Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Big Expectations, Bigger Disappointment

  • You say you want an evolution?

Much like anything in existence, time and circumstances lead to alterations; some advance and evolve----black holes; Mike Tyson; stat zombies desperate for survival. Others devolve or become extinct----the woolly mammoth; John Edwards's political career; Francisco Rodriguez.

It is with that in mind that I too evolve and alter the template in which I present my Hot Stove Previews for individual teams. It was somewhat confusing with a blast of names for individual clubs to pursue as free agents and via trade, so I'll separated them into categories contingent on needs; perhaps that'll be easier to grasp; to read; to see; and to know!!!

Let's have a look at two teams from whom much was expected last season. Both disappointed greatly. I'm talking about the Dodgers and Cardinals. (Incidentally, Cardinals-Dodgers was my preseason NLCS matchup.)

Los Angeles Dodgers

Free agents: Rod Barajas; Ronnie Belliard; Juan Castro; Charlie Haeger; Reed Johnson; Justin Miller; Vicente Padilla; Jeff Weaver.

Players available via trade: Russell Martin; James Loney; Casey Blake; Matt Kemp; Chad Billingsley; Jonathan Broxton; George Sherrill.

What they need: A legit power bat; a back-end starter; a second baseman; a closer(?); bench help.

Bats to pursue:

Free agents---Adam Dunn; Victor Martinez; Miguel Olivo; Lance Berkman; Paul Konerko; Adam LaRoche; Adrian Beltre; Carl Crawford; Jayson Werth.

Trades---Dan Uggla; Ben Zobrist; Aaron Hill; Luke Scott; Delmon Young; Carlos Quentin; Juan Rivera; David Wright; Jose Reyes; Prince Fielder; Colby Rasmus; Hunter Pence; Ryan Doumit; Mark Reynolds; Stephen Drew; Asdrubal Cabrera.

Pitchers to pursue:

Free agents---Brian Bannister; Aaron Harang; Jeremy Bonderman; Erik Bedard; Dave Bush; Kevin Correia; Justin Duchscherer; Jeff Francis; Rich Harden; Brandon Webb.

Trades---Rick Porcello; Zack Greinke; Wandy Rodriguez; Matt Garza; James Shields.

Closers to pursue:

Free agents---Brian Fuentes; Kevin Gregg; Jason Frasor; Scott Downs; Hisanori Takahashi; Rafael Soriano; Jon Rauch.

Trades---Heath Bell; Bobby Jenks; Francisco Rodriguez; Joba Chamberlain; Matt Capps; Joakim Soria; Brad Ziegler; Joel Hanrahan.

Bench players to pursue:

Free agents---David Eckstein; Adam Kennedy; Felipe Lopez; Craig Counsell; Jerry Hairston; Nick Punto; Eric Hinske.

Trades---Jed Lowrie.

Because the Dodgers ownership situation is still in question, it's hard to know how much money they have to spend. They've already re-upped Ted Lilly and Hiroki Kuroda to maintain the starting rotation.

Interestingly, I think they got those deals backwards. I would've given Kuroda a longer-term contract and Lilly the shorter-term one. Lilly pitched very well for the Dodgers, but his injuries and declining pop on his fastball cause me concern; Kuroda inexplicably took a 1-year contract when he should have gotten at least two. On the open market, he'd have gotten three. Perhaps there's something going on behind the scenes; maybe he wants to go back to Japan after 2011.

Normally, the Dodgers would be involved with the big name free agents like Werth (a former Dodger with whom the relationship didn't end well); Crawford and Cliff Lee. But the McCourts' divorce is muddling the plans.

One would think they'll be more interested in swapping what they have to try and improve within financial sanity. I've always felt that Billingsley is on the table; Kemp is movable; Loney doesn't hit for enough power; and Martin is declining.

Broxton might need a change-of-scenery and if that's the case, they can get some value for him. Bringing in a replacement closer on the cheap side like Gregg, Takahashi or Fuentes as a free agent is a viable plan. It also makes sense to see if the Yankees are serious about moving Chamberlain.

Amid all the turmoil, the Dodgers are still an attractive locale. Don Mattingly will be an easy and likable manager to play for and they still have enough talent to contend next year. They desperately need a power bat.

St. Louis Cardinals

Free agents: Pedro Feliz; Jason LaRue; Mike MacDougal; Aaron Miles; Brad Penny; Dennys Reyes; Jeff Suppan; Jake Westbrook; Randy Winn.

Players available via trade: Skip Schumaker; Brendan Ryan; Colby Rasmus; Kyle Lohse.

What they need: a closer; a back-end starting pitcher; a shortstop; a second baseman; a backup catcher; a lefty reliever.

Closers to pursue:

Free agents---Kevin Gregg; J.J. Putz; Brian Fuentes; Jon Rauch; Jason Frasor; Scott Downs; Hisanori Takahashi.

Via trade---Jonathan Broxton; Joba Chamberlain; Bobby Jenks; Matt Capps; Joakim Soria; Heath Bell; Joel Harnahan; Leo Nunez.

Starting pitchers to pursue:

Free agents---Erik Bedard; Aaron Harang; Carl Pavano; Brian Bannister; Jeremy Bonderman; Dave Bush; Justin Duchscherer; Jeff Francis; Rich Harden; Javier Vazquez; Chris Young; Vicente Padilla.

Via trade---Marc Rzepczynski; Matt Garza; James Shields; Scott Kazmir; Rick Porcello; Zack Greinke; Zach Duke; Chad Billingsley.

Bats to pursue:

Free agents---Orlando Hudson; Orlando Cabrera; Juan Uribe; Adrian Beltre; Gerald Laird; Jason Varitek; Gregg Zaun.

Via trade---Ben Zobrist; Jason Bartlett; Dan Uggla; Jose Reyes; David Wright; Jed Lowrie; J.J. Hardy; Adrubal Cabrera.

Lefty relievers to pursue:

Free agents---Ron Mahay; Pedro Feliciano; Joe Beimel; Hisanori Takahashi; Will Ohman; Randy Choate; J.C. Romero; Dan Meyer.

The Cardinals have multiple needs after a disappointing and difficult-to-explain 86-76 season.

They received the expected performances from Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter; got an above-and-beyond the call of duty year from rookie Jaime Garcia and still faded out at the end playing horrible inconsistent and irresilient baseball.

It defied explanation. With a Hall of Fame manager in Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan, plus the aforementioned players, there was no reason for the Cardinals to have faltered as they did; it wasn't a remote experience either; they were mediocre for most of the season after a hot start.

With the duo of La Russa and Duncan returning, the Cardinals are going to load up for another run.

Because of Duncan's success with reclamation projects, the Cardinals don't have to spend heavily in the free agent market to find ways to fill out their starting rotation. They can take a chance on a Pavano; a Duke; a Padilla.

The biggest failure of the Cardinals was the bullpen. Ryan Franklin has been admirable in doing the job as closer for the past several seasons, but I feel that the Cardinals need to upgrade with a pitcher like Broxton; his confidence is shot and he appears to need a change-of-scenery.

It's been said that the Cardinals are not trading Rasmus, but I still get the idea they'll listen just to see what's out there.

As with most teams, the Cardinals should gauge the Mets interests in possibly dealing Wright or Reyes.

  • Trades:

A couple of trades took place in the past week; both are interesting maneuvers for both sides.

Red Sox acquire LHP Andrew Miller from the Marlins for LHP Dustin Richardson.

It's been a long slog for Miller from his status as the future foundation of the Marlins to being dumped; after being acquired in the trade that sent Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Tigers for Miller and Cameron Maybin, Miller didn't live up to the hype.

Miller had been compared to Randy Johnson, but that was an absurd amount of pressure to put on a young pitcher. Miller's stuff is nowhere near that of Johnson's, but he can be a useful starting pitcher if his mechanics and mental approach are rebuilt. He's been up-and-down for most of his big league career; he's never gotten a chance to make 30 starts; and he was atrocious in 2010.

The Marlins don't make many mistakes in assessing their young pitchers so the fact that they're giving up on Miller is a bad sign.

Richardson, like Miller, is a big lefty who was a high draft choice. He's about to turn 27 and has been used as a reliever for the past two seasons.

This is a nothing to lose deal for both sides. Neither pitcher was going to make it with their previous teams, so why not give both a fresh start?

Padres acquire OF Cameron Maybin from the Marlins for RHP Ryan Webb and RHP Edward Mujica.

Like Miller, Maybin hasn't lived up to the billing after he was a top prospect for the Tigers and homered off Roger Clemens in his second big league game at age 20. He's still learning the game and trying hone raw talent and craft it into being a baseball player. Although he showed flashes of turning the corner late in the season, he's not there yet. Defensively, he's awkward and running the bases, he's a work in progress. The Padres need a center fielder and giving up two relievers to get the still young Maybin is a worthwhile risk.

The Marlins appear to be stockpiling relievers which leads me to believe they may be looking to move closer Leo Nunez. Webb and Mujica both pitched well for the surprising Padres in 2010, but with relievers, they generally seem to fluctuate from one year to the next.

I'd rather take the chance on Maybin, but it's not cut-and-dried either way.

  • Viewer Mail 11.16.2010:

DaGodfather writes RE Moneyball and Joel Sherman:

My apologies when I said "You start off talking about Moneyball (didn't read it. Don't care to. Beane and James didn't invent it. Lee Thomas did but didn't realize it)" the part in parenthesis was not a shot at you. It was my reason for not reading the book. I only mentioned that part because of what you said about comprehending what you were reading.

And yeah, you are right about throwing in a line in one of the columns. However, in my opinion, it was implied. I could be wrong.

What are you apologizing for?

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Manny Ramirez:

I'm with dumb Mike (lol). I don't think Manny will play either. What team will pay him $$ to be a DH at this point? I can't think of one.

It all depends on what Manny wants to do. And I am not entering the head of Manny Ramirez. But if he's willing to take a short money deal, I could absolutely see a DH-hungry team who's willing to take the mutual risk----the Mariners or Athletics----he's a great idea. But, it's Manny; he might decide he wants $15 million to sign; he might say he wants a 3-year deal; or he might pull a Frank Thomas, go to Oakland and behave himself having a renaissance year and contend for the MVP.

Manny is someone to explore for those teams.

Jeff (Street Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE Manny, Jermaine Dye and Milton Bradley:

Manny might not play... but rumor has it Jermaine Dye wants a job and is willing to take less dough. I still can't believe he didn't play last year.

Also, been a while since we heard anything about Milton Bradley. Doesn't he still have a year left on that ludicrous $10 million/year contract?

No, Bradley doesn't have $10 million left. He's got $12 million left!!!!

It was surprising that Dye didn't play last season, but players taking a year off and returning isn't unprecedented; Dye can help someone on and off the field.

Max Stevens writes RE the Mets, David Wright and Jose Reyes:

Prince, I notice that you've mentioned Wright and Reyes as possible trade bait. I'm all for the Mets transforming themselves top to bottom, but do you really think Alderson would do something so controversial right after assuming control of the club? I could see them trading Reyes, maybe, because he's had trouble staying healthy and they could get some good young talent in return, but Wright is more or less the face of the franchise, and he's still much beloved among a significant sector of the fan base, in spite of some of the struggles he's had recently. I don't really see them unloading Wright unless it's an offer they absolutely can't refuse, and I can't see what that would be right now...

I'm not advocating moving either----in fact, I'd have to be knocked into space to do it----but the Mets have to listen to anything and everything especially if they can find a way to fold Oliver Perez/Luis Castillo/K-Rod into any deal as a precondition to getting either of the cornerstones.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Man, $12 million! Ouch! Seriously though, what happened to him [Bradley]? He was hurt, then went to treatment for his psychosis, then what? Any chance we see him play next year?

As for the Cards... I don't like how the front office is treating Colby. He's supposed to be our future, but they're rubbing him the wrong way, making him feel like he's not a part of the plan by saying he's not untouchable. Either trade him or pump him up. What they're doing now by being so secretive isn't working. It's just gonna make the clubhouse situation worse... and personally, I think the beef between he and TLR was partly responsible for the Cards' shitty play after the All-Star break. It certainly didn't help.