Archive for May, 2011

Tuesday: 05.31.2011

Roy Halladay Even Struggles Better Than Everyone Else

How many pitchers would kill to have one of their bad games be one where they go seven, give up four runs and still get the win?  Hundreds, I’m sure.  It wasn’t Roy Halladay’s worst start of the season, no, that was his six earned run in six and two-thirds showing where he yielding 10 hits and allowed walked a season-high two.

His Memorial Day effort during which he allowed three home runs, easily a season-worst, yielded his second lowest Game Score of the season at 46 yet he still managed to strike out five, walk nobody and as I mentioned, earned the win.  Still don’t think wins are a fluky, unpredictable whore of a stat?

What I found most interesting about Halladay’s start yesterday was that he gave up those three home runs yet still got a win.  How often does that happen?  More on that in that in a second.  Halladay doesn’t normally give up home runs, in fact even accounting for his Memorial Day three pack, his HR/9 rate is up to a still-tiny 0.5.

Since becoming a full-time starter back in 2001, his rate hasn’t topped 1.0.  In the parts of three years before that homers were a major issue for the young Halladay (21-23 years old in that span).  That said, he isn’t averse to allowing three or more in a start even during his reign as baseball’s best pitcher, or at least one of them.

In his Cy Young season of 2003 when he went 22-7 with a 3.25 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and league-best 6.4 K/BB rate, he twice allowed three bombs in a game.  The first was against the Royals where the homers proved to be the only earned damage against Halladay as he went six leaving before there was a decision.  Toronto won the game 6-5.

The other was a bit more damaging, but again he didn’t expire the bullpen going 7.3 innings allowing six runs striking out seven and walking just one.  He had a similar outing the following year going 6.7 innings allowing seven, six earned against Detroit, but struck out nine and walked a pair.

He has allowed 3+ home runs seven more times since 2007 which is tied with eight others for the third-most in major league baseball, including Johan Santana interestingly enough.  In those games, he is a seemingly impossible 4-2 (.667 winning percentage) outclassing his mates with a 5.47 ERA (next best is 6.95; worst is 12.20) and 1.31 WHIP (1.43; 1.96).

One of his four wins even came when he allowed four home runs in a game.  That was last year in September against Milwaukee.  They were all solo shots and the only four runs allowed by Halladay.

Now, how often does a starting pitcher give up three home runs and still come out on the other end with a win?  Here’s a clue, it’s not two-thirds of the time like Halladay.  In that same 2007-2011 span, the league is 70-449 (.135 winning percentage) in 3+ home runs allowed starts for major league baseball pitchers.

Not surprisingly, Halladay is also the best at saving the bullpen during those poor outing going 51 innings with Santana and James Shields checking in behind him at 44 each.  Of the 35 players with 5+ three home runs allowed outing since 2007, only he and now teammate Cliff Lee have a complete game under their belt.  Even when he’s doing poorly, Halladay is still better than everyone else.

Tuesday: 05.31.2011

Blind Resume Comparison #1 – May 31st

Something that holds a lot of fantasy baseball players back in their analysis is name value.  Whether on the high end, in the middle or at the low end, fantasy owners put a lot of stock into name which can cost them when analyzing deals, pickups and start-sit decisions.

Oftentimes we’ll create a narrative to fit the name value of the player we are analyzing.  A star-level player with a modest stat line is “working through a funk” or “about to turn it around” or “due to turn it up soon” and depending on the stat line in question, any or all of those may very well be true.  But that’s no always the case.  On the other end, a surging no-name is “getting lucky and sure to regress soon” or “a fluke that can’t keep this up” or “doing well, but definitely not better than *insert name of guy drafted 10 rounds before player in question*”.

An eye-opening exercise is to look at a pair of resumes without the names, do you analysis and then uncover the names.  Obviously, this can’t really be done solo for a bevy of reasons so I’m here to help!  The first blind resume comparison (BRC) is with a pair of middle infielders:

202 AB 199

.243 AVG .261

29 R 30

4 HR 2

16 RBI 18

12 SB 15

32nd Draft Season ADP 70th

Both sets of underlying skills support the numbers we have seen thus far meaning neither is in for a huge batting average regression tied to BABIP nor is there anything egregiously askew in their HR/FB rates.

The more well-thought of player coming into the season has seen a shift in his skills, though, with his strikeout rate rising nearly 7% to a career worst 19% while his groundball rate has skyrocketed 11% up to 50%.  Our other player saw his stock drop a bit after a stagnant, but still fantasy-valuable 2010 season.  He is pacing toward a season we have seen from him before and given his position on the diamond, he is a prime fantasy asset.

The question is would someone laugh at you for offering the guy on the right for the one on the left?  You can answer that after the reveal.  Regardless of the answer, it really shouldn’t draw snickers, rather it should be seen as a complete serious offer.  The skills change of our guy on the left suggests he is going to vastly underperform expectations of a 32nd overall pick, but at the same time will maintain value albeit different proportioned.

Have an idea who the players are?  Their names are in white font just below if you want to select the space and reveal them.

Dustin Pedroia

Elvis Andrus

For those of you not wanting to do that or unable to for whatever reason click here & here for the player profiles.

Interesting, huh?

Monday: 05.30.2011

Podcasting Tonight at 6 Central

Tonight I’ll be on live with Joel Henard for the Baseball Daily Digest show.  You can listen live here and either join the chat or call in at (646) 716-5225.  We’ve got a great show lined up so be sure to check it out.

Monday: 05.30.2011

Sunday Twidbits: May 29th

Here are this week’s MLB Sunday Twidbits which is something I’ll be doing every Sunday throughout the baseball season.  It’s a simple exercise whereby I tour the league giving a statistical tidbit per team on Twitter feed (@sporer).  Sometimes a team or two will get more than one if I have more than one nugget I really want to share, but every team will be represented at least once.

Bos – Bad starts hide improvement, but good starts hide regression. Jed Lowrie hitting .237/.302/.333 w/0 HR & 9 RBI in last mo. despite BOS surge

Det – In 102 G w/DET, Jhonny Peralta is hitting .275/.339/.455 w/16 HR & 66 RBI. On pace for career year: 25 HR-92 RBI, would be 4th 20-HR season

SD – One regular topped .263 in Apr.; 4 have in May. One regular topped 10 RBIs in Apr.; 3 have in May. Baby steps for the SD offense.

Was – Sitting on the good side of a platoon, Laynce Nix is hitting .304 w/7 HR (pace for 22) & is vastly under-owned: ESPN 18%, CBS 12%, Y! 8%

Phi – Cliff Lee allowed 3+ ER 12 times last year only 2 in his first 11 starts; he’s already had 7 such instances in his 1st 11 starts of ’11.

Phi2 – Lee (cont.) If those 7 starts w/3+ ER allow even a 1% discount on him in trade, I’m pouncing. 5.4 K/BB FTMFW!!!

NYM – Angel Pagan had 11 H in 19 G before inj., 4 in 3 G since returning. A must-own in scarce offensive environs. ESPN 35%, CBS 65%, Y! 36%

CWS – No longer buying Adam Dunn at cost, must have a discount now. He’s 0-for-36 v. LHP, has homerless streaks of 11 & 14 G.

Tor – Speaking of pwr/spd OF, Corey Patterson is positively on fire (9-12, 2 HR, 4 RBI last 2 G). Not a .301 hitter, but offers enough to be owned.

Ari – Chris Young is on pace for 89 RBI primarily bc of batting order (4/5 most of seas.), but unlikely to hold those spots w/.287 OBP.

Ari2 – Young (cont.) I’d be looking to move him hoping that his nice pwr is enticing & no one notices the near 4% drop in BB.

Ari3 – D’Backs had lg’s worst bullpen ERA by more than a run (5.74 to 4.72) in ’10; down to 3.40 in ’11 & a big reason they’re currently in 1st.

Hou – JA Happ has a 3.31 ERA, 1.27 WHIP in 35.3 IP for May. Also has a nice 8.2 K/9, but sub-2.0 K/BB & still a bit homer-happy; tread carefully.

Cle – Slow starts mask improvement: Shin-Soo Choo hitting .313/.400/.453 in last 17; still has lame .250/.335/.380 line. Remains a full on buy.

TB – He can’t hit LHP & his BABIP is .424 meaning Matt Joyce is in for MAJOR regression. To hit .300 in 510 AB, he’d hit .271 rest of the way.

TB2 – Joyce (cont.) To hit .285, he’d hit .251 the rest of the way. On pace for 17 HR, 57 RBI ROtW; enough O to take the AVG hit via trade?

TB3 – Evan Longoria still hitting just .237/.351/.430 w/3 HR yet still doesn’t have 100 ABs. I’d take him in any trade even w/out a discount.

SF – Surprised that Andres Torres is more owned in ESPN lgs (std. is 10tm) than other outlets. A must-own again w/full health.

SF2 – Torres (cont.) Own rates E 53%, C 43%, Y! 32% despite 16 HR-26 SB in ’10. Even better in OBP lg, but .265ish AVG won’t kill you in ’11.

Mil – Panic surrounding Yovani Gallardo proved worthless. He has a 1.29 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 8.7 K & 5 W in last 5 starts. #relax (h/t – @fantasy411)

LAA – Russell Branyan has smacked 56 HRs the last 2 yrs, more than Longo, Cano & Cruz among other big names. Worth a spec on LAA.

Min – Justin Morneau heating up? AVG .283 since 5/6 w/7 multi-hit gms v. 5 0-fers. *Can’t* be at full price at this pt; perhaps time to invest.

StL – Lance Berkman has dipped in May as expected, but not a complete bottom out: .298/.482/.474 in 83 PA… OBP league MONSTER!

Col – Eric Young Jr. called up after .363/.462/.544 (SLG built on 8 3B) w/17 SB in 42 at AAA. Finally ready to deliver more than cheap SB?

KC – Joakim Soria allowed any ER in 10 of 66 G in ’10, never >2; yielded ER in 7 of 22 this yr, allowing 2+ twice. He is broken.

Tex – Remember when Michael Young‘s preseason trade drama was sullying his draft stock a bit? .335 AVG, 33 RBI. Lengthy track record>>Spring Drama

Bal – Contenders might deal Zach Britton to kpr-hungry owner for big return. ERA still <3, but GB rate can only mask 1.6 K/BB & <5 K/9 for so long

Oak – Josh Willingham is on pace for 27 HR, 109 RBI yet ugly .244 AVG leaves him wildly underowned. ESPN 10%, CBS 32%, Y! 16%

Flo – Could just be a lost season for Hanley Ramirez. His .221/.315/.358 May actually qualifies as a *better* month; now possibly injured on Sunday

LAD – A big 3-5 w/HR, 3 RBI & 2 R day might be exactly what Rafael Furcal needs to turn his season around. Widely avail. @ paper-thin SS.

NYY – Robinson Cano tied his career high of 5 SB on Sunday. On pace for Utleyesque (circa 2005-2008) .281-92-32-108-16 season w/AVG upside. Buy.

Sea – Brendan Ryan is 17-for-30 during 9 G hitting streak w/7(!) multi-hit gms pushing his AVG to .279. Passable MI fill-in for AL-Only lgs.

Pit – Young O was supposed to improve PIT outlook for ’11, but keeping w/unpredictable ’11, it’s been their lg avg pitching keeping them afloat.

Pit2 – Paul Maholm‘s K rate is above 6 for 1st time since ’08, but K/BB is still <2 & 3.18 ERA/1.18 WHIP are built on .256 BABIP. Be careful.

CHC – All the closer turmoil in MLB has covered Carlos Marmol‘s success as perhaps lg’s best. Best ERA, 2nd K, t5th SV & 6th WHIP. #beastmode

Cin – Oft-hurt Rolen & oft-sucky Renteria could open PT for prospect Todd Frazier who hit .287/.364/.557 w/11 HR, 33 RBI & 6 SB in 47 G at AAA

Cin2 – Frazier (cont.) Speculate, but ONLY if you’re patient. Dusty Baker loves his veterans so PT might start out slow for the 25-year old.

Atl – The rebirth of Jair Jurrjens‘ GB rate (50%; 40, 43 last 2 yrs) is nice, but I’d trade him & his 5.2 K/9, 86% LOB% & 4% HR/FB rates ASAP

Sunday: 05.29.2011

Trolling the Wire: Week 9 Monday-Friday

Stupid ESPN scoreboard.  They told me Bartolo Colon was pitching on Sunday against Seattle.  Alas he did NOT, instead pitching on Monday while teammate CC Sabathia got the nod against the Mariners.  That little mishap cost this week’s set of picks the chance at a sub-4.00 ERA.  The week started off poorly with Colon allowing six in six against Toronto and his supposed counterpart for today, Jason Vargas, getting knocked around on Monday, too.

Chris Narveson was also torched on Tuesday, leaving the picks with a 10.93 ERA after just three starts.  It was smooth sailing from that point forward as the remaining nine starters posted a 2.33 ERA in 58 innings, but as I mentioned it just wasn’t enough to erase that early damage.  At least if you’re streaming in a head-to-head league, the picks down the stretch were much better than the rough start.

MONDAY:

Colon (NYY @ OAK) – It’s still a nice start against a weak offense in a friendly ballpark.

Ervin Santana (LAA @ KC) – The Royals offense has fallen back to the middle of the pack this month while Santana is getting into a groove.  He will still have that implosion from time to time that leaves his composite numbers right around league average.  I think this is a good spot for him.

Jason Hammel (COL @ LAD) – Hammel is something of an enigma as his first two years in Colorado saw some great skills paired with less-than-stellar ERA & WHIP totals not commensurate with those skills.  This year the skills have eroded a bit, but the ERA & WHIP totals are around what we’d have expected in those other two years.  I think his skills rise to where they were in 2009 and 2010 while holding firm or improving the ERA & WHIP, plus the Dodgers are an auto play-against team with their weak offense.

Prediction: Jo-Jo Reyes will break his no-win streak against Cleveland on Monday.  I like his skills a bit and could see him on Trolling at some point soon.  He’s been horrifically unlucky to this point.  For now, I’ll just predict a win for him snapping that ugly streak. 

TUESDAY:

Ryan Vogelsong (SF @ STL) – His ownership rates are on the rise, but he is still available in a ton of leagues for at least another week.  The skills are there with a  7.0 K/9 and 2.9 K/BB so keep riding the streak while it lasts.  With the rash of injuries hitting the pitching ranks of late, I’d hang onto Vogelsong for the time being.

Mike Minor (ATL v. SD) – He did well in last week’s start against a lame Pittsburgh Pirates offense and his reward is a start against the lowly San Diego Padres.  They’ve been improved from their awful April performance, but I’m still not afraid of them.  I really like Minor.  Things will get crowded once Brandon Beachy gets back, but I think Minor will perform well enough to make things difficult for the Braves brass.

Erik Bedard (SEA v. BAL) – Bedard is no longer available in many CBS leagues (84%), but he’s still widely available in ESPN (66%) and Yahoo! (44%) leagues, so we’ll throw him out for another week, but he also joins the Hold List.  He’s another guy who is probably being snapped up permanently a lot more given the spate of injuries that recently hit the game (Beachy, Josh Johnson and Wandy Rodriguez to name a few).

WEDNESDAY:

Chris Capuano (NYM v. PIT) – He has the one blowup in May (6 ER on 5/21), but otherwise he has allowed no more than 2 ER in his other four starts this month.  The blowup was at the Yankees where he allowed four home runs so it’s fair to say it’s an anomaly.  Best of all, he has 28 K in 29 innings this month.  This a nice start for him.

THURSDAY:

Jordan Zimmermann (WAS @ ARI) – He’s off to the Hold List this week as his ownership rates creep near 70% at two of the three outlets (Y! is the holdout) and I don’t want to keep recommending a guy who isn’t widely available.

Tim Stauffer (SD v. HOU) – His skill set this year is really nice.  He has kept most of his groundball gains from 2010 (53% after 55% last year) while adding strikeouts and cutting walks.  Meanwhile his BABIP, LOB% & HR/FB indicators point toward some favorable ERA headed his way cutting into the 3.60 he is currently toting.  I love him in a start against Houston, but that stupid, dumb offense of his might continue to cost him wins.

FRIDAY:

Danny Duffy (KC v. MIN) – Facing Texas twice and heading to Camden Yards, the rookie southpaw has acquitted himself well in the first three starts of his career all things considering.  There is nothing particularly special about his 4.11 ERA or 1.57 WHIP (10 BB in 15.3 IP), but the 8.2 K/9 is very nice and he seems to be getting better start-to-start as he gets his feet underneath him in his debut season.  He finally draws a favorable matchup and I think we could get our first glimpse of the high end ability this kid has in his future.

The weekend later this week…

Friday: 05.27.2011

Trolling the Wire: Week 8 The Weekend

The week started off pretty horribly so even though the last five starts have been gems, they have just been chiseling away at a bloated ERA caused by the first three guys trotted out there.  I’ve got four weekend picks to cover and perhaps they can keep the momentum going giving the group a good composite week.

SATURDAY:

Jordan Zimmermann (WAS v. SD) – After an up and down April, Zimmermann has thrown 25 innings with a 3.28 ERA and 1.08 WHIP while striking out 26 in four May starts, the last three of which have been on the road.  Now he gets a home bid against the putrid San Diego Padres offense making him a must-start.  He is still on a lot of league wires for some reason, but he is someone I really like for the remaining four months of the season so I’d consider hanging onto him in leagues where available.

Carlos Villanueva (TOR v. CHW) – He has been dealing this year for the Jays, mostly out of the pen, but got a start on Monday and looked very sharp against the Yankees.  He is a strikeout guy (26 in 29 IP, 5 in 5 on Monday) which can build a pitch count.  That combined with the fact that they are just starting to stretch him out could limit him to around six innings, but I think he will fare well.

Randy Wolf (MIL v. SF) – He was on fire earlier this year (2.39 ERA in 6 Apr. starts), but then cooled off with two poor starts at the beginning of May including one against the Padres.  He’s throwing well again of late and he completes his tour of the NL West (last three starts v. SD, COL & @LAD) with a shot against a weak Giants offense that recently lost their best player, catcher Buster Posey.

SUNDAY:

Bartolo Colon (NYY @ SEA) – He was knocked around earlier this week on my watch as was his opponent in this game, Jason Vargas.  They are a big part of why the composite numbers look so bad, but I’m willing to stand by Colon after a bad start.  It’s only second down start of the season and he still struck out eight so he can be trusted against the anemic M’s in Safeco.

 

Results and Week 9 picks on Sunday.

Thursday: 05.26.2011

Fixing the Contenders – National League

Continuing onto the National League, let’s take a look at some moves the contenders could reasonably entertain in the coming months to patch holes and solidify their team to assert themselves for the entire year.

Fixing the Contenders – AL

A note from the AL piece: I forgot to point out that Hiroki Kuroda has a full no trade clause that could muddy things up if the Dodgers were looking to trade him this summer.  Thanks to Ray Guilfoyle from FakeTeams.com for letting me know that and also suggesting that Ryan Dempster could be an option for the Yankees.  I agree with Ray that he would be a nice fit as well.  Hell, maybe they will go for both.  They have enough minor league pieces to acquire both without decimating their system.

San Francisco Giants (27-22)

Team Needs: C, SS, bats in general

Had I not had plans last night to see The Hangover 2 (which was very funny, not as good as 1, but no one should expect it to be), this section would have looked a whole lot different because star catcher Buster Posey was lost for the season during a 12-inning battle against the Florida Marlins.  His leg was destroyed while blocking the plate against Scott Cousins and their anemic offense has now lost its best player.  Posey wasn’t hitting like he did last year, but the bar to be the best Giants hitter hasn’t been terribly high in 2011.  Posey had a .284/.368/.389(!) line with four home runs and 21 RBIs, not bad, but not quite the .305/.357/.505 with 18 home runs stud we saw a year ago, either.

This is a devastating blow to a team that desperately needed hitting before the injury.  The Giants could dial up the Cincinnati Reds and inquire about some of the amazing depth at catcher that the NL Central reigning champs have both on their team and in their system.  Or is that a fit?  Because Posey is a franchise player who will be back next year, the Giants don’t need to go big and trade for Devin Mesoraco, the 23-year old prospect who is following up a breakout 2010 with a big 2011 at AAA.

The Reds are currently top five in the majors in catcher production between Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan.  With Mesoraco waiting in the wings, they could afford to move one of them to address one of their needs at the same time.  Hernandez (.327/.375/.558)  is a 35-year old backstop in the last year of his contract while Hanigan (.253/.349/.347) is 30 and just starting a very team-friendly 3 year/$4-million dollar deal so I think the Reds would be more likely to deal Hernandez even though he is hitting better right now.

The Reds have the 2nd-worst team ERA from their starters (4.95) despite coming into the season with what seemed like a surplus of starters.  For either catcher, the Reds aren’t going to draw one of San Francisco’s top four arms (Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner).  Ryan Vogelsong has been such a revelation and the 33-year old journeyman is pitching out of his mind with some pretty strong skills to back up his pint-sized ERA and WHIP (1.77/1.06).  Given that Barry Zito would be too expensive to trade, whether for the Giants (who might be forced to pay a bulk of the cash) or the receiving team (who would have that albatross contract on their books), Vogelsong might be the one to move.

Of course they can’t give up two of their top five arms and there is another move that is being rumored that would fit much better in the short and long term meaning they need to either to go with Eli Whiteside (the current backup), search within their system, hit the scrap heap of the free agent pool (Bengie Molina anyone?) or make a smaller trade with someone.

TRADE: Prospect Ryan Verdugo to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Ryan Doumit – The Pirates farm system is getting better, but they need to keep stockpiling arms as their lineup is starting to come together and a lot of their pitching prospects are years away.  Verdugo is a solid lefty who shifted back to the rotation after three years of relieving as a pro and he is having a strong season with 44 strikeouts in his 41 innings of work.

Doumit, meanwhile, has seemingly been on the block for several years now as his star has dimmed since a breakout 2008 season that portended big things on the way that never ended up coming to fruition.  He’s an adequate bat that would be a significant upgrade over staying in house with Whiteside.

So this overwhelming devastation may heighten San Francisco’s focus on filling their shortstop void that they inexplicably thought was filled with the Miguel Tejada acquisition this offseason.  Pablo Sandoval’s injury mercifully pulled Tejada from the most important defensive spot on the field, but it left Mike Fontenot there.

Overshadowed in today’s Posey news is that Fontenot is now on the disabled list, too, leaving them with Emmanuel Burris and rookie Brandon Crawford at the position.  From awful to equally awful to the most awfulest everz at a very important position.  Two key positions obliterated in one fateful night.

Focusing efforts on a certain star shortstop who is available, the Giants should make a blockbuster deal to fill this massive void now and in the future.

TRADE: Bumgarner, Crawford, Clayton Tanner and Darren Ford to the New York Mets for Jose Reyes – That feels like it should be enough, but it also feels like it could be too much.  I’m just not 100% sure where Reyes’ value is at this point.  The Mets’ farm is garbage right now so a big time major league arm and some solid pieces to stock the high minors for a piece like Reyes seems viable on their end, too.

Obviously to give up a huge arm like Bumgarner, a top 10 prospect from their org. and two other pieces, the Giants would have to gain some sort of assurance for themselves that Reyes isn’t just a rental.  You don’t take that kind of hit to your rotation for a few months of an electric table-setter.  It’s not like he can go on a Manny Ramirez run circa 2008.

If Reyes were just a rental then I think you lop off Bumgarner immediately and then perhaps that trio is enough.  Or maybe they replace Crawford with Ehire Adrianza, who is also a shortstop prospect that checks out a bit higher and is just 22 years old.

If a move for Reyes can realistically be done without devastating their current 25 to the point where there is no net gain, then they really should entertain it.  Crawford being instantly successful would be a huge upset considering he was a 24-year old in High-A who had reached AA in 2009 and 2010 yet performed terribly both times and has yet to hit AAA.

He was definitely raking (.322/.412/.593), but he was a 24-year old in the Cal League, so he should have been hitting well.  The Giants are rolling the dice with him because they have limited options at this point.

Moves:

  1. C – Trade Verdugo for Doumit
  2. SS – Trade Bumgarner, Crawford, Tanner & Ford for Reyes

Atlanta Braves (28-23)

Team Need: OF

When was the last time the Braves had three viable outfielders play a majority of their games in left, center and right?  It has been quite some time, but it looks like 2003 when they had Chipper Jones in left, Andruw Jones in center and Gary Sheffield in right.  All three posted .851 or better OPS marks while Chipper and Sheff were at .920 and 1.023, respectively.  Since then, they have pieced things together at one and sometimes two of the spots and injuries have put them right back there again in 2011.

They needed outfield help before Jason Heyward went out, but then he and Nate McLouth hit the disabled list together leaving Martin Prado as the last man standing out there.  Lucky for them they have a stupid amount of pitching both at the major league level and throughout their minor leagues which should allow them make a move with ease.

The problem is there is one major and a couple strong bats out there, but they are all corner outfielders.  With Prado in left and Heyward out, but expected back and in right, centerfield is their biggest need and there just aren’t a ton of options out there.  And I can’t see them trading with their hated rivals, the New York Mets, to get Carlos Beltran.  Plus Beltran probably works best in a corner to conserve his health.

That really limits their options unless something opens up from now until July.  As such, I could see them biding their time with fill-ins and then making a move for a guy who is also currently injured and scheduled to return in about a month, at the earliest.

TRADE: Prospect Erik Cordier to the Chicago Cubs for Marlon Byrd – Look, McLouth is terrible.  His return doesn’t help the Braves at all.  And there aren’t any significant outfield prospects on the way up for the Braves so getting Byrd not only helps this year but also in ’12 when he costs just $6.5 mil.  He isn’t a middle of the lineup impact bat, but he can definitely help the top of their lineup by getting on base early 35% of the time.

Cordier barely registers for the Braves, not because he’s a poor prospect, but because they have such a disgusting depth of arms.  Seven of their top 10 prospects this year are starting pitchers and a handful more within their top 25.  Not to mention the fact that they have a deep rotation at the major league level, too.

If he could realistically play CF, the Braves could inquire about and possibly acquire Andre Ethier from the Dodgers, but I just don’t see that.

Moves:

  1. OF – Trade Cordier for Byrd

Cincinnati Reds (26-25)

Team Needs: RP, SP

I discussed separately and in the AL portion of a move the Reds could do with the A’s to improve their bullpen while merely scratching the surface of their insanely deep stock of hitters in the minor leagues.

Their first two months of their 2011 season are a shining example of the adage: “you can never have too much starting pitching.”  It’s impossible.  It such a volatile position and so prone to injury that there really is no such thing as “too much”.  They came into the season with Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Edinson Volquez and Travis Wood ready to go as well as Sam LeCure and Matt Maloney for depth.

Arroyo has flailed (5.28 ERA, 1.44 WHIP), Bailey started the season hurt and looked great in his first five starts before getting hurt again; his status is up in the air, Cueto also got a late start to the season, but has been great in his four starts (2.19 ERA, 1.14 WHIP), Leake has been terrible and likes to steal cheap shirts, Volquez has imploded to the point where he has been sent back to the minors and Wood’s ERA (5.11) looks a lot worse than his skills would normally suggest (3.63 FIP).

That leaves them with a reliable arm in Cueto, a second who should improve with Wood and four question marks.  LeCure has been great as a swingman with four starts in his 12 appearances with great skills in both roles, but a significantly better ERA in the bullpen (0.68 vs. 4.79).  Maloney has been nothing special in AAA.

As I mentioned, they have remarkable hitting depth and that would allow them to make a move for a legitimate starter.  Of course, there aren’t a ton of legitimate starters set to be available, but I think the Dodgers would be a good trade partner with a putrid offense that needs help now and going forward.

TRADE: Prospects Chris Valaika and Neftali Soto to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Ted Lilly – Lilly also has a full no trade clause (why the hell do the Dodgers keep giving out full NTCs????) so a move would again be contingent upon the player, but I’m not sure why he wouldn’t want to go to a surefire contender like the Reds.  The Dodgers need a lot on the diamond, but infield is the real issue.

James Loney isn’t a good first baseman.  He simply doesn’t hit enough.  A lot of people believe he will at some point because of what he showed as a 23-year old (.919 OPS, 15 HR in 96 games), but at 27 after three straight years of sub-.800 OPS (and a .573 so far this year), I think it’s time to stop thinking something great is on the way.  Soto has some nice power potential that would fit really nicely at first base for the Dodgers with the added bonus that the Reds tried him out at catcher last year and it wasn’t a complete failure.

He would be an asset to the Dodgers at either position as both are barren for them (assuming they leave Jerry Sands in left).  His plate patience could use some work and he needs to shorten his swing or he could get eaten up in the high minors and then the majors, but his power has been on full display early on in his first stint at AA (.680 SLG).

Meanwhile Valaika probably works best at second base, but could maybe stick at short or third base depending on need.  Lucky for him, the Dodgers need all three positions.  With 237 games at AAA where he has had mixed success (struggled initially, but solid this year and last), it is time to give him a real shot at the big leagues and see what the 25-year old is made of and whether or not he can stick at the majors as an everyday player.

The Reds could reasonably do this move and the one I’ve proposed with the A’s to get Andrew Bailey for Yonder Alonso without seriously damaging their minor league system.  It would be a dent that’s for sure, but Alonso and Soto are blocked by Joey Votto and Valaika is blocked by Brandon Phillips at second and Scott Rolen now and likely Juan Francisco in the future at third so they are trading from surplus to improve their team and give them the best shot to win in 2011.

Moves:

  1. RP – Trade Alonso for Bailey
  2. SP – Trade Soto, Valaika for Lilly

These are obviously just some ideas for the seven teams across both leagues who I see as contenders.  Perhaps none of them come close to happening, but I think they are reasonable possibilities for how these teams could improve their team for 2011.

Among the NL contenders not listed, I didn’t see natural fits for the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Colorado Rockies and Milwaukee Brewers.  Whether it’s a thin minor league system or not enough major league depth to trade from or the lack of legitimate opening to trade for, these four teams are contenders in my eyes, but as it stands in late May, I don’t see a major move for them right now.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these two pieces.  When it comes to trades with prospects included, I am making my best educated guesses, so we could see a team trade for a major leaguer I predicted, but give something totally different in return.  I look forward to seeing how things play out in June and July leading up to the trade deadline.

Wednesday: 05.25.2011

Do You Want S’Morse?

Ham Porter: Hey, Smalls, you wanna s’more?

Smalls: Some more of what?

 

When it was announced in mid-March that outfielder Michael Morse was in line to win a job with the Washington Nationals, he became a darling sleeper for many.  He popped 15 home runs in less than 100 games last year (98) with a solid .289/.352/.519 line in 293 plate appearances.  A simple extrapolation made him a mid-30s home run hitter with 600 at-bats.  Of course, it’s not always that simple.  You couldn’t just pencil him in for 34 home runs assuming that he would keep mashing at the same rate over a full season of work.  However, even accounting for some regression, a new power source was available.

Sometimes there are players who work best in limited doses and when they finally win a full-time job, they are overexposed.  Ryan Raburn seems to prove this yearly as his strong second halves win him a job for the following year where he falls on his face, loses the jobs, plays sporadically through the early summer before turning it on after the All-Star break, earning a full-time job around or just after the trading deadline and restarting the cycle in earnest with insane August and September numbers.

Morse took his full-time job and gave owners a .182 average by Tax Day (April 15th for the uninitiated) and just .211 by the end of April.  He had just one home run, nine runs driven in and four scored with 21 strikeouts against four walks.  It wasn’t going well and though it was just 71 at-bats, it was his first 71 with a full-time job out of Spring Training so doubt among even he’s biggest believers began to creep in.

That’s always a bad idea but we see it yearly, especially with unproven guys.  People get so hyped about a guy and they psyche themselves into his best case scenario, but then give the guy less than 100 at-bats to prove himself before putting him on the chopping block.  It isn’t just with those without a track record, you will see fantasy owners questioning firmly established semi-stars because they get off to a bad start.

Admittedly, Morse’s start was rough and kind of tough to swallow, but in the offense-starved environment we are playing in these days, his power potential still had value and again, we are talking about 71 at-bats!  He had a stretch last year from July 24th to August 26th where he posted a .198/.233/.321 line with three home runs, eight driven in, nine scored, 21 Ks and three walks in 81 at-bats.  Despite the stretch that was eerily similar to his April this year, he still managed the .289/.352/.519 line that made him a preseason favorite.

Morse has come back in phases.  His playing time dwindled a bit, but instead of sulking and letting his season get completely away from him, he got better.  (Truth be told, he may very well have sulked, but what he definitely didn’t do was get worse and have what was supposed to be a big season for him spiral out of control.)

First he has repaired his batting average going 12-for-30 (.400) from May 2nd to 22nd still with just a homer, two ribbies and a run.  You can only do so much in 30 at-bats, but he piled up hits with four multi-hit games and zero 0-fers in the six games he did start.  Then Adam LaRoche hit the disabled list opening a prime playing time opportunity for Morse at first base and in the four games starting at first, he has matched his power output from his 23 games during April.

He has gone 7-for-17 (.412) with three home runs (in three straight games), eight runs batted in and four scored .  His season line is up to .281/.303/.447.  He’s not walking nearly as much (3.3% against 7.5% in ’10) as he did last year and he is striking out a lot more than he did last year (29% against 24% in ’10), but we are still dealing with a 114 at-bat sample and he’s just now getting into a groove.

I often make the point that you have to be patient with your guys early on and this isn’t necessarily any different.  Where it is different is the type of player.  If you want to overreact on Carl Crawford and sell low on him, be dumb and do it, there’s a strong chance you will very much regret it by season’s end if not the All-Star break.  Same goes for more of a semi-star guy like John Danks.  Freak out because of an 0-7 record and elevated ERA and ignore the 608 innings of work that suggest he’s a very good in this league (and that fact that there isn’t a significant skills change within his profile so far this year).

But on someone like Morse or whomever your pet sleeper was this year, why cut bait early?  What is there to gain?  If you trade him, you’re definitely selling way low because you don’t even believe in him at this point.  You might get out from under a struggling star and still get fair market value opting to pass the risk (and potential reward) on for peace of mind, but you’re no doubt getting 50 cents on the dollar to trade Morse when he’s hitting .226 on April 26th.

The question is, did something really change from mid-March through those 71 at-bats taking you from believer to non-believer?  If When the answer is no to that question, the next one is, “then why are you giving up?”  In most leagues where you rostered someone like Morse, what is going to be available to replace him?  Robert Andino (hit .348 in 46 April at-bats; hitting .264 after 91 at-bats)?  Gerrardo Parra (.297 in 64 Apr. ABs; .269 after 134)?  Aaron Rowand (.294 in 85; .246 after 148)?

Fill in a random slug who had a hot week or 10 days but lacks any real potential instead he just satiates your need to get a Mendoza Line bat out of your lineup so you can feel like you’re making an impact on your roster late in April.  Michael Morse might not hit .280-something this year.  He strikes out a helluva lot which eats up batting average potential, but over the course of 162 games he is almost certain to get into at least 135+ games barring injury and with his raw power he should hit the 20+ home runs you were hoping for back in March.

So whether it’s a Morse who started slowly but is course correcting of late or a Chris Narveson who you liked as a sleeper and loved until April 25th when he got lit for seven in 2.3 innings (only to rebound before his latest hiccup…) or a Brandon Belt who got all of 52 at-bats to prove himself (Brian Sabean: the fantasy owner?) before getting sent down to AAA (where is straight up raking), if you aren’t going to give your sleepers a legitimate opportunity to pan out (at least mid-June give or take, especially if they’re adjusting to a new role) then don’t even both drafting them.  You’re wasting your own time.  You’re not allowing for any of the ebbs and flows that come with a 6-month season.

Stick with crusty old vets who you can set your watch to.  Some will emerge from year to year and you may get lucky with an Aubrey Huff and Paul Konerko on the same team, but their name recognition won’t send you running for the panic button at the faintest hint of a 2-for-25 stretch.  Mostly they will just kind be what they are and you can focus on in-season management instead of trying to win big at the auction/draft.  That isn’t necessarily a losing strategy, especially if you’re a nifty trader and good waiver wirererererer.  You’re just doing yourself a favor and cutting out the potential for horribly preemptive moves that you will almost certainly regret by midsummer.

Do you want s’Morse?  If you want power, then the answer should be yes.

Tuesday: 05.24.2011

Fixing the Contenders – American League

As we near Memorial Day (less than a week away) and turn the calendar to June, we usually see the MLB standings start to stratify a bit with the contenders separating themselves from the rest of the pack.  That may not happen in the 2011 season, at least not for a while.  Right now there are just three teams who are 10+ games out two of which are the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox, a pair of teams many still refuse to bury given the uncertainty of the Cleveland Indians and the expectations on those two teams coming into the season.

The other is the Houston Astros who were out of it before the season started.  Only three other teams are more than five games away from .500 (Padres, Dodgers and Cubs) so there could be a dearth of sellers as trading season in the MLB heats up.  Nobody really thought Seattle was going to be much of anything this year, but alas their rotation is running five deep headlined by two aces (Felix Hernandez & Michael Pineda; Erik Bedard, Jason Vargas & Doug Fister round out an impressive rotation) meanwhile Jamey Wright, David Pauley and Aaron Laffey have been nails out of the pen masking the fact that they still have a completely horrible offense.  The pitching has them just one game below .500 and a game and a half out of the division lead.

Similarly, expected bottom-feeders Arizona (23-23), Pittsburgh (22-24), Kansas City (22-24) and Baltimore (21-24) continue to linger.  While the league lacks a truly great team, there are still a group of contenders to be found within the 30, teams that should be focusing their attention on 2011 and doing what they can, whether internally or through trade, to get those October playoff tickets printed as soon as possible.

Today, I will go through the contenders who are ripe for a trade and identify the potential move(s) they could make.  I have seven teams on the list.  There are eight other contenders who I didn’t feel needed to make a significant trade because they are either getting some significant pieces back from injury and/or have the available talent in their minor leagues to fill their holes.  Or, at least in one case, I simply didn’t see a move to be made.  That doesn’t mean that it is a perfect team, just that their path to improvement is either a minor trade or sticking with what they have already.

Cleveland Indians (30-15)

Team Needs: 3B, SP, RP

Let’s start with the league’s best team record-wise.  Wow, that reads weird when in reference to the 2011 Cleveland Indians, but you can’t deny the fact that they have the best record in the baseball after 45 games.  If this team stays as is, I can’t see them holding on for 162.  I just don’t buy in the pitching outside of Justin Masterson, and he isn’t without his flaws (lefties still destroy him).  I think Masterson can be a solid pitcher, but their “best” pitcher to date, Josh Tomlin, will not hold up at all, in my opinion.  The 1.2 HR/9 will soon bite back in a big way and the 4.5 K/9 is just too low for this kind of success.

Jack Hannahan’s hot start (hitting .284 w/.837 OPS on May 3rd) has bought Lonnie Chisenhall some time to try and iron out his issues against southpaws (.208 in 48 AB), but now Hannahan has returned to Hannahandom (.238, .691) and it is time to give Chisenhall a shot.  It actually works out where they wouldn’t have to throw him in the fire right away against lefties as Hannahan is actually crushing them with a .387 average and 1.135 OPS in 31 at-bats.  They could run a straight platoon and improve their lineup.  Currently rated 4th or better in runs, average, on-base and slugging, the Indians lineup is performing beautifully to date, but you can never have too much offense.

To fix their starting pitching, I think they need to focus on someone who can miss some bats. With Alex White and his team-best 7.8 K/9 headed to the disabled list for up to three months with a finger injury, Masterson is the leader with a 6.7 K/9.  That is barely above the AL average of 6.5 among starters, so they should call up the Astros and inquire about a trade for an arm.

TRADE: Prospects Joe Gardner and Zack Putnam to the Houston Astros for Wandy Rodriguez – A pair of upper minors arms who ranked 9th and 17th in the org. list from Baseball America for the 32-year old lefty.  With two years left on his contract plus a 2014 option, Wandy won’t come cheap, but given his age the Astros should be open to trading him as he won’t be a part of their next great team.  Their minor league system is disgustingly low on talent so it’s time to start replenishing in earnest via trade.

They might still need to shore up the bullpen a little bit, too.  But that may be handled internally with the recent call up of Josh Judy, who struck out 20 in 17 innings at AAA prior to his call up.  Elsewhere, Nick Hagadone, their #10 prospect, has recently hit AAA after striking out 24 in 23 innings at AA and he could be there to shore up the relief corps early in the summer.

Moves:

  1. 3B – Promote Chisenhall up to platoon w/Hannahan
  2. SP – Trade Gardner & Putnam for Rodriguez, W
  3. RP – Judy recently called up; Hagadone en route

New York Yankees (25-21)

Team Need: SP

The Yankees are having the exact issue that everyone thought they would back in Spring Training with C.C. Sabathia as their top starter and a giant question mark after that.  Bartolo Colon has been a godsend with a strong ERA (3.77) and WHIP (1.20) and great skills (8.8 K/9, 3.7 K/BB) backing the rates up, but how long will it last for the 37 year old?  A.J. Burnett and Ivan Nova have been up and down while Freddy Garcia, filling in for Phil Hughes, has been better (3.12 ERA) than his skills suggest as a 34-year old journeyman.

There is nothing at the AAA level that stands to be any better than what they have and Manny Banuelos in AA has gone more than five innings just once in his eight starts so he isn’t the savior that fans want him to be after seeing him excel in Spring Training.  That leaves the trade markets.  And while delusional fans might think Felix Hernandez is available, he’s not.  But they should venture out for a trade.

TRADE: Prospect Adam Warren to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Hiroki Kuroda – The 36-year old veteran is a free agent after this year so despite how well he has pitched since coming over to the States in 2008, he won’t net the Dodgers an overwhelming return of prospects.  That said, Warren was just outside of the top 10 on org. lists and the Yankees system is a deep one so that’s not chopped liver.  He has struggled with his control at AAA (27 K, 24 BB in 45 IP), but he is still just 23 years old and the Yankees have moved him aggressively (just 54 IP in AA).

The Dodgers system has a crap-ton of pitching and while you can never have too much, they might opt for a bat instead and I could see a toolsy, raw bat like Melky Mesa being dealt for Kuroda.  Mesa has 16 extra-base hits out of just 30 (.204 avg in 147 AB), seven stolen bases but also caught seven times and 16 walks aiding a solid 83-point AVG-OBP split, but also 50 strikeouts (34% K rate).  The 24-year old has been much better lately (.290/.372/.507 in May) after a horrid April (.129/.209/.256) which may elevate his trade stock a bit, though front offices focus more on pure talent & projectability than stats when it comes to prospects.

The Yankees might need more than one starting pitcher so they could also be in for someone like Jon Garland, Livan Hernandez, Aaron Harang or Francisco Liriano, too.  Again, they have a remarkably deep system so trading for a second level arm like one of the above (can you believe Liriano is now regarded as a second level arm?!) as well as a bigger impact arm would be doable.

Moves:

  1. SP – Trade Warren or Mesa for Kuroda
  2. SP2 – Trade David Adams for Harang

Detroit Tigers (24-23)

Team Need: RP

Relief pitching was supposed to be a strength of the 2011 Tigers after signing super-setup man Joaquin Benoit and pairing him with Jose Valverde at the back end of the bullpen.  The constant stream of power arms drafted and traded for recently was supposed to fill any gaps from starter to Benoit with guys like Ryan Perry and Daniel Schlereth, specifically.   Al Alburquerque has been a pleasant surprise with a 15.3 K/9 in his 15 innings, but walks have been a problem (11) for the rookie.

Chance Ruffin is doing well in his debut season as a pro, but he is just 22 and in AA, so the chances of him as a savior are slim.  Plus, the bullpen is young enough already.  Charlie Furbush was just called up from AAA and thrown right into the fire on Monday night after a Phil Coke injury in the fourth inning left the Tigers scrambling.  He responded admirably with 3.7 shutout innings striking out three and walking one.

He has been huge strikeout guy as a starter in the minors (9.5 K/9 career, over 10 the last two years) and he has a legitimate shot to keep those kind of rates in short stints out of the pen.  But with no reliever toting a sub-3.00 ERA, the Tigers will need more than one arm to cure those bullpen woes.

Thankfully for the Tigers, relief pitching is usually one of the most plentiful items in the trade market year in and year out.  And oftentimes, it is the cheapest commodity to acquire, too.  The Padres seem like a great trade partner as I count five arms that could (and should) be up for trade ranging from ace closer Heath Bell to the reborn Pat Neshek.

TRADE: Bruce Rondon and a throw in C-rated (or lower) prospect to the San Diego Padres for Mike Adams – Rondon is a 20-year old flamethrowing reliever (14.6 K/9), but control is a big time issue right now (8.6 BB/9).  He is allowing next to nothing when it comes to hits (1.6 H/9), though, so he has a 1.62 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.  Adams is 32 years old and a free agent after this year.  Plus he comes with loads of injury risk having never put together back-to-back full seasons.

As such, I’m not sure the Padres could really ask for too much from a prospective trade partner even given how great he is when he does pitch, especially this year with his otherworldly 10.5 K/BB in 22 innings.  His 8.7 K/9 is pretty good, but it’s the disgusting 0.8 BB/9 that is powering his insane season.

Luke Gregerson is five years younger, but also a free agent after the season.  He might draw a little more in return than Adams, but he hasn’t been the Gregerson from 2009 and 2010 so far this year.  His strikeout rate has seen a precipitous drop from 10.2 to 6.0 and he has become a lot more hittable allowing 10.3 H/9 (after 5.4 last year).

I can’t see the Tigers trading for Bell as the cost would be too much and Valverde isn’t going anywhere while Neshek would be too much of an injury risk having pitched just 34 innings since 2008 including his 12 this year.

Moves:

  1. RP1 – Promoted Furbush
  2. RP2 – Trade Rondon + PTBNL for Adams, M

 

Oakland A’s (22-25)

Team Need: Bats… about nine of them.

I covered the A’s a good bit last week specifically tied to them addressing their need of a bat (or several!) so I won’t do an entire re-hash.  Internally, I think Jemile Weeks should be called up soon because he is healthy for once and hitting really well in AAA while Mark Ellis is not.  Ellis had a stretch where he had multi-hit games in three out of six (10-for-24) and it moved his average up to a blistering .208.  That wouldn’t cut in 1968 much less now (OK, it might cut it in ’68… but it really doesn’t in ’11 even with the down hitting).

If they don’t want to try Weeks out just yet, then they should look to Adrian Cardenas, who continues to hit well having raised his batting average yearly since 2007 up to .357 this year while finally adding some pop, too, with a career high slugging percentage of .478.  He has shown a strong eye at the plate throughout his career as well, especially at the high minors with 136 walks to 150 strikeouts in 306 games at AA and AAA.  One of the two prospects deserves a look to jumpstart their anemic offense if they want to realistically contend this year.  I also think a trade is in order as they match up really well with another team in contention.

TRADE: Andrew Bailey to the Cincinnati Reds for Yonder Alonso – I covered this in great detail in this piece about Bailey a week ago.  Assuming he comes up back healthy and as good as we’ve seen him, this is a great fit for both teams involved.  Alonso doesn’t really have a future in Cincinnati being blocked by Joey Votto, Chris Heisey and Jonny Gomes and the Oakland bullpen is stocked.  Alonso can move directly into Daric Barton’s spot at first or into the outfield which would allow Josh Willingham to take Barton’s place.  Either way, Barton’s vomit-inducing .280 SLG has to get out of the everyday lineup.  They just can’t expect to win with that lack of production at a power position.  Hell, you can’t really take it on at any position, but especially first base.

The A’s could make another move closer to the deadline, but it would hinge on Brandon McCarthy and Tyson Ross coming back from their recent injuries to pitch like they were before getting hurt and recently returned Josh Outman to pick up where he left off in 2009 (which he showed he might do on Monday night with 7 strong innings).  That would give them some rotation depth which they could flip for another bat.

TRADE: McCarthy to the Detroit Tigers for Brennan Boesch – Starting pitching isn’t a primary need for the Tigers, but you really can’t have too much and the back end is tenuous with Phil Coke (who left his last start injured) and Brad Penny, meanwhile their outfield has developed some depth with Casper Wells and Andy Dirks joining the club.  Plus Magglio Ordonez will be back at some point which would give them six outfielders plus Don Kelly for three spots (DH is locked up by Victor Martinez most days).  This one would really be contingent on McCarthy’s health, of course.

Boesch isn’t tearing the cover off of the ball or anything, but David DeJesus has been awful and Boesch has at least shown the capability for some power in his time as a major leaguer.  McCarthy was a million dollar flier for the A’s and netting a 26-year old outfielder with some potential would probably be much more than they truly expected when they took the gamble on the former top prospect pitcher.

Moves:

  1. Bat1 – Trade Bailey for Alonso
  2. Bat2 – Trade McCarthy for Boesch

That covers the American League contenders.   I left out the Rays, Red Sox, Rangers and Angels, all of whom are contenders in my eyes, but don’t have an obvious trade scenario for a high-impact move.  The Rays, Red Sox and Rangers have pretty deep systems to attack needs or can be expected to play better once their current set of 25 begins to meet expectations (Evan Longoria, Dustin Pedroia, Carl Crawford; Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz returning from injury).

Meanwhile the Angels don’t have a glaring flaw they can attack via the market.  There aren’t any major first basemen available that would be a huge upgrade over Mark Trumbo.  If Vernon Wells performs anything like expected upon his return from the DL, he will help their power woes and they could shore up their pen via trade, but Scott Downs, Rich Thompson and Jordan Walden give them a solid trio and they can probably manufacture one more reliable arm without having to make a move.

Next up, the National League contenders.

Monday: 05.23.2011

Baseball Podcast Recommendation List: An Update

I’ve added to the original post from back in March with several additions as well as some updated commentary for a handful of shows.  That post can be found here in its entirety.  However, for those of you just interested in the new additions, I’ve split those off into a new post.

Original List

As always, please let me know if you there is something left off that you think I should try out and possibly add to the list.

The New Additions: (May 23rd)

The Baseball Show with Rany & JoeRany Jazayerli and Joe Sheenan are long-time friends and industry stalwarts when it comes to baseball.  As Joe tells it, they used to have extended phone calls where they would just talk about everything that was going on in baseball so given the rise in podcasts, they decided to just start recording these calls and sharing them with the world.  If you enjoyed the writing of these two back at Baseball Prospectus or currently enjoy them either at Rany on the Royals or in Sheehan’s Newsletter, then you’ll definitely like this show.

Sports Poscast with Joe Posnanski – I was absolutely thrilled to learn that Joe Posnanski was starting a podcast and 11 episodes in, it has not disappointed.  It isn’t a pure baseball podcast, but there is enough baseball content for it to crack the list especially as we inch closer to summer.  He has done three episodes (technically four as one was a two-parter) with the creator of the best show on TV, Michael Schur (Parks & Rec.), including one where they did a fantasy draft of baseball books which was amazing.  He’s also had Bob Costas, Bill James, Ian O’Connor (who recently released a book about Derek Jeter) and Giants announcer Duane Kuiper for his baseball-centric episodes.  The only no-baseball episode was with Kevin Harlan.  This is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

Hot Clicks Podcast with Jimmy Traina Another one that isn’t all baseball, but eminently listenable regardless of the guest.  I discovered the podcast this weekend and listened to all nine episodes.  The Logan Morrison and C.J. Wilson episodes are must-listens from a baseball perspective.  I also enjoyed the James Andrew Miller (co-author of Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN which releases May 24th), Erin Andrews and Chris Cooley episodes quite a bit.  If you enjoy Traina’s twice-daily link roundup at Sports Illustrated, you will probably like his podcast.

Bizball Radio – If you enjoy Maury Brown’s great work on the business of sports network (and specifically baseball) then you will no doubt enjoy this podcast where Brown speaks with some of the most intriguing guests in the sports business field.  Like some of these additions, it isn’t all baseball all the time especially with topic like the NFL Lockout to speak about, but all except one of his guests (George Atallah from the NFLPA) was either mostly baseball talk or at least some within their episode.

Podcast To Be Named LaterJason Collette and company from DRaysBay.com have resurrected this Tampa Bay-centric podcast.  Like the other team-focused podcasts on the list, it is best if you are a fan of that team, but if you are a diehard baseball fan in need of more podcasts then you will enjoy listening to this roundtable discussion of one of the league’s best teams.

Fantasy Pros 911 PodcastRich Wilson, Tony Cincotta and Tim McLeod get together every Sunday night for an hour to talk about the week that was and the one coming up in fantasy baseball.  They cover plenty of topics in their hour-plus (the first hour is always live on BlogTalkRadio while anything additional bleeds over onto the podcast only) with information for all fantasy players regardless of league size and format.  They engage their chatroom very well, too, and also respond to emails the following week.  The sound quality leaves a little to be desired, but I believe the only way to go truly live on BTR is over the phone which precludes them from recording on Skype and then posting a cleaner recording to the site.  I might trade the live aspect for better sound, but that would take away their interactive with the chatroom which is a key aspect to the show.

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