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2016 MLB thread. THE CUBS HAVE BROKEN THE CURSE! Chicago Cubs are your 2016 World Series champions. - Page 11

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Third baseman Adrian Beltre will be out longer than originally expected because of his calf strain, but the Texas Rangers emphasized Thursday that he's not in jeopardy of missing Opening Day.

The Rangers originally thought Beltre could return from his Grade 1 calf strain by March 10, but assistant general manager Thad Levine said that likely won't be the case.

"We're less focused on the exact target date and making sure he's ready for Opening Day," Levine said. "We've been given no cause for concern that Opening Day is in jeopardy. We're still optimistic it's not going to be a month, but it will be more than 10 to 14 days."

post #302 of 77570
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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Third baseman Adrian Beltre will be out longer than originally expected because of his calf strain, but the Texas Rangers emphasized Thursday that he's not in jeopardy of missing Opening Day.

The Rangers originally thought Beltre could return from his Grade 1 calf strain by March 10, but assistant general manager Thad Levine said that likely won't be the case.

"We're less focused on the exact target date and making sure he's ready for Opening Day," Levine said. "We've been given no cause for concern that Opening Day is in jeopardy. We're still optimistic it's not going to be a month, but it will be more than 10 to 14 days."

post #303 of 77570

Players, Owners Begin Formal Bargaining

MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner says the players and owners had their first formal bargaining session in Tampa Bay last night, according to Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun. Baseball's Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire after the season, so the sides will continue negotiating over the course of the coming months.

A number of issues, including the amateur draft, revenue sharing and expanded playoffs, figure to be on the bargaining table. But there's one major issue that won't likely come up: a salary cap. Weiner told Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he doesn't expect the possibility of a salary cap to be an issue. In fact, Weiner says he doesn't expect that either side "is looking to make fundamental or radical changes in the structure of [the existing] contract."




Get this started early and out of the way smokin.gif

post #304 of 77570

Players, Owners Begin Formal Bargaining

MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner says the players and owners had their first formal bargaining session in Tampa Bay last night, according to Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun. Baseball's Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire after the season, so the sides will continue negotiating over the course of the coming months.

A number of issues, including the amateur draft, revenue sharing and expanded playoffs, figure to be on the bargaining table. But there's one major issue that won't likely come up: a salary cap. Weiner told Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he doesn't expect the possibility of a salary cap to be an issue. In fact, Weiner says he doesn't expect that either side "is looking to make fundamental or radical changes in the structure of [the existing] contract."




Get this started early and out of the way smokin.gif

post #305 of 77570
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The Cincinnati Reds are the defending NL Central champs. The Milwaukee Brewers are this year’s darlings after adding Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum to a team already flush with big bats and young bullpen arms. The St. Louis Cardinals should still contend even with Adam Wainwright gone, given the presence of Chris Carpenter, Matt Holliday, Colby Rasmus, and the best player in the world.

Where does leave the Chicago Cubs? Middle of the pack, most likely.

Projected Starting Lineup
1 RF Kosuke Fukudome*
2 SS Starlin Castro
3 CF Marlon Byrd
4 3B Aramis Ramirez
5 1B Carlos Peña*
6 LF Alfonso Soriano
7 C Geovany Soto
8 2B Blake DeWitt*
*indicates left-handed batter

There’s some upside there.

The Cubs finished 10th in the NL last season in runs scored, as a lot went wrong with the offense. After six straight seasons with a wOBA of .380 or better, Aramis Ramirez‘s production plummeted (to .321) thanks to injuries; some progression would seem likely. Geovanny Soto, one of the top offensive catchers in the game, played just 105 games last year; better health and a new manager who hopefully won’t overbench him will help. Carlos Peña couldn’t crack the Mendoza Line last year, but away from the AL East, you have to like his chances of beating Derrek Lee‘s punchless .251/.335/.416 line from last year. Blake DeWitt‘s nothing special, but the score to beat is Ryan Theriot‘s .647 OPS last year with the Cubs.

There are plenty of weaknesses and question marks, of course. There’s no superstar in this lineup, even in the most optimistic scenario. Starlin Castro‘s .300 average (and .346 BABIP) will be tough to replicate. Five of the eight starters are well over 30 and thus probably done growing as players.

Still, there’s enough here to project average or slightly above-average offense. Finding at-bats for Tyler Colvin could help too.

Pitching Staff
RHP Ryan Dempster
RHP Carlos Zambrano
RHP Matt Garza
RHP Randy Wells
RHP Carlos Silva

RHP Carlos Marmol
RHP Kerry Wood
LHP Sean Marshall
RHP Andrew Cashner
LHP John Grabow
LHP Scott Maine
RHP Jeff Samardzija

That’s… not bad at all, actually.

Much of the rotation’s success could depend on Matt Garza, one of several protagonists in the best book ever written, The Extra 2%. There are plenty of sabermetric reasons to wonder if the Cubs really got a front-line pitcher when they traded four intriguing prospects for Garza this off-season. First, there’s Garza’s fly-ball tendencies (GB% just 35.8% last year) and corresponding home-run woes (1.23 HR/9 IP). Despite wielding highly regarded stuff, he’s a so-so misser of bats who’s had just one season where he’s struck out more than 7.27 batter per nine innings. Garza’s also only managed one season with an xFIP better than 4.48. Oh, and he’s leaving the ballpark rated friendliest in baseball last year according to ESPN’s park factors for Wrigley Field, the third-toughest pitcher’s park in 2010. On the other hand, Garza’s a durable pitcher leaving the horrors of the AL East for the cushier NL Central. He’ll be an upgrade.

Beyond Garza’s arrival, you’ve got Ryan Dempster coming off three straight seasons of three and a half wins or more, Randy Wells above 3 WAR in each of the past two seasons, an increasingly fragile but still effective Carlos Zambrano, and Carlos Silva deploying enough walk-limiting mojo to be one of the better No. 5 starters in the game. Again, no superstar, but some solid contributors. The rotation projects better than the lineup actually, and could rank solidly in that second tier behind the Phillies, Braves, Giants, and Brewers.

The bullpen looks good too. Kerry Wood‘s back and still striking out more than a batter per inning, making him an intriguing potential set-up man for Nintendo-numbers closer Carlos Marmol. Sean Marshall emerged as one of the best lefty relievers in the game last year with a sparkling 2.59 xFIP. There’s enough youth and upside among the rest of the relief corps to suggest some potential depth, too.

Key Player

Ramirez. He went from hitting like Troy Tulowitzki to hitting like Troy McClure last year. He’s played in just 212 games over the past two seasons, and last year his injuries killed his production as well as his attendance record. If he can manage 125 games at somewhere near his career .356 wOBA, that’s a big lift for a lineup that’s not bad, but still the weak link on the ballclub. There probably aren’t enough breakout candidates to expect the Cubs to surprise and leapfrog their more dynamic NL Central rivals. But a healthy and productive Ramirez could at least make things interesting for a while.

Summary

So where does all this leave the Cubs? Redleg Nation tallied up every team’s ZiPS projections, added playing time, and came up with a surprisingly bullish projection of 86 wins. PECOTA wasn’t as generous, forecasting 80 wins. In both cases, the Cubbies trailed the Brewers, Reds, and Cardinals in some order. It’s not impossible that a pennant race could take shape on the North Side. But we wouldn’t bet on it.


 

While the top of the National League Central figures to be competitive in 2011, the Houston Astros will be fighting their own battle this season: to stay out of the basement. The Astros might not be a complete doormat this year, but it’s hard to envision a scenario where they compete for a division title. That being said, Houston has a few position players to watch and a pitching staff that might surprise in 2011.

The Starting Nine

1 CF Michael Bourn
2 SS Clint Barmes
3 RF Hunter Pence
4 LF Carlos Lee
5 3B Chris Johnson
6 2B Bill Hall
7 1B Brett Wallace
8 C Jason Castro

The Astros were the worst offense in the National League last year. Their team wOBA was .296, the only team below .300. Heading into 2011, there is little hope that the offense will significantly improve.

The lineup is anchored around Lee, who was both unlucky and bad last season. His BABIP and HR/FB were both career lows, so those can be expected to rebound slightly in 2011. Combine that bad luck with no walks, no power, and a -15.9 UZR and you see why Lee was a -0.8 WAR player in 2011. It’s hard to believe that Lee will continue to be a below-replacement-level player, and a possible move to first base will help that UZR, but there is little chance that he will contribute more than one or two WAR this season.

Pence will be an interesting player to watch this season. He has been a consistent offensive and defensive contributor since coming to the majors, as evidenced by his WAR since 2007: 3.8, 3.1, 4.1, 3.1. He will be 28 this year, so if Pence is destined to become anything more than a three- to four-win player, it needs to happen soon. Pence is arbitration-eligible through 2013, so if he can take a step forward this season, he can be the face of the franchise while it rebuilds over the next few seasons.

Bourne is another bright spot in this lineup. He has averaged 51.3 stolen bases per year since 2008, and logged four-plus WAR seasons in each of the last two seasons. As lead-off hitters go, he isn’t the best, but he certainly isn’t the worst. He is followed in the lineup by newcomer Barmes. The former Rockie is a decent defender, but a liability with the bat. His .284 wOBA in the two-slot means he will receive a lot of plate appearances and do little with them.

Houston’s third-basemen will be Johnson, a second-year player who posted some eye-popping numbers in 94 games as a rookie. Johnson had a .354 wOBA last year. Both the Bill James (.342) and Marcel (.341) projections see a slight regression in 2011, but the fans are more pessimistic, projecting Johnson to have a .314 wOBA.

Perhaps the Astros’ biggest offseason move was signing Hall to a one-year deal. The former Red Sox and Brewer put up a .342 wOBA in a utility role last season, and Houston is hoping for more of the same in 2011. Hall will definitely bring more power to the position, held by Jeff Keppinger in 2010, but both Bill James (.333 to .318)and Marcel (.312 to .303) see Keppinger as the superior player in terms of wOBA for this season.

The Pitching Staff

RHP Brett Myers
LHP Wandy Rodriguez
RHP Bud Norris
LHP J.A. Happ
RHP Nelson Figueroa

CL RHP Brandon Lyon
RHP Wilton Lopez
RHP Mark Melancon
LHP Fernando Abad
RHP Jeff Fulchino
LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith
RHP Aneury Rodriguez

While the offense and bullpen were horrible last year, Houston’s starters were not half bad. The staff finished with a 14.7 WAR, which puts them directly in the middle of the NL, between the Cubs and Braves. The Astros’ starters should return to that level again this season, and if things fall just right, they could be a top-five rotation in the league.

Myers had a solid 3.82 xFIP season in 2010 and should perform similarly in 2011 barring injury, which is certainly never out of the question given his history. Outside of Myers, Houston’s rotation is full of youth and inconsistency, but there is plenty of upside.

Rodriguez got off to a horrific start last season, but hit his stride to finish the season with fantastic numbers: 195 innings, 3.68 xFIP and 3.6 WAR. He has solid strikeout (8.2 K/9) and ground-ball (47.9 GB%) rates, which means that there simply are not many plate appearances which result in a hard-hit ball. As it stands, Rodriguez is already an excellent pitcher, but if he can continue to improve, there is no reason why Rodriguez cannot follow in former Astro Roy Oswalt‘s footsteps as a truly dominant starter.

Following Rodriguez in the rotation is Norris, who just turned 26. Norris is a strikeout machine who has the potential to give Houston a formidable 1-2-3 combo. More on him in a bit.

Happ and Figueroa fill out the rotation, and they could not be much different. While Figueroa is only on the roster to eat some innings until a young starter is ready to take his job, Happ was the lynch pin in the Oswalt trade, and Houston is counting on him to emerge as a plus starter in the next few years. Happ pitched to fantastic results last season, posting a 3.40 ERA in 87.1 innings, but his skills simply did not back those results up, as evidenced by a 4.81 xFIP. Starting his first full year in the majors, 2011 will be a key season to see if Happ can start developing the skills to consistently be a sub-4 ERA pitcher.

In the bullpen, Houston again turns to Lyon as the team’s closer. Although he’s logged 74 saves in his career, Lyon is simply not a closer-worthy pitcher. Lyon has only posted one sub-4 xFIP season in his career, when he had a 3.98 xFIP with Boston in 2003.

Melancon and Lopez are the team’s best options in the pen. In particular, Lopez had a great 2010 campaign. Through his tiny 0.67 BB/9, Lopez posted a 2.97 xFIP and 1.3 WAR in 67.1 innings. If Lyon begins to struggle, Lopez could be an intriguing closer-in-waiting.

Key Player

While the Astros are a long shot to even finish .500, their pitching staff could turn some heads in 2011. Myers is solid, Rodriguez is an emerging ace, and Happ has tons of potential. Norris is the player who could make the difference between Houston being decent or being a complete doormat in 2011.

Tim Lincecum, Yovani Gallardo, Jonathan Sanchez, and Clayton Kershaw. That’s the entire list of NL starters with better K/9 rates in 2010 than Norris’ 9.25. Heck, there were only 26 relievers with better strikeout rates. Norris can really miss bats. Hitters only made contact 56.7% of the time against Norris on pitches outside the strike zone, and only 84.6% on pitches inside the zone, both well below the league averages (66.5 and 88.1).

The knock on Norris is obvious: control. He walked 4.51 batters per nine last season, which is the biggest thing holding him back from becoming a dominant starter. With fewer than 40 games started in his career, Norris is definitely in the learning portion of his career, and 2011 will be a key season to see which direction his career heads. If he continues to be a high-strikeout, high-walk pitcher, then all the Astros have is another Daniel Cabrera. If he can drop the walk rate while keeping his K rate over nine, Norris can have a bright future, and can combine with Rodriguez to give Houston an electric 1-2 punch for the next several years.

Summary

There are not a whole lot of positives for Houston heading into this season. The offense might be the worst in the league, the bullpen is average at best, the defense is bad and the division will be competitive.

Outside of seeing the development of some of the organization’s prospects (Wallace and Jordan Lyles in particular), the best thing to watch this season will be the pitching staff. The Astros could have an above-average rotation in the NL this year. While all-pitching, no-hitting teams had success last year — the Padres and Giants, for example — this Houston team simply does not have the defense or bullpen to make it work this season.

The best-case scenario has Houston finishing fourth in the division, as they did in 2010. If the Astros hit some bad luck, there is a good chance they finish last in the division and maybe the league.


 

After being ousted by the recent NL powerhouse Philadelphia Phillies in three NLDS games, Reds fans may be left wondering “what if?

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The Cincinnati Reds are the defending NL Central champs. The Milwaukee Brewers are this year’s darlings after adding Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum to a team already flush with big bats and young bullpen arms. The St. Louis Cardinals should still contend even with Adam Wainwright gone, given the presence of Chris Carpenter, Matt Holliday, Colby Rasmus, and the best player in the world.

Where does leave the Chicago Cubs? Middle of the pack, most likely.

Projected Starting Lineup
1 RF Kosuke Fukudome*
2 SS Starlin Castro
3 CF Marlon Byrd
4 3B Aramis Ramirez
5 1B Carlos Peña*
6 LF Alfonso Soriano
7 C Geovany Soto
8 2B Blake DeWitt*
*indicates left-handed batter

There’s some upside there.

The Cubs finished 10th in the NL last season in runs scored, as a lot went wrong with the offense. After six straight seasons with a wOBA of .380 or better, Aramis Ramirez‘s production plummeted (to .321) thanks to injuries; some progression would seem likely. Geovanny Soto, one of the top offensive catchers in the game, played just 105 games last year; better health and a new manager who hopefully won’t overbench him will help. Carlos Peña couldn’t crack the Mendoza Line last year, but away from the AL East, you have to like his chances of beating Derrek Lee‘s punchless .251/.335/.416 line from last year. Blake DeWitt‘s nothing special, but the score to beat is Ryan Theriot‘s .647 OPS last year with the Cubs.

There are plenty of weaknesses and question marks, of course. There’s no superstar in this lineup, even in the most optimistic scenario. Starlin Castro‘s .300 average (and .346 BABIP) will be tough to replicate. Five of the eight starters are well over 30 and thus probably done growing as players.

Still, there’s enough here to project average or slightly above-average offense. Finding at-bats for Tyler Colvin could help too.

Pitching Staff
RHP Ryan Dempster
RHP Carlos Zambrano
RHP Matt Garza
RHP Randy Wells
RHP Carlos Silva

RHP Carlos Marmol
RHP Kerry Wood
LHP Sean Marshall
RHP Andrew Cashner
LHP John Grabow
LHP Scott Maine
RHP Jeff Samardzija

That’s… not bad at all, actually.

Much of the rotation’s success could depend on Matt Garza, one of several protagonists in the best book ever written, The Extra 2%. There are plenty of sabermetric reasons to wonder if the Cubs really got a front-line pitcher when they traded four intriguing prospects for Garza this off-season. First, there’s Garza’s fly-ball tendencies (GB% just 35.8% last year) and corresponding home-run woes (1.23 HR/9 IP). Despite wielding highly regarded stuff, he’s a so-so misser of bats who’s had just one season where he’s struck out more than 7.27 batter per nine innings. Garza’s also only managed one season with an xFIP better than 4.48. Oh, and he’s leaving the ballpark rated friendliest in baseball last year according to ESPN’s park factors for Wrigley Field, the third-toughest pitcher’s park in 2010. On the other hand, Garza’s a durable pitcher leaving the horrors of the AL East for the cushier NL Central. He’ll be an upgrade.

Beyond Garza’s arrival, you’ve got Ryan Dempster coming off three straight seasons of three and a half wins or more, Randy Wells above 3 WAR in each of the past two seasons, an increasingly fragile but still effective Carlos Zambrano, and Carlos Silva deploying enough walk-limiting mojo to be one of the better No. 5 starters in the game. Again, no superstar, but some solid contributors. The rotation projects better than the lineup actually, and could rank solidly in that second tier behind the Phillies, Braves, Giants, and Brewers.

The bullpen looks good too. Kerry Wood‘s back and still striking out more than a batter per inning, making him an intriguing potential set-up man for Nintendo-numbers closer Carlos Marmol. Sean Marshall emerged as one of the best lefty relievers in the game last year with a sparkling 2.59 xFIP. There’s enough youth and upside among the rest of the relief corps to suggest some potential depth, too.

Key Player

Ramirez. He went from hitting like Troy Tulowitzki to hitting like Troy McClure last year. He’s played in just 212 games over the past two seasons, and last year his injuries killed his production as well as his attendance record. If he can manage 125 games at somewhere near his career .356 wOBA, that’s a big lift for a lineup that’s not bad, but still the weak link on the ballclub. There probably aren’t enough breakout candidates to expect the Cubs to surprise and leapfrog their more dynamic NL Central rivals. But a healthy and productive Ramirez could at least make things interesting for a while.

Summary

So where does all this leave the Cubs? Redleg Nation tallied up every team’s ZiPS projections, added playing time, and came up with a surprisingly bullish projection of 86 wins. PECOTA wasn’t as generous, forecasting 80 wins. In both cases, the Cubbies trailed the Brewers, Reds, and Cardinals in some order. It’s not impossible that a pennant race could take shape on the North Side. But we wouldn’t bet on it.


 

While the top of the National League Central figures to be competitive in 2011, the Houston Astros will be fighting their own battle this season: to stay out of the basement. The Astros might not be a complete doormat this year, but it’s hard to envision a scenario where they compete for a division title. That being said, Houston has a few position players to watch and a pitching staff that might surprise in 2011.

The Starting Nine

1 CF Michael Bourn
2 SS Clint Barmes
3 RF Hunter Pence
4 LF Carlos Lee
5 3B Chris Johnson
6 2B Bill Hall
7 1B Brett Wallace
8 C Jason Castro

The Astros were the worst offense in the National League last year. Their team wOBA was .296, the only team below .300. Heading into 2011, there is little hope that the offense will significantly improve.

The lineup is anchored around Lee, who was both unlucky and bad last season. His BABIP and HR/FB were both career lows, so those can be expected to rebound slightly in 2011. Combine that bad luck with no walks, no power, and a -15.9 UZR and you see why Lee was a -0.8 WAR player in 2011. It’s hard to believe that Lee will continue to be a below-replacement-level player, and a possible move to first base will help that UZR, but there is little chance that he will contribute more than one or two WAR this season.

Pence will be an interesting player to watch this season. He has been a consistent offensive and defensive contributor since coming to the majors, as evidenced by his WAR since 2007: 3.8, 3.1, 4.1, 3.1. He will be 28 this year, so if Pence is destined to become anything more than a three- to four-win player, it needs to happen soon. Pence is arbitration-eligible through 2013, so if he can take a step forward this season, he can be the face of the franchise while it rebuilds over the next few seasons.

Bourne is another bright spot in this lineup. He has averaged 51.3 stolen bases per year since 2008, and logged four-plus WAR seasons in each of the last two seasons. As lead-off hitters go, he isn’t the best, but he certainly isn’t the worst. He is followed in the lineup by newcomer Barmes. The former Rockie is a decent defender, but a liability with the bat. His .284 wOBA in the two-slot means he will receive a lot of plate appearances and do little with them.

Houston’s third-basemen will be Johnson, a second-year player who posted some eye-popping numbers in 94 games as a rookie. Johnson had a .354 wOBA last year. Both the Bill James (.342) and Marcel (.341) projections see a slight regression in 2011, but the fans are more pessimistic, projecting Johnson to have a .314 wOBA.

Perhaps the Astros’ biggest offseason move was signing Hall to a one-year deal. The former Red Sox and Brewer put up a .342 wOBA in a utility role last season, and Houston is hoping for more of the same in 2011. Hall will definitely bring more power to the position, held by Jeff Keppinger in 2010, but both Bill James (.333 to .318)and Marcel (.312 to .303) see Keppinger as the superior player in terms of wOBA for this season.

The Pitching Staff

RHP Brett Myers
LHP Wandy Rodriguez
RHP Bud Norris
LHP J.A. Happ
RHP Nelson Figueroa

CL RHP Brandon Lyon
RHP Wilton Lopez
RHP Mark Melancon
LHP Fernando Abad
RHP Jeff Fulchino
LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith
RHP Aneury Rodriguez

While the offense and bullpen were horrible last year, Houston’s starters were not half bad. The staff finished with a 14.7 WAR, which puts them directly in the middle of the NL, between the Cubs and Braves. The Astros’ starters should return to that level again this season, and if things fall just right, they could be a top-five rotation in the league.

Myers had a solid 3.82 xFIP season in 2010 and should perform similarly in 2011 barring injury, which is certainly never out of the question given his history. Outside of Myers, Houston’s rotation is full of youth and inconsistency, but there is plenty of upside.

Rodriguez got off to a horrific start last season, but hit his stride to finish the season with fantastic numbers: 195 innings, 3.68 xFIP and 3.6 WAR. He has solid strikeout (8.2 K/9) and ground-ball (47.9 GB%) rates, which means that there simply are not many plate appearances which result in a hard-hit ball. As it stands, Rodriguez is already an excellent pitcher, but if he can continue to improve, there is no reason why Rodriguez cannot follow in former Astro Roy Oswalt‘s footsteps as a truly dominant starter.

Following Rodriguez in the rotation is Norris, who just turned 26. Norris is a strikeout machine who has the potential to give Houston a formidable 1-2-3 combo. More on him in a bit.

Happ and Figueroa fill out the rotation, and they could not be much different. While Figueroa is only on the roster to eat some innings until a young starter is ready to take his job, Happ was the lynch pin in the Oswalt trade, and Houston is counting on him to emerge as a plus starter in the next few years. Happ pitched to fantastic results last season, posting a 3.40 ERA in 87.1 innings, but his skills simply did not back those results up, as evidenced by a 4.81 xFIP. Starting his first full year in the majors, 2011 will be a key season to see if Happ can start developing the skills to consistently be a sub-4 ERA pitcher.

In the bullpen, Houston again turns to Lyon as the team’s closer. Although he’s logged 74 saves in his career, Lyon is simply not a closer-worthy pitcher. Lyon has only posted one sub-4 xFIP season in his career, when he had a 3.98 xFIP with Boston in 2003.

Melancon and Lopez are the team’s best options in the pen. In particular, Lopez had a great 2010 campaign. Through his tiny 0.67 BB/9, Lopez posted a 2.97 xFIP and 1.3 WAR in 67.1 innings. If Lyon begins to struggle, Lopez could be an intriguing closer-in-waiting.

Key Player

While the Astros are a long shot to even finish .500, their pitching staff could turn some heads in 2011. Myers is solid, Rodriguez is an emerging ace, and Happ has tons of potential. Norris is the player who could make the difference between Houston being decent or being a complete doormat in 2011.

Tim Lincecum, Yovani Gallardo, Jonathan Sanchez, and Clayton Kershaw. That’s the entire list of NL starters with better K/9 rates in 2010 than Norris’ 9.25. Heck, there were only 26 relievers with better strikeout rates. Norris can really miss bats. Hitters only made contact 56.7% of the time against Norris on pitches outside the strike zone, and only 84.6% on pitches inside the zone, both well below the league averages (66.5 and 88.1).

The knock on Norris is obvious: control. He walked 4.51 batters per nine last season, which is the biggest thing holding him back from becoming a dominant starter. With fewer than 40 games started in his career, Norris is definitely in the learning portion of his career, and 2011 will be a key season to see which direction his career heads. If he continues to be a high-strikeout, high-walk pitcher, then all the Astros have is another Daniel Cabrera. If he can drop the walk rate while keeping his K rate over nine, Norris can have a bright future, and can combine with Rodriguez to give Houston an electric 1-2 punch for the next several years.

Summary

There are not a whole lot of positives for Houston heading into this season. The offense might be the worst in the league, the bullpen is average at best, the defense is bad and the division will be competitive.

Outside of seeing the development of some of the organization’s prospects (Wallace and Jordan Lyles in particular), the best thing to watch this season will be the pitching staff. The Astros could have an above-average rotation in the NL this year. While all-pitching, no-hitting teams had success last year — the Padres and Giants, for example — this Houston team simply does not have the defense or bullpen to make it work this season.

The best-case scenario has Houston finishing fourth in the division, as they did in 2010. If the Astros hit some bad luck, there is a good chance they finish last in the division and maybe the league.


 

After being ousted by the recent NL powerhouse Philadelphia Phillies in three NLDS games, Reds fans may be left wondering “what if?

post #307 of 77570
Thread Starter 

For the Pirates, 2010 was the worst of times. The team’s struggles are well documented. They haven’t finished above .500 since 1992, a year they went to a seventh game in the NLCS. The closest they came to respectability during that span was in 1997, when they finished 79-83, second in the NL Central. The furthest they came was in 2010, when they won just 57 games and finished their fourth straight season in the NL Central cellar.

There is room for hope, though. The team has a number of promising young players already in the majors, and another crop that could help in the years to come. The rebuilding process might take a few more years, but it is certainly under way.

The Starting Eight

1. LF Jose Tabata
2. 2B Neil Walker ^
3. CF Andrew McCutchen
4. 3B Pedro Alvarez *
5. 1B Lyle Overbay *
6. RF Garrett Jones * / Matt Diaz
7. C Chris Snyder
8. SS Ronny Cedeno
* left-handed, ^ switch hitter

Pirates position players produced just 2.8 WAR last season. This isn’t to say that they were the worst hitters. Their team 82 wRC+ ranked ahead of both the Astros and the Mariners. That figures to improve this year, because the team will get full seasons out of the players it called up mid-season: Walker, Tabata, and Alvarez most notably. Those three combined for just under 1,300 PA in 2010, but could be in line for 1,800 or more if they stay healthy. That will certainly provide improvement over Andy LaRoche, Akinori Iwamura, and Lastings Milledge, the 2010 Opening Day starters at those positions.

Acquiring Overbay should prove to be another offensive improvement. Pirates first basemen produced a .306 wOBA last season, 25th in the majors. Overbay himself produced a .332 wOBA,and had been better than that in the two previous seasons. Moving out of the AL East might prove to be an offensive boost for him, too. Even if he is stuck at that .332 mark, it’s still an improvement over Garrett Jones, who spent most of the year at first. Jones himself will move a hundred or so feet backwards into right field, a spot where the Pirates produced a .301 wOBA last season, while Jones was at .314. Even if he maintains that level, he’ll represent something of an improvement.


Late add: Diaz figures to platoon with Jones in right field, which will help the outlook there. Jones got 214 PA against lefties last year and fared rather poorly, while he has a career .365 wOBA against righties. Even in a down year in 2010 Diaz hit lefties well, and owns a career .387 wOBA against them. Platooned in right, they could make an impact that extends far beyond what Pittsburgh got from the position in 2010.

Thanks to commenter gonfalon for pointing this oversight.


The only two constants from last season are McCutchen and Cedeno. With McCutchen the Pirates have one of the league’s premier center fielders. His .363 wOBA ranked fourth among peers, but that includes Josh Hamilton and Carlos Gonzalez, two players who didn’t spend as much time in center as did McCutchen. There is a real case to be made that he is the league’s best at the position. Cedeno is an adequate stopgap at short, but little more. He wasn’t the worst-hitting shortstop last year, though he’s probably going to be in the conversation every year. This appears to be Pittsburgh’s weakest position, making it a disappointment that they didn’t improve there during the off-season.

While the Pirates have almost certainly improved, perhaps significantly so, on offense, it’s the defense that needs to take a step forward. UZR had them pegged as the worst defensive team by a decent margin, while TZL had them as worst by more than 30 runs. DRS had them at -81 runs, topped only by the Royals. The only returning players with positive UZRs are Tabata and Walker, and Walker was at 0.1. The Pirates are going to have to see major defensive improvements, especially from McCutchen, whose -14.4 UZR placed him among the worst center fielders in the league.

Still, this might be a metric and park issue. It also might be a John Russell issue. The former Pirates manager apparently positioned his fielders in a peculiar manner, something dubbed no-triples defense. Matt Bandi of Pittsburgh Lumber Co. (now Pirates Prospects) provided an in-depth look at how the Pirates outfielders positioned themselves. Might this have led to wonky UZR figures? If it did, and if new manager Clint Hurdle doesn’t employ a similar alignment, we could see a natural correction. This would make sense, considering the glowing scouting reports on McCutchen’s defense.

The Pitching Staff

LHP Paul Maholm
RHP James McDonald
RHP Kevin Correia
RHP Ross Ohlendorf
LHP Scott Olsen

CL RHP Joel Hanrahan
RHP Evan Meek
LHP Joe Beimel
RHP Chris Resop
RHP Jeff Karstens
RHP Kevin Hart
RHP Charlie Morton

As with the 2010 offense, the Pirates’ 2010 pitching staff ranked worst in the league in terms of WAR. The staff also produces the highest ERA in the league at 5.00. They made some changes this past off-season, but many of their pitchers will return in 2011. That makes it difficult to become optimistic about their chances.

Starting from the bottom, the Pirates have a fifth starter competition in spring training between Morton and Olsen. Since Olsen signed a guaranteed contract this winter and throws with his left hand, he might appear to have a leg up. He did miss time at the beginning of camp with a hamstring issue, though, so he might be a bit behind Morton at this point. Olsen recently spoke out regarding his chances of starting the season in the bullpen. In short, he wouldn’t be happy with it, no doubt because of $3 million in performance bonuses based on games started. Morton, however, is out of options and so will probably start in the pen if not the rotation.

Maholm finds himself in a peculiar position. He’s the longest tenured member of the Pirates staff, yet he’s coming off perhaps his worst season in the majors. A high BABIP and, maybe, poor defense caused his ERA to spike well above his FIP last season, but that’s just something pitchers like Maholm face every season. But at 29 he is in his prime, and figures to see his numbers bounce back to some degree. The problem is that the Pirates hold a $9.75 million option on his services in 2012. Chances are the Pirates won’t be in a contenting position by then, meaning they have little use for a soft-tossing, pitch-to-contact guy making nearly $10 million. If Maholm does indeed bounce back, we could see him in a different uniform by the end of July.

Ohendorf, on the other hand, would probably welcome a repeat of his 2010, minus the injuries. He walked a few too many batters, but still slipped away with a 4.07 ERA, which outpaced his 4.44 FIP and 4.96 xFIP. Unless he gets his groundball rate back above 40 percent, he could certainly see a greater number of fly balls leave the park. In fact, if Olsen pitches well enough I can see Morton taking over for Ohlendorf at some point in the season. He appears to be a serviceable pitcher, but his results have outpaced his peripherals in the last two seasons. If that reverses, he could find himself without a job.

Correia, signed as a free agent, comes as something of a gamble. His walk and home rates jumped in 2010, causing a spike in both ERA and FIP. Still, he’s a decent ground ball guy who can provide the Pirates with innings while they figure out which of their young pitchers are ticketed for the rotation. Still, outside of 2009 his best work has come from the bullpen. Depending on how the pitching situation works out, he might find himself there by year’s end.

The Guys Who Matter

The performances of two players will largely influence Pittsburgh’s position this year. On offense and in the field that will be Pedro Alvarez. On the mound it is James McDonald. If both of these guys work out to their potentials, the Pirates could be set up for the next few years as they bring up more and more prospects and continue their stages of rebuilding.

Alvarez could very well be the Prince Fielder to Andrew McCutchen’s Ryan Braun. As a lefty-righty three-four combination the have the potential to rank among the league’s elite. While Alvarez’s debut went fairly well, he still has some work before he is that middle-of-the-order bat that Pittsburgh needs him to become. His strikeout rate will have to come down some, at least where it was in the minors and probably even a bit lower. He’ll also need to get his ISO up to the .250 level it was in the minors. That becomes even more important if he can’t shed the contact issues that have kept his batting average low, and more important still if he requires a move to first base.

Thankfully for the Pirates, it’s not important that Alvarez do this all at once. Again, they don’t figure to contend in the next two seasons, which gives him time to work on his deficiencies. A few steps forward this year could go a long way to him being the heaviest bat on the first Pittsburgh team to finish over .500. Rapid ascension could perhaps keep that streak limited to 20 years (which it will hit if they finish below. 500 this season).

On the mound, McDonald is potentially the best pitcher the Pirates have, and will have for the next few seasons. He made an immediate impression upon arriving in Pittsburgh, throwing 64 dazzling innings during which he showed better control than he had previously in his career. Despite his struggles in LA, he’s not too far removed from being the Dodgers’ No. 2 prospect (2009, when No. 1 was Andrew Lambo, another player whom the Pirates acquired in the Octavio Dotel trade). If the change of scenery really did make the difference, he can be the No. 2 pitching in the No. 1 slot — hopefully until top prospect Jameson Taillon climbs the ranks.

If McDonald reverts to the pitcher he was with the Dodgers, the Pirates could be in a bit more trouble. That leaves them with a No. 3, at best, in the No. 1 spot, and it gets worse from there. It might open up opportunities for guys such as Jeff Locke and Rudy Owens, but they’ll probably get shots later in the year regardless of how McDonald pitches. A solid season from him will go a long way in returning the Pirates to a winning record.

If you’re a betting man, you already know to keep your money away from the Pirates. They stand little chance of making an impact in the NL Central race, save for the role of spoilers, in 2011. But they have a number of interesting players on the Opening Day roster, players who might help the team in the years to come. They’re almost certain to improve from their worst record in decades, and it will be on the backs of players who will play a central role in the next respectable Pirates team. That could make their season fun to watch, despite the near certainty that they’ll lose more games than they win.


post #308 of 77570
Thread Starter 

For the Pirates, 2010 was the worst of times. The team’s struggles are well documented. They haven’t finished above .500 since 1992, a year they went to a seventh game in the NLCS. The closest they came to respectability during that span was in 1997, when they finished 79-83, second in the NL Central. The furthest they came was in 2010, when they won just 57 games and finished their fourth straight season in the NL Central cellar.

There is room for hope, though. The team has a number of promising young players already in the majors, and another crop that could help in the years to come. The rebuilding process might take a few more years, but it is certainly under way.

The Starting Eight

1. LF Jose Tabata
2. 2B Neil Walker ^
3. CF Andrew McCutchen
4. 3B Pedro Alvarez *
5. 1B Lyle Overbay *
6. RF Garrett Jones * / Matt Diaz
7. C Chris Snyder
8. SS Ronny Cedeno
* left-handed, ^ switch hitter

Pirates position players produced just 2.8 WAR last season. This isn’t to say that they were the worst hitters. Their team 82 wRC+ ranked ahead of both the Astros and the Mariners. That figures to improve this year, because the team will get full seasons out of the players it called up mid-season: Walker, Tabata, and Alvarez most notably. Those three combined for just under 1,300 PA in 2010, but could be in line for 1,800 or more if they stay healthy. That will certainly provide improvement over Andy LaRoche, Akinori Iwamura, and Lastings Milledge, the 2010 Opening Day starters at those positions.

Acquiring Overbay should prove to be another offensive improvement. Pirates first basemen produced a .306 wOBA last season, 25th in the majors. Overbay himself produced a .332 wOBA,and had been better than that in the two previous seasons. Moving out of the AL East might prove to be an offensive boost for him, too. Even if he is stuck at that .332 mark, it’s still an improvement over Garrett Jones, who spent most of the year at first. Jones himself will move a hundred or so feet backwards into right field, a spot where the Pirates produced a .301 wOBA last season, while Jones was at .314. Even if he maintains that level, he’ll represent something of an improvement.


Late add: Diaz figures to platoon with Jones in right field, which will help the outlook there. Jones got 214 PA against lefties last year and fared rather poorly, while he has a career .365 wOBA against righties. Even in a down year in 2010 Diaz hit lefties well, and owns a career .387 wOBA against them. Platooned in right, they could make an impact that extends far beyond what Pittsburgh got from the position in 2010.

Thanks to commenter gonfalon for pointing this oversight.


The only two constants from last season are McCutchen and Cedeno. With McCutchen the Pirates have one of the league’s premier center fielders. His .363 wOBA ranked fourth among peers, but that includes Josh Hamilton and Carlos Gonzalez, two players who didn’t spend as much time in center as did McCutchen. There is a real case to be made that he is the league’s best at the position. Cedeno is an adequate stopgap at short, but little more. He wasn’t the worst-hitting shortstop last year, though he’s probably going to be in the conversation every year. This appears to be Pittsburgh’s weakest position, making it a disappointment that they didn’t improve there during the off-season.

While the Pirates have almost certainly improved, perhaps significantly so, on offense, it’s the defense that needs to take a step forward. UZR had them pegged as the worst defensive team by a decent margin, while TZL had them as worst by more than 30 runs. DRS had them at -81 runs, topped only by the Royals. The only returning players with positive UZRs are Tabata and Walker, and Walker was at 0.1. The Pirates are going to have to see major defensive improvements, especially from McCutchen, whose -14.4 UZR placed him among the worst center fielders in the league.

Still, this might be a metric and park issue. It also might be a John Russell issue. The former Pirates manager apparently positioned his fielders in a peculiar manner, something dubbed no-triples defense. Matt Bandi of Pittsburgh Lumber Co. (now Pirates Prospects) provided an in-depth look at how the Pirates outfielders positioned themselves. Might this have led to wonky UZR figures? If it did, and if new manager Clint Hurdle doesn’t employ a similar alignment, we could see a natural correction. This would make sense, considering the glowing scouting reports on McCutchen’s defense.

The Pitching Staff

LHP Paul Maholm
RHP James McDonald
RHP Kevin Correia
RHP Ross Ohlendorf
LHP Scott Olsen

CL RHP Joel Hanrahan
RHP Evan Meek
LHP Joe Beimel
RHP Chris Resop
RHP Jeff Karstens
RHP Kevin Hart
RHP Charlie Morton

As with the 2010 offense, the Pirates’ 2010 pitching staff ranked worst in the league in terms of WAR. The staff also produces the highest ERA in the league at 5.00. They made some changes this past off-season, but many of their pitchers will return in 2011. That makes it difficult to become optimistic about their chances.

Starting from the bottom, the Pirates have a fifth starter competition in spring training between Morton and Olsen. Since Olsen signed a guaranteed contract this winter and throws with his left hand, he might appear to have a leg up. He did miss time at the beginning of camp with a hamstring issue, though, so he might be a bit behind Morton at this point. Olsen recently spoke out regarding his chances of starting the season in the bullpen. In short, he wouldn’t be happy with it, no doubt because of $3 million in performance bonuses based on games started. Morton, however, is out of options and so will probably start in the pen if not the rotation.

Maholm finds himself in a peculiar position. He’s the longest tenured member of the Pirates staff, yet he’s coming off perhaps his worst season in the majors. A high BABIP and, maybe, poor defense caused his ERA to spike well above his FIP last season, but that’s just something pitchers like Maholm face every season. But at 29 he is in his prime, and figures to see his numbers bounce back to some degree. The problem is that the Pirates hold a $9.75 million option on his services in 2012. Chances are the Pirates won’t be in a contenting position by then, meaning they have little use for a soft-tossing, pitch-to-contact guy making nearly $10 million. If Maholm does indeed bounce back, we could see him in a different uniform by the end of July.

Ohendorf, on the other hand, would probably welcome a repeat of his 2010, minus the injuries. He walked a few too many batters, but still slipped away with a 4.07 ERA, which outpaced his 4.44 FIP and 4.96 xFIP. Unless he gets his groundball rate back above 40 percent, he could certainly see a greater number of fly balls leave the park. In fact, if Olsen pitches well enough I can see Morton taking over for Ohlendorf at some point in the season. He appears to be a serviceable pitcher, but his results have outpaced his peripherals in the last two seasons. If that reverses, he could find himself without a job.

Correia, signed as a free agent, comes as something of a gamble. His walk and home rates jumped in 2010, causing a spike in both ERA and FIP. Still, he’s a decent ground ball guy who can provide the Pirates with innings while they figure out which of their young pitchers are ticketed for the rotation. Still, outside of 2009 his best work has come from the bullpen. Depending on how the pitching situation works out, he might find himself there by year’s end.

The Guys Who Matter

The performances of two players will largely influence Pittsburgh’s position this year. On offense and in the field that will be Pedro Alvarez. On the mound it is James McDonald. If both of these guys work out to their potentials, the Pirates could be set up for the next few years as they bring up more and more prospects and continue their stages of rebuilding.

Alvarez could very well be the Prince Fielder to Andrew McCutchen’s Ryan Braun. As a lefty-righty three-four combination the have the potential to rank among the league’s elite. While Alvarez’s debut went fairly well, he still has some work before he is that middle-of-the-order bat that Pittsburgh needs him to become. His strikeout rate will have to come down some, at least where it was in the minors and probably even a bit lower. He’ll also need to get his ISO up to the .250 level it was in the minors. That becomes even more important if he can’t shed the contact issues that have kept his batting average low, and more important still if he requires a move to first base.

Thankfully for the Pirates, it’s not important that Alvarez do this all at once. Again, they don’t figure to contend in the next two seasons, which gives him time to work on his deficiencies. A few steps forward this year could go a long way to him being the heaviest bat on the first Pittsburgh team to finish over .500. Rapid ascension could perhaps keep that streak limited to 20 years (which it will hit if they finish below. 500 this season).

On the mound, McDonald is potentially the best pitcher the Pirates have, and will have for the next few seasons. He made an immediate impression upon arriving in Pittsburgh, throwing 64 dazzling innings during which he showed better control than he had previously in his career. Despite his struggles in LA, he’s not too far removed from being the Dodgers’ No. 2 prospect (2009, when No. 1 was Andrew Lambo, another player whom the Pirates acquired in the Octavio Dotel trade). If the change of scenery really did make the difference, he can be the No. 2 pitching in the No. 1 slot — hopefully until top prospect Jameson Taillon climbs the ranks.

If McDonald reverts to the pitcher he was with the Dodgers, the Pirates could be in a bit more trouble. That leaves them with a No. 3, at best, in the No. 1 spot, and it gets worse from there. It might open up opportunities for guys such as Jeff Locke and Rudy Owens, but they’ll probably get shots later in the year regardless of how McDonald pitches. A solid season from him will go a long way in returning the Pirates to a winning record.

If you’re a betting man, you already know to keep your money away from the Pirates. They stand little chance of making an impact in the NL Central race, save for the role of spoilers, in 2011. But they have a number of interesting players on the Opening Day roster, players who might help the team in the years to come. They’re almost certain to improve from their worst record in decades, and it will be on the backs of players who will play a central role in the next respectable Pirates team. That could make their season fun to watch, despite the near certainty that they’ll lose more games than they win.


post #309 of 77570
Got an interview Saturday with the New Britain Rockcats, anyone got any info on prospects/Twins minor league system so I can have some background going into this?
post #310 of 77570
Got an interview Saturday with the New Britain Rockcats, anyone got any info on prospects/Twins minor league system so I can have some background going into this?
post #311 of 77570
What kind of job?
post #312 of 77570
What kind of job?
post #313 of 77570
Thanks for posting all these articles Pro. Dont know how time consuming it is for you, but it is appreciated. pimp.gif
post #314 of 77570
Thanks for posting all these articles Pro. Dont know how time consuming it is for you, but it is appreciated. pimp.gif
post #315 of 77570
Not really sure exactly what I'll be doing, it will just be an internship for the summer so I'm sure it will be mostly $%%%! work but the guy I'd be working under does front office stuff.
post #316 of 77570
Not really sure exactly what I'll be doing, it will just be an internship for the summer so I'm sure it will be mostly $%%%! work but the guy I'd be working under does front office stuff.
post #317 of 77570
Thread Starter 
Not time consuming at all man, I usually read em before posting too laugh.gif

AMP, I got you a little later once I get home.
post #318 of 77570
Thread Starter 
Not time consuming at all man, I usually read em before posting too laugh.gif

AMP, I got you a little later once I get home.
post #319 of 77570
Thread Starter 
Here's a breakdown of their top 10:

1. Aaron Hicks, CF
Acquired: 2008 1st Round (Southern California HS)
2010 Level: Low A
Opening Day Age: 21.6

Notes: Prospect aficionados have a tendency to get a little antsy with highly-touted prospects. When a player doesn’t immediately light the world on fire he can be unfairly criticized, and, to some extent, I think Hicks has been subjected to this. When he was drafted, he was billed as a 5-tool player with solid power and speed highlighting his game, but the returns in those two areas have been just fair so far. In just over 1,000 career plate appearances, Hicks has only hit 16 home runs and has stolen only 42 bases. Those modest returns on top of the Twins’ decision to have him repeat the Midwest league in 2010 have some jumping off the bandwagon, but a look past those counting stats reveals a lot for Twins fans to be excited about.

Hicks has always been a patient hitter, but he took his approach to the next level in 2010, increasing his BB% from 13.5 in 2009 to an impressive 17%. Additionally, he improved his ISO from .131 to .149 while boosting his average from .251 to .279. Those numbers do not scream ‘elite prospect’, but it’s important to keep in mind that the Midwest league is a pitcher-friendly league. In the outfield, Hicks is a plus defender. His above average speed allows him to cover a lot of ground, and his arm rates with any center fielder in the minors. If Hicks starts to tap into his raw power, he could be an absolute monster. Even if he never reaches his offensive potential, he could still turn in a lot of 3+ win seasons on the strength of his on-base skills and above-average defense.

2. Kyle Gibson, RHP
Acquired: 2009 1st Round (Missouri)
2010 Level: Hi A, AA, AAA
Opening Day Age: 23.5

Notes: Just weeks before the 2009 draft, Gibson looked like a lock to go in the top 10, but suddenly his velocity dropped into the mid 80s. He was eventually diagnosed with a forearm injury, and he fell to the Twins with the 22nd pick. Healthy in 2010, Gibson had an impressive season. Over 16 starts in AA he had a 3.08 FIP, and he finished the season in AAA. In many ways, Gibson is a prototypical Twins pitcher. He doesn’t have power stuff, but he succeeds by pounding the strike zone. Gibson had a BB/9 of only 2.3 last year and an equally impressive 58% ground-ball rate. The biggest concern in Gibson’s game is his lack of strikeouts. He posted only a 7.5 K/9 in 2010, and he doesn’t ever figure to be a big strikeout pitcher. Strikeouts certainly aren’t everything, but they are important. With his struggles to miss bats on a consistent basis, Gibson strikes me as a more of a solid starter than a front-of-the-rotation arm some are billing him as.

3. Miguel Sano, 3B
Acquired: Signed as a Free Agent 2009 (Dominican Republic)
2010 Level: RC (Gulf Coast League)
Opening Day Age: 17.11

Notes: Widely considered the top available international free agent in 2009, Sano’s signing was delayed by a prolonged investigation that eventually verified his identity but left his age ‘undetermined’. Sano eventually signed for $3.15 million, and was granted a work visa. First assigned to the Dominican Summer League, Sano quickly proved to be a man amongst boys, forcing a promotion to the States after a mere 64 at-bats. In the Gulf Coast League, Sano continued to hit, putting up a 291/338/473 line in 161 plate appearances. At the plate, Sano’s ceiling is immense. While he struck out in almost 30 percent of his at-bats in the GCL, few are concerned that strikeouts will be a persistent problem for him, and he should hit for both average and power down the road. Although he was signed as a short stop, it is all but certain that Sano will have to move to a less-demanding position, perhaps as soon as 2011. The best-case scenario is that he ends up at third, but depending on how his body develops, he might have to move to right.

4. Alex Wimmers, RHP
Acquired: Drafted 1st Round 2010 (Ohio State)
2010 Level: Hi A
Opening Day Age: 20.6

Notes: The 21st overall pick in this year’s draft, Wimmers is another classic ‘Twins’ arm. He doesn’t have top-flight stuff, but he profiles as a solid 3rd starter because of his legitimate three-pitch mix. His fastball sits in the low 90s, but the pitch plays up because his changeup is a legitimate plus pitch that keeps hitters honest. Wimmers also features a curve that figures to be an average offering. After signing, the Twins sent him to the Florida State League, where he threw well, albeit in only 15 innings. The Twins tend to be conservative in player development, so Wimmers will likely begin the year back in Hi A. But it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him spend much of the year in AA.

5. Ben Revere, CF
Acquired: Drafted 1st Round 2007 (Kentucky HS)
2010 Level: AA
Opening Day Age: 22.11

Notes: Revere was considered by many to be an over-draft when the Twins took him in the first round of the 2007 draft, but the speedy left-handed hitter holds a career .328 average in the minors and hit .305 last year. With a compact swing, quick hands, and an all-fields approach, Revere should continue to hit for solid average. The problem is that Revere doesn’t offer much besides average. In over 1,500 minor league plate appearances, Revere only has 4 home runs, and his ISO has been .058 in each of the past two seasons. He could also stand to draw more walks, especially considering be profiles as a table-setting type hitter. His BB% has never reached 8% at any level, but the fact that he has improved from 7.2 to 7.7 to 7.9 percent over the past three seasons provides some reason for optimism. In the field, Revere’s plus speed allows him to cover a lot of ground, but his arm is extremely weak, grading even worse than guys like Brett Gardner and Juan Pierre to whom he is often compared. The lack of arm strength likely makes Revere a below-average defender in center, and may ultimately push him to left. Despite all the things Revere can’t do, average and speed are always in demand. I don’t anticipate that he’ll have the impact of Brett Gardner did last season, but a typical line of 300/360/358 with maybe a -6 UZR in center seems like a reasonable projection.

6. Adrian Salcedo, RHP
Acquired: Signed as a Free Agent 2007 (Dominican Republic)
2010 Level: RC (Appalachian League)/Hi A
Opening Day Age: 19.11

Notes: Salcedo burst on the prospect-scene in 2009 by posting a ridiculous 19.2 K/BB ratio in over 61.2 innings in the Gulf Coast League. The Twins typically promote level-by-level, but when a hole opened in the Ft. Myers rotation (Hi A), they decided to send Salcedo there. In six starts, Salcedo was hit hard, but he rebounded nicely when he was sent back to the Appalachian league in June. In 66 innings with Elizabethton, Salcedo had a solid K/9 of 8.86 and a very good BB/9 of 1.36. Salcedo also generates ground-balls at a 56% rate with a solid, low-90s fastball. The ability to miss bats, limit walks, and keep the ball on the ground is a great recipe for success, and at 6’4″ 175, there is still projection remaining in Salcedo’s frame. Depending upon the progress he makes with his secondary stuff, Salcedo could become a solid 2/3 starter. He’s on track to begin the 2011 in the Midwest league, and in a pitching-friendly league, he could put up big numbers.

7. Liam Hendriks, RHP
Acquired: Signed as a Free Agent 2007 (Australia)
2010 Level: Low A/Hi A
Opening Day Age: 22.2

Notes: The Twins have been baseball’s most active franchise in signing players from Australia, but their efforts have failed to produce any major-league contributors thus far. That may change with Hendricks. The 6’1″ right-hander missed all of 2008 with a back injury; but fully healthy in 2010, Hendricks had a breakout year, holding his ERA below 2.00 in both low and Hi A. Like many Twin arms, Hendricks pounds the strike zone. He walked only 12 hitters in 108.2 innings, good for a 1.0 BB/9. Although Hendricks won’t rack up big strikeout totals at higher levels, the ability to locate and keep hitters off-balance by throwing his curve, slider and change for strikes allowed him to post a 8.7 K/9 across two levels. Anytime you have an 8.7 K/BB ratio, you’re going to have great numbers, but Hendricks was also the beneficiary of some good luck. Although he had a solid GB% of 52 percent, he gave up only 2 home runs all year, resulting in a HR/FB% of less than 2 percent! Even with a regression in his home run rate, Hendricks still profiles as a mid-rotation arm that pounds the strike zone.

8. Oswaldo Arcia, OF
Acquired: Signed as a Free Agent 2007 (Venezuela)
2010 Level: RC (Appalachian League)
Opening Day Age: 19.11

Notes: After a solid US-debut in 2009, Arcia put together one of, if not the best offensive seasons of 2010. In 297 plate appearances, the left-handed hitter slugged 14 home runs and put up a 373/423/667 line. Despite those numbers, Arcia is not yet an elite prospect. His 2010 line was fueled by a 463 BABIP, and he struck out in 26.3 percent of his at-bats. Just as discouraging, even though pitchers pitched him more carefully throughout the year, he only managed a 6.8 BB%. The number of strikeouts and lack of patience are serious concerns heading forward, as more advanced pitchers feast on impatient hitters. Additionally, Arcia struggles against lefties. While he still managed an 862 OPS against them last year, that is almost 400 points below his OPS against righties. Arcia will need to hit, because although he played center in 2010, his ultimate defensive home will likely be left field. He certainly has the tools to become a middle-of-the-order type bat, but he is a long ways from realizing that potential.

9. Max Kepler-Rozycki, OF

Acquired: Signed as a Free Agent 2009 (Germany)
2010 Level: RC (Gulf Coast League)
Opening Day Age: 18.2

Notes: Bryce Harper got a lot of attention for handling junior college pitching during what should have been his junior year of high school. Meanwhile, Kepler-Rozycki was handling professional pitching during his junior year. In addition to heavily scouting Australia, the Twins also have the biggest presence of any team in Europe, so it was no surprise when they landed Kepler-Rozycki for $800,000, the largest bonus ever given to a European. The early returns on that investment have been solid. In 153 plate appearances in the GCL, Kepler-Rozycki held his own, hitting 286/346/343 against the more experienced competition. He also showed an ability to control the strike zone, putting up a BB% of 8.5 and a K% of only 19.3. Currently a center fielder, Kepler-Rozycki may eventually have to move to right as he fills out his 6-foot-4, 180 pound frame. The son of two members of the German ballet, Kepler-Rozycki comes from one of the more unusual backgrounds of any prospect.

10. Joe Benson, CF
Acquired: Drafted 2nd Round 2006 (Illinois HS)
2010 Level: Hi A/AA
Opening Day Age: 23.1

Notes: On tools alone, Benson rates with anyone in the system. He was committed to play running back for Purdue before he signed with the Twins, and as his football background suggests, Benson features both power and speed. But up until last season, Benson had struggled to translate his significant raw power to game situations. He began to do so in 2010, slugging 27 home runs across two levels to lead all Twin farmhands, but he still has a ways to go in polishing the rest of his game. He struggles to make consistent contact, striking out in over 30% of his at-bats in AA. He’ll only be 23 on opening day, so there is still time for Benson to improve his pitch-recognition skills, but I’m not particularly optimistic about that prospect. He already has 1,864 minor league plate appearances, and while he has made the necessary improvements to handle each successive level, he hasn’t yet had the breakthrough many Twin fans have been hoping for. With so much minor league experience already, the prospect for that breakthrough has diminished significantly. Even if Benson fails to cut down on his strikeouts, he still figures to have a career in the big leagues. He is a solid defender in center and a strong arm allows him to play anywhere in the outfield. Plus, he would offer some right-handed pop in a platoon or bench type role.

post #320 of 77570
Thread Starter 
Here's a breakdown of their top 10:

1. Aaron Hicks, CF
Acquired: 2008 1st Round (Southern California HS)
2010 Level: Low A
Opening Day Age: 21.6

Notes: Prospect aficionados have a tendency to get a little antsy with highly-touted prospects. When a player doesn’t immediately light the world on fire he can be unfairly criticized, and, to some extent, I think Hicks has been subjected to this. When he was drafted, he was billed as a 5-tool player with solid power and speed highlighting his game, but the returns in those two areas have been just fair so far. In just over 1,000 career plate appearances, Hicks has only hit 16 home runs and has stolen only 42 bases. Those modest returns on top of the Twins’ decision to have him repeat the Midwest league in 2010 have some jumping off the bandwagon, but a look past those counting stats reveals a lot for Twins fans to be excited about.

Hicks has always been a patient hitter, but he took his approach to the next level in 2010, increasing his BB% from 13.5 in 2009 to an impressive 17%. Additionally, he improved his ISO from .131 to .149 while boosting his average from .251 to .279. Those numbers do not scream ‘elite prospect’, but it’s important to keep in mind that the Midwest league is a pitcher-friendly league. In the outfield, Hicks is a plus defender. His above average speed allows him to cover a lot of ground, and his arm rates with any center fielder in the minors. If Hicks starts to tap into his raw power, he could be an absolute monster. Even if he never reaches his offensive potential, he could still turn in a lot of 3+ win seasons on the strength of his on-base skills and above-average defense.

2. Kyle Gibson, RHP
Acquired: 2009 1st Round (Missouri)
2010 Level: Hi A, AA, AAA
Opening Day Age: 23.5

Notes: Just weeks before the 2009 draft, Gibson looked like a lock to go in the top 10, but suddenly his velocity dropped into the mid 80s. He was eventually diagnosed with a forearm injury, and he fell to the Twins with the 22nd pick. Healthy in 2010, Gibson had an impressive season. Over 16 starts in AA he had a 3.08 FIP, and he finished the season in AAA. In many ways, Gibson is a prototypical Twins pitcher. He doesn’t have power stuff, but he succeeds by pounding the strike zone. Gibson had a BB/9 of only 2.3 last year and an equally impressive 58% ground-ball rate. The biggest concern in Gibson’s game is his lack of strikeouts. He posted only a 7.5 K/9 in 2010, and he doesn’t ever figure to be a big strikeout pitcher. Strikeouts certainly aren’t everything, but they are important. With his struggles to miss bats on a consistent basis, Gibson strikes me as a more of a solid starter than a front-of-the-rotation arm some are billing him as.

3. Miguel Sano, 3B
Acquired: Signed as a Free Agent 2009 (Dominican Republic)
2010 Level: RC (Gulf Coast League)
Opening Day Age: 17.11

Notes: Widely considered the top available international free agent in 2009, Sano’s signing was delayed by a prolonged investigation that eventually verified his identity but left his age ‘undetermined’. Sano eventually signed for $3.15 million, and was granted a work visa. First assigned to the Dominican Summer League, Sano quickly proved to be a man amongst boys, forcing a promotion to the States after a mere 64 at-bats. In the Gulf Coast League, Sano continued to hit, putting up a 291/338/473 line in 161 plate appearances. At the plate, Sano’s ceiling is immense. While he struck out in almost 30 percent of his at-bats in the GCL, few are concerned that strikeouts will be a persistent problem for him, and he should hit for both average and power down the road. Although he was signed as a short stop, it is all but certain that Sano will have to move to a less-demanding position, perhaps as soon as 2011. The best-case scenario is that he ends up at third, but depending on how his body develops, he might have to move to right.

4. Alex Wimmers, RHP
Acquired: Drafted 1st Round 2010 (Ohio State)
2010 Level: Hi A
Opening Day Age: 20.6

Notes: The 21st overall pick in this year’s draft, Wimmers is another classic ‘Twins’ arm. He doesn’t have top-flight stuff, but he profiles as a solid 3rd starter because of his legitimate three-pitch mix. His fastball sits in the low 90s, but the pitch plays up because his changeup is a legitimate plus pitch that keeps hitters honest. Wimmers also features a curve that figures to be an average offering. After signing, the Twins sent him to the Florida State League, where he threw well, albeit in only 15 innings. The Twins tend to be conservative in player development, so Wimmers will likely begin the year back in Hi A. But it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him spend much of the year in AA.

5. Ben Revere, CF
Acquired: Drafted 1st Round 2007 (Kentucky HS)
2010 Level: AA
Opening Day Age: 22.11

Notes: Revere was considered by many to be an over-draft when the Twins took him in the first round of the 2007 draft, but the speedy left-handed hitter holds a career .328 average in the minors and hit .305 last year. With a compact swing, quick hands, and an all-fields approach, Revere should continue to hit for solid average. The problem is that Revere doesn’t offer much besides average. In over 1,500 minor league plate appearances, Revere only has 4 home runs, and his ISO has been .058 in each of the past two seasons. He could also stand to draw more walks, especially considering be profiles as a table-setting type hitter. His BB% has never reached 8% at any level, but the fact that he has improved from 7.2 to 7.7 to 7.9 percent over the past three seasons provides some reason for optimism. In the field, Revere’s plus speed allows him to cover a lot of ground, but his arm is extremely weak, grading even worse than guys like Brett Gardner and Juan Pierre to whom he is often compared. The lack of arm strength likely makes Revere a below-average defender in center, and may ultimately push him to left. Despite all the things Revere can’t do, average and speed are always in demand. I don’t anticipate that he’ll have the impact of Brett Gardner did last season, but a typical line of 300/360/358 with maybe a -6 UZR in center seems like a reasonable projection.

6. Adrian Salcedo, RHP
Acquired: Signed as a Free Agent 2007 (Dominican Republic)
2010 Level: RC (Appalachian League)/Hi A
Opening Day Age: 19.11

Notes: Salcedo burst on the prospect-scene in 2009 by posting a ridiculous 19.2 K/BB ratio in over 61.2 innings in the Gulf Coast League. The Twins typically promote level-by-level, but when a hole opened in the Ft. Myers rotation (Hi A), they decided to send Salcedo there. In six starts, Salcedo was hit hard, but he rebounded nicely when he was sent back to the Appalachian league in June. In 66 innings with Elizabethton, Salcedo had a solid K/9 of 8.86 and a very good BB/9 of 1.36. Salcedo also generates ground-balls at a 56% rate with a solid, low-90s fastball. The ability to miss bats, limit walks, and keep the ball on the ground is a great recipe for success, and at 6’4″ 175, there is still projection remaining in Salcedo’s frame. Depending upon the progress he makes with his secondary stuff, Salcedo could become a solid 2/3 starter. He’s on track to begin the 2011 in the Midwest league, and in a pitching-friendly league, he could put up big numbers.

7. Liam Hendriks, RHP
Acquired: Signed as a Free Agent 2007 (Australia)
2010 Level: Low A/Hi A
Opening Day Age: 22.2

Notes: The Twins have been baseball’s most active franchise in signing players from Australia, but their efforts have failed to produce any major-league contributors thus far. That may change with Hendricks. The 6’1″ right-hander missed all of 2008 with a back injury; but fully healthy in 2010, Hendricks had a breakout year, holding his ERA below 2.00 in both low and Hi A. Like many Twin arms, Hendricks pounds the strike zone. He walked only 12 hitters in 108.2 innings, good for a 1.0 BB/9. Although Hendricks won’t rack up big strikeout totals at higher levels, the ability to locate and keep hitters off-balance by throwing his curve, slider and change for strikes allowed him to post a 8.7 K/9 across two levels. Anytime you have an 8.7 K/BB ratio, you’re going to have great numbers, but Hendricks was also the beneficiary of some good luck. Although he had a solid GB% of 52 percent, he gave up only 2 home runs all year, resulting in a HR/FB% of less than 2 percent! Even with a regression in his home run rate, Hendricks still profiles as a mid-rotation arm that pounds the strike zone.

8. Oswaldo Arcia, OF
Acquired: Signed as a Free Agent 2007 (Venezuela)
2010 Level: RC (Appalachian League)
Opening Day Age: 19.11

Notes: After a solid US-debut in 2009, Arcia put together one of, if not the best offensive seasons of 2010. In 297 plate appearances, the left-handed hitter slugged 14 home runs and put up a 373/423/667 line. Despite those numbers, Arcia is not yet an elite prospect. His 2010 line was fueled by a 463 BABIP, and he struck out in 26.3 percent of his at-bats. Just as discouraging, even though pitchers pitched him more carefully throughout the year, he only managed a 6.8 BB%. The number of strikeouts and lack of patience are serious concerns heading forward, as more advanced pitchers feast on impatient hitters. Additionally, Arcia struggles against lefties. While he still managed an 862 OPS against them last year, that is almost 400 points below his OPS against righties. Arcia will need to hit, because although he played center in 2010, his ultimate defensive home will likely be left field. He certainly has the tools to become a middle-of-the-order type bat, but he is a long ways from realizing that potential.

9. Max Kepler-Rozycki, OF

Acquired: Signed as a Free Agent 2009 (Germany)
2010 Level: RC (Gulf Coast League)
Opening Day Age: 18.2

Notes: Bryce Harper got a lot of attention for handling junior college pitching during what should have been his junior year of high school. Meanwhile, Kepler-Rozycki was handling professional pitching during his junior year. In addition to heavily scouting Australia, the Twins also have the biggest presence of any team in Europe, so it was no surprise when they landed Kepler-Rozycki for $800,000, the largest bonus ever given to a European. The early returns on that investment have been solid. In 153 plate appearances in the GCL, Kepler-Rozycki held his own, hitting 286/346/343 against the more experienced competition. He also showed an ability to control the strike zone, putting up a BB% of 8.5 and a K% of only 19.3. Currently a center fielder, Kepler-Rozycki may eventually have to move to right as he fills out his 6-foot-4, 180 pound frame. The son of two members of the German ballet, Kepler-Rozycki comes from one of the more unusual backgrounds of any prospect.

10. Joe Benson, CF
Acquired: Drafted 2nd Round 2006 (Illinois HS)
2010 Level: Hi A/AA
Opening Day Age: 23.1

Notes: On tools alone, Benson rates with anyone in the system. He was committed to play running back for Purdue before he signed with the Twins, and as his football background suggests, Benson features both power and speed. But up until last season, Benson had struggled to translate his significant raw power to game situations. He began to do so in 2010, slugging 27 home runs across two levels to lead all Twin farmhands, but he still has a ways to go in polishing the rest of his game. He struggles to make consistent contact, striking out in over 30% of his at-bats in AA. He’ll only be 23 on opening day, so there is still time for Benson to improve his pitch-recognition skills, but I’m not particularly optimistic about that prospect. He already has 1,864 minor league plate appearances, and while he has made the necessary improvements to handle each successive level, he hasn’t yet had the breakthrough many Twin fans have been hoping for. With so much minor league experience already, the prospect for that breakthrough has diminished significantly. Even if Benson fails to cut down on his strikeouts, he still figures to have a career in the big leagues. He is a solid defender in center and a strong arm allows him to play anywhere in the outfield. Plus, he would offer some right-handed pop in a platoon or bench type role.

post #321 of 77570
AMP, good luck man.  smiley: pimp

Pro, nicely done as always. 


Carp already sitting even for a leg issue, even for just a week, means more stuff to worry about with him in a month.  If everything on him isn't in perfect working order, he can easily put undue strain on somethin, and he out just like that.  The Cards should be looking for help asap. 
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post #322 of 77570
AMP, good luck man.  smiley: pimp

Pro, nicely done as always. 


Carp already sitting even for a leg issue, even for just a week, means more stuff to worry about with him in a month.  If everything on him isn't in perfect working order, he can easily put undue strain on somethin, and he out just like that.  The Cards should be looking for help asap. 
MIAMI DOLPHINS
LA LAKERS
CHICAGO CUBS
MIAMI HURRICANES
Reply
MIAMI DOLPHINS
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post #323 of 77570
Hey, Elijah Dukes got arrested.
post #324 of 77570
Hey, Elijah Dukes got arrested.
post #325 of 77570
Is he even signed to a team?smiley: laugh
post #326 of 77570
Is he even signed to a team?smiley: laugh
post #327 of 77570
Quote:
Originally Posted by WearinTheFourFive

Is he even signed to a team?smiley: laugh

indifferent.gif


Newark Bears laugh.gif

Such a waste of talent 30t6p3b.gif

post #328 of 77570
Quote:
Originally Posted by WearinTheFourFive

Is he even signed to a team?smiley: laugh

indifferent.gif


Newark Bears laugh.gif

Such a waste of talent 30t6p3b.gif

post #329 of 77570
Former big league outfielder Elijah Dukes charged with hitting pregnant girlfriend 30t6p3b

Former big league outfielder Elijah Dukes was arrested Wednesday and charged with domestic violence after police say he struck his pregnant girlfriend.

clearpxl

Mountrail Mounshay Mack, 20, told police Dukes allegedly slapped her several times in the face during an argument. Though she was reportedly not badly injured, officers charged Dukes with a felony because Mack was pregnant.

The former Rays player was released by the Nationals March 17 of 2010 and has been playing with the Newark Bears of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.

Dukes has had a number of run-ins with the law, having been arrested at least three times for battery and once for assault. He was apprehended at his mother's house without incident and was also arrested on warrants for contempt of court and driving with a suspended license.

Dukes batted .242 with 31 homers and 123 RBI in 240 games over three seasons.


post #330 of 77570
Former big league outfielder Elijah Dukes charged with hitting pregnant girlfriend 30t6p3b

Former big league outfielder Elijah Dukes was arrested Wednesday and charged with domestic violence after police say he struck his pregnant girlfriend.

clearpxl

Mountrail Mounshay Mack, 20, told police Dukes allegedly slapped her several times in the face during an argument. Though she was reportedly not badly injured, officers charged Dukes with a felony because Mack was pregnant.

The former Rays player was released by the Nationals March 17 of 2010 and has been playing with the Newark Bears of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.

Dukes has had a number of run-ins with the law, having been arrested at least three times for battery and once for assault. He was apprehended at his mother's house without incident and was also arrested on warrants for contempt of court and driving with a suspended license.

Dukes batted .242 with 31 homers and 123 RBI in 240 games over three seasons.


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