Central Division Playoff Teams

by on January 31, 2011   No Comments

Last season, Major League Baseball’s Central Divisions came from different directions. In the American League, the Minnesota Twins won the division, just like they have six of the last nine seasons. The Cincinnati Reds, on the other hand, found their way to the top of the division for the first time in 15 years. Both teams were disappointed during the playoffs, losing in the divisional series.

West Division Playoff Teams

by on January 23, 2011   No Comments

Last season, teams from MLB’s two West Divisions won their respective pennants and made it to the World Series. This season, neither the San Francisco Giants nor the Texas Rangers will be flying under the radar. The expectations for both teams will certainly be higher than seasons before. What have these teams done to meet or exceed these expectations?

The Giants won the World Series on the strength of their young pitching staff. They were counted out before each series, including the final series against the Rangers, yet still prevailed. As a result, they will be expected to win.

Top American League Off Season Moves By Division

by on January 10, 2011   3 Comments

While the National League added some of the better pitchers in the game, the American League retained some of the top hitters on the market and added to their list of elite hitters at the National League’s expense. This is the second list of teams that have improved themselves within their divisions. Keep in mind this doesn’t mean these teams will do the best when the season begins, just that they have made the best off season moves so far.

Cubs Make Questionable Move

by on January 9, 2011   2 Comments

During the winter meetings I quipped to a couple of friends that the Cubs should find someone willing to take Carlos Zambranos contract and use the return and whatever else needed to trade for either James Shields or Matt Garza. The Yankees apparently had interest in Zambrano but nothing ever materialized and even if it did Carlos has a full no-trade clause in a contract  more bloated than his waistline. However, this didn’t stop the Cubs from pursuing part two of my idea and dealing for Matt Garza. To the casual fan acquiring a pitcher of Garza’s caliber while not giving up any noteworthy big leaguer seems like a win, but a deeper look into the prospects shows the Cubs may have overpaid. While Garza immediately becomes the number one in Chicago he does not bring “ace” stuff to the mound consistently. A career ERA a shade under 4 to go along with good K and walk rates is nice, but the past two seasons Garza has ran into home run problems, allowing 28 and 25.  And on a windy day Wrigley field is well known for making pitchers cry like little girls, though that could be the combination of Old Style and listening to Ronnie Woo Woo.

Top National League Off Season Moves By Division

by on January 1, 2011   3 Comments

There are few big names left on the Free Agent Market. Some teams may have missed out on their top choices and have resorted to their back up plans. The Texas Rangers have done this after falling short in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes by signing Brandon Webb. Webb is a gamble, but has a high reward if he can return to his 2006 Cy Young pitching form.

No team can ever fully expect to fill the holes exactly how they mapped out before the off season started.  This off season is a great example of that. Once your ideal player has been taken as a general manager you must move on to the next best option. The following is the first of two  lists of the teams that made the moves to best improve themselves within their divisions. It doesn’t take into account the long term impact a big contract may have, just how it helps the team this season.

Free Agent Relievers

by on December 27, 2010   No Comments

Once the World Series finishes, baseball’s off season begins. Baseball’s off season is more complex then just waiting for spring training to start. It is a time of reflection, hope and decisions. The General Managers of every team must assess what they have and determine what they need. Twenty-nine GM’s must look at their teams and ask what went wrong? And how can they fix that? While one GM celebrates briefly a World Series victory, he then has to worry about how to improve his team so it can repeat.

GM’s, who are plagued with questions about how to build a winning team, fail more often than succeed. Of course, what is success? Is success only when a World Series is won? Or only if the team reaches the playoffs? Maybe it is measured if the team substantially improves from the season before. Realistically it depends on the market and the expectations going in. The Pittsburgh Pirates may consider the season a success if they win 70 games, something they have not done since 2004, whereas for most other teams 70 wins would be a complete and utter failure. Then it is World Series or bust for teams like the Yankees or Phillies.

New York Yankees Top 10 Prospects

by on December 22, 2010   No Comments

It would seem that the New York Yankees are unable to develop a farm system. At least the way they make trades and sign free-agents would make it seem that way. However, a closer look would show that they are just as aggressive when it comes to acquiring minor league talent as they are with major league talent. After all, they would need a lot of talent to pull off as many trades for high profile players as they do. It is also no secret that in order to dominate for as long as they have, developing talent is a must. Several of the current Yankees came up through their farm system as well as many other successful players around the league. The current class of Yankees prospects should prove to be no different.

Top 10 Pitchers in MLB doesn’t include Cliff Lee

by on December 19, 2010   10 Comments

Cliff Lee is the envy of his teammates these days, particularly those on his own pitching staff; two of which are better pitchers with smaller salaries.  Actually, the signing of his new 5-year, $120mm contract with the Phillies is the envy of the entire baseball world since he doesn’t even crack the top 10 starting pitchers in MLB, and he wouldn’t even be in the conversation if he wasn’t left-handed (he didn’t even crack the top-10 in WAR in the AL last year, let alone MLB, and the Rangers made the playoffs in spite of his average performance down the stretch, not because of it). Controversial statement?  Read my list of the top 10 pitchers in baseball and you decide where he should be.

Washington Nationals Top 10 Prospects

by on December 18, 2010   3 Comments

Notorious for being one of the worst teams in Major League Baseball since moving to Washington, the Nationals have had several top draft picks to build their system from the ground up. They  have a deep, talented system; though their top ten may be deceiving due to Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen, and Ian Desmond loosing prospect status last season. Although this list is far from the most impressive prospect list this season, the Nationals likely have the most exciting stock of players under 25. Additionally, Bryce Harper picks up any and all hype that Strasburg left behind. There are several top talents in this system that tend to get lost in the excitement surrounding Strasburg and Harper.

It’s a sad day in baseball: Bob Feller gone at 92

by on December 16, 2010   No Comments

When I started to write something this week, I started to write about the biggest news of the off season: Cliff Lee agreeing to a discounted deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.

It was only natural, being a Phillies fan, that I write a few hundred words gushing about how sneaky and brilliant (Phillies GM) Ruben Amaro Jr. is, or how great Cliff Lee is for taking less money and years to come to Philly, or how incredible it’s going to be to be throwing Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, and Cliff Lee out on the hill four out of every five days.

And then I got home last night, and I heard the news: Legendary Indians pitcher Bob Feller had passed away at 92-years old, and everything changed.

This shouldn’t have been a shock, but it was.  It shouldn’t have been so sad, but it was.  The man lived a great life and was a true American hero (for reasons other than his athletic accomplishments.)  Feller was 92-years old and battling leukemia.  It shouldn’t have been so hard to swallow, but it was.