Posts Tagged ‘Brad Penny’

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.

Texas Rangers Trade Kevin Millwood, Sign Rich Harden

December 10, 2009

What a last couple of hours for the Texas Rangers.

In span of what seemed like five minutes, the Rangers traded RHP Kevin Millwood to the Baltimore Orioles for RHP Chris Ray and a Player To Be Named Later. Then, in order to replace Millwood, the Rangers signed RHP Rich Harden to a one-year, $7.5 million contract with an $11.5 million option for 2011.

First, lets talk about the Millwood trade to the Orioles. I really like this move for the Orioles.

Millwood is the pitcher the Orioles needed

Since Millwood is on the last year of his contract and the Rangers will kick in $3 million of Millwood’s $12 million salary in 2010, the Orioles essentially have Millwood on a one-year, $9 million deal.

That is very fair for what Millwood is going to give the Orioles in 2010.

Millwood’s performance over the last two years has been worth around $13 million to the Rangers. For the Orioles to pay Millwood $9 million for one year is not a bad deal at all.

Will Millwood be an “Ace” for the Orioles? Probably not. At the age of 35, I am not sure Millwood has that ability anymore.

But what Millwood does have and what the Orioles need is someone to eat innings for them in 2010. In 2009, only one Orioles’ starter (Jeremy Guthrie) pitched more than 124 innings.

Millwood should have no problem reaching the 170-180 inning mark in 2010.

All the Orioles gave up was a useless Chris Ray. Ray showed flashes of potential in 2006 saving 33 games and posting a 2.73 ERA in 66 innings for the Orioles, but he has not been the same pitcher since Tommy John surgery.

Last year, Ray hit rock bottom posting a 7.27 ERA and a .977 OPS Against in 43.1 innings. His fastball was flat and his control was sub-par at best.

Good deal for the Orioles.

Once the Rangers sent Millwood to the Orioles, they used the $9 million they saved and signed British Columbia native Rich Harden. Harden can thank Brad Penny for this deal.

Penny’s one-year, $7.5 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals set the market for “low-risk, high-reward” pitchers. Harden might be the riskiest of the “low-risk, high-reward” pitcher.

Harden is the biggest tease in baseball

Harden is the biggest tease in baseball. He is the supermodel who has an STD.

Harden is an unbelievable talent, but is always hurt. I mean he is ALWAYS HURT. He has only pitched more than 150 inning in his career once–and that was back in 2004.

I am not going to be one of those people who say “If Harden can stay healthy, then…” He is not going to stay healthy. It’s just not going to happen.

He is a five-inning pitcher at this point in his career, who might make 25 starts for the Rangers in 2010. Does that make the Rangers a better team in 2010? I am not so sure.

While the Rangers ultimately saved about $1.5 million on this deal in 2010, they might have gotten rid of the better pitcher. Millwood’s posted a 2.4 WAR and a $10.9 million value in 2009. Harden posted a 1.9 WAR and $8.2 million value in 2009.

With Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, and now Harden, the Rangers are building quite the injury prone team in Texas.

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

St. Louis Cardinals Add Brad Penny To Rotation

December 8, 2009

In my free agent primer, I wrote that Brad Penny and Randy Wolf had to stay in the National League in order to be successful.

Yesterday, one of those pitchers followed my advice.

Yesterday, the St. Louis Cardinals signed RHP Brad Penny to a one-year, $7.5 deal that includes another $1.5 million in incentives. With the Penny signing, the Joel Pineiro era officially comes to an end in St. Louis.

Penny signed with the Cardinals

Just like with Pineiro and Jeff Suppan, this is a classic Dave Duncan reclamation project in St. Louis. I actually like this move for the Cardinals.

As we saw last year with the Boston Red Sox, Penny couldn’t pitch in the American League. Penny had his moments in a Red Sox uniform like the six inning, six hits, no runs performance against the New York Yankees in April, but for the most part, Penny was terrible.

Once he went to the San Francisco Giants and to the National League, Penny starting pitching like it was 2007 all over again. With the Giants he posted a 2.59 ERA in 41 innings.

Pitching in Triple-A, I mean the National League will help any pitcher.

Here is what I see happening for Penny in 2010. He won’t strike out many batters , he will pitch to contact, and be very successful with the Cardinals.

I could easily see him going 15-9 with a 3.75 ERA and pitching around 180 innings. Of course, then he sign a three-year, $35 million contract at the end of the 2010 season and go 8-13 with a 4.90 ERA in 2011.

But for this year and $7.5 million this is a good deal for both Penny and the Cardinals.

Penny is 105-84 with a 4.14 ERA in 10 seasons pitching for the Florida Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Red Sox, and Giants.

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

Free Agent Primer: What To Look For This Offseason

November 19, 2009

At 12:01 tomorrow morning, the free agent signing period begins in baseball. Will you see players signing with teams at 12:05 like in the NFL and NBA? No, you won’t.

This will be a very long offseason in baseball. Just like last year, you will see some quality players still available going into the month of February. And just like last year, you are going to see GM’s try to wait out players hoping to get their version of a Bobby Abreu deal.

With the free agent signing period just a mere 12 hours away, here is a free agent primer on this year’s batch of free agents.

Best Free Agent Starting Pitcher: John Lackey. The same people who are concerned with Lackey being “injury prone” are the same people who thought Adrian Peterson was “injury prone” coming out of Oklahoma.

Kind of silly.

Best Free Agent Hitter: Matt Holliday. Holliday is the best hitter in a weak free agent hitting class. I am not sold on Holliday being paid like a franchise player, but he will be.

Best Free Agent Relief Pitcher: Rafael Soriano. Soriano is only 30-years-old and is entering the prime of his career. 12.1 K/9 in 2009 is very impressive.

Biggest Free Agent Hitter Bust: Marco Scutaro. I am sorry, but I just don’t see it from this guy. He has been a scrub all his life and now at 34-years-old he is worth a mutli-year deal? No thanks.

Biggest Free Agent Hitter Bust II: Chone Figgins. This is Juan Pierre Part II. Some team is going to give this guy a four-year, $42 million deal and regret it from the first day. In the third year of this deal he will be a pinch runner off the bench.

Biggest Free Agent Starting Pitcher Bust: Joel Pineiro. Back in August I wrote about how teams should stay away from Pineiro. My feelings towards him haven’t changed. He has Jeff Suppan and Kyle Lohse written all over him.

Biggest Free Agent Relief Pitcher Bust: Brandon Lyon. If a team signs Lyon as an eighth inning, set-up guy, I have no problem with that. But if a teams signs him to be their closer, all bets are off.

If you go into 2010 with Lyon as your closer, you are pretty much telling your fan base we have no shot to win in 2010.

Perfect Match Most Likely To Happen: Mark DeRosa to the Philadelphia Phillies. When you look at the Phillies team and then you look at the type of player DeRosa is, this is a perfect match. DeRosa is a “baseball player” and on a team filled with “baseball players,” DeRosa fits in perfectly.

Perfect Match Most Likely NOT To Happen: Orlando Hudson to the New York Mets. Hudson wanted to play for the Mets last year and it didn’t happen. He wants to play for them again this year and it won’t happen again.

Hudson is just what the Mets need, but since Luis Castillo and his horrific contract are holding down the fort at second base, Hudson will need to look for work somewhere else.

Biggest Free Agent Surprise: Jason Bay will not be back with the Boston Red Sox. As I told my buddy Odie, Bay is like the girl in high school who appears all sweet and innocent, but has slept with the entire football team.

Bay won't be a Red Sock in 2010

Everyone thinks because Bay is a soft-spoken nice guy and has thrived in Boston, he will just accept whatever Theo Epstein offers him and money doesn’t matter–not the case. I think Bay gets a five-year deal from another team and takes the years and the money and runs.

And I wouldn’t fault him for that.

Player Who Will Make The Most Money Who You Never Heard Of: Aroldis Chapman. Chapman is the 22-year-old Cuban defector, who is a starting pitcher and just happens to throw 100 mph. It looks like it will be a two-team race for Chapman’s services–the Red Sox and the New York Yankees.

This is Jose Contreras Part II.

Best Low-Risk, High-Reward Hitter: Xavier Nady. Last year, I correctly predicted that Russell Branyan would be the 2007 version of Carlos Pena–a journeyman guy, who finally gets a chance to start and has a big year.

Nady is that free agent this year. Let a small market team sign him to a one-year deal, let him play 1B/DH and watch him hit 30 home runs.

Best Low-Risk, High-Reward Hitter Part II: Troy Glaus. Glaus is relatively young at 33 and just two years ago hit 27 home runs and had an .856 OPS. Can he play third at this point in his career? Probably not.

But he can probably play first or DH and still be a power threat at a very low-cost.

Best Low-Rick, High Reward Pitcher: Ben Sheets. Sheets missed all of the 2009 season because of flexor tendon surgery. But Sheets should be 100 percent healthy by the start of spring training and I think could have an impact in 2010.

Remember, Andy Pettitte had the same surgery in 2004 and he has fully recovered from the injury. A team like the Texas Rangers would be wise to sign him to an incentive laden deal.

Pitchers Who Have To Stay In The NL In Order To Be Successful: Randy Wolf and Brad Penny. American League teams should really stay away from these guys. Hopefully both of these guys know where their bread is buttered and won’t pull a Jeff Weaver after the 2006 season.

Bedard won't work in New York or Boston

Big Market Teams Should Stay Away: Erik Bedard. Bedard just strikes me as a guy who would rather pitch in Kansas City and not be bothered than pitching in a pennant race in New York of Boston.

Worst Pitcher To Be This Offseason: Kevin Gregg. Gregg is a Type A free agent and he stinks. Very bad spot to be in.

Worst Hitter To Be This Offseason: Jermaine Dye. Dye is a Type A free agent, is 37-years-old, and can’t play a lick of defense. He is a DH in a strong DH market. I think it will be a while before a team looks at Dye.

Hitter Who Should Get More Love, But Won’t: Mike Cameron. Despite being 37-years-old, all Cameron is going to do is play a Gold Glove caliber center field, hit around .265, and hit 20-25 home runs.

Something tells me because of his relationship with CC Sabathia, Cameron signs with the Yankees on a one-year deal.

Pitcher Who Should Get More Love, But Won’t: Jon Garland. Why Garland was sitting the bench, while Hiroki Kuroda was starting playoff games for the Los Angeles Dodgers last year is beyond me.

I know wins for pitchers are overrated, but all Garland does is win. That does count for something. He is going to win games and pitch 200 innings. Teams could do a lot worse.

The Milwaukee Brewers would be smart to sign him.

Best Utility Player: Jamey Carroll. Great club house guy, who can play second, third, left, and right. Every team could use a player like Carroll on their roster.

Non-Tender Candidate Sleeper: Kelly Johnson. On December 12th, hundreds of players will not be tendered contracts. The sleeper out of this bunch–Kelly Johnson.

Johnson was put in Bobby Cox’s doghouse in Atlanta in 2009, but in 2007 he had an OPS of .831 and in 2007 he had an OPS of .795. He is a classic change of scenery guy.

You can find a full list of this year’s free agents here.

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

Note To Red Sox Nation: Everything Will Be Alright

October 16, 2009

Now that everyone in Red Sox Nation has had about a week to digest what happened against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, I would just like to say one thing.

Relax, everything is going to be alright.

It’s amazing what happens when a team gets swept out of the playoffs. Everyone focuses on what is bad about the team, how the end is near, and how they are closer to a last place team than a first place team.

Things will be fine at Fenway in 2010

Things will be fine at Fenway in 2010

There is always some major overreacting going on between fans, media, and sometimes even the team itself. The bottom line is the Boston Red Sox lost to a better team. They lost to two pitchers (John Lackey and Jered Weaver) who weren’t going to lose to anyone in Game’s One and Two.

Did the Red Sox play their best this series? Absolutely not. But just because they were swept doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world.

Being swept in a series is overrated. What’s the difference if you lose a series and win one game or no games? Tony LaRussa’s teams get swept out of the playoffs on a regular basis and his teams come back just fine.

Of course everyone will point to the last time the Red Sox were swept out of the playoffs. In 2005, the Red Sox were swept by the eventual World Series champions, the Chicago White Sox.

The next year, the Red Sox missed the playoffs.

That team still won 86 games and had Mark Loretta, Alex Gonzalez, Coco Crisp and a washed up Trot Nixon as regulars. Not exactly The Big Red Machine.

The 2010 Red Sox are already in better position than the 2006 version to succeed.

But before we get to 2010, let’s look at the big picture for the Red Sox in 2009…

The Red Sox won 95 games in 2009 with:

  • A catcher up until July 31 who hit .209 and had a .390 slugging percentage.
  • Jed Lowrie, Julio Lugo, Nick Green, and Alex Gonzalez at shortstop. This murder’s row combined to hit .237 with 12 HR’s and a .658 OPS.
  • No DH until July. David Ortiz didn’t join the club until after the All-Star break.
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka, their No. 3 starter winning four games.
  • John Smoltz and Brad Penny making a combined 32 starts and having a 6.97 ERA.
  • Paul Byrd making seven starts.

To win 95 games and have that lack of production from some key positions, is pretty impressive. If you think about it, they were playing the first half of the season with a lineup with three replacement level players.

Now, I don’t want to paint everything as roses with the Red Sox. The Red Sox certainly have their issues moving forward.

They have an aging lineup, they are average at best defensively, thanks to Lars Anderson taking a step back in 2009, they don’t have any offensive prospects ready to step in and take over, and there are some health concerns with their starting rotation.

However, without a single free agent signing or trade, the Red Sox are already in better shape than the majority of the teams in the American League.

Just look at the landscape of the American League. The Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, Baltimore Orioles, Oakland A’s, and Toronto Blue Jays are rebuilding.

The Chicago White Sox and Seattle Mariners are kind of middle of the pack teams, who, if they make a couple of moves can be contenders. The Detroit Tigers are aging faster than the Red Sox.

Then you have the Red Sox, along with the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, Minnesota Twins, and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as the main contenders in the American League.

So without making a move the Red Sox are better on paper than the majority of the teams in the American League. And the Red Sox will make their moves this offseason.

They will get their SS, LF, backup catcher, and back of the rotation starter. If Epstein sees a weakness, he goes out and does his best to try to fix it. There is no arguing that and I am confident that he will improve the club during the Winter.

The Red Sox are well positioned to make another World Series run in 2010. Remember, as the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals taught us–all you need to do is get into the playoffs.

The rest is up to the baseball gods.

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

Florida Marlins Chris Coghlan Making A Strong Case For NL ROY

September 25, 2009

Over the last 10 years, the Florida Marlins have probably produced more young talent than any team in the major leagues. Josh Beckett, Brad Penny, AJ Burnett, Dontrelle Willis (at the time), Derek Lee, Mike Lowell, Juan Pierre, and Miguel Cabrera all became stars wearing teal and black.

As we all know, because the Marlins have a payroll that hovers around the $55.00 mark, they have not been able to keep any of their star talent. However, just because the Marlins can’t keep their talent (Hanley Ramirez might be the exception), doesn’t mean they have to stop producing talent.

The Marlins’ latest player to eventually-play-for-a-big-market-team — Chris Coghlan. Coghlan, went from so-so prospect to perhaps the favorite for National League Rookie of the Year.

Coghlan is having a great year

Coghlan is having a great year

In case you haven’t noticed, Coghlan leads all major-league rookies in hits (146), runs (75), average (.314), and OBP (.385). Coghlan also leads all of baseball in hits in the second half with 97.

While his defense hasn’t been stellar in leftfield (.980 fielding percentage, -10.3 UZR), you have to take into account that Coghlan played a grand total of one game in left in the minor leagues. Coghlan is a natural second baseman.

If you really think about it, Coghlan has become everything the New York Mets thought Daniel Murphy would be. Coghlan has become as solid hitter, who at least looks the part of a leftfielder.

If I had a vote for NL ROY, I would give it to Coghlan over Dexter Fowler, Colby Rasmus, Garrett Jones, or JA Happ.

Here are some other facts about Coghlan…

Age: 24

College: University of Mississippi

Drafted: 36th pick of the first round of the 2006 draft

Minor League Stats:

2006 Low Single A & Rookie: .297 with zero HR’s, 15 RBI, and a .368 OBP in 30 games.

2007 Single A+ & Single A: .287 with 12 HR’s, 82 RBI, a .378 OBP, and 24 SB’s in 115 games.

2008 Double A: .298 with seven HR’s, 74 RBI, .396 OBP, and 34 SB’s in 132 games.

2009 Triple A: .344 with three HR’s, 22 RBI, a .418 OBP, and nine SB’s in 25 games.

Keith Law Ranking and Analysis

Ranking: N/A

Analysis: N/A

10 Things We Learned About Baseball In August

September 2, 2009

Oh those dog days of August. It’s hot, it’s steamy, and people in the mid-west don’t flinch when it’s 120 degrees outside. It’s a month where teams make their late season push or fade away like a fart in the wind.

August 2009 was no different. We saw records broken, milestones reached, a milestone contract, and of course, teams battling it out for a playoff berth.

Here are the top 10 things we learned from baseball in the month of August…

10. Derek Jeter breaks the all-time hits record for shortstops. When Jeter set the all-time hits record for shortstops with his 2,675th career hit, two things crossed my mind. 1. I can’t believe in the history of baseball, there hasn’t been a SS who has gotten more than 2,700 hits and 2. Is Jeter the second best SS of all-time (No. 1 being Honus Wagner)?

I can’t believe the lack of great shortstops in the game. Wasn’t it always as a kid, the best player on the team played shortstop? What happened? Shortstops are like quarterbacks in the NFL. There should be more great ones, but there aren’t.

The team Jeter plays on…

9. New York Yankees put a stronghold on the AL East. Going into the four-game series against the Boston Red Sox, all you heard about was how the Red Sox were 8-0 against the Yankees in 2009. Four games and outscoring the Red Sox 27-8 later, the Yankees swept the Red Sox and put a stranglehold on the AL East.

On the subject of the Yankees – Red Sox rivalry…

8. Pedro Martinez made his return to the mound. Martinez waited, waited, waited, and waited all season to get the call he was looking for. The Philadelphia Phillies made the call, offered Martinez a chance to start, and Martinez made his first start since last September on August 12th against the Chicago Cubs.

For me personally, it was great to see Martinez back on the mound. While he is not the Martinez I remember with the Red Sox, he still can get hitters out.

In four starts in August, Martinez was 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA.

Speaking of former Red Sox pitchers…

7. John Smoltz and Brad Penny weren’t good enough for the American League. Plan A for the Red Sox in the offseason was to sign Mark Teixeria. When that plan fell through, they went to Plan B. Plan B was to sign fill out the roster with high-risk, high-reward players like John Smoltz, Brad Penny and Rocco Baldelli.

Plan B has turned into Plan D — as in Disastrous. Smoltz was 2-5 with a 8.33 ERA in eight starts and Penny was 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA in 24 starts. Both pitchers were released by the Red Sox in August.

When Smoltz was released he joined the St. Louis Cardinals…

6. Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright are a solid one-two punch. In the month of August, Carpenter and Wainwright went a combined 9-1 with a 1.75 ERA, 66 K’s, and only allowed 71 hits in 86.2 innings pitched.

No wonder why the Cardinals opened up a nine game lead in the NL Central in August.

I said it before the season started and I will say it again. Carpenter is the key for the Cardinals. As he goes, so goes the Red Birds.

Staying in the NL Central…

5. The Milwaukee Brewers shake things up. On August 12th, Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin saw enough and the Brewers really shook things up.

They sent former All Star SS JJ Hardy to the minors, DFA’d 3B Bill Hall, fired pitching coach Bill Castro, and called up top prospect Alcides Escobar.

Have those moves helped? Well, on August 12th, the Brewers were two games under .500 at 53 and 55. On September 1st, the Brewers were three games under .500 at 64 and 67.

Many feel JJ Hardy will be traded in the offseason, but…

4. There were plenty of players who changed teams in August. The waiver claim period was just as hectic as the period leading up to the July 31st trading deadline.

Jim Thome, Jon Garland, Billy Wagner, Alex Rios, Aubrey Huff, and Scott Kazmir were all traded in the month of August. Perhaps the biggest shocker of all was Scott Kazmir.

The Tampa Bay Rays unloaded Kazmir and the remaining $23 million on his contract to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, while still in the middle of the AL Wild Card race. Many felt, including myself, that the Rays were smart to make this move.

I don’t think the Rays players and fans felt the same way.

Now that Kazmir is on the Angels, he won’t have to face this guy…

3. Vladimir Guerrero hits No. 400. How many people know that Guerrero is one of only six hitters in the history of the game to have 400 homeruns and a .320 lifetime batting average? I was shocked when I first heard this.

Guerrero joins Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx, and Lou Gehrig as the only players to accomplish this feat. When you put Guerrero’s name in that list, it’s almost like a who doesn’t belong question. But Vlad does.

I never thought of Guerrero as a Hall of Fame type player. I am definitely rethinking that now.

Guerrero started out with the Montreal Expos, which are now…

2. The Washington Nationals sign Stephen Strasburg. If the Nationals didn’t sign the No. 1 overall pick from this year’s draft, they might of as well folded up the franchise. This deal had to get done and it did — at the 11th hour.

Right before the deadline to sign draft picks expired, the Nationals and Strasburg agreed to a record contract that will pay the former San Diego State righty around $15.1 million.

This deal broke the previous record of $10.5 million signed by Mark Prior back in 2001.

And the No.1 thing we learned about baseball in August was…

1. The NL Wild Card race is the best thing going in baseball. Four teams separated by a grand total of four games. The Colorado Rockies, San Francisco Giants, Florida Marlins, and Atlanta Braves are all battling for one postseason spot.

The Rockies and Giants are tied for the Wild Card lead and have played some memorable games in the last week. On August 24th, the Rockies and Giants played in my opinion, the game of the year. The Rockies won that game 6-4 in 14 innings on a walk-off grandslam by Ryan Spilborghs.

Less than a week later, the Giants staged a comeback of their own. On August 30th, Edgar Renteria hit a go-ahead grandslam of his own against Rafael Betancourt in the seventh inning to help the Giants sweep the Rockies.

I am guessing this race goes down to the wire.

That’s a wrap for the month of August. Hasn’t this year gone by fast? It seems like yesterday, I was writing my April recap.

I can’t wait for my September recap. We should have a good feel by then, who is going to the playoffs and who is playing golf in October.

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.

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.

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.