Saturday, June 27, 2009

Evaluating Everth

Last night, we dropped Kaz Matsui and picked up Everth Cabrera, to play in out Middle Infield position.

We gave Matsui about two weeks, where he provided a below average OBP, three runs, two RBI, and no HR's or SB's.

Onto the stage steps 22-year old Everth Cabrera, of the San Diego Padres.

This kid is listed at 5'8" 160 lbs.  He has no power, but tons of speed.  In addition, he's produced a high OBP throughout his minor league career (.384).

That .384 OBP is more impressive when noting how young he is.  It's not like he's a 25-year old player pounding on 22-year old pitchers in Double A.

No doubt about it, Everth Cabrera is someone to pick up if stolen bases are important to your league's scoring.  In the past week, he has two steals on two attempts.  His career stolen base record is an impressive 109 steals, in 235 games, with 31 caught stealing.  Last season, in A ball, he stole 73 bases, in 121 games, while being caught 16 times.

To have sustainable success on the Major League level, Cabrera will need to cut down on his strikeouts.  He struck out 101 times last year, while walking 51 times.

Hopefully, some tutelage from the Major League hitting instructors will go a long way with his development.  His wheels are for real.  In addition to his stolen base numbers, he's had a sparkling BABIP (batting average of balls in play) over .350 two and three years ago, and a .429 BABIP last season.

If you're carrying any dead weight on your roster, and your looking for steals, this might be the right time to give Everth Cabrera a look.

Enjoy your weekend.  Go Cubs.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

All Star Ballots

A few weeks ago, I started a draft for a column entitled "Appreciating Lincecum".  After writing out some thoughts on that subject, I tried to build an All Appreciation Team from players around major league baseball.  There were some positions where I couldn't decide, therefore the post has never seen the light of day.

This morning, I filled out my first All Star ballot online.  People may vote up to 25 times.  More on this in a second, but first...

Congratulations, Astros fans!  Today is the first day of the Jiovanni Mier Era.According to friend of the blog, Keith Law, via MLBtraderumors, the Astros agree to terms with their first round pick, high school shortstop, Jiovanni Mier.

Young Mr. Mier has earned himself a spot on the 25 man roster for the "great name" team.

Scouts have praised this kid's defense, and his tools project well.  He's not known as an elite hitting prospect.  Hopefully, for the Astros, he will grow into his body, so he can add bat speed and power.  He's just a high-school kid, so there's a chance he'll become a better hitter than he's shown.

Anyway, filling out the All Star ballot this morning gave us a framework to discuss the players we appreciate the most around both leagues.  Even though the ballots don't allow fans to vote for pitchers, we will vote for a few arms.

American League
1b: Miguel Cabrera
It's a Golden Age of first basemen, as this super star currently sits fourth in voting for AL first basemen.  We can't even cry foul, as the three guys ahead of him (Teixeira, Youkilis, & Morneau) are legitimate MVP candidates every season.

2b: Ian Kinsler
Others can have Dustin Pedroia, and his uppercut swing.  Give me the speed and power from Rangers sparkplug, Ian Kinsler.  The combination of speed and power he has been exhibiting lately is to be recognized.  He has 18 home runs and 14 steals, while being caught only twice.  For his career, he's only been caught stealing ten times, while swiping 74 bags.

SS: Alexei Ramirez
AlexeiRam does not have the numbers to justify the vote, but Jeter's going to win this & he doesn't need our help.  We'll throw out a little support for the Cuban Missile.

3b: Evan Longoria
Longoria is making a case to be considered the best player in the game.  He is widely considered the best young player in the game.  It's not unanimous, as other's still consider Joe Mauer young.  I think Longoria has shown enough to be in the discussion of best player, with Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera.
 
C: Joe Mauer
Nothing needs to be written here to help punctuate what Mauer has accomplished this summer and throughout his career.  I'll just add that it's a shame voters aren't showing up for Victor Martinez.  He's fifth in the AL, behind inferior players: Jason Varitek, Jorge Posada, and (unbelievably) Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

OF: Nelson Cruz
Salty's teammate, Nelson Cruz, has a chance to be this season's young star who has the biggest breakout season.  Adam Jones is making a case for himself in Baltimore, but we appreciate how big and strong Cruz looks.  Our old scouting eye is in love with his tools, as they say.

OF: Jacoby Ellsbury
Ellsbury has seen improvement in his OBP, .361 this season from .336 last year.  Unfortunately, for Red Sox fans, it appears it's from more hits and he's actually not showing much more playe discipline.  I'm afraid he may be in line for a bit of regression, with his OBP settling in closer to .349.

OF: Ichiro Suzuki
The first time I saw Ichiro in person was in Safeco Field seven or eight years ago, when Freddy Garcia was pitching for the Mariners.  He is still the most exciting player I've ever seen live, and I've seen a lot of them.  Ichiro can command an audience's attention like Michael Jordan.

Everyone gets entranced when he digs into the batter's box and points directly at the pitcher.  The audience is routinely surprised by his speed to first base, or the way he sprints to the ball on defense.  The last thing that stays with me is how he would show text book footwork and mechanics when unloading a laser beam throw from the outfield.  Even watching him warm up between innings was impressive.  Ichiro is an all time favorite, and I'm excited for his celebration in Cooperstown.

SP: Felix Hernandez
Sure, Greinke, Halladay, Verlander and other AL starters are having great seasons, but if there's one thing I am, it's biased.  I love Felix Hernandez like he were a family member and am so pleased that he's been having success so far this season.  Let's appreciate the chance to watch this young man turn into an ace in front of our eyes.  He was in the majors at such a young age, that we forget he's actually younger than Joba.  He really has room to improve, and the stuff he brings to the hill is lethal.

RP: Mariano Rivera
He's still the best.  There are other guys out there with better stuff, like Soria and Papelbon.  But, this is an All-Star Game, and Rivera is having a good season, while being the most celebrated closer of all time.

National League
1b: Albert Pujols
I don't think I've ever voted for a Cardinal before, so A-Pu should be flattered.

2b: Chase Utley
I'm sticking with the popular vote, but yes - this guy is the NL's best.

SS: Hanley Ramirez
Hanley is putting together another great season, as he looks forward to one day being the highest paid player in the game.

3b: Aramis Ramirez
I should vote for David Wright, but something tells me he'll be just fine without my help.

C: Brian McCann
It's safe to say that Chipper Jones is no longer the best hitter on the Braves.  McCann has shown an ability to hit for a high average, maintain a healthy BB/K ratio, and drive the ball with power consistently.  Russell Martin used to be an All-Star, but he's recently moved in with a supermodel and lost the drive to be successful, allegedly.

OF: Raul Ibanez
His current DL stint shouldn't detract from the fact that he's been the best offensive acquisition this year.  He's carried the defending world champions at times and should represent them, much more than Jimmy Rollins, who until had more votes than Hanley.

OF: Carlos Beltran
Beltran probably won't be able to play in the game, but he should be recognized.  He had a case to be NL MVP until his bone bruise forced him on the shelf.

OF: Matt Kemp
This is another one of our favorite contributors.  His size, speed, power, and athleticism ooze talent.  We'd say he's one of the best young players in the game and could still put up a 40/40 season  if everything clicks around 2010 or '11.

SP: Tim Lincecum
The inspiration for these comments.  Tiny Tim is such a rare creature that we hope everyone appreciates the chance to watch him pitch.  The energy that he gets from his small frame and transfers into the baseball, as he hurls it towards the plate, is astonishing.  Sure, we've seen little guys bring heat, like Pedro and Oswalt.  But, we haven't seen a guy do a Luis Tiant turn and coil like this before.  If you haven't, make sure to check out the legendary Tom Verducci article from two years ago.

RP: Heath Bell
Jonathan Broxton is the Hollywood superstar, and I do appreciate everything he brings to the hill.  But, I'd like to see Bell get the save opportunity in this season's classic, if possible.  He's such a great story.  He was a college closer, but spent most of his time in the big leagues as a set up man for Billy Wagner or Trevor Hoffman.  This season, with Hoffman on the Brew Crew, Heath Bell has converted 20 of 21 save chances.  He made a splash around here in the offseason, when he reported to camp slimmer and attributed it entirely to messing around with Wii Fit.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cocktail Party Ammo

In case anyone has plans to attend a cocktail party in the next couple of days, here are a few conversation starters that are sure to keep your fellow party goers entertained and enlightened.

- It looks like the Yankees have responded to recent criticism about the way they've handled their third baseman.  Alex Rodriguez will be rested at least once a week until the All-Star break.  Special love goes to this link because of the classic Yankee fan comments in the comments section.  Keep in mind that people at your cocktail party may prefer to discuss A-Rod & K-Hud.

- Big news out of the San Francisco Chronicle... Henry Schulman reporting that Giants' super prospect catcher, Buster Posey, may soon get promoted from Single-A to Triple-A.  Their public plan remains for Posey to be in the minors in 2009 and starting next season.  Bengie Molina is a free agent at the end of the year, and I think he'll be looking for more than a chance to mentor the new young, stud prospect who's taking his job.  Since there is always a sucker GM out there, who will fall in love with RBI's, barring injury, Molina will get a starting job somewhere else.

- There was some good news for Aki Iwamura and the Rays, stemming from his recent knee surgery.  Since his ACL was only partially torn, he should be back in about seven or eight weeks.

As a Ben Zobrist guy, I am nervous but hope Zobrist has done enough to still have an everyday spot in the lineup.  He has, right?  He can play all over the field.  If Jason Bartlett and Iwamura are playing the middle infield, I expect that Zobrist can play right field instead of the Gabe platoon of Gabe Gross and Gabe Kapler.

Last random note about this topic: the Rays orthopedist is named Dr. Koko Eaton.  I'd wonder if she's related to Mark Eaton, but I doubt Mark Eaton has anyone in his family named Koko.

- The poor Mets keep losing warriors.  They have now lost their MRV, Carlos Beltran, for more than the minimum 15 days his stay on the DL will require.  Whispers are saying he won't even return immediately after the All-Star Game.  Who are the Mets' orthopedists?  They'll probably ask Beltran to do a test on a treadmill that'll exasperate his injury so he can't come back until late August.  David Wright is going to have one heck of a time trying to win with the Mets Triple-A stars hitting around him.

I have a feeling that is hard to describe, but I think this is actually a great time to be a Met fan.  Speaking as a Cubs' fan, I have vast experience knowing what bad times are really like.  My background, watching WGN and going to Wrigley Field has shown me many faces of hardship.  I've lived through teams so flawed, their talent couldn't be repeated often enough to win consistently.  I've seen teams with no hope.  (By the way, rooting for teams with no hope truly is worse than rooting for a consistent heartbreaker.)

This Mets team is actually good.  They're just hurt.  Every team has injuries. The Cubs would be a lot better with a healthy Aramis Ramirez, and the same can be said for a lot of teams.  But, this Mets team stands alone.

The Mets current DL has, among others:

Carlos Beltran, CF
Jose Reyes, SS
Carlos Delgado, 1b
J.J. Putz, 8th Inning RP
John Maine, #2 SP
Oliver Perez, #3 SP

Those are six integral cogs of any team.*

*I find it interesting how the Mets and Cubs depend on offense from different positions.  If the Cubs lost the players they feature at those positions, I think they would still be pretty good.  They would still have Aramis at 3rd base and healthy corner outfielders in Soriano and Bradley.  On the offensive side, they would "only" be losing Derek Lee, Ryan Theriot, and Kosuke Fukudome.  They could survive with Jake Fox/Micah Hoffpauir at first base.  On the pitching side, Marmol hasn't even been good in the 8th inning, and losing Lilly and Dempster wouldn't mean so much if Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden could stay healthy.

Back to my point.  The Mets' luck cannot get worse.  They will get their players back eventually.  (Maybe, they won't get Delgado back, but it's "easy" to trade for a first baseman.)

When the healthy Mets return to the field, they will most likely still be in the race.  I feel this could be like when the 1992 Duke Blue Devils basketball team lost Bobby Hurley for a few weeks.  He was the point guard and floor leader of that team, but someone had to step up.  This being Duke, and all, they had future hall of fame talent, Grant Hill, to step in and play point forward, like a white glove Scottie Pippen.

After Bobby Hurley came back, announcers like Verne Lundquist and Dickie V would say how much better the Duke team was playing because the bench players who had to step up were so much better from the experience they gained.

If I were a Met fan, I would be absolutely certain that the same thing was going to happen for them.  Later this season, I'd look for Alex Cora to become an awesome utility man, maybe the best in the business.  I think Jeremy Reed could really flourish with an extended look in Center Field.  If Daniel Murphy can stay away from bad habits in his swing and off the field, he may be able to contribute with good pinch hit ABs, at the very least.

The final silver lining is that Omar has to make a trade now.  Who are we kidding?  Jeremy Reed and Daniel Murphy are no Grant Hill's, but they can still become part of a strong(er) bench after Beltran and Reyes come back and first base is manned by Delgado or a player to be named later.

- Is anyone else super excited about John Smoltz this Thursday night?  Check out some of these quotes from Braves catcher Brian McCann and manager Bobby Cox...
“He’s one of the smartest pitchers I’ve ever been around, first off,’’ McCann said. “He wills himself to be the best, every single day. Everything he [does] just is at a high level, no matter if it’s playing ping-pong. He’s just so competitive. He’s usually the best at what he does.

“It’s very rare. He’s the best athlete I’ve ever been around. He can do it all. I could sit here and throw a million adjectives. He’s a great, great pitcher, and a great person.’’

-- snip --

“Never doubt him,’’ McCann said. “If there’s a game I want someone to win, I don’t care if it’s John Smoltz throwing lefthanded, I want John Smoltz on the mound. Boston got a great pitcher, a guy who when the postseason comes, you can rely on him to go out there and give you a great performance. I think they got a great pitcher in Smoltzy.’’

That is easy to quantify. In 20 major league seasons, Smoltz has gone 206-141 as a starter, with a 3.33 ERA. As a reliever, Smoltz rang up 154 saves, with a 2.41 ERA. He is the only pitcher with at least 200 wins and 150 saves. But that is hardly the extent of Smoltz’s greatness. Try his postseason numbers: 15-4 with a 2.65 ERA.

Those numbers are exactly why Smoltz is wearing a Boston uniform. Because, as McCann said, “You see Josh Beckett, he’s one of the best postseason pitchers coming up and Smoltzy is the best postseason pitcher, so you put those two together on a staff and they’ve got [Jon] Lester. This team is going to be tough to beat in the playoffs.’’

Smoltz is used to coming back from injury, having reinvented himself before. McCann has seen it. Bobby Cox, who managed Smoltz for all but two of his seasons in Atlanta, has watched the pitcher do everything possible. And sometimes, the impossible.

“He can invent pitches and arm angles when he had to, when his arm was sore and all that,’’ Cox said. “He would drop down, throw side arm, throw knuckleballs, and still win. The genius comes in, figuring things out. That’s what it’s all about, adjusting as hitters, adjusting as pitchers, and figure out a way to get people out.

“I’m not just making this up. It’s all true.’’

Cox has no doubt Smoltz will help the Sox, calling their pitching staff “dynamite.’’ Between his pitches and his presence, Cox predicted Smoltz would have a major impact.

“No. 1, he’s got talent,’’ Cox said. “No. 2, he’s smart as heck. No. 3, he’s a great competitor. Add them all up, you’ve got Josh Beckett and John Smoltz.’’

-- snip --

“He’s done it many times,’’ Cox said. “Never count him out, ever. Ever.’’
Gotta love that last "Ever" that Bobby Cox threw in there.

- I'm pleased to see that Jason Kubel is starting to get more well deserved publicity.  A few weeks ago, we called him a lunch pail masher.  Today, Kelsie Smith calls him Mr. Versatile.  I guess that's good, too.

- An, incredible story is developing for Khalil Greene.  He hasn't been good in over a year.  He went away because of an anxiety disorder.  He's coming back now, as a third baseman.  And, he hit a home run in his first three games back.  Is this a mirage?  Is he going to pop 20 home runs the rest of the season?  Should fantasy owners take a look at him in that Michael Young, er Jhonny Peralta mode of SS/3b guys with some pop?

- Our final note is dedicated to the guy we drafted with the last pick in our draft this season.  Dave Cameron, over at Fangraphs, is giving an A+ to David Aardsma.  My only qualm with his post is at the very end...
I’m not saying Aardsma is going to continue to post a 1.62 ERA all season. With as many fly balls as he gives up, he’s going to surrender a few more home runs along the way. But Aardsma’s a quality relief pitcher, and we shouldn’t be that surprised that he’s performing well for the Mariners. He did this last year too, but no one noticed.
C'mon Dave, what do you mean no-one?  We noticed!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Case of the Mondays

It's a slow day around Major League Baseball, as there are only four games on the docket.

Cubs @ Atlanta
Ryan Dempster vs Javier Vazquez
This is a makeup game, due to a rain out.  So, the Cubs had to fly from Chicago to Atlanta last night, and they're going flying up to Detroit tonight.  The schedule looked a lot better at the beginning of the year, when today was supposed to be an off day, with an easy hour-long flight to Detroit.

St Louis @ NY Mets
Todd Wellmeyer vs Tim Redding
Tim Redding hasn't been ungodly horrible in recent starts, but he still welcomes Tony LaRussa's club with an 0-2 record and 6.27 ERA.  His ERA in his three May starts was above 9, and his ERA in his three June starts has been below 4. 

I'm not sure if six starts is a small sample size for Tim Redding.  For most players it is, but I think Redding is on a short leash.  I think he's been fortunate to have "only" given up three home runs.

Redding has been throwing fewer curveballs and a career high percentage of changeups (12%).  The changeups could be a problem, as Pitch Type Values only rate his slider and curveball as above average.

San Francisco @ Oakland
Jonathan Sanchez vs Trevor Cahill
This game is very simple.  Here are two devastatingly talented pitchers, who struggle with control between sometimes and often.  Trends may suggest that the young sinkerballer, Cahill, has a slightly greater likelihood to improve than the more seasoned Jonathan Sanchez.

Colorado @ LA Angels
Aaron Cook vs Matt Palmer
This contest reminds me of my first idea for a post today, more on that later.  Garrett Atkins will likely be afforded an opportunity to resuscitate his career with six straight games in an AL park.  The Rockies will have a DH spot this week, and I'd guess this could be Atkins' last chance before being taken off the 25-man roster.  Ian Stewart surpassed him on the depth chart, and Todd Helton has remained healthy.  Given that Stewart is able to play more positions, the Rockies still want to see Atkins return to his .300 batting average and 100 RBI production levels we've all seen.

The original thought for my post was not about Garrett Atkins, but rather about Jake Fox and what other NL players might have a solid run as a DH for a few games in AL parks.

For you fantasy players out there, here are a handful of guys who may be fun to take a flier on and see what they can do this week.  Remember, taking a flier on a guy doesn't mean you have to start him, but at least he's not going to do any damage for another team.

1.  The aforementioned Garrett Atkins, who turned 29 1/2 ten days ago, is battling through a mid-career crisis.  He's probably not available in a lot of leagues, but if he's there in yours, he's potentially worth a roster spot.

2. Kyle Blanks, of the San Diego Padres, is a big kid, listed at 6'6" - 270 lbs.  He was called up a few days ago just to play DH in the AL parks.  It would be great fun to start him and watch him get around the bases like Cecil Fielder.

3. Jake Fox is an interesting option.  The guy has absolutely hit the bajeezus out of the ball in Triple-A this season.  His slash number of batting avereage / on-base percentage / slugging percentage for the Iowa Cubs this year have been: .409/.495/.841.  He has 17 HR's and 53 RBI's in 45 games.

Despite his Ruthian Triple-A numbers, Jake Fox hasn't been good enough defensively to crack a starting lineup that has at times featured Aaron Miles, Mike Fontenot, Bobby Scales, and Andres Blanco.

I am a little suspect about what the Cubs are doing with two guys who can clobber Triple-A pitching, but can't play defense in the Major Leagues.  Maybe that's unfair.  Maybe Micah Hoffpauir is an adequate first baseman, but Derek Lee is blocking him.  At the very least, I'd like to see the Cubs get something of use from an AL trading partner, in exchange for Jake Fox, after he pops a few homers in Detroit and new Comiskey this week.

4. John Mayberry, Jr. of the Philadelphia Phillies is a different story.  This guy will more than likely play as long as Raul Ibanez is on the DL, and he's not eligible to come off until July 3rd.  Mayberry is a tall, strong, anthletic kid with power who was drafted in the first round, out of Stanford, four years ago.  He already has two home runs in his first nineteen Major League at bats.

5. I have no idea what Dusty Baker is going to do with his DH position, and frankly it would be a lot of fun to see Joey Votto get activated and placed there to ease him back into action.  Alas, I think Dusty will be going with Jonny Gomes.  Gomes has a decent OBP and just looking at his midsection, you'd hope he can still hit for some power.

As an end of post treat, to help get everyone through monday afternoon, here are a few hits from around the web...

Up in Seattle, Larry Stone writes about how we are in the Golden Age of Managers.  He mentions that the 3rd, 4th, and 5th all time winningest managers are active: Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox, and Joe Torre.  That is interesting to think about for about two seconds, but what I loved about this piece was the writer's personal choice for "a record that will never be broken".  He chooses Will White's 75 complete games in 1879.

Peter Abraham's recent attempt at being sagacious makes complete sense to me.  I think he nailed it.  I must include the opening passage:

When Alex Rodriguez returned from his hip surgery, the Yankees spoke glowingly about the work his surgeon and rehab specialist were doing. To listen to them talk, Dr. Marc Philippon and Dr. Mark Lindsay are the two best at what they do.

Based on all available information, that seems to be exactly the case. They are the best.

According to Rodriguez, the plan put in place by Philippon and Lindsay was for him to take 5-8 games off during his first 45 games back with the team. Not 45 days, 45 games.

But over the first 38 games he was back, A-Rod sat out zero games. He started every one of them, 35 of them at third base. Day games after night games, rain-delayed games, every single game.

A-Rod said he fought to stay in games, which is what he supposed to do. Knowing him, I’m sure that’s exactly what he did. But why didn’t the Yankees stick with the plan their doctors drew up? All of a sudden a third baseman with a high school education knew better than the two best doctors in their respective fields?

Seriously, what are the Yankees doing?  Why wouldn't they rest him the way the doctors advise?  On top of everything, it sure seemed dirty to give him his first rest in the form of a two-game benching in him hometown (Miami) that he never gets to visit because it's an interleague matchup.  Did Joe Girardi forget the doctors' advice?  I'm sure Hal Steinbrenner hasn't forgetten that the Yanks owe Alex 258 million dollars through 2017.

The final stop on the BAseball Reality Tour takes us again to the friendly confines of Joe Posnanski's blog.  This is a fun read, and it isn't even about baseball, except during the juicy discussion showcasing recent Royals' futility.  It's also worth staying to the end of his post, if only to hear his wife's million dollar idea, evoking mention of the "Flintstone-Rubble type of relationship".

Friday, June 19, 2009

Browsing the Interweb

So, the Cubs are sitting in a rain delay at Wrigley Field, hosting Cliff Lee and the Cleveland Indians.  I thought it'd be nice to share a look at what's been out their on the ol' www...

The Cubs currently sport a 31-31 record.  There have exactly 100 games left.  The Cubs probably have to win at least 58 or 59 games to qualify for the postseason.  Right now, they look like a team that will win about 38 of their next hundred.  But, I still think they have a chance to go on at least one really good run where they win 19 out of 25.

There are a variety of factors that will determine the Cubs' fate.  Like every other contender, they have to get a solid, consistent effort from their pitching staff.  But the big X factor that I see is what Aramis Ramirez will be like when they get him back.  He is their Most Valuable Player, but the shoulder injury he's recovering from sounds pretty severe and could diminish his power.

The Cubs also welcome back two former fan favorites: Cub legend Kerry Wood and ladies' man Mark DeRosa.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

How different can two .500 teams feel?  Take a look at Colorado.  The Rockies are talking about how this team could be better than the 2007 team that went to the World Series.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Big News out of Detroit.  Magglio Ordonez has been benched indefinitely, and it's probably going to be more or less for good.  If he plays in 69 more games or gets 235 more plate appearances this season, Ordonez will trigger an $18 million extension for next season.  Since the man once dubbed the Venezuelan Paulie Shore kind of can't hit for power anymore, the Tigers would rather not have to give him 18 million dollars next year.  Howard Megdal really nailed the reasoning for why this move is more than just a temporary benching.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Keeping with the Detroit theme, Jim Leyland needs an extension, as his contract is up at the end of this season.  He makes about $4 millon per year, and we think he's worth every penny.  He may be the best in the business, and he makes less than Brandon Lyon.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

This article was primarily about what the Nationals may do as sellers in the trade market, but what caught my eye as the note at the end about Drew Storen.  The Nationals just signed him and are assigning him to Singla A.  When they drafted this guy at #10 overall, we thought he would have a chance to make the major league club this season.  He closed at Stanford, signed quickly, and is on the fast track to a major league bullpen.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Brad Penny's trade value hasn't been this high in years.  The Phillies are said to be taking a long look, since their number 2 starting pitcher is Joe Blanton.  We still think that a deal will be worked out between the Red Sox and Texas Rangers.  The Rangers could probably use Penny, and we know Boston would love Taylor Teagarden, Max Ramirez, or Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The news out of the desert does not sound positive for Brandon Webb.  I expect him to be shut down for the season.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Did any of you see Joel Piniero in the 7th inning last night?  He was cramping up from dehydration and looked like he was embarrassed, as he was smiling between cringes throughout the cramps.  Pinero's quotes in the story reflect that feeling, as well.  It's good to know that he's not seriously hurt because it was funny looking.  Even he was smiling from embarrassment because it looked funny when his non throwing arm, then legs cramped up a bit and he couldn't stand up.  Poor guy; I'm really glad he's okay.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Ricky Nolasco pitched his best game of the season, while facing the best lineup he'll face all year.  So, for you fantasy players out there - maybe he's worth grabbing if you have the room.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Heath Bell was outstanding again last night.  He pitched two shutout innings, the 9th and the 10th, allowing the Padres to win the game in the bottom of the 10th when Adrian Gonzalez ran through a stop sign.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The last stop on our web tour goes to the friendly confines of Joe Posnanski's blog.  He's very careful to separate his opinions about discussions with his opinions about people.  As he writes, "I don't have to agree with someone to like them."  Joe's the best.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Backe's Back!

Just a quick shout out to Brandon Backe, making his first start of the season for the Astros in a few minutes.

To me, Backe was always the 4th or 5th starter on the Astros team with Roy Oswalt, Roger Clemens, and Andy Pettitte.  

He's pitching in Texas tonight.  He brings with him a 2.44 WHIP and an 12.00 ERA.  We're rooting for him, though.

On a disturbing note, Backe's top two baseball-reference comparisons are Geremi Gonzalez and Kevin Foster, a couple of former Cubs who had brief success in the Majors but also passed away way before their times.  Foster, a converted 3rd baseman, sadly succumbed to cancer last October, and Gonzalez shockingly was struck by lightning a little over a year ago.

It's crazy the things you'll find when looking at someone's baseball-reference page.

Like we said, we're rooting for Brandon Backe.  It just feels like Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Hank Blalock, and Nelson Cruz can't wait to get into the batters box.

Since the Cubbies already took care of business today, with a thrilling victory over their crosstown rivals, I feel fine saying, for tonight: Go Astros!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's Over for Sammy

The New York Times just ruined Sammy Sosa's evening.

From the Michael S. Schmidt article...
Sammy Sosa, who joined with Mark McGwire in 1998 in a celebrated pursuit of baseball’s single-season home run record, is among the players who tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2003, according to lawyers with knowledge of the drug-testing results from that year.
The disclosure that Sosa tested positive makes him the latest baseball star of the last two decades to be linked to performance-enhancers, a group that now includes McGwire, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and Rafael Palmeiro.
- - snip - -
The 2003 test that ensnared Sosa was the first such test conducted by Major League Baseball. Under guidelines agreed upon with the players union, the test results were to remain anonymous but would lead to testing with penalties the next year if more than 5 percent of the results were positive.
That is indeed what occurred. But for reasons never made completely clear, the test results were not destroyed by the players union and the 104 positives were subsequently seized by federal agents on the West Coast investigating matters related to the distribution of drugs to athletes.
The union immediately filed court papers alleging that the agents had illegally seized the tests, and over the past six years judges at various levels of the federal court system have been weighing whether the government can keep them. An 11-judge panel in California is preparing to rule in the case, but regardless of its verdict, the losing side is expected to appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
As the union feared, the names on the list have begun to emerge. In February, Sports Illustrated reported that Rodriguez was on the 2003 list, and Rodriguez subsequently acknowledged that he had used steroids for three years. Now, Sosa’s name has been disclosed.
Well, that it sure to send some shock waves down to the Dominican Republic.  Sammy's been away from the spotlight for so long, and Manny became such a sensation, that people often forget just how big a star Sammy Sosa became.  He arrived in Chicago right as the Michael Jordan dynasty was looking for someone to take the baton and capture the city's sports scene.  After Sammy hit 60+ home runs in three separate seasons, he became a national hero in the Dominican Republic.  The President of his country became a close friend and business partner.  Sammy's welcome home parties after each season became more lavish year after year, culminating in a scene similar to Akeem's wedding reception in Coming to America.

The transition from winning titles with Michael, Scottie, Rodman, and Phil Jackson to watching Sammy Sosa turn into a slugger who's production had never been seen before was almost too much to appreciate at the time.  Here's one of those inexplicable moments when the timing is just right for a budding superstar to be blessed with a perfect situation for stardom.

Behind the scenes of the Pepsi commercials, meetings with mayor, and appearances with Oprah, were potential injections of anabolic steroids, epo, human growth hormone, primobolan, applications of the cream, clear, testosterone, female fertility drugs.  This is just a sad, sad day for Cubs fans.

We wanted to hope that Sammy's success was, in spite of the mounting evidence, an extreme example of good fortune and hard work meeting up at the same time - for about nine consecutive seasons?  It's incredible to look back and try to understand how we rationalized this success as combination of good luck, a lot of natural weight lifting, weaker pitching staffs due to expansion, and juiced baseballs.

This is the most personal positive test to come out all of this for me.  I was one of the fans who applauded Sammy and always cursed the ways of Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi.

I always loved how weird Sammy was.  He was eccentric.  As a young player, he wore high tops with fluorescent stripes.  He shaved lines into the sides of his flat-top 'fro.  He spoke terrible English and not exactly the clearest form of Spanish.

In addition to the 600-something home runs, what made him a super duper star was the enthusiasm he played with and the million dollar smile he shined from the outfield grass or the dugout.  He sprinted to his position in right field at the start of every game, and the bleacher bums loved it.  He hopped after hitting long fly balls.  He made strange faces, as if no-one was looking, all the time.  He flashed hand symbols to the camera, while blowing kisses and tapping his heart, after his home runs or putouts in the outfield.  That sort of stuff transcends generations of fans, and before anyone knew it, Sammy Sosa was a household name.

Still, sitting here today, I can't help but think that really there's not much to be said, except, it's too bad.  It's a shame that most of the accomplishments we celebrated during the Selig Era were done under less than natural circumstances.  I don't want to open my ears to an argument that it's the same as scuffing a baseball or taking amphetamines in the 70's or 80's.  It's not the same.  The players knew they were Cheating, with a capital C.

Sammy, we love you, but you're out.  You don't get your number 21 retired.  You don't get to be in Cooperstown with Ernie, Billy, Fergie, Ryno, Maddux, and hopefully Ron Santo and Andre Dawson.  On the bright side, Sammy, at least now no-one will ever care that you corked that bat against the Devil Rays.

Moving forward, I don't want to dwell on the shame of the past.  In fact, I will try to find joy in celebrating the fact that the light will shine brighter on the players we can hope and pray were clean.  For all these reasons and many more, Greg Maddux and Ken Griffey, Jr. will be treated like royalty around these parts.

Fun with PECOTA

In a recent blog post, Rob Neyer included a link to the PECOTA Post-season Odds.

PECOTA forecasts future baseball player and team performance by utilizing comparable player data, peripheral statistics, probability distribution, and additional proprietary formulas.

Other widely used projection systems include CHONE (my favorite), ZIPS, OLIVER, and MARCEL.  This past March, I found a wonderfully geeked out article that measures the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Some notable PECOTA predictions...

The 2nd place Angels will overtake the Rangers, for the AL West title.

Boston and the Yankees will win the AL East and wild card, with probabilities of 85% and 78%, respectively.

Toronto and Tampa Bay are currently tied for 3rd/4th place at 34-31.  If the Red Sox or New York should falter, Tampa Bay has a much better chance at the post-season, with 27%, than Toronto has at 4%.

PECOTA believes the Mets can still win the wild card, while the Phillies will win the NL East.

The Brewers will win the NL Central, with the Cubs and Cardinals finishing 2nd and 3rd.

PECOTA has a terrific forecasting track record.  Of course, things can change quite a bit with injuries and trades.  If the Mets acquire Adam Dunn or Matt Holliday, the Rangers get Brad Penny and Ben Sheets, or the Cardinals get Mark DeRosa and Pedro Martinez, perhaps the computer will spit out different results.

We'll see what happens over the next three and a half months.  Even if the final standings wind up in a relatively predictable conclusion, we know there will be remarkable and unexpected story lines.  For example, we've recently seen the Colorado Rockies become baseball's hottest team after firing Clint Hurdle, Ervin Santana is having more elbow troubles for the Angels, the Cubs cannot put forth an inspired effort, the Astros have been winning ever since Richard Justice called for Cecil Cooper to be fired, and Heath Bell is talking crazy about the Padres being in the race at the end of the year.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Mid June Leaders

Spending some time this afternoon on the Baseball Reference 2009 MLB Advanced Batting stats page, gave us an enlightened look into the first ten weeks of the season.

We were looking at individual stats, and the two stats we focused on were Runs Created per Game (RC/G), and Power/Speed Number (PwrSpd).

RC/G, sometimes called RC/27 outs can be thought of as what a lineup of nine clones of the same batter would score in an average game.

A player's Power/Speed Number, developed by Bill James, is simply stated: the geometric mean of HR and SB.

For all you math fans out there, the Power/Speed Number is twice the factor of HR & SB, divided by the sum of HR & SB.

PwrSpd = (2 x HR x SB) / (HR + SB)

Here are the current Major League leading teams, when  looking at these stats by position.

2009 Power/Speed Team
C: Yadier Molina 4.0
1b: Albert Pujols 12.8
2b: Ian Kinsler 12.7
SS: Derek Jeter 10.6
3b: Mark Reynolds 14.7
OF: Curtis Granderson 11.7
OF: Torii Hunter 13.0
OF: Nelson Cruz 12.6

Mark Reynolds leading all of baseball in P/S# is surprising, but he did finish 30th last season.  So, it's not completely shocking.

Yadier Molina making a squad that awards players for speed is probably the most surprising part of this list.  Last year's catcher with the highest P/S#, Russell Martin, still has zero HR's this season.

Jeter having a higher P/S# than Hanley Ramirez is also mildly shocking.  Then again, there is a lot of power value to playing half your games at the new Yankee Stadium.

2009 RC/G Team
C: Joe Mauer 15.4
1b: Joey Votto 11.6
2b: Chase Utley 10.6
SS: Ben Zobrist 11.4
3b: Aramis Ramirez 10.0
OF: Luke Scott 9.9
OF: Carlos Beltran 9.7
OF: Torii Hunter 9.3

Injury replacements for Joey Votto and Aramis Ramirez would be Kevin Youkilis, 11.4 RC/G and David Wright, 9.8.

Congratulations to Torii Hunter for being the only player on both of these teams.  He's gone back and forth from overrated to underrated, to I don't know where he stands now.  Maybe he's really, really good and just a little overpaid.

Ben Zobrist and Luke Scott are definitely unexpected guests to this party.  Luke Scott seems mostly like a guy who has prodigious power, but has recently been fortunate that he's on a rapid home run pace.  I think at the end of the year, he may be above his career averages, but he's not going to be leading the league in much of anything.

Ben Zobrist, on the other hand, has been a revelation.  He has stepped in to be the Tampa Bay Ray's version of Mark DeRosa, playing all over the diamond and being a steady force in the lineup.  He's recently been batting fifth in the order, supplying more than enough protection for Carlos Pena to lead the league with 20 HR's as the cleanup hitter.  Zobrist has 13 HR's, 8 SB's, and an OPS+ of 180, while being a league leader in Power/Speed number, with 9.9.

While Zobrist has been really surprising, I fee he's more of a late bloomer who has a track record that suggests he'll be successful given the opportunity.

As a delightful surprise, to end this post, I will also show the current team of OPS+ position leaders.  As a recap, OPS+ adjusts for a player's home ballpark and their OBP and SLG, compared to the league average OBP and SLG.  An OPS+ of 100 is  league average, and the higher your score, the better.

2009 OPS+ Squad
C: Joe Mauer, 229
1b: Albert Pujols, 196
2b: Chase Utley, 163
SS: Ben Zobrist, 180
3b: David Wright, 161
OF: Raul Ibanez, 170
OF: Carlos Beltran, 163
OF: Torii Hunter, 161

Friday, June 12, 2009

Interleague Madness

The Yankees and Mets are meeting up at the new Yankee Stadium tonight, and both teams have seen better times.  The M.A.S.H.'ing Mets are limping into this weekend's subway series four games behind the Phillies and even behind the Brewers & Cardinals of the NL Central.The Yankees, on the other hand, are still in the driver's seat for the wild card.  As we discussed yesterday, the Bronx Bombers had an opportunity to hurt the Red Sox by exposing Brad Penny as an overweight, leprechaun-hugging, jadrool loser.

Instead, the Yankees managed six hits, one walk, and no runs in Penny's six innings of work.  They also struck out five times.

I really believe that last night's performance improves Penny's perceived value quite a bit.  People around the league are more inclined to think of him as the guy who, in 2007, went 16-4 with a 3.03 ERA, 151 ERA+, and only 9 HR's in 208 innings.  Theo Epstein will be pawning off that story, while trying to make people forget Penny disastrous 2008, where his ERA was 6.27, he had a 68 ERA+, and he gave up 13 HR's in only 94 innings.

The Yankees took a 3-1 lead against reliever Manny Delcarmen, but subsequently lost the game in the 8th inning to a 4-3 Final.  So, everyone on ESPN, the New York media, and the MLB Network can go on and on about how the Yankees can't beat the Red Sox until they meet up again August 6th.

Wait.  What?!  I don't think I'm prepared for six more weeks of a world where this underlying theme will be analyzed and prophesied by the neanderthals on sports talk radio and people of Skip Bayless' ilk.  Thank goodness we're National League fans over here.

Meanwhile, Boston is heading down to South Philly to take on the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies this weekend.  It's terrific for Boston that Big Papi hit his 4th HR last night because he can now safely ride the National League stadium pine for a few days with a big fat smile on his face.

Interleague play brings more unusual matchups this weekend.

The Cubs, who appear incapable of competing like a formidable ball club are hosting the Twins, who feature Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, the lunch pail masher Jason Kubel, and perhaps the league's finest closer Joe Nathan.  (Coming into this season, Joe Nathan's ERA+ for the last six years have incredibly been: 316, 284, 276, 262, 282, 261.  An ERA+ of 100 is league average.  Brad Penny's ERA+ last season was 68, and when he went 16-4 with a 3.03 ERA, it was 151.)

The Braves and Tigers are taking their two prized, young hurlers, Tommy Hanson and Rick Porcello, on the road.  The Braves are in Baltimore, while Jim Leyland will try to get the Tigers bite the hand that once fed him in Pittsburgh tonight.

On a sensitive note, Jim Leyland should conjure up memories of the most recent winning season in Pirates' history, back when they had Bonds and Bonilla.  It would be interesting to know if rekindling those memories would make Pirates fans happy or sad.

The average IQ of people in southeast Wisconsin is about to be lowered by about a point and a half, as White Sox fans cram into their Chevy Monte Carlo's and head up the highway to showcase their mullets and tattoos in the stands of Miller Park.

Neighboring California teams are facing off, as the Padres travel up to Anaheim and the Oakland A's travel across the bay to take on the Giants in San Francisco.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Yankee Opportunity

With all the talk about the Yankees not being able to beat the Red Sox, there are just a couple of things that people fail to mention.  This is a quick post; we aren't trying to mention everything that is germane to this conversation... just a few points that should derail the mindless chatter about how the Red Sox own the Yankees...


2. The AL Central and AL West do not look like they have a Wild Card contender.

3. The Yankee team will look very different in four months, after midseason acquisitions and the potential move to the bullpen of Joba Chamberlain.  I'm  not arguing that he shouldn't be a starter, and he should be converted to relief right now.  He can be a starter his entire career if he keeps producing as he has been - preferably if HR's allowed improve.  Still, he should probably be a post-season reliever.  He's more qualified to go to the bullpen than Wang, and the Yankee playoff rotation should probably be Sabathia, Burnett, and Pettitte, with Wang as a long reliever and Hughes and Joba in the 7th and 8th.

Anyway, again, it doesn't matter.  Most of this is media fabricated drama.  I think the Yankees need to cherish their opportunity this evening to damage the Red Sox title hopes by way more than just the swing in the standings with a win.


No, I'm not suggesting they go all Jeff Gillooly on Jason Bay or Kevin Youkilis.  No, they have a unique opportunity to severely damage the trade value of Red Sox starting pitcher, Brad Penny.

As we mentioned in a post here a few days ago, it seems that the Red Sox cannot trade Brad Penny fast enough.  They cannot trade him until June 15th without his permission, so the results of tonight's start are critical to other teams' opinions of him.

Penny has been linked to rumors involving the Phillies' Jason Donald, Braves' Jeff Francoeur, and others.  Yankee fans, wouldn't you love to see the Red Sox get the worst possible deal?  They're compelled to trade him because they have John Smoltz coming back next week, while Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden wasting away in Pawtucket.

Let's see if the Yankees can be patient with Penny, make him up his pitch count, and capitalize on any mistakes he makes up in the zone.  Penny has been far from flawless this season (5.85 ERA, 1.60 WHIP), but this is a big game for him and his perceived value.

So, really Yankee fans, it doesn't matter if the Yanks win tonight.  I would just root for them to knock Penny out of the game before the 5th inning.  Of course, that's conducive to winning, but if someone Phil Coke,  Greg Robinson, or (gasp) Mariano Rivera blows the game late, try to keep everything in perspective.  New York City doesn't need to feel a Yankee panic, when they're still a strong bet to qualify for the tournament.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Who Are These Guys?

Thoughts from watching the first round of the MLB draft on the MLB Network...

Bud Selig is such a bad public speaker.  He's such an old curmudgeon, and he comes off as an absolute dinosaur who's never cared for anything that doesn't come from Wisconsin.  Anyway, he handles the announcement of the picks about as well as any random senior citizen off the street could.

The draft starts with Bud and all of Major League baseball giving themselves a big pat on the back for starting up a TV network.  Yippee.  How hard is it to start up a TV network?  Weird Al saved a fledgling TV station in the admittedly fictional UHF, but still they had no money.

With the first pick, the Nationals do what everyone except Mike Wilbon would do, and that's draft Stephen Strasburg with the first pick.  I'd like to see him sign early and pitch for the Nationals as soon as possible.  I'd like to see him become an exciting strikeout pitcher that is a joy to watch, like Lincecum and King Felix.  That being said, I'd probably in some sick way enjoy it if he becomes Ryan Leaf and has comedic moments yelling at beat reporters to stop asking him questions and to just leave him alone.  I mean he's going to make dozens of millions of dollars before he even puts on a professional uniform, so I'm not going to feel bad if he turns into Homer Bailey.

The second pick goes to the player labeled the best hitter in the draft: Dustin Ackley, to the Seattle Mariners.  He's an outfielder at the University of North Carolina.  They're still in the College World Series, but this guy is very soon going to get about six million dollars to move to whatever minor league bumble funk town the Mariners choose.

Donovan Tate went #3 to the Padres.  They're saying it's going to take some cash to get this guy away from a football scholarship.  He's an athlete, his dad was a pro athlete, and Kevin Towers is hoping to sign this guy and bring some offense to that awful hitters' park.

This draft is heavy in pitchers, yet the second, third, and fourth picks are all hitters.  At #4, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Boston College's catcher, Tony Sanchez.  Tony is originally from Miami and comes in with tremendous scouting reports across the boards.  He's not Matt Wieters, but the Pirates would be happy with a guy who could play like Ryan Doumit and stay healthy.

Yesterday, I alluded to my anticipation for whom the Orioles would take.  I have a lot of confidence in Andy MacPhail and think the foundation that the Orioles already have in place is something to be extremely optimistic about.  I've been thinking they'll take a good pitcher, but have no idea who to suggest.  From what I understand most of the guys in the draft could go anywhere from #5 to #40, so why would I remotely care about anyone's mock draft opinions?

Tyler Matzek sounds conceited, greedy, and obnoxious, but he might be really good.  Well, the Orioles would up taking Matt Hobgood, a RHP out of high school in Norco, CA.  According, to Norco's website, it is also "Horsetown USA".  From what the guys on TV are saying, Hobgood sounds like a solid bet to be successful.

Really, everyone in the top 6 sounds good, which is funny because probably only about 3 or 4 of them will work out.  At #6, the San Francisco Giants selected Zach Wheeler.  He's a high school pitcher out of Georgia, we've been hearing about for a while.  So, the TV guys: Harold Reynolds, John Hart, the somewhat anonymous host, and some guy who's big into scouting, haven't said anything bad about any of the Top 6 picks.

At #7, the Atlanta Braves took a LHP from Vanderbilt named Mike Minor.  Reynolds and Hart are saying nice things about him, but he doesn't look very imposing on camera.  He certainly doesn't make anyone mention a comparison to David Price.

Cincinnati selected our nomination for first potential bust.  With the 8th pick, they took a pitcher from Arizona State, Mike Leake, who got a few backhanded complements, setting off red flags in my head.  According to Harold Reynolds, "[Leake] is not gonna be a guy who strikes a lot of people out."  John Hart added, "He is a little bit undersized." and "He's not going to be a #1 starter."  After all that, Reynolds said, "he will battle in a big game." Terrific.  What a joke.  Later in the draft, Leake was interviewed over the phone, and he admitted he didn't think he'd go that high.

At #9, the Tigers took Jacob Turner, a high-school "strikeout machine".  He throws 94-95 with an easy delivery, for 5 or 6 innings.  6'5" - 210 lbs.  I thought it would be great for the Tigers to team up Tyler Matzek ("the lefty Rick Porcello") with the real Rick Porcello.  All signs point towards this being a very good pick, so I think Turner and Porcello should be good wingmen for Justin Verlander in the next couple of years.

The Nationals are also picking 10th, because they picked Aaron Crow at #9 last year but failed to sign him.  This year, Aaron Crow & Tyler Matzek are still available.  If the Nats are going to spend $20 to $30 million on Strasburg, why shouldn't they just go all out and get another "expensive" kid who's going to cost "only" $7 to $8 million?  Well, they took Drew Storen, a RHP from Stanford.  He's "a decorated college pitcher".  He's a 2-pitch guy with a plus fastball/plus slider.  He's a relief pitcher, and he could be in The Show in a hurry.

Tyler Matzek finally went 11th to the Rockies.  He's 18 years old, 6'3" - 185 lbs, left-handed, and he mixes four pitches.  The host said he keeps reading "that he's such a good kid."  Really?  Then, why is he saying he wants "unprecedented" money?  Why is he saying that he doesn't just want to match the record bonuses of Josh Beckett and Rick Porcello, but he wants to exceed it?  Because he's such a good kid?  I don't buy it.  That being said, this should be a good pick for Colorado because they need to draft pitchers.  Free Agent pitchers will not go there, so they need to draft arms and sign free agent bats.  At least, that's the theory.

With the 12th pick, the Kansas City Royals took Aaron Crow.  So, I guess in a year or two, we could see a Royals rotation with Greinke, Meche, Hochevar, and Crow.  Now what will they do about that team OBP?

The always exciting Oakland A's took Grant Green, a shortstop from USC.  He was the highest rated hitter available, and we know the A's like college kids who are easier to project statistically.  The broadcast showed him as a 5-tool player, but he's only rated at above average, or good, in his tools.  Nothing spectacular, but he should be a good player who can play solid defense, get on base, and maybe pop 10 to 20 homeruns per year.

Nolan Ryan took another tall left-handed pitcher with the 14th pick.  He's just a high-school player, so he's young and risky to project.  The scouts say he has a great delivery and throws hard, though, so maybe he can be something special.  Like Colorado, the Rangers really need to keep drafting arms like Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz because stud free agent pitchers aren't going to sign there unless they're coming off surgery, like Ben Sheets.

Cleveland took a hard throwing right hander from UNC Chapel Hill, Alex White, at 15th.  He could be another guy that can be in the bullpen in a hurry.  There's pressure on UNC to do well in the College World Series, with the #2 and #15 picks on the team.  Later in the draft, Alex and his teammate, Dustin Ackley, were interviewed on camera.  They seemed poised, humble, and excited.

Tyler Matzek was interviewed after the 15th pick, and he looked and sounded like a complete dufus.  Maybe we should give him a break for being 18 years old and really nervous.  Still, he was acting like a complete tool, in his ESPNZone t-shirt.  Plus, all the other players who were interviewed seemed much sharper.  Some of them were a little slow, or goofy, but Matzek was the worst.

From the audience's perspective, the draft has deteriorated into a complete and utter crapshoot.  I'm sure there are guys in the game who have a good idea who's going to be slected in the next 5 to 10 picks, but jeeze there is no reason for even an above average fan to have any idea what's going on or who's available.

The D'backs had back-to-back picks at 16 and 17.  They took two hitters.  The first is a switch-hitting high school third baseman, Bobby Borchering.  The second pick is actually someone I heard of: Notre Dame outfielder A.J. Pollock.

The Marlins took Chad James, LHP from high school in Yukon, Oklahoma.  Forgive me for knowing nothing about someone from Yukon, Oklahoma.  I've never even heard of Yukon, Oklahoma, but it sounds terrible.  What is the first thing you see on 
Yukon, Oklahoma's website?  "Home of Garth Brooks".

The Cardinals took Shelby Miller, a high school RHP from Texas.  Everyone on TV is saying glowing things about him.  He's a fireballer from Texas, great body, yada yada yada.  That stinks.  The Cardinals don't look like they are going away anytime soon.

Toronto took a college pitcher, Chad Jenkins, who's supposed to be good.  He's big, strong, durable.  Power sinker, power slider guy, who's built for innings.  John Hart thinks it's a great pick.  He's not long and lean, but he looks like a horse with a great work ethic.  If this guy and Matt Hobgood become even good #3 starters, the Blue Jays and Orioles can really make some noise at the Yanks/Sox/Rays party in 2011.

Jiovanni Mier is an 18 year old shortstop, and he was just selected 21st overall by the Houston Astros.  John Hart thinks he will eventually be a plus defensive shortstop who can hit a little.  Boooooring.

The Twins took Kyle Gibson, Univ of Missouri.  He had a stress fracture late in his season, and he won't be able to pitch until late July.  If he hadn't gotten hurt, he probably would have been picked in the Top 5 picks.  Since it's just a stress fracture in his wrist, I think it's a great pick.  He didn't hurt his elbow or his shoulder, so he should be able to heal and be good again.  This could be the steal of the draft.  Good for the Twins.

The White Sox too an OF from LSU, Jared Mitchell.  He plays football at LSU, as a Wide Receiver.  He can run, he can hit.  He currently plays Centerfield.  Great athlete; that's all they keep saying on TV.

24 and 25 go to the Angels. At #24, they took a high school left fielder from Texas named Randal Grichuk.  This was a bit of a "surprise" to the hosts.  Whatever, they have two picks and probably about twenty guys who seem like feasible picks.  At #25, they took Michael Trout, a center fielder from Millville, NJ, who comically is the only player to show up to the draft.  There is no way any of the hosts are going to criticize this pick in front of this kid.  Unbelievable. MLB invited every potential pick, and only one kid decided to take them up on it.

The Brewers took a RHP from Indiana University, Eric Arnett.  He's 6'5" 225 lbs, and he was athletic enough to practice with Tom Crean's basketball team.  Relatedly, IU basketball is so bad right now that they need baseball players for the practice squad.

The Mariners took a high school shortstop from Florida, but this one's not Alex Rodriguez.  This is Nick Franklin; he's a switch hitter.  They drafted Dustin Ackley at #2 overall, maybe these guys will help in a couple of years.

The Red Sox and Yankees are picking next.  I have a lot more faith in the Red Sox front office.  Did you see Daniel Bard retire the side against the Yankees last night?  His stuff was electric, with an easy, moving fastball at 98 to 100 mph.

The Red Sox took a Puerto Rican high school outfielder named Reymond Fuentes.  He has explosive speed and can hit.

Yankees at #29 selected a left-handed high school outfielder, Slade Heathcott.  He has 5 tools, some shady "off the field issues", and he's from Texarkana, Texas.

Tampa at #30 will hopefully not take the guy the Cubs want.  I don't even remember the last time the Cubs had a good #1 pick, besides Mark Prior.  And, he didn't really reverse any curses on the Northside, either.  The Cubbies had such a "successful" season that they are picking 31st.  Can't you get a supplemental top 10 pick every year if your championship drought is over 100 years?

Leave it to the MLB Network to let their own timed (!) event run long, so my DVR didn't even get through Tampa's pick.  As I check the internet, I see that the Rays took a high school outfielder named Levon Washington.  I thought he was a running back on the Jets.

The Cubs selected University of California Outfielder Brett Jackson.  He was a leadoff hitter and center fielder at Cal.  According to Cubs.com, he's a left-handed hitter with above average speed.  Is it too much to ask the Cubs to draft a center fielder with tremendous speed instead of above average speed?  I don't have a better idea of whom they should have taken, but I just don't like the sound of this Brett Jackson character.  Prove me wrong, kid.  Prove me wrong.