Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Gregg’

Blue Jays Sign Kevin Gregg

February 6, 2010

I love when teams make pointless signings. When I say pointless, I mean a signing that really doesn’t fill a need for the short or long-term.

For instance, the Washington Nationals signing Adam Kennedy in my opinion was pointless. Another pointless signing was the one that the Toronto Blue Jays just made.

Gregg was a pointless signing by the Jays

According to multiple reports, the Blue Jays have signed RHP Kevin Gregg to a one-year, $2.75 million contract. The Blue Jays will have ten days after the 2010 World Series to choose between three options:

  • Allow Gregg to become a free agent
  • Pick up a $4.5MM option for 2011
  • Pick up an $8.75MM option for 2011-12

Have the Blue Jays ever watched Gregg pitch? More importantly, have they ever watched him pitch in August when his teams need him the most? Gregg handles pressure like the San Jose Sharks do in the postseason.

During the month of August the last two years, Gregg has an ERA of 8.44. He is also coming off a year where he gave up 13 home runs in 68.2 innings. Not the most ringing endorsement.

Not only is Gregg not a quality pitcher in my opinion, I have no idea where he fits in on the Blue Jays. Toronto already has Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, Jeremy Accardo, Jesse Carlson, Josh Roenicke, and Shawn Camp in their bullpen.

The Blue Jays didn’t need another reliever and they didn’t need a reliever who makes $2.75 million.

If indeed Gregg was signed to be their closer, I don’t see how he is better than Downs or Frasor, who are Toronto’s already existing options. If Gregg is closing games in Toronto, then I feel worse for Blue Jay fans than I already do.

The Blue Jays are in rebuilding mode and will most likely finish last in the American League East. There was no point to signing a pitcher like Gregg.

Now on to another sport.

The big game is one day away and everyone has been asking me for my Super Bowl prediction. My initial thought when the New Orleans Saints beat the Minnesota Vikings, was that the Indianapolis Colts would crush the Saints.

I still think the Colts will win, but I don’t think it will be a blow out anymore. Dwight Freeney’s injury really changes things for me.

Colts win 27-23.

And if you want some awesome recipes for Super Bowl Sunday, be sure to check out GourmetDude.com. Pete has some great recipes for chicken wings, meatballs, cookies, and more.

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

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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

Say What? Chicago Cubs Sign John Grabow To Two-Year, $7.5 Million Deal

November 21, 2009

There is always talk amongst baseball fans and writers in regards to who is the worst general manager in baseball.

Dayton Moore of the Kansas City Royals and Omar Minaya of the New York Mets are usually at the top of that conversation. Well, I think we can add one more GM to the conversation–Jim Hendry of the Chicago Cubs.

I really have no idea what he is doing in Chicago. Latest example: Hendry re-signed left-handed reliever John Grabow to a two-year, $7.5 million extension.

Hendry overpaid Grabow

Are you kidding?

I am sure Grabow is a nice guy and I love the fact that he represented the USA in the World Baseball Classic. But the reality is, he is not even worth half of what Hendry gave him.

Grabow will be 32-years-old next year and his WHIP and hits/9 increased from 2008 to 2009 and his K/9 went down from 2008 to 2009. It’s never a good sign when a pitcher is giving up more hits and striking out less.

Here is how overpaid Grabow will be. Throughout his career, which spans sevens years, Grabow has been worth around $5.3 million.

Hendry is paying Grabow $7.5 million for the next two.

I have no idea what Hendry is trying to accomplish in Chicago. If it is throwing as much money at players as he possibly can, he has accomplished that.

Unfortunately for Hendry and Cubs fans, throwing money around doesn’t win championships. Bringing in quality players and quality people do.

Who knows what Hendry is going to do next. Maybe he will bring back Kevin Gregg on a two-year, $20 million deal.

That would be par for the course with Hendry.

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

Milwaukee Brewers Re-sign Trevor Hoffman

October 5, 2009

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Milwaukee Brewers have re-signed closer Trevor Hoffman to a one year, $8 million contract for 2010 with a mutual option for 2011.

When the Brewers signed Hoffman last offseason, I thought he would get his 30-40 saves and have an ERA around four. But despite his K/9 decreasing and his BB/9 increasing, Hoffman turned in one of his best statistical seasons in 2009.

Hoffman will be back with the Brewers

Hoffman will be back with the Brewers

Hoffman had 37 saves with a 1.83 ERA (lowest since 1998 – 1.48), 0.91 WHIP (lowest since 2004 – 0.91), and held hitters to a .193 batting avg. against (lowest since 1998 – .166).

Pretty impressive for a man who will be turning 42 next week.

The Brewers definitely got their value for Hoffman. They signed him last year to a one year, $6 million contract and according to Fangraphs, Hoffman was worth about $6.9 million this year.

Will Hoffman be worth the $8 million the Brewers are going to pay him next year? Logic says no. It’s hard for a 42-year-old at any position to make significant improvements year after year.

However, if you look at the Brewers options outside of Hoffman — this deal makes sense for the Brewers. Since the Brewers have no internal options to replace Hoffman, they would have had to go shopping on the free agent market or trade for a closer.

Look at the free agent closers this year – Billy Wagner, Fernando Rodney, Mike Gonzalez, Rafael Soriano, Kevin Gregg, and Jose Valverde.

Maybe you can argue that you would rather have Soriano or Valverde over Hoffman. But they are going to perhaps require multi-year deals  or would cost the Brewers drafts picks.  Draft picks are gold to a team like the Brewers.

On the trade front, a guy like Kerry Wood could be had, but I don’t think the Brewers want to trade prospects for a closer.

At the end of the day, there’s really nobody out there that is so much better than what Hoffman is at this point in his career. Definitely nobody worth giving up draft picks or prospects for.

The Brewers took care of their back-end of their bullpen today. Now they just need to take care of their starting rotation.

If they can do that, the Brewers will be contenders once again in 2010.

2009 All-Fantasy Bust Team

September 16, 2009

With most teams having roughly 18-20 games left on their schedule, I think its’ safe to say we know by now which players were surprises and which players were busts in 2009.

Tomorrow, we will take a look at the All-Fantasy Breakout Team. As for today, I think we will take a look at who were the fantasy busts in 2009.

These are the players who owners drafted very high in hopes that these players would lead their team to fantasy supremacy in 2009. Instead, these players fell flat on their faces because of various reasons and cost owners hundreds of dollars.

Without any further adieu, here is the 2009 All-Fantasy Bust Team sponsored by the Julio Lugo, Co. “Nobody Knows Sucking Like A Lugo.”

Honorable Mentions – Chris Iannetta, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, JJ Hardy, Rick Ankiel, Kevin Gregg, Garrett Atkins, Lance Berkman, Alfonso Soriano, Manny Ramirez, Jake Peavy

CatcherGeovany Soto, .222/10/40

After winning the 2008 National League Rookie of the Year award with a .285/23/86 hitting line, many owners expected a repeat performance from Soto in 2009. Not so much.

Davis has not lived up to the hype

Davis has not lived up to the hype

First Base – Chris Davis, .216/19/49

This was a close call between Lance Berkman and Chris Davis, but because Davis was so ridiculously over-hyped, Davis wins it. Everyone’s preseason man-crush has fallen flat on his face in 2009.

Things got so bad for Davis that he was sent to the minors in the middle of the season. That my friends, is a bust.

Second Base – Mike Fontenot, .232/9/40

Second base was the hardest position to pick a fantasy bust because so many two-baggers are either having breakout years or their typical years. Fontenot on the other hand, is having neither.

At this point in the season, Fontenot has roughly 100 more AB’s than last year and has the same amount of HR’s (nine), RBI (40), six less runs scored, and his average is 72 points lower than last years.

Not what the Cubs or fantasy owners were expecting this year.

Shortstop – Jose Reyes, .279/2/15

I had a dilemma with this pick. Do I pick the guy who has just sucked all year in JJ Hardy? Or do I pick the guy who has missed the majority of the year with an injury in Jose Reyes?

I will go with Reyes because Reyes, who was taken in the first two rounds in most leagues and crippled a lot of fantasy teams this year. Reyes went on the DL on May 26th and was never heard from again.

Third Base – Alex Gordon, .202/4/12

This was supposed to be the breakout year for Alex Gordon. That’s what I was telling myself when I drafted Gordon in my league. Instead, 2009 has been a disaster for the Royals young third baseman.

Gordon got off to an awful start in April, then had hip surgery, came back, got sent to the minors, and now is back up again. I am not even sure if Gordon is worth keeping in my Keeper League at this point.

Outfield – Milton Bradley, .260/12/39

It seemed like everyone knew this was going to happen except Chicago Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry. Bradley is like the movie GI Joe. Sure, we all knew it was going to suck, but we kind of wanted to see it any way just to see how bad it was going to be.

I mean 39 RBI in 121 games? Pathetic

Outfield – Josh Hamilton, .270/10/49

Hamilton was the feel good story of the 2008 season. His performance in the HR Derby was stuff of legend and he put up a .304/32/130 hitting line.

2009 has been a lost season for Hamilton. He has been hurt the majority of the year and really never found his groove at the plate.

Outfield – Magglio Ordonez, .296/7/40

From 2006-2008, Ordonez averaged 24 HR’s and 115 RBI. In 2009, Ordonez’s power has vanished faster than the storyline’s on Entourage.

Very puzzling how Ordonez has kept his average up, but has lost all his power.

Liriano has been a bust in 2009

Liriano has been a bust in 2009

Starting Pitcher – Francisco Liriano, 5-12 with a 5.71 ERA

Like Alex Gordon previously, this was supposed to be the year for Liriano. He was two years removed from Tommy John surgery, the Minnesota Twins were expected to compete in the AL Central, and at 25, Liriano was going to mature into an ace.

None of the above happened. Liriano is one of the main reasons the Twins are not in first place and is now pitching out of the bullpen

Starting Pitcher – Daisuke Matsuzaka, 1-5 with a 8.23 ERA

Matsuzaka won 18 games in 2008. Going into last night’s action, Matsuzaka has won a grand total of 1 game in 2009.

Fantasy owners can thank Bud Selig’s marketing ploy, otherwise known as the World Baseball Classic for this.

Starting Pitcher – Brandon Webb, 0-0 with a 13.50 ERA

Last year, Webb was 22-7 with a 3.30 ERA and finished second in the Cy Young voting for the second year in a row. All fantasy owners got out of Webb this year, was one lousy start.

Webb was the third overall pick in my league and in most leagues went in the first two rounds. If your first or second pitcher taken doesn’t win a game during the season, it usually spells doom for your team.

Closer – Brad Lidge, 0-7 with a 7.18 ERA and 10 blown saves

Despite having 29 saves this year, Lidge has been a fantasy disaster all season. He doesn’t have a win, he leads the majors in blown saves, and has killed fantasy owners all year long in the ERA category. His WHIP is 1.823 which is not helping the situation either.

Fantasy Week In Review, August 17-23

August 24, 2009

Lot’s of big news in the world of fantasy baseball last week. A couple of potential Keeper League players were called up, there is a new closer in Chicago (about time), and everyone’s preseason man crush will be returning in Texas.

Here are the fantasy studs, the players who have had their fantasy value fall, and the potential pickups for the fantasy week that was August 17 – 23.

Fantasy Studs

Brian Roberts – .379/4/8/.471 with three SB’s. Roberts had a MONSTER week last week. Roberts remains one of the top fantasy second basemen in the game today.

David Ortiz – .400/3/10/.500. Ortiz was hitting the ball so hard last week that he had AJ Burnett talking to himself on the mound.

Hideki Matsui – .261/4/10. Matsui won’t give you average at this point in his career, but he will still hit the long ball and can drive in runs.

Jayson Werth – .440/5/9. Werth is starting to heat up again. When Werth is hot, he brings the Philadelphia Phillies’ lineup to a whole other level.

Adam LaRoche – .419/4/9. One of the most notorious second-half hitters in the game today, LaRoche’s 2009 is no different.

Your 2009 NL Cy Young winner?

Your 2009 NL Cy Young winner?

I still haven’t figured out the Adam LaRoche for Casey Kotchman trade for the Boston Red Sox.

Chris Carpenter – 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA and 14 K’s in 15 IP. Carpenter is making a serious run at the Cy Young award and I think if the season ended today, he just might win it.

Ubaldo Jimenez – 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA and 14 K’s in 16 IP. Jimenez outdueled Tim Lincecum yesterday and is clearly the Colorado Rockies’ ace heading down the stretch.

Jose Valverde – Four saves with a 0.00 ERA and six K’s in four IP. Valverde is making up for the time he missed in the first-half because of a calf injury.

Reasons for Concern

Francisco Liriano – Placed on the 15-day DL because of “left arm fatigue.” I put left arm fatigue in quotes because I just think the Minnesota Twins needed an excuse not to start him.

Liriano is 5-12 with a 5.80 ERA this season and has been one of the main reasons why the Twins are not where they are supposed to be in the AL Central.

Liriano hasn’t been the same since he had Tommy John surgery and has limited fantasy value until he can prove he can pitch effectively on a game to game basis.

Johnny Cueto – Placed on the 15-day DL with right shoulder inflammation. Cueto was terrible in his last eight starts before winding up on the DL.

Cueto was 0-6 with a Tim Stoddard-like ERA of 10.63. This is the second year in a row that Cueto has broken down in the second half.  This is something to consider when drafted Cueto next year.

Kevin Gregg – Who in the Chicago Cubs’ front office thought it was a good idea to make Kevin Gregg their closer? I thought this would be a disaster from the beginning.

After melting down in San Diego last week (Florida Marlin fans are all too familiar with this), the Cubs have removed Gregg from his closer duties.

Gregg has zero fantasy value going forward.

Potential Pickups

Matt LaPorta – LaPorta was called up for a second time by the Cleveland Indians last week and unlike the first time LaPorta got the call, he is actually playing.

LaPorta hit .333 in four games for the Indians last week. LaPorta has a ton of Keeper League potential, so picking him up now might pay off in the future.

Drew Stubbs – If you are looking for stolen bases, Stubbs might be your guy. Another player with Keeper League potential, Stubbs had 46 SB’s in Triple-A before being called up to the Cincinnati Reds.

He projects to be the Reds’ starting centerfielder for the future.

Carlos Marmol – Thanks to Kevin Gregg’s now annual August meltdown, Marmol takes over as the closer for the Cubs.

Marmol is a little too shaky for my liking, but he should be able to pick up a couple of saves down the stretch.

Back but better than ever?

Back but better than ever?

Chris Davis – After hitting .335 with six HR’s for the Oklahoma City Redhawks, Davis is expected to be called back up to the Texas Rangers this week.

The Rangers have tweaked Davis’ batting stance and now think his early season struggles are behind him. Davis is not guaranteed to start, but could potentially take AB’s away from Hank Blalock.

Looking At Fantasy Closers Update…

March 29, 2009

According to the Chicago Tribune, Lou Piniella has named Kevin Gregg the closer for the Chicago Cubs. This was a choice between a young, inexperienced closer who has trouble controlling his emotions but has potential in Marmol or a mediocre pitcher who has closer experience but melted down in Florida last year. In a move that I question, the Cubs chose the later. Then again, I have questioned a lot of things the Cubs have done this offseason.

That being said, with Gregg being named the closer, it’s time to update my Fantasy Closers post.

Dennis Eckersley Division

These are your cream-of-the-crop, top closers headed into 2009. These guys are #1 closer material in any fantasy league

1. Francisco Rodriguez, Mets – Krod, who broke Bobby Thigpen’s record for saves with 62 in 2008 with the Angels will now attempt to close out games in Flushing. While many people point to Krod’s diminished strike out rate (declined every year since 04) and his rising BAA (increased every year in the majors), it’s not like Krod had 62 saves with a 4.50 era. Krod’s era was still a dominant 2.24. With the Mets offering their closers plenty of save opportunities (72 in 08), Krod figures to close 45-50 games in 09.

2. Mariano Rivera, Yankees – Many thought the 2007 was the beginning of the decline for the great Rivera because of a 3.15 era (highest since he became a reliever). 2008 proved that was anything but the case. The 39 year old had one of the best seasons of his career, netting 39 saves with a paultry 1.40 era. If all is well from off-season shoulder surgery, Rivera once again will be one of the top closers in 2009.

3. Joe Nathan, Twins – Nathan, one of the most consistent closers in baseball had another stellar year in 2008 with 39 saves anda 1.33 era. You can pretty much pencil in the Stony Brook product 35-40 saves with an era under 2.

4. Joakim Soria, Royals – “The Mexecutioner” burst onto the scene in 2009 for Royals posting 42 saves with a nice 1.60 era. The 24 year old has been practically unhittable since reaching the majors in 2007 as he has only given up 85 hits in 136.1 innings. Soria should be a top 5 fantasy closer again in 2009

5. Brad Lidge, Phillies – Lidge had a season for the ages in 2008, going a perfect 41/41 in save opportunities. While I don’t expect Lidge to be perfect again in 2009, he should once again be one of the top closers in baseball as the Phillies figure to contend in the NL East.

6. Jonathon Papelbon, Red Sox –The Red Sox closer set a career high in saves in 2008 with 41. Fantasy owners only concern with Papelbon would be he threw a career high 79.1 innings last year including the post season. Look to see what Papelbon does in April. If he is strong through April, then a typical Papelbon season is in order

Tom Henke Division

The next 4 are right under the great closers but will still put up solid numbers for you in 2009

7. Jose Valverde, Astros – Finished 2nd in baseball in saves with 44, high era of 3.38 but lots of K’s with 83

8. Jonathon Broxton, Dodgers –With Saito off to Boston, Broxton takes over as the full-time closer in LA. 35-40 saves with 80+ K’s is more than doable in 2009

9. Francisco Cordero, Reds –With the Reds improved in 2009, Cordero might reach the 40 save mark. Something Cordero has done twice before. Unfortunately, Cordero’s usually high era will leave him out of the top 6

10. Kerry Wood, Indians – One of the better season signings in baseball, Wood gives something Cleveland hasn’t had in a very long time….A LEGIT CLOSER. There is always an injury risk when picking Wood but if healthy Wood is certainly a top 10 closer. I like 35+ saves for Wood in 2009

Jeff Montgomery Division

The perfect #2 fantasy closer. These next 5 guys are perfect #2 closers

11. Bobby Jenks, White Sox – How does a guy who throws 98 mph only strike out 5.55 guys every 9 innings? Just doesn’t make sense.

12. BJ Ryan, Blue Jays – Ryan isn’t the strike out pitcher he used to be but he still knows how to save a game. Pencil in 30+ saves again for Ryan in 2009.

13. Huston Street, Rockies –I am on the Huston Street bandwagon this year. A fresh start with the Rockies and this being an odd year, Street should have a nice bounce back year. Street, like Bret Saberhagen pitches very well in odd years

14. Brad Ziegler, A’s – Ziegler burst onto the scene last year by starting off his career with a 39 inning scoreless streak. I expect Ziegler’s era to increase from 1.06 to around the high 2 mark in 09. With the A’s very much improved expect Ziegler to register 25-30 saves

15. Brian Fuentes, Angels –I am not sold on Fuentes as most people are. He lost his closers role in 07 only to gain in back in 08. With Shields and Arredando looking over Fuentes’ shoulder it will be interestingto see how Fuentes fairs. The Angels offer a lot of opportunities for saves so 30+ saves with an era in the high 2’s is not out of the question

Armando Benitez Division

These guys can get you saves but when you need them the most they will blow a big one in September

16. Kevin Gregg, Cubs In a move that surprised a lot of people, Kevin Gregg was named the Cubs’ closer in 2009. Gregg had 29 saves for the Marlins last year but also blew 9. That is a lot of blown saves in 38 opportunities. Gregg melted down in the dog days of August when he had an 0-4 record, 3 blown saves and an era of 10.14. If he couldn’t handle the pressure in Miami how is he going to handle the pressure pitching under a microscope in Chicago? Gregg will get his saves early because the Cubs will be competitive in 2009 but I don’t see this ending well. I suspect Marmol will be closing games at some point during the season.

17. Brian Wilson, Giants – 41 saves, 4.65 era in 2008

18. Trevor Hoffman, Brewers – It will be weird to see Hoffman in a Brewers uniform. At this stage of his career Hoffman will get his saves, perhaps 25-30 with an era of around 4.50

19. Matt Capps, Pirates – Good for 15-25 saves on once again a very bad Pirates team

20. Mike Gonzalez, Braves – Had 14 saves in 36 games in 2008. High era of 4.28. Injury always a concern with Gonzalez

21. George Sherrill, Orioles –1st time closer in 2008, Sherrill had 31 saves before an injury ended his season. Lots of hits and a high era is something to be wary of in 2009

Al Reyes Division

These closers are usually 8th inning set-up types that are forced into the closers role because the team has no one else. These are the guys you only draft if you desperately need to fill a closers spot

22. Brandon Lyon, Tigers

23. Dan Wheeler, Rays

24. Chad Qualls, Diamondbacks

25. Heath Bell, Padres

26. Ryan Franklin, Cardinals

27. Joel Hanrahan, Nationals

28. CJ Wilson, Rangers

29. Tyler Walker, Mariners – With the Heilman trade yesterday, it looks like Walker might get the 1st shot at the closers role. Officially the worst closer in baseball headed into 2009.

Octavio Dotel Division

These are the 2 question marks going into the season. Great as 8th inning set up guys but are now asked to close games. Big difference between the 8th and 9th innings. These guys can either be in the Tom Henke division or the Armando Benitez division

?. Matt Lindstrom, Marlins – As I wrote in my post about the Marlins, Lindstrom is the X factor for the team in 2009. I like Lindstrom more than Marmol because of less pressure in Florida and Lindstrom proved he can do the job by going 5-5 in September. I like 25 saves and an era in the mid 2’s for Lindstrom

Norm Charlton Division

Top set up guys who are waiting in the wings and could fill in adequately if something happened to the current closer

1. Carlos Marmol, Cubs

2. Scot Shields, Angels

3. JJ Putz, Mets

4. Ryan Madsen, Phillies

5. Grant Balfour, Rays

Mark Davis 1989 Division

This is for the one guy who I will think have that ridiculous year, seemingly out of nowhere. Good the year before and this year explodes on the scene

Jonathon Broxton, Dodgers –As I mentioned earlier, I really like Broxton this year. The Dodgers offered their closers 55 save opportunities last year, so racking up saves shouldn’t be a problem for this 24 year old. Playing in the NL West, the worst division in baseball should help Broxton dominate in 2009

Cubs Offseason Moves Puzzling….

February 27, 2009

At the end of every offseason your favorite team will fall into 4 categories:

1. Improved team through free agency spending. Yankees & Braves

2. Improved team through trade(s). A’s & Royals

3. Kept quiet, not making any major signings or trades. Cardinals

4.Traded players and lost players to free agency because team is rebuilding or economy affected the team. Padres & Astros

The Chicago Cubs, fresh off of a 97-win season somehow managed to fit into all 4 categories. They signed free agents and made trades, but let some of their top free agents go. Thus, making the Cubs offseason truly puzzling. Let’s take a look at some of the players the cubs brought in this offseason and who they replaced from that 97-win team.

Closer

In – Carlos Marmol, Cubs 8th inning set-up man in 2008

Out – Kerry Wood, Signed free agent contract with Indians

Analysis – Carlos Marmol takes over for Kerry Wood as the Cubs closer. This is either going to end up very good or very very bad. There will be no gray area with Marmol. Some guys can make the transition from 8th inning set-up guy (Krod, M. Rivera) and some guys can’t (Benitez, Dotel). I just don’t see it from Marmol. I am going to put him in the Benitez, Dotel class.  Before you start disagreeing with me, remember this. Marmol in save situations in 2008 had a 3.22 era. In non-save situations, his era was 2.11.

Set-Up Man

In –Aaron Heilman/Kevin Gregg, both acquired via trade

Out –Carlos Marmol, promoted to closer

Analysis –Failing to re-sign Wood created a ripple effect in the Cubs bullpen. Marmol replaces Wood and Heilman and Gregg will attempt to replace Marmol. Heilman, was actually traded twice this offseason. First to the Mariners and then of course to the Cubs. After being one of the top set-up men in the game from 05-07, Heilman had a meltdown last year with the Mets. A 5.21 era and 46 bb in 76 innings put Heilman in the doghouse.

Gregg, was having a solid season for the Marlins last year until he melted down in August. An 0-4 record with a 10.12 era earned Gregg a demotion from Marlins closer to set-up guy. The Cubs acquired 2 guys who had meltdowns last year. It will be interesting to see how both Heilman and Gregg react when they blow their first 8th inning lead and the Wrigleyville faithful boo them off the mound.

2nd Base

In – Aaron Miles, signed as free agent/Mike Fontenot, bench player in 2008

Out –Mark DeRosa, traded to Indians for 3 minor leaguers

Analysis – This is where the Cubs offseason gets interesting. Cubs GM, Jim Hendry traded the heart and soul of the team last year for 3 minor leaguers. Not only was DeRosa the heart and soul but he also was one of the Cubs MVP’s last year if not the MVP. DeRosa hit .285/21/87/.376 and played 2b, 3b, lf, rf, ss and 1B last year. He replaced Soriano in LF when Soriano went on the DL, he filled in for Fukodome when he was struggling and he gave Ramirez a day off at 3B from time to time. No matter where DeRosa played, the Cubs’ lineup never suffered. How do you trade one of your MVP’s from the year before, in what seems like a salary dump and then go ahead and sign Aaron Miles to a 2 year $4.9MM deal? Just doesn’t make sense. Though Miles can play 2b, ss, 3b and all 3 OF positions, he just can’t match DeRosa’s offensive output. In 6 seasons, Miles has 16 hr and 170 rbi. I am completely puzzled by this move.

Center Field

In – Reed Johnson, 4th OF on Cubs in 2008

Out –Jim Edmonds, free agent remains unsigned

Analysis – The Cubs signed former Cardinal, Jim Edmonds in May and he gave them the spark they were looking for.  Edmonds hit 19 hr with 49 rbi in 85 games. Unless the Cubs resign Edmonds right before the season starts, they will go into 2009 with Reed Johnson as their starting CF. Johnson to me seems more like a great role player and bench guy rather than a starting CF on a team trying to win the pennant. Johnson has never had more than 12 hr and 61 rbi in a season.

Right Field

In – Milton Bradley, signed as free agent

Out –Kosuke Fukodome, 4th OF for Cubs in 2009

Analysis – If the Mark DeRosa trade was puzzling, the Milton Bradley signing defies logic. Give a guy a 3 year $30MM contract to play RF who has only played 23 games in RF the last 2 years and is injury prone? This signing could be a disaster. Who would you rather have…Bobby Abreu for 1 year and $5MM or Milton Bradley for 3 years and $30MM? I would rather have Abreu. The odd man out in the Cubs OF shuffle is Kosuke Fukodome. After having a dismal 2nd half in 2008 (.217/3/22) Fukodome found himself in Piniella’s doghouse. A place were Fukodome may never get out of.

I tought Fukodome deserved a 2nd chance. Remember, it was Fukodome’s patience at the plate (81 BB in 2008) that was contagious throughout the Cubs lineup early in the season. Plus, he is a much better defensive player than Bradley. Piniella is a great manager but one of his faults is when a player get’s into his doghouse, there are no 2nd chances. Just ask Rich Hill.

As you can see, this Cubs offseason has been very puzzling. In my opinion, an offseason where the Cubs have gotten worse. I do believe the Cubs will win the weak NL Central this year but is team better than last years version of the Cubs? Based on the offseason, it might be 101 years without a title in Wrigleyville.