Posts Tagged ‘Travis Hafner’

Starting Nine: American League Central

January 12, 2010

Yesterday, I took at the starting nine position players for each American League East team. Today, I will cover the starting nine position players for each American League Central team.

Remember, these lineups are as of today. Obviously these will change as the offseason continues. I will update these lineups as the season approaches.

Here are the starting lineups for each American League Central team:

Minnesota Twins

1. Denard Span, CF

2. Joe Mauer, C

3. Justin Morneau, 1B

4. Michael Cuddyer, RF

5. Jason Kubel, DH

6. Delmon Young, LF

7. J.J. Hardy, SS

8. Brendan Harris, 3B

9. Nick Punto, 2B

Quick Take – The Twins have as good a one through five as anyone in baseball. They desperately need a third and second baseman. Orlando Hudson would be a nice addition.

Chicago White Sox

1. Juan Pierre, LF

2. Gordon Beckham, 2B

3. Carlos Quentin, RF

4. Paul Konerko, 1B

5. Alex Rios, CF

6. Alexei Ramirez, SS

7. A.J. Pierzynski, C

8. Mark Teahen, 3B

9. Mark Kotsay, DH

Quick Take – Perhaps there is no lineup that is harder to put together than the White Sox’s. This lineup could go in nine different directions. They need a DH and bringing back Jim Thome would make sense.

Detroit Tigers

1. Austin Jackson, CF

2. Carlos Guillen, DH

3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B

4. Magglio Ordonez, RF

5. Brandon Inge, 3B

6. Ryan Raburn, LF

7. Gerald Laird, C

8. Adam Everett, SS

9. Scott Sizemore, 2B

Quick Take – Another hard lineup to put together. Jackson and Sizemore could flip-flop in the order. I don’t see a reason to ever pitch to Cabrera.

Kansas City Royals

1. Scott Podsednik, CF

2. David DeJesus, LF

3. Billy Butler, 1B

4. Jose Guillen, RF

5. Alex Gordon, 3B

6. Alberto Callaspo, 2B

7. Josh Fields, DH

8. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS

9. Jason Kendall, C

Quick Take – This lineup is going to have a hard time scoring runs. This year might be make or break for Gordon.

Cleveland Indians

1. Azdrubal Cabrera, SS

2. Michael Brantley, LF

3. Grady Sizemore, CF

4. Shin-Soo Choo, RF

5. Travis Hafner, DH

6. Jhonny Peralta, 3B

7. Matt LaPorta, 1B

8. Lou Marson, C

9. Luis Valbuena, 2B

Quick Take – I like putting Brantley in the two-hole because of the speed and high OBP ability he showed in the minors. Sizemore moves down to the three-hole and takes on the role of a run producer.

Tomorrow, I will take a look at the American League West.

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

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Predicting The Comeback Players Of The Year

April 1, 2009

The Comeback Player of the Year Award is given to the player in the AL & NL who have “re-emerged” as a player during a single season. Past winners include Jason Giambi (o5, Yankees), Nomar Garciaparra (06, Dodgers) and Cliff Lee (08, Indians). Speaking of “re-emerging,” the MLB Comeback Player of the Year Award is presented by Viagra. Good times. VIVA, VIVA VIIIIIAGRAAAAAA!!! I feel that is the only commercial you see these days.

Here are the candidates and my picks for the Comeback Player of the Year…

NL

Candidates – Chris Carpenter, Todd Helton, Aaron Harang, Nick Johnson, Mike Hampton & Jeff Francouer

Helton has been killing it

Helton has been killing it

Comeback Player of the Year – Todd Helton

WHY – This will be a race all year between Helton and Carpenter but I think the chances of Helton staying healthy are greater than Carpenters. Helton is hitting the ball all over the park this spring to the tune of a .515/4/14 in just 33 ab’s. Back injuries usually mean a player will lose his ability to hit the long ball so look for Helton to mirror Mattingly at the end his career. Which means .280-.290 with 10 hr’s and somewhere in the neighborhood of 70-80 rbi.

AL

Candidates – John Smoltz, Brad Penny, Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez, Chris Ray, Carl Pavano, Jorge Posada & Kelvim Escobar

Comeback Player of the Year – John Smoltz

WHY – While the National League will be a 2 horse race between Helton and Carpenter, the American League has about 8-10 legitimate candidates for this award. In the end I think Smoltz will win because

1. He will have a significant impact on the pennant race when he comes back in June.

2. The fact that he is trying to comeback after surgery at the age of 42 is amazing.

3. He is “John Smoltz.” He will always get the vote over someone else.

A dark horse candidate is Escobar. After missing all of last season, he has looked really good this spring. It looks like has time table for joining the Angels has been moved up from June to May. He could have a major impact on the injury riddled Angels staff if healthy.

Don’t Call It A Comeback….

March 25, 2009

As Americans we all love a good comeback. In the last year we have had Mickey Rouke, Robert Downey Jr (again) and Britney Spears all make comebacks. Well in baseball there are 10 players who are trying to make a comeback from injuries they suffered last year. Let’s take a look and see how these players are fairing this spring.

Penny making a comeback

Penny making a comeback

1. Brad Penny, Red Sox. Penny who spent the majority of 2008 on the DL with a bum shoulder, signed a 1 year $5MM contract with the Red Sox in the offseason. After getting off to a slow start in Spring Training, Penny pitched in his first game against major league hitters on Monday and looked like the Brad Penny of 06 & 07. Penny pitched 3 innings, was hitting 92-94 on the gun and afterwards said he felt “100%.” The Red Sox won’t need a 5th starter until April 12th and it remains to be seen if Penny will be ready by then. However, it does look like Penny is on the right track to making a solid contribution to the Red Sox in 2009.

2.Mike Lowell, Red Sox. After hip surgery in October, many doubted the 35 year old Lowell could regain his old form. Those doubters have been quieted this spring as Lowell has looked like he never had hip surgery. Lowell is 6-16 with 2 hr’s so far this spring. Lowell looks on track to be the Opening Day 3B for the Red Sox.

3.Jorge Posada. Posada was limited to only 51 games in 2008 after torn labrum and damaged rotator cuff ended his season. The question headed into Spring Training with Posada is not whether or not he can hit (.333 in 30 ab’s this spring) but whether or not he can catch. In Sunday’s game against the Pirates, Posada threw out 3 of 4 baserunners so Posada’s shoulder looks to be holding up just fine so far. It will be interesting at 37 if Posada’s shoulder can hold up during the season.

4. Chase Utley, Phillies. Utley like Lowell had offseason hip surgery and like Lowell looks on pace to be in the lineup on Opening Day. Utley hit his 1st hr yesterday off of BJ Ryan and is 5-18 so far this spring.

5. Chris Carpenter, Cardinals. After only appearing in 5 games the last 2 years because of injuries, Carpenter has been a buzz saw in Grapefruit League competition. Carpenter hasn’t allowed an earned run in 19 innings and Carpenter felt he had his best stuff all spring when he struck out 6 Nationals in 5 innings on Monday. There isn’t a player in baseball who holds the key to his team’s success more than Carpenter does this year.

Escobar won 18 games in 07

Escobar won 18 games in 07

6. Kelvim Escobar, Angels. It’s amazing, Escobar wins 18 games in 07 and goes down in 08 and nobody flinches. Chien-Ming Wang wins 19 games in 07 and goes down in 08 and the world turned upside down. The Angels lost an 18 game winner from the previous season right before the season started and they still finished with the best record in the AL in 08. It just goes to show you what a solid franchise the Angels have become. But back to Escobar. It seemed as if Escobar was destined to rejoin the Angels in midseason, but after an impressive performance in a minor league game on Monday where he hit 96 on the gun, it might be sooner. Escobar is now throwing every 5th day in order to build strength in his right arm.

7. Travis Hafner, Indians. A shoulder injury limited Hafner to only 57 games and destroyed his 2008 season. Even when Hafner was in the lineup he just wasn’t himself. In those 57 games, Hafner hit .197 with 5 hr’s and just 24 rbi. This spring Hafner has been slow in reverting back to the form that made him one of the most feared hitters in baseball from 04-07. Hafner so far this spring has hit .157 with 0 hr and 3 rbi in 32 ab’s.

8. Erik Bedard, Mariners. Ladies and gentleman, your 2008 Bust of the Year award winner. Bedard was the centerpiece in the trade that sent Bedard to the Mariners and Adam Jones, George Sherrill and 3 minor league pitchers to the Orioles and failed to live up to expectations. Bedard suffered injuries to his hip and left shoulder which limited him to only 15 starts last year. Bedard is making progress (1.08 in 8.1 spring innings) and because of his impending free agency, I look for him to have a bounce back year in 2009.

9. Eric Chavez, A’s. Talk about being a shell of your former self. What on earth has happened to this guy? From 2006-2008 he has averaged 13 hr’s and 44 rbi’s. Not what Billy Beane was looking for when he signed Chavez to a 6 year $66MM in the spring of 06. Chavez has had 2 surgeries on his right shoulder and 1 major surgery on his lower back. He claims he has never felt better this spring but that remains to be seen. Chavez is currently hitting .091 with 0 hr and 0 rbi’s in 11 spring ab’s.

10. Troy Percival, Rays. Percival, who hadn’t saved more than 20 games since 2004, saved 28 for the Rays last year. He would have saved more if not for a back injury that ended his season. Now at the tender age of 39, Percival is attempting another comeback. Having thrown a scoreless inning in each of his last 3 outings, it appears Percival will be the Rays closer on Opening Day.

The “Key” Player For Each MLB Team…

March 4, 2009

Yesterday, in Part 1 of my “The key player each MLB team” column, I covered all 16 National League teams. Well, today it is time to cover all 14 teams in the American League.

Teams are listed by division.

AL East

Blue Jays – David Purcey. I believe the Blue Jays offense will be fine due to having Adam Lind, Travis Snyder and Aaron Hill in the lineup for the full season. That means someone needs to step up behind Roy Halladay. With the loss of AJ Burnett to free agency and Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowen to injuries, former 1st round pick David Purcey needs to step up in order for the Blue Jays to even think of having a chance in the AL East.

Orioles – Jeremy Guthrie. The Orioles need an ace and a leader of their pitching staff and Guthrie has the potential to be that guy. At 30 years old, it’s time for Guthrie to step up, pitch 200 innings and be the ace of the Orioles staff.

Can Percival return as the Rays closer?

Can Percival return as the Rays closer?

Rays – Troy Percival. I think the Rays are playing with fire by going into the season with an uncertain closer situation. According to Rays Index, Troy Percival is ahead of schedule and while I am not sure how good that is for the Rays, a healthy Percival means guys like Wheeler and Balfour can pitch in their appropriate role of set-up men.

Red Sox – Mike Lowell. Just like Chase Utley, Lowell had hip surgery in the offseason. The Red Sox need a healthy Lowell to add depth and stability to the lineup. If Lowell can get back to at least a 20 hr and 80 rbi season, the Red Sox will once again be contenders for a World Series title.

Yankees – Jorge Posada.This was a toss-up between AJ Burnett and Jorge Posada. In the end Posada is the “key” because if Posada can’t play behind the plate because of his shoulder, it affects the entire roster. If Posada can’t catch then the Yankees will have to carry a 3rd catcher which would weaken there bench and Posada would have to DH, which would take away ab’s from Matsui, Nady and Swisher.

AL Central

Indians – Travis Hafner. A shoulder injury limited Hafner to only 57 games in 2008. Even in those 57 games, Hafner hit only .197/5/24. Very un-Hafner like. The Indians are proceeding with caution with Hafner but they need “Pronk” to return to the 25 hr and 100 rbi guy they are used to.

Royals – Kyle Davies. It seems like Davies has been around forever but he is only 25 years old. He is just entering his prime pitching years and a solid September in 08 (4-1, 2.27) lead many to believe Davies has turned the corner. The Royals need someone from the trio of Davies, Bannister & Hochevar to step up behind Meche and Greinke. If Davies can be that guy, the Royals might be headed to the post-season for the 1st time since 1985.

Tigers – Joel Zumaya. Zumaya burst onto the scene in 2006 and was one of the key reasons the Tigers went to the World Series for the 1st time since 1984. In the last 2 seasons, Zumaya has only appeared in 49 games because of injuries. Still only 24, a healthy Zumaya in 2009 gives the Tigers one of the best 8th inning set-up men in the game and will help them improve on their 27th ranked bullpen in 2008.

Liriano is the key for the Twins in 09

Liriano is the key for the Twins in 09

Twins – Francisco Liriano. I love the Twins this year but they will only go as far as Francisco Liriano takes them. At 25 and over 2 years removed from Tommy John surgery, Liriano has the potential to be a Cy Young candidate in 09. If Liriano can get back to his 06 12-3, 2.16 form, the Twins will be a serious contender for the AL Pennant.

White Sox – Josh Fields. With Joe Crede finally out of his way, it’s time for Josh Fields to prove he is just not another top prospect but a legit major league player. Fields had a solid rookie season in 2007 when he hit 23 hr and had 67 rbi in 100 games but injuries derailed his 2008 season. If Fields can’t get back to his rookie form, the White Sox are looking at a combination of Wilson Betemit and Brent Lillibridge at 3B. Not good.

AL West

Angels – Brian Fuentes. I always viewed Fuentes as a nice lefty set-up guy rather than a Closer for a team trying to win a World Series. For those who argue Fuentes was on the Rockies team that made it to the World Series in 07. Remember, he lost the Closer’s job to Manny Corpas during that season and he wasn’t even the Closer when the season began last year. Fuentes will have a lot of pressure on him to replace the departed Francisco Rodriguez. If he can’t handle the pressure, the Angels will have to scramble to find a Closer.

A’s – Dana Eveland. The A’s went for it on offense this offseason by adding Holliday, Giambi, Cabrera and Garciaparra. Now with reports that Justin Duchscher will have an MRI on his forearm there is even more pressure on someone on the A’s rotation to make an impact. That person needs to be Dana Eveland. One of the key players in the Haren trade, Eveland needs to improve on his 9-9 2008 record in order for the A’s to compete with the Angels for the AL West crown.

Can Bedard stay healthy in 09?

Can Bedard stay healthy in 09?

Mariners – Erik Bedard. The rebuilding Mariners need more than ever for Bedard to stay healthy and pitch like he did in his 15 win season with the Orioles in 2006. Why you ask? Because Bedard is a free agent at the end of the 2009 season and you better believe that if Bedard is pitching well, the Mariners will ask for a king’s ransom for the 29 year old lefty at the July 31st trading deadline. If the Mariners can get some top prospects for Bedard, it will speed up their rebuilding process.

Rangers – Matt Harrison. It seems like it has been the same question in Rangers camp for the last 20 years. Who is going to pitch for this team? So this years “key pitcher de jour” is Matt Harrison. Harrison was the key pitcher in the Mark Teixeira trade a couple of years ago and despite having an era of 5.49 he still managed to go 9-3 in 2008. The Rangers know what they are going to get from Millwood and Padilla, so the development of young pitchers like Harrison is key for the Rangers in 09.