- An effective refurbishment and an utter disaster:
Sometimes it's easier to write about the negative than it is the positive. Such is especially the case when the negative is so profoundly disastrous; when the prevailing beliefs so widespread and viral that detailing a downfall takes almost no effort whatsoever----it's fun, but I don't go cheap.
It's also somewhat easy to gloat about that which I called correctly; although it doesn't necessarily need to be referred to as such. With others, a "look how right I was" is transparent; with me, it's factual because I don't have a problem saying, "look how stupid I was".
This is evident in the following hot stove previews after the seasons had by the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.
I'm also altering my template once again. (Christine O'Donnell's right!! You can observe evolution as it happens as I'm currently proving!)
Let's take a look.
What they need: A catcher; a shortstop; a second baseman; decent starting pitching; a bat.
Catchers to pursue:
The Astros catching corps has been atrocious in recent years. J.R. Towles is a bust; Humberto Quintero is not an everyday catcher. Jason Castro has potential, but they need a short-term, competent veteran to hold the fort.
If they get a bat for a middle-infield position, they can conceivably carry a no-hit veteran like Laird or Varitek. Buck may be too pricey; and you can forget Martinez. Torrealba might be the best bet.
Navarro's going to get non-tendered and has forgotten how to hit. Napoli might be available, but would be costly. Teams should check in on Martin with the Dodgers.
Infielders to pursue:
The Astros middle-infield situation is actually worse than the catching situation. They can survive with Quintero and Castro; they can't survive with Jeff Keppinger/Tommy Manzella/Angel Sanchez. Anyone would be better and depending on which position they use to upgrade the offense, they have options that wouldn't be difference-makers, but would be useful enough.
Hudson's out there every year and ends up taking a short-term deal. Kennedy is a decent utilityman; Lugo is Lugo. Zobrist might be available; so might be Hill. As with every other team, they should check with the Mets on Reyes.
The Diamondbacks apparently will listen on anyone including Drew and Justin Upton; every team should have a serious look at Upton.
Starting pitchers to pursue:
Although Brett Myers is locked up and J.A. Happ and Bud Norris having potential to be solid cogs, the Astros still need starting pitching. Rodriguez is a pitcher I've always liked and it may be time to move him. The Astros could go after a larger name like Greinke, but it's doubtful they have enough to pry him loose. Instead, they're better off going for a middle-type like Pavano, Vazquez or Garland.
I have Kazmir listed because he's from the area, the Angels would love to get rid of him and perhaps they'd consider taking a remaining large contract like Carlos Lee to do it. It's worth a shot.
The Astros would desperately love to rid themselves of Lee's contract, but he's owed $37 million through 2012 and getting rid of him is next-to-impossible. He's coming off a poor season too, although his career numbers indicate he might rebound.
Pence is arbitration eligible and has value for multiple players.
After their awful start, the Astros turned things around remarkably under impressive manager Brad Mills; they dumped the contracts of Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman and got some quality in return. Things aren't as terrible in Houston as was suggested before the season started (and I said they wouldn't be as bad as some thought); they're not far from being a .500 team; after that, contention is a short step away.
Players available via trade: Anyone not named Felix Hernandez.
What they need: Um, we'll go with what they don't need. They don't need a center fielder; they don't need a foundational starting pitcher.
Is there a point in going into the names the Mariners should pursue?
I'm not saying this in a gloating fashion because I had the Mariners winning 86 games this year and contending for a playoff spot, so I'm not innocent in that regard; one thing I am innocent of is falling under the spell of the flavor of the month "genius", Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik.
I could spend the next six paragraphs railing against Jack Z and the media-crafted, far-too-liberally applied anointing of the phrase "genius".
I'll save that for a later time.
As it is, this organization is an absolute disaster from top-to-bottom. Their organizational reputation is shot after the shady double-dealing they did in trading Cliff Lee; such was made worse when they engaged in a disturbing bit of spin doctoring after the Josh Lueke allegations were made public.
They lost 100 games; no one should be off the table in terms of trade talks; they've made a good hire in Eric Wedge to manage after tossing Don Wakamatsu out the window in a self-justifying sacrifice.
Know this: if 2011 goes poorly, Zduriencik's going to get fired. And he'll deserve it.
- What are the Marlins doing?!?
That was the best they could do for Dan Uggla?
My first reaction to this deal was, "that's it?"
Similar to my bewildered response last winter when the Mets let it leak that they'd made a move and speculation began on what it was----a power bat, arm or starting pitcher?----and it turned out they'd traded for....Gary....Matthews....Jr.
It appears as if the Marlins rushed to make this trade for reasons I don't understand. Uggla would've been pursued by about 20 teams (at least) and the Marlins could absolutely have gotten more for him than Infante (coming off his career year at 28); and Dunn (an impressive lefty arm).
I don't get it.
The Marlins have long been an object of my admiration for the brilliant way in which they run their team under budgetary constraints, but they're altering their strategy for putting together bullpens----a strategy that was correct----as they used to find cheap, discarded arms on the scrapheap or for their own refuse. Now they're trading for relief pitchers at a breakneck pace.