Posts Tagged ‘Gregg Zaun’

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

Tampa Rays Acquire Kelly Shoppach From Cleveland Indians

December 22, 2009

Update: The Player To Be Named Later in this trade is RHP Mitch Talbot. Talbot, 26, was 4-4 with a 4.47 ERA for Triple-A Durham in 2009.

Talbot has a chance to win a roster spot with the Indians in 2010.

Original Post

According to the Tampa Bay Rays official site, the Rays have acquired catcher Kelly Shoppach from the Cleveland Indians for the vaunted Player To Be Named Later or “PTBNL” as us cool kids say.

I really like this pick up for the Rays.

I have always been a Shoppach fan going back to his days with the Boston Red Sox. I thought the Red Sox were going to re-acquire him this offseason, but it was not meant to be.

Shoppach will be catching for the Rays in 2010

The Rays have been looking for a catcher because Gregg Zaun is a free agent and Dioner Navarro was completely useless last year. Talk about a World Series hangover. What happened to him last year?

Navarro hit .295 with a .757 OPS and was an All Star in 2008, but in 2009, Navarro reverted back to his 2006 and 2007 form by hitting a pathetic .218 with a .583 OPS.

Shoppach’s career has taken a similar path as Navarro’s. Shoppach was a backup catcher in 2006 and 2007 and then in 2008 Shoppach had the opportunity to start thanks to a Victor Martinez injury.

Shoppach proceeded to have a career year in 2008 when he hit 21 home runs and had an .865 OPS in 113 games for the Indians. In 2009, Shoppach suffered through injuries and had a down year hitting only .214 with a .734 OPS in 58 games.

This trade gives the Rays a couple of options. The Rays could now let Navarro go instead of offering him arbitration by the December 12 deadline and re-sign Zaun. This would give them a Shoppach/Zaun tandem in 2010.

The second option wold be they keep both Shoppach and Navarro. With Shoppach arbitration eligible as well, I believe the Rays will go with the first option.

If you were to ask me, Shoppach is a much better candidate to have a bounce back year than Navarro.

For the Indians, they will get a back player for a player who was probably going to be non-tendered in a couple of weeks, so it’s not a bad deal for them.

With Lou Marson and top prospect Carlos Santana ready to take over the catching duties in the future, Shoppach was expendable.

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

Brewers Find New Starting Catcher, Sign Gregg Zaun

December 6, 2009

On Friday, the Milwaukee Brewers signed catcher Gregg Zaun to a one-year, $1.9 million contract with an option for 2011 for $2.5 million.

Zaun signed with the Brewers because not only was the price right for Milwaukee, but Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin told Zaun he would be the number one catcher going into spring training.

Zaun will be the Brewers No. 1 catcher in 2010

While I don’t have an issue with the Brewers signing Zaun, I do have an issue with him being the team’s number one catcher in 2010.

I understand the catching market is weak and Jason Kendall wore out his welcome in Milwaukee, but I hard time believing that a team that is going to be a contender, or hopes to be a contender in 2010 has Zaun as their starting catcher.

Zaun, who will be 39 at the start of the 2010 season, is what he is at this point. He is a backup, who hits .250 with little, and shouldn’t be catching more than 60-70 games with the Brewers. In 2010, the Brewers will ask Zaun to catch 110+ games.

I wouldn’t mind Zaun as the Brewers’ starting catcher if this was 2008. That year the Brewers had a powerful lineup and they could afford to have a Zaun type hitter in their lineup.

In 2010, the Brewers will have a lineup that features Carloz Gomez, Zaun and the pitcher. That’s three automatic outs in a nine batter lineup–one too many.

Those three coupled with who knows what they are going to get with Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart–the Brewers might struggle to score runs in 2010.

Of course if you have a very good starting rotation, then you can live with a mediocre offense. The problem is the Brewers don’t have a very good starting rotation.

However, this offseason is still young and there is plenty of time for the Brewers to improve their pitching staff. Tim Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel suggests the Brewers have around $12 or so remaining in their budget to spend on free agents.

The Brewers need to sign a pitcher or two this offseason to help off set what appears to be a mediocre Brewers’ offense in 2010.

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

Arbitration Roundup

December 2, 2009

For those of you who are not aware, yesterday at 11:59 pm est was the last day at teams could offer their free agents arbitration. Once a team offers arbitration to a player, that player has until Dec. 7 to accept.

A team would offer arbitration to a player–especially to a Type A or a Type B free agent because that team then would receive draft compensation as a result of that player signing with a new team.

A great example of this is what we saw this morning.

Since Billy Wagner signed with the Atlanta Braves and he was a Type A free agent who was offered arbitration, the Boston Red Sox will receive the Braves’ first-round pick (20th overall) and a supplemental pick in 2010.

Here is a list of the players who were offered arbitration by their current clubs. This list is courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors.

Type A Free Agents (10 players)

Chone Figgins

Figgins was offered arbitration by the Angels

John Lackey
Jose Valverde
Marco Scutaro
Mike Gonzalez
Rafael Soriano
Matt Holliday
Billy Wagner
Jason Bay
Rafael Betancourt

Type B Free Agents (13 players)

Justin Duchscherer
Rod Barajas
Joel Pineiro
Mark DeRosa
Adrian Beltre
Ivan Rodriguez
Marlon Byrd
Brian Shouse
Gregg Zaun
Jason Marquis
Brandon Lyon
Fernando Rodney
Carl Pavano

Yesterday was a good day for guys like Bengie Molina, Jermaine Dye, LaTroy Hawkins, and Kevin Gregg, who are all Type A free agents. Since these players were not offered arbitration and will not cost a first-round draft pick, they become much more attractive for teams to sign.

My predictions are that Molina ends up with the New York Mets and Dye ends up with the San Francisco Giants.

Yesterday was a bad day for a player like Rafael Betancourt. With him being a Type A free agent and offered arbitration by the Colorado Rockies, he is going to have a hard time finding work.

It’s hard to justify giving up a first-round pick for a middle reliever, who has been up and down for much of his career. My guess is he ends up back with the Rockies in 2010.

After Dec. 7, we will start to see the dominoes start to fall in the free agent market.

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

Looking At Fantasy Catchers in 2009….

February 16, 2009

There might be no other position in baseball where the difference between #1 and #30 is so great. That is the dilemma fantasy owners face when it comes time to draft a catcher. If you don’t get one of the 10 best, then you are really stuck picking from the bottom of the barrel. To make sure you don’t draft the bottom of the barrel guy, here are the 2009 fantasy rankings for catchers.

Johnny Bench Division

These are the best of the best at the catcher position. These are the guys you want to draft as your #1 catcher

1. Joe Mauer, Twins – Despite offseason kidney surgery, Mauer remains the #1 fantasy catcher in baseball. The 2-time batting champ won’t get you home runs, but will get you rbi’s, obp, avg and hits.

2. Brian McCann, Braves

3. Geovany Soto, Cubs

4. Russell Martin, Dodgers – Martin slipped a little in 2008 by posting lower avg, hr and rbi totals than he did in 2007. I expect Martin to have a bounce back year in 2009 and Martin does steal bases (49 career sb’s in 3 seasons) which makes him unique amongst catchers.

5. Chris Iannetta, Rockies – Ladies and gentleman, your 2009 fantasy breakout catcher. In only 333 ab’s in 2008, Iannetta posted a .261/18/65/.390 line. At 25 and now the Rockies #1 catcher headed into the season, Iannetta should break out in 2009. If Iannetta can get to 140 games caught, expect a .275/24/85/.380 stat line.

Ted Simmons Division

These catchers are a notch below the top 5 but can serve as #1 catchers on your fantasy team. Like Ted Simmons, these catchers don’t grab the headlines but can put up some nice stats for your team.

6. Bengie Molina, Giants – Quick, how many people knew that Molina put up a .292/16/95 line last year? The best hitting Molina brother had close to 100 rbi last year…amazing. The reason Molina doesn’t crack the top 5 is because he is 34 and will be hard pressed to duplicate last season. .278/15/75 is more likely for Molina this year.

7. Victor Martinez, Indians

8. Mike Napoli, Angels – Napoli smacked an impressive 20 hr in just 227 ab’s last season for the Angels. Napoli is not the best defensive catcher in the world, which hurts his playing time. If Napoli can improve behind the plate, it will mean more ab’s. 25-30 hr’s is not out of the question for Napoli in 2009.

9. Ryan Doumit, Pirates – Occasionally the Pirates will have someone who makes a top 10 list. Because Doumit plays on the Pirates, he flew under the radar last season. He posted a nice .318/15/69 while playing in a career high 116 games. Doumit never hit more than .274 with 9 hr’s in a season before last season so there is a chance that last season was a fluke. I don’t think it was. Look for Doumit to post similar numbers again in 2009.

Terry Steinbach Division

Much like Steinbach for most of his career, these catchers are good for 10-15 hr’s and 50-60 rbi.

10. Chris Snyder, Diamondbacks

11. Jorge Posada, Yankees – After having a career year in 2007, Posada missed much of the 2008 season with a shoulder injury. Now at 37, Posada is at the tail end of his career and his .338/20/90 2007 might have been his last great fantasy season. Look for Posada to have a season similar to his 1999 season. Which was a .245/12/57 line.

12. Ramon Hernandez, Reds

13. AJ Pierzynski, White Sox

14. Brandon Inge, Tigers – Inge is slated to be the Tigers opening day 3B headed into 2009 but he does qualify at the catcher position based on his work from last season. Inge has much more value as a catcher than he does a 3b. 10-15 hr’s and 50-60 rbi is realistic for Inge.

Terry Kennedy Division

The very last guys you want to take before you head down Desperation Rd.

15. Dioner Navarro, Rays

16. Kelly Shoppach, Indians – Shoppach enjoyed a breakout season in 2008 due mainly to the absence of Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner. Now with both players back, it will be difficult for Shoppach to crack the lineup. However, it’s worth taking a flier on Shoppach because if Hafner can’t make it back from injury, then he might get some time at DH.

Tony Pena Division

If any of these guys are your #1 catcher headed into the season, then you might be in serious trouble.

17. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Rangers

18. Gerald Laird, Tigers

19. Jason Varitek, Red Sox

20. Yadier Molina, Cardinals

21. Kenji Johjima, Mariners

22. Kurt Suzuki, A’s

23. Miguel Olivo, Royals

24. Rod Barajas, Blue Jays

25. Jason Kendall, Brewers

26. Nick Hundley, Padres

27. Brian Schneider, Mets

28. John Baker, Marlins

29. Humberto Quintero, Astros

30. Jesus Flores, Nationals

31. Gregg Zaun, Orioles

Matt Wieters Division

32. Matt Wieters, Orioles – This is Ryan Braun and Evan Longoria part 3. Clearly ready for the majors, Wieters will most likely start the season off in AAA because the team wants to delay an arbitration year. When he is eventually is called up, Wieters has the ability to be a top 5 catcher. A switch-hitting catcher with his power comes along only so often. If you are in a keeper league and need a catcher, Wieters should be your #1 choice.

So there you have the catcher fantasy rankings for 2009. As you can see, almost half the league is undraftable. Make sure you get 1 of those top 10 guys, because if you get stuck with Brian Schneider, then it might be a long season ahead.