Posts Tagged ‘J.R. Towles’

Starting Nine: National League Central

January 15, 2010

Next up in our Starting Nine series is the National League Central. Outside of the St. Louis Cardinals re-signing Matt Holliday, there haven’t been any big-time offensive additions to this division. As a whole, this might be the weakest offensive division in baseball (yes, even passing the NL West).

Let’s take a look at the starting lineups for all six teams in this division as presently constructed.

St. Louis Cardinals

1. Skip Schumaker, 2B

2. Brendan Ryan, SS

3. Albert Pujols, 1B

4. Matt Holliday, LF

5. Ryan Ludwick, RF

6. Yadier Molina, C

7. Colby Rasmus, CF

8. David Freese, 3B

9. Chris Carpenter, P

Quick Take – Re-signing Holliday was crucial to this lineup. Despite having Holliday and Pujols in the three-four spot, this lineup will only be as dynamic as Rasmus and Freese takes them.

Milwaukee Brewers

1. Rickie Weeks, 2B

2. Alcides Escobar, SS

3. Ryan Braun, LF

4. Prince Fielder, 1B

5. Casey McGehee, 3B

6. Corey Hart, RF

7. Gregg Zaun, C

8. Carlos Gomez, CF

8. Yovani Gallardo, P

Quick Take – The Brewers sacrificed some offense for defense in 2010. This isn’t the powerful Brewers’ lineup of the last couple of years. There are a lot of automatic outs from seven through nine.

Chicago Cubs

1. Alfonso Soriano, LF

2. Kosuke Fukudome, RF

3. Derek Lee, 1B

4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B

5. Marlon Byrd, CF

6. Geovany Soto, C

7. Ryan Theriot, SS

8. Mike Fontenot, 2B

9. Carlos Zambrano, P

Quick Take – This lineup is getting old in a hurry. If Soriano, Ramirez, and Soto can come back from disappointing 2009 seasons, the Cubs could be in business in 2010. However, I still think they are going to be hard pressed to score runs in 2010.

Cincinnati Reds

1. Drew Stubbs, CF

2. Brandon Phillips, 2B

3. Joey Votto, 1B

4. Jay Bruce, RF

5. Scott Rolen, 3B

6. Ramon Hernandez, C

7. Paul Janish, SS

8. Chris Dickerson, LF

9. Bronson Arroyo, P

Quick Take – This lineup looks good for now and even better for the future. If Bruce can stay healthy, he could have a breakout year in 2010. I would like someone better than Janish at SS, but top prospect Todd Frazier isn’t ready to take over just yet.

Houston Astros

1. Michael Bourn, CF

2. Kaz Matsui, 2B

3. Lance Berkman, 1B

4. Carlos Lee, LF

5. Hunter Pence, RF

6. Pedro Feliz, 3B

7. J.R. Towles, C

8. Tommy Manzella, SS

9. Roy Oswalt, P

Quick Take – This six through nine is brutal. It’s hard to have a top offense when the bottom part of your lineup is this bad. Top catching prospect Jason Castro is not too far away, so this is Towles’ last stand with the Astros.

Pittsburgh Pirates

1. Andrew McCutchen, CF

2. Akinori Iwamura, 2B

3. Garrett Jones, 1B

4. Ryan Doumit, C

5. Andy LaRoche, 3B

6. Lastings Milledge, LF

7. Ryan Church, RF

8. Ronny Cedeno, SS

9. Zach Duke, P

Quick Take – I think in order to maximize their offense’s potential, the Pirates will play Jones at first and Church in right instead of playing Jones in right and Jeff Clement at first. The Pirates’ offense will be better in 2010, but will still have a hard time scoring runs on a consistent basis.

Last, but not least, tomorrow we will take a look at the National League West.

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

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Astros Fooled By “Pudge”….

March 17, 2009

Can’t you just hear the conversation between Scott Boras and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez right before the World Baseball Classic?

Boras: Hey Pudge, do you think you have anything left?

Rodriguez: Maybe

Boras: I need you go from maybe to yes because if you have a great WBC, I can get some stupid team to give you a contract

Rodriguez: That’s all I needed to hear. I will have a great WBC

Boras: Perfect

So after that conversation, Rodriguez listened to his agent and is having himself one hell of a WBC.  So good that he has fooled the Houston Astros into giving him a 1 year $1.5MM contract. I don’t get this move by the Astros.

Pudge signs with the Astros

Pudge signs with the Astros

In my opinion the Astros will finish anywhere from 3rd to 5th in the NL Central. They are in the Brewers and Reds group that will finish somewhere in the middle of the division. Besides Oswalt their pitching staff consists of Mike Hampton, Brian Moehler and Russ Ortiz. Does anyone really need me to comment on that staff? Signing Rodriguez, who looked washed up when he was with the Yankees (.219/2/3 in 33 games) makes them what? An 80 win team instead of a 78 win team?

The Astros need to get younger not older. I understand that J.R. Towles hit only .137/4/16 in 54 games last season and he has looked terrible this spring hitting .153/1/1 in 13 AB’s. However, he was ranked the Astros #1 best prospect by Baseball Prospectus in 2008 and he is only 25 years old. According to Baseball Prospectus Towles “should hit .280-.300 annually with 10-15 home runs.”

Why not give Towles a shot to play everyday? If he fails, the Astros know they will need to address the catcher situation in 2010. If he succeeds, the Astros will have their catcher of the future. Now if Pudge hits his .260/7/58 like he probably will, then the Astros are in the same place at the end of the season that they were yesterday. It just doesn’t make sense.

Prospects are like lottery tickets. Either they are going to hit the jack pot or just be another 1 of a million losing tickets. The Astros decided not to even play the lottery in 2009. Rodriguez fooled the Astros into thinking he could help them in 2009 when the fact is he really can’t.