Posts Tagged ‘Andy LaRoche’

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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Rays Trade Akinori Iwamura To Pirates

November 4, 2009

The Tampa Bay Rays and the Pittsburgh Pirates got together and made a trade yesterday.

The Tampa Bay Rays sent 2B Akinori Iwamura to the Pittsburgh Pirates for RHP Jesse Chavez. The Pirates will assume all of the $4.85 million on Iwamura’s contract for 2010.

Akinori Iwamura

Iwamura is headed to Pittsburgh

For the Rays, they save the $650,000 buyout on Iwamura’s contract–which they would have had to have paid if they had just declined Iwamura’s contract option. Chavez will be under the Ray’s control until after the 2014 season.

I asked fellow Baseball Bloggers Alliance member and writer for AOL Fanhouse and the No.1 Pirates blog on the web, Where Have You Gone Andy Van Slyke, Pat Lackey what his initial thoughts were on the trade…

“It’s a short-term move for the Pirates, which I’m not exactly keen about given that the team’s focus should be down the road, but as short-term moves go, this isn’t a bad one.

“Iwamura fills an immediate need for the team at second base and can move around the infield as necessary when Pedro Alvarez is ready, depending on how he, Andy LaRoche, and Garrett Jones are playing. Jesse Chavez was one of the Bucs’ most reliable reliever last year, but his strikeout rate dropped a bit while he reined in his walks and he’s got a bit of a homerun problem.

“All told, the move might not help the Pirates past 2010, but it probably doesn’t hurt them much either.”

I agree with Pat.

Is Iwawura going to help the Pirates win a World Series? Probably not. But the Pirates are trying to build a team around speed and defense and Iwamura fits that bill.

Iwamura is one of the best fielding second baseman in baseball and should fill the gap left at second base when Freddy Sanchez was traded. Best case scenario for the Pirates–Iwamura plays his usual solid second base, hits .285, and the Pirates trade him in July to a contender for prospects.

As for the Rays, thanks to Ben Zobrist’s breakout year (.297/27/91/.405), they didn’t need Iwamura. But what they do need is bullpen help and Chavez gives the Rays a serviceable option out of the pen.

Chavez appeared in 73 games for the Pirates in 2008 posting a 4.01 ERA, 1.351 WHIP, and a 6.3 K/9 rate. Pat mentioned above that Chavez had a homerun problem. He gave up 11 big-flies in those 73 innings, which isn’t great for a reliever.

I expect the Rays to be very active this Winter. Trading Iwamura is just the start.

Looking At Fantasy 3rd Basemen In 2009..

March 20, 2009

In honor of March Madness, I am going to do a tournament to determine who is the best fantasy 3B in 2009. This is a 36 player tournament and seeds are broken down from 1-8 in 4 regions. The 4 regions are the Mike Schmidt Region, George Brett Region, Eddie Mathews Region and the Brooks Robinson Region.

Since there are 36 players who will be participating in this tournament, the last 2 seeds in each bracket (8 players total) will play in a play-in game to determine who advances to the actual tournament. Let the tournament begin….

Mike Schmidt Region

Play In Game

Bill Hall vs Andy LaRoche. Winner – Andy LaRoche

Longoria is a #1 seed

Longoria is a #1 seed

1st Round

#1 Evan Longoria vs #8 Andy LaRoche

#2 Garrett Atkins vs #7 Scott Rolen

#3 Ryan Zimmerman vs #6 Mark Reynolds

#4 Chone Figgins vs #5 Mike Lowell

Winners – Longoria, Atkins, Zimmerman, Lowell

Analysis – Longoria hit 27 hr’s and drove in 85 runs in only 122 games in 08. Baring injury Longoria should put up 35+ hr, drive in 120+ runs and even swipe double digit steals in 09. He is the #1 seed in this region and should be one of the 1st 3B on your draft board.

Mark Reynold’s K’s (204 last year) were too much to overcome against Zimmerman, who should have a nice bounce back year. Figgins has been injury prone the last 2 years (hasn’t played in more than 116 games) and I believe his 07 season was a fluke. Lowell looks good this spring and that enables him to pull off the upset against Figgins.

Brooks Robinson Region

Play In Game

Eric Chavez vs Russell Branyan. Winner – Russell Branyan. It is pretty amazing how far Chavez has fallen in such a short period of time. Branyan qualifies as a 3B but will get 1st crack at being the Mariners everyday 1B. Maybe Branyan will be the Mariners version of Carlos Pena?

1st Round

#1 Alex Rodriguez vs #8 Russell Branyan

#2 Chipper Jones vs #7 Casey Blake

#3 Aubrey Huff vs #6 Pablo Sandoval

#4 Mark DeRosa vs #5 Carlos Guillen

Winners – Rodriguez, Jones, Huff, DeRosa

Analysis – Despite probably missing the 1st month of the season, Rodriguez still remains 1 of the 4 best fantasy 3B in baseball. He still should be able to put up 30 hr’s and 90 rbi, which is better than most.

Chipper Jones, headed into his 16th season still has a lot to offer fantasy owners. His batting avg. has increased each of the last 3 years and he can single handily win you OBP in a head to head league.

Aubrey Huff is often over looked in fantasy drafts but all he did last year was smack 32 hr’s, drive in 108 runs and hit .304. Expect the same from Huff this year, as the Orioles will have a solid lineup in 2009.

George Brett Region

Play In Game

Jed Lowrie vs Chris Johnson. Winner – Jed Lowrie

1st Round

#1 David Wright vs #8 Jed Lowrie

#2 Chris Davis vs #7 Troy Glaus

#3 Adrian Beltre vs #6 Melvin Mora

#4 Alex Gordon vs #5 Jorge Cantu

Winners – Wright, Davis, Beltre, Gordon

Analysis – David Wright goes into 2009 as the #1 fantasy 3B. Wright has finished in the top 10 in MVP voting the last 3 years and that trend should continue in 2009. What separates Wright is 1. His durability (160 games played in 3 of the last 4 years) and 2. His ability to steal a base. Wright was a 30/30 man just 2 years ago. I don’t think he will go 30/30 again but 20 sb’s can be expected.

A lot has been expected from Alex Gordon ever since the Royals drafted him the 2nd pick overall in the 2005 draft. Gordon showed some progress last season by raising his avg. 13 points and his OBP by 37 points. If he can continue this trend maybe a .275/20/80 is doable in 2009.

Chris Davis has been the hot name going into fantasy drafts due to his 17 hr and 55 rbi performance in just 60 games last year. Is he another Kevin Maas or will he break out in 2009? I think hitting is contagious in that Rangers lineup and Davis will put up a nice .282/33/101 in 2009. Davis also qualifies as a 1B as well

One last note on this bracket. Jed Lowrie is probably the best #8 seed in this tournament. With Julio Lugo going down with a knee injury, Lowrie becomes the starting SS in a powerful Red Sox lineup. Lowrie qualifies as a 3B but has more value as a SS.

Eddie Mathews Region

Play In Game

Brandon Inge vs Josh Fields. Winner – Josh Fields. Fields wins based on his sleeper potential. You know what you are going to get with Inge…which isn’t very good

1st Round

#1 Aramis Ramirez vs #8 Josh Fields

#2 Kevin Youkilis vs #7 Joe Crede

#3 Kevin Kouzmanoff vs #6 Edwin Encarnacion

#4 Michael Young vs #5 Hank Blalock

Winners – Ramirez, Youkilis, Kouzmanoff, Blalock

Analysis – Aramis Ramirez has been one of the most productive 3B in the league since joining the Cubs in 2003. You can pretty much lock Ramirez in for 25+ hr’s and 100+ rbi every year.

Youkilis is the strongest #2 seed in this tournament and if Arod was out longer, would move into a #1 seed. Youkilis also qualifies at 1B but has more fantasy value at 3B. If your league has OBP as a category, then Youkilis (.380 or better 4 years in a row) is a must grab.

Blalock upsets Young in the first round because I believe Blalock will have a year similar to is .276/32/110 of 2004 season.

Mike Schmidt Region – Sweet 16

#1 Evan Longoria vs #5 Mike Lowell

#2 Garrett Atkins vs #3 Ryan Zimmerman

Winners – Longoria and Zimmerman

Analysis – Atkins batting avg, OBP, hr’s and rbi have dropped each of the last 3 years. That is not a good sign and to make matters worse, Atkins will be hitting in a lineup without Matt Holliday and has Ian Stewart breathing down his neck. Zimmerman will revert back to his 06 and 07 seasons when he averaged 22 hr’s and 100 rbi.

Brooks Robinson Region – Sweet 16

#1 Alex Rodriguez vs #4 Mark DeRosa

#2 Chipper Jones vs #3 Aubrey Huff

Winners – Rodriguez and Jones

Analysis – I will bet a lot of money that DeRosa will not have 21 hr and 87 rbi again in 2009. Last year is what we call a “career year.” I look for more DeRosa like 15 hr and 65 rbi in 2009 and thus ending DeRosa’s tournament run.

Even knowing that Jones is going to miss at least 20 games, I would still take him over Aubrey Huff and that is the reason he advances.

Wright is a top 4 3B

Wright is a top 4 3B

George Brett Region – Sweet 16

#1 David Wright vs #4 Alex Gordon

#2 Chris Davis vs #3 Adrian Beltre

Winners – Wright and Davis

Analysis – Gordon might be improving but he is no match for Wright. Davis vs Beltre is an interesting matchup because Beltre is a free agent at the end of the year and you know what happened last time Beltre was a free agent. Beltre lit up baseball with a .334/48/121. I don’t think Beltre will put up those numbers but I think Beltre will be better than he was last year. However, Davis edges Beltre in the end due to his age (keeper consideration) and his potential for a great year.

Eddie Mathews Region

#1 Aramis Ramirez vs #5 Hank Blalock

#2 Kevin Youkilis vs #3 Kevin Kouzmanoff

Winners – Aramis Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis

Analysis – Ramirez and Youkilis advance pretty easily to the Elite 8. What hurts Kouzmanoff is his OBP. Last year it was a pretty pathetic .299. If Kouzmanoff can learn a little plate discipline, he would be more highly regarded in fantasy drafts.

Elite 8

#1 Evan Longoria vs #3 Ryan Zimmerman

#1 Alex Rodriguez vs #2 Chipper Jones

#1 David Wright vs #3 Chris Davis

#1 Aramis Ramirez vs #2 Kevin Youkilis

Winners – Rodriguez, Longoria, Wright, Youkilis

Analysis – Youkilis pulls off the upset due to him hitting in a better lineup than Ramirez and Youkilis’ ability to play 1B. Having players who can play multiple positions is a bonus to any fantasy roster. So the Final 4 is set with the 4 best fantasy 3B in baseball. Longoria, Rodriguez, Wright and Youkilis. These are the 4 guys who should on the top of your list come draft day.

Final 4

#1 Evan Longoria vs #1 Alex Rodriguez

#1 David Wright vs #2 Kevin Youkilis

Winners – Longoria and Wright

Analysis – Due to Arod’s injury Longoria gets the nod on draft day. In the other matchup in the Final 4, David Wright gets the edge on draft over Youkilis. Wright’s sb potential sets Wright apart.

Finals

#1 Evan Longoria vs #1 David Wright

Winner – Wright

Analysis – Wright went into this tournament as the #1 3B and comes out of this tournament the #1 3B. If Wright is available to you on draft day, don’t hesitate to grab him.

I hope you enjoyed this fantasy 3B tournament and good luck in your NCAA Basketball bracket.