Posts Tagged ‘Josh Willingham’

Starting Nine: National League East

January 14, 2010

Isn’t it funny how a couple of minutes could change an entire post? As I started writing this post last night, I found out the news that New York Mets’ center fielder, Carlos Beltran will be out of commission for three to four months.

Within five minutes, the Mets went from having a very good lineup to a lineup with a lot of holes in it. So now that Beltran is out for a couple of months, where does the Mets’ lineup stack-up against the rest of the National League East?

Let’s take a look at each lineup in the National League East as presently constructed today. Since the pitcher will hit ninth, I just inserted the team’s top pitcher in the nine-hole.

Philadelphia Phillies

1. Jimmy Rollins, SS

2. Placido Polanco, 3B

3. Chase Utley, 2B

4. Ryan Howard, 1B

5. Jayson Werth, RF

6. Raul Ibanez, LF

7. Shane Victorino, CF

8. Carlos Ruiz, C

9. Roy Halladay, P

Quick Take – One through eight, this is the best lineup in the National League. This lineup has speed and power throughout. This lineup will be hard to shutdown in 2010.

Atlanta Braves

1. Nate McLouth, CF

2. Martin Prado, 2B

3. Chipper Jones, 3B

4. Brian McCann, C

5. Troy Glaus, 1B

6. Yunel Escobar, SS

7. Matt Diaz, RF

8. Melky Cabrera, LF

9. Derek Lowe, P

Quick Take – This lineup will only go as far as Glaus takes them. If he can come back healthy, then the Braves will have a very good lineup in 2010. It could be made even better when super stud prospect Jason Heyward makes his debut.

New York Mets

1. Jose Reyes, SS

2. Luis Castillo, 2B

3. David Wright, 3B

4. Jason Bay, LF

5. Jeff Francouer, RF

6. Daniel Murphy, 1B

7. Omir Santos, C

8. Angel Pagan, CF

9. Johan Santana, P

Quick Take – Not having Beltran will kill this lineup. The Mets could make up for the loss of Beltran by signing Bengie Molina and/or Carlos Delgado. The Mets have been rumored to be interested in both.

Florida Marlins

1. Cameron Maybin, CF

2. Chris Coghlan, LF

3. Hanley Ramirez, SS

4. Jorge Cantu, 3B

5. Dan Uggla, 2B

6. Cody Ross, RF

7. Gabby Sanchez, 1B

8. John Baker, C

9. Josh Johnson, P

Quick Take – If Uggla and Cantu stay, then this lineup becomes a lot better than most people think. This is a big year for Maybin. I think he really needs to show something this year.

Washington Nationals

1. Nyjer Morgan, CF

2. Christian Guzman, 2B

3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B

4. Adam Dunn, 1B

5. Josh Willingham, LF

6. Elijah Dukes, RF

7. Ivan Rodriguez, C

8. Ian Desmond, SS

9. Jason Marquis, P

Quick Take – This lineup is certainly getting better. I like the one through five, especially Zimmerman. The Nationals are talking to Orlando Hudson, but if he doesn’t sign with them, I don’t mind Desmond as their Opening Day shortstop. I think he can be good.

Tomorrow, we will take a look at the National League Central.

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

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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

Jim Riggleman Expected To Be Named Washington Nationals Manager

November 12, 2009

According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman via Twitter, the Washington Nationals are expected to name Jim Riggleman as manager.

Riggleman took over for Manny Acta with 75 games remaining in the 2009 season after Acta was fired by the Nationals. Riggleman went 33-42 in those 75 games.

Jim Riggleman

Riggleman gets another shot with the Nationals

Here is why I think Riggleman is the perfect fit for the Nationals:

To endure as much losing as Riggleman has done as a manager in his career and not to have lost his mind, tells me he is the right man for the job in Washington.

Look at Riggleman’s track record as manager in the major leagues:

San Diego Padres, 1992-1994: 111-179, .385 winning percentage

Chicago Cubs, 1995-1999: 374-419, .472 winning percentage

Seattle Mariners, 2008: 36-54, .400 winning percentage

Washington Nationals, 2009: 33-42, .440 winning percentage

That’s a lot of losing my friends. And in Washington, he is probably going to endure some more losing.

The Nationals could have hired Tony LaRussa, Tommy Lasorda, or Miller Huggins to manage this team and they still wouldn’t win. Even the best managers have to have talent to win and this team doesn’t have enough talent to win right now.

The Nationals have a decent core with Ryan Zimmerman, John Lannan, Ian Desmond, Josh Willingham, Adam Dunn, and hopefully in the future Stephen Strasburg. But this team doesn’t have nearly enough pitching and defense to win in 2010 or even in 2011.

Until the Nationals acquire more talent either through the draft, trades, or free agency then Riggleman is going to have a tough time winning games in Washington.

Hey, look at the bright side–at least Riggleman knows how to handle losing.

I guess that counts for something.

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

Washington Nationals Officially On The Clock

September 29, 2009

Not only did the Pittsburgh Pirates 11-1 victory yesterday over the Los Angeles Dodgers prevent the Dodgers from clinching the NL West, but also did something else as well. With the Pirates victory, the Washington Nationals will have the worst record in baseball in 2009 and will have the number one pick in next year’s June draft.

Harper could be a National in 2010

Harper could be a National in 2010

Both the Pirates and the Nationals have six games remaining and even if they finish with the same record, the Nationals earned the first pick thanks to the Pirates winning the season series four games to three.

Believe it or not, the Nationals thought they could compete in 2009. They were very aggressive in the free agent market, pursuing — foolishly perhaps — Mark Teixeira, Orlando Hudson, and eventually signing Adam Dunn to a two-year deal. They also signed Joe Beimel and traded for Josh Willingham in hopes of improving their team.

Unfortunately, the 2009 season for the Nationals has been a disaster. General Manager Jim Bowden resigned before the season started, Manager Manny Acta was fired in July, they can’t play defense, they have no starting pitching outside of John Lannan, and their bullpen has been abysmal all season.

2010 will mark the fourth year in a row the Nationals will have a top-10 pick. 2010 will also mark the second year in a row they will have the number one overall pick. As we all know, in 2009, the Nationals drafted and signed Stephen Strasburg out of San Diego State.

All signs point to another Scott Boras client (Strasburg being the first), Bryce Harper being the number one pick in the 2010 draft. Regardless if the Nationals take Harper or not, they have to and I mean HAVE TO hit on these top picks in order to compete in the future.

All the Nationals have to do is look to the Kansas City Royals and the Pirates as examples of teams that haven’t hit on their draft picks year after year.

Fantasy Week In Review, July 27-August 2nd…

August 3, 2009

Believe it or not, there was more to last week than just the July 31st trading deadline. Hard to believe right? Well, the fantasy baseball season is in it’s final stretch. For a lot of leagues, August is the final month of the regular season.

That being said, I added a couple of more players to the potential pickups section in order to help your team out. Here are the fantasy studs, the players players of concern and the potential pickups for the week of July 27 – August 2nd.

Fantasy Studs

Jhonny Peralta – .407/3/12. Yes, the Cleveland Indians still have some major-league players left.

Gordon Beckham – .393/2/10 with one SB. With this second half surge, Beckham might win the American League Rookie of the Year.

Josh Willingham – .375/3/9. If a man hits two grand slams in one game, he is a fantasy stud.

Bobby Abreu – .500/1/8/.517 with two SB’s.  There are a lot of people who don’t like Abreu as a player, but there is one thing for sure – the man puts up numbers.

Matt Holliday – .536/3/8/.600. I think Holliday likes playing in front of people and in a pennant race. The complete opposite of playing in Oakland.

Tim Lincecum – 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA and 23 K’s in 17 IP. When Lincecum is on a roll like this, he is one of the most exciting pitchers to watch. Just spectacular.

Chris Carpenter – 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA and seven K’s in 16 IP. Carpenter isn’t striking out many batters, but he is working efficiently and deep into games.

Cliff Lee – 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA and 10 K’s in 16 IP. American League, National League, it doesn’t matter to Lee. He is pitching lights out right now.

Reasons for Concern

Ian Kinsler – Kinsler was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained left hamstring. Can this guy stay healthy just one year? Please? Fantasy owners are begging him.

This is a big loss not only to the Rangers, but to all fantasy owners who have Kinsler on their team. Kinsler was tied for second with Chase Utley for HR’s by a second baseman with 23 and was forth in RBI with 63.

George Sherrill – This might be one of the only issues people have with the trade deadline. In the blink of an eyelash, Sherrill went from valuable closer to useless fantasy set-up man.

Unless your league counts Holds as a stat or Jonathan Broxton gets hurt (I’ll knock on wood for all you Dodger fans), Sherrill has pretty much become useless for the purposes of fantasy baseball.

Potential Pickups

Jason Frasor – With current closer Scott Downs landing on the 15-day DL with a left big toe injury, Frasor becomes the defacto closer in Toronto. The Blue Jays are struggling, but Frasor should be able to get you a couple of saves down the stretch.

Clayton Richard – Richard went to the San Diego Padres in the Jake Peavy trade and now gets to pitch in the Yellowstone Park of baseball. I have always liked Richard, so if he can get any run support he could be valuable down the stretch.

Josh Reddick – The Boston Red Sox 22-year old rookie is off to a .364/1/2 in his first three major league games. With JD Drew and Jason Bay hurting, Reddick should be getting his AB’s in Boston.

Jim Johnson – Just as a pitcher can go from valuable closer to set-up guy, the complete opposite can happen to a set-up guy. With the trade of George Sherrill, the Baltimore Orioles’ Jim Johnson goes from set-up guy to potential closer in Baltimore.

Johnson has a 3.28 ERA and 14 Holds in 49.1 IP this year. Just like with Frasor, Johnson might get you some saves down the stretch.

As July 31st Approaches, What Do The Contenders Need Update..

July 28, 2009

A couple of weeks ago, I did a post on what do the contending teams around baseball need at the July 31st trading deadline. With already a couple deals taking place and the trading deadline just a couple of days away, I thought I would update this post.

Here are the needs of the 21 contending teams and who they could potentially target.

Philadelphia Phillies

Needs – Starting Pitching. The Phillies are going for it again and are looking for a big time pitcher.

The Phillies signed Pedro Martinez.

Potential Targets – Roy Halladay, Brad Penny, Cliff Lee, Jarrod Washburn

Florida Marlins

Needs – Bullpen. With Lindstrom out, the Marlins need help in the pen.

Potential Targets – Chad Qualls, Juan Cruz, Matt Capps, John Grabow, George Sherrill

Lee is very popular these days

Lee is very popular these days

Atlanta Braves

Needs – Leftfield. The Braves have already traded for Nate McLouth and Ryan Church, but their offense could use another bat.

Potential Targets – David Dejesus, Luke Scott, Aubrey Huff

New York Mets

Needs – Leftfield, First Base, Starting Pitching. The Mets should not be contenders, but in New York, there is no such thing as sellers.

Plus, after Omar Minaya’s press conference yesterday, it’s official – Omar Minaya is out of his mind.

Potential Targets – Roy Halladay, Adam Dunn, Nick Johnson, Luke Scott, David Dejesus, Aubrey Huff

St Louis Cardinals

Needs – The Cardinals acquired Mark DeRosa and then acquired the best hitter on the market in Matt Holliday. The Cardinals also acquired Julio Lugo from the Boston Red Sox

I don’t think the Cardinals have any prospects to deal to make another trade.

Potential Targets – None

Milwaukee Brewers

Needs – Starting Pitching. The Brewers’ starting rotation has fallen apart recently. Offense is not the issue with this team.

The Brewers have already acquired Felipe Lopez from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Potential Targets – Roy Halladay, Jon Garland, Doug Davis, Jarrod Washburn, Ian Snell

Chicago Cubs

Needs – Bullpen. The Cubs just need the players they already have to play better. They could use another arm in the pen.

The Cubs have signed BJ Ryan

Potential Targets – Joe Beimel, Danys Baez, Jamey Wright

Houston Astros

Needs – Third Base, First Base, Starting Pitching. The Astros are now in the thick of the NL Central and Wild Card race. With Lance Berkman going on the DL, the Astros could now use a solid bench player for insurance.

Problem Astros will have making trades is that their farm system is not that good.

I love Mark Teahen for the Astros. Can play 1st, 3rd, 2nd, and the outfield.

Potential Targets – Jon Garland, Brian Bannister, Doug Davis, Bobby Crosby, Mark Teahen

Cincinnati Reds

Needs – Offense. With Jay Bruce now out six-to-eight weeks with a fractured wrist, the Reds are desperate for offense. They should really be sellers, but they are still only 7.5 games out of first in the NL Central.

Potential Targets – Mark Teahan, David Dejesus, Marco Scutaro, Scott Rolen

Los Angeles Dodgers

Needs – Bullpen. With Roland Belasario out with an inflamed elbow (it was only a matter of time before Joe Torre blew someone’s arm out) and Jonathon Broxton suffering from a toe injury, the Dodgers could use some insurance in the pen.

The Dodgers have also been linked to ace’s Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.

Potential Targets – Joe Beimel, Juan Cruz, John Grabow, George Sherrill, Danys Baez, Ron Mahay, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Jarrod Washburn

San Francisco Giants

Needs – Offense. The Giants can use all the offense they can get.

The Giants acquired Ryan Garko from the Cleveland Indians last night.

Potential Targets – Jermaine Dye, Aubrey Huff, Freddy Sanchez, Nick Johnson, Alex Rios, Josh Willingham

VMart could be traded

VMart could be traded

Colorado Rockies

Needs – Bullpen, Starting Rotation. Everyone thought the Rockies would be sellers at this point, but they are the leaders of the Wild Card race. As usual, the Rockies could use some pitching help.

The Rockies acquired Rafael Betancourt from the Cleveland Indians.

Potential Targets – Roy Halladay, Ian Snell, Matt Capps, John Grabow, Takashi Saito, Danys Baez, Miguel Batista

Boston Red Sox

Needs – Offense. I don’t want to hear the Red Sox are fourth in baseball in runs scored – they need offense.

The Red Sox acquired Adam LaRoche from the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chris Duncan from the St Louis Cardinals last week.

Potential Targets – Victor Martinez, Mark Teahan, Jack Wilson, Orlando Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez, Roy Halladay

New York Yankees

Needs – Starting Pitching, Bullpen. The Yankees are having back of the rotation issues right now and they could use another arm in the pen. The Yankees have been linked to Halladay, Cliff Lee, Washburn and Bronson Arroyo.

The Yankees have already traded for Eric Hinske

Potential Targets – Roy Halladay, Joe Beimel, John Grabow, Cliff Lee, Bronson Arroyo, Jarrod Washburn, Ian Snell

Tampa Bay Rays

Needs – Starting Pitching, Catcher, Right Field. I still think the Rays could use another solid, depandable arm in the pen, but they seem to have targeted Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.

They are also looking to upgrade the Gabe Gross/Gabe Kapler platoon in right and also at the catcher position. Dioner Navarro has been disappointing this year.

Potential Targets – Jamey Wright, Danys Baez, Mark Teahan, Jeremy Hermida, Josh Willingham, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez

Detroit Tigers

Needs – Bullpen, Offense. The Tigers have two top of the rotation starters in Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson. However, after watcing them versus the Yankees, I think they could use another bat

I also think they could use another arm in the pen to go along with Rodney. Joel Zumaya recently landed on the DL.

Potential Targets – Matt Capps, Ron Mahay, John Grabow, Mike Gonzalez, Josh Willingham, Adam Dunn, Jarrod Washburn

Minnesota Twins

Needs – Middle Infield. Freddy Sanchez makes so much sense it’s scary.

Potential Targets – Freddy Sanchez, Adam Kennedy, Orlando Cabrera, Marco Scutaro

Where will Doc land?

Where will Doc land?

Chicago White Sox

Needs – Starting Pitching. Kenny Williams already tried for Jake Peavy, will he go after Roy Halladay?

The White Sox have already acquired reliever Tony Pena from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Potential Targets – Roy Halladay

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Needs – Bullpen, Starting Rotation. For the first time in a long time, the Angels offense is not the problem. The Angels need bullpen help in the worst way and of course, they might be in on Roy Halladay.

Potential Targets – Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Scott Kazmir, John Grabow, Arthur Rhodes, Joe Beimel, George Sherrill

Texas Rangers

Needs – Starting Pitching. Isn’t it always about pitching with the Rangers? The Rangers have the farm system, but do they have the money? That is the question with the Rangers.

The Rangers bullpen might get a boost with Neftali Feliz. He has been pitching from the stretch recently and is preparing for a bullpen stint with the Rangers for this year.

Potential Targets – Doug Davis, Brad Penny, Brian Bannister, Ben Sheets (free agent), Takashi Saito, George Sherrill, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee.

Seattle Mariners

Needs – Third Base, Leftfield, Shortstop. The Mariners might hold the key to the trading deadline. The have potentially one of the most desirable pitchers on the market, if the Mariners should pack it in – Jarrod Washburn.

Erik Bedard picked the worst time to go on the DL for the M’s.

The Mariners are 51-47 and 7.5 games back of the Angels in the AL West. They have dropped 3.5 games in the standing since this original post. I still see them trying to add instead of giving up players.

They have already acquired 3B Jack Hannrahan from the A’s.

Potential Targets – Garrett Atkins, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Jack Wilson, Marco Scutaro, Orlando Cabrera, David DeJesus

So there are the 21 teams and the players they might be interested in. Who do you want your favorite team to target? Let’s discuss.

Recapping John Smoltz’s Boston Red Sox Debut…

June 26, 2009

Future Hall of Famer John Smoltz made his long awaited debut tonight against the Washington Nationals, and I would say it went…okay. I say okay because after Smoltz gave up four runs in the first inning, he settled down and pitched four solid innings after.

The final line for Smoltz – five innings, seven hits, five runs, one walk, and five strike outs. He threw 92 pitches, 62 of them were strikes. Not great, but not bad either. It was really the first inning that did Smoltz in.

Even at 42, and with all of Smoltz’s experience, there are still nerves, anxiety and even rust. That was clearly the case in the first inning. He was missing his target with his fastball and his breaking stuff wasn’t that sharp. He hung two curveballs to Josh Willingham and Josh Bard that I could have hit.

I was really surprised Smoltz and Varitek stuck with the breaking ball for a good part of that inning. Smoltz threw over 30 pitches in the first, and I would say that close to 70 percent of those pitches were something offspead. It wasn’t very Smoltz-like.

Smoltz was okay in his debut

Smoltz was okay in his debut

Why his pitch selection was so surprising to me, was because his fastball was consistently clocked in the low-90’s. He even hit 94 on the gun to one batter. I would have thought he would have thrown his fastball more. Establish the fastball and then work in the offspead/breaking stuff.

At one point, I didn’t think Smoltz was going to get out of the inning. But thankfully in the National League, the pitchers hit, and Smoltz was able to strike out Jordan Zimmermann to end the inning.

After the first, Smoltz settled down, and pitched very well. He retired the last eight batters he faced and struck out the side in the fifth inning, which turned out to be his last inning of work. In that inning, Smoltz showed that wicked, fall-off-the-table splitter that he is famous for to strike out Bard.

I would give Smoltz a grade of C on his debut performance. Again, he wasn’t great, but he wasn’t terrible either. As George Costanza would say he was “right in the meaty part of the curve.”

If Smoltz can give the Red Sox five innings every start from here on out like he did the last four he pitched tonight, the Red Sox will take it. If you really think about it, that would no different than what Daisuke Matsuzaka gave the Red Sox the past two years.

You can now follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter at http://twitter.com/theghostofmlg