Archive for July, 2009

Boston Red Sox Acquire Victor Martinez From Cleveland Indians

July 31, 2009

Going into today, I was pretty confident in saying that either Roy Halladay, Adrian Gonzalez, or Victor Martinez would be in a Boston Red Sox uniform on Saturday. After finding the asking price for both Halladay and Gonzalez too high, the Red Sox settled for plan A-.

Late this afternoon the Red Sox acquired All-Star C/1B Victor Martinez from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for pitchers Nick Hagadone, Bryan Price, and Justin Masterson.

If anyone has watched the Red Sox over the last month, you would know this team needed a kick in the pants on offense. Martinez or “VMart” is that kick in the pants. I said A- earlier because VMart is a wonderful offensive player who was hitting .284 with 15 HRs and 67 RBI for the Indians this year. VMart is also a switch-hitter which makes him even more valuable. He is too good to be considered a Plan B.

VMart can catch and play first base, but my guess is he will see regular time at first base (Sox already unloaded Adam LaRoche to the Atlanta Braves) or DH against righties.

The Red Sox didn’t acquire a Martinez for lifetime supply of Mentos – they gave up some good arms in Hagadone and Masterson. Hagadone was the Red Sox first-round pick in the 2007 draft and all he has done in three years of minor-league ball is compile a 1.82 ERA in 23 starts. He was Boston’s third best prospect at the start of the season according to Baseball America.

As for Masterson, with his three-quarter delivery and lack of a third or fourth pitch, I think he is more a reliever than a starter in the majors. The Indians should have a nice one-two punch for the future in the back of their pen with Masterson and Chris Perez.

My take is that the Red Sox not got Martinez for this year, but for 2010 as well and didn’t have to give up Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden, Lars Anderson, Jason Place, Casey Kelly, or Daniel Bard.

As usual, well played Theo, well played.

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Detroit Tigers Acquire Jarrod Washburn From Seattle Mariners

July 31, 2009

Today might be one of the best days on the baseball calendar. It’s the July 31st baseball trading deadline. The reason that the trading deadline is so great is because not do you finally see trades happen that have been rumored for awhile, but you see trades happen that seemingly come out of nowhere.

That is what happened this morning when the Detroit Tigers acquired LHP Jarrod Washburn from the Seattle Mariners for left-handed pitchers Luke French and Mauricio Robles. Every time I hear the name Mauricio I think of Jason Alexander’s character in Shallow Hal.

Washburn is headed to Motown

Washburn is headed to Motown

Talk about a trade that came out of rightfield. We have heard Washburn rumored to go to the Milwaukee Brewers, the New York Yankees, or even the Philadelphia Philles before they got Cliff Lee. Not once did I hear the Tigers were after him.

Not only was the trade to the Tigers surprising, but I can’t believe that is all the Mariners got for Washburn. No disrespect to French and Robles, but the Mariners were believed to be asking for top prospects for Washburn. French and Robles do not qualify as that.

Though French has seen time with the Tigers this year and has posted a 3.38 ERA in 29.1 innings of work and Robles has 111 K’s in 91.1 innings pitched this year between Single A and High Single A – niether of them were top Tigers’ prospects according to Baseball America.

Washburn and his 2.64 ERA in 20 starts should fit in nicely behind Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson.

Where Have You Gone Pat The Bat?

July 31, 2009

When talking about the biggest free agent signing busts from this past offseason, we often reference Milton Bradley of the Chicago Cubs or Oliver Perez of the New York Mets. Well, I think it is time we start referencing another player as a free agent bust. That player is the Tampa Bay Rays’ Pat Burrell.

When the Rays signed Burrell to a two-year $16 million contract in the offseason, I thought it was a great move. Here was a guy who averaged 27 HR’s, 91 RBI, and a .367 OBP from 2000-2008, he was a clear upgrade at DH over the Cliff Floyd and Eric Hinske combination of last year, and I thought he along with Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria, would give the Rays one of the best three-four-five hitters in the game.

Burrell's wife is looking much better than Burrell these days

Burrell's wife is looking much better than Burrell these days

Because of injuries and just plain being terrible, Burrell has been a major disappointment for the Rays this year. He is hitting a Kevin Stocker-esque .219 with just seven HR’s and 37 RBI in 70 games for the Rays. Not exactly what the Rays were looking for.

I can understand the average dipping a little bit at the age of 32. Burrell was never a great contact hitter as his .257 average from 2000-2008 suggests. But where is the power? He is averaging a HR every 33.9 AB’s this year. Much worse than his 18.6 HR/AB average for the previous nine years.

The Rays are seven games out of first place in the AL East and are four and a half games behind the Red Sox in the Wild Card race. If the Rays plan on making one last run at a playoff berth in 2009, not only do they need their starting pitching to step up, but they also need Pat Burrell to start hitting like he is used to.

Los Angeles Dodgers Acquire George Sherrill…

July 30, 2009

The Los Angeles Dodgers, while still pursuing a trade for Roy Halladay, switched their attention for a second to the back-end of their bullpen. This afternoon the Dodgers acquired Baltimore Orioles’ closer George Sherrill for minor-leaguers Josh Bell and Steve Johnson.

With Jonathan Broxton already firmly entrenched as the Dodgers’ closer, Sherrill becomes the Dodgers’ primary eighth inning guy. Sherrill thrived in a middle-relief role with the Mariners in 2007 (2.36 ERA in 73 games), so I don’t think going from a closer to an eighth inning guy will affect him like it did Eric Gagne and JJ Putz when they made the move.

Sherrill is headed to lala land

Sherrill is headed to lala land

Sherrill came to the Orioles in the extremely lopsided Erik Bedard trade last year and in a year and a half was sensational for the Orioles. If you really think about it, Sherrill was just an extra in that trade and all he has done is save 51 games in 94.2 innings for the Orioles. He also was an All Star in 2008.

Despite Sherrill’s 20 saves and 2.40 ERA in 2009, it made sense for the Orioles to trade him. Sherrill is 32-years old and the Orioles were out of the race this year and next year figures to be a rebuilding year as well. Sherrill is under team control until 2011, so his value was the highest now.

In return, the Orioles get the Dodgers eigth best prospect in 3B Josh Bell according to Baseball America. Bell is a slugging third baseman who was hitting .296 with 11 HR’s, 52 RBI, and had a .386 OBP for Double-A Chattanooga. With current third baseman Melvin Mora becoming a free agent after the season, it’s possible Bell will compete for the starting job in 2010.

The Orioles also received RHP Steve Johnson. Johnson was drafted in the 13th round of the 2005 draft and in five years in the minors Johnson was 29-26 with a 4.25 ERA and had 397 K’s in 408.2 IP. Johnson projects to be reliever in the majors.

The Erik Bedard trade is looking better for the Orioles by the day. Adam Jones is already becoming a star in this league, top pitching prospect Chris Tillman made his major-league debut last night and after two very productive seasons from Sherrill, the Orioles flip him for two prospects.

Pittsburgh Pirates At It Again, Trade Freddy Sanchez…

July 30, 2009

You know those deadline deal trades where you go “that’s going to comeback to bite them in the but in a couple of years?” I think that is what every San Francisco Giants fan is going to say in five years when they think about the trade they made yesterday with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Last night the Pittsburgh Pirates made their second trade of the day by sending 2B Freddy Sanchez to the San Francisco Giants for prospect RHP Tim Alderson.

Let’s first start with Alderson since he was the key to this deal. For those of you not familiar with Alderson, he is one of the top prospects not only in the Giants’ system – but in all of baseball. He is legit.

The Giants gave up too much for Sanchez

The Giants gave up too much for Sanchez

ESPN.com’s Keith Law had Alderson ranked as the 26th best prospect in all of baseball ahead of names like Dexter Fowler, Matt LaPorta, and Gordon Beckham. Alderson projects out to be a solid number two or three pitcher in the major-leagues.

Now I understand the Giants were desperate for offense. But if you are going to give up a prospect like Alderson, the player you get in return better be an impact bat. Matt Holliday would have been worth Alderson. Sanchez is a good hitter – no doubt about it, but he is not a difference maker.

What the Giants got was a solid, professional hitter, who is a clear upgrade over what the Giants had at second base. The powder keg that was Emmanuel Burriss, Kevin Frandsen, Juan Uribe and Matt Downs were just not cutting for the Giants.

Combined they were hitting .232 with five HR and 36 RBI for the season. Just flatout Pathetic. Sanchez by himself was hitting .296 with six HR’s, 34 RBI, and 105 hits in 86 games with the Pirates.

While the Giants continue to add offense, this was a major score for the Pirates. Two trades today by the Pirates and in my opinion, two wins. Finally things are looking up for the Pirates.

Seattle Mariners Acquire Jack Wilson…

July 29, 2009

When making trades, I have always believed that you should trade an average or below average known for an unknown with potential. That is what the Pittsburgh Pirates did today when they traded SS Jack Wilson and RHP Ian Snell, “average knowns” for C/1B Jeff Clement, SS/2B Ronny Cedeno, and minor-league pitchers Aaron Pribanic, Brett Lorin, and Nathan Adcock, “unknowns with potential.”

When I first heard the Pirates received five players for Wilson and Snell, my initial reaction was really? Seems like an awful lot, nomatter who the players were for those two.

I know what I am getting with Wilson. I am getting a guy who can’t hit a lick, is one of the best defensive shortstops in the game, and since the Mariners are going to pick up his 2010 option for $8.5 million – a guy is over paid in this economy.

I understand the Mariners want to really, really, really, really want to build their team around defense, but sooner or later the Mariners are going to need to find a guy who can drive in runs. Wilson is not that guy.

I also know what I am going to get with Snell. I just don’t see it with Snell. He might have the arm, but when it comes to the mental aspect of the game, well, that’s a different story. I just don’t think Snell has the mental makeup, which is about 75 percent of pitching to make it in the majors as a starter.

Snell is 33-46 for his career with a 4.75 ERA. He was so bad this year, he was sent down to the minors. Maybe Snell just needs a change of scenery? But I think he is an average major-league pitcher.

As for the players the Pirates received, the biggest unknown is Jeff Clement. Clement was the third overall pick in the 2005 draft and was actually taken right before Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Braun (every Mariner fan just threw up in their mouth).

Clement set high expectations after he hit .375 with two HR’s and three RBI in 19 games for the Mariners in 2007. Clement didn’t live up to those expectations as he struggled in 2008. He hit just .227 with five HR’s and 23 RBI in 66 games.

For Triple-A Tacoma this year, Clement was hitting .286 with 14 HR’s, 66 RBI and a .366 OBP. Clement reminds me a little of Phil Nevin. If you don’t remember Nevin, he was the first overall pick by the Houston Astros in the 1992 draft. He was drafted as a catcher and Nevin never panned out in Houston.

After bouncing around for a couple of years, Nevin found a home in San Diego, converted to a full-time third baseman, and ended up being a very productive player. I am sensing the same thing for Clement.

With Adam LaRoche off to Boston, there is an opening for Clement to step in and be the Pirates’ starting first baseman in 2010. At 26, there is time for Clement to develop into a solid major-league player.

The Pirates also received three low level pitching prospects, none of which were in the top 10 of Mariner prospects according to Baseball America. Pirates GM Neal Huntington has done a good job of restocking the Pirates previously baron minor-league system. These three players will only add value to the Pirates’ system.

As for Ronny Cedeno? He is nothing more than a roster filler. A guy who can play SS, 2B, 3B, and even some LF.

At the end of the day, I like this trade for the Pirates. They gave away two average players for a guy in Clement who has the potential to be good and three pitching prospects.

Philadelphia Phillies Acquire Cliff Lee…

July 29, 2009

Update:

The Philadelphia Phillies have acquired LHP Cliff Lee and OF Ben Francisco from the Cleveland Indians. The Indians will receive minor-leaguers Carlos Carrasco, Jason Knapp, Jason Donald, and Lou Marson.

This is a great move by the Phillies for three reasons:

  1. They get a very, very good LHP in Lee not only for this year, but for next year as well. Lee has a $8 million club option for 2010, which I am sure the Phillies will pick up.
  2. They didn’t have to give up top prospects Kyle Drabek, John Mayberry Jr., or Dominic Brown.
  3. They get the right-handed bat off the bench they have been searching for since spring training. Remember, they tried to sign Gary Sheffield before he signed with the New York Mets.

I will have more on the players the Indians recieved later.

This trade also means that any leverage the Toronto Blue Jays had in trading Roy Halladay just went out the window.

Original Post:

According to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, the Philadelphia Phillies have focused their attention on Cleveland Indians left-handed ace Cliff Lee. While everyone thought the Phillies would land Roy Halladay (still might happen), Lee is not bad fall back option.

Not only would they get last year’s Cy Young winner who is having a very good year this year, but the Phillies wouldn’t have to give up top prospects Kyle Drabek and Dominic Brown for Lee.

Pairing Lee and Cole Hamels would make the Phillies very tough to beat in a short playoff series.

More on this story as it develops.

Should The Dodgers Be Concerned With Chad Billingsley?

July 29, 2009

There are a lot of great pitchers in the game today who are 25-years old and younger. Tim Lincecum, Zack Greinke, Felix Hernandez, and Chad Billingsley come to mind. What is amazing is that at such a young age, all these pitchers are considered the ace of their respective staffs.

With so much responsibility put on their shoulders (literally), it’s not uncommon for young pitchers to go through a slump during the course of the long baseball season. That is exactly what I think is happening to Los Angeles Dodgers’ ace Chad Billingsley.

Billingsley will be fine

Billingsley will be fine

Billingsley was roughed up again last night. This time it was by the St Louis Cardinals. Billingsley gave up six runs, an uncharacteristic six walks, and four hits in 5.2 innings of work last night.

What made this game frustrating for Dodgers’ fans is that Billingsley was cruising for five innings. For what ever reason, Billingsley imploded in the sixth inning – four walks (two were intentional), two wild pitches, three hits, and six runs. Ouch.

I have seen this before with another young pitcher – Jon Lester. In many games this year (May 15 at Seattle comes to mind), Lester would be cruising and then all of a sudden just lose it in the fifth or six inning. His stuff was still there, but his location was off and by the time he figured it out, it was too late. 

Despite Billingsley’s 7.52 ERA in July and his 2,225 pitches thrown this year (third behind Justin Verlander and Adam Wainwright), if I was a Dodger fan, I would not be too concerned about your ace. He doesn’t appear hurt and he is just in a pitching slump. It happens to every young pitcher in the game.

Slumps happen at different points of the season. For Tim Lincecum it was April and for Jon Lester it was May. Billingsley will be fine – he is too good not to be.

One last note about the Dodgers. How about Matt Kemp? I thought it was a bad move by Joe Torre to bat Kemp eighth. However, it has worked. Kemp is batting .443 and has an OPS of 1.177 hitting in the No. Eight hole. Not too shabby.

Take A Look At Everth Cabrera…

July 29, 2009

Does your fantasy team need a backup shortstop, who has Keeper League potential, and can be a good source for stolen bases? If so, you might want to take a look at San Diego Padres 22-year old SS Everth Cabrera.

I know it’s hard to believe any Padres’ position player besides Adrian Gonzalez has any fantasy value, but Cabrera is hitting .259 with four triples, 13 SB’s, and has a .342 OBP in 42 games. The 13 SB’s is not a surprise because Cabrera stole 73 bases in 121 games for Single-A Asheville. This kid can fly.

I see a lot of Rafael Furcal in Cabrera, so he might be worth the pickup.

White Sox Mark Buehrle Breaks Record (Update)…

July 29, 2009

Update:

Things sure do happen quickly in the game of baseball. After retiring the first two batters of the sixth inning, Buehrle walked Alexei Casilla on a 3-2 pitch – ending Buehrle’s streak of retiring 45 consecutive batters.

Despite the walk, Buehrle still had a no-hitter going, but gave up a single to the next batter Denard Span.

Retiring 45 consecutive batters as a starter is just an incredible accomplishment for Buehrle. This might be a record that will stand for awhile.

Original Post:

Apparently the Chicago White Sox Mark Buehrle was not happy with just throwing one perfect game. That is because through five innings tonight against the Minnesota Twins, Buehrle has another perfect game going.

Buehrle has now retired 43 straight batters which is a major league record. The previous record was 41 batters in a row set by two pitchers. Jim Barr retired 41 straight batters in 1972 and Buehrle’s teammate Bobby Jenks accomplished the feat in 2007.

More on this game as it progresses. Right now it is 1-0 White Sox heading into the sixth.