Posts Tagged ‘Jack Cust’

Starting Nine: American League West

January 13, 2010

The next division up in our Starting Nine series is the American League West. This division has undergone the most change from top to bottom this offseason, so it will be interesting to see which lineup looks the best headed into the season.

Here are the starting lineups as presently constructed for the American League West:

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

1. Erick Aybar, SS

2. Bobby Abreu, RF

3. Torii Hunter, CF

4. Kendry Morales, 1B

5. Hideki Matsui, DH

6. Howie Kendrick, 2B

7. Juan Rivera, LF

8. Brandon Wood, 3B

9. Mike Napoli, C

Quick Take – This lineup will miss Chone Figgins at the top of the lineup to an expect, but despite the Angels’ losses, this lineup is still pretty deep. Any lineup that has Napoli batting ninth should be able to score some runs.

Seattle Mariners

1. Ichiro, RF

2. Chone Figgins, 3B

3. Milton Bradley, LF

4. Jose Lopez, 2B

5. Ken Griffey Jr. DH

6. Franklin Gutierrez, CF

7. Casey Kotchman, 1B

8. Jack Wilson, SS

9. Rob Johnson, C

Quick Take – This lineup after the first four hitters is pretty bad. I don’t care how many runs you prevent in the field, you need to score runs to win. The Mariners need a better DH than Griffey Jr.

Texas Rangers

1. Ian Kinsler, 2B

2. Michael Young, 3B

3. Josh Hamilton, LF

4. Vladimir Guerrero, DH

5. Nelson Cruz, RF

6. Chris Davis, 1B

7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

8. Elvis Andrus, SS

9. Julio Borbon, CF

Quick Take – I love this lineup. I like Borbon in the nine-hole acting like a second leadoff hitter at the bottom of the lineup. The key to this lineup will be health.

Oakland A’s

1. Coco Crisp, CF

2. Rajai Davis, LF

3. Ryan Sweeney, RF

4. Jack Cust, DH

5. Daric Barton, 1B

6. Kurt Suzuki, C

7. Eric Chavez, 3B

8. Mark Ellis, 2B

9. Cliff Pennington, SS

Quick Take – This is the worst in the American League (yes, worse than the Kansas City Royals) and perhaps the worst in baseball. There isn’t a guy in this lineup that would start on the Baltimore Orioles. Michael Taylor better make it to the A’s soon.

Tomorrow, I will dive into the National League and look at the National League East.

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

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With Recent Moves, Russell Branyan’s Options Dwindling

January 8, 2010

After 11 years of injuries and being considered a bench player/pinch-hitter, Russell Branyan finally got everything he wanted in 2009.

For the first time in his major league career, Branyan got an opportunity to be an everyday player. In 2009 with the Seattle Mariners, Branyan played in a career high 116 games and had a career high 505 AB’s.

Branyan's options seem limited in 2010

In those 116 games, Branyan hit .251 with 31 home runs and an .867 OPS. His .867 OPS ranked seventh amongst American League first baseman.

It was a pretty good time for Branyan to have a career year as he was a free agent after the 2009 season. However, things haven’t gone according to plan since Branyan filed for file agency back in November.

Branyan thought he was worthy of a multi-year deal and rejected the Mariners’ one-year deal early in the free agent period. As it appears right now, the Mariners’ offer might have been Branyan’s best.

A lot of teams have filled their first base or DH hole with low-cost options this offseason limiting Branyan’s options. The Atlanta Braves filled their need by signing Troy Glaus, the Mariners traded for Casey Kotchman, and the A’s re-signed Jack Cust.

These moves, coupled with a bad back, have seriously limited Branyan’s options in 2010. So where could Branyan end up? Here are a couple of landing spots for the 34-year-old.

New York Mets – I don’t think they will go into the 2010 with Daniel Murphy as their first baseman. However, I would be shocked if the Mets didn’t bring back Carlos Delgado.

San Francisco Giants – GM Brian Sabean is talking about putting Juan Uribe in the starting lineup and moving Pablo Sandoval to first and Mark DeRosa to third. If the Giants come to their senses, they will leave Uribe in the utility role.

If this happens, the Giants could have an opening at first. Branyan would bring some power and some plate discipline to the lineup.

Pittsburgh Pirates – The Pirates have talked about moving Adam LaRoche to first once Pedro Alvarez is ready. However, Alvarez isn’t ready yet and the Pirates have an opening at first.

Baltimore Orioles – The Orioles would rather move Garrett Atkins to first, but if they can’t find another third baseman, then they will keep Atkins at third and look for a first baseman.

Like the Mets, they are interested in Delgado, but if they can’t land him Branyan could be a nice fallback option.

Kansas City Royals – I would give Kila Ka’aihue a chance, but I get the sense he is not a favorite of GM Dayton Moore. The Royals could leave Billy Butler at first and sign Branyan to be their DH.

So as you can see, Branyan doesn’t have too many options out there. If I was a betting man, I would say he ends up with the Giants.

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

Oakland A’s Bring Back Jack Cust

January 8, 2010

As much as Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane is trying to change the A’s into a more speedy, athletic team, he never misses an opportunity to go back to his Moneyball roots.

Yesterday, the A’s brought back a classic Moneyball player. According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the A’s have re-signed OF/DH Jack Cust to a one-year contract. The one-year deal is for $2.65 million plus incentives.

Cust will be back with the A's in 2010

After the A’s traded for Jake Fox and signed Coco Crisp, many including myself, didn’t think there was a chance that Cust returned to the A’s in 2010. But the A’s need power and Cust can certainly supply that.

Over the last three years, Cust has averaged 28 home runs a year and a .378 OBP. Though his OPS has dipped three years in a row, he probably becomes the A’s top power source in 2010.

My guess is Rajai Davis, Crisp, and Ryan Sweeney will play left, center, and right for the A’s in 2010. Daric Barton will play first base. And Cust will split time at DH with Fox, depending on the matchup.

Cust’s OPS was 200 points higher against right-handed pitching (.830 vs. .631), so playing him against righties and Fox against lefties makes the most sense. I think A’s fans will be happy just as long as Cust doesn’t see any part of the field.

Cust will be 31 next week and will be entering his ninth season in the major leagues. He has a career .239 average with 89 home runs and a .374 OBP.

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

Which Players Were Non-Tendered Contracts Last Night?

December 13, 2009

Last night at 11:59 pm est was the deadline for major league teams to offer players with less than six years service time contracts. These players are often referred to as tendered or non-tendered players.

Here is the list of players last night who were non-tendered a contract:

Kelly Johnson, Atlanta Braves. In my free agent primer, I had Johnson has my biggest non-tender sleeper. I think he has a lot to offer a team.

In 07′ he had an .831 OPS and in 08′ he had .795 OPS. In 09′, he was put in Bobby Cox’s doghouse. I think he could have a bounce back 2010 if given the opportunity. He would make sense with the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, or the Minnesota Twins.

Jack Cust, Oakland A’s. Cust is a classic “Moneyball” player–lots of walks, lots of strike outs, lots of home runs, and can’t play defense. Cust hit 22 out of his 25 HR’s last year against right-handed pitching.

Cust could sign with a team as a left-handed power hitter off the bench.

Garrett Atkins, Colorado Rockies. Atkins was non-tendered a contract on his birthday. That hurts.

Atkins’ OPS has dropped four years in a row and now can probably latch on to a team as a backup 1B/3B off the bench. He could be a fit with the Twins.

Wang was non-tendered last night

Chien-Ming Wang, New York Yankees. Wang really hasn’t been the same since he hurt his foot running the bases in Houston a year and a half ago.

At 29, Wang should have something left. I would say there is a 75 percent chance he ends up with the Dodgers and Joe Torre. The other 25 percent says he ends up with the Yankees on a minor league deal.

Jonny Gomes, Cincinnati Reds. All Gomes did with the Reds in 2009 was hit 20 HR’s and had an .879 OPS in just 98 games–now he is out of a job.

Gomes crushes left-handed pitching (.914 OPS in 2009) and it wouldn’t shock me if he returned to the Reds on a discounted deal in 2010.

Jose Arredondo, Matt Brown, and Dustin Moseley, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I am very surprised the Angels would give up on this 25-year-old. It was reported yesterday that Arredondo would need Tommy John surgery and would miss the entire 2010 season.

A team will sign him and store him away until he is ready in 2011. He is too good of a talent not to be given a chance.

D.J. Carrasco, Chicago White Sox. Carrasco had a 3.76 ERA with the White Sox in 2009, but his peripherals weren’t great–9.9 hits/9, 1.41 WHIP.

There is a shortage of pitching in baseball, so he should get a chance somewhere.

Ryan Garko, San Francisco Giants. When Garko slugged 21 HR’s in 2007, he looked like he could be a very good first baseman for a long period of time.

Garko was traded to the Giants near the July 31st trading deadline last year and really provided no offense for the Giants. He hit .235 with just two HR’s in 40 games.

Ryan Langerhans, Seattle Mariners. Langerhans played in 38 games with the Mariners last year and hit just .218. He has always been a good OBP guy.

Brian Anderson, Boston Red Sox. Anderson was once a top prospect with the White Sox. Now he is a fringe major league player.

Brian Bass, Baltimore Orioles. Bass had a 4.90 ERA in 48 games out of the pen for the Orioles in 2009. He is probably looking at a minor league contract.

Neal Cotts, Chicago Cubs. Cotts had Tommy John surgery in July of this year. He will probably be ready to pitch again in the 2011 season.

Alfredo Amezaga, Florida Marlins. Amezaga played all three OF positions and SS for the Marlins in 2009. He is a career .251 hitter over eight seasons in the major leagues.

Raul Chavez, Toronto Blue Jays. Chavez hit .258 in 168 AB’s with the Blue Jays in 2009. I am sure he will get a two-year contract somewhere as that is the trend for mediocre catchers these days.

Clay Condrey, Philadelphia Phillies. Condrey–no relation to Dennis Condrey of the Midnight Express tag-team back in the 80’s–has posted an ERA below 3.26 the last two years.

Gabe Gross and Shawn Riggans, Tampa Bay Rays. Gross, the former University of Auburn QB, hit .227 in 115 games for the Rays in 2009. Gross should get a bench job somewhere.

Mike MacDougal and Scott Olsen, Washington Nationals. MacDougal found a second life with the Nationals in 2009 and ultimately became their closer.

MacDougal had 20 saves and a respectable 3.60 ERA, but his one-to-one walk to strike out ratio is not impressive at all. He should get a chance with a small market team.

Injuries and some off the field issues have really hurt Olsen’s career so far. Since everyone loves a lefty, he should get a minor league deal.

Tim Redding, Lance Broadway, Jeremy Reed, and Cory Sullivan, New York Mets. Redding has pitched eight years in the majors and has never been good. This might be the end of the road for him

Like Brian Anderson above, Reed was once a top center field prospect. He might get a job as a defensive replacement somewhere.

Mark DeFelice, Mike Rivera, and Seth McClung, Milwaukee Brewers. I like McClung–especially as a reliever. Once the Brewers were forced to put him in a starting role last year that’s when all hell broke loose.

McClung should get plenty of interest as a reliever.

Mark Worrell and Jackson Quezada, San Diego Padres. I can honestly say I have never heard of Jackson Quezada before. I am not even going to try to lie and write like I know something about him.

John Buck and Josh Anderson, Kansas City Royals. Buck looks like a better player than he is. In eight seasons with the Royals, Buck hit .235 with seven HR’s in over 2,000 AB’s.

Matt Capps and Phil Dumatrait, Pittsburgh Pirates. After having solid 2007 and 2008 seasons, Capps really fell off in 2009. Capps had a 5.80 ERA and registered the highest BB/9 rate of his career (2.8/9).

Capps should see interest

He also registered the highest K/9 of his career as well (7.6/9). Perhaps Capps just needs a change of scenery. Once he finds that change of scenery, expect Capps to be a set-up man not a closer.

Dumatrait was once a first-round pick of the Red Sox back in 2000. He has a 7.06 ERA in three major league seasons.

Adam Miller, Jose Veras, and Anthony Reyes, Cleveland Indians. What a sad story Adam Miller is. As late as 2008, Miller was the Indians’ top prospect. But a hand injury has pretty much stopped his once promising career.

Veras could end up back with the Yankees on a minor league deal. Veras pitched with the Yankees for four years compiling a 4.47 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP in 103.2 innings.

There are a lot of players on this list who can help a team in 2010. Now that the non-tenders are on the market, I think we will see activity really pick up.

I think a lot of teams were waiting to see who was non-tendered before they made a move.

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

Josh Willingham: What’s His Trade Market?

November 15, 2009

In Ken Rosenthals’ Latest Buzz From The MLB Offseason piece on FOXSports.com, he mentions that the Washington Nationals are receiving strong interest in OF Josh Willingham.

I have always liked Willingham and have believed he has been one of the more underrated players in the game for the last couple of years. I guess underrated comes with the territory when you play for the Florida Marlins and the Nationals.

Josh Willingham

Willingham could be trade bait this offseason

Now that Willingham’s name has emerged in trade rumors, let’s take a look at what GM’s are potentially getting. Here are the pros, the cons, and what teams would be interested in trading for the Nationals’ OF.

Pros

As I mentioned, Willingham has been vastly underrated over the last couple of years. Since 2006, Willingham has averaged 22 home runs with a .256 avg., a .362 OBP, and an .844 OPS.

Willingham’s .863 OPS in 2009 was 13th amongst all oufielders in baseball–ahead of Matt Kemp, Bobby Abreu, Carlos Lee, and Nick Markakis.

Willingham is also very consistent versus left-handed and right-handed pitching. He has a .264 avg. versus righties and a .265 avg. versus lefties. A team doesn’t have to worry about a platoon situation with Willingham.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of Willingham is his age and his salary. Willingham is only 30-years-old and should be entering the prime of his career.

That coupled with which ever team would trade for Willingham would have him under team control until after the 2011 season at around $4.5-$5 million in salary, makes Willingham a very appealing option for teams.

Cons

While Willingham might be a consistent offensive player, his defense makes him a borderline DH. Willingham has always ranked towards the bottom in UZR for left fielders and he is no better in right field.

Besides defense, teams might be concerned with Willingham’s health. He has never played more than 144 games in a season and has battled back problems the last couple of years. One has to wonder if those back issues will get worse as Willingham gets older.

The last concern teams might have about Willingham is that he has never played in a big game in his life. It’s one thing to put up numbers when your team is 20 games out of first, but it’s another thing to put up numbers in a pennant race.

I am not saying Willingham wouldn’t thrive in a pennant race, but it is something for a GM to think about.

Now that we have looked at the pros and cons of Willingham, let’s take a look at what teams might be interested in the former University of North Alabama star.

Atlanta Braves: Rosenthal mentioned the Braves as having interest in Willingham and it makes sense. The Braves need a right-handed bat and Willingham is a southern guy.

He was born in Florence, AL and as I mentioned above, went to the University of North Alabama.

San Francisco Giants: Randy Winn is a free agent and the Giants could use a left fielder. Perhaps if the Giants miss out on Jason Bay or Matt Holliday, they can go for a more cost-effective option in Willingham.

Oakland A’s: The A’s could really use an offensive boost. Willingham would be an upgrade over Jack Cust at DH or Scott Hairston in left field.

Kansas City Royals: Mike Jacobs figures to be a non-tender candidate, leaving an opening at the DH spot for the Royals. Willingham would be a huge upgrade over Jacobs.

Willingham could also be an internal option to fill the open spot in right field in 2011 once the Jose Guillen era thankfully comes to an end in Kansas City.

Seattle Mariners: Willingham really doesn’t fit GM Jack Zduriencik’s defense first philosophy, but the Mariners need a left-fielder and they need a DH.

Both needs make Willingham an appealing option for the M’s.

It will be interesting to see if the Nationals trade Willingham this offseason because they really don’t have to. I would say the Nationals would have to be really blown away to trade him.

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