Posts Tagged ‘Aaron Harang’

Starting Rotation: National League Central

January 22, 2010

Today, I am going to take a look at the starting rotations for each National League Central team.

Pitchers like Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, and Roy Oswalt call this division home. This division has quality pitchers throughout.

Here are the starting rotations for each National League Central team as presently constructed.

St. Louis Cardinals

1. Chris Carpenter, RHP

2. Adam Wainwright, RHP

3. Kyle Lohse, RHP

4. Brad Penny, RHP

5. TBD

Quick Take – This rotation is very top heavy with Carpenter and Wainwright leading the way. Carpenter’s health is key. If he is healthy, the Cardinals will be favorites to win the division. I like the Penny signing. The Cardinals don’t have a candidate for the fifth starter right now, so look for them to sign someone.

Milwaukee Brewers

1. Yovani Gallardo, RHP

2. Randy Wolf, LHP

3. Dave Bush, RHP

4. Doug Davis, LHP

5. Jeff Suppan, RHP

Quick Take – With the additions of Wolf and Davis, this rotation is vastly improved from 2009. Wolf and Davis will give the Brewers innings. Look for Gallardo to continue to develop into an ace. Suppan will battle with Manny Parra for the No.5 starter spot.

Chicago Cubs

1. Carlos Zambrano, RHP

2. Ryan Dempster, RHP

3. Randy Wells, RHP

4. Ted Lilly, LHP

5. Tom Gorzelanny, LHP

Quick Take – This might be the most overrated pitching staff in baseball. Dempster has had one good year in the last seven years and was not worthy of his contract. It’s up in the air whether or not Lilly will be ready for Opening Day. I am starting to wonder if all those innings Zambrano threw earlier in his career is coming back to haunt him now?

Cincinnati Reds

1. Bronson Arroyo, RHP

2. Aaron Harang, RHP

3. Johnny Cueto, RHP

4. Homer Bailey, RHP

5. TBD

Quick Take – This rotation will really miss Edinson Volquez in 2010. Volquez might pitch in 2010, but not until towards the end of the season. Arroyo and Harang are prime trade candidates. The Reds’ No.5 starter spot is open right now. I don’t think it will be Aroldis Chapman to start the season.

Houston Astros

1. Roy Oswalt, RHP

2. Wandy Rodriguez, LHP

3. Brett Myers, RHP

4. Bud Norris, RHP

5. Brian Moehler, RHP

Quick Take – From where this rotation was at the beginning of 2009, the Astros have come a long way. Astros need Oswalt to have a bounce back year. Norris showed potential last season, but needs to cut down on his walks and needs to show development next season.

Pittsburgh Pirates

1. Paul Maholm, LHP

2. Zach Duke, LHP

3. Ross Ohlendorf, RHP

4. Charlie Morton, RHP

5. Kevin Hart, RHP

Quick Take – I really feel bad for Maholm and Duke. If they were on better teams, they would be more recognized and people would know how good they are. Morton came over to the Pirates in the Nate McLouth trade and at 26, he needs to step up and prove he belongs in the major leagues.

Tomorrow, I will have the final installment of this series and take a look at the division where pitching dominates–the National League West.

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Reds Shock Baseball, Sign Aroldis Chapman

January 11, 2010

There were a lot of teams rumored to be in the hunt for 22-year-old Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman. We heard the Florida Marlins, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, and Toronto Blue Jays all express interest in Chapman.

However, it was a surprise team at the end of the day that was able to land the left-handed pitcher. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the Cincinnati Reds have swooped in and signed Chapman.

Chapman goes from Cuba to Cincinnati

The Reds have signed Chapman to a five-year, $25 million contract. There is an option for a sixth year and the Reds will pay out Chapman’s salary over a 10-year period.

I think there are a couple of ways you can look at this signing.

I think the first question people have–like my friend Justin–is why would the Reds sign Chapman? There are a couple of reasons.

First, Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo and their combined $24 million can come off the books after the 2010 season. The Reds figured they can suck it up for one year in order to give themselves long-term success in the future.

Secondly, the Reds are building a young, dynamic team for the future and Chapman can be a part of that. In 2011, the Reds could have a pitching staff that consists of Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, and Chapman.

That pitching staff along with Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, Drew Stubbs, Yonder Alonso, and Todd Frazier could make the Reds NL Central favorites for years to come.

There is also a another way to look at this signing. I think this signing is good for baseball.

I know every New York Yankee fan and Red Sox fan thinks it’s their right to sign every foreign free agent. As today proves, that is not the case.

It’s good for baseball when teams like the Reds or Blue Jays are in on a free agent like this. I clearly know that it doesn’t work this way, but the Reds signing Chapman is what revenue sharing is all about.

Of course a signing like this doesn’t come without risks. Many have questioned Chapman’s maturity and some question whether or not he is major league ready.

If you were to ask me, I believe Chapman will start the year in the minors and the Reds will gradually bring him along depending on what he does in the minors.

For those of you not familiar with Chapman, here is a scouting report by ESPN.com’s Keith Law:

“Chapman is the wild card of the free-agent market, as his track record is largely unknown, he has barely thrown for clubs since defecting and he is represented by agents who haven’t handled a free agent of this magnitude before.

“When Chapman is on, he’ll show No. 1 starter stuff, with a fastball in the mid-90s (and yes, as high as 101 mph) with good tail and a mid-80s slider that will show plus with legitimate tilt, although the latter pitch isn’t consistent. He does have a soft changeup, but he lacks feel for it and pushes it out of his hand rather than selling it with good arm speed.

“His command isn’t good, and he’s more thrower than pitcher, with a very loose arm that makes the velocity come out easily. Since defecting, he has worked on his body, and scouts who’ve seen him recently say he’s stronger and in better overall shape.

“He might be a No. 1 starter; he might be an ace closer; he might be a mountain of frustration. Is that worth $60 million? Or the fourth- or fifth-biggest contract of the offseason?

“Not to me, but he’s worth some eight-figure amount because of the almost limitless upside.”

Chapman will undergo a physical and the deal should be officially announced today.

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

Bronson Arroyo: What’s His Trade Market?

November 16, 2009

One of the bigger stories of last week was the Cincinnati Reds desire to cut payroll. It’s been reported that the Reds want to have a payroll less than the $73 million it was in 2009.

The easiest way to reduce payroll, of course, is to trade away some of your highest priced players. If the Reds were to trade some of their players, Aaron Harang, Brandon Phillips, Francisco Cordero, and Bronson Arroyo are the most likely trade candidates.

Bronson Arroyo

Arroyo plays the guitar just as well as he pitches

For the purposes of today’s post, let’s take a look at Arroyo. Here are the pros, the cons, and the teams who might be interested in trading for the Reds’ Guitar Hero.

PROS

Ever since Arroyo was traded to the Reds from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Wily Mo Pena (not one of Theo Epstein’s finer moments, though I didn’t mind the deal for the Red Sox at the time) in March of 2006, Arroyo has been one of the most durable pitchers in the game.

Arroyo over the last four years have averaged 34 starts a year and 218 innings pitched. Twice in that span he has led the National League in starts (2006 & 2008) and once led the league in innings pitched (2006).

In a game where starting pitchers average five innings and are constantly on the DL, Arroyo makes all his starts and goes deep into games.

Teams also have to like the fact that as Arroyo gets older, he is throwing more groundballs than ever. Arroyo’s groundball rate of 44.8 percent in 2009 was the highest of his career.

Lastly, Arroyo gained valuable postseason experience pitching for the Red Sox in 2003, 2004, and 2005. While he didn’t pitch well (7.41 ERA in 10 games) in those October’s, he usually does he best work late in the season.

Arroyo is 22-9 with a 3.22 ERA in his career during September and October.

Cons

While Arroyo is one of the most durable pitchers in the game, there is a lot of tread on his tires. Over the last three years, Arroyo has thrown 10,275 pitches. That ranks him sixth amongst all starters in baseball.

That’s a lot of pitches for a guy who is going to be 33-years-old in 2010.

And while Arroyo’s contract seems reasonable at one-year and $11 million with a club option for $11 million for 2011, we are in a down economy in baseball.

Normally, $11 million for a pitcher like Arroyo is not outlandish, but not only does a team have to assume his contract in a down economy, but they would also have to surrender a couple of prospects.

That’s a lot to ask a team for essentially a number three pitcher on a contending team.

Now that we have seen the pros and cons of Arroyo, let’s take a look at what teams could be possible trade partners.

New York Mets: Right now, the Mets rotation is Johan Santana and a bunch of question marks. The Mets can afford Arroyo’s contract and he would give the Mets a solid number two or three starter going into 2010.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Vicente Padilla, Randy Wolf, and Jon Garland are all potential free agents leaving only Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw in the Dodgers’ rotation.

For a team who’s starters ranked 11th in the National League in innings pitched, Arroyo would be a welcomed site for Joe Torre.

New York Yankees: If the Yankees don’t feel Phil Hughes is ready to start and Andy Pettitte decides to retire, then Arroyo is a realistic option for the Yankees.

Minnesota Twins: I know this is a stretch because of Arroyo’s salary, but the Twins are looking to add a veteran starter or two this offseason. I would much rather have Arroyo than Carl Pavano, who they are looking to re-sign.

Seattle Mariners: The like the Mets, the Mariners have an ace in Felix Hernandez and then a bunch of question marks. With the Mariners great defense, Arroyo could thrive in the great northwest.

It would be a shame if the Reds had to trade Arroyo. With a great, young nucleus, the Reds are closer to contention than most people think.

I would say if the Reds were to shed salary, Arroyo is the most likely to go. His one-year contract and his performance to date would make him attractive to teams who need a starter.

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

Fantasy Week In Review 5/25-5/31….

June 1, 2009

The month of May brought us a lot of great performances, and the last week of the month was no exception. As always here are the fantasy studs, the players who might be a concern, players who hit the DL and the potential pickups from the week of 5/25-5/31.

Fantasy Studs

Luke Scott – .444/6/14/.524. Luke used the force and was by far and away, the hottest player in the majors last week.

Mark Teixeira – .357/3/10. Teixeira continues to rake hitting in front of Arod.

Adrian Gonzalez – .333/4/10/.500. I still haven’t figured out why teams pitch to him.

Ryan Howard – .333/4/10. Howard is starting to hit HR’s in bunches. He has scary power.

Nick Blackburn – 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA. Blackburn beat the Red Sox and Rays in the same week. That is a good week.

John Maine – 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA, 9 K’s in 12 IP. Back to back impressive outings against the Nationals and Marlins.

Yovani Gallardo – 1-0 with a 0.68 ERA and 15 K’s in 13.1 IP. Gallardo has established himself as the ace of the Brewers’ staff.

Brad Lidge – 4 saves with 5 K’s and a 0.00 ERA in 3.2 IP. A very nice bounce back week for Lidge, who was a concern two weeks ago.

Reasons for Concern

Fausto Carmona – 0-1 with 11 hits, 8 walks, and a 15.19 ERA in 5.1 IP. It appears Carmona’s 2007 was the fluke, not 2008. I am really surprised the Indians keep sending Carmona out there. He has been terrible. Those 5.1 IP were in two starts by the way. Ouch.

Francisco Liriano – 0-2 with 18 hits and a 10.13 ERA in 8 IP. Liriano hasn’t been the same since his Tommy John surgery a couple of years ago. My guess is the Twins keep sending him out there but it appears Liriano has a short leash in games.

Aaron Harang – 1-1 with a 10.61 ERA with 22 hits in 9.1 IP. Dusty Baker must really not like Harang. Last year Baker had Harang pitch in extra innings on three days rest in a meaningless game in May in San Diego. This year, after a two hour and three minute rain delay, Baker had Harang return to the mound to complete the fifth inning.

I understand Baker wanted Harang to get the win (Reds were leading 6-3 at the time), but that is ridiculous. Baker ruined Harang’s season last year and I hope he hasn’t done the same this year.

Josh Hamilton – Hamilton is off to a slow start this year and was 3 for 23 on the Rangers latest homestand. Today he will go for a MRI to find out exactly what is going on with his groin injury.

This injury has been lingering for some time now, so it’s about time Hamilton gets some answers. Hamilton had a great first half and a slow second half in 2009. Perhaps it’s the complete opposite this year.

Injuries

There were a rash of injuries at the beginning of last week. I wrote about those injured players here. Here are some other players who also landed on the DL last week.

Khalil Greene – Placed on the 15 Day DL because of an anxiety disorder. Zack Greinke and Dontrelle Willis suffered from the same disorder, so hopefully Greene can come back from this. There is no time table for Greene’s return.

Carlos Quentin – Placed on the 15 Day DL because of plantar fasciitis. I wrote about this injury here.

Joey Votto – Placed on the 15 Day DL because of stress related issues. Apparently Votto is dealing with stress that is linked to his struggles dealing with an inner ear infection. Now, I don’t want to sound insensitive because I have never had an ear infection but, is an inner ear infection really that stressful? Something is not adding up here.

Grady Sizemore – Placed on the 15 Day DL with inflammation in his left elbow. Sizemore has been a HUGE disappointment so far hitting only .223 on the season. Sizemore will not swing a bat or throw a ball for two weeks. He is ruining a lot of fantasy teams this year.

Potential Pickups

Gerardo Parra – Parra has done nothing but impress since being called up in early May. Parra has hit .319 with three doubles and three triples in 16 games. Parra appears to have an everyday job in Arizona either as a leftfielder or centerfielder so he is worth the pickup, especially in keeper leagues.

Gordon Beckham – It appears the White Sox are growing tired of Josh Fields at third because Beckham is starting to play games at third in the minors. Once Gordon gets comfortable at third he will be in the majors playing that position. Gordon is a top prospect, so picking him now before another owner does might be a smart move.

Andrew Bailey – Even though it’s not official, it looks like Bailey has replaced Brad Ziegler as the A’s closer. Bailey is already 4-0 with two saves and a 2.23 ERA, so he is definitely worth a pickup.

Fantasy Week In Review 4/5-4/12

April 14, 2009

With the first week of the season in the books, it’s time to look at the players who have been fantasy studs, the players who you should look at to pick up and the players you should be concerned about.

Fantasy Studs

Evan Longoria – .481/5/10. Could he be headed toward an MVP season?

Miguel Cabrera – .467/3/10. It’s scary how much power Cabrera has.

Lind is off to a fast start

Lind is off to a fast start

Adam Lind – .400/3/12. If he is still available in your league than A. Your league is not very competitive and B. PICK HIM UP!!!

Troy Tulowitzki – .263/3/5/.440. Looks like last season was a fluke.

Roy Halladay – 2-0 3.86 era with 9 K’s in 14 IP. Nothing new from Halladay as the best pitcher in baseball continues to do his thing.

Josh Johnson – 2-0 0.57 era with 15 K’s in 15.2 IP. Might be the best pitcher on the best pitching staff in the NL East.

Aaron Harang – 1-1 0.64 era with 11 K in 14 IP. Pitched the very rare CGSO on Sunday.

Paul Maholm – 1-0 1.32 era with just 10 H in 13.2 IP. 2 starts, 2 quality starts. Only drawback is low K rate.

Reason for Concern

Cliff Lee – 0-2 9.90 era with 17 H and 10 K in 10 IP. A K per inning shows he still has his stuff but his location so far has been horrific.

Tim Lincecum – 0-1 7.56 era with 14 H, 6 BB, 10 K in 8.1 IP. What is concerning is the walks. 6 in 8.1 is not going to cut it. Like with Lee, it seems location is an issue. The 10 K’s in 8.1 IP is encouraging.

Brian Fuentes – 2 saves 12.00 era with 6 H in 3 IP. Already has blown 1 save and has looked shaky in his 2 other save opps. The Angels have other options so Fuentes might be on a short leash.

Hamels was rocked in Colorado

Hamels was rocked in Colorado

Cole Hamels – 0-1 17.18 era with 11 H in 3.2 IP. Hamels got rocked in Colorado. 260+ IP last year and elbow issues in spring training gives owners reason for concern.

Jason Motte – 0 saves 15.43 era with 7 H in 2.1 IP. Motte has had 2 save opps and has 0 saves. LaRussa has already given save opps to other relievers. Keep an eye on this situation. If Motte is not getting saves, he is not worth a roster spot.

Brandon Webb – 13.50 era and a trip to the DL. Webb visited Dr James Andrews. Never a good sign. As my friend Chad says, “Dr James Andrews = 2010.”

Jed Lowrie – .056/0/0. Lowrie is 1 for 18 so far this season. If he keeps this up, he will find himself on the bench when Lugo comes back.

Justin Upton – .000/0/0. I have no idea what Bob Melvin is trying to do to this kid? A 21 year old kid with all the talent in the world has only started 3 out of 6 games and when he does start he is batting 8th. This while Tony Clark and Eric Byrnes continue to get ab’s. Makes ZERO sense. Stick with Upton though. Either Melvin will get it or will be fired.

Potential Pick Ups

Emilio Bonifacio – .500/1/5 with 4 sb’s. The ultimate sleeper, Bonifacio tore up pitching in the first week. Look at my “Who is Emilio Bonifacio?” post for more on Bonifacio.

Adam Jones – .409/0/4 with 4 doubles and 7 runs. Tim Kurkjian loves him and that should be good enough for you to pick him up.

Nyjer Morgan – .423/0/5 with 3 sb’s and 5 runs. Juan Pierre Part 2. That means .270-.280 with 0 hr’s and 40-50 sb’s. If your league values sb’s, then Morgan is your guy.

Dexter Fowler – .385/2/3 1 sb in just 13 ab’s. I am confident in saying that Seth Smith is not the answer for the Rockies in LF. Look for the Rockies to move Spilborghs over to LF so Fowler can play in CF.

Brandon Inge – .269/4/7/.441. Inge qualifies as a catcher, which makes him a valuable player this year. If he keeps up this HR pace, he will be even more valuable.

Erik Bedard – 1-0 2.03 era with 15 K’s in 13.1 IP. My “Key” to the Mariners is off to a good start. If he can stay healthy, then he is a nice pitcher to have in any fantasy format.

Predicting The Comeback Players Of The Year

April 1, 2009

The Comeback Player of the Year Award is given to the player in the AL & NL who have “re-emerged” as a player during a single season. Past winners include Jason Giambi (o5, Yankees), Nomar Garciaparra (06, Dodgers) and Cliff Lee (08, Indians). Speaking of “re-emerging,” the MLB Comeback Player of the Year Award is presented by Viagra. Good times. VIVA, VIVA VIIIIIAGRAAAAAA!!! I feel that is the only commercial you see these days.

Here are the candidates and my picks for the Comeback Player of the Year…

NL

Candidates – Chris Carpenter, Todd Helton, Aaron Harang, Nick Johnson, Mike Hampton & Jeff Francouer

Helton has been killing it

Helton has been killing it

Comeback Player of the Year – Todd Helton

WHY – This will be a race all year between Helton and Carpenter but I think the chances of Helton staying healthy are greater than Carpenters. Helton is hitting the ball all over the park this spring to the tune of a .515/4/14 in just 33 ab’s. Back injuries usually mean a player will lose his ability to hit the long ball so look for Helton to mirror Mattingly at the end his career. Which means .280-.290 with 10 hr’s and somewhere in the neighborhood of 70-80 rbi.

AL

Candidates – John Smoltz, Brad Penny, Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez, Chris Ray, Carl Pavano, Jorge Posada & Kelvim Escobar

Comeback Player of the Year – John Smoltz

WHY – While the National League will be a 2 horse race between Helton and Carpenter, the American League has about 8-10 legitimate candidates for this award. In the end I think Smoltz will win because

1. He will have a significant impact on the pennant race when he comes back in June.

2. The fact that he is trying to comeback after surgery at the age of 42 is amazing.

3. He is “John Smoltz.” He will always get the vote over someone else.

A dark horse candidate is Escobar. After missing all of last season, he has looked really good this spring. It looks like has time table for joining the Angels has been moved up from June to May. He could have a major impact on the injury riddled Angels staff if healthy.

Recapping My Fantasy Draft….

March 14, 2009

I play in 2 fantasy baseball leagues. One league is mediocre at best and my other league is about as solid as you can get. 12 teams, 12 owners who know the game and it is very competitive. I try to play in no more than 2 because after that players start to really overlap and things get confusing.

So with the completion of my solid league draft, I thought I would give a recap of my team and here what your thoughts were on how I did.

The league is a 12 team, total points, keeper league. The draft is 26 rounds (yes, it’s a long one) and you keep 5 players. When you keep a player, you lose that pick in next years draft. For example, if I decide to keep my first round pick from this year, I lose my first round pick in our 2010 draft. So we added a little strategy to the keeper format.

Here is my team with the round I picked the player and his ESPN fantasy position ranking. I had the 8th pick. And oh, one last thing. I won this league by 1/2 a point last year. Yes, a 1/2 of a point because Joe Mauer struck out (K’s = -.5 points) in the 1 game playoff against the White Sox. Sorry Odie, had to bring it up.

Catchers

Chris Iannetta – 8th round. #9 ranked C

1st Basemen

Albert Pujols – 1st round. #1 ranked 1B

2nd Basemen

Brian Roberts – 5th round. #5 ranked 2B

Shortstops

Miguel Tejeda – 13 round. #12 ranked SS

Elvis Andrus – 26th round. #16 ranked SS

3rd Basemen

Evan Longoria – 2nd round. #2 ranked 3B

I am hoping Gordon can break out

I am hoping Gordon can break out

Adrian Beltre – 17th round. #9 ranked 3B

Alex Gordon – 15th round. #13 ranked 3B

Outfielders

Nick Markakis – 4th round. #7 ranked OF

Nate McLouth – 6th round. #17 ranked OF

Jay Bruce – 9th round. #27 ranked OF

Jayson Werth – 19th round. #39 ranked OF

Rick Ankiel – 15th round. #46 ranked OF

Cameron Maybin – 21st round. #48 ranked OF

Starting Pitchers

Lackey leads my rotation

Lackey leads my rotation

John Lackey – 3rd round. #10 ranked SP

Aaron Harang – 14th round. #40 ranked SP

Clayton Kershaw – 10th round. #47 ranked SP

John Danks – 11th round. #48th ranked SP

Jeremy Guthrie – 22nd round. #60 ranked SP

Manny Parra – 18 round. 64th ranked SP

Dana Eveland – 24th round. 92nd ranked SP

Paul Maholm – 20 round. 97th ranked SP

Kyle Davies – 25th round. 118th ranked SP

Relief Pitchers

Joakim Soria – 7th round. #4 ranked RP

Jose Valverde – 12th round. #6 ranked RP

Joel Hanrahan – 23rd round. #21 ranked RP

My goal was to get at least one top-10 player at each position and I accomplished that with every position except for shortstop. I reached a little for Iannetta in the 9th round but I think I got steals with Maybin (21st round) and Jayson Werth (19th round).

Strengths – Corner IF’s, OF’s and RP’s

I think I did very well at the corner IF spots with Pujols, Longoria, Gordon and Beltre. I am hoping for a nice season out of Gordon. If I can get a .275/20/80 with 10 steals out of Gordon, he would be a steal in the 15th round.

I should be all set with the closer situation with Soria and Valervde. If one of them falters or should get injured, I drafted Hanrahan who will be closing for an improved Nationals team for insurance. Between Soria and Valverde, I am expecting 80+ saves.

My OF might be the best part of my team led by Markakis, McLouth, Bruce and Ankiel. Maybe McLouth takes a step back, but the expected solid seasons from Bruce and Ankiel should make up for it. I like Ankiel this year due to his impending free agency after the season. Boras will have him ready for the season. I was also able to nab a ROY candidate in Maybin in the 21st round. That might be a steal.

Weaknesses – Starting Rotation and Backup IF’s

I went with the Billy Beane philosophy when it comes to starting pitching… Buy in bulk and hope that one breaks through. I am really banking on the progression of Kershaw and a bounce back season from Harang. If neither of those happen, I will be in big trouble. I am also hoping that out of the Maholm, Davies, Parra and Eveland foursome, one of them have a breakout season. Davies is having a tremendous spring (0.71 era in 4 outings) so maybe that will carry over to the regular season. Fingers are crossed.

With so many starting pitchers and outfielders I fell a little short on backup infielders. My only back up middle infielder is Elvis Andrus who is a 20 year old rookie. I am going to need to address this during the season. If Roberts, Pujols or Tejeda go down at any point during the season, I could be in trouble.

So how do you think my draft went? Who did I reach for and who may be a bust?

The “Key” Player For Each MLB Team…

March 3, 2009

Every year each fan takes a look at their favorite team and says…”If this guy can come back from a poor year or come back from an injury, then my team has a chance.” Every team has that “key” guy that can make a difference in the season. The guy that, if he steps up, can be the difference between being  just another team or a playoff contender.

In part 1 of this column we will attempt to identify the “key” player for all 16 National League teams. Part 2 of this column will be posted tomorrow and will cover all 14 American League teams.

Teams are listed by division.

NL East

Braves – Jeff Francoeur. Francouer was pretty dreadful last year hitting .239/11/71/.294. The Braves need Francoeur to return to the 25 hr, 100 rbi guy he was in 06 and 07 in order to contend with the Phillies.

Lindstrom anchors the Marlins pen in 09

Lindstrom anchors the Marlins pen in 09

Marlins – Matt Lindstrom. Lindstrom takes over as the Marlins Closer and they need him to anchor the bullpen in order to have a chance. Nothing is more demoralizing to a young team than a blown save.

Mets – Luis Castillo. I don’t think there has been a player hated this much by Mets fans since Gregg Jefferies. If Castillo can give the Mets anything this year, there lineup will have a lot more depth. If not, there will be a huge void at 2B for the second straight year.

Nationals – Ryan Zimmerman. It’s hard to find a “key” for a team expected to finish in last place. However, Zimmerman is the face of this franchise and the Nationals need him to regain is 06 .287/20/110 form in order for them to have any hope for the future.

Phillies – Chase Utley. Utley is coming off of hip surgery which monitors watching in April. If he can regain his 07 first half form (.291/25/69), then the Phillies will back in the World Series mix once again. If not, then they have a HUGE hole in the middle of that order.

NL Central

Astros – Mike Hampton. Hampton returns to the team that gave him the most success back in the late 90’s but without the spacious Astrodome. The Astros are going to need Hampton to give them at least 20 starts this year because after Oswalt, the Astros starting rotation is mediocre at best. If the Astros can get 20+ starts out of Hampton, they might be able to make there annual 2nd half run in the NL Central.

Brewers – Manny Parra. I have no doubt that Gallardo can handle the pressure of replacing Sabathia, so Parra becomes the key for the Brewers. If Parra can step up, handle his control issues (75 bb in 166 IP) and go from 10 wins in 08 to 14-15 wins in 09…the Brewers will be in business once again.

The Cardinals need Carpenter to bounce back

The Cardinals need Carpenter to bounce back

Cardinals – Chris Carpenter. After the Cardinals grossly overused Carpenter in 05 and 06 (463.1 IP), he has only made 4 starts in 07 and 08.  Early returns on Carpenter have been positive, so if the Cardinals can get 20-25 starts from their former ace, they will challenge the Cubs in the NL Central.

Cubs – Milton Bradley. As I have written several time before, I am not a fan of the Bradley signing. However, with DeRosa and Edmunds absent from the Cubs lineup, they need Bradley to stay healthy and produce. If not, the Cubs lineup all of a sudden looks very weak.

Pirates – Craig Hansen. Why is Hansen, a middle reliever the “key” to the Pirates this season? Because the former 1st round pick out of St Johns was one of the key players in the 3-way trade between the Red Sox-Pirates and Dodgers last season. Hansen needs to develop in order for Pirates fans to believe that they didn’t give away one of their star players for nothing once again.

Reds – Aaron Harang. After Reds Manager Dusty Baker decided to use Harang for 4 innings on 3 days rest in a meaningless game against San Diego in May, Harang’s season went downhill. If the Reds are to contend in the NL Central, Harang has to return to his 2007 16-6 form.  

NL West

DiamondBacks – Max Scherzer. The 11th pick in the 2006 draft out of Missouri will start the year as the Diamondbacks #5 starter. If Scherzer can give the DBacks 170 innings and 8-10 wins, they will be a serious contender in the weak NL West.

Kershaw is the key for the Dodgers in 09

Kershaw is the key for the Dodgers in 09

Dodgers – Clayton Kershaw. Regardless of what Manny Ramirez does, the Dodgers still need someone in their starting rotation to step up. Kershaw might be that someone. With 100 big league innings and 21 starts under his belt, Kershaw has all the talent and ability to be a #1 starter. If Kershaw can get to 150+ innings and 25+ starts, the Dodgers will have a nice 1-2 punch with Kershaw and Billingsley.

Giants – Pablo Sandoval. The Giants need all the help on offense they can get and if Sandoval can hit like he did in his 41 game audition last year then the Giants will have a much better lineup. Sandoval hit .345/3/24 in those 41 games last year.

Padres – Chase Headley. With the Padres in rebuilding mode, they need some of their young talent to start producing. Headley is a great young talent who spent most of 2008 learning how to play the OF. If Headley can start to realize his potential, the Padres will have a nice trio of A. Gonzalez-Kouzmanoff-Headley to build on.

Rockies – Troy Tulowitzki. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that when Tulowitzki went down last year with multiple injuries, the Rockies went down with him. If the Rockies want any chance of competing for a playoff berth, they need Tulowitzki to return to the .291/24/99 form he showed in 2007.

So there you have the “key” player for each NL team in 2009. Do you agree? If not, who do you believe is the “key” player for your favorite team?