Posts Tagged ‘Nyjer Morgan’

Starting Nine: National League East

January 14, 2010

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

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

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

Philadelphia Phillies

1. Jimmy Rollins, SS

2. Placido Polanco, 3B

3. Chase Utley, 2B

4. Ryan Howard, 1B

5. Jayson Werth, RF

6. Raul Ibanez, LF

7. Shane Victorino, CF

8. Carlos Ruiz, C

9. Roy Halladay, P

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

Atlanta Braves

1. Nate McLouth, CF

2. Martin Prado, 2B

3. Chipper Jones, 3B

4. Brian McCann, C

5. Troy Glaus, 1B

6. Yunel Escobar, SS

7. Matt Diaz, RF

8. Melky Cabrera, LF

9. Derek Lowe, P

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

New York Mets

1. Jose Reyes, SS

2. Luis Castillo, 2B

3. David Wright, 3B

4. Jason Bay, LF

5. Jeff Francouer, RF

6. Daniel Murphy, 1B

7. Omir Santos, C

8. Angel Pagan, CF

9. Johan Santana, P

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

Florida Marlins

1. Cameron Maybin, CF

2. Chris Coghlan, LF

3. Hanley Ramirez, SS

4. Jorge Cantu, 3B

5. Dan Uggla, 2B

6. Cody Ross, RF

7. Gabby Sanchez, 1B

8. John Baker, C

9. Josh Johnson, P

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

Washington Nationals

1. Nyjer Morgan, CF

2. Christian Guzman, 2B

3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B

4. Adam Dunn, 1B

5. Josh Willingham, LF

6. Elijah Dukes, RF

7. Ivan Rodriguez, C

8. Ian Desmond, SS

9. Jason Marquis, P

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

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

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

2009 All-Fantasy Breakout Team

September 17, 2009

Yesterday, I did my 2009 All-Fantasy Bust Team. So of course, it’s only appropriate for me to do the 2009 All-Fantasy Breakout Team.

Let’s not beat around the bush. Here is the 2009 All-Fantasy Breakout Team sponsored by the Jose Lima Foundation… “There’s a one-year wonder in all of us.”

Honorable Mention: Billy Butler, Jason Bartlett, Adam Kennedy, Justin Upton, Ryan Franklin, Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Johnson, Heath Bell, Ben Zobrist

Catcher: Joe Mauer, .373/27/85

I know it’s hard to label Mauer as a breakout player because he has already established himself as one of the game’s best offensive catchers. However, Mauer has taken his game to another level in 2009.

Mauer has flirted with .400 at times this season and has already hit more homeruns this season (27) than he has in the last two seasons combined (16).

Morales has had a breakout 2009

Morales has had a breakout 2009

First Base: Kendry Morales, .306/30/98

Coming into this season, Morales had 12 HR’s with 45 RBI and a .249 avg. in 127 career games. This year Morales has 30 HR’s and 98 RBI in 136 games.

Morales is only 26 and should be a fixture on fantasy teams for years to come.

Second Base: Aaron Hill, .286/32/86

Hill missed the majority of the 2008 season with a concussion. Hill has come back with a solid 2009 season and has given fantasy owners a legitimate power source at second base.

Hill is only 27, so he should be coming into his own at the plate.

Shortstop: Marco Scutaro, .284/12/60/.381 with 13 SB’s

Until this year, Scutaro was a fantasy afterthought. Come to think of it, he was an afterthought to most major-league GM’s. I will just come out and say it — Scutaro was a scrub until this year.

Now, Scutaro is second in the majors in walks, and has provided owners with a solid average and OBP all year.

Third Base: Pablo Sandoval, .322/21/77

Sandoval has rewarded fantasy owners who followed him at the end of the 2008 season. In 2008, Sandoval hit .345 in 41 games for the San Francisco Giants.

Sandoval has been a fantasy beast in 2009 and at only 23-years-old, he should be a force in fantasy baseball for years to come.

Outfield: Nyjer Morgan, .307/3/39 with 42 SB’s

Coming into this year, Morgan was a 29-year-old career minor leaguer, who only had 293 career AB’s. This year, Morgan has blossomed into a legit fantasy contributor.

Morgan’s greatest asset is his speed and with 42 steals this season, he won fantasy owners the stolen base category many weeks.

Outfield: Michael Bourn, .294/3/35 with 57 SB’s.

Bourn always had the speed, but the issue has always been whether or not Bourn could hit at the major-league level. Coming into 2009, Bourn was a career .237 hitter with a .299 OBP.

Bourn in 2009 has answered his critiques. Bourn has more walks in 2009 than he had in his first three seasons combined. If he is walking more, it means he is getting on base more.

Bourn is tied for second amongst all outfielders in stolen bases with 57 and tied for fifth in runs with 90.

Outfield: Nelson Cruz, .266/32/71

Cruz was labeled as a classic “AAAA” player. A great minor league player, but never could do it at the major-league level. All Cruz has done in 2009 is give fantasy owners who have him 32 homeruns.

In his first four seasons with the Texas Rangers and Milwaukee Brewers, Cruz hit a combined 22 homeruns.

Greinke has been fantasy's best pitcher

Greinke has been fantasy's best pitcher

Starting Pitcher: Zack Greinke, 13-8 with a 2.19 ERA

Greinke lost 17 games in 2005 and pitched in just three games in 2006. Those days are a distant memory for Greinke. In 2009, he is baseball’s best fantasy pitcher.

Greinke leads the majors in ERA, WHIP, and shutouts. He is also second in strikeouts with 216. Greinke should be a fantasy ace for here on out.

Starting Pitcher: Wandy Rodriguez, 13-10 with a 2.77 ERA

Rodriguez wasn’t even drafted in my fantasy draft. Now, he is a legit No. 2 pitcher in all fantasy formats.

Starting Pitcher: Scott Feldman, 16-5 with a 3.65 ERA

Coming into 2009, Feldman had a grand total of seven wins in four major-league seasons. Now, he leads the American League in winning percentage and is tied for third in the majors with 16 wins.

What were the odds of that at the beginning of the season? Five million to one?

Closer: David Aardsma, 35 saves with a 2.09 ERA

If Feldman was a surprise, then Aardsma is five surprises wrapped into one. Nostradamus couldn’t have predicted Aardsma’s season.

Aardsma didn’t have a single save or an ERA under four coming into 2009. Now Aardsma is having just as good a year as Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, and Jonathan Broxton.

Incredible.

Ten Things We Learned In June…

July 1, 2009

Can you believe it is July 1st already? Maybe I don’t think it is the middle of summer because it rained almost every freakin’ day in the northeast in June. What a terrible month for weather.

Despite the bad weather, there was still plenty of good baseball that was played. The month of June usually separates the pretenders from the contenders, and this year was no different.

Here are the top 10 things we learned about baseball during the month of June…

10. The MLB Draft goes mainstream. For the first time, the MLB draft was on TV and on in prime time on the MLB Network. This was a good job by baseball realizing the increased importance of the draft, and fans should get insight on who their team is drafting.

To nobodies surprise, the Washington Nationals made San Diego State RHP Stephen Strasburg the No. 1 pick in the draft. Strasburg is probably the most hyped draft pick in the history of the draft and if you are a Nationals fan (all 100 of you), you better pray this guy is worth every dime he is going to get.

Speaking of rookies and the draft…

9. Tommy Hanson is good. Tommy Hanson made his debut for the Atlanta Braves on June 7th and since then he has gone 4-0 with a 2.48 ERA in five starts.

While his walk to strike out ratio isn’t the greatest in the world (17 walks to 18 K’s), he has wiggled out of trouble, kept his composure, and looks to be the real deal for the Atlanta Braves.

Speaking of the Braves…

8. The trade winds are a blowin’. The Atlanta Braves fired the first shot of the season by trading three prospects for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ All-Star CF Nate McLouth.

The Pittsburgh Pirates were very busy in the month of June. Besides trading Nate McLouth, they traded Eric Hinske to the New York Yankees, and traded Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett for Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan.

The Pirates weren’t the only NL Central team that was busy. The St. Louis Cardinals acquired perhaps the most versitle player on the market – Mark DeRosa from the Cleveland Indians.

Not only does DeRosa give the Cardinals someone to protect Albert Pujols in the lineup, but they also prevent DeRosa from being traded to his former team, the Chicago Cubs.

While on the subject of the Cubs…

7. Even All-Stars can be benched. The Chicago Cubs benched Milton Bradley, the Philadelphia Phillies benched Jimmy Rollins, and the Detroit Tigers sat down Magglio Ordonez. Kind of a rough month for these former All-Stars.

Did someone say something about former All-Stars being benched?

6. The demise of David Ortiz was premature. David Ortiz hit just .143 in May and everyone thought the Red Sox needed to trade for his replacement. Not so fast.

“Big Papi” wasn’t going down without a fight and Ortiz had a tremendous month of June. Ortiz hit .320 with seven HR’s, 18 RBI, and had a .409 OBP.

Let’s see if Ortiz can keep up the hot streak in July. Staying in the AL East…

5. The AL East is the best division in baseball. The Red Sox ended June with the best record in the AL, the Yankees have won five in a row and the Tampa Bay Rays have the best record in baseball after April.

Throw in the Toronto Blue Jays, who are three games over .500 and the Orioles, whose lineup can hit with anyone, it’s easy to see why the AL East is the best division in baseball.

It appears there will be two playoff spots for three teams.

On the topic of the American League…

4. The American League Dominated interleague play. The American League took the National League behind the woodshed in 2009. The AL had a 137-114 record against the NL.

While the NL has the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team with the best record in baseball, the AL from top to bottom is just a stronger league. If you put the Toronto Blue Jays in the NL, they probably would be the second best team in the league right now.

There was one team that stood out in interleague play. That team was…

3. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are back on top. The Angels had a brutal April and May. John Lackey, Ervin Santana, Vladimir Guerrero, Scot Shields, and Jose Arredondo all missed time for the halos. And of course, they went through the Nick Adenhart tragedy.

However, the Angels used interleague play to turn their season around. The Angels went an interleague best 14-4 and have returned to their customary position of AL West division leaders.

While the Angels were hot…

2. The Rockies were the team of the month. The Rockies fired Clint Hurdle at the end of May, hired Jim Tracy, and then the Rockies started beating teams left and right.

The Rockies lost their first three games in June and then only lost four more the rest of the month. At one point, they won 17 of 18 games, reminding fans of their great World Series run of 2007.

The Rockies are now 41-36 and are just 1.5 games out of a wild card spot. There may be another “Rocktober” in Colorado.

The Rockies were the team of the month, but the players of the month and the No. 1 thing we learned in the month of June was…

1. Randy Johnson and Mariano Rivera are first-ballot Hall of Famers. It was a milestone month for Randy Johnson and Mariano Rivera, two of the greatest pitchers off all-time.

Earlier this month, Randy Johnson became just the 24th pitcher and just the sixth lefthanded pitcher to win 300 games by defeating the Washington Nationals 5-1. The way the game is played now, Johnson might be the last 300 game winner.

Then later in the month, Mariano Rivera became just the second pitcher to record 500 saves for his career. Rivera now only trails Trevor Hoffman in all-time saves.

In my opinion, Randy Johnson is the greatest lefthanded pitcher of all-time and Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer of all-time. Both pitchers put an exclamation point on their already Hall of Fame careers.

That’s a wrap for the month of June. July should be even more exciting, as the July 31st trading deadline is one of the most interesting and exciting days in baseball.

One other thing I wanted to mention. As we all know, the title of my blog The Ghost of Moonlight Graham, was inspired by Burt Lancaster’s character in the movie Field of Dreams.

Well now the real life story of Archibald “Moonlight” Graham has been told. Brett Friedlander and Bob Reising have written the book “Chasing Graham.” It’s a fascinating story about a truly amazing man.

Brett Friedlander is a sports columnist covering ACC football and basketball for the Wilmington Star-News in North Carolina. He also writes for the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook and the ACC Sports Journal. 

His co-author, Bob Reising is an English professor at the University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky and is the former head baseball coach at South Carolina, Duke, and Furman.

You can purchase this fascinating book here.

Nationals Trade Lastings Milledge; Elijah Dukes Next?

July 1, 2009

Pittsburgh Pirates GM and fellow UMass Sports Management graduate, Neal Huntington was a busy man today. Hours after trading Eric Hinske to the Yankees, Huntington pulled off a four player trade with the Washington Nationals.

The Pirates traded Juan Pierre clone, OF Nyjer Morgan and LHP Sean Burnett to the Nationals for OF Lastings Milledge and RHP and former Nationals closer, Joel Hanrahan. I see why both teams made this trade, but I think the Pirates got the better of this one by a slight margin.

I am not a fan of Lastings Milledge. Never have been and never will be. His act has worn thin with me and apparently to the Nationals as well. However, he is four years younger than Morgan (Milledge is 25 and Morgan is 29) and the potential is there for him to be more productive than Morgan. I still think Milledge can produce at the major league level.

I see what Huntington is trying to do. He wants to be a build a young, athletic outfield, similar to what the Rays have built in Tampa Bay. He is two thirds of the way there with Andrew McCutchen in center and now with Milledge in left (once he gets healthy). Gorkys Hernandez, who the Pirates got in the Nate McLouth trade could possibly play right to complete the super-athletic outfield.

The Pirates also recieved Joel Hanrahan in this trade. I actually like Hanrahan and I am a little surprised the Nationals gave up on him. Last year Hanrahan had a 3.95 ERA, 9 saves, and struck out 93 in 84.1 IP.

This year Hanrahan has struggled with a 7.71 ERA, but still has 35 strike outs in 32.2 IP. That tells me his stuff is there, he just needs to make some minor adjustments. Joe Kerrigan is one of the best pitching coaches in the game and will work with Hanrahan to make those adjustments.

For the Washington Nationals, I kind of see what they are trying to do.  As Dave Cameron of Fangraphs pointed out, the Nationals have the worst outfield defenses in baseball. I have watched them recently against the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees and quite frankly their outfield defense was a joke.

Trading for Morgan gives the Nationals one of the best leftfielders in the game. Morgan can fly and track down balls that Josh Willingham, Adam Dunn or Elijah Dukes can’t get to.

Nationals interim GM Mike Rizzo is trying to make up for former GM Jim Bowden’s neglect of defense. As the Tampa Bay Rays last year and the Detroit Tigers have proved this year, one of the quickest ways to improve your ball club is by improving the defense.

The Nationals received Sean Burnett in this trade as well. Burnett was having a good season as the Pirates lefthanded set-up man. Burnett had a 3.06 ERA and has only given up 22 hits in 32.1 IP. Lefties are only hitting .189 against Burnett this year.

Here is the only thing I don’t understand about this trade from the Nationals perspective. Why trade for a 29-year old in Morgan? The Nationals need to get younger not older. That part is a little puzzling to me. I understand they want to improve their defense, but you can find a guy like Morgan who is younger in most team’s minor league system

While the Nationals got rid of one problem in Milledge, they may be looking to ship out another one in Elijah Dukes. According to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson, the Nationals are also trying to trade Dukes.

Dukes is hitting only .237 with six HR’s and 30 RBI in 190 AB’s for the Nationals this season. Dukes also comes with a ton of baggage, so the Nationals might find it hard to find a taker for Dukes.

Fantasy Week In Review 4/5-4/12

April 14, 2009

With the first week of the season in the books, it’s time to look at the players who have been fantasy studs, the players who you should look at to pick up and the players you should be concerned about.

Fantasy Studs

Evan Longoria – .481/5/10. Could he be headed toward an MVP season?

Miguel Cabrera – .467/3/10. It’s scary how much power Cabrera has.

Lind is off to a fast start

Lind is off to a fast start

Adam Lind – .400/3/12. If he is still available in your league than A. Your league is not very competitive and B. PICK HIM UP!!!

Troy Tulowitzki – .263/3/5/.440. Looks like last season was a fluke.

Roy Halladay – 2-0 3.86 era with 9 K’s in 14 IP. Nothing new from Halladay as the best pitcher in baseball continues to do his thing.

Josh Johnson – 2-0 0.57 era with 15 K’s in 15.2 IP. Might be the best pitcher on the best pitching staff in the NL East.

Aaron Harang – 1-1 0.64 era with 11 K in 14 IP. Pitched the very rare CGSO on Sunday.

Paul Maholm – 1-0 1.32 era with just 10 H in 13.2 IP. 2 starts, 2 quality starts. Only drawback is low K rate.

Reason for Concern

Cliff Lee – 0-2 9.90 era with 17 H and 10 K in 10 IP. A K per inning shows he still has his stuff but his location so far has been horrific.

Tim Lincecum – 0-1 7.56 era with 14 H, 6 BB, 10 K in 8.1 IP. What is concerning is the walks. 6 in 8.1 is not going to cut it. Like with Lee, it seems location is an issue. The 10 K’s in 8.1 IP is encouraging.

Brian Fuentes – 2 saves 12.00 era with 6 H in 3 IP. Already has blown 1 save and has looked shaky in his 2 other save opps. The Angels have other options so Fuentes might be on a short leash.

Hamels was rocked in Colorado

Hamels was rocked in Colorado

Cole Hamels – 0-1 17.18 era with 11 H in 3.2 IP. Hamels got rocked in Colorado. 260+ IP last year and elbow issues in spring training gives owners reason for concern.

Jason Motte – 0 saves 15.43 era with 7 H in 2.1 IP. Motte has had 2 save opps and has 0 saves. LaRussa has already given save opps to other relievers. Keep an eye on this situation. If Motte is not getting saves, he is not worth a roster spot.

Brandon Webb – 13.50 era and a trip to the DL. Webb visited Dr James Andrews. Never a good sign. As my friend Chad says, “Dr James Andrews = 2010.”

Jed Lowrie – .056/0/0. Lowrie is 1 for 18 so far this season. If he keeps this up, he will find himself on the bench when Lugo comes back.

Justin Upton – .000/0/0. I have no idea what Bob Melvin is trying to do to this kid? A 21 year old kid with all the talent in the world has only started 3 out of 6 games and when he does start he is batting 8th. This while Tony Clark and Eric Byrnes continue to get ab’s. Makes ZERO sense. Stick with Upton though. Either Melvin will get it or will be fired.

Potential Pick Ups

Emilio Bonifacio – .500/1/5 with 4 sb’s. The ultimate sleeper, Bonifacio tore up pitching in the first week. Look at my “Who is Emilio Bonifacio?” post for more on Bonifacio.

Adam Jones – .409/0/4 with 4 doubles and 7 runs. Tim Kurkjian loves him and that should be good enough for you to pick him up.

Nyjer Morgan – .423/0/5 with 3 sb’s and 5 runs. Juan Pierre Part 2. That means .270-.280 with 0 hr’s and 40-50 sb’s. If your league values sb’s, then Morgan is your guy.

Dexter Fowler – .385/2/3 1 sb in just 13 ab’s. I am confident in saying that Seth Smith is not the answer for the Rockies in LF. Look for the Rockies to move Spilborghs over to LF so Fowler can play in CF.

Brandon Inge – .269/4/7/.441. Inge qualifies as a catcher, which makes him a valuable player this year. If he keeps up this HR pace, he will be even more valuable.

Erik Bedard – 1-0 2.03 era with 15 K’s in 13.1 IP. My “Key” to the Mariners is off to a good start. If he can stay healthy, then he is a nice pitcher to have in any fantasy format.