says:

    Raul: I’m still trying to wrap my head around Jason Werth’s contract. Replace Luke Hochevar with Jason Werth and you have a real life example.

  27. Raul Says:

    Luke Hochevar in 2010
    6-6, 4.81 ERA, 103 IP, 110 Hits, 55 ER, 37 walks, 76 strikeouts

    Ross Ohlendorf in 2010
    1-11, 4.07 ERA, 108 IP, 106 Hits, 49 ER, 44 walks, 79 strikeouts

    Is Hochevar really THAT much worse a pitcher? Really dude? Really?

    Ohlendorf’s 2010 salary = $439,000
    Ohlendorf’s 2011 salary = $2,025,000

    That’s a little less than 5x his 2010 salary.

    Hochevar’s 2010 salary = $1,760,000
    If I were to multiply his salary 5 times, Hochevar’s salary would be that 8.8 million dollars.

    The Pirates offered Ohlendorf 1.4 million. Which seems like a significant increase, and rather generous.

    Question is: Did the arbitrator use Hochevar as a reference point and decide Ohlendorf was a little better?

    or

    Was the arbitrator looking at some weird stats that said he was 5 times more valuable than some “replacement” player and thus increased his salary as such?

    In case you’re wondering, Ross Ohlendorf now makes more money than David Price.
    I know, Price will get his.

    I’m just saying…

  28. brautigan Says:

    Hey, Brian Fuentes got $10 million for two years to be a situational lefty. If you’re paying a situational lefty $10 million for two years, then you have a bargain in Ohlendorf (a starting pitcher).

  29. John Says:

    2 million for a league averagish starter?

    I’m seriously not seeing the issue here.

    based on the fact that he’s been in the league for a couple years, he’s going to start making more than the league minimum. Certainly the fact that Lastings Milledge sucks at hitting shouldn’t affect Ohlendorf’s salary.

  30. JohnBowen Says:

    “Is Hochevar really THAT much worse a pitcher? Really dude? Really?”

    He’s making 1.76 million in 2011.

    Ohlendorf is making 2.

    I would say that yes, Ohlendorf is at least 250 grand better than Hochevar.

  31. Lefty33 Says:

    “The Pirates are a great franchise and Pittsburgh will support a winning team..just ask the Steelers.”

    The problem with that theory Chuck is that there are more people every home game that drive hundreds of miles to get to a Steelers game than there are actual locals.

    You cannot compare the two as they are 100% different and each draw a different fan base and fan type.

    Eight times a year and treated like an event versus eight-one times and who the hell cares when it’s Tuesday night and their playing the Nats.

  32. Cameron Says:

    It’s kind of sad that PNC doesn’t draw that big a crowd. It’s a really nice park with the best food in the league. Primanti Bros. and Quaker Steak and Lube both have franchises there. I’d buy a series ticket if I was in town just for the food.

  33. JohnBowen Says:

    Lefty hit the nail on the head.

    Speaking of ballpark food, the Brewers introduced something called the “racing sausage kabob.” It’s exactly what it sounds like.

    The Brewers have finally done it. They’ve found a way to make Milwaukee even fatter.

  34. Lefty33 Says:

    “Quaker Steak and Lube both have franchises there.”

    You dig their stuff Cameron? Better you than me.

    I eat once at the one in Scranton last year and the best I can say is that my colon got a good cleansing out of the experience.

    To quote the Beverly Hillbillies: “And up from the ground came a bubblin’ crude.”

  35. Shaun Says:

    Ohlendorf made the major league minimum last year ($439k). Ohlendorf was arbitration eligible this year and had asked the Pirates for $2.025MM, the Pirates offered $1.4MM, a pretty significant raise for a guy who went 1-11.

    Ohlendorf won his salary.

    How the fuck can a guy who goes 1-11 get a 500% raise?

    How is it a guy who goes 1-11 is in arbitration in the first place?

    I agree. I would have non-tendered Ohlendorf. He’s not exactly young and he’s not good. They could have signed someone like Rodrigo Lopez (just naming him as an example) and probably got reasonably close to what they’ll get out of Ohlendorf.

    But, in defense of the arbiter, I can understand why they took the side of $2.025M over $1.4M. His 2010 ERA was exactly league average when you adjust for ballpark. The Pirates were clearly the worst offensive team in the league. They were also the worst defensive team in terms of defensive efficiency, all sorts of metrics of fielding runs and runs saved, and in terms of errors and fielding percentage. So that 1-11 record pretty much goes out the window.

    A comp–major league average pitcher that can start 20-30 games–is probably worth closer to $2.025M than just over $1M in 2011 dollars. I’m not saying it’s worth it for the Pirates to pay that to a 28-year-old who is average at best, or to offer him over $1M. But from the standpoint of an arbiter, I can see why they bought into the argument that he should get in the $2M range over $1.4M.

  36. Jim Says:

    Interesting thoughts about the Twins on the possibility that they may move Francisco Liriano. Due to injury risk they won’t give him a long term deal and will let him walk when he reaches FA. I wonder what they can get for him?

    http://www.startribune.com/sports/twins/115676604.html?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUCDEaLDyE7DyaU

  37. Raul Says:

    Liriano would get Minnesota some offers. But considering he’s gonna walk, how much would you really offer them?

    I’m wondering if it’s better for the Mets to just blow up the team and rebuild now. They’re in some trouble financially with the Madoff stuff and they aren’t going to win with the Phillies and Braves.

    Suck it up a little bit, and put yourself in a position to dominate when the Phillies get old and crappy in 3 years. No?

  38. Raul Says:

    And when I mean “blow up the team”, I mean move everyone with the possible exception of David Wright and Mike Pelfrey.

  39. Jim Says:

    Unbuilt ballparks – mostly thank god

    Liriano is under team control for 2 years so he’s worth more. But the big risk is injury.

    The Mets should blow it up, but given the Madoff problem they are in deep shit. Expect the club to be sold.

  40. Jim Says:

    http://www.stadiumpage.com/stpages/concepts2.html

    forgot the link

  41. Raul Says:

    Born Today:

    Herb Pennock – HOF
    Jim Barr
    Lenny Dykstra
    Bobby Jones
    Hiroki Kuroda
    Lance Berkman

    Berkman probably won’t make the Hall of Fame but his current slash stats are .296/.409/.545 over 12 seasons. OPS+ has him at 145 for his career, if you care for that. His most similar batter according to BBREF is Albert Belle. It’s gonna be a big debate when he retires, I’m sure.

    On this date in 1971:

    Former player Bill White becomes the first black play-by-play broadcaster in major league history. WPIX-TV hires White to team with Phil Rizzuto and Frank Messer on New York Yankees broadcasts.

  42. Bob Says:

    The Angels beat Jered Weaver in arbitration. I guess Scott Boras can lose.

  43. Cameron Says:

    They’ll probably make it up in his next contract negotiation.

    …I still wonder how the reigning strikeout king loses arbitration.

  44. Raul Says:

    30 home runs.

    Over/Under on Carlos Santana in 2011?

  45. Chuck Says:

    Under

  46. Bob Says:

    Under as well.

  47. Bob Says:

    Jim, the author of the article cites Fangraphs and uses terms like xFIP. Just saying.

  48. brautigan Says:

    Under.

  49. Cameron Says:

    Under, close under.

  50. Bob Says:

    Josh Hamilton and the Rangers agreed to a 2-year deal.

  51. Jim Says:

    @Bob #47 True, I guess the writer is trying to be a nerd, since nerds are cool.

    What you need to know about Liriano is that he’s had surgery twice, he has a violent delivery, his best pitch is a slider (and a nasty one), which in 2010 he threw 34% of the time.

    The problem with Liriano is the injury risk. He’s a very good, but not great pitcher, who can be dominating for stretches. If I were a GM, I’d have no problem paying him big money, $10M+, on a season by season basis, but there is no way I’d give him a multi year deal.

  52. Raul Says:

    Although Jaime Moyer is technically still active, it looks like the oldest player that will appear in a game in 2011 is going to be Tim Wakefield.

    Wakefield is 44 and turns 45 in August.

    Behind him is Matt Stairs, who just signed with the Washington Nationals over the winter. Stairs is 42 and turns 43 in 2 weeks.

    When Tim Wakefield made his debut on July 31, 1992 with Pittsburgh, this was the line-up:

    Alex Cole – RF
    Jay Bell – SS
    Andy van Slyke – CF
    Barry Bonds – LF
    Orlando Merced – 1B
    Jeff King – 3B
    Don Slaught – C
    Jose Lind – 2B
    Tim Wakefield – P

    Wakefield pitched a complete game that day, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits and striking out 10 enroute to a 3-2 Pirates victory. And in case you’re wondering, he threw 146 pitches. Time of Game: 2:17.

    The losing pitcher that day was Jose DeLeon and on his Baseball Reference page, the following quote is in his sponsor banner:

    Conversation between Tim McCarver and Ralph Kiner during a Mets telecast. McCarver: “Hey Ralph, remember Jose DeLeon on the Pirates? I always thought he was gonna be a star. Did you think he had good stuff?” Kiner: “Best 2 and 19 pitcher I ever saw.”

  53. Chuck Says:

    Who would have thought when he made his ML debut at age 25 that Wakefield would have a 20 year career?

    Stairs signed a minor league contract and is a non-roster player, chances of him making Washington, IMO, are pretty slim.

  54. Raul Says:

    When Wakefield made his ML debut, I was 12 years old, Chuck.

    12.

  55. Chuck Says:

    I was older than you are now.

  56. JohnBowen Says:

    I’m amazed that Stairs has made it this long.

    I remember him coming to the Brewers in 02 and thinking that there was no way he’d play the next year.

    Dude has a 118 OPS+. Higher than I would have thought, but then again there’s no way he puts that up as a regular, facing lefties every so often.

  57. Raul Says:

    I didn’t know this, but Tom Glavine is 12th all-time in Games Started.

    That’s very impressive to me.

  58. Cameron Says:

    If Stairs makes the Nats roster out of camp, he’ll set the record for most teams played with 13.

  59. Cameron Says:

    And the O’s avoid arbitration with Luke Scott for 6.45 million.

    Scott’s the everyday LF with Vlad in the picture. I’m wondering how the Os will do this season. With the additions of Lee, Reynolds, Hardy, and Guerrero, their lineup is now infintely better than what they were packing last year.

    …On the other hand, the defense TANKED and the athleticism in the team’s pretty much gone.

  60. Raul Says:

    I think Luke Scott is a fine player. I wouldn’t mind using him as a DH but with Vladimir there, DH goes out of the window.

    It just means Adam Jones has to cover a lot of ground.

  61. Cameron Says:

    Luke Scott’s not exactly a statue yet, but Jones and Markakis are gonna have to bust their ass this season

  62. Raul Says:

    It could have been Seattle with Jones in CF…

    Was Gutierrez there at that time? I’m not saying an OF of Gutierrez, Jones and Ichiro would instill fear offensively, but defensively? Pitchers would love it.

  63. Cameron Says:

    Death to Flying Things didn’t come to Seattle until 2009 as part of the huge three-team deal that sent Putz to the Mets, Jones has been in Baltimore since 2008.

    And Gutierrez, Jones, and Icihro would pretty much be your top 3 of the lineup, and a damn good one.

  64. Raul Says:

    Gotcha.

  65. Kerry Says:

    Nice piece Chuck.

    “I’m going to save my predictions for Thomas Wayne’s annual pre-season forecast series.”

    Did you mean mine? This will be the third annual DC Challenge. Everybody start thinking about your predictions (how many games each team will win). I’ve already set up my spreadsheet :-)

  66. Bob Says:

    The Mariners sign Manny Delcarmen.

  67. John Says:

    Is anyone doing the AL West?

  68. Chuck Says:

    Brautigan is..I have the NL West, Bob has the AL East.

  69. Chuck Says:

    You can do the NL West if you’re looking for something to do, John, I haven’t started it yet..so no harm, no foul.

    I have prospect stuff to do anyway.

  70. John Says:

    Roger that.

    Not a ton to say there, but I’ll pump something out.

    I think it’ll actually be the weakest division in baseball next year

  71. brautigan Says:

    John: After looking at the AL West, it’s not too strong either……..

  72. John Says:

    Eh,

    I think 3 of the 4 teams in the AL West will be above .500 (but the A’s will win with just 90 or so).

    As for the for the West? I have the Rockies edging the Giants 87 to 85 and no one else above .500.

  73. Cameron Says:

    Funny, I think the NL West will still be relatively strong whereas the AL West will have two winning teams (Oakland and Texas).

  74. Lefty33 Says:

    “Carpenter pitched pretty well from what I saw in the AFL, enough so that he’s at least gotten himself back into the mix for a spot.”

    The Phillies gave Carpenter the ol’ DFA today.

  75. Chuck Says:

    LOL, Lefty.

    I said he’d gotten himself back in the mix for a spot, I didn’t say it would be with the Phillies.

    :)

  76. Bob Says:

    The Phillies are considering signing John Maine

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