Posts Tagged ‘Alcides Escobar’

Starting Nine: National League Central

January 15, 2010

Next up in our Starting Nine series is the National League Central. Outside of the St. Louis Cardinals re-signing Matt Holliday, there haven’t been any big-time offensive additions to this division. As a whole, this might be the weakest offensive division in baseball (yes, even passing the NL West).

Let’s take a look at the starting lineups for all six teams in this division as presently constructed.

St. Louis Cardinals

1. Skip Schumaker, 2B

2. Brendan Ryan, SS

3. Albert Pujols, 1B

4. Matt Holliday, LF

5. Ryan Ludwick, RF

6. Yadier Molina, C

7. Colby Rasmus, CF

8. David Freese, 3B

9. Chris Carpenter, P

Quick Take – Re-signing Holliday was crucial to this lineup. Despite having Holliday and Pujols in the three-four spot, this lineup will only be as dynamic as Rasmus and Freese takes them.

Milwaukee Brewers

1. Rickie Weeks, 2B

2. Alcides Escobar, SS

3. Ryan Braun, LF

4. Prince Fielder, 1B

5. Casey McGehee, 3B

6. Corey Hart, RF

7. Gregg Zaun, C

8. Carlos Gomez, CF

8. Yovani Gallardo, P

Quick Take – The Brewers sacrificed some offense for defense in 2010. This isn’t the powerful Brewers’ lineup of the last couple of years. There are a lot of automatic outs from seven through nine.

Chicago Cubs

1. Alfonso Soriano, LF

2. Kosuke Fukudome, RF

3. Derek Lee, 1B

4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B

5. Marlon Byrd, CF

6. Geovany Soto, C

7. Ryan Theriot, SS

8. Mike Fontenot, 2B

9. Carlos Zambrano, P

Quick Take – This lineup is getting old in a hurry. If Soriano, Ramirez, and Soto can come back from disappointing 2009 seasons, the Cubs could be in business in 2010. However, I still think they are going to be hard pressed to score runs in 2010.

Cincinnati Reds

1. Drew Stubbs, CF

2. Brandon Phillips, 2B

3. Joey Votto, 1B

4. Jay Bruce, RF

5. Scott Rolen, 3B

6. Ramon Hernandez, C

7. Paul Janish, SS

8. Chris Dickerson, LF

9. Bronson Arroyo, P

Quick Take – This lineup looks good for now and even better for the future. If Bruce can stay healthy, he could have a breakout year in 2010. I would like someone better than Janish at SS, but top prospect Todd Frazier isn’t ready to take over just yet.

Houston Astros

1. Michael Bourn, CF

2. Kaz Matsui, 2B

3. Lance Berkman, 1B

4. Carlos Lee, LF

5. Hunter Pence, RF

6. Pedro Feliz, 3B

7. J.R. Towles, C

8. Tommy Manzella, SS

9. Roy Oswalt, P

Quick Take – This six through nine is brutal. It’s hard to have a top offense when the bottom part of your lineup is this bad. Top catching prospect Jason Castro is not too far away, so this is Towles’ last stand with the Astros.

Pittsburgh Pirates

1. Andrew McCutchen, CF

2. Akinori Iwamura, 2B

3. Garrett Jones, 1B

4. Ryan Doumit, C

5. Andy LaRoche, 3B

6. Lastings Milledge, LF

7. Ryan Church, RF

8. Ronny Cedeno, SS

9. Zach Duke, P

Quick Take – I think in order to maximize their offense’s potential, the Pirates will play Jones at first and Church in right instead of playing Jones in right and Jeff Clement at first. The Pirates’ offense will be better in 2010, but will still have a hard time scoring runs on a consistent basis.

Last, but not least, tomorrow we will take a look at the National League West.

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

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A Steal For The Twins: Acquire J.J. Hardy From Brewers

November 6, 2009

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a big JJ Hardy fan. I have always liked the way he has played. So when I found out that he was traded to the Minnesota Twins today from the Milwaukee Brewers for OF Carlos Gomez, I thought “Wow, what a steal for the Twins.”

For the Twins to get a shortstop of the caliber of Hardy for a fourth outfielder who manager Ron Gardenhire wanted to strangle half the time is a steal in my opinion.

Hardy

Hardy is a steal for the Twins

I know Hardy stunk last season and yes, he was so bad at one point he was sent to the minors (that wasn’t all about performance). But I am convinced last year was just an aberration for Hardy. In the two years before last season, Hardy had OPS’s of .786 and .821.

Hardy is a perfect fit for the Twins. He is a low-key guy, who can play defense. Since Hardy will be under the Twins control for the next two years, he will give the Twins some stability at short.

Now the Twins can feature a lineup that might look something like this:

1. Span, CF

2. Hardy, SS

3. Mauer, C

4. Morneau, 1B

5. Cuddyer, RF

6. Kubel, DH

7. D. Young, LF

8. N/A, 3B – Twins still need a third baseman

9. Punto, 2B

Regardless of who they get to play third, that is a tremendous lineup for the Twins. That is a lineup that could win them another Central Division crown in 2010.

As for the Brewers, the acquisition of Gomez officially ends the Mike Cameron (one of the more underrated players in baseball) era in Milwaukee. I know the Brewers had a need in centerfield, but I feel they could have gotten more for Hardy.

Gomez is a fast runner and a great defensive player. Other than that, he can’t do anything else. He certainly can’t hit–yet. In three years in the majors, Gomez has a .246 average and a .292 OBP.

I say yet because he is still only 23-years-old. However, he just strikes me as a guy that a team would bring in for the eighth inning as a defensive replacement.

You can have all the speed in the world, but if you don’t use it wisely, it doesn’t matter. Look at Derek Jeter. He is not the fastest guy in baseball, but he is the best baserunner in baseball. Sometimes that is better than speed.

This move also tells me the Brewers are going to back off asking Rickie Weeks to play centerfield in 2010. If Gomez is the Brewers’ starting centerfielder in 2010 and Weeks is going to play second, then the Felipe Lopez era is also over in Milwaukee.

Top prospect Alcides Escobar is expected to be the Brewers’ starting shortstop in 2010, which made Hardy expendable.

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

Milwaukee Brewers Shake Things Up…

August 12, 2009

The Milwaukee Brewers hit rock bottom last night in a 13-6 loss at home to the lowly San Diego Padres. The loss dropped the Brewers to 55-57 on the season and 6.5 games behind the front running St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central. Overall, the Brew Crew have lost 23 of their 35 games.

Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin apparently has seen enough. Melvin and Brewers shook things up today by sending former all-star shortstop JJ Hardy to Triple-A Nashville, designating 3B Bill Hall for assignment, firing pitching coach Bill Castro, and calling up prized prospect Alcides Escobar.

Let’s start with Hardy first. Hardy is one of my favorite players in baseball, but I have no idea what happened to this guy in 2009. In 2007 and 2008, Hardy averaged .280 with 25 HR’s and 76 RBI and was starting to look like a top-tier shortstop. This year however, he is hitting a very Al Pedrique-like .229 with just 11 HR’s and 45 RBI.

Hardy was demoted today

Hardy was demoted today

Hardy has clearly struggled at the plate all year and with this demotion and the call up of Escobar, unless Hardy comes back as a third baseman – Hardy’s time in Milwaukee might be over.

If Escobar plays well at shortstop, what use do the Brewers have for Hardy? Here is my bold prediction – JJ Hardy is the starting shortstop for the Boston Red Sox in 2010.

If Hardy fell off the cliff this year, then Bill Hall jumped off and did a cannonball. After clubbing 35 HR’s and driving 85 runs in 2006, the Brewers signed Hall to a four-year $24 million contract. Big mistake.

It is now looking like Hall’s 06 season was an aberration and his .254 with 14 HR’s and 63 RBI season in 2007 and .225/15/55 season in 2008 were the real deal. This year Hall bottomed out and was hitting just .201 with six HR’s in 78 games.

I think Hall could have some value to a team this year as a late-inning defensive replacement at third. Despite being terrible at the plate, he is still playing some good defense. For that role, I think the Florida Marlins would make sense.

The Brewers figure to be on the hook for the remaining $11 million on Hall’s contract.

The last move the Brewers made today was they fired pitching coach Bill Castro and replaced him with former Seattle Mariners’ pitcher Chris Bosio. The Brewers’ pitching staff ranked 27th in baseball with a 4.84 ERA and their starting staff ranked dead last in the NL in era with a 5.16 mark.

This has been a crazy day for the Milwaukee Brewers, but not surprising. Remember, this was the same team that fired their manager (Ned Yost) last year with 12 games to go in the season.

The shake up worked last year. Whether or not it works this year remains to be seen.