Archive for August, 2009

Brad Penny to Sign With San Francisco Giants

August 31, 2009

Update

As if the San Francisco Giants needed more pitching, according to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, Brad Penny will sign with the Giants today. Penny passed through waivers early this afternoon, which made him a free agent and free to sign with any team.

The Giants will pay Penny a pro-rated portion of baseball’s minimum salary, which will be around $75,000.

Just like all recently released, aging, failed comeback attempt with the Boston Red Sox pitchers, Penny will probably pitch swimingly in the NL.

Penny will join a Giants rotation that includes Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito, and Jonathan Sanchez.

Original Post

Can you believe that Brad Penny was 6-2 at one point during the season? After watching Penny pitch for the last couple of months, it’s almost impossible to believe.

Penny has been terrible in the monthof August going 0-3 witha stellar 8.31 ERA and combined with the fact Boston Red Sox needed a roster spot for the newly acquired Billy Wagner, the Red Sox and Penny have agreed to part ways.

After missing some of the 2008 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers because he was battling a shoulder injury, the Red Sox took a $5 million flier on Penny in the offseason. It was a classic high-risk, high-reward signing.

At the end of June, the Penny signing was looking like it was paying off. He was  6-3 with a 4.79 ERA. It’s not the greatest ERA in the world, but A. he was winning games, so nobody cared and B. this is what was expected out of Penny.

Penny was released by the Red Sox

Penny was released by the Red Sox

Penny was signed to give the starting rotation depth, not to be a number one or number two starter.

Once the All-Star break hit however, Penny went down hill. He was 1-5 in the second-half with a 7.82 ERA. His last two starts versus the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees were unwatchable.

12 earned runs in 9.2 innings pitched in those two big starts and letting the Rangers run around the bases like a Little League team running on a poor kid who has never caught before spelled doom for Penny.

Despite having a fastball that could still reach the mid-90’s, I saw three major pitching flaws in Penny.

  1. Despite still having the ability to reach back for that 95 mph fastball, that fastball was as straight as an arrow. As Billy Koch taught us, any major league hitter can hit a straight 95 mph+ fastball.
  2. Penny had no secondary pitches. He had a flat curveball and an even more flat slider. Penny couldn’t throw his offspeed stuff for strikes and when he got behind in the count (which was quite often), hitters were just sitting on his straight fastball.
  3. Penny had zero ability to hold runners on. Teams ran all over Penny, especially the Rangers. Penny has no pickoff move and never adjusted his deliveryto home plate. Back in the day when he had overpowering stuff, he could get away with that. Not so much anymore.

I think if Theo Epstein was in playing GM in a perfect world, he would have loved to have traded Penny right after he beat the Yankees on June 11th. He pitched six shutout innings and hs value was at it’s peak. Unfortunately because of the John Smoltz disaster and the Daisuke Matsuzaka injury, Epstein had to hold on to Penny

Now that he is free to sign with any team, my guess is Penny will end up where all failed American League pitchers end up – the National League. A return to the Florida Marlins does make sense.

The side story of this move is that it puts the final nail in the coffin in Theo Epstein’s disastrous offseason. John Smoltz was released, Rocco Baldelli has been injury prone, but has hit lefities well to his credit (.303 avg), and now Penny has been let go.

You might want to take a different approach next season Theo.

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Fantasy Week in Review August 24 – 30

August 31, 2009

Between my birthday, Kendry Morales doing his best Mark Teixeira impersonation for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and the New York Yankees making a mockery of the term “starting pitcher” there was a lot going on last week.

Like every week, here are the fantasy studs, the many players who are of fantasy concern, and the potential pickups from the fantasy week of August 24th – 30th.

Fantasy Studs

Ryan Howard – .393/5/12. The big man is making his annual late season push for MVP.

I need to see Prince go yard next Monday

I need to see Prince go yard next Monday

Kendry Morales – .462/3/11. Speaking of MVP candidates, Morales is right up with Joe Mauer, Mark Teixeira, and Derek Jeter for AL MVP.

Prince Fielder – .259/3/11/.375. I will be in Milwaukee next week to see the Brewers and I am banking on Fielder hitting one of his signature bombs.

Matt Kemp – .360/3/8 with two SB’s. While Manny Ramirez continues to putz around for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kemp and Andre Ethier continue to carry them.

Zack Greinke – 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA and 20 K’s in 17 IP. The Zack Attack is back! He completely dominated the Seattle Mariners yesterday at Safeco. He is back as the leader for the AL Cy Young.

Adam Wainwright – 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA and 12 K’s in 14 IP. Though I am not sure he will win the award, but Wainwright is making a nice run at the NL Cy Young.

He currently leads the NL in wins with 16.

Sean West – 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA and nine K’s in 12 IP. I would like to see West go deeper into games, but he came up big yesterday in a must win game against the San Diego Padres.

Jonathan Papelbon – Three saves with a 0.00 ERA and seven K’s in 3.2 IP. Papelbon is still shaky at times, but when he needs a strikeout he has no problem getting it.

2009 has not been Peavy's year

2009 has not been Peavy's year

Reasons for Concern

Jake Peavy – For those fantasy owners who were hoping Peavy would help their team down the stretch, it’s not looking to good. You kind of get the feeling this is not Peavy’s year.

Peavy has been hurt all year and now he was removed in the forth inning of his rehab start because of soreness in his pitching elbow on Saturday.

Peavy will have his elbow examined later today.

Roy Halladay –  Since the July 31 trading deadline, Halladay is 2-4 with an ERA of 4.71. Very un-Halladay like.

I have watched his last two starts against Tampa and Boston and while his body was on the mound in those starts, his mind was in Colorado, Baltimore, Paris, the Uganda, or anywhere else in the world.

I have never seen Halladay miss his spot as many times as he did against Tampa and Boston. He wasn’t even close a lot of the times. I think Halladay just wants to finish the season and then prays he gets out of Toronto in the offseason.

Joba Chamberlain – The newest “Joba Rules” have rendered Chamberlain useless for fantasy owners for the remainder of the season. Chamberlain pitched three innings yesterday and that was by design.

I have never seen in all my years of watching baseball a starting pitcher only throw three innings by design. Somewhere Jack Morris is sticking bamboo shoots underneath his fingernails.

Chad Qualls – Qualls was hurt on the final play of the game yesterday trying to get out of the way of a linedrive hit right at him. It’s never a good sign when someone says “You can see the dislocation” as AJ Hinch said yesterday.

Qualls is scheduled to undergo an MRI on his knee today, but it doesn’t look good.

Potential Pickups

Juan Gutierrez – Not only does Gutierrez sound like a kicker on any NFL team during the 80’s, he might also be the Arizona Diamondbacks closer if Qualls is out for an extended period of time.

Gutierrez is 3-3 with a 4.21 ERA in 53 games for the Diamondbacks this year.

The Resurrection of Barry Zito

August 31, 2009

It has only taken him 83 starts, but Barry Zito is finally starting to pitch like the pitcher the San Francisco Giants thought he was when they signed him to seven year, $126 million contract in 2007. In case you haven’t noticed, Zito is one of the hottest pitchers in baseball.

Zito has been pitching like an ace lately

Zito has been pitching like an ace lately

In his first 18 starts of the season, it was more of the same mediocre pitching from Zito. He was 5-9 with a 5.01 ERA and was roughly giving up a hit per inning. By sending Zito out there every fifth day, the Giants were trying to piss into a Mr. Coffee and expecting to get Taster’s Choice.

It just wasn’t going to happen.

However, since the All-Star break, Zito has pitched like it is 2002 all over again (the year he won the AL Cy Young). In his last nine starts Zito is 4-2 with a 1.92 ERA and has held hitters to a .225 batting average.

It was Zito’s last start against Colorado on Saturday night where he really stood out. In the middle of a pennant race, Zito had perhaps his best start of the season. Zito tossed 8.1 innings of one run baseball and kept a powerful Rockies lineup off balance all night.

What I have noticed recently about Zito is that he is making better quality pitches with his offspead stuff. At the beginning of the season, Zito was missing so bad with his offspead stuff that hitters were just sitting on his 87 mph fastball. Any major league hitter can hit a 95 mph fastball if they are sitting on it, let along an 87 mph fastball.

Now Zito is making quality pitches with his offspead stuff, which keeps a hitter honest. He is not throwing his offspead pitches for strikes all the time, but he is missing close enough where a hitter has to respect it.

The Giants already have Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain pitching like Cy Young candidates. If Barry Zito continues to pitch like he has in August, the Giants will have three pitchers on top of their game down the stretch.

That would be tough for any team to beat.

Angels Officially Acquire Scott Kazmir From The Rays

August 29, 2009

In a trade that was on, then off, then on again, and then off again, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim finally acquired LHP Scott Kazmir from the Tampa Bay Rays for minor leaguers Alexander Torres, Mathew Sweeney, and the infamous Player to be Named Later.

Kazmir is heading to LA

Kazmir is heading to LA

Even though by trading their 25-year-old lefty, it looks like the Rays are throwing in the towel in 2009, I actually like this trade for the Rays. I know most Rays fans and more importantly the Rays players don’t feel the same way, but at the end of the day this is a smart move by the Rays organization.

Here is why I like this trade for the Rays:

1. First and foremost, Kazmir had $23 million left on his deal. The Angels are taking on all of that $23 million off of the Rays hands. The Rays can now use that money on a Carl Crawford extension or to sign a closer.

I know JP Howell has been okay as the Rays’ closer, but you can’t win a World Series with him as your closer. I am sorry, but you just can’t.

2. Take the name Kazmir off the back of the jersey and what do you got? You got a guy who’s velocity has decreased this year, his K/9 is the lowest of his career (7.4), his ERA is the highest of his career (5.92), and his record is just 8-7.

Kazmir wasn’t worth the money he was going to make.

3. The Rays can replace Kazmir. The Rays can go one of two ways. They can call up top prospect Wade Davis (10-7, 3.26 ERA) or Andy Sonnanstine (5-3, 4.40 ERA) from Triple-A Durham.

The other direction the Rays can go is to sign the recently released Brad Penny. Penny’s stats are strikingly similar to that of Kazmir’s. Penny was 7-8 with an ERA of 5.61. The Rays could get the same production as Kazmir for only around $85,000.

4. The Rays got three prospects for Kazmir. While they are not the Angels best prospects, Torres is a 22-year-old LHP and has a 23-11 record with a 3.19 ERA in four minor league seasons.

Sweeney is a 21-year-old 3B who has hit .285 with a .361 OBP in three minor league seasons.

From the Angels perspective, they are hoping they are getting the Kazmir from his last three starts, rather than the one who has struggled for most the year. In his last three starts, Kazmir is 2-0 with 21 strikeouts in 19.2 innings pitched.

The Angels also made this move thinking ahead towards the playoffs. Kazmir is 4-0 with a 2.95 ERA against the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in 2009.

I have two questions for the Angels. 1. Does the acquisition of Kazmir end the John Lackey era in Los Angeles? Lackey is a free agent at the end of the year and figures to be in line for a big contract and 2. what will the Angels playoff rotation look like in October?

The Angels have a five-man rotation now of Lackey, Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders, Jered Weaver, and Kazmir. Unless the Angels go with an unprecidented five-man rotation in the playoffs, one of these guys is going to have to head to the bullpen.

I thought the Angels would be better off going after relief help, but Kazmir should help.

Kansas City Royals Foolish To Extend Dayton Moore’s Contract

August 29, 2009

According to Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse, a source has confirmed that the Kansas City Royals have extended the contract of GM Dayton Moore. That sound you just heard was every remaining Royals fan throwing up in their mouth.

After three years on the job, Moore doesn’t deserve to be the GM of the Long Island Ducks let alone get an extension. The Royals used to be one of the American League’s premier franchises back in the day and I am not sure how much more Royal fans can take…literally.

Moore has failed as Royals' GM

Moore has failed as Royals' GM

When Moore took over in 2006, the Royals had an Opening Day payroll of $47 million and change. The 2009 Royals had an Opening Day payroll of $70 million and change and have actually gotten worse. Some would argue that the Royals are the worst team in baseball this year.

For those of you scoring at home that is roughly a 49 percent increase in payroll from 2006 to 2009. Let’s put this into everyday terms. If you were running a business and your Director or VP of Operations increased expenditures by almost 50 percent, you would expect to see increased results, right?

The Royals have increased expenditures and the results have decreased. It’s like they are rewarding mediocrity. If Jack Welch was running the Royals, Moore would have been fired in 2008.

This is a man who has built a team that doesn’t hit for power (last in the AL in home runs), doesn’t walk (last in the AL in OBP), doesn’t hit for average (tied for last in the AL in batting avg.), and can’t field the baseball (13th in the AL in fielding percentage).

This is a man who presumably sat in a room and thought it was a good idea to give Kyle Farnsworth a two-year, $9.5 million deal. Moore woke up on the morning of December 5th, 2007 and said let’s give a malcontent, who has worn out his welcome everywhere he has been a three-year, $36 million contract.

Yes, that guy was Jose Guillen.

Outside of Zack Greinke, this team has no stars and no hope on the way. Their top prospects such as Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Tim Melville are still a couple of years away from really contributing. If you are wondering what happened to the Royals’ minor league pitcher of the year in 2008 Dan Cortes? Yeah, he was traded for Yuniesky Betancourt, perhaps the worst player in baseball.

I really hope for the sanity of Royal fans that Moore can get his act together. If not, it might be another 24 years before they win another World Series.

Minnesota Twins Acquire A Pair Of Relievers

August 28, 2009

The Minnesota Twins, desperate to find relievers to get the ball to closer Joe Nathan, acquired a pair of relievers off the waiver wire today. First they acquired LHP Ron Mahay from the Kansas City Royals and then later in day the Twins traded for the Arizona Diamondbacks’ RHP Jon Rauch.

While I have been begging the Twins to trade for relief help all year, these trades bring quantity to the Twins bullpen, but not quality.

Rauch is now a Twin

Rauch is now a Twin

Let’s start with Rauch shall we? In 2008, Rauch had a 2.95 ERA in 48 games with the Washington Nationals, he was traded to the Diamondbacks, and it’s been all down hill from there. While Rauch is 6’11” and 230 lbs, opponents didn’t find Rauch to intimidating.

Rauch has a 4.14 ERA, only has 35 strikeouts, and has allowed 57 hits in 54.1 innings pitched in 2009. That is while pitching in the offensively challenged NL West. I am not sure how he is going to fare in the much tougher AL.

Ron Mahay pitched really well in 2008 going 5-0 with a 3.48 ERA in 57 games for the Royals. 2009 on the other hand, has not been so great for the veteran lefty.

Mahay has a 4.41 ERA while giving up a whopping 55 hits in 41.1 innings. If you want to know how Mahay does against lefties, it’s not impressive. Lefties are hitting .278 with three home runs in 79 AB’s this year against Mahay.

For his career, Mahay has held lefties to a .231 batting average.

The Twins added a couple of arms today, but I am not so sure how much they are going to help.

Is Andrew Bailey The American League ROY?

August 28, 2009

The other night, my friends and I were at dinner (Five Napkin Burger in NYC is very good) and we were talking about the Rookie of the Year candidates in both leagues and who would win the awards. It’s a pretty interesting debate considering there are a lot of great rookies in baseball this year.

In the National League, we talked about JA Happ, Andrew McCutchen, Colby Rasmus, Garrett Jones, Chris Coghlan, Dexter Fowler, and Casey McGehee. The NL is chalk full of rookie talent this year.

However, when it came to the American League we all kind of looked at each other with that blank stare similar to one we used to have in spanish class back in high school. My friend Justin said it has to be Andrew Bailey right? My first thought was Bailey is having a very good season, but there might be a better choice.

Bailey has been all A's for Oakland

Bailey has been all A's for Oakland

Once I looked deeper into the numbers, I have realized there might not be a better choice than the Oakland A’s closer. His biggest competition will come from Elvis Andrus, Gordon Beckham, and fellow pitcher Rick Porcello. David Price and Matt Wieters will get some votes as well because voters will look at the names instead of the numbers.

Out of the above group of players, Andrus figures to get the most first-place votes. He has had a decent year offensively (.266 with 24 SB’s and seven triples) and defensively, Andrus has already established himself as one of baseballs top fielding shortstops. Andrus also plays on a contending team which is a factor in Andrus’ advantage as well.

Amongst all the qualifying shortstops in the AL, Andrus ranks last in batting avg (.266), last in runs scored (52), last in hits (94), sixth in OBP (.331), and tied for first in SB’s (24).

I am not sure if those numbers will win him the award.

Bailey on the other hand, has really stood out amongst the games best relievers and closers all year. He ranks third in closers ERA (1.93), second in WHIP (0.91), first in strikeouts (75), third in games (55), and eighth in saves (19).

It’s the months of August and September where awards are won and Bailey has really turned it on in August. He is five-for-five in save opportunities, opponents are hitting .069 against him, and he has a 0.00 ERA in nine innings pitched.

I know it’s hard to compare closers versus position players, but if I had a vote, I would vote for Bailey. Despite playing on a bad A’s team, he has had a great season, has been a stud at the end of games, and I think it should be recognized.

Chris Carter Going To The New York Mets Update

August 28, 2009

Update

Chris Carter, one of the players rumored to be going to the New York Mets in the Billy Wagner deal, won’t be going to the Mets anytime soon.

The Boston Red Sox, who placed Chris Carter on waivers (customary for a player like Carter) was actually claimed by of all teams, the New York Yankees.

Now that Carter was claimed by the Yankees, the Red Sox have pulled him back off of waivers. The reason this hurts the Mets is because now instead of getting the opportunity to look at Carter for the next month, the earliest they will see him in a Mets’ uniform will be in March.

It can never be easy for the New York Mets.

Orginal Post

This is just a quick update to my New York Mets trade Billy Wagner to the Boston Red Sox post earlier today.

The Boston Red Sox are sending two players to be named later to the Mets for Wagner and one of those players will be Chris Carter. Carter is a 26-year-old 1B/OF who was hitting .279 with 14 home runs and 59 RBI for Triple-A Pawtucket this year.

While Carter appears to be a classic Quadruple-A player, I have seen Carter hit and I will say this. He is a better hitter than Daniel Murphy.

Carter should get a shot to prove himself with the Mets down the stretch.

The Colorado Rockies Are Winning From Within

August 27, 2009

I say this with a staunch and unblemished record of heterosexuality — I have a man-crush on the Colorado Rockies. That’s right, not just one player, but the entire team.

I usually reserve my man-crushes for individual players like Michael Young, Chase Utley, or back in the day George Brett. However, the Rockies are a different case. I love the way this team plays.

Tulo is a home grown Rockie

Tulo is a home grown Rockie

They play great defense, they can beat you with a big fly or small ball, they have a very high baseball IQ, and this team can pitch. They are a very fun team to watch on a night in and night out basis.

However, above everything I just mentioned, there is one thing that stands out to me when I watch this team. It’s the fact that the Rockies are winning with home grown talent.

Everywhere you look on the field, the Rockies have players that they drafted and groomed in their farm system. Look at the core of this team…

Chris Iannetta – Drafted in the 4th round of the 2004 draft

Todd Helton- Drafted in the 1st round of the 1995 draft

Clint Barmes – Drafted in the 10th round of the 2000 draft

Troy Tulowitzki- Drafted in the 1st round of the 2005 draft

Ian Stewart – Drafted in the 1st round of the 2003 draft

Seth Smith – Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2004 draft

Dexter Fowler – Drafted in the 14th round of the 2004 draft

Brad Hawpe – Drafted in the 11th round of the 2000 draft

Garrett Atkins – Drafted in the 5th round of the 2000 draft

Ryan Spilborghs – Drafted in the 7th round of the 2002 draft

Ubaldo Jimenez – Signed as an amateur free agent in 2001

Aaron Cook – Drafted in the 2nd round of the 1997 draft

Other key contributors such as Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street, Jason Marquis, and Jason Hammel have been acquired via trades. Only Matt Herges, Josh Fogg, and Juan Rincon were signed to free agent contracts and their contacts were all minor league deals.

To break down the Rockies current 25-man roster, 52 percent are home grown talent (drafted, signed as an undrafted free agent, or signed as an amateur free agent and developed in the Rockies system), 36 percent came from trades, and just 12 percent came from minor league free agent contracts.

That 52 percent would be higher (64 percent) if Dexter Fowler and Aaron Cook weren’t currently on the DL. To have over 50 percent of your talent come from drafts and amateur free agent signings is amazing.

It just goes to show what a tremendous job Dan O’Dowd has done recently in reshifting his strategy of handing out large free agent contracts to reinvesting that money back into their minor league system, scouting, and the draft.

Back in the day, the Rockies tried to play with the big boys in the free agent signing game. Mike Hampton, the late Darryl Kile, Denny Neagle, Larry Walker, Darryl Hamilton and the legendary Tom Goodwin all signed free agent contracts to come to Colorado.

Those days are long gone. The Rockies have found their winning formula and the ingredients have come from within.

Brad Penny Era Comes To An End In Boston

August 27, 2009

Can you believe that Brad Penny was 6-2 at one point during the season? After watching Penny pitch for the last couple of months, it’s almost impossible to believe.

Penny has been terrible in the monthof August going 0-3 witha stellar 8.31 ERA and combined with the fact Boston Red Sox needed a roster spot for the newly acquired Billy Wagner, the Red Sox and Penny have agreed to part ways.

Penny was released by the Red Sox

Penny was released by the Red Sox

After missing some of the 2008 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers because he was battling a shoulder injury, the Red Sox took a $5 million flier on Penny in the offseason. It was a classic high-risk, high-reward signing.

At the end of June, the Penny signing was looking like it was paying off. He was  6-3 with a 4.79 ERA. It’s not the greatest ERA in the world, but A. he was winning games, so nobody cared and B. this is what was expected out of Penny.

Penny was signed to give the starting rotation depth, not to be a number one or number two starter.

Once the All-Star break hit however, Penny went down hill. He was 1-5 in the second-half with a 7.82 ERA. His last two starts versus the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees were unwatchable.

12 earned runs in 9.2 innings pitched in those two big starts and letting the Rangers run around the bases like a Little League team running on a poor kid who has never caught before spelled doom for Penny.

Despite having a fastball that could still reach the mid-90’s, I saw three major pitching flaws in Penny.

  1. Despite still having the ability to reach back for that 95 mph fastball, that fastball was as straight as an arrow. As Billy Koch taught us, any major league hitter can hit a straight 95 mph+ fastball.
  2. Penny had no secondary pitches. He had a flat curveball and an even more flat slider. Penny couldn’t throw his offspeed stuff for strikes and when he got behind in the count (which was quite often), hitters were just sitting on his straight fastball.
  3. Penny had zero ability to hold runners on. Teams ran all over Penny, especially the Rangers. Penny has no pickoff move and never adjusted his deliveryto home plate. Back in the day when he had overpowering stuff, he could get away with that. Not so much anymore.

I think if Theo Epstein was in playing GM in a perfect world, he would have loved to have traded Penny right after he beat the Yankees on June 11th. He pitched six shutout innings and hs value was at it’s peak. Unfortunately because of the John Smoltz disaster and the Daisuke Matsuzaka injury, Epstein had to hold on to Penny

Now that he is free to sign with any team, my guess is Penny will end up where all failed American League pitchers end up – the National League. A return to the Florida Marlins does make sense.

The side story of this move is that it puts the final nail in the coffin in Theo Epstein’s disastrous offseason. John Smoltz was released, Rocco Baldelli has been injury prone, but has hit lefities well to his credit (.303 avg), and now Penny has been let go.

You might want to take a different approach next season Theo.