Posts Tagged ‘LaTroy Hawkins’

Who Were The Winners For This Year’s Winter Meetings

December 11, 2009

Now that Baseball’s Winter Meetings are officially over and we have all had a chance to catch our breath, lets take a look at the five teams who really improved themselves over the last four days.

5. Baltimore Orioles. I really liked the addition of Kevin Millwood for this ball club in 2010. Millwood is exactly what this team needed.

Millwood improves the O's

The Orioles only had one pitcher in 2009 (Jeremy Guthrie) throw more than 124 innings. Millwood should come in and eat some much-needed innings for the Orioles and provide some leadership for the Orioles’ young starters.

All the Orioles had to give up for Millwood was Chris Ray. Ray and his 7.27 ERA won’t be missed from the Orioles’ bullpen.

4. Detroit Tigers. I know when a team gives up the type of person and player Curtis Granderson is, they usually aren’t considered winners. But the Tigers did really well in their three-way trade with the New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Tigers got three top prospects in Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, and Daniel Schlereth and got another left-handed pitcher for their bullpen in Phil Coke.

Jackson will replace the departed Granderson in center field and Scherzer will replace Edwin Jackson, who was shipped to the Diamondbacks in the Tigers rotation.

3. Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays finally acquired a closer they so desperately needed. The Rays acquired Rafael Soriano from the Atlanta Braves for Jesse Chavez.

Soriano now gives them stability in the back of the pen. Over the last four years, Soriano has a 2.76 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, and has averaged 10.3 K’s/9 in 221.2 IP.

2. Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers went into the winter meetings wanting to improve on two areas–the starting rotation and the bullpen. In a span of about three hours, they accomplished both.

On Wednesday, the Brewers inked LHP Randy Wolf to a three-year, $29.75 million contract to improve the starting rotation and then signed RHP LaTroy Hawkins to a two-year, $7.5 million contract to improve the bullpen.

Did the Brewers perhaps overpay a little for Wolf and Hawkins? Maybe, but Milwaukee isn’t Miami, L.A. or even Chicago. The Brewers sometimes have to overpay to get people to come to Milwaukee.

In a span of three hours, the Brewers made themselves contenders again in the weak NL Central.

1. New York Yankees. The rich get richer huh? The Yankees wanted to get more athletic this offseason and accomplished that goal when they traded for Granderson.

Granderson is a perfect fit in NY

With his personality and his ability to drive the ball to right field, Granderson is a perfect fit in New York. The Yankees can now either re-sign Johnny Damon to play left or they can let Damon walk if he is asking for too much money and let Melky Cabrera play left field.

Either way, the Yankees’ outfield defense will be improved in 2010.

The Yankees were also able to re-sign LHP Andy Pettitte to a reasonable ($11.5 million) one-year deal. As I have said before, outside Mariano Rivera, Pettitte has been the second most important Yankee over the last 14 years.

There is no more reliable postseason pitcher in today’s game than Pettitte.

If you notice, I don’t have the losers of the winter meetings because I don’t necessarily feel a team has to do something during the four days. Waiting and picking your spots doesn’t make you a loser.

However, if there was one loser based on the moves they did make during the four days it would be the Diamondbacks. They gave up way too much to acquire E. Jackson and Ian Kennedy.

They better be right with their thinking that Scherzer doesn’t translate into a starting pitcher.

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

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Astros Add Bullpen Help, Acquire Matt Lindstrom

December 10, 2009

On a day when the Houston Astros lost relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins to their division rival Milwaukee Brewers, the Astros moved quickly to replace him.

The Houston Chronicle is reporting the Astros have acquired RHP Matt Lindstrom from the Florida Marlins for minor leaguers RHP Robert Bono and INF Luis Bryan.

Lindstrom, who is 29 and made $410 thousand in 2009 is a first-year arbitration eligible player, which is why the Marlins were looking to trade him.

Lindstom was traded to the Astros

After posting solid seasons in 2007 and 2008, Lindstrom had a disastrous 2009. Lindstrom was hurt for over six weeks with elbow inflammation and posted a 5.89 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP.

Despite his dreadful 2009, I actually like this move for the Astros. I believe Lindstrom will have a bounce back year in an Astros’ uniform.

My reasoning? There is no World Baseball Classic in 2009.

Lindstrom pitched in the event and got hurt during the game with the Netherlands. For those of you who don’t remember, Lindstrom almost started a bench clearing brawl that game.

Lindstrom never recovered from that injury.

Now that Lindstrom will go back to his normal routine, I expect to have a similar year like he had in 07′ and 08′–low three’s ERA and a WHIP around 1.35.

What role Lindstrom will serve in with the Astros is still up in the air. The Astros have two roles to fill since Jose Valverde and Hawkins departed for free agency.

Lindstrom could fill Valverde’s role as the closer or if the Astros acquire another closer (they are in the mix for Rafael Soriano), Lindstrom could fill Hawkins’ role as the eighth inning set-up man.

The prospects the Marlins received for Lindstrom are nothing special. According to Baseball America’s Ben Badler, via Twitter, both Bono and Bryan wouldn’t have made the Astros’ top-30 prospects in 2010.

It’s universally known across baseball that the Astros have the worst farm system in baseball. If you can’t crack the Astros top-30, I am not sure how much of a future you have in baseball.

The Marlins in this deal also acquired the Astros’ pick in tomorrow’s Rule 5 Draft.

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

Brewers Keep Spending, Add LaTroy Hawkins

December 9, 2009

Its been a very busy day for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Earlier today they landed LHP Randy Wolf and now they have inked their second pitcher of the day.

According to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, the Brewers have signed RHP LaTroy Hawkins to a two-year contract. The deal is for $7.5 million for the two years.

Hawkins goes from the Astros to the Brewers

Though I am surprised Hawkins got a two-year deal and $7.5 million, this is another good signing by the Brewers.

Hawkins is the classic pitcher, who can’t pitch in the American League to save his life, but finds great success in the National League. All you need to do for proof of that is check out his numbers pitching in both leagues.

Here are Hawkins’ splits between the AL and NL

AL: 5.04 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 10.5 H/9, 3.2 BB/9, 5.7 K’s/9

NL: 2.75 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 8.2 H/9, 2.4 BB/9, 6.8 K’s/9

As you can see, Hawkins is a very solid relief pitcher in the National League. There is nothing to suggest that Hawkins won’t continue his success with the Brewers.

Hawkins had great success with the Houston Astros over the past year-and-a-half and he should know the batters of the NL Central division quite well.

Did the Brewers overpay for Hawkins? Maybe, but he did make $3.5 million with the Astros in 2009, so $7.5 million for two years is not that outrageous.

But he should give the Brewers a nice bridge to current closer Trevor Hoffman and sometimes you have to overpay for something you want. In less than three hours the Brewers have upgraded their bullpen and their starting rotation.

The team with the smallest market in baseball is making some moves. I wish more teams had the mentality that the Brewers have.

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

Kerry Wood: What’s His Trade Market?

November 16, 2009

Yesterday, the MLB Network replayed Kerry Wood’s 20-strike out game against the Houston Astros in 1998. I have been watching baseball for almost 25 years and in my opinion, that was most dominating regular season performance I have ever seen.

The Astros didn’t have a chance that day.

Flash forward 11 years later and Wood is still throwing 97 mph in the major leagues. Did he become the pitcher everyone thought he would be after watching him pitch in 1998? No he didn’t.

Kerry Wood

Wood is a trade candidate this winter

But Wood has made a very nice career for himself. Because of injuries, Wood moved into a relief role in 2007 with the Chicago Cubs and became their closer in 2008.

Wood excelled as the closer in Chicago and in the winter of 2008, he signed a two-year, $20.5 million deal with the Cleveland Indians to be their closer.

The Indians signed Wood expecting to compete in 2009. Things really didn’t work out that way and now the Indians are in rebuilding mode yet again.

When a team is rebuilding, they really don’t have any use for a 32-year-old closer who will be making $10.5 million in 2010. We should be hearing Wood’s name in trade rumors this winter.

Let’s look at what a team would be getting with Wood. Here are the pros and cons of trading for Wood and the teams who might be interested in trading for the former Grand Prairie High School star.

Pros

Can you believe Wood is only 32-years-old? It seems like he has been around for 20 years. Even at 32 (not that old mom!!!), Wood can still throw 97 mph.

He can still blow the fastball by hitters when he needs to. Wood still struck out 10.3 hitters per nine innings last year.

Despite getting off to a rough start in April and May (6.08 ERA), Wood had a stellar second half of the year. In the second half, Wood was eight for 10 in save opportunities and had a 2.86 ERA.

And Wood is still better than half the closers in baseball. I would take Wood over a lot of the pitchers who are closing games for contending teams.

Cons

In the last 11 years, Wood’s arm has been through hell and back. He has had Tommy John surgery, a partially torn rotator cuff, a sore elbow, a strained triceps, and blisters on his fingers.

You name the arm injury, Wood has probably had it.

Health is the number one concern for any GM who is willing to trade for Wood. The other concern with Wood, would be his relatively down year in 2010.

His WHIP of 1.382 was his highest since 2000 (1.453), his strike out rate went from 11.4/9 to 10.3/9 in 2009, his walk rate almost doubled from 2.4 in 2008 to 4.6 in 2009 and threw more pitches per inning (17.6) than at any point of his career.

Has age and injuries finally caught up to Wood?

Now that we have looked at the pros and cons of acquiring Wood, let’s look at the teams that might be interested in Wood.

Atlanta Braves: Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano are both free agents and if they leave, the Braves have no internal option to replace them. Wood would be a nice replacement for the Braves.

Chicago Cubs: Could the Cubs possibly bring Wood back? It’s not out of the realm of possibility.

Wood and the Cubs had a pretty clean break and the Cubs don’t have a closer going into 2010. Carlos Marmol is much better suited to be a set-up guy than a closer on a team trying to compete for a pennant.

Houston Astros: Wood would love to follow in his idol’s (Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan) footsteps by pitching for the Astros. Jose Valverde and Latroy Hawkins are both free agents and Wood would make sense.

With Wood making $10.5 million in 2010, I am not sure the Astros have the ability to take on the salary or the prospects to acquire Wood.

I would never count out Drayton McLane though.

Tampa Bay Rays: For me, the Rays are a match made in heaven for Wood. They have the surplus of mid-level prospects and they have the need to get a deal done.

The Rays can’t go into 2010 with JP Howell and Dan Wheeler as the closers. They caught lightning in a bottle in 2008 and it’s not going to happen again.

This team needs a closer and Wood would be a great fit.

Detroit Tigers: Trading Wood within the division isn’t as crazy as it sounds for the Indians. The Indians aren’t expected to compete this year and by the time the Indians are ready to compete, Wood will be long gone from the Tigers.

I know the Tigers have said they are in cost cutting mode right now, but saying it and doing it are completely two different things. Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon are free agents and I don’t think the Tigers feel Ryan Perry is ready to close.

On the surface, Wood makes sense for the Tigers.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The Angels are known to fix their mistakes rather quickly. Signing Torii Hunter to replace Gary Matthews Jr. is a perfect example of that.

The Angels found out first hand in the postseason Brian Fuentes might be a nice regular season closer, but he is not big time. Acquiring Wood would give Mike Scioscia options at the end of a game.

When acquiring Wood, a GM has to ask himself the tough question of which Wood am I getting? Am I getting the Wood who was rock solid in the second half of 2009 or am I getting the injury-prone closer who struggled for the first half of 2009.

My prediction is that Wood stays with the Indians through the winter and they trade him close to the July 31st trading deadline when teams are making one last playoff push.

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

The WBC And The Affects On Pitching Part 2..

May 18, 2009

Back in January, I wrote a post title “The World Baseball Classic And The Affects On Starting Pitching.” I wrote the post to show that most pitchers who pitched in the WBC in 2006 had a worse era that season than they did in 2005. Now that we are over 30 games into the season and the WBC is well behind us, I think is now a good time to see how some of the WBC pitchers are fairing this season.

Cueto is off to a good start

Cueto is off to a good start

Pitcher-Record-ERA

Jose Arredono – 1-0 5.51 era

Johnny Cueto – 4-1 1.93 era

Felix Hernandez – 4-2 3.53 era

Ubaldo Jimenez – 3-4 4.73 era

Rafael Perez – 0-1 15.19 era. Optioned to Triple A in May.

Daisuke Matsuzaka – 0-1 12.79 era. On the DL since April with Shoulder Fatigue.

Ian Snell – 1-5 4.93 era

Roy Oswalt – 1-2 4.50 era

Ted Lilly – 5-2 3.27 era

Jonathon Sanchez – 1-3 5.06 era

Jake Peavy – 2-5 4.30 era

Jeremy Guthrie – 3-3 5.21 era

Scot Shields – 1-3 7.90 era

JJ Putz – 1-2 3.86. Is currently pitching with a bone spur in his right elbow.

Joakim Soria – 1-0 2.08 era and 7/7 in saves. Currently on the 15 Day DL because of a sore shoulder. Royals GM, Dayton Moore wonders if the WBC led to Soria’s issue.  “I don’t think it helps,” Moore told the Kansas City Star. “We couldn’t control his work. If you can’t control a pitcher’s workload and you can’t script their preparation during spring training, it’s a problem.”

JP Howell – 0-2 2.81 era

Joel Hanrahan – 0-1 5.51 era and 3/6 in saves

Jonathon Broxton – 4-0 1.50 era and 9/11 in saves

Matt Lindstrom – 1-1 5.40 era and 7/9 in saves

Heath Bell – 1-0 0.00 era and 9/9 in saves

LaTroy Hawkins – 1-1 2.70 era and 5/7 in saves

Brad Ziegler – 0-0 3.86 era 4/5 in saves

Perez is having a terrible 2009

Perez is having a terrible 2009

John Grabow – 1-0 5.29 era

Oliver Perez – 1-2 9.97 era. Placed on the 15 Day DL because of a knee injury. In reality it was because he is terrible.

So that is 24 pitchers with a combined 37-41 record on a 5.08 era. Now can all these poor starts be solely attributed to the WBC? Absolutely not. That wouldn’t be fair saying that was the case. However, I do believe there is some connection between these poor starts and pitching in the WBC. Out of those 24 pitchers, it seems only Johnny Cueto, Heath Bell and Jonathon Broxton have pitched in the WBC and have pitched exceptionally well in 2009.

There is no evidence to suggest that the WBC is going away any time soon.  So when the next WBC comes around and if you see a pitcher on your favorite team on the roster, don’t expect a good year out of him.

*Please note all stats were calculated prior to Sunday’s games.

You Can Never Have Too Much Depth….

April 29, 2009

In my super competitive fantasy league I thought I had the ultimate bullpen. I had drafted Joakim Soria, Jose Valverde and Joel Hanrahan. Then I picked up Jason Motte because he was getting the majority of saves in spring training and he could be used as trade bait during the season. I was figuring with these 4 closers I would have somewhere in the neighborhood of 125-130 saves. I also figured that this was one area of my team that I would not have to worry about throughout the season. Boy was I wrong.

My fantasy closer. Oy Vey

My fantasy closer. Oy Vey

Motte lost his closer’s role seemingly on Opening Day, Hanrahan has a 8.64 era, Soria has a shoulder injury and has pitched once in the last 2 weeks and now Jose Valverde just landed on the DL because of a strained calf. Soria worries me the most because he has a shoulder injury. You never know if that is the start of something more serious down the road.

So what I thought would be a strength at the beginning of the season is now a weakness. My 2 closers are now Scott Downs and LaTroy Hawkins. Awesome!!! My point of this post is not to complain about my closer situation but to make a point that you can never have too much depth at any position on your fantasy team. What you think is a strength could turn into a weakness overnight. Injuries and poor performance can kill a fantasy team in split second.

So go out and pick up an extra OF, pick up a Phil Hughes, or pick up a Dexter Fowler. Get yourself some depth so you don’t get stuck with Scott Downs and LaTroy Hawkins as your closer.

Team USA Adds Hawkins And Hanrahan…

March 2, 2009

In a follow up to my Team USA Losses Nathan post, it was announced today that Astros reliever LaTroy Hawkins will replace Nathan on the roster.

There is something I never thought I would write. “LaTroy Hawkins replaces Joe Nathan.” I understand Hawkins had a 0.43 era with the Astros last year but LaTroy Hawkins? Really? Team USA must be at the bottom of the barrel for available players.

Hawkins replaces Nathan on Team USA

Hawkins replaces Nathan on Team USA

I don’t see why Team USA felt the need to add another set-up guy to the roster when they already have Howell, Putz, Shields, Ziegler, Lindstrom and Thornton on the roster. I would have used Nathan’s spot on a starting pitcher. How about asking that Halladay guy if he would like to pitch?

In other Team USA news, Washington Nationals Closer Joel Hanrahan will replace BJ Ryan on the roster. Ryan pulled out of the WBC because he felt his “mechanics” weren’t right.

With Brian Fuentes missing the first round of the WBC because of “family issues” and with Joe Nathan and BJ Ryan out of the WBC, look for Team USA to use Jonathon Broxton as the closer throughout the tournament.