Friday, December 23, 2011

Even more news - Dec 23 - Beltran signs, Gio trade, Danks

Nationals get Gio Gonzalez send Brad Peacock, Tommy Milone and A.J. Cole and top catching prospect Derek Norris to Oakland : Wow do the Nationals think they will compete in 2012?  Ok, maybe that's a bit harsh but I'm a big fan of Peacock's and I think this was a bit of a steal by A's GM Billy Beane.  I see what he's doing (once again) trading developed major league talent for high upside starters who could be better down the road.  In acquiring Gonzalez, the Nationals are certainly much improved right away.  This gives them an outstanding young core of stud in the making Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman and Gonzalez all of whom are under contract and the age of 27.  Still, the A's acquired three of the top 10 prospects in the Nationals system.  Norris is one of the highest rated catchers in the minor leagues, Peacock is a major league ready starter and Cole boasted a 4.5 K/BB ratio as a 19 year old!  

Carlos Beltran signs a two year deal with the St. Louis Cardinals for $26 million: Another fresh off the press deal.  Beltran obviously is not going to replace the loss of Albert Pujols but he will certainly help bridge the gap.  The World Champion Cardinals will need all of the offense they can get.  Beltran's fantasy value will be neutral moving to the new Busch Stadium from San Francisco.   

Rebuilding White Sox sign John Danks to a 5 year, $65 million dollar deal: You can never be completely sure of the motivation of a team.  The White Sox fresh off of dealing their 28 year old closer Sergio Santos for a Jays prospect, then give major dollars to their 26 year old lefty.  Danks would have been a fine bargaining chip for a team that was starting from scratch.  Instead, it appears Chicago is simply re-tooling?  Despite a 4.32 ERA, Danks suffered no skill set backs in 2011.  Locking him up for $13 million per season might turn out to be decent value for the White Sox.

Twins sign Jason Marquis to a one year deal ($3 million)

Somehow, Marquis has had MLB success.  I don't see his skills as worth a major league contract though.  What he does well, is generate a ton of ground balls (career 50.4 GB%).  What he does poorly is everything else.  His career K/BB ratio is 1.5!!  That's scary especially moving over to the hitter friendly American League for the first time in his career.  Stay far away in fantasy leagues next season.

Baseball News - Dec 22 - Aoki won by Brewers, Kubel to D'backs

Just in time for the holidays we've got plenty of MLB trades and signings to discuss.

Norichika Aoki to the Brewers:   Aoki is probably off a lot of people's radars with all of the noise surrounding Yu Darvish.  Still, he's worth profiling as the Brewers won the bid for his rights.  Like Texas and Darvish, Milwaukee will still have to sign the 29 year old, small framed (5'9, 170 lbs) center fielder to a contract.  However, unlike the Rangers who are trying to fill a gaping hole in their rotation after the departure of C.J. Wilson, Aoki presently doesn't appear to meet any needs the Brewers may have.  They already have two center fielders in Nyjer Morgan and Carlos Gomez.  Aoki on paper doesn't appear to boast as much speed as Morgan or Gomez (never attained more than 20 steals in Japan) but has much better plate discipline (generally around the .400 OBP mark) than either of the Brewers other options.  With Ryan Braun possibly facing a suspension it appears that Milwaukee is looking for some outfield depth.  We'll have to wait and see how 2012 unfolds to find out though.

Jason Kubel to the Diamondbacks (2 years $15 million): I really think this is a great sign by Arizona.  Kubel is not a game changer but he's a similar bat to former team mate Michael Cuddyer who recently signed for almost $10 million per year with the Rockies.  In other words, I think the Diamondbacks got a similar player and saved money in doing so.  I would expect a small increase in power numbers for Kubel in the hitter friendly Chase Field if he can stay healthy.  In my opinion, the veteran left fielder is a great fit for an organization trying to recapture the NL West division title.

More in a bit....

Monday, December 19, 2011

As Promised - Yu Darvish To RANGERS!! And Mat Latos to Reds

Well, as 11PM the RANGERS (see here MLB Twitter ) have won the rights to discuss a contract with Yu Darvish.  This of course does not guarantee he DOES sign but chances are high that Texas will get it done.  This is a fantastic move for a team fresh out of the World Series and coming off the heals of losing one of their top starters C.J Wilson to free agency.   I would think that the young Japanese league import will be content with a 5 year deal worth upwards of $75 million but heck he could want more.  Either way, the Rangers have made a bold move here to acquire a top young talent who improves their ball club right away. We'll still need to see a signed contract before making any further projections.

Mat Latos to Reds for Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Edison Volquez and Brad Boxberger :
What can we really say about the Mat Latos Deal? I am a big fan of this deal for the Padres but the Reds got the best player, at least for now, in the deal.  San Diego received two high end prospects Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal as well as often injured and under performing Edison Volquez.  In addition they received right handed pitching prospect in Brad Boxberger.  Let's start with Alonso, who has already seen some limited major league action.  The prospect does not appear to be a star in waiting but he has displayed considerably strong BA and OBP's throughout his minor league career.  The reason he's not likely to be an elite player is that despite his young age (24) he does not hit for a lot of power or run particularly well.  At AAA last season he hit 12 HR and stole just 6 bases.  He did hit five home runs in a short stint mostly in a pinch hitting role for the Reds last season.  However, playing full time in PETCO (assuming he gets regular AB) will not benefit his power numbers.  If he gets the the AB, we're probably looking at a .290-10-85-7 type season.  Still, let's see how the Padres decide to utilize him before making any crazy projections.

As for Grandal, the catcher prospect was promoted in season last year to AAA, which generally means the club thinks highly of the player. He has not hit for much power but continues to impress with a minor league BA in the .295-.300 range. Generally speaking a good catching prospect is one who can handle the position defensively and also be a positive with the lumber.  Grandal appears to be this type of prospect.
Volquez will probably pop onto alot of sleeper lists come spring next year.  I'm certain of only one thing: he has to improve his control (5.38 BB/9) before I even look his way in a draft next year.  The PETCO effect will definitely aid him though.  He's one to monitor closely in late spring training.

Of course, what does Latos going to the Reds mean?  Well right away we're going to have to bump up his ERA projection a bit as he's going from one of the best home ball parks for offense suppression to one of the worst.  You would figure he would be in line for more wins playing for a better team but wins are fickle.  I would suggest that Latos may actually lose a bit of fantasy value going to the Reds (unless he lucks into more wins).  Either way, great improvement for the Reds

Yu Darvish Bid - News Later - 11PM EST

There are very few sources of factual news content in regards to the Yu Darvish bid so I apologize for the previous post.  Looks like the announcement WILL come tonight though, just later in the evening (11PM EST)

What I have learned is that nobody actually knows who won and the most likely suitors are still the Jays or Rangers.  Essentially nothing is new from last week.  I'm as frustrated as you.  Nobody knows anything of real value right now except for the parties involved.

Darvish announcement tonight!

It looks the Darvish bid winner will be announced tonight around 8pm EST. We will discuss the potential impact of his landing afterwards as well as thoughts on the Padres/Reds deal from the weekend.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Baseball News - Dec. 16 - More Yu Darvish, Cuddyer signs

Well, its still not clear who won the bid for Japanese League superstar pitcher Yu Darvish yet.  The general "consensus" in the media is that its the Toronto Blue Jays.  If it is indeed the Blue Jays who won the bid, this almost immediately signals they will be in contention in 2012.  I'm not certain they are 'all in' for next season but the team is certainly set up to compete for the next few years.  The Jays will be stocked with quality young talent all who have not seen their 27th birthday.

I have read quite a bit on Japanese imports and how they are a mixed bag for results.  For every highly successful Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui there is a Hideki Irabu and Daizake Matsuzaka.  Unfortunately for Yu Darvish, he will be judged similarly.  However, I hate to generalize. Each player should be analyzed individually.  I've seen some video of Darvish (click here). His frame (6'5), smooth delivery and filthy movement on his pitches could translate to long term success in the majors.  Toronto is a great city for him to play in with a strong multi-cultural fan base.  It all seems like a good fit but I'm certain that's what Boston fans where thinking when the Red Sox brass signed Dice-K.

The last thing to note about Darvish, is that Japanese pitchers, unlike their position player counterparts, have generally been more successful on this side of the Pacific. The general consensus appears to be that at best Darvish is an elite #2 starter and at worst an effective #3.

That all being stated, there is still no gurantee he lands in Toronto.  We know the Rangers, Cubs and Yankees were all in the mix and that the rumours are stating that the Jays won the bid with a $48 million post.  We'll unfortunately be waiting until Tuesday to find out.

If you can't get enough on Yu, head over to Drunk Jays Fans for more HERE!

IN OTHER NEWS (yes, the baseball world continues on despite most of it waiting on Darvish)

A fantasy friendly signing for the Rockies as they bring the  under valued bat of Michael Cuddyer to town.  He got 3 years and $31.5 million, pretty good cake for a hitter who's only crushed more than 25 home runs once in his career.  I'm not a fan of this deal for the Colorado organization but for fantasy purposes Cuddyer, suddenly is a bit more interesting.  He's a guy who should hit .275-20-70 but the Coors effect should push him up into the .280-25-85 projection range.

Alright, that's all for now...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Yu Darvish - Who Won The Bid?

Sorry this is kind of a short post.... but felt it should be addressed.

The subject of who won the Yu Darvish bid is garnering a lot of noise on Twitter in regards to the Japanese pitching phenom. The top two bidders (which are essentially rumors at this point) appear to the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays.  The Yankees, Nationals and Cubs all bid as well.  I wouldn't get too excited about anything just yet.  Every one is speculating and the only real news out of Toronto is that they placed an 'outrageously' large bid.  The Rangers reportedly post $40 million.

For those unfamiliar with Darvish, the right hander is just 25 years old and dominated the Japanese league striking out 276 in just 232 IP in 2011.

The Rangers and Jays are the most in need of a top of the rotation arm.  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Baseball News - December 15, 2011

There has been so much action to catch up on I had to divide the last post in half  Most of these deals were of the 'minor' variety but the players involved will make for interesting draft selections in 2012:

  1. Diamondbacks get Trevor Cahill from Oakland for top prospect Jarrod Parker and Collin Cowhill.  Time and time again A's GM Billy Beane deals away proven young talent for unproven potential and it generally pays off.  Cahill is still a controllable player but the real prize of this deal for Oakland is likely the injury prone former top prospect Parker.  Cahill is a proven 24 year old pitcher so Beane is clearly taking on more risk here given Parker's injury history.  Is there something the Oakland scouting staff sees? Definitely: Parker's upside if healthy has always been considered elite.  
  2. Ian Stewart dealt to the Cubs for Tyler Colvin.  I think this is a great deal for both teams.  Stewart needs a fresh start and Chicago need a capable 3B after Aramis Ramirez' departure.  The former top prospect has plenty of potential in his bat and seemed to have worn out his welcome in Colorado.  Colvin has a powerful bat but the Rockies have plenty of capable outfielders and I don't see how he fits in quite yet.  Either way, both players needed a fresh start but I think the Cubs got the better end of the deal.  If Stewart ends up starting on a regular basis he could easily hit 20 home runs at a scarce position making him an interesting sleeper for 2012.
  3. Casey McGehee dealt to the Pirates, Pedro Alvarez likely to play first or spend more time in the minors.  With Aramis Ramirez signed, the Brewers had no room for McGehee.  The Pirates struggled all season to get production from that position.  This trade gives the Pirates some options with Alavrez, who has tremendous power but struggled last season at the plate, to either defend the 'less demanding' 1B position or get more minor league seasoning.  McGehee might be a decent sleeper as he suffered from poor luck on balls in play (.249) which lead directly to his lower batting average in 2011.  I wouldn't get too excited though as he also increased his GB% from 47% in 2010 to 50% in 2011. Even more interesting will be who plays first base if/when Prince Fielder signs elsewhere.  Unless a veteran is signed, it looks like 26 year old Mat Gamel may be given regular time after destroying AAA pitching in 2011 to a tune of .310-28-96.
  4. Josh Willingham signs in Minnesota (3 years, $21 million).  Willingham is exactly the under the radar outfielder that can help win a fantasy championship.  He's a steady middle tier producer and you can pencil him for .250-25-85. Still, he is injury prone after playing in only 133 games last season and having never played in all 162 games. It has been rumored that Michael Cuddyer was seeking more money than Willingham which would explain why the Twins went in this direction.
  5. Mark Melancon dealt to the Red Sox for Jed Lowrie and Kyle Weiland.  An interesting trade for the Red Sox who have stated they would like Daniel Bard to start in 2012.  Melancon would be one of their strongest candidates to close as of this writing although going from the NL Central to the AL East will be quite an adjustment.  Lowrie should start at shortstop for for the Astros who struggled to fill the position in 2011.  

Monday, December 12, 2011

Baseball News - December 12 2012

There is a ton to discuss as I haven't posted in a while.  Let's get right to it:

  1. Albert Pujols signs with the Angels.  Like the rest of the world, I was shocked not only by the total dollar amount, but the length of this contract.  Right now, the Angels will pay the 1st baseman major money well beyond his prime years and into his 40's.  In the now, its a strong, bold statement that the Angels want to win.  However, for the long term health of the franchise, this has to be considered a mistake.  Pujols has had some injury issues over the past two seasons and as he ages he will likely be a highly paid DH. Anaheim has other problems though. This signing creates a log jam for 1B/DH bats on the active roster.   Now with Pujols signed, who will likely split 1B/DH duties for the next 10 seasons,  how will the at bats shake out for Kendry Morales and Mark Trumbo?  The rumor is that Trumbo will slide over to 3B with Morales splitting 1B/DH with Pujols.  I assume that this will be considered a 'nice problem to have' when filling out the lineup card as this is now one of the strongest offensive teams in the division.  However, the defensive minded management of Mike Scioscia may think otherwise.  Putting career first baseman Trumbo at 3rd degrades their infield defense significantly.  
  2. Ryan Braun gets busted for using a PED.  Ugh.  I always hate seeing these as headlines.  It especially stings baseball as this was the reigning NL MVP.  Regardless of whether he's guilty or not, the likelihood that Braun misses some time in 2012 is quite high right now.  He is appealing the test but I can't see how he doesn't get suspended given the evidence.  
  3. C.J. Wilson signs with the Angels.  Arte Moreno is intent on seeing a championship in Anaheim.  I have to admit the Angels went from being an afterthought in the AL West to a contender for the World Series championship with their off season signings.  A rotation of Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, C. J. Wilson and Ervin Santana is as good as any in the American League.
  4. Sergio Santos traded to the Blue Jays.  This was a very under the radar trade by the Blue Jays which should shore up the biggest weakness in Toronto, the bullpen.  Santos struck out 92 batters in just 63 innings for a 13.0 K/9! Chicago received Nestor Molina, who is a nice prospect whom many a scout has rated highly after a fantastic season at Double A.  This clearly signals the Sox are rebuilding.
  5. Aramis Ramirez signs with the Brewers.  Milwaukee is anticipating that they will lose first baseman Prince Fielder to free agency and Ramirez is a proven veteran bat who will fit right in on what should be a contending ball club (if they can put aside the Braun + PED insanity).  Ramirez, if healthy should replicate his 2011 production.  
  6. Marlins sign Mark Buehrle  and Heath Bell. The Marlins are spending a lot of money and although I'm certain it makes them a better ball club, I'm pretty confident they could have got more bang for their buck. In fantasy (or reality) spending large money on a reliever is just a bad business practice.  Veteran relievers with a lot of miles on their arms can be injury prone.  Personally, I'd try to do what the Jays did and just acquire a solid bullpen arm on the cheap.  Buehrle should continue to be a steady arm short on strike outs coming over to the National League.  I wouldn't expect a huge leap in his numbers as he will have to adjust to NL hitters at first.
Ok, that's it for now... I'll discuss some more recent deals soon.