Posts Tagged ‘Mike Gonzalez’

Orioles Add Two, Sign Garrett Atkins and Mike Gonzalez

December 17, 2009

Just because the Orioles are in rebuilding mode, doesn’t mean they can’t add pieces to their team to make them competitive in 2010.

Earlier in this offseason, the Orioles added Kevin Millwood to bolster their starting rotation. Now they have added a batter and a closer.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles have signed LHP Mike Gonzalez to a two-year, $12 million contract to be their closer. Gonzalez can make an additional $4 million in incentives.

Gonzalez is the new closer in Baltimore

The Orioles also signed 1B/3B Garrett Atkins to a one-year deal. Atkins became a free agent after he was not tendered a contract by the Colorado Rockies last week. Terms of Atkins’ deal have not been disclosed yet.

Lets talk about Atkins first.

I was reading some sites around the web where some Orioles fans didn’t like this move? Why?

Has Atkins’ OPS dropped four years in a row? Yes it has. Is he the best defensive third baseman in the world? No, he is not.

But Atkins was not brought to Baltimore to be the savior. He was brought to Baltimore to be a stopgap until top third base prospect Josh Bell or until top first base prospect Brandon Snyder are ready.

Best case scenario for Atkins–he has a bounce back year and the Orioles can then trade him for prospects in July. Atkins could just need a change of scenery and Camden Yards is a good hitters park.

Worst case scenario–he continues his downward spiral and becomes a right-handed pinch hitter off the bench, who can occasionally fill in at first or third. In 2009, Atkins’ OPS was over 200 points higher versus left-handed pitching.

This is a good low-risk, high-reward signing by the Orioles.

Now on to the Gonzalez signing.

I am luke-warm on Gonzalez being a full-time, No. One closer, but for just $6 million a year–it’s a good deal by the Orioles.

Think about it like this. The Houston Astros paid Brandon Lyon $5 million a year for three years. The Orioles are paying Gonzalez $6 million for two years.

Who would you rather have?

I would rather have Gonzalez and it’s not even a debatable in my opinion. The Orioles are paying just $1 million more for clearly the better pitcher. Good move.

Gonzalez pitched a career high 74.1 innings last year and in those 74.1 innings struck out 90 batters. He was especially nasty on left-handed hitters.

Lefties against Gonzalez in 2009 hit only .194 and had a pedestrian .581 OPS. The Gonzalez-Curtis Granderson match up in 2010 should be fun to watch.

Is there some concern with Gonzalez after he pitched a career high in innings last year only a couple of years removed from Tommy John surgery? Maybe. But I don’t it’s that big of a concern.

As Gonzalez proved last year, most pitchers come back stronger from Tommy John surgery. For two years and just $12 million, it’s certainly worth it for the Orioles.

This move obviously adds some much needed depth to the Orioles’ bullpen and it allows them to put Jim Johnson back in the eighth inning set-up role, where he seemed more comfortable last year.

With Gonzalez, Johnson, and Koji Uehara the Orioles have the makings of a much better bullpen in 2010.

I like what the Orioles are doing this offseason. They are sticking to their rebuilding plan, but adding pieces with reasonable contracts here and there.

I like the direction of this team.

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

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Atlanta Braves’ Rafael Soriano Accepts Arbitration

December 8, 2009

In a very surprising move, Atlanta Braves’ relief pitcher Rafael Soriano accepted arbitration last night from Braves.

The Braves got a hint over the weekend from Soriano’s agent Peter Greenberg that Soriano might accept arbitration. However, I don’t think the Braves actually thought he was going to move forward with that decision.

Soriano accepted arbitration last night

Soriano had until 11:59 pm est last night to make a decision on arbitration.

Now the Braves have a problem–albeit a good problem to have. The Braves have one to many quality relievers and high-priced relievers in the bullpen.

The Braves just recently signed Billy Wagner to a one-year, $7 million deal and Takashi Saito to a one-year, $3 million deal to replace the believed to be departing Soriano and Mike Gonzalez.

With Soriano going to make possibly $7-$8 million in arbitration, that would be almost $20 million the Braves would have to commit to the back-end of the bullpen–way to much.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Braves GM Frank Wren said the Braves were “protected” in regards to the possibility of Soriano and/or Gonzalez accepting arbitration.

Wren believes “It’s not a big deal either way.”

By baseball rules, because Soriano accepted arbitration, the Braves can’t trade Soriano without his consent before June 15.

As for Soriano, I am shocked by the move. Did him and his agent really feel that the 29-year-old flame thrower, possibly coming off his best year, couldn’t get a multi-year deal?

I thought he could have easily gotten a multi-year deal from the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, or the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I guess I was wrong.

The Braves now have by far and away the best pitching staff top to bottom in the National League. However, look for them to really push to trade Derek Lowe or Javier Vazquez in order to free up some money to acquire an impact bat.

Soriano finished 2009 with 27 saves, a 2.97 ERA and had a career high 12.13 K’s/9 in 73 innings.

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

Atlanta Braves Find A New Closer, Sign Billy Wagner

December 2, 2009

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the Atlanta Braves have reached a preliminary agreement with left-handed closer Billy Wagner on a one-year, $7 million deal with a vesting option for 2011.

The vesting option is for $6.5 million and will kick in if Wagner finishes 50 games for the Braves in 2010.

Wagner will be closing for the Braves in 2010

Wagner returned last season from Tommy John surgery in August and pitched two games for the New York Mets. In those two games, Wagner struckout four batters in two innings and his fastball was consistently in the mid-90’s.

Ironically, the first team Wagner faced in 2009 was the Braves. Convinced that Wagner could help them down the stretch, the Boston Red Sox traded for Wagner to be another bridge to closer Jonathan Papelbon.

In 15 regular season games for the Red Sox, Wagner had a 1.98 ERA and had 22 K’s in 13.2 innings. Wagner appeared in two postseason games for the Red Sox and gave up two runs in one total inning of work.

Let’s talk about Wagner in the playoffs for a second.

It’s funny how players are perceived in the minds of the media and fans. When someone mentions Wagner, the first thing they think of is a 100 mph fastball. The second thing would probably be solid closer for many years.

The one thing nobody mentions is that Wagner might just be the worst postseason relief pitcher of all time. When it comes to October baseball, Mariano Rivera he is not.

In 13 postseason games with the Houston Astros, Mets, and Red Sox, Wagner has a 10.32 ERA, has a 1.941 WHIP, and has given up 20 hits in 11.1 innings pitched. He has done more harm than good for his teams in the playoffs.

While the Braves are getting the guy who is sixth all-time in saves with 385, they are also getting the guy who might cost them a playoff game if they get there.

Because Wagner is a Type A free agent and the Red Sox offered Wagner arbitration yesterday, the Red Sox will receive the Braves’ first-round pick in 2010–plus a supplemental pick between the first and second rounds. The Braves have the 20th pick in the 2010 draft.

As Rosenthal mentions, the Braves will most likely recoup that pick because their former closers Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano are both Type A free agents and both were offered arbitration by the braves.

Financially, this isn’t a bad deal for the Braves because if they were to re-sign either Soriano or Gonzalez, it would have cost the Braves more money per year and more of a commitment. The Braves need all the extra cash they can get in hopes of eventually acquiring a bat.

Wagner will be 39 next year and has pitched for the Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, Mets, and Red Sox in his 15 year career.

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

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.

Looking At Fantasy Closers In 2009…

January 29, 2009

I have always considered closers like kickers in the NFL. There are 5 or 6 great ones, some very good ones, some good ones and then there are ones I wouldn’t draft for my worst enemy. By using this theory, I have ranked all 30 current closers into different divisions. The guys who you should definitely take and the guys you shouldn’t.  Let’s take a look were the current crop of closers will fall in 2009.

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

17. 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

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

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

20. 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

21. Brandon Lyon, Tigers

22. Dan Wheeler, Rays

23. Chad Qualls, Diamondbacks

24. Heath Bell, Padres

25. Ryan Franklin, Cardinals

26. Joel Hanrahan, Nationals

27. CJ Wilson, Rangers

28. 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

?. Carlos Marmol, Cubs – Only 3 other relievers were in more games than Marmol was in 2008. Will the over use of last year come back to bite the Cubs this year? I am not sure if Marmol has the mental make up to be a closer, especially in Wrigleyville. I will go with 33 saves, an era in the low 3’s and a lot of tums for Sweet Lou

?. 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. Kevin Gregg, 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

Jonathan 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