Posts Tagged ‘Aaron Cook’

Starting Rotation: National League West

January 23, 2010

The last last starting rotations I will look at are the starting rotations of the National League West. It’s no surprise that nine out of the last 11 NL Cy Young award winners have come from the West.

With the divisions big ballparks and offensively challenged lineups, the NL West is a pitcher’s dream. Any pitcher worth their salt, would love to pitch in this division.

Here are the starting lineups for each National League West team as presently constructed.

Colorado Rockies

1. Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP

2. Aaron Cook, RHP

3. Jorge De La Rosa, LHP

4. Jeff Francis, LHP

5. Jason Hammel, RHP

Quick Take – I like this rotation, but I don’t love it. I would love for the Rockies to add one more reliable pitcher like Jon Garland. Francis returns to the Rockies after missing the entire 2009 season with a shoulder injury. Cook is really underrated.

San Francisco Giants

1. Tim Lincecum, RHP

2. Matt Cain, RHP

3. Barry Zito, LHP

4. Jonathan Sanchez, LHP

5. TBD

Quick Take – Linceum and Cain form one of the best one-two punches not only in the NL, but in all of baseball. Lincecum is aiming for his third straight Cy Young award. There is a big dropoff after Lincecum and Cain. I am not sold on Sanchez.

Los Angeles Dodgers

1. Chad Billingsley, RHP

2. Clayton Kershaw, LHP

3. Vicente Padilla, RHP

4. Hiroki Kuroda, RHP

5. James McDonald, RHP

Quick Take – Which Billingsley will show up in 2010? The one that was an All Star in the first half of 2009 or the one that faded in the second half? Dodgers need him to come back strong next season. This rotation will miss Randy Wolf , who pitched well for them down the stretch in 2009.

Arizona Diamondbacks

1. Dan Haren, RHP

2. Brandon Webb, RHP

3. Edwin Jackson, RHP

4. Billy Buckner, RHP

5. Ian Kennedy, RHP

Quick Take – Can Webb come back in 2010? That is the big question surrounding this rotation. If he can, the Diamondbacks will be in business in 2010. Jackson needs to pitch like he did in the first half with the Detroit Tigers, not the second half. Kennedy thinks he is a great pitcher, now he gets a chance to prove it.

San Diego Padres

1. Chris Young, RHP

2. Clayton Richard, LHP

3. Kevin Correia, RHP

4. Mat Latos, RHP

5. Tim Stauffer, RHP

Quick Take – Gone is staff ace Jake Peavy, but in is Latos and Richard. Richard pitched well last year (5-2 with a 4.08 ERA) for the Padres after coming over in the Peavy trade. Latos is a top prospect, who showed glimpses of brilliance in his first stint at the majors.

That concludes my starting rotation series for this week. I will revisit each starting rotation as the regular season approaches.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Rockies Win Game Two: Leave Philadelphia With A Split

October 9, 2009

The Colorado Rockies traveled to Philadelphia with one goal in mind: Leave the city of brotherly love with at least one win.

Mission accomplished.

The Rockies beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-4 yesterday in a nail bitter to even up their best-of-five series at one game apiece. This was a fascinating game to watch unfold.

This game reminded me a lot of a last week’s University of Washington-Notre Dame football game. Washington had tons of opportunities to put that game away late with touchdowns, but kept settling for field goals. They let Notre Dame stay in the game and in came back to haunt them.

Notre Dame eventually won the game in overtime.

That is how I thought this game would end. The Rockies had so many opportunities in the later innings to put this game away, that when they let the Phillies hang around, I thought the Phillies would steal it late.

But unlike Notre Dame, the Phillies didn’t have the luck of the Irish.

The Rockies jumped out to a 4-0 lead behind Yorvit Torrealba’s two-run homerun and some solid pitching from starter Aaron Cook. Torrealba had himself a great game yesterday. He played winning baseball all game both offensively and defensively.

The Phillies came back with three runs of their own in the sixth inning to make it 4-3. Raul Ibanez highlighted the inning with a two-run single off of reliever Jose Contreras.

I still haven’t figured out why Contreras pitched to Ibanez in that spot.

The Rockies then had opportunities to break this game open in the seventh and eighth innings and failed to do so. They had bases loaded and nobody out in the seventh and only scored one run. They had bases loaded and one out in the eighth and failed to score.

The eighth inning annoyed me more than the seventh inning though. With one out and the bases loaded, Clint Barmes came to the plate against Brett Myers. Myers was all over the place yesterday and yes, I am convinced he hit Troy Tulowitzki on purpose.

Myers couldn’t throw a strike to save his life and what does Barmes do? He swings at two pitches out of the strikezone and grounds to third for a forceout. I like Barmes, but that was one awful at-bat.

The Rockies had the Phillies on the ropes so bad that Charlie Manuel used potential Game Three and Four starters Joe Blanton and JA Happ in relief yesterday. I think Manuel at his old age forgot their were more games left in this series. But the Rockies could never deliver the knockout blow.

Jayson Werth’s homerun in the eighth made it 5-4 and then I was convinced the Phillies would somehow steal this game. The Phillies even got two on with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against closer Huston Street.

But Street got Shane Victorino to line weakly to Barmes to end the game. I will say this about Street–he was lucky to get out of that inning with a win. He threw some pitches to Matt Stairs and Jimmy Rollins that were meatballs.

Game Three is scheduled for Saturday at 9:37 ET. However, this game might get frozen out because it’s supposed to be like 14 degrees in Denver on Saturday night. Of course, I will keep you posted to any changes made to the playoff schedule

National League Division Series Predictions

October 6, 2009

Last year, I went four-for-four in predicting the American League and National League division series. I thought they were some of the easiest matchups to predict in quite some time.

This year? Not so much.

This year’s matchups are pretty tough. But after playing out some scenarios in my mind for the last week, I am pretty confident in my division series picks.

Here are my predictions for the NLDS. I will give my ALDS predictions once the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers decide their fate tonight.

* means if necessary.

Colorado Rockies vs. Philadelphia Phillies

Game 1: Wednesday, October 7th 2:37 ET. Ubaldo Jimenez vs Cliff Lee

Game 2: Thursday, October 8th 2:37 ET. Aaron Cook vs Cole Hamels

Game 3: Saturday, October 10 9:37 ET. Joe Blanton vs Jason Hammel

Game 4*: Sunday, October 11 TBD. TBD vs TBD

Game 5*: Tuesday, October 13 TBD. TBD vs TBD

Prediction: This is a rematch of the 2007 NLDS where the Rockies wiped the floor with the Phillies. Do I think the Rockies are going to wipe the floor with the Phillies again? No I don’t.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t think they won’t win the series.

I think the Rockies are the most complete team in the NL. If you can find a weakness on this team, I would love to hear it because right now I can’t find one.

Tracey will have the Rockies ready

Tracey will have the Rockies ready

Their starting rotation goes five deep (depending on the health of Jorge De La Rosa), they have a solid bullpen, one of the best lineups in the NL, and they are one of the better defensive teams in baseball.

The best thing about Rockies however, might be their bench. They by far and away have the best bench of any team in the playoffs. Look at possible bench against the righty Joe Blanton in Game Three – Seth Smith, Jason Giambi, Ryan Spilborghs, Chris Iannetta, and Garrett Atkins.

That is one sick bench.

The Phillies are the defending champs, have one of the best lineups in baseball, and have a great one-two punch in Hamels and Lee. While this is all great, their bullpen is a clown show.

They won’t have JC Romero and Chan Ho Park in this series and JA Happ may or may not start Game Four. Charlie Manuel is in a tough spot with Happ.

If he starts Happ in Game Four then Manuel takes away from his bullpen. I think Happ should close for the Phillies in the playoffs. If Manuel puts Happ in the pen, then he will have to start a fried Pedro Martinez in Game Four.

Tough, tough call for Manuel.

Here is how I think the series goes. The Rockies and Phillies will split games one and two and then the Rockies will torch Blanton and Pedro in Games Three and Four

The Phillies need to win the first two games at home and I don’t think they will.

Rockies in Four

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Game 1: Wednesday, October 7 9:37 ET. Chris Carpenter vs Randy Wolf

Game 2: Thursday, October 8 TBD. Adam Wainwright vs Clayton Kershaw

Game 3: Saturday, October 10 6:07 ET. Vicente Padilla vs Joel Pineiro

Game 4*: Sunday, October 11 TBD. TBD vs TBD

Game 5* Tuesday, October 13 TBD. TBD vs TBD

Prediction: I have the same feeling towards this series as I did for the Chicago Cubs and Dodgers series last year. The Cubs had the best record in the NL last year and started Ryan Dempster in Game One.

I kept thinking to myself the best team in the league is starting Ryan Dempster in Game One? No thanks. I thought the Dodgers would win the series and they did.

The Miller Lite of pitchers

The Miller Lite of pitchers

Unfortunately for the Dodgers, the shoe is on the other foot this year. Is the team with the best record in the NL really starting Randy Wolf in Game One?

Pitchers like Dempster and Wolf are like those silly Miller Lite commercials. You know the ones where they talk what greatness tastes like and what amazing hops are in Miller Lite.

I always think to myself watching those commercials — at the end of the day, it’s just Miller Lite. College kids drink it because it’s cheap. Who ever drank Miller Lite at a frat party and said “Wow those hops are awesome!!!”

That’s Randy Wolf. You can give me all the stats in the world and tell me how great he is, but at the end of the day he is just Randy Wolf.

The biggest concern for the Cardinals in this series will be the bullpen. Ryan Franklin was awful in September and they don’t have a dominant eighth inning guy, which is key in the postseason.

However, I think LaRussa will push Carpenter and Wainwright as far as he can to cover up for the lack of power arms in the pen.

Cardinals in Four.

It’s Rocktober Again: Colorado Rockies Clinch Playoff Berth

October 2, 2009

The National League playoff field is set.

With today’s 9-2 beatdown of the Milwaukee Brewers, the Colorado Rockies clinched their second playoff berth in three years. The St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers, and now the Rockies will represent the National League in the 2009 postseason.

It’s been a crazy year for the Rockies. In the offseason, they traded arguably their best player in Matt Holliday and lost arguably their best pitcher in Jeff Francis to a shoulder injury.

Those losses, coupled with an 18-28 start to the season left many, including myself to believe that 2009 would be a lost season in Colorado. Ah, but baseball is a long season.

The Rockies fired manager Clint Hurdle, replaced him with Jim Tracy, and the Rockies haven’t looked back since. The hiring of Jim Tracy was just one of the reasons for the Rockies resurgence.

Here are some other reasons for the Rockies turnaround…

Tulowitzki is having a MVP season

Tulowitzki is having a MVP season

  • The return of “Tulo.” 2008 was just a miserable year for Troy Tulowitzki. But the heart and soul of the Rockies has responded with a MVP performance in 2009. Tulowitzki has put up a .299/31/90 hitting line with a .380 OBP and a .933 OPS. And of course, Tulowitzki has played his usual stellar defense at short.
  • The health of their starting rotation. Jorge De La Rosa, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jason Marquis, and Jason Hammel all made 30+ starts for the Rockies in 2009.  Aaron Cook was the only pitcher not to make 30 starts and he made 27. Impressive.
  • Huston Street. Street was a throw-in in the Matt Holliday trade and all Street has done is save 34 games in 2009. He has stabilized the bullpen for the Rockies.

The Rockies go into the 2009 postseason with as good of a chance to the represent the National League as anyone. I think they are the most complete team in the NL. If you can name we a weakness on this team — I would love to hear it.

While the Rockies have clinched the Wild Card, they could still win the division. The Rockies are two games behind the Dodgers and play the Dodgers for three games in LA.

If the Rockies sweep, then they are division champs and could possibly have the best record in the NL. Oh the humanity.

It’s been a great season for the Rockies. It’s shaping up to be Rocktober in Colorado yet again.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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.

Fantasy Week In Review, August 3-9…

August 10, 2009

We are getting down to the “nitty gritty” as the late, great Gorilla Monsoon used to say. We are right in the middle of the dog days of August and there is only about a month and a half left in baseball’s regular season and fantasy season.

Even if you feel you might be out of it, there is still some time to make some moves and make one last push. As always, here were the fantasy studs, the players who were a little off last week and some potential pickups from the week of August 3 -9…

Reynolds has been mashing lately

Reynolds has been mashing lately

Fantasy Studs

Mark Reynolds: .448/6/10. Is anyone realizing the year Reynolds is having? If the Arizona Diamondbacks weren’t so terrible, he would be getting MVP consideration.

Elijah Dukes: .348/1/11. Hopefully Dukes has gotten it together. It would be a big boost to the Washington Nationals if he did.

Adam Dunn: .375/4/9/.483. If the Nationals were smart, they would trade Dunn in the offseason and get some solid value for him. Are you listening Dayton Moore?

Billy Butler: .538/2/10. It has taken Butler longer to develop than the Kansas City Royals had hoped, but he has taken massive steps forward this season.

Carl Pavano: 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA and 10 K’s in 15 IP. Gets traded from the Cleveland Indians to the Minnesota Twins and then goes out and throws a gem for the Twins on Sat. Every Yankee fan just choked on their coffee.

Cliff Lee: 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA and 13 K’s in 14 IP. I think every pitcher should pitch in the NL just once so they can see how much of a difference it is.

Clayton Richard: 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA and eight K’s in 13.2 IP. I had Richard as a potential pickup last week and he has done nothing to disappoint since. This guy will be a good pitcher in San Diego.

Mike MacDougal: Four Saves with a 0.00 ERA and three K’s in Four IP. That’s three fantasy studs for the Washington Nationals last week for those of you scoring at home.

Reasons for Concern

David Ortiz: .056/0/0. Ortiz has one hit in his last 18 AB’s. Ortiz had a brief spurt in June where he batted .320 with a .409 OBP, but other than that he has been terrible this year.

With his age (33) and with the steroid allegations weighing on his mind, you have to wonder if Ortiz will have anything left for the last month and a half of the season.

BJ Upton/Justin Upton. It was a bad week for the brothers’ Upton last week. First, Justin Upton landed on the 15-day DL with a right oblique strain and then older brother BJ was dropped to ninth in the order. I am not worried about Justin so much as I am with BJ.

BJ Upton called the move to ninth a “kick in the face.” Really BJ? Last time I checked you were batting .239 with a .314 OBP. Let me know what you have done this year to deserve to stay in the leadoff spot.

Unless he goes off on a tear, I am going to consider this a lost season for Bossman Junior. If you have BJ Upton in a Keeper League format, hold on to him as he could be in line for a huge bounce back season next year.

Aaron Cook: Cook will miss his start next start on Tuesday because of what he is calling turf toe. How on earth does a pitcher get turf toe?

He is scheduled to start on Saturday, but keep an eye on this. Remember, turf toe ended Dion Sanders’ career.

Holland threw a CGSO yesterday

Holland threw a CGSO yesterday

Potential Pickups

Derek Holland: I said from day-one that Holland reminds me of Steve Avery. The good Steve Avery on the Atlanta Braves, not the bad one on the Boston Red Sox.

Yesterday, Holland tossed the very rare complete game shutout against a tough Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim lineup. If you are in a Keeper League, he is definitely worth picking up.

I think he will be a good one.

Softball Update

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, The Ghost of Moonlight Graham was going to donate $50 to the V Foundation for Cancer Research for every homerun hit during the fifth annual Ocean Beach Softball Tournament was taking place in Ocean Beach, NY.

With the tourament concluding yesterday, I am proud to say that we raised $2,100 for cancer research. There were 42 HR’s hit in the tournament including six by tournament MVP Eric Samulski (1B/OF Trinity University, 2003-2007) and Matt Manewal (P Yale University, 1996-2000).

I chipped in with three big flies (all grand slams by the way) in five games.

Thanks to everyone who played this year and we are already looking forward to next year’s tournament and raising even more money for the V Foundation.

Fantasy Week In Review, June 22-28…

June 29, 2009

The last full week of June means an end to interleague play and a return to normalcy in baseball. Last week was a really interesting week for fantasy baseball. How interesting? Two words – Chad Gaudin.

That’s right, Chad Gaudin was a fantasy stud last week. Here are the other players who were studs last week, along with players who are cause for concern, and a couple of players who might be worth picking up.

Fantasy Studs

Hanley Ramirez – .385/3/15. Even if Josh Beckett helps the Red Sox win 10 more World Series, Theo Epstein would still rather have Hanley Ramirez.

Alex Rodriguez – .368/2/9/.571. Getting lap dances from Kate Hudson in Miami has really rejuvenated the “fatigued” Arod.

Ramirez had a monster fantasy week

Ramirez had a monster fantasy week

Lance Berkman – .389/2/7 with two SB’s. The “Big Puma” has finally decided to join us this year.

Aaron Hill – .346/4/8. If the season ended today, Hill would be in the top five in MVP voting.

David Ortiz – .333/2/5. All of a sudden I don’t hear anyone saying the Red Sox need a DH anymore.

Aaron Cook – 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA and eight K’s in 15 IP. Sooner or later, this guy should get the credit he deserves. He is a very good pitcher.

Chad Gaudin – 2-0 with a 1.20 and 20 K’s in 15 IP. Gaudin threw a one-hitter over eight innings in Texas. I don’t care who you are, that is impressive.

Francisco Liriano – 2-0 with a 3.75 ERA and 12 K’s in 12 IP. It’s good to finally see Liriano get back on track. His seven walks last week were not welcomed, but fantasy owners will take the wins from Liriano.

Reasons for Concern

Adrian Beltre – As I wrote earlier today, Beltre will have surgery to remove bone spurs in his shoulder. Beltre will be out six to eight weeks, thus pretty much ending his fantasy contributions this year.

Beltre is expected back in late August/early September.

Josh Outman – Outman was placed on the 60-Day DLand will visit Dr. James Andrews today. See you in 2011 Mr. Outman.

Mike Lowell – Lowell is getting an injection in his ailing hip today. That just sounds painful. If Lowell doesn’t respond to the injection, there is a chance Lowell could land on the DL.

Lowell is having a good year so far with a .282 average, 10 HR’s, and 41 RBI. Keep an eye on this situation, because losing Lowell for any period of time would be hurtful to your fantasy team.

Matt Lindstrom – Lindstrom is out for six weeks because of an elbow sprain. Lindstrom was shaky at best as the Marlins closer (6.52 ERA and walked 20 in 29 IP), so it’s not like he was pitching like the second coming of Bruce Sutter.

John Maine – Maine was supposed to start Saturday night in Brooklyn, but had to be scratched because of shoulder discomfort. Maine expects to be back after the All-Star break.

“After the All-Star break” in Mets language means Maine won’t be back until September.

Possible Pickups

Leo Nunez/Dan Meyer – Meyer has a 2.03 ERA and is a much better option at this point than Leo Nunez and his 4.01 ERA. However, with Lindstrom on the DL, both of them figure to get an opportunity to save games for the Florida Marlins.

I would wait to see how Fredi Gonzalez plays this. Once he makes his decision as to who is going to get the majority of the saves, pick up that option. Nunez or Meyer should get you some cheap saves, if you need them.

Carlos Carrasco – Carrasco is expected to be called up from Triple-A to face the Braves on Thursday night. Despite not having the greatest year in Triple-A (4.92 ERA), Carrasco has long been one of the Phillies’ top prospects.

It might good a idea to pick Carrasco up now before someone else does. With the Phillies starting staff struggling, if Carrasco pitches well, he might find himself with the Phillies longer than expected.

Spring Training All-Stars…

March 15, 2009

With Spring Training almost half way done, it’s time to take a look who is tearing up both the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues. Here are the Spring Training All-Stars….

All stats are through Saturday 3/14/09

Wieters is having a great spring

Wieters is having a great spring

C. Matt Wieters, Orioles –  .440/1/5 in 37 ab’s. Wieters is looking like the real deal so far. It would be a shame if the Orioles sent him because of arbitration reasons.

1B. Micah Hoffpauir, Cubs – .311/2/10 in 45 ab’s. The Cubs are wishing they played in the AL because then Hoffpauir can DH. Hoffpauir might see some time in RF during the season due to the inevitable Milton Bradley injury.

2B. Mike Fontenot, Cubs – .371/2/8 in 35 ab’s. It is looking like his 2008 .305/.395 in 243 ab’s wasn’t a fluke. If Fontenot can maintain that pace over 500 ab’s, the Cubs offense will that much better.

SS. Jhonny Peralta, Indians – .565/2/9 in 23 ab’s. Peralta is killing the ball this spring. Looks like Peralta is looking to improve on his career year of 2009. If only he stole bases  he would be right up there with the top Shortstops in the game.

3B. Matt Tuiasosopo, Mariners – .500/3/7 in 34 ab’s. Matt is the brother of Oakland Raiders and former University of Washington star QB, Marques Tuiasosopo. Matt might be the Mariners starting 3B in 2010 as Adrian Beltre will leave as a free agent at the end of 2009.

OF. Josh Hamilton, Rangers – .400/3/9 in 30 ab’s. Hamilton is well on his way to being an MVP candidate in 2009.

OF. Rick Ankiel, Cardinals – .342/0/6/.422 in 38 ab’s. I knew Boras would have this guy ready for the season. 29 years old and his impending free agency make Ankiel a candidate for a breakout season in 2009.

OF. Chris Duncan, Cardinals – .324/2/12 in 37 ab’s. Nobody is rooting harder for the Skip Schumaker 2B experiment to work than Duncan. If Schumaker can’t make the transition to 2B, he will be put back in the OF and Duncan is back to his role of bench player.

SP. Aaron Cook, Rockies – 14 IP/1.93 era/15 K. With Jeff Francis out for the year, Cook takes over as Rockies ace. Cook was 16-9 last year and so far he looks like he might be able to repeat that performance in 2009.

SP. Micah Owings, Reds – 14.2 IP/1.23 era/16 K. Owings is by far and away the best hitting pitcher in baseball and now he is trying to get his pitching skills up with his hitting skills. Owings is still only 26 so maybe he is finally starting to put things together. Owings might win the 5th starter spot in the Reds rotation if he continues to pitch this well.

SP. Sean Marshall, Cubs – 13.1 IP/0.68 era/8 K. Marshall has been lights out this spring. There aren’t too many 5th starters better than Marshall and the Cubs will give him every opportunity to succeed. If Marshall transfers his dominance to the regular season, the Cubs will run away with the NL Central.

RP. Jose Arredondo, Angels – 5 IP/0.00 era/5 K. I was surprised the Angels signed Fuentes to be their closer instead of just giving the job to Arredondo. At 24, Arredondo is the real deal and the next in line if Fuentes should falter during the season.