Friday, February 25, 2011

Cubs Bullpen The Best? Hardly.

Recently Carlos Marmol of the Chicago Cubs said that the Cubs' bullpen is the best bullpen in the game. Some may agree with him, but I don't.

Let's talk about the usual suspects. The Yankees have a nice bullpen, and the Red Sox have three guys in there that can be closers for most teams. Now onto other teams. The Athletics looks pretty good too. The Dodgers have a solid pen. The Orioles don't look too bad either. Oh, and don't forget the Padres, Phillies and Rangers.

To save time, let's just compare 3 people in each bullpen.
Athletics: Bailey is a solid closer. Fuentes may be shaky in the past few years, but he's is still a good reliever. Balfour rounds out the trio, and he's a solid reliever too.
Dodgers: Broxton got banged around a bit the past summer, but he has a good track record, and he's still pretty young. Kuo and Guerrier will probably do well as setup-men, and they step in and close when Broxton falters.
Orioles: Gregg is certainly not fantastic, but he's consistently tolerable. Gonzalez and Uehara are fine pitchers who will help shorten the game.
Padres: Adams and Gregerson are fine setup men and they are a solid bridge to Bell, one of the best closers in the game today.
Phillies: Lidge is ok, and Contreras and Madson performs.
Rangers: I'll go with the depth chart for now. Feliz is absolutely reliable as the closer,and Rhodes and Oliver are fine lefties who continue to defy age.
Red Sox: Papelbon, Bard and Jenks. Three legit closers. Three reliable arms (at times).
Yankees: If Rivera wasn't enough, Soriano will close the gap. Robertson will help, and not hurt the team.

Cubs: Marmol and Wood are high K and high BB pitchers. Marshall the lefty is a nice complementary piece to the other two, with good strikeout rate but a lower BB rate.

I'd say that the Cubs aren't even in the top 3.
1) Red Sox
2) Padres
3) Yankees

The Sox, of course, with their three closers, wins the top spot.
The Padres deserves the second spot, with three solid and reliable arms. However, they can't match the awesomeness of three closers.
The Yankees, with Robertson, a good but not great reliever, gets the third place. If they had a better player to join Rivera and Soriano, they'd have the best bullpen.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jose Bautista Officially Signs

Details: 8 million in 2011,14 million each season in 2012-15, with 14 million team option for 2016.

Pro: A hitter in the heart of the lineup that needs one.
Con: Potentially a .250 hitter with 30 home runs annually, not worth the pay.
Reaction: One of the sides will regret signing this contract. Only time will tell which side got the bad end.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Why the Angels Will Finish the 2011 Season With a Sub-.500 Record

It is much easier to ask a power-hitting team to play small ball than it is to ask a powerless team to hit home runs.  Sure, a power-hitter may struggle to bunt properly and may not have the speed to beat out a soft grounder, but sometimes an average attempt is good enough.
Take the Toronto Blue Jays of last year (assuming Cito Gaston would ever have permitted his team to lay one down).  In the rare situation where a bit of small ball was, in Gaston's mind, the best option, he could ask Travis Snider to bunt a runner over instead of swinging for the fences--and if he doesn't succeed the first time, he may get another chance.
The LA Angels, however, do not have a luxury such as this.  Yes, their defence is superb and their speed is above average, but who can hit for power?  In a 6-3 game with two on in the bottom of the ninth, do you want Jose Bautista at the plate...or Alberto Callaspo?  The Angels do not have anyone who can hit for power consistently on their roster.

Bobby Abreu: Let's face it, he's not the type of hitter he used to be.  The Angels' probably #4 outfielder (or DH?) for next season is a valuable asset, but his production has suffered significantly since he was in his prime.  He will hit no more than 15 home runs next year (partially due to a slight loss of playing time) and will be lucky to break 80 RBI.  He is not an answer: he is a vetran presence who the Angels hope will be able to help out the young players.

Peter Bourjos: Defensively, I have more respect for Bourjos than any other player in the MLB.  I saw him play in only one series last year, but that was enough to form an opinion.  Everything hit to centre field was caught--no matter where it was.  That being said, he was also the greatest offensive liability in the lineup.  He may prevent any doubles to the gap from occurring, and he may win numerous Gold Gloves, but he'll keep making up for it each time he steps into the batter's box.

Torii Hunter: His numbers have been fairly consistent over the past few years, but, like Abreu, his age will catch up to him.  His stolen bases dropped significantly last season.  For a player whose top qualities are speed and defence, declining quickness is a grim sign of things to come.

Vernon Wells: Wells, or as I sometimes call him, First-Pitch-Pop-up Man, has an uncanny ability to live up to his nickname.  The only reason the Angels added Wells to the fold was for power, but--in spite of his 31 home runs last year--Vernon is much too inconsistent to have any major value to his new team.  His acquisition was a loss for the Angels: in money and ability.  The one positive for LA is that Wells' speed may finally be utilized.


Erick Aybar: Another inconsistent player offensively, Aybar is completely unpredictable for next season.  The one thing everyone can be fairly certain of is that he will fail to hit more than 5 homers.  A new shortstop would definately be a plus for the Angels.  Aybar will, one day, end up becoming more like Alex Gonzalez than Derek Jeter.  He is faster than A-Gon, and his defence is far more mediocre, but--my point is--he will one day be lost in a sea of average backup shortstops.

Alberto Callaspo: Callaspo does his job.  You get what you ask of him--around 10 home runs and 60 RBI.  He is not a power hitter, but he does not need to be.  Callaspo is not the Angels' major problem, he is simply not the type of player they need.  However, as the team will struggle for power, Callaspo will end up near the top of the team in homers.

Howie Kendrick: Kendrick is much like Callaspo when it comes to numbers.  The major difference is that Kendrick is faster.  The Angels do not need two of the same player.  One of Kendrick or Callaspo should be traded away sometime during the season.  It will be interesting to see which the team would be more willing to part with.  Kendrick is probably a bit better than Callaspo, so trading the latter would be better for the team as it currently stands.  However, Kendrick would probably draw more interest--and higher return.

Brandon Wood: Possibly the greatest liability on the team, Wood struggles offensively and defensively.  Why he is even on the team is beyond me.  Just another hole in a swiss-cheese lineup.


Jeff Mathis: One of the best defensive catchers in the game, Mathis is, most certainly a--(I'm sorry, I feel like I've overused this term in this blog)--liability when it comes to offence.  Every now and again he can convert on an opportunity, but he is not going to pull a garbage team out of the trash can.  I like Mathis' game, but his bat is most certainly not what the Angels need right now.

Pitching is a different story for a different day. Short overview:

Dan Haren
Joel Pineiro
Jered Weaver
Ervin Santana

Scott Downs

Scott Kazmir
Fernando Rodney

The pitching is really and truly irrelavent with this team.  It's impossible to win if you can't score.  Even if your pitchers can hold off the opponent, they cannot pitch perfectly forever.  A team that will struggle to score runs will not win games.  I think it's time the Angels' went for a full-out make-over.  Gut the team and try again.  Anaheim has had a solid team for a number of years, now.  Their best bet is to take three to five years off, and reclaim their division title.


A New Idea About Joba

As I heard that Joba still has options and not a "lock" for the bullpen in New York, an idea has sprouted in my mind.

1) Option him to AAA
2) Use him as starter
3) See how it goes

Best Scenario: With some extra time in AAA, Joba rediscovers his old form and becomes a fabulous pitcher like he was expected to be back in 2007.

Worst Scenario: Joba screws up, loses favour in AAA, gets traded, then become a fixture on the other team. Meanwhile in New York, that one bullpen spot gives up the winning run in the deciding game of playoff spot/postseason series.

Likely Scenario: He's used as a reliever for the rest, or at least majority of the rest of his career. While he is involved in some memorable moments, people still hold thoughts on what could have been, if he was a starter.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Short Thoughts On Bautista

1) Bautista's 2010 blew every prediction away.
2) Bautista never had a season of 100 OPS+ before this year.
3) Bautista never hit with a SLG of .500, or even .450, before this season's .617 .

Safe Assumptions:
1) Bautista will have similar protection in the lineup, if not better.
2) Bautista will never have a season like this again
3) Bautista will be a commodity when he hits the FA market if he hits 30 out of the park in 2011.
4) Toronto need him to be at the heart of their lineup.
5) Toronto has some payroll flexibility after trading away Wells and his loaded contract.

My Theories:
1) Bautista thinks that he won't do as well next season, so
2) he should get some leverage using his current year, and
3) the Jays are happy to oblige
4) He will get a book about his 2010 season.

Jose Bautista's Arbitration Hearing Postponed

Four days.  That's the amount of time the Blue Jays have to sign Jose Bautista to a long term deal before three arbitrators make the contract decision for them.  So, if it's taken this long all ready, why would four more days result in the multi-year pact all Jays fans are so desperately hoping for?

First of all, we must ask ourselves why the clubs have failed to come close to signing even a short-term contract.
From the Blue Jays' perspective: Jose Bautista is a hard-working, middle-aged player who shockingly broke out of his career-long drought to hit 54 home runs last year.  Not to be forgotten: he hit most of his home runs at home, hit only one to right field throughout the entire duration of the season, and posted a measly .260 average.
From Bautista's perspective: He is a versatile player who plays his heart out every game.  He managed a well-deserved 54 home runs last year and he expects that he can do so again.  His batting average was below-average, but not unreasonably low, and it improved as the season progressed.

An interesting fact about the contract negotiations is that, according to JoBau's agent, the Jays had not offered Bautista a multi-year deal up until this point.  Why they would wait until the last minute is completely and utterly inexplicable.  General Manager Alex Anthopoulos has, during his tenure as the Jays' GM, seemed determined and confident with all of his decisions.  This last-minute decision is somewhat out of character.

Bautista's apparent wish to remain in Toronto long-term may also have an effect on the contract negotiations.  Due to this fact, four days may be plenty of time for the two sides to work out a deal.

What to expect: If a deal is made (and it seems likely as the Jays probably would not have requested the deadline's postponement if they were not expecting to to come to an agreement) it will probably be no longer than 2 years with a club option.  Alex Anthopoulos loves to throw a club option in there and likely won't finalize accept any contract without one.  Expect Bautista to receive a salary closer to the Blue Jays' arbitration submission in the first year and closer to Bautista's in the second.  The thrid year (the club option year) would see Bautista awarded around $12.5-$13.5 million.  I wouldn't be surprised to see some incentives thrown in there, as well (especially in that lower-paid first season).

The Jays signing Bautista would be the optimal decision for a team whose fan base needs something to be excited about.  I will post more information as I receive it as to the contract situation.


Blue Jays Pitching Rotation Analysis

The Toronto Blue Jays have had a busy offseason when it comes to pitching.  From the early December trade of Shaun Marcum to the acquisition of Frank Francisco, the Jays have certainly concentrated on pitching in the last few months.

The first thing I want to concentrate on is the rotation: How will it look next season?  How will it perform?  Here it goes:

Ricky Romero: The Jays' top pick in the 2006 MLB amateur draft (sixth overall) will likely be asked to fill the vacancy left by 2010 Opening Day starter Shaun Marcum.  The new #1 went 14-9 last season with a 3.73 ERA in 32 Starts.  While Romero only improved his victories by one in his sophomore season, his ERA dropped substantially.  He is far from a number one pitcher, but still has the potential to improve.  The wins will come with better run support.  Romero's most significant fault is his inability to recover his confidence if he pitches a poor inning.  He will often slow to a snail's pace if there are runners on base.  In other words, he chooses to throw off his own timing.  If Romero ever wants to be a star in this league--which I believe that he could one day be--he has to learn to forget about the last pitch and concentrate on the next one.

Brandon Morrow: The Blue Jays were the clear winner of the Brandon-for-Brandon deal which took place last offseason.  Morrow learned to trade power for control last year.  This adjustment to his game--thank you Bruce Walton and Jose Molina--left him the most dominant pitcher on the Jays last season.  After early season struggles, he and Molina became permanent partners.  Morrow finished the 2010 season--which had begun with speculation about his impending demotion to Triple-A Las Vegas--with a 10-7 record and a 4.49 ERA.  The ERA almost certainly would have been lower had he been able to pitch at the beginning of the season as he did at the end.  This is a good sign for Blue Jays fans.  Also, one mustn't forget Morrow's 17K one-hitter.  This was arguably the best-pitched game of the year (and remember that six no-hitters, including two no-hitters must be taken into account).  Morrow has the stuff to be the Jays' ace in days to come--so long as he does not revert to his old ways and become AJ Burnett #2.

Brett Cecil: The third, and final, lock for the Jays' rotation next year had more wins than any other pitcher on the Blue Jays last season with 15.  The Jays' top pitching-prospect in 2008 and 2009 showed why he was so highly regarded last season after an early call-up to replace the injured Brian Tallet.  Cecil's 4.22 ERA is a terrible representation of the season he had last year.  If he could learn to pitch better against Texas and Boston (a similar problem to that of Ricky Romero) then he could be an All-Star in the near future.  There are only two worries I have about Cecil.  1: Will he be able to pitch a full season in the majors (something he has yet to be given the opportunity to do)?  And  2: Will he be able to come to his senses and shave off that atrocious mohawk?

Questions folllow for Toronto as to who will fill out the rotation.  The leading candidates seem to be:

Kyle Drabek: The son of former MLB pitcher Doug Drabek, Kyle is by far the Jays' top prospect.  Drabek received three "try-out" games with the team at the end of last season.  I think I speak for many Jays' fans as I express my disappointment in his performances--not that I don't retain high expectations for the future.  Drabek, who was made out for the entire year as a future super-star was grossly average (0-3, 4.76 ERA).  I liked what I saw from Drabek in the early innings of his games, but it seemed that, once hitters figured him out, he was much less effective.  Personally, I do not believe that Kyle is ready for the majors.  However, it seems highly likely that he be in the number 4 slot next year,

Jesse Litsch: Litsch once showed some potential, however, injuries have limited his appearances in recent years.  When Litsch did pitch last year, he was ineffective (save for one start), and soon found himself back on the disabled list.  I don't trust him to be successful in the rotation next year.  Litsch's 1-5, 5.79 ERA in 9 starts last season has left him a huge question mark for 2011.  Jesse Litsch, if he could return to 2008 form, would be a welcome addition to what would be a solid pitching rotation.  However, he is simply too unpredictable for any fan to have even the slightest trace of confidence in him.

Marc Rzepczynski: If you have never heard of Rzepczynski (pronounced Zep-chin-ski) you probably think that he is just a modern version of Sidd Fitch.  That no one could possibly have a name this crazy and, thus, he must be fake  (so I'm about to tell you about his impossible super-abilities).  No, Zepper is most certainly real and, in my opinion, is the best choice for number five in the rotation.  Rzepczynski would make an effective long-reliever (which I will touch upon in my upcoming Blue Jays bullpen analysis), but he would be better in the starting rotation.  Unlike Jesse Litsch, he has actually pitched consistently over the past two seasons.  The major worry concerning him, like Brett Cecil, is his ability to pitch a full major league season.  This is a risk that I think the Blue Jays should most certainly take.  When Rzepczynski is on his game, he is practically unhittable.  He may have the more confidence on the mound than any of the Jays' other Starter options.  Starting Rzepczynski in the rotation would make the most sense for the Blue Jays as, if he falters, he can easily be shifted into a long relief role.

Brad Mills's inconsistencies will likely prevent him from obtaining a Major League roster spot.  Scott Richmond will have to climb a long way back from his injury to come within spitting distance of the competition in front of him (though he could also take on a reliever's spot).  And Dustin McGowan may as well be forgotten about at this point.  If, and only if, he ever pitches again, it likely will not be as a Blue Jay as proving himself as better than anyone else mentioned in this article (including Mr. Fitch) would be near-impossible.

Keep checking back.  I will soon post my Blue Jays Bullpen Analysis.

Until next time, I must bid you,

Michael Young Trade Possibilities: If Salary Was Ignored

Michael Young, though old and declining (and not much of a fielder), can still hit with a respectable average, some power, and 100 OPS+. If money was not a problem, and he would allow any trade, where would he fit? I'll examine the left sides of the infield for the other 29 teams.

Angels: With Aybar and Izturis on the left side of the infield, Michael Young suddenly looks pretty good. If Reagins traded for Wells, why not Young?

Astros: Barmes make Young look like Hanley. Defensively too.

Athletics: Probably would be an upgrade over Kouzmanoff, but he can still have a nice season. Pennington on the other hand, had a higher WAR than Young last season, due to his superior defense.

Blue Jays: Bautista is listed at third, so that is out of the question. Compared to Escobar at short, Young would be better offensively, but worse defensively.

Braves: Young probably would hit better than Gonzalez at short, but no way will the Braves sit Chipper for him.

Brewers: Yuniesky at short. Who wouldn't sit Betancourt for Young at short? (Dayton Moore?) McGehee had higher WAR and OPS+ compared to Young, so no thank you.

Cardinals: Freese looks okay at third, but Theriot is no match for Young.

Cubs: Starlin Castro and Aramis Ramirez. Looks solid here.

Diamondbacks: Drew and Mora looks okay too.

Dodgers: Blake and Furcal. Not too bad.

Giants: Sandoval and Tejada. Let's leave them alone.

Indians: Nix and Cabrera looks okay from last year's stats. However, Young would be slight upgrade over both.

Mariners: Replacing Wilson with Young looks fine. Why is this guy a starting shortstop again?

Marlins: Sitting Hanley? No. Sitting Helms? Yes!

Mets: Reyes and Wright. Looks about right.

Nationals: Desmond could improve next year. Zimmerman will still be Zimmerman (and not Zimmermann).

Orioles: Hardy and Reynolds seem set. Hardy could do better, and Young could do worse.

Padres: Barlett and Headley, though not big power hitters, can contribute as much as Young can.

Phillies: With Polanco and Rollins, Young won't find a spot.

Pirates: Alvarez is a no-touch, because he is still improving, but Cedeno benched for Young won't kill the team.

Rays: Brignac earned a spot at short. Can you imagine picking Young over Longoria?

Red Sox: Scutaro, why not. Youkilis, you tell us.

Reds: Janish can outperform Young this season, but there's also a large possibility that he won't. Rolen on the other hand, probably will outperform Young.

Rockies: With Tulowitzki and Stewart manning the positions, I don't see Young starting.

Royals: Young can hit better than Escobar and Aviles, right?

Tigers: Peralta and Inge: two guys who can, and probably will be benched for Young if given the choice.

Twins: Casilla and Valencia looks respectable there, assuming Casilla will finally be Good Alexi and not Bad Alexi.

White Sox: Some people might choose Ramirez and Morel, which could pay off. Me? Welcome to Chicago, Michael Young.

Yankees: Jeter and Rodriguez. Two FAT contracts, two guys not getting benched anytime soon.

Looking back, 16 out of 29 teams can get a considerable upgrade in Young. However, his contract and no trade clause is in the way, and might not budge easily.

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Welcome to the Bunt Double baseball blog.  Here at Bunt Double we will update you on the most recent MLB news and occurances as well as presenting our own opinions on the happenings in the baseball world.